Editorial 7/25/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2014

Tomato plants cut down; damncats spayed and neutered

New Orleans report, July 2014: 

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I cut every last tomato plant that we were growing next to the fence at our house on Laurel Street.  Except one.

The culprit was the German Queen Heirloom plant we had picked up and set out in a row along the fence with three other tomato plants of assorted variety. 

The German Queen should have come with a label: Warning: This plant may exhibit certain Nazi tendencies — like trying to take over the world.

Or it should have been named Jack-and-the-Beanstalk Tomato.

The plant grew tall, spread out and sent its branches (tentacles?) through the neighboring tomato plants until it was so interwoven among them that we couldn’t tell which plant was which.

Except by the fruit. The German Queen produced a fruit that was off-color and odd-shaped, but it was delicious, the best-tasting tomato I have yet encountered. On certain of the tomatoes I was able to pick from the plant, one slice covered, if irregularly, a slice of bread.

But the worms loved it best. Not the green tomato hornworm but a nasty tomato fruitworm, as best as I could determine, that ate leaves and fruit, leaving us with worm-infested, rotting tomatoes in an impossible tangle of vines.

Did I mention splitting? Apparently the frequency of showers has been more that the tomatoes could handle, so they just split on the vine.

Rosemary tried to tell me about the problems as she kept applying poison in an effort to rid the plants of worms, but when I inspected them for myself during a weekend trip, I was so taken aback by what I saw that I simply started hacking the plants into small pieces and placing them into large, black plastic garbage sacks.

At least if the worms were going to end my tomato growing I’d have the satisfaction of cooking them in the sunlight.

On to other subjects: We don’t count damncats, but what counts is that after nine years, we have finally rid the premises of fertile female damncats. This started shortly after Katrina when a fertile feral female showed up and stayed.

We did not act sufficiently fast and for years we were always one fertile feral female damncat behind stopping the feline population explosion. We would trap them, take them to a sympathetic neighborhood vet who spayed and neutered on an outpatient basis. Finally, we think that all the ferals who surround us have made the trip.

There’s Big Brother, Butter Brother, Big Head, Grady, Seizure Cat, Curiosity Cat, Skunky, Other Brother, Big Eyes, The General, Oreo, Sissy and Oscar, the last four of whom are tame. The remainder most of whose names only my wife remembers are feral or “community cats.”

Frank, the owner of the now-vacant house next door, is renovating and remodeling the structure. He came up with a solution to keep away the damncats who found the fresh dirt he’d spread near his front steps and thought that it had been put there for their accommodation: mothballs. Spread generously over the fresh dirt. It seems to be working, a solution that I’d previously seen suggested as a snake deterrent.

You’ve asked about J. Monque’D, the blues singer legendary both inside and outside his own mind, and all the way to Europe? He’s a little older and some slower, but his band was featured at a recent weekend anniversary celebration for at the St. Henry’s Catholic Church.

There was music, a mass, free food, free libations, games and entertainment. St. Henry’s was the home church in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. It was closed over much protest by the last archbishop of the diocese, citing budget problems stemming from paying out so much money in molestation lawsuits.

Then when a new archbishop was appointed for New Orleans, he immediately reopened the church, gaining much favor among Uptown Catholics.

I heard him groaning as he turned his key to his double when he returned that night, so I know he had a good time.

And that’s my report from Uptown New Orleans where we used to worry about the ratio of hoods to neighbors. Now we worry about the gentrification that is driving our property taxes higher.