Sunday, July 21, 2013


They say that perception is nine-tenths of the law.

Actually, they don't.  They say that possession is nine-tenths of the law, but actually that isn't true either--it's a common misperception.

If you take my stuff and I find out and I can prove you took it, there is seriously no way you get to keep it.

I decided to change the old adage, though, because it suits my purpose.  This week has been all about perception.

On Monday, I decided to go blueberry-picking.  I had gone blueberry-picking the week before, and it was a total bust.  I was not happy.  For two reasons.

First, the berries were sour.  I'm sorry, but they were.  I don't know what the blueberry-farmers there were thinking, but their berries SUCKED.  I shall not return. 

When they posted their little ad on their Facebook page saying they were "open for business" and had "tons of berries," they forgot to insert the phrase "too soon" after the word "open" and the words "green" and "unripe" in front of the word "berries."

So there I was, trying to get my berries in a basket, and there weren't any, and the ones that I managed to find were sour.  I left with less than a pound.  If you know me, this is a huge indication of how bad they were.

Secondly, the people running the farm struck me as "shifty."  I don't know why this was, and I couldn't even really explain what I meant by that at the time--even to myself--but I can tell you that when I stepped up to that farm stand and they said, "Good morning!," I immediately thought, shifty.

I did not expect to feel this way at a blueberry farm.  I arrive at blueberry farms expecting to feel a happy sense of sweet anticipation that is rapidly fulfilled by the sight of gorgeously bright blue berries. I hum on the drive to a blueberry farm.  This is just how it is with me and berry-picking.

Instead, I wandered the rows of this place thinking "shifty," wondering what the hell I even meant by that, and muttering words like "asshole" and "waste of my time" at the sight of green berries and the unending taste of sour ones.

After I arrived home, I opened their Facebook page, prepared to see all kinds of scathing comments and invective.  Imagine my surprise when I read the following:

"I just picked 3 lbs!  I LOVE your place!  YUM!  I'll be back!"

What?  Where?  YUM?!  NO.

"I'm making blueberry buckle!"

How the ?? Did you TASTE the damn things first?

Anyway, I decided that even though others didn't share my perception, I was right and I would simply go to another blueberry farm this Monday, so that's what I did.  While I was there, I overheard a woman saying, "You know, last year, I went somewhere else and picked all kinds of berries that looked good.  They were really large and ripe, but then they were just ... sour.  They were terrible.  I made a blueberry pie and it was so bad, I had to just throw it out."

So, there's the explanation for that other woman's buckle.  Bet she didn't taste them first either.  Just picked and picked at that damn shifty little farm.

Because I also found out that there is a phenomenon out there in the fruit-bearing world called "overcropping."  Blueberry bushes, like most fruit-trees, need to be pruned, otherwise they will produce a ton of berries that will look just amazing.  But they will all be sour.

Sometimes farmers don't prune, because they want to have more to sell.  If you want to sell good berries, you have to accept the fact that you to need to scale back on quantity in order to ensure a quality product.

So my perception of "shifty" was also vindicated.

As everyone knows, it was also hotter than holy hell this past week.  I'm sure you think you've heard me say this before, but I've simply said it was "hotter than hell."  I'm adding a sense of holiness to last week, because the heat began to take on Biblical proportions for me after Day 3.

I used to insist that I really don't like the heat and that it isn't just me, it's something about me and the heat together that isn't good.  Others would say that was just my perception, and I should "get over it" and "deal with it," that it "wasn't that bad," that it was "kinda nice, after last winter."

Personally, I spent last winter in front of a fireplace, curled up with a book, two kitty cats, and a glass of wine.  How does sitting in front of a fan, sweating my brains out because I just moved my foot half an inch, compare to that?

Since reading Bill Streever's book, Heat: Adventures in the World's Fiery Places, however, I feel vindicated about my own personal perception of heat. Streever points out that most people have about 3 million sweat glands.  Some people have more than that, particularly if they are raised in hot climates.

Some people, though, have fewer than that.  I'm quite certain that I be one of those people.

So it isn't just my perception of the heat, it's a physiological fact.  An unverified (and presumably unverifiable) one, since I haven't actually counted or mapped my own sweat glands and I don't really intend to, but I'm going to go with it and insist that it's true and put that dilemma to rest once and for all.

I didn't have enough sweat glands for a day like last Friday.

My perception regarding my sweat glands cheerfully carried me through the first half of the heat-wave, because I just patiently acknowledged that I was facing a grim reality with a certain physiological handicap, and this meant I needed two fans and extra lemonade. (I don't have AC, by the way, although I do spend summers in a place with nice breezes.)

When those nice breezes stopped sometime around Thursday morning, though, and the humidity ramped up to 800%,  I began to get rather irritable.  Suddenly, the next 36 hours became "nearly unbearable."  "Impossible."  "Unreasonable."  I threw around all kinds of melodramatic words in my head, and I eventually uttered quite a few of them to my beloved kitty cats, who always agree with me unconditionally.

And then, today, cooler weather.  I was suddenly able to get all kinds of tasks done that had seemed impossible and unreasonable last week.

One such task was weeding the patio.  It was pretty well covered at this point, because for weeks and weeks, I kept thinking, "Those weeds aren't SO bad.  I need to get to them, but it can wait."

In last week's heat, it became vastly apparent that they were, in fact, quite bad and it couldn't wait.  But it had to.  It was "impossible," "unreasonable," etc. etc. given my insufficient number of sweat glands.

I dreaded the upcoming task.

It took me all of an hour.  I have realized that one of the great advantages of having a patio in which the blocks are 12 inches long by 12 inches wide, is that you are very aware that you are basically weeding by the square foot.  You feel a sense of progress that you might not feel if you're just looking at an overgrown garden bed with no imposed grid-lines.

I also vacuumed and did laundry and revised an article and wrote this blog post, and later I'm going to clean the bathroom and fold the laundry and make a pizza.

And so I say to you again: perception is nine-tenths of the law.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."