I’m writing on Sunday this week so my weekly comments on weather and politics are less than timely. I’m taking Violet back to college in Amherst this week so hopefully I’ll jot down some observations en route for next week.

How about that thunder and lightning last Friday night? For the first time in her more than 15 years of life, the dog slept right through it. She’s so deaf now, we use large hand signals to get her attention. My favorite elderly dog quote: “There are old dogs and dumb dogs but no old, dumb dogs.”

I saw some monarch butterflies on the sunflowers this week. I was surprised since there was tons of milkweed in the next bed. Then, as luck would have it, I came across an article I had saved from the June 16 Opinion page of The New York Times, titled Monarch Butterflies Are in Decline, I Wanted to Help by Margaret Renkl of Nashville, Tenn.

Indulge me in a lengthy quote:

“[I walked around a garden center] looking for perennials to feed native pollinators . . . . When I came upon a few pots of swamp milkweed tucked into a corner, I turned to leave. Milkweed is the host plant of the monarch butterfly, but I have plenty of milkweed. As I was turning, something striped caught my eye. I looked closer. Monarch caterpillars were munching away on the leaves...

I also bought every caterpillar-blighted plant, worried someone else would simply kill the creatures eating the plants that cost $12 each. To be of use to pollinators, a garden needs two kinds of native plants: those who give flowers feed adult butterflies and those whose leaves feed caterpillars. A caterpillar in a butterfly garden is a sign that the whole hopeful plan is working . . . . I was confident I had enough milkweed at home to see 14 baby caterpillars safely into the sky.”

It’s been a busy week in harvesting. I blanched some basil briefly (just a nanosecond), cooled it and popped it into single serving bags for the freezer. Did the same with parsley, minus the blanching.

Also, I have boatloads of Sun Gold tomatoes. I stemmed and washed them and froze huge bags of them. A quick rinse with cold water this winter will remove the skins. They will be great in a soup, stew or sauce.

While picking the aforementioned Sun Golds, I saw a hideous tomato hornworm. Fortunately it was covered with the white rice-like larva of a predator wasp. I didn’t kill it so the wasp babies could have their way with it and make more wasps. They feed off the worm until it dries and dies.

Two plants are particularly nice in the flowerbeds this week. One is melampodium. It’s an annual in the sunflower family. It grows abut nine inches tall, never needs deadheading and makes a cheerful border plant. I never see it for sale as a seedling in the local nurseries so I grow it from seed. I think I get it from Select Seed company, start it in early May and set it out after last frost.

In the perennial bed, my favorite daylily is just starting to bloom. It’s five feet tall with clusters of fragrant canary yellow trumpet-shaped blossoms. A single plant can have fifty buds. Steeple Jackie probably needs to be purchased from a mail order company since I’ve never seen it for sale either. I use Walters Gardens of Zeeland, Michigan.

I visited Violet at her job at Beetlebung Farm. While wandering around I found a couple rows of actual artichokes. I confess I coveted them. I tried growing them several times and I believe I may have eaten two or three chokes. There were many plants there with perfect ones. I don’t know if they sell them; perhaps the workers should get first dibs.

I do grow cardoon, a cousin. It reseeds in my vegetable garden and the parent plant comes back reliably. I tried eating the stalk once. It wasn’t wonderful. The flowers, however, are spectacular.

Good on Joe Biden.

Student debt forgiveness is a huge deal for millions of people. It’s rich that various members of the GOP are up in arms about how unfair it is to those who paid off their loans. These same folks received loans during Covid and had thousands of dollars forgiven to them. I’m talking to you, Matt Gaetz and Marge Greene.

No one can ever accuse the Republicans of avoiding hypocrisy.