April 30, 2007
Groan... creek.. arrrgg; What a weekend! A~ and I spent literally the whole weekend from Fri afternoon to Sunday evening working like crazy people in the yard. Allow me to tick off a list of tasks.
•Leveling, straightening, and backfilling the recycled concrete edging that we put in earlier this year.
•Planted some new perennials around the front of the house.
•Finished laying the recycled concrete pavers under our pergola. (Watch for pictures this week.)
•Mixed huge batch of plantable fill dirt to fill into the spacers between the pavers and planted two sheet trays of elfin thyme to grow along spaces.
•Stretched shade fabric over the pergola to give some nice shade this summer.
•Finished roofing the wood hutch that I built earlier this spring. (Again, watch for pictures later.)
•Sided the wood hutch with some recycled siding that a constr. site was throwing out.
•Mowed the lawn.
•Spread some grass seed and starter fertilizer onto the thin spots on the lawn.
•Dug out and repaired three sprinkler heads.
And I'm sure there were a couple of other things that I've forgotten. At any rate, this had to be one of the busiest weekends we've had since... well, since last spring. My wife and I have a little too much ambition for our own good sometimes. We also are firm believers in the fact that if we work really hard during the spring when the weather is cooler and perfect, we can be lazy larry's all summer when it's 90+ degrees. Here's the problem with that, we don't actually have any control over the weather, go figure. It turns out that this weekend on the Wasatch Front we set a new record high of 89 degrees on Sunday and Sat. wasn't much cooler. Oh well, the hammock will be nice in that shade this summer, and I can't say I've ever had a bad time spending a whole weekend working closely with my sweetie. That's all for now, I gotto go take some Aleve! Groan... humph. C-ya.
April 27, 2007
I am, by my very nature, the type of person that will always look at a problem and try to find the way to fix it. I do this at home when my kids are fighting, or when my wife is struggling with something. I do it throughout the day both in my job as a web developer and in a hundred other circumstances when I see some problem that I determine needs a solution. This may be something as simple as finding some creative way of watering my cubicle plants, or something as complex as coming up with a new design for a wind turbine with less blade span that I could use at my suburban home. At any rate this natural tendency more often that not manifests itself in some creation or device. Because of this, I think, I am very prone to looking at our forthcoming problem with energy dependence or more to the point lack of energy independence as a “problem” that can be mitigated through Energy Efficient (EE) devices, alternative power sources, and or bio-fuels and the like. Now granted, these are all great alternatives, and we at our house have begun to move in that direction. But do they really address the issue? I read an article today that struck me as very balanced; it made some very interesting points and led me to think about some of my views.
The crux of the article as I saw it was that while we continue to focus on the new and improved, EE, and alternative ways of doing things we lose focus on some of the most elemental things that everyone can do to become more responsible (Ref. this blog entry to get an idea of where I come down on environmental responsibility. I know my views will be contrary to many of yours; I’m not trying to change your mind, just let you know what’s in mine.). Things like reducing our personal level of consumption, giving second lives to things through creative reuse, and recycling our resources. One of the points of the article that struck me was this:
“Enter big enviro telling people that excessive consumption is not bad at all because it gives the consumer the ability to affect change with purchasing power. The erudite techno-magician waves his wand, uttering ‘Don’t look at the mounds of discarded junk that go into landfills. Look over here at the fabulous eco-gadgets of our corporate friends.’”
This made me look at a long held position of mine. As I mentioned on the Earth Day Blog that I put up, I think it is a good thing for large retailers like Wal-Mart to be making efforts to bring “Greening” to the public consciousness. I still believe this to be true. I do however have to revisit my idea of a consumer driven movement towards self sufficiency.
We humans as a species have faced other obstacles to our survival in the past. As we continued to thrive and multiply, we began to have problems hunting or gathering all of the food stuffs that we needed from nature. So we manipulated them to our advantage; read industrial agri-business. This did solve the problem with starvation, but in my opinion changed the quality of the food, and vastly altered the face of the landscape; neither for the better. My point of this digression is that are we poised to do the same again? If we focus solely on EE appliances, and alternative means of replacing our energy, does that really do anything for the problem? We are still consuming at the same rate. I don’t believe that we should, as a populous, leave our city living ways and move to the country to return to a village centered way of life (although for some that wouldn’t be so bad…*wink*.). But I do think we can definitely look at our patterns of consumption and see where we can improve on that before trying to just find a quick technology solution. I’m not going to send my ’87 Toyota to the scrap heap for a new hybrid just to save a few miles to the gallon if you know what I mean. Give the article a read if you have the time, and share your opinions.
‘Til next time.
April 26, 2007
April 25, 2007
I’ve had a really bad fever lately, I can’t stay focused; I’ve got it bad. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a web developer, having to try and stay focused on coding and staring at a computer screen all day when you’ve got a world class case of Spring Fever? I mean it takes everything in me to not go out and just sit in the sun at the break tables all day long and just watch the flowers bloom. I had to leave an hour early yesterday just to go get some work in the yard done. Mind you it wasn’t imperative that it get done, but in my feverish state I couldn’t think rationally! It was like going to the Emergency Room; I needed immediate treatment! I have heard of people with “seasonal affected disorder” which, best I can tell, is depression caused during the winter months when they can’t get enough sun and outside time. I think I have an inverse case of this. I get really depressed at this time of the year, every year. When the sun starts shining and there are good weather days, I start getting really depressed that I am stuck inside all day instead of out there in it. Thank God for my ambitious wife, she always seems to have some good idea for something I can be working on in the yard. I just need to make sure that I take my daily recommended dose of one part weeding and two parts planting, washed down with a healthy gulp of drip irrigation and press on. At least it looks like we’re supposed to have a beautiful weekend finally; some long term care will do me good.
April 24, 2007
April 22, 2007
Can anyone out there think of a better way to enjoy Earth Day, that with the first harvest of the year from ones home garden? I can't! Today I found the Rhubarb in the yard that I was so close to pulling out this year was about to bolt, so I went out to trim it up. In doing this, I decided to clip off some of the larger stalks. Well, long story short, I could smell the rhubarb stalks, and "ding" lightbulb moment. A~ stocked the fridge with some tasty strawberries yesterday, so I decided to get in the kitchen and make up a rhubarb-strawberry pie. Yeah yeah, you heard me right, I went into the kitchen to bake a pie. and might I say, it was soooo, tasty! And of course, like anything coming from your own yard, it tasted all the better. I decided this recipe is going in the bookmarks list, and of course I'll share it here. Get out and try it; you'll just taste the summer coming!
April 21, 2007
Earth Day is a time to celebrate gains we have made and create new visions to accelerate environmental progress. Earth Day is a time to unite around new actions. Earth Day and every day is a time to act to protect our planet. - Quoted from EarthDay.gov
I would also submit that Earth Day and all it's fanfair are about raising awareness to some of the issues that are out there and to focus on options and solutions. On Apr-19-07 I talked about the new reuseable bags that A~ and I had gotten. We went shopping the next day to Wal-Mart and asked them if they provided a discount for users of Reusable bags. I found that a couple of the other stores did provide a .05 cent discount for using a reusable bag. Wal-Mart did not. I actually wasn't surprised, although in their defense, they did say that they would honor that and would indeed give us the discount. That wasn't the reason behind us getting the bags, so no biggie, I can spare the $.05 cents. It did make me curious though, so I went to the web site for Wal-mart and found that they indeed have a Wal-Mart Stores Environment section. I had noticed at the local store, which I might add is only a couple of months old, that every so many minutes the lights go off completely section by section. This doesn't really make a difference in the store lighting because when the store was built they included skylights every thirty feet or so. I though that this was a great idea, the fifteen some odd minutes that the lights are off now and then throughout the day will really add up to a lot storewide. I was surprised to find at their web site a really quite comprehensive plan geared toward saving energy, lowering impact, and increasing sustainability. I think we all know about the amount of power that Wal-Mart weilds in the retail community. I was heartened to see that they are making strides to be leaders in this area.
The next thought to my mind was, "You know? There are a lot of people out there that just hate Wal-Mart for being Wal-Mart. No level of greening will make them seem any better than they do now. But In the sprit of Earth Day, I ask this. Regardless of what level of activity that we see from a company, isn't it a positive thing when we do see companies, that really don't need too, taking a proactive approach to this? Isn't it a mark in the win column when we are able to see that "awareness" has been raised? By the way, A~ and I did fill our reusable bags at the store and came away with a little "green buzz". It's nice to know your leaving a little smaller mark. I encourage you to look at your actions and see where a little change could make a difference, I bet you really wouldn't even notice it. Til next time. Happy Earth Day!
April 20, 2007
I have to again give credit too No Impact Man. He has a knack for asking the questions that seem to get me wanting to say things. The following is a response to his blog entry for today. I again wanted to share it here.
I am a parent of three boys. I also believe in God. Since becoming the former, my appreciation for the later has greatly increased. I love my kids with everything I have in me to love with. There are very few things that I would not do for them. But I have learned that the only way sometimes for them to learn a lesson is to make a choice and to learn from that choice. This doesn’t mean that I will let them jump off a bridge to learn that it will kill you, but it does mean that sometimes I will let them misuse something they care about to learn that it will break. I’ll also let them argue with each other, sometimes incessantly, because I know that when one of them is hurt or in trouble they are there to help them up or to protect them. I will allow them choice, and I will allow them “suffering”. I will, however, nurture them, love them regardless of their choices, and help them to repair any damage they’ve caused. These are lessons I learned from my father, and I hope my children will learn from me.
It is common to refer to people as “playing God”. Doctors can keep people alive when perhaps they shouldn’t be, or even create life through science and technology, but giving life is only half of the equation. God doesn’t just give life; He helps you to learn how to appreciate it and to preserve it. He gives us free will to make choices, and I believe he steers us toward the right ones if we let Him. How does this relate to the planet? Well, I believe that some of us are waking to the fact that we’ve been allowed to misuse it. We’ve exercised our choice, and we are learning the lessons. Some have started to repair the damage as best they can; perhaps while others have not yet learned that any damage has been done. Some have suffered floods, famines, heat waves, while others have come to their aid. Because somewhere deep down we know we’re brothers. We’re related to each other. Maybe not by blood or birth, but something ties us together. This is why I have hope. These are the lessons I learned from my Father.
April 19, 2007
I have found lately that sometimes "we", and by that I mean "I", will underestimate our other halfs. I have been growing more in love with my wife, as I have made the decision to try and consume less. Many of the things I have suggested, expecting a resounding NO, she's met with a very open mind and often an interest of her own in. My point is that, just as it's not wise to push anything down someones throat, it's also not a good idea to assume you know someone so well that you don't give them the benefit of the doubt and open that conversation with them. Shame on me.
Well, she's done it again. Yesterday, just in time for earth day, she was shopping at Albertsons, and saw these reusable shopping bags for sale. I had been thinking a couple of days before that that we could start using reusable bags at least once and a while, and true to form she comes on out with it while I'm thinking about it. I think about things sometimes, and assume that, since I don't do the majority of the "domestic" chores, I will keep my ideas to myself. I need to preface this with a little information. I have a serious case of the all or nothings. In other words I go very much full steam ahead when I get a thing in my mind. At any rate, the more I have been trying to make a change in my life, (Eating better, exercising, trying to read and write more rather than living in front of the TV.) the more I have been becoming aware of myself and my actions. I see a lot of areas where I can conserve, reuse, or just do things a little better. I don't ever see myself being a full on crunchy, no impact, the earth depends on my recycled poo type, and before I get a load of hippie hate mail, I admire those that are that way. They are certainly not doing any harm to the world. At any rate, I feel sometimes that I aspire to things that perhaps are going to be a burden to A~. I love her and I guess sometimes I just underestimate her. I always seems to be surprised by her, but I guess I shouldn't be. I could tell she was someone special when I met her, I don't know why I should be surprised by her now. Like I said, shame on me.
Well, here it is. The final yield from my tablespoonful of seeds. I know that I took forever posting this pic, but I took it after 6 days, 7 if you count the day that I put the seeds in water to soak overnight. This is probably about two of the packages that you would buy in the store. I know it doesn't seem like a really huge amount, but when you consider the container of seed that I bought was $3 and some change, it is really quite a major savings, besides the fact that you just can't get better tasting or healthier sprouts.
Well, at least that's what I thought last night while I was trying to sleep. That storm that rolled in yesterday showed up hard and heavy right about bed time. A little snow, thank goodness not enough to cover anything, a lot of rain and either Hail or sleet (I wasn't inclined to get up and verify.). I thought around 2:00 am that the end of the world had come and we were all being blown away. Not kidding, it was that loud. But this time I was prepared and whipped out the ole baffled ear plugs. Slept fine after that. (Hmm, I wonder how they would work on Sunday mornings when the kids are playng with the dog?) I know this is probably the lamest post anyone's ever read, but if you had suffered through the last few storms with no sleep because the location of your bed in the bedroom, placed you directly headlong in the path of any heavy storm or wind that came along and rattled the vinyl siding that's about 8 inches from your head; combined with the constant rocking creak coming from the porch swing that was strategically placed on the covered porch directly below your bed. (Yes, directly below! Our master bedroom is cantilevered over the porch.) believe me, you would be as excited as me to have slept through this one!
April 18, 2007
Well, the temps have dropped off the map again, and I'll be damned if it isn't snowing out. I was hoping that the weather would hold another week or so, My pear and cherry blossoms have been open for a while now, but my apple blossoms are just now peaking out, and this is gonna beat them up pretty good I think. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to hope for the best and see what comes of it. Looks like the next couple of days will provide me with a good opportunity to work in the garage, and see if I can make a difference. If I don't do it now, who knows when I'll have the chance.
April 17, 2007
Amidst the 24 hr news coverage and analysis, try to keep from being overwhelmed. Hold your loved ones near, love them and enjoy every minute together. To the families of the fallen students in Virginia my thoughts and prayers are with you. More often than not, my words are insufficient. I offer this;
Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.
- Matt. 5:4
April 12, 2007
Everyday, every one of us is searching for something. It’s something that often seems just around the corner. We just know that it’s something we can “get”. We almost have it, or we know we will when ___, you fill in the blank. What is it that consumes so much of our lives? What is this elusive thing that we all crave?
Happiness. When was the last time that you really felt happy? Not just alright, or okay but really happy? I guess before I can go much further I need to explain what I mean.
Most of the time, I am pretty happy with my life. I have a beautiful wife, great kids, and live in a nice home. But is that happiness? For that matter what is happiness? Is it a long term situation or one that comes and goes like the wind? I have tried to define happiness many times in my life. As a child I thought happiness was getting what I wanted when I wanted it. Later, in High School, I thought happiness would be making my own decisions and charting my own course. Yet later in life I thought happiness was something that came from what I had; cars, job, money, fun. Looking back on it, the one common thread I see for myself was the constant association of happiness with some thing “out there”, something that I didn’t have or didn’t have enough of.
I guess to define happiness one would need to define what happiness is not. Rather a Zen perspective I know, but bear with me. Let’s assume that happiness is not something that’s conveyed through acquisitions. We can also accept as fact that happiness is not a constant state of mind, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation would we? The dictionary defines “unhappy” as 1) Sad or sorrowful; and 2) Not satisfied; displeased or discontented. Either way the unhappiness or state of being “not happy” as I see it is from not accepting the current situation. I was not a great student in school; I wasn’t a dunce mind you, but I had an aversion to homework and this landed me in summer school more than once. During one summer of pre-algebra, I was lucky enough to have a teacher who imparted to me the phrase that I have referred to more times than any other. "Happiness is being where you are." This simple thought has over time grown on me and become very much one of my core beliefs. When you are wanting, wishing, hoping or just thinking about the things you want that you don't have, or the places you want to be that you are not at, you are not being where you are. When you live in the future, or dwell on the past, you are not being where you are. These are, for me anyway, the times that I am the most discontent or unhappy. I try to not indulge myself in this thinking too often, but hey, I ain't perfect. Remember that thought though, and hold it in your mind on those times when you can feel the blues creeping in. We all have some blessings in our lives. Whether that is health, family, passion, or profession. Happiness is being where you are. Hold dear each moment you have, and when it passes, enjoy the next.
April 11, 2007
April 10, 2007
Crunchy Chicken posted on her blog about the frustration with cats taking their liberties in her garden beds. I have had the same problem! I googled, and searched for any possible solutions to this problem that didn't require me to take out my kids bb gun. You see I know who's cat it is, and I do think that they feel bad about their cat being a problem child. So anyway, I found suggestions for citrus oils, automatic sprinklers, special plants and noise making contraptions. However, one of my other requirements was to be able to use something I already had around the house or possibly to reuse/recycle something. Then I found this idea about sticks in the garden to make the cat unable to easily do his business. I also found an idea for putting shiny objects around the garden to make the cat feel like there's movement around him. I decided to try this to see what kind of response I would have.
The pictures show the different techniques I tried. From Right to Left:
First I placed some two-three inch shiny metal discs that I salvaged from the trashpile next door at the construction site. I literally just stood at the end of the bed and fliped them out on the bed like pitching cards at a hat.
Second I split a couple of old foot long scraps of 2x4 that I had in my wood pile into what was essentially kindling. (long skinny strips of wood.) I stuck these all over the next bed. If you click the image and look at the larger version of the picture you will notice that I put them heavier towards the fence. This is the area that the cat seemed to prefer for one reason or another. Third I mixed a combination of both techniques.
My results for this has been pretty good. The cat has still walked through the beds, and did scratch in one area, but has not left me any "presents" in them. I did leave one bed open with no deterrants in place as a control bed and it did get hit. You could literally see the cats tracks through the other beds and finished in the open one. I did put some sticks into that one after that and have had no incidents.
All in all I would recommend these methods.
A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.
This is something I need to make sure I keep in mind. I need to make sure to cultivate the beautiful garden of my family. ~P
Beautiful weather on the Wasatch Front! I told A~ about a half hour earlier that it looked like there might be some rain tonight. I was wrong yet again!
Not rain, half inch hail. Kids being kids had to run right out and gather up some samples!
April 9, 2007
Take one pile of "unusable" concrete waste left over from trampling march of urban sprawl.
Break into manageable pieces, and transport to "refining" facility.
Once there, add two heaping helpings of manual labor. (And yes, I mean HEAPING HELPINGS!)
And Voila! Beautiful, garden edging, complete with "Rustic" cobblestone-like appearance for that quaint English garden look!
Get out there and see what you can find to reuse. It feels great to have something beautiful for nothing, and to get a good feeling for helping the environment to boot!
Well here we are at Day 6. The sprouts are now about 1 3/4 inch tall. I can eat them anytime not, but I like to wait until they are a bit bigger. I will post my last update in another day or two with the final product. I hope you get inspired to try these on your own. They are a great addition to the wonderful fresh salads and veggies we'll have here shortly in the summer, but can be enjoyed all year. Have fun, and get sprouting!!
April 6, 2007
Day four and the sprouts are really kicking into gear.
See those long roots! actually they're about 3/4 inch long. Tonight instead of covering the sprouts with water and then pouring it out through the nylon filter, I decided to try a different method of watering the sprouts. I took a regular all pupose spray bottle, filled with clear water and spritzed the top of the sprouts. Not too much, just enough to dampen the sprouts. The reason for this is that one of the issues I have had in the past is that as the sprouts germinate and grow and I tip the jar over to drain the water, they inevitably fall onto the lid. Not really a big deal, but when I push them back down onto the bottom of the jar I break some of them, and they tend to grow all curly and knotted up with each other. Again, not really a big deal, but if you were as obsessive compulsive as me, it'd drive you nuts. trust me.
Here is the top view.
April 5, 2007
Well Carol ,over at May Dreams Gardens posted a picture of her gloves. I replied that I indeed had many gloves, but could not find any of my right ones. I did offer what I thought a reasonable excuse, my pathetically messy garage. To which she made, I am sure in jest, the remark that "that would be something to see", and could perhaps make everyone else feel good about their own garages. So in the interest of full disclosure. Here it is:
So, now that excuse seems a little more resonanble does't it? I'm going to make it a challenge to myself to make this garage an orderly little workshop, an eden of inspiration to all, well, OK maybe just orderly. If I get my "dirty" laundry out there, I have to clean it up as I see it.
Posted by P~
Well here we are at day three, 48 hours have passed. I guess it's really day two if you consider that day one was just putting the seeds in the jar.
I took the jar down tonight after dinner, and added about an inch of water. Enough to cover it well, it's really not a scientific process. Anyway, same as yesterday I drain and then push all the seeds to the bottom. Rinse, Drain, Repeat, Rinse, Drain, Repeat. I took a new picture and TAADAA sprouts are popping out all over. In retrospect I think that leaving them to soak for a full twenty four hours is a good thing. These sprouted a lot more vigorously than the last batch I grew.
Alright, it's been about 24 hours. You really only need to leave them to soak for 12 but it won't hurt them to go a little longer. Now the reason for the nylon scrap is more evident. After letting them soak, you turn the jar over and drain all of the water out. Some water will of course linger at the bottom, but let it sit upside down for a minute to get out as much as you can.
After I do this, I have seed spread all over the side of the jar, not a good place for the sprouts to grow, so I scrap them down to the bottom of the jar with a long wooden tool (Truth be told, I use an extra paint stir stick that's a little concaved, it works great.) and spread them evenly on the bottom.
Here is the end result. This is a closer look at the seeds them selves. they are really saturated and swollen, you can see there are a couple that are already showing green and getting ready to sprout.
After draining, I place the jar on top of the refrigerator where it is a little warmer and perfect for sprouting.
April 4, 2007
I thought everyone would enjoy a little glimpse of the great rebirth going on in my yard. I know I love seeing it every day.
Apple on the left, pear below.
A cherry blossom just "popping" out!
And what garden doesn't light up every year when the bleeding hearts come out!
I've been playing around with a little indoor garden lately. It's a really small indoor garden and gives me a sweet green to eat with my burgers, sandwiches, salads or just for a little snack any time of the year. I've been growing alfalpha sprouts in my kitchen! All I needed was an inexpensive container of seeds, an old mason jar that was sitting in a box in the garage, and a scrap piece of nylon panyhose. I thought I'd document it for anyone that has thought about trying this for yourself. First of all, you'll need to get your supplies together.
I've got my seeds, jar, nylon, and a tablespoon measure to measure out my seed.
The first step is to take 1 tbsp of seed and add it too our jar. Now pay attention, this is the difficult part, cover it with a good bit of water and let it sit overnight. The Nylon is used to cover the jar and keep dust out. It also has a more important use, but we'll get to that tomorrow.
Here is what it looks like when it starts. Not too exciting, but give it a day or so.
April 3, 2007
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
~Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
I've been slacking, in updating my blog that is. In reality I have actually been quite busy. The family and I caught a Grizzlies Hocky game the other night (Fri 30th). The boys do love the hockey games. I'm not sure if it's the free pucks they seem to get each time we go, or if it's the fights? Either way, we all had a good time even if the Grizz lost in overtime!
Sunday I finally got out into the yard and got a couple of more garden beds prepped for planting. I have to say I had a great time. The boys all came out and started spontaneously participating in the gardening with me. Even C~ (12) who generally won't want to work in the garden unless he gets to see green with presidents on it, came out and lent a hand. I was hoping to be able to pass on to them the love I have for getting into the dirt. Planting, growing and then enjoying the fruits of that labor later. Maybe the "seed" has been planted; last night we stopped by the local nursery for a scouting mission to see what's new this year and the youngest B~ (9) said that "the brothers" were talking and they want to have their own square foot garden beds this year to grow their own stuff in. (pause for silent internal YYEESSSS!) Of course they can! And as the fates were smiling on me, when we got home that night and took a walk around the block the cleanup crew was at the const. site behind our house and let me take whatever scraps of wood I wanted. This weekend the boys will be building their beds with the recycled wood.
Yep, life is good!
All for now.