Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

October 30, 2007

Good News

I'd like to take a minute to let you all know about a what is destined to be a great blog, CountryBornCityMade. It's brand new so how do I know it'll be so good? Because it is my wifes! She's decided to start a blog, write more interesting articles and steal all my readers. Well, not really, she just thought it'd be a great way to get writing and share what she cares about, but I can see it going that way. She's a great writer, prolific reader, and certainly has her opinions. I hope you'll check in on her and say hi!

October 29, 2007

The Hunt / Selling America

Well as I said, I didn't get a deer this year. But as I also said, it wasn't for lack of trying. the photo to the left is a picture from near the apex of my hike last friday while I was trying to track my quarry. If you enlarge it you'll see the arrow that seems to point to the side of a hill, it's actually pointing to the valley beyond it. This is where I started my hike that day. All told it came out to be about 6 miles and a little over 1000 verticle feet, and still nothing. I can't say it was for nothing though, there's really not a better way of seeing this part of the country. I do have a little bitch though. While I was out hunting and walking my legs off, I came across a few others and learned that most of the area I was hunting had been recently sold off to a developer who was planning to divide it and sell it off into 10-20 acre "Ranchettes". I'm torn on this to a certain degree. On the one hand I believe that if a person works hard and can afford the luxuries that life affords then it is up to them to decide which of those they want to have. I am a strong believer in personal freedom and rights, and typically a very staunch opponent of governmental regulation. I can't however, get myself to a point where I think that it is OK for the goverment to sell off our country into ranchettes. My son in all his 12 yr old wisdom asked me, "What's the difference between that and where our house was built? It used to be farms right?" Yeah it did, and although that land was purchased from an individual, it originally was a possession to some degree of the government, probably homesteaded and claimed sometime along the way. So what is the difference? I guess time, and perspective. We are in a different time; we've moved beyond the point where we merely took and claimed land. As for perspective, the land that we live in is far less uncommon than the mountain lands that I'm talking about. I guess I see them as national treasures, things to be kept and maintained for posterity and shared by all. While spending time in the mountains over the last few years I see more and more private property areas. No trespassing signs are becoming the norm, and more and more the "common" man is being relegated to strips of land here and there where logging is common and hunting is scarce. It's a sad fact I guess. This being said, I would still like to have a small cabin of my own some day, not a Ranchette mind you but a small place where my family and I can be in and enjoy the woods, not necesarily own them. I learned to share when I was a kid and I don't have a problem with it today, but how do you justify selling just small portions and not large ones without regulation? See my quandry? What's your opinion?

Getting caught up.

I’m back. It was another one of those busy weeks that we get from time to time. I managed to get out for a couple more days of hunting last week; more to come on that. I didn’t get one, but it was not for lack of effort. Also, A~ and I finally got out into the yard to start on the winterizing and get caught up on the yard chores. What a task. We’ve moved perennials and trees, weeded, thinned, pruned and chopped up bags full of stuff for the last big compost push of the year. More to come on that as well (you know I love to talk about my composting). We still haven’t touched the garden yet though. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with winter cover crops, I’ve been mulling the idea over of planting one, but an unsure as to what to plant, and what it does. I will read up on it, but I’d love any personal anecdotes.

We’ve been enjoying a wonderful Indian summer this last week. After the bitter cold hunting a week ago it was nice to be in the yard in shorts this weekend. I was pruning up some of the honeysuckle on Sunday and was sweating like mad, I had to get some shorts on and break out with the shade hat. It was great. We decided this summer to remove the perennial shrubs that we had planted in the beds along the back of our yard in favor of expanding the veggie garden. Doing this will effectively double the amount of space that I have available and will give me a place to plant some of my hardier perennial edibles. My Rhubarb for instance did really well this spring, and is scheduled to be dug and split this fall. I currently have it in one of my raised beds, and although it has done well, I want to be able to use that space for other crops and the rhubarb takes up so much space when it is in full growth. I’m going to split the crown and have at least two plants for next year. Mmm mmm can’t wait for the pies. My strawberries have gone berserk this summer and spread like wild fire so I thinned them down while still leaving approx twice the number of plants. Between those two I’ll be in the pies for sure next spring! I also hope to be able to get a good potato crop in that space next year, I’ve never really had enough space to plant more that a couple of plants, but I love the new red ones so that’s on the list for sure. I could go on and on, but I think I’ll save that for a dedicated post later this winter when I’ve been able to further finalize a garden plan for next year.

Hope you all had a great week. I’ll be back with more soon, oh, and some really great news too!


October 23, 2007

Snow and Fire

I've been in the mountains since Friday with the family; mom, dad, and the wife and kids. My dad, my son and I hunted hard through the weekend, but unfortunatly came up empty handed. We expected cold weather going into the hunt, I mean it wouldn't be deer camp without brisk fall mornings and perhaps a little snow....

Um, I said a LITTLE snow! We got there Friday and scouted a bit, decided on where we wanted to sit the next morning and then ate a great dinner and got to bed. The next morning we got an early start and hiked the mile and a half out to the ridgeline we wanted to hunt and watched for the sunrise. Then the wind picked up... and up... and then the snow started to come. It was just the little flurries and the wind, then the big flakes came. By the end of the day the ground was white, and by morning we had nearly a foot. The snow came on and off through Monday. Yesterday morning we decided to get a late start expecting it to be too cold for anything to be up and moving, it was 15 deg when we got out, it had been only 5 deg that morning according to the camp caretakers. I do have to say though that the cabin we stayed in was very comfortable, and if I was going to spend a cold hunt coming home empty handed then this was the way I would want to do it; spending the evenings playing cards, telling old stories and singing tangy old country songs (Much to my wifes displeasure!).

When we got home today we learned about the fires raging in San Diego county. I grew up there, not many miles from one of the fronts. My parents learned about the fires and spoke to my sister in Temecula who can watch the fires from her bedroom window. We've had friends of the family displaced from mandatory evacuations and others including my sister prepared in case they are called. I guess this is just how life works. Snow and Fire.

Carmel Mountain Road fire photo credit: ALBERT JOHNSON / For SignOnSanDiego

October 17, 2007

Thought for today

Perhaps there is a more generous light in which to view the hunter's joy. Perhaps it is the joy of a creature succeeding at something he has discovered his nature has superbly equipped him to do, an action that is less a perversion of that nature, his "creaturely character," than a fulfillment of it. But what of the animal in the picture? Well, the animal, too, has had the chance to fulfill its wild nature, has lived, and arguably even died, in a manner consistent with its creaturely character. Hers is, by the standards of animal death, a good one.

~Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals)


October 16, 2007

I hunt, therefore I am.

I eat meat. A lot less than I used to but yeah, I'm a carnivore. I'm also trying to be more responsible about what I put into my body. This isn't why I began hunting, but as I see it, it fits in perfectly.
Hunting is always something that I wanted to do. I grew up in Southern California, and although it's not a barren wastland for hunters, as you may expect, it's not a very common thing. My dad grew up here in Utah, and as a young man he and his brothers hunted every year. It was a very different affair then than it is now. He has told me of the nights sleeping in a "shepards tent", a wool blanket on top of a tarp then flipped over the top of you. They also didn't only hunt for the sport of it; meat was expensive, and they weren't rich. I think that this perspective may have lead my father away from taking me hunting as a kid. I am glad to say that for the last five years, last year excluded due to a broken arm with two metal plates and 12 screws, my dad has made it a point of coming up here and sharing the experience with me. This year, I will have the privilidge of sharing it with my 12 yr old C~.
In todays fast world, where nearly everything we consume is cut cleaned packed and prepared with little to no interaction from us, I think it is important to share something that brings us into intimite contact with where our food comes from. It helps us to define anew our position in the world, and in the food chain. Growing a garden is much the same thing but the relationship is different. I can neglect my garden from time to time, pick some and perhaps not use it soon enough, but the plant persists and completes it's life cycle. To hunt, at it's most elemental, is to take a life to sustain another. There is a level of responsibility in that action that exists nowhere else. I am responsible to the animal that I take, to respect it by ensuring that I am effective and concise in my taking of it. I also have a responsibility to my son, and to other hunters, to ensure that I pass on not only the craft of pursuing the game to him, but the ethics and sense of responsibility in it. Also, much in the same way that my father hunted for meat, I too hunt to eat. I would take a trophy buck if one presented itself, but that is not my purpose. No matter how hard I've looked, I've never found a good recipe for antlers.
I know there are a lot of people out there that look unfavorably on hunting and in turn on hunters. They see it as an unnecessary act, a cruelty and a barbarism held onto by beer guzzling partiers with guns. Let's be realistic, in some circumstances that is true, but hunters are also some of the greatest conservationists in the nation. Without them and the fees they pay, many of our national parks and game preserves would not exist. As humans we are not removed from the wild world, as much as it may seem at times. Because we live here, and because our impact is felt regardless of how hard we try to reduce it, we have a responsibility to manage our herds and to optimize their range and numbers. I hope to be a part of that managment program, but I'll leave that to the fates.

I'd love to hear from you on this. What are your feelings? Are you opposed? Will you never read me again because of it? I'm curious.

October 14, 2007

Ssshhhh don't tell

You have to keep this a secret or I may get run out of the suburbs.
I don't like lawns.
Nope I don't, just figured that out this afternoon. I was out there mowing it, getting it short for the fall, and thinking to myself about all of the things we do for this plant. We water it, kill the weeds and fertilize it so it will grow fast and lush; then we complain about how often we have to mow it. I did fertilize it early in the spring, and I do have a sprinkler system, but I didn't use any weed killers. (I pulled them with my hands. And for that matter ate many of them. Dandylion and purslane, Mmm Mmm good!) I've come up with a theory that directly relates my level of summer enjoyment and overall happiness to the number of weeds and imperfections in my lawn. It goes as follows:
To control my weeds I can either spray them with a bunch of poisons and then let my kids and my dog run and lay and play in it, but no trouble right? Or I can take the time to pull them all, one by one, investing my time in nothing but manicuring the lawn and miss out on so much of the other things that life offers.
I struck a balance. No chemicals, and I pulled weeds when I had the chance, here or there. I didn't get them all, but you know what, I had a pretty good summer all told. Am I being a little extreme? Yeah maybe a little, but think about it, how much time and effort do we put into our lawns as a nation? What if we put that into something more productive like growing something edible or playing with our kids? Wouldn't we be happier, I know I would.
Oh well, I guess I'll just go pull some more weeds. Have a good day all.

October 11, 2007

Skansen and thank you's

I was born in UmeƄ Sweden and grew up in California. When I was nine, my parents put me on a plane and sent me back there to get to know my family. When I got there my Mom had arranged to have a good friend U~, pick me up at the airport and show me around for a day or two, it's been 27 yrs the details are a little foggy. One thing I do remember was the trip she took me on to a place called Skansen. It is a living museum in Stockholm that shows how the Swedish people lived throughout history. I remember glass blowers, and timber frame barns, and all of the crafts and architecture. There are all things that are all near and dear to me even now.

I've said before that early on I began to be interested in old ways for lack of a better word. Well, if I had only a cursory interest in it prior to nine, then after Skansen I was enamoured. The home in the picture is one that has been in my head for most of my life. I had never seen a home with grass on the roof, and it wasn't until recently that I learned how efficient they are. All I know is that it felt so comfortable to me; like I had grown up there. Being as I was nine, I don't know if I ever took the time to let U~ know how much I appreciate her taking the time to do show me around, and unwittingly as it may have been, shaping a young mind. I talked with Mom tonight and she told me that when U~ was out recently visiting her, she gave her the address for my blog. So U~ (I assume you know who you are, I never use full names here, it's a silly little thing I do.) thank you so much, I hope you'll come here and check in on me once and a while, and if you click the link below the post where it says "_ comments", you can leave me a note.
Strange how life puts things in front of you that are just meant to be there isn't it?

For Love of Autumn

I was catching up on some reading on the PTF blog and caught Anais’ post about autumn and all that she looks forward too. She asked what it is what that we looked forward to; in writing a response to her I realized how much I love autumn and was inspired. Please bear with me as I try to capture what it means to me.


Brisk frosted mornings greet me with a nip on my cheeks. Sunrise peeks late over the mountains giving them golden halos that blind me, yet refuse my efforts to look away. The days, shorter and cooler, bid me to come out; “Enjoy me while I am here.” they seem to say, “My frozen cousin will visit soon.” In the garden I kneel on damp ground, still warming in the low hanging sun. The spent ground, that weeks before yielded up its bounty, now calls out for replenishing care, a last grooming before its long winter sleep. Inside, the cool air of the tired year blows gentle through the open windows to refresh the house and circulate the smells of the season throughout. They hit me as hard as a blown kiss; the warm smell of baking bread or the tingle of the cinnamon and cloves in the pumpkin cookies. In the evening, which seems to come still earlier each day, I find myself lulled by the creak of the porch swing. Warmed by the soft fabric of a homemade quilt and the gently pressure of my wife leaning into my shoulder, we watch the sunset to the west; its orange glow shines across our valley and seems to put the aspen and scrub oak ablaze on the mountains. The kids play in the yard begging for a few more minutes of day, the beauty of it all lost in their refusal to let summer go. It’s a good time; slow down, rest a little and enjoy one of the best times of the year.


For A~, who opened me up to the love of autumn, and whom I look forward to sharing many of them I the future!



October 10, 2007

Not so Wordless Wednesday

So I like the idea of Wordless Wednesday; you know letting the pictures do the talking. But by golly I've finished my floor and I really want to say a few words about it. First off, I love it!
The pictures here are of the stairs down from the Master Suite, (at least that's what the builder calls it.) and then down into the foyer and front room. It shows the staircase that absolutely kicked my butt, but which came out looking spectacular if I do say so myself.
After a lot of of deliberating and homework looking into the various finishes that were available, and what costs would be for those, we decided to go with Olympic Brand water based semi-gloss polyurethane (poly).I ran a couple of test using the Tried and True product that was the one that we were leaning towards primarily because it was based on natural oils and waxes. The other products may have been as effective as the poly, but just weren't cost effective for our budget.
As I was saying, I did a couple of tests with the Tried and True, and while I will say that it left a very warm and soft finish that I loved, it didn't provide the type of protection that we need with three boys and a dog. We had a section of wood flooring that was in front of our back door from the original flooring install; I sanded it, and applied a coating of the T-n-T over the whole area. Part of this I also covered with two coats of a flooring wax. I left an ice cube out over night on both sections (a common occurrence and annoyance in our kitchen.) and checked on it the next day. The unwaxed area had basically absorbed the water, swollen/warped, and was stained; very unsatisfactory. The waxed area did do better, and seemed to be repelling some of the water, but did stain, and have some warping. I tested clean up of the two areas, and although it was possible, and were it only my wife and I, we may have gone with it. As it is, we found that the Olympic product was very low in VOC's, dried quickly and provided a good seal. Add to this the fact that we could buy two gallons of it for the price of one of the other and the decision was made. We put four coats on the main floor areas, and three coats on the upstairs bedroom areas.

The whole process to this point has taken about a month and a half, we've spent the whole time in a semi state of chaos, and the last 5 days with no furniture in the house and every bit of it was worth it. I know there were a couple of you that mentioned that you were preparing to do some hardwood floor work; if there's any questions that you have for me on this, I'll do my best to try and help you with it.

October 8, 2007

Tuesday How-To

I thought I'd take a minute to share a little how-to with you. I mean after all, I've given you recipes for rhubarb pie, ratatouille and eggplant Parmesan; I figured it was time to reaffirm my identity as a man out there is a blogosphere that seems to be very feminine.
While I was working on my flooring over the last few weeks, I have been running over in my head how I was going to handle all of the spaces, nicks and nail holes that enevitably show up when doing any type of large woodworking project. I've tried both water based and oil based wood fillers, and have never really been able to find one that I was happy with. Either the texture is all wrong, or I use it once and then it's dryed out before I need it again. Or maybe in th color is the problem; with a wood like red oak, there's such a wide variety of colors that it's hard to get a good match. Either it's too dark or too light, the later being the worst of the two and can look like you spilt rice on the ground if your not careful. So what was my solution? Make my own of course!

Here's the "recipe":
• sawdust,
• Wood Glue,
• Water
That's it. I used wood dust from the catcher on my sander. It is very fine, almost the consistancy of flour. I put a bit in a plastic cup, addedenough glue to adhere it all together into a very thick paste. To this paste I added a little bit, (1/2 teaspoon maybe) of water, just enough to loosen the past into a consistancy that I could work with. I was very pleased with the results. I found that it worked in well, and could be sanded easily. I do think that the next time that I use it I would try wiping it with a damp sponge to clean the excess out of the grains. It did sand down completely but took a little while.

My Dad says I'm a craftsman, that's why I like to own every aspect of my projects. My kids would just tell you I'm just cheap. As for me, I'm afraid a day will soon come when so many of our skills and knowledge base will be lost if we don't take the time to practice and hand these skills down. I enjoy knowing that I made it, that whether or not a local hardware store has it or not, I can accomplish my goal. I encourage you to experiment with whatever your interests are. I can't think of many things out there that we couldn't simplify and do it ourselves at least to some degree. I think you'll find a huge amount of satisfaction in it.


Sanding and Simple saving

Here is the way we are living this weekend. Bare bones!
We basically took everything out of the house; couches, television, kitchen table... everything. We didn't want to get everything covered with dust first of all, but we would have had to take it out eventually to do the finishing anyway.

While I was sanding and finishing the flooring beneath the refrigerator I decided to check the evaporator coils and see it they needed cleaning. This is a simple thing that anyone can do to save a little money, power, and life of your fridge. When these fins and mechanics are dirty, your fridge will need to work harder, and will be less efficient. Take a moment to clean these off and you could save yourself a lot of power and money. I have a friend who first mentioned this to me while telling me a story of his sister that had an older refrigerator. It no longer got consistently cold, even though it was only six or seven years old. They cleaned the coils in the back and vacuumed the bottom area out, and were able to get another ten+ years of use out of it.

A lot of times it seems that for us to be able to save money or to reduce our impact and live more sustainably, that we need to get new appliances or gadgets, or drastically change the way we live. Not true; simple things like this are things that we can all do, and are right up there with turning off the lights and not letting the water run unused.

P.S. sorry for the multiple post to any of you getting a feed. Formatting issues.

October 6, 2007

Spammers, Weather, Flooring, Football

Well, I guess I could take it as a compliment to my literary prowess; confirmation of the high degree of useful and informative topics I have so expertly handled that has drawn the spammers. But really, how could they not come. I really don't want to use the post validation that I know a lot of you fellow bloggers have moved to. Not to say that it bothers me to have to maneuver though them myself, but I just don't like them. So for the time being, if you see any funky comments in any of the sections of my site, please do me the favor of letting me know, or at the least ignore them till I have a chance to delete it. (Unless of course, you are looking for a new sea-side condo in Costa Rica?)

On the weather front - It's another weekend of rain here and snow in the mountains. Fall fell hard this year. It is the 6th of October and we've had snow in the mountains three times already, and once in the valley.

Flooring update - A~ and I spent the entire day sanding the floors today. I mean literally the whole day. We rented the sander at 9:30 am, and stopped for the night at 10:30 pm. It was a long day but I have to say that I am sooo happy with the way that it is coming along. I will post pics of the finished sanded flooring tomorrow. We will be doing the final prep work for the top finish tomorrow, and will be trying to get it finished up on Monday.

Chargers play the Broncos tomorrow. Go Bolts!!

October 5, 2007

So much to do... So little time.

Like I’m sure so many of you do, I use this blog as a means of personal accountability. When I have things that I want to get done I usually put them down here. I guess there’s a sort of self-imposed peer pressure to it that helps motivate me. When I say I’m going to do something I am much more likely to actually get it done when I know there’s people (You know, the 3 or 4 of you that read this blog daily.) that know about my goals.
This time of year always seems to be such a busy time around a household. This year is not only not an exception to that rule, it is busier that most. Since we’ve been working on the flooring seemingly every weekend for the last month and a half, not to mention a little work each night, I don’t feel like I’ve been able to get a lot of the things around the garden and yard that I need to in order to get ready for next spring. So I’m using you again as my accountability control.

Here’s the list:

• Pull the summer veggies that are now, thanks to an early and hard fall, dieing.
• Pull the annuals from the front beds.
• Dig out, split and replant the Rhubarb so we can have more next year.
• Decide which large perennials we will leave where they are and which we will move and then actually move them.
• Construct a cold frame to protect my one cool weather crop bed that I am testing for hardiness this year.
• Buy a new tarp and cover the boat that I didn’t get a chance to finish restoring this year. (It’ll be sold next year I think.)
• Cut up and consolidate all of the pulled greens from the garden for composting.
• Prune, thin and support the raspberries and strawberries.
• Weed some of the bad areas of the yard to get a head start on next year.
• I need to get grub controlling nematodes for the infected areas of my lawn that have appeared in the grass over the summer.

• Spread organic soil activator on the lawn to help compost the thatch over the winter. (This stuff is great! I’ll post about it when I get to it doing it.)
• Plant bulbs for next springs early color.

I’m sure there are a couple of small things that I left out but this is pretty comprehensive. Add to that actually finishing the floor (which by the way we hope to make a big stride forward on this weekend), helping kids with homework every night and getting ready for and going on our family hunting trip at the end of the month, and I have a pretty busy schedule ahead of me. Of course I will do my best to keep up with the blog as well; I know you are all hanging on every word I post after all. You are right? Hope you’re enjoying your fall, and that you have made better progress than I.


October 4, 2007

Thought for Today

To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile. The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned chatter.
~Aleister Crowley

October 3, 2007

FFA council.

So tonight I went to a parent teacher conference for our 7th grader. One of his classes is Industrial Arts; it's kind of an introduction to wood shop, cooking, and drafting. Anyway I digress. I was talking to his teacher, Mr. K~, and we got to talking about the flooring I was putting in, and then on to 4H and FFA (Future Farmers of America). Mr. K~ is also one of the leaders of the FFA, and the 4H in our county. I guess I just got volunteered for the FFA council. I'm ok with that and all, but have to say it was pretty funn when we were talking about it, and he just said we need some people for the council, I'm gonna put you down for that. So I guess we'll see.

I am excited to help him with some of the things that he's trying to get through however. We are in a suburban area, but one that comes from a long history of being agricultural. Up until just recently, I drove past more corn fields than real estate developments on the way to work and got my mail from a rural route postman. Again, I digress. Mr. K~ agrees that there is no reason that we should not be permitted to have chickens, and he would say some limited livestock, on our urban lots. He and presumable the 4H and FFA councils, have been lobbying the local cities to agree to allow a short term keeping of show quality goats, sheep and chickens from March to September so that more kids can get involved in the 4H and FFA, and learn about what is involved in raising animals. I think this is great, and if I can help out that'll be more than happy to.

Any of you out there participate in the 4H or FFA? I don't have any experience with it myself, and would love to hear what your experiances are.

Thought for Today