Sunday, June 08, 2014

Grapes Expectations


We have been planting grapevines for sometime, and this year, the are exceeding the trellises.


So the logical thing is to try to create a place for them to go.  I added the twine between them to allow the vines a little room, and they have gone with it.

Maybe we'll end up with a grape vine arbor yet.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't you care about the environment?

I have this grocery store semi-near to my work.   I often go there on my lunch break for their rocking salad bar, and to pick up a few things.

And as I was crossing the street (in the middle of a block, and climbing over a snowbank), I noticed someone standing on the corner outside the store.  She was wearing a heavy jacket and then a green reflective vest over that.   And I thought...."is she directing traffic?  what's up with the green vest?".

She caught me looking at her.  She waved me over.

"Hi, I noticed you climbing over that snowbank."

"Yeah, well, it wasn't difficult."

"I'm with Greenpeace and I'd like to ask you, do you care about the environment?"

What am I supposed to say about that?   Of course, I care about the environment.  

She went on and on, and I do agree with a lot of the very good work that they do.   They work with vendors to improve their sustainability and they protect areas of the Indonesia rain forest that are largely unprotected.   I remembered a documentary about the decline of Indoneisan orangatangs due to overlogging and it just made me sad.

"And so, why don't we just fill out the paperwork to make you a member?"

She flipped over her notebook and I scanned the paperwork.  I didn't want to pay a monthly fee.   I didn't want to give anyone my credit card number.  Especially since it was the same day the huge Target credit card breech was announced.

"Don't you have a form or brochure or something I could take instead?"

"It will take 60 seconds.   We can call the call center and then you give them your credit card and it goes really quick, I promise."

"Do you have a website?  I'd really feel more comfortable with a website and I don't have a lot of time."

I'm not going to dig out my credit card in the middle of a street corner and use a stranger's cell phone to talk to someone at a phone number that I haven't dialed myself and fill out a committment to give money to anyone, especially a monthly payment.

What the hell was Greenpeace thinking?   We've moved beyond this sort of thing.   Even if it is legit, it's dumb from a security standpoint.  If you are freaked out that Target might have spilled your credit card numbers to a hacker, think about all of the ways that hackers can get your credit card numbers in other ways, including things like this.

I made my "I'm out of time" excuse until she left me alone, hurried into the store, was completely discombobulated, bought a bunch of stuff without bothering to grab a basket, lost my gloves, checked out, tried to find my gloves, thinking I might have not brought them, and then retraced my steps and found them.   When I snuck out, she was accosting another person.

Greenpeace, really.    It's Madison.   We like you.  Get with the program and give us some security and we'll give you money.    You just can't do the hard sell.  Not anymore.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Influx


Each year, about this time, are state football championships.   And if you are out walking around, you'll notice crowds of high school kids walking around the big city.

I did it, when my high school came down to "State" for basketball.  I made sure to dress "cool" because I wanted to fit in.   I didn't realize how futile that is.

And what I'm sure they don't realize is how easily spotted they are.  Sure, they put on their best jeans and sweats, but they just don't blend in.

Because....
  • the UW students walking around are by and large alone.  There are probably a couple people talking and walking, but class change means "I need to get somewhere."
  • the UW students walking around either have a cell phone to their ear or a pair of ear buds in.   
  • the UW students wear a backpack, or carry a bag, or are laden with something.
  • the UW students don't care what they look like.  They've got on whatever they've rolled out of bed in.   
  • the UW students are wearing clothing for the elements.  By this time in the semester, it's getting cold, and that means you can't just wear anything you wish.  It's 2nd midterm time, so they are tired, cranky and just want to get to Thanksgiving without flunking their calculus exam.   Comfort is king.  That means mittens, hats and appropriate jackets.   
  • the UW students aren't hanging out by Camp Randall.   
  • the UW students don't wear high school sweats and letter jackets.   
  • there's a lot of glazed looking drivers trying to find parking. Oh, that could be anyone, really, but they are extra confused.  If it says no parking, but then it says 2 hour parking, but then it has a number on it, can I park there?  Yes, say the city folk, but no, you probably shouldn't.
Don't get me wrong; I welcome our visitors to our fair city and hope their team does well.   It's just that you've been spotted.   We know you aren't from around here.   We will smile extra wide at you and give you directions gleefully.   Enjoy your stay.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inoculate!

When you find yourself with a dead tree, don't break out the saws quite yet!

You can inoculate it with mushroom spores instead!  Now, don't look at me like that.  It is dead simple, and all you really need is a freshly dead tree.  We happened to have a dead spruce that did not recover after the drought last year, and it totally died this year.  It so happens that there is a type of mushroom that loves spruce, called Chicken of the Woods.

Hen of the Woods
 When J and I first visited a friend's cabin up north, and we found a beautiful hen of the woods but were scared to eat it.  But when you inoculate the dead wood around your home, you know what you are getting.  

Of course, the "domesticated" version of this is a bit odd....it is orange.

So if successful, we might be having some orange mushrooms on our pizza!


First you need your gear.

And you will need your dead wood.

It needs to be recently dead, with no other mushrooms on it.

Yup, that is dead.

Then you drill some holes.  Dead wood is sometimes a little punky, so it takes patience.

The plug spawn are just dowels covered in white goo.  That
white goo is mushroom gold, I tell ya.

Pound 'em in.

Gaze upon your handiwork.


Instant Mushroom!  (Well, in about 9-12 months or so.)

Hopefully, it will be more successful than my beets!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mashup in my Head

For some reason I have a mashup of these two songs in my head.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy4Y20dOlKs

Weezer: Island in the sun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjMCaw4qzjg

Cheap Trick:  Dream Police

And in my head it works.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Up to...

...vermiculture.

That's composting with worms.  I got a worm compost kit for Christmas from J.  It's okay, that's what I asked for!
the compost bin, shoved into a corner in the workshop. What you feed the worms in the compost bin. So what does a tray of composting materials and worms look like?
This is what a compost bin looks like...a commercial one anyway. This is what you feed your worms; they like most compostable material with some exceptions like citrus. This is what a sea of worms making compost looks like. Note that it's okay to use your shredded junk mail as fiber. Woot!


...making grape trellises.

IMG_3301
This is a work in progress. I've got 3 more wine grape vines coming and 3 eating variety vines coming, so sometime I've got to have 9 complete trellises. Not for a while though...the first year is spent getting roots in the soil.

I planted 3 last year, and those trellises are my winter project this year, along with 4 more raised bed frames.


...playing nurse to my sick dog. Maggie's favorite pastime.

Maggie's got cancer. She's on a lot of pills right now, and they make her alternatively sleepy and thirsty. So there's a lot of sleep, get up and drink, sleep, get up and drink, pee, sleep. She doesn't eat much, so I've been making her absolute favorites, like chicken thighs and liver. I made her bacon rice even, trying to get some calories into her.

I think we've settled that we'll be making her comfortable until I can bear to walk by the dog food aisle at the grocery store without bursting into tears. Then we'll have to do the right thing by her. So sad, but she is old. All I can hope is all that time sleeping is full of her dreaming of catching bunnies.

That's what I've been up to.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Not Remembering, but Reliving

My dad has problems with his memory.  It's probably more severe than that, but it's not something you can explain in a few sentences.

He forgets people who have died, among other things, like the fact he's married to my mom or that he has lived in their house for 25 years.

I think that there's a certain place that the brain retreats to.  A place where there are memories about the happiness of youth. A place about a place where he felt useful and needed.  Those other memories....the unfortunate deaths we all see, the painful parts, the feeling of being useless; they are pushed away.  Dropped.  The brain decides to live in the now though the memories of the present.  Those happy memories push their way through and manifest themselves before their eyes.

This is why he asks about his sisters and his mother (long dead).  This is why he talks about work like he was just there. This is why he insists that he must go home.  There's a place he knows existed at one point and he's not there now.  He wants to go back to that place, even though it's just a memory.

The brain is a funny thing.