Welcome to my Blog - What Is A Blog?

A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. ... Your blog is whatever you want it to be.

For many years I have kept a journal, which I don't write in as much as I once did. I have an inner yearning to communicate with the world through writing and pictures Part of my motivation is to leave something behind to a world that has given me so much - a mom, dad, brother, grandparents, a loving wife, high spirited and gifted sons, close friends and loyal customers. Most of us have had some help along the way to get where we are. In my 12 step program, step 12 is about giving back to others. I hope there are posts here that will warm your heart, make you smile and make you think. That is what my blog is all about. I hope you enjoy it. Ken

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Harness Unmanageably

Un-manage-ability: adjective
that cannot be managed; governable; tractable; contrivable.

Every have too many things going on at one time? If so, read on . . .

I'm and ADD kind of guy - attention deficit - needs lots of activity to keep me motivated and focused - the byproduct of my ADD is lots of debris - cluttered desk, cluttered workbench in the garage followed by frustration and then hours and hours to clean things up. Would you believe that cleaning things up on the Outside helps me feel more calm on the Inside? Yes, it's true!
So what's going on? Well, let's see: my mother-in-law is coming for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the biggest holidays on the Jewish calendar. Judgement Day - Days of Reckoning - Days of Awe - A time to reflect and atone.
Every year this means a big production at the Tuvman household. Annie says the upstairs bedroom HAS to be painted and finished for mom before she arrives. Okay - fine . . . and the pocket door needs to be installed in the upstairs bathroom - okay too! In order to install the pocket door, some electrical wires need to be moved. So, Jack and Brad are here knocking out drywall, moving wires, drilling holes, making dust. I HATE being in the middle of all this stuff - YUK! Add a deck replacement (ours rotted after 20 years *wow, did I say 20 years? - getting old here - a journey, right?
Anyway, Captain Randy, his son Mitch and my younger son Isaac are pictured using an auger to drill 42" holes in the ground that will hold the deck footings. Oh yea, did I mention that buying my son a dependable Honda wasn't good enough? No, he couldn't handle the reliability of his Honda (way too boring) so he sold it and bought a 1982 Olds Cutlass - just needed a "little" work - like a starter, alternator, a new flywheel - which in admiration to Adam, he did on his own. (my dad suggested to Adam that he should take off the radiator cap and put a new car underneath it). But the latest is his transmission went out. So being the resourceful kid he is, he decides to do the repair on his own. Dad (me) suggests he take it to a store, let me front the $$ and he can pay me back for a "certified" transmission. But looking for short cuts, he finds a nicely painted transmission on Craigslist for a "good price." Kinda like the great deal a friend of mine got on a color TV back in the '80's from a guy on Adams & LaBrea - when he got home, he plugged it in and nothing came on, so he used a screwdriver to remove the back of the TV only to find a bunch of rocks on the insides!
Adam catches me off guard and wants to do the repair in our garage because the apartment where he lives won't let him work on his car there. "Sure," I said - "Just put a tarp down before you get started so you don't get transmission fluid all over the driveway." Adam says, "I will, dad."
So (3) big things going on at home - drywall/electrical upstairs, deck demoliton outside and car repair out front.
I'm outta here - I need a great escape. Thank goodness for the Airstream to the rescue. I depart only 20 minutes from home to Town & Country Campground to hole up for a couple of days. Gotta a lot of work to do and need to focus because my life is looking pretty unmanageable at home. After a day and a half of being alone, I chill out enough to come home feeling a little better. As I'm driving home I'm praying that Adam's had success putting in the transmission - please G-D let him have success with the tranny!!! I pull up and there he is - working futility trying to get the transmission in in a work area 8 inches off the ground. After three days of no success he finally throws in the towel. We get the car towed to Minnetonka Transmission where they're going to finish the job - Hallelujah!
So now the holes for the new deck have been drilled, the electrical wires have been moved - Jack's got the room patched and painted and the car is out of my driveway.
My big shining star appeared yesterday: Adam's girlfriends dad has a Chevy Cavailier he wanted to give her. After a week of pulling out the blown engine and putting in a rebuilt, Adam is successful! I take him to the DMV yesterday and we get the title transferred so now he has another car! The neat thing here is Adam, w/no mechanical training managed to put the new engine in, replace the bumper and gets the car running. There's a word to describe what Adam's done: Chutzpa - noun - Nerve, Audacity . . .
He came over last night to finish power washing the transmission fluid off the new driveway (aghh) and I help him wash the Cavalier and we put air in the tires. He wants to make it nice for his girlfriend. He uses our vacuum to clean the interior. It's getting dark - still a couple of glitches - like one headlight works and the other one doesn't. But that's another problem to solve on another day. In the meantime, I have a message for you: don't give up the ship - sometimes our toast lands "jelly side down" and everything looks dire. But hang in there - tomorrow is a new day - yesterday happened to be a "jelly side up" day. The construction guys are gone (for now), we're waiting for the bldg. inspector to sign off on the holes before Captain Randy starts building the deck and Adam's got wheels with his Cutlass being fixed! Life is beautiful :)!
p.s. there's more but enough sharing for today's blog. Go out there and make it a great day! Smile and shower your love and passion with someone who needs it! Blessings!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Riding Like the Wind

I'm excited! Annie and I were invited to one my BMW friends cabin on Shell Lake,Wisconsin.

I'm excited because Annie came along! Riding solo is fun but having my partner along made it especially nice! Of course before heading out, we had to stop at the Hitching Post so she could purchase a new pink and white Scorpion full-face helmet with matching leather riding gloves. She wore my leather riding pants and High Vis Yellow riding jacket. I told her if she enjoyed the ride, we'd go up to Duluth, MN (Bob Dylan (near Hibbing)) to get her own Aerostitch riding suit and boots. It was a nice, sunny day with puffy white Cumulus clouds and not much wind. This followed a week of sweltering heat and violent thunderstorms!!! I only had to make one stop on the way - that was to the Minnesota Fairgrounds to pick up the photograph I submitted for the fine arts exhibition. I didn't think the picture was that great but since I'd been too busy to take the time to select the right photo, I just had one framed of a MN Winter sunset with lots of Snow in the background so I could get something entered. But this picture was not meant to be. Oh well, try better next time. One small "Kenny" problem when we picked up the picture . . . it was too big to fit in my pannier bags!!! So, being a good sport Annie sandwiched the picture between her front and my back. She held onto it until we arrived at the Petersen's place in Shell Lake (about at 2 hour ride). They were nice enough to take it home in their car. Niel is a retired engineer and holds several design patents - a real bright bulb! He's been restoring a 1940 something Piper Cub for the past ten years or so. It's near completion and Wow-Wee is it ever a beauty!!! He's been taking his time and meticulously restoring every detail so when it's completed it will be just like it was when it rolled off the factory assembly line back in the day. They invited us to spend the night. We had a good old fashioned Wisconsin dinner out in the backwoods - Walleye is what we ordered. I ordered tea and it wasn't hot so I asked the waitress if she'd bring me some hot water - she came back with a warm cup - she thought that would solve my problem - it didn't but, oh, well - sometimes you have to be a good sport! Speaking of good sports . . . how about Annie? She was the perfect co-pilot on the beemer. When we leaned right, she leaned too. She was calm and relaxed (unusual for Annie) . It was Zen-like - we were one! It was fun.
The picture of Annie and me is in front of a Cheese factory - we stopped and bought some Extra Sharp Cheddar and another loaf of Cheddar with Caraway seeds - yum - yum. That was the big MN weekend! Safe and sound - another reason to be grateful . . . didn't Neal Young sing "Long May You Ride Safely?" Thanks for reading my blog!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I would have never purchased this duplex in East Long Beach if I'd known about:

I would have never purchased this duplex in East Long Beach if I’d known about the beer chucking family living across the street from Iowa. The clan leader is Herman Reichsmueller, aka “Opa,” who once upon a time was a hog farmer. He’s short, stocky and sports a crew-cut. He has piercing blue eyes, wears wire rim glasses, and dresses in his Big Mac denim overalls. His son Earl, lives there too. Whenever I see him, there's a blank expression on his face behind his dark green aviator glasses. He hangs out at the local Moose Lodge reminiscing of his days as a paratrooper in Viet Nam. The name “Reichsmueller” is embroidered on the front of his military issue jacket.

Becky is Opa Herman’s daughter and Earl’s sister. She doesn’t drink but is codependent. Her son Ralph lives there too. He’s a loud, obnoxious party animal. His booming Vavoom like voice makes up for his shrimpy size.

I hear the screeching of tires rounding the corner. I look outside. It’s Ralph coming home from work. He drives a well-tuned VW Bug. It's got a loud exhaust system and a white Harley Davidson skull sticker slapped on the back window. He looks focused as he gets out from his car. He’s got a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth and a twelve-pack of Budweiser under his arm as he races towards the front door. He can't wait to plop himself down in front of the TV, drink his beer, and watch South Park episodes until passing out. My wife Ann says he works as an electrician at the Naval Shipyard. Who in their right mind would trust a guy like him with live wires?
I’d never have bought the duplex if I’d known about the church bells that sound off every half hour. Did I mention the school playground across the street? The sound of twenty-one kids, screaming in unison, is eating away at my emotional foundation. And the ball wall! Why do they have to start practicing at six in the morning? I’m starting to act like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace; I need my nerve medicine to calm my jitters. Help me! I’ve been plucked from my peaceful life up in West LA and plopped down in Yuhuppitsville.

I told Ann over and over that buying a place on a busy corner across from a school was a mistake. But she wouldn’t listen. She fell in love with this cute little Spanish Duplex on Orange Avenue with its quixotic arches, brown mahogany front door, pink stucco exterior, and red tile roof.

The plumbing situation is another story. I love taking showers. Every time I’m in the middle of one, our tenant Penelope, who lives downstairs with her three young kids, decides to use the water too. The thrill is gone when she turns on the washer, draws a bath, or flushes the toilet. The water pressure, flowing like a mighty river suddenly becomes a slow drip, drip, drip. If she thinks my music’s too loud, she’ll bang her broomstick against the ceiling to send the message. She even complains about our Siamese cat running around upstairs. Talk about supersonic hearing! Jeez! Just because she’s lived her for twenty years doesn’t mean she owns the place. Give me a break!

I’d never purchased this house if I’d known about the local gang that thinks nothing of breaking into my metallic blue Audi and stealing my stereo every other week. My insurance agent has stopped taking my calls. I’m sleeping outside on the upstairs deck, with one eye open. I want to catch these bastards red handed and make them pay!

That’s why tomorrow I’m setting our place on fire. I know just what to do. I’ve hired Ralph to fix a broken light switch in the kitchen. I’ve asked him to come over in the evening, after I know he’s finished his twelve-pack. I’m sure he’ll get the wires crossed.

When Ann is at school and Penelope and the kids are away, I’ll flip the switch, grab the cat, and run. Sparks will fly and smoke will fill the air. I’ll hide until I’m sure the place is engulfed in flames before calling 911.

When the fire chief asks me for my story, I’ll tell him. Shaking my head back and forth, I’ll say “I’m such a schmuck! I knew I should have never hired that no good, beer drinking electrician!”

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is Square Foot Gardening? by Farmer Ken

Today, I want to share my garden with my friends!  I don't know why but whenever I think of the garden the Creedence Song comes to mind (which has nothing to do with gardens)
Just got home from Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy
Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch Imagination sets in, pretty soon I'm singin' Doo, doo, doo, lookin' out my back door 

For years, Annie and I tried growing a maintaining a garden. It was hit and miss. One year we'd have tomatoes and zucchini and the next year, nothing was shaking. What happened was the veggies grew but the deer munched on them while we were sleeping or the soil wasn't right. Sometimes we'd have enough tomatoes to feed the city of Shorewood and other times, if we had to depend on our garden, we'd be lined up at the food shelf.

Last year, while bicycling on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, we stopped to admire a woman's garden. It was fertile and overflowing with a plethora of every kind of veggie you could imagine - green and yellow zucchini, beef stake and cherry tomatoes, onions, beets, cucumbers, green beans, dill, cilantro - I mean EVERYTHING! We asked her how she did it. She told us to get a book on square foot gardening.

So we did. We had someone build us some big planter boxes that are above the ground. We had a very tall fence built, to keep out the critters and followed the instructions on how to prepare the soil.

This year Voile! We have a neat garden with lots of veggies. Anyway, just something I wanted to share! Below is more info on SFG!

Square Foot Gardening is the practice of planning small but intensively planted gardens. The phrase "square foot gardening" was popularized by Mel Bartholomew in a 1981 Rodale Press book and subsequent PBS television series. The practice combines concepts from other organic gardening methods, including a strong focus on compost, closely planted raised beds and biointensive attention to a small, clearly defined area. Proponents claim that the method is particularly well-suited for areas with poor soil, beginning gardeners or as adaptive recreation for those with disabilities.



[edit]Basic Method

A basic, 4x4, 16-unit "square-foot garden."

The original square-foot-gardening method used an open-bottomed box to contain a finite amount of soil, which was divided with a grid into sections. To encourage variety of different crops over time, each square would be planted with a different kind of plant, the number of plants per square depending on an individual plant's size. A single tomato plant might take a full square, as might herbs such as oregano, basil or mint, while moststrawberry plants could be planted four per square, with up to sixteen radishes per square. Tall or climbing plants such as maize or pole beans might be planted in a northern row (south in the southern hemisphere) so as not to shade other plants, and supported with lattice or netting.

The logic behind using smaller beds is that they are easily adapted, and the gardener can easily reach the entire area, without stepping on and compacting the soil. In the second edition, Bartholomew suggests using a "weed barrier" beneath the box, and filling it completely with "Mel's mix," a combination by volume of one third of decayed Sphagnum "peat moss", one-third expanded vermiculite and one-third blended compost. For accessibility, raised boxes may have bottoms to sit like tables at a convenient height, with approximately 6" (15cm) of manufactured soil per square foot.


In this method, the garden space is divided into beds that are easily accessed from every side. A 4' x 4', 16 sq ft or 120 cm x 120 cm, 1.4 m2 garden is recommended for the first garden, and a path wide enough to comfortably work from should be made on each side of the bed, if possible, or if the bed must be accessed by reaching across it, a narrower one should be used so that no discomfort results from tending the garden. Each of the beds is divided into approximately one square foot units and marked out with sticks, twine, or sturdy slats to ensure that the square foot units remain visible as the garden matures.

Different seeds are planted in each square, to ensure a rational amount of each type of crop is grown, and to conserve seeds instead of overplanting, crowding and thinning plants. Common spacing is one plant per square for larger plants (broccoli, basil, etc.), four plants per square for medium large plants like lettuce, nine plants per square for medium-small plants like spinach, and sixteen per square for small plants such as onions and carrots. Plants that normally take up yards of space as runners, such as squash or cucumbers, are grown vertically on sturdy frames that are hung with netting or string to support the developing crops. Ones that grow deep underground, such as potatoes or carrots, are grown in a square foot section that has foot tall sides and a planting surface above the ground, so that a foot or more of framed soil depth is provided above the garden surface rather than below it.

The beds are weeded and watered from the pathways, so the garden soil is never stepped on or compacted. Because a new soil mixture is used to create the garden, and a few handfuls of compost are added with each harvest to maintain soil fertility over time, the state of the site's underlying soil is irrelevant. This gardening method has been employed successfully in every region, including in deserts, on high arid mountain plateaus, in cramped urban locations, and in areas with polluted or high salinity soils. It is equally useful for growing flowers, vegetables, herbs and some fruits in containers, raised beds, on tabletops or at ground level, in only 4 to 6 inches (150 mm) of soil. A few seeds per square foot, the ability to make compost, to water by hand, and to set up the initial garden in a sunny position or where a container, table or platform garden may be moved on wheels to receive light is all that is needed to set up a square foot garden.

[edit]Benefits of Square Foot Gardening

  • Much less work. Conventional gardening requires heavy tools to loosen the soil, whereas in this method, the soil is never compacted and it remains loose and loamy. Weeding takes only seconds to minutes, due to the light soil, raised beds, and easily accessed plants. Harvests per foot of garden are increased due to the rich soil mixture, well-spaced plants, and lack of weeds produced when following Mel Bartholomew's method.
  • Water Savings. The soil mixture that is advised has water-holding capacities, so that the garden needs water less frequently, and in much smaller quantities than when using other gardening methods. Water is also spared by hand-watering directly at the plant roots, so that there is very little waste and tender young plants and seedlings are preserved.
  • Very little weeding. One benefit of this close planting is that the vegetables form a living mulch, and shade out many weed seeds before they have a chance to germinate.
  • Pesticide / Herbicide Free. Natural insect repellent methods like companion planting (i.e. planting marigolds or other naturally pest-repelling plants) become very efficient in a close space and thus, pesticides are not necessary. The large variety of crops in a small space also prevents plant diseases from spreading easily.
  • Accessibility. A plywood bottom can be attached to the bottom of a box, which can then be placed on a tabletop or raised platform for those who wish to garden without bending or squatting, or to make gardening easy for wheelchair, cane or walker users.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In the spirit of today's Hami High Re-union at Rancho

I wish it were closer - I'd be right there. When I lived on Castle Heights, Hami was just a fifteen minute bike ride away up through the hills of Cheviot.
Rancho is a magical place! A lot of great things happened at Rancho. As kids we'd swim at the recreational pool. Rancho has a GREAT swimming pool. Me, my brother Paul, cousins Corey, the late Ron, Gary, Eric - we'd be dropped off and jump off the high dive all day long. It was great fun. When we weren't swimming, we'd play ping pong. Then there were the tennis courts - world class tennis courts. Jerry Teegarten, who must've been a tennis pro at one point had a pro shop there. Someone, I don't remember who, introduced me to tennis and what a blast it was! Cousin Corey and I played often and became pretty good tennis players. Then there was little Robert Goldstein who became a great tennis player. Rancho was filled with lots of fun things to do. The grass was soft and as teens, we'd gather on summer days and hang out by the back fence bordering the Rancho Golf Course. Then Officer King would cruise around in his black and white squad car looking for an opportunity to bust us for smoking. Who remembers Officer King? How about the great jam sessions that occurred by the amphitheater? The band mates were the late Mark Caine, Jeff Landsberg, Bob Mizrahi, Barry Squire, my brother Paul on keyboards and sometimes Hank S. singing. What a place!

Rancho will always hold a special place in my heart because this is where I met Annie. I was with my good friend Russ Berger and I'd just ended a long relationship. I'd heard about an event celebrating Israel's 36th birthday. I was living in Santa Monica and asked Russ if he wanted to come. We did go and out of hundreds and hundreds of people, I spotted by future bride. Annie Rosenberg. She was a teacher down in Long Beach. I was 100% West Side. After taking a trip to Israel and falling in love with her, when she returned, three weeks later (she had summers's off (those lucky teachers)); when she returned - I proposed to her. Before I could blink, she had her mom on the phone, who lives in Omaha. They're both hysterical and crying and I'm thinking to myself "what am I getting myself into." I think her mom had the whole wedding plan in her head for many years prior to me meeting Annie. We were married in Omaha on April 21, 1985 and Annie has been the most terrific partner I could imagine. Imagine: someone putting up with me and my shenanigans! It took Annie years for me to finally fall into place and be the kind of partner I should have been all along. The first nine years, it was pretty much all about me - but after moving like a stinger missile from Long Beach to the Twin Cities in 1994, I finally grew up - it took losing a lot but sometimes that's what it takes to "get it." I know without Annie, I'd not have the fruits I enjoy in our lives - two great boys, a warm and cozy house and someone I still enjoy spending time with. I am blessed.

Now for some more Hami stories. The late Steve Goldberg and I became pretty good friends. We both had motorcycles in high school. There were times when we both should have been in class but instead, Steve would invite a couple cute girls and we'd cut class and take rides where the big old abandoned bus was up in Malibu Canyon. He had his very classic British Red BSA 650 and I rode my Red Honda 450. We were great friends and I was really sorry when we lost him. His dad, Goldy, was a great guy too. Goldy rode a big Green Harley Electra Glide. We'd take "supervised" rides with Goldy to places like Marineland in Palos Verdes back in the day. Steve and I had a lot of fun - a quick Rancho story - we'd often go there at night - park our bikes on a residential street and then climb a great big tree by the tennis courts. There we'd hang out up in the trees and just talk about whatever was on our minds, while expanding them at the same time.

The picture at the top of the two motorcycles - well that could be Steve and me. It more likely could be Drew Z. and me on our way to Colorado, at seventeen years and me without permission from my mom and dad to go. Mom counted on never seeing me again. Drew and I were friends and he also had a 450 Honda. He was going to visit a friend named Watkins who moved out of the old neighborhood to Denver. Together, like two easy riders, we traveled through California, Nevada, Utah and made it safe to CO. On the way I got a flat tire at 70 mph and later got run off the road by an eighteen wheeler for passing him and some redneck at a gas station in St. George, UT broke my riding goggles. Other than that, everything worked out good - oh yea - I got a speeding ticket and dumped my bike when hitting oil while exiting too fast in Las Vegas - nothing serious! I also had to call home to get money wired because I ran out and had to panhandle for gas money until my grandfather pulled through (again) and wired me $$$ through Western Union. Lucky to be alive. I really believe there is the element of luck in surviving youth.

You'll never imagine the look on my mom's face when almost forty years later, I pull up into her driveway on my BMW. I told her I was "coming in" but she assumed by airplane. It was 1971 all over again. She wasn't happy and I'll stop there. But dad thought it was funny. Ha Ha!

Anyway, I hope you have a great time today at the reunion. If it were not for the epic voyage I just completed through 12 states and 6,000 miles, I'd be there. Hope you have a really good time visiting, talking story and getting caught up with each other. Hugs!