Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I'm excited! Annie and I were invited to one my BMW friends cabin on Shell Lake,Wisconsin.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
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
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.
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.
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
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.