Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Beer and fun.

My brother drinking good beer and schooling sudoku.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Our wild and precious lives...

Mary Oliver ends her poem, "The Summer Day," by asking, "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" One of the ways I answer that question is by paying attention (and that's partly how she answers that question, in her own poem.) So I've been paying attention to the changing back yard. Every day a new plant is blooming, blossoming, or fading away. It's remarkable.

Right now the peonies are bursting forth, and the poppies just bloomed this morning. A few columbines are holding on to their beauty.

And the Canadian Lilac still offers up it's sweet fragrance and the Monarch butterflies love it. Juliana and I have been spending lots of time in the backyard, eating, talking, relaxing, and just enjoying our little rainbarrel filled paradise. It's incredible to think that just 2 months ago it was all brown and looking dead.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Worms, Worms, Worms

Back in February, for my birthday, Juliana got me a worm farm. Actually, it was just a warm composting system, but in the following months, the worms have multiplied, like little rabbits, and now it truly is a farm. They've been prolific and now I've got a great big bin full of black gold - worm compost! The worms were obviously quite happy, and it was time to give them some new bedding and start another worm bin, and continue the wormy happiness. So on Saturday, I took the worm bin outside and dumped out the contents into about 6 piles on a tarp. Very quickly, the worms moved toward the center of the pile, away from the sunlight. This allowed me to "harvest" the black gold. As I took away more and more of the dirt, the worms moved closer together in the center, until there was a squirmy, wormy, seething mass! (They don't have eyes, but they must have some sort of photo-receptors on their body, I guess.) It was grotesque and beautiful all at the same time.

It took a while to "harvest" all the black gold, but ultimately I ended up with a couple pounds of the best soil ever. Prior to this dumping the worms out, I had prepared the new worm bins, tearing up sheets of newspaper to use as bedding. I also put in some leafs and a bit of dirt for grit for them. I moistened it all down and then added the new worms, but not before I held them in my hand. Pretty incredible little creatures and very able composters. I've add their "black gold" to a pot that I just planted basil in. I hope it will be the best basil ever. Right now, the worms handle most of the kitchen scrap, and the rest goes out to the compost. One of the most facinating things was that after I'd transfered all the worms to their new bins, I started to bag up the good soil and I noticed that there were dozens of tiny little baby worms still in the soil! Tiny little guys and gals. There were also lots of other little buggy critters in the soil, which I hadn't noticed before. There were little egg shaped things about the size of a Cilantro seed. I'm not sure what they were. But I suppose I've got a whole little eco-system in there and shouldn't be surprised to see other life forms. I'll have to consult my worm book to see if I can figure out what they were.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Guess who's graduating?

Hello avid readers! I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for the news....and the news is that I'm really truly graduating on June 3 from Meadville Lombard Seminary! Yippee. Truth be told, I didn't even know the date until earlier this week and I wasn't even planning to go. But it's been five years of school and a couple of different states as I've pursued my Masters of Divinity, so Juliana and I rented a car from our neighborhood Enterprise Rent A Car, and we're going to blast down there on the morning of June 3. The ceremony is at 3pm in the afternoon, so we'll leave early on the 3rd. I've got a wedding the night before, otherwise we'd leave then. I'm hoping to do a little visiting with Laurel and Freddie and even grandma and grandpa. For a while I didn't even know if I'd want to go to my own graduation, but then the spirit seized me and it became clear that that's what I needed/wanted to does meaning something.

The funny thing of this is that because i wasn't up on the date, Juliana's mom will be town, because Juliana's having a wedding shower on June 2. So maybe her mom will drive down with us.

I really can't believe I'm graduating. It actually feels really good. I'm not sure how edujamacated I am, but it does feel good. It's funny, though, because I feel like I've been doing ministry for at least 4 years....

In other news, our July Honeymoon plans have all come together. We'll be heading out to glacier national park after our wedding. We've set July 5-15 as the dates for that. Then, we'll come back and fly to out New York on the 18th. Then down to DC for a wedding on July 21 for a good friend. Then out to the outer banks of North Carolina from July 22 to July 31. Yippee! A whole month of relaxation.

That's the word from rain barrel central.

Here's a cute picture of my niece.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Birthday Celebration

Twice in one day - it doesn't get much better than that! Last Saturday was Juliana's birthday and we had a birthdayrito party. Basically, it was a big celebration with some of the best burritos you've ever had. We turned part of the back yard into a burrito buffet and then later in the night, had a pinata that was loaded with goodies. I took some good wacks at it, but it was our neighbor Chris who finally busted the thing apart and we swooped down like hawks, grabbing up little chocolate morsels.
Here's a picture of me going at the pinate. After the pinata, we just hung out by the fire.

In my last post, I talked about the rain barrel adventure I've been having, and based on some of the questions/comments, I don't think I explained it very well, so I'll go into a bit more detail. I hope someone else who's interested in rainbarrels reads this...anyway, here's how it works:

You take a 55 galloon plastic barrel and flip it over. The bottom has two bungholes screwed into the plastic. Both of the bungholes are threaded with 1/2 inch thread, so a 1/2 inch elbow screws in perfectly. A five foot piece of hose comes off of the elbow and then attaches by an S-hook to the top of the barrel. At the top of the barrel, on one side, there's an overflow valve and drain that takes excess water away from the barrel and house. I'm thinking of linking barrels so when it does overflow, I just fill up another barrel. I've attached another picture that shows some of this.

Here's a couple pictures of the yard - the garden and some of the new raspberries I planted. Should be yummy, but maybe not this year. We'll see.

Building a Rain Barrel

I'm back to my regular schedule of posting every two months. Spring is here and it's beautiful: tulips are up, dandelions are everywhere, the pigeons are laying eggs all over the roof. Ah - life is good! In an effort to reduce water usage this summer, I've created 4 water barrels from old 55 galloon plastic barrels. I found these barrels at Western Container, over in Minneapolis, and at the Barrel Man, right near where we live. For the local folks reading this, I would recommend the Barrel Man. Each barrel cost $12 as opposed to the ones from Western Container, which were $16. Plus, with the Barrel Man, the barrels still have the labels on them, so you can get food grade barrels. This was important to me, because I wanted to use two of these barrels to water the garden and other edible plants. I don't want residue of some unknown chemical going on my plants. Now, the lawn, that's fine! After a good rainstorm, I collect about 200 gallons of water. My goal for this summer is to not use the outside house at all. Each barrel is built with a junk/misquito stopper barrier, made up of mesh and old screen, as you can see in the picture. I didn't attach spigots to each barrel. Instead, there's a 1/2 pvc elbow that comes out of one of the bungholes in the bottom of the barrel that's attached to a 5 foot piece of hose, which acts as a value.

I'm currently working on a grey water system for the washer, but need to do some more reading on that before I jump into anything.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow Storm!

If you're wondering how it is that I can post three times in one week, when I haven't previously posted in many months, it is due, in part, to "snow days." Yesterday, I telecommuted, and today I'm doing the same thing. I did have to go into work yesterday for a wedding rehearsal and that was a bit treacherous, but managable. Today, though, I plan to walk to the library and otherwise just hang out at home, reading, writing, and doing some more shoveling.

We've had quite the snow storm! There's probably at least two feet of snow on the ground. I realize that some of the Colorado folks are not going to be impressed with these numbers (given the gazillion feet you've had), but up until this point, we've had about 10 inches of snow all year, so we've doubled what we've gotten so far. We're planning to go skiing tomorrow, too, which should be fun. Last week, I rented skis from REI and Juliana and I went skiing twice! Super fun.

Sierra came over last night (to stay the night, rather than risk life and limb driving back to Minneapolis), and we played cribbage, ate a good dinner together, and watched some Six Feet Under. Perfect things to do in the snowy weather! Oh yeah, and did I mention I beat her at Cribbage?! We had set up a little competition that whoever got stunked (if it happened) would have to get up early and shovel the sidewalk and clear out the snow so Sierra could get her car out. No one ended up getting stunked, but I still got up early and helped clear out the snow.

So how much snow did we get? Here's a before and after picture from this morning, as I cleared snow from the front yard and Sierra's car

And here's a picture of the happy shoveler: