Monday, January 29, 2007

MPR Nerd

So, when was the last time YOUR local radio station gave you a cookie?

I am SUCH a nerd. Not only did I stop by to get a “special cookie” but I photographed and well, posted it. Ha! (I am so NOT trying to avoid other work right now, nuh-uh!). I didn't make to St. Paul for the tour, either (but I WANTED to!). You can also see my lovely, none-too-clean, well-used stainless steel travel mug. If I forget my mug, I can't have coffee or other to-go beverages (styrofoam is disgusting in so many ways).

I still feel a bit guilty about my iPod defection, but I think this little display of public affection should make up for that, eh?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

No rest for....

This weekend:

Evenings spent volunteering and taking tickets at fundraising events: 2
Silent auction events directly participated in: 3
Silent auction/fundraising event detritus cleaned up: 2
Birthday parties attended: 1
Birthday wishes expressed to separate birthday-people: 3
Small social gathering hosted: 1
Pots of soup made: 2
House cleaned: 1
Cats groomed: 3
Miles run: 5
Blog posts hastily written: 1

So, why when asked at the birthday party what I’ve been up to, I say, “Uh, I dunno, been busy…”?

I DO know that I have no burning desire to go back to “work” tomorrow. At least it will be comparatively restful. Really, how hard can it be to sit quietly in a cubicle and write/edit/fill out various and sundry documents, self?

There are thousands of worse jobs out there- I’ve even had a few. Staring down sullen teenagers as a hapless substitute teacher? Check. Cleaning toilets? Check. Serving grumpy old people glasses of “shrub”? Check. Looking extremely cheerful while answering the same question (about the bathroom location, usually) a million times, wearing a funny hat? Check. Data entry? Check. Working for temp agencies (shudder)? Check. Eeeesh!

Actually, this list also makes me think of some of the more entertaining job duties I’ve had over the years. Involving lighthouses, various critters, sea caves, kids or nature centers, ah…. Unfortunately, many of them were seasonal/temporary gigs and couldn’t really support our current version of “real life”. More about past fun jobs later; right now I’m trying to cheer myself up!

So. I remind myself how lucky I am, how much I like this “cushy” and steady paycheck. But egads, there are weeks I’d love to just stay home and clean the house (or even the chicken coop!). Anyone got any spare “work-work” motivation to share?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pampered Poultry

As promised in the previous post:
Chickens enjoying the neat wheatgrass treat!

Let's zoom in for more greens-eating action:

No editing sofware is at hand, but I'd love to give a few of those hens some dialogue. Check out those two plotting together on the upper left. (You distract him, I'll grab the box...Bawk!)

Lest you think we've gone a bit far, recall that greens give chickens great phytonutrients and other good stuff that translates into darker yolks and more nutritious eggs. That's what we tell ourselves anyway... it's also just fun to provide a tasty treat on a dreary winter day!

Wheat Treat!

Sprouted Wheat Chicken Treat


1/2 cup wheat berries
1 old soy or milk carton
potting soil
One very devoted chicken owner
Cats for sampling grass readiness

Soak wheat berries overnight. Cut carton in half lenghwise, making two planters (or just cut off the side, making one deeper planter. Fill half full with potting soil and spread soaked wheat berries evenly over surface. Water lightly. Allow to grow for about 2 weeks in sunny window. Request cats sample to taste.

Serves 15 hungry chickens for about 20 seconds. Remove carton before complete destruction for possible second growth. Repeat.

(older picture of Bill, above. Chicken reaction photos coming soon...)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Breaking Egg News!

(NOT news about “breaking eggs,” though!)

A 10-egg day yesterday! Whooo! That hasn’t happened in a looong time. In November, we got 10 eggs during the entire month! No photo, as I’ve already gifted them to a co-worker who got cut short on our “egg contract” last fall when the hens decided to get a bit lazy (or get busy growing feathers, who knows?)

This increasing day length thing is great, both for the happy hens and for me. The difference when leaving work at a reasonable hour is really noticeable since we came back from Boston; just a few days away can really help you take notice of subtle things.

In the chicken’s case, I thought the pineal gland was responsible for this little bit of egg-laying magic. Google tells me otherwise. Quoting from this science:

"It is now clear that an extraretinal photoreceptor present in the brain serves as the sensory detector for photoperiod in birds (9). Thus, a blind bird’s reproductive system responds appropriately to photoperiod, whereas blocking light shining through the skull consigns the bird to constant darkness (10)."

Yeesh! Whatever the reason, keep ‘em coming, sun-bathing, skull-illuminated chickens!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Carbon Conundrum

So, I said a couple entries ago that we’re looking into carbon credit off-sets for our recent plane trip. I’m also helping to organize a conference for work, one that will hopefully be billed as “green.”

There are lots of links out there to companies who will sell you these sorts of credits, and I really don’t know which ones are the most “real” or the best options. I was recently sent this link to an article about the intangible nature of offsets, and how it’s hard to follow-through and know the companies are really doing what they say they are doing. Also, is the idea of offsets really a good one? Maybe we should just not do certain things that require offsets?? A quote:

"On the one hand, there is the potential benefit of educating people through offsets," says Dan Becker, director of Sierra Club's global warming program. "On the other hand, if people view offsets like papal indulgences that allow you to continue to pollute, then it's probably not a good idea."

Hmmm. Also a good point: papal indulgences indeed!Does anyone out there have any experience with these sorts of offsets?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Random Modern

Did you know that the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport now features iPod vending machines? Really, now, how often have you said to yourself, “Shoot! I forgot to buy an iPod! Thank goodness this here machine will take my $150 (or whatever they cost) now in exchange!”

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I do now own a small white iPod, (NOT purchased from said vending machine) and am tentatively joining this world of “modern” that I glimpse on the Boston “T” system. (I know, it’s not very “simple” of me, hmmm).

It's planned uses are running “companionship” and aerobic workout inspiration. After the first test run on the rather grey, dull gravel roads near our house, I pronounce that a success.

But what I’m really impressed with is the world of podcasts. I had NO IDEA one could download and listen to things like Italian lessons, Nat’l Geographic News, Grammar Girl and knitting shows, for free! I would have killed for such listening diversity years ago while living in the middle of nowhere, far from public radio.

Now, I feel vaguely disloyal to my trusty Minnesota Public Radio, and almost like it’s cheating if I listen to other shows “by myself” when the rest of the listening public is obediently listening to the currently broadcasted show. Is that weird? I’ve been such a public radio junkie for a long time, but I suspect that this podcast thing can be truly democratic “public radio,” i.e. anyone can make a podcast which can find it’s way to my ears.

But I also find that my life does not easily lend itself to diligent iPod listening (ie no subway rides for me) unless I invest in more “stuff” like speakers or radio transmitters. Sigh...

I’m also a month late in sharing Miss Lutsen’s fame on a hilarious (yet gloomy) Canadian blog. Over 40 people voted in the Lutsen poll, which really did capture her personality quite well. Ha!

Monday, January 15, 2007

One more: Literary Spirits!

The literary mists swirled about and welcomed us during this trip...
Concord Free Public Library, ca. ????

(OK, fine, it was really just a steamed-up lense from hiding the camera in my pocket. Shhhh!)

Back Home

Re-reading Walden on the plane, found words for bloggers everywhere:

I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew so well. -H.D. Thoreau

Ha. We're back, getting settled back in. The cat petting quota make-up demands are ALMOST fulfilled; WF has 2 cats on his legs right now, and Bill-cat is at my side.

A couple quick views. Looking through the cabin site (marked with granite posts) toward Walden Pond:

And one has to wonder: were they TRYING for the irony?

"And when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that got him."-H.D.Thoreau

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pilgrimage complete!

We arrived safely in Concord and had a very pleasant visit. Our stay was a bit more steeped in luxury than Henry David would have approved of, but we did manage to walk (on busy roads) to visit the historic site. I was actually impressed at the locale, not nearly as trampled as I'd expected. And apparently literary tourism does not inspire the sale of plastic crap from China; no cabin replicas to be seen- even postcards were hard to find. We did visit a nice small bookshop, but Mr. Thoreau was impressed that I brought by high-school era volume to share a moment with him:

But profound thoughts are not flowing much now, because we're full in the thick of festive niece-visiting. As last year, WF is a GREAT jungle-gym. Plane travel is NOT really the best choice environmentally (we're looking into carbon offsets) but it sure is good to see the girls.

YAY! Uncle WF, play with us! More travel bits to come when we get home...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Walden Pond

So, this is somewhat keeping in the idea of getting outside: WF and I are going to head to the airport, board a plane, fly, take a commuter rail line, walk to our accommodation, sleep, eat, walk a bit more, and THEN...

Visit Walden Pond.

Ha. As Thoreau famously said: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify! Right? Right.

It’s actually part of a yearly visit to WF’s sister and her family, including 2 adorable nieces. We can’t be gone long, so this little Concord/Walden trip is my tiny attempt at adventure on top of the very nice family visit. This is about the only travel WF does willingly anymore, so we have to take what we can get.

Of course, I’ve read and enjoyed Walden (years ago), but am rather far removed from my original Thoreau worship stage. I also have no illusions about what we will find when we dash to the Pond for a quick glimpse, but I still think it will be a worthy stop. I know it’s not really “wilderness,” but I’m intrigued by the phenomenon of what Walden has inspired people to do over the years and do want to see where it all began.

I’ve been reading “Walden Pond: A History” over the past year, purchased used in Harvard Square last year during the yearly visit. It’s a rather dry look at land-use and thoughts about how to best enjoy the Pond over the years (ie giant railroad sponsored picnic grounds? Cheesy 1960’s bathing houses? etc) but the bits of ephemera and “real life” glimpse of how Thoreau and Emerson used and visited the pond in the 1880’s is interesting. Being that I AM fairly well stuck inside these days, the idea of a “peripatetic wandering” and enthusiastic nature study is a good reminder of what I once did more often, and what Thoreau definitely glorified in his writings.

Mr. Maynard quoting Thoreau:

“Now or Never! You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

Indeed, Mr. Thoreau. I’ve dug out my old copy of Walden (there are at least 3 copies in our house, another irony) and will likely begin my study anew. Just in time..

Monday, January 08, 2007

Quotes Today

"There have never in history been so many opportunities to do so many things that aren't worth doing." –William Gaddis

How DO you figure out what’s really “worth doing” and then fit it all in? Weeks go by when I realize I’ve spent far too much time on various computers, haven’t been outside much, the house is a mess. Resolution: pay better attention to priorities. Any advice out there on how to succeed at this eternal question?

Note to self: Many muses are beach-based. Get OUTSIDE!

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” –Loren Eiseley

Friday, January 05, 2007

Big, Little

The hens really HAVE been busy lately; we’ve had some record egg days this week. But not all eggs are created equal...

The one on the left is still a first egg, I think, and the one on the right is a whopper from an “experienced” hen. When buying super jumbo eggs at our co-op last year, we enjoyed the sign that said: “Thank you for supporting older hen management with your purchase of these big eggs!” I guess the eggs just keep getting bigger as they age. Weird, eh?

And in other news, our new two-headed cat is getting along nicely. Schroeder (daughter) and Lutsen (mother) have suddenly, inexplicably been seen in close proximity to each other lately without the usual hissing, whapping and clawing that usually goes along with the proximity. Think I should be worried? Nah, it's likely just the peace-brokering effect of the new fuzzy blanket we got in the mail from WF's sister. The cats claimed it immediately upon present opening!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wierd Stuff

OK, we need to lighten up a bit around here, so I'm doing my second meme ever, the ubiquitious "6 wierd things about me". Wildside Musing tagged me, so here we go...

1. I can do many yo-yo tricks, something I taught myself in my twenties out of curiosity and possibly because I had too much time on my hands.

2. I am extremely entertained by grocery stores (now mostly natural food stores and co-ops), especially when traveling. I’ve lived in a couple places where going to the grocery store was a highlight of the day/week.

3. I spent much of my twenties living in rather rural, isolated places. My favorite was an island where I lived alone for a few days a week. My least favorite was the “City of Churches,” Nebraska.

4. I usually spell "wierd" wrong (weird)!

5. I tie my shoes in an odd way that involves reaching across the shoe and crossing my hands. I taught myself to do that when young, and since it works fairly well, I’ve never learned to do it “right”. The bows look a little weird, though.

And finally, the crowning glory…

6. When I was 12, my friend Carla and I formed a club called “W.O.W!” That stood for “Weirdest of Weirdos.” Indeed. We did things like draw unflattering pictures of our common, hated orthodontist and then tear them up. We were, ah, “creative” children.

So, there you go. More than you EVER needed to know. If you'd like to consider yourself tagged, please go ahead!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Farewell to Aunt L

Sad new recently: WF’s Aunt Laura has passed away. She wasn’t doing well recently, but it’s always a surprise to learn that someone is no longer here, no longer with us on this plane. WF’s family is very small, and as an only-nephew (with no cousins), WF and his aunt were fairly close, in a live-hours-away kind of way. I’ve only know her for a few years, but will definitely miss her no-nonsense, slightly formidable life force.

Laura liked giving presents; Museum of Modern Art kitchen ware (we have some really funky knives), books of poetry and regional literature written by friends, the yearly Cat Lovers against the Bomb calendar. Her gifts always carried a touch of sophistication and quirkiness that still seems exotic to me, the child of stolid, rural Midwesterners. When she was in MN for our wedding, she even did a little yoga on our living room floor, ignoring the oxygen tank she was obliged to use by then.

We were able to visit this past fall and a couple years ago at her and her husband’s wonderful old Victorian home (10 hours south of here) filled with art gleaned from years of travel and artistic friends, interspersed with whimsical cat trinkets and real, fluffy, allegedly naughty cats. She grew up as a child of the Depression, and some wedding gift money came with only one stipulation: it could NOT be used for buying chickens. She believed they would tie us down too much (and were dirty, hard work). Last year’s Christmas gift included a calendar of Paris, which she noted that we’d likely never see now that we had chickens (she’s probably right, too!). We all need a little variety of opinion in our lives…

She was a character, all right, and will be missed. WF is headed down to the memorial right now; I needed to stay behind for work (and chickens- irony!?). I wish I could be there to help say good-bye, so am writing this here, instead. Best wishes to her husband and beloved cats, too.

Farewell, Aunt Laura. If there IS another plane out there, I hope it involves lots of cats, art, books and everything else desirable. Wishing you peace….