email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Compost Tumbler

There may be a hope for the compost tumbler after all.  I had really criticized it HERE

At first, I mainly used it to keep rich tempting kitchen scraps from the groundhogs and other critters.  I could never get it to heat up enough to really compost stuff quickly.  But I may have figured it out.

But to back up a bit...  In past years, I would look at the barrels of produce waste in the grocery stores and wish I could get them.  My requests were always refused.  But I am persistent.  This year, the store managers suddenly say "yes".  I have gotten 6 bags of corn husks and other unwanted produce debris.

I finally have enough stuff to fill the compost tumbler bin.  You would be surprised how compact a whole trash can of corn husks gets in just a week.  But then it was all green stuff and that doesn't make a good compost blend for aerobic breakdown...

Well, I get a daily newspaper (which uses safe soy ink) and I have a paper shredder.  Aha!  Nice "brown" stuff to add to balance the decomposition.

In the past 2 weeks, I have added about as much dry shredded newspaper to the bin as green material.  I've made it a point to turn the bin several times each day.  It's heavier to move, but not unmanageable.  I can tell the balance is better and that the materials are getting mixed well.  It doesn't smell bad.

I know all about anaerobic vs aerobic breakdowns, so I know it is finally working right.  Best of all, it was HOT inside (140F) when I opened it today.

I finally got enough stuff inside, and the right mixture...

Yay!!!

I still think a regular compost bin is far superior, but I have to give SOME credit to these rotating things.  With a lot of care, they can work "OK".

Friday, August 27, 2010

So, The Flowerbeds, Part 2...

Here are some of the (approximately) same spots that I showed in the last post...

Even the gravel path was covered in weeds...
 
There is actually bare soil to be seen!
 
 The Skeeter Memorial is clear again...
 
The LC Memorial is still hidden, but that by a shrub I am going to relocate this Fall...
 
 This part represents about 1/3 of the flowerbed.  Another 1/3 is Bell peppers and daylillies and is weeded.  I'll show that part next time.  That will give me a few days to weed the remaining 1/3!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So, The Flowerbeds...

At least most of the flowers have survived the drought.  Unfortunately, the weeds did better.  I cringed everytime I walked past them in the brutal Summer heat.  Watering the flowerbeds was almost like feeding lambs to wolves in order to save some lambs, but it was still hard.

In the past week, I have made great progress in weeding the flowerbeds. 

Here are some horrible "Before" pictures...

There are more, but you get the picture. Half the growth is weeds.  Well, a few days ago I started getting at the weeds.  I have a procedure...

Wait for the afternoon shade to spread, bring out the radio, bring out the camera, bring out a beer in a gel-pack, apply mosquito repellent, and start pulling weeds up by the roots carefully.  You would think that, after a couple of years, I wouldn't have a weed problem. 

It doesn't work that way.  Nature brings weed seeds in from everywhere.  There is no stopping it.  I swear that if I sterilized a square foot of soil and covered it with heavy plastic, there would be weeds happily growing a month later!

ARGHHHH!


But I can destroy a month of weed growth in a limited are in a day.  About 50 square feet a day in a tightly growing flowerbed, anyway.  It's tricky weeding a flowerbed with no paths.  I have to carefully slide my feet in between plants I want to keep.  Then I have to bend every whichway following weeds through the desirable plants down to the roots.  Then pull them gently till the roots come up or dig at the spot till I get the roots.

I don't just pull the weeds loose at ground level, I really work at getting the roots.

Well, I made good progress.  Here is the pile for today...
The weed pile was 3'x3'x2'high.  I'm going to let them desiccate there for a few days before I add them to the compost tumbler bin. 

Fortunately after several years, I have the compost tumbler reaching a good temperature.  Enough to kill most of the weed seeds, I think.  But more on that next time...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Well, Finally!

Hurray!  It has been raining several inches the past 2 weeks.  Finally, I am off dedicated watering duty and can pay attention to the weeds again...

The weeds are legion!  They have thrived with the watering better than the flowers and veggies, and they nearly took over the entire garden without my usual lethal attention.

The corn tried to do well.  It grew, but the heirloom variety I tried (remembering it from childhood) "Golden Bantam" was not what I remembered.   I was excited at first...
And it looked really good!
I picked it at the right time (just as the silks dried), but I hated it.  All starch, no sweetness.  And I tried leaving another for the silks to dry longer, but that was worse.  Then picked one ear earlier.  It was all terrible!   Like eating a raw potato, only chewier...

I have been spoiled by modern sweet hybrids.  I'll accept that and will plant the hybrids next year.  Unlike tomatoes, I like the new ones better.

More about the flowerbeds in a couple days...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jennifer

I figured out the scanner.  Here are her young pictures...  This is my memorial to her.

She was such a happy child.  I delighted in every move she made.

When she was very young, she loved to play peekaboo with me.  The box is where the christmas ornaments were kept.  When it was empty, she loved to hide in it an pop up.

In no particular order...

This is the most precious picture I have of her...Absolute happiness.  She loved that Raggedly Ann doll for many years.

Drinkin the Big Brother drink... Above.  And wearing my hat,  She loved that.  She always thought my hats were special.  Wearing my hat always made her feel great.

One of her earliest moments.  That is Hai U Phin in the doll bed.  Jen loved that cat.  As did I.

Jen asleep in my old bed.  She always liked my red and yellow walls. 
Jen posing for a picture.  She loved to be photographed.  I wish I had taken a 1,000 more,,,

 Jen with Hai U Phin...
 The oldest picture I have...  Jen as a teenager.
 My dear little sister Jen...  44 years old, gone forever...
The spots in the photo are accidents of time.  But I want to think of them as stars in the cosmos.  She deserves to go out with all the stars around her.  She would have liked the idea of "cosmic"...

Intelligent, organic, loving, good mother, friend...

Farewell good sister, good friend...  My life is emptier without you in it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Casual Police Shooting of Pets

Warning:  Rant follows...

I assure you I am not against policemen in general.  They are important members of our society.  I wouldn't want there to NOT be policemen.

I generally try to understand when policemen feel they have to shoot or taser violent people  Or violent dogs that truly threaten them.  It isn't easy sometimes, but I try.

And I don't care as much about dogs as many people do.  I'm a cat person.  I had to build a high fence around my yard to keep the cats safe from large dogs that roamed free.  So I don't love dogs...

But things seems to be getting out of hand when policemen can can shoot dogs as a matter of convenience when entering a house.  When improperly invading the house of innocent people, for example. In that case, police conducted a full SWAT-quality house assault on a family who were unknowingly delivered a package of drugs as part of a drug pickup trick.  The police casually and routinely immediately shot the dogs who barked at the intruders.

What good dog wouldn't bark at intruders?  They even shot one dog who was trying to run away!  That is wrong.  And I don't even like dogs.

And now, a new example of gun-madness by police.  Washington, DC has named Keith Shephard as the officer who shot Bear-Bear on Monday night. Bear-Bear was a Siberian Husky who was playing in a community dog park when Shephard, allegedly fearing for his life, shot the husky in defense.  Dog Park, get it?  A place where dogs get to run around together and be a temporary pack.  That involves a rare chance for the dogs to see who is the Alpha Dog!

Maybe it is true that the shot dog was aggressive.  But it was a dog park.  They are supposed to run around.  If you don't like it, you leave.   I once grabbed a large neighborhood dog by the spike collar and led him home.  He was scared, I was scared. But it didn't require a gun.

This is going beyond dogs.  I'm getting REAL pissed about too many policemen using lethal force on people and animals who don't really deserve it!  Tasers are killing too many people.  Policemen are shooting people too casually.

Do people have to start carrying guns to protect themselves from POLICEMEN?

It starts with shooting dogs casually.  Then Tasering people.  Then shooting people.  I don't like the way this is progressing.

I understand that police work CAN be dangerous, and that too often, policemen become used to dealing with criminals.  

But when they start to assume that everyone and even every dog they meet is a criminal or lethal threat deserving to be killed on sight, that has to stop...