Tuesday, October 30, 2007
By third grade, kids start to appreciate the humor of impersonating another character. The kids in grades 4, 5, and 6 make the most of Halloween and the chance to make fun of what scares them, whether it be monster, politicians, or the opposite sex.
A Halloween concert is a great idea. Nobody gets stage fright in costume -- if you make a mistake, nobody knows who you are, anyway. If you get nervous, it's probably because of the monster next to you. The kids sang Halloween songs, made good use of the percussion instruments, and practiced entering and exiting wearing all sorts of impediments. It was all great fun.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
This is the bottomless chicken pen that we built from the aluminum frame of an old window awning. It has a floor space of 30 square feet. I have put six hens in it and moved it around the yard this fall, effectively taming an area that was knee high in lambs quarter and ragweed. It takes about two days for the hens to eat all the vegetation and scratch it up. On the second day I've been feeding them a mixture of oats and buckwheat to "plant" a winter cover crop. They miss enough oats that I've got decent coverage on the places they've already been.
The pen is heavier than it was supposed to be, because of the very large and sturdy nesting box. That part detaches and will probably be re-engineered over the winter. The hens were very bad at foraging at first; they just stood at the wire and begged for grain. Over time, they turned more industrious. Now they are scratching like champs and even laying eggs despite a minimal diet and no lights.
Looking for more chicken pen ideas? Try the City Chicken's chicken tractor page.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
One of my blackjack players claimed that the storms "scared the colors into those trees." It works for me. The newlyweds were home this weekend, and Shelagh took this one on the way to Pyramid Point.
Monday, October 22, 2007
I turned off all the lights upstairs except Liz's, as no one was sleeping there last night. They congregated near the light. Luckily, we have very low ceilings upstairs so it was easy to reach them with the vacuum. Luckily, I have very low cleaning standards, so it was easy to find a few cobwebs to suck up on top of the lady beetles so they couldn't manage to crawl out again. Problem solved, but I pity the folks with cathedral ceilings.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I wasn't home to see it. I was at working dealing the aptly named "Thunder Thursday" poker tournament. I was glad Richard was home to keep it all together here.
Monday, October 15, 2007
When my friend Elizabeth drops her son off at school in Connecticut, the moms gather in the courtyard to chat. There is a cool new feature to their SUVs which allows them to lock the doors while leaving the engine on. They stand around, a bunch of them, having a nice chat, while their motors idle in the parking lot, keeping air conditioners going in cars that have no one in them and are going nowhere.I volunteered that I am not the sort of person who could observe such a scene without commenting on it. Furthermore, I would welcome the chance to make that sort of comment at school, in front of my kids, because:
when the conversation takes place at school, I'm giving my kids a "responsible adult" role model. The other moms may not realize it for a long time, but everybody benefits when there are kids in the group who can say "Wait! This isn't right! Let's do something smarter!"I was surprised when another poster said that she didn't have the guts to initiate such a conversation, and wondered how it was done.
I thought about this all day yesterday, as I did outdoor chores in the (finally) fall weather. I realized that I have, over the years, developed a technique for initiating these conversations. Here it is:
Sibylle, my script for starting these conversations goes something like:
I used to.....(fill in the offending behavior), but then I realized .....(fill in the new information or better practice.)like
"I've been drinking out of these one-way plastic bottles for years, but lately I've read about how bad they are for the environment and how the water in the bottle isn't any better. I guess I might as well just drink tap water."
I used to let my car idle to keep in comfortable inside, but when I read that the carbon dioxide coming out of my tailpipe is going to warm the earth for the next fifty years, well that puts everything into perspective. I guess I can just crack the windows and let it breathe a little.You don't have to get anyone to agree with you on the spot, just plant the seed. You don't attack anybody, just give them the information they need to make a better decision. And it is about information! Even veteran environmentalists are having to rethink their ways in the new light of global warming. I recently said this to one of my farmer friends:
I used to think I would end up being cremated when I die to "save space for the living" and all that, but now I realize that this body has already sequestered a certain amount of carbon, and why would I want to put it all back up into the atmosphere? I hope my kids can figure out how to compost me....
I didn't realize it until I read Effect Measure, but today is Blog Action Day for the environment, when bloggers are encouraged to write a post about environmental action. I think that having conversations in everyday life are much more important, and educational, than spewing words out into cyberspace. There is simply no subsitute for speaking up!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
He also saw clotheslines everywhere, on the balcony of every apartment. Here is a short column about his impressions of the trip, published in USA Today
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I have recently noticed how many "global warming doubt" websites have been constructed and how much money they are spending on advertising. Hopefully, I will find time to write about the process of manufacturing this doubt, but for today I will invite my readers to explore the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change website. They, along with Al Gore, won the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Back in April, one of my 4-H parents gave me three tomato plants. There were two basket tomatoes and one of a variety called "First Lady". I planted the First Lady in early May atop a nice shovelful of composted chicken bedding, but one night when it got cold I forgot to cover it and it got nipped by frost. It grew back from its blackened branches and , as the summer progressed, came to occupy a space in the garden about nine feet across. As other tomatoes succumbed to the usual late season blights and fungi, this plant was making new growth at the end of each branch, and putting out impressive amounts of fruit.
This is the basket of tomatoes I picked from that one plant after a rain storm on October 1st. The shoulders of this variety always retained those green streaks, but the flavor was excellent. I picked an eight quart basket full every few days in September. Now the days are shorter, but still no frost, and I am still picking a dozen tomatoes every three or four days.
Anna and I went swimming in Lake Michigan on October 8th. It was pushing 90 degrees and it was a pleasure, not a challenge, to mark October off on the calendar as a swimming month. Maybe this year we'll try for November.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
They start at 8 am and I work until midnight. Until recently, I was working until 2 am and going to bed at 3. They say that adjusting to an earlier shift is much harder than simply staying up later. I am proving it, laying in bed for an hour or more before I can get to sleep. It's hard to be grumpy when the days are as beautiful as this.
Monday, October 01, 2007
The lady playing at that table was from Ann Arbor. "Are they rare here?" she asked. "Around us they are taking over the golf courses, just like the Canada Geese."
As I left, I heard the dealer, a young guy from the Upper Peninsula, bragging that he had seen a lot of them up north, as well. Almost out of earshot, I heard him ask the regular, "Did you ever eat one?" I wonder how that conversation played out.....