Monday, March 30, 2009


In case you didn't, click on the picture below (yesterday's post). It's upside down, which I though was pretty cool. This one was taken also near Fragrance Lake by my housemate.

Today was spent around Anacortes in a stressful period in my life that I find exhilarating due to some challenges of the vicissitudes in launching a company in the worst economic times not seen in three generations in an emerging industry with absolutely no credit to be had for businesses across the board, let alone one such as our, with a very high failure rate.

But time marches on, and it's certainly not the first time my back's been against the wall in my career. But life is nothing more than a crap shoot and some days, like today - when I was sitting in the truck at work looking up at the birds flying overhead and pondering the beauty and wonder of flight while watching the eagles soar above, and I, too, imagining that I could fly - that I realize how lucky I am to be able to daydream all the time.


It's Monday morning and I am off to one of our plants in Anacortes. although I do not have much time to write, I wanted to post some cool pictures that my housemate took yesterday up at Fragrance Lake in the Chuckanuts.

I'm getting picked up in a few minutes, so it's off to the salt mines.

More later.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


A day where I sat around and read and I really cannot remember what else significant happened. My afternoon got sidetracked by a lengthy phone call, so I never made it out to hear the detox speaker at the alternative library. But I still might try a body cleanse now that spring is coming. The last one lasted five days and although I wanted it to last a few more, it ended in a blizzard of chocolate and Mexican food during the point of the cleanse where I was drinking only tea and water. Not good to go to a dinner party during this time.

But I sort of made up the regimen for my last one: raw veggies and fruits and liquids - including caffeine - and tobacco. (When you make your own cleanse you can add what you want. The tobacco curbed my appetite during a time that I was constantly hungry, and besides, I smoked no more than one a day - I am an occasional smoker, at most. The residual of my East Coast asthma makes sure of that.) I also lost eight pounds but put most back on, and I look forward to doing another soon. Maybe for one week.

I'm rambling.Time to go. Oh, and the picture is of Bellingham. If you click on it, you can see the Canada Coast Range in the background.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Yes, I have been writing less. But I got sucked into doing a few tax returns for colleagues and realize that I strongly dislike doing taxes. They take far more time than they are worth (when it is not part of your daily regimen). And since I just finished a few partnership returns and others (mine included), it is time to breath a sigh or relief and maybe have some free time in the evenings to garden.

And I was searching for some fancy statistics on the web about how the wealthy avoid taxes and my first find described how the top 1% earn 19% of the income, yet pay 37% of the taxes. Now I understand that is in theory the top tier is 37%, but I wonder how much is paid in actuality. I would imagine this group of people that acquired this wealth is quite crafty at retaining it with offshore accounts, trusts, etc. But I am too tired to keep digging on the Internet tonight, so I will leave it at that. I have heard in my many years amidst the accounting ilk that the US could wipe out its deficit if the corporations we no longer able to defer taxes in perpetuity. But it sounds like that could be an urban legend.

The picture is from last week's bike tour. It was the house of a wonderful woman that manages to grow enough surplus to donate hundreds of pounds to the food bank.

Tomorrow is rain all day, and that's alright by me. But a detox workshop tomorrow at a friend's place just caught my eye.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


"I guess I need that city life,
it sure has lots of style.
But pretty soon it wears me out,
and I have to think to smile."
- Neil Young

Today was a trip south to the big cities of Everett and Seattle. I do not really like going down there too much, as I've done my time in cities and the pursuit of material wealth and career opportunities come at a high price. But I do miss the arts and some day may make a journey down to see the symphony or opera in Seattle. Or better yet, up to Vancouver, where the city is more cosmopolitan and the women are more classy and beautiful. Besides, Vancouver is closer, cleaner, safer, and all around a cooler city. But that's just my opinion.

Above is a picture taken Saturday where we went last night to plant some blueberries and other bushes, and spread more soil and mulch. A very productive day when you have ten people or so helping you out. Since it was my birthday, some friends took me out later and gave me some presents: a blueberry bush, a young madrona tree and some salal. I don't celebrate birthdays really, but I guess it should be reason to celebrate.

Monday, March 23, 2009


The days slip by unnoticed and I am not certain, but the Oregon Juncos may have taken flight to their northern climes. I stay in my back office many days and today was one such day that I was anchored to my desk the entire day. Feet away, I have a thistle feeder and another with a regular mixture of sunflower and whatever that little seed is(...millet?). I was surprised that the juncos fed from this perched thistle feeder, while their brethren back east (the Slate Colored Juncos) fed exclusively on the ground. Just an observation.

But if they indeed have left, than that is a sign that spring is here. I will miss their convivial dining habits so close to my desk and wish them all safe passage to their summer homes in Northern Canada.

"Wonder where the nuthatch winters?
wings a mile long
just carry
the bird

- Robert Hunter

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bike + Garden

Today was one of the fun events that I organize. It's the second Spring Tour where we bike around to local gardens and see how people are producing decent amounts of food on small plots of land. Above is the first yard we went to in Happy Valley where most of the yard was removed for veggies and berries and herbs. The people that come, love learning much about all the local plants that grow in this climate and what works and what doesn't.

All in all, a great day with fine weather with people out everywhere.

Now I just need to keep forging ahead on my own garden, although this will be my third full summer gardening in this house's yard, so things are beginning to take off and fill in. I plan on hanging my hat in this town for awhile anyway, so I've come to realize that I am no hurry anyway.

Friday, March 20, 2009


The CBC is my home page (U.S. MSM is worthless), and as I was about to jump into some end-of-the week work, the picture of these four soldiers killed in Afghanistan came up. So sad that these kids lost their lives in a ravaged and torn country in a war that will never have a successful end. (And look at how young the guy looks third from the left!). and we will never see the million faces of those innocent civilians that lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What's worse, is that the enemy really isn't even a country, but a tribal warlord that we once supported because he was the enemy of the enemy. And the more I think about it, the Taliban were ostracized by al Qaeda, the supposed true enemy, that we also nurtured back in the eighties. But here we are at war with an enemy that we cannot see, that has no form. And we expect to achieve victory.

It amazes me that were as a species are so supposedly intelligent, but yet so strikingly stupid. And that we place such little value on some human life. I really didn't mean to write so somberly on a Friday late-sun-filled day, but the picture on the home page made me realize life is precious. - whether Canadian or Afghani.

We need an enemy
I'm saving all my rage for you
We need an enemy
I'm saving all my rage
- "Christmastime in the Mountains" Baker/Black

Thursday, March 19, 2009


So the days blend together and this morning I had a weekly business breakfast, which means it was Thursday. And the warmth returns to Bellingham - who cares that it is raining. Today was the first day to bike without gloves. Warm and in the fifties. Right now my computer says eleven Celsius.

And as I write this, it is nearing the first day of Spring. There is a bike tour around the urban gardens that I am having this weekend. Basically I just pick an area and look around for yards that have been (or are being) turned into gardens to grow food. I read that a human can survive of 500 square feet of forest gardening (basically food at many tiers: ground cover, low lying plants, bushes, dwarf trees, large trees...) I learn a lot by orchestrating these trips and meet some really cool people of all ages and ilks.

Oh, the picture is another taken over on Ellis (I think) quite close to my house. A busy weekend of work and play.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


When I first met Mggie, I thought she was very ugly. So ugly, that I thought her name was not befitting. Maggie is usually saved for cute dogs. So we thought of the ugliest derivation of Maggie that we could think of, and came up with Magilla. And besides, Maggie is always short for something else.

So at any rate, I've since grown to find Magilla to be a loving, smart and considerate dog, and the kindest animal I've ever met. When I forget how to relax, I follow her lead. She's a total slug, and my computer is down to 4% so it's time to bail...

Monday, March 16, 2009


So last year I took out a 20'x20' section of my yard in the back. I put three layers of cardboard down and topped it off with a few inches of chippings that I got up at the county debris pile up at Sunset and Britton Road last spring. The robins in the back looking for worms were preferring this patch to the remaining grass, which indicates a good thing to me. But I have a tiny lot (4,000 sqft) and roughly 1/8 of it has been sheet mulched. I will probably do another 400 sqft this spring in the back with cardboard and mulch, although a good part of the front will be taken out with a de-sodder. The climate here is pretty temperate, so pretty much anything grows. Quite well, at that. And this seemed to be a coldr-than -average winter this year.

So if you look hard, there are two small raspberries that are coming back from last year, as well as two blueberry bushes planted today - one elliot and one blue crop. I hope to plant many more berries: salmonberries, huckleberries, boysenberries,... These two varieties bear fruit at different times in season, the elliot being later (if I recall correctly).

In the back of this patch is where the chickens will be residing. Time for me to close up shop and bike home on the drizzle.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Here's a picture looking east near my place. Mount Baker off in the clouds. And I forget the ridge of mountains, but it's about fifteen miles away and I've ridden my bike behind that ridge, which is SR9 - a chilly road, even in the summer.

At the end of a filled day, I took the car share over to pick up some blueberry bushes. I think one variety was an Elliot(?) and I forget the other. Last summer I sheet mulched a 400sqft section of my yard in the back near the ever-evolving chicken coop. (Soon, I will be picking some hens up. My housemate is egging me on to get some - excuse the pun. It's just that they don't lay that much in the winter, so spring is a better time to get them. I would think their metabolism slows down in the winter and they don't lay as much, but I digress.) So tomorrow two mature bluberry bushes get added to my little garden out back.

I think the front yards comes up in a week or so. Stay tuned.

Time to listen to some AM 650 out of Vancouver and sleep.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Today was a day that I sat listening to music writing a business plan. It was a rainy, yet welcomed day to relax. I though I had something more to say, but I cannot remember. I actually was supposed to meet someone out, but the gusting winds made for an uninviting day. I did make it to the garage to give my cruiser a good cleaning and lube, and replace a spoke. The bearings that I replaced last year still seem to be doing quite well. Not bad for my first time doing it. And I continue to be surprised how much of a beating this bike continues to take and still performs flawlessly.

Tomorrow I take delivery of two mature blueberry plants, so hopefully I will have some berries this year and many more for next year's harvest. I need to begin putting aside a day each week (at least) to catch up on gardening. Maybe I will set aside all of next weekend to do yard work.

But days to bumble around the house and putz around the garage are also fun and necessary.

Here's another church picture taken last week near my house.


Nothing today really. But a friend and I went looking for house to include on our urban garden tour next weekend. Or actually two weekends away. We visit different people's gardens in the city and they tell us what they've done with their gardens that were once lawns.

One thing I've stated numerous times here is that grass clipping are our nation's largest agricultural product. Maybe someday they will be able to make cellulosic ethanol from this crop or something else of value, as I really do not see any other purpose that lawns serve. I hope next weekend I will take out my front yard and plant vegetables. Let's hope that I persevere and rent the desodder. I know it's not the purist's way to remove one's yard, but it sure is quick.

This picture was taken last week looking down one of the Letter Streets - maybe H Street - towards the water. I think that is Orcas Island in the distance.

But right now the wind is picking up and a warm front is coming through. Sprinkles of rain on the window. Much more rain predicted tonight and tomorrow. Seven degrees Celsius and steady. Time for bed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

CBC Radio 2

I never got that box to put on top of your television, and I never got to radio shack to buy some rabbit ears (to pick up the four or five non-digitalized Canadian stations), so my evenings, when I'm home, are spent listening to the radio. And the station's been stuck on CBC Radio 2, which plays the most interesting music at night: modern and avant garde jazz and classical and acoustic and folk, and everything else in between. A pretty interesting station for one's listening pleasure.

And we did get a movie tonight called The Visitor. One of the better movies I've seen in quite some time. A weekend ahead of much needed bike maintenance and hopefully getting some gardening done. Hopefully.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Tortured in prison: 173,221
Executed: 156,758
Killed in fighting: 432,705
Starved to death: 342,970
Suicide: 9,002
"Struggled" to death: 97,731
TOTAL: 1,207,387

Yesterday was also another great anniversary: The 50th anniversary of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. This data is as of 1988, so I wonder how many more thousands and thousands were killed or otherwise eradicated by the Chinese military and government.

Saddam murdered around 300,000 from 1979-2003. In twice the amount of the time of Saddam's regime, the Chinese killed five times as many people. We attack and occupy Iraq to depose of this evil dictator, while we give China 'most favoured nation' status under Clinton. I wonder if there are any corporate interests at play here in these scenarios? So sad that this is what the United States represents.

Time to close shop and get ready to ride home. Another chilly day, but the cold is lifting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Another day, another Dow 30 swing in the hundreds. I heard on the radio that credit card late payments have dramatically and surprisingly declined since the recession has hit. I, wonder if we will enter into an era of frugality, if not by fad, then by need. Please excuse my business meanderings - just mere musings.

But if today is March tenth, which I believe it is, then I read it is Car Freedom Day. Basically, every dollar that Americans earn up until this point in the year goes toward car ownership and upkeep. I'd rather put my car payment towards the mortgage: Every $250 I put towards principal now shaves a month off the mortgage on the back end. And I know that most people suggest putting it into some asset class like stocks or metals, but I'd rather just pay down all debt from a defensive standpoint. And yes, hyperinflation may be very real in the immediate future, and holding debt instruments is a better maneuver in such a situation. But again, I'd rather reduce my debt exposure.

And oops. I looked at a '72 VW Camper yesterday that I might be able to get for a song and run on home made ethanol to take to the mountains on occasion. But that's another story for another time.

And even though it is bitter cold, it's still not bad biking around town. I look forward to the ride home in a few minutes from my moonlighting gig on my (still sort of) new (and paid for) Felt Curbside.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Forest Gardens

This picture to the right is my daily driver.

I was told tonight of an interesting fact tonight that there are 7,000 edible plants in Cascadia. (I think I got the decimal place right.) I went to see a friend speak that is very active in native gardening in a tiered poly-cultural setting.

You see, when the Europeans came to the Americas - and especially South America - there was abundant vegetation growing seemingly wild around the camps. The Europeans were used to large swaths of one crop, so this seemed uncivilised. Lttle did they realize that all sort of edible plants and herbs were growing merely within arms reach of their dwellings or circle.

So in a defensive measure (by growing one's food), or out of the beauty of nurturing local plant varieties, the concept of 'forest gardening' sounds enticing. Especially in a city settting. I like the term Urban Gardening, and I've been getting involved in it sort of as a hobby. And I've been told that you can produce enough food for two people on a 4,000sqft lot (yes, less than a tenth of an acre). Things that are coming back include the garlic, kale, herbs, one of the raspberries. The chicken coop is pretty much done, I just need to get some inhabitants. And in two weekends - weather permitting - the front yard comes out. Most of it, at least.

And after discussing all this wonderful food grown around here, I sit here eathing a third of a pound of pasta. At least it was organic. I wonder if I will like eating fresh fruits and veggies grown in my yard as much as I like the thought of it? I hope so.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


The tree on the right I've been told is a sequoia. Pretty nifty. I took this picture Saturday coming back from the market. A fun day today. Not much more to say tonight. This picture is taken in the Lettered Streets towards the Assumption Church. I live a few blocks on the other side of this church. I thi knthis is around Jenkins and E Streets.

Time to be tired for a few days while my body adjusts to the new hours.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


(blurry picture)
I never made salsa before in my life, although I've eaten lots of it. Well today a friend offered to show me how to can veggies, and salsa seemed like an appropriate choice as a first attempt. He brought the pressure cooker ans some other tools, and I had everything chopped up and put into neat little bowls just prior to his arrival, ready to be combined at a moment's notice.

So now I have ten jars of salsa (oops, I gave two away and now have eight) and have learned a valuable tool of preserving food in case our food supply and distribution is disrupted, as is commonly suggested. Having a temperate climate conducive to growing crops pretty much year round and sufficient access to fresh water may prove to be two of Cascadia's best assets going forward as food production becomes more regionalised.

But it's good to know that in a few hours I can realistically produce four cases of salsa, or pasta sauce, or beans, or any of the thousand other things I could probably can can. I wonder if I will pursue food preservation further? It was all around fun to spend this Saturday in the kitchen cooking and socializing. And fortunately all the produce came from Washington. Well except for the tomatoes from Mexico.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Food & Credit

I had coffee this morning with some guys from the County. In Whatcom County, there is the tree-hugging ultra-liberal crowd that lives in Bellingham; then there are the uber-conservative religious zealots that live out in the County. The ones I had coffee with were the latter group - a bunch of great people, but the oddest thing of this meeting was that we share exactly the same sentiments about the impending food crisis in this country, whether attributable to peak oil, climate change, ineffective government policies or inept government on all levels.

They told me of the plight of farmers not being able to get credit to buy seed and supplies to plant their crops this spring. I've read about this, but they were the first people I spoke with that were on the front lines of this impending crisis. And two years of record high commodity prices ended with the bottom falling out of the market at the end of last year's harvest. Interesting times lie ahead for the underappreciated farmers of this country.

I know for a fact that many (most? all?) of these loan programs offered by the U.S. have had dismal results with the best of intentions (or not?) by our clueless and unconcerned elected officials. I read that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 signed by Idiot Bush - not a dollar of those funds were disbursed. Again, our government is failing us and we expect them to save us.

The more I read about it, the less far-fetched this looming meltdown and food crisis seems.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Although time crawls by at a snail's pace here in Bellingham, on certain levels it flies by. This is the third year that I've been involved in the Bike to Work & School Day here in Bellingham and it gives me time to reflect on the past years and see how far I've come, but yet how much more my roots are growing here in Bellingham. I think many city have a vibrant community, I just never felt the desire to become that active in anything, as I knew the many places that I lived were merely stations on my way to the end of the line, which evidently was Bellingham.

But I am a sucker for volunteering. People tell me how wonderful it is that I am involved in things like the urban gardening, the food bank, the biking activities, and probably a bunch of other thing that don't come to mind. But I really enjoy doing these things and I always find them to be fun. If I stop having fun, I stop participating. Simple.

Our society is so conditioned in the sense that one needs to spend money to gain reward, fulfillment or satisfaction. What a bunch of gullible dumb asses we are. No wonder we are broke, fat and miserable as a societal whole: Seeking extrinsic elements to fill our empty lives.

Speaking of filling things, my garages seems to be filling with strange bikes.


Here's a picture looking across Cornwall Ave. It was a warm day and fortunately I needed to ge into town three times on my bike to run errands: post office, IRS, bank - places like that.

I went out for afternoon tea and when I went to the Public Market, a friend told me that my picture was in a magazine. I thought something written locally, but it turns out it was the Permaculture Activist - certainly not something with the circulation of Newsweek, but still sort of neat. I really am not a big permaculturalist, but I sort of like the ring of the word (sort of like existentialist). I am more along the lines of an urban gardener, and it's good that our little movement is building some momentum and gaining some recognition.

A long and fun day. And you can feel spring in the air. And the energy here shows. Yeah, it's dreay and drizzly until July, but the warmer weather is great. And days like today are very welcomed.

I've gotta bolt because my computers says 2% battery life remaining....

Monday, March 2, 2009


With another day of dismal economic news, now is not the ideal time to be launching a business. I've been busy and have been unable to read the economic news in depth, but it seems that the country has grown into a rather accepting table position regarding the current economic malaise. I wonder if those people that are way over extended on mortgage and car payments is as pervasive as the press hypes?

I guess I am lucky in the fact that my home hasn't really lost value, as it is what is commonly called a 'starter' home. People usually by this house to start off and move to something bigger and uglier. I call it an 'ender' home, as it will be the last home I ever own, and I plan on being carried out of it at room temperature in about forty years. And what's amazing is if I just double up on the principal - right now it's around $250 - and viola, my mortgage goes down from a thirty year to a ten or fifteen year note. And the payment increases a few dollars ever month, which isn't too bad. An it turns out to save me tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments (hopefully) over the life of the loan (if I can keep this up).

I don't know why I posted this picture above. It's of I-81 back in PA where I grew up. Oh, now I remember. It's becuase I am going back there in June and am getting ready to plan my trip. For the first time ever in my life I will try to use frequent flyer miles.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Today was a day that I did my standard Sunday routine. I thin a day off is in order and it looks like it will be Wednesday. But the snow from last week is gone, and I wish I could write the many thoughts that enter and leave my mind during the day.

But my routine for the past few Sundays (and longer) has been helping a friend run his shop in Happy Valley. It is nice because it gets me out of the house and I can get some work done (like writing pro-forma finacial statements, like today) with fewer distractions. And it puts a few bucks in my pocket too, which isn't bad. It's nice being able to pay cash for everything, as I've shifted into mode of buying everything with cash (or paying it off in the month that I bought it) like my new bicycle and laptop.

But the one guy I work with might be leaving for to get his PhD in a few months and the boss is looking to hire someone. When asked, we tell interested parties that a graduate degree is required to work as a clerk there; I too have an MBA, working as a convenience store clerk for minimum wage. So funny, but I've learned that many times the person selling me a coffee or sandwich in Bellingham probably has more education than I. I guess after all the stress of my other projects in life, this job is a relief and relaxing and quite fun to do. Not to mention the characters that come through the doors. I look forward to Sunday mornings.

Tomorrow is back to the salt mines. But it's a path I chose and I would choose no other course. Life is pretty funky right now. And the pockets of nice weather we have in the springs tends to heighten the moods of most.


Today I sat in front of my dreadful computer working all day. All day. So when I left to go down to Fairhaven on my bike I was overjoyed at getting out of the house and onto my bike. So apologies for not writing more tonight. But thank goodness for the freedom and refreshment on two wheels.

But I thought it would be cool to find a neat map of Bellingham, as I am woefully low on pictures that I took. So I will look for a random one and then go to bed. Tomorrow is a busy day and it looks like another wet one. I missed the the temp in the forties and drizzling.

The picture is a random summer one of Magilla taken down by the bay. She's such a cow. I couldn't find a decent map of Bellingham to post, so she'll have to do.