Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chicks

video
Today I cleaned the chicken pen and let the chickens play and peck around in the back yard (see video). Another nice day with the hopes of a little bit of rain, as it should be raining now and I don't feel like watering with the hose.

I'll write more later. It's afternoon and I've gotta do some bank and post office stuff and work in a coffee shop the rest of the afternoon. It's nice to be out and about on days like today, as everyone seems to be a bit more cheerful when it's sunny out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lesh











I think as we all grow older, we each look increasingly like a member of the Grateful Dead. For some odd reason, tonight I felt like I was gravitating towards the Phil Lesh look. I guess worse fates could befall me.

But tonight ends with a work-induced headache after a nice gardening party at the Cordata Community Garden, a surprisingly nice set of garden boxes in a part on Bellingham into which I rarely venture.

I usually don't put pictures of me on this web log, but tonight I felt like blowing my cover. Livin' on the edge here in the City of Subdued Excitement. And a moratorium on sweets may have been enacted in the house, as I cannot locate a single piece of otherwise ubiquitous chocolate in this little yellow house with green trim. No reason to otherwise stay awake then...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Red

So far, so good with the chickens. They are roughly two weeks old and they seem to be getting along okay. We are not sure if the Bantam is a rooster or hen yet. For some odd reason that's just how it is with Bantams and Hohl Feed and Seed: you just don't know their sex when they're chicks, I guess. The three have seven (or six?) more weeks to spend in this crate and have plenty of room. The red heat light supposedly calms them. I know it is 250 watts burning 24/7 and by my calculation ups my electricity usage by about a third which frazzles my nerves. And chickens are supposed to be stupid?

But the garden is coming along smartly and things are sprouting up all over. I am lucky that my housemate is taking the lead on most of the gardening, but I have been playing a reasonable supporting role. The chives and basil and lemonbalm and lavender and oregano are all coming back too. Potatoes, kale, spinach and all sort of other things coming to life.

But no eggs yet.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Sun

This picture was taken from Cornwall towards the east with Mt. Baker peeking through at the back - about fifty miles away. I live four blocks down on the left a half block up.

That's all I have to say today. I worked in the morning and then rode around on my fancy one speed to visit friends. But en route I met some other people, so I never quite made it. The visit wasn't really planned; I just drop in on people here and there and if they are not around, it's no big deal. I find it relaxing to bike around Bellingham with no particular place to go.

I was also able rest in the park for a bit (actually to make two phone calls) and watch some people flying kites. I need to meet with a friend on Thursday night at Boulevard Park and hopefully it will be good weather to fly my kite. More to follow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bike

Although this still looks like a total mess, it is much neater than it was earlier today. I have a very large garage, and although it wasn't too messy, it is time to organize things. That, and a million other things for a productive, yet relaxing Saturday afternoon. But what's cool about this garage, is that I still have plenty of room for, say, a 1972 VW Westy Weekender project.

No good rants or other topics of concern, although I was reading about the second wave of foreclosures looming on the horizon when the Option ARMs reset next year and the following. One in ten mortgages is currently thirty-plus days delinquent in this country. And the best is yet to come. Especially since we'll see the lack of liquidity (and subsequent spending) ripple through the economy as consumer and commercial credit continues to shrivel. But my thoughts are drifting and lacking cohesion, so I will stop there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Joseph Banks


Today was the day I I donned my Joseph Banks attire to attend a business meeting in town. JB khakis and navy blazer; Bass tassel loafers; LL Bean blue button down (much better quality than the many JB or BB button downs in my closet). Certainly odd attire for Bellingham, but it was the norm (actually more like business casual) from my suit and tie days Back East. I hope I do not have to go back to that lifestyle anytime soon. And I do not know why I am telling you about my wardrobe either.

Another day of sun and coffee, and the former means I can take out my new single speed. I don't plan on riding it in the rain, so I never put fenders on or any other add-ons. Keep it light and simple.

The picture is from the end of my block looking towards town across the tennis courts and ball field of the high school. The hill to the left is the arboretum - close to where I ride over the hill to my moonlight gig in Happy Valley (like tonight). Hills are getting much easier, even though there is only one speed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sun

Another sun-filled day. But chilly. Brr. Here is a picture from the end of the block. My house is the yellow one (fifth on the right) with the chimney. I just finished a call with a business contact in Perth and am amazed at the wonders of Skype but more so the wanderlust that overtakes me when I thinking about places that are far away and get the urge to roam.

The chickens are doing quite well and have moved into their luxury crate. I think they are happy. The temperature is hovering around ninety (should be around ninety-five, but it's better to be colder than hotter, I've read), which might be a bit low. But there are not seeking the heat of the lamp, so I think they might be toasty. And there are no drafts, so that probably helps. So I was estimating that they're around ten days old right now. Come to think of it, I need to check their water. Hopefully I'll post some pictures soon.

Food

Here is a picture of the new food bank where we volunteer every Wednesday to do whatever's needed. Today was a less than enjoyable day of repackaging frozen chicken although we always seem to have fun there. But it's sort of odd when you have three peeps at home growing into someone's source of food. I don't eat chicken anyway, so these little peeps won't end up on my plate some day. Some nights like tonight have unpleasant duties, and this whole pallet of chicken was...well never mind. Almost as bad as the time with the rotten potatoes (smell worse than death, the salmon or the bad onions).

Tonight we transferred the chicks to a larger box and a 250w heat lamps. Considering that my home usage averages .75kwh, it looks like my electric bill will be quite a bit higher this month - like 33%. And so far, no eggs. Some ROI.

And Magilla is thoroughly perplexed by these little furry denizens of the mud room in the back. Or whatever you call the room where the water heater was that was probably a porch a few decades back before the enclosed it - my guess is in the fifties.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coffee

Above is a picture taken today of Avellino's - one the best coffee houses in town. Unfortunately, I don't really go there much, as seating is at a premium and it's not really the most conducive coffee shop for work. For me, at least. It's in town about six blocks from my house.

But a wonderful spring day in Bellingham and people soaked in the sun and warmth. And the days like today seem even more wonderful after the drear of winter.

Nothing more to say. But the chicks have taken to their new homes and live their simple life. I think there is one Bantam (might actually be a rooster - we are not certain yet) and two Rhode Island Reds that we bought down at Hohl Feed and Seed. It's sort of neat to be able to by chicks and all the accoutrments only a few blocks away in the middle of downtown Bellingham.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chicks

Saturday was a day to go and get chickens. Well, actually they are chicks and little did I realize in the ardor of making this acquisition that I will become the steward of three furry birds inside for the next two months. Actually, it's a team effort in our house, so these birds will become inhabitants to the back room (it was once a porch, and is the transition room from outside to inside) where I am trying to maintain a 95 degree temperature for a week and then decrease it five degrees every week for eight figgin' weeks? Oh well. I guess I should've researched raising chicks (versus just buying grown laying hens). No big deal though, as there's room for all of us in the house.

And I went to drop off a part for my motorbike to have the final drive bolt retapped yesterday, and the person (a fellow BMW airhead owner and mechanic) happened to be finishing his henhouse and said he'd give me the incubator he acquired for his hens that are now ready to move outside. Well actually for ten or twenty bucks, he said - which is still a steal.

I am sure you'll hear more about the evolution of these birds. So far, we're out about fifty bucks in the hole with no eggs yet. And it looks like it will be about 6-8 weeks before we should plan on any omelets for breakfast. But they are cute. And it will be nice to produce our own fresh eggs in light of the horrors of our industrial food production, including increasingly industrial organic.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sleep

Fridays are sort of the only day I can sleep in, which means that I am up at seven still, but don't need to roll out of bed for awhile. So this is one of the ideal days where I can stay in bed and turn on my laptop and drink coffee with a sleeping dog at my side listening to AM650 out of Vancouver.

Funny how the headline news on Vancouver radio is that the local mall is filing for bankruptcy protection. Much (most?) of the business at the mall is from aggressive Canadians drivers visiting in their fast SUVs with chrome wheels and tinted windows looking for the latest bargain so they can acquire more stuff and then lie to Canadian customs on the way back through to avoid paying duty. I do not think the acquisition of stuff is unique to Vancouver residents, but more for any urban environment where people are always want more and more as a result of their platitudinous rat-race existence, and living in such close proximity to people with shiny, flashy things.

But having a productive morning lying here, it's time to get back to work.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taxing

I think I got all my tax commitments taken care of in time. After dealing with the bumbling IRS idiot on the phone, it was refreshing to walk into the office downtown and recognize people that I've dealt with before at the IRS versus the angry person in some faraway place. I would probably be angry and miserable too if I wasn't in Bellingham.

But it was interesting to see people protesting the with the anti-tax tea party. I wonder how many drove there and realize how heavily subsidized oil is in this country by the US gvernment. Or their tax dollars. Or the military expenditures that eat up ever dollar we earn in wages from all of January and most of February. There really is no hope for the debt in this country, as it pretty much doubled from 2000 through present - from around $5.5 trillion to today's debt of around $11.1 trillion. And most of this for two wars that probably won't prove to be overwhelmingly successful.

I heard the majority of them were older. How interesting that the generation that will strip the remainder of what we once knew of as pensions, social safety nets, health care and increasingly public education (I heard on the CBC this morning that a charter - ie, private - school in Florida went into bankruptcy and the assets were seized from under the students). But I voted with the godless socialists this last election, so let the people protest. And expect more of the same.

Increasingly, the only two ways out of the mess since 2000 seem to be hyperinflation or the NAU. I don't know which is worse.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roving

Tonight was another night of our Roving Garden Party we have on Tuesdays. This was tremendous fun on a sunny spring day. And house we were at was full of warmth and laughs. Pretty much every Tuesday we go around to different houses and help them garden, while some people stay inside and cook a meal. Tonight there were at least twenty people helping remove blackberries (fortunately I ducked that job) and planting beds, and all around doing the work of, well, twenty people.

This is a great release after the daily regimen of a stressful life in difficult economic times. Now I am siting here trying to back up data from my hard drive only to realize that Roxio is a horrible piece of software for copying disks.

But it was a night of good vibes, even until I commented on the killing machine their domestic cat was. I wonder when I will be invited back? In picture I stopped work because I thought I'd found an Indian artifact, but it was just a rusty beer cap.

Final

A few days ago I took the final drive off my old BMW motorbike. I stripped a bolt last year and though t I would have it repaired this year. I do not really ride the bike too much, but I would like to keep it in decent shape, as it is almost 35 years old

But it is simple to work on. The only problem is the fact once you start looking on the Internet, you read about all the things that could go wrong on these bikes, versus the reason you actually started working on it But although the amount of parts inundate you, certain web sites (like this one) are invaluable, albeit overwhelming. I am sure you'll hear more about this project. And many others to follow with my '75 R60/6. This is the summer to take this up to the North Cascades for a weekend trip. Can't wait.

But tonight I am tired and the damned mouse is still sharing our living space, and being quite noisy at that. But a few nice days lie ahead, even though it was sleet and hail in Monroe this afternoon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekend

A busy weekend of doing nothing. I finally finished a business plan tonight, only to have a full week starting tomorrow. The spring rains made for a day longing for the weather we had last week. It's weird when you have some beautiful days and the rain and clouds seem a million miles away. Yet when the rain returns for a day or two, you think the sun was a mere figment of your imagination.

But considering the pervasive cloudiness in this town, I am always amazed at the number of darkly tinted windows I see in Bellingham. I was in San Fran a few weeks back and virtually no one has tint on their windows. Here in Bellingham, it seems to be something of a fashion trend (if those things exist up here). Maybee that's why the suicide rate is so high up here: the clouds and 3pm sunsets aren't depressing enough, and you need to make things a bit more dreary. Or another reason for tint I've been told is widespread use of drugs in this area and their need to not have the public see what's going on inside their vehicles. I have really heard no other logical reason.

But unfortunately they are horribly dangerous when I'm either on my bike or motorbike, as god know what these people are doing (legally or illegally) hiding in their cars. It's always an added safety measure to make eye contact with these cagers, but considering the tint is also an indication of vanity, you have to assume they're not too concerned about others anyway.

Sorry about the pissy post, I just see no reason for dangerous tint in this sunless and bike-ridden town.

Oh, and the picture was taken by me from Lake Padden last week or the week before.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Writing

I used to write here every day. Now it seems to be less frequently. I think because I have less to say. And I've also been quite occupied with work events and besides, sometimes I feel like it is the same things I say over and over again, as I have posted around 600 posts, and there is only so much to comment on, compliment and criticize. But a Saturday morning community food (gardening) event at Western awaits me tomorrow, and hopes in the afternoon of taking apart the final drive on my old BWM motorbike and changing the oils. Maybe set the timing too. Hopefully that will be the extent of my Saturday.

Time for some much welcomed sleep. The picture I pulled off the internet somewhere and I should link to it, but I already saved it on my drive and closed the window. But that is what Bellingham looks like from high up in the air. If you look really hard, I am about a half mile from the water very close to downtown.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tilth

Not much going on, but a group of us got together to consider reviving the Whatcom Tilth, that is part of the larger Washington Tilth - a statewide group interested in preserving regional food production and distribution. It basically brings the various groups together in hopes of tying the farmers, urban gardeners, and others together for security of our food supply.

And I've read a few scattered stories how the tightened credit is impacting farmers currently trying to buy seed. But I haven't found anything online, except a few articles from last year, like this one. So maybe it was merely a rumor.

At any rate, it will be a worty pursuit to become more in tune with the agricultural community around Bellingham, and shore up a much needed network, as I found today that Whatcome County has more farms than any other county in Washington State. I know many small farmers and am not surprised by this statistic.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Garden

Tonight was another Roving Garden Party (a name recently coined by a friend) where we did some work at the Alternative Library and then had a vegetarian meal and sat around and talked with some people with quite interesting backgrounds, and of course always warm and sharing.

But I am quite tired and do not have much more to say. As stressfful as some days can be work, it is always nice to have a release. And mine is to get my hands dirty in the earth. And learning about urban food production while growing our little community in Bellingham.

Oh, and the picture was taken by my housemate recently at Fragrance Lake.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Malls and U-Bars

Although consumer spending only increased 14% from 1990-2005, mall space has doubled. I often wondered how people have so much money to spend at these places and sustain these businesses over the long term. Evidently these malls are distressed as the recession draws Americans’ purse strings tighter. As aesthetically abhorrent as most malls are, the will now offer their ugly likeness to those stores historically relegated to the fringes of the retail spectrum - stores like Big Lots. (Here is an interesting article in today’s NYT.) As retail architecture has become increasingly ugly in the past decades, I wonder if we will ever see the grandeur of the stores where we remember shopping as children will ever return? At least in Bellingham we have the incessant flow of Canadians coming down in their expensive autos always looking for next deal.

And the variety of stores was always so interesting, like Maison Blanche in New Orleans; Strawbridge & Clothier in Philadelphia; Hornes in Pittsburgh; and many ohers scattered across the U.S. Now your choice is Macy’s or Target. Will there ever be another Samaritaine built? (And as I write this, I find La Samaritaine has been closed for the past year or two – until 2011 – due to structural deficiencies that need to be remedied.)

But Set One is almost over on a 10/04/1981 Dead Show from London that I am listening to on Sirius Radio from my moonlighting gig (on a Sunday morning) as I muse. Need to get some coffee before Set Two begins and write a business plan. Back to quasi-reality.

Oh, and as I finish up, I see I received a picture from yesterday’s U-bar class. Can wait to get home to do some gardening.

Broadfork

Today was a day I spent at a friend's farm out in the county where we learned to make a broadfork (or U-bar), and I actually left with one a hell of a lot beefier than the one pictured to the right. Altogether, my measures over six feet high. I t will be a great tool to work my garden and offers incredible leverage. It was also fun to work with all sorts of power tools like grinders and saws and pipe benders, and helping (by watching) the welding. I like days like today.

But the best thing about this tool is the fact that it doesn't disrupt soil strata, it only aerates it. Evidently, different levels of soil have different biological make-up that takes months or even years to re-establish itself once disrupted through tilling. The broadfork does a much more efficient job of maintaining soil structure while loosening it.

So this will be a big help in taking up my front yard, even though it was suggested that I keep the grass and cover it with straw or another form of sheet mulching versus disturbing the microbes by taking out the grass. But I want it to stay somewhat orderly, so taking the grass out will lower the soil level a few inches versus spilling over onto the sidewalk. I am sure you will here more about this endeavor. I hopefully I will get a group picture of all of us with our broadforks at this fun, fun workshop on a sunny and warm spring day in Bellingham.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thursday

Here is another picture taken by my housemate of Fragrance Lake last Sunday.

Today was a great day to appreciate the salt breeze blowing off the bay as I rode down to Happy Valley. A fine spring day on my bike taking deep breaths and smiling as I made my way down State Street.

I do not think I wrote about it, but Tuesday I did get the garden planted. Actually, my housemate did the planting after I prepped the garden with some very expensive soil from Hohl's Feed, although it will go a long way, and the more I though of it, it wasn't really that expensive.

So the pea are in the ground. The kale and spinach (surprise!) is returning. The garlic is up, as are the chives. I think we are ready for chickens too. A lot will happen in the next few weeks. And I called the city to get my utilities marked, so I will soon take up a good chunk of my front yard. I do not know what I will plant, but it may be some type of ground cover, like clover, or even oats. There are many choices that I have, and much work to do. Can't wait.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tar Sands

Tonight I went to see an author speak regarding the tar sands in Alberta. From what I saw and read regarding this wasteful and annihilating project is a crying shame. It shows how desperate we are to acquire oil and will sacrifice 50,000 square mile of boreal forest and turn it into an ecological cesspool.

But I tabled for a local group I volunteer with and saw some people I know and rode home in the rain. I am glad that I have a warm home to come home to.

As for oil, I have no solution. Biofuels? Wind? Hydrogen? Solar? Probably none of the above any time soon. And most, in their present form, require large energy inputs. But the days of cheap energy are behind us forever. And forever is how long that the tar sands will be devoid of any life. {...add John Denver music and a picture of crying child}