Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goodbye, March

And so, March goes out like a lion this year - a drippy, wet, white lion. Roaring winds the last couple of days brought us snow last night, with a few last flakes still swirling about this morning.

And the start of April, cruel April, isn't supposed to be much better. More snow is expected later on this week. I am happy to see the moisture. I didn't have to water my trees at all this winter - the storms came through pretty regularly. Now, I'm hoping the regular precipitation will strengthen the fruit trees stressed by the droughts of the last few years, and maybe they'll be better able to fight off the borers that plagued them so last summer. I'm still waiting to see before doing any pruning on the peaches, plums, and cherry.

So, with the morning weather still so dreary, I spent my time bottling up a batch of Kombucha, and am now waiting for the new batch to cool. I'm still playing with that whole process, and the results, and will write more about it here eventually.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour 2010

It's chilly but the sun is shining, so I want to get outside. But I thought I'd post a quick something now: one - because even though I've been plugging away at all the little Springtime chores, I've been very lax about getting things written here; two - because I'm going to try getting this household to go dark for an hour this evening.

It's Earth Hour time again this evening. Beginning at 8:30 p.m. your time, can your household go dark for an hour? Turn everything off - the computers, televisions, even the lights? As usual, this event pretty much passes northern Nevada by - just a tiny little paragraph in today's newspaper, buried on page 8. But I hear the Las Vegas Strip will again go dark for the hour, so maybe this state will get pulled into the 21st century one of these days.

I really shouldn't be one to talk, though. Once again, I'm a bit conflicted about the concept. I've managed to get Aries to turn off the lights and the glowing screens in the past, only by enticing him out to the hot tub, the biggest energy-sucker in our house. And justifying it because our nighttime temperatures are still below freezing. Shutting that thing down for a night is a difficult decision. Do I chance destroying the it, plus incurring my husband's lack of cooperation, or do I just reconcile the thoughts of my own hypocrisy in the spirit of compromise? Our house will probably be dark this evening, but the meter still running, if somewhat slower than usual (and I do want to point out that it will be during the regular filtering cycle time - it will run then whether we're in it or not). At least, it does mean some quality time with my sweetheart, and his full attention for an hour, under the stars. And that's not all bad.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Pardon me while I rant for a moment: Generally, I really like people - I like working as a waitress, a bartender, a tour guide, because of the personal contact. I like talking to, observing, interacting with, and serving people. But, after spending a couple of hours this morning, doing our quarterly Adopt-A-Mile clean-up on the southern gateway to our city, I'm really upset with some people.

I was raised by an eco-conscious mom, back before the green, take-care-of-our-earth movement became fashionable. Anyone seen the television series Mad Men, set in the early 1960's? I know there's been some talk about how astonished folks have been when the pregnant Betty Draper sat down with a drink, cigarette in hand. You just don't see that these days - we know better. My astonishment moment though, was when the Drapers went out for a roadside picnic, and when it came time to leave just shook out their blanket, left the trash lying there, and got back in the car.

That never happened in my family. Mom says she knows none of her children are litterbugs. When she rides in any one of our cars, every one of us has a bag, box, or just the area behind the driver's seat where the debris of everyday living ends up. It's not on the roadside, that's for sure!

This logo is a free download available here.

Nowadays, we know better. So, why is it, every three months, when I'm out there on that same stretch of highway, I'm still picking up bottles and fast food bags and candy wrappers? And cigarette butts - we can't even get all the cigarette butts that are out there - we'd be out there for days (and this in an area prone to droughts and wildfires)! Please, people, don't we know better? What would your mother say?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Our Beautiful Woodbox

Knowing a wet winter storm was expected by nightfall, I filled up the woodbox before I left this morning. I love our woodbox. Despite having a woodstove as our only source of heat, I didn't want my living room to look like a backwoods hunting cabin. I wanted a woodbox that looked like a piece of furniture. So I drew what I wanted, showed Aries where it had to sit, and then he figured out how to build it. It's beautiful! In the summer, when the lid is closed, most people think it's a blanket chest. And then, in the winter, we can take off the lid and pack it with enough wood to keep a fire going for three days.

It's my turn to post on the Simple Green Frugal Co-op blog. I've written about heating with wood. To see what my woodbox looks like in winter-mode, check out that post here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Protector of the Protege

Ok, maybe I'm starting to feel a touch of cabin fever. There's a frigid wind blowing today, and every once in a while snowflakes swirling about in it. After writing about the Guardian of our hearth yesterday, when I got into the car to run a couple of errands this morning, Lizardo asked if he might get a turn in the spotlight too.

So, bear with me: this is Lizardo, Protector of the Protege. Lizardo came from the depths of Lake Tahoe, introducing himself when I was out for an afternoon swim while camping in a west shore campground last summer. He really has a nice smile under that grey helmet he wears. He quickly made himself at home in my car, and has lived there ever since. I think it's still too early for the garden gnomes to be out, so this should be the end of such silliness here (although I wouldn't bet on it).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Guardian of the Hearth

A grey brick chimney forms the center of our home. A wood stove backed up to the fireplace opening provides our heat. The hearth, quite literally in our case, is the heart of our home.

Above the wood stove is a clock. Aries made it from a slice of redwood burl his dad gave him - sanding and buffing the prettiest side, hollowing out a space in back to hold the clockworks, gluing numbers on the face.

The wood of the clock completes the balance of our hearth - the earth chimney, metal stove, fire within, water in the teapot and steamer. There's one more element there too - the guardian of our hearth.

From his perch to the left of the clock face, many don't even realize he's there. Most of the year, and especially cold winter mornings, he blends right in with the grey brick behind. During the winter, though, when the stove is going, the rising warmth makes him turn a bright green color. Though still somewhat in the shadows, he's there to protect the wall from falling (nice thought, in an seismically active area) and guard our hearth from evil (also nice to have).

He found me on one of my walks with the dog, accompanied us home, and has found a home above our hearth ever since. Though some may call him a gargoyle, more properly says he, he's a grotesque - since he lives inside the dwelling and has never functioned as a drainspout. Also, completely proper, he has wings, and so can patrol the rest of the house for us during the dark of night. We can rest easy, knowing he's there to protect our home.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March Comes In Like A . . .

Well, it's not really a lion this year. The snow has momentarily given way to rain: drippy days, freezing nights, icy mornings. But I'm sure the snow isn't done with us yet either. After all, this is northern Nevada: just wait a few minutes, and things will change.

Yesterday, outside one kitchen window, a quail stands watch on the deck railing as his covey sneaks through the fence, heading for the spilled seeds under the bird feeder.

Out in the garden, I hope the doubled-up wire fencing will be enough to protect newly emerging seedlings of my fall-seeded spinach and arugula from hungry little beaks. One plan this year is to reconfigure my garden layout this Spring to make the garden beds easier to cover. The city is sprawling our direction. As developers bulldoze the sagebrush, the birds and animals are on the move - looking for new homes and food. Our lot must look like a green oasis, flashing signs saying, "Good Eats Here". I try to make sure they get only their share.

A bright spot in the gloomy weather are the yellow crocus outside my living room window. Closed up tight when it rains or snows on them, as soon as a ray of sun breaks through the clouds they open right up. This wire cover is chicken-proofing. Three of the hens got into this garden and had a field day. Once the girls find something of interest, they get downright obsessive about it. Merely running out there every half hour, flapping my apron or waving a broom isn't gonna keep them away. Time to go find more wire. So, now, they're lined up outside the little picket fence, cocking their heads from side to side, beady little eyes checking out all the wire. This garden is safe for the moment.

March is certainly no lamb this year either. Rain here is snow just a few hundred feet higher up the hill, and snow is still in our forecast this week. This morning, looking out the other kitchen window, a couple of white moving patches caught my eye (hard to see, center of above photo). I recognise what it is immediately, but it surprises me.

It's the rump patches of five mule deer. I'd seen fresh tracks walking with the dog up the canyon, but we rarely see deer down this low. Two things cross my mind: one, I hope they're not hungry enough to jump our fence - maybe the dog will deter them; two, if you see deer, there may be cougars. You probably won't see them, but they are around. For my walks up the canyon, I think I'll be using my sharp-tipped hiking poles for a while now. March came in like alert? alarm? Just no lions, ok?