Archive for August, 2008

to be a kid again

August 31, 2008

This evening all it took to bring joy to my young, four year old, son was helping him find some pajama pants.

The fact that they were his helicopter pajama pants was an additional plus that intensified his happiness.

May i too find joy in the simple things.

Let is also be noted that his joy turned to sorrow a few minutes later, when he was denied a popsicle.

confession of an anti-dog dog owner

August 31, 2008

i have been pretty honest about the fact that i am not much of a dog person, even though we have a family dog.

Here is the deal –our dog, Ashur, thinks i like him because i walk him and spend the most interactive time with him. i do this because i think it is important that a dog exercises and lives a healthy life.

Today the dog and i crossed another milestone… i purchased for Ashur a folding dog water bowl.

This purchase came about because this past summer i noticed that our dog did not like drinking out of cups or my makeshift ‘hand-bowl’ when walking Ashur. So i made a stop at PetCo this afternoon to get him a collapsible water bowl that i can take on walks with us, allowing me to give him water when we are away from the house.

I admit it, slowly i am breaking weak on my whole reality as the anti-dog dog owner.

trip

August 25, 2008

This past weekend i had the wonderful opportunity to get away with just my daughter, Tansy (age 12.)

We went to Seattle to visit Robert and Anastasia who have been longtime friends; in fact I was best man in their wedding. They moved to Seattle from Southern California and i had yet to cross the WA-lands to visit them. And so Tansy and i made the journey together to see them.

Anyways….

We arrived in Seattle Friday nite, later than hoped –due to my getting lost because i did not listen to my navigator (Tansy.) But Tansy did seem to enjoy seeing Safeco Field up close.

Saturday we went to the Fremont district to visit the Fremont Troll at Tansy’s request. We enjoyed a sunny and warm day in which we wandered the streets of Fremont district and then the Ballard area, including a visit to Robert’s office, where Tansy conducting a uber-quick session for her Godfather; helping him with fingernail biting.

We later went out for pizza and then a visit to the Seattle Center area. At the Seattle Center we especially enjoyed watching the International Fountain.

Saturday nite Tansy spent some time with Anastasia, and Robert and i went to the Sunset Tavern where we saw Levi Fuller and Neil Halsted of Mojave 3 play.

Previously i had never heard of Neil Halsted or Mojave 3; this experience has changed that. Some of Neil Halsted’s acoustic set reminded me of Belle and Sebastian.

If Neil Halsted comes to your town, i recommend it.

Here is a video of Neil Halsted with Mojave 3:

Sunday morning we made the trip to Pike’s Place Market where we stopped in at Left Bank Books, watched the flying fish and later enjoyed some tasty food at Sabra Mediterranean.

The rain fell while we were at Pike’s Place Market and so i felt that our Seattle experience was complete.

We left Seattle after we returned to Rob and Stacie’s from Pike’s Place on Sunday afternoon –our trip was a quick jaunt prior to the start of another school year for Tansy.

On the way home Tansy told me that i have “good taste in friends.” i think that constitutes approval in 12 year old verbage.

It was great to spend time with Tansy. A time with just her and me. A time to laugh together, to share and to create some memories that are just ours.

mr hundertwasser

August 15, 2008

One day i was blog-hopping when i came across a blogsite (which i wish that i could locate again) where the writer shared about a person who i had not heard of before. This person was painter, sculpter and architect: Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Initially two things caught my attention about this person- 1) His use of colour and 2) That he liked onion domes.

This initial introduction lead to further exploration….

He had some interesting philosophies, which i found amusing:

Regarding the rights of an apartment renter:
“The apartment-house tenant must have the freedom to lean out of his window and as far as his arms can reach transform the exterior of his dwelling space. And he must be allowed to take a long brush and – as far as his arms can reach – paint everything pink, so that from far away, from the street, everyone can see: there lives a man who distinguishes himself from his neighbours, the pent-up livestock! He must also be allowed to cut up the walls and make all kinds of changes, even if this disturbs the architectural harmony of a so-called masterwork, and he must be able to fill his room with mud or children’s modelling clay.”

Regarding the straight lines one sees around us in our buildings and etc:
“Today we live in a chaos of straight lines, in a jungle of straight lines. If you do not believe this, take the trouble to count the straight lines which surround you. Then you will understand, for you will never finish counting.”
“This jungle of straight lines, which is entangling us more and more like inmates in a prison, must be cleared. Until now, man has always cleared away the jungles he was in and freed himself. But to clear a jungle you must first become aware that you are in one, for this jungle took form stealthily, unnoticed by mankind. And this time it is a jungle of straight lines.”

And he inspires/challenges me in regards to lawn care:
“When man thinks he has to correct nature, it is an irreparable mistake every time. A community should not consider it an honour how much spontaneous vegetation it destroys; it should rather be a point of honour for every community to protect as much of its natural landscape as possible.”

Hundertwasser died on Saturday, February 19, 2000. He was buried on his land in New Zealand, in the Garden of the Happy Deads.

Intrigued?? Learn more about Friedensreich Hundertwasser here.

a video showing a building in Austria that Hundertwasser designed:

mr berry

August 13, 2008

i have enjoyed essays by Wendell Berry for quite some time, but i had never really gotten into his poetry or fiction; that is until this past week.

Earlier this week someone shared with me a poem by Wendell Berry which caused me to go to the library and check out a book of his poetry. i am glad that i did.

i am finding Mr. Berry’s poetry inspiring… encouraging… i am not really sure what word/s i should use to describe the effect his poetry is having –but it is good.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry

sometimes rain and hail are a sign that a person is supposed to stay home

August 11, 2008

After preparation and expectation our time to go camping finally arrived… and so our family left to go camping at Jubilee Lake. We were excited because:
-It was a time to go camping as a family.
-We would be camping with the Chantel family.
-And we would be at Jubilee Lake; a nice quiet campground next to a lake located in the Blue Mountains.

We left in my car.
Somewhere along the line it dawned on me that i had never driven this car, which had been given to me quite a few years ago, for any distance. Mostly my car made the daily roundtrip to work and back which was about 7 miles. And so going the 50 miles… in the summer… uphill and some of it on dirt road to Jubilee Lake (and back again) would be a new adventure.

The car was packed tight –my wife is something of a master car packer. With our 3 children in the backseat, my wife in the co-pilot’s chair with stuff packed at her feet, and me in the driver’s seat with a jug of water on the floor next too my legs –we were packed! And so we left our little city.

As we got towards the top of the mountain we could see dark skies… no big deal as i was not going to let a little rain ruin our weekend. As we got nearer to Jubilee Lake the skies began to drop rain. We still pressed on. As we turned onto the road that would take us to the campground the drops turned into a downpour. Then the downpour turned into a downpour plus good sized hail. But still we advanced forward.

As we pressed on i realized that my defroster was not working as it should. So with a t-shirt i drove forward on a dirt road, wiping the window and shifting as needed, with a water jug near my feet… pressing onward.

As we almost arrived at the Jubilee Lake campground we noticed the Chantel’s two vehicles parked along the side of the road. My wife got out in the downpour to see what was up. She learned from them that the Jubilee Lake campground was full — no sites were available. So the Chantel’s found a spot in the woods just outside of the campground, and set up camp. She learned from them that it had been raining for about about 3 hours. She also learned that there was no bathroom. And with a 12 year old daughter, a bathroom is pretty much a requirement.

Rain. Hail. No bathroom for a 12 year old girl. But what would Davy Crockett do? He would make camp and enjoy it! But my family is not the Davy Crockett family, and so we turned the non-defrosting, well packed vehicle around and began our descent from the mountain.

Our kids were disappointed. So i told my wife we could check in at Harris Park, a little campsite about 15 miles from our house. When we pulled in we learned they had a couple of tent sites, but looking at them they appeared a bit too tight for our family. We then looked at a couple of the RV sites, but those spots felt like we would be too much on display. Harris Park does have some nice spots, right on the river, but they were not available. So we loaded the disappointed kids back into the car and went home.

As we headed home I offered up another idea… “Mom will go online and find us a hotel in the Tri-Cities with a pool and we will go there tomorrow.” The kids were not too hip on the idea, but seemed willing to entertain it. Tansy wanted to know if Mom would still be making Boca Burgers; when she learned that the burgers were still a ‘go’ she seemed agreeable. But Becket (age10) was still disappointed in not being able to camp, so I told him we could camp in the backyard tonite. Andrew (age 4) wanted in on the action so it was going to be the 3 of us, in our sleeping bags sleeping under the stars. I would get the outdoor firepit going and we could have a campfire.

Not long after we got home, as Becket stood out in the backyard it happened… it began to rain. It was a sight to see as my wife and i looked out of our window and saw our son, standing there with his head down… like he just couldn’t get a break.

So Friday nite we watched some TV and went to bed. The next morning my wife expressed how she had never gotten such a good nite’s sleep camping before.

Saturday morning Tansy decided she did not want to go to the Tri-Cities and stay in a hotel, so we allowed her to stay home and then spend the nite with her Grandmother.

We made it to our hotel, and after checking in we took the boys swimming. As the early evening progressed we noticed families of people, all dressed up, checking into the hotel. i noticed name tags, and from my limited understanding of Spanish i could tell that they were from some sort of religious faith group. i figured they must be in town for a conference or something, and thot they were probably going to check in, rest, and then return to their conference.

When we went to dinner we ran into more well dressed people with name tags. My wife wondered if they were Adventists because they were dressed up on a Saturday, but i told her based on the resturant that we were at (i.e. they serve quite a bit of meat) that i didn’t think Adventists would be eatting there. But i did have an idea of who i thot they were….

When we returned to the hotel the pool was packed with the name tag wearing people (but now they were in swimsuits and not wearing the nametags); and apparently my guess was wrong and there was no evening conference for them to return to.

But as i walked through the lobby my guess as to the identity of these people was confirmed. In the lobby i saw a book that one of the folks must have set down. Opening the book i took a look at the publisher: The Watchtower Society. Yup, i was at a hotel with a whole bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

i wondered, i learned.

August 9, 2008

With the Olympics underway, i found myself wondering what the lyrics to the Chinese National Anthem “March of the Volunteers” were.

Thanks to the internet i did not have to wonder too long:

Arise! All who refuse to be slaves!
Let our flesh and blood become our new Great Wall!
Chinese nation faces its greatest peril,
All forcefully expend their last cries.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Our million hearts beat as one,
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
Brave the enemy’s fire, March on!
March on! March on! On!

According to Wikipedia, this song was written by Tian Han in 1934. They were written for a play he was writing. In 1935 the song, with slight changes, was the theme song of a patriotic movie: ‘Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm.’

‘March of the Volunteers’ was used as the Chinese Nat’l Anthem for the first time in 1949. Due to controversy the line “The Chinese nation faces its greatest peril” was changed to “The Chinese people have come to their moment of emancipation.”

In June of ’49 China began looking for it’s official National Anthem. Among the over 6000 submissions, ‘March of the Volunteers’ was among the list. Although the line: “The Chinese nation faces its greatest peril” was still a source of trouble.

A man named Zhou Enlai gave an understanding to the line saying, “We still have imperialist enemies in front of us. The more we progress in development, the more the imperialists will hate us, seek to undermine us, attack us. Can you say that we won’t be in peril?” Apparently his explanation made sense as Mao supported the viewpoint and the song was made Official.

But during the Cultural Revolution Tian Han was put into prison and ‘March of the Volunteers’ was forbidden to be sung. In 1978 the song was restored (with lyric changes), and in 2004 the original version was made the National Anthem of the Peoples Republic of China.

info needed to factor the firewood equation

August 4, 2008

i have been splitting some firewood for an upcoming camping trip with some other families.

i wondered how much wood that i should split.

It was then that it dawned on me that a person needs to know the “pryo-level” of their fellow campers in order to factor an estimate of how much wood you will need for a camping trip.

garden

August 3, 2008

In her most recent post at Doves and Pomegranates, Margie made the comment: “I don’t think she understands my philosophy of gardening.”

This comment made me wonder 1) What is Margie’s philosophy of gardening? And then later i wondered, 2) How would i explain to someone what my philosophy of gardening is?

After some thot i have come to the conclusion that i do not have a particular philosophy of gardening… although i do have the way i do things, which seems to be evolving.

The main thing about my way of gardening is that i do not like to use chemicals; i.e. ‘bug dope.’ Although my wife has used it on our peach trees. But the one exception i make to this rule is when it comes to our birch trees. We have this bug which inhabits them massively. i use a systemic poison on them –which seemed to slow them down a bit this year; or was that slow down due to the unusual late cold weather we had? i have used my wife’s peach tree bug dope on them. i have used dish soap on them. i have even tried some more environmentally friendly methods as well: i poured syrup on the tree with the hopes the bugs would get stuck in it and die. i wrapped the tree in duct tape with the hopes the bugs would get stuck on it and die. i have manually gone out and crushed the bugs. i have even taken my shop vac out and vaccumed them off of the tree. Yes, this is war… 1, 2, 3, 4 i declare a bug war!

But back to my garden.

Before i planted i turned the soil, pulled weeds and even torched the dirt with the hopes of burning any weeds. In case you are wondering –not too much difference in the final weed count as the garden got underway. i have read in a book that a person should use a hoe and scrape the top of the weed off with the soil, leaving the root alone. The idea behind this is that when a person turns the soil when they unearth weeds it allows oxygen to get to the weedseeds already in the soil and thus, starts their process. i guess the idea works okay; but the weeds got ahead of me and so now i pretty much have left them be; although there have been exceptions to this.

The thing with my garden this year is that i had alot of volunteer sunflowers pop up from last year. i chose to just let them be. Which means my garden has a jungle-like appearance to it; and honestly, i like it.

The ‘fruit’ of the garden has been rather dismal… the carrots did not grow like i thot they would. The radishes did not grow like i had hoped, producing pretty much too small of a radish (this is due to the fact that i did not thin them out) but i am letting some of the radishes grow to give me seeds.

Our lettuce was a success– although some of it got ahead of us; and so i am letting some of the plants bolt and i am waiting for the seeds.

Our snow peas were a tasty plus, but we ate most of them off of the vine and not with any meals.

i also grew flowers this year, which was just a nice touch– but we have not used any of them in bouquets or anything.

My wife wanted us to grow swiss chard and kale, which we did –but did not use.

Andrew did plant carrots, which did not get thinned but did give him some carrots; with some others on the way.

i have also since planted more carrots and lettuce.

i planted two varieties of cherry tomatoes which are growing nicely and should be giving us ripe fruit soon.

For the most part i would describe our garden this year as “recreational.” i enjoy it, but if we were counting on it to help cut our food bills it would have to be considered a failure. But since it is a place to just kind of hang out, enjoy and such… i guess it is a success.

Although i did hang one wasp trap, i have chosen to pretty much let them be. The exception to that is the one wasp nest that i washed down this evening due to being stung twice as i attempted to get wood from the woodpile that i wanted to split for a coming camping trip. But still, no poison was used –just a strong stream of water and a pitch fork which i used to squash the fallen nest.

i did create a bee hive of sorts, after learning about making a nest using holes drilled in wood for a type of black bee (the Mason Bee i believe) that pollinates flowers. This nest has seen activity. If you are interested check things out or here for ideas.

The other thing about the ‘way i do things’ is that i like composting. Sure there are more successful composters out there, but mine is mostly to keep things out of the landfills that worms could consume right here at home. i have used some of the compost, and i plan on making a second compost pile so that i can have one pile to use and one pile under production –this way the compost can then be a useful part of the garden. i will say this, between composting and using the cities recycling program i have seen a difference in the amount of trash that goes into the trash can.

Next year i think i will go with a similar jungle plan, as i find it rather mellow. i will try a bit harder to get some produce from the garden.

The value for me personally of this years garden is that it has helped me to relax a bit –to not try and have everything all squared away for appearance sake, it is what it is and i enjoy it and i am comfortable with it. Perhaps in a way the garden this year has been an outer expression (or maybe a teacher) of some issues that i am trying to work on for myself… i will just leave that at that; i don’t want to overthink it one way or the other.

ps: i still would like to hear about Margie’s philosophy of gardening.

professional

August 2, 2008

The timer on our clothes dryer had been going out.

It only allowed us to dry at 10 minute increments –and although we got used to going into our back room and resetting the dryer every 10 minutes, it was the wash and dry experience we wanted.

My In-laws bought us a dryer, which I brought into the house and put into place today.

I find myself intrigued as to the choice of wording that is sometimes used in various instructions; wording in the instructions for the dryer provided a moment of amusement:

If the load is drier than you like, select a setting closer to Less Dry the next time you dry a similar load.

Is it possible for a load of wet laundry to be drier than I would like? After all, isn’t the function of a dryer to dry clothes?

I think what they mean by these instructions is: “If you feel like your load got cooked, then turn the dryer down a bit.” But they can’t say it like that because it does not sound professional.

If that is the case, how come sounding professional has to sound dumb?

This makes me think of an idea that Henry Thoreau expressed when he wrote about how an employeer will have two people to consider for a job and one person is dressed all nice and stuff –but their moral character is questionable. The other person has good moral fiber, but their pants are patched; yet the employeer overlooks the person with the patched pants because the other person looks better.

This is the downfall of the appearance of “professionalism;” when one overlooks inner integrity for outer flash.