Archive for April, 2009

This makes me smile – intelligence and passion

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Hilary Clinton talks sense about abortion, and the realities of sex ed and reproductive health care. So many of us agree, the best way to stop abortion is to provided health care and access to birth control. The conversation can finally be continued with intelligence and respect. Can we please now put this divisive energy into supporting and promoting reasonable, proven ways to keep abortion safe, legal and rare.

Bea Arthur and Rock Hudson’s pro drug message

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Times have changed, and the starkness of that reality is sometimes made more obvious with YouTube clips form the past. I ran into this video remembrance of Bea Arthur and Rock Hudson singing a duet about how everyone is using drugs to help them with their troubles. With no accompanying required anti-drug message.

Kind of amazing now, huh?

More on Bicycle Road Rules

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Just came across this excellent video that makes the point about bicycles needing different rules than cars. I couldn’t have said it better myself – although I did try.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

It is nice to see a well done piece of work as well. Very clear, and good use of the media!

Internet Safety

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

I did a short presentation tonight at the Steiner School on technology and safety. I put a lot of thought and effort into preparing a simple handout, and then introducing a few ideas about technology and trying to build awareness about what students may be doing, and some concerns and ideas for dealing with the subject.

I’ll post the hand out on my web site soon, or e-mail me and I can send a copy. A lot of people made great suggestions during its creation. The A2B3 group in particular.

It was well received. And my brief survey of parents and their experience with the issues seem to indicate that it may be an important thing to bring up and deal with. I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about this as time goes by.

Wild things – Ramps and Nettles

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Yesterday was a fun adventure to the woods near Washtenaw Community College to find ramps. It was another trip with Gary, this time by bicycle. It turns out to be a bit further than I had imagined, 12 miles round trip. It was the first longish bike trip of the year, and I felt it later. But I loved it.

We rode on some of the Border to Border trail, and I hadn’t really biked that part before somehow. It was a perfect day – warm and sunny – although I got a little too much sun and the wind was fierce on the way back. Crossing the ridges especially the wind was hard enough to feel the bike move. When it became a headwind it was a lot of work to go forward.

Back to the greens – the ramps were plentiful, they have a small onion like root, and a soft edible leaf. We left the bikes, walked for about 15 minutes near the river, and came ot a slope filled with this lovely plant. After about 1/2 hour of harvesting, we headed back. On the way we stopped at a nettle patch and picked enough for a later lunch. It seems early for nettles, but I was happy to see them. Gary joined me in picking bare handed.

As we peddled through gallup park Gary spotted a large snapping turtle. It was headed away from the river, apparently thinking it could cross the busy bike/jogging path and make it to the other pond. But with a fence and railroad tracks in the way, that wasn’t going to happen.

But how to turn a large snapper away from its goal? Gary tried with a nudge, but it was determined. He dug out the tools we had used for ramp collecting and used them to pick up the turtle and take it back to the river. It was snapping and extending its neck in annoyance, but was safely relocated. The turtle was about 10 inches long (shell only) and its tail was very long – almost another 5 inches. Back when I kept turtles I remember tail length was one way to determine sex, but I don’t remember who had the longer tail.

We sampled a few linden flowers on Fourth Ave., then ended up at my house for lunch of ramps and eggs, ramps and nettles and quinoa. A great adventure. But I need to brush up on my wildflower names. How can I forget plants I’ve known for over 40 years? Yet a few names escaped me.

And birds – a lot of geese, a hawk, and a dead swan floating in the river caught by a tree branch.

I have pesto still to make. I’ll do that with yellow dock from my yard. Yum.

The Onion Parody on Sex Ed

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Although it went a little dark towards the end, overall I love this parody about children and what they are learning about sex. We need to keep it an open conversation about what kids are learning about sex, what they need to learn, and what positive messages we can send in addition to the serious concerns. I continue to believe that humor helps that.

Study: Children Exposed To Pornography May Expect Sex To Be Enjoyable

Now that was fun

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

A warm spring night, just over a dozen friends on the front porch, a vegetable tomato based soup, freshly made sourdough bread with homemade butter, and a bit of a birthday treat of strawberries and mangoes with improvised chocolate sauce.

There was actually a lot of traffic on the court last night, with friends visiting everyone on the street. There was room for sitting and standing as people came and went. The bees were visited by nearly everyone, and we were all glad they seem so happy and —- busy. Like bees are supposed to be.

The soup was simple, but yet got rave reviews from a couple of people. Sauted chopped onions, add carrots, broccoli, celery and quartered mushrooms. 1 can each pureed and diced tomatoes, a can of garbonzos borrowed from my neighbor, salt, freshly crushed pepper, a bit of chili powder – and the critical ingredient freshly ground cumin.

The chocolate sauce was inspired by the thought of ripe mangoes and one of my many friends named Laura brought organic strawberries. A few minutes later I made a roux of fresh ground flour and butter, added some cream off the top of a jug of milk, a handful of chocolate chips and a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder, and a tablespoon of raw sugar. It had a few lumps but capped the meal. Add in a candle standing up in a bowl of strawberries, and that gave us the inspiration to sing happy birthday to Gary.

Nala had her stuffed kong, and this time I had the foresight to stick it in the freezer so it lasted far longer. It was full of some very old cashew butter and kibble. She didn’t get to steal any food from anyone.

I suppose this is the third “season” of Friday dinners, and I enjoyed it totally. Taking a few breaks was good, inviting more people even better. And even though it was great to hang out here in warm weather, being at the lake is even more so.

“You will always be surrounded by true friends” is my Treo generated fortune of the day. Couldn’t be more true. Although “surrounded” may be open to interpretation. Three of the people who came last night will be in California in just a few short months, 2 1/2 months actually. One by one the “last time” events with each of them are passing. That’s hard.

I’m certainly finding a lot of new friends recently, but those people who have been here for a while, we’ve been through times together, we know each other’s hard stories, those are special friends. And it is harder when they are further away. Not as easy to go out for Zingerman’s chocolate cheesecake on the spur of the moment. Or a walk. Or dinner on the porch.

But the pull to visit California soon grows stronger!

A Bee Adventure

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Yesterday was the bee extraction day. The bees were in the rear wall of an attached garage. They had been there for two years, and had to be removed. Why? Because a wall full of honey and bees isn’t good for the building. You can’t just kill the bees, ants and mice will move in to take over the honey and wax. The moisture is damaging to the adjacent structures.

The honey can seep through drywall, bees can cause interior roofs to collapse from the weight of the honey, there is just a lot of damage that can happen. And a lot of the time people will just kill the bees, clean out the area, and patch it up. So this was a challenge.

Gary and Stephen and I had looked the place over last fall, and decided on a course of action to take in the spring. Why spring? Less honey stores, fewer bees. Of course a lot has happened since then. I didn’t know I would be coming back to this project after breaking up with Gary, and slowly finding a way back to being friends.

But here we were. 10 people total, attacking the wall, scooping up honey and brood and bees and chasing down the queen. It was mostly a fun and interesting experience. A few very sad moments as so many bees didn’t survive the process, but they were surprisingly resilient, peaceful and also forgiving. Only four stings – Gary got three, I got one.

We had sugar water and a well stocked smoker. most were novices to this, but dived in with calmness and fascination. It was hard physical work, and I felt responsible for people’s safety as well as the well being of the bees, and the house. But it was a puzzle of trying to figure out the bees, how to use the people well, and how to do what needed to be done with as little damage as possible.

I’m not sure the bees are OK. It will be a few weeks before I know for sure. But they seem to be OK, and today they are carrying out the dead bees, doing their reconnaissance flights, and starting clean up. I’m feeding them more sugar water, and hoping. They are such a gentle sweet bunch. This strain deserves a life here where they are welcome.

After scooping, spraying, vacuuming, chasing, and everything the crowd dwindled, the videotaping and cameras went away, and Gary and I left as well. It was about 6, we had been at work for almost 4 hours. We went out for take out at Jerusalem Gardens, and then hung out until dark. We went back, both getting crisis phone calls on the way. Hmmm.

Gary used a heat gun to clear out more wax, we tied up the hive and moved it to my truck. I finally was home and with hive by about 11 PM. So it was a long day. I forgot how tiring it is to climb up and down ladders all day – it hurts today.

I care deeply about these little creatures now in my care, and I so hope they make it. I will feel very bad if they didn’t. And I know we gave them the very best chance to survive and to thrive. And the experience made a number of new fans of bees – more future bee keepers perhaps.

If and when Monte pulls together the video he shot I will post the links in the comments. I was too busy focusing on the work and the pleasure of being with the bees to be self conscious – perhaps a mistake.

I did all I could. That’s something. I so hope they are OK.

Thanks you to everyone who helped – and since there are at least two names I don’t know how to spell, I have to skip making an actual list. But I couldn’t have done it without Gary, as well as Stephen and Blanche. Thanks. And I received one compliment – that hanging out with me does led to some interesting projects and situations. Yeah.

Canoeing Lake Winnewana

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Here was another discovery of something right in front of me that I never noticed. A huge wonderful beautiful mysterious lake. Apparently it is an impoundment, the result of a dam. Not too far from Cassidy Lake, and pretty close to my own Long Lake.

This was a day trip with Gary, who remains a good canoe companion. We put in with a small load of food, water, and PFDs two paddles and the poling paddle. It was a bit chilly, overcast, and some wind, but clearer blue skies blowing our way.

A slow paddle near the shore, there were birds and not much green. I think the list of birds we saw include swans, Canadian geese, I saw the first Great Blue Heron almost right away. There were buffle head ducks, wood ducks, mallards, crows, turkey vultures, and we heard wild turkeys. And the best part, the sand hill cranes.

Gary steered us back and back into the wetlands, away from the lake, and into an area that wouldn’t be navigable except with this perfect timing – spring and a recent rain to add to already higher than normal water. We were moving through logs, marshes, dead trees, and amazingly complex and beautiful driftwood that stood like aging gray sculptures.

We were as surprised as the sand hill we found sitting on her nest. We were very close when she saw us and absconded. Byt standing up in the canoe I could see the egg she had been sitting on, as sand colored as she was. We scooted away so that she could come back safely, and there was a goose also nesting just 10 feet away from us. Gary spotted her right away, it took me some time to make her out. She stayed put, ducking low like she was hiding. We moved on quickly. A ways away we stopped to just enjoy the sun coming out, the wind died down, and the strange watery scene around us.

I made black raspberry muffins that morning, so we munched on those, and watched and listened to the birds around us. The sand hills kept flying over as well as landing back towards where we had come from. It was frankly noisy in the best way, and felt very remote and untraveled. And given the confluence of events required to paddle to this place, it was remote in a whole other way.

We had some hot ginger tea, made with the last of the maple sap I had not frozen. Snacks were followed by lunch, some left over Indian food from the family dinner on Sunday. Potato Vindalu with rice, and potato ginger balls made with garam masala. And it all tastes better in a canoe.

It was a very long pause, followed by another on a small island nearby. We had a chance to lean against a large swamp cedar, and recall past trips and some of the good times we had shared together.

The way out to the lake was more beautiful and shadowy trees and stumps, marsh grass, old cattails, and the birds had settled down but were still strongly present.

We took the long way around to the take out, enjoying a few small waves, more sun, and a bit more wind. In all about a 4 or 5 hour trip, into a surreal and beautiful place. I’d like to return to see how much it changes as the water levels recede. It seems like a strange and wonderful place.

I have a bit of almost sun burn on my face, a few slightly sore muscles, and I’m happy. I’m glad to have experienced a new place so close to home, and it was great to have spent the time on the water, and to share it with Gary.

Nala breakthrough

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

I got Nala just after she turned two. She came with this weird habit of dancing away whenever I wanted to put a leash on her. It was her favorite game, and her most annoying trait. She escaped a few times, before I had her more figured out, and catching her wasn’t possible. Although she did approach other people who were able to grab her. Taking her ot the dog park requires an unknown amount of time, since never know if I can get a leash on her to take her home.

Yesterday, she came when called. While loose in the fenced area of the lake cabin.

I gave her a lot of cheese and hope she associates the two things.

And, that meant she had more time to play with her new dog friend Waldo.

Hey, it only took 1 1/2 years.

I’ll try for a repeat soon. With cheese.