Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Russian Comfrey Discovery

While walking my dog today, I discovered two Russian comfrey plants growing in a grassy area.  It is in an area that was being developed until the Housing Bubble stopped it.  It looks to be Bocking #14, but I'm not completely sure.

I want to try this!

It's called hugelkultur.  And I want to try this out badly!  Watch the video.

Here is another video, but part of a series.

PS -- if it sucks up so much nitrogen in the first year, just plant a nitrogen fixing plant.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lasagna Garden, Maybe?

I am thinking about implementing a lasagna garden between now and July.  Not sure where I might put it, but I am thinking of putting it on the southern boarder of my property.  I have some seeds that I need to plant sooner than later.  Hmm... not sure which way I'll go just yet.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ingenious Creek Irrigation

My mom watering the piles.
As I have stated before, my Aunt has a large piece of property that includes a creek pretty much cutting it in half.  Yesterday, we started two compost piles in her pasture area on the other side of the creek.  At the time, I did not have a solid idea on how to add water to the compost piles.  My mom who was helping me was grabbing a few buckets full of water to help throw on the piles.  After we have finished doing that, we were around the creek when she came up with the seed of a brilliant idea.  Before I get to that, I wanted to say that this creek is "running" about ten months out of a year with July and August being the driest. So naturally, if this idea panned out it could help my Aunt out a bit with her water bill. The Utilities bill is a bit different in the county compared to Tacoma.  The water bill is separate from power and gas.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Adventure In Raking

I spent today across from my Aunt's place raking up grass clippings from her neighbor.  The resident of the property said that we could have it since we intend to use it to start a pile or two for my Aunt.  In fact, he was a bit surprised that we wanted it.  He has about two solid acres of nothing but tall, tall grass that he usually just cuts down and leaves it as mulch.  So my mom and I got up today and head out there to start harvesting the green gold. (We are always working together it seems.)  I was not expecting it to be as hard as it was, but all that raking make me sweat.  It was worse than my Aunt's.  Most of the grass that was cut only hid the long, uncut grass below it that the lawn mower just knocked down.  You had to rake with the direction of cutting otherwise you could not rake the clippings at all. Some times you could not even do that without tangling up your rake.  We only cleared about an acre of the all the cut grass by the time four o'clock rolled around, nevermind that we already had enough to form up a good two piles worth of compost.  We ended up taking  a rather heaping truckload of grass home to add to my already three working piles.  (More is always better, right? lol)

We dumped the truckload of grass clippings at home and split it somewhat evenly between the two compost piles here.  I tell you, this is going to be real fun to turn this Wednesday. LOL!  Anyway, we grabbed our last bale of straw to take back to my Aunt's to use in her piles.  In less than three weeks, we have used all four bales that we bought.  I guess we really did have a need for the stuff.  Once back at my Aunt's, we formed up the piles.  Each pile is 4-foot wide by 7-foot long and at least 3-foot deep.  We placed them next to each other and one on top of a beehive that nested itself in a tree stump.  All in all though, I had a ton of fun doing it even if I might hurt tomorrow.  Honestly though, I do not mind being sore and I really got to work on the removal of my farmer tan.  It is just ugly on me, seriously.  Ugly!  Now, I have an idea about using her creek as an irrigation source for her pasture area where these piles are located.  I will report back later if it works out or not.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Compost Pile

Here is my fourth compost pile for the spring and should be ready by the middle of July. Quite excited, to tell the truth. The other piles will be done in the next thirty days at the latest. I still needed more grass and soon more straw. lol never ending need.

Monday, May 21, 2012

No to Demo! Keep the 104 year old building.

Why do we have to demolition another old building in Tacoma? Is there not another solution to be had instead of removing another long-standing and well remembered building in Tacoma?  I am talking about the First Congregational Church (click for article).  I realize 40 people cannot pay for the upkeep of such a large structure, however, it should not be demolition, regardless. It is already is a prime spot and in very short walking distances to Wright Park that is not even a block north of it.  A prime spot for it to stay and be converted into anything other than demotion. I am sure MultiCare will try to snap it up in its ever growing medical complex sprawl just like the last church they demo'd a few years ago.   Need I remind anyone of the last historic removal that to this day still stink to high noon? No? Here, let me refresh your minds: UW Tacoma work erases historic iconic image from building (News Tribune). Nuff said.

First Congregational Church on Google Maps:

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A Good Move For Thea Foss Waterway

I just read the article from the News Tribune "New welcome for Thea Foss Waterway" about a compass motif being painted on one of the tanks in Thea Foss waterway, and I must say that I am very pleased to see someone finally give the waterway a due recognition.  Many folks in and around Tacoma do not know accurately where the waterway is located, so it is not hard to see why boaters would not either. Although not exactly easy to describe when telling folks, most just lump it into Commencement Bay, which it is not.  Yes, technically it is linked directly to Commencement Bay, however, Thea Foss waterway is as standalone and important to Tacoma as the Narrows Bridges (past & present), Alber's Mill and Union Station is.  Thea Foss Waterway has its own strong, defined history. Many thanks to the Thea Foss, the Foss Family, and Foss Maritime.

Warning: Rant below!

Seattle often feels the need to downgrade & cheapen what Tacoma does and lately many folks here are doing the same.  Tacoma throughout its history has always gone off and done its own thing and from time to time, bailing out Seattle when Seattle got in over its head.  I am quite proud about Tacoma and love this city.  I digress, I am very happy that NuStar is funding Stan Selden's dream. One last thing about Seattle: Mt Rainier is NOT THAT LARGE BEHIND THE SPACE NEEDLE! Never Has Been. Never Will Be.  I live approximately 50 miles from Mt. Rainier and Seattle is at least 75 miles from it. You can SEE the difference when in Seattle.   Seattle is in King County. Tacoma & Mt. Rainier are in Pierce County. Shame on you, Seattle! Always pilfering shit that was never yours to begin with.

By the way, compasses rock! I have a tattoo of one planned for this year.  Maybe I will incorporate "253" or Tacoma into it. We will see.

Thea Foss Waterway on Google Maps:

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A Normal Day in Pacific Northwest

A lovely rainy morning
(Heading South from Federal Way)
Man, what a lovely morning it is!  No, I am not being sarcastic.  It truly is a lovely morning with the rain falling and warm, albeit humid temperature.  Of course, you could say I am extra grateful and cheery because I am not working in it.  That is true, very true.  If I were working in the rain today, it would be a bitch.  It is just wet enough outside for the power tools to trip the GFCIs on the Spider Boxes. And if you are hold your cards just right, the power tool will even share some of its electricity with you.  Those are the best days! Sharing is caring, especially with electrified devices.

Anyway, driving south towards home was rather nice.  Traffic Northbound was completely fubar'd, but not so bad you could not get to work on time.  Idiots -- cough, out-of-staters -- panicking and freaking out that it is raining after all of those blissful warm and sunny days.  It happens just about every time it rains here after sunny weather.

Checked on my compost piles this morning.  One is cooking just ever so happily, but the other is not.  Not only is it not heating up very much, it has shrunk.  Now, the shrinking is not a bad thing, but in combination with no heat, it means I am going to have to add more nitrogen to the mix.  I was pretty sure my ratio was spot on, but maybe I carried the 1 when I should not have. Go figure.   I have six trash bins full of grass at my Aunt's place ready for pick-up. I will add them shortly, since this rain is only going to make the grass around her house and in her field grow even faster once it passes.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bonfire Pics


Bonfire, a set on Flickr.

Here are some pictures from my bonfire last night. I tried out some time-lapsed as well as aperture priority stills.

Hello Rain, Goodbye Sun!

It was awesome to finally have the warmth of the sun for the last few weeks, but I am definitely happy to see, hear, and feel the rain again.  The last week has just killed me allergy-wise, so this rain has already helped me immensely. I can at least breath halfway normal again, especially when I first wake up.  Although I knew it was going to rain today, I did not think it was going to rain this morning.  I had thought it would be more throughout the latter part of the day.  I am glad I got my bonfire in last night at my Aunt's house. I paid for it with my allergies, but who can resist a bonfire?  Well, it was not really a bonfire in our typical sense, but it was a fire where we typically have bonfires.  It was  nice and I really enjoyed myself.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Does "253" spell "Handgun"? Damn straight it does!

Pictures of the shirt that spells "253".
(From NewsTribune)
This is so awesome! I would buy it in a heartbeat. In fact, that is probably not a might but a will buy.  I love the creativity of the guy who designed it.  Just like a Tacoman to come up with something like that.  I love this city!

Is this the right symbol for Tacoma? (Tacoma News Tribune)

Russian Comfrey Pictures

 Here are three of the slips that I received from Horizon Herbs the other day.  I did not post a picture of them in the last entry so I am doing so now.  Instead of receiving six, they sent me eight slips.  How awesome is that!!  They are all planted now and I will know if they'll take within two weeks time. Hopefully within the next seven to ten days.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Comfrey Slips Have Arrived!

My Russian Comfrey bocking  #14 slips arrived this afternoon after waiting for nearly 2 weeks. I ordered a bundle of six from Horizon Herbs  down in Oregon earlier this month.  It took a bit longer than I had expected, however, I am definitely happy that that all six roots cuttings have arrived in very good condition. I am very pleased with HH’s packing techniques in not only the outer package, but how they pack the roots in a soil-like product.  It is supposedly a coconut composted product and that holds in moisture. (I do not recall what it is ATM.)

This particular bocking is in sterile, removing any worry about it spreading out of control on its own.  The only way to propagate this Bocking of Comfrey is to cut the roots and planted elsewhere. I went with this version for its ability to attract pollinators which is a good thing for my gardens, but also going to use it as a biomass for my compost and a nitrogen fixer for the grass near the planting. I can also use it as a mulch for other spots in the gardens. There is also is purported medical abilities not just in this Bocking but also with all version of Comfrey, however that is just a bonus for me.  Since I got six slips, I have planted two  next to the compost pile, to on the north side of the property, and to yet be planted. Tomorrow I'll decide where they will be planted. I'm trying to spread them around the yard so that I have plenty of bee activity all over the gardens.

In addition to putting this Comfrey, I am thinking of planting a clover species in my backyard. The ground in the backyard is near concrete and Clover will help break up the soil.  In addition to what Clover can do for the ground, I can also use it as a biomass for my compost pile. It also fixes nitrogen into the soil which will improve my grass quality. (Starting to see a pattern here?) I haven't decided which Clover varietyI will go with yet, however Medium Red Clover interests me currently, although I am not sure if it is a perennial or biannual plant.  With a bit of research, Clover seems to have some medical properties as well. Most articles I have read have dried the flowers for use in teas.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Harvesting Compost Material

My Aunt agreed to give me her grass clippings for my compostin gneeds, however, my Aunt has a large piece of property.  She has tackled mowing and clearing it every years by herself, however, she really does need help with it. Since I was benefitting from getting free compost material and I rather be outdoors than in, I decided that I would help her cut and maintain the "Back Fourty".  Besides, I look damn sexy with a farmer tan.  I mean, who doesn't!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tacoma's New Fireboat Saying What We All Know Too Well

As a country, our product quality sucks!  You read that correctly.   Once upon a time, we use to make some quality stuff. Stuff that you can still find kicking around, doing a job as well as the newer equipment can do.  The only difference is that the newer, faster, quicker, better, more expensive equipment is fail-tastic.  In Seattle PI's, "Tacoma welcomes new $675,000 fireboat from Canada" article, Port of Tacoma quite clearly and cleaverly points out how they came to choose a Canadian company to build the new fireboat. 

If this country wants to see the next hundred or so years, we need to refocus our industries into making high-quality, durable goods. And with that, Americans need to take pride in their work.  Every building I have worked on, no matter how big or how small the task was, I tried to take as much pride and apply as much skill as I could to it.  I know that when a certain marina in Kirkland is bulldozed sometime in the future, there is a a wall or two that will no go so quietly. Why? I built the shit out of it, stronger than the prints said to and without expending any extra money to do it.  With that said, that entire building is quality built not just from my efforts, because the entire crew's efforts were focused on quality, durability, and pride.  Our focus should not be on how much money we can save, what the turn-over rate will be, and how fast we can get another person into the product to keep us afloat. That never works, except in scams. (Enron, anyone?)

There is nothing wrong with doing crap jobs as long as you know that the job might be crap, but the work is quality.  I have worked with too many people with bad attitudes and even worse work ethics, only in it for the money.  Nothing in life comes easy and especially not free. Everything requires sweat, ink, blood, or breath in payment.  Hell, even Death requires you pay for it with your Life.

Camera Megapixels: Myths & Facts

CNet did a great job of talking about why the number of megapixels on a smartphone and consequently a tablet are not an indicator of quality.  I have a lovely Olympus EPL-1 camera with 12.-something pixels, it can and has knocked the effing socks off of my mom's point-and-shoot camera which has more megapixels.

Anyways, read the article because it is truly informative.

Camera megapixels: Why more isn't always better (Smartphones Unlocked)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Foreigners, Go Home!

I dislike Foreigners with near fervor unseen today.  Not the ones that come from other countries, but the ones that come from within my own.  They come up here and  bitch, moan, and whine about how the weather, the culture, traffic, you name it.  How they like another state so much better, so on and so forth for reason X, Y, and Z.  I am of the school of thought that you “love the one you are with”, “enjoy the journey, not the destination”,”when in Rome do as the Romans do”, and most importantly in my book: “better to look a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  If you are living some place that you dislike, you move. Key word here: move.

The other day, I was at Portland Ave Nursery looking for a particular Comfrey plant for my garden. While heading back to the car, a passing hail storm caught several people wanting to get to their cars.  A woman bitched about the hail. Bitch, she did. it’s spring! Weather is unpredictable in early spring.  Everyone knows this, and if you do not then there is always the option of OSLI. (Observe, Study, Look Intelligent.)  In short, she “liked Arizona better”.  Fine. Like all you want.  In fact, move back there... quickly.  This woman is not an isolated incident and not by far.  These same people are changing my state! We are not the socially class-constricted East Coast or the loser confederate South.  Could not care less what happens back east or down south, honestly.  However, those same peoples somehow end up here for whatever reasons and attempt to recreate their culture here.  Fuck your culture and leave my alone.  PNW is PNW! If I do not say “Hi” walking down the street, I’m not being rude. I do not know you and I have nothing to say to you.  If I wear a hoodie everywhere, I am not going to rob, stab, rape, and dissect you for some twisted. fun.  Here in Washington State, we have layers of personalization that works for us.  Some people get farther into our circles than others.  We are fairly private people here.   I have co-workers that know very little about me and I them, however, we are great work friends.  Just how shit goes up here.

So I say again, I hate Foreigners and not the ones from other countries. Their sins can be forgiven and they often learn quickly, changing their ways.  It is the Foreigners inside the USA that are the problem.  I do not like you, I will not share my salmon with you, and most importantly I will not be very nice to you.  And never will Atlantic Farmed Salmon crap ever be anywhere near as good as real Salmon!

Russian Pagan Metal Band: Arkona -- Good Shit!

Just stumbled across this video and band.  The videos is a bit strange for my tastes, but pretty good compared to what we normally see in this genre. Anyhow, the music is rock solid AWESOME! :-) I thought I would post a supportive link to it. (No, I do not get a kick-back from this. :-( )  ANyways, a few videos for ya'll.  BTW, gotta love Russians!