Thursday, April 12, 2007

April in 'Sconsin

Don't put away your parkas, kids! We got over 5 inches of snow yesterday, which was a record for April 11. I didn't ride, owing to a broken chain on the Moose and a sneaking suspicion that a fair number of drivers might have forgotten how to pilot their vehicles safely in the interval since our last snowfall. This followed an unusually cold fortnight of temperatures averaging 20f degrees below normal. I'm pretty sure the beets and turnips I planted near the end of march are dead. The peas are probably fine. Our Master Gardener class was cancelled last night.

And then there's the newest member of the fleet, my wife's new Electra Amsterdam. It's been a little too cold or snowy to ride it, but she really loves it and I think it'll get lots of use. I'm pretty sure it will get a Sturmey-Archer dynamo drum brake front hub installed in the front wheel pretty soon here. A brighter halogen light or maybe an Inoled will be in order too, along with a basket. It came with a good taillight though. I'll give it a little write-up and some better photos here in a bit.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Q1 2007 Report

Some of the cool kids blog monthly, weekly or even daily updates. I'm not that ambitious, so I'm going to try quarterly, starting with January 1 to March 31.

614 Total Miles

Broken out to: 345 on the Woodpecker, 150 on the Moose, 75 on the Trucker and the balance on a couple of other bikes. February was brutally cold and nasty, but January and March made up for it by being relatively cooperative weather-wise. The last two weeks of March were rainy enough to wash most of the grit off of the streets.


I've gotten a bunch of cabbage family plants off to a pretty good start indoors. Lettuce, basil, dill, tomatoes and tomatillias are not too far behind. Had a couple of nice warm days just over a week ago and took the opportunity to drop some peas, vetch, radish and carrot seeds in the ground. Five cauliflower plants from last summer survived several sub-zero weeks in February in the bosom of my humble cold frame:

Began taking a Master Gardener class back in mid-February, and am set to take a Master Composter class later in April. Pretty interesting so far. I've also volunteered to be a plot monitor at my community garden and begin a composting project in cooperation with a local coffee shop.

I've also been working on a few New Year's resolutions (!) I've borrowed from John Michael Greer. I thought it might be fun to follow a well-defined list, and this one struck me as likable and achievable. Here's the progress:

1. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents. Mostly done. We won't be converting completely, and some of the replacement will be done through attrition. CF bulbs don't like to be cycled (turned on and off) a lot, so we're going with lower-voltage incandescents for places where the lights aren't needed for long periods of time and get cycled a lot. I was also concerned about the fact that CFs use mercury until someone pointed out the mercury that coal-fired power plants spew would be reduced by using CFs.

2. Retrofit your home for energy conservation. Two insulation projects are on the schedule for early this summer—attic and foundation. Built a small cellar-like cold room in the basement for storing certain produce. Just bought a new refrigerator that will consume about a third the electricity of our current unit.

3. Cut back on your gasoline consumption. Feh. Story of my life.

4. Plant an organic vegetable garden. Been doing this for 3 years. Added the MG classes this year.

5. Compost your food waste. Been doing this for at least 8 years. Now I'm into getting other people to do it.

6. Take up a handicraft. Does snowshoveling count?

7. Adopt an “obsolete” technology. Been working on my hand tool restoration skills. Working with someone from the community garden to rehab hand tools discarded by a local landscaping company.

8. Take charge of your own health care. Not so much yet.

9. Help build your local community. Community garden and Bicycle Federation volunteer activities. Trying to think of more.

10. Explore your spirituality. Still sort of an inactive Baha'i. Do like JMG's writing quite a bit and bought the Druidry Handbook, but haven't read too much of it yet. Finally have the wife talked into taking the youngin' to some UU gatherings (both dislike conventional Christianity quite a bit.)

So, there it is. See you in July (maybe).