February 28, 2005


Today it is finally raining after two weeks of dry, sunny weather. That’s ok, we really need it. This winter has been very mild. Even the Cascade Highway (rte. 20) is opening early, the earliest it’s opened in the history of Washington State. We welcome the rain because part of the straw bale garden involves soaking the bales daily for about a week.

Speaking of the garden, I’ve included the latest pics. The straw bale garden is now constructed, painted and filled with straw. First we dug out the grass. Neighbor G took all the slabs of grass to fill in spots in his yard that his dog destroyed. Next, J measured and cut the wood. It’s shaped like a kite. Not quite on purpose but more because that is the shape that fits best. I painted the boards a lovely, psychedelic purple and then J joined them with hinges and screws (wood, screws and hinges provided by a generous grant from Underthehouse).

Next we placed the bales inside, cut side up. We added the bale we purchased last fall. You will notice in the photos that the old straw is already soaked and dark from sitting around for months. It had broken down nicely and plenty of worms were visibly working away underneath and inside. This is exactly what we want. After filling the structure with the straw, we lined it all with plastic. We don’t expect this thin plywood to last very long but this plastic lining might give us an extra growing season.

Keep in mind that any part of the garden at this point in time is a work in progress. None of it will look as pretty as it will once there are plants shooting up from the soil.
In other garden news, we repainted some of the garden beds to brighten them. Did lots of weeding and raking. Planted spinach, arugula, white onions, peas, thyme, marjoram and yuen sai, a Chinese parsley similar to cilantro.

With the weather so nice we spent most of the weekend outside. Aside from yard work we walked to our favorite co-op and Trader Joes’s and filled our backpacks with tasty items. The co-op, Madison Market, has a superb bulk section. We can bring our own containers and leave with plenty of great food and spices. We also just sat on the deck for a while. It’s nice to just sit there and relax after digging and hauling for two days. You feel sore but it’s the soreness of accomplishment. Much more satisfying than the soreness of sitting on one’s ass all day. Enjoy the photos. And don’t forget to check out the archives if you’re bored and want to catch up.

As the cat sunbathes, J and I dug out the plot. Posted by Hello

I begin painting the boards. Posted by Hello

J assembles boards. Posted by Hello

Finished bed with old and new straw. Posted by Hello

February 25, 2005


THANK YOU KIND STRANGER FOR HELPING WITH THE HTML QUESTION!!! Your suggestion worked. Now that I know where to paste this pesky code, I can pick a completely new format from a different website (now that I see the book list, I'm not entirely smitten with it). For now, I'll leave it. I can't thank you enough. Perhaps this weekend I need to pick up HTML for Dummies at the used book store. Couldn't hurt. Yay! Bloggers are friendly!


Holy cow I thought this would be easy. Anyone have knowledge of such things, please contact me. I'm trying to create some lists to add to the blog. You know, stuff like books I'm reading or movies I've seen. Something that would appear under the profile and archives stuff. So I go to myMediaList.com and you can create lists and get the html code. It's really easy. Then add the code to the website/blog of your choice and every time you update the list of books, movies, etc., on myMediaList.com, your webiste/blog is automatically updated too. Sounds great. But now that I have this string of code, I don't know where to put it. If I insert it into a "post" it shows up as a daily entry. I've emailed the Blogger.com folks, but if anyone out there is wise to this, please let me know. It seems that these "add ons" are easy to get, the code is easy to get, but what do I do with the code?

February 24, 2005


I want to thank Jeannie for the fabulous gifts from Nepal and Tibet! She travelled there in November of 2004 as part of the Spencer, WV Rotary Club. I had no idea I had gifts coming. I had purchased some very cool, hand-made pillow cases from her and the gifts came for the ride. I received two rocks from Everest Base Camp, a roll of Tibetan prayer flags, incense, a change purse from Pokhara, Nepal and a bracelet from Shigatze, Tibet. I also received a CD containing all of the pictures from her trip. I've included a few shots here. Thank you a million times for these great gifts! I also love the pillow cases (sorry the payment has been delayed...it's actually been in my bag ready to be mailed for a week...today for sure!) I was going to use them as presents but screw that - I love them and they are already stuffed (with two of our current couch pillows) and are gracing the couch. The pouch is great too. I plan it to be filled with fine-point Sharpies, man! I've got ALL the colors they make.

Flower vendor in Patan. Posted by Hello

Poinsettias and marigolds. Posted by Hello

Long path to Dip Jyoti. Posted by Hello

Harvesting dal. Posted by Hello

Harvested rice. Posted by Hello

Boys in Bandipur. Posted by Hello

Potala Palace. Posted by Hello

Dalai Lama's living quarters. Posted by Hello

Everest! Posted by Hello

February 23, 2005


The guys at Aki’s did a wonderful job on my car. I wish the pepperoni bread had come out better. I have a plan for the next time I make it. A secret weapon. Tom said all the guys really liked it but I told him I would make it again and it would be better.

Received my permanent crown yesterday afternoon - from a dentist, not a monarchy. It’s gold. I feel like a rap star. Actually, it’s not visible since it’s the last tooth in the back on top. Gold is no more expensive than porcelin, it requires less removal of the original structure, and it’s the most biocompatible with the body. It looked like a shiny new hubcap while the D.D.S. was polishing it. After my crowning, I walked home (trying to stay humble even with the gold). I was really moving. When I walk alone I make better time (no offense, Erin. It’s just an observation). When I walk with Erin we chat and grocery shop and chat. We shop like old ladies. Erin will get a cucumber for salad that night and a can of chili for Bruce’s lunch. I’ll get a bag of baby spinach and a pot scrubber. And we always know which store has the deals. It’s a talent. We get it from our grandmothers.

On the way home yesterday some enterprising young man hit me up for a donation to his Tsunami relief fund. He was selling his stuffed animal collection out of his driveway and sporting his martial arts uniform. I tried to talk him out of soliciting me, untruthfully claiming that my animals would eat the toys, but he was persistent in a friendly way. I ended up buying a walrus for $1. I also unloaded two Sacagawea dollars on him that I was tired of carrying. "Wow. Can we use these in America?" I hope so; it was the damn government who coughed them up at the post office. I forgot what school he claimed he attended. For all I know he’s a martial arts-con man-midget. I hate stuffed animals anyway.

February 22, 2005


In order to post pictures onto this blog, I utilize two different programs. If I'm at work on my PC, I use Picasa. If I'm using J's Mac, I go to Flickr.com. These are the photo programs that Blogger.com is connected with. I prefer Picasa. It's well laid out and very easy to use. I've used both today to post the photos you see. If you have a PC, check out Picasa. The download is free.

Well, the cats didn't help at all. They prefer the lounge chairs. Here is the red bed finally installed.  Posted by Hello

This project, along with the other photos posted today, is bed #3 (red), Spring '03. I don't have current photos online but we now have bed #4 (green) that runs along that back fence. There is a walkway between the yellow and green bed. Straw bale gardening will take the place of many of those red brick stones in the foreground. Posted by Hello

Bed #2 (orange) built my me in Summer '02. Posted by Hello

Bed # 1 (yellow) was built by J in Spring '02. Back when the yard was a muddy mess from the two big dogs owned by previous renter. Posted by Hello

Unloaded straw

Unloaded straw
Originally uploaded by sissalice.
The next step in straw bale gardening.

Buying straw bales

Buying straw bales
Originally uploaded by sissalice.
The first step in straw bale gardening. Hope this posts. I'm still learning.

February 21, 2005



After posting from the coffee chop this morning, J picked me up after seeing a couple of her appointments. Back at home, after we had lunch, I began the rest of my day off. Ever the queen of multi-tasking, I'm making three or four pepperoni breads for the guys at Aki's Body Shop in Ballard, doing the dishes, cooking a pot of beans for veggie chili, folding clothes, transferring catnip starts into larger pots, and planting some Oregon Snow Peas and some Scarlet Nantes carrots.

The reason I was in Ballard was to drop my car with Tom, the owner of Aki's. Tom, is a swell guy who is doing work on my car in preparation for the upcoming inspection. My lease is up very soon and this Thursday an inspector comes to my place of employment between 9 am and 1 pm to tell me if my car passes. Aside from the very small ding in the windshield, I should be in pretty good shape. Tom's guys are buffing out a scrape on the back bumper. He fit my car into his busy schedule and will have it done soon. He is a really nice guy who has been here for a party....brought lots of not so cheap wine. For the past three years he has given us a hefty gift certificate for Anthony's Home Port. Pepperoni bread is the least I can do.

The weather is amazingly beautiful and I can't let it go to waste. After spending my morning in a coffee shop it was time to get busy. J had to work today so I've been on my own for most of the time. It's kind of nice. I stay focussed and can move at my own pace, changing my direction on a whim. But she did drive me to Aki's and then pick me up from the coffee shop and bring me home and we had lunch together. So I think a surprise hunk of pepperoni bread for her is in order.

Working in the yard is more fun than most things. It doesn't matter how filthy I get, how sore I end up, how much or how little I accomplish, being outside, getting dirty while encouraging growth results in a true feeling of progress. I'm covered in dirt, compost, flour, olive oil, and various seasonings. There is chili on the stove, bread in the oven and seeds in the ground. What more could I ask for?



A weekend of working in the yard, preparing for the 2005 garden. I harvested the remaining carrots and beets. Turned the yard waste compost and distributed some in the beds. Pulled out some of the kitchen scrap compost from the green cone and distributed that too. At the close of last year's garden, we bought a bale of straw to use as mulch over the winter. This all had to be turned into the soil. The straw hasn't broken down like I had hoped or expected. Perhaps due to the lack of rain this winter. I used a pitch fork to lift and turn over and distribute the dirt throughout the beds. Hard work. I then "cut" the grass with the weed whacker. I hate the lawn mower and it's really not necessary with our small yard. A few divots here and there are no matter to me. Overall the weed whacker does a cleaner job.

I wish we could cut down the damn holly tree in G's yard. It' huge and it blocks half the yard from the sun at a certain point in the day. I ran the idea past G about cutting it down. He really likes the tree so I dropped the idea. Besides, it does house dozens of birds and I wouldn't want to trash that.

Today we purchased two bales of straw. Amazingly, they fit into the back of my Mazda. They are smaller than the one we bought last year, 3/4 of which we still have. A few months ago it sprouted. Chia bale. All the straw in the beds also sprouted but perhaps has provided a nice cover crop that has now been worked into the soil and will break down.

Because the area of our lawn area is small and because vegetable gardening is much more productive and better for the world than maintaining an empty lawn, we are continually eliminating lawn and adding growing space. This year is no exception. Straw bale gardening is this year's project. We're adding another bed and using straw bales as the planting medium. We're going to speed up the composting process with some simple techniques to heat the area, add about 6 inches of soil/compost then plant. Apparently, the bales are good for 2-3 plantings. As time passes they naturally decompose and become part of the surrounding earth.

Yesterday I planted a few rows of beets, radishes, and lettuce in the cold frame. I left space for successive rows to be planted in a couple of weeks. The garlic is thriving and the leeks still maturing. Today I will plant some carrots and peas.

In the meantime, J has worked underthehouse to prepare it for storage. Neighbor G has been taking loads of crap away for us. Not sure where he is taking the crap. We don't question too much. Underthehouse (it's one word because it's one entity) has unearthed many surprises as well as many useful materials. Much of our garden has been constructed with material rediscovered underthehouse. Some of the furniture we use on the deck, wood, nails, tiles, rope, plastic, Rubbermaid containers, Christmas lights, chairs, small tables, chain, paint, etc., has materialized from underthehouse. In fact, on more than one occasion we have wished for certain materials and then found them underthehouse. No lie. When we planned to make a vermicomposter, we lamented that our only two Rubbermaid's already had been planted with potatoes. A trip underthehouse revealed two of the exact same containers. When reading up on the straw bale culture, we fretted over where to buy burlap. Saturday J found several burlap bags - underthehouse. A roll of black plastic appeared when we needed it for the last year's new tomato bed. Underthehouse has been a beneficial provider to our pursuit of urban agrigrowth. On the flip side, underthehouse is creepy and buggy. You can't stand up straight while under there and I keep having the image that things are getting caught in my hair. J is trying to organize this area. Perhaps organize is too strong a term but she's trying to create an area for storage and practical use. She is doing a fine job.

February 18, 2005


Some guy sues NBC because he puked while watching TV. TV gives me that I'm gonna hurl feeling too but I get over it by shutting it off.
Wed Jan 5
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Watching contestants eat dead rats on NBC's gross-out stunt show "Fear Factor" so disgusted a Cleveland man that he has sued NBC for $2.5 million, saying he could not stomach what he saw.

From NBC’s site and the Cleveland affiliate WKYC, Channel 3 we learn that the alleged victim is Cleveland resident Austin Aitken. Austin "Pudding For Brains" Aitken indicates in his hand-written lawsuit that "to have individuals on the show eat and drink dead rats was crazy" and made him throw up and get dizzy. He requests $2.5 million for pain and suffering. This article goes on to say that, "Aitken is well known in Cleveland criminal courts with an arrest record for extortion, theft, forgery and stolen property going back to 19 74." I’m tempted to stop right here but to be fair, I won’t judge this guy solely on his past transgressions. However, I surely will judge him on his present idiocy.

This Reuters story goes on to report: His suit added, "NBC is sending the wrong message to its TV watchers that cash can make or have people do just about anything beyond reasoning (sic) and in most cases against their will." He said the show caused his blood pressure to rise so high that he became dizzy and light-headed, and when he ran away to his room, he bumped his head into the doorway.

First of all, money has and will always tempt people to lie, cheat, murder and simply act like fools. Money talks. It spoke loud and clear in many forms long before Judas dicked over Jesus. And it will continue to speak until the whole world is one big ball of concrete and the last Bush ancestor is driving his SUV of the future over the last furry creature. We are all to blame for this reality. Television exploits this wekness but is not the cause.

As for the alleged message that TV is sending to viewers, the one that has people "do just about anything beyond reasoning" is old news. Did you just start watching television last week? The only thing that has changed since the dawn of television is what will sell. The boundaries have been stretched, indeed, Tommy Tummy Trouble, but you are the one who has contributed to the expansion. You and the millions of other Jello-shots-between-my-ears are the reason that Fear Factor went from contestants bunjee jumping off of buildings to eating blender-battered rats. Romans watched the bloody gladitorial "games" and you watch Fear Factor. Spectator violence and extreme behavior is not new.

Additionally, no one is forced to join the GERD-suffering casts of Fear Factor against his or her will (unlike the poor, Roman captives destined to be lion kibble). You audition or apply, like any other "reality" show. Do you probably sign away every human right except, perhaps, the right to make an ass out of yourself for money, once you agree to participate? No doubt. But that’s what lawyers are for and if you signed a contract presented by a ginormously powerful television show before consulting a lawyer, then you derserve what’s coming to you. Whether it’s the shits from a bile cocktail or a monetary fine for breaking your contract, you choose what you do. No one is forced to participate. Fear Factor is hardly Guantanamo or Abu Graib.
The CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) story reported Austin Aitken told The Associated Press he watches "Fear Factor" often and had no problem with past installments where the reality show's participants ate worms and insects in pursuit of a $50,000 prize -- but eating rats went "too far." So let me get this straight, gross antics are ok as long as YOU can stomach it? But once YOU are grossed out then you want money for pain and suffering? You knew damn well that the show depicted extreme behavior. They don’t call it Fear Factor because it leaves you with warm, fuzzy feelings. If you don’t want to be disturbed, TURN OFF THE FUCKING TV!

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) reports:
Asked why he didn't shut off his television before the rat-eating segment, Aitken said he couldn't do it quick enough.
Hey, Quaker Oat Brain, your eyes broker? Covering your face with your hands? Turning away? What the hell is the matter with you? Apparently the television in your life is so all-powerful that it has complete control over your limbs. Try getting out more or read a fucking book once in a while.

Mr. Aitken, you are a disgrace. You have also insulted anyone who has ever truly experienced pain and suffering and that list is endless in this fucked up world. Take your pain and your suffering and shove it up your whiny, weak-stomached, scavenging, opportunistic, haven’t-dealt-with-my-childhood-in-which-I-was-surely-wronged ASS! And for the rest of you, turn off the fucking television already. You get what you deserve, whether it’s a bad dream, an upset stomach, or a fat ass, but not sympathy.