Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Eight weird things

I got tagged in this goofy game of blog-tag that's been going around the unschooling boards. Here's the rules- looks like I've already broken one. Whew, that's a load off my mind:

~~~Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.~~~

Someone, earlier in the game, commented that this group of bloggers is so "incestuous" as to be running out of new victims to tag. Guess someone finally found me. I enjoy checking out other blogs, so I've had fun back-tracking through other people's tag lists, but I'm afraid I may not be able to find eight whole untagged blogs. I went to check on one (Arun's) and Schuyler and Danielle had both tagged him. Figures. Maybe I'll tag Stupid Evil Bastard just for kicks.....hmmmm.

Here's the link to Schuyler's blog, which I recommend for cute kid pix and parenting wisdom:

I've already posted two weird things in other posts, so nyeh nyeh, go find 'em if you want to know. I'm terrible about rules like that.

A third weird thing about me is I'm allergic to peaches. I'd never heard of such a thing until I started puking my guts out after eating some peach pancakes for breakfast. Did you know that virtually all northern tree-fruits are related? No wonder I gravitate toward melons, berries and tropical stuff. I also seem to have a slight reaction to rose-hips, also related. Its little enough that I need other factors to line up to actually get sick, but I've started screening all my herbal teas for rose-hips. Gives a whole new meaning to: everything's comin' up...roses.

It Rained!

Its been....gosh I've lost track. Over a month. The creek's dry. The new spring held up until just before the rain, but now the water has dropped below the pipe. I made sure the rainwater catchment system was in order before the rain started, so we have some rainwater, but we'll probably be hauling water from town by the end of the summer, at this rate.

Funny how quickly one can go from being overjoyed about the rain to bitching about it. I worked for Barb at Morningside, yesterday and we pissed and moaned about mud and having to put the tarps down over the front of the loading area for the first time in I-dont-know-how-long. And I've been griping about having to put my shoes on to go outside. I've been going out in socks forever, it seems. Two years ago it rained so much we had mud in August! I'd be happy for a little more mud to complain about right about now .

I've been trying not to complain too much about hardship, these days, and realized I hadn't posted anything at all about our troubles, other than the compost toilet. It's almost a superstitious thing on my part. Like if I write about it, its more true or something. Its not vast hardship. We're broke and have had to replace two engines in two months. Its been rough, but through it all we've had people be just amazing to us with offers to help. I'm working on accepting that gracefully. I've been on the other side of that so many times - heck, just last week I was helping a mom who's living out of her car with her 5yo find a place to stay - I like helping and giving. I'm trying to remind myself that I'm giving others the opportunity to express their generosity.

George has work this week so I'm scrambling around for people to hang out with Mo while I work for Barb. Ray's home from his travels, but he and I had a little conversation yesterday, and I assured him that I would not expect him to do free childcare - or any childcare at all unless he really really wanted to do it. He was relieved. Since it rained yesterday, George was able to hang out with Mo, which means Shiloh could get things done and hang out with her today, instead. She's going out of town at the end of the week, though, so I still need to find someone for Friday. I have some ideas about that, though.

My clubs came, and I've been throwing them a little every day - still can't catch the darn things, but I'm having fun. I can catch one or two. Just enough to keep me going. I don't know about more experienced jugglers, but right now, its all about throwing. If I get the throw right, my other hand just magically catches the club. Its cool. There's this weird trust thing involved, too. I have to believe that two clubs will fit in the space (I call it "the pocket" I guess I need to learn the jargon if I'm going to talk to other jugglers) they have to move through. Intellectually, I know that they're not both going to be in the same space at the same time, but I can tell I'm not convinced. I keep throwing one "outside" the other, which means there's no way for me to catch it. Its only been a few days, though, and not even an hour a day. I think next week I'll find a day when Mo wants to watch Pokemon all day and take the clubs up into my bedroom and juggle in the AC.

I've decided that one weird thing about me is how little I swear. It is weird. I use words like dangitall and honked-off. I cuss more in person than in print, but I was kind of shocked when one of the guests was very very careful about not-swearing in front of Mo. What the heck? Oh, goshdarnit, there I go again! Geez.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I just ordered some clubs!

I'm so excited. I haven't exactly been practicing juggling every day, so I'm not making a whole lot of progress, but a couple weeks ago we went to a party at IDA and I got to play with Maxzine's clubs. It was soooooo much fun! I mean, sure, I can barely even juggle two of them at this point, but even at a totally beginner leve its waaaaay more fun than balls or bean bags. They're big and colorful and they spin.

Oooooooh. Ahhhhhhhh.

It took me awhile to figure out the order form at Renegade Juggling - a process not helped by my waffling over colors. It occurred to me that I don't *have* to get all three the same color - and it certainly was helpful in learning to juggle to begin with to have my beanbags all different colors. Plus, I'm just *not* a matching-set sort of gal. So one is to be green, one orange, one pink, all with black trim, just to butch things up a bit. I'm bouncing up and down in my chair in anticipation. Its going to be a looooong 3-5 business days....

I decided to get a set of clubs *now* despite our financial destitution (getting better, but still...) because in the last two weeks George got himself a new bass-amp and an octave-mandolin. That's like a mandolin but bigger, but not as big as a mandola. Instead of telling him off for his impulse buying I smiled sweetly and asked if there was any space left on the card for me to buy clubs. He was soooooo relieved. He's really doing much better with the impulse buying thing. Last time he wanted something totally unneccessary and expensive he actually asked me first. And took it well when I suggested that it wasn't such a good time to be spending money on a fancy new tool that he really didn't *need*.

Mirror recommended Renegade Juggling as a source for fire-tape and other odds and ends for Ray to make his own fire-staff. I'm thinking we'll just buy one, but maybe Ray would rather a home-made. We'll see. That's where I got my clubs, too. I probably could have found them cheaper, used maybe, but the design-your-own-club feature sucked me in.

Ray's off visiting grandparents - George's mom for a week and then the other grandma. Amy will meet him there and, in theory, drive home with him. Last time it worked out, he had a new MP3 player from granny and was able to successfully not-communicate with his mom the whole way home, which meant he didn't have to call us from a truck stop and get us to come rescue him. Whew. He and I have fantasized about him talking granny into a Wii this time, so we're waiting on the game system until he comes back. That will go on the card too, unfortunately, but we spent the money I had saved on something pedestrian, like a week's groceries.

Okay, so I just made my first hotlink thingy. I can't figure out how to cut-n-paste the url, though, which is why there's only one and not ten thousand, like in some blogs I see. I'm sure there's a may be something I have to do in HTML, though. We'll see. If I start having a gazillion hotlinks (or even just two or three in a post) you'll know I figgered it out.

As a totally random aside, I just got tagged in a game of blog-tag by Schuyler (see the comment at the end of the compost potty post). I have to come up with eight weird things about myself and tag eight other blogs. I'll probably cheat on that second bit, and as for the first, there's nothing at all weird about me. Okay, I guess that's one.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Gory details

Our composting toilet is on the fritz. Its a home built system, not a commercial composting toilet, inspired by The Humanure Handbook, and this is the first major setback in five years. We've had little problems here and there that were relatively easy to resolve - smell issues, resolved by adding a ventilation fan, and fruit-fly issues that were taken care of by strictly regulating the disposal of fruit, and especially banana peels. This year the problem is the compost itself. Its not composting properly, which is resulting in the chamber filling up too quickly and a plague of houseflies.


Our composting system consists of two concrete chambers, filled from the top, each with an exterior clean-out hatch. Only one chamber is in use at a time. Basically, we fill side A, move the seat to side B, and while we're filling B, side A is merrily composting away. By the time B fills up and we have to shovel out the A side so we can use it again, it's compost, not poo. Just to be on the safe side, the compost is moved to an outside compost bin for a year or so before it's used on the garden.

Theoretically, with every poo wood shavings are added to the compost. Periodically I also add grass clippings and weeds to the chamber. The biodiversity seems to help the composting process. Usually it takes about nine months to fill one chamber. At some point in the process there's this almost magical effect where the in-use pile starts shrinking instead of growing, as the compost heats up, and then stabilizes. Its really wonderful, but it depends on a number of factors, and some of those factors fell apart this year in a way that is hindering the pile from getting hot.

The two big issues seem to be weather and pile management. I've been able to slack off on pile management in the past, when the weather has cooperated. This year its not cooperating. Its been dry, which has meant less mowing, and so less clippings to add. We also had a late frost, which I think really unbalanced the pile's ecosystem. It definately impacted the local insect population in general, and I think that's part of the reason we're having so many flies. They survived the frost better than some of their competitors and are now the dominent bug in the pile. Unfortunately, they aren't the best for making good compost.

The other factor that needs to be considered is Rayan - in terms of the compost, he comprises a significant increase in the quantitiy of poo added to the system without a corresponding increase in the amount of wood shavings. Figure that in with a decrease in the amount of clippings and you get a denser, and therefore less well aerated, pile.

I repeat: Yuk.

It has been less than six months since we switched chambers, and the in-use bin is almost full. That's unheard of! Especially with the outside temperature in the mid to upper 80s - it should be doing the magic trick by now. The pile should be going away. Its not. Its doing something weird and the flies are driving us nuts.

My temporary solution has been to return to the original humanure method ... the bucket. Sigh. I've set up a sketchy sort of outhouse at the back of the back yard and a compost bin for the bucket contents. I've "sealed" the chamber we were using and after just a couple days the fly population in the house has already noticably decreased. Whew. Since the summer looks like its going to be dry, I think we'll stick with the bucket system for awhile, until the usual time for me to empty the "composting" side, anyway. I'll fine tune things as necessary, but if you come to visit this summer, expect to use an outhouse of some kind. Its actually kind of pleasant to sit and listen to the birds instead of the ventilation fan.