Friday, April 27, 2012

Retiring the Snag.

The old cherry tree in our back yard has been dead for years. An occasional perch for a hummingbird seeking to dominate our yard, it was otherwise unusable and decomposing. We decided to bring it down while the wood was still mostly good, and replace it with a couple of smaller fruit trees.
Fortunately, my sister Ellen and her husband Ralph are deeply into woodworking, and know just what to do with cherry logs. Even better, Ralph had experience taking down trees - they may look innocent, but there's a lot of potential energy stored in branches weighing hundreds of pounds, resting 30 feet in the sky.
I was happy to provide the dumb labor as Ralph cut. It was a good thing that I borrowed Eric's hard hat; I accidentally bonked my head with a branch only once, but without the topper, it would've been painful instead of merely silly.
I am confident that the tree understands were took it out of need, not wantonness, and will put it all to good use. We are responsible for the care of our land!
And thanks, Ralph and Ellen, for making this possible. It was an very interesting day, and the job needed doing, but I could not have done it myself.

Chard By The Yard!

Our Chard By The Yard
The north side of our house doesn't get a lot of sunlight, but that has made it perfect for chards and lettuces. That's the theory anyway, but I was a little sceptical when our friends at Village Green suggested planting this last fall. Can you really grow a food crop over winter?
Yes. Yes you can!
The chard in the photo went into the ground as tiny seedlings late in the fall. During the winter I pretty much forgot about them and now they're ready to harvest for soups, or perhaps steamed with a little bacon.
This weekend I'll find out whether I'll have to re-plant, or whether they'll grow back from the roots, but either way, this has been a very successful experiment which I'll expand to include the balance of our north-side land.
Advantages of using chard to fill in out-of-the-way places:
  • No mowing!
  • Rainwater control. It promotes not the tightly-packed lawn that sheds water into our city wastewater system, but a more open soil that soaks up and uses our natural rainfall.
  • Looks good. The leaves and stem have a natural beauty that's not showing, but very pleasant.
  • Biodiversity. I don't know what critters and bugs run around among those leaves, but it's a change from the flatgrass so I'm confident there's a slightly different selection of life there. A diverse environment is healthier and better able to cope with stress!
  • Free food! OK, this is the real reason I planted the stuff: Each dollar's worth of seedlings generates something like $4 in greens in about 6 months. Where can you get an investment like that? I exclude the labor cost, because this is a recreational activity; why go to a gym when you can sweat in a garden? PLUS we know the food is organically grown, not laced with any poisons. It's also maximally convenient, basically storing itself in the garden until the day we use it!
I was inspired to write about this by this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:
"This week plant a vegetable or herb. And then, tell us what you decided to grow and where (your yard, a container, a pot on the window sill, etc.)"
Based on this experience, I can recommend filling in those out-of-the-way shady places by your house with crops like chard. I suspect they'll do nicely in pots too, since the roots are not deep. Best of all, you don't have to wait for the cold season! If you put tomatoes in your sunny area and chards/lettuces in your shady area, you can have a nice mix of veggies for very little effort!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Roof Done! Long Live the Roof!

Yesterday the roofing guys finished. We're very pleased with the result.
In a few weeks, there will be a flurry of activity as the solar cells get installed but for now let's enjoy the once and future roof!

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 22: 4freeCLE - the Free CLE Newsletter (#lawyer education)

4freeCLE: The Free CLE Newsletter!  
April 22, 2012 

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Live CLE webinars bring the best in Continuing Legal Education to your current location!

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You could earn a credit in the next hour, or a quarter-credit in the next fifteen minutes!

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Often these free, live programs are eligible for credit in other states via application or reciprocity, and may involve terms and conditions, e.g. association membership or volunteer service.
Recommended Reading          

Lawyers, Anger, and Anxiety: Dealing with the Stresses of the Legal Profession
by Rebecca Nerison

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The Missouri Bar offers a fee reduction or waiver to qualifying attorneys attending its CLE-granting Solo & Small Firm Conference, writing:
"If you are not able to attend without a registration fee waiver or a reduced registration fee, please submit a completed application to the address on the form by midnight on April 30, 2012. You will be notified by May 15, 2012 if financial assistance is available." 
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy #EarthDay 2012 !

Today for Earth Day I'm going to challenge myself:
  •  Don't use the car. It's a very efficient car, but I think with a little effort I can get my chores done walking or over the internet. 
  • Use up leftovers. There's nothing sillier than letting food go to waste. 
  • Plant something. It's fun anyway!
  • Drink local beer. I have the great advantage of being able to walk to a microbrew, which is both good for the planet and good for my health!