Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Planted ... In Gratitude ... This Week

Raised Bed And Cat
Simple Raised Bed
From Repurposed Materials
Patrolled By Cat!
The past couple of weeks we've finally got past the unseasonable coolness (I hope) into something warm enough to require seriously getting our tiny batch of crops in. A bunch of happenstances came together for some good low-cost, lesser-impact actions.
First, the raised bed on the south side. Most of the south side of out lot is concrete, which might have made sense at one time but now it just keeps the rain from soaking into the ground properly, and keeps the place hot in summer. Converting that to a more biofriendly microenvironment is a priority, but so is minimizing costs. As a quick measure last year, I used hay bales to create a raised garden, which was wildly successful, but the bales are beginning to decompose; they might have retained structural integrity for one more year, but I wanted to go for something a little more permanent.
A month or so ago, I'd stopped by Southcenter Half Priced Books (always a great place to move on books you're done with, and to look for stuff that is [if not strictly new] new to you!) I noticed they'd torn out some of their plain plank shelving, which was stacked as boards against the wall. When I asked about them, they said they were throwing them out as they installed newer shelving; when I offered to take the used lumber off their hands to save them disposal fees, they happily gave them to me. Talk about a win-win!
Time went by, until one day at the Mercer Island Thrift Store, where I was sorting books, my friend Al (who does hardware) came in with a couple of trails of tomato and flower starts. He explained a friend of his had a cattle-poop operation that had been doing some experimentation to see whether he had the good poop. The plants told the scientists, "Yes, this is some really great poop!" and then the only problem was disposing of the plants. He gave Al some, who shared them all around and I ended up with some. This impelled me to get off my duff and pt the raised bed together.
It took a little time per board to remove the screws, nails and staples, but it was working out in the sun and very pleasant - sort of a physical puzzle to solve. I put some of them together into a simple raised bed, and filled it first with a layer of hay from one of the bails, and then with some of the dirt from the former raised garden. The soil is rich in worms who had completely converted last year's layer of cardboard into dirt!
The result is in the photo. I am grateful to all those who made it possible: Al, Al's friend, the pooping cows, the Half Priced Book people and the worms who made the dirt. Thanks, all of you - I'm glad you shared your stuff, and I promise to "pay it forward!"
Today's post is part of my "Planted This Week" series, in which I hope to record what I planted where for future reference, but it's also a response to my bloggy friend Small Footprints' Change the World Wednesday Challenge this week:
This week, reflect on your life, the environment and nature. Think about the path that brought you to this point ... the people who taught you life lessons, the folks who developed Eco-friendly versions of common household items, the engineer who makes sure you have clean water and "Mother Nature" who shares so many gifts. Then, begin developing gratitude for these events. The mere act of gratitude will enable us to see our connection to the universe more clearly and will help us to protect that which we are thankful for. As always, we want to hear about it so please write a post and/or leave a comment.
Gratitude is a good thing to practice; it helps you stop and appreciate where you are in the universe and why. It's very easy to bounce from this to that without stopping and feeling grateful to those who have helped you, but it's also kind of unfortunate since it not only deprives your helpers of an appropriate response but also can contribute to an unwarranted impression that not enough people are helping you. In reality, there is a lot of helpfulness going on all around us, in the same way that there's a lot of beauty, if we can just take the moment to stop and look!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Epic Battle Over Hans Island

No, Not This Han!

In Battle Joined:
The Armies Wave Their Flags!
According to Humon over at Scandinavia And The World:
"Hans Island is the smallest of three islands not far from Greenland's coast, and Canada and Denmark have been fighting over it for years.

War ships from both sides patrol the area, and when they encounter each other they...show their flags.
When the soldiers leave the ships they...take the other side's flag down and raise their own.
Sometimes they leave a bottle of whiskey too..."

Be sure to check out Humon's cartoon commentary on this epic battle.

Now ... isn't this a civilized way  to deal with this dispute? Imagine if the idea caught on.