Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From suburban fencerow to suburban fencerow?

Does it matter where your food comes from? Here's an interesting report about the environmental costs of transporting food across the world. Check out the interactive feature showing the carbon footprint for wine sold in New York. So there's got to be a less-polluting way to get food...

Last week I read an article about urban farming in The Wall Street Journal (only the blog entry is available now) and then found out a similar story appeared on Good Morning America just yesterday. See where I found the photo, above, and find more information.

For even more fun and excitement, here we can have chickens in the backyard as well. Three neighbors within a block of our house each have a small flock. Something to think about for when the boys are a little bit older... No, really! It's part of our long-term plan. Seriously.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dr. Who?

Diversions for when you should really be doing something more important




And Here

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Woo Hoo

I got accepted at the University of Alabama!!! Tuscaloosa, here I come!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Selfish Environmentalist

Today a coworker made a comment that made me think. People are often saying that they are "in awe" of our commitment. I get the impression that many people think we live a life of austerity due to our environmental beliefs. I just want to confirm that that is most definitely not the case. Most of the things that make our footprint smaller also make our lives better. I think I would go so far as to say that some of our earth-friendly actions bring great joy into our lives. I enjoy riding my bike to work. I love getting to experience the change of seasons and that I'm more likely to shout out a hello to a neighbor. I enjoy hanging clothes on the line. Joe likes to "help" me so it's something we can do together and I like the smell of fresh air in my clothes. I enjoy having a small house. I like that we always know exactly what the boys are doing because we can hear them so easily. I like that it takes no time to clean my house. I enjoy trying to buy less and share more. We've made wonderful connections with people by giving and receiving kids clothes and biking equipment. And, of course, there is nothing that Kirk enjoys more than growing our own organic vegetables.

I do not live a life of austerity. I live a life of being with my family as much as possible, enjoying the outdoors, and building community. Really, what more can a person ask for than that?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

All this for a plant?

My latest quest has been for a witch hazel. It is not your typical garden variety plant and, therefore, not available locally. I found a mail-order nursery in New Jersey and the plant plus shipping would be $50. I came very close to making an order, but then remembered an acquaintance who happens to be a horticulture professor and he suggested Arnold's Greenhouse. Only a 4-hour, or so, round-trip drive through the Flint Hills. I'd heard many good comments about this place, but I have yet to make a pilgrimage. A typical reaction being, "Oooh, Arnold's! You have to go there!" or "What?! You haven't been there?!" Not being familiar with Arnold's, I was a bit overwhelmed by the variety of plants available - over 3500. Arnold's doesn't have a regular plant catalog, they have a Plant Wishbook & Garden Guide. Presented with more plants than I remembered from my college days, my list of one quickly became a list of a dozen and my shopping list had to be hacked back to the original One. So, if you're still reading, "why a witch hazel?" you ask. Well, why not? Seeing one is slightly more unlikely than finding a source for one and it blooms earlier than a (currently blooming, but fading) forsythia or daffodils.

I made a short-notice call to several gardening, or otherwise adventurous, friends to make the trip with me. Going to a nursery is not something that Rhonna finds very inspiring - that is, not a nursery that involves plants. At least she's very good natured and indulges my habits when she finds herself in such a place. So she is planning to stay home with the boys while I make my trek. It just so happens that driving to Arnold's means, or could mean, going on of the more scenic roads through the Flint Hills. Not the well-known road, which is also, more-or-less, on the way, but another less-traveled one. (all together now: "And that has made all the difference") Although I will have to turn off at Eskridge, the next stop will make the trip worthwhile even if I don't get to the nursery. I could then eat my pastry in the company of wildlife just a few minutes away.

I will, eventually, get to Arnold's. It just didn't happen today as planned. Apparently I gave too short a notice. Coupled with $3.50/gallon gas, I just couldn't justify going it alone on a half-day road trip. Especially so close to Earth Day! Some things are more important than a witch hazel. I hope to find time in the coming weeks to go so if any of our local readers (and we have sooooo many) are interested, let me know. Happy gardening.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Too Much Excitement

This has been a spring of big changes. I'm hoping for a nice boring summer. First we made the final decision: Joe is going to kindergarten in the fall! We went to round-up and felt really good about the teachers and the school. I'm so excited. Joe seems more neutral about the whole idea.

Then, of course, there was the whole grad school application process. No word yet, but I'll keep you posted.

The most life-disrupting, though, is that we are about to go through some major home repairs. Today at 10:30 the trucks started pulling up, contractors looking at the house in order to bid on the work. The plan at this point is to replace all the windows and gutters, paint the house, stabilize the front porch, do a little wiring work, and rip off the back porch, replacing it with a deck. We're so excited. We'll keep you posted with updates and before/after pics!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Put your money where your mouth is

I found this really interesting article at Newsweek. In summary, it's about how people might be motivated to follow healthier practices if there was an effect on their pockets. These two guys bet each other that they could each lose 30 lbs. by a certain date. If either of them didn't make it, they'd have to pay up. This worked great, but the maintenance afterward wasn't going so well, so they continued their bet. They each set a target weight, they could call each other randomly and do a weight check. If the person called had gone over, he had to pay up.

I love it! If anyone is willing I would love to take on this challenge. I could stand to lose a few (20) pounds. We could even do it as a group. If we didn't want to pay each other, the money could go to a favorite charity.

I would love to hear any other ideas for weight loss motivation, of course in a healthy balanced way.
Thanks to wikipedia for the pic!