Cold Frame Progress

I hope my neighbors like radishes.  the swiss chard is making a noble effort, but the radishes have them hands down.  these sprouts are a week or so old and have a surprisingly calming effect on my mood.  after coming home from work on a military base to our house on a military base i look for any activity that helps me ignore the jet noise (i can’t complain, it is a military base after all).  the best part was giving the rest of the radish seeds to a neighbor’s little girl who loves to plant every seed she can find-the kind of kid who builds “forts” on our postage stamp-size lawns out of fallen branches and catches butterflies and frogs.

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DIY cold frame for cheap

Last weekend I slapped together a cold frame for the not-so-cold winters here in Hampton Roads Virginia. I wanted to do it as cheaply as possible (I spent $12 for the plastic, stain, and brush) so I made it out of free pallets I found laying around. It’s not pretty–it’s functional, though it has a few mistakes that need to be fixed. You can make this with a hammer, pry bar, circular saw, hand saw, nails, staple gun, pencil, square, plastic, stain, and brush. A table saw would have been nice, but so would a thousand other things I don’t need on a daily basis. Happy gardening.

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(belated) mother’s day post

Recently I drove through Grafton, WV where Mother’s Day began in a small Methodist Church. (The town is also the resting place of my paternal grandparents).  This isn’t so much a post about mothers in general, as much as it is a brief note about my mother in particular, and why she’d probably get my vote were she to run for public office.

Mom’s Foreign Policy:

Growing up, my older brother and I fought…a lot.  My mom’s rule was twofold, but simple; the first person to throw a punch was guilty and should be prepared for fraternal retaliation, and not to call her unless there was blood.  Simple, effective, and fair.  I think there’s a host of foreign policy applications here.

Mom’s Department of Education:

I was never very interested in education while in public school.  I had a few interests, mainly music (later receiving a music performance degree) and reading books that were over my head.  Mom went to bat for me with high school administrators who insisted I take advanced math and science courses.  Her response was basically, “Why? He’s not good at it and he doesn’t like it”.  Exactly.  Education is not one-size-fits all.  We don’t all need to study physics just like we don’t all need to study Baroque counterpoint.

Mom’s Domestic Policy:

Mom has been a piano teacher for as long as I can remember.  Every year she gives a need-based scholarship of sorts for X amount of free piano lessons.  Sometimes folks are down on their luck through no fault of their own.  Sure, I’ll pay taxes for a responsibly managed public account to keep other Americans from homelessness, let’s just weed out the scammers…I know Mom could.  No one can BS that woman.

 

kid’s books are the best, or, nothing new under the sun

Last week I read Lois Lowry’s “The Giver”.  I read it once before, about 17 or 18 years ago, soon after it was published.  It’s a quick read for an adult.  A quick read, but a lot to chew on.  She probably read Plato’s “Republic” at one point and perhaps consciously riffed off his work to create her dystopian vision.  So what.  It’s a great read.  At 31 years old it still made me feel anger, pity, and compassion for most of the characters.  So, Ms. Lowry did her job; she reminded me of what makes us human, warts and all.

More recently I finished the 2nd book in the series: “Gathering Blue”.  Again, a great book.  Perhaps a bit predictable for some readers, but, who cares?  Great music often ends with a predictable cadence but we still listen to it.  And M. Night Shyamalan may have lifted ideas from this book for his movie “The Village”.  So what.  The good ones borrow but the great ones steal.

In the end, nothing is new under the sun.  I say, if you like children’s books, then read them.  If you like music with a familiar ending, then listen to it.  I’m looking forward to “The Giver” movie that’s coming out this summer, even though I know how it ends.

Happy Reading.

pot and the petting zoo

There’s a city-run petting zoo/park near my house in Hampton, VA.  They have a horse, some cows, pigs, etc. They’re basically trying to re-create the American family farm for suburbanites.  I like to volunteer there when I get the chance; it’s a worthy cause and working with the animals is cheaper than therapy.  Sometimes there are non-violent “criminals” who work off their community service at the park.  I met one of them today.  It was obvious he had never worked a farm before; he showed up in basketball sneakers, a nice Chicago Bulls ball cap and leather jacket.  But, the young man worked hard and was very nice to talk with.  We took a short break from cleaning out the barn and got to talking.  He has a full-time job at a local college, and is curious about joining the military.  He owes 100 hours of community service.  That’s right, 100 hours on top of his full-time job.  His crime?  Pot.  Yep, marijuana.  Not selling it, not stealing or killing for it.  Just using it.  Pot.  100 hours of community service because he was caught getting high.

Pot lands you in community service, but coke lands you in the White House.  God Bless ‘Merica.

poems and taxes

So it seems that April is National Poetry Month.  Perhaps the hope is that we’ll all be in such a reading frenzy over Frost, Dickinson, and Collins that we’ll forget about tax day on the 15th.  Doubtful.  Either way, please feel free to share your refunds and poems with me.  Here’s some of mine (poems…not my refund).

Best Laid

Love kindled

Question asked

Vow spoken

Seed planted

 

Not necessarily in that order


Lunch With Carl

By the time I made it home for lunch

they were already applying steady direct pressure to your arms.

I knew you had been home;

pinkish fingerprint on the 9 and 1

empty bottle of cooking wine

bath water brackish with sacrifice to some hellish god

still coagulating blood like shredded jellyfish on white sheets

 

 

tampa bay: “the good, the bad, the (far from) ugly

My family and I just returned to Virginia from a week in Tampa.  Here’s a brief snapshot and some recommendations.

Clearwater Beach: Beautiful sugar white sound. Parking wasn’t an issue. Life-size statues of Hulk Hogan–what else do you need?

Dunedin: Just north of Clearwater.  Extensive bike trail through the heart of town.  Casa de Tina-boozey $4 happy hour margaritas. Walkable downtown.  Middle-aged librarian with beautiful hummingbird tattoo on forearm…my kind of town.

Safety Harbor: Quiet, artsy town. Beautiful, centuries old live oaks near the library. Leafy, shady, walkable. Good pizza at Safety Harbor Pizzeria.

Ybor City: It was raining and we had our kids with us.  Looks like a lot of fun for singles or couples without kids.  Cuban heritage, cigar shops.

Apollo Beach: Didn’t see any manitees, but hey, it was free.

Fort de Soto Park:  Great Beach (like the rest of them).  Worth the $5.  Quiet (at least when we were there in April, though I’ve heard it gets busier).  Drove north up the coast to Clearwater through the beach towns, shopped, had pizza. Nothing too much to report…just a bunch of beach towns-is what it is.

Historic Kenwood: Neighborhood in St. Petersburg. Looks like an interesting neighborhood to live in, but not much of a tourist destination.

Lettuce Leaf Park:  Great playground for kids-shady, picturesque. Nice nature trail boardwalk with 2-3 story observation tower.  A few dollars.

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