Observations from a fall day in 2006

Here’s what I said on an autumn day nine years ago. Photo credit goes to La Petite. She was already talented with a camera back then.

Things I can do now until the cold weather strikes:
*Clean the bunny litter boxes outside with the hose
*Take small amounts of easily digestible compost out to the bin
*Shake rugs out on the deck in my stocking feet
*Take out garbage and recycling without a coat or jacket
*Rake leaves (a simple pleasure)

I can’t:
*Harvest from the garden, the last frost did it in
*Sit out on the backyard swing, it’s just a bit too cold to enjoy
*Leave the windows open, because the heat is on

But I can enjoy:
*Coffee or tea or hot spiced apple cider in a favorite mug
*A wood fire blazing in the fireplace
*NFL or college football on television
*leaves falling outside as I read a book in the cozy, warm den

Know what, readers? Not much has changed. I now compost through the winter with a second bin closer to the house. I still carry the bunny boxes outside, and after I empty them in the compost or in the garden, I rinse them with water from the rain barrels instead of using the hose. It’s windy enough today that I don’t feel the need to rake leaves, but I don’t mind the chore. I pile the leaves, like the biodegradable litter, on top of the raised beds. No wonder my tomatoes grow so tall!

Readers, how about you? Do your fall chores stay the same each year? Or differ greatly?

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Like Minded People – an encore

First posted in July of 2012 – the memories are positive, and the sentiment is still true.

Imagine a busload of people who like Car Talk, get the jokes on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and know the difference between Michael Feldman and Michael Perry.* This is a bus trip of people who are polite to each other, make friends readily, and enjoy intelligent conversation about issues that matter to you, er, them. Amigo and I took just such a trip a few summers ago. Sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio, the trip goes to tiny Bayfield, WI, where the group takes in a show at the Big Top Chautauqua.

A summer City Council meeting seemed like it was ripe for conflict. People attended to speak for the trees, speak for the right to raise urban chickens, and support an up and coming project that will turn a former country club and golf course into a large community garden. Despite the differing opinions, all in attendance had something in common.

Last, but never least, I attended two meetings at the local Organizing for America office. One was simply a monthly update of the citywide group, and the second a training in canvassing techniques for the upcoming campaign kick-off weekend.

What do these three have in common? I’ll give you a moment to think. Take a look at the OFA office windows from summer 2012 while you’re contemplating.

How can you resist? Pose with the cardboard cut-outs!

Remember the question? I asked you to consider what these three examples might share in common. It’s the people.

In each example, you’ll see a group of like-minded people. The Public Radio bus trip was thoroughly enjoyable because of the camaraderie. In the second example, all three issues had to do with sustainability and the city environment. In the third, all of the meeting attendees were motivated to help re-elect the President of the United States to a second term.

Seeking out like-minded people is one way to stay calm and focused during difficult times. We share experiences, we share attitudes, and we share priorities. These groups will meet again, I’m sure. Trees, chickens, Public Radio, and elections are topics that inspire passion. Finding focus for a passion can lead to making a difference in the world.

Go ahead, readers. Find like-minded people. Talk. Then come back here and tell me: what will you do to make a difference?

Michael Feldman hosts a Saturday morning show on WPR called Whadya Know?. Michael Perry hosts Big Tent Radio on Saturday nights. Good enough?They’re both comics, hosts, and fascinating people. 

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Encore: Autumn Garden Chores

Was this really only two years ago? So much has happened since then. I was looking forward to spring, not knowing what awaited me. I still look forward to spring – as soon as I can get the tomatoes indoors for the fall harvest.

I’m looking forward to spring. I know, it’s not even winter yet, but autumn is the season when I pull apart the fading foliage of my garden and take steps to prepare for next spring. Chuck got into the thick of it this year. Take a look.

Straw bales and repurposed boards

Straw bales and repurposed boards

Another Angle

Another Angle

Rather Awesome, I'd say.

Rather Awesome, I’d say.

Yesterday and today I took to the task of harvesting all tomatoes that could ripen indoors. The herb pots are already inside. Next, I pulled all the tomato plants and tossed them on the brush pile at the back of our yard.

We’re adding leftover potting soils to the new patch as I deal with most of the containers. If weather permits, I will dig out compost from the base of the brush pile and from the base of the compost bin and fill in what I can of the new patch. It’s going to be a raised bed, built inside the repurposed lumber that Chuck assembled so nicely. Whatever I don’t fill this fall, we’ll build up next spring.

It’s another experiment: straw bale gardening. As long as we were expanding the once-triangular plot, we decided to try the bales. A year from now, when the growing season is done, the straw-based soil will become compost for the future. Planning ahead, we are.

But stay tuned, folks. There are still piles and piles of green tomatoes ripening indoors. I’m sure there will be stories.

So, readers, what kind of autumn tasks have fallen your way? Leaves? Lawns?

 

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Kindergarten, already?

She now has a full head of hair. She speaks very articulately, for a five year old, which means she can hold her own in any conversation. Is she really old enough to go to kindergarten already? It seems just yesterday that we were celebrating her first birthday…

The best toys, of course, are the simple playthings.

A handful of curling ribbon.
A lap full of tissue.
Here, grandma, this is fun. Want to share?

Remember your first birthday, little sweetheart? We do.
And we’re watching your first days of kindergarten – days that will also go quickly, much too quickly.

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Plenty Ladylike

Claire McGaskill, Senator from Missouri, has released her memoir, Plenty Ladylike. The title reminds me of a post from September 2012. Senator McGaskill still represents the state of Missouri, and Todd Akin? Anyone know where he is now? Never mind, don’t answer that. Just look back a few years and ponder the title of her book.

Todd Akin, the idiot, er, candidate from Missouri who claimed women can “shut that whole thing down” when raped, has done it again. He opened his mouth yet one more time and showed that he views females to be inferior beings.

He complained that his opponent, Claire McCaskill, “came out swinging” and seemed “aggressive” in their debate. This threw him a little, took him unawares. He thought he remembered McCaskill in her 2006 campaign being “…very much sort of ladylike.” Apparently he didn’t expect the little female to be strong competition to an old-fashioned guy like him. If you ask me, he didn’t expect McCaskill to be strong, period.

Remember the movie Field of Dreams? Annie Kinsella accuses an ultra-conservative PTA mom of having lived through two 1950s and jumping straight into the 1970s without ever experiencing the peace, love, rock and roll of the 60s. Akin is stuck in the past somewhere, too, in an unrealistic vision with unrealistic plastic people.

When a candidate is strong, that’s good. If a candidate has enough knowledge and skill and strength to come out swinging in a political debate, that scores points in the candidates favor.

Male or female, I want my senator to be intelligent, articulate, and yes, strong. Male or female, that legislator needs to be able to come out swinging when it’s necessary. Ladylike? I’d rather see someone with strength, knowledge, and ability to work in a team.

Ladylike? I think we’re looking for womanly, myself. No apologies for being female, and no tolerance for inaccuracy and idiocy and condescension.

Hm. That sounds a lot like Tammy Baldwin for Wisconsin as well as Claire McCaskill for Missouri. Come November 6, I know who deserves my vote.

I’m proud to say that both Tammy Baldwin and Claire McCaskill won their elections to serve in the U.S. Senate. I’m also looking forward to reading Senator McCaskill’s memoirs. As for Senator Baldwin – Tammy, when will your memoir be ready? I’m eager to read it!

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Scavenger Daisy Returns – Encore

This is an encore from last fall – or was it autumn of 2013? I don’t remember. I’m still a scavenger, within reason. I did love the way the tomatoes and onions fell so perfectly into the crock pot and posed for the camera.

I’ve talked about curb-picking. I’m not a full time full strength make-the-rounds dumpster diver, but once in a while something turns up on a curb and calls my name.

I don’t like to waste leftovers. If the leftovers are food in my own refrigerator, they’re likely to become part of a pantry raid. If the leftovers are food sitting somewhere else, it’s harder.

One year in June I staked a claim for leftover tomatoes and onions after our big school picnic at the amusement park. Someone on staff has been pooped on by a gull the last two years running, and – but that’s not suitable for mealtime conversation. Sorry. The tomatoes and onions were clean.

I rescued the leftover tomatoes and onions that were originally destined to top sub sandwiches and brought them home. They slid nicely out of their trays and into my crock pot.

Soon to be Sauce!

Soon to be Sauce!

I added fresh oregano and simmered the lovely mix overnight. The next morning we had tomato sauce, made from scratch from scavenged leftovers. Three containers of sauce, in fact. That’s quite a pantry raid for the last day of school.

And now, with the school year beginning, who knows what kind of scavenging might occur? Readers, you’ll find out here.

Oh, readers? What kind of luck have you had scavenging, food or otherwise?

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There’s a Storm Coming In – not quite an encore

It’s literal and it’s figurative. There’s a storm brewing in my state.

Skies are clouding over and the temperature is dropping. The radar shows lots of green (rain) with patches of yellow and red representing the stronger storms within. The forecast predicts thunderstorms overnight and through tomorrow.

That’s the literal storm.

On the figurative side we have a storm of ideology, a flood of hard feelings, and the thundering sound of voters wanting their voices heard. There’s a yard sign here and a bumper sticker there, with patches of letters to the editor representing the strong emotions within. And this, the figurative storm, continues.

I first posted this in spring of 2012 as we headed toward a recall election – the recall that Scott Walker survived. in the all-too-long lead up to the 2016 presidential election, winds are swirling and the storm is gathering strength.

I prepare for literal storms with a fire in the fireplace and my tiny seedlings under cover in the mini-greenhouse. We unplug the computers to prevent trouble in the event of power surges.

Preparation for an election storm isn’t quite so easy. We can unplug the landline the day before the election to avoid the thundering sound of the Get Out the Vote phone calls. I’m always  on edge all day on Election Tuesday, awaiting results that carry as much meaning for me personally and professionally as the meaning and messages that are national in nature.

After this storm passes, the winds of change will pick up. The perfect storm of anger, disillusionment, and disbelief fighting with self-righteousness and misinformation threatens to blow up into a cyclone of another kind. The resulting funnel cloud will…well, let’s not think about it.

We’re already experiencing a dark and stormy period in Wisconsin history. It’s beyond frightening to imagine that storm spreading to the nation.

Readers, we’re all in its path. How do you hunker down and prepare for a storm that’s political in nature? Leave a comment.

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Intelligent Voters – encore

Readers; do you remember Grandma Daisy? She contributed to the blog as part of the Voter’s Voice series. Grandma Daisy’s voice gave Compost Happens a different perspective: the perspective of looking back in time, viewing events with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight. Well, folks, take yourselves back to the future and look at the creativity of Wisconsin citizens and the reaction from the top.

Oh, grandkiddos, you might remember that in the recall election of 2012, Governor Walker’s supporters weren’t exactly showing their best sides. Campaign signs spelled governor with an -er, as if the voters either didn’t know the difference or didn’t care. 

You might also remember the Overpass Light Brigade and the Solidarity Singers. Walker had money on his side, so his opponents invested in creativity and time. Both the OLB and the Singers continued their activity after the election. They publicized issues in non-violent methods designed to get attention rather than cause trouble. 

The Governor and his security detail didn’t see it that way. The Solidarity Singers sang protest songs in the Capitol rotunda every weekday at noon. The Capitol Police, acting on a hastily-made policy requiring permits for any public gathering, began making arrests and issuing tickets. For singing, you say? I hear you, children. Singing in the rotunda was now a crime. 

The tactic backfired, of course. Instead of discouraging protesters, the aggressive action encouraged more people to show up and make noise, er, music. The Solidarity Singers stood up for their first amendment rights to free speech and the peaceably assemble. They knew that the greater number of arrests simply meant more PR for their actions and their issues. 

As you might expect, young ‘uns, there were naysayers. There were folks who showed up just to watch the handcuffs go on and to poke fun at the so-called musical mayhem. You might not be surprised, I dare say, that some of the naysayers were in the same category as those who displayed error-filled yard signs.

Who?

Who?

Readers, Grandma Daisy is back and ready to tell tales of the elections of 2016. What will this feisty feminist have to say on the road to the White House? Predictions, anyone?

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Love Is – a Rain Barrel or two

This year’s rain barrel set-up is complicated. First we didn’t have a garage. Then we had a garage with no gutter or downspout. After that, we had a gutter and downspout, but we didn’t have the right support to get the barrels up high enough to be convenient and easy to use.

We now have the cinder blocks and bricks (Thanks, Home Depot and Habitat ReStore). When we can summon the energy, we’ll pile up the cinder blocks and set the rain barrels on top of them. In the meantime, I give you an encore featuring Chuck’s model train layout. Enjoy.

Chuck, dear husband of mine, models trains in HO scale. For the uninitiated, HO translates as small. Tiny. Put-on-your-glasses and look very closely for details. Itty bitty.

The building below is part of a granary in his layout. The rain barrel is about the size of my pinkie fingernail, if not smaller. Yes, dear readers; he made a rain barrel in his train layout in tribute to his wife’s green philosophies.


Now if only I can stop him from buying the shopping bag that says, “I carry this bag because my wife cares about the environment”!

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Dandelions? Just a flower out of place.

This encore comes from a pre-rock garden era. The rock garden took the place of the mint pictured here. If I ever plant mint, I’ll do it in a container so it doesn’t take over the world, er, yard. Here you go, folks, an encore presentation: Dandelions.

Have you seen the commercials? The ones that imply that dandelions are evil, nasty, even toxic creatures that intentionally invade your (gulp) Lovely Lawn. The commercials want you to buy their product, of course: the Chemical Killer of Evil Dandelions. Here’s one fighting for its life in the middle of the mint. I predict the mint will win. Mint is a very aggressive plant that doesn’t give up easily.

But chemicals? Expense aside, I don’t need them. I don’t want them on the mint; I might use it in cooking or to mix a mojito. I don’t sweat the dandelions; I use them to offset the high cost of lettuce.

Buttercup loves them.

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