Musings on Trip plans and Packing

So far, I’ve been doing more musing than packing. We leave tomorrow to visit two training centers run by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Amigo is applying to attend one of these centers for job training. We’ve planned the trip with lots of down time – for many reasons.

  • Ease the travel stress in general
  • Remove danger of missing appointments due to flight schedules
  • Allow time for fun and exploration – find some of Amigo’s favorite stadiums!
  • Let the trip feel more like vacation instead of just a fact-finding trip.
  • Take advantage of opportunity for Amigo to experience his first train trip
  • Enjoy some together time as a family

Today’s challenge: complete the to-do list. It’s lengthy. Post Office, bank, laundry, packing, type itinerary in print and Braille – and finally, pack.

And after the to-do list reaches Ta-Dah! status, I will think about how to blog this journey. A few years ago we drove to Nova Scotia, and I created a post of all the daily coffee experiences. That could be fun, but it’s been done. Daily scenery might be interesting, especially since we’re going to Minneapolis and Denver. Big city! Mountains! So here we go: a list of possibilities for blogging the upcoming fact-finding and vacation trip.

  • The Daily Coffee
  • Scenery (including good views and bad, parking lots, stadiums, and mountains)
  • Thoughts for each day: inspirational and otherwise
  • Highlights and lowlights (oh, that’s a little too obvious)
  • New adventures – along the lines of our flat tire in Nova Scotia
  • Meals! What we’re eating, what we’re not. This would be especially fun on the train home from Denver.
  • Transportation! I keep mentioning the train ride. We’re flying to Minneapolis, then flying to Denver, and taking Amtrak home. In between, we need to get around in the cities themselves. Light rail, buses, cabs – we’ll see.

Readers, weigh in, please. Let me know what would convert Compost Happens into a temporary travel blog. Leave a message at the tone – I mean, please leave a comment! This inquiring mind needs ideas.

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Notes to Self: Encore Presentation

As summer goes on, I develop a Farmers’ Market habit and much, much more. This post originally came up last June. Enjoy!

Note to Self;
Never leave gardening gloves on top of the rain barrel. You’re just asking for them to get soaked. Then again, maybe it’s like a rain dance; put the gloves on the rain barrel, and the rain will come. Try it during the next dry spell.

Note to Self;
Don’t get too excited about the fact that Amigo likes asparagus. Remember when Chuck complained we had it too often? Amigo responded, “I like asparagus; it makes my pee smell funny.” Gah.
Note to Self;
The weekly visit to the Farmers’ Market is uplifting. Make the effort to go no matter what the weather or mood.
Note to Self;
One discouraging experience does not have to make a serious setback. One meltdown is okay; then move on. Remember, depression recovery is more like the tortoise than the hare.
Note to Self;
Now that La Petite is moving out, start planning the conversion of her bedroom to office & guest room. Yes, Amigo’s bean bag chairs may live there for now.
Note to Self;
Now that Chuck has a new car, find a reusable shopping bag and “hide” it in his glove box. Then train him to use it. Snicker. Tee-hee.
Note to Self;
With three word games on the Kindle, hide Kindle from Chuck if you ever want to read on it again!

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The Daisy Reality Show: why it isn’t really TV worthy

A reality show of my life would have a lot of boring moments for viewers. Consider the following:

Director’s Assistant: Daisy, you snore.

Daisy: What?! (starts coffeemaker and turns her bleary eyes toward the annoying assistant) I thought my bedroom was off limits.

Assistant: Well, we leave the cameras off when you and Chuck are changing clothes or doing anything, um, private.

Daisy: (moans) I have a terrible sinus headache. No wonder – the two go together. If I can’t breathe through my nose, that means I’m sawing wood all night. If I’m rattling the floorboards in my sleep, I probably have sinus troubles. Let me get into the bathroom and see what I can do about it.

Assistant: But we can’t use bathroom video, either!

Now, readers, we move from boredom to TMI – too much information.

Daisy: I took ibuprofen already. It’s not helping. Next: I’ll flush out my nasal passages with my Neti Pot. I’m sure viewers don’t want to watch my saline solution flowing through my sinuses and washing out –

Assistant: Stop! Stop! I get it.

Daisy: Speaking of flushing, my left ear aches. I had the wax flushed out of it yesterday.

Assistant: Doesn’t a Q-Tip work? He had to ask.

Daisy: No, no, no! Q-tips just squash the wax and make it more tightly impacted in the ear canal. Anyone with hearing aids has wax troubles. In most people, the earwax finds its own way out. With a hearing aid in the way, the earwax builds up and needs to be removed by a doctor two or three times a year.

Assistant: Oh. (Looks suspiciously at Daisy) Does that hurt?

Daisy: It’s uncomfortable. Sometimes I get pain after the procedure because my middle ear is tender and sore. Then I function without the hearing aid on that side for a while to reduce the pressure and let the skin heal.

See what I mean, readers, TMI! True, but somewhat icky details, are the daily grit of my life.  But the show must go on.

Director: Sorry I’m late! Daisy, did you sleep all right last night? You look like you have a headache.

Assistant: Don’t. Even. Ask.

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Soil Therapy and Moral Support

Remember how I planted too many seeds and ended up with lots and lots of tomato and pepper seedlings? I figured out a way to fit most of the little plants into the existing garden plots. Now I’m facing the challenge of supports.

My favorite spiral stakes are no longer available anywhere in my town. I had to settle for something else. I didn’t want to spend too much on the stakes at any store, especially since most were plastic. Plastic! Chuck tried to talk me into using a very narrow PVC pipe cut to the length I wanted. He thought I could paint them in polka dots like our deck chairs. I resisted. Cute in the end, maybe, but eco-friendly — not.

I bought True Value Hardware’s entire stock of straight, colorful stakes. I’ll use gentle ties made from tee-shirts to keep the stems aligned and attached to their supports. However, I still didn’t have enough. True Value also had bamboo stakes. They were long, at least five feet long, and they came six in a package instead of costing my a bundle just for one. Bamboo might not last more than one season, but it’s more pleasing to the eye and less toxic to the planet than any of the plastic options.

There you have it, readers. What do you think? Have you seen my favorite spiral stakes anywhere? I’ll make a road trip, within reason, if you find them.

Colorful - I call it Garden Art.

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What I Learned on the Way to the Recall

Twitter was certainly the place to be on election night. It’s become the place to be for breaking stories, and the recall election (hashtag #wirecall) was certainly one of those! Here are a few updates that came through Twitter. 

Between 7:32 and 8:00,  official closing time at the polls, I saw these tweets: 

Anyone at the listed wards, spread the word that forms are on the way. They WILL get to vote.

URGENT: Many MKE wards out of registration forms & voters are waiting. If you are near please print: (followed by link to printable registration forms)


#AntiUnionTrolls having #WIrecall meltdown. grab some popcorn and monitor it here!

No matter what happens, we’re amazing. We’ve sparked something that got the whole world to pay attention. Be proud. #wirecall #wiunion

If you’re a special voter registrar in MKE, PLEASE head to Custer High and 53rd school- they need you NOW #wirecall

Voter info: If you’re in line before 8, you can vote, regardless of how long the wait is or whether have ballots/reg forms.

“Know the first thing we did right was the day we started to fight.” #wiunion #wirecall #recallwalker #reclaimwi #solidarity

dems scrambling for more ballots prayers voters dont leave

GOP’s kryptonite RT Massive voter turnout is not “voter fraud”. It’s Democracy in action. #WIrecall #WIunion #RecallWalker

IF IN LINE BY 8PM, DO NOT LEAVE – more forms are on the way & they must allow you to vote #WIrecall #WIunion

Great, chief law enforcement official who is responsible for overseeing election law is at a partisan event on election night

EW, Ew, Ew The Republican Party sent out that robo-call, this is SOOOO bad for the republican party (<-hehehe) – a criminal act!! What robo-call? What did I miss? Was it the one my friend received last night telling her that Democrats should wait until Wed. to vote? 

Official at the Milwaukee City Clerk’s office didn’t have any exact numbers but says turnout is “HUGE”

The DOJ’s on the ground in Wisconsin? Did I hear that correctly? So, which part of Republican Party will be charged w/voter suppression?

He says biggest worries are in Racine “voters there are angry” and Eau Claire “race is closer than it should be

Multiple cities out of ballots and reg forms PRINT FORMS & DRIVE: Addresses: (followed by URL) Forms: (Followed by URL)

At 8pm a poll worker should move to the END of the line and mark the 8pm cut off. That is where voting ends tonight.


Is this where it begins, or where it ends? 

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Fertilizing the Tomatoes

Interesting ideas encountered under a search for “tomato fertilizer”

  • Combine eggshells and human hair in a base of coffee grounds.
  • Fertilize before planting.
  • Fertilize after planting.
  • Mulch with organic matter.
  • Add fish emulsion or compost tea to the soil.
  • Mix wood ash or bone ash into the soil.

What’s a gardener to do? Ah, readers, you know me. I always have a response or comment or just a smart remark. Define “smart” any way you wish, peoples. Let’s try that list again.

  • Combine eggshells and human hair in a base of coffee grounds. I have all of these in abundance, but can I bear to save the potentially smelly mix indoors? Will it attract that *$#! raccoon if I store it outside?
  • Fertilize before planting. Well, I did prep the soil for better drainage. 
  • Fertilize after planting. I can do this. Might be worth a try.
  • Mulch with organic matter. I used most of the available “organic matter” in prepping the soil. I could get more from the brush dump if I’m ambitious.
  • Add fish emulsion or compost tea to the soil. Fish? Nope. No fish innards in our humble home where the men fish strictly catch and release. Compost tea? Now that I can make! The plants will drink, er, soak it up happily.
  • Mix wood ash or bone ash into the soil. I prefer to add the fireplace waste to the compost itself, where it balances the pH of the organic matter. Did you like how I worked in the formal terms? 
The final question: Daisy, the recall election is coming up on Tuesday. Aren’t you just a wee bit stressed?
The final answer: Yes.

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The System is down, but I’m feeling better: online teachers working offline

Dilbert creator Scott Adams accompanied that title with a drawing of cubicle dweller slash IT worker holding a sledgehammer and overlooking the destruction of a desktop computer. In real life, teachers in a virtual school sometimes get caught without Internet service. What do virtual teachers do when the network is down? Simple.

We clean.

wiping the coffee stains from the desk

cleaning around the multiple cords that connect me with my students

We file and organize papers.

Ta-dah! basket (as opposed to the To Do file)

Last, but never least, we load up on refills from the communal coffeepot.

refreshing beverage and WSRA mug

And then, when the system is up and running and we can address our bulging inboxes, we   get back to work. All is calm, all is well.

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The Daisy Reality Show returns: the Campaign Sign episode

Remember the Daisy Reality Show? The show’s star (Daisy, of course) works with the show’s director and her bumbling assistant to put the whole thing together and show you a piece of real life at the Okay Chorale. Let’s see how the campaign sign effort looks when seen through the eyes of the television cameras.

Daisy: Yeah! One more sign in place.

Director: Turn the sign a little to eliminate the glare. There. That’s better.

Assistant: Campaign signs? Why bother? Do people really pay attention to these?

Daisy: Have a seat. this will take a while.

The state teachers’ association has a four by ten plan. They’re asking each member to invest at the grassroots level. Ten signatures on recall petitions (done), ten dollars donated to campaign (done), ten hours donated (I’m working on that one), and ten voters convinced to vote for Barrett. We’re focusing on those who may be ambivalent and those who lean left but rarely vote. All our contacts and actions are at the grassroots level. See that corner of my garden? Grass roots are tenacious. (Assistant looks quizzical) That means they’re tough. Strong. They hang on tightly and don’t let go.

Director: Fascinating. And this is the plan to go up against the governor’s massive amount of available money? I heard he’s already spent $20 million dollars.

Assistant: How much? Holy foreign bank accounts, Batman, that sounds like a lost cause.

Daisy: It’s not lost – not at all. Much of that money came from out of state donors, people who can’t vote in a Wisconsin election. As for the outrageously high number, look at this. One million citizens signed recall petitions. If each of those people could donate $20, we’d reach Walker’s ridiculously high cash cows. Many of those who signed recall petitions do not have money to spare – many due to Walker’s policies and unrealistic priorities. It’s like me hearing people complain about how teachers are raking in the bucks, but I walk to school in order to save wear and tear on my 1998 minivan. I can’t afford to donate, and I can’t afford not to donate.

Director: How do the signs help?

Daisy: Well, I told you about the four by ten plan. I’ve added another ten to my personal plan. I hope to take responsibility for placing ten campaign signs supporting Barrett for Governor. The specifics of my plan are simple: location, location, location. I’m contacting people who live on busy streets (visibility) and people who are well respected by their neighbors and friends. The second is more important. Undecided voters, of which there are few, might be swayed by knowing that someone they respect plans to vote for Barrett. A sign in a strategic location has more influence than a television commercial, and it’s cheaper, too.

Assistant: Oh. I get it. I think.

Director: Let’s go pick up those signs.You mentioned something about proofreading each sign before displaying it.

Daisy: Soon-to-be-former Governor Walker’s team distributed signs all over the state early on in the campaign. They rushed the signs through production and didn’t pay attention to quality. They spelled “governor” wrong. So think again about sign location and personal respect. Would you, as an undecided voter, follow the lead of someone who can’t spell governor? Or would you follow the lead of someone who is, well I’ll be blunt, more intelligent?

Assistant(taking notes): How do you spell governor?

Daisy and Director groan.


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Daisy’s Garden Takes Shape: Planting Peppers

Episode Two in The Garden Takes Shape took place Saturday evening. I was busy in an air conditioned office during the afternoon shift, entering data from canvassing volunteers. It was unseasonably warm in Wisconsin with a recall race heating up, so I waited until I could work in the shade. Clever, eh? Worked in the election reference right away. If you’re alert, you’ll notice a few more references cleverly hidden in the context of the post.

Performance art or garden sculpture?

This corner , mainly inhabited by “walking” green onions, needed work. It offered cages to be removed & grass roots to pull, and you know the strength of grass-roots organizing. I took care of the space around the onions, and I was ready. Well, almost ready.

I use a variation on Square Foot Gardening. I plan my space, block off the squares, and then figure out how many plants or seeds can fit in the space according to the number of squares in the grid.

What grid, you ask? I’ll show you.

This grid.

My grids are not faithful to the trademarked Square Foot Gardening technique. My grid is fairly accurate (I measure), but it’s not permanent. It’s made of masking tape. By the time I’m done planting and I no longer need the guidelines, it’ll be stuck to my shoes or tangled in the topsoil. That’s all fine with me, since it’s biodegradable.

Saturday night, while the guys in the family shopped for groceries, I dug into the soil and placed my pepper plants in their places. Squared, cubed, or otherwise multiplied, these little seedlings have the power to produce the ingredients for many jars of salsa next August.


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Daisy’s Garden Takes Shape: Inventory and Planning Episode

In March, I found seeds. Some were a year old, some even older, so I wasn’t sure if they’d grow. With that uncertainty in mind, I planted them all. 

too many tomatoes and peppers

You guessed it. Almost every single seed produced a seedling. I even had to transplant the tomatoes into larger containers in mid-April because they were overcrowded. Last year, a late blizzard took down my starters. This season, I have many – some would say too many. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Chuck, you can say “I told you so!”


plan ahead

I did what I do – what teachers do, anyway. I took inventory of my seedlings and planned for the use of the garden space. I thought I could plant all the tomatoes in the triangle and plant all the peppers in the plot behind the garage, the area that last year was home to lettuces. Then I realized the tomatoes would need support. Supports? Both singular and plural, you grammar-loving sorts.

Of course I don’t have enough. With creative use of the square cage, I can contain and support the Large Red Cherry tomato plants. No comments from the peanut gallery, please, I recognized the oxymoron. i did. I have straight supports that will do for the Beefsteak variety when combined with gentle tie-ups made from old tee shirts. My favorites, the red spirals that stand about six feet tall, are in limited supply. As far as I can tell, Fleet Farm no longer carries them. The Bonny Best will climb what I have, and the yellow pear tomatoes will have to make do with the V-shaped stands.

cages, old and semi-useless

I still have several old wire tomato cages. These are too short to be of much use in the multi-tomato zone because my tomato plants usually grow quite a bit taller than the wires. I might, however, use these to help keep the pepper plants contained.

Oh, were you looking for my usual election reference? Check out the little purple notebook next to the clipboard above. The “I Voted” sticker was my exit sticker from the recall primary. 

So there you have it, readers. Tune in tomorrow for the next installment in Daisy’s Garden Takes Shape.

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