Monday, June 30, 2008

Lazlo's peeps

Today as we were headed home from the library we happened to see the people who sold Lazlo to us. They're a family that lives somewhere that's "snowed in 7 months of the year" and they come to town for supplies and whatnot in their remodeled school bus. So we hurried home, threw Lazlo in the car, and headed back to town to show them the dog they last saw when he was 5 1/2 weeks old.

the first day we had him

Lazlo's dad was in the bus with some of the kids (um, probably 7 or 8 of them and the mom was pregnant--all of them red-headed) and Lazlo was barking at the two kids who came out of the bus, which was out of character for him. He must have seen/smelled that dog on the boys.

loving the snow in Missoula

We waited for the parents to come out of the store and then introduced them to Lazlo. The guy stuck his head in the car and Lazlo, panting from the heat, licked his face. We told them he was the Best Dog Ever and how we always get compliments on his beautiful coloring. They said they were glad he turned out to be such a good dog.

He'll be 4 this year. We are really lucky to have this goofy thing that pretends to be a pit bull.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

What the internets are good for...maybe even best at

[Yeah, I know, poor grammar---deal with it.]

I'm a fan of feed readers. I got hooked at my last job when I had plenty of time to kill on the internets and my bookmark list was getting too cumbersome. Since I had a gmail account already established I just started using Google Reader, but I'm sure there are others (maybe better ones) out there.

But one of the features of Google Reader that I really like is that is keeps track of what you look at on the internet and recommends blogs/podcasts/news sources that are similar. (Very Big Brother but in a helpful sort of way.) In an effort to really try to live the New Plan, I try to limit the amount of time I'm online [completely letting go is not within my reach just yet], so I've been downsizing the number of feeds coming into my reader and weeding out the ones that aren't consistently compelling. But I also find a lot of really good information online, especially about apocalyptic/sustainable/back-to-nature/self-reliance people.

Today I found a new semi-local blog called A Year of Plenty--about a family in Spokane that's practicing eating/buying local for a year. In one of their posts they linked to which looks like a possibly really useful site, depending on where you live. I found a garlic farm in Kooskia! But just the possibility of buying from farms instead of processed food from the grocery store is exciting. Clothing, dried goods, even pet supplies---all sorted by distance from your ZIP code.

Faking productivity

Not all the different from my last Real Job, actually, as far as faking goes. Looking just busy enough not to get fired.

weeping willow-- after
(compare to before)

The arborist finished trimming the trees yesterday and so while Keith re-stacked the firewood pile he left me the Mule to drive around to pick up the new wood.

Of course anytime anyone gets in the Mule (or reel lawnmower), Lazlo comes running to bite the tires.

Yesterday we went to the big city of Kooskia to a) price dog food and b) check out their People's Market. Epic fail on both counts.

The feed store's always fun to visit (they had chicks and rabbits), but weighing out cost and quality, we ultimately decided to start buying dog food at Costco in Clarkston. We were early to the market, it looked like people were still setting up, but all we saw was a couple of tables of yard sale junk. Nothing worth looking at. If it's not going to be worth my time to set up a booth at the markets I will see if I can sell my cards to places around town, places that tourists might go, or even the local Hallmark store. If all that fails, there's always etsy.

This afternoon/evening/once the sun goes down over in that part of the yard we're going to build the compost bin. It's going where the burn pile used to be. Hopefully all of the worms that headed down deep to get away from the fire will return once they see the goodness we're going to be pouring on out there. If not it won't take long for them to return, I think.

Keith's on his way to the hardware store to get hinges for the compost bin and then we have a nap scheduled. I don't know why I didn't think of this semi-retirement business sooner.

~~Another installment of Overheard on the Front Porch~~
K: We need to get out in the garden tomorrow morning and pull weeds.
A: ...Is it Friday?
K: [long pause, checks newspaper] Yep.
A: I don' t keep track.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Well, I knew it had to happen sooner or later.

I was offered a job today. I interviewed almost 2 weeks ago for a PT front desk/graphic designer/misc. position at the local newspaper. I was starting to wonder if I hadn't been a little too cavalier about my prospects during the interview. I told him I wasn't really interested in working just for the sake of working, that I wanted a job that was challenging and fulfilling without being too stressful...and that I didn't really have any other ideas since the range of employment options here is fairly limited. After an hour he told me it was a "good, strong interview" and that he'd call.

Well, my patience paid off. On the condition that I cover up my tattoos (long sleeve shirts, can do), I start in 3 weeks. It's Monday-Wednesday right now with special projects several times a year that will require more hours, but part-time is good for me. It will give me probably just enough money to feed us and maybe even enough to fund my side projects--selling things at the local markets. There's a farmers market @ Long Camp on Saturdays and a people's market in Kooskia (about 8 miles upriver) on Thursday afternoons. I bought a lot (noun, not adjective) of blank greeting cards/envelopes off ebay and I'll have some photos printed and spray mount them on the cards--see if I can sell them at either of these places. Free vendor space, that's hard to pass up. Low overhead. I also have a plethora of crafty-type plans bookmarked on the internet that I could use to make and sell things. Like bean bag frogs! Not to mention veggies/herbs/berries once they start coming on. My grandma said tonight she heard of someone selling 5 gal. buckets of raspberries for $50 ea!! If it was up to Keith and I we'd be making this place into a raspberry farm.

So that makes shopping for new work clothes one of the things I have to accomplish fairly soon. There's a little thrift store here in town (operated by a church I think but I won't let stop me) and the other day we got a set of king-size sheets there for $6. They were nice white clean, new-looking sheets and that seemed like a pretty good deal. When we got ready to throw them in the washer I saw they are Holiday Inn Express sheets. So I will check there first. If I don't find what I need there I will either bum a ride with my parents the next time they head to Lewiston (Dad's dr. appt in a couple weeks) or there is also The Appaloosa Express (pdf), which is run by the Nez Perce tribe. (The Appaloosa horse was developed by the Nez Perce; we're on the Nez Perce reservation.) It goes from Kooskia to Lewiston (about 75 miles) and points in between for $2/day or $20/month. Cheap!!

Speaking of work, today Keith got in a half-day's work for cash when the arborist's helper didn't show. We were just waking up in the tent when my dad yelled, "Keith, you wanna work today?" Hmm...tricky question. Depends? Keith said, Yes as long as he didn't have to climb up in any trees. Which he didn't.

weeping willow-- before

KB rocking the Lebowski fest shirt
and UPS hat (go Brown!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me

I was making cookies today and thinking, this dough is really dry and crumbly. Then I saw the egg sitting there on the counter. Um, yeah. I don't bake a lot, can you tell? So I added the egg--2 actually since I'd doubled the recipe--and then it started to resemble what I remembered cookie dough to look like.

Also, I just want to say for the record that I am disgusted by the fact that the Cookie Monster is being forced to eat and enjoy FRUIT now. (Stephen Colbert is equally outraged.) I am a Sesame Street purist. A connoisseur, I dare say. I do not go for the new fangled CGI Sesame Street. It's supposed to be people and Muppets. And cartoons, occasionally---like the typewriter guy (one of my favorites!) and the numbers/Rube Goldberg machine segments. That is all.

Overheard on the front porch*

Don't buy any Gucci handbags.
Don't take any candy from any old farts.
-advice from my dad to my sister who is in New York and venturing into NYC tomorrow

* the more rural, less exciting version of Overheard in the Office

Monday, June 23, 2008

Come On-a My House

KBAB as American Gothic

We spent some time outside today in the spot where we plan to build our tiny house. We decided we actually need some sort of official plan before we can start looking for/amassing materials and costing out the project. Logical, right? Being logical is not necessarily our first instinct, but we're making an effort here.

We started out with this basic plan we found in a book about tiny houses.

Then we modified it. This plan has (3) 4'x8' wings off the main 8'x8' space, but we don't need that much room. According to our rough plans and if our architect approves the design, our house will have a main living area of 8'x12'. Well, 8'x8' like you see above plus a 4'x8' wing on one side. Then the upstairs will be a sleeping loft with cantilevered deck that's the same layout only rotated 180° with a step out deck facing north. The bolt and beam construction should be easy enough for Keith and I to manage on our own.

likely future building site

We won't have indoor plumbing in the conventional sense---most likely some sort of composting toilet and a shower head in the same room as the toilet and a drain in the floor. Totally Mexico style. I found information on integral passive solar water heaters (just say "ipswah" for short) so we'll put on of those on the roof of the 4'x8' section. It will feed our shower and possibly the kitchen sink, although it'd be easy enough to set up a smaller tank that runs, gravity-fed, into the kitchen. All the water draining away from the house will be set up for gray water collection.

Eventually we'd like to have

Waiting for the baths to fill.
an outdoor bathtub kind of like our friend Bob has,
but, again, that will be down the road...because it will require a much larger water tank.

We won't have any sort of wiring, either. At least not at first. It'd be nice to hook up an electrical source from either solar panels or some other kind of "off-grid" set up, but that can happen down the road. We will put in as many windows as possible while still maintaining thermal efficiency, so light shouldn't be a problem. We have headlamps. And candles. And flashlights. See, you don't even need electricity. [Okay, well except to run the laptop which we plan to use to watch movies this winter. Or maybe we'll just cheat and watch my parents' big screen. Or run an extension cord. We're all kinds of creative around here.] No fridge to start with. If we need one, I'm voting for a dorm-size (propane?) fridge.

So since this is the place where we're documenting Our Plan, here's a crude Paint mock-up of the house floor plan, with a total of 192 square feet on 2 levels. Blue dots are windows. Brown dots are doors. It's Paint--don't judge.
main floor (8'x12')
(the outside eating area on the left/north will be under the step out deck off the sleeping loft)

sleeping loft and step out deck (8'x12' total)

The two storeys will be offset so looking at the house from elevation you'll see a kind of Z-shape. You zig, I zag.
Today George Carlin died. My parents have Class Clown on vinyl. We were thinking of giving it a spin this next weekend. His take on environmentalism (YouTube link) makes me laugh even though in part I'm one of the people he's making fun of. [Although I'd like to think my desire to live a simple life and make a smaller footprint isn't to "save the Earth" per se. I'm more selfish than that.] Everyone has to die, I guess. But it's still sad that people like him go.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lazy Sunday

Sundays are usually lazy for me. Who am I kidding---every day is lazy when you're not working at a Real Job.

There was a crazy rainstorm that passed through last night. Of course it rained-- because it was our first night in the tent. We had a small leak (the wind blew the rain fly back off one end) but nothing I couldn't sleep through! ha As we were going to sleep we heard another/or the same coyote howling and then it rained for a couple hours, hard. It was a relief after the past couple of pretty hot days (in the 90s---we former-PDXers aren't used to the heat!).

We took a walk down to the river this morning and it was higher from the rainfall and we saw several logs getting carried downstream---not a good day to be a kayaker.

After we did some outside work this morning (including re-setting my earwig trap---some critter removed it last night) we drove up river to scout camping sites. We wanted to find a place where we wouldn't have to have the dogs tied up, otherwise we'd be constantly untangling/separating them. We found one campground in particular that was really nice with some shady tent spots and quick river access.

Keith definitely got in the camping mood and got his Gazeteers out when we got home to plan a trip for us into the Gospel Hump Wilderness. But that will have to wait until later this summer, probably late July or August, because the snow pack is still above normal (pdf). I guess that gives us plenty of time to get in shape with our packs so we can hike down into Moores Lake.

We stopped at the Wilderness Cafe on the way home for lunch and we all ate like little piggies.

Keith decides to play the same self-portrait game.

On the wall behind my parents is something called Tater Taffy;
I don't even want to know what that tastes like.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bark, bat, & beans

Today's projects included trying out the newspaper/bark method of weed control.
Case 1: my mom's irises.
She said they haven't bloomed in 2 years.
First we pulled all the grass, weeds, and morning glory.
Then I watered the area and laid down newspaper and watered it.
Then we put down bark.
Now we wait and see if any weeds can survive.

We were pitching our tent this afternoon and we must have disturbed this guy's nap. I don't know where he came from but as I picked up one of our tent poles, I saw something swoop down to the ground. At first I thought it was a leaf. Maybe he was under the roof of the pump house.

The garden is sprouting! W00t! We checked out the Farmers Market @ Long Camp today and there wasn't much competition. Of course, it's still early in the year.

what will someday be beans

Friday, June 20, 2008

My assignment

Today was Take Your Dog to Work Day. Mia's lying on the couch next to me, trying to recover from the heat that descended on us today. I don't know if this counts as work but my dad gave me an assignment earlier: find out how to get rid of earwigs in the fruit trees, and how to get rid of morning glory and crabgrass. Oh, internet research! Can do.

[I just heard a coyote howling! That's exciting.]

So here's what I've learned this eve:
(Please note I'm citing my references--like a real assignment--with links to the original article/source if you want to do some follow-up research of your own).

  • To trap earwigs, you can: use a mixture of 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp molasses, 1 tbsp dry yeast, 8 ozs water. Mix all the ingredients well, place in a small plastic container (like a cottage cheese container), with holes poked in the lid. Bury the container to ground level. Clean it out as needed.h
  • Or: take a few rolled up newspapers secured with a rubberband, wet it and leave it out overnight near your affected garden beds. In the morning dispose of the newspaper in a plastic bag, (being careful not to spill the ends or unroll the paper). It will be filled with earwigs. They love to hide in dark damp places. Secure the plastic bag so the little creeps don't escape and throw it away.
  • But also: Occasionally, earwigs damage soft parts of plants. However, the main food of earwigs is insects, including plant pests such as aphids. [When I brought up the fact that earwigs might actually, you know, have a purpose, I was told that the Ew Factor outweighs the Nature Factor. Hmmm.]
Morning Glory
  • Morning glory spreads by rhizomes (horizontal underground stems), which are, like the above-ground parts, extremely vigorous and strong. Above-ground stems also have the ability to produce roots and new rhizomes where they touch the ground. Worst of all, new plants can be propagated from exceptionally small rhizome pieces, so digging and especially rototilling can make matters much worse. [This doesn't sound very encouraging.]
  • However, the most effective approach to control is exclusion of light. It will usually take less than a year [oh, only a year, eh?] to completely kill off morning glory if it is prevented (completely!) from seeing the light of day. There are various ways to accomplish this, the most effective being covering the ground with carpet, cardboard, layers of newspaper or turf.
I didn't make it as far as crabgrass because when I was reading about the tenacious Morning Glory one of the remedies suggested was Roundup. My dad should marry Roundup, he loves it so much. Of course, he has assured me, it's perfectly safe to use. Because Monsanto says so.


Um, so yeah, I'm even less a fan of Monsanto than before. If that's at all possible. You've heard of Meat Tube, right? The stickers were super popular in Portland.

[Somehow all of this research didn't make me feel any better about totally dropping the ball and forgetting to write/submit my final paper for a stupid online class @ PCC that was due on the Friday we moved here. Let's just say I had other things taking up that space in my brain. I don't dare check my grades. Although I am curious about my final A&P exam. So much work (and money!) and no payout. I guess I did glean some very useful knowledge, from the A&P series, but it sure as hell wasn't worth $7500 in student loan debt. Edit: I decided to be brave and check my grades. Somehow I pulled a B in A&P---he obviously took mercy on me---and even without my final paper I managed a C in the other class which is better than I expected.]

Oy. Since this has been a text-heavy post, let's look at some pictures.

a macro shot of a peony
love the textures

we put down wood shavings in the dog pen
after we'd hoed, lopped, raked, and shoveled

This weekend, we're:
* putting up the tent [privacy is at a premium when you live with your parents]
* weeding [before Dad can get Roundup-happy]
* still watching Lost [in the middle of Season 3]
* hoping Keith feels better [he was sick in bed all day today so I played nurse]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Keith's down $100 in one night due to some very questionably-reasoned bets he wagered with me about Silk Stalkings/Rob Etes and Matt Lauer's age. Including the vig (and considering he's unemployed for the forseeable future) this could work out to be quite a lucrative sidegig.

This is my hammock.

There are many like it, but this one is MINE.
My rifle hammock is my best friend.
It is my life.
I must master it as I must master my life.
My rifle hammock without me is useless.
Without my
rifle hammock, I am useless.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I was in surgery this afternoon.

Several open wounds had to be excised and covered with Seal & Heal Goop (or something). Like for grafting fruit trees? Had I ever heard that phrase before this week? No. But today I read it once and then my dad said it, too, when we was explaining the project. (He's Senior Management. I am a laborer.)

Tree surgery. That's right.

cutting up the tree
listening to Savage LoveCast
getting annoyed by a left-handed knife

"M*A*S*H: Tuttle (#1.15)" (1973)
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce: [creating Tuttle's service record] Religion?
Army Capt. 'Trapper John' McIntyre
: Atheist.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
: I don't believe in atheism. Let's make him a Druid.
Cpl. Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly
: What's that?
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
: They worship trees.
Cpl. Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly
: Ah, a tree surgeon.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce: [writing] Druid, reformed. They're allowed to pray at bushes.

Keith hung up the (a) hammock today between two of the fruit trees (pear and something else?). Nodded off a couple times, he said. Looking forward to that this summer. Library card + hammock = hours of potential procrastination. There's a growing List of Projects. It will come in handy.

The dogs are still adjusting. It's basically like doggie heaven. The only thing that could improve their situation would be more carcasses to roll in. The hay field to the west is cut and there is usually one or two surprises to be found when it gets cut. Dogs are The Best at finding them, too. My parents' dog Itchy found one this morning. Disgusting. Be glad the internet hasn't yet adapted anything like Odorama because you know I'd be linking to that.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Not working is harder than I thought

I haven't been this productive in a long time. And Keith would probably say I'm slacking. Like I was just out weeding the garden and the skeeters were eating me up so I beat feet it back to the house as soon as I was done. Keith gave me some sarcastic remark about how mosquitoes don't come out in the morning. What a coincidence, neither do I!

Actually I got up before 9 today! and we walked the dogs down to the river. They're getting used to this No Leash Life. I think Mia was a farm dog in a previous life because she is really getting the hang of it. She stays close, hasn't chased any neighbors, and only once in a while she tries to chase one of the cats. Pretty good considering they might have been a food source for her after the Hurricane!

Come-to-Jesus Meeting
before we left on our walk to the river

The river is really high from all the spring run-off. There's no way we're getting out to the island until much later this summer. Of course Lazlo could not resist taking a quick swim. He'll swim in a mud puddle if he thinks it's deep enough. Mia waded in to her chest or so and then they ran around playing grabass.

On the way back to the house Lazlo said hi to the neighbor goats (not these, other neighbor goats).

Since Keith's the project coordinator in this marriage, we decided to weed the raspberries next. I think he started out using our little manual reel mower to just do a quick trim, but we figured out we should get down and do the dirty work.

dogs supervise

We pulled out a heaping wheelbarrow (plus some) of weeds, grass, and old dead raspberry stems. What's left should be able to produce more fruit this summer. There are already some green berries and the bees are still busy pollenating.

My sister leaves Wednesday morning to spend the summer in New York, so I helped her set up a blog. She calls it A Small Potato in the Big Apple since she'll be just a quick train ride into The City. Former Portlander Ara was nice enough to forward a visitor's guide she made for her out-of-town wedding guests, so Amanda will have some ideas of what to do on her days off.

It's an exciting time for us Leach girls!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Every day is Sunday

Today Keith told me, "This is like winning the lottery." He said this while he was cleaning the potting area and trying not to bang his head on the low overhang. His happiness threshold is pretty low--which is good!

We planted 11 buskets today with the herbs and lettuce; heirloom tomatoes and peppers will have to wait until we get a couple larger containers. Did you know mint is invasive? And the seeds are TINY! We ran a cord to run the radio/CD player and Warren Zevon covers helped motivate us to get it all finished before lunch. With plenty of breaks.

mint seeds in the palm of my hand

I planted basil in this old enamel pot
that belonged to my grandpa.

There's a ton of chemicals around here--kinda what we're trying to get away from. When my parents first bought this place it was all organic and even had a composter. But that wasn't their lifestyle, so they understandably started doing things their own way. Keith and I are hoping we can encourage them to get back to a more organic way of doing things. The water table is very low here and I can just picture Roundup collecting in every living thing here, not to mention seeping into the drinking water. Since we got the garden in and watering set up now we need to build compost bins. We might not get much out of it this year but it's worth starting. That way we'll be old pros by next year.

Of course the dogs are still living the high life. That goes without saying.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In the evening...

We planted everything that goes in the garden. Some of the stuff we're going to put in containers...peppers, herbs, and the like. But we ended up with 6 stringed rows and then a few rows of mounds for squash-family plants.

I was taking pictures of the garden and a little neighbor kid wandered over.
He said, "What are you doing?"
I said, "Planting a garden."
He said, "Why are you just standing there?"
I said, maybe with a little more indignation than was necessary for a nosy 6 year old's question, "I'm taking a break."
Then I got back to planting.

Broccoli seeds!?

Keith's asleep on the floor, spooning Mia. I'm going to try to persuade him to wake up to watch Lost. (The last one we watched was a cliffhanger--Desmond told Charlie he's going to die!!) Tomorrow we're having a picnic upriver for Father's Day... scouting out some campsites for next weekend, too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Plot

is also a song by the White Rabbits.
(Good music to wield a hoe to, even.
Click on the link to hear it.)

Team Hoe got bus-ay on the garden.
It's larger than our house will be. By far.
Planting starts tomorrow. Early, I'm told.

We spent almost $50 (that's a lot to unemployed folk) on a gazillion seeds:
heirloom tomatoes (will probably go in a greenhouse since it's late)
broccoli, cauliflower, eggplants, gourmet carrots, peppers
sage, parsley, rosemary, dill, mint, oregano, basil, cilantro
several kinds of lettuce (or as we say: la-TOOS) and spinach
spaghetti squash and zucchini!

Plus my parents already planted some cantaloupe,
watermelon, and boring ol' regular tomatoes.

We're also looking for:
sweet potatoes
a citrus tree

Last week or so they got a truckload of manure to dump on the garden.
I found this guy when we weeded tonight!

With two busted legs, he'd be on his way to the glue factory.
Luckily, I saved him.

And this is the tree that provides shade for the garden in the evening.

Tank tops are coming out!