Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cover your SHAME!

Well, it's not quite what it sounds like... or maybe it is. Windows are nothing to be ashamed of... unless they are as leaky as ours. Now I know, these windows are made of the best wood you could get... and we'd never be able to find this quality these days... BUT I live under the flight pattern, on the busiest residential road on the planet and I could use a little peace and quiet some day. That's why I lust after THESE. (on this link they have a new version of my original windows. One day we plan to replace the lot... and find someone with a better situation to reuse the old ones... I couldn't bring myself to toss them.
But until that beautiful far-off day we will be forced to wrap all fenestration in plastic, every November. Actually I will be forced to do it because I'm better at it.
If anyone want's pointers I'm available to teach classes for a billion dollars an hour. only 20 left!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Portable Jungle: Native Uprising

Funny thing... I have a portable jungle. A family of a dozen large plants that make seasonal trips inside and out. They are a lot of fun in the yard. They add interest to the back yard. Some of them are edible (Ginger, Vanilla pompona even though it's not easily edible) Some of them were projects (avacodo, clivia and seedlings, various orchids) One of them is well over 40 years old... great Grandma Fay's spider plant... which shades the roots of the Fiddlehead Ficus and the Vanilla orchid..

ANYWAY, the cat was being pretty loud last night.. more than usual. I couldn't figure out why, until just now. This has never happened before with the portable jungle, but aparently this summer built up a bumper crop of earth worms in the pots. Yesterday's deep watering must have driven them up and OUT. So this morning I have been picking up dried nightcrawlers that the cat dragged all over the house. YUK! I can't wait until we have the Jungle room/greenhouse up so I can just leave the plants in one place. Unfortunatly that's Waaaaaay off, if ever.

So, be aware container gardeners, you may have an uprising of your own. Poor little guys, just tryin to stay dry :(

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Soliloquy

Well, I think this is the last week of outside time for MN. I spent the few hours of daylight cutting back the Hydrangeas, mulching the hibiscus and the front prairie, topping the iris and putting the final blanket on the Musa Basjoo (hardy banana). I sure hope it will take another winter, it's been so fun to have that big waxy foliage in the back yard. This year it really went... well... Bananas, and put out about 10 new shoots. Boy, it sure would be great to have a healthy cluster of tropical (looking) plants in my MN garden!

All the chopping wood, winterizing the house and tucking in the plants has me ready to hibernate. But at some point the contractors are supposed to start residing the dormers and putting up an addition. I am SO glad I'm not a contractor, I will sit inside by the wood stove and listen to them hammering in the cold. It's not my fault they have been dragging thier feet. I just want it done, but I will settle for started.

I also have fairly lofty plans for turkey-day: The whole fam is headed over. I've volunteered for Turkey and stuffing, the rest has been outsourced to volunteers. I also have about 5 loaves of sourdough to bake. Sourdough is another ongoing hobby that has earned a blog entry.. just not today. It's still a couple weeks off but I have started planning the logisitics. And if something doesn't work out I plan to have a lot of Three-Buck-Chuck on hand. That usually mellows us all out :)

Since I don't get family over that often I think Thanksgiving is a good time to update them all on the house projects. This year the will see the finished (nearly) dishwasher bay (see former blog for those pics) the wood stove, various paint stripping projects, the dormant remnants of the 3rd year prairie in the front yard and everyone will eat something from the VERY productive herb garden. I'm sure that I will drag them into the back yard and point them to the set of raised veggie gardens in the back. I'm turning hippie without knowing it. Either that or I'm just getting too far into my pioneer research work. Whatever. As long as I get a nice nap at some point.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The accident scene

The accident scene
Originally uploaded by turbofan
Neighbors typically meet each other in similar way. Over the fence, walking the dog, raking leave etc. It’s an unfortunate thing to meet a close neighbor through a terrible accident. On the night of November 4th around 11:45pm that’s just how I met my neighbors across Cedar Avenue. People from the surrounding 4 blocks had descended on the intersection of 45th and Cedar to view the horrific, 1 driver accident that had recently rattled their windows. The car somersaulted end over end after hitting a car parked in the parking lane. The driver was traveling well over the speed limit and was not wearing a seatbelt. The fact that she was alive when the ambulance arrived is amazing considering the circumstances.
So my neighbors and I stood in shock, shivering in our PJ’s in the cold, watching the flashing lights and paramedics, marveling at the fact that a car in a 30mph zone managed to total 2 cars and fling herself 50 feet through the windshield. All injuries aside we were all amazed that this didn’t happen sooner. High speeds have become a defining feature of Cedar Avenue. It’s the ‘short cut’ from the burbs, it’s the fastest way to the mall when the free way is jammed up, and most important, they don’t put cops on Cedar, you can go as fast as you want… and people do. The day before I had finished composing a letter to Mayor Rybeck, pleading with him to up enforcement in our neighborhoods. I outlined the dangers, the livability issues, lost tax revenue based on dropping property values, the crime related to high speed and volume traffic the list goes on. Coincidentally, at the end of the letter I said that we needed to do something before something terrible happened . And right on cue…
We’ve got ourselves a problem in south Minneapolis. An over capacity freeway system, a huge ring of great urban housing stock and an even bigger ring of suburbs trying to get from what used to be the country to the city as quickly as possible. For residents of South Minneapolis it’s a losing battle. The capacity of our streets is based on the local population, the proximity of houses to the road is based on this capacity. The only way to increase capacity is to increase the speed, which happens on its own due to lack of enforcement.
As it stands now, according to city documents: Cedar Avenue is the only street in S. Minneapolis that is over capacity (WAY over), contains three of the highest crash intersections in the whole city and runs over a bridge estimated to be at less than 60% integrity (the Nokomis Lagoon bridge). There are a lot of people that live on Cedar Ave. There are a lot of people that rely on Cedar. How do we decide who takes precedence? We need to think about this.
The Cedar Ave. United (aka Cedar Avenue Restoration Effort) seeks to create a plan for Cedar Avenue by incorporating residents and neighborhoods in the planning process. In the past few months we have been meeting at various community centers in the area, planning. We have a lot to gain by creating a good plan for Cedar. We need to preserve our community, encourage our local businesses, improve transportation and increase our safety and livability.
Standing in the cold on the sidewalk, barefoot, listening to my across-the-street-neighbor talk about how she made her daughter change schools so she wouldn’t have to cross the road made me realize that there are a lot more concerned people than I thought. So now it’s time. We need your support. We realize that not everyone has the time and energy to commit to planning. We also know that there is a LOT of talent in South Minneapolis. We are a grass roots organization, and we need you, if only your support or signature. You can find out more about Cedar Ave United by e-mailing

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!
Originally uploaded by turbofan
Roofing and building is, indeed, fun. Or at least the end product is.

So this weekend my dad came down to help with this project. It was either going to be this or the tile around the fireplace.... since I haven't yet fired the tile.. this is what we did.

I had to work Saturday, but when I got home at 4 Ryan and Dad had already torn off the rotten cardboard (seriously) siding and picked up the materials.

By Sunday at 2 we were stapling up the tar paper on the roof and moving the firewood into the shelter.

Now I know, I know. You aren't supposed to put firewood next to your house or other structures because of Ants and Mice. I have to point out that 1) we go through wood so fast I don't think it will be an issue, 2) If the ants want to eat the cardboard off the rest of the garage they can be my guest... it would probably kill them anyway.

seriously though, we have sprayed for carpenter ants already and the dog loves to catch and fling mice. I don't think it will be a big deal.

I still have to put on the finish fascia, drip edge and shingles. I am going to go ahead and say that this new addition is probably more sturdy than the original garage. Yah for us!