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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fairfax Bridge Adventure

I've ridden over the Fairfax Bridge before, but it's normally pretty tricky. It's busy, skinny and old. One of those places you pin your ears back and ride like hell. Oh, and coming from the North you carry your bike up an embankment to even get on it.

Corinna spotted the road construction on the feed from that northbound side and realized that meant zero cars. She went up there to shoot some picks and when I heard, I got excited to do the same.

On the way out I spotted some tags I hadn't gotten before, so I bring you Lush and whatnot from around the Broadway Bridge.

Riding through Fairfax on a Sunday evening, wow. These wide, flat roads are made to carry significant traffic but you wouldn't know it. I had a stiff tailwind, too, so I was flying along at 20 mph with barely any effort past the GM assembly plant and a party in the UAW parking lot and so on.

No need to hike-a-bike up the embankment, when you know it's closed on the other end you can just ride up the bridge going the wrong way.

Once up there, you have a great platform for photography, the cool old bridge, the river, the power plant nearby, a lot of what I shot didn't turn out great, but I had fun trying. And came back with enough pay dirt to make it feel like a well-done expedition. I should try to get some of my friends to come back there with me in the next couple of weeks while the feeder bridge to the north is still out of commission.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Roof

Em got up on the roof.

You'd never know from these pics but she was basically at my throat a few minutes later just because I might keep bees up on that roof. Ah, the delights of adolescence.

Last Minute Asparagus

I took Mo out to Pendleton Farms to get more asparagus crowns. I became convinced that the ones we'd planted were done all wrong given our conditions and I didn't want to start over from scratch next year (again).

Lovely place, they've got the farmer's market and greenhouse thing going as well as the pick-your-own. As long as we were there, why not?

So in addition to another dozen crowns to plant above grade in a third bed of asparagus (maybe it will all thrive and we'll be lousy with fresh asparagus in a few years), me and Mo went and picked a couple of pounds. And bought a pound of purple that was harvested already, and got some peppers to fill holes int he garden and some tomatoes to hold us over until we have some to harvest.

After we'd harvested and I asked about a dozen purple crowns, the girl said, "I gave you a couple extra. It's pretty late. They still look good, but get them in the ground right away."

I asked if there was anything unusual I needed to do since I was planting these late in the season and she said, "Pray." She was clear they were viable, and that they were even still planting the last of their crowns on the farm. I planted them that afternoon. I prayed, too.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

To Harvest or Not to Harvest...

The lettuce wasn't this crazy a week ago. I swear, you could see dirt.

Tonight, it's like a big 4x8 salad bowl overflowing. I might have to find that wilt lettuce salad recipe and figure out the stir-fry greens this weekend. Okay, probably not 'might'—I need to figure these things out.

Anyone want some free lettuce? I've got quite a bit of it, and it's relatively perishable and won't live long in the heat that's likely coming.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Magic Hour

I climbed that extra bit past the top of Beardsley because I thought there'd be good light on downtown. There was.

But when I got up by the FBI building, there was something better. A girl getting, I think, her graduation/senior pic taken.

Bartle and the new Kauffman Center looked great, too, but the girl and her photographer and entourage were even more interesting.

Lunch with Paul & Margarett

I rode my bike to work, took a half vacation day to come up the street and have a leisurely lunch with Corinna's Colorado friends.

We had Greek at a restaurant I never have lunch at because they serve lunch at a pace only sensible in Greece. The food is authentic and excellent, but it doesn't fit in with a half hour lunch plan. And maybe we should all take half days for lunch, it feels good...

Me and Paul had fun comparing cameras and shooting pics. He has the grown up version of my D7000, the D700. With the 50mm prime lens to match my 35mm, both f1.8 prime lenses, and when you factor the crop, almost the exact same thing.

Friday, May 24, 2013

One-Two-Three-Four...I Declare a Kitty War!

Jello is feeling better. He was first diagnosed with parasites, then with a blocked colon. He has to eat wet food laced with laxatives from now on, but I knew he was getting better when he started kicking Zippy's ass for fun again.

They are better than television most of the time, they never stop trying to kick the shit out of each other.

The shot I didn't get, they do this sometimes until they fall asleep, arm in arm.

Wagons East

Corinna and I were originally planning to spend this week riding to St. Louis. One thing and another, all the resources to do the trip got eaten up by other things and when I whined that we'd been 'planning' for this trip for so long, Corinna pointed at that at least in Dave Ramsey terms, I hadn't been 'planning' it, only looking forward to it.

It's true. And while it was supposed to be a sort of belated honeymoon around our first anniversary, the expansion of the garden, the cat's intestines, and a few other things of less consequence put me in a position where there was no grown up way to take the trip. If we'd gone, we might have met Heather and Mr. Heather and his homemade wagon. I met them on the ride home from work and they were really excited to test out his PVC wonder in preparation for the Peddler's Jamboree. He built it as a budget way to haul their camping gear after pricing things like Surly's Bill and Ted trailers. Bike touring is about as affordable as travel gets, but when you sleep with a CPAP (I do), you pay camping fees to get to an outlet most of the time. Then there was those Amtrak tickets, heavily subsidized but not free, and even if you buy groceries and cook by the camp, it's never quite as cheap as eating at home.

Years ago I worked with a guy who always seemed to be buying nice stuff. The car I envied (a Scion xB like I now drive, though he bought it 100,000 miles earlier and didn't pay cash), a flat screen TV big enough to play football on, the newest, fastest iMac, etc. He was in the same job as me, and I wondered, so I asked, 'How do you do all that?' He said, 'Fuck it, just sign.'

Don't I know how that turns out? I don't think I was ever as casual about it as he was, but my signature has gotten me in more trouble than everything else in my life combined. Ever. And I'm not all the way to Dave Ramsey perfect budgeting, but I have no non-mortgage debt, I carry no plastic except a debit card, and I'm damed if I'm going back to paying double-digit interest, ducking collector's calls or applying to the Bank of Mom for a bailout. I'm past that now, so I'm not going to be on the Katy Trail this week.

I still have some time off slated for the coming week and I'll figure out some epic miles on the bike, I'm sure. And maybe I'll bet on the Katy next year for the Jamboree.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Memorial for Todd

As I was riding by Nichol's Park, I noticed, well, a bunch of white bags laying around. They had chairs set up and whatnot, obviously for an event. So I made inquiries, and it turns out it was KC Hospice and Palliative Care's memorial service they do each year for, you guessed it, Memorial Day.

I inquired as to whether my late stepbrother, Todd Swanson was among the luminaria, and they looked in the book and said no, but he could be. There'd be a calligrapher along in an hour or so if I wanted to leave his name. I wanted to stick around the Plaza and see it, I could tell it would be a moving event, but I needed to get home. I asked if the bags would still be there in the morning and they said, no, they had to clear them out when the event was over. So this picture is the best I could do under the circumstances.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I noticed the asparagus crowns Corinna had wrapped in a damp towel were growing right there in the dining room, so I figured I better hurry up and get the in the ground.

I looked up some YouTube videos to see how it's done, something we should have done before last year's attempt to start an asparagus bed. The trenches were already started, Corinna's research had shown we needed to dig deep and then bury them gradually as they grew.

That was what I found in my searching, too, but I found something else. That asparagus likes well drained, light soil, and if it's sandy soil all the better. And this is one of the few times where a fertilizer such as Miracle Grow is useful—and we had some of their transplant formula around for some reason, so I watered in with a little of that and threw some Tomato Tone in the trench for good measure (it has some slow-release fertilizer in it).

I knew those tubes of sand I bought for ballast in my xB last winter would come in handy somewhere in the garden. Corinna had already planted some crowns in one of the trenches, and two of them had sent up starts. The rest, not really. I think this is because the trench was essentially a clay pit, the dense, compacted dirt of the yard. I think what I did next was at least half right.

I put the crowns down and spread them so they sat upright. I spread sand on the bottom of the trenches, one QuikCrete tube of it, then barely covered it with light, fluffy compost. Then another tube of sand and another layer of compost, so the crowns were covered but barely. As they come up, the trench can be filled in with more sand and compost, but that's where I got to realizing after the fact that this might work but it would have been even better if I'd taken more advantage of the raised bed thing.

This trench is surrounded by one of our oak rails to make a raised bed. But I suspect the crowns are deeper than you'd want if you filled the bed to the brim—maybe not, but we'll probably end up filling the trench up to about ground level, maybe slightly higher. The smart thing would have been to dug out the same, filled the trench with sand and compost, then put the crowns at round level and built up from there to cover. That way the crown would start out above grade and ensure good drainage. But rather than further traumatize the things by digging it all up to start again, I figured I'd see how this does. If this year's bed doesn't take, I'll try doing one that starts out at or above grade and build it up next year.

What the hell, it's three to four years before we can harvest the stuff anyway. Once it gets going, we should have asparagus as long as we live here, though, and being that asparagus is one of my favorites, very worth the effort.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spring Garden Tour

I got my early stuff in back at the beginning of March, so I guess I should be okay with it being mid-May before all my tomatoes (precious tomatoes, if I could grow only one thing, that'd be it) are in.

Last year, I probably could have put those maters out March 1 if I could have found transplantable tomato plants that early. But as freaky warm as last winter was, this one made up for it in the other direction with frost all the way past May 1, the usual tomato transplant green-light date here.

We're most of the way to our goal of an edible yard. We have four fruit trees and a spot designated for a fifth, maybe a fifth and sixth if I can find a way to get Kingston Black cider apple trees here. Plus we have something like 22 raised beds growing everything from asparagus to spinach to onions to tomatoes to grapes, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb (my wife insists that stuff is edible), cucumbers, squash, and so on.

Assorted basils, even some ornamental flowers in the mix. When you have neighbors getting weird over growing edibles in the front yard, you have to do some defensive flower planting.

My idea is to make a pad of 'tickets' that look a lot like what you'd get from a code's department and start citing people for growing inedibles in their front yards. Here's a ticket for growing grass with no apparent ruminants, goats, sheep, etc., Without that livestock, grass is as useless as any noxious weed, at best holding the soil down.

Since I'm not really ready to add a ruminant to our stable of pets, I plan to replace as much of my lawn as possible with salad.

And I finally got my tomatoes treated with anti-fungal. I think I learned a valuable lesson about that, actually.

Last year I had terrible problems with disease in my tomatoes, and I first blamed a spotty treatment plan. I didn't hit the plants anywhere near every seven to ten days like I meant to. But looking at my dial & spray applicator this spring, I realized that I may not have applied any anti-fungal at all last year. I couldn't get the thing to flow at all and after trying to get it cleaned up enough to work (it had dried up Ortho in it), I bought a new one and couldn't believe the difference. You can actually see the stuff in the water when it's on the 1 tablespoon setting I use for the tomatoes.

So last year, when I thought I was treating with anti-fungal, I was probably just getting the leaves wet and creating a playground for the various blights that attack tomato plants.

I did make a super effort to clean the applicator this evening. I'm not sure I ever did with my old one, and I got it at least four years ago.

I hit the hops and grapes with it, too, better safe than sorry. Those are both crops, the hops for sure, that are highly vulnerable. I wouldn't think spraying the stuff on mushroom crops would be wise, but other than that, this far from harvest, why not?

I found I was out of bug spray, something I only grudgingly started to use last year after losing a second entire crop of cucumbers to gray beetles and the diseases they carry. I have several varieties of cukes planted this year, I need to get something to protect them from the six-legged beasts.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for 'organic' gardening, and my general attitude is to plant enough to take care of the pests along with yourself, but when you get an entire crop wiped out fast, it just sucks.

Plus, at least I know what I have treated things with and when, that's not really something you know when you buy produce. Even that 'organic' stuff, who knows that cheats may have been resorted to?