New Blog ~a MUST Read

It has been a long a weary-making day here, and I can guaran-damn-tee you that you don't wanna hear about it. So, let me instead direct you to two bloggers who are rocking my world and moving me to tears. It is not lighter reading, but well worth checking out

First, go check out TellItLikeItIs , I swear to Gia it is one one of the best blogs I have yet come across, possibly one of the best sites on the web period. At the risk of sounding terribly corny, let me say that this site gives me hope. Perhaps it is not even 'hope', Derrick Jensen makes a compeling argument against hope , per se. Let me say, then, that I am motivated and moved to action by this site, spurred on by the compelling writing, in depth research, and thoughtful and engaging perspectives on nearly every issue related to sustainability `and so much more!. So check it out.
Also, check this recent piece by Tuco. One of the latest in a long line of amazing, poetic and powerful observations about the world, it says so much of what I have wanted to say, but could not find the words for. Tuco has found the words, and delivered them with such terrible beauty it has been haunting me since I first read it.

Your regularly scheduled chronicles of bikes, and others cycles of sustainability, will resume soon


Going Local

The ducklings are doing, well, just ducky. When grown, they will eradicate slugs in the garden, while producing the most amazing fertilizer on the planet, and eggs to boot. The more I research issues around sustainability, food miles, and so on, the more I recognize the importance and value of growing my own food, and poultry is an invaluable tool in doing so.

I have been thinking, and reading, a lot of late about fossil fuel use and climate change, and among the things becoming starkly clear to me is that utility cycling, although critically important, is not enough. Gardening and Food Miles are inextricably linked to issues of fossil fuel use and, there for, sustainability. Utility cycling is an essential part of living sustainably; but it is not, in itself, a complete solution to all sustainability issues. Cycling to the Mall to buy highly packaged consumer items trucked in from thousands of miles away –or cycling to a national food chain to buy over-packaged, highly processed food trucked in from thousands of miles away-- does not support the needs of a finite planet. That is why this blog “cycles” through a number of issues related to living sustainability, most frequently: transportation, food miles, and organics/permaculture.

According to World Watch Institue, food sold in U.S. supermarkets travels over 1,500 miles from farm to plate (in some cases 4000 miles). Increasingly, even certified organic produce is grown on vast monoculture spreads, often overseas, and too often those food mile result in the burning of literally tons of fossil fuel, as well as the release of millions of pounds of carbon into the air.

An average meal uses 17 times more petroleum products than one made from entirely local ingredients, leading some to argue that local trumps organic. Certainly, when one considers the pollution and the global warming caused by the transportation of commercial food; the loss of nutrients during weeks on the road en route to the supermarket; the loss of plant varieties and biodiversity as growers select for “ship-ability” over all other considerations, including taste; and the ascendancy of corporate agribusiness over family farms, it becomes clear that a diet of local, organic food is the clear choice.

But can one eat well without buying chemically-altered foods picked and packaged three weeks ago by exploited migrant farm workers and marketed by giant international corporations for huge profits? An increasing number of coinscious epicourious folk are proving the answer to be a resounding "YES". Local eating has been called "the next organics," and human-scale economics is poised to take on agribusiness in perhaps the only way that has real hope of success: the bottom line. The vote-with-your-fork-and-pocketbook theme of today's personally responsible politics is evolving naturally into the trend of "loca-vores," concerned culinary adventurers who base their diets on foods grown within 100 miles of their home.

The trend, which has been dubd 'The Hundred-Mile Diet', hints not only at a more ecologically sustainable way to eat and drink, but also points to a deeper shift --an actual change in life patterns. Coordinating the rhythms of our lives, and eating patterns, with those of the seasons, offers us the opportunity for a greater sense of connection to this land, a sense of place, and also opens up avenues for community with the farmers who grow our food, and the independent business people with make up our local economy. Perhaps Alice Waters said it best: "Knowing where your food comes from can change your life . . . finding and eating local foods connects us deeply and sensually with where are and why the everyday choices we make about food are the most important choices we make"

For myself, I have opted to think in terms of my bioregion, rather than the “100 Mile Diet”. I heartily congratulate, support and applaud those who choose to feast on the bounty grown within 100 miles of their home, I also recognize that supplementing the immediately local food that comes from my garden with the cornucopia at the local farmers at the market and co-ops allows me to forge connections with local farmers in my community, to support my local economy, and gives me just enough flexibility and variety to avoid falling off the wagon all together.

Prior to “going local” I had been a strict vegan (and I am still a stubborn vegetarian) but I am becoming aware of the myriad ways in which the standard vegan diet is propped up by globalization: as a vegan I ate mangos, bananas, dates and other produce from distant continents, as well as highly packaged specialty foodstuffs that plagued the planet with packaging as well as food miles. My only concern was that they were organic, never mind that they were shipped in from thousands and thousands of miles away. Doubtless there are ways in which I might have made my being vegan “lower impact” on the planet, and that is a major point: being conscious and fully present in out food choices is essential if we are to creat truely sustainable lives.

This new consciousness brings with it some quandaries, for example, eggs: Where did their feed come from (shipped in from a million miles away?)? Was the feed genetically modified? Were the conditions the hens were kept in humane? Was the animal "improved" with a biomedical soup of hormones, stimulants, antibiotics? Oy! All these coices and it's only breakfast!

In my case, I choose to keep my own poultry, fed on insects and veggies from my garden, supplemented with locally grown, human grade organic grains. This meets not only my desire for eggs from compassionately kept, organically fed poultry, but also my commitment to permaculture gardening. The chickens and ducks become part of an interdependent system as they eat up the pests, convert them into the best fertilizer on earth (which they also distribute onto the garden), and even help turn up the beds for planting.

Local eating is much more an adventure than it is a hair-shirt exercise in environmental extremism. Everyone assumes we are subsisting on an spartan and bland diet, but in fact it has been wonderfully interesting to discover new flavors and recipes. This evening the Boy and I had personal pizzas for dinner, made with garden veggies, local cheese and Naan bread baked at the northern edge of our bioregion. Had we wanted to avoid wheat, as some folks do, we might have had a stirfry of all local ingredients, or French Ratatoulle; or Cheesesy Eggplant casserole, the possibilities are endless

A friend of mine pipes up with a good natured challenge “ok, it's the middle of winter in Oregon, what are you gonna make for dinner if you are limited to ingredients from this bioregion?”

“Spinach and Endive Salad with Fried Goat Cheese
Creamy Parsnip Broccoli Soup
Braised Winter Lentils with Thyme & Garlic
Oven Baked Butternut Squash with Gee
Roasted Pears with Beet Sugar and Ginger

But only if you are coming to dinner, my dear”



Guess this is why they say 'Dont count your ducklings before they hatch'

It seemed like such a great idea at the time . . .

Of course, thats how the recounting of nearly every misadventure I have ever survived begins. In this case, the seemingly good idea was a home school science project: hatching duck eggs in an incubator. A month later, the main thing we have learned is that a Styrofoam box is a very poor substitute for a mama duck.

Our first attempt was thwarted when the incubator over-heated and roasted the half dozen fertile duck eggs a week or so into the project. TAKE TWO: we relocated the incubator, experimented a bit more with heat settings, and loaded it with 10 eggs. We were hoping to end up with 3 ducks, and we knew that in order to make sure wound up with at least a couple girls we would have to shoot for more than that, and I knew we would doubtless have a couple culls, still, with TEN EGGS I wondered what I would do with the extras.

For three weeks the Boy and I carefully monitored the eggs: regulating the temperature, turning them every 4 hours round the clock, candling them to chart their progress and make sure they were still developing. One-by-one, eggs went bad for one reason or another, until there were only 6, of which we were only hopeful about a couple. The first one hatched , but had not absorbed the yolk, and died almost immediately. This happened just before the Boy went for one of his irregularly scheduled visitations with his dad on Saturday. What a wretched send off!

Thing 152,000 I hate about getting divorced: not being able to count on the Boy being here for sacred and mundane moments. The second duckling hatched on Monday with little difficulty (although it took forever!) in the Boys absence. After a month's lead up, and one tragedy, he missed the first healthy hatching. grrr. Happily, the Boy was welcomed home by a fluffy and very alive duckling, and was here for the second, and last, "live hatch" today --and theres no worries about what to do with the extras. We try to focus on the positive, even if we don't always succeed

They are are adorable to an extreme that defies description, and the older one, nic-named "Seven" for the number on her egg shell, has been a solicitous and nurturing "big sister" from the moment the younger one arrived (we are hoping that "she" is a she, or that at least one of them is, because duck eggs are so lovely). 'Seven's' displays of effection include sitting on top of her sisters head, just hoping the little one survives all the affection, the little one is still a bit weak and flimsey. We tried seperating them, by placing the younger on in a tuperwear "isolation unit" within the incubator, but seven kept scrambling in and landing on our patient, which we figured was more dangerous than just letting them cuddle. Hope she can beath under her sister's fluffy butt . Will post photos soon.

A Few Resonable Alternatives

It has been bought to my attention that there are areas of this country that have neither co-ops nor farmers markets. As someone who lives in a city with three co-ops and over 6 farmers markets I just cant wrap my brain around that concept. But if you have the misfortune of living in one of these areas without basic services, here are some options

Start a Buyers Club, outfits such as Mountain Peoples offer members of the public the option of ordering direct and receiving not only a discount, but home delivery as well. You and some friends and or family get together and order from a catalog chalk full of organic, GM free foods from a catalog that offers prices below what you will find in stores (though not as low as actual wholesale) You call in your order and they deliver it to a designated address (one of the members homes) as part of their regular wholesale deliveries. Most have a minimum order, say $500 per order. Some families find that they spend that much themselves, others go in with one or more other families. Here is a link to a site who can help you find resources for a food club supplier in you are.

Join A CSA
(community Supported Agriculture) farm. CSAs offer "shares" in the seasons bounty, your share entitles you to weekly deliveries of fresh, seasonal organic produce during the growing season. Heres a link to get you started

Demand better from your local store
. Quite simply, retail stores, including grocery stores, are in the business of serving you. When I moved into this house 4 years ago, the Conventional grocery store down the street carried three organic items: milk, eggs and rice milk. Today they have organic options in almost every category. Thats what relentless pressure from single-minded, belligerent mamas will get you. Insist on getting what you want, when I would go in there for eggs and found that they were out of the organic eggs I would grab an employee and ask for the organic eggs --were there more in back??-- if they had none I refused to by the conventional ones. I made sure they knew that, and knew why. It works.

Grow your Own
. Easier than you think, more satisfying than you can imagine.


My Favorite Quote Anywhere on The Net

I came across it quite a while back, and was reminded of it while watching End of Suberbia this evening. It is one of my very favorite quotes of all time, it comes from the MinusCar Project blog (link in the sidebar)

"I believe people that think that the globe is warming because of human activity, specifically carbon emitting human activity, might be right. Because I think they might be right, I think humans need to change. And because I think humans need to change, I think I need to change."

hopefully, he and I are not the only ones who feel this way


Two Years, Five Continents, Zero Emissions

People will tell you that your dreams are too far fetched, just as they will tell you that daily life, let alone travel to far flung places, requires planes, trains, and automobiles. Just shows how wrong some people can be.

Tim Harvey hasn't burned ANY fossil fuels, or caused ANY carbon emissions, in over TWO YEARS!! He has accomplished this while circumnavigating our planet. In an effort to raise awareness about global climate change and promote a greener future, Tim Harvey and friends are attempting to circle the globe, Vancouver to Vancouver(B.C.) on his bike, supplemented with any other means of travel that doesn't result in burning oil, gas, or coal. He has rowed across the Bering Strait survived frostbite on the Siberian tundra, armed melita in Columbia, and rough seas on the Atlantic on his way around the globe. He has seen some of the most beautiful places on Earth, and met with kindred spirits around the world. He's made it to the last leg of the tour, pedaling with his brother and another friend into Mexico on his way back to Vancouver.

He has a weblog chronicles his harrowing stories is replete with incredible photos and humor, heres a brief excerpt:

"It began as a dream to adventure by zero-emission means: Vancouver to Moscow by human power. The dream then grew - to circle the world without fossil fuels. It is taking over two years, on a route across five continents and two oceans, an epic of frostbite, blizzards, bandits and high seas storms. Now on the home stretch, journalist-filmmaker Tim Harvey brings you along as he slogs for a cause - a greener future where all of us burn fewer fossil fuels."

So, the next time someone tells you that you cant get there by bike, or that the route to your dream is too far, refer them to Tim ~and remember,you can get there from here.

What's Cookin

I feel like I have been giving the garden short shrift, in terms of posting and chronicling, which is a shame given all the amazing and magical stuff happening out there. Someone asked me today what I had planned for the evening meal, which reminded me that I had intended to post some "from the garden" recipes here, so here you go:

Fettuccine with Mixed Garden Vegetables and Parmesan
Sounds complicated and labor intensive, but isn't:

I chopped a sweet pepper and put it in a cast iron pan in the oven to roast while I brought a pot of water to boil on the stovetop. I added chopped baby carrots and broccoli to the water, then added the pasta, towards the end of the boiling time I also added peas. I drained the pasts and veggies together, removed the pan of peppers from the oven and put it stove top. Into this pan I tossed the pasta and veggies with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. One quick, easy meal with all the essential food groups and no food miles.

Just about any combination of veggies would do: spinach, shredded zuccini, even squash blossems. If I had had some on hand, I might have added portobello mushrooms, but it was mighty taisty just as it was. mmmn


The Boy's Campaign Against GM Foods

Yesterday the Boy and I headed over to the farmers market to pick up some fresh produce and drop off some baked good to one of the vendors with whom I barter. The market is hosted by Peoples, a local food co-op, and while there we noticed that the co-op would also be hosting an ice cream social with a talk by Jeffery Smith that evening.

Smith was speaking the dangers of Genetically Engineered foods. Many have questioned why it is that while consumers in Europe have the right to know through labeling which foods contain GM ingredients and thus to make an informed choice consumers in the United States, purportedly the bastion of freedom, democracy and the "free market" in the world are denied this same right. Polls indicate that the great majority of Americans who are aware of the issue want labels. Attempts to accomplish some kind of labeling have repeatedly been rebuffed due to tremendous opposition from biotech cooperations, which fear loss of sales if people know. In 2002 Oregon tried and failed to pass just such a labeling initiative. The campaign cited big money and misinformation propagated by biotech as contributing to the defeat.

Despite biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe, Internal FDA documents made public from a lawsuit, reveal that agency scientists warned that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify. Although they urged their superiors to require long-term tests on each GM variety prior to approval, the political appointees at the agency, including a former attorney for Monsanto, overrode the scientist's concerns. Manufacturer can introduce a GM food without informing the government or consumers. A January 2001 report from an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada said it was "scientifically unjustifiable" to presume that GM foods are safe. Likewise, a 2002 report by the UK's Royal Society said that genetic modification "could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods," and recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies.

A growing body of scientific research demonstrates the dangers of GM foods. One study showed evidence of damage to the immune system and vital organs, and a potentially pre-cancerous condition.12-13 When the scientist tried to alert the public about these alarming discoveries, he lost his job and was silenced with threats of a lawsuit. Two other studies also showed evidence of a potentially pre-cancerous condition. The other seven studies, which were superficial in their design, were not designed to identify these details. In an unpublished study, laboratory rats fed a GM crop developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks. The crop was approved without further tests.

In a now infamous scandal involving Monsanto, Fox news reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were fired from the Florida station they worked at, for refusing to weaken their story regarding rBGH or Bovine Growth Hormone. The BGH Scandals--The Incredible Story of Jane Akre & Steve Wilson recounts how Akre and Wilson rewrote the story 83 times in an attempt to mollify a threatening Monsanto, the new Fox station manager Dave Boylan and Fox attorneys yet remain truthful at the same time. They won a "landmark whistle blower lawsuit" against the station and were awarded $425,000 in damages. However, Fox appealed and prevailed February 14, 2003 when the jury decision was reversed on a legal technicality: the appeals court agreed with Fox that it is technically not against any law, rule or regulation to deliberately distort the news on television.

The Boy and I have been trying to avoid GM ingredients, and increasingly difficult task. One of Smith's major points is that if it's not labled "Organic", it's not food (not safe food, anyway)
One of the few non-organic food treats I have allowed The Boy is Freschetta pizza. Now that I am aware of how severe the dangers of GM ingredients are, especially to children, and of the fact that one must assume that packaged foods have GM ingredients unless otherwise labeled, I don't want to allow him to have it. A second point that Smith makes is that the public wields a great deal of pressure in their purchasesing power. We literally vote with our wallets. Knowing that companies in Europe bowed to public pressure, the Boy wants to bring similar pressure to bare with the makers of Freschetta, and he wants your help!

Please contact Freschetta and ask that they commit to using only non-GM ingredients, and that they put that commitment in writing and on their packages. You can find sample letters, as well as more information on the dangers of GM food at this link

307 West College Dr. Marshall MN, 56258
email link
1 866 373 7243

More on the 4% solution:

I found a cool site designed to help you calculate you savings and possitive environmental impact in using various alternative forms of transportation. My one critisism is that they give you a flat number of calories burned per mile in cycling, obviously, variable such as terraign (hills, etc), wind resistance, your own weight, etc. your results will vary. Still, it can fun to plug in the distance of your trip and other details, and get some idea of the good you are doing by not driving.

The sites calculations are based on:

* $0.73 per mile cost of driving private vehicle (Based on 2005 AAA formula using June 2006 gas prices)
* 152 calories burned per 20 minute mile (3 mph) Walking
* 36 calories burned per mile (12 mph) Biking
* 0.0512 pounds carbon monoxide emissions (posionous gas) produced by private vehicle per mile


Peak Oil and Why Bikes Will Save the Earth

I have found a new blog (well, more accuratly, a new blog found me) and I am in rapture. Tuco ROCKS! Great writing, great insight, and oh-my-freakin-goddess, he commutes, by bike, between Toronto and Oshawa (in Canada) --thats, like, 3 hours people! Thats commitment! Thats a wheel revolution!
So, now I am reading his blog from the begining, and this one post (link below) was just too cool and timely to pass up. Read it and weep, or cheer, either way: heres one more reason we will all be commuting by bike soon, like it or not

The story of a bike and a stubborn cyclist: Peak Oil and Why Bikes Will Save the Earth

New Bike Buddies Program!

Just came across this amazing new on
The long awaited Bike Buddy program has just been officially launched here in my home town, by local non-profit neighborhood community organization by Southeast Uplift.

Modeled after similar programs in other states, the Bike Buddy Program will match experienced bicyclists with people who would like to bike more but feel a need for guidance, mentoring, or just strength in numbers. Bike Buddies will learn the best routes around town, the safest ways to cross the river, and other tips to make riding more safe and enjoyable

This program will be a tremendous resource for less confident bicyclists, and those who wish to be cyclist, but find the process of getting started daunting. At present, the plan is start the program in a limited area, conduct evaluations, then secure funding to take the project citywide. By this time next year we could have Bike Buddies in every neighborhood across our fair city! You can bet that could reduce Portlands oil use by 4%!!


The 4% Solution

So, I have been thinking about this Prudhoe Bay pipeline thing again, it's all over the news, what are you gonna do, right? So, according to The News Hour, the oil carried by the pipeline represents 2% of US oil consumption, so the pipelines closeing means a 2% deficit. What if we were to harken back to Good Old American Know-How, our great national Can-do Spirit, and our legendary ability to make-do and make our own? What if we were to rise to the occasion and live within our means, as it were, by reducing our oil consumption accordingly?

The US Department of Transportation estimates that the average American drives 300 miles per week: So, say thats you, and say you replaced 12 of those miles with some other means of transportation: bus, bike, trolley, subway, skateboard, roller skates, what have you. Say you and your friends, family and co-workers joined forces to carpool to work, school and other events; and even occasionally skiped a trip all together. Stay home and have a game night with the family; garden; talk to your neighbors over the fence, rather than going out to be 'entertained'. Not every day, just enough to shave 12 or so miles off your drive time? That would be an approximate 4% reduction from a 300 mile week.

The vast majority of car trips are under 10 miles, so for someone who adds 300 miles to their odometer each week, replacing two, maybe three car trips with some alternative transportation would doubtless do it. You might bike or bus to work one day each week, or run a few fewer errands; you might plan and combine trips to eleminate mileage.

The Boy and I have started doing one big shopping trip, in a car, each month. We buy all our staples and non-perishable foods, filling a couple 2 or 3 of shopping carts to the point of overflowing, this allows us to eliminate several small shopping trips during the month. Our fresh produce comes either from the garden, or from the local farmers market, neither of which require a car. The round trip to the store takes the same amount of gas whether we are buying 1 item or 100 items. By filling a car to capacity with all our non-perishable food stuffs in one well planned trip we get it over with and don't have to do it again for a month. I know for a fact that doing this has reduced our car mileage by far more than 12 miles a week (though we were never a 300 mile a week family).

What if everybody did their own version of this, in a way that made sense for their life? What if all of us reduced our car mileage by 4%? That would compensate for two pipeline closures! Or compensate for the one pipeline and those few folks who cant be bothered. What if we didnt let the fact that some few folks could not be bothered deter us from doing the right and responsible thing?
Now that would be great American Know-how! That would be an epic example of what truely makes this country great. That would give our country a long over-due reason to be proud.
Are you up to the challenge. patriot?

A Social Experiment in Going Car-light for a Month

Interesting, juxtaposed as it was against the story about the Prudhoe Bay field pipeline spill and subsequent closure, sending wholesale oil prices closer to $100 per barrel and heralding the possibility of oil shortages; as well as the story about how this was the hottest year on record, increasing concerns about global warming.

After "utility Cycling" for nearly 9 months there are ways in which one month seems like one small step for mankind, and yet it is exciting to see others getting on the appropriate transportation bandwagon in such an organized and public way. Apparently there was a big kick off event July 6th, that I completely missed and didn't even hear about till now, with Portland Mayor Tom Potter and other local luminaries, at which folks dropped their car keys in a lock box and committed to using alternative forms of transportation. The Mayor was quoted as saying "We wanted to show people it's easier than you think to live in or near the city and not drive a car. So much of what you need on a daily basis in our city is within a short walk, bike ride or trip on TriMet (local mass transit)."

I have to admit that I was disappointed to learn that this 'social experiment' was not actually a car-free challenge: although folks did give up their personal family cars, this "Low Car Diet" also included use of Flexcar (corporate sponsor of the event) for the month. Participants were given 25 hours of free Flexcar rental to use during the month (but were not limited to that), as well as a monthly TriMet transit pass, one round trip ticket to Seattle or Eugene on Amtrak, and transportation information designed to make their month-long car "diet" more enjoyable

I guess I can see the argument both way: if you make it a complete and total car-free challenge, you risk having fewer people sign on (this one month "low Car" plan had fewer than 24 participants), and yet, if you include car use, you reinforce the notion that cars are necessary for daily life. They are not.

It was delightful to hear the enthusiasm in the voices of several of the participants who where interviewed for the story, two of whom are considering selling one or more of their cars. One of the participants had tallied up the cost of operating and maintaining his car, including gas, insurance, etc and found it was adding up to over $600 each month. Commuting by bike costs, on average, $300 annually (although I have come nowhere near that amount yet)

Portland is the number one bicycling city in the U.S. according to Bicycling Magazine, and I was encouraged to learn that the City of Portland has launched a campaign to become a "Platinum" rated city by the League of American Bicyclists -- a world-class bicycling city. I was intrigued to learn that we also have the highest obesity rate of any city west of the Rockies, suggesting to me that we ride bikes, but do not --as a city-- rely on them

Living without a car is not only good for your wallet operating and maintaining a commuter bike costs less than 50 cents per mile), it's also very beneficial to air quality: vehicle exhaust is the leading source of smog-producing chemicals and several toxic air pollutants including benzene and formaldehyde. In addition to the social and community benefits, cycling is one of the most effective ways of combating obesity, and one of the few that allows you to accomplish tasks and run errands while doing it. The average cyclist looses 13 pounds in their first year.
I'm just sayin . . .


Burried in a Bounty from the Garden

I know it's wrong to boast, I do. It's not my intention to brag, but when one comes in from the garden baring the kind bounty I brought into mine this evening. Well, surely I can be forgiven just a bit of crowing?

I have been struggling all season with keeping up with the weeding, and thus learning the hard way how important it is to keep up with the weeding. Failing to do so was making my harvests disappointingly small and infrequent, as I have been catching up the yields have improved, and this evening when I went out: oh what a bounty! Bushels of fingerling potatoes, heaps of carrots and parsnips, a dizzying array of heirloom tomatoes, and gorgeous sweet peppers, even the ample proportions of my beautiful new garden trug were challenged to hold it all!

It was all so wonderful I just had to include as many as possible in tonights meal. The Boy and are recovering from being up late at the LAN party, and are schedules are out of whack, so we had a late super of wild rice roasted root vegetables in maple syrup --a delecacy that I normally only make at holidays. The tomatoes and peppers will be used to make pasta sauce, we are still experimenting with recipes

The Boy is not as excited as I am about the veggie bonanza, when I called in from the garden to announce the bounty, he responded in the most delightfully droll little deadpan. “I'm happy for you.” He's funny, that son of mine. But I had the last laugh when I dished up a nice big helping of veggies!

read The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering

As you may know, I basically never promote or endorse any products or consumer items on this blog, especially if they are not bike related. But there is a first time for everything

One of the few good things about having stayed up late chaparoneing that god-awful LAN party is that I was listening to NPR in the wee hours of the morning when a local author of an amazing little book was interviewed, and the book read on the air.

The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, by Sharon Mehdi is a unique and inspirational story of how changing the world can start with the smallest, individual action. It has become a regional phenomenon, galvanizing readers with its hopeful message of small actions that can make the world a better place.

Mehdi wrote the story as a gift to her newborn granddaughter, she never expected it to be embraced so warmly in her home town in Souther Oregon. Sharing the story with friends, she discovered each one found it so powerful and moving that they, in turn, wanted to share it with the world. So the ripples went out,and now I want to share it with you

My message is even more simpl read it. I promise you will be glad you did

Weekend Update, or what passes for it

With some luck, I will be getting the generator out of an old junker VW van that, with some more luck I will be able to use with a bike to generate electricity (with a setup similar to the set-up in the photo, though mine would be mobile) and possibly bike-powered smoothies. The person I need to make the arrangements with is a bit of a flake,but I remain hopeful. More info on the one in the photo can be found at

My dear sweet amazing son had his heart set on attending a LAN Party this weekend, had been looking forward to it for weeks. For the uninitiated, LAN is an acronym for Local Area Network, which is a way of connecting multiple computers together so they can communicate freely with one another, thus allowing people to play head-to-head with each other, meet the gamers they're playing against, try out many different games at one sitting, learn more about various computer systems, and -if you are a pre-teen- an opportunity to establish your street creds as a cool dude. The parties go all night, sometimes for days.

One of the things I have learned in my meny years of parenting is that it is not enough to trust one's own kid: one must consider those they are surrounded and outnumbered by. I have the greatest kid ever, with a great head on his shoulders, so I had relative confidence that it would all be cool; still I felt that the Boy (who is 11 years old) ought to be accompanied by a parent, and since his father had other plans for his Saturday night, I found myself drafted for a sleepover in a warehouse with a bunch of folks half my age.

At first I was playing it cool, checking in on the festivities periodically while maintaining a low profile and trying not to do anything to adversely effect my son's 'cool quotient'. As the night wore on, and things began to unravel, I found myself wondering what the parents of these other kids were thinking. A surprising number of the attendees were underage, and near as I could tell I was the only parent there. By the time we bailed, around 3am, the Boy had inadvertently visited one grossly inappropriate web site, viewed part of one inappropriate film (they had movies projected onto one wall) and, mean while, many controlled substances had been ingested by various other attendees to the event. Did the parents of these kids even care what was going on?

I don't know how I will handle situations like this when the Boy is a teenager, but I am pretty sure that I will not take the cavalier, "anything goes" approach the parents of these kids seem to take. I am encouraged by the fact that the Boy wanted to leave every bit as much as I did, had decided none of these kids were cool, and in fact was the one who alerted me to some of what was going on. I can only hope we will have this kind of relationship when he is 17. For the moment I am simply grateful to have the Boy here at home with me.

Today we went out for breakfast (something we had planned to do as part of the LAN party), then went to see a "Over The Hedge: at the local second run theater. As we left the theater, the Boy said "This was a good day. Way more fun than a LAN party!"
I love my kid.