Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Getting the garden ready - with MANURE!

The garden is laid out, the beds are tilled, and now it's time to add the manure!

Debra wouldn't let me put manure in the back of her Element. I promised to put down a blue tarp, but she didn't care. So I had to get a hitch and a U-Haul trailer.



It took me awhile to figure out where to get the manure. I was using the Google and the technology, and having no luck. Then when I was riding a lap on the BWI trail last weekend, there it was. Right under my nose the whole time. It's at the county park with the horses by Linwhatever Middle School. They were glad to get rid of the manure, and loaded it up for me with a front loader. Awesome.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Return of Madame Goat

Madame Goat got bored at home, so she came back. She likes Monkey, I think. They chased each other around the yard awhile. They are buddies. That's not how I expected this to work.

After awhile, Madame Goat came up to the back door.



I let her in. She ate a leaf off my houseplant.



Then she came in more.



She visited the kitchen.



I let her out the front door.



I think it's time to send Madame Goat home and close the gate.

Howard County Living - Whippet vs. Goat

We had a visitor today.



As soon as Monkey saw the goat, he went nuts and charged out of the dog door to defend the homestead. The goat was nonplussed, and continued nibbling on my rose bushes.



Eventually the goat decided to come inside the yard, maybe to get better access to the roses. Monkey was very annoyed. He would charge at the goat barking his head off, and then run and hide behind the Element.



The goat was not taking any guff from Monkey.



I eventually grabbed the goat by the collar and walked him home.

Being cuter than the goat, Max was not concerned.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Max goes to Ohio to visit relatives

Last week I took Max to Ohio to visit his relatives.

He got to meet his grandpa.



And his great-aunt Peggy and great-uncle Jake.



And Aunt Mandy.



He met Aunt Amy and Aunt Kate, but I forgot to get pictures.

And all his cousins: Elle, Nate, Katie, Trey, and Ethan.



And he got to meet his cousin Harry, even though Harry refused to pose with everyone else and hid under the table instead.



Not that Harry minds being photographed.



Little kids should know better to make funny faces when Uncle Drew wants to take a picture. In just a couple years he'll be in school, and some girl in his class is going to have a crush on him, and he'll give her Uncle Drew's instant message address so she'll bug Uncle Drew instead of him, and she will ask if Uncle Drew has any pictures of him, and Uncle Drew will send her the one where he was making funny faces when he was six, and she'll show it to all her classmates, and then he'll be really really mad.

Trey was.

I brought Monkey with me, but nobody noticed.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Big bird update

The birds are onto my feeders big time now.

Here's the view from my big chair. I can see all the action.



In the background is the swamp. It's the floodplain of Deep Run, and it's part of Patapsco Valley State Park. In this picture it's flooded.

Instead of making a blog entry every day to describe the birds I see, I decided to make a Google spreadsheet with the daily sighting. You can click the "Bird sightings" link on the left side of the page to see it.

Debra my wife does not appreciate birds much. She said she would like it if I printed out some pictures of what birds came to the feeder so she could learn which ones are which. Instead I made a Google word document with pictures from the Cornell Ornithology Lab, and links to their species description page. To see that document, click the link to "Debra's Bird Guide".

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bird Feeder Report

The feeders have been discovered. This morning we have:
cardinal
mockingbird
red-bellied woodpecker
house sparrow
white-throated sparrow
slate-colored junco
Carolina chickadee

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bird Feeder Report

I have witnessed the first bird coming to my bird feeders just now.

It was a Carolina wren! Who would have thought! It grabbed some millet off the stone.

Papa cardinal is hanging out, but he's eating hosta seeds. There's also a blue jay in the bushes, a robin in the tree and a mockingbird stirring up trouble.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bat Boy!

Max got dressed up for Hallowe'en! He's a bat!



Debra found him a bat costume online. It is soooo cute.

Max went to her office Hallowe'en party, where they all decorated their cubicles and brought in their kids.



This was very entertaining. Max was pretty tuckered out after an afternoon of partying.

Domesticity

Since I am staying home and taking care of Max while Debra is at work, I have decided to make an attempt at cooking meals and having a proper sit-down dinner, which has never happened much before.

So on Tuesday night I grilled some delicious salmon. Debra (who generally is sort of a vegetarian and dislikes fish, especially salmon) ate some and was happy. I was encouraged.

On Wednesday night, I made some fresh tortellini with red sauce from the jar (fancy red sauce she got at Fresh Fields, not Ragu). I set the table with plates and silverware and glasses. Debra ate that and was happy. I was very encouraged, except when I was cleaning the table I discovered the glass I set out for her was unused. She was drinking from a glass she got herself. I pointed it out to her. It seems the concept of place settings has been alien to our home for so long she thought it was just a dirty glass that had been sitting on the table.

On Thursday night, I went all out. I actually cooked a classic family recipe and told Debra it was a surprise. She immediately became very suspicious and said she was not eating anything that had canned tuna and canned cream of mushroom soup in it.



I told her she should think about the things she likes and not worry so much about what might be in there that she doesn't like. She forgot about the Velveeta.

Anyway, she wouldn't touch it, and made her own noodles with cottage cheese.

Max is still cute.



He likes the dog a lot. If you sit him down on the bed, the dog will lie down next to him, close enough so that Max can see him. Then Max will furiously try to crawl over and touch the dog. It's pretty funny, except I feel bad for him that he can't move.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Home with Max

Debra went back to work Tuesday, and now I am staying home with Max Tuesday through Friday for the rest of the year.

Here it is Thursday, and it is the first time I have been able to make a blog entry because I am awake and Max is not. This is harder than I thought it would be.

To prepare for my time home, I have set up bird feeders so I can watch the birds. First there is a nice platform feeder my friend Steve made as a mental health project. It has sunflower seeds and some millet scattered on the platform.



The well is not functional, so don't be alarmed that it will be contaminated by bird poop.

Next, I got some cylinder feeders. One has sunflower seeds and the other has thistle seeds ("Nyjer (tm)").



And I attached a suet feeder to the tree at the far end of the yard and put in some peanut butter suet.



I also scattered some millet on the ground by the pump.



And I turned the cat food bin into the bird food bin, and placed it conveniently near the feeders.



I did all this on Sunday morning. So far there have been no birds. It's not that there aren't tons of birds around. I hear lots of white-throated sparrows in the brush outside the fence. I saw mama cardinal in a tree not 20 yards from the feeders. The woodpecker continues to fly to and from the pine tree next to the shed every morning and evening. But nobody has come to the feeders.

Actually today (Thursday) there was a visitor. It was a squirrel. I immediately activated the anti-squirrel defenses. Monkey leaped off the couch, bounded out the front door, looked over at the squirrel, and bounded back inside where it was warm.

We also have at long last received our patio furniture for the screened porch. The patio furniture entailed lengthy debate and discussion, first about what it should be made of (wood? aluminum? wicker?) and then what the upholstery should be. I am delighted with my excellent choices and Debra has acceded to them without too lengthy a negotiation.



From the porch, you have an excellent view of the bird feeders. If it weren't so cold I would be sitting out on the chair watching the birds that are not there.

My final and most coolest project for the enjoyment of nature I just got off e-Bay from Mike's Hunting and Critter Supplies. It's a bat box!



Here is the view from the roof by the bat box. I bet there are lots of bats out there. They should be very happy in my bat box, because they can swoop right out and eat all the mosquitoes in the swamp.



And best of all, you can see the bat box from Max's bed.



Max is going to like bats because they are his friends who eat bugs.

My sister Kate and her family came to meet Max on Sunday. Here is my brother-in-law Brian and my nephew Harry and my niece Elle.



It is a pernicious lie that Elle was named after a magazine at the obstetrician's.

It was nice to have Kate visit because she will take pictures that I wouldn't. I am not a prideful person, and I wouldn't go showing off my insanely fabulous and outrageously desirable Brill Luxus 38 Push Reel Mower.



But Kate will document coolness where she finds it.

We talked Harry into taking a ride in the bike trailer, since Max is too small and Monkey is too big.



Harry really liked it, but he was very trepidatious at first.

(I just downloaded Firefox 2, and it has an annoying spell-checker that draws a little red line under "trepidatious". Spell checkers will be the death of the English language.)

Max is still cute.



He really likes his swingy chair.



The swingy chair puts him right to sleep.

Here he is with Hip-hop Harry.



When he's in the swingy chair, Max gets this expression like he is the cock-of-the-walk all-powerful commander of the universe. He's so cute.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Commute Report - The Trike

I rode the trike (Inspired Cycle Engineering Trice S) to work on my normal commute route, and home on the scenic route up the lovely 15% Gun Rd. This is a good comparison to see how the trike compares with my regular bike, a Cobrabike Royale carbon front-wheel-drive low racer.

I've got the trike all set the way I want it now.



I cannibalized the Rotor Crank and Candys off the T-Bone. The 63 tooth chain ring was from the Royale before I went to a Dual Drive to get the high gear. The chain is a new Wipperman Connex stainless steel deal, also taken off the T-Bone. The front derailleur is from the parts box, and the shifter is a new X.9 from the bike shop.



I've got 63/44/30 for the chainrings. According to Sheldon, this gives me 10 to 115 gear inches. If I don't use the small chain ring, I have 15-115. Part of the ride up Gun Rd. was to see if I really need the small chain ring. I don't. I had no problems staying in the middle ring. Also the chain drags on the bottom of the derailleur on the small ring, and furthermore, it voids the warranty on the Rohloff. It's too much bother to take it off, though. Maybe I can modify an old derailleur, and it will come in handy when pulling the baby trailer.



I put a new LED taillight on the trunk rack, which is not on the bike. Because of the wide spread of the chain rings, I replaced the Rohloff chain tensioner with my broken SRAM X.0 derailleur, which is held in the right position by three zip-ties. What kind of recumbent doesn't have zip-ties? I have my doubts about whether these ICE guys know what they are doing. There was only one or two zip-ties on the whole bike when I got it.

So how did it do comapared with the Cobrabike? The Cobrabike only weighs 23 lbs, with a DualDrive and a Ti Rotor crank (13-122 gear inches) . I'm afraid to weigh the trike.

So here is the ride to work. It's 10.1 miles and 620 feet of climb.


My last two rides on the Royale averaged 36:36 for a speed of 16.6 mph.
Today on the trike: 46:28 for 13.1 mph.

Here's the scenic route home. This is mostly so I can enjoy Gun Rd, which is the little hill at mile 13.5. This route is approximately 17 miles and 1300 feet of climb. I call it the scenic route because it goes up every available hill.



My last two rides on the Royale averaged 1:06:28 for a speed of 15.25 mph.
Today on the trike: 1:22:24 for 12.4 mph.

So I would say the trike is quite good for getting more workout per mile...