April 2015 Garden Tour

I figured it was time for a photo tour of the garden. It’s all pretty brown right now, but we just got a nice soaking rain, so thing should speed up quickly, even with cool temperatures forecasted much of this next week.

This is the view looking at the front of the house from the street. Not pictured (would have been in the immediate foreground) is a bed between sidewalk and street – which all my neighbors seem to think is illegal – planted to snap peas. The bed in the foreground has one rhubarb crown in it and will be planted with the gooseberries and raspberries when they arrive.

DSC_0943 Read the rest of this entry »


Hiking the Monches segment of the Ice Age Trail

For those not familiar with it, the Ice Age Trail, it is one of the longer hiking trails in the United States, though it is not yet finished. The total 1200 mile route (yes, Wisconsin is that big!) runs up and down many of the best geological features from the last Ice Age (hence the name), so there’s a lot of going in and out of glacial-formed hills, valleys, and whatnot. The marked sections currently stand at 600 miles, so most people refer to the trail by its segments.

In the past we’ve done most of our hikes at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, which includes a section of the Ice Age Trail, but the Alchemist (rightly so!) wanted to hike somewhere different. A friend of ours, who’s hiked a goodly portion of the marked segments, recommended the Monches segment.

Like many of the segments we’ve done, the glacial features let you see many distinct biomes in just a few short miles. The goblins only lasted 1.8 miles (a bit disappointing, as I know they can do longer) before we turned around, but in that short span we went from a hardwood forest (predominately oak, with some aspen and beech) into a lovely riparian zone, followed by a wetland that featured some insanely loud frogs even in the mid-afternoon.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking:

April 2015 Zoo Trip

Last Thursday was the Alchemist’s birthday. Originally she’d had an important meeting at work scheduled that day that got cancelled last-minute, so she took a half day and we surprised the kids with a trip to the zoo. We have a zoo pass, so we get there often, but the weather that day was particularly fantastic – especially for April!

I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, however.

10 Questions with The Goblin Chief

Just a quick not to say I’m featured in 1500 Days’ periodic interview series “10 Questions” today.

Go over and check it out!

Liberation of Creativity

writing graphic 01

I’m finding a nice groove lately now that I’ve returned to my fiction regularly. When my mind journeys through the Grey Empire, I find many other facets of life fall into place: finding time to cook, homeschool, and garden. Paradoxically, all of these become easier when writing is on my brain. Despite the time “cost” to writing, the other parts of my job as a Radical Homemaker are a well-deserved break. A pause to let my brain catch up. A time to let the voices in my head (characters, not schizophrenia, honest!) inspire me. And, of course, to appreciate how ridiculously awesome doing this “job” is.

Being creative is the best way to find out who you are. The ego stands apart from the world. We don’t know exactly how it become self-aware, but somehow there is an “I”, an agent, which emerges from the collective genetic, sensory, and other stimuli. A sum far greater than its parts.

Yet much of the modern world is all about destroying that agency. Governments want their citizens to act predictably as economic agents. Industry wants easily instructable peons to serve as cogs. Marketers want to tell you what “you” want. It’s very easy to slip away, let the walls of the self erode, and become a passive consumer.

When you create, even if you never share it, you are doing something. The self is flowing from inwards-to-outwards, instead of the reverse path in passive consumption. Drawing fairies, whittling wood, planting flowers, cooking without a recipe, or writing might not seem that powerful a thing but it is incredibly powerful – a kind of mental self-defense.

The hope of all creatives, of course, is to move beyond that foundation. To create something that itself is consumed, inspires others, or changes the world in broad cultural, scientific, or political ways. But the foundation is key.

You have to create.


Just do it.

Garden Quest 2015 #005 – March Garden Journal

TGC garden April 15

March this year brought an unusual spell of very warm weather (60s-70s) for long enough time to thaw the ground in one cycle. It got me out in the garden tilling and sowing quite early, then promptly had a hard frost for a week. Now we’re back into seasonal temperatures (highs in 40s-50s, lows in 20s-30s). My garden prep of existing beds is complete. My prep of new beds is about 75% done, so I’m way ahead of where I thought I’d be at the beginning of April. This is a good thing!

References to bed numbers will make sense if you look at this post.

  • 3-2-15 – sowed broccoli (purple peacock, arcadia from 2014; packman (new 2015), kale (nero di toscana), chard (perpetual (2014 seed)
  • 3-3-15 – Am told that ~40 paste tomato plants should provide enough yield for a year.
  • 3-11-15 – Having an extended warm spell. Hoping that the soil will be diggable soon (some of the yard is quite bare, but still frozen. Made a site map and garden plan for the year.
  • 3-12-15 – Did spring clean up. Can’t chop up leaves as mower pull string was chewed off by squirrels. Sowed Space Spinach in SW perennial bed and part of bed 19.
  • 3-14-15 – Transplanted 2-3-15 tray of Galilee into bed 17. Bed 17 further planted with Sugar Daddy and Space. S end of 19 planted in either Space or Mesclun; S end 19.5 spinach.
  • 3-18-15Finished digging beds 22, 23; Sowed with cover crops.
  • 3-19-15 – Dug bed 24. Marked rows for peas. Soil a bit cold to plant (about 39F).
  • 3-20-15 – Decided to go ahead and sow peas in 24. Soil is cold but not sodden. Dug most of bed 1, freshened beds 15-16. Note: I think Paw Paw seedlings would go well in bed 8, which still needs to be dug.
  • 3-28-15 – Hard freeze for much of this past week.
  • 3-30-15 – Return of milder weather. Dug bed 1 and started bed 12. Tulips emerged.
  • 3-31-15Going to take tray of broccoli, kale, and chard out to begin hardening off. Sowed (indoors) basil (aroma, sweet), kohlrabi (kossack), tomato (sungold, mariana, opalka, cosmonaut volkov), and ground cherries.

In April I should be able to get some more in the ground, and my sowings of peas, spinach, and lettuce should sprout any day now. Which means I need to get on my plan to build a fence, as pushing the season so early just asks for catastrophic animal damage. I will be able to reasonably rabbit proof a large section of the garden. The non-fenced areas will still need to have some bunny crops in it unfortunately, but I’ll try and use that space mainly for non-edibles like potatoes, tomatoes, curcurbits, and thorny perennials.