Sunday, March 21, 2010

You Know You're A Gardening Nerd When...

You get really excited about free zoo poo!!

That's right folks, one of the big highlights of my week was picking up three truck loads of zoo poo. I work for a small nonprofit in North Portland called Village Gardens. We work in two low-income neighborhoods to empower leaders in the community through gardening and other programming. We've been trying to find an affordable way to get some fertilizer on our gardens, so I was really excited when my Master Gardener class announced that the zoo would be giving away free poo!

We drove down to the zoo on a rainy day, and there were huge piles of hot composted poo. As the front end loader shoveled into it, the piles steamed into the cold gray air. It was a good consistency - looked like it had been composted with straw and wood chips - and didn't smell bad at all.

That afternoon, I had the garden club kids help unload it into the garden. They actually got really into it, and had so much fun mixing it into the soil in our raised beds. Occasionally they would yell out, "I just found a big chunk of lion poo!" Or "Here's some elephant!!" It was awesome. I loved it because it was free, because we were reusing some unexpected materials, and because it will help make our gardens fertile and productive this year. Win win win. We also got on the zoo's list to be contacted in summer when they have more zoo poo ready. Perfect for a little side dressing on our corn.

I should note that we've been really enjoying this whole "zoo poo" thing. We've been keeping a tally of how many times we say "zoo poo" in a single meeting. A tradition at Village Gardens is to start all of our community meetings with a check-in question that everyone answers. Last week, our check-in question was "If you could be any kind of zoo poo, what kind would you be?" hehe. I love my job.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March One Small Change Update

Well, we are midway through March, and my change is going well. I cut up an old t-shirt to use as "family cloth" and I love it! So soft and it cleans well. Occasionally I just forget and use toilet paper, but that doesn't happen often.

As far as using my vintage hankies to blow my nose on... I haven't had much occasion to use them! I haven't been sick and I don't have allergies, and I haven't cried much this month. :)  I did use them a couple times at the beginning of the month. At first I felt weird blowing my nose on such pretty, delicate fabric - but hey, useful things can be pretty too, right? And they are super easy to launder, along with my cut up t-shirt squares.

A couple challenges I've run into: Sometiems I don't have enough of my t-shirt cloths to last me til the next laundry day. I could of course easily solve this by cutting up another shirt. The more major challenge is this: I'm moving at the end of the month. My boyfriend N and I are currently renting the finished attic of a house, and we have our own half bath upstairs. Thus the other members of the house aren't subjected to our weird toilet rituals, including the family cloth and "if it's yellow let it mellow." I'm moving because N is doing a six-month farm internship about 2 hours away from here, and I need to live somewhere cheaper. So the new house is smaller, and has only one bathroom. I met the roommates on Craigslist, and while they seem concerned with environmental issues, I was too embarrassed to bring any of this up.... We'll see how it goes.

There are really good things about this house though, and these are a big part of the reason I chose it.
1) It is small. There will be 3, sometimes 4 people living there, and I'm excited to share the small space. Small means less heating and lighting, less building materials that went into the house, etc. etc. I've been obsessed with Tumbleweed Tiny Houses for several years, so moving into a smaller house is a step in the right direction for me!
2) The owners have spent the last three years fixing up the house, and installing all energy efficient appliances: washer and dryer, fridge, dishwasher, etc. Woohoo! A big change from my current house.
3) There are chickens!! Five of them. I've been wanting chickens, but since I move around so much I didn't think it was really feasible. I'm so excited to move into a house that already has them, and to try my hand at caring for small livestock.
4) The backyard is sunny and has two big garden beds, with room for more. My current house is shaded by two immense Doug Fir trees, and only has a small area suitable for gardening. I'm so excited to get in there and plant a big veggie garden! There's also a compost pile already going. My current house has a worm compost bin, and I love that. I would want to set up one at the new house, but I have a feeling that the chickens will probably eat a lot of my kitchen scraps.

So overall, I think this move will be a positive one environmentally, even if I do wimp out and stop using the family cloth.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Coffee Cozy

I'll admit it, I haven't been knitting or crocheting much lately. Unless I have a specific project in mind, I have a hard time shelling out the money for nice yarn. And I know that I don't really need a new sweater or scarf or whatever. So my needles have been sitting idle.

Then a couple days ago, I saw N wrapping his french press in a towel to keep it warm. He doesn't do this every day, since he usually drinks his coffee immediately. However, it gave me the perfect excuse to whip up a quick project with some stash yarn.

I just single crocheted until the piece was long enough to cover the glass portion of the french press. Then I added some buttons out of my button jar, and it was complete! Voila! French press cozy in about 20 minutes. Please don't judge me for not weaving in the ends. N likes things to look a little rough, and I gladly accept the excuse, because I secretly despise weaving in the ends!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekend Adventures

We've been having some great warm weather and sunny days here in Portland lately. Of course I've been a little worried that spring is coming too early, that we might get a hard freeze and everything would die, that global warming is making crazy things happen. All of these things might be true, but being a Southwestern sunshine-loving girl, I am just grinning and soaking up every minute of it. Riding my bike is fun again!

And so I've been having some fun pedal-powered outings. Last weekend N and I set off for Kelley Point Park, a nice 8 mile jaunt from our house. It was an interesting ride... Partly through the Columbia Slough/wetlands, and partly on the side of crazy industrial high-speed roads. That's just how North Portland is. It was my first time out to Kelley Point, and it was definitely interesting...

We walked along the little beach at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.

We could see Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens really clearly. We could also see ship yards and industrial waste.

There were a lot of cormorants.

We had a delicious picnic lunch on the beach. Homemade bread and egg salad open face sandwiches with arugula from the garden. Yum!

Of course no walk on the beach would be complete without a little monkey business from N.
Striking his best Lewis & Clark pose.
Here's hoping for some more outdoor adventures this weekend! What are your plans?