Concretions Rock! (really cool rocks.)

Concretions

My neighbor has the coolest rock garden.  They aren’t really rocks but to me they are so beautiful.  They are perfectly round and come in sizes from very large to very small.

Growing up in the North end of Columbus, Ohio I saw my very 1st concretions at an impressionable young age.  When the shale riverbanks and nearby hills of the Olentangy river were disrupted to build the I270 outer belt, many concretions were unearthed.  Because of the hardness the bulldozers didn’t destroy them and ended up dumping them in piles (still visible today if you know where to look)  Apparently my neighbor found a few on a work site and brought them home. 

It truly amazes me when we find something natural that is so perfectly ordered and sculptured like crystals and concretions.  Aren’t things supposed to be random in nature?  Aren’t things supposed to fall apart over time?  I appreciate natural things that visually challenge our arrogant tendency to simplify nature.  Obviously these aren’t just ordinary rocks.

Concretion

Concretion

Concretion w/ cell phone for size perspective

Concretion w/ cell phone for size perspective

Cute little concretion

Cute little concretion

Concretion

Concretion

From Wikipedia.org “Concretions”

A concretion is a volume of sedimentary rock in which a mineral cement fills the porosity (i.e. the spaces between the sediment grains). Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape, although irregular shapes also occur. The word ‘concretion’ is derived from the Latin con meaning ‘together’ and cresceremeaning ‘to grow’. Concretions form within layers of sedimentary strata that have already been deposited. They usually form early in the burial history of the sediment, before the rest of the sediment is hardened into rock. This concretionary cement often makes the concretion harder and more resistant to weathering than the host stratum.

Enjoy!

Grow your own Garlic!

We live in a truly amazing time and in a truly amazing country.  I can go one mile from my house to multiple stores and get a banana from South America, a crab from Alaska, a pineapple from Hawaii and some caviar from Russia.  OK I admit that I have never actually done this but I could if I needed or wanted to.  But……   I believe there is a downside to this.

I was at “Big Box Store X” admiring a jar containing a “years supply” of fresh garlic that was clean, looked fresh and was already peeled and ready for use.  The price was amazing and it just about went in my cart until I saw that it was “Grown in China”   I stopped in my tracks.  “Grown in China?”  How can fresh garlic be grown in China, peeled and packed fresh in a jar, shipped to the US (Two Months later) trucked to central Ohio and sold to me for an amazingly low price?  It doesn’t make sense and seems too good to be true.  I don’t need or want my garlic to come from China.

We don’t need  the Chinese to grow our garlic anymore than we need them to drive our kids to school.  (too random?)

I am of the opinion that fresh garlic should be grown in our yards.  I have grown garlic and it isn’t hard.  It basically takes two seasons (garlic is a biennial crop) to get a nice (smallish  but potent) head of garlic.  During the two years the garlic tops can be cut sparingly and used as a fresh herb.  When ready you pluck the plant from the ground and…..

  1.  Hang it up to dry in a cool dry place for future use.
  2.  Share it or trade it with friends for the funky new pepper they grew this year (and now have a bushel of)
  3. Preserve it by pickling it. (my daughter’s favorite)
  4. Cook It
  5. Or leave it in the ground until you need it!

So where do you get garlic seed?  You already have it.  Just take a whole head of garlic (it’s in the grocery produce section), break it into cloves (don’t peel it) and put the garlic cloves in the ground.  It likes a well drained soil and doesn’t need to be watered all the time.  Legend has it that it like to be near roses and roses like it too. 

So Grow your own!  We don’t really benefit from investing the world’s resources into something that we can easily do ourselves!

Check out the website of  Slow Food. (see my links) Its a great place to see the big picture of the real price we pay for cheap food.  Go Local!!!!

Also, if this concept of local food makes sense to you then you might be interested in the short movie “story of stuff” which explains the view that the cheap prices we pay are far below the real cost of producing things.  The hidden costs include nasty things like pollution, child or low wage labor and environmental distress.  You can find the film at:   www.storyofstuff.com     It is a 20+ minute video so make some popcorn and invite your TV mates to join you.

I will now step off of my soap box and resume blogging! Thanks for listening.

 

Appalachian Trail

Another dream of mine is to hike the Appalachia Trail (the AT) all the way from Georgia to Maine.

My oldest daughter talks about joining me on this adventure

 

AT Sign in the Smokies

AT Sign in the Smokies

I have vicariously walked the AT several times by following hikers through their blogs on trail journals  www.trailjournals.com

Each year in February I pick several hikers and follow their updates as they proceed up the trail.  The trick is to pick people that are likely to make the whole hike and keep up with their journals.  Several times I have been “stranded” when my hiker    just quit journaling.  I’ll never know whether they made it or not.

My all time favorite was a guy from Cincinnati who went by the trail name “Big Red”

Each year I reread Bill Bryson’s A “Walk in the Woods” which details his humorous attempt to hike the whole AT.  It is one funny book and well worth the read.

I don’t know when I will start my AT hike.  At one point several years ago I was out of work and scared my wife half to death by starting to talk seriously about taking time off to hike the AT.  With two kids at home and no income her fears were likely well founded.

Big Read AT 02'

Big Read AT 02'

I’m dreaming of a wood fired brick oven!

Its Friday night and my friends, neighbors & family start arriving.  Some are carrying cheese, others veggies or maybe a bottle of wine.  They head for the back yard where a wood oven’s tall brick chimney scents the air slightly with wood smoke.  In my chef hat, I am using a large wooden peel to pull a nicely browned and wonderful looking pizza out of the heat and place it on the table.  My lovely wife is stretching out some more dough while friends decorate the next oven bound pie. The evening continues until everyone is content and the fire dies down.  What a great way to spend time together.

This is my dream!

A wood fired brick oven can be either indoors, outdoors or mobile.  Usually made out of brick, concrete or other ceramic materials, the oven is loaded up with wood and ignited or “fired” for several hours to thoroughly heat up.   When ready, anything that can be roasted or baked and that fits inside the oven can be cooked.  When cooking a whole meal the 1st items are those requiring the hottest temperatures.  Other dishes are cooked later as the oven cools down.  For pizzas the oven can be used for hours when fired properly.

The brick oven that I dream about will be in my own back yard and built with the help of friends.  I have been a member of the “Wood Fired brick Oven” group on yahoo  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/brick-oven/   for awhile.   This group discusses all aspects of building and using brick ovens in infinite detail.  Members coach, teach, encourage and even help other members design and build their dream stove.

To “try before you buy” or just exercise your curiosity, eat dinner at a Bertucci’s restaurant.  Inside you will see a working wood fired oven used to cook meals.  They will also give your kids a piece of dough to shape and then bake it for them.  or…..   see if there is a historical farm site near you that has a working open hearth kitchen.

Pre-cycling – Reduce before use

We all know that to cut the volume of trash we send to the landfill each of us needs to re-use or re-cycle items that we would normally discard.  Another question is….. How would we cut down on the amount of materials that we need to re-cycle?  

I have noticed when looking in my re-cycle bin that most if not all of the items are some sort of packaging.  To cut down on packaging we do have options but they require us changing our behavior.  Consider….

1) If I take a ceramic coffee cup or water glass to work then I won’t need to use a new styrofoam cup each time I need a drink.  I bet most of us have been doing this for a long time.

2) Another easy one is carrying cloth bags to the store to avoid needing disposable plastic bags to carry our stuff home.   I bet many of us are trying to make this a habit and feel bad when we arrive at the check-out and realize our cloth bags were left in the car or at home.

By planning ahead we can avoid the need to use a new styrofoam cup or new plastic grocery bag.  We are already pre-cycling these items by never using them in the first place.

Now for xtreme pre-cycling…

1) Have you ever day dreamed that when you pull up to the ocassional fast food place you could hand them a plate and a cup and avoid using their excessive wasteful packaging?  Of course another pre-cycle solution to this problem is too plan ahead and take a picnic meal with you instead of needing the fast food at all.  I am a pro-picnic kind of guy!!!

2) How about shopping at farmer’s markets where items aren’t overly packaged in the 1st place? Or joining ( or starting) a food / supplies co-op so you can buy in bulk (less packaging) and break it into smaller amounts for each member’s use. 

3) Ever consider making a really big serving of your favorite food and packing it into meal sized portions for freezing, sharing with friends or supporting an elderly or hungry neighbor?  I cringe at how much leftover food we throw. 

What other ways can we avoid wasted packaging by planning ahead?

Cabbage Addict

In Shanghai scanning breakfast items from around the world and I chose Cabbage.  Day after day I chose the fried chinese cabbage.  My name is Thomas and I am addicted to cabbage.  Why you ask??

Cabbage is Economical

Good cabbage is available year round for less than fifty cents a pound.  It lasts forever in the fridge or in a root cellar.  It can be the entire meal served as an appetizer (egg roll filling), salad (cole slaw), vegetable (chopped and fried in a little sesame oil) or main dish (cabbage rolls or steamed with corned beef or other meat)  I am not sure about dessert…..

Cabbage is Versatile & Nutritious

Just like Forrest Gump’s shrimp, there are a thousand ways to cook cabbage.  Fried, boiled, slawed, krauted, kim chee’d, wrapped, rolled or boiled.  I bet you could eat cabbage everyday and never eat the same dish twice.  Cabbage has fiber, antioxidants & very few calories.

Cabbage is Tasty

I know you might doubt that fried cabbage for breakfast is very inspiring but I encourage you to try it.   Chop up a head of cabbage and store it in a large tupperware in the fridge.  Before each meal think of a way to incorporate this fantastic vegetable into you meal.

And no I don’t work for the cabbage council.

Inniswood Metro Garden, Columbus Ohio

Inniswood Metro Garden

1 mile from our house is a wonderful walking destination Columbus’s Inniswood Metro Garden. Join me on a quik tour of Inniswood.

Poverty

Often Poverty is assumed to mean a sustained lack of money.  A short term lack of money doesn’t mean you’re in poverty it just means your broke. 

To avoid material poverty we need a sustained stream of income that matches our spending.  What about other types of poverty?  Can we thrive with a sustained lack of time? A sustained lack of wellness? A sustained lack of inner peace and meaning?  I believe we can suffer from poverty of time, health and spirit too.

A Poverty of Time

Sitting in the airport on a snowy day frantically barking into a cell phone while juggling a notebook PC on her lap and sipping Starbucks from a lipstick stained cup. The screen saver on her notebook computer shows two little girls (hers) with their daddy (her ex) enjoying a picnic at the shore.

What are we trading our life for?  Did I get life value from the last hour?    What is it that is worth the next 5 years of my life?

A Poverty of Wellness

Gasping for air and sweating profusely yet climbing the last ten stairs to sit on a bench and “enjoy” a cigarette.

Allowing lunch choices to be limited to the selections in the office candy machine and 15 minutes spent in the company of email.

Using the days’ allotted strength to navigate through 12 layers of phone system robo talk in hopes of hearing that the health plan you paid for at work will cover the escalating prescription costs.

Our health is one thing that we truly appreciate more after we lose it. When it is gone and we finally have time to lay in bed thinking about our choices, will we be happy?

A Poverty of Spirit

How can a re-run TV show hold such power over me that I can’t turn it off and give my child my full loving attention?

I know my friend is moving and really needs help this weekend but I think I will wait to Friday to commit in case something better comes along.

Thank heavens I had this hour in Church to get tomorrow planned out in my head.

My Goal

My own goal is to have a life of sustained wellness and spirit with time beyond work to live deeply with others and meet needs beyond my own.  To accomplish this I need to withdraw from my addiction to security and self.

Animal Friends

Pictures of my friends pets. I love animals and love to meet new ones.

Mother Earth Harvest Festival at Spoutwood Farm

* An incredible gathering of people celebrating the Fall harvest.
* Pet the sheep and watch as the wool is spun into yarn and knit into a hat
* Enjoy cheese crafted locally from small herds
* Tour a small batch bio diesel production lab where used deep fryer oil is transormed into usable fuel for diesel cars.
* Sit and enjoy concerts on the outdoor stage
* Tour the straw bale cabin
* Eat a variety of festival foods as well as whole and healthy foods.
* Watch demonstrations of post and beam construction with traditionl had tools
* Tour the share gardens used to support the farm.
* Visit the night sky observatory