Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't Forget Earth Hour Tonight!

Tonight at 8:30 p.m. your local time, turn off all of your lights and unplug all of your nonessential appliances. Unplug your coffee pot, microwave, TV, DVD player, sound system. Charging your cell phone or iPod? Unplug 'em for this hour. Unplug everything you can. Go off the grid until 9:30!

So what do you do in the dark for an hour, especially if you're in a cold climate like us? If you live in a city, especially near a downtown area with lots of skyscrapers, go outside. It could be really cool to see your city's landmark buildings go dark for this simple, hour-long call to action on global climate change. Last year's news coverage had great photos of places like Paris, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas dimming their normally well-lit recognizable buildings. It was moving.

Live in the country? Go outside and watch the sky.

Don't want to go outside? Maybe a candlelit dinner is for you. Or flashlight tag. Or snuggling under a blanket. I'm sure you can think of something.

For more information about Earth Hour, go to

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's Alive!

It happens every year. Mild mid-March weather tricks us into believing that spring has arrived. Then winter blasts back in to remind us that we may have weeks of cold temperatures yet. Today, for instance, is the first day of spring (Happy Spring, everybody!), but we awoke to a world of gray and white. It's snowing! And it's really cold out there! And yet, the garden is alive!

Leaf buds on our baby apple trees—they overwintered in the garage successfully!
Yesterday, on the other hand, was a work-in-the-yard kind of day. The wind was chilly, but the sun was warm. No jacket or hat necessary, just jeans and long sleeves. It was marvelous. A few years ago, I might have been hopeful—and foolish—enough to start planting my vegetable garden on a day such as yesterday. But I've lived here long enough to know better. Instead, we did some yard maintenance. Churning up the soil where I plan to plant the veggies later... Stirring the compost...

We had quite a bit of garden-ready compost in the bottom of the bin, so we reorganized it—put a piece of wood down the middle of the bin to divide in two, keeping the soil-like material on one side, and all the still somewhat recognizable other stuff on the other side. Now we can dump scraps into one side and allow one side to fully decompose. Then, we'll shovel the ready stuff into the garden and start dumping scraps on the now-empty side, allowing the other side to sit and rot (so to speak). It should be good cycle. I'll let you know how it works out.

In the meantime, let's get excited for winter to really go away so we can really get the garden started. I have big plans! (Just like last year, but hopefully I have learned a few things after last year's minor successes and many failures.) More garden posts to come, of course.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First Bicycle Commute of 2010

Because we have only one car, and public transportation in the suburbs is mostly useful only for getting to the city, we rely a lot on our bikes or our own two legs when we must be in two different places at once. Even though it has been cold (oh, so cold), I've been walking a lot lately. I'd just rather not navigate the snowy and icy sidewalks on a bike. But the temperature topped 40 today!

So, I set my little bicycle taillight a-flashing, donned one of the fabulous headlamps we got for Christmas (because, until Daylight Savings Time, it's still dark when I get off the train in the evening), and I biked home from the train station!

It was great to be back on two wheels again, if only for 20 minutes. I can't wait for even warmer weather and longer days so we can do some serious biking.

One note: 40 degrees—or perhaps the upper 30s by this time of the evening—will not freeze your face off, but it is still cold!  Remember to wear gloves; my hands were burnin'!