Tag Archives: recycling

We finally hung the sign on our #BeanHouse. 🌱

Did you read about our #BeanHouse?

I was able to get some matte clear-coat spray this week and hit the sign a few times, although this stuff seemed to soak up the paint like a sponge.  We just used some particleboard from an old dresser drawer.  It was the perfect size.  I did the marker & colored the beans, the rest was all Molly.

Molly also got a tomato plant  from her Grandma BB, so we planted it right out front.  We tried the fork trick there too to deter bunnies, but if I remember right they’re not huge fans of tomatoes.  You never know what else is out & around either.

We also put out some organic bloodmeal to provide nutrients and hopefully deter critters.   Molly reminded me to put down grass clippings because they hold moisture.

I was thinking about putting out some cinnamon to keep the rabbits away too.  I just saw that coffee grounds keep away snails.  Do you have any other tips & tricks that seem to have worked for you in the past?  We did use garlic clips last year.  They seemed to work, but we did have a few incidents of snacking on our peppers.

No beans sprouting yet, but our Spanish onions just popped from seeds we planted a while ago.

Outdoor Gardening Fun With a #BeanHouse. 🌱

So, I dig gardening. (Get it?)  I have passed that on (so far) to my oldest child, and the little one really likes playing in the dirt.  I also enjoy doing things with the kids that are not only fun, but that allow me to sneak in some learning.

Today we set up a Bean House.  What’s a bean house?  I don’t know. That’s what my daughter wanted to call it & it’s really the most appropriate title.  We got the idea from a friend’s Facebook wall with instructions for a bean den and a willow den.

Basically, we built a play house that will act as a trellis for a (hopefully) vining bean plant.  I started with an area that had already been cleared thanks to a pile of brush that was recently removed.  Speaking of that brush that I have recently cleared form our jungle of a back yard; I grabbed 4 rather large branches with a “Y” shape, cut them to roughly the same length with the chainsaw, and sharpened the bottoms.  I dug some holes with a small gardening shovel and drove the posts in as far as I could, mounding up some dirt around each pole.  I used some gardening wire to secure four branches across the top for a nice little cube-ish frame.

Then, I let the munchkins “help” while I secured several smaller sticks across the top, down along the sides, and across the sides.  At one point we ran low on sticks, so I used some old wooden and bamboo tomato stakes.  The wooden stakes seemed to really help make the rest of the structure stable because I could really pound them into the ground well.  To secure everything, I used some newly purchased garden wire, and whatever twine and garden wire that we had leftover from previous years’ gardening adventures.

The top is a thatched mess of “wonky” branches that are woven together to provide slightly more shade than the sides, but will still be open for the growing vines.  My shelter would probably make Survivorman Les Stroud hang his head in shame, but it’s better than most of the shelters on Naked and Afraid.

The wife and little guy helped water the mounds so I could pack them down, and then I mounded dirt all around every post & they helped do the same.  Then we mulched the mound with grass clippings & packed it down again.

Finally I dug some holes for the pre-soaked Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds (beans?) around the base of the entire structure, and the whole family helped put in the seed-starter potting soil mix, the seeds, and some more dirt & mulch in place.  We placed some plastic forks facing outward all around the seeds at the base of the thing to hopefully help ward off the local overpopulation of rabbits.  I may try some additional deterrent like bloodmeal.

Later indoors, we found some other stuff and made a sign to hang once I get a coat or two of clear coat on it.

While we put it up, we talked about enjoying outside, building things, growing things, recycling and up-cycling, sunshine, water, and everything.  We talked about how grass clippings act like a mulch that holds moisture for the plants.  We talked about how the fertilizer and Miracle-Gro in the water acts like vitamins for the plants… vitamins like the one’s we’ll get from eating the beans.  I’m sure we’ll have discussions in the future about patience, including our little brother, and not knocking the bean house over.

My wife and I have always tried to talk to the kids with the same respect we’d give other adults.  We don’t use small words.  We explain things as best we can, encourage and answer questions.  I’m continually amazed at the observations that our daughter makes in conversation, and through our son’s actions that show an understanding of exactly what is going on.

If you’re reading this and are a parent, I ask you to narrate to your kids what you’re doing & why when you do an activity together.  You may think they’re too little to get it, but they’re constantly absorbing what you’re doing.

This is a great way to get into all kinds of stuff like gardening, up-cycling/recycling, food not lawns, urban farming, and striving to pass on the importance of such things as knowing how to grow food to your kids.  I’m excited to plant some tomatoes, peppers, and try a few new things this year.  I love going outside and seeing vegetable plants in the summer.  I love the smell of the dirt and growing plants.  I hope to pass this on and that the kids love it too.

All-in, I paid around $10 for the seeds, wire, & fertilizer.  Everything else we had here on hand or could have probably found easily for free.

Please, enjoy some photos and share some in the comments if you build your own!

American Community Survey?

OK, so you may have read my earlier rant about the census.  This is a continuation of that.  I think.

As a follow up to that…  We filled out & mailed tn the census, then someone came knocking on our door informing us that we didn’t in fact fill out the census and return it in time.  My wife ended up answering all their questions a second time.

As to why I think this a continuation of this census malarkey… the pattern of insanity is the same.  A week or so ago, we got a letter in the mail warning us that a follow up survey to the census was coming, and that we’re obligated by law to fill out this survey.  We received the American Community Survey.  The FAQ pamphlet accompanying the survey evokes Title 13, U.S Code, Sections 141 and 193 – and it goes on to say “Title 13, as changed by Title 18, imposes a penalty for not responding”.  How “land of the free” does that sound?

The scary part is that the pamphlet later says “We may combine your answers with information that you gave other agencies to enhance the statistical use of these data.”  Other agencies? Like the IRS?  Are you going to make sure all my numbers match up?  Is this a lead-in to an audit?

The survey itself actually contains the word “Negro” in the race section.  It says “Black, African Am., Negro” and it only says “White” not caucasian or European or aryan or any other dumb name.  I thought “Negro” was offensive as of the 80’s.  Why doe sit matter if I’m of Hispanic origin?  Why doesn’t it ask then & there if I’m Swedish, or French, or Irish, or Indian, or Hungarian,  or Italian, or Arabic?

Why does it matter how I get to work?  Why do they need to know how many people are in my car on the way to work?  Am I going to be forced to carpool, or pay a “driving alone to work” tax?  Why do they need my work address, or my wife’s work address, or how much we make a year?  Shouldn’t the government already know that?

Did my neighbors get this?  The data for everyone on this street would be totally and wholly different from ours.  I’m not a great representation of the overall neighborhood.

Next time, will we include fingerprints and a hair follicle or cheek swab for DNA cataloging?

I call shenanigans on the whole thing.  It’s a ludicrous waste of money and resources.  In addition to the plethora of  reminders and follow-ups to the original census…  I got the warning letter for this survey, and accompanying the survey itself was a letter (that mentioned that we already should have received a letter about the letter we are reading), a 16-page “guide” on how to fill out the survey, a glossy “FAQ” brochure, and the return envelope.

In case I went over it too fast just now… I’d like to just focus on this one thing for a moment.

We got a letter (we’ll call it letter 1) telling us that a survey was coming and that we were obligated by law to fill it out.  Then, we got the survey along with another letter (we’ll call it letter 2) telling us that we should have gotten a letter telling us that the survey was coming, and explaining that the big fold-over in the envelope that says “American Community Survey” is a survey that we need to fill out, expressing that it’s required by law.

I’m sure well get  a follow up letter (if I get it, I’ll call it letter 3) saying that we should have received a survey and by now filled it out, as required by law.  This just sounds like something that belongs in a Monty Python sketch.

Through the magic of the internet, I have found all of the pieces…

arrow Materials Included in ACS Mailings

Ah, I may also get a reminder card.  I forgot about the reminder card.

I have a hard time believing that I’m going to benefit in any way from this survey, but I’m guessing only time will tell.

I didn’t forget.  There was a guide that accompanied the survey.  I’m guessing that if I couldn’t understand the questions in the survey… the guide’s not going to help me out all that much.  I’d love to meet the think-tank that comes up with this brilliance.  You know it’s a committee or group… no one person would or could be responsible for this kind of crap on their own.  Poking around their website, it appears that a shocking amount of time and research has been dedicated to this task.

How are the tree-huggers not all over this wasteful paper usage?  I mean, the waste here offends me… and I’m still not convinced that recycling is all that efficient in the first place.  I mean, there is a reason to conserve what resources we have, and make sure that when they’re used  it’s somewhat necessary.  (A letter telling you that you’re going to get a survey, a letter saying you should have already received a letter and that you now have in your possession a survey, and a letter saying that you’ve already received a survey that you should have filled out would all be unnecessary in my book.)

Is this all just a ploy to keep the Post Office in business?

I just may have to write to some politicians and ask about all the waste associated with this whole thing.  In the past I’ve heard from Gov. Ed. Rendell and Senator Wayne Fontana.  Maybe I’ll have to reach out to them again with my concerns.

I need to collect my thoughts & start sending letters to people in the government to let them know what I think.  Will it do any good?  Probably not, using the redundancy and bureaucracy of the census surveys as an example.  At the end of the day it may make me feel better if nothing else, as I’m still able to speak my mind.

The more I see/read the word census, the more it sounds like senseless.

Cut out the paper waste for a second, and think just about the time wasted.  If you did this kind of crap at work, can you imagine what your superiors would have to say about your productivity and efficiency?  Yet, we accept this from the government.

Hey Gilligan,

This is an email to say that I’m going to send you an email to ask you a question.

Hello again Gilligan,

This is the email where I’m going to ask the question.  You should have already received the email where I told you that I was going to ask you a question.

The question is: Do you like coconuts?

The Skipper wants an answer, he’ll be mad if you don’t tell us.  If we knew if you liked coconuts, it might help Mary Ann in preparing dinner.  We know you’ve already talked to the Professor about island cuisine, so we may factor that into our decision.

Dear Gilligan,

I have sent you an email asking about your thoughts on coconuts, the Skipper wanted us to remind you that you were already supposed to have answered the coconut question.

Now.  How ridiculous is that?

Oh well, it’s late… I’ve jumped all over the map and page with this as I’ve searched the internet for these documents and more questions and what not, and feel that I’m losing coherence… not that I definitely have any in the first place.  I’m lost in all the letters about other letters about other letters about other letters  Maybe I need to write blogs telling you that I’m going to write blogs, then write a reminder blog that I wrote a blog.