Saturday, October 20, 2012

Making hugelkulturs

I have spent a couple days laying around reading and sleeping too much.
We have been planning what projects we are going to start in the yard, more planning than action. Although there was good progress made on one of my epic holes in the ground. Kate was helping me dig too.

In March I started a hugelkultur garden in one far corner of the backyard. I made eleven garden beds using this permaculture method pioneered by Sep Holzer, a famous Austrian farmer.
Hugelkultur basically means "hill culture". The process is simple. You dig a hole throw logs, branches, then leaves and other organic things in covering them with a hill of dirt and compost. The theory is that the logs hold water decomposing slowly releasing nitrogen. The later layers decompose more swiftly making the bed a viable growing area immediately and continually without much effort.

The original plan has twenty of these hugelkulturs, the yard is already spotted with them front and back. There are many more planned in different areas. The established beds are flourishing late into the season still. We have more basil and green bell peppers than we know what to do with. We planted five pineapple tops that have grown quite large and are companion planted with marigolds that always have seven monarch butterflies lazily flying and hopping between them.

We have a lot of plans for the yard. There is a spot cleared for the planting of an orchard. Spots for the pecan tree, neem tree, and olive tree we have to find to plant. We are going to build a little pond using Sepp's technique. A garden patio/ outdoor cooking/ hang out space has been outlined with brick in the middle of the backyard. It will be covered with a steel frame structure on which will grow grapes and fragrant climbing flowers. Dad is planning to have a couple well placed palm trees to set it off.

There are very exciting plans for a little hobbit house, still searching for the perfect placement for that. We are going to convert the garage into two rooms, a studio and bedroom. Build another covered garage with a storage room for the garden supplies, mower, and other gear. Looking at plans and pictures of pallet buildings, which can be very cool.

Today Dad and I went to the bamboo forest to investigate. We are digging some up tomorrow to transplant it to our yard. Our plan is to grow a bamboo fence and seclude the house behind a bamboo curtain. The bamboo in the forest grows to be about 75 ft tall. We planted the bamboo we dug out today.

Dad and I went on a hike the other day and found some really cool mushrooms. Talked about leading bike tours to visit Texas wineries or kayak tours of the San Jacinto River and other local waterways.

Found out that my brother Ian can't bring my gear down for me. So at some point I will have to trek back to Elko to pick it up. All these crazy plans are going to cost money so I have devised another set of crazy plans to fund them. My Dad shot down the plan of becoming a prison guard because he doesn't think I would fare well. This is probably true because I would probably shoot someone at the slightest provocation. One of the ideas I had after hearing about a local guy that trains fighters was to become a prize fighter. I think I would be pretty good at it...I am still thinking about it.
One of my concerns about this is how I would take a loss. I always say I don't play games I might lose. Another idea is to collect pecans and sell them by the lb. If you all need pecans I can mail them to you $13 a pound.

I have had numerous other ideas that aren't as interesting. Build my own bamboo furniture, make huge chicken wire and concrete urns, sell produce to local restaurants or get a job.

Getting a job would be the most difficult so I am still toying with the idea of becoming a prize fighter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Home in Huntsville

Stealth camping at the VFW hall went well except a dog ran up to my tent and barked growled and harassed me for awhile. I chose not to bear spray it or hit it with anything and it figured I was asleep.

Jay gave me a ride to Vernon. On the way he convinced me to accept a greyhound ride to Huntsville. It was not hard to convince me as I was tired and running out of money. Jay and Marydale relieved their worry and in turn my families.

I could have kept riding along pretty happily but opted to take the easy way out. This wasn't easy for my ego, but Grandma Dee had already told me to stop entertaining it. Jay had also told me about three people on bikes recently killed by cars in the area. Also about a killer on the loose who had dismembered a girl. Just enough to tip the scales of my ego (wants to ride on alone) and practicality.

Jay bought me a steak for lunch! I was in heaven in the three hearts steakhouse. He then bought my ticket for the greyhound and the Radish will follow in a couple days. I am very grateful to Jay and Marydale for taking care of me.

On the bus I started suffering post partum bike depression. Getting worried as to what I would do without it, how I could have left my mode of transport! But assuaged my fears with the knowledge that we would be reunited.

I slept on the bus till we got to Dallas where I had a nine hour layover. The station, I figured, was the most dangerous place to hang out so I went to a park. A man came up to me while I was playing my guitar and borrowed my lighter. We got to talking and Marx invited me to his apartment to watch the new BBC Sherlock Holmes. I was happy to spend my time entertained rather than fending off the crazies at the station.

I got back on the bus headed south and arrived in Huntsville at 6am. I walked to the Cafe Texan and had coffee. Texted Kate to meet me there. They arrived at dawn, the purple pink sky heralding our reunion. Emily, Effie, Kate and my Mother picked me up. They were all quite surprised at my arrival. I got hugs, laughter, and smiles and was glad I had made it.

I picked up Kirsten from school and she was confused when she saw me, a strange woman driving the blazer. Someone or FB must have filled in Dad because he wasn't surprised to see me. Shannon was filled in on the surprise as well. They were still glad to see me.

Today was Emily's seventeenth birthday. I picked the girls up from school and we went to Mr Hamburger for milkshakes. Later we went to a movie called Pitch Perfect. In the car on the way home we started our own A cappella group. The fun has begun, they are quite an entertaining bunch.

The garden here is awesome and I am glad to be home with my sisters, Mother and Father. Now the work starts... I just have to figure out what to work on. The garden, garage renovation, self improvement...... Or actually posting the poetry I wrote for the Pedal Powered Poet?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Amarillo by Morning

I started early with a sick feeling stomach. It was a very cold morning, layered against the harsh wind right down to my shearling gloves. I packed up camp quickly and spent time warming up in the RV campground's heated restroom. I spoke briefly with the host who told me he never imagined such a thing as riding a bike as far as I had.

Feeling thusly chagrined I stuck with my plan to hitch hike. Standing not to far from the RV park where there was a decent pull out I waited. And waited.
Shuffling around walking in circles waited for trucks to pass. Started to think I should ride, but watching erratic drivers, scared out of it. After two hours Roger stopped. He was on his way to Oklahoma to get some twenty yr old special HiFi speakers to make his collection complete but had room for my bike and me. We cruised along happily listening to obscure Pink Floyd CDs that I hadn't discovered before. A semi passed another in an inopportune place and we had to swerve into the shoulder making me glad I hadn't decided to ride... That and cold rain.

Roger dropped me off a hundred miles later in Oklahoma where 412 and 287 cross. We had seen some cool abandoned farms, a massive wind farm and a rain shower skirting the Comanche Grassland National Reserve. I was very grateful to have been picked up after two hours and even luckier when I got dropped off at a Love's truck stop. Thank you again Roger!

I stood on the road leading to the 287 south entrance for about two minutes before two semis stopped.
At first I was a little sketched by the fact that they flanked me and my bike and pulled over. Maybe I was because they both had sand pulling rigs where no bike should attach. I was quickly disarmed by the cheery countenances of the Rowdy boys. They said they'd spotted me in Lamar CO buy hadn't the coordination to stop for me.
They were traveling together and we split my gear between the two trucks and a dream of putting my bike on a semi was achieved; also worth it, as they weren't hauling anything. We strapped my radish to a frack sand hauling truck and I stuck it to the man. Hitching a ride on the coattails of environmental destruction. Haha

The ride was pleasant and we conversed with the tail vehicle Brian via the CB radio to see if the bike was doing well. We talked politics, religion, mortality, love, global warming and roadside happenstance making the 120 miles fly by. We saw a school team bus that had dropped it's transmission clean out a mile back and the subsequent aftermath.

They dropped me not to far from where I was going. I rode to Trey's house in a scenic Amarillo neighborhood a bit outside of town. He lives in the guest house of Anne's property. The house was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright's and is very cool design circa 1960s. Anne has designed and built a garden to complement it and merge it with the wild hillside that rises behind the house.
Both Trey and Anne were wonderful hosts. We all went out for a burger at Blue Sky and it was very tasty. Trey and I talked about our bike tour experiences while Anne called us crazy kids. Anne and I talked art, jewelry, permaculture, earthships. We had a lot to discuss, and we talked all evening.
Trey is a Psychiatrist going to medical school to be a surgeon. He deemed me mentally stable with above average intelligence, I feel good about this prognosis.

I am not used to such gentlemanly manners, he offered to carry stuff for me, held open doors, fryed eggs for breakfast with tea. I wasn't sure how to react. I tried to get him to ride with me but he is a busy busy guy. Anne let me stay in her guest bedroom. It was impeccably decorated with a nice big fluffy bed, I slept very well. I got the full garden tour in the morning and lazily set about my way. I climbed to the top of the hill that overlooks Amarillo then rode into town. Anne and Trey were awesome and I appreciated their kindness towards me greatly.

I picked up some money Terri had sent me, Thank You!!!! I immediately bought a good Texas road map. My Dad, Trey and Anne had suggested Palo Dura Canyon.

I rode some back roads out there, finding Jennie ST along the way. The wind was terrible trying to blow me into the road the whole time I was going South. When I turned on 217 I caught an awesome tail wind that had me sailing at 25 mph for the last 8 miles. I dropped into the beautiful Palo Dura after convincing the ranger to let me in for $3. Their was a discount for pontiacs and chryslers because of a car show going on. The Ranger thought my bike was more Cadillac, but called me a Chrysler for the discount.

The late afternoon light made everything quite pretty. Shadows outlined the canyon walls, while the remaining daylight shined on the red, orange gold colored layers. I saw a lone motorcycle tourist pass me so I followed him to his campsite. When I rode into the campsite I basically made it clear I was staying. Derrick didn't put up much of a fight because he is a nice guy. We had a great evening of conversation, he let me cook with his stove. Talked about the differences and similarities of our trips, but agreed we were both very tired.

I met a boy scout troop from Wichita Falls. They were a rowdy bunch telling me all about the different animals and tracks they'd found. Picking on prairie dogs. I admonished them to listen to their leaders because it all comes in handy later in life. They said that I could stay in the scout hut when I get to Wichita Falls. Funny enough because I am charging my phone in the Tulia TX Boy Scout building.

In the morning I lazily arose and packed my gear. Saying goodbye to Derrick, who gave me some food as a parting gift, and chatting with the scouts as I left. I rode to the trading post and Dan asked me if I had a story for him. I did and he bought me lunch and we ate I as I told him of my journey.

I rode the first 20 odd miles like bat outta hell, fighting the wind. Stopped to fix another flat, found the evil metal culprit. Rode into Happy TX all happy to be there... And there were only abandoned buildings. Every single thing was boarded up and closed except the bank. Very creeped out I rode away off the red brick road.
Then I rode like the wind, or rather against it to Tulia.
Tried to hitchhike to Cap Rock Canyon national park. Didn't work but a nice guy and his kids rolled up in a golfcart and gave me a coke and pizza. I played the guitar for the little girls climbing on the fence chatting with me.
Talked to the Sheriff, told him I was camping at the VFW Hall. He agree it was a good idea.
The Boy Scout house is behind it and occupied so I went in and they let me hang out. BSA hooking me up! Helped with the hanging of a partition and and had a beer with Jay the cubscout leader. Met Marydale his wife who suggested I take a ride to Vernon tomorrow. So that's the plan.

Sorry it is just an outline of what happened. I have been quite busy.
And I saw a couple tarantulas and wild turkeys in Palo Dura Canyon.