beer, air, coffee, and dirt
Thursday, June 30 2011
Gretchen was gone all day starting early this morning, so it fell to me. I saddled up the dogs and drove down to the Stewart's in Old Hurley to buy a sixer of Mountain Brew and a cup of coffee, my first of the day. Then I parked across Wynkoop from the Hurley Mountain Inn down on the Esopus floodplain and walked the dogs in the adjacent corn fields. It's hard to get a handle on serene joy, the low-key kind that come from simple (if slightly non-routine) pleasures, but drinking coffee brewed by someone else while walking dogs down a field road through nearly knee-high corn seems to be one of them. Is that white in the distance a person? No! It's just a flowering elderberry bush! As always, Sally led the way, and Eleanor did that thing she's developed in recent years of walking parallel to me a couple dozen feet off the trail, which for her today meant walking amongst the corn.
After I'd returned to the Subaru (which, due to a lapsed inspection sticker, is not technically street legal), I filled eight five gallon buckets with beautiful Esopus floodplain topsoil. This batch of harvested soil was nearly perfect: largely devoid of stones and especially rich in earthworm castings (along with the earthworms that left them).
Back at the house, I built up a nice hump in my new garden patch using the 40 gallons of soil I'd gathered. Seeking to add rich organic nutrients, I drained some of the brown fluid from the tap at the bottom of the current brownhouse shit collector. Warm weather fecal decomposition produces a lot of this fluid, and if left undrained, it will eventually stifle ærobic decomposition. With that stinky brown fluid on the new garden hump, I attracted unwanted attention from the dogs. So I was forced to hose it down, diluting it and making it percolate into the soil.
Another nutrient I added to the soil was the mortar mix that had proved unusable when I'd attempted to deploy when building a foundation for the northwest water tower. Mortar mix is mostly comprised of sand and Portland cement. The former makes the clay-rich soil less constipated, and the latter makes it less acid and rich in calcium. I had so much bad mortar that I ended up broadcasting a bunch of it amongst the kale, broccoli, and spinnach plants in the main garden plot as well. Brassicas need a lot of bioavailable calcium carbonate, and it's hard to find a better source of it than mortar that has passed its expiration date.
After planting asparagus seeds in my new garden plot, it seemed like a good idea to apply a thin layer of mulch to help retain soil moisture. So I ventured into the nearby forest and gathered a bunch of rotten wood (which I broke up into a sawdust-like material in my hands). I also gathered a fair amount of wood so rotten that it was indistinguishable from soil.
While still on my kick of gathering natural things from the nearby environment, I harvested a pint of Black Raspberries growing near the south end of the house.
I've been half-heartedly looking for new work for a couple weeks now, but by late this evening it seemed like I'd actually landed a job. I'd been hired to do some iPhone application development by Linda, my old boss at Launch.com for a few months back in 2000. She and her husband have an iPhone development business out in California, and it seems they have more work than they can do themselves. I'm not particularly experienced with iPhone dev work, but I have developed one ill-fated application, and I'm eager to learn more. Linda has faith that I can get up to speed on this stuff, and I'm hoping not to disappoint.
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