Saturday, July 12, 2008


So, the full name is Madeline Anna Brazelton. We've always liked the first name, though Des is more obsessed over it nowadays with the drama in her friend Matt's life right now. Georgianna is my grandmother's first name - she goes by Georgi, but we like the Anna part more. So, Madeline Anna it is.

On Thursday morning Des repeated a pattern that's now become almost familiar - she awoke to early morning contractions that were light and randomly spaced out. We weren't sure if it was The Day, as we'd been having some issues around the due date. The first guess at a due date (and it was a guess, as we didn't have much information to go on) was July 17th. Later in the pregnancy, the date was switched to June 30th. I don't recall why, exactly, but June 30th quickly became the real date. The 30th came and went with no baby in sight, so on the 9th we had decided to get an ultrasound scheduled for the following day to make sure the baby was okay.

In any case, the ultrasound was not to be. Early morning contractions started on the 10th, appearing every 15 to 30 minutes. I went to my x-ray and orthopoedic appointment at around 8:30, and Des started to clean the house. We didn't know when labor would start, but we were pretty sure it was going to be some time that day. We've learned that until the real thing starts, there's no point in getting too wound up about things.

By noon the contractions had begun to hit every 15 minutes. We let our midwife, Aly, know that things were starting to take off, notified grandma Patty that the girls would have to be picked up that night, then waited. The contractions stopped suddenly just before 1 PM (Des was not happy), so the girls and I went upstairs for a nap. Des woke me up at 2 PM; the contractions were back, harder than ever, and she had called Aly to come over.

I called our Doula, Autumn (yes, the doula who delivered Penelope), and went to work getting the birth room ready. The rest of the labor followed with clockwork precision. From 2 to 3 PM the contractions were steady first at 15 minutes, then 10 minutes between contractions. From 3 until 4 PM the contractions had dropped to every five minutes, and Des had started to exhibit the usual signs of labor pain. We started to fill the pool, as it takes about an hour to fill through our little shower attachment, and the midwives began to setup their various kits. Throughout it all the baby kicked and squirmed around, her heartbeat solid and with no signs of stress.

At 4 PM the contractions had begun to hit every four minutes, so Des got into the warm pool. There wasn't much to do at this point but wait and keep her hydrated. The midwives would occassionally check the fetal heartrate using a Doptone (stupid me, I was surprised to find that it worked under water), but otherwise sat out in the hall. Amelie and Penelope would wander upstairs every now and then to visit mom, but spent most of their time staring in awe at the Magic of the Pegasus in the living room.

At about 4:40 the first phase of labor was coming to an end. Des began to have much stronger contractions, and everyone scrambled to get into their postions. In just ten minutes Des had the urge to push, and after two pushes her water broke. We yelled for the girls to come upstairs to watch, and Aly began to tell Des to stop pushing - the baby was already starting to crown, and pushing the baby out too fast could have some unhappy side effects. The girls got upstairs just in time, peering over the side of the pool and asking questions (Penelope's favorite was, "Where's the baby?").

At 4:56 Madeline was born. Amelie and Penelope were jumping up and down cheering, I think I was nearly crying, and Des had a dazed look on her face. I don't think she had any idea the birth would go so fast. She settled back into the pool, and Aly gave her the baby. Madeline started to breathe almost immediately, getting us past one of the last scary parts of a birth. A few minutes later, Penelope notified me that it was time to watch the movie again. Kids just aren't impressed by much these days.

Soon the house was full - Jessica arrived just a few minutes after Madeline was born, and shortly after we were visited by Des' mother and sister and several of our neighbors. While momma and baby went through their postbirth paces (it takes an hour or two for a new mother's body to shed the various devices it uses in the pregnancy), the rest of us visited one by one. Aly and Kate continued to check vitals, document the baby's health and help Des through post labor contractions.

By 8 PM the house was beginning to empty. Amelie and Penelope left with their grandmother to stay for a couple of nights, and the midwives and doula left as soon as they had cleaned everything up. Our neighbors Alex and Sylvia (with their own little one, Zoe) stuck around for another hour or so, but by 9 PM the house was empty.

Des, Madeline and I got into bed, opened a pint of chocolate gelato her mother had gotten for us that evening, and watched an episode of Six Feet Under. By 9:30 Des was falling asleep, so I shut the laptop, climbed into my recliner, and turned out the light. Definitely a busy day.

Desiree notes that this was her easiest labor by far; aside from the very last pushes (she only pushed about a half dozen times), the pain level was nothing like her previous two pregnancies. Just after Madeline was born she even commented with a bit of wonder in her voice, "That was easy." It seems a shame to waste such an obvious talent for baby making, but this will be our last child. As many luminaries in other fields have found, it's best to go out while you're on top of your game.

The numbers, which are important to some people for some reason, are as follows:
Weight: 8lbs, 4oz
Length: 20 inches
Madeline was estimated to be 39 weeks old, which validates the first due date. All of that anxiety for nothing...

Thursday, July 10, 2008


8lbs, 4oz, 20 inches of pure love. Details tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I thought y'all would enjoy seeing one of our little helpers in action. They spend most of their time in back either turning soil into mud or eating all of our strawberries, but I love that they love to be outside. I do have to train Amelie on how to treat weeds that I pull - the last time I gave her a plant to toss in the compost bin, she carefully took it to another part of the lawn, dug a hole, planted it and watered it. It's the most pampered clover plant in all the world, I'd wager.

The rain last night seems to have beaten up on some of the garden; many of the onions have fallen (though that may just mean they're getting ready to be harvested) and the potatoes are suddenly acting top heavy. I'm not too concerned, as everything seems to be green and healthy, but the first decent rainfall in a month turned out to be something of a mixed blessing. On the plus side, the corn has decided it's on steroids, and I'm now finding volunteer corn near the potatoes. I had no idea such a thing even existed, and along with this discovery I'm now realizing that most of the weeds I've been pulling from the potato patch were corn. Freaky. I'm used to pulling the billions of volunteer tomato, morning glory, squash, zucchini and herb plants, but this is a new one. Next year I might just leave our corn rows alone to see what jumps up out of them.

Friday, July 4, 2008


It looks more like a birthday cake that Shrek would like, but it's really my mushroom growing kit. Another Father's Day gift (seriously, is my wife not the best?), this is turning out to be another interesting experiment. The company she got the kit from, Fungi Perfecti, sends out a spore-inoculated block of sawdust in a box. You soak it in water, keep it moist using a sprayer, and in a few days mushrooms start to appear. It's not the most attractive cube o' food ever, but if all goes well we'll have a large crop of shiitakes to work with. The best part: the cube continues to fruit for weeks, even months. It has to go dormant for a couple of weeks between fruiting, but we should have a source of mushrooms into the fall.

I'm so impressed with results of this kit that I'm contemplating an outdoor kit for next spring. I would just have to find a hardwood stump (sadly an easy task with all of the trees being felled by the city this year), drill a bunch of holes in it, and drive inoculated dowels into the holes. It can take a year for the first flush of mushrooms to appear, but the wait is part of what makes gardening so much fun.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Des got me a cheese making kit for Father's Day, and we just got around to making some cheese from it. The process is slightly less arcane than it sounds, as the kind of cheese we made - mozzarella - is the second-simplest cheese in the world (ricotta is #1 by my estimation). For those curious about the steps, they are:
  1. Heat milk with a tiny amount of citric acid to 88F.
  2. Add a tiny amount of a natural enzyme, rennet, to the warm milk.
  3. The rennet performs a minor chemical transmogrification, gelling the milk into something that resembles a loose custard. You wait a few minutes while this occurs.
  4. The custard is just milk solids suspended in a yellow fluid called whey. You drain off as much of the whey as you can. This is tricky but it turns out a simple wire strainer (and some patience) works great.
  5. You now have a big bowl of ricotta. You could stop here, but if you want mozzarella, you heat the results in a 185F water bath. You dunk chunks of the prenatal cheese in the water, getting it hot enough to melt. Then you knead the hot cheese, developing the texture and forcing out the remaining liquid.
  6. Put the cheese in ice water to cool. This is important if you want the cheese to maintain its shape.
There isn't much to it, but I will say that we probably won't be making all of our own cheeses in the near future. For one, it's a messy chore, consuming several pots, bowls and spoons very quickly. It also takes a fair amount of time; it was about 1/2 hour for our first try. Finally, a gallon of milk, which weighs about seven pounds, turns into a despair-inducing 3/4 pound of cheese. I'm sure the math is the same for cheese makers all over the world, but organic milk ain't cheap and watching most of it go down the drain is disconcerting. Mozzarella has a very high water content, so I'm interested to see what tiny percentage of milk is kept in harder cheeses like cheddar.

Our next stop is ricotta. We've already been there, but more as a rest stop on the way to its more advanced sibling. I'm willing to try other cheeses if anyone is particularly interested in other varieties.


One morning last week, I noticed something interesting about our corn. It had funneled the dew from the air into the conical vase the leaves made, creating little oasis (is oasis plural for oasis?) in the plants. It seems a little too convenient to be an accident, but I'm wondering how the plants can use the water they're holding. I know leaves can take in a small amount of water, but it seems unlikely they can use everything they collect. Maybe they don't have to?

The Enki project is going forward. I'm trying two plants: Genovese Basil (our Italian neighbor noted that he cannot find it in the greenhouses, so maybe we'll have something for him by the end of the season) and a viola. The viola is mostly to see if there's an effect on flower production. The pots are all filled with amended soil in our back yard, and the ones with blue tape get the Science Water treatment.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I have some free time, and the garden is one of the few things appropriate to my challenge level. As such, I've been doing some obsessing over things. On the plus side I have the time to actually garden for the first time in my life, but on the down side there are so few outlets for my technology fetish in this field. Sure, there are the usual things like water timers (thanks Patty!) and hoses made from nanomaterials or whatever marketing ploy they have to use to sell more hoses, but there isn't much cutting edge about putting seeds in the dirt and watering them. - cue cheesy announcer voice - That is, until now!

I found this guy at Bachmans and was instantly captivated. It's a watering can that has a twist - if you fill it full of water and plug it in, it will super oxygenate the water. The claim is over 150% oxygen saturation of the water (if you've made rock candy you know the principle) and a resulting bump to plant growth. Everyone knows that plants create oxygen, but they also consume it like most every other living organism. More oxygen means more growth, and more oxygen in the water source means that oxygen poor soil (which is almost all of it) isn't as much of a hindrance.

The Enki device works through electrolysis, which simply means that it uses an electrical current to separate the hydrogen and oxygen of the water. The result is what appears to be billions of little bubbles rising up from the bottom of the watering can; those are the oxygen and presumably hydrogen bubbles rising to the surface. It takes about four minutes for the device to be ready.

It sounds totally scientific, so I bought it. I'm not a fan of science - too much hard work - but I do love scientific lingo. I also like to experiment, so I'm thinking that a trial is in order. I'm thinking of starting up two pots, each with the exact same soil and each with a seed from the same packet. Put them in the same location, and use different water sources. Not much to it, and it would be fun to see if I just wasted $80 or not. I'll post the results here as time goes on.

Any suggestions on a plant to grow?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Thanks to many of our friends, our garden is beginning to take off. The asparagus spears have been sent up and are about two feet tall; many have thrown out their lateral branches and look like scrawny Christmas trees. The blueberries are leafing out nicely, as are the raspberries. The only real casualty of the fruit plants were the grapes. I have no idea why they did not thrive, but only one of the three managed to survive. The two fallen grapes will be replaced by hops and hardy kiwi, so all is not lost.

The chickens have been restricted to a small portion of our yard, as they're more than a match for any sprouting plant. Their run isn't the most elegant of constructions - chicken fencing staked out around their domain is all we could manage - but it's given us an enormous amount of breathing room while starting the garden. Last year the chickens were a serious nuisance for several of our plants. They demolished the corn seedlings, and once they found out what cabbages and broccoli tasted like, it was all over for those as well. They've adjusted well to their new, smaller domain, and the two flocks have finally integrated, so peace once again reigns over chickenland. Now, if they would only start laying eggs again...

The little beauty on the left is an alpine strawberry. I feel like it needs an intro, as it's been our anchor fruit plant for the past few weeks. You'll find them as thick as flies in most temperate permaculture designs, and for good reason. They're tougher than hell, they do not 'creep' like regular strawberry cultivars, and they're everbearing. This means that from early June to some time in the fall they produce fruit constantly. The berries aren't particularly big, even smaller than a dime, but they have an incredible taste. I liken it to a strawberry crossed with a bubble gum ball. Apparently chefs like to cook with them and consider them a gourmet ingredient, but I'll never find out if that's true - the girls swoop in on the plants every morning and afternoon, scouring the plants clean of even the most nominally ripe fruit.

Anyway, this post is more of a 'thank you' than anything else. Without the assistance of our friends, this year's garden would have been a few rows of corn and a potato patch. I'll post more pictures as things become photogenic (an early garden is a desolate looking thing, more potential than reality), along with some shots of the hens living in harmony.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I have a different post with this subject header, but have been advised not to post it. Email me if you want the text; it describes the incident in some detail for those morbid or curious enough to care. Otherwise, ride safe and wear a helmet at all times (this will be my official motto).

Other posts may appear in the future, but probably when my arm has healed - two months.

Friday, March 21, 2008


This being the first day of spring (meteorologically speaking), what else would you expect than a day of driving snow?

I've been avoiding riding in snow all winter long.  If there was snow in the forecast or it had snowed the night before, I would drive in to work.  The problem (in my mind) wasn't the snow itself, but the effect snow has on cars.  Snow creates the illusion of narrowed lanes, pushing drivers closer to other road inhabitants.  Snow creates slippery conditions, sending multi-ton chunks of plastic and metal careening in random directions.  Snow inhibits visibility, making an already unseen cyclist even more invisible.  In short, snow makes for really crappy road commuting on a bike.

I looked out at the white flocked trees this morning, mulling over whether I would hitch a ride with the girls as they headed out for their errands.  The snow had only accumulated an inch or two, but was still coming down at a decent clip.  I knew the roads and trails would be slick, as the air temperature was barely cool enough to allow for accumulation.  I also knew that this was probably the last significant snowfall of the season.  If I drove in, I would have seven or eight months of snow free commuting ahead of me.

However, today is March 21st.  It's spring, dammit, and besides, I had never made this commute in snow.  Maybe it's really not so bad.  So I put on my gear, made sure my lights were operational and blinking away, and headed out.

It turns out there are other reasons not to ride in snow. 

It accumulates on gears and derailleurs, making shifting gears a tenuous process (on an already shot bike - my rapidfire shifters currently allow me the luxury of four gears to choose from, the internals in the rear shifter having broken one cold day).  This isn't as big a deal as most days, as I had to decrease my speed significantly to handle the slick surfaces, but was annoying on longer hills.

Snow pelts glasses, covering them in slush and dropping visibility.  Eventually I had to stow the glasses, as the moisture was just fogging up the lenses.  Once the glasses went off, I went snow blind every time I looked up.  Snow is slow and lazy as it descends, but once I was traveling over 7 mph, it began drilling my eyes at a frenzied clip.  Goggles are necessary for riding in an active snow storm, a lesson anyone who has ever descended a ski hill knows.

Snow is slippery for bikes, too (shocking news to most of you), and I ended up walking a hill where my tires simply couldn't generate the necessary traction.  It also makes braking on the road a harrowing experience, as you need a LOT of lead time to brake without ditching.  Getting a heads up is tricky when your eyes get sandblasted every time you look up.

Snow is wet.  It accumulated on every horizontal surface, including my boots, and managed to sneak through the layers of waterproof outer until the icy water hit my feet.  I didn't start noticing this until the end of the ride, but on a longer trek things could have gotten very uncomfortable. 

Most of these things could have been managed if I had planned and dressed properly.  And I have to admit - it was lovely on my ride, especially on the trails.  Next year I will ride in the snow, but I think I'll keep it off of the roads.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lena's Revenge

Many people anthropomorphize the natural world, perceiving human characteristics in non-human entities in an attempt to better understand them.  So you have people who think their car looks sad when it's dirty or people who believe their cat is a haughty princess that needs lobster in a crystal goblet to be truly happy*.  I am one of those people, but I tend to humanize things only when they piss me off.  I yell at my dog when he betrays my trust and eats half of the cat food, or yell at the grill when it stabs me in the back and runs out of propane halfway through cooking a meal.  I like to yell at things.  It's stupid, I know, but just taking the disappointment and transmuting it into quiet suffering is not my way.

Riding in winter is different than riding in summer for a lot of reasons, but one for me is that in winter, all I think about is The Ride.  In the summer my mind is free to wander a bit.  During the winter months, I think about the hills coming up, the ice I may have to ride over or avoid, I analyze every car's behavior and constantly check up on body parts to make sure they're not freezing.  This winter I also spent a lot of time thinking about Minnesota's voice.  I eventually settled on a middle aged woman with a pronounced Fargo accent; a Lena character (from Ole and Lena fame) who has the best intentions but is a little absent at times.  This is what I do for two hours a day, sad to say.

Yesterday I began my ride home excited about the warm weather.  It was nearly forty degrees, and the previous evening's ride was a blast.  I had felt like Lena was finally easing us out of winter, giving us a break from the relentless cold as spring approached.  So my heart broke a little when I covered my first mile and the sleet started.  Then the rain.  And finally, near the end of my ride, one of my cleat bolts detached, forcing a spectacular slow motion crash onto the side of the trail when I couldn't unclip from the pedal. 

Once over the humiliation of making a newb stop, I had a good laugh at myself.  And as I got back on my bike, limping home on one good pedal, I could hear Lena saying to me, "You didn't think it would be that easy, did you dear?"

*I'm just assuming such people exist.  Given the bizarre range of human behavior on display online, they statistically have to.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Trail

Yesterday was the first truly warm day in March.  The temperature was in the 40s and the sun was shining, triggering the early spring flooding daily bike commuters love so well.  A winter of snow and ice mixed with salt and sand has begun to melt onto the paths and roads I take to and from work.  My bike has no fenders.  The predictable result is the entire front side of my body being coated with a layer of sand and saltwater.  My face is usually covered in grime as well, giving me a certain lunatic aura.  I expect riding conditions like this for the next week.

I've noticed that water is not the only thing flooding onto the paths - yesterday I ran across dozens of bikers, runner, walkers and strollers on my way home.  This is strange for me, as I'm accustomed to seeing one, maybe two bikers a day on my commute with the occasional hardcore runner.  Imagine spending three months on a series of trails virtually alone, then one day - literally in one day! - the population explodes by several thousand percent.

I don't really begrudge the new inhabitants of my trail, but I found myself a little bemused by their presence; it felt like they didn't belong on my trail.  The tall, colorful road bikes and hordes of power walking women all seemed so foreign, so out of place after a winter of solitude.  Part of me is happy to see so many people out enjoying the weather, and part of me misses the quiet of a cold morning. 

In a few weeks it will be normal to see the trails choked with bikers and joggers.  And next winter, the cycle will repeat all over again.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


People have come up with all kinds of ways to use bikes, from the urban street couriers to wilderness area mountain riders, and until recently I was unaware of yet another way to get around on two wheels: icebiking. "Icebike" is such an impressive word, so very extreme and Gen-X sounding that you would expect it to entail dropping off of a glacier face with nothing but body armor and a BMX bike. With fireworks. But instead, it's really more about when a person bikes than where.

Icebikers are people who lack the common sense to stop riding when the weather turns cold. This can include people in Texas (apparently it does freeze there on rare occasion) and people in Alaska. It includes hipsters in rolled up jeans on their fixed gears and office workers slogging through slush on their Civias (or will be soon). It's the one kind of biking that breaks down all typical barriers because it is not defined by how or what a person rides. It is, however, a truly shared experience. There tends to be a rift between bikers of various types (people who hate spandex, people who hate geared bikes, people who hate people without helmets, etc.) just like in any subculture. When it's -10F outside, that rift simply disappears - you're all icebikers.

Because I've only ridden a few hundred miles this winter, I'm hardly an authority on the subject. I have, however, ridden in the full range of what Minnesota winters have to offer. My coldest ride this year was -17F with a windchill well into the thirties below; this was a clarifying experience. Being outside in the severe cold is not a matter of superhuman endurance or stupidity like most assume, but rather a matter of planning well. Any sort of aerobic activity will allow you to create all of the heat you need, but what's important is being able to trap that heat without sweating. Sweat makes you wet, and when you're wet the effectiveness of your insulation becomes compromised. When it's twenty below and you're an hour into your ride, getting tired and your tongue is beginning to get cold you really don't want your equipment to start failing. Layering different fabrics at different temperature break points becomes a precise science, so I'm going to detail the temperature ranges at which I use various equipment.

40° to 30° F
  • Arc'teryx wind jacket (not sure what model - Arc never labels their garments for some reason)
  • Light weight crew neck Smartwool shirt
  • Riding shorts (MTB - they look like regular shorts)
  • GORE Leg warmers
  • Biking socks (short socks, basically), wool
  • MTB shoes
30° to 20° F
  • Cloudveil silkweight balaclava
  • Arc'teryx wind jacket
  • Light weight crew neck Smartwool shirt
  • Light weight zip neck Smartwool shirt
  • Performance cycling shorts w/ chamois
  • Izumi AmFib bib tights
  • Mid weight wool socks
  • Lake MZ-302 boots
20° to 10° F
  • Cloudveil silkweight balaclava
  • Arc'teryx wind jacket
  • Light weight crew neck Smartwool shirt
  • Medium weight Icebreaker, Sport 320
  • Performance cycling shorts w/ chamois
  • Izumi AmFib bib tights
  • Light weight wool slip sock, Smartwool
  • Mid weight wool socks
  • Lake MZ-302 boots
10° to -5° F
  • Cloudveil silkweight balaclava
  • Masque facemask
  • Arc'teryx wind jacket
  • Light weight crew neck Smartwool shirt
  • Medium weight Icebreaker, Sport 320
  • Performance cycling shorts w/ chamois
  • Izumi AmFib bib tights
  • Swiz or Ibex skiing tights (over the Izumis)
  • Light weight wool slip sock, Smartwool
  • Heavy weight wool socks
  • Lake MZ-302 boots
-5° to -20° F
  • Cloudveil silkweight balaclava
  • REI Polartech cap
  • Masque facemask
  • Goggles
  • Arc'teryx wind jacket
  • Light weight crew neck Smartwool shirt
  • Light weight zip neck Smartwool shirt
  • Medium weight Icebreaker, Sport 320
  • Performance cycling shorts w/ chamois
  • Izumi AmFib bib tights
  • North Face snowboarding pants
  • Light weight wool slip sock, Smartwool
  • Heavy weight wool socks, Smartwool
  • Lake MZ-302 boots
There's a strange thing I've noticed after the past few months - as the temperatures get colder, my gear changes less. I think there's a point where the loss of heat is mitigated for a wider temperature window as the layers get thicker. That's certainly true for my torso, as I only trade out three relatively thin layers over a 60 degree range, mostly at the warmer end of the spectrum. Another odd thing is how thin my head layers are. The Cloudveil is truly very thin, but protects my ears and neck all of the way into the subzero temperature range. I suppose it has to do with core body heat and how it's distributed.

Civia Cycles has a good visual chart like this here. It doesn't exactly work for me, as I'm a warmer rider than normal and their recommendations rely too heavily on chemical heating pads for my taste, but it's generally very accurate.

Also, if it seems as though I really like Civia, it's more about my admiration for what they're doing. Reintroducing the bicycle as a high end utility vehicle is a great way to appeal to people who think that bikes are just for kids. Naturally, 98% of the population won't give a damn - no force on the planet will get them to ride to work no matter how nice the bike - but even getting that last two percent can make a huge difference.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Extreme Commuting

Yesterday I read this article in BusinessWeek (via No Impact Man) and it really brought into contrast some of the madness we've all seen in the past few decades - ever expanding cities, suburbs turning into exurbs as rural townships are blanketed with prefab bedroom community developments and big box 'villages'. As people crave larger houses, more land, and safer communities, they are forced farther from the cities where they must work. They spend more time in cars, their children spend more time in schools and daycares, and no one spends time in their neighborhoods. The BusinessWeek article details the trade-offs very well, but the take home message for me is that we're willing to trade our real lives for the appearance of better ones.

The question is, what is a real life? Maybe sitting in traffic for several hours a day is as real as it gets. I hope not, and I hope the past few decades of commuter culture are an aberration, and some day we will have found more sustainable and meaningful ways to spend our lives.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Missing Time

Our friend, the freakishly talented Brett Laidlaw, has started his own blog, nominally centered around locavorism (heinous neologism that it is) and the great resources available to the observant inhabitants of the Twin Cities. It's a natural fit for him, as he's a writer - a real one, who's actually written books and stuff - and has the most wonderful ability to make the most mundane events seem almost miraculous. I mean mundane in its non pejorative sense, of course, where simple and base things like walking through the woods or eating a sandwich somehow become transcendent. To an observant person simplicity does offer a world of nuance, but achieving that sense of awareness - let alone being able to transcribe those thoughts and feelings into the written word - is a skill unto itself. All of this to say that Brett's writing is always worth a look, so go look. Be prepared to spend some time.

I mention Brett not only because he's awesome, but because of a comment he made to me in the inaugural post of his blog. He mentioned that I was "no slouch at the keyboard" myself, which is very nice but patently untrue. In fact, "slouch" is exactly the word I would use to describe the current state of the blog, though I'm sure a thesaurus check would reveal all sorts of accurate adjectives. Perhaps I'll use them later, after another extended bout of slacking. Because I have this space, and because more of our friends are using spaces like this to journal their thoughts and lives, I figure its time to spend a little more energy keeping up with the Joneses.

Upcoming posts: chicken processing, commuting, icebiking, heating systems, chickens (the backyard variety) and more. Not necessarily in that order, but there will be one post per day for the next seven days. We'll see how that strikes me and we'll go from there.