Monday, July 4, 2011

Crochet Saves the Sea

I came across this TED talk, of all places, on Apartment Therapy, and watched the whole things even though I didn't have time to because it was so incredibly interesting.

Allow me to espouse why it is so amazing:

1) It's about a crocheted coral reef, which is beautiful and awesome.
2) The crocheted sea creatures solved a problem mathematicians were grappling with and didn't think was even possible.
3) The woman giving the talk looks just like the bad-ass protagonist from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and imagining that girl crocheting while fighting bad guys is wonderful.
4) The reef was in a global warming-themed exhibit.  Hence crochet saves the sea.
5) It's a TED talk.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Plant Parenthood: Flea Beetles! AH!

The epic wrath of this adorable pest is upon us.  Yesterday, my kale and arugula seedlings were sad looking with tiny holes in the leaves, so I leaned in for a closer look and saw my tiny enemy.  They look cute especially since they jump like little sprites but make no mistake - They. Will. Kill. Kale.  And many other things.  But that kale of mine must live!  

So I found some solutions using the trusty interweb:
  • Water and Fertilize - enough water and the right conditions give the plant the best chance of surviving and overcoming the stress of a pest.  Some research has shown that flea beetles may not like leaves after they've been treated with fertilizer, so a sprinkle of dilution of sea kelp and water could do the trick.
  • Trap Cropping - interplant what you're cultivating with Giant Mustard or Radishes.  The beetle will eat them instead.
  • Row cover - reemay or the like
  • Sticky tape . . . super high tech.
  • Nematodes
  • Infuse water with garlic, onion, and mint and spray on plants - another potential repellant

They will not win.

Plant Parenthood: Sheet Mulching

From what I understand, organic gardening is really all about the quality of the soil, and when it comes to our garden, the soil is our biggest challenge.  Clay soil abounds in urban gardens in this county and our yard is no exception.  The dirt is heavy, mostly lifeless, and full of large-ish rocks and walnut shells from the Black Walnut tree in our yard.  Black Walnuts are an amazing thing to have at your disposal, if you have the motivation to harvest them and crack them open, but after struggling with our tomatoes, we found out that walnut shells contain juglone, which is poisonous to tomatoes and many other plants.  The largest concentrations of the toxic substance are in the nut hulls, roots, and buds, so even though our garden is not directly under the tree, our plants are still susceptible because the squirrels carry those walnuts around everywhere and like to drop them into the garden for safe keeping (jerks).

Pesky black walnut hulls.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Inspiration from a 3 year old

This video was posted by a friend of mine and I watched it and a few others of this little boy that his parents must have posted.  He is amazing and totally an inspiration to follow whatever it is that gives you bliss!  The end is the best part!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Traveling at Home

After several months of my daily photo project, I've been trying to reflect on how the project might have changed me.  Part of the answer came from a very unexpected place, as do the best things in life, I suppose.

My job at the co-op entails organizing classes about topics of interest to our crunchy community and one that I recently helped organize and attended was led by a superbly inspiring dude, Darshan Karwat, who spent the last year attempting to create ZERO waste.  That meant no trash, no recyclables, no buying anything new.  (See the details of his project and some of the great reflections throughout on his blog, Minimizing Entropy.)  Not only was I super inspired by his dedication and thoughtfulness throughout the practice, but his new exploration of Traveling at Home has helped me realize what it is that my photos have been trying to do.

Part of the challenge of producing a new photo each day is to find something "photo worthy."  Each time I set out to take my photo for the day, I have to take time to become aware of my surroundings in a photographic way.  If I lose this for a couple of days (like I have the last two days, but we're not going to talk about that right now) I really do get out of the habit of looking photographically and have to get it back again.  But when I do get centered in this way, things start to reveal themselves around me.  I see things that I'd never taken notice of before: a new angle on scene I look at every day, a new alley or building I'd never noticed before, light and shadows making patterns, or items juxtaposed in intriguing ways.  Even before this project, these are the kinds of photos I found myself making without really knowing why.  Here are few from years ago that exemplify this idea:

Berkeley, CA  July 16, 2007 
San Francisco, CA.  July 17, 2007
The King
Phoenix, AZ.  January 11, 2008

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inspiration just when I need it

A few months ago I came across this nugget of inspiration that has stuck with me and came around again at a time that I really needed it.  The last week or two my mind has been occupied with job applications, interviews, and a crazy schedule (with the 5 jobs I already have) so my daily photo project momentum has been waning and my confidence dropping.  This cycle of self-doubt can pretty quickly send the creative juices straight to the bottom of a dark pit to stay there until they begin to shrivel up and the camera and guitar and knitting needles start to gather dust only to be left there for 20 years before finally being sold a garage sale . . .

But luckily, Pete Eckert is one dude who's story can't help but inspire others, and I have him to thank for keeping my creativity out of that dreadful pit.  He is a blind photographer, and a lover of cooking, tinkering, and constructing.  Here's his take on photography, art, and the simple satisfaction of making things:

| Artists Wanted | In Focus : Pete Eckert from Artists Wanted on Vimeo.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Photo Essay: Budget Protest

Carrying around a camera everywhere means you're likely to capture things you otherwise wouldn't.  On one recent rainy day in March, I was able to capture "democracy in action" Ann Arbor style, at a small protest downtown.

The rally was in response to the governor's recent budget proposal and anti-public sector actions. It took place downtown in front of the post office.  I'd like to give my reactions to the event, but I think these photos tell the story much better.