Hatching Free Range Ideas

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Living at garden time

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

I’ve learned something about gardening this year that veteran gardeners know, so maybe that makes me a burgeoning veteran. It’s that gardens slow down time.

As I wait for blossoms to become fruit and for tomatoes to turn red, I’m moved into the timestream of gardening. This year, weeks and months haven’t rushed. I love that the summer is stretched into days. May has been 75 days long as I walk through the garden in the morning and the evening, noticing the small changes — amazed that I can see small changes between morning and night and not just catastrophic grasshopper created ones.

Time loves the garden and so it stays there, no?


Hopes and other junk

In How we learn and think, Make something on May 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I found this doll’s dress at a junk store yesterday. It was hanging on a little hanger, mixed in with a myriad of other stuff.

As I carried it around the store with me, I pictured the grandmother who crocheted it and how she hoped that her granddaughter would adore it, all white and gold. I pictured the little girl’s delight as she imagined that one day she herself wear a dress that looked just like this one. Her grandmother might make her a thick cotton slip for modesty, but the skirt would still swirl in a full circle of white and gold.

I also found this book in a junk store. It’s called My Favorite Things (1964) by Dorothy Rodgers. I had to google Dorothy Rodgers to figure out why people should care about her favorite things.

She’s Richard Rodgers’s wife. The Richard Rodgers of Rogers and hart and Rogers and Hammerstein. Dot’s a bit of a forerunner to Martha Stewart, advising that when you have house guests, you should ask them if they prefer a breakfast tray to their room or coming down to breakfast. And then you tell the cook.

It’s filled with these lovely ink wash illustrations as well as photos on incredibly full rooms, with Miro’s on the walls.

Both of these items are hopes for the future.

Both ended up at Junk stores because they didn’t represent someone else’s hopes. And then I giggle about the hopes of mine that will find their way to junk stores — the box of springs that’s going to be something one day, ditto the tiny Tinkertoys and bags of plastic ducks and rubber fish. And Mom’s ribbons and trim that were too good to throw away that remind me of her hopes. And all those partial projects.

Would you recognize them as hopes?

Serendipity and Sketchnoting 102 and crisis

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

It’s sort of like the Chinese word for crisis which is made of two other words, danger and opportunity. After the VizThink Austin Sketchnoting workshop before SWSX, I was driven to create a course. I needed more; I figured others might as well.

Now I’ve finished a pretty strong draft on a four hour Sketchnoting course. It needs polishing and colored markers. . . and some imagery, but other than that, it’s pretty much done. I had two really good volunteer reviewers who helped it along. A lot. They channeled their inner Sketchnote learner and made sure that the course would cover what they wanted to know and experience.

We scheduled it for June 25th.

We only lack a good venue and learners — one venue for four hours and 20 learners. I figure marketing as well as an online payment system is a nice to have. We only need 20, which means a venue with four-five round tables. Teeny, see?

And the venue can be pretty low tech, since this is paper. As I write this, I wonder what my problem is. . . why I haven’t found the place yet.

I think of it as a VizThink event ’cause those are the folks who know about Sketchnoting. I wonder if we could find 20 people elsewhere who knew enough about Sketchnoting to come no matter where we held it? Or if it needs to be held in Austin.

Would people come out to Eye of the Dog in San Marcos?

And now the the moss covered rock has slowed its roll. Or something like that. About the same time I was working on this course, I saw an announcement for another Sketchnoting course, held in conjunction with Austin’s elearning symposium. And then, right about the time that I finished the course content for Sketchnoting 102 (minus polishing and illustrations), I received a forward link for a beginning course on Graphic Recording. And where I had to search and think and struggle to figure out what principles were involved with Sketchnoting, these guys (alphachimpstudios) have been graphic recorders for a million years, having gone through art courses FIRST.

So I signed up for their online course. I’ve only just dipped my toe in the water, meaning I’ve created a sketchnoty illustration that is supposed to answer some questions about me.

See if it answers any of your questions about me, especially if you can’t see the questions.

But back to the dilemma. So what to do? Postpone it? Complete the facilitation guide and post it for others to take and develop? Charge through and hope for the best?

Partly, I’m out of steam. So, I thought I’d take an easy lean on my social network and see if the power of numbers (mine are small and they’re pretty engaged, so maybe they’re a hybrid) made a difference.

What do I need? Encouragement. A venue. 20 learners. That’s about it.

Social media and large numbers

In How we learn and think on May 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I attended a TEDEX planning event last night. It was full of social media wonks, people really dedicated to exploring and exploiting the digital tools for connecting with others around the globe. I heard, “I have over 500 Facebook friends,” and “If you really want people to listen to you, you have to get into a closed network, like Yammer.” Someone finally mentioned the “Meat Network.”

All the way home I chewed over these ideas. Today I wonder how our reliance on this large volume, low effort contact medium impacts our high effort, individual, long or multi-conversation contact. I haven’t found that incredible meeting of the minds through random contact, but then I haven’t sent out thousands of contacts either. And I don’t buy lottery tickets. Are they similar?

I LOVE the idea of social media as a game changer. The ability for each to be a broadcaster has undeniable power when you look at recent situations in the Middle East, when you consider India’s informal citizen-powered corruption patrols, when you review Kenyan citizen broadcasts on how to avoid violence and still vote in the 2008 elections.

I understand the power of numbers in knowing, especially around life changing, world changing events, where the population is already bought-in. In fact, where the population cannot avoid being affected. I don’t yet understand the power of numbers in building relationships or of connecting people beyond safety and general welfare.

So, if social media works best after a groundswell, what do you need to create the groundswell? This whole idea of going viral is interesting but I’m not sure that we’re exploring it deeply enough. What are the conditions behind viral events? Memes? What’s the life of a viral event? I know there are people out there who know these answers. But my network isn’t large enough to include them. And if it did, what is their compunction to respond to MY needs? I mean, really, why bother?

Do the roots of big numbers still start as an email that says, “Hey, have you seen this?” from someone I know or respect,  or from someone whom I respect as a broadcaster from a relationship built over long periods of time. Or a random web encounter withe a message so compelling that it touches my heart and my psyche. I know those two triggers generate a personal, button pushing response.

So, if I put that shoe on the other foot, my foot, it’s very difficult to create those messages. Their roots are in meaningful lives. Hard, huh?

In lieu of that, we must rely on the socially-awkward stumbling over multiple meetings to finally allow us to see value in each other’s ideas and life experience.

And that requires patience. I have a very hard time being patient slogging through large numbers. Are you going to find me? Am I going to find you? Or will a random conversation in line at a local book signing or coffee shop, lead to another conversation later when our meat network nodes connect once again, and again and finally third time’s a charm, we make arrangements to actually get together. Maybe via Skype? Or in Second Life?

Instructions to the Artist

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I shared this via email two years ago when Mom died but someone reminded me of it this past weekend and so I thought I’d share it again. It gave me a change to re-read. I’ll keep it in mind as I think about my own drawing, which should be with this same spirit of joyful abandon.


Don your velvet beret and
Approach the easel.
Mix any two primary colors, except red.
Or with your Froggey Green Crayola*
Draw a square and put
A large triangle on top.

And with your black Crayola*
Draw heavy enclosing lines
Around the combined parts
To keep it firmly in its spot,
Undisturbed by coastal storms or hurricanes.

It should be a geometric house
One that sits on the page
In all its transparency. .
One that Phillip Johnson would like.

Omit the chimney and its smoke
Fireplaces and cooking are not my style.
Hide the front entrance door,
But place a large friendly dog where
Others would expect to enter.

Plant orange trees around the back door
So that the sea breezes
Push their fragrance into our noses.

If there are window boxes,
In front of the four-on-four panes
Please fill them with sweet peas.
White with lavender throats. .
No tie backs . I prefer an uninterrupted view
Of the entire landscape as I sit inside.

The horizon line should be a gentle arc,
That makes our house sit high above the world.
And V shaped birds, yes, large ones,
Flying in formation to
Mirror the V’s of the distant waves.
Ships with colored sails, being pushed
Speedily down the Susquehanna.

And maybe, you could paint me
Frantically waving from the roof top
With a large balloon cloud above my head
That holds your signature, —
(First name printed would be fine) —–
So that I will always
Be calling to your from my
Little Green house.

Read the post at the end of the link. . . and then tell me why your idea won’t work.

In How we learn and think on May 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Makes me both proud . . . and ashamed.


Instant Recess

In Move on May 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I ran across this somehow, not sure exactly where it came from. You know how information gets to you? I love the kind that comes through random channels. Yes, and it worries me (and others) that it takes more and more effort to preserve random channels with all the personalization of information that’s available. Don’t trust others to manage your interests. They don’t really know them, no matter how smart and sophisticated their algorithms. See, like this. I’m not writing really about this topic but there it is.

Okay, so a recent touted study shows that people who aren’t sedentary for long periods of time have a much lower (I think I remember 63%) chance of dying from a premature heart attack. So, Dr. Toni Yancey has developed a program called Instant Recess, which consists of 10 minutes of simple, mild aerobics as regular breaks in the day. She’s really a health policy wonk and not an exercise guru so her vision is far-reaching (nationwide).

I am sedentary. I sit at this computer most of the day. As a writer, that’s what I have to do. Write. And I fall through the hole in the paper (as Stephen King describes it) and lose all track of time. This is deep thought . . . well, not this, but often when I write there is little division between the act of writing and the act of thinking. And so time flies.

So I bought this.

You turn the time you want to count down to the top and it starts. You turn it to zero to stop it. I use it because it’s cool AND functional.

When the alarm sounds, I go to Youtube and play one of these 10 minute videos while I bounce around with them. My intention is to do this at least 3 times a day, but I get to it about twice, which is way better than nothing. I set the time for an hour and either do an Instant Recess or go down two flights of stairs to the garden and hunt for pests and to see if the no cucumbers yet state has changed. (It hasn’t.) Then I come back up the stairs.

Instant Recess is a great idea who’s time has way past come. It feels like a return to Kennedy fitness of my childhood without those damn climbing ropes.

See if this might make sense for you. Or just buy the timer.

Garden pests and perserverance

In Garden on May 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I’ve replanted this garden at least once. Completely replanted at least once. In bits and pieces when the plants were brand new babies because the grasshoppers and earwigs cut them off at the knees. And then after the deer ate 2/3 of it because we didn’t think we really needed a gate. Guess what? We have a gate now.

And these are the garden prayer flags. I think they keep the deer out too.

Garden pests come in all sizes. I mean, ALL sizes, from 70 pounds to milligrams. You mostly know the smaller end of the scale if you live in the city (unless you have marauding dogs). I don’t know how farmers make a living! Some of these pests are extremely hard to dissuade. And they wait to watch you harvest the first teeny bit out of the garden, snickering behind their hands, knowing that will be the night they come to raid the place. You have posted the signal. Yes, I think they have hands. And even thumbs.

This is for squirrels [##$!@!!!@$$$!@###], who bite the green peaches, just to check. Then in a fit of pique, they cut 17 others from the tree to rot on the ground. That’s how we know that squirrels live in the moment. They can’t imagine that the peaches will change. Deer on the other hand, deer plot. They bide their time. They hide and wait.

And then there are the teeny pests. GRASSHOPPERS!!!!!!! They hide. I wear flip flops in the garden and sneak up on them one shoe off to swat them . . . DEAD. Even though we haven’t had much from the garden yet, i still get great satisfaction killing even one grasshopper. They won’t let you sneak up on to stomp them, but you can distract them while you take that shoe off. And if you don’t have that shoe, often you can reach out and pinch them between your fingers, especially early in the morning when they’re still sleepy. No. It’s not cruel. No. Neither grasshoppers, nor squirrels, nor deer are cute even with their big eyes. Yes, grasshoppers have big eyes. And I imagine them bugging out as their heads get squished.

But, there’s a way to kill grasshoppers in volume. This recipe is from the Bexar county extension agent, via A&M. If anybody knows how to kill grasshoppers, I trust the Aggies.

We are dividing it into much smaller portions but this is the master recipe.

10 lbs wheat bran or corn meal (the woman at the grocery store asked me if it was good, when she saw me picking the last bags up from the shelves. I told her I hoped so because I was planning to feed it to grasshoppers.  . . with their poison supplement.

1 gallon of water
1 pt vegetable oil
1 pt molasses
This is the good part . . . 1 pt Liquid Sevin

Mix the molasses, water and vegetable oil with 1/2T dish soap (to make the water and oil mix.
Add the Sevin and add everything to the bran. Let it sit for 24 hours.
Make little piles around the edges of the garden.

For those of us who aren’t farming acres, here’s a reduced recipe that’s more like the volumes you will get from the grocery store.

2 10 oz pkgs of wheat bran
1 pt water
4 T. vegetable oil
4 T. molasses
4 T. Liquid Sevin
Squirt of dish soap.

Same rules apply.

I like thinking of the grasshoppers with tummy aches. I sure hope I don’t come back as one.

My decade definitions

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm

1-10  Discovery

11-20 Sense making

21-30-ish Nonsense making

30-ish to 40 Reputation building

40 – 50 Empire building

50-60 Refine environment; time is fleeting

How about yours? What do your decades look like?