Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This is cool!

Jesus is risen!  Flashmob from Beirut, Lebanon singing the great Easter Anthem.

Shadetree Mechanic

I spent Friday doing a bit of work on my beloved's vehicle.  She was stranded the night before when the engine died out on her.  Thanks for family who went to her rescue and got her (and the vehicle) home.

Anyway, the job involved replacing the battery and the alternator.  Not really a big deal.  The battery was simple, the alternator looked simple.  The alternator was held by three bolts tightened to 47n/M.  Easily enough removed.  Should have taken 10-15 minutes.

Should have.  In removing the alternator I discovered I had to release the tension on the serpentine belt and slide it off the alternator pulley.  No worries, right? Not so fast.  Having never done this before I automatically came to the conclusion that if I loosened the belt tensioner bolt the arm would swing counter-clockwise and release tension.  Sounds reasonable right? It doesn't work that way, believe me, never loosen a bolt without knowing what you are doing.  I almost lost the whole tensioner and that would have been a major repair.

Next, I looked at the tension arm and saw a small hole.  Push with a screwdriver, thinks I.  Doesn't work.  Now I'm baffled.

At this stage I finally download a manual.  I discovered that it takes a 3/8" ratched drive to release the tension.  Just insert into the tensioner, push down, and voila the belt is released. 30 seconds later the belt was off, and 10 minutes later the job was done.  Easy.

Lesson?  It always helps to have a manual to give instruction.  For a Benedictine there are two:  Scripture and the Holy Rule.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Final Product (for now)

With the help of a friend the last patch of garden was finished on Friday.  For those interested, here are some pictures of the final product.

First 4x36 box planted with square foot gardening.
Contains tomatoes, peppers, brocolli, cabbage, peas, beans, turnips.
Second box (same size)
Cucumbers, hot peppers, peas, beets, radishes, lettuce, okra, carrots, onions.

Squash garden about 14x20
Zucchini, Yellow Neck, Acorn, Hubbard, Watermelon, Pumpkin
Sweet corn sowed between squash mounds.

Now we water, fertilize, and wait to see what happens.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


What should it be?  We are far enough out that we do not qualify for the classic suburban mantle.  Exurban doesn't seem to fit.

So, since the suburbs are usually small cities of a larger city, I think subrural fits.  Our neighborhood consists of older (60s-70s) homes on at least one acre lots.  In many ways we are smaller rural holdings on the edge of true farming operations.

I grew up on a small farm.  Eighty acres is not much, but it was enough to sustain us. At least when we added the 500 hogs that we raised.  I've always wanted to return to the farm.  It was a lot of work, especially as an only child, but it all seemed so much simpler, closer to the earth, and natural rhythms.  I know I can be accused of romanticism here, but there is truth to the closer to the earth/natural rhythms piece.

Our subrural farming experiment is to see how much production we can achieve in this small space (without annoying our neighbors in the process).  So far we have 288 square feet of garden planted.  Using a modification of Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" we have six 4'x12' boxes (made of 2x6s) filled with a combination of perlite, compost, and topsoil.  I will be adding vermiculite and peat moss to them over the next year.  I do not know how this will work, but it will be fun to try.  If our calculations are correct we should be able to can quite a bit for use this winter.  Or, so I hope.

See you around.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Here We Go

Welcome to Benedict, Birettas, and Beets!

This blog exists for a very simple reason--an experiment.

I wanted a place to keep track of my thoughts, insights, readings, learning, and sundry other things that occur in my life.

Most posts will either be block quotes of my reading or a sort of stream of consciousness writing as I reflect on things.  So, it may be that something will be controversial, and I may change my mind from time to time.  If you wish to engage in dialog with me, you are welcome to do so.  Just remember that we should always be civil and write out of Christian charity.

See you around.