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This has been one of those weeks that was great for productivity but bad for blogging! Work seems to be back at a steady pace, which is welcome. I’ve also been busy with volunteer work as a youth soccer coach and also mentoring the local intermediate school’s Future City Competition team. The Vanilla Ale is fermenting away like mad, and the Chocolate Stout was also started in a mad rush one evening. I wish I could say that I’ll be getting some rest this weekend…but there’s three soccer games to attend and a house to decorate for Halloween.

Even through all the madness, I found a few gems for this week’s compost bin:

  • So Rude: “When was the last time you did something that inconvenienced 200 people.” I may have taken precious time from my life to gripe about shopping cart rudeness, but at least cluttering up Costco’s parking lot isn’t directly putting other people in danger like the behavior documented in this short film. Something about driving in Manhattan (especially Manhattan, beyond most other cities) causes people to drive like aggressive maniacs. I know that most of us living in and near the big apple are always in a rush, but there is no place any of us need to be so important that it’s worth risking the safety of others.
  • World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale. Mindblowing stuff. I’d explain it, but words fail. You just have to watch it.
  • Follow The Glow. Great blog post about focusing on what’s truly important in your life. For me, my children, my garden, preparing good meals, and encouraging others to think towards the future are glow points.
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Yesterday Hubby and I, with a little help from Thing 2, bottled the Cape Cod Red. I stole a little taste, and it seemed pretty good. Two weeks from now we’ll crack open the first bottle for the official first tasting.

I’m not going to recap the whole process again, but if you’re interested, you can read about it here (that’s for you, Joe Z).

While we were bottling one batch, another was brewing on the stove. This is the first time I’ve been so ambitious as to brew one while bottling another, and it was exhausting. But I was so excited by the Vanilla Ale recipe kit that I had gotten from the Brewer’s Apprentice, that brewing could not wait for another day. I also picked up a Chocolate Cream Stout, which I’ll be brewing up one evening this week.

For a complete overview of the brewing process, go here.

Sorry for the relative silence this week! Work has been busy, for a change, leaving me with little time for play. The house is a wreck, the laundry is piling up, and the kids are wondering when Mom is going to cook something wonderful. Fortunately, next week is shaping up to be a bit lighter, so I’ll have more time for fun. We’ll be bottling the Cape Cod Red and hopefully starting a new brew this weekend, and then it’s time to start getting the house ready for Halloween.

I haven’t had much of a chance to poke around the internet, but I managed to find a few offerings for this week:

  • The Awakening. Imagine how lovely a place the world could be if we all experienced an awakening while still young enough to use the knowledge to craft our lives wisely.
  • TED Talks: Rory Sutherland. Life Lessons from an Ad Man. Brilliant presentation on how we can avoid getting bored with the stuff we already have.
  • National Engineer’s Week Future City Competition. The 8th grade gifted and talented kids from my local school district are competing in the Future City Competition for the first time this year. I learned about it this week when we attended the G&T Open House for Thing 1, and I volunteered to mentor the team as an Urban Planner. I will be meeting with he kids for the first time today, and I am so ridiculously excited.
Thing 1 reads an informational sign about Molly Pitcher on the battlefield.

Thing 1 reads an informational sign about Molly Pitcher on the battlefield.

Molly Pitcher (real name Mary Hays) was a colonial woman who helped the Continental Army during the Battle of Monmouth by carrying jugs of water from a nearby spring to the men and canons serving under General George Washington. Molly’s work was one of the reasons Washington’s forces won that battle…in the brutal heat of that June day, both men and canons required lots of cool water, and as the local wells were drained and the creeks rendered too muddy, the spring on the Perrine Farm was the last remaining source of fresh water.

Thing 2 is doing a biography report on Molly Pitcher at school, and so this weekend we decided to take her out to walk in Molly’s footsteps. I am thrilled that my daughter choose this woman to study for her report. Molly is a heroine who contributed to our country’s history, and I think she serves as a great example of feminine courage and valor. She also lived in our county, so visiting the site of the battle she fought in is an easy trip.

The Monmouth Battlefield State Park is a 15 minute drive from home and a frequent field trip destination for local schools. The park has many miles of trails, playgrounds, a museum with archeological finds from the battleground, and picnic areas. Sunday morning we packed up a picnic lunch and headed out to explore the battlefield and learn about our local history.

Thing 1 learned quite a bit during the hike. She saw how the battleground included the farms of several local families. The Sutfin family’s farm had the great misfortune of being between the two lines of artillery, which cannot have been fun. We walked the path from the artillery line to the spring and back again, to see what a trek Molly was making with full buckets of water. Back in the museum, a local historian guided a group of kids through the process of loading and firing a canon, so we were able to see not only how much work it was, but also what Molly’s water was used for (sponging sparks out of the barrel between rounds).

Thing 2, on the other hand, was simply jazzed at the very idea of visiting a battleground. He packed up a pair of toy light sabers and challenged his father (and later his sister) to battle:

The force is strong with these two.

The force is strong with these two.

This week has sure been a hectic one at the Homestead. The kids have been given new chore charts to motivate them to get their homework, music practice, and extra learning tasks done daily. I have had a busier then normal work week, and I’ve also worked hard to keep the blog posts flowing.

Despite the hectic pace of the week, I did manage to find a few things of interest to share with you:

  • Great Vegetarians From History. Thing 1 has been dealing with a little teasing this year about her vegetarian diet from a new girl in school. The other kids quickly squashed the new girl–they’ve been around our vegetarian daughter for 4 years now, so her diet is nothing odd to them. But she was a little rattled, and we’ve since spent some time talking about the many great people who also choose to not eat meat.
  • Carolyn Steel: How Food Shapes Our Cities. As an urban planner, I found this talk fascinating.
  • Less is More-The Half Christmas Tree. Treehugger seems to think this is a good idea, but I think it’s crud. Real trees are better than fake, both environmentally and for the ambience they provide. Either have a tree, or don’t, but half a tree seems like a lame compromise.
  • Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. Just as soon as I can find an appropriate occasion, I’m making these wonderful looking treats.
  • Dealing with Difficult People. Sometimes when I am testifying at a planning or zoning board hearing, I run up against the “What’s Her Problem?” person. These people, sometimes board members, sometimes members of the public, really push my buttons. The temptation to fight fire with fire is enormous, but the results would be bad for both my self and my clients. I am always on the lookout for tips on how to better control my reaction to these difficult people, because while I cannot control their behavior, I must control mine.
October 2009
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About me

I am on a personal and professional quest to find a happier, healthier, greener and more cost effective way to live life in the suburbs.