the Trash vitae

Trash is the editor-in-chief of an independent Colorado micro-publisher/ design studio. I dabble in digital photography, the lost art of film image making, and guerilla digital video. DrMAC Studios specializes in books and videos on self-reliance, gardening, dumpster diving, urban foraging and living off the excesses of others.
This blog documents my daily experiences with the rest of the world

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Urban Gardening

There’s been a lot of discussion lately in the news about urban gardening (Trash is a big proponent of it as well as a beginning practitioner) and I see more and more discussion about it in blogs and other types of media. (In fact, click here and you’ll go to some Google results for Urban Farming)

It’s hard to find a shorter trip to your consumer than to growing food in the neighborhood it will be consumed in. Along that line the NY Times has a slide show of different community gardens in NY and Detroit that have taken formerly vacant space and turned it into productive land. They are putting teenagers to work, selling fresh produce to people who might not have had it available before, generating some cash and making land that was formerly an eyesore into land that is useful and attractive to the neighborhood.

Along those lines, Time had an article recently discussing urban farming. They discussed both standard gardens and also skyscraper gardens, which could be the farms of the future. (My tongue is securely in my cheek at this point) Within the article they discussed a farmer in Milwaukee who raises chickens, tilapia and produce on a 2 acre plot in the city. (You can read more about him here) It’s amazing what people are doing with some ingenuity and creativity.

Maybe I’m off base, but I think just about every city in our country probably has at least a few empty lots that would be good options to turn into community gardens. Can you think of a few around you that might work? If so maybe you can become an urban gardener.

With the fall coming in short time and our wonderful weather here at the 'stead viable alternatives have got to be created and implemented in order to survive the coming "depression"..

under the weather.. but its was almost 90 here

bfast- leftover chili refired beans and melted cheese, coffee
lunch- leftover pasta with nacho sauce and melted cheese. water bottle
dinner- pulled chicken sandies, kool-aid
a rather light day as I was feeling under the weather ( a small cold and a little congestion) I believe its cause is from swimming on Friday in the underheated pool. Anyhow hung out at the stead, watered the veggies a bit, clipped som dead stems and then the big thrill of the day.
I dropped the wife and kid off at the Wallimart to do the monthly front door grocery shopping. I hate front door stores. And I had been telling the wife for months how much easier it would be if I just dropped them off and picked them up later. After dropping them off I came back to the stead and setup the new printer we picked up from a dumpie a few weeks ago. It needed print cartridges. Which I was luck enough to find from a buddy who ridded himself of his old printer. It worked perfectly.
Today feel better and will prob get off my butt here in a few and go check out some dumpies. Knowing that this is the last weekend of the month many moves are taking place and who knows what we will find.

Friday, August 29, 2008

the week thus far

bfast-leftover pizza coffee
lunch- pb and J burritos, fuit, water bottle
dinner-chicke tenders, green beans, mashes taters, soda ( I dont drink soda very often as it irritates Trashs tummy)

It has been a dumpie finders glutony this last few days Lots of garden things(pots, planters, yard art), landscape stuff and the piece de resistence (an antique white wrought iron cafe set) all have been recycled for use on the 'stead. Have also set up a few more beds that I hope to be able to get some greens and carrots in for the late fall harvest. Cleaning out the garage and trying to increase the real estate out there is a goalof mine. More room for food storage and necessities, less room for accumulated finds.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

quote of the day

"We are not only headed for a Depression, but a violent Depression that will be far worse than 1929. Some experts believe the United States will fall into the chaos, bedlam and anarchy that tore apart Yugoslovia. I am not going that far, but I know our morals and ethics are not the same as they were in 1929. Moreover, we are a far more violent society and totally dependent upon a well oiled system for delivery of food and basic services." Mike Morgan

At least 3 banks a week are failling and closing down. The big 3 automakers are asking the Feds for bail out. Home in the neighborhoods are being foreclosed on because people cant make the mortgage. Yet our friendly politicians are having big ole parties (this week Denver, next in MN) while the country blows up. Why are they celebrating?

I think I will hit the dumpsters. I am depressed now....

Tuesday morning

Bfast- jalapeno and cheddar baquette (dumpie find), coffee
lunch-- fruit cup(also dumpie found) and water bottle
dinner-- nachos and lemonade

started working around the 'stead . putting some collectibles and finds up out of the way. cleaned the garage some. made a minor repair to the garage entry door. (Apparently the yungins have been a little rough on the hinges so i replaced with intensified wood gate hinges.. Look ugly but sold reinforcement for now. Got several more projects to work on this week. Been using the bike for alot of the trips.. It is holding up up well and the baskets I put on are solid.
Yesterday it held a 12 pack of pop, a gallon of milk, can of coffee, a bag of assorted hardware and bungie corded on top was a 20 lb bag of catfood.
Not a problem. Then this morning I decided I needed a long ride so went out to see the caravan of delegat busses at the Ramada on 120th and Grant. Lots of security even 20 miles from downtown..Kept on riding. All told about 15 miles this morning. A tad rough on the old bones but alas it was a good ride.

Glad I am staying close to the homestead this week.

Monday, August 25, 2008

MOnday morning on Staycation

'The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold."

This is an old fable that warrants a revisit given our current social situation.

bfast- a fresh tomato, celery w/ peanut butter dip (both dumpie found), coffee and a water bottle
lunch- leftover chili w/melted cheese. dumpied mini carrots, water bottle
dinner a SONIC treat for the whole family paid for with CL profits.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday musings

Bfast- hot cereal-orange- coffee
midmorning snack--donuts, chunk of cheese, peanuts, more coffee
Lunch-- chili-mac (home-made), chips and a flavored water bottle
Dinner- BBQ chicken tenders, caulflower and creamed corn, water

Well the week is over and Stay-cation begins this morning. haha ROFL. Lots to do in this 10 days around the stead. Besides dumpieing, gathering and foraging, I gotta get the stead ready for the onslaught of the winter months. What with the coolness of the mornings and the rising of the dewpoint I think we may be in for an early one this year. So I got some work to do.

As many of you who know me personally occasionally I go off on tangents regarding people to whom I look up to and call an icon. Scott Nearing, Edward Abbey, HST, Albert Camus, Hemingway are amongst the top list. Milton Saier was amongst the newer icons to join my list and now I add Malcolm Wells.

Malcolm is an architect by trade and has brought forth over the last 20 plus years the concepts of living within the soil of nature and not building against it. Whilst I am not in favor of living in a cave, I do believe his designs and his attitudes on life warrants his addition. It is Trash's personal belief that to live simply and in harmony with the natural elements and then to pass that wisdom down to the next generation by example is the greatest gift you can give to the planet.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dumpie mobility

Bfast- bean/cheese burrito leftover with dumpie salad greens
Lunch-- Gatorade and ciabbata and butter
Dinner-- soft turkey tacos, tortilla chips, juice

Sitting here reading an article about how the "thems" are upset that the cities need to do more to stop the stealing of bicycles around the country. Of the solutions that were suggested are better locks or to camouflage your bike (thru the use of sticker removal, black spray paint and yes even duct tape the frame to make it ugly). Better locks and their proper useage I can understand (Mine is now a u-shaped metal tube with a keyed connection end on both sides ($10 AT WALLIE)

But to cammie the bike.. These people spend $500 to $3000 (choke choke) on the state of the art 2-wheeler to show off just how green they are and that they ride the same bike Lance (330,000 gallons a monthe water use for his "little" home in Austin) Armstrong or others ride.. Hey guys its not the price of the bike that matters its what you do with it..

Trash had dumpie bike 1 (ol' blue) a few years ago. She had a cheap frame and was an original components bike that I had pieced together in the side yard of the old 'stead. It had some solid rubber inserts, in stead of tubes, in the tires (flat-proof) that I had found and a very dependable gear shift (only 2 gears of the 18 worked). The seat was a fat-ass seat I had found on the curb of another house and the baskets, similar to what are on the current dumpie-bike, were also pulled from another trash find. That bike was uglier than hell but it accompanied me well on many a dumpie diving jaunt, as well as bein a good commuter bike for the daily 14 mile trip (28 miles round trip)to the babylon work place. Good memories indeed.
Until one day I took the bike down to Babylon, LOCKED IT UP with a cable lock in front of the office with all the "spensive bikes " . The bike was there at 1130 lunch and 2pm smoke. When I came down at 430 to ride home the bike was gone.. STOLEN.. The joking persisted for weeks about how the ugliest bike in the rack was stolen. And the "spensive ones" remained. I just figured someone needed her more than me.

Maybe someone else knew the story about riding UGLY so it wont get stolen. I sure hope they are taking care of "ol Blue" as we all called her..

Saturday, August 16, 2008

the rain barrels are half full

I just went outside to dump the trash and while I was outside anyway I went and checked on my 2 rain barrels that before this rain were empty and gathering dust. Well after a day and half of light rain they are half full (about 15 gallons each). And the rain is still falling. By the end I should have a full 60 gallons of garden water available for the veggies. NOt that I will have to water right away, but glad to know I will be able to do it for free.

them and us 2: the homegrown Xtracycle grocery carrier

I saw the Xtra cycle attachment on a bike this week on campus.. Typical yuppie. SAid he bought it to carry groceries on the bike to conserve gas.. His cost $399 for the kit and about 2-3 hours of work.

Mine on the other hand came off of a dumpie Schwinn bike (circa 1967) that I brought home to part out. Attached with about 15=20 minutes of work (as all hardware fit nicely) on the dumpie bike.Mine has held bags of groceries, dumpie finds, and even transported Junior dumpie boy (about 65 -70 pounds) with nary a struggle. You can see from the pic (taken at the beginning of the summer) that my version of the $11 water bottle is sitting right there in the basket waiting for me to satisfy some thirst.. I still am using it.

I wish he would have come to me first . He could have paid me $399 for the whole dumpie bike and I could have gone out and found another one and pocketed at least $350. Darn

them and us ( how to save $125) and still be green

I had to post this . With all respect to my green friends I still can believe the prices of this stuff. I definitely am in the wrong biz. Whilst our friends they yuppie greens wont be able to afford thjis stuff for long let me give them and you all a few hints to get this stuff on the cheap..

1. the $11 water bottle-- made out of stainless steel (YUK) the tast of metallic water.. I prefer the tough as nails Power- Ade plastic bottle with the labe removed and my own sticker added. It cost me $1.50 a year ago and it still works well. Goes into the bag, on the bike and into the office with nary a strange look.

2. $35 for a wire harvest basket-- Trash got a plastic one with a SAfieway logo on it from the dumpie for free. sturdier and can be bungied on the dumpiebike for hauling.

3. the assorted cotton bags ($8, $6, $4 and $3) If you dont mind having logos on your stuff, which I dont I got all the same bags for free from the dumpies for free. My large ones were from wholey foods, my lunch bag was from the boulder bolder (found in trashie trashie in Boulder), my mesh bags are old onion and orange bags found , some with fruit still in them in the trashie.

4. My favorite is the $49 counter top composter.. Does anyone remember tin and plastic coffee cans.. I do and I use them for compst collection and trasferrance to the heap. Spending $50 on something to move rot around is downright silly..

What do you guys think.These are only a few absurdities that I see.

Homegrown economy..a barterin we will go

bfast- hot cereal w strawberry jam, orange, coffee
snack- donuts and fruit (meeting leftovers)
lunch chicken strips, taters, corn and pasta (leftovers) water bottle
dinner chicken strips, fries and juice.

Apparently this is an old term and an older practice, which Trash has lived by for years, is being reborn.. BARTER.

As an economist, money is nothing more than the means we use to transact an exchange. But what if you dont have any, cant get any, and dont feel the moral obligation to acquire any.. Well then bartering is an option.

For years Trash has used bartering to get alot of things. I work on computers for people, in exchange I get a check for my services. But what if I take part of my price for labor in acquiring the old machine or some other device or asset that I want more than money. Then the exchange becomes a legit barter. Or as occurred a few months ago when Trash picked up the vacation villa, the ol pop-upcamper, for a 6 pack of beer. Another successful barter.

Free market at its finest.
Apparently the practice is catching on with the yuppies also.. SInce they have no money, credit cards are maxed out, the jobs are gone, etc. yet they still need to get stuff. SO where do they turn.

The same markets Trash has been goiong to for years. The local freecycle site, the local dumpie diver exchange boards, the Craigslist free stuff or barter stuff etc. . Man oh man it takes them awhile to catch on .. And they have good stuff.

Part of old Trash philosophy would like to just hang out and wait for the economy to really take a crapper and the stuff is out on the sidewalk for the dumpster divers to pick thru after the repossession and foreclosure takes place. But I am not that callous. For I know but for the grace of G-d and my constant finnagling, I too could be out of luck and my stuff would be in the front yard..

Anyhow the rain is falling nicely since yesterday.. A welcome relief for my empty rain barrels and my drier than usual, not very productive veggie garden,. I love it. The rain had been teasing us for a week now. A sprinkle here and there and then gone. Now its been raining since yesterday pretty much constantly. A joyous relief.. It hampers dumpstering but it gains in insightful time on my blog and catching up with the other bloggers and sites I visit frequently.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

2 more weeks until a well deserved Staycation

bfast- hot cereal, fruit, toast and coffee.
lunch- ramen noodle soup, fritos (wal-mart buy at a buck a bag) and a juice bottle ( water bottle filled with freebie packet of juice mix that was freecycled to me)
dinner $1 hot and spicey chicken sandies and $1 double cheeseburgers from McD's (gather them up while you can cause apparently McD's is going to take them the double cheeseburgers off the dollar menu due to cost..), another juice bottle and a cold beer to top it off.

What is stay-cation you may ask. It is a newer term to describe a vacation where one doesnt vacate their home and go somewhere else. Instead of vacating one stays home. Thereby a staycation.
Now the reason for the time off is obvious. Where Trash works is shutting down for the entire week of the Dem convention and noone is allowed into the plant. Therefore we are on forced staycation. That ok as I need sometime off to dumpie and build some stuff for the fall projects.

So alas, Trash will be busy that week.

Tighten Your belt in the Kitchen

I couldnt help but showing off this pic. No its not the Trash clan. But it expresses the united family front that needs to occur so we all can survive the coming events. Food is a treasure that is a vital essential in the lifestyle. Never pass on the opportunities that abound top recover those treasures and use them to your full advantage.

Here are some tips for you with some additional commentary directe towards my fellow freegans..:

1. Ditch prepared meals right now (unless of course they are found at the dumpster , in which case GO FOR IT)

Consumers have been led to believe that they don't have the time to cook and it simply isn't true. You can have a healthy meal on the table within half an hour. Prepared meals have more fat, more sugar, more salt, more preservatives, and more garbage waste than anything you can cook yourself.

2. Plan ahead:
Yes, this is going to take a bit of effort, but once you get going it will be easy. Make sure you have a well stocked pantry. Canned or dry legumes, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes should all be on hand to make quick, nutritious meals.

3. Plan your week (and make alloowances for the dumpie finds): Take the time to work out a menu plan for the week. Most people grocery shop once a week (we go once a month) and they toss things into their carts, without considering what they really need. If you know what you are going to eat, and you have the right ingredients, you'll be less likely to call for takeout, or head out to the fast food joint. Then again if the dumpster haul brings you an occasional already made meal and salad thank the heavenly one and chow down.

4. Cook more meatless meals: Meat will consistently be the most expensive food item in your grocery cart. The ready availability of other protein sources allows you to expand your food repertoire and have a healthier diet.

5. If you do use meat, use less: no one needs a 10-ounce steak. Cut back on the amount of meat that you cook and increase the amount of vegetables for each serving. (At the Trash stead Mrs Trash can take 2 pounds of ground turkey meat and make it a filling meal for the Trash clan. Even 2 chicken breasts properly cut up and mixed with rice and veggies can feed all five of us.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday meanderings

bfast-banana, cheddar grits casserole, coffee
lunch- lefotver fried fish, bfast burrito (freebie leftover)- fruit and water bottle

back on the dumpie bike today and it was not easy. The arthritis that took my knees yesterday loosened up a tad bit so was ablt to put in about 5 miles. Anyhow checked the dumpies on thje way back and it was a bust. NADA nothing.I am wondering if , due to the economy the way it is, more and more people are dumpieing and grabbing the goodies. I hope that is the case. But alas.

Monday, August 4, 2008


"The End of the World as we Know I" (Acronym coined by Mike Medintz) (Spoken “Tee-ought-walk-ee”)

I saw this term used the other day in discussion on the "gloom and doom factor" of living in our sold-out country. And why we need to learn how to regain our primitive ways of steading and survival in the coming years. The discourse grew out of talk on the "if you were to move from where you are ,where would you go and what kind of people would you choose to have near you."

It was broken down into 2 types of scenarios

One, an affluent or even typically middle class family suddenly has little food in their pantry and no grocery store from which to stock up, no restaurants open, no gas to put in the BMW, no X-Box to play or HDTV to watch, and no mall to go to. Their credit cards no longer work, and the personal "connections" they're used to being able to make use of to get what they need are no longer available. Used to being self-contained (which is different than being self-sufficient), they may not have meaningful relationships with their immediate neighbours.

Two, a poorer or lower-middle class family, already used to partially getting by on their homestead garden, the basics of life, a 20-year old beater of a vehicle or none at all, and none of the unnecessary trinkets of modern city life. They have no credit cards to begin with, and are accustomed to working on a limited cash basis, even bartering with neighbors. Poorer country folks in particular are used to being relatively self-sufficient out of sheer necessity, and often have a strong sense of defending what is theirs and the means and willingness to do so while remaining willing to help friends and family in times of need.

In short, I see the first family rapidly shifting into freak-out mode, resorting to whatever daddy thinks necessary in order to make a flailing attempt to continue their prior lifestyle. As you rightfully say, civilization is but a thin veneer.

I see the second family getting by with far fewer and less lifestyle-shattering modifications.

Being a member of the 2nd class and being surrounded with other people just like me already, why would I move. Except to dodge the bullets..
Do any "living with Trashdigger" readers have thoughts on this?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday fun

bfast- boloney sandies and lettuce, coffee
lunch-- lettuce and cuke salad- dumpster find, water bottle
dinner-- chicken tenders cheesey fries kool aid cherry

Well it was a fun Saturday and Sunday-- while turnng on the sprinkler to water the veggies yesterday I heard the lovely sound of water gushing under the house. Apparently with the heat getting so high and the water heater being outside the pressure release valve mechanism sprung a leak. I tried resetting it and cleaning the corrosion out but apparently that wasnt good enough.

The darn thing had met its calling.. This morning I went out to assess the overnight damage and realized it was just a nice pool under the house. The crud I cleaned out was enough to take the gush down to a drip.

I figured since I was going to Lowies anyway to get a new pressure release valve I might as well geto off my lazy butt and check out the rest of the plumbing under the house. Lo and behold I founf another small leak in the kitchen hot water line.. That one was easy enough as I keep some extra fittings around just in case. So I grabbed the dumpie light and crawled under the house to fix it.. Took about 10 mins and we were back in biz. BUt the PR valve still needed handling. Went over to Lowies and picked one up after stopping at Wallies to get bike tube for daughter.

CAme home with the supplies and figured I would get to work when it cooled down (almost 100 degrees again). Took the kiddos swimming and cooled off awhile til the roar of thunder and rain began to fall. MAde it home and closed up the water heater closet and skirt just in time before the 30 minute rain storm came gushing down. After it stopped and I enjoyed the clean smell of fresh rain air I went about my biz of changing the valve.

Now the WWW is loaded with lots of hints and instructions on doing just about anything. And this time they were right on the money. They suggested shutting off the water and having the new valve ready to go as you loosened the old one . I did and the old valve came off with a few light pounds of the hammer on the plumbers wrench and a few turns later the old valve was off and I grabbed the new one, already plumber taped and screwed it in. A few wrench turns to tighten ad it was done. Turned the water on and wala no leaking valve.. Attached the overflow pipe and I was done. NO more leak.
Thank you WWW
I can now add replacing pressure release valves to my plumbing skillset.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

1 man.....1 acre

I have been following all the talk lately on the different blogs and sustainable lifestyle shows with regard to your carbon footprint. and its size. Shows like Trashed in the USA show different people in the USA and how their lifestyle choices cause a greater economic footprint. Well I got to thinking. and I have come up with the one man one acre hypothesis.
Waste not want not
Reuse, recycle, and resell (or barter) is more than a philosophy it needs to be ingrained as a way of life. The yungins need to learn the value and consequences of waste and neglect in their daily activities. 2 hefty bags of real trash is what goes to the landfill from our family every Friday. Everything else that we cant find a use for is either placed in the recycle bin or compost bin.
NOw granted you can go overgoard on the lifestyle and an occasional "fling" is a norm (in our case the pizza night or the SONIC outing). But that is what makes it special. COncern for the environment and your footprint

Who the hell needs alternative fuel vehicles if they minimize the consumption of fuel to a set reality. IN our case $20 a month in gas is budgeted. I walk, ride the bike or use public tranport for nearly everything. SO do my kids.

Who the hell needs the 300k house (and its accompanying headaches and maintenance costs) when a recycleable structure or manufactured home will fit the bill. Its easier to maintain, upgrade insulate etc. I paid 18k for my double wide with with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths a garage and patio deck on a corner lot. When we want to move on we can either sell the place or have it recycled. All natural ingredients. The footprint is gone after they reattach the tires.

its Saturday morning

bfast- toast and butter, banana, coffee
lunch--salad, bread and cheese
dinner-- 2bologna sandies, veggies- koolaid

find update: took a ride on the bikey this morning ove to SAfieway and checked out the bookieseller. Lots of bookies. Gonna have to take dumpie mobile over to haul them out. Behind Safie got 2 heads perfectly good (except for the outer layers) lettuce and about a half dozen cukes.. great for birds, and cuke sandies.

spent the day at home yesterday working on machines and juniors bike. Junior dumpie found some new shirts, like I need any more, and a funky sun hat for dear old dad. way 2 hot to do much of anything. kids got adventurous and rode bike to mall for some in-the-front door shopping.
brave little kiddos.

Anyhow wife got worried and we hopped into the dumpiemobile and drove over to the SUper duper Target to find our lil explorers. Went in the front door and picked up some cheap food for the week and came home.. That is the longest drive the dumpie mobile has been on since March a whopping 7 miles on the odometer.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday dudldrums

Bfast-hot cereal, fruit and coffee
Lunch- leftover Roast meat sandies, mashed taters, a cuke and veggies
Dinner- Pizza, wings and water.
weather now in triple digits. swamps cooler got a break and now its working again full force. As the temps rise so do the frustrations in people. Its a direct relationship I believe. After the week I have had I decided to attempt to enjoy a 3 day weekend. Trash will be doing what he does best. Dumpiediving, CLing, smoking, drinking and enjoying a bath (or several baths) in the community pool.