Download a Genuine 1920s Ringtone

Genevieve-Clark-Bain

Image: Wikipedia, Genevieve Clark using a candlestick phone.

The most common service call for telephone technicians back in the 1920s was to muffle the obnoxious sound of the ringer. Why were those bells so loud? The phone company didn’t make money until you lifted the receiver. It was in their interest for you to answer the phone.

Now you can have the genuine, ear splitting sound of a 1920s era telephone ringer box on your shiny new iPhone or Android device. I recorded the sound of my Western Electric 534A ringer box and turned it into a ringtone that you can download here for $1.29 in the iTunes store. I also uploaded a free version that you can download here as an mp3. If you download the free version you can turn that audio file into a ringtone using these directions.

If the ringtone proves popular I’ll make a Western Electric 500 version and, perhaps, turn the sound of hungry cats into a ringtone that is sure to disrupt your next meeting.

Spam Poetry Sunday

Jan-Brady

In lieu of our usual picture Sunday, we offer instead a beautiful word picture from our friends the spammers. Our software blocks thousands of these every day, but some get through and we have to hand prune our comment sections:

We wish to thannk you yett agai ffor the gorgeous ideas you offered Janet
when preparing her own post-graduate research and, most importantly, pertaining to providing masny of the ideas in a blog post.
If we had been aware off your web site a year ago, we would
have been kept from the nonessential measures we wer selecting.
Thank you very much.

What mystifies us is the ultimate purpose of these spam comments. This one was placed on our announcement for our upcoming coffee roasting class (not a popular or highly linked post), and linked to a page for a restaurant which is obviously just a place holder, in that it has no content or history or graphic design. And who the heck is Janet?

Saturday Tweets: Long Hot Summer

Going to Seed

radish podsTidiness is a very pleasant thing inside a house. Outside, in a yard or garden, it’s not at all a good thing. I’m really tired of the cult of tidy.

We seem to be confused. We conflate our yards with our living rooms, the space beneath our shrubs for kitchen floors. Popular opinion seems to believe our flower and vegetable gardens should be maintained like trophy rooms, like curio cases.

Our mistake, of course, is thinking that everything is about us. That our yard, our garden, our little patch of land actually belongs to us and we have the right to maintain it exactly as we like. We might own it on paper, but we share it with hundreds, thousands, millions (if you want to get into soil biology) of other lives.

Of course, if we maintain our yards to exact standards of tidiness–say our yard consists of a lawn and some shrubs along the drive with the dirt beneath them blown clean, we probably are not supporting much life at all. We’ve put up the No Trespassing sign, and creatures listen.

front bed seedy 2It gets even more sparse if we spray herbicides and pesticides all over the place. All of the invisible life vanishes. Any creatures which visit are just passing through.

The land is eerily silent.

But life is waiting to come back. That is what is so amazing. It jumps back if given even half a chance. If you open the door just a crack.

All we have to do is sit back and relax.

Stop with the obsessive yard work.

Stop paying the yard crew.

Stop spraying chemicals around.

Just stop.

Leave the leaves. Let fallen leaves and pulled weeds stay on the land to protect and nourish the soil.

Let volunteers bloom.

Let your garden go to seed.

mustard seedyIf we live with fussy neighbors, or under the impression that our gardens should look like the ones in the magazines, we might work hard to keep our vegetable and flower gardens impeccable, starting seedlings in advance to replace aging plants so there’s never any sense of “decline” in the garden.

I’ve always let parts of our garden go to seed, but this year, more than ever, I’m attuned to it. I’m reveling in the beauty in it, and I’m understand the generosity of it down deep, on the soul level.

lettuce bloomingIn the past I struggled to leave the plants as long as I could stand it, knowing they were doing good in their later life cycle, but also feeling like my yellow, straggly garden made me look lazy or incompetent.

I was also acutely aware of the long gaps between harvests that would occur if I waited for plants to go to seed before replacing them. Now, I’ve given up all that anxiety, and I revel in this time.

The insects feast on the flowers which bloom on our lettuce, our arugula, our radishes, our mustard, our fennel. Predatory wasps hunt alongside lady bugs and diligent bees of all types.

argula flowerWe have more birds than ever in our yard, and they love our overgrown, browning beds, because of course they’re eating the seeds or the bugs on the ripening plants. They would not, however, allow me to take any pictures of them doing these things.

They love all the weedy places, the vacant lots and over grown side yards. Those places are full of flashing wings and trilling songs. It’s already a seed time of year here in LA on our fast moving calendar, and I’m watching the birds feast. I love watching the little finches balancing on thin, swaying plant stalks in the golden light of the afternoon. The world is full of moments of perfect, unconscious beauty like that.

Once the seeds are eaten, and the plants are brown and empty, I cut the stalks down at their base, but I don’t throw anything away. Everything stays in the yard, on or in the ground. The plant which fed us and the bee and the finch will now finish its work feeding the soil. Feeding the soil is its deepest work.

And–never worry!– some seed always manages to hit the ground despite all the competition, ensuring volunteers will come up next year, and feed us all again.

radish pods 2An aside:

One area where I have to admit that I am less than generous is in the matter of radish seed pods. These I don’t leave for the birds, because I like them so much.

Most of you gardeners are probably very familiar with radish seed pods. If you aren’t, they are the fat little pods that show up after a radish plant of any type goes to seed.

They taste like radishes, pretty much, sometimes they’re sweeter, sometimes they’re spicier. Radish pods are both a bonus crop and a fine consolation prize, because even if your radish roots end up puny or woody or otherwise disappointing, you can always eat the pods. They’re best fresh, picked a handful at a time as a snack or to put in a salad, but you can lactoferment or pickle them, too, using pretty much any pickle recipe you prefer.

Help Plant a Garden — and Help a Local Eagle Scout

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 1.29.00 PM

If you’re a local and have idle hands tomorrow, our friends at the Community Garden at Holy Nativity could use your help:

On Friday June 24, Eagle scout candidate Taylor Martin will hold a workday for his Eagle project. And Taylor needs a bit of help. Taylor’s project extends the Community Garden at Holy Nativity. His team has already removed a large area of lawn, and on Friday they’ll be planting six fruit trees. It will transform the entrance to the church.

Friday is supposed to be Taylor’s completion date, and there’s still a lot to do:

  • installing headerboard (9am)
  • composting the planting areas (morning)
  • planting trees, flowers, vegetables (afternoon)
  • assembling benches (all day)

It’s a fun chance to work with an (exuberant) team of young scouts and to help get another section of food gardens built.

Start time is 9am, and we’ll continue all day until it’s done. Bring your own garden gloves. If you’d like to help with assembling benches, bring your own toolbox. Although much of the project site is in the shade, we recommend sun hats / sun protection.

The Garden is at 6700 West 83rd in Westchester – Los Angeles 90045. Please RSVP if you can come.

If you can’t make it on Friday, the Environmental Change-Makers will hold a separate workday later this summer to install a meditative labyrinth that will be open to the general public. Taylor’s project creates an embracing space for this special addition to the garden.