This weekend, Mr. DBM and Cortes have been quite productive. They have managed to produce 43l of your finest Newcastle Brownish ale. Since production, Cortes has been busy making sure that the bottles will be available for the next batch of liquid amber, which will be ready in a couple of weeks time. I have to say, he is doing a grand job! The two of them are quite taken with the whole brewing process - well, Mr. DBM certainly likes the process and I think that I can safely say that Cortes enjoys the end result. If Mr. DBM had his way, he would be installing a microbrewery in the basement as I type. Thank God Mr. DBM doesn't get his way on most things. Can you imagine what this place would be like if he did? There would be a goat in the garden, happily munching away on his underwear, taken from the washing line that he wants to install. The garage would be full of chickens, the driveway would be another vegetable patch and the basement would be a brewery. Not all bad, I grant you........
Anyway, while we were at our local brew emporium bottling the ale, the very friendly and talkative manager came up to us and asked Mr. DBM and Cortes what they thought of the brew. He then turned to me and asked me when I would be able to test it, since I obviously couldn't drink anything alcoholic in my present state. Oh dear, what to say? Luckily, Mr. DBM jumped in with his ever-so-practical explanation of the state of my humungous liver. I meanwhile, skulked off to hide behind Cortes. If only he could stand still for more than five seconds, it would be a great place to hide. Meanwhile, Mr. Manager is horrified by his mistake - not that it is his fault, since I really do look about 7 months pregnant - and can no longer look me in the face or even in my general direction, not that he knew which direction I was in due to my excellent hiding place. Mr. DBM did go into damage control and told him that even a practicing nurse who had been told three times that I was not, in fact, pregnant, still congratulated us on the impending happy event. So, it really was not his fault, and I actually felt sorrier for him than I did myself.
So, as we are getting ready to leave the beer emporium, I go up to the manager, who is behind the counter and can no longer avoid me, and I ask him what specials they have on next month. Well, he doesn't know yet, since it isn't next month for another two days and he doesn't like to plan too far in advance. OK then, perhaps I will just check your webpage in a couple of days then? Not that it really matters, since the next batch has been planned already - a lovely, light, summery honey brown lager. Oh, well that never goes on sale apparently, but since I asked so nicely, we can have a batch for 10% off. Excellent, thinks I. See, it never hurts to ask, does it? I am very proud of my negotiating skills and the money that I have saved the Brew Team. Turns out, it had nothing to do with my negotiating skills, my delightful personality, my witty banter or my winning smile. Rather, it was down to the Not-a-Baby-Bump. The poor guy was just so embarrassed by his little faux pas that he felt the least he could do was give us 10% off our next batch. So, what else can The Bump get me, I wonder?
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
A while ago, The Depp Effect issued a challenge - I shall call it the Mind the Bell Challenge. This challenge was to find something quirky in your neighbourhood, photograph it and post it on your blog. Now, I was not directly challenged and I was much relieved about that. You see, I live in Canada on the West Coast, where everything is new and if it is old, well, it needs to be knocked down so that something new can be put in its place. That really bugs me. I like old, quirky things with character and you just don't find that kind of thing out here. That is one of the things that I miss about England. Let's face it, if you walked into a pub anywhere around here and hit your head on a ridiculously low beam, well, you would sue someone. In England, if I walk into a pub and don't hit my head, well, I am obviously in a modern pub and I have to leave to go and find one with a bit more character. I love one of my local pubs back home where even short arses such as myself can hit their head on a beam. Don't worry, it does have nice cushiony padding.
So, I was relieved not to be challenged. I don't like challenges at the best of times - too much pressure and I don't like the possibility of failure. However, the other day we were driving around a rather industrial part of a neighbouring town looking for a recycling centre - oh yes, we are still in our green phase, when I saw this........
I have to admit that it gave me a good laugh. Mr. DBM just looked at me with a very stern face that clearly said "Grow up!" But, come on, this is funny. Admit it, you just laughed, didn't you? It made me think of another business name that always makes me chuckle - The Athlete's Foot. Now who in their right mind would chose to name their business after a fungal infection? At least with Happy Ho the owner has the excuse that English is not their first language and that they didn't realise that Ho in English actually means "A hooker or a hoochie, although sometimes more promiscuous than a hoochie, and therefore undesirable." i.e. the diminutive form of "whore". I suspect that the owner probably wonders why English speakers giggle like school girls when they hear or see the name - I am guessing that no-one has had the heart to tell the owner what his name actually means here, since I assume that it is his surname being used. But what excuse does the owner of The Athlete's Foot have? It is an American company, surely they have heard of, and probably even experienced, athletes foot, the fungal infection?
There must be many other examples of unfortunate business names out there, mostly due to the vagaries of the English language and inappropriate translations. Does anyone have any to share?
Saturday, 21 June 2008
It started back in August, 2007, when a twelve year old girl stumbled across a very unexpected bit of flotsam (or is that jetsam? I never know the difference). It was a size-12 sneaker, which would appear to be nothing unusual, except that there was still a foot in it! This occurred on Jedidiah Island, one of the many small islands found in the Strait of Georgia, a body of water running between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. A rather grisly find, no doubt, but not much to write home about. A week later, a couple walking along the beach of another Gulf Island, Gabriola Island, made a similar discovery. Another sneaker, another size-12 foot. One would assume that it belonged to the same person as the previous foot. But no, this was another right foot. Now, I know that there are some people out there with two left feet, but two right feet? Hmmmmm, this is starting to look a wee bit suspicious to me. According to Cpl Garry Cox of the RCMP - aka the Mounties, who always get their man - "Two being found in such a short period of time is quite suspicious." No shit, Sherlock.
It is now February and things are starting to get creepy. I wake up one morning after dreaming about finding a foot on a beach and then when I turn the TV on for my early morning fix of local news, what do I hear? Yep, another foot has washed ashore on a Gulf island. Yep, it is a man's foot and yep, it is a size 12 in a sneaker and yep, it is a right foot. OK, this is definitely getting beyond a coincidence. What is happening here? Where are these feet coming from and where are the rest of the bodies? Of course, the RCMP are remaining very tight lipped.
May 23rd, another one hops ashore, this time at the mouth of the Fraser River in Richmond, just south of Vancouver. Another right foot in a running shoe.
June 17th, human foot found in a running shoe off Westham Island, Ladner, just south of Richmond. This time, it is a left foot. So far, five feet in total, all in running shoes and all but one, right feet.
June 19th, number six, off Campbell River on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Enough, enough...............we need answers.
So, what could possibly explain this plethora of feet sans bodies? The RCMP are certainly not rushing in with any explanations. They are still claiming that there is no evidence to link the feet and that they are treating each case separately. Hello? How likely is it that six feet could have washed ashore in a small geographical area and not be in any way connected? You really are talking one hugemongous coincidence for that to be the case. And can we remember a case about a man and his pigs and some fifty women who went missing from Vancouver over a period of twenty years? How long did it take before the police managed to cotton on to that one and link the cases together? Now, don't get me wrong, I am not denigrating our police - they have a very hard and thankless job to do - but come on! Surely there has to be some connection. Let's have a look at some of the theories out there that could explain the feet.
- The feet belong to accident victims. Several small planes have crashed in recent years in the Georgia Strait and the accident victims are not always recovered. It is possible that the feet belong to such unfortunate individuals and no foul play is involved. However, DNA tests have been carried out and the DNA does not match any missing person on file.
- Many young, healthy men have gone missing from the Vancouver area over the past few years and the feet could belong to some of them. Again, no DNA matches have been made.
- Some people seem to think that the feet have just collected in this small area due to the prevailing currents bringing the feet in from a much larger area. Apparently, a body in the water will naturally sink and decompose and the bones will disarticulate. A running shoe is naturally buoyant and so will float to the surface with the remains of the foot still inside. Apparently, most people's right foot is slightly larger than their left foot and most people tie their right shoe slightly tighter than their left, and so it is more likely that a right foot will stay inside the shoe. Hence the conspicuous shortage of left feet. One RCMP has stated "This may very well be nothing more than the results of natural process of decomposition in water and the combined effects of predation by aquatic scavengers." While I can agree that feet will detach from a body and running shoes are likely to float, what I don't understand is why here and why now? How come feet are not washing up in other places of the world on such a regular basis? Surely there are many people that are lost at sea whose bodies are never recovered? I have never heard of so many feet being found over such a short time span in such a small area.
- Foul play. No matter how many times the police say there is no reason to suspect foul play, well, you have to. Too many people have gone missing and too many feet have floated ashore. Vancouver is well known for its drug trade and criminal gang activities. I can't help but think that this may be their way of dealing with rivals or unwanted individuals. The next question is, are the feet the end result of this or are they being deliberately dumped as some kind of warning? Are the mafia now using a concrete boot instead of boots?
I am sure that there are other explanations and I am sure that we would all like to see this matter cleared up if for no other reason than to solve this baffling mystery. I am concerned that this investigation did get off on the wrong foot, but I am sure that the RCMP are putting their best foot forward...........
Enough with the bad jokes. It has just been announced that the sixth foot found was not, in fact, human. It was someone's idea of a joke. They placed a dog's paw in a sock, put it in a running shoe which they then stuffed full with seaweed and left it on the beach. Now that is just despicable. What on earth were they thinking? Why would anyone do that? Did they not consider how this might affect the families out there who have lost loved ones at sea? This sixth foot was planted on a beach just 10 kilometres away from the crash site of a small plane that went down three years ago. Four of the people on that plane were never recovered. That doesn't bug me, that just makes me angry.
Sunday, 15 June 2008
June is a happy month, don’t you think? Winter is long and truly gone (well, it should be, but it seems to be dragging its heels around here this year). The days are long and warm and holidays are beckoning. Kids are getting ancy at school, but not as much as their teachers. Flowers are showing off their beauty while the vegetables are getting bigger and greener. Strawberries are plumping up and Wimbledon is just a tennis balls throw away.
So, why does June always make me a little sad?
Well, I miss my Dad. He was a great Dad, the best a child could ask for. OK, so he wasn’t the greatest gardener or the greatest DIYer. His main handy man tools were Blu Tack, six inch nails and a hammer. He couldn’t hang wallpaper to save his life and for years I thought hanging wallpaper was a very difficult thing to do. It turns out that it is pretty easy; it’s just that my Dad made it look hard. He had absolutely no sense of direction and would lead us on many a hike going in the wrong direction. How many times did I hear him say “It’s just round the next bend” or “over the next hill.” How many “well worn paths” did we traipse down in the pouring rain – what, well worn by one deer and two rabbits? But he would always be there for us. Whenever we went on a bike ride, we always managed to get a “puncture” on the way home and he would always come and retrieve us from wherever we were. He even came when we called him right in the middle of the men’s final at Wimbledon. Now there’s a dedicated father, especially since he must have known we didn’t actually have punctures and that we had let the air out of our tyres because we were too lazy to cycle home.
We didn’t go on exotic holidays to warm and sunny beaches. We went to rainy places and stayed in caravans or tents. We spent inordinate amounts of time in cagoules and wellies, braving the elements on hikes or on windswept beaches. But did we have fun? You bet we did. We spent holidays in horse drawn caravans in Ireland. Every day, the fun would start when we went to try and catch the horse. One time I nearly got mowed down by the wrong horse. There I was, 10 years old, holding a bucket of oats and trying to tell a 16 hander that no, these weren’t for him. Luckily, Dad was there to pull me out from under his hooves. Then there was the time that we had the local farmer chasing our horse with a tractor. He was doing a good job too, the horse was heading straight for elder brother T, but T jumped off to the side at the last minute as the horse galloped by. All the farmer could do was slowly shake his head and say “This won’t do at all at all at all”. Through it all, Dad kept us going and Dad kept us smiling. It was Dad that braved the freezing cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel or the Irish Sea with us; he was the one that hauled me out just as I was being sucked under by a huge wave as it was retreating back down the beach. I don’t know how much fun he had on our mad, chaotic, often wet and often cold holidays, but I know we had a blast and I treasure everyone of my holiday memories. No, we didn’t fly off to exotic places, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that every summer, no matter what, we went somewhere, as a family.
My Dad wasn’t a flashy Dad and he didn’t have much dress sense. You could count on him to turn up in socks and sandals – never just sandals, after the sunburnt feet fiasco - with his trousers pulled up way above the waistline. I do wonder how high his trousers would be today – I am guessing that they would be up under his armpits by now. He had his barbeque apron and his straw boater from Henley and, most importantly, he nearly always wore a smile.
Memories fade and I wish I had more photos to remind me of my Dad. He was always the one behind the camera, so I have very few photos of him. I do remember he was always there for me. He helped me through University. When I was travelling, he helped me pay for the odd airline ticket and when I wanted to learn how to dive, he sent me the money for the course. My love for travelling came from my father. I remember as a little girl, watching slides of the trip he took to Africa just after he had finished at University. I finally managed to fulfill one of my life long dreams last year when I finally made it to Africa to see some of the things that my Dad had shown me as a child.
I still miss my Dad. I missed him at my wedding and I miss him every Christmas and every birthday and every Father’s Day. I missed him when I received my PhD – I know how very proud he would have been. I know he wasn’t perfect. Yes, he shouted at us, yes he lost his temper with us, but who could blame him, the four of us were no angels (well, I was, but not the other three). But, no matter what, he was there for all of us and I am grateful that he was around as long as he was. Having the best Dad in the world for twenty years is far better than having a crap Dad for sixty and I can honestly say that I did have the best Dad in the world.
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Here at Green 1/25th of an Acre, we have moved one more step towards self sufficiency. We are now the proud owners of a big butt - neither Mr. DBM nor I thought that either one of us would ever be able to say that. It holds 200 litres of water and has been plumbed into the downpipe at the end of the garage, making use of an ingenious, technologically advanced and very Canadian piece of kit - duct tape. I am sure that this will last as long as some of my Dad's handiwork did - mirrors and Blu Tack spring to mind, but it will do for now.
Now, we sit back and wait - and that is the best part of this whole scheme. Since we now want it to rain so that we can fill up our water butt (and no, we can't fill it from the tap, the whole point is to use rainwater to water the garden, not metered water from the tap) it won't! I can pretty much guarantee that we will now have the hottest, driest summer ever on record, starting from today.
And thanks, Englishmum, for putting the song "Baby Got Back" aka "I like big butts and I cannot lie" by Sir Mix-a-Lot into my head. It is stuck there and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. It can be a tad embarrassing when it escapes while you are wandering aimlessly around Home Depot trying to figure out how you are going to attach your big butt to the garage downpipe. "I like big butts and I cannot lie. You other brothers can't deny.................."
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Sunday, 8 June 2008
I was going to go - really, I was. I know, I say that every time that I nearly go diving, but then something comes up that stops me. Perhaps it is too cold, or the sea is too rough, or it is raining and I don't want to get wet. What, what do you mean, you don't want to get wet!?! You are going diving, for goodness sake! Get a grip! Last time I went, I got there and the visibility was reported to be less than 5ft. Well, the whole point of me going diving is to try out my new wide angle lens and I can't do that if I can't see further than the hand in front of my face - unless I just want a photo of my hand.
So, what was my excuse this time? Yellow fever. Now, I think that is a very good excuse, don't you? OK, so I may not have full-blown yellow fever, but I have been feeling crappy ever since my yellow fever vaccination - another price to pay for our upcoming holiday.
Anyhoo, no diving this weekend, but I promise that I will get wet soon. Just to keep you all happy and coming back to my blog, I have given you a taste of photos to come. These were taken last year on the wreck of the HMCS Saskatchewan, sunk off the coast of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. For more information, go to the Artificial Reef Society of B.C. Since I just went to the page, I have found out that a new wreck is going to be sunk right off the coast of Vancouver - I can now look forward to diving the HMCS Annapolis, a 371-foot Destroyer - how exciting!
Thursday, 5 June 2008
Today, Mr. DBM and I made our yearly pilgrimage to the local travel clinic. We seem to spend far too much time (and definitely too much money) at these clinics. We are forced to sit through the same talk and look at the same maps, showing us which horrible disease we may pick up in which God forsaken country, being told we really do need the inoculations against the bubonic plague, Ebola, Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever, bird flu and SARS and then being charged $40 for this “consultation” - each! OK, so I can stomach the $40, but not each, since we both had the same consultation at the same time. I guess we could insist on having our consultations separately to make sure we got our money's worth, but that has the obvious drawbacks............We then decide what shots we need and are made to endure needles and vile tasting concoctions designed to keep us happy and healthy whilst we are meandering across continents, trekking through mountain passes, immersing ourselves in indigenous cultures and wondering what the hell everybody is saying. We are then presenting with one whopping big bill. I turn pale - definitely a side effect of the bill and not the needles and Mr. DBM half nods and half shakes his head sagely and mutters philosophically “Remember, you wanted to go on this holiday. This is just part of the cost of travel.” Fair enough. Can't argue with that..............or can I?
Stupid question - of course I can argue with it! The question is, where do I start? Let's make a list - I love lists.
- Paying for two consultations, while receiving only one.
- Since we have had many a consultation in the past, paying and having to sit through another one bugs me. I could that job now - I even have the requisite Dr. bit to my name.
- Most importantly, the cost of all this. Mr. DBM and I are responsible people and we nearly always do the responsible thing, even when it costs us hundreds of dollars. Now, we didn't need to get all these shots and medications. We did it because it is the right thing to do. It hopefully saves us pain and suffering, and it saves the medical services lots of money - do you know how much it could cost to treat someone with bubonic plague with a smattering of malaria and a touch of squirty bottom? Well, to be honest, neither do I, but I am guessing it costs a lot, a very large lot. So, conscientious citizens who do the right thing get to pay money into the system, while people that just swan off into the wild green yonder without a care in the world, potentially cost the system a very large lot. Just doesn't seem right.
Anyhoo, I think that I might have digressed, since this has very little to do with my title - oops! Let`s get back to my not-a-baby-bump (for those a little puzzled by this term, please look here: The Baby Bump - Not!)
When you arrive at the travel clinic, the first thing they do is give you a clipboard with a form to fill in. It asks you lots of sensible questions, such as "Do you have any serious illnesses?" "Are you allergic to any drugs?" "What countries will you be visiting?" Are you pregnant or expecting to become pregnant?" and so on. I can understand why the doctor would need to know the answer to these questions, so we diligently fill out the forms. Then, off we go to see the nurse. She sits us down, takes the forms from us, reads them through, and then proceeds to asks us all the same questions again, so she can fill out her form. This puzzles me somewhat.
"Can I ask why we had to fill the form out, if you are just going to ask us all the questions anyway?""Well, it is quicker this way.""Not really, since we now have to answer the questions twice, instead of once.""Well, I have to check your answers, in case you got any wrong.""Oh, I didn't realise it was a test. I shall study harder for the next one. I hope I passed.""You did just fine, the doctor will see you now and ask you the same questions all over again."
"Great, I should be able to get 100% third time through!"
So, off to the doctor we trot, answer the same questions again, are informed of all the weird and wonderful diseases that might kill us horribly while we are on our dream holiday of a lifetime and then we are back to the nurse again to receive all our shots.
This is where things go pear-shaped. I have already answered three times that no, I am not pregnant and admitted, three times, to the fact that I have a huge liver due to a chronic illness. After the shots, I trot off to the front desk to hand over wads of cash, while Mr.DBM is chatting to the nurse. All of a sudden, I hear shrieks, snorts of laughter and a lot of apologising. The nurse, all red faced, is disappearing round the corner faster than a tourist being chased by a hippo. Turns out she was congratulating my husband on his impending fatherhood and asking when the happy event was due. Mr. DBM was rather incredulous at the nurse's lack of a brain, shook his head and tried to explain, for the fourth time, that I am NOT pregnant but have liver disease, thank you very much! Good job he is a school teacher and has the patience of a saint when it comes to dealing with idiots! Luckily, I was out of earshot, so didn't have to face the embarrassment head on.
Now, I do have another classic example of a nurses incompetence, which involves the inability to remember the difference between the carotid and coronary arteries - "Oooooh, I can never remember which is which!" and the difference between glaucoma and cataracts - "Ooooooh, that's another one that I always have trouble with!" But, I shall not delve further into that incident, since I wouldn't want you to get the idea that I have no respect for nurses. Sure, there are some bad nurses out there. There are nurses that don't have a clue, nurses that don't care and nurses that should only be allowed to empty bed pans. However, this is not the case for most nurses. Most nurses are caring, hard working, professional people, who, in my opinion, have one of the hardest jobs in the world and have my utmost respect for facing a job every day where they could get poked in the eye with a disease infected needle, covered in pee, vomit, sputum or other equally disgusting bodily fluids, insulted, demeaned and then asked to work another shift because there just aren't enough nurses to go around. My hats off to them, I know I couldn't do it.
The amazing photograph of an Anopheles mosquito in flight after a blood meal is from the December 2006 issue of Nature. It is by Hugh Sturrock of the University of Edinburgh. Who'd have thought a mosquito could be so beautiful!
Monday, 2 June 2008
It really is amazing how much time one can spend in such a tiny garden. Mr. DBM does all the work, while I wander around admiring the flowers , taking photos and wondering what other flowers I could possibly squeeze into our little Garden of Eden. This weekend, Mr. DBM planted out the runner beans into pots and we now have our annual border in. We also have about 15 pots of catnip - well, I can't forget my furry little friends, can I? Mr. DBM is having a bit of a problem with this though. The other day, a whole catnip plant went "missing". I suspect Willow ate it and Mr. DBM is not happy. I do keep pointing out to him that that is the whole point of planting the catnip - for the cats to eat, but he seems to think that they should wait until the plants are bigger. Have you tried explaining something like that to a cat with a brain the size of a bean?
So, the green thumbs have been busy and I am feeling just a little bit smug about our newest purchase - a push lawnmower. No fuel required, no fumes, no noise, no greenhouse gases. All it needs is a little elbow grease - and yes, you have guessed it, it is Mr. DBM's elbow grease rather than mine. I am quite happy to admit that I only used it for about 5 minutes and then handed it over to Mr. DBM. I will also admit to the fact that we would not have bought it if we had a lawn larger than the size of a postage stamp. Still, the bigger the lawn, the better the workout.
Our green halos are also shining just a little bit brighter these days due to our efforts on the composting front. Our city encourages its residents to compost and provides (for a small fee, naturally) a composter. So off we go and pick one up. Turns out it is a rather cheap, black plastic one that can't really keep up with the rigorous treatment demanded of it. It appears to be breaking in two and leaking round the middle. Still, in its defence, it is rather full.........Mr. DBM has plans for a new and improved one, but I am just not sure where he is going to put it, or what we are going to do with all the compost that we will be producing. I would say share it with the neighbours, but apparently their ideas of gardening extend to spreading bright red mulch all over their front garden bed - well, it matches the front door, doesn't it? Hmmmmm, definitely no green thumbs there - more orangey red, especially after spreading that mulch! The other neighbours have an adorable puppy dog that spends his time peeing on the grass and eating the shrubs. Their plans are to pave the whole lot - not much demand for compost there then.
Anyway, on the composting front - English Mum has asked for some composting help. So, with input from Mr. DBM, here is what I know on the subject. I shall split the info into 3 parts, the container, the contents and the maintenance. The goal is to end up with lovely, rich, dark, crumbly, soil-like compost and not stinky, slimy, black, gooey and disgusting ooze. If you end up with the latter, you are doing something wrong!
- Should be at least 1m x 1m x 1m. If it is too small, you will not get enough bulk for good heat build up.
- Definitely needs a lid to keep unwanted rats, racoons, coyotes, foxes...........insert any other unwanted animal you don't want here.
- Needs ventilation holes, since good ventilation is essential.
- Needs to be situated on a well drained area.
- It can be made of wire mesh, plastic or wood planks, depending on how sturdy you want it to be.
- You need some way of accessing the compost from the bottom, since this is where it will be ready first.
- Any fruits or vegetables
- Grass cuttings and other garden trimmings e.g. weeds, but avoid weeds if they are in seed.
- Wood or sawdust - wood does need to be chipped first, since large chunks will take too long to break down.
- Paper, tissues, cardboard, egg cartons.
- Coffee grinds, tea leaves.
- Egg shells
- Straw and animal manure
So, you can put pretty much any organic, plant-based product in your compost. However, you should NOT include meat, dairy products, cooked vegetables, nappies, cat or dog poo. These will make your compost smell and will attract unwanted flies, leading to unwanted maggots and it will end up like an episode of CSI when you look in your composter. I guess if you want some forensic entomology training, go ahead and put a pig in there, but otherwise, leave the meat out. You do have to be a bit careful about putting too much rich plant material in e.g. all grass clippings and fruits will not compost well - you need to balance this with more woody material, such as straw, dead leaves, cardboard etc
Maintenance:It is very important to mix and aerate your compost. Proper decomposition requires oxygen and so you need to mix up your compost and make sure air is getting to the centre of the pile. If you don't do this, the centre will become starved of oxygen, different bacteria will start growing and a black, slimey ooze will be produced. Not good. You also need to ensure adequate moisture levels, especially in the summer, since you don't want the pile to dry out. Apparently, you are looking for the moisture level of a damp sponge.
So, there you have it. Now, go and do it! If you need further guidance, try this page - Composting Guide.
P.S. While Mr. DBM does most of the labour around our garden, I would like to point out that the hanging baskets and window boxes are all my own work. And no, that does not mean that I signed the credit card slip. I actually bought all the plants and the planters and potted them up myself!