Monday, June 28, 2010

Salad Days

Now that the kids are out of school, I really don't have enough to do with myself. So I did this.

I was going for a sculptural look.

One week later, the lettuce transplants are growing quite well. I am hoping that the sunbrella fabric I used to make my wall planters will hold the moisture away from the stucco. So far it seems to be working. The planters get morning sun, and light to deep shade the rest of the day. Being up a stucco wall should make the planters essentially impervious to slugs.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More Than Just a Book Stand

Yesterday I figured out I could do this with my recumbent exercise bike's book stand and my laptop computer.

Between that little trick and the videotaped lectures available on (which I heartily recommend to anyone, not just those trying to entertain themselves while they pedal in place for half an hour), I think I may have figured out how to get all that exercise the Doctor ordered.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Craziest Cluckin' Thing I've Ever Seen

I found this in the nest box the other day.

For reference, this is what a normal egg looks like. We haven't been getting any eggs from the two barred rocks (Mac and PC) for weeks now, maybe months, so it could have been from either of them. I'm pretty sure PC laid an ordinary egg today, however, so I guess she has saved herself from the soup pot for now.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Doctor's Orders

My physician has strongly recommended that I get more endorphin-producing aerobic exercise. Like, as much as an hour per day. That's way more than my knees can handle on my elliptical, so it is time for me to get a bike. Not a stationary bike, a real live get-out-in-the-sunshine-with-the-wind-in-your-hair bike.

I know what I want, something I can use to haul kids or goods, something that might substitute for a car during my routine weekly errands. In other words, I want this.

Yes, I know, I bought the rickshaw/pedicab more than a year ago thinking I could use it for all those things. Turns out I am a wimp, and my knees are bad, so the pedicab is too heavy to work for me, either for transportation or simply for exercise. Live and learn, and keep trying until something works. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

Anybody wanna buy a used pedicab?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Gonna Be a Bright, Sunshiny Day

I put off buying a solar oven for two years. Yes, I know, you can build them. I tried that. But either my concept or my skills were deficient. The cardboard box cookers that boy scouts make for camp do work, but if you accidentally leave them outside over night and a heavy mist falls on them, they are toast (no pun intended). I wanted a really sturdy solar oven that would stand up to occasional negligence, and that was gonna cost upwards of $200. No way I was going to save enough money on cooking to make up for that kind of cash outlay. So I waited until the opportune moment.

That moment was my most recent birthday. I refuse to celebrate my birthdays anymore (because really, what's good about getting older once you are past your prime?) But I will use them as an excuse to purchase myself something I reeeeeally want but can't justify in any other way. So this year I bought myself a Global Sun Oven. The price was over $250, but I comfort myself in knowing that this company uses some of its profits to send solar ovens to refugee camps. Google it if you want to know more.

So far I have made zucchini bread (twice), minestrone soup, a small loaf of wheat bread, and cannellini beans. Yes, I am loving my new toy. On a really sunny day it can do 300 degrees for as many hours as the sun is bright, but with patchy clouds it does about 250. Due to our "June Gloom" morning cloud cover, I can't start cooking until about 11:00 a.m., as thick cloud cover reduces temperatures to 100-150 degrees, but even then I can still get a main dish cooked by dinner time. Near as I can tell, if something can be cooked in a crock pot, it can be cooked in a solar oven. The main disadvantage to the solar oven is that I have to keep repositioning it throughout the day to follow the sun, so I can't just "plug it in and forget it" the way I can with an electric slow-cooker. And I am having trouble remembering  that 200 degrees is quite hot enough to burn my fingers. I've done it twice now, maybe that will be enough to learn my lesson.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Bad Case of Five-Finger Blight

I have four Boysenberry/blackberry vines. Two are new this year and I knew I wouldn't get any fruit from them. But the two I planted last year showed great promise this Spring, with plenty of blossoms. I was sooo excited to get fresh, homegrown berries. I guess I gloated a bit too much to the kids about how good they were, though, as they started picking the berries before they were even fully ripe. Must be the current mania for sour candies that made them palatable.

This here vine should have been covered with fruit, but the only fruit I found was waaay up at the top of the vine, out of reach of the kids. Guess if I want to get any fruit for myself or for jam I will need to train next year's vines up on the top of the wall.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Worst Way to Use a Dozen Eggs

So we got Egged sometime early Saturday morning.

It wasn't just us. The neighbors two doors down, who have kids the same age as mine, also got a few eggs thrown at their house, but only in their driveway. They got one rolls' worth of toilet paper scattered on their lawn, but there was almost no toilet paper at our house.

I did manage to get most of the egg off the house, and Jon got it off his car. No real damage there, considering the already dilapidated state of the paint job on his ancient Honda.

The oddest thing was that whoever did it apparently also brought along a bottle of dish soap and squirted it around some of the impact sites. That made for quite the foamy mess when I was cleaning up with my beloved pressure washer. It also left apparently permanent marks on my front porch. Maybe they felt bad after the fact and were trying to help with cleanup? If they were, it didn't really work. I tried to keep the soapy wash water on the concrete and get it out to the street, but a lot of that detergent made it onto my plants. I expect one of them to die of the exposure, but I think most of them will be fine.

Ben and Michael both say they have no idea who might have done it, and I am inclined to believe them. Thanks to the lack of serious damage, I am mostly thinking that this is just a horrible way to use eggs.