Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Cold Day in...

...August, that is.
Yes, nothing like being chilly outside on a sunny day in August despite wearing jeans and a sweatshirt to inspire you to split some firewood!

Troy had cut up quite a nice supply about a week ago, and I have been prevented by the rain from splitting any. (Yes, surely, I was chomping at the bit...) But today I was inspired. ("On fire" you might say...hee hee) I got three wheelbarrow loads done in the afternoon; that gets me about 24 inches on the pile and takes roughly an hour. I also unloaded the trailer. (Ok, all but the last two pieces because, believe it or not, there are some that I can not lift myself.)

I had also done a little painting in the afternoon. (Still white on white so no pictures; you are going to be left in suspense a little longer.) I finished it early enough to contemplate getting a second coat done the same day. That's not happened much at all with this project. (I just don't have days when I can paint twice with four hours in between.)

Anyway, after four hours I got myself out there again (pat pat on my back, please), and it only took about 20 minutes (including cleanup). !! So I decided I could do a little more and went back to the wood splitter. Troy unloaded the heavy pieces for me--one pretty much filled the wheelbarrow by itself. (That's a lot of wood from one piece. And I am thankful for wheelbarrows because what I can't lift, I can push!) I thought I was going to do another three loads, but pooped out after two.

Meanwhile Troy was digging up potatoes. Here's what almost 60 pounds looks like:
And that's just from one small part of the potato patch.

Boy oh boy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mud on the Ceiling

Wondering what we've been up to? You can see that the ceiling is "getting there." I have to say Troy does not seem too excited about it and will do anything but while the weather is still ok. He figures mudding with snow flying will be just fine.

Adding insulation around the slab, however, would not be any fun in the snow.
This has to get done before we do siding and Troy is pretty motivated to get that done this fall.
This is the first layer. Troy did three on the east wall so I assume he'll be doing the same here. Six inches of foam insulation. The rather frequent rain has been slowing progress here.

One other task he did the other day was to affix the power box to the wall. Until then, it had been rather comically bouncing around on the conduit, somewhat like a weeble wooble toy.
But not anymore!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tall Stalks

A little garden update since I haven't been up to too much lately. (A little painting, but pictures of white on white aren't so exciting.)

The corn is doing so well Troy is worried that it cross breeded with the field corn. But there are no other signs that we have anything but tall and thriving popcorn.

Troy's hands reach to 8 feet so that'll give you an idea of how tall it is.

The sunflowers are also doing well. They just started to bloom this past week.
The tallest ones still haven't had their blooms open up.
The bees are out there happy as larks.

A lot of them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picking on the Weak

This week I got to watch over Troy as he recovered from the effects of some nice sleepy-time drugs. (He had an endoscopy done.)

The nurse walks in to take his vitals and says in that loud "wakie-wakie" voice, "Ok, we're going to take your blood pressure now."

Troy dosily holds out his arm and says in a sort of sing-song voice:
blood pressure...good
not too much
not too little
don't want that now
Then his head hit the pillow and he was out again.

Let me tell you, he was cracking me up.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fancy Pants & Other Wacky Carrots

Determined not to let the carrots get too big for canning (like we did the kohlrabi and beets), I started to pick them Monday night. Having no illusions of getting them all (there are a lot), I looked for bigger ones and ones to pull to thin out what was left.

I was terribly impressed with how the earth is literally cracking along the carrot row. Convincing proof of how powerful slight but persistent pressure can be.

Because you can't see the carrot, every pull was a surprise. Is it a long straight one (unlikely) or is it another wacky wild one? Yup, another wacko! Our hard, compacted soil is causing the carrots to look like alien mutants. I'm sure George Lucas studied carrots before making some of his Star Wars aliens.
It's hard not to see people shapes. Of course, not idealized Vogue or GQ people shapes; more like everyday people "misshapes." The one on the far right outdid the rest by not only having legs and arms, it also had a bellybutton! See:
And of course, base nature that I have, I found other anatomical parts besides bellybuttons:
And I'm sure I don't even need to actually write a segue to this photo of the longest and shortest carrots in the batch:
Not overly impressive, I'm afraid. Troy assures me it will get better after we've been able to work the soil for a few years. And maybe the ones I left in the ground will be bigger by the time I get to picking them.

Peeling these misshapen carrots was an adventure. Troy helped me with that on Tuesday night. We cut them up into sticks because it seemed easier than cutting them into disks. It's been a lesson in accepting veggies that don't look like the "perfect" super store variety. I'm sure their machines would not be able to deal with any of our carrots! (Or maybe they would all be made into those fake "baby" carrots.)

I'm not a fan of veggies and fruits that are bred to look good/uniform and travel well. (Rather than taste...what a thought.) Unfortunately, even though these carrots don't have anything in the looks department, they're not particularly tasty either. (They're ok, but I would like a little sweeter taste.) We're going to try a different variety next year.

This afternoon I did manage to peel and chop the rest and get them canned.
Eleven pints waiting for Troy to try in his lunch. I'm not really into canned carrots, but it's amazing what you eat after you put the work into it. (Like beets.) Plus they do have the super-easy prep thing going for them. There's nothing like canned veggies if you need dinner in a hurry. Can we say heat and serve?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

As Boring as Watching Paint Dry

Surely that is what these posts about painting are to you by now. Painting or canning: unfortunately for you, those are my posting options right now. But you can see in the picture that things are starting to shape up. Aren't I getting fancy?

Perhaps you were thinking I was slacking's certainly been a while since I've posted about it. There was the week's vacation when I was gone. And then the wasp bite on Sunday. And Monday there was lightning in the area. (Standing up on an aluminum ladder--doesn't that sound like a good idea?) Hmm....Tuesday is my late night and we didn't finish dinner until after 10 (and sunset is getting noticeably earlier now). Wednesday I wasn't feeling well and kept busy with laundry, bathrooms, and canning instead. (What do you do when you're not feeling well?)

But today I finally got back to it. I have all the various layers done as shown above. I can move the ladder down one more "level," presumably the final level and finish this puppy off. And by "finish this puppy off" I mean probably 3 more weeks of this tediousness. It's supposed to get humidly hot and hotly humid over the weekend so I am not counting on getting a lot more done then.

I could be honest and say I just can't take it. (Have you noticed the vent in the picture? It comes from the attic. Good for the attic, bad for someone standing in front of it. Imagine a blow drier set on slow speed but high temperature. That's what it feels like.) Or I could ostensibly say that it's not good for the paint to be applied in high heat and humid conditions. Yeah, that's it.

And just because the tedium can't get any worse anyway, I'll add that I pickled 9 quarts of cucumbers yesterday [mostly] according to sister Judy's recipe. I always like hers so it's a good placed to start, right? It seemed everything was not quite what it she called for (not as much dill, pickles too big, no alum, etc etc) so it is a real experiment in the tolerances of the recipe.

The part that I don't like is that I have to wait 4-6 weeks to try them.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Beets are Messy

That's my kitchen counter after a session of canning beets. Red flowing everywhere.

I got a full load in the pressure cooker though (16 pints) and got them done. Some raw pack and some hot pack. We tried the raw pack today at lunch and they were tasty. We'll try the hot packed later this week to see if there's a significant enough improvement to warrant the extra work. (I can't imagine that there is, but you never know til you try.)
Then Troy was jealous of all my fun and did a batch of pickled beets: 7 quarts.

If you'll bear with me, let me share what a revelation it has been to see how beautiful beets are. We have had ones with a lot of striking striations and beautiful shades of purple. When I would cut into the beat it would reveal patterns like wood grain. It was impossible for me to catch on a picture, but it was stunning. Beets.

The smell, however, I could do with a little less.

PS: Score one more for the wasp. (And again on the middle finger.) Troy chivalrously ran to my aid and killed the little bastard and his little friend too. They shouldn't have come back to gloat.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Did you know you're (probably) a felony criminal???

I've been thinking about risk lately. Of course, excessive and unneccessary risk is silly and to be avoided. On the other hand, avoiding all risk is,

A. Impossible, and
B. Leads to a very dull, stiffled disobedient existence.

If you want to go look at a bunch of crazy risk takers, go read the bible. From God the Father to the whole lot of crazy misfits we call the apostles, they were all risk takers, sometimes extravagently so.

Unfortunately, I think our government is on a mission to protect us from everything. This is the so-called Nanny State.

One of the ways that we end up with an excessively large and intrusive government is the proliferation of laws to an extent that no ordinary person can really know what's against the law any more. And you can bet, one of the primary driving forces of this trend is the nanny state mentality. The government wants to protect you from everything, but itself. The underlying assumption is that you aren't really up to the job of looking out for yourself. Frankly, I am insulted by that.

Here is the logical conclusion to the overly protective and legislation-happy government:

Regular folks like you and me who haven't done anything substantively wrong, at all, end up in a Federal Penitentiary because of some stupid irrelevant detail in the Federal Code.

What got me thinking about risk is transportation. All the big auto makers have got it wrong in my humble but correct opinion. Liquid fuels are going to continue getting scarce and expensive. Transportation as we know it will have to change, quickly and dramatically, to maintain any semblance of the personal freedom and economic benefits we enjoy from our cars and trucks. The big automakers are moving at the pace of molasses in January, when we need the speed of greased lighting. The main cause of this is legislative.

I want to build a car. My concept car is small and light and extremely fuel efficient. It holds three passengers and luggage. At 50 mph, it should get between 125-175 mpg. Tweaking the Toyota Corolla using the current system is orders of magnitude too slow and will never yield a vehicle that gets even 75 mpg. The main roadblock to achieving that goal is the government. There are a jillion regs concerning how cars can be built/sold in the U.S. Side impact beams, redundant braking systems, multiple airbags, lap and shoulder belts, required crash testing, special glass that minimizes cuts in the event of an accident because it shatters into < 1 cm pieces, etc etc etc. In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with any of those individual requirements. The problem is, as a whole, they absolutely will result in heavy cars with poor fuel economy and pretty much kill any significant breakthroughs in car design, forever.

The great irony, and the great logical blindspot, is that the Feds still allow the manufacture and sales of motorcycles and horses/buggies. Both of these modes of transportation are exquisitely dangerous in the statistical sense, compared with big fat heavy cars. But the Feds will still allow you to (at least for the moment) take that risk.

However, I am forbidden to build a car that gets 3.5-5 times the fuel economy of the Toyota Corolla, yet is still safer than the motorcycle or the buggy. To get around that, I am forced to build it with three wheels so it is technically and legally a motorcycle to avoid the whole legal snafu. Before I get the job done, they'll probably close that loophole too, and then we'll just all have to buy inefficient vehicles that we can't afford to operate. But MAN will they be safe!

Phoeey! If the government at every level, including and especially the Federal level, doesn't stop expanding and consuming and protecting us from everything, they will end up crashing everything that is good and worthwhile about western civilization.

Please stop it!


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