Archive for November 2008

Food for Thought

November 11, 2008
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Farmer in Chief is a thought-provoking article by Michael Pollan in New York Times Magazine. Pollan exposes the consequences of this nation’s food policy and gives practical suggestions to the president-elect on how to turn our food system around. The interconnectedness is clear! Our current food system negatively affects health care, climate change, energy independence, and national security.

Michael Pollan has written several books about our food system, none of which have I read; all of which I would like to read: In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, and Second Nature.

I Love Limericks

November 10, 2008

There once was a dog named Spot
whose life jacket made him hot
His attitude was healthy
He thought himself wealthy
His red canoe was his yacht

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sitting in a red canoe
What a splendid thing to do
Sharing the water with the loons
Paddling around without iTunes
Staring at the sky so blue

Barrels of Fun

November 9, 2008

In the spring I was looking into buying a rain barrel and a compost bin. Then H offered to make them out of faux wine barrels. I found some ideas for him on the internet and he went to work.

A Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel

The wooden barrel is just decoration. There is actually a plastic barrel inside to hold the water. Like most projects, this one required several trips to the store to buy the following parts: faucet, flexible downspout, sump pump hose for the overflow, and a screen to keep out mosquitoes and leaves.

It only takes one good rain to fill it up. I thought I’d be able to use a sprinkler with the rain barrel. Silly me! There isn’t enough water pressure, of course. If the hose is stretched out flat, the water drains out slowly.

A Composter

Tumbling Composter

"Give Me A Spin" Composter

The inspiration for this rotary composter comes from a YouTube video. The barrel lies freely on top of four upside-down wheels which are attached to the top of a wooden frame. It can be easily rolled to mix the contents inside. No pitchfork necessary! Small holes were drilled all over to allow some air circulation. The door has been problematic because the wood expanded and warped.

The contents inside are breaking down into compost, but very slowly. My plan is to fill it up during six months, then stop adding scraps and give it six more months to finish the process. In the spring I’ll empty it out in the garden and start over.

A Tent on Wheels

November 8, 2008
Our home away from home

Our home away from home

We decided to bypass a new tent altogether and get a camper. My enjoyment of camping has increased exponentially since purchasing a camper this summer.

This particular camper is an aframe. It folds down for storage and transport. It is quick and easy to pop up and has no canvas. It is cute as a button.

The best things about a camper are:

  1. Sleeping in a comfortable bed
  2. Being in a pleasant situation while it’s raining
  3. Cooking while it’s raining
  4. Washing your hands at any time
  5. Not dealing with melted ice and coolers
  6. Having ample storage space

Any ideas for a name? The Cabin, La Casita…

Refrigerator, sink, heater

Refrigerator, sink, heater

Bed and cabinet

Bed and cabinet

Table folds down into bed

Table folds down into bed

Indoor/outdoor stove

Indoor/outdoor stove

A Tent

November 7, 2008

Campsite in Glendalough State Park, before the flood

Our tent served us well for 14 years. Then a major rainstorm left us all wet, so we thought it was time for a new tent.

We bought a Kelty Traildome 4 and tried it out one weekend. This 4-person tent was too small for the two of us and the door was difficult to zipper shut, so we took advantage of REI’s generous return policy, feeling a little guilty about returning something used.

Then we gave a cheap tent a chance—a Coleman on sale for $70. But a light rain in the morning left my sleeping bag wet. And a light breeze caused the tent to nearly collapse. Luckily, Sports Authority also allowed us to return a slightly used tent.

So we decided to look at the really nice tents next, but ended up going a little overboard. More about that later…

A Howlin’ Good Time

November 6, 2008

Listen to this. It makes me laugh every time.

Back to Basics—Baking Bread

November 4, 2008
The Zo and its first loaf

First loaf with The Zo

It’s hard to find a loaf of bread at the grocery store that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup. So I’m going back to basics—baking bread.

A year ago I bought a top-of-the-line Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme, affectionately known as The Zo. At $200 this was quite an investment, but by my very rough calculations, the break-even point has been crossed. I have made bread without fail twice per week for the past year.

My first loaf was white bread, which turned out great, but it really was only a step up from WonderBread. So now I bake with whole wheat, rye, oatmeal, and flaxseed. It’s healthy, tastes great, and the aroma helps get me up in the morning.

By the way, what’s so bad about high fructose corn syrup? Check out this essay on Grist.

A Canoe

November 3, 2008
H is parking the new canoe

H is parking the new canoe

A few years ago my husband and I decided to buy a canoe. I dutifully did my research first—learning about gunwales and thwarts, tumblehome and flare. I didn’t even know the difference between bow and stern before this! We couldn’t afford the lightweight material of Kevlar, so we went with the next best thing—Royalex.

The criteria for picking out a canoe boiled down to what was the least likely to tip over. We test-drove some canoes at the REI and Midwest Mountaineering demos. We rocked the boat and leaned way over the side. If I screamed because we came too close to rolling over, that was not the boat for us. We went home with a beautiful red 16.5-foot Bell Northwind, weighing in at 63 lbs.

The canoe cost a little over a grand, but as they say, plan on spending double the cost of the canoe. This is true, because you also need life jackets that are comfortable and fashionable enough that you will actually wear them. Don’t forget about paddles, hats, dry bags, books, and the absolutely necessary roof rack.

A Roof Rack

Being very frugal, I thought we could get by with sponges and straps to carry the canoe on the roof of the vehicle. One of our first ventures out with the new canoe was to Scenic State Park, a 4.5-hour trip. Well, an hour out of town one of the sponges flew away like a bird and our canoe was hanging precariously on top of the minivan. We turned around and went straight to REI (my favorite store). After donating $300 to Yakima and spending 2 hours cursing each other in the garage trying to install this Yakima-thing, we were on the road again. Enjoying the outdoors is not cheap, but having a roof rack brings peace of mind.

Animosh Miskwaa

I would like to honor Native Americans by giving the canoe an Ojibwe name. I came up with Animosh Miskwaa—Red Dog—as a possible name, but I’m seeking something easier to remember, perhaps Waawaate—There are Northern Lights—since one of my lifetime goals is to see the Northern Lights. Any other ideas?

Haiku for You

November 2, 2008

Nestled in needles
A gust of wind blew it down
Green and purple cone

Who are you going to vote for …

November 1, 2008

for Soil and Water Supervisor? I bet you hadn’t thought about that, had you? Find out what is on your local ballot in the Pioneer Press Voter Guide.