Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Posting Post

City Repair. Public Art in private spaces. Little Library.  I’m not sure what you would call it, but we completed our Posting Post this afternoon and it looks pretty fine.  
     
For years, I’ve admired the City Repair Projects in Portland, where neighbors come together and paint the streets, or build a playhouse, or create art out of recycled objects; I’ve even modeled my Honors American Literature final around the idea. Art that you stumble upon while running errands, art that makes your day a bit brighter.  But we didn’t have anything in our own yard, besides the front gardens, of course. And one of Anne Hart’s useful art pieces—a wok turned into a birdbath.  Now we have a place to post poetry, or writing, announcements, photographs for people walking by to find.


Materials:
·        4 by 4 pressure treated post, recycled from the old backyard fence
·        Bucket of gravel to hold the post up, new
·        A piece of plywood, a couple of feet square (also from an old fence)
·        A wooden frame from Goodwill—one dollar
·        Two brass hinges, purchased new from Robnett’s—four dollars
·        Scraps of paint, a few nails and screws


Procedure:
  • Plant the post. We put ours under the fig tree, set in from the sidewalk. It had to be easily seen and
    read, but not tempting to drunks walking down the street at two AM. The tree provides nice nighttime cover.
  • Cut out all pieces. I used the frame to determine the size, but then hung the frame off center.
  • Paint all pieces, twice, and let dry overnight. I was covered with paint before I acknowledged drying times….
  • The roof went on first. We nailed a couple of small scrap pieces to the back so that the roof nails had something to hang onto. The large piece went on first, so that the smaller, which is actually a part of the plywood roof cutout, turned around, was more stable.
  • Attach the frame (with the glass inside) to the plywood with small hinges.
  • Slide the poem inside. We used Charles Goodrich’s poem on pillbugs. He’s a local  poet who is also a gardener.
  • Attach to post using heavy duty screws, in case it needs to come down for alterations.
  • Admire.



Sowbugs: 

Vagabonds, hobos, they trundle in 
through a crack in the wall by the back door 
and congregate under the washing machine 
to drink soapy drainwater. 

I'm not running a bug hotel. My home 
is no flophouse for backyard dropouts. 
But these folks are easy company. 
They aren't evangelists 
reveling all night in confessional raptures 
or teenage sons of bankers 
cranking stereos and snorting coke. 
They aren't revolutionaries or reactionaries, 
atheists, pagans or co-dependents. 

They're just little bugs 
who've seen the world some 
and like to swap stories around the floor drain.


Charles Goodrich




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dinner Lists

   
        Once again, I was rescued by the Dinner List. At 5:30, I was in the library, picking up a book on hold. I’d been at work from 7:45 until 4:45, talked with dozens of kids, taught three classes, graded a pile of papers, attended a staff meeting, mailed postcards for the CLC, and I was hungry.  “What’s for dinner?” I wondered as I tucked the books into my bag—and I had no idea. Then I remembered—I had the Dinner List. Whatever it was, it was on the list pinned to the fridge and we had the ingredients. I pulled on my hat, walked out into the dark Oregon mist, and headed home, free to contemplate other things.
            The weekly meals list saves us constantly. On Sunday, I sit down with my recipe box and list all of the produce in the house—right now, squash (lots), onions, most of a cabbage, potatoes, some beets and carrots from the garden, a few collards still standing after the deep freeze, canned tomatoes and green beans, frozen peas and corn.  Then I consider the household obligations, like singing practice, meetings, and dentist’s appointments. Between the two, the dinner list forms. Some nights, we have time for a long baked meal, others, we’re in and out again in an hour. Menus have to be adjusted for preparation time. Once the list is finished, we grocery shop for the week, I do some prep work, like cooking beans or making a lunch soup, and we’re good to go.  I also list breakfast and lunch, so I know when we are eating oatmeal and when I need to make a new batch of yogurt.
            The List is essential to our well-being in the Winter time. Without it, we would eat out far more often, which is expensive and not as healthy. We would also waste more food, especially produce. I used to just keep a variety of veggies on hand and wing dinner for myself every night, but a lot more rotten food went into the compost. But, most importantly, it is a stress-reducer. I do not have to think about dinner until I walk in the house, wash my hands, and haul out the onions and cast-iron frying pan. 

Borsht


A few years ago, I had half a cabbage and three beets in the fridge…dinner? Borsht. It is much tastier than I thought it would be. Now it is a staple food—just watch out for Beet Pee.

Sautee a medium onion in oil and butter until soft.

Peel and chop a couple of cups of beets.
Chop up half a head of cabbage.

Toss both into the pan with the onion and cook briefly. Barely cover with water and simmer until the beets are soft. Season with some chicken or veggie bullion, dill, and pepper.

Add yogurt or sour cream to the bowl and eat with new whole wheat bread.