Solar Tracking

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Frenzy

           
 Saturday morning is the best time to go to Corvallis’s premier recycling event—the Friends of the Library Book Sale. Friday night is a feeding frenzy, with the line starting outside in the rain an hour early and surging inside, clutching boxes and bags, when the doors swing open. I used to wait in that line, but, when I started volunteering to work a formal shift (I’ve always been a book ordering sort…) I learned about Saturday mornings.
            The doors open at ten, and volunteers arrive fifteen minutes early to orientate and tidy up. Some years, there’s not much to do, but this year, the art books were a mess, so I spent fifteen minutes creating bookends out of boxes packed with big books and crawling under the tables to fetch the fallen volumes. By the time the doors opened, I had a neat system arranged where a quick shove of the box settled all of the books back into line. It was satisfying. I then went to work on science fiction.
  People trickle, rather than surge, in on Saturday morning. There are fewer lost, frantic, and hungry small children to have melt-downs. There are older people, shuffling slowly down the tables, eyes on the titles rather than the floor. Everyone is hunting for a good read. Strangers recommend books to one another and encourage each other to try it—it’s only a dollar!  People literally bump into old friends, stop to chat, block the aisle for five minutes, but no one really cares. It is Saturday morning, not Friday night. No one has a cell phone; no one is checking prices on line or shouting at a distant friend about picking up a title for them. No one is juggling a coffee cup while poking through a pile of books.  An occasional dealer hampsters through the books under the table, leaving a messy pile on the floor, but, for the most part, they cruised through last night. A volunteer announces “Boxes cannot be left in front of the fire exit!”  and gently shoves the pile to one side, knowing that the owner will be back soon. No need to reshelve yet.  The building hums with activity.
            Then, there is a moment, around 10:45, when the place grows silent. The sunlight sifts down through the years of dust, illuminating a grey head bent over a volume. Two small girls decide to share the ballerina book and tuck into a corner with a snack. Someone stands in the middle of the room, lost in a novel. And, for just a few moments, the old cinder-block building becomes a real library, where the entire room full is lost in the magic of the printed page. Time stops.
            And then, the Farmer’s Market shoppers begin to pour in, clutching their winter greens and squash, and the Book Sale hums once more.

Spaghetti Elliana:  aka pasta with nuts and cheese From  Still Life with Menu


¾ cup of almonds, chopped
¾ cup of walnuts, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
.5 t salt
olive oil
1 cup of raisins
2-3 T of anchovies, chopped
WW spaghetti
Parmmesan cheese
Papers and fresh parsely

Sauté nuts and garlic in olive oil until golden.  Add raisins, anchovies, paper and parsley and mix together.

Cook pasta. Drain, and mix the nut/raisin mixture in. Sprinkle cheese over all. Eat with salad or steamed brocilli.

            

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Previous Occupants

            Do you ever wonder about who owned your house before you—years ago, where it would be difficult to track down the deed? What did they eat for dinner? Where did they put the couch? Did they sleep in the front of back bedroom? WHAT did they do to create that big scar on the back bedroom floor—the one with the visible, shadow creating dent in the hardwood? Our house has been a rental for most of its life, first owned by the professor who specialized in camellias next door (which explains the forest of large camellias in both yards), then by a couple in Portland. But there are still traces of past occupants.

            Someone trimmed the kitchen shelves a little bit, probably so a fridge would fit in. Bad move. I suspect they also trimmed a windowsill in the living room.
            Someone worked on machinery in the old garage and left a huge beam in the rafters with the remains of a pulley on it, right where a car engine might be.
            Someone left a Life magazine from the thirties in the attic.
            Someone tucked black and white school photos of two middle school aged girls, wearing ponytails from 1973, in the basement rafters.
            Someone left a small pot pipe by the back door.
            Someone painted about half of the back hall pale lavender in the mid-1950s. It looks like they ran out of paint.
            Someone planted a fig, yellow plum, and cherry tree in the yard and someone else planted two hazelnuts. Someone also had a small garden in the same spot as mine, and the mounds, like the graves of old veg beds, are still there.
            Someone built rough, but sturdy storage shelves in the back hall, foot of the cellar stairs, and near the washing machine. Someone else put in a lovely large shelf table near the laundry area as well.
            No one threw out the old doors that used to hang between the living room and kitchen, as well as the living room and linen closet.
            No one messed with the pantry shelves, so they still have the old curves on two shelves. Someone put one shelf in the garage, but I found it.
            No one changed out the glass door knobs or lost the key to the cozy room door.
            No one replaced windows or doors, divided the rooms in weird ways, or messed with the essential structure in any way.
            When we moved in, there was a dryer from the 1950s, an avocado green washing machine from the 1970s, and a huge old stove from the mid-1950s. Mark keeps the stove going by replacing the wiring.
           
            When we first moved in, the past occupants of the house watched us carefully, to see how we would treat their home. We have been as respectful of the building as they were. After all, it will still be here, long after we have moved on. That’s the nature of well-built, well-loved houses.



Butter Almond Cookies: traditionally cut into heart and lip shapes

            ½ cup of sugar
            ½ pound of butter
            ½ cup of finely ground almonds
            2 cups of flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add almonds, nuts, and flour and mix. Roll out about ¼ inch thick and cut out shapes. Bake in 350 oven until golden.

This is easily expanded. The cookies freeze very well, so a larger batch means an exciting discovery some winter evening while you are rooting around from the parm. Ends for soup.

                        

Friday, February 7, 2014

More snow than Mark has even seen....

Beehive wrapped in remay

Anne Hart's Monster and the sprongy chair

Chicken coop
Front of the house-- we painted this summer

Veiw from the nook

Shed in winter

snow plates

snow post

Spring comes inside.

St Francis

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February Work List


          From Yule until Candlemas, the garden stands still. Any food that comes from it grew months ago and have been in “cool storage” even since. It is the time of cabbages and carrots, stored squash and onions and potatoes, bread and beans, with an occasional hard kiwi on the side. It is not a season of deprivation, but of limited basics. This year, I have come to understand why people put up so many pickles and chutneys. They are fine things next to weekly rice and kale. But, when the season turns towards Candlemas, or Imbolc, as the ancient Celts called it (we call it Groundhog’s Day…), the light returns, and, slowly the gardens wake up. And so does the Work List.

In February, we:
·       Plant tomato and spring veg seeds, like onions, broccoli, kale, peas, and mustard, to be raised under lights in my classroom.
·       Prune all of the trees and hedges.
·       Build garden beds and trellises.
·       Haul soil and turn in mulch.
·       Establish cold frames.
·       Fertilize the asparagus bed.
·       Repair pathways.
·       Make candles from last year’s beeswax.
·       Continue to build soil by shifting the chicken coop, spreading bunny poop, scattering wood ashes, and turning in leaves.

Baked Chili Mac and Cheese


1 cup of cooked pintos
.5 pound of dried macaroni in a shape that holds sauce -- cooked

Make a white cheese sauce:
Sautee a chopped onion in 2 T of olive oil. Add chili power, cumin, garlic, maybe a can of chopped green chilies or a jalapeno you found in the freezer or some dried red pepper flakes. Stir in 2 T of flour and cook for a few moments. Add about a cup and a half of milk and cook on medium heat until thickened.  Add a handful of cheese and melt in.

Mix the pasta, beans, seasoned sauce, a cup and a half of grated cheddar, and some frozen corn, then pour in a baking dish.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbly. A little extra cheese on top would enhance the decadence factor…Eat with salad.