Solar Tracking

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Think Globally-- Act Locally

                It has been a little lively on Twenty First Street this June—one neighbor had THREE issues requiring police intervention this month and the police were out, investigating our neighbors, for several hours last Sunday. Add the usual people wandering around as students leave, poking through the trash (something I also engage in!), and its’ just been a little weird.  My friend who studies astrology assures me that the planets are shifting, however, and things are going to calm down by the end of the month.  We are all glad.  

                Despite the constant flux of short-term residents, Twenty First Street is a neighborhood. We watch out for one another, quietly, in a live and let live manner. We exchange gossip and tidbits of local information and the occasional knitting pattern. We roll our eyes collectively at the fraternity on the corner, who went through a phase of thinking everyone wanted to hear them all the time, every day. (They learned—we don’t.) Food moves up and down the street—eggs and plums, breads and cookies, tomato plants. We know each other’s pets; a few days ago, a ten year old boy showed up at my door. “Do you have a bunny?” he asked. I do. “Well, it’s in the neighbor’s back yard.” He told me. He was right. Bunzilla had escaped, once again. I herded her back.  His cousin feeds and waters the animals when we are gone for a few days.  We live here; Mark and I moved in 18 years ago, and most long term residents were already here. Although a few have left (several died) we are a stubborn lot. We stay. We like it here.

                I call our house a “homestead” because of what it evokes—a combination of moving into a challenging place and transforming it from barren to prolific, and the idea of a self-sustaining piece of land. I know enough American history to know that a self-sustaining farm is and always has been a myth, although it is one we, as a culture, love to embrace. But the dream of transforming a piece of land---we have done that. The back yard was a sea of false dandelions when we moved in. Now it produces much of our fruits and vegetables during the growing season and functions as the center of a complex network of community connections. Goods, ideas, and information flow in and out of our home every day. We are deeply rooted in this community and on this street.

                And this rootedness seems to me to be an essential component in our struggle against Climate Change. We all need to claim our homes, to value our spaces, even if they are not perfect, to take a stand and say—no, you are not going to destroy this street, this town, this planet.  Greed knows no boundaries— we need to recognize that the motivation which tears down affordable homes to throw up expensive student housing, destroying neighborhoods is the same motivation that is tearing off mountain tops in West Virginia, pushing for oil trains through the Pacific Northwest, and lobbying against any sort of carbon tax in Congress. Greed is greed. Extraction of resources is extraction of resources. It is all connected. We can fight this—and we need to start by protecting our own homes, streets, and communities.

                Think globally—but act locally.

Humus: The perfect summertime spread
Cook a couple of cups of garbanzo beans. I usually through three or four cups of Sunbow’s beans into the crockpot and let them cook all day. What I don’t use for humus will find their way into soups or pastas in the next few days. They need to be really soft!
Throw the garbanzos into the food processor along with three pealed cloves of garlic, about a quarter cup of olive oil, half a cup of tahini, some salt, cayenne pepper, juice from one or two lemons, and some parsley, if you have it. Process. Add some bean cooking water if you need it. Taste, adjust, and store in pint canning jars in the fridge. Humus and flat bread, along with some garden salad, make an excellent summer dinner.

               

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"School's Out For Summer!"

I can now tell this story—anyone who would be mad at my actions is dead. I do not sing “School’s out for summer,” although I do chant it in my head every June. This is why.

When I was in sixth grade, the song was popular. I heard it over and over again as I rode home on the bus, clutching my lunch box and library book.  I even sang along. On the last day of sixth grade, I hopped off the bus, hauling all of my papers and books from my desk homeward. I climbed a couple of backyard fences, dropping over, shouting “School’s Out For Summer!” as I went. The neighborhood dog pack followed along.  I stopped to pat the ponies that lived in my backyard, wandered into the house, dropped my stuff in my room, and changed clothes before heading to the back yard once more. The ponies called. I had been slowly building up a relationship with them from months, patting, feeding, combing…I knew ponies. I’d had one a few years before. The owners didn’t mind. They even encouraged me.  That was probably the big mistake.

On this afternoon, I watched them peacefully grazing in the field, still humming. “School’s out FOREVER!” It felt good to be done with mindless worksheets and struggling through math, rather than reading a book under the desk. The ponies called. “I could ride one,” I thought. “I have ridden ponies before.” I convinced one to come over to the fence, climbed up, and dropped down on her back. For a few moments, everything was fine. Then she spooked and started to run. I grabbed for the mane, missed, and slid off, landing on my wrist and butt. It hurt. Feeling guilty, I left the field.

I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch with a book. When my parents came home, they put ice on my arm and decided to wait until the next day to take me to the doctor. “Maybe it’s another sprain, “ my mother muttered.  I told them that I had “tripped over the dog,” which had happened before, so they believed me.

The next morning, it still hurt, so we headed to the hospital. I had a broken arm. They put it in a full plaster cast and sling and I spent the next six weeks of summer unable to swim, ride a bike, or wrestle with my cousins. Although it was an excellent weapon—I bonked by cousin on the head one day after he broke something of mine—it did put a damper on my summer plans.


And so, even though I may be thinking of Alice Cooper’s song, you will not find me singing it in the last few days. Too risky.