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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Week 8: Deferred maintenance

Independence Days Report:
Cauliflower brag pic
Plant Something: Last of the potatoes.

Harvest Something: Cauliflower, peas, lettuce, spinach, beets, bok choi, mustard, onion greens, nasturtium, chives. Eggs. The cauliflower was so spectacular that Beloved agreed to pose with one for a cauli-portrait, which was nice as I consider her super-photogenic, but she's one of those that-camera-will-steal-my-ghost people.

Preserve Something: Peas, cauliflower.

Store Something: Firewood, kindling, a lot of flattened cardboard cartons.

Manage Reserves: Finally dealing with a decade of deferred maintenance. Painted the north side of the house and am pulling defunct gutters off in preparation for re-roofing. Also wrote a check for $250 to go toward principal on the last $6,500 of our one remaining debt. What with what happened to IndyMac, it seemed the right thing to do with what little discretionary money we have.

Also under managing reserves: We don't air condition and the 95 degree days are a danger; we're not young any more. So we are managing our reserves of strength by taking siestas. If you're house painting and go indoors to lie down and cool off and feel the least bit sleepy, SLEEP. Give it ten to twenty minutes. You'll rise up ready to tackle whatever, and as the light lasts so much longer in the summer (especially north of, say, 40 degrees latitude, or south of same, in that other hemisphere) you're good until 9:30 or 10 p.m. But without the nap you could become a danger to yourself as the evening wears on. See under Learned a Skill, below.

Prepped: set up one of next year's new "raised" beds -- this one was the vinca border along the north side of the house, under the kitchen window, then on the east side around the corner to the "patio." There's a concrete walkway along the entire length of the bed, making it ideal for inclement-weather harvesting. A couple of months ago I mowed the vinca, an invasive species (and mulched fruit trees with the clippings), then smothered the bed with black plastic until we could scrape up enough cardboard.

Yesterday, we moved the potted tomatoes and potatoes, pulled off the plastic, flattened all the boxes and spread them over the bed, then distributed a bale of straw over the whole thing. This bed will be watered from time to time to encourage earthworms to move in and convert the vinca roots and cardboard into castings, and then it should be ready for use as a spring garden. Size: 4X60 feet.

Cooked Something New: have taken to cutting up bread (home baked buckwheat/rye/oats/wholewheat) as it gets a little toward -- well -- stale -- and layering it underneath the stir fried greens and hard-boiled duck eggs.

Way better than it sounds.


Worked on Local Food Systems: Selling eggs regularly. Have taken to keeping the little rice steamer handy and whenever I come in for a glass of tea or water (it's been 95 four of the last six days!) I bring in some greens or peas, blanch them in the steam, rinse, drain, and bag up in a labeled quart freezer bag and freeze, before going back to my house painting. The whole chore takes about ten minutes, combined with the tea break.

Reduced Waste: More grey water to fruit trees. Mixed two gallons of hideous pale green and pale blue paint left over from a color scheme at my mom's place that she had here, eight years ago. This resulted in a pleasant enough sort of dark olive green that I'm painting the foundation of the our house with it, to hide the robin-egg-blue that the previous homeowner had sprayed all over it.

I could never live in a robin-egg-blue house. Umm, okay, so if it was the last house in the world, sure. A cave might be nice, in that case. I have never spray painted. A roller and a brush are good enough.

Rode the bus to work all week. There were dozens of new people, and we're now into strap-hanging territory. And this town has always hated buses ...

Learned a Skill: How to use a combination folding-extension ladder, which I got for half of retail. These things can be used as fruit picking and pruning ladders and also straightened out to seventeen feet for roofing and gutter work. But it took a little puzzling out, the first time.

And: How not to use a bench vise and pipe wrench. I put too much body english into trying to salvage a galvanized 1/2" elbow that had fused onto a pipe, fell backwards over a little red wagon full of geegaws, and punctured my fanny with a wicked-looking 7" gutter nail. Not much of it got into my backside, but my pride was rather wounded. I used to be good at this stuff!


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