Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fresh bread and jam

... By which I mean fresh bread, hot out of the oven, and fresh strawberry-rhubarb jam, hot out of the jam-making pot. Soooooo good! I cheated a little with the jam - it's not strawberry season yet, so I used up the last of last year's strawberries that I had in my freezer. But the rhubarb was fresh from the farmer's market this morning, and boy, is this jam delish!

Unfortunately, I don't think that my oven likes to be on when the front left burner is on, because it seemed to blow the oven. So I had to take the risen loaves over to John's to bake them, since I was in the middle of jamming and needed the burner! They still turned out yummy, despite one of them being chucked onto the floor when the improperly placed oven shelf tipped over when I pulled it out. :}

By the way, Happy Earth Day, everybody! I spend several hours in the garden yesterday (with Alice!), and hope to get out again this evening. There was a big volunteer group planting native plants in our pollinator garden this morning, so it'll be fun to see what progress they made.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

An interesting method of escaping fire

John has been wanting to teach me how to rappel for a long time now, and tonight we finally did it -- off the fire escape at the back of our building. :P Don't worry, it's perfectly safe, and he had me on belay as well, just in case. He hauls things up and down on ropes all the time when he loads his sound gear in and out for gigs, and he's a very experienced rappeler (if that's how you spell it), so he knows what he's doing. Once I got myself over the handrail and actually let my weight into the rope, I was just fine, and it was a fun ride down. A couple of guys from the next building over stopped to watch and ask questions, but politely declined John's offer to let them join in. :)

By the way, no fire was involved.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Wire Weaving

It's pretty near impossible to push pins into the walls of my cubicle at work, so I've been struggling to figure out how to hang the big calendar that Catherine gave me. I decided that a couple of hooks that hang over the top of the wall and come down on my side to put through the holes in the calendar would do the trick. Of course, this is a rather common thing in the office; there are all sorts of hooks and things hung on peoples' cubicles, of various sizes and designs, likely bought from places like Office Depot for an exhorbitant amount of money. Because I'm too lazy and too cheap (and too creative!) to go spend money for something like that, I decided to make my own hooks out of a spool of wire I have lying around, originally bought for dreamcatcher hoops or other such crafty business. I was sort of envisioning Graham's paper clip sculptures and wondering how to recreate something like that as a hook, when I thought of the wheat weaving that Mom used to do. It turns out that the square weave with four strands works perfectly for 22-guage wire, and creates a lovely sturdy braid that I can bend to whatever dimensions and shapes I want, and that should hold up a good deal of weight once hooked atop a cubicle wall. Maybe I'll make another one to hang my coat on... :)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Garden pictures

For those who asked...
Hopefully more cool wooden trellis structures to come. :)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Plot Planning

I spent a wonderful afternoon yesterday preparing my garden plot for spring planting. I'm really excited about the garden this year. Okay, so I was really excited about it last year, too, but I feel like I've learned a lot since then and I have lots of new ideas, which is exciting. :P I've been reading gardening and permaculture books and magazines all winter, and my goal for the garden this year is to have every square inch be covered in healthy, thriving plants, and to have the plot be maximally productive. I read an article last week about a family who gardens on 1/10 of an acre and produces 3 tons - yes, tons - of food per year. It was extremely inspiring.

Some new things for my garden this year:

- Natural trellises! I spent two days last weekend at DeMara's parents' farm in Ranier, and with the help of her step-dad Kim, collected alder branches and built two wonderful funky pyrimidal trellises. They will be great supports for climbing sweet peas, snow peas, bush beans, nasturtiums, and anything else I can get that likes to climb. I will hopefully be going back to the farm soon to build a couple of other supports and things for which I have ideas.

- Paths! Since I'm planning on covering every inch of soil with plants, I figured I ought to have a way to get into the garden to water and harvest without killing things. So I collected stones and old mossy bricks from the back reaches of the garden where they had been discarded, and laid out a branching path running through my plot in two places. The stones are close enough together to make walking easy, but far enough apart that we can plant ground-cover in between them. Paul suggested Corsican mint, if we can find it cheaply enough.

- A bat box on top of our 15-foot-high bamboo corner pole. Paul is going to play around with some wood and hopefully make something that will attract bats. Even if it doesn't, it will be a fun conversation piece! :)

- Multi-story gardening. One of the things I want to build with more alder branches is a horizontal bar supported by triangular crossed-branch supports at either end. That way we can have tomatoes growing underneath, and hanging pots with herbs and things growing above! I also would love to have jasmine and/or morning glories on either side to grow up the supports.

- Rhubarb! I just bought a rhubarb plant at the farmer's market. I have always loved rhubarb, and was determined to grow my own this year. Since it's such a space-taking plant, I may end up putting it in the community area near the berries and fruit trees. It may run the risk of being harvested by others, but it will leave me a lot more space for other things in my plot. We shall see. I'm feeling rather possessive about my rhubarb plant at the moment, but maybe that will go away. :P

So, now all I need is a place to keep chickens and I will be all set! :)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Spring Cleaning

In honor of spring, and of finally being finished with undergraduate coursework, I decided to spend the evening in purging my bookcase of most of my old school work. I have a stack of about 22 empty binders, two paper bags full of recycling, a long-lost protractor and a shelf and a half of available space in my bookcase to show for my evening's efforts. Hooray!