Sunday, March 16, 2008

Observation of nature

Us permaculturalists are trained observers of nature.  (It's true y'know.)  Here is a lobular pattern I saw in the melting of a south-facing snowbank.  It is forming cup-shaped cavities, many with overhangs.  I think these are suntraps developing by focusing the light.

Maybe one of you natural building mavens could exploit this for making warm places for dwellings.  Building an earthen suntrap might be a good compromise short of full earth-sheltering.

Here is another pattern I saw on a north-facing deck.  See how the snow has melted above the spaces between the planks, forming tunnels.  I don't have a use for this one yet.

Cottage updates:

I want to speak again about the comfiness of this place temperature-wise.  My old house used to cool off pretty much instantly, in spite of my replacing all the windows and the month I spent crawling around in the attic fiberglass trying to seal it up.  This place is much more stable and has great ability to ride through a day or two cold snap, even with the hurricanes blowing in around the window frames.  Redbeard swears he's gonna fix that this summer, which should make things even better.  The in-floor heat is also a big plus.  I've lived in places with cold floors and they are not nice.  

The population of ants has increased, they cruise my kitchen cutting board regularly.  So far I've just been shooing them away.  Home remedies people have suggested are putting a line of salt or chalk all the way around the house on the inside.  In my old house I used to put out the ant baits.  These seemed to work but then the ants would be back next year, so I started to suspect they went away on their own and the poison had nothing to do with it.  I'm hoping that if I keep the kitchen clean to where they don't find anything to eat, they will give up.

The cob-crete floor of the greenhouse is definitely unstable.  Whenever you sweep it more of the surface comes off, and it kicks up a cloud of fine dust.  I got more mats to protect the surface.  I'm trying to use the greenhouse entrance mainly, because there is more room to take your shoes off, and a step up into the house.  Now that the snow is melting, the lifeless and debris-strewn sand around the place is exposed and wants more than anything to get tracked into the house.  The sand is very abrasive and I don't want it to damage the cob floor inside, which I think I've mentioned before, is not super tough.  Last week I noticed it was getting kind of blotchy, from which I surmised it was dirty.  It's clearly too rough to sponge-mop so I wet-mopped it with water and a big ole rag mop.  This made it more uniform in color, which pleased me.

On the pooper front, the installation of the fancy nimbus 2000 composting toilet is taking about thirty times as long as Pigpen's original estimate.  (Redbeard got called away urgently to work on preventing the collapse of one of the other buildings on campus.)  The snow ramp which I was using to wheel the bucket to the top of the outside compost heap has melted to the point of uselessness, so I am down to heaving it over the rim by main strength, which is quite a workout.  You young sustainable millennials may not understand, but us fatsos from the 20th century prefer to work in front of computer screens all day and have our workouts not accomplish anything useful, but take place in stylishly-appointed health clubs where the eye candy is better, and to which we drive, in our stylishly-appointed cars.  Shut up, I swear its true, you had to be there.

On the food-miles front, I have so far utterly failed to give up coffee, chocolate, Splenda, or caffeine-free diet Dr. Pepper.  I would buy this stuff if it came from Mars.  At this point I can't imagine how much it would have to cost before I thought twice about not buying it.

On the culinary front, my first attempt to pan-fry fish did not go well.  They wanted it coated with flour; I substituted pancake mix.  It did turn a lovely golden-brown color, but every bit of it stuck to the pan, real hard, and not to the fish.  I think the problem was the fish was not completely thawed?

1 comment:

Paul said...

your writing just keeps getting better... and more fun.