Category Archives: Vegan

Ah Yup!




Eleanor Friedberger’s Personal Record did not disappoint.bihThe brownie recipe from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner was also very good.fa

Frida in her 13th year is smashing expectations.

I hope your day is muy pleasant.

Throw it on the Pile

I was rolling around the strip mall waiting for Lacey’s haircut to end.  The Meat House hasn’t yet stocked the Fee Brother’s bitters I suggested.  Really is a perfect fit for their customers and they’d be the exclusive Albany sellers.  Oh well.  The book store offered Mérida Anderson’s Vegan Secret Supper and I accepted.

Looked a little fancy for my taste, but I liked the ingredients she was using.  Then the recipe for fermented cashew cheese hooked me.  The cheese requires 4-1/2 days  if everything behaves as expected, and in my case that worked

A really marvelous result!  Not better than the offerings I have enjoyed from Punk Rawk Labs and Treeline, but nearly as good.  I filled a paper lined tin with the batch, but had left over a quarter cup.  That I rolled in black pepper.  A penny for scale.ccs

I’ve also made a blackbean soup with a coconut milk sour cream.  Both were exceptional.  This cookbook looks like another winner.

The potential buyer of the Bridgestone MB-2 confirmed he wants it and should be by Monday to pick it up.  One less bike!  There’s a t-shirt I could get behind (except that 99.9% of the population would misinterpret it).

Speak to you soon.

Spring Giveth

A few nice days, then Spring taketh away (my good mood–walking Frida in a soaking rain wearing head to toe denim (Canadian tuxedo!) isn’t as cool as one would think).  Frida kinda thought it blew, too.f

Just pulled inside the geraniums and the lime tree.  The temp has dropped to 32 and the rain has turned to sleet.  Really gross.

Small victory yesterday in the form of a batch of chocolate chip cookies from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.  Brought them to Scrabble and they were a big hit.  What a terrible picture!  You get what you pay for.ccc

Sad that I didn’t make the effort to instead make Lagusta’s garlic chocolate chip cookies.  That’s the first recipe I grabbed, but I was too lazy to roast a clove of garlic and make flax seed snot, so I sidestepped to Chloe’s recipe.  Still haven’t made Lagusta’s version, but you know it has to be special, right?  A small amount of roasted garlic must add a wonderful twist.  As far as Chloe’s recipe, I swapped in coconut oil instead of margarine.  Thanks for that Lagusta!

I also enjoyed the growler of Founder’s All Day IPA I brought to Scarabble.  Low alcohol, big hops.  Fun to watch people discover their preferences in beer.  One guy now knows he prefers malt to hops.  I’ve been there, but life is too short.  Hops.  Malt.  Balance.  Bring ‘em all on.  It’s Friday!

Make the most of it.


Lacey and Frida are sleeping, so I will share something quickly.  Wonderful friends sent us three tins of nut milk cheese from Punk Rawk Labs.  3

We received Cashew, Herbed Cashew and Macadamia and Smoked Macadamia.  I’ve listed them in the order of approachability, but all three are amazing.  HCM

Great texture and complex flavors.  The smoke in the third cheese comes from a crust of smoked sea salt (and black pepper).  Reminiscent of tobacco smoke.  Very interesting.  Almost challenging.  Probably something like the fun had by folks who eat exotic “stinky” animal milk cheeses.  SM

I’d probably have a tin in the fridge at all times if these were sold locally.  I really need to get to Lagusta’s place to see if I can get some nut milk cheese from her tenant.  I can’t quickly find the name.  Does it exist yet?  Did I imagine it?  In any event, the world is really looking up for plant eaters!

Other news?  I dropped off two tiffins at Curry House as I placed a to go order.  Thought was they could pack our food in the tins and save all the styro and paper.  Wasn’t sure how they’d react, but they were completely into it.  They were debating which parts of the order should go into the five compartments.  I had thought it through before selecting the two tiffins I brought and knew I’d have one container left for condiments.  Give it a try at your local restaurant and see what happens!

While Curry House made our dinner, I popped next door to Mahar’s for a ten ounce Mild at Heart.  The place was packed!  Like I’ve rarely seen it.  Good to see the support.  I hope they find a new home that is close to my home.  So nice to walk.  Ten ounces was a perfect timer for the magicians at the Curry House.  When I walked in the door, my two tiffins were waiting.

Appliance repair?  The dishwasher left an inch of water in the bottom at the end of a cycle.  I had thought the metal screen forming most of the bottom of the thing was all I needed to keep clean, and I would occasionally clear residual food bits from that.  Not enough.  DW

This time I removed the bottom spray bar to allow me to remove a pipe that carries water to the top spray bar.  This gave me access to a raised plastic grate that covers the drain.  All without tools!  The plastic grate was pretty clogged, as was the drain underneath.  The picture above is an after picture.  I would have been embarrassed to post a before picture!  Cleaned all that out with a turkey baster, a rag and a toothbrush.  Also scrubbed the bottom spray bar, the plastic gears that move the bar and a filter that cleans the water before it gets sprayed.  Despite the dishwasher looking clean before disassembly, all of these hidden from view parts were pretty disgusting.  Running water and the aforementioned cleaning tools had them looking like new in short order.  I reassembled the bits and gave it a test wash.  Perfect!  The washer is considerably quieter now, too.  Like new, really.  I think the mucked up gears driving the spray bar were causing the scary noises I had been ignoring for a year or so (intermittent rumbling).  This dishwasher was about seven years old and hadn’t had any work done to it (except the surface wipes I had mentioned).  I can’t see myself doing all this prophylactically, but I’ll go ahead and recommend the same to you.  I imagine the motor was working harder than it needed to.  Good to care for things if you can, right?

That’s enough.  I should check in on Lacey and Frida.  Take care!

Oh!  I should mention how wonderfully Frida is recovering.  She is still tired, but is walking, even running, with confidence.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the antibiotics clear the infection and that the aspirin prevent further clots.  Thanks for all of the kind words and wishes!

Prep Work

This year’s Thanksgiving table will be a little sweeter thanks to Lagusta’s willingness to share her pumpkin bourbon tart recipe.  I’ve made it half a dozen times now, but enough time passes between each go that my heart still gets fluttery with anticipation.  That, or I have an arrhythmia.  C’est la vie!  

Pulled a nice old Schwinn pump out of the garbage a week ago.  I oiled the leather plunger and it moves air nicely, but I learned why they deep-sixed it as soon as I tried to connect it to a valve.  The pot metal head was cracked where the thumb lever pivots.  The pressure of the compressing rubber grommet pushes the thumb lever back on the cracked side and a no pump situation results.  No worries.  I love Topeak’s SmartHead pump upgrade kit so I ordered one straight away.  The kit comes with various fittings to allow the new hose to be connected to most any pump except, it turns out, this one.  No worries again!  

They also include fittings that allow you to splice the new hose onto the old hose.  Not as elegant, but good enough.  It is working perfectly.  Best part is, while the old pump head was Schrader only, the SmartHead fits both Schrader and presta valves without an adaptor.  Swell!  

Back to it, then.  Have a great Thanksgiving.


The big blow is headed our way and we are ready.  I don’t mean to suggest that our preparations will protect us from inconvenience or injury.  I only mean we have done all that has occurred to us (short of buying a generator).  I filled all of our growlers and other large glass containers with water.  I cleaned our gutters.  I checked the batteries in a couple of flashlights.  I emptied the ice maker so that it can make another bucket.  I filled the tub with water (so that I could scoop buckets full into the toilet tank for a few flushes if the muni pumps stopped pumping).  I picked up dog poop (not afraid it will become a projectile–I just have learned that hard way that poop is easier to pick up before it has been rained on for five days).  Lacey and I raked a few bags of leaves (more will come down with the wind, but it feels neighborly to keep up with it as best as one can).  Our efforts all seem kind of silly in the face of what is coming, but I’ve welcomed the distractions.

What else can keep me off of the Weather Channel?  Horseradish!  I dug up a few roots and set to grating.  I’ve read many warnings and remedies intended to protect me from the pungent fumes, but I routinely ignore them all.  I enjoy both the work and from time to time becoming overwhelmed by the airborne oils.  Today when it got to be a bit much I simply knelt down below the counter on which I was grating and worked over my head.  Worked like a charm.  The photo above is the grated horseradish before adding salt and vinegar (to stop the oxidation–the longer you allow the air to work on the grated root, the hotter it becomes).

I was in Chicago last week for some continuing legal education.  I love that town more each time I visit. I really enjoyed seeing folks biking all over the place.  More than I have ever seen while there.  Great food, too.  I had nice meals at Do-Rite Donuts (they offer one vegan variety each day–the rosemary lemon was amazing), Native Foods (the Greek Gyro bowl was super yummy and healthy and the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger blew my mind), the Green Zebra (high zoot but still very comfortable) and even the Wiener’s Circle (who would have guessed they offer a pakora-like veggie burger–not sure it is vegan, but it isn’t the kind of place I am comfortable asking questions).  Click the link for Wiener’s Circle if you click any.  It is hilarious.  Also got a nice styrofoam container of West African chow from a food truck operating in front of the hotel.  Rice, plantains, greens and some spicy red sauce.  No way that was vegan (I watched him take the red sauce from a tray with hunks of beef), but it was very special nonetheless.

What’s with all my slackness about food?  I still consider myself vegan, but I’ve relaxed my standards while traveling.  It is difficult to get enough to eat on the road, so I make small exceptions here and there.  If I have time and my bad toe allows it, I will walk a mile or two to eat at a vegan joint, but I can’t make that happen every time.  When I eat at an omnivore’s place, I try my best to avoid meat and dairy, but I don’t pepper the servers with questions (unless they seem like they might know what the heck a vegan might be).  Instead, I order things that are commonly vegan and don’t get upset if the food that arrives isn’t 100% critter free.  I am not proud of it, but it’s where I am at.  The market will save me from these small lapses as more and more locals ask their restaurant owners to offer more ethical chow.  It is getting easier all the time.  

What else?  My friend is headed to Costa Rica to pedal in a grueling three day mountain bike race.  That’s him on the left (I grabbed the image from the close of our last iChat), looking as fit as all get out.  I’ve long known he is crazy but his skill and preparations keep him safe so I have nothing but admiration for him and his pedaling exploits.  Good luck to you sir!

Last but most, do you know my dad?  He is in the hospital recovering from an operation to replace a valve in his heart.  He seems to be doing great, but I am sure he’d benefit from you sending kind thoughts his way.  He is such an incredibly brave man.  I am so proud of him.

That’s enough.  Just five hours until the wind and rain are to arrive in earnest.  I’ll be thinking of you and yours as you all face the storm.

So Much (Not Really)

I went to visit my parents.  On the flight out I read Just Ride (A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike) by Grant Petersen (founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works).  My expectations were low, as I have been learning from Grant since 1993.  Nearly as long as I have been learning from Lacey!  Would Grant have anything new for me?  Not much, but if you haven’t been following his teachings and want to enjoy bicycling, I’d strongly encourage you to give it a read.  Can’t loan you a copy (because I don’t own one), but I am sure the library from which I borrowed it would do so happily.

What did I learn?  Four things.  It’s good to check your blood sugar levels even before your doctor says to check.  It is easy to do, as you surely know someone with a tester.  I do, and they were happy to check for me.  I scored an eighty-nine (and anything below one hundred is good).  Done!  Next!

No one pedals circles.  Not even the pros (someone hooked a bunch up to sensitive testing devices and confirmed this).  So no need to connect feet to pedals and think about pulling up.  I already didn’t give a poo, but I did think about this age old advice on occasion.  Don’t need to again.  Next!

Crank length.  Also something I don’t think about, but I do believe most of my bikes have 170mm cranks and would feel a little funny if I knowingly encountered cranks of another length.  Should be obvious, but it wasn’t to me until Grant said it, that another 5 or even 10 mm isn’t that much difference.  Take out a ruler and check it out.  Infinitesimal!  I won’t show you how I spelled that before the spell check placed me on the straight and narrow.  Wow.  Next!

Burpees!  Grant pointed out how crappy bicycles are at making us fit.  Knew that, but for some reason (probably somewhere in the neighborhood of I Idolize Grant) I took to heart his suggestion of doing sets of burpees.  Monday I did nine, then eight, then five, then four, then three, then two, then one.  Rested ten seconds between each set.  Notice the gap in progression between eight and five?  I meant to fill that in with seven and then six, but I was too toasted!  Felt it Tuesday and didn’t try again until today.  I did the full set!  I hope this will become a habit.  Have you tried it?

Unless you’ve stalked, er followed, er paid casual attention to, Grant for a couple of decades, you’ll likely learn more.  So read it already!

The visit with my parents was superb!  Nice talks, some quite intense and others lighter, filled most of the time.  Of course we shared good meals.  My parents are omnivores, but have zero bad things to say about veganism.  They didn’t even need to shop for my visit.  They have a fridge full of alterna-milks.  They put coconut oil on toast.  They slow cook huge vats of pinto beans and eat some with most meals.   Mom did buy me a nice cappuccino coconut ice cream.  When traveling, the food search can often be kinda stressful.  Not when visiting them!  Nice meal out at The Asylum in Jerome, AZ.  It was all dolled up for Halloween, and what a view!

My parents have a personal trainer, so one morning while they were working out I took a drive to look at trailer homes.  Still obsessed with trailer homes, and Sedona is an amazing place to check out some well preserved older ones.  As I was meandering through neighborhoods I followed signs to the Sugar Loaf trailhead. Didn’t know anything about the walk and didn’t have anything with me (not even water).  The sign at the trailhead made it sound doable, though, without provisions.  Just a mile to the summit.  I set off and soon met a guy named Papoose and his cool black german shepherd mix.  Turns out he was originally from Schenectady.  Yikers!  Anyway, Papoose said the walk is easy and I’d be fine.  He was right.  In less than 30 minutes I was on top.  Quite a view.  

Why does my head look all warped?  Do I need to work on my posture or was I standing on a vortex?  I’ll go with the latter.  Anyway, the walk to the summit of Sugar Loaf is the kind of walk you could do every morning to get the blood pumping a bit, and there many folks on the trail, most with dogs, doing just that.  Also encountered a group of six mountain bikers in full lycra suffering up the hill and over the rough rocks.  Each one that passed had an excuse.  Something like “It gets tough after six days of this!”  Or “I needed a warm up!”  One was walking his bike and said “I should be riding this!”  I felt sorry for them.  They need to read Grant’s book.  Pedaling should be fun.  Didn’t look like they were having fun.  It was a great trail for walking, so why not walk it?!

On the way out of Sedona, headed to the airport, the air was filled with balloons.  Only two in the pictures, but there were six or more all in.  Pretty magical farewell to a magical place.  

Got back Saturday and Sunday we were delighted to visit the home of a cousin I had never met.  She just moved here with her husband, two kids and their dog.  My aunt was visiting, too.  I think she is my aunt anyway (I am not so good with family trees so I use aunt and cousin pretty loosely).  If you read this and I have it wrong, please correct me.  Or not.  Your call.  The evening was terrific, with an outstanding vegan chili on the stove.  So spicy!  People are usually kind of conservative with newcomers at their table.  If my cousin thinks she was being conservative, she must have some serious spice chops!  Didn’t bother me (on the contrary, I enjoyed it) and Lacey didn’t even notice it was hot (Lacey must be pretty tough, too!).

What else?  I made it to the garden where I pulled out all the tomatoes and harvested half the cabbage, as well as more tomatillos.  Quite a load on my front rack.  I covered it with a towel to keep tomatoes, tomatillos, five heads of cabbage and radishes from getting free of the bungee net.  Looked pretty odd.  Big and lumpy, like I had lord knows what in there.  A gallon and a half of sauerkraut is on the counter.  I added to the salted cabbage carrots and pears.  Should be nice.  Also have souring in brine a bunch of green tomatoes.  I added to that crock a habanero pepper, too.  I was worried about the pepper’s heat, but the brine doesn’t seem too spicy.  Can’t wait to try soured spicey green tomato pickles!

That’s enough for now.  Eleven hundred and seventy-five words.  Too many!  Hope you are well.  Bye!

The End is Near

While walking Frida, I came across a collection of garage sale leftovers near which a helpful FREE sign was posted.  I took this.  

I studied the almost limerick as I walked.  I guessed it was intended to be both funny and educational, but neither the joke nor the lesson were penetrating my foggy head (I think I am coming down with something).  Who worries about drinking in the afterlife?  Must be more to it.

Since I didn’t unravel the mystery until I was home and the mug washed, and with undo charity to myself acknowledged, I’ll elevate the almost limerick to the status of almost koan.  If you are as dull as I (or in a hurry), allow me to share.  The first line prepares the reader for the pro-beer message in the second line.  Warns is better–turn back now lest you be carried along a path you’d rather not travel.  Then the argument.  As you read the first half of the second line, imagine a man on a doctor’s exam table.  The patient is asked to consider abstinence from drink to preserve or improve his health.  The second half of the second line finds the patient uncovering the error in the folds of the doctor’s logic–the dead don’t drink.  It’s a crafty retelling of the slipcovered couch conundrum.  When is the slipcover to be removed?  Too often the slipcoverer dies with slipcover in place. The second owner deslipcovers the couch and plants his greasy backside on sparkling fabric the tactile qualities of which the slipcoverer never enjoyed.  So my mug reminds me to drink while I can (all puns welcome here).  I suppose I could generalize the lesson to recommend a life lived fully, but isn’t a beer today, or at the end of today, enough?

This has been for me a season of coincidences.  Finding the mug today is just one more convergence struggling without hope of gaining freedom from a corner of an ever growing web.  My neighbor died last night.  Probably sometime during a phone call with my mother that felt more like a mortality and morbidity report than a casual conversation.  The local death, together with telephonic retellings of remote illnesses and uniformly gloomy stories in a newspaper which sporadically shows up uninvited on my porch, put me in a mood.  At one point I heard myself saying to my mother that the rewards for a long life are that many more medical procedures.  Repeat until death.  A morose outlook that only a mother would endure.

Something a shade lighter, perhaps?  I just got back from Los Angles.  Downtown has historically been a place where vegans go to lose weight (as in there is nothing to eat), but this time I was well cared for.  Happy Cow led me to a great new to me breakfast and lunch joint, Localita and the Badasserie.  There I enjoyed a Sir Nasty (a seitan sausage patty on a english muffin with Daiya chedder, red onion and Sriracha).  Brief aside.  I have had a life-long aversion to dishes with names.  Considered them embarrassing.  For me and the person hearing them recited.  As a kid at a truck stop, I wouldn’t order the Eighteen Wheeler.  I’d order pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns and sausage.  The waitress would ask if I meant the Eighteen Wheeler (bless her–the code name must be uttered or the bill would reflect inflated prices for each item as a side).  I’d nod and get what I wanted without having to join their juvenile chorus.  The Sir Nasty changed that.  The name felt right.  I was proud to order a Sir Nasty.  I probably won’t order anything else, lest I miss a chance to say Sir Nasty.  Say it with me.  SIR NASTY!  Better still, say it to the sweet boys manning the counter at the Badasserie and a delicious sandwich shall be your reward.

Also enjoyed a dinner at The Gorbals.  Not a vegan joint (check out the video on their home page–yikers), but the items I enjoyed I enjoyed very much.  Lightly tempura fried broccoli in vinegar.  Hearts of palm salad with baked chickpeas.  Fries with dill.  Two pints of Stone IPA didn’t hurt either.  Also didn’t hurt that the place is hip as shit.  The entrance, through a single wooden door painted over thirty times too many, is at the back of the lobby of the Alexandria Hotel (the rehab of which into low income apartments I may have helped finance–I just can’t remember and am too lazy to check–but if I did I wonder where the money went because the lobby looks untouched, as in threadbare, in a good way to my eye but maybe not to some people who call it home).  So you feel kind of proud that you even found the place.  I will be back and you should go too.

Now I am home, nursing a head cold.  Still must attend to the plants.  Always giving.  This morning they provided a basket overflowing with with eight cucumbers, ten romas, forty cherry tomatoes, a bundle of kale, four beets and a single, but enormous, daikon radish.  I have some eating to do.

This afternoon I have to meet at my neighbor’s house the folks delivering tables and chairs and then the caterer.  Happy to help.  I will be remembering the teachings of my new mug.  It holds twelve ounces.  Lessons and libations.  How convenient.


Seventy Eight Degrees…

…feel like heaven when napping on a bed next to a wide open window.  But oh the humidity!  Do anything other than sit still and you are reminded you are enveloped by water logged air.  The water in the air mixes with sweat on your skin and you quickly look like you just finished playing in a sprinkler.  

Yesterday a present arrived for the Bridgestone RB-2.  I wasn’t surprised because it was from me, but I hope the RB-2 was.  New tires!  Panaracer Pasela TourGuard 700 x 28s.  The RB-2 came with new tires, but I have strong opinions about tires.  They must inspire confidence.  The tires on the RB-2 did not inspire confidence.  Panaracers do.  I also like the look of tan sidewalls.  That’s a mark of my age.  All this really tells my dear readers is that I had $70 more dollars than I needed to live.  The world is silly and I am not helping.  

I hate putting on tires.  I pinch as many tubes as I install successfully.  Yesterday I installed both new tires without ruining a single tube.  I couldn’t do a victory dance because the modest exertion required to install two tires used up all remaining energy.  I couldn’t even take the bike for a test ride.  Until today.

I pedaled a mile to my friends house, then straight home (because he wasn’t in).  The 28mm tires pretty much fill up the available space on the RB-2.  Notice the lack of space between the rear brake and the tire in the photo above.  More space in front (click on the sec on preceding photo to examine the tolerances more closely), but if you want to run symmetrical tires, the smaller gap determines max tires size.

With 95 psi of air they ride like high pressure tires.  Fast and uncomfortable.  I  could fill them to 75 psi and enjoy a smoother ride straight away, but then I’d have to pump them up sooner.  So they go to 95 and then I let them drop over a month or so to maybe 55 before I notice pumping is required.  Repeat until bike is passed on.

I pedaled to the garden today and harvested produce for donation to Squash Hunger.  I pulled out eight turnips and filled big bags of collards and mustard.  Another gardener threw in a zucchini.  I pedaled the lot to the co-op, and then home.  Growing too much always makes me feel bad.  My frugal side wants to hoard it all and then I eat the oldest stuff first and then the new tender stuff becomes old and yucky before I get to it.  Produce isn’t wine.  Better to enjoy it young (or let someone else enjoy it).  I hope to pick nice stuff weekly for donation.  That way, whenever I get through the gallon of greens in the fridge, the garden will have only nice new produce to enjoy.  Everyone wins.

On the way home I stopped at a garage sale.  I got an unglazed clay vessel from Germany that in which I will bake bread.  I have two now.  Both from garage sales.  I also got a Ouija board.  

Lacey and I sat with our hands touching the indicator for five minutes and it didn’t move.  We’ll try again later (maybe drinks help).  I also got a ball cap from the 1993 Clinton Gore inauguration.  Swank.  Oh–and a carrier for downhill skis and poles, a  jade plant, a Scrabble Sentence Word Game and another ball cap from a Troy bar.  Wowza!  Best $7 I have ever spent.

Last night was Mahar’s.  I had a cask Wandering Star Thunderbolt.  The makers call it an American IPA.  Good.  Hoppy.  Amber?  Maybe that’s the American part of it?  Just used to lighter IPAs.  Who cares, really, but I just wouldn’t have guessed it was an IPA until I went to their site.  Lacey had her ushe–a Belhaven Twisted Thistle.  We needed those two pints.  Apparently Lacey more than I.  For the first time ever Lacey beat me to the bottom of the pint!  Wonders of wonders.  Curry House worked their magic on a dish of chana masala.  Best I’ve ever tasted.  Then home to watch a French film about the plight of Gypsies during WWII.  Korkoro.  Overall it was tough to watch (sad), but  there were some beautiful moments here and there.  Give it a shot.

That’s enough of the story.  Hope you are well.

Eighty Degrees…

…feel wonderful when sitting in the shade.  Not bad, either, when pedaling at a moderate effort.  I woke up at 5:00 and pedaled to the garden to water.  Just seventy then and it felt like winter on my skin (I scandalously expose six inches of leg (between long shorts and tube socks), arms below my tee shirt sleeves and the whole of my face and neck–oh my!).  I am loving these early morning sessions.  A little watering.  A little weeding.  Some hunting for cucumbers.  I ate the first ripe cherry tomato today.  I felt bad for a moment–like I should have brought it home and cut it in half to share with Lacey.  I got over my guilt as I made it disappear in the middle of my garden in a quiet park watching the sun rise with the miraculous  tomatoey flavor whispering sincere forgiveness.  Soon there will be dozens to eat.  So many we will come to loathe them.  Hard to believe as I savored the first, but it happens every year.

I am not always so lucky.  I saved all the cucumbers I picked for the crock without tasting one.  In they went and they are half way to sour.  The crock smells so good.  Not as strong as kimchi–it doesn’t greet me at the door–but I am reminded that pickles are at work when I come into the kitchen.  Lactobacilli thrive in eighty degree water.  

Turnips!  Just a short row and still more than I care to bring home.  I need to pull them out and get them to the co-op for delivery to food shelters.  Sorry to the food shelters that I didn’t grow extra heirloom tomatoes, or sweet melons or even crisp peas.  Just so many greens, so many roots and the cucumbers that I hoard.  Beans later this year.  They are climbing up the cages now.

I saved the gallon of bitter greens.  I blanched the lot of it for about five minutes and then added some new broth.  I surely lost some vitamins but it is better than laboring through the gallon or, worse, tossing it.  I’ve eaten big bowls for lunch two days in a row.  Ten more lunches to go.

I did all that I could for work, so I pedaled to the home improvement store for a new hose splitter for the community garden.  Looks like the proper moniker is “brass 4-port manifold” (I’ll use “B4PM” as a shorthand).  I had donated a B4PM so that we could have hoses for each quadrant of the garden.  Each tap has its own on off valve.  One of the four valves was stuck in the half open position.  The control lever still moved, but it no longer changed the position of the ball that controls water flow.  It looks like a fellow gardener attempted a repair–the plastic control lever was either pounded with a stone or gnawed upon.  Their repairs didn’t take.  

When I got home I disassembled the valve.  Its a ball valve, so a control lever turns a stem with a blade on the end.  The blade mates with a channel in a ball that controls water flow.  This valve’s demise probably started with calcification of the ball.  The mineral build up made the ball difficult to turn.  The users at the garden, myself included, turned the lever harder until the plastic channel in the ball became deformed.  

When the channel was sufficiently deformed, the blade turns freely in the enlarged channel without changing the position of the ball.  I suspect this valve would have lasted longer if the manufacturer had specified a harder material for the ball.  Chromed steel, for instance.  The 4BPM would have cost a couple of bucks more, but could last years instead of one.  How long will people accept throw away products in the interest of saving a buck?  What can we do to turn the tide?

Global thinking aside, I needed a new ball.  After 22 minutes on hold with the maker’s Utah office, I learn they can’t send me a bag of balls.  They only have complete B4PMs and control levers.  Why stock control levers?  They are plastic covered metal and withstand stoning and chewing.  Does anyone ever require a replacement lever?  Stock replacements for your cheap plastic balls instead!  Apparently they weren’t going to call China to have balls shipped to me.  They offered to send a new B4PM, which is nice, but I don’t want a third so I declined.  I guess I should have accepted it and used it for parts.  I dunno.  Seemed silly.  Sillier still?  I could get military grade balls made of exotic metals from these folks, but I suspect the price would exceed my charitable budget.  Anyway, I’ve already bought a replacement B4PM and can reassemble the old B4PM with the bad valve in the closed position and use it as a B3PM.

Random idea.  Maybe not so random.  Probably too much thinking about plumbing and/or one too many episodes of Mad Men.  Here goes.  A tagline for some super butch industry.  Maybe a truck maker.  We put the man in manufacturing.  Stupid sexist, sure, but it makes me laugh that I thought of it and it isn’t on Google yet (the quintessential test of originality).  Whoever wants it can have it for free.  Maybe just send me a trucker cap with the tag line on it.  The other side of the coin?  Is it possible I just came up with the phrase womanufacturing?  Google says no.   Back to it.

After hooking up the new B4PM at the community garden, I was off to the co-op for groceries.  You know I bought another bag of cherries.  Cold from the fridge, they cool me from the inside out as I eat five too many every time.

Abrupt subject change here.  When did reading poetry become optional?  We are forced to go to school.  We have to pay taxes.  We are scoffed at if we don’t wear helmets.  Take a decade away from poetry, though, and no one raises a finger.  That should change.  Start here.  SFW since it is poetry for goodness sake.

Oh yes!  It’s Friday!  I am pleased beyond measure.  Just a few hours left of work, but that will pass.  The groceries are bought and the heat has all but stopped the grass from growing, so we’ll have time to listen to cicadas pulling long notes on their tinny one string 1/64th sized violins.  I’m thinking of trying out a recipe for mojitos with basil and oranges.  Join us, please, but know you’ll be forced to eat pickles and take home a jar of kimchi.  Sorry–that’s non-negotiable.

p.s.  Dill pickles on burritos are gross.