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.


One response to “Eighty Degrees…

  1. Thanks for the link!
    We should, I suppose, email about this, but I’ll be in your town in 2 weeks for a day! Let’s meet up!

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