Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurricanes in Ohio?

Sunday started out a little breezy, sunny, warm - perfect weather for doing laundry and hanging it out on the line.

About 4pm the wind started to blow, and blow, and blow. Coming through the midwest the remnants of Ike met a cold front and the result was a crazy storm where there was no rain, just wind. Lots of it. Fast. For hours and hours.

And the power flickered, stayed on for a few minutes, and then went out. I watched as the shingles blew off the house across the street and branches came down everywhere. You know how they say that tornadoes sound like a train bearing down? I can now confirm that particular sonic characteristic. They say that wind gusts in the area were up to 75 mph.

Now some of the trees are cleaned up (including the large maple tree down the road that was turned into the shape of a blooming onion). Most of the power lines that were lying in the street are now back up on the lines, even if they are not yet live.

We've been without power at our house since Sunday afternoon. It's now Wednesday afternoon. At least we have running water (unlike many houses in the area that have wells and don't even now have water). We have a hot water heater than runs on gas, so we can enjoy a hot shower in the morning. That's good. Bill's school has power and internet, hence my ability to post.

We found a home for most of the freezer contents but the fridge is a lost cause. Today's task is to venture in and throw things away.

They say that power may not be restored until Sunday. That would be a full seven days without power. It seems doable, right? I mean, if I can charge my laptop at someone else's house or off the car battery then all's good. It's strange. I can't explain the low level stress of not being able to cook or plan on what to eat. The garden is full, but it seems impossible to do anything other than to try a macrobiotic raw thing. Then there's the weird-ness of it being 8:30pm and just feeling like the best thing to do is go to bed and get up early to work as soon as it gets light.

I don't use that much electricity in the course of a day, but I do need it now and then. We're just not set up to work any other way. We need more technology that enables energy independence, even on a household level! And it's going to require a serious shift in how we live. Even after three days I can tell you that much.

Camping is all fun when there's not work that needs to be done, deadlines that have blown by (pun intended), and nothing is they way it is supposed to be. I'd love to sit around and play cards and do charades by candlelight. But I want to get my work done and each day that goes by and I'm not able to work, or that I have to spend money to buy food while simultaneously throwing food away, things just get more frustrating. Life is strangely on hold but also strangely filled with immediate panic and anxiety.

Luckily the roof is fine.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Eating locally while writing a dissertation and other tales of wonder and superhuman skill...

Unfortunately I choose to finish my dissertation writing just at harvest time. I've been trying to balance eating, cooking, freezing, canning, etc. with needing to be spending 95% of my waking hours working on the last bits of research and writing it up.

I've been so inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's book that I want to do what I can to make it so I can eat locally as much as possible. So, it's usually a game of trying to write until I'm absolutely thick-headed and then trying to cook or preserve whatever just came in. Or, usually, whatever came in several days ago and needs to be dealt with or abandoned for compost.

Making pesto late at night? It's what I do these days.

Yesterday we made several quarts of a beautiful pink vegetable broth, using up some old shriveled beets, corn cobs, herbs, etc. That's in the freezer waiting to be used for winter soups and risottos (risotti?).

We also have lots of frozen pesto, and tomato sauce; shredded zucchini, berries, and sour cherries. Shallots and onion live in the basement along with fingerling potatoes.

We've planted fall beets, lettuce, chard, Tuscan kale, cabbage, broccoli, and spinach.

Today I picked pears, tomatoes, raspberries, hard squash, and potatoes.

And last weekend, I canned my first peaches. It was a bit of a splurge in terms of time, but I figured it would be a little present to myself. Only one jar didn't seal but I've already eaten it! Not too bad for a beginner, tasted good!

Here they are, looking beautiful in the sunshine. Next to them is a big vase of sunchoke flowers. The plants back in the garden are glorious: 8 feet tall and covered in these yellow flowers, which, strangely, smell just like peanut butter to me.

This is a photo of what my kitchen counter looks like these days.

Note the gargantuan scale of some of the veggies. That's Bill's nano, just to give you a sense of scale.

Sometimes I get to sleep too. Once in a while.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I want my "Democracy Now"

So this morning on NPR the protests in Thailand got more coverage than the protests of the RNC in the Twin Cities.

I'm frustrated, angry, disappointed, etc.

YouTube has videos of Amy Goodman's arrest, a non-violent protester getting deliberately pepper sprayed in the face as she stood merely watching police walk by, and the "pre-emptive" raids on houses in St. Paul (based on the suspicion that the occupants are dangerous protesters).

The RNC has turned my hometown into a police state. Before this they had already made it a Potemkin village. For more on how the empty St. Paul storefronts were filled just for the convention, check out this link to Minnesota Public Radio.

Why yes, Emperor, your new clothes surely are STUNNING!

Monday, September 1, 2008

my favorite joke of the year

People ask me what my dissertation is about. Well, some people do.

Although it's topically about music, the main idea is the same as the "Guys on the Bridge" joke from Emo Philips.

So, full props to him for his excellent punch line.

And now you know what I'm writing about.