Author Archives: pirateguillermo

Sweet Pickles!

Our cucumber vines are bearing many fruit. So many that, despite eating the cucumbers in salads every day, we still have a lot. It must be pickle time!

Today, I picked 8 pounds of cucumbers and processed them into 8 quarts of sweet pickles. Recipe and procedure below the fold…

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The Rain Falls

It’s been a long, dry winter. The alstromeria have given up and decided it’s spring again, sprouting up fresh leaves in just the past couple of days. And now, we have finally received some rain!

I spent some time last week getting a second cistern, Seena, hooked up. I got up on the roof and cleared out the gutter and blew the leaves and redwood cones out of the way. This morning, we got enough rain to put the new system to the test and it was found wanting.

  • The pipe that takes water from our rain barrels down to the cisterns has a very reduced flow. Only a trickle is feeding into Joseph-Ann.
  • The fitting between the pipe and the hose at the rain barrel is a bit leaky.
  • The overflow hoses from the rain barrels have come off; ideally, they’d feed back into the downspout but at a minimum they should route overflow off the deck.
  • The patch I applied to Joseph-Ann at the first hole I made to connect her up to Seena is not 100%. It has a very tiny drip. I’ve applied more caulking there, but it’s a worry.
  • The pipe connecting Joseph-Ann to Seena seems to have a drip right at the fitting onto Joseph-Ann. I’ve tightened all those bits, but that’s very serious. If I can’t stop that drip, then the new capacity means nothing as it’ll all leak away by the end of spring.

So, I’ve got a bunch of plumbing to do, and of course it’s raining while I’ve got to do it. On the plus side, the rain is supposed to last for a few days, so if I get these problems sorted out there’s still a chance we can save some rain.

Fresh Salsa

It’s fresh produce season again, which is wonderful. That plus a little encouragement from Thug Kitchen has got me making fresh salsa and guacamole pretty frequently. Hooray for our house! In case anyone was wondering, here’s the OCD salsa I just made (OCD because I did all that tiny chopping by hand, sort of a meditation):

  • 3 tomatoes (the roma kind, because they’re less juicy)
  • 1/4 onion (it’s a darned big onion, this would be maybe 1/2 a regular onion)
  • 1/2 a fuji apple
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño
  • salt

Quarter the tomatoes and take out the seeds and the juicy pulp around them. Slice the tomatoes into little tiny chunks. Chop the onion into little tiny bits. Slice the apple and chop the slices into little tiny bits. Cut open the pepper and remove the seeds, then slice it up into little tiny bits. Cut the cilantro into little tiny bits. Combine all these ingredients in a bowl and juice the lime over the whole thing. Sprinkle with salt, maybe 1/2 teaspoon. Stir it all together with a fork until it’s all mixed up. This is sweet and spicy and crunchy and not too soupy. It would be great on a tostada or in a burrito but it usually just gets eaten on chips while dinner prep is going on and then, whoops!, there’s no salsa.

Continuing Our Dogs’ Education

When we first got our rat terriers, we got them to attack the rats that were gobbling up our chickens’ feed (and eggs). It took them a couple of years to figure out that they were supposed to chase the rats and that if they weren’t fast enough, the rats would get away. Eventually, they figured it out and they are now very accomplished ratters. They’re still hopeless at tunneling, despite what various sources say about terriers being digging dogs, and despite my attempts to get them to go after the rats in their burrows.

It’s warming up and Junglemonkey has cleaned out all the bird feeders. The birds are returning and, as birds do, they’re billing out seed onto the ground. This, of course, is attracting the attention of the squirrels. I just noticed a squirrel sitting out on the back deck, chowing down on a bunch of spilled seed. I got Dagmar’s attention and, stealthily as we might, we went out the back door to the deck. I had to work to get Dagmar to pay attention where I wanted, and this gave the squirrel a two second head start. That was plenty of time, and it streaked off into the forest before Dagmar ever got within 10 feet. Still, it was obvious to me that this year, Dagmar has finally noticed that a squirrel is very much like a rat with a bushy tail, and clearly she enjoys chasing squirrels as much as she enjoyed chasing rats. I suspect she’s going to be spending this summer figuring out how to catch a squirrel.

Or trying, anyway. The cats haven’t yet figured that out, and they’re death on rats, moles, and birds. I reckon it’ll keep the dogs busy, though, and that’s got to be worth something.

I Hate Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

When I first moved in with Junglemonkey I was surprised at how frequently I had to change lightbulbs. It seemed as though at least once a month and frequently more often than that there’d be a burned-out lamp that needed replacing. Living on my own, I’d go for maybe a year before having to replace a light bulb. Part of this difference, of course, is that a family of four turns lights off and on more times per day than a single person; maybe not four times as many, but still more. Another difference is that a three bedroom house has more light fixtures than a one bedroom apartment. Even so, it seems my family burns out bulbs more frequently than we did when I was a kid, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lightbulb actually work as long as the packaging claims it will, before or after I became a family man.

Now there’s this big push to move everyone to using compact fluorescent bulbs. In San Francisco, the main lighting in a given room may not be incandescent! But what the heck is this in aid of? The bulbs do not last any longer than the incandescents they replace, and they’re more expensive to purchase. They’re toxic (the fluorescent tube has mercury in it) and can’t be thrown away. The light is nasty. So what if they use a little less electricity? My new fridge, water heater, furnace, washer, and dryer – these all use way more energy than my lightbulbs.

Frankly, I’d rather use candles and oil lamps.

This is what Luff looked like this morning, with happy little blue flowers among the larger plants whose blooms are yet to open. It’s a good thing that the bottom leaks; it means the plants won’t drown should we be so lucky as to get any rain.