Surprise: You get to go swimming today

A red crawfish
Last weekend I went canoeing with my neighbors. It was very spontaneous. They invited me that afternoon and we were underway in an hour or so. We had 3 kayakers and 4 of us in two canoes on Pigeon Creek.

It started out cool. I saw some crawfish on the bank right next to the access ramp.

We made it to the first obstacle, a big tree blocking half the stream. However I ended up getting pinned behind it. I tried to push myself sideways, out from behind the log, but got dumped in the water.

Thankfully, I had on a life jacket. I hadn’t been in the water for years, so it was a big surprise. I did ok and didn’t drown. First, I moved over to the bank so that my feet could touch the bed of the river.

The rest of the trip my jeans were soaked, but the water wasn’t too cold and the weather was warm.

We made it to the last bridge before Mongo, climbed out and waited for the vehicle at the drop-off site to rejoin us.

All in all, it was pretty fun. I was getting pretty tired and a little cranky by the time we got out of the water. I fell down twice trying to get up the path where we stopped. I didn’t get any injuries although I fell pretty hard the second time.

I did a lot better than I expected and it’s definitely an adventure to remember.

The new family on TV

TV
I have an aerial TV antenna in the attic of my car port. Over the years, robins have found it an ideal place for a nest.

They already had one clutch that has grown up and flown away. I was lazy and ended up with bird poop all over my car when it became time for them to leave. (I kept parking the car inside.)

However, this is the first year that I remember watching them start a second family so I can have a do-over instead of a poo-over.

Last week, I went out and the parent flew down and was scolding me. It wanted to get me to stay away from the nest. I’ve followed her admonition and park beyond the car port. I leave the car port on the side next to the house. I don’t get close to the nest and I haven’t seen the bird leave the next when I go out.

I hope it means fewer neuroses for the babies when they leave.

I’ll certainly be happy that my car doesn’t need cleaned up!

I got back from Chicago

A bus or train
This was a fun way to end the week. Thursday I went to Chicago to see my sister. They have an apartment about 50 floors up. They have a view of the lake and quite a few tall buildings for good measure.

I took the commuter train from South Bend to Chicago and back. The trip there was a little altered because they were doing planned maintenance on the tracks so we bused into Michigan City for the first leg.

I had a really nice visit to the Art museum and saw lots of armor and weapons. There was a sound installation in the main hall that I really liked. There was also an AIDS gallery that had a lot more information than I had time to take in. It had four screening rooms with lengthy videos that I only sampled.

Today we braved the rain to see the cloud gate (Bean) and looked at a Victorian stained glass exhibit in one of the underground areas. I had a Chicago style hot dog before boarding the train.

I made some raspberry pudding. I’m still perfecting the process. This one ended up solidifying before I even got it off the stove. It didn’t form any film on the surface, but it also was more custardy than puddingy. I haven’t learned what I need to do to have a nice pudding texture. I don’t have any food dyes either so the result is always white.

One that I would like to try to make is a chocolate mint recipe. Maybe the next time I buy milk? I haven’t tried soy milk or other vegetable milks instead of dairy.

It was a fun weekend. I knew sirens are loud up on the 50th floor because I’ve heard them talking to my sister on the phone, but it makes it take a while to fall asleep.

Sad garden

Plants growing in a garden
I had a nice afternoon yesterday. Mom and Dad came up to help with my garden.

A friend helped expand it the day before. The new part was horrible… about half of it was *full* of rocks. We gave up after I had had carted almost 10 buckets and filled up 4 holes in my driveway. Dad was digging and I was picking up the stones.

There were so many rocks that we had to get more soil. Fortunately, my neighbor was working on her garden and offered some that she didn’t need.

I couldn’t decide what to plant, but we planted zucchini, onions, tomatoes and flowers. I had wanted to plant peppers but the Garden Gate was closed for Memorial Day. I went up today and bought a dozen various pepper plants. I’ll put those in later today after it cools off a little.

What was sad about the event was that mom found a nest of dead baby rabbits in the old garden. We carefully got rid of them, to avoid any possible disease from the remains. There’s been a rabbit in my back yard for years. I’m not sure if the babies belonged to it.

After the garden party, I went to the Y and walked a mile.

Spices for Cauliflower

A serving dish of hot food
I have an excellent cookbook “Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook” edited by Charles Gerras. Mine is the 1984 edition.

It has lots of useful tables. How to prepare seafood, cooking methods for vegetables and quite a few others.

One table includes information about spice/vegetable combinations. The attached PDF summarizes the information. I haven’t tested many of the combinations personally but I trust the source.

(Although it’s not in the chart, I discovered that celery seed goes well with cauliflower.)

Spice Table

Climate change and the coal strike of 1977-78: Turn down the lights

A finger pressing a switch
When you read the history of the 1977-1978 Coal Strike, the reports talk about the negotiations, the rejected agreement and who the losers were in the final contract.

However, the effect of the strike on energy consumption is glossed over.

That year, I was a student at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Indiana. The school took steps to reduce energy usage. I remember that we reduced lighting in the classrooms and hallways. We changed policies in the cafeteria and took other steps to cut back energy usage.

None of the changes that the school took required waiting for greater availability of renewable energy sources or capital outlays by industry.

Reducing the use of lighting in public spaces will not eliminate the imperative to reduce CO2 emissions. However, it will be a step in the right direction. It can be done overnight and does not need the cooperation of any elected officials.

Turn down the lights. It’s a very visible signal that CO2 emissions need to be lowered. It can be a start and it’s available everywhere.

Need any Passengers?

Headphones
I was just looking at my most recent mix CDs. I call them Bill’s Quirky Music since they’re pretty eclectic and some are far off the beaten path.

Out of the 118 songs on BQM X through BQM XVII there are 10 by Passenger. Four Horses is one of my favorites of those.

If I go back to all BQMs, Asia, Alan Parsons and Saga challenge Passenger for supremacy.

Although it’s not difficult, I was able to get my iPhone to play music from my desktop computer through iTunes sharing. However, it isn’t as useful as it once was because I listen to the desktop on Bluetooth speakers.