A minor epiphany

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The moon is hanging by a thread.

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There are some days that top others. It’s warm out tonight. The sky is clear and the moon, half of it, is visible in the sky. I realize that I see it much less these days. We often have clouds, ice and wind so high up that it obscures the sky, but seemingly out of touch with the warmth I am feeling. On the other hand, Lubbock had many clear nights, and I am fond of those memories I have of watching the moon track across a summer night sky. It was very familiar back then. Now it seems as though the moon is hanging by a thread, I am not quite convinced it’s able to hold its own weight.

The day which preceded this moonlit night was a good one. For no particular reason I felt at peace. I live for these days and all of the sticky ones in beween.

Written by padseew

August 8, 2011 at 4:53 am

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Broken Foot

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On Saturday night, while cooking dinner, I broke my foot.


Written by padseew

February 18, 2011 at 10:43 pm

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Sun-yoga

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It is plain and clear that I need sunshine.

It has a direct effect on how I feel.

Give me 20 degrees, but give me sun. Give me snow, but give me shine.

This paradoxical issue, however, is not fatal in spite of my dual affection for cloud and sky. I see them as both essential parts of life, and I adore them for that.

But on days with sun, I’ve noticed as of late, my mind is elevated, time is not important, and my body is rejuvinated. Or should I say that i hardly notice.

It is all there… this energetic pulse within me, but for one reason or another, my mind is almost too busy to notice. Almost…

The sun is going down now.

I can survive off those last haloes of light which ring the peaks of the mountains. It can be for all intents and purposes, dark, though i still bathe is some strange warmth.

I am happy on these days because my body feels like doing yoga. So, I do it. But, because I my scattered mind, it takes a conscious effort to engender the kind of all-encompassing focus that an intense yoga routine deserves.

When I can summon that power (and sunshine helps) I am gone. For 30 minutes, maybe longer, I live a separate chain of events dwindling down to a stillness of the mind…a stillness of life! It is like I am reversing the flow of today. Taking it all in again, and dissolving something at the same time.

My breathing is my attention. Its loudness a stark difference from any moment I can remember today. This is the deepest I ever breathe. And with every breath I can feel it rush through my body.

 

Written by padseew

February 11, 2011 at 1:43 am

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Good Bread for Good Friends

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Finished No-Knead Bread - The lovely seam at the top is created when you throw the dough from across the room into a searing hot cast iron pot

Okay. I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. I delayed my reply because this is important to me in many ways (i.e. it’s for you and I like bread), and I wanted to present you with the most helpful information I could.

 

The first thing is: All bread takes time. Good bread takes more.

Try this recipe.

“No-Knead Bread”
1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Oil as needed. – this isn’t necessary
1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: 1 big loaf.

**Skip the oil if you want. it’s mainly for the quick kneading somewhere in the middle. Use flour instead.
**Yes, get the cast iron blazing hot before you slap the bread into it. That way you’ll get a delicious caramelization and it rapidly begins the oven-spring. Dont forget the lid.

This recipe is awesome. First of all – it takes no effort, secondly you make it in a dutch oven, and thirdly it makes delicious bread.

Enriched breads are the kinds that have either milk or butter, or some other kind of fat in them. Fortunately, most of the world had bread before it had fat, so there is plenty of choice. Aim for the crusty, old-world, baguette stuff (that tall, bloated – little shoulders on them- sandwich bread shape is a commercial design to make it look more appealing). Avoid the sweeter things, the glossy things, the soft and supple breads. (This is not a hard and fast rule, but these characteristics usually convey their enriched nature.

 

Written by padseew

February 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm

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Hydroponic Gardening

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One of my favorite things to do is to grow things. I have a bougainvillea bonsai, a miniature tangerine, and a bunch of purslane. Wikipedia says purslane is an annual succulent and that, even though in the United States it’s considered a weed, about 40 varieties are cultivated worldwide. With an interesting sweet and sour taste, it also purportedly has the higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. It’s also packed with other great minerals and vitamins.

Its crunchy texture makes it delicious when eaten raw or stir-fried, by itself or as an added green to other dishes.  I think, due to its ease of growth, flavor, and health content it’s one of the best things to grow at home. Personally, I find it difficult to eat as many vegetables on a daily basis as I think I should, so I grow purslane aeroponically to maximize my harvest.

Aeroponics is a subset of hydroponics. The fundamental principle of hydroponics is that a plant is grown in some sort of porous medium that is not soil. Incidentally, hydroponics allows the farmer to manage every aspect of the plant’s environment. Aeroponics is different from hydroponics in that rather than a constant pool of water for the roots to drink from, they are constantly sprayed by a mist of water.

Several variables the farmer would want to control would be, light, light quality, water temperature, air temperature, water pH, salinity, nutrient content, micronutrient content, and microorganism content.

 

Aeroponic Hydroponic Purslane

Three purslane plants in an aeroponic reservoir grown in a reflective tent

 

Notice that harvesting the plant doesn't kill it. Snap off a limb and it just grows back in a different place. I've been eating from of this plant for 3 months. The growing medium is called hydroton - it's basically smooth round lava rock.

 

Fresh green leaves grow quickly reaching for the lamps above. Eat the whole plant; both leaves and stems are great.

 

A view from underneath. Notice the roots extending through the net-cups. A PVC pipe which rings the reservoir sprays the plants.

 

A close view of the yellow sprinklers on the PVC pipe. These emit a constant spray.

 

This is a view into the bottom reservoir. Here you can see the pump. One can make measurements and adjustments of the nutrient solution/water here.

Here is tap water. Its pH is about 8-8.5 (slightly basic). Plants like neutral to slightly acidic water, so the pH must be adjusted.

 

This sort of enrichment will lower the pH (increase the acidity). Likewise, they have additives that increase the pH.

Being 4 or lower, this water is too acidic.

This water is just right.

Treating your purslane right will make it nutritious and delicious.

Written by padseew

January 10, 2011 at 12:08 am

Posted in Gardening

Man vs. Apple Pie

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I went home for thanksgiving, and it was great. I got to see all of my family at once in rare form…happy.

When we are happy, we are a jubilant group, quick and wise-cracking.

Thanksgiving dinner came out right in time. Delicious food. I made couple of stiff drinks. The dogs fought two or three times. What can you say? Tensions rise whenever the big bird is baking.

I made an apple pie using Alton Brown’s recipe. I am pretty proud of it because even though it didn’t come out exactly like Mr. Brown’s, it’s still the best pie I’ve ever baked. I’m not trying to brag, but in the past I’ve tried to make pies. I’ve tried to make quiches. No matter what, the crust fails.

This time, I focused on the whole pie, ingredient for ingredient. I even I laid out the apples with the same pattern that Brown used. So…even though the apples fell, the crust came out. What does one make out of that?

The first of a topic in dinner conversation? Urinary tract infections. This is my family.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The centerpiece allows the steam inside to vent.

Written by padseew

November 30, 2010 at 5:01 am

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Moving conversations

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Yesterday I visited a friend of mine in the hospital. He’s fine, its a routine tune-up.

I want to mention him because every time we hang out together, I can’t help but feel moved in some way. He’s a realist, but faithful. Loud, but humble. His mind is always moving and quick to realization. Better yet, new ideas come to him as if they were soap bubbles you could pluck from the air.

I am moved because of these things and how I respond to them. He’s the kind of person who gives you his full attention, which means he’s persistently engaged. Which means you must be persistently engaged, lest that sort of thing slip in conversation and it becomes watered down and slow. We should strive for this quality of interaction.

So much thought occurs in our visits, I leave feeling spent and refreshed at the same time. When you were just laughing and pointing at things through a 9th story window and he suddenly slips into a stoic silence… you do too.

Written by padseew

November 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm

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