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picnic in pjs

picnic in pjs

After a week of freezing rain and ice followed by snow and more snow and frigid frostbite temperatures, Bookman and I were starting to feel the winter blahs. To help in their alleviation, we had a picnic today. On the living room floor. No mosquitoes. No ants. Just a couple cats trying to mooch off our plates. Only in winter can one wear flannel pajamas to a picnic.

Bookman made seitan salad on onion bagels with apple slices and salt and vinegar chips on the side for a special treat. For dessert there was homemade ice cream. To add to the picnic ambience, we found a YouTube video of a lovely sunny woods with mossy trees, bluebells and birds singing. The actual weather outside helped too by being sunny and warm 30F/-1C. It was all quite nice and our spirits feel lifted for it.

Seeing as how the weather was so pleasant today, the Dashwoods even got to come out and enjoy some sunshine. There is snow everywhere and they were not pleased by that but they so badly wanted to be out they were not going to be stopped. At one point all four of them were perched in the sun on the deck stairs happily preening their feathers.

They also got a cabbage hung up in their run today. Hanging cabbage isn’t such a novelty anymore so they don’t go completely bonkers over it. They have also figured out how to negotiate the swinging and grab pieces off it at the same time. And it is no longer something that must be devoured all at once. With the run door open they’d go in and out, take a bite, wander back into the garden, and then go back again later for more.

We had a visit from the cute two-year-old girl and her mom a few houses down from us. She has been sad she hasn’t been able to see the chickens lately because they have been in the plastic shrouded run. They saw the Dashwoods were out and they walked over to say hi. It just so happened we had an egg. We gave it to her and she thought it was pretty neat in the way of two-year-olds who are tired and suddenly shy.

All of the seeds I ordered have arrived. Seed companies like to send a packet of free seeds when you order. It’s always fun to get some random seeds you might not have ever bought. One year we got a yellow summer squash that was pretty tasty. Another year we got some flower seeds. This year we got cosmic purple carrots. It could not have been more perfect. I was going to order some but decided not to because I already had some atomic red carrot seeds from last year and I was ordering some oxheart carrots (they are round like a big radish instead of long) and how many carrots does one really need in a small garden? But I got my cosmic purple anyway. Woo!

Carrots are one of the vegetables that a person with a winter greenhouse can grow. I have been meaning to try making a winter bed with a small grow house over it for a number of years but just haven’t managed it, we’ll call it chicken interruptus. We will also call it lazy. So it is with great interest that I am following a Minneapolis walipini story. A walipini is not a vegetable and don’t worry if you have never heard of it, I hadn’t either.

A walipini is a sunken greenhouse that uses passive solar heating to keep it warm. In community with a nearby church, someone built one in their backyard to go along with the large community garden on the church property. It gets so warm in there during the winter that they can grow tomatoes!

It was built in 2015 out of mostly salvaged materials. Before building, they checked with the city to find out if a permit was needed but were told they didn’t need one because the city didn’t have any rules regulating sunken greenhouses. Since then they have had many curious visitors interested in how it works and how to build it. And they have had at least one complaint. The city will not disclose the exact number, only that there has been one.

Because of the complaint(s), the city is now studying the issue and have told a few other residents who had begun digging to build their own walipinis that they had to stop. Urban agriculture was legalized in 2012, and this is viewed by urban growers as part of the urban agriculture movement. Hopefully the city sees it the same way. A decision from the city council is expected by spring.

As much as I would love my own walipini, I simply don’t have the space for it. But then I didn’t have the space for chickens until recently when we knocked down our garage. I have nothing left to knock down. Unless I take out my deck, replace it with steps into the garden and a small patio right in front of the walipini windows. I could use the deck lumber as framing for the walipini. Well now, isn’t that a thought?

Cycling

I miss riding outdoors. Yesterday I had an epic trainer ride. I planned on riding for six hours however far that took me. It ended up taking me 112.5 miles/181 km with a little over 5,000 feet/1,524 m of climbing. Yes, I was tired but kind of bored by the end too. I stopped only for a quick bathroom break and because of an incident.

I was 4 1/2 hours in and cruising along in the zone when, CRASH! My first reaction was to grab the brakes on Astrid to…stop? And then I realize, wait, I’m on a trainer, I don’t have to stop because I am not going anywhere. That gives you an idea how far out in the zone I was. I jump off the trainer and run into the bedroom from whence the crash had come.

Sitting on the bed looking a bit ruffled, expecting to get yelled at and trying to look cute and innocent at the same time, was Waldo. In pieces on the floor with a large puddle of water spilled across the room, was the humidifier. I had no time to spare, I had to get back to my ride before my muscles began to cool off and tighten up. I picked up the broken pieces, tossed down towels, swish, swish, swish. Tossed the now wet and heavy towels into the bathtub and jumped back on the bike. Four minutes. It took a little longer than that to get my brain back in the groove, but it all ended up ok. Except for the poor humidifier. We went out and bought a new one today. And Waldo, he’s been especially affectionate ever since. It won’t last, but it is funny watching him try to make up for his naughtiness.

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