20100630

Busy busy, the bees are coming!

Today we set up an area to house the new lives that are moving in with us tomorrow - a hive of bees! We're excited.

In preparation we leveled some ground between two small young trees in a location where the hive will be protected from west sun, set up a table for the hive and reviewed our bee books and gear. We've been following the good advice of Kim Flottium via her book The Backyard Beekeeper published on Flottum an imprint of Quarry. I like this publisher because they are publishing for "the artisan" and they offer a variety of DIY titles.

I sure hope the bees like it here! I've been practicing my bee zen mindedness each day in the garden. When bees show up to pollinate the flowers I get in there and pick holy basil that I later dry. This has gotten me used to working amongst them and having them all around me which I totally enjoy.

In honor of the positively extraordinary work that bees do and the fantastic gift they give (honey, the best preserve ever; pollination, propolis and wax to name a few) I put together a little shrine that I mounted over where the hive will be lest we forget how grateful we are for all they do.

What Happened to the Glass Double Boiler?

I decided to buy a double boiler for making salves etc. I made the decision to buy a glass one based on the ease of use I experienced when making salves in a workshop with Cathy Hope, founder of Iris Herbal. Glass and the rounded edges it produces seems so logical when using thick substances like honey, wax, and oils. The shape and texture is conducive to using a spatula to get all the material from the boiler. I was surprised to find that these glass Corning double boilers can only be obtained vintage. I always favor buying used goods but I am left scratching my head, "why did Corning (and Pyrex and the others) stop making glass double boilers?" Was there a problem with them or is this more evidence of the decline of American made goods for reasons none other than profit? Does anyone have a clue about this?

The glass double boiler is not easy to find so run dont walk if your interested in getting one. I picked this one up in pristine condition (ebay) for $15.00 and another $15.00 in shipping.

Desert? What Desert?

Mikey and I are fish, a pisces and a scorpio, and so moving to the desert we were aware that we'd be landlocked and that this might be a problem for us. The locals often told me when we first arrived, "in NM the sky is the ocean," and while I do get what they're saying, it was not quite as satisfying in the way that buoyancy and light reflected on water is. Three years later and we've worked out all of our water needs: hot spring in yard for all bathing and soaking, local swimming pool for am laps memorial day thru labor day, Elephant Butte lake for a genuine beach experience (photo) and the Rio Grande for tubing. Often, we do all of these in one day.

20100628

Orchid Blossom- Next Up Vanilla?

Oh la la! This spring brought to life an orchid that a friend left in my care about 2 years ago. I keep getting the feeling that it's singing. It's bloom also led me to wonder, if I can grow and orchid and bring it to bloom in the desert might I also be able to grow vanilla? The stem is covered in beautiful transparent drops. I dont know what these are. Anybody?

The Kami Way & A Holy Scrap Shinto

I was just up in northern Colorado visiting the Shambhala Mountain Center. Though the land was glorious and the people wonderful I found myself missing home and realizing that the life Mikey and I created here does not prompt a strong need to "get away." The highlight of the trip - the discovery of the Kami way and the shintos they made a tradition of creating - will leave a lasting impression on me.

The founder of the Shambalah Center, a reincarnate Buddhist teacher, enshrined on the land a deity or goddess of the sun named Amaterasu Omikami. The Buddhist view extends that humans, by way of living off the solar energy in plants (to name one dependence on the sun), are solar cells that store solar energy. The deity therefore plays a daily role in the lives of humanity. In Japanese style and tradition this deity was enshrined in a shinto which is high up on a mountain and viewable by those who make the journey. The reason that this shrine was my favorite part of the trip is that it exposed me to the Kami way, which is the way of the indigenous racial Japanese. The Kami people enshrined deities when they were identified in nature.

There was an undeniable feeling on that mountain top. More significant to me and to the land work here at Holy Scrap was the notion of repairing the land to such a degree that a deity would wish to inhabit it; that this would be noticed and undeniable; and that a shinto be deservedly placed right here in Truth or Consequences. This is a myth that I am pledging to carry with me and allow myself to be inspired by. It is a wonderful reminder of our role in the making of what is sacred.

Drunk Tubing


Drunk Tubing
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Occasionally I like to imbibe in a few adult beverages and enjoy nature at the same time. We did the 6+ mile river tubing on Saturday which was a lot of fun. I fell off my rocket-II floaty accidentally about 3x. Andy managed to bite it on the first rapid probably due to carrying the beer cooler.

Drunk Tubing #2 Drunk Tubing #3 Drunk Tubing #4

How to Piss Off the Aphids


How to Piss Off the Aphids
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We have successfully been using this blended mixture of limes, chili peppers and garlic to hold back the aphids. At the moment our comfry is under attack so Wendy asked me to blend up a batch to remove the black aphids that have moved in.

How to Piss Off the Aphids #2

Like Minded


Like Minded
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Yesterday I made the 300 mile u-turn to Albuquerque to pickup Wendy from the airport. I averaged 52 mpg which is probably all I can do when I'm going to be traveling in the within the city as opposed to just interstate. Since I was up there I decided to check out Dave's homestead located just outside the city limits. He has a gorgeous piece of land with a nice size medicinal garden, veggie area, and greenhouse dome. It's nice to meet someone in Albuquerque working so hard to be self sufficient.

20100624

Welcome Back, NAM - We Hardly Knew You


Welcome Back, NAM - We Hardly Knew You
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

The North America Monsoon (NAM) showed up this evening delivering us a 1/2 inch of rain that was desperately needed. The best part about this iniital storm in my mind is the timing. Our last big year for monsoon rainfall was in 2006 where we received 3x the usual amount of rain and it started just two days earlier (June 22nd). The earlier that the NAM begin can indicate that water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California are warmer than usual. Warmer water in those regions has been correlated to larger monsoon rainfall for the Southwest. The foreseeable forecast has a chance of moisture just about everyday which should make our thirsty garden shift into overdrive mode. Man did we need this rain.

Welcome Back, NAM - We Hardly Knew You #2 Welcome Back, NAM - We Hardly Knew You #3

Flatland Skimboarding Elephant Butte New Mexico

Whew! Andy and I had a fun day skimming. We spent 4.5 hours at the lack enjoying the cloud cover and empty beach.

Flatland Skimboarding Elephant Butte New Mexico Flatland Skimboarding Elephant Butte New Mexico #2 Flatland Skimboarding Elephant Butte New Mexico #3 Flatland Skimboarding Elephant Butte New Mexico #4 Flatland Skimboarding Elephant Butte New Mexico #5

20100623

Book: Gathering the Desert


Book: Gathering the Desert
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This book is a fun read that covers 12 desert plants in detail. The author explains the crucial rolls the plants played for early desert cultures and how they are still being used today. I personally love all the historical trivia behind the plants and the regions they were in. Rather than give you a bunch of examples I'll just say "buy this book". Amazon has used copies starting at $2.95.

Desert plants covered include: the creosote bush, palm, mescal, sandfood, organpipe cactus, amaranth, tepary bean, chile, devil's claw, panicgrass, and wild gourds

Cherry Picking


Cherry Picking
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Andy and I took the dogs out this morning to the nearby community of Las Palomas. The good people of P & S farm had a bumper crop of sour cherries and invited us to come pick as much as we like. We spent about a hour picking and I came up with 5lbs of cherries. While picking I decided that I would puree most of the cherries then freeze them much like I did with the prickly pear cactus fruits last summer. I can make drinks or ferment them later into a wine and cherry cider. They cherries easily blended with a small amount of water. I was not prepared for such a strong scent they would produce. My kitchen briefly smelled like a candy shop.

Cherry Picking #2 Cherry Picking #3 Cherry Picking #4 Cherry Picking #5 Cherry Picking #6

20100622

What's Another Word for Pirate Treasure?


What's Another Word for Pirate Treasure?
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

After a few hours of cooking in my hot metal shipping container I decided to make off for the lake. I have been wanting to explore Elephant Butte more on my own. I had been desperate to find a flat area of shoreline with ankle deep water. I am happy to report that today I need not look any further. I had the most amazing skimming session along Long Point (off Rock Canyon passed Sports Adventure). The weather was great, the water temperature perfect, and I had the place to myself. One full hour of the best skim boarding I've ever done. Video to come soon.

What's Another Word for Pirate Treasure? #2 What's Another Word for Pirate Treasure? #3

20100621

Apricots : You Can't Win Them All


Apricots : You Can't Win Them All
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Occasionally I get this crazy idea that we should have all perennials in the yard. No more seedling nonsense, let's just put in stuff once and forget it. I'm glad we never tried that. Our fruit trees are showing their complete lack of abundance this year. We are looking to get less than a half dozen apricots off of a pair of 3 year old trees. Even our massive peach tree will probably yield less than 20 peaches. Wendy and I both cried when one of our only two pears fell off in a wind storm last week. We had a tough spring with high winds and late freezes. Let's hope the annuals even things out.

Filthy Abundance


Filthy Abundance
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

The weather enticed me to leave the comfort of my indoor swamp cooler early this evening. There were plenty of clouds which made me think we would have a nice solstice sunset without the intensity of our west facing sun. I was wrong. After pumping filtering 75 gallons of waste veggie oil I was sweating like I had not done in years (since working on the dome). Temps were up at 100F again and the clouds quickly vanished after I had all my gear out. At least the oil moved quickly without any electric heating elements. I received two different calls today offering to extend my grease pickup route. I declined for the most part accepting one new small restaurant with high quality oil.

20100620

Hypermiling Our VW Beetle


Hypermiling Our VW Beetle
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy and I took off early this morning destined for the ABQ airport. She had a afternoon flight and I had the onerous job of dropping her at the airport, making a u-turn, and driving for another 2.5 hours back home. This 5 hour (300 mile) airport drop-off is the downside of a living in the middle of nowhere. We have minimized the expense by making our own biodiesel and having a high mileage vehicle. Today I noticed we can further reduce the resource drain by driving really slow! Wendy drove to ABQ going 65 mph averaging about 30 mpg. I drove home going 55 mph and disabled the air conditioner while climbing big hills. My mileage was roughly 60 mpg. I realize there can be many variables here so I'll test the super slow speed thing further when I have to pick her up. Sadly, New Mexico has a 75 mph speed limit on the interstates which means everybody gets lousy mileage if you dutifully follow the posted speed limit.

Yum! A Cheese that Melts


Yum! A Cheese that Melts
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy and I have been making pizza together for years. Before we left NYC we recorded a video explaining our process to making a vegan pizza. The pizza pies we make today are not vegan anymore, but we make or grow almost every ingredient. Our latest accomplishment is a homemade mozzarella cheese that really melts.

20100618

Last Post on Shade: Shade Cloth + Reed = DONE!

You blog readers are so observant. Someone wrote yesterday, "where's the shade cloth that's supposed to go up along with the reed?" We had to mod it a tad, make it stronger. And now. . . finally. . . 3 months into the project, we have our shade structure much like we designed it. Whew. Today, we test the level of darkness with a laptop. Can we work outside on the wi-fi?

20100617

The Up To Date Candy Store

I picked this link up on Boing Boing the other day. Passing it on because it's a fantastic resource. It's a book titled Up to Date Candy Teacherby Charles Apell published in 1921. There are undoubtedly some wonderfully odd recipes and methods in here. EnJoy!

Word on the Street in NO's Oil in the Air

I've been reading more than is emotionally comfortable about the BP oil spill, after all we ought be uncomfortable. But when I got an email from a very good friend, a native to New Orleans, describing the details in the daily life it shook me more than even the gruesome pictures.

He wrote this morning, "It is hot as can be and now we are all breathing chemicals from the dispersants that they are using as well as all of the poisonous carbon by products from the oil they are burning in the gulf. We are getting itchy eyes, rashes, respiratory problems. It is going to be a rough summer, even by New Orleans standards. Let's pray we don't get any hurricanes."

Photo Credit: Andrei Molodkin, Iraqi crude oil in the form of Democracy, 2005

20100614

The Never Ending Shade Structure - Sleep in Your Garden!!!

One thing about DIY life. . . often you have to ammend a project many many times to get it just right. Our shade structure is proving to be one of those projects. Yesterday I added a layer of reed fencing to the top. Originally the design was to have latias up top. But we found out that they pillage the forests of ponderosa pine faster than it can be replaced so we switched to reed. It's cheap stuff but it breathes so well that the wind seems to ignore it. To make this shade work I had to sew 6 pieces of 6' by 15' reed together using metal wire. It was quite a pain working with it above me, my neck hurts from looking up for 6 hrs. But it's done and wow, it's just as I once imagined it years ago.

I also feel an odd feeling of relief to look out at the furniture and not see one store bought item. Everything is dumspter-dove and worked on. I find no reminder of stores, commodification, branding, the ever decreasing quality or that bland monotony found in the goods that stores offer.

Now one can lounge, eat, and sleep in the garden surrounded with life! Tonight a girlfriend is coming over and we'll do a slumber party, yes in the garden. Mikey and I used to sleep on the roof occasionally. Now we're all about the garden. And if you have not yet tried it - run dont walk - go sleep in your garden tonight!!!