Filed under:General — eric @ 8:33 am

Busy, busy, busy.


That’s what I’ve been. Busy at work, making up for lost time. It’s much better to be busy this way — rolling out good software that customers are literally amazed at — than it was the previous two weeks when we were busy repairing the god-awful mistakes we made, with a livid customer watching and interjecting at every turn. I’ll even be working tomorrow, the fourth, and I don’t really mind because it’s good work.

I’ve been busy with theater, too. The play went very well. Every night we had twice as many audience members as the previous night. We only went on for three nights, though, so we couldn’t push that trend to its limits. I’ll be off the stage for a few weeks, preparing for the directing gig I’ve landed. [Note to self: change the sidebar.] Bus Stop will be fun. I’m looking forward to sharing my ideas with a whole new group of people, and having a whole new audience watch my work. And if leads to several extra thousand dollars a year, so much the better. I was wondering how to replace my tutoring income (my star student graduated), and Bus Stop will do more than that.

Things at home have been busy, too. After a week of rehearsals (and pizza), I hardly recognized the garden. With all the rain we’ve gotten, combined with the heat, the summer veggies have exploded. There’s probably a bushel or more of tomatillos growing from only four plants. The tomato plants are as tall as I am, and they’re loaded with green fruit. When I was young, in Indiana, there was a local saying about the corn, “Knee high by the fourth of July.” Mine’s ready to harvest. I ate the first okra today. There’re baby eggplants. The squash (spaghetti and yellow crooknech) and cukumbers and melons are fruiting. The chiles, all dozen varieties, dozens of plants, are loaded. I put away several quarts of beans yesterday, and the vines should produce yet for a few more months. I’ll put away what I anticipate needing for the year, and the rest will be sold at the local organic farmer’s market. Even if I only have a little to sell, it’ll be good quality and great practice for when I buy the farm (no breakthrough on that front yet) and grow enough to have the farm pay for itself.

And yesterday I finished the oven. I think it looks very nice, even though I didn’t do any fancy carvings. It’s a simple beehive shaped oven, and that’s just fine. I’ll build a few small fires in it this week and plan on making the first meals in it Friday night. I’ve lost my camera (I think it’s in the trunk of my car, along with theater materials, TiVo diagnostic equipment, odds and ends, and who knows what else), so there’s still no pictures. And I wish I could have taken some during the building process. I’ve been accused of being obscenely sensual, but this oven building thing was over the top. It was all hand-built, from the laying of the foundation (cement blocks), shovelling a ton or more of sand, building the wet sand form for the inside (”shaping the void”), mixing the clay. Especially mixing the clay. It involved taking my shoes off, wearing shorts, and dancing in the mud. I put the clay I dug out of the ground on a tarp, sprinkled with extra sand, and added a touch of water. And then I got right on and danced. I jigged. I twisted. I clogged. Had I thought about it, I would have actually put on some music to dance to, but the soundtrack in my head worked alright with me. The first batch of clay should have been barely damp, like that of from-scratch pie dough. I got it a bit wetter than that, but no matter. This was pressed onto my clay form, compacted as much as it could take, in small bactches with my hands. Five or so inches thick, two feet high and almost two feet across. That took two wheelbarrows of clay and planty of dancing. When that had dried sufficiently, I cut out the doorway and scraped out the sand form. The oven stood by itself, and already it looked great, ready to use. But I mixed up another batch of clay, this time with more sand and straw and water (and much more dancing) and added a second, equally thick, layer to the oven. This took another two wheelbarrows of clay. When that was put on and suffifiently compacted, I wet my hands and smotted it out. This was the best part, because it was just like fingerpainting, or turning a bowl on a wheel. I smoothed it out and made it pretty, and now it sits under a tarp, protected from the daily thunderstorms, waiting for fire to harden it.

Some of my friends have made a running joke of my self-sufficiency by judging me on how much of a pizza I’ve made by myself. I started with the tomatoes and basil, while living in my concrete apartment. I began making cheese, and that got added to the list (Someday soon, it’ll be from milk from my own animals.). I’ve begun collecting mushrooms, and they’re mighty good on pizza. I haven’t grown my own wheat yet, but I have ground whole organic wheat into flour. I’ve done it on a stone mortar and pestle, but I prefer to use a metal grinder. I don’t grow my own olives yet, but when I do I’ll press them for oil. And now I can bake them in an oven made completely by hand from raw materials. I’m almost there, but I know when I reach complete pizza self-sufficiency, the bar will be raised to another level. And when it is, I’ll be ready to build my house from cob/generate my own power/whatever. I’ve found that the more I live in harmony with my surroundings, making for myself what I can, my standard of living has only increased. Odd that, considering many people think only the poor do what I’ve been doing.

Busy, busy. That’s what I’ve been lately.

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