Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Electronics De-clutter

My husband has a room that he uses as an office and a studio. He took out all the old lathe and plaster and partial cellulose insulation. After building out the wall studs to 6 inches, he insulated, vapor-barriered, sheathed in OSB, applied pine paneling, painted and over-stained. The wall now look great and it is the warmest room in the house.

He's also gotten rid of a lot of other stuff. The electronics de-clutter began because he wanted to get rid of a metal secretary cabinet that had sorts of old things in it: a couple of inkjet printers with their dried-out cartridges, cables, dried-out dry-erase markers. I had a bag of obsolete computer stuff upstairs.

Then when we began putting the pile together so I could move it to the car a half dozen more boxes and things came out of the renovated room: an old music keyboard with one irreparable key, a subwoofer, a couple of speakers, a box of auxillary cards, a box of old modems and cables, a small bag of old inkjet cartridges. It filled half the cargo space of our Honda CRV.

At the hazardous waste depot they had a big box for computer electronics, another big box for other electronics, and the inkjet cartridges had to be dropped off at the station that took paints, stains, and household petroleum-derivative products.

The car left pleasantly lighter and we have more space in the house.

Winter Collages

We cleaned out the attic preparatory to upping the insulation to R-50 (recommended here in Ontario). We found a lot of old barn boards and a lot of pieces of plywood panelling, the stuff that is all wood (and glue) with scribed "board" lines one side and prepainted white; the reverse side is plain medium brown grain. We recognized that some of the barn board was candidate for art work and the panelling could be used the side of small boxes or for small shelves.

I was in a local gallery which was selling packages of Japanese paper scraps, so I picked one up, thinking I could use it for collages.

I was straightening up my craft room after Christmas and I came across a stack of art gallery postcards and an old French book on animals in Africa with black ink drawings. Hmmm, collage material, I thought. I was starting a Year of Creativity too and I thought some collages might be a nice project as part of that.

I went out to the shop shed and cut up a stack of 6" x 6" pieces of panelling in the week between Christmas and New Year's. Then three weeks later I cut another stack, some of them 7" or more to a side.

I found a tin to keep the cards, paper, and scissors in. An old Olay creme jar was perfect for white glue. I had some roller-ball pens for text and signing the backs, brushes for applying the glue, and ergonomic tweezers I picked up at a Cape Cod flea market for handling small pieces.

Ideas came to me as I browsed through the art card, the book, and the paper pieces. I'd cut and layout, then glue everything together.

It's been a very artful January!

The "Root Cellar" Box

I have a cold room behind the kitchen. When the cold weather arrives, we seal it off -- completely -- from the rest of the house. I stuck a thermometer in there this year. It read 40 deg F or lower while the kitchen on the other side of the wall read 65 deg F. It's colder because it has horrible windows (double panes of bare, bulky glass which will make great cold frame covers when we replace the windows next year -- they slide in wooden grooves and are quite drafty) and not much insulation anywhere. The wall between it and the kitchen is insulated and we've created a barrier + door in the 4 foot wide opening between the two.

Our basement is small and the presence of the gas furnace down there keeps it too warm to keep many root cellar crops for long. Squash does well. There's a corner where I can put a bucket of apples. But potatoes, onions, and carrots invariably sprout.

I had a large plastic box with an attached deep lid, left over Reflectix from the door, and left over insulation from the attic. I constructed a false floor in the box and stuffed it with insulation. More insulation went in the lid and sides and was covered with the Reflectix. I placed the finished box towards the kitchen wall side of the room.

I put in onions, red onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, mandarins and grapefruit in mid-December. The last of the mandarins were used (and still in excellent shape) the last week of January. We went away the first two weeks of February, turning down the heat in the house to 60 deg F. When we came back, the carrots were frozen -- they were in plastic and in the section of the box furthest from the wall. But sweet potatoes in plastic in the middle of the box were moldy (they went to the compost). The rest of the produce was fine. A key point coming out of this is to not store items in plastic. Those in cloth or heavy paper bags were fine.

We'll see how things go the rest of February.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hoped For Heights in 2010

This is the first day of January, customary for resolutions and predictions. I'm not much for either, but there are things I hope to do/experience/work for in 2010:
  • my first grape harvest from my vines
  • more elderberries
  • more black raspberries
  • more kayaking: the Otonabee from Peterborough to Rice Lake, going through some of the Trent-Severn locks, Lake Tahoe, inside the Outer Barrier Islands of North Carolina, anywhere in Colorado, somewhere near Myrtle Beach, anywhere in Virginia
  • using my electric bike for grocery market days in fair weather
  • closing off a root cellar space in our basement
  • set up a solar panel charging station for rechargable batteries
  • converting the boulevard in front of our house away from grass
  • insulating under the house (basement, crawl space)
  • installing storm doors
  • more decluttering!
  • exploring the possibility of bee-keeping
  • more carrots from the garden
  • more home-grown potatoes
  • a longer lettuce and greens season
  • more solar cooking
  • more solar dehydrating (if I get the sunshine!)
Notice all the "ing" words? That implies process -- now and into the future!