Saturday, July 23, 2011

At 4:51pm EDT yesterday...

...I checked the weather conditions, as registered at a reporting station adjacent to a state DOT garage several miles away.

Dig that crazy "heat index" and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Canning continuity, Part II

(As I type this, the outdoor temperature here in our village is 95°F. Coupled with 64% relative humidity and a dew point of 81°F, the "feels like" temp -- that new-fangled "heat index" popular with TV meteorologists -- is a brain-broiling 117°F, and we haven't yet seen the hottest part of the day. Time to focus on something cooler.)

In last Saturday's post, I waxed righteous about re-using a vintage Ball canning jar. I've put up three more quarts of pickles since then, each in a jar left behind by our home's previous owner. I've also done a bit of sleuthing about their pedigrees.

That clear Kerr Self-Sealing Wide Mouth jar (above) arguably is the least interesting of the four. It offers no clues as to its age but, judging by the other jars we found, it probably was made in the 1960s in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

The quaint-looking Mom's Mason jar was made in nearby Columbus by Home Products. a division of Ohio Container, in the mid-1970s.

This blue Atlas Strong Shoulder Mason was made in Wheeling, West Virginia by Hazel-Atlas, which ceased production in 1964. I suspect that this jar may date to the 1940s or 1950s -- but that wouldn't make it the oldest jar rescued from our basement shelf.

Nope, that distinction (so far) belongs to the blue Ball Perfect Mason mentioned on Saturday. Its markings testify that it was made between 1923 and 1933.

These vintage canning jars aren't just worth keeping -- they're damned well worth using.

Monday, July 18, 2011

So you don't have room to garden?

One of the five raised beds in our vegetable garden hosts a tomato plant, two sweet basil plants, two hot pepper plants, four cucumber vines and a spearmint plant -- all in just 25 square feet.

To say that it's a prolific patch would be an understatement. The tomato has passed the six-foot mark and is loaded with fruit. The basils are nearly three feet tall and lush. Everything is healthy and producing, especially the cucumbers. Witness this example, picked early this morning after I'd finished the day's watering.

The vital statistics: length 9.5 inches, girth 8 inches. I don't know what this backyard monster weighs, but I found it under a particularly dense section of canopy. Ready late last week, probably, it managed to elude me for several days, and thus it grew.

Again, it came from a 25-square-foot bed.

There are so many solutions to the problem of limited space -- intensive gardening and container gardening, to name two -- that there's really no good reason (including stoopid city ordinances) not to practice sustenance-gardening skills. With a little planning, good soil preparation and regular watering, it can be done almost anywhere.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sharps: His & hers EDC folders

Mrs. KintlaLake and I, together nearly six years now, are fortunate to share many interests. Our individual approaches to life are by no means identical, but we complement each other well.

When choosing a folding knife for everyday carry, each of us favors a mid-size Benchmade -- me a 556 Mini Griptilian, she a 585 Mini Barrage. Both are solid, relatively affordable and American-made. In terms of quality, utility and durability, neither gives ground to knives costing two or three times more.

My wife prefers the Mini Barrage's spring-assist -- convenient, sure, but in her male-dominated workplace, every time she snaps the 585 to open a box or cut a wire, she gains a smidgen of cred.

I'm content with my less-flashy (yet easily flickable) Mini Griptilian.

The missus and I also differ on how (and how often) we maintain our knives. I strop mine on a pant leg after each use and on a leather belt at the end of each day. She, ignoring my example, tends to work hers until it's hopelessly dull.

This morning I found her Mini Barrage on her dresser, the blade gummed-up with packing-tape residue, unable to even draw-cut paper. I could've taken advantage of Benchmade's LifeSharp℠ warranty service, but instead I spent an hour with sandpaper, stropping compound and bare leather, coaxing the edge back to respectability.

When I presented the result to my wife, she got a stern (but kind-hearted) lecture -- and I got a hug.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Canning continuity

When we moved into these digs last year, our discoveries included a basement shelf lined with empty glass jars -- three dozen vintage Ball, Kerr and Atlas canning jars, hinting that the previous occupant was typical of her generation.

This afternoon I put up the season's first refrigerator pickles. And although I have plenty of my own jars, I went down to the basement and cast my eyes over the old ones, ultimately choosing a quart-size Ball "Perfect Mason" in blue glass.

It seemed fitting.

We're carrying on a tradition of preserving food grown on this modest patch of land, using a vessel first employed perhaps four decades ago.

If I have to explain why that feels just right, you wouldn't understand.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Raise the roof, not the ceiling

I'll get right to the point: Congress should not raise the debt ceiling. All opposing arguments are grounded in short-sighted self-interest.

Our inability to live within our means is sabotaging our nation's future. The consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling, according to credible economists with no ideological axe to grind, would be catastrophic. No Congress and no President wants to be remembered for initiating a catastrophe, so our elected officials are dithering around the edges of the matter.

The only thing they're accomplishing is postponing the inevitable. Increasing the federal government's borrowing limit beyond the currently unfathomable $14.3 trillion only prevents a problem from becoming a crisis -- and to save our country, we need a crisis.

In other words, bring on the catastrophe.

I don't say that lightly. If the debt ceiling isn't raised within the next few weeks, American commerce will spasm and change quickly and, to be blunt about it, things will absolutely suck for the foreseeable future. Life, as this generation has known it, will end.

That, of course, would be a good thing.

This country is worth saving but its government is broken -- we must tear it down to build it up again. We'll decide what We, the People, truly need from a smaller government and what we're willing to pay for it. We'll learn what we can (and should) do for ourselves.

But for now, right now, we must contact our elected officials and demand that they vote against raising the debt ceiling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How our garden grows

Ok, so it's been a while. I've been busy.

Well, that's not quite accurate. Although there's been lots happening around the KintlaLake household, more than once over the last six weeks I made a conscious decision to walk past my computer in favor of doing something productive. Often I went two or three days without logging on.

A much-anticipated visit from out-of-town family over the July 4th weekend never materialized, but we spent the months of May and June throwing ourselves into getting our place ready -- light fixtures to landscaping, painting interior walls to preparing the tiny guest room. It was all-consuming and ultimately, visitors or not, rewarding.

When it comes to greenery, my wife is in charge of ornamentals. I manage the edibles, and my carefully tended vegetable garden has started to offer its bounty.

This morning's "harvest" was eight cucumbers, a pepper and a bowl of peas. That does it for our first crop of peas; likewise, the early-summer radishes are in. Carrots will be next to mature, I think.

My plum-tomato plants have grown to over five feet tall and the "garden salsa" peppers -- I swear, I thought they were jalapeños -- are producing nicely. The habanero plants, as usual, are making me cranky, but I remain optimistic about a late-summer harvest. All of our herbs are ridiculously healthy, save one dill plant lost to parsley worms. And after picking cukes today, I counted fifty more blossoms.

Either I need to come up with more cucumber recipes, or we're gonna have enough refrigerator pickles to last us 'til next Christmas.

A week ago we celebrated Independence Day, perhaps my favorite holiday. As is my custom, I began this Fourth of July by reading the Declaration of Independence -- aloud, alone -- to remind myself of my great good fortune to have been born an American. Later my family and I, along with a half-dozen friends, set up folding chairs along the curb in front of our house for the village parade.

For us, this parade is much more than a procession. We take the opportunity to shout our gratitude to each and every firefighter, law-enforcement officer and military veteran who passes by. Last Monday we stepped into the street to shake hands with the county sheriff, and we personally thanked our state senator for sponsoring pro-Second Amendment legislation recently signed into law by Ohio's governor.

Afterward the group returned to the patio for a cookout -- pot luck, good eats -- and as darkness fell we carted our chairs to the edge of our back yard to enjoy the traditional fireworks display.

Unlike thousands of revelers who pack the village's festival grounds for the show, we have a front-row seat. See, the shells launch from the city park behind our house, so we pull our chairs right up to the line of yellow police tape marking the edge of the safety zone and watch the fireworks explode almost directly over our heads.

I mean, it's like having our very own personal show.

When this year's display was over -- it was absolutely spectacular, by the way -- we cheered, brushed ash from our hair and, smiling out loud, walked back to the house. We love our humble home, but we love it most on Independence Day.

So all's well here. And after an unannounced hiatus, KintlaLake Blog is back. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our Lives, Our Fortunes, & Our Sacred Honor

The unanimous Declaration of
the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.