Monday

High Park Fire

A photo of the High Park fire taken from the car on Highway 237 north of Fort Collins.

It's about all anyone is talking about right now. That and the heat. Oh, my, the heat. It was officially 107 today, not much of a change from the last few days and if the forecast is right, it won't be much of a change for the next few days... or weeks.

With the extreme heat and very dry conditions, it's very difficult to fight a wildfire. The firefighters have our prayers and thanks every day.

I live about an hour away from Fort Collins, which is the closest town to where the High Park fire burns. Over there, you can see the plumes of smoke rising high into the sky and there is an eery glow to everything.

Some mornings here we can smell the smoke. We can nearly always see it, rising like a cloud that's tied to the ground. Sometimes the sky is brassy and sometimes it's white.

Over 80,000 acres. That's hard to imagine. Over 200 structures, most of them homes, have burned. People have been evacuated and are huddled in school basements, in church basements and anywhere they can find room. Water, food and prayers are going their way.

Controlled burns could have prevented it or minimized it. Most of the fuel is beetle killed pine, which has been there for some time. Controlled burns would have removed the fuel and made the fire easier to contain. But what do I know?

Thursday

Let's Get Real: Genetic Modification and More

I believe that a parent can teach his/her own child after the age of five just as well as they can teach them before the age of five. I believe that a person can learn from a book and from experience just as well as he/she can learn from a book... inside a school. I believe that TV is making us dumber and lazier. I believe that we can be content when we set our minds to it and without having the latest fads and fashions.

Most of all, I believe that we deserve enough information to make our own choices when it comes to food. It's now required that labels list nutrients and ingredients and they're supposed to be honest about what's in the container. Sometimes the name of the product is misleading, but it's illegal to out and out lie about it.

So why is it okay to sell food that's been genetically modified without letting us know that it is? Because the FDA says it's "safe"? How does that give anyone the right to sell it to us without telling us about it?

If I went to the store and decided to buy eggs, don't I have the right to know if they're chicken eggs or goose eggs? GM foods are not the same as naturally grown foods. When a plant is modified genetically, it is no longer the plant it started to be. That is the essence of genetic modification.

There are no good examples because there are no other situations where one thing becomes another in the laboratory, then is passed off as the original.

What brought this on was an article on the Organic Consumers Association web site called "Why Genetically Engineered Food is Dangerous: New Report."

We've talked about it, worried about it, written letters and made phone calls. GMO food needs to be labeled. I would not knowingly feed it to my child. "Knowingly" is the key. We have the right to know.

Wednesday

Almost Canning Time!

I've been gathering a lot of lambsquarter and a few amaranth greens off and on as I have time. Sometimes it's only a handful, but each time, I wash them and blanch/wilt them, then put them in the freezer.

A handful of fresh greens equals about a tablespoon of wilted greens, so it takes quite a few, but when there's enough for a canner load, I'll can them.

They're much better greens, both nutrition wise and (in my opinion) taste wise, than any commercially produced greens and they're free.

A few jars of wild greens in the pantry to go with pinto beans and corn bread in the dead of winter is heavenly comfort food.

Last year I thought I was doing pretty good in putting up enough, but the last jar was eaten long before there were enough wild greens out there for a meal so this year... I'd better get busy!

I've also been picking purslane when I have time. I pickled a few jars last year and they were really good. I've dehydrated purslane, frozen it and canned it plain but wasn't happy with it, so it's pickled or nothing. Since it's so healthy, I'll just get used to eating it with everything.

Besides the cost saving of putting up free food, it's more than worth the trouble in another way. Wild foods are generally healthier than domesticated home grown food and quite a bit healthier than most commercially grown food.

For instance, purslane is one of the very few excellent vegetable sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Water Sense, Fire and Lawns

With the drought we're having here along with a wild fire not all that far away, water has become more precious than ever. We haven't had any more restrictions on watering lawns or anything like that, but I notice that more homes have quit watering. Maybe they're making a personal statement about the situation or they're just tired of the high water bills, but dry grass is apparent here and there all over town.

I have never been enthralled by an expanse of blank, green lawn that suits no purpose other than just being there. I'm not dull; I can see the beauty in rolling hills covered with green grass, but I just can't see it in the blank rectangles that surround houses. Water it, fertilize it, cut it... water it, cut it... water it, cut it.

I prefer to spend my water money on something more important, like food. If it comes to a choice between having a garden and having a nice looking lawn, the garden wins.

Just like having water for farmers should win over having water for town lawns. Should, I said. Water rights being what they are, it's hard to sort them out and still harder to make changes because the government has set hard and fast rules that take forever to change. Meanwhile, the land dries up, farmers lose crops. The threat of wild fire is real, here on the plains.

In the mountains, the fire is raging due to plenty of fuel and a wind that keeps it going. On the plains, it would be the same thing. Dry grass, dry crops and dry air combined with wind would allow a fire to sweep over miles of prairie in one day.

And my neighbors complain because not every lawn in the neighborhood is green. The city fines people whose lawns have obvious bare spots. Sometimes I think the lack of common sense will be our ultimate downfall.

Monday

Remember, it was 1948...

Three years after the Second World War, patriotism was still running high. There were some discordant sounds even then, though, but we were not afraid to face them.

This is not a political blog, neither is it a philosophical one, but there are times in everyone's life when we need to pause and reflect on what's going on around us. Have times changed since 1948? Maybe not so much.

A cartoon presentation: Make Mine Freedom

Tuesday

I wanted to make tortilla chips...

This is something like when you tell someone how to knit wool socks, you start by telling them how to shear a sheep.

Since most corn grown in the United States is genetically modified, I started looking for a recipe to make corn tortilla chips with, if not organic, then at least non GMO corn. That's how I ran across this post: Homemade Corn Tortillas - Part One: How to Soak Corn for Masa

It's not about where to buy masa harina or how to use it, but how to make masa (dough) straight from the dry corn. Seems like first, you get some corn...

But I don't have any corn, and buying whole grain, dried, organic corn is expensive! I happened to think that I had recently come across an envelope of dent corn that I'd picked up at the edge of a farmer's field where we lived over eleven years ago. That is, we lived there over eleven years ago. I don't know how long ago I picked it up.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I put four kernels of this dent corn in a little water to see if it would grow. In about twenty four hours, it was swollen and heavy. I put a few more kernels in there and tomorrow I am going to plant them alongside some squash that hasn't come up yet and may not.

So... I hope that one of these days I'll have some home grown corn tortilla chips. (Now... if I could just grow some cheese to go with that!)

Sunday

Ye Olde Pat Verettto's Frugal Living Blog

I quit posting to it just about a year ago, but it still gets some traffic. I guess some things don't go out of style. I was browsing (lazy Sunday afternoon) some of the statistics and thought you might be interested in some of the most popular posts from that blog.

T-shirts and frugal braided rugs

Homemade Crackers

Variation on a Theme: Candle Stove

Facial Tissue Boxes Warning: extremely frugal tip ahead

Never Waste a Tea Bag

I guess not many things have changed, after all.