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Latest in Solar Water Heating/Auracana and Silver Sebring Bantam Chickens

Our garden is booming right now.

Two members of our bantam flock: Auracana rooster on left, Silver Sebring on right. Aren't they gorgeous?

Hot Water from the Sun I installed an outdoor solar-heated shower 12 years ago. It's a large box with a black tank and double-wall plastic glazing. I never shower in the house any more. Each time I feel that hot water I'm amazed and excited and delighted to think that the heat is free energy (other than the cost of the materials of the box). Plus I swear the shower feels different. Molecules of hot water heated by the sun, like rice cooked on a wood stove.
There was an excellent article on the 2008 state-of-the-art of solar water heating by Scott Gibson in a recent Fine Homebuilding: Click here for PDF

Paddleboard and Kayak/Low Tide-Lagoon/Mud Bath/Pelican World and SwoopingTerns

Art Ludwig visits my town once in a while, and, if I have time, we go out in search of adventure. Last night there was a real high tide so we took paddleboard (me) and kayak (Art) and headed into the channels of a nearby estero. Of all the many times I've followed this watery route, this was the best. No wind down in the marshes, glassy water. 6 PM, a cloud cover but not too cold. Wonderful light, way more subtle than bright sunshine. Tide flowing in, pulling us along. Birds everywhere. My 12' Joe Bark ultra-light paddleboard flew over the water. We went through the serpentine channels (20' or so wide at this tide).

At a point I beached my board on a mud flat. My foot sunk knee-deep when I stepped off the board and when I pulled it out, there was a layer of inky black goo on my leg. Hmmm...a mud bath was obvious, but it wasn't exactly warm weather. I made a decision, one that I've followed a lot lately. I'm going to get cold, or uncomfortable, or in a slightly dangerous situation, but if I push myself to go for it, it always pays off; I get energized.

I took off my short-sleeve wet suit, scooped out the goo and applied it. I mean, this stuff is right here, nearby, waiting to be used in a ritual of purification, so to speak. What a planet!

Art came paddling over as I started coating myself with this beautiful sticky, slippery goo. He was amused; he got out on the mudflat, grabbed my camera, and started shooting photos. When I was pretty well coated I took a big blob of mud and plopped it on my head. Art was laughing so hard he almost fell in the water. Hey this was fun! This is also an expensive skin rejuvenation methodology as practiced in many a snooty spa.

I washed it off as best as I could (next time I'm going to leave it on my face until I get home). We went on into the open part of the lagoon and there were at least 1000 birds, never seen so many pelicans, terns darting and swooping in swallow-tailed black and white elegance. We skirted the huge family of birds, just far enough away to observe, but not stampede them. You never know when a moment like this will happen. A lot of things have to come together.