HONEY ROCK DAWN

Bizarre Fantasy, Realized

Back when I was in high school, a pal and I came up with a brilliant idea for an amusement park – a series of pools, but none filled with water. Instead, one would be filled with honey, another with ball bearings, another with super-saturated salt water, others with types of grain, etcetera. The point was to jump into the pools and… that’s it. Sensory amusement. Obviously impossible to implement due to sanitary reasons.

About a year ago, my ambulance director told us about a special training event, grain bin rescue, open to all Fire & EMS personnel in the region and taking place at the Coors plant. Grain storage warehouses and grain elevators are common around here, as barley (for beer) is one of the big crops in the area. I jumped at the opportunity to attend, even though it was just after my surgery and I still felt 90% non-functional. Not only was it an extremely unique training opportunity, it was one that would get me in the vicinity of a decades-old fantasy. I immediately volunteered to be a “victim” so I could half-bury myself in a mountain of grain.

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Grain silos

Turns out pools of grain are extremely dangerous and can cause death and dismemberment.

Barley dust is nine times more flammable than coal dust. Our training was held in a gigantic warehouse (like, the size of a city block); a spark in that environment could cause an explosion that would rattle the building, which would kick up enough dust from the eaves and rafters to cause a second explosion that would level the warehouse. If someone is trapped knee-deep in barley, they have about 400 pounds of pressure on their feet. If they were to be pulled out with a harness from above, they would literally have their body pulled apart (dislocation occurs with about 150 pounds of pressure). In a grain silo, which is an enclosed space, oxygen can be replaced with carbon dioxide if some of the grain is molding. CO2 is heavier than oxygen and sinks to form a puddle in the lowest point. Depending on CO2 vs O2 levels, this situation can cause someone to fall unconscious or even die if they become trapped in the grain and can’t get to oxygen.

As a volunteer, I was asked to carefully climb up the mountain of grain and stand in a particular spot. There were trap doors all over the floor of the warehouse, and I was standing ankle deep in grain, about ten feet up the grain mountain, directly above one of these trap doors. A man with a walkie-talkie said “OK, open it up,” and I slowly began sinking down into the grain, drawn down as the trap door in the floor below me opened and the grain rushed through. The action created a sinkhole and I sunk. When I was buried to my waist, the walkie-talkie guy ordered the trap door to be closed, and there I was, stuck in a grain mountain. It was very, very cold in the grain. It was hard to even slightly wiggle my feet.

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Another volunteer, realizing a fantasy he didn’t know he had.

The grain is like a quicksand avalanche – you can’t be pulled out, nor can you dig yourself out without displacing grain from above, which slides down to fill the area you’ve dug and bury you further. To rescue someone who is trapped requires creating a chamber that is immune to the pressure of the surrounding grain. First, panels are placed above to block the fall of grain while rescuers work – you don’t want to go from one person trapped to three or four people trapped.

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Then panels, which are slightly curved and slide together at the edges, are placed around the trapped individual. Rescuers use the ladder rungs to jam them deep into the grain, being careful to avoid the buried limbs of the patient. Then, a rescuer climbs into the steel compartment and digs out the patient, bucketful by bucketful. The full buckets are passed to helpers outside to be dumped. One of the panels has ladder rungs on the inside, so that both parties can climb out.

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The view from inside…..

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Best Pesto, By Request

pesto

* I use walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts because pine nuts are so much more expensive and have you heard of pine mouth? Pine mouth is a condition one can get after eating pine nuts where everything you eat tastes horribly bitter – no matter what it is you eat – and which can last for two weeks! Walnuts sub in just fine.

* If you are awesome you can use a suribachi bowl and pestle instead of a food processor. Like this. They are large bowls with a rough interior texture. But if you are busy and/or making a lot of pesto (I try to freeze a couple of gallons so I can have it weekly all year long) a food processor really is the way to go.

Recipe text:
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp walnuts
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste
Mix together in food processor, then *stir* in:
1/3 cup parmesan (real!)
2 Tbsp Romano
You have now made pesto!
Divide into small jars to freeze and share.

My Little Planet

cabin garden mess

I don’t live in the cabin anymore, so I don’t feel strange about sharing pictures of it now. Just slightly strange for sharing a picture of it in such a state of mess. The kitchen was so tiny!
Doing anything made a mess. Here it is, as photographed from the loft.

A hot plate, a toaster oven, a blender. A mini fridge under the counter.

In all seasons but summer, I did most of my cooking on or in the woodstove.

Once I started gardening, I sprung for a food processor to make as much pesto as my garden allowed (as I was doing in this picture). So worth it! Pesto freezes beautifully and, in the midst of winter, can instantly transport me back those dry, hot, sunny days of August.

No sink. My running water was outside.

Q & A: Regrets

I was going through old papers and found a rumpled, marked up list of questions from a Q&A sesh from years ago. Most of the questions I answered back then, but I don’t remember answering this one: Do you have any regrets?

Yes, I have regrets, and they hang on the wall in my mind like a display of decorative plates. Sometimes I dust them off; sometimes I sit and stare at them and feel depressed (though I find all decorative plate displays depressing); often I rush past them on my way to better and now.

I know it’s trendy to say “I don’t have any regrets because I love where I am now.” I love where I am but I still have regrets. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I think regret is part of the human experience – that if you don’t have regrets, you’re either not old enough or not self-aware enough.

{feel free to leave more Qs in the comment section and I will A in later posts}

Snow season feels so long ago

chloe snow

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