Shawn Foster

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since Jan 30, 2020
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Educator-turned-tech-geek, primarily in order to make life easier and safer for people like me with Type 1 diabetes. I’m a lifelong mongoose living by Rikki Tikki Tavi’s code to go and find out. We have a little under half an acre in southern Oregon that was a barren wasteland when we bought it. It’s now full of life and hope and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Medford, Oregon 8a, 21” precipitation. Clay soil.
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Recent posts by Shawn Foster

I was going to post a "this story contains poop" warning, but then I remembered that this is Permies and I've seen very robust threads on humanure, so just gonna tell the story.

I'll start by saying that no cats suffered any permanent damage. Pretty much, everyone turns out fine except me. Our alpha cat, Ducati, has a penchant for eating things he really oughtn't. Years before reusable bags became A Thing, I'd banned plastic grocery store bags from entering the house because Ducati would somehow use his extra cat senses to discover that one was in the house. Within 30 seconds, he'd be there munching on it. It was far easier to avoid the situation than to try to dissuade him; no matter where you hid them, he would find them!

One day I come home from work to find Ducati sitting, uncharacteristically, in the middle of the floor and looking very thoughtful. A Pooh-stuck-in-Rabbit's-hole kind of thoughtful. An I-probably-shouldn't-have-eaten-that thoughtful. I still had my mind wrapped around work, so I figured it was a Cat Thing and moved on about my business.

A few minutes later, there was unhappy yowling. And then a lot of racing noises of both cats Nascaring it down the hardwood floor of the hallway, skidding around corners. And Ducati is still yowling. I step out in the hall and see Ducati running back down the hall, but there's something apparently stuck to him and the kitten is chasing whatever it is that is stuck to him. Yowl is full bore and sounding frantic now, so I grabbed Ducati as he tries to make the corner and get past me. As I swoop him up, the kitten is now jumping up and swatting at whatever it is that's stuck to Ducati.

Correction. Whatever it is that's trailing from Ducati's butt.

Ducati's amazingly calm with any kind of health procedure (pills, trimming his nails, baths, whatever). He's quite trusting and usually just puts up with whatever you're doing, so, fortunately, he stopped yowling once I got hold of him and didn't fight me. Kitten still jumping and swatting at... Oh.

Apparently, Ducati ate some of my yarn. And now there's about six inches of poop-covered yarn, with a nice poop tassel on the end, that he's passed, but he apparently couldn't get the rest out. So I turn him around and start very gently and slowly (because if it's impacted, I want to be able to tell before I'm pulling intestines!) pulling yarn from the wrong end of my cat like he's the world's worst party favor. There's...quite a lot of it. Yards. He's not best pleased with this procedure and starts in again with the weird throaty yowling. And as I'm pulling, the kitten continues to jump up and try to grab it, because kitten. She's determined, she's fast, and in the end she's successful, grabbing a loop of crap-covered yarn. This is where things really went downhill.

I'm still in the hall. Kitten seizes on her excremental prize and starts racing away with it. And I really can't do much because the whole scenario has kind of overwhelmed my senses. Before I know it, she reaches the end of the slack and is now pulling more yarn from Ducati The Feline Yarn Ball at a frightening speed. The last bit releases (thankfully, no impaction or other intestinal damage and he was ok) and now she's blazing around the entire house with about five yards of Satan Brand Fecal Yarn trailing behind her. Ducati, now blessedly yarn-free, wants to know why I'm still holding him and starts the usual efforts that cats make to free themselves of unwanted human clutches. I'm bleeding, the house smells like a catbox, the alpha cat is pissed off, the kitten is now merrily playing with her prize on what was a clean kitchen floor, and there are suspicious brown smears all. over. everything. EVERYTHING.

At that point, my husband walks in the front door with a hearty, "Hi! So, how was the day?"

I don't remember anything after that.
4 days ago
I'm also hugely introverted and completely understand the drain that a lot of unstructured, uninvited small talk can be. We have one rather nosy neighbor down the lane who tends to want to comment on something or other as she drives by if I'm out in shouting distance (we live at the intersection of our lane and the main road, so literally everyone drives past our house all the time). I was working through a huge pile of aged horse manure by the driveway, sifting out rocks. The day was hot and I was sweaty and cranky. She drove up, rolled down her window, and said, "Whatcha doing?" I unthinkinly responded with a literal, "Sifting horse shit."

She hasn't stopped by lately to chat. I wonder why.
4 days ago
I love bananas, but I can't eat them by themselves. I can eat them cooked or with dairy, so...bring on the banana splits.

Also, this thread needs more Austin Lounge Lizards.
4 days ago
Pretty excited—I found a steam canner on Marketplace for about a third of what they go for new. Made the first batch of juice tonight and it’s so gorgeous! It’s a little flat tasting, but it’ll work beautifully as a pectin in with other fruit or concentrated down to a syrup and mixed with a bit of lime. And it was so easy! Hooray!
4 days ago
I’ve lurked on Permies for years now, but BBs were the catalyst to actually getting me posting. I’m one of those people that’s motivated by structured challenges, so I love the concept. I started with ones that I pretty much already know how to do and then I’m slowly working through others that feel like they’re just a little bit of a stretch for me (Zone of Proximal Development for any of you trained educators out there).

There is no way for me to complete the PEP on 0.44 acres and working full time at a job I love and find important to the world. Many of the BBs  just aren’t applicable and that’s fine. I’d really love, though, to see PEX more fully developed, because that does seem like it might be within my reach—and as I said before, that’s motivating for me to participate in.

The forum structure mean you have to be pretty determined to find and complete badges. The PEP tracker helps, definitely, but I still have to wade through the forums to find instructions, log completion, etc. An app is one way to solve this, though not the only way. If that is chosen, I hereby volunteer to help test it (I do software quality assurance for a living, so I’m pretty familiar with trying to break shit and documenting it).
Other experiments I’ve tried with these included not pitting them, such as whole pickled plums (with chai spices, which was tasty) and straight-up canning them with a very light syrup. They were ok, but the very high pit-to-flesh ratio of them makes for effortful eating. I’m lazy and don’t like my eating to involve that much work. 🙂 I was the only one who ate these.

I will definitely be sharing the excess with the community, Bihai. Love the idea of including recipes! These will probably be my first item on the planned Free Food stand by the road this year.
2 weeks ago
If you use them to make umeboshi, which is traditionally made with unripe plums, that would work. Otherwise, definitely not recommended. They are quite tart even when fully ripe!
2 weeks ago
I like the idea of throwing them whole into the freezer, Bryan. That would at least spread the labor out over more time, rather than all in one crush.
2 weeks ago
Some interesting ideas here. I’m thinking the steam juicer and whole brined options might fit with the low labor aspect I’m looking for. (I make jam/plum butter with these about every two years because we just don’t use it fast enough; this is a no-jam year.) I hate seeing all this free fruit That we do absolutely nothing to maintain go to waste, so definitely keep those ideas coming!
2 weeks ago
Hoping for some creative solutions to turn this excess into a valuable resource. I’ve been breaking my head over this dilemma for the past five years and now it’s time to infuse some new ideas.

I have plums.

I have plums like a stray dog has fleas.

Native plum trees, the kind with the tangy fruit about the size of the top joint of your thumb, surround two sides of my back yard. The ones on the short side are on our property, but the ones on the long side are on the neighbor’s. Roughly 20 trees, all told. And in a couple of weeks, they’re all going to come ripe. We’ve already got fruit falling, but soon it will be lots of squishy fruit.

I make some jam with it, which is tasty but the process of removing the pits is incredibly laborious. I cook it down and then use a food mill, picking out all the pits with a spoon as they start clogging the mill. I’ve tried using a cherry pitter, as the plums are about the same size as a large cherry, but the stones are a bit bigger than cherry stones  and it ends up a frustrating, even more laborious mess. And frankly, we just don’t eat enough jam to warrant that amount of work. I’ve also made BBQ sauce and Asian-inspired plum sauce, but same issue—not enough use for the amount of labor it costs.

My goals for this:
* low labor investment
* doesn’t involve brewing alcohol, as I’ve had some spectacular failures in this arena and I’ve promised the spousal unit I will not be doing that again
* creates a usable product, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be food
* low sugar, if it is food/drink

Ideas? I did check out a (previous thread But those mostly centered on umeboshi and similar products, but the labor for the sheer volume we are talking about here is untenable.
2 weeks ago