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Time Enough At Slab City

January 13th, 2010

Before we hit the road, I had dreams of building and using a solar oven. It’s one of the projects that Johnny was referring to in the last post.  Up until now, it never seemed like the right time to make one. It was either too cold, too much shade, or we we weren’t staying in the area long enough for it to be worth the effort. Now that we are in the desert where it’s 75-80F degrees and always sunny, I am nearly out of excuses. We have also decided to stay for a while, so now I am completely out of excuses. However, being the ever resourceful person that I am, I found a new one….

Parts! Lets see, cardboard boxes – check, aluminum foil –  check, stuffing for insulation – check, pane of glass – no dice! It was a good excuse for a few minutes and then I went outside. There I was reminded that we are camping in, for lack of a better word, a junkyard. Bleh. No more excuses! The only thing to do was wander around the desert for hours searching for a piece of intact glass until Johnny got worried about me, came to look for me, and said that he didn’t want me out doing that again. Brilliant. Another new excuse. Unfortunately, either I gave up too soon , Johnny thinks I am superwoman, or  just doesn’t mull over all of the possible things that could happen to me while I am out. I am going with superwoman.

After that defeat, I decided to formulate a new plan to guide me on my quest for a pane of glass.

Step 1>  Sit around and drink with the neighbors.
Step 2>  ….
Step 3>  Pane ‘o glass 4 me!!!!!

After much contemplation, it really did seem like the best course of action, and it turned out way better than I thought it would. Not only did a pane of glass appear (intact, amazingly enough)  within a few days, but it had a solar oven attached to it. Check this beauty out.

My fancy "new" solar oven - Slab City, CA

OK. So it’s seen better days, and I think those days were a couple of years ago, but it does have potential. After I cleaned the mud that had caked on the reflectors, knocked the things that looked like rats nets off and (mostly) cleaned up the glass, I decided it was probably a self cleaning oven an tossed it out in the sun. Well to my dismay it didn’t clean itself up, but it did get to 200F degrees. That was yesterday. I gave the self cleaning thing another shot today. It got up to a cozy 250F. Not too shabby. I think with a little love I might be able to coax it into making us dinner.

Another thing that I thought for sure I would do on the road is master the banjo. Ya um… that didn’t happen. At least not yet (see, I am still optimistic!). I was supposed to have so much time to practice. Once again, nada. I don’t think that I have taken the darn thing out more than 3 times in the last two years. I can make plenty of excuses though… “It’s in the outside storage compartment buried behind 30 other things and the camper is on the truck which puts the compartment about 6′ in the air.”, “Oh darn.. we have neighbors here. Well, I sure don’t want to disturb them with my failing frailing.” Oh ya, I have a million more. Excuses I am good at. Banjo…. eh,  not so much.

I am getting better, though! One of the local musicians who graces the stage of The Range (the local nightclub/stage) is giving me music lessons. He is mainly teaching me about the mind boggling fascinating world of music theory. He says that once I have that down, I will be able to play any instrument and will have a well trained ear. I hope he is right. Right now I am struggling with just one instrument. And, my ear? Well, I think it might be broken….along with my rhythm bone and my timing muscle.

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3 Responses to “Time Enough At Slab City”

  1. Rene says:

    Hey that is a GREAT oven! Shoe me how to build one, I want one.

    Don’t feel bad about the banjo. I said the same thing about playing guitar, and Jim said the same thing about flytying.

    We’ve put off our L.A. departure for one more week but will be there on the 24th. Can’t wait!

  2. johnny says:

    Tsk tsk! You’ll miss the talent show on the 23rd (starts at noon).

  3. jenn says:

    Thanks! It maybe ugly, but it’s mine, and I love it.

    I would love to get together and build one. It would be my first, though. I don’t know much more about them than can be read on the Internet.

    If you are still interested, you could probably get lessons from the same guy that is teaching me. Guitar is his main instrument.

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