Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Nelson Park Sliding & Sledding Hill

I'm re-posting the following. Hoping that someday there will be a grant opportunity that matches the project or a public official who sees the healthy benefit potential:

Embankment Slide Proposal
One of the natural features of Nelson Park that can be enhanced are its hillsides. Already, people use the hillsides in the center of the park during snowy periods for sleds. During the summer these same hillsides are used to slide by sitting on cardboard sheets that slide over the grassy hillsides. Both of these recreational uses do damage to the hillsides by killing the vegetation and exposing bare dirt and causing ruts in the hillside. This proposal can be used to enhance the sliding experience, repair the damage that has been done to the hillsides, and increase the physical activity of children by encouraging them to climb the hillside in a safe fun environment.
The basic proposal is to add four slide areas to the hillside between the newly renovated play area and the gazebo on top of the hill. Two slides would replace the current sliding area and provide a safe sliding area and stairways to return to the top of the hill. One slide would be added to the short hill immediately adjacent to the new play area. This slide would be targeted toward smaller children and if possible children with physical challenges who currently sit and watch the people sliding down the bigger hill. A fourth slide would be just north of the first two slides. This slide could use natural features of the existing hill to support a longer, less steep slide that has a couple twists and turns for added fun. The final part of this proposal would be to improve the vegetation on the hill. There is a fair amount of poison oak that should be eliminated from the hillside. Trees and shrubs could be added that would provide shade for the slides and help to discourage in-growth of poison oak, black berries, and other unwanted species.
The cost of this project is highly dependent on the materials used for building the slides or even the types of slides used. I have researched a company that makes plastic slides for use on embankments. Their slides would cost about $40,000 for one slide. Other types of slide would change this estimate. The re-vegetation could cost around $2,000 depending on the types of materials used. My suggestion is that we begin with one slide and a set of return stairs as a pilot to gauge cost, interest, and durability. If the project garners the support I think possible, grant support, local donations, neighborhood labor and donations could be used to complete the project.
I have seen on-line examples of other cities that have developed embankment slides in their parks. Each one expresses that these additions have been a valuable addition to their parks system. There are a number of unknowns for Nelson Park  like initial cost, maintenance cost, liability, and developing a need for restrooms.  I would like to work with the city to explore the embankment slide opportunity, and to add a fun, useful new feature to Nelson Park. If the expertise does not exist with Salem Parks staff I would help expand the research on this project to cities who have experience with such a project.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Have You Ever Made a Shrub?

In the good old summertime, when the berries urge us to eat, jam, bake, repeat, our berry cravings also remind us how tasty and versatile shrubs are. Our first problem is never remembering which recipe to use and with all the recipes available on the internet, it can be a time consuming problem.
And that's the main reason for this post--to help me remember this reliable, informative link via Serious Eats. Enjoy:

How to Make a Shrub

Whether raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, or gooseberry, berries seem to fly through our local market, gone before you even know to miss them. I decided last year to preserve them for my future pleasure.

Now, this ain't Home Canning 101, so there'll be no jams, jellies, or marmalades here. I'm a cocktail geek; and among my clan there's a great love for shrub syrups, and that's what we'll be talking about today.

In beverage history, the word shrub has carried several meanings. For our purposes, it's enough to say that a shrub is an acidulated beverage made of fruit juice, sugar, and other ingredients. Where things get complicated is that the acid varies by recipe; it can be either fruit juice or vinegar. Additionally, some shrub recipes are prepared using alcohol that steeps with the fruit, acid, and sugar. Finally, hardcore shrubbers make their own vinegar, using fruit juice, sugar, and wild yeasts from the air.
(to read more, click here)

COLD SHRUBBIN' WITH FLAVOR (one of 2 versions via Serious Eats)
"Now, the cold-process method of shrub-making is a little more complicated than the cooked method, but really, it's not much so. You don't need any special equipment or ingredients, and as long as you have space in your fridge to stash a bowl of fruit, you should be fine.

Let's begin:

Wash and prepare the fruit. Most berries can be lightly crushed, even with your hands, if you prefer. Strawberries should be hulled and quartered. Stone fruit needs to be quartered and pitted.
Cover the fruit with sugar. Neyah White recommends a ratio of one part each of fruit, sugar, and vinegar, and that's a great place to start. So to, say, one cup of fruit, add one cup sugar. Stir to combine, cover, and stash in the fridge.

After several hours, or a day or two, your fruit should be surrounded by juice and syrup, like so:

Strain the syrup away from the solids, pressing lightly on the solids to expel any stubborn juice. If any sugar is clinging to the bowl, scrape it into the syrup. It should settle to the bottom, underneath the syrup. This is fine, as I'll explain later.

Add the vinegar, and whisk to combine, until sugar is dissolved.
Pour through a funnel into a clean bottle. Cap, shake well, and refrigerate.
Check the shrub periodically. Some sugar may settle out onto the bottom of the bottle. If so, shake well to combine. Eventually, the acids in the juice and vinegar will dissolve the sugar.
Now taste. What you will undoubtedly find is that the aroma and flavor of your new shrub is pungent. You'll taste a strong tartness from the vinegar, a strong sweetness from the sugar, and the fruit flavor as an element that pulls everything together.

What fascinates me, at least, about shrubs is that they mellow with time. And I mean, they mellow a lot. The tartness and sweetness both remain, but they start to harmonize after just a few weeks in the fridge. So what you have is a lightly sweet and tart syrup with a rich fruit flavor."

Friday, July 1, 2016

Non-scientific Experiences with Probiotics

The number of us taking daily probiotics is growing, as we become more and more aware of the importance of a healthy personal micro-bionome. Though, I'm sure, none of us know if the, over the counter supplements, actually work well. Perhaps this increase is due to reading of recent research reports or both doctor and pharmacist recommendations to take probiotics during and after a prescribed bout of antibiotics. All of those reasons are how I first started taking them. And then I didn't stop.

Until this spring, that is:  I kept forgetting to buy more and then {boom} I was out. Approximately four days later I began to feel sad. Not something I'm accustomed to, though I've had my moments. Sure enough, once I began to take them again the sadness lifted. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but I'm not volunteering to give it another try.

A month ago, I decided to try another brand of probiotic with roughly the same strands. It was highly rated on the website where I buy my supplements. I began to replace the old ones gradually. Half a dose of old and half a dose of new each day, being careful to read the dosage on the new package. Over the following week, I noticed my face began to feel puffy in the morning and throughout the afternoon. I know this isn't a good sign. It means something in your system is unable to do its job, for several reasons.

I looked up (because I always start with what I've recently changed) "probiotics and puffy face". And knew I was onto something when Google told me I wasn't the first person to do that particular search. I immediately stopped taking the new probiotics and the puffiness was gone. One of the articles I read said that the puffiness might be an allergic response. Perhaps one of the inert ingredients?

I'm more curious about probiotics than I was in the beginning. The information out there for the layman is sparse, which makes sense as the research is so new. But now I want to know:  have any of you had any interesting experiences while taking probiotics?