I was sitting in a sunny patio at Hotel Congress in Tucson, occasionally switching seats as the shade shifted.
Today at the Arboretum we saw
a couple hummingbirds
a really neat feather
a possible owl pellet that Phillip poked at with a stick
some beautiful black butterflies
2 very determined ants and 1 that could care less
2 trees full of bees
a handful of squirrels
and 75 lizards (before we stopped counting).
I also spotted a fuzzy tail of an animal going into a thicket. I jumped out of the car while it was still running to see what it was. All I found was a fat, lumbering squirrel.
Also, if you go on a hot, humid Tuesday, you’ll practically have the place to yourself. With the exception of those mentioned above, of course.
P.S. For those of you interested in chronology, by “today,” I mean last Tuesday, when I wrote down what we’d seen earlier that day.
The reading room is designed with columns under sky lights. Once a year, at solar noon on the summer solstice, the reading room sky lights line up perfectly to illuminate the columns below them.
Unfortunately, this past weekend a monsoon storm caused a fire sprinkler to burst, flooding all five floors of this beautiful library. Most of its collections remain intact and clean-up crews sprang into action right away. The City of Phoenix is hoping it will be able to start reopening parts of the library soon.
The forecast high in Phoenix for the longest day of the year was 120F (49C).
So it seemed like a great day to try baking outside.
On the way home from the summer solstice celebration at Burton Barr Library last Tuesday, we picked up chocolate chip cookie dough. I chose that for my solar cooking experiment, because there’s no raw egg in it, and if it doesn’t cook all the way, you end up with doughy cookies – not a bad thing, in my opinion!
I scooped spoonfuls of cookie dough into a reflective aluminum roasting pan, covered the top with plastic wrap, sealed the sides with packing tape to trap the heat, and added a meat thermometer, so I could see how hot it actually got next to the cookies.
I had intended to get an earlier start, but at 3:45pm, it was still 120 degrees out. So I decided to give it a go and set the pan in direct sun on our concrete patio.
The temperature inside the pan got as high as 160. The cookies began to look like they were melting, with the oil separating from the dough.
Four hours later, the sun was low enough in the sky that the whole patio was in the shade. The dough had flattened out into cookie shapes that were somewhat solid but still pretty soft.
So we scooped vanilla frozen yogurt on top (à la pizookie), and it was delicious!
Apparently, a proper solar oven will bake faster, even if it’s not as hot out. But I would try my improvised “oven” again on a day when I could get an earlier start and give it a little more time in the sun.
Articles to check out…
Are you on our monthly newsletter list? I’m working on a fun surprise for subscribers in the next one! You can sign up here.Read More
It was really interesting last week to find out your words for what I’d call a ramada.
It comfirmed my suspicion that it’s a word used primarily in the southwestern U.S., where our proximity to Mexico shows up in bits of Spanish peppered through our language.
Around here, it’s not unusual to hear words like mesa (a flat-topped mountain, literally “table,” and the name of a city) or arroyo (a dry stream bed), call a cottage a casita (which you can see in a few of the listings in my Airbnb post), or say garbanzos instead of chick peas.
And we tend to call the type of cover that goes over a picnic table a ramada. It comes from the Spanish rama (“branch”). Ramada is the adjective form, so it would roughly translate to “branched” or “covered in branches.”
Here are some of your words…
“We say pergola over here in Australia, but I love ramada as well!”
–Linda (Circle of Daydreams)
“I didn’t know the word Ramada, but this now makes me wonder if that’s where the name of the hotel chain comes from? I would have called that a shelter or a pavilion.”
–Mel (Stirrup Queens)
“I think here we’d call that a pergola or even a ‘wooden marquee’ – I’ve never heard of ramada in this context! I knew I’d heard that somewhere though and recall now that there’s a chain of hotels here called Ramada: probably the only use of the word I’ve heard! I see others are mentioning the hotel too…. I see the dictionary says it means an arbour or porch, from Spanish: I wonder if it’s very regional usage in the US then…”
I wasn’t able to find the story behind the name of the hotel chain. I imagine it comes from the sense of a ramada as a shelter, but it does seem odd to name your hotels after a structure with no walls!
Where the photos were taken: