Thursday, May 31, 2007

Low Impact Week starts tomorrow, cornucopia of produce bought today, & the bird that reminds me of BO.

MUST send smoke signals to friends: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Did our town's Farmer's Market this morning. It's already too late for lettuce, so I had to get that at Sack'n'Save. Don't you think that's proof that there's no god? The lettuce gets done before the tomatoes and cucumbers. :-) Got some other produce there at the same time. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket A few days ago Em decided to do laundry and threw in some of my things along with his own. I don't put my outer clothes in the dryer, so I nearly broke the washing machine dial turning it off in time to fish out the softener ball. It would be much easier if he didn't throw my stuff in with his if he's going to ignore how the ball needs to be filled with softener. After the load was done, a pair of my shorts looked like the soap hadn't rinsed from them enough. Rain was scheduled and imminent, so I threw them over the back of an outside chair to get a second rinse on nature's dime after hanging the rest of the stuff in the laundry room. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I looked out the window and saw a (maybe) adolescent Morning Dove using the cushion of my shorts to make his "perch" more comfortable. I saw him again this morning pecking around where I have my latest compost container. He(she) was picking at bits & pieces that had washed over the container with the rain, I suspect. It's rained every day the past almost 2 weeks, so I haven't been able to weed those grasses from the garden area. Anyway, reminded me of BO (Big One)... the survivor of two baby Morning Doves who were abandoned by their mom when a neighbor removed her air-conditioning unit. BO lived inside with us, being force-fed for several months until he(she) grew strong enough to be left outside on his(her) own. Dizzy (the sibling) didn't make it. RIP.

Do you remember BO, No. 2, thyungin? Memories...oh the memories.

We have two new CFL bulbs, but we haven't put them in anything yet. It's SUMMER; we barely even use any lights. I DID give away the Halogen Torchieres to the Disabled Veterans who came this week, though. Em's still complaining about that in a "just teasin' ya" way because we don't have lamps yet to replace them. We like torchieres and we like being able to adjust the amount of light emitted by lamps, so we'll replace those $20.00 lamps which use something like 200 kwh with $40.00 Energy Star torchieres which use more like 15 kwh. Hey...it all adds up.

No. 1 has remarked on this experiment more than once: "You're a crazy woman, Mama!", however...she's only flushing every 3rd time she pees! :-)

'snew with y'all?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bucket Brigade and Progress.

Thursday we walked to Home Depot. There's a brand new one in a mall being built about a mile from us (right next to Super Target). They offered 10% off first purchases if you open a cc account with them at this new store. They also gave us a free gift. It was an accent lamp that we gave to No. 1. I pulled what I just learned today people call a "granny cart" for the first time. It was only slightly annoying probably because I'm tall and I had to keep one arm stiffly down at my side to pull the thing along. Even with that, it would hit me in the heels once in a while. Em ordered a storm/screen door for the front. They'll probably come out sometime next week to measure for that thing and then install it sometime thereafter. With that installed, we'll be able to open the front door and windows in the back and get a cross breeze through the house. We get a little cross breeze now with just the windows, but it has to wiggle around corners. I bought two tomato plants, a thyme plant, a small begonia, a small coleus, and two 5 gallon buckets with lids to store rain water. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Only the neon orange ones were on sale for $.99 each and I bought them JUST in time as we had torrential rains Thursday afternoon. They both filled Thursday, but the rain didn't really stop until this afternoon when I got out there and pulled up much of the weeds and grasses growing in last year's garden space. I found worms, too, so dumped both containers of compost stuff around the area I've got weeded, covering it up a bit with mud. I've been making more compostable garbage this week for some reason. Must be the menus I had planned. Today was the one week mark from the last meter readings, so I did another read. Last time it looked like we'd used 113 kwh electricity in the week but I wasn't sure if I'd read it correctly. This week we used 115 kwh with No. 1 using the oven for cornbread and me doing some ironing. That's also with her using the washing machine and dryer. She doesn't dry her clothes outside like I do; she's afraid of the spiders she might bring inside. She does hang clothes inside if she things the dryer will hurt them. So, it's looking like we can keep our monthly kwh around 400 after No. 1 moves out UNTIL we need the AC. We've done really good with the thermostat set to 90, but we've also had some cool weather and nice breezes. We should do better than some previous years simply because our trees are a whole lot bigger than they once were and that both blocks the heat of the sun AND provides a "fan" effect. Speaking of fans, we're gonna keep our eyes open for sales on ceiling fans. We have three currently, but could use at least 2 (if not 5) more if I'm gonna commit myself to pushing cross breezes through the house. For gas, we used 2 units last week and only 1 this week. I forgot what the units are called (and I just read about it today!) Damn aging!! I think it'll work out for us to cook using the outside grill once/week (charcoal pollution), the slow cooker once/week, the stovetop & microwave for most things and one day/week use the oven on the stove. It's hard for folks around here to live without cornbread and there's wheat bread and hamburger buns that need to be made once/week, too. I figure I'll throw a chicken or something in the oven on the same day. That'll be THIS week's experiment to see if it adds significantly to what I've estimated above. Don't forget: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket You might have a little fun (like I'm having) experimenting with different ways to reduce your footprint and you might save some money from the hands of the utility companies. There's nothing like thoughts of additional discretionary income to motivate us!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Backyard Stuff.

We got away pretty easy with the fence costs, considering that the storm knocked down the entire thing on the east side of the yard. I'm not sure what goes through the minds of the fence fixers, though, as far as which sections to keep and which to replace. Some of the remaining old sections look a whole lot worse than the sections removed for replacement, for instance. Here's what our neighbor had replaced: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The new section of that fence extends about 6 feet further south than the old fence did, so attaching our part of the fence to his part required a different approach than the one originally used. The guy Em hired bought one post, one 2x4 and a bag of quick-set cement & put our section back up. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The section now slants upward towards the house. I dunno why he chose to do it that way. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket $120.00 Started weeding the onion patch of grasses, moved the rubber tree outside to begin getting acclimated before I find a place to plant it in the ground, and played around with some $0.00 birdbath ideas. I think I mentioned that Em was going to dig up the entire backyard this year in an attempt to get something growing besides crabgrass. I think we're going to just try killing the crabgrass and try planting other stuff (including grass) in its place. It's a lot less work and we might have rainy weather that'll get seeds going before the crabgrass grows back. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Composting, Grey Water, & Climate Change Bill.

Got a number of experiments going on, but the one that seems the most successful with the least effort is the composting one. Just a week or two ago I thought I needed to buy something to compost successfully but it looks to me like I've been pretty successful turning food scraps into something pretty damn close to soil already. Could be the Texas sun at work. We're a small family, so it looks like my few food scraps can just continue to be gathered and added to a little container that sits on the back patio. I suppose I COULD make holes in the container, put the lid on it, roll it around, spray paint it black, etc., but to what end? It once contained sherbet. Here's what my daily scrap pile looks like. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Here's the little container. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket You can see how small it is compared to a 9" paper plate. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This thing has gotten my food scraps for 2 weeks now plus a little dirt, some grass clippings, a few leaves, & of course the shredded plates. Some days I don't have food scraps, but when I add to the container, I give it a stir. It smells like sh a farm. Flies love it. Ants love it. Other insects love it. They all work together on it, it seems. So, this week I'm gonna finish a smaller container of sherbet and create a second compost so I'll stop adding new scraps to the first one. In 2 more weeks, I'll dump the contents of the first container in the garden and give the 2nd container 2 more weeks...rinse...repeat. $0.00 composter! Didn't even need to buy worms! Grey Water is a whole lot more disgusting, IMO, as I've been cutting back on water use, as well. Ever think about how much water is used for simple things like washing our hands? Do a few calculations and think about where you can cut back. We have a drought here with watering restrictions most summers. So, I've been saving the water used to wash the cream cheese off the knife and used to wipe out the bowl in which I stirred the Shepherd's Pie and water the plants with it. If it's REALLY disgusting, I use it only on the outdoor plants. That helps keep the fruitfly population down indoors. Read the electric and gas meters yesterday (the one-week point from when I read them before). I have doubts about whether I read the first week correctly so will continue the experiment for another week to see the next reading. Tonight, we're going to a Move-On Call Party on Climate Change.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Who Knew?

Every once in a while Em's brother Emails something that triggers the "I didn't know that!" response. Here's the once from this while: Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pretty kewl, huh? I vaguely remember something about how speed-readers get the gist of whole sentences by pretty much just scanning various words in them. I guess 55% of us engage in some form of meaningful interpretation of symbols. I wonder how often MY interpretation agrees with yours.

Monday, May 14, 2007

No. 2 Meets Envirowacko Mama.

No. 2's in town for a few days this week, Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket and there's this "thing" going on wherein some people are gonna make a concerted effort to make less impact on the environment June 1 to 7. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket One week! So,since I'm old & all, I figured I'd better get a head start and began engaging in a series of experiments this week to see just what we might be able to do that didn't result in extra psychiatric care. One part of the experiment is to keep the AC set at 90 degrees. I doubt that we could do that here in August, but this is May, right? So, No. 2 came down from the Midwest with all that thick blood in her body and noticed that the temperatures are quite a bit higher here in North Texas. Em and I felt pretty comfortable this week without the AC. High never even got above 87! But, No. 2 (with the collaboration from No. 1 no doubt) used the heat as an excuse to spend another day at the home of friends of No. 1 who keep the AC COLD (not to mention having a backyard pool). So, to keep them cooler on their drive to this destination, Em let them borrow his car. Check out the look on his face: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket He's outside grilling some ribs for the girls (because I'm only using the microwave and the outside grill this week) who will probably NOT make it back home tonight to eat them. That would be THESE girls: Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket We won't mention how burning charcoal into the atmosphere is probably just as bad as using the oven because had I used the oven I might have felt the need for the AC. Six of these; half dozen of those. Yesterday, I learned how to make rice and pasta in the microwave. It came out better than the stuff I normally make on the stovetop. I have a history of making brown rice that turns out crunchy and watery, but this stuff was fluffy. Made sloppy joe mix in the microwave, as well...even doing the ground meat. So, SOME positives have already come out of this week's experiments. No. 2 just picked a bad week to visit.
We didn't really do anything together this week except get silly the last day. She and Em went to the gym once, and she and I took the trail walk once, but most of her time outside of sleeping during the night was spent in Haltom City having a little fun with the locals. Sounds like I'm moaning about that, and the emotional part of me IS moaning about that while the intellectual part of me is saying, "Dude...YOU do that to her!" So, I'm coming to grips with both the thought of my little girl not wanting to spend every waking moment in Mommy's town with mommy while I also come to grips with the realization that grownups only get so many vacation days/year in the US and I should feel damn lucky that she chose to honor me with her presence already twice this year. I love you, Sweetie!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I should probably also mention somewhere here that the furry grey thing in No. 1's arms is a cat that No. 1's had for over 10 years. She's never been inside this house, but she meows at my office window every morning as soon as she sees the light go on or (now that I'm not using the light) sees the window open. That's the signal for "Put food on stoop NOW!", and just like one of Pavlov's dogs, I do what I'm told. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Today's my birthday, and THIS is what 60 looks like:

I subscribe to a magazine called MORE and every edition is full of "THIS is what 40 looks like, THIS is what 50 looks like", etc. So, seeing as I'm 60 years old today, I forced Em to take a few photos of me in the "great" outdoors of our front yard. After he went through the "I don't see anything in the viewfinder", blah, blah...I posed and he clicked. This is what 60 looks like. (and #1 is baking me a cake). Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Hope y'all are having a great day, too!