Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Wrinkled American: Tumble Dryer Addiction

So while we’re on the subject, has anyone checked out the tumble-dryer posts over at Bean Sprouts? Read through the comments on the last two, “Tumble Dryer” and “Tumble Dryer Again,” and you’ll meet scads of people who don’t own dryers. As I said in a comment, my bet is that most of them are British, not American or Canadian. Over here, if you live in a house it’s got a dryer, and if you live in an apartment, you probably wash AND dry your clothes at a laundromat.*

Sometime this summer I discovered that #1 son almost never uses a dryer. Inspired, I’ve been trying to wean myself from dependence on the thing, as it's a veritable energy-sink, and have dried more and more clothes on racks. (There are no radiators in this house, just hot air vents, so what I’m coming to see as the British Dryer Alternative (BDA) isn’t really an option.)

Continue reading

Cold snap

It has been a very busy week–three choir rehersals (it's concert week) and eight doctor's appointments (ugh) and then a friend over yesterday to cook for her husband's surprise party, (the same friend who so kindly helped me with my garden path project last summer and somewhat less kindly documented the width of my behind during that work.)

The chili got made, and I had a chance to read "Could Be Worse" (twice) to two-year-old Joran, so you could count the day a success until my friend came back after leaving to inform me that she'd just locked herself out of her car. With Joran inside. Talk about nightmares. So she borrowed my car to dash home for the other keys while I endeavored to entertain Joran through the window. I did classic peek-a-boo, of course, both below the car door and behind a conveniently placed tree, walked my gloved hands up the window like curious worms that looked in and all around, sang songs, and made faces, but the hit was a rather Chaplinesque routine of pretending to fall in love with the tree–sidling up to it, coyly looking away, finally kissing it, and so on. He cracked up over that one. I don't know what the neighbors thought.

Fortunately, that was yesterday, not today, because as of five this morning we are having our first cold snap and our first real winter snow of the season. It’s currently -10°F (-23°C) outside, and 39°F in our bedroom. I’ve filed an application for sleeping in front of the fire, which has been accepted.

Continue reading

Aphid Alert! Indoor tomatoes–again.

Aphid alert '08

Near the end of last winter the blogger known as the Manic Gardener, (a rather obvious play on her own name, Kate Gardner) wrote not one, but TWO posts about problems with growing tomatoes indoors and how she was never going to make that mistake again: she had learned her lesson, she had seen the light, she was a reformed person, a cured addict: “tomatoes belong outdoors, not in.”

Yet the aphids pictured above are on a tomato leaf, and the photo was taken today, in the home of the aforementioned Manic Gardener. What conclusions can we draw?

Continue reading

Transforming Black Friday

Jdimytai Damour NYT 11:29:08
Jdimytai Damour
NYT 11/29/08

There's been a lot of activity in the blogosphere in reaction to Jdimytai Damour's terrible death on Black Friday. Damour had been working at the Long-Island Wal-Mart for only a week or so when he was trampled to death by out-of-control shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. Amongst garden bloggers, Bamboo Geek, for instance, suggested that we “Dump the "Black Friday" Tradition." I wish we could, but that's probably too much to hope for, so here's a distant second best.

Imagine this: people outside big shopping outlets carrying signs that say, "Remember Jdimytai Damour" on Black Friday next year–and the year after—and the next. We could hand out black armbands to remind people to remember that man and to be kind to one another.

There’s a chance, just a chance, I think, that people wearing these bands, seeing them on other’s arms, would slow down a little, just enough to see one another’s faces, and in those faces, their shared humanity.

Is this possible? Can we do it?

Compost tools: Rage against the machine

The compost-auger-that-has-to-be-attached-to-a-drill, subject of yesterday’s rant, is just the latest motorized gadget I’ve seen recommended for composters. Some manuals seem to assume that everyone keeps a garage full of gas-guzzling machines handy. Shredders, gas-powered mowers and roto-tillers top the list, but weed whackers and chippers get occasional mention, and now we can add electric aeraters to the list.

Composting happens most swiftly if materials are chopped into tiny pieces first, of course. So what to do with leaf-piles to “prepare” them for the compost heap? Just drive your mulching lawn-mower over them, many manuals advise, as if of course everyone has a mulching lawn-mower. Most such sites don’t say, “If you have a mulching mower, you can use it to….” No. They say “drive your mulching mower….” Do they have a contract with the mowing manufacturers, I wonder?

Newspaper, I read in my current composting book, can be composted; ‘but be sure to shred it first.’ With your handi-dandi shredder, of course. Even sticks and logs can be used if you toss them in the chipper and mix them with—But I don’t care what I’m supposed to mix them with; I’m ready to compost the book.

I’ve got two MAJOR problems with this sort of idiocy.

Continue reading