The Three R’s, Environmentally Speaking

30 04 2010


So much junk in our homes!  Our lives get overly complicated trying to acquire, clean, display, and store all the stuff.  How much of it really provides us with enough pleasure to earn its keep?

My theory on how to attack this problem: stay out of stores!   Also, toss the ads from the Sunday newspaper (in the recycle bin, of course).  These things have a remarkable ability to confuse us about what’s a “want” and what’s a “need.”


Just because a person is done with something doesn’t mean it’s ready for the landfill.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and all that jazz.  (Actually, the exception to this is the stuff at my house, where, alas, the vast majority of junk really is just junk.)


“Hey, honey!  I found another can in with the regular trash and since you and I are the only ones living here I know it was you who threw it in there.  What kind of planet are you leaving for our children?”


Ah, but here’s the problem.  Sometimes (translation:often) when I’m volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity Restore (thrift shop) in support of #2 above, I find something that I would really like to have, which flies in the face of #1 above.  Mental turmoil ensues.

Yesterday we had a beautiful Persian rug that, due to, ahem, a “screwup”, was sold for $65.  One customer (after the fact) said it would retail around $4000.  While that may have been an exaggeration, clearly, we should have sold it for more, which would have meant more money to put toward building the houses.

Do I need a rug? No.  But if someone had offered me that rug for that price I probably would have taken it.  Am I feeling angst that I didn’t get the chance ?  I’ll get over it.

But also yesterday we had a little flat cheese grater, maybe six inches by two inches.  I thought it was cute, but didn’t dwell on it.  Until last night when I was making a tossed salad for my husband and me, and decided to add some cheese.  As I was hauling out our big, four-sided grater it occurred to me that the smaller one would have been perfect for the occasion, and much easier to clean up.

Now I’m afraid that every time I get out the big grater I’m going to kick myself for letting that little $1 beauty slip through my fingers.


And the Award Goes To…

29 04 2010

Well, the party’s over.  Nothing left but a wine stain on the rug by the stairway, a half-eaten piece of cake on the coffee table, a pile of dishes in the sink, and a pair of glasses someone left in the bathroom.

No, no, no!  There wasn’t actually a party yesterday.  It just felt like one because….

I made it onto the Freshly Pressed page of featured blogs!

I found out about my selection for this, the highest of honors, when I got a rash of emails announcing comments to my blog and THEY WEREN”T ALL FROM MY MOTHER!

When I realized what was afoot I reread my post and immediately found four places I wanted to change the wording.  Even worse, I found (YIKES) a typo!

Suddenly I faced a dilemma.  Could I morally edit something that had already been selected?  Was that like making changes to a test paper after it had been graded?

Maybe the software wouldn’t even let me make changes.  Maybe I would bring to a grinding halt if I even tried to make changes.

But the typo was glaring at me.  I felt like I was at a beauty pageant with a coffee stain on the front of my white evening gown.

Ultimately, I decided to correct the typo but leave the rest as it was.

( did not come crashing down.  It didn’t even hiccup.)

The most excitement came as the day wore on and my blog stats reached heretofore unimagined heights.  The graph is usually a zig-zaggy line with lots of ups and downs.  Increasingly, it was a straight horizontal line located just barely above zero punctuated by a single point on the far right, soaring higher and HIGHER and HIGHER!

I was invincible!


Alas, the morning after is always sort of a let down.  Once again, I’m just one of 286,963 people rattling on about the minutiae of my life.  Back to the real world.

But, to paraphrase Lerner and Loewe in one of their great Broadway productions:

Don’t let it be forgot
That once this was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot one of the 11 best blog posts out of a pool of 324,839.

I Got Some ‘Splaining to Do

28 04 2010

When I’ve breathed my last breath, when my number is up, when I arrive at the pearly gates, I think I’m going to have to give an accounting for a couple of untimely deaths.

(I’m assuming I’ll get a pass on all those ants.  You-know-who may have thought they were a good idea when He created them, but surely in the intervening time He has come to the conclusion, like most of us, that in some cases you can have too much of a good thing.  At least that’s what I’m counting on.)

The deaths of which I speak affected creatures a little higher up on the food chain, specifically a squirrel and a chipmunk.

The Squirrel

I’m hoping I can be forgiven for this one because I started out with the best of intentions.  We owned a cat and a gerbil.  (I know–poor planning, but sometimes timing is everything.)  We kept the gerbil in my son’s room with the lid tightly attached and a book on top to secure it.  We kept his door closed all the time.  The kitty knew the room held pleasures that she could only imagine.  But we were on top of the situation.

What, you may be asking, does this have to do with a squirrel?  Stay with me.

We hired some painters to paint the exterior of our house.  The head honcho was a nice guy who happened to really like cats. (He was actually the person who told me our furball was a Maine coon cat.)  I trusted him to be mindful of where the cat was in the house as various windows were opened and closed so our precious feline wouldn’t escape.

And so I left on my errands.

What I forgot to mention was the gerbil stashed in my son’s room.

After an hour or so as I was motoring around I suddenly realized that my son’s door would most likely be left open and young gerbil’s life was at risk.  Speaking of risk, I knew I had to go home immediately to right the situation and so made some road maneuver not covered in the DMV manual.  Fortunately, no policemen were watching.  Unfortunately, a squirrel was making a move of his own at the same time.  I felt the thud as the car hit him.  I actually didn’t see his limp little body in the road, and can only assume he made it into the woods to die. (But–just maybe–he was okay, right?)

Anyway, I got home in time to save the gerbil, but I’ve got to live with this squirrel on my conscience now.

The Chipmunk

I put water in a big plastic bin and added Chlorox.  I used the mixture to clean our outdoor furniture and recycle bins.  When I finished, I hesitated to just dump the water out as it contained Chlorox.  I knew I’d never hear the end of it if I killed a patch of grass.  So I left it to deal with later.

Shortly thereafter we had company and my husband moved this large container off to the side.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Several weeks passed.

I didn’t happen upon the container until a couple of days ago, and in it I found a dead chipmunk.  YUCK!  I’m not sure whether he drowned or died from the Chlorox.  (No autopsy was done.)

My dear hubby cleaned up the mess.  This is what husbands are for.

It might be a bit of a stretch, but I’m hoping when I have to account for my actions, he will share part of the blame with me.  Again, I’m thinking this is what husbands are for.

Cattle and Sheep

26 04 2010

Back in the good old days, maybe ten years ago, when men were men and newspapers were newspapers, before the whole journalism industry fell off a cliff, they used to print the news whether we liked it or not, because it was good for us.  And we bought it, because it was good for us, just like we took our medicine even though it tasted horrible, because it was good for us.

Back then they (The Washington Post) began writing a page called the KidsPost.  They took pertinent news topics and wrote about them in a way youngsters could digest.  They always started from square one, never assuming any prior knowledge on the subject matter.  And if the story was very complicated, they left out enough details so that not-quite-developed-brains could digest it.

(Nowadays KidsPost is often just a bit of fluff.  Case in point: today it’s about lice.)

But back in the early days, if, for instance, you came in a little late on the Valerie Plame debacle, because you were busy

  • sewing sequins on a Halloween costume
  • making cupcakes for a Christmas party
  • collecting money for PTA dues
  • stuffing envelopes for Save the Whatever Foundation
  • measuring kids for their band uniforms
  • making a late night ink cartridge run because the paper was due TOMORROW,

you might not have a clue what was going on.  But ten minutes with the KidsPost on the issue, and you were back in business.

And no one else had to be any wiser about your cheat sheet.

My point is that sometimes kid-sized can be adult-sized too.

Which brings us to church yesterday.  The sermon was on the 23rd Psalm.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  etc. etc. Our poor pastor had to recite the text twice because some people wanted to hear it in Revised Standard Version and others were sticklers for King James.  (But that’s for another post about battle lines being drawn between traditional services and contemporary services.)  He gave a good sermon about the topic, but as I sit here now all I can remember is his children’s message.

He talked about going on a cattle drive.  It was the first time he’d visited his future wife’s family, who ran a cattle ranch.  He could barely ride a horse but got “roped in” to accompanying the fellows as they moved so many cattle from HERE to THERE.  He explained how you have to come up behind the cattle and whoop and holler and whistle to get them to MOVE.

But, he said, you can’t herd sheep.  They refuse to be pushed around.  To move sheep, you get in front of them and let them follow you.

So I learned something yesterday.

It’s Been “The Longest Time”

23 04 2010

When I catch the scent from a bottle of suntan lotion I am instantly transported to the beach, even in the dead of winter.  I can feel the wind in my hair and the sand between my toes, hear the waves rolling in, even taste the salt water.  And it’s not just a sensory experience; my whole being can take on that beachy attitude.

Something kind of like that happened to me yesterday…but a lot more complicated.


It started when the CD player in the car broke.  Rather than get it fixed I started using the tape player.  That coincided with some Billy Joel fan donating a bunch of tapes to the Restore, where I promptly latched onto them.  So for me it’s been all Billy Joel, all the time in the car lately.  Yesterday I ran across his song, The Longest Time. (Lively tune–listen to it once and you’ll enjoy it–listen to it a few times and it’ll be on your mind the rest of the day.)


When I graduated from college I worked for a small company that survived on Navy contracts.  The heart of the company was a cadre of PhD mathematicians who could talk circles around those captains.  The second tier was a bunch of software people (including me) who would write the programs to implement the grandiose schemes devised by the PhDs. It was a great job.  I went to sea on aircraft carriers at a time when, for women, that was just not done.

But then the branch manager, my boss, decided to start his own company.  Things went to heck.  He tried to hire me away.  I was torn between loyalty to him and loyalty to the company.  I ended up staying with the company.  Four of the seven people in our office left, including the branch manager, of course, and the administrative person (“secretary”).

Two things  I remember about the new secretary.  One day I was the second person arriving at the office and I found her shell-shocked in the back room.  She had just been robbed at gunpoint.  Right there in our offices.  Had I arrived ten minutes earlier the burglar would have gotten me too.  That was an eye opener.

The other thing I remember was how she loved the aforementioned Billy Joel song.  When it came on the radio on her desk she would turn it up and sing along.

I haven’t heard the tune in The Longest Time.  So yesterday when it came on I found myself reliving the chaos of those early post-college years.

Size Matters

21 04 2010

I’m probably the only mom in my neighborhood  who didn’t own a minivan.  Three reasons:

  1. Mainly, I had no interest in driving anything that large.  I loved my Prism. I’m a small person and I feel comfortable in a small car.
  2. I was happy enough to ferry my progeny around, and maybe one or two other little darlings, but I didn’t want to become head chauffeur for the whole neighborhood.
  3. I never thought of myself as a van-driving soccer-mom, and if you don’t want the role, don’t act the part.

So having (finally) gotten the offspring in college, hubby and I just enjoyed our first travel adventure sans kids.  Upon arrival at our destination, we got off the plane, headed to the car rental counter, and learned that the only vehicle available to us was a brand new (eight miles on the odometer) Toyota Sienna.

It is a major minivan.

We nicknamed it The Beast.  Huge.  I told my husband if he woke up in the morning and couldn’t find me, check the minivan.  I would be sleeping there to escape his snoring.  The dashboard screen that showed what was behind you when you put the car in reverse blew me away.

I am so glad I held my “no minivan” ground all those years.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

19 04 2010

I always said that when the last kid left for college, I’d accompany my husband on business trips.  Since last fall there have been two or three such opportunities.  But there always seemed to be a problem with his schedule–or my schedule–or the destination wasn’t so hot.

My reasons for nor accompanying him were starting to sound like excuses.

Enough with the foot-dragging!  By the time anyone reads this I will have joined him for a delightful long weekend on the coast.  So what if there’s nothing but rain in the forecast?

As part of this newly acquired live-and-let-live attitude I’m not taking any checked luggage.  (Also because I’m a cheap skate.)  The carry-on luggage I have is pretty small, but I’m determined to survive four days living out of it.

I’m harkening back to my Girl Scout days.

One pair of pants—maybe two.  (Already I’m slipping.)  One jacket/sweater.  Two pairs of shoes: sneakers and sandals.  We’re going to admit from the get go that we won’t go anywhere fancy.  (Usually we drag along the nice clothes/shoes and never wear them.)  Minimal toiletries.

And I think the hardest thing will be to go without a hair dryer.  Me with drip-dried hair is not a pretty sight.  But hotels always have hair dryers, right?

Wish me luck.