Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2013

Conflicting Values: Environmental Safety or Human Safety?

Sometimes you have a situation in which two values conflict. Depending on the values, it can bring a simple frown, a lump in your throat, a twist in your gut, or even a strange wave of heat that suddenly courses through your body like you've just been pushed into a sauna, then yanked right back out. This morning I was happy.  Elated, even. I was getting a new washer!  Soon, I'd have have clothes that were actually clean!  As you may have figured out by the preceding statement, I'm not exactly the best hand-washer on the planet.  Just ask my hopelessly stained cloth napkins . It's my own fault that it took this long. I took way too much time fretting over whether or not to tell the landlord that the machine was broken .  I didn't want to be the annoying tenant that calls over every little problem. I finally decided to call, and a new washer was scheduled to be installed at 10 am. On the way back from walking my daughter to school, however, I realized th

Chaotic Recovery From Television Addiction

For roughly two weeks now, I've fallen prey to the addiction known as television. Well, not exactly television.  Rather, Netflix.  I've been watching episode after episode of shows like Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Luther, throwing myself headfirst into gripping series that don't seem to let go. The good news is that I recognized this sooner, rather than later. Of course, I recognized this because writing was taking longer than usual.  When you're addicted to television, you have a habit of cutting down on reading.  Reading is a necessity for writers. Without it, writing becomes very... Lame. There was only one thing to do:  I had to stop watching. That meant that I had to find other things to occupy my time.  I had most of my books on my Nook, which also had a Netflix app, so that couldn't be used.  I grabbed a few good print books, and placed them within easy reach. I looked around for something else to do.  The books were great, but I couldn'

GE Foods: Let's Eat Stuff That's Designed to Kill! Not.

I can be a rather contrary person. Generally, when I see something that says "Share/re-blog this" I happily shove whatever the statement discussed happens to be into the big filing cabinet in my brain and leave it there, rolling my eyes and going on with my day.  I don't like feeling pressured into doing something, and the result oftentimes resembles that of a small child: "You're not the boss of me!" Sometimes, though rare, I'll actually listen.  The person has touched on an argument that I feel passionately about, and the person is on my People To Be Listened To list.  There are a few constants on that list, but for the most part, people are only there briefly. It's a kind of short list... Naturally, the people that have a cemented spot on the list are all dead.  It's not very likely that they'll do something contrary to the words I've grown to love. It's not that I don't trust people - some would argue that I

Mushrooms and Sun: Reviving Skin and Muscles

Yesterday I spent a much longer amount of time than necessary staring at myself in the bathroom mirror. Seriously. I poked and prodded at my skin, made faces, and stared long enough that I'm surprised my eyes didn't begin to water.  I was that intent on it. Well, from prior posts it's pretty obvious that I'm not particularly vain about my appearance.  I rarely put on any makeup at all.  It was a personal sacrifice to do any body hair removal for my little sister's wedding.  Appearance is the last thing I worry about. So, what caused this sudden need to stare into a mirror? Well, that morning, I woke up to discover that my skin looked great.  It looked vibrant, healthy, and, well... the way it's supposed to look.   And my energy levels were pretty much through the roof, which allowed me to notice the skin changes in the first place. Which meant that before yesterday morning, I looked and felt like crap. ...and I never even realized it! Yikes

Vegetables Make You Happy! Those Optimistic Carotenoids

I spend a pretty decent amount of time on Facebook.   Aside from being able to see what's happening with friends and family across the country, it also provides me with the ability to see what articles they're reading online.  Often, those articles can lead me on the path to self-discovery... and even a blog post. That happened yesterday. While perusing my wall, I discovered an article from the Daily Mail written by Anna Hodgekiss.  The title, Another Good Reason to Eat Your Greens: It Makes You More Optimistic About the Future , caught my eye.   This article was an eye opener for me. We all know that I'm optimistic... sometimes to a fault.   I'm the sort of person that, if a plane crashed into my backyard, I'd notice that it missed a tiny patch of carrots and rejoice - ignoring the fact that the rest of the yard was decimated.  This isn't much of an exaggeration.  My optimism can be quite puzzling to those of my friends that are more cynical and e

How To Live In Exciting Times

"May you live in exciting times." It's the curse nobody ever wants to hear uttered, only second to one other: "May your child grow to be just like you ." Well, fortunately, my child isn't just like me, thank goodness, but for the past few days, I've been living in very exciting times.  Clearly, I've upset the balance of karma. You probably remember my car's battery going out , causing me to need an immediate replacement.  It was frustrating, but not frustrating enough to fit the "exciting times" label.  My car is now much louder, but it works far more efficiently.  All is well. But then I discovered a waterfall in my bathroom.   As I had not actually installed a waterfall in the ceiling at any point, I was able to deduce that perhaps I needed a plumber to fix a leak. The plumber came by the next day, but mere minutes before he was scheduled to arrive, My insulin pump had a button failure, which basically means

36 Degrees: Desert v. Upper Midwest

It amazes me just how different it is between the desert southwest and the temperate, deciduous Midwest. Ok, obviously it's very different. I mean, duh... but the way a single person can respond to the exact same temperatures in these two biomes is fascinating! "Cold" and "hot" are relative terms.  They truly are.  For instance, 36 degrees feels outstandingly cold in the desert, yet in the upper Midwest it's 'a bit chilly.' In the desert southwest, 36 degrees is frigid.   Your fingers start to hurt if you're not wearing good gloves while outside.  You shiver ceaselessly, your cheekbones turn red and hurt , and you're hesitant to spend time outdoors with anyone unless you really, really like them. A lot. On the flip side, 36 degrees feels nice in the upper Midwest.   You can totally go outside to take out the trash, or get something out of the car, and not wear a coat.  Sure, you still need long sleeves, but it's actuall

Perhaps Forced Changes Can Be Good

Brrrr! Yesterday, I woke up to a layer of frost on the inside of my screen door.  But you know what?  It wasn't too cold in the house, which means I get to pat myself on the back for doing a decent job of sealing air leaks.   Heat escapes through the back door due to a problem with the foundation itself.  I've been able to cut off some of that loss, but the only way to seal that area well is to put the house up on jacks to level the foundation. Ha! The warm air flows out, and the cold air flows in.  So says the great Voice of Thermal Equilibrium .  But it's just one spot, which makes me very happy. See?  I told you I was happy! The high wind that brought this frigid air redecorated my yard, as well. The glider bench that was knocked over by wind during a particularly nasty windstorm last year... was knocked over again while in what I thought was a more protected location.  I'm beginning to understand why it was in such bad cond

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Humanist

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, and we should all take the opportunity to reflect on our lives. One thing I've noticed is that civil rights leaders, when they truly act with all of humanity in their hearts, act in harmony with the environment. Non-violence Compassion A visceral need to make things better A dream of harmony A true humanist takes lives by all of these tenets.  A person that truly believes in equality will fight to try to level the playing field for everyone as a whole. Martin Luther King, Jr. did all of this.   He wasn't trying to make a name for himself.  It happened simply because he fought for what he believed in, and he did it with words , rather than weapons. You could argue that words are weapons, but in his case, I'd disagree.  His words were more like mirrors.  He made people see themselves, whether they wanted to or not. To the best of my knowledge, MLK Jr. never specifically spoke about the environment, but he didn't h

Sub-Arctic Negative Temperature: Just a Little Nippy?!

Yesterday I checked to make sure I had everything I needed, so that I wouldn't have to leave the house during the cold front. Most people from this area don't seem to worry.   They're used to this.  Negative temperatures?  No big deal... It's a little nippy outside.  Little Miss Desert Transplant, on the other hand, couldn't stop thinking of the possibilities. I was a little panicked, to say the least. It was predicted to drop down to -3 that evening.  Not a big deal... I've been through temperatures that low. But! I went to a class on epublishing that day, where I learned quite a bit, and where I met a small group of wonderful people, including author Jean Tennant.  When I left that class at around 3:15, the temperature was roughly 39 degrees. Ok.  So we have a decent 39 degree day.  A day in which I was able to walk the main street downtown without a scarf. And it's supposed to hit -3 by the evening??? Eeeeeeek!!! Sure enough, three h

Adventures With Food, A Car, and Frigid Temperatures

The Minnesota winter is about to hit me full force. On Sunday, the high temperature will be five degrees with a low of -16, according to .  The real feel?  -7 high/-32 low. Yikes!!! Last year, I was lucky.  It was a great time to move, because Minnesota was having a mild winter.  Of course, being from the desert, I did not consider temperatures between 0 and 30 every day to be mild . I now understand, however. I've known about this for the past two days, and so I've been trying to plan accordingly.  Ensuring you have your food staples is important.  Sure, you can go out into frigid, below freezing  temperatures to gather these things, but why would anyone actually want to do that? Of course, I ran into issues.   Finding the time to gather necessities so that you don't have to go out into weather that makes your face hurt the moment you step out the door can be difficult.  I found the time, though, so everything should have gone well. Of co

Mission: Companion Planting in Containers

Now that I have my super awesome, extra amazing, mindbogglingly spectacular companion planting chart I've been spending time staring at pictures of vegetables while trying to make decisions regarding next year's plantings. Planning where to plant your edible garden each year can be exciting if you rent your home. Priority needs to be given to container gardening, because in the end, that may be all you have left.  In-ground planting should be reserved for plants that you can easily leave behind.  Planning which crops go in the ground, and which plants go in containers is the first necessary action. I consulted the companion planting chart from the beginning, deciding which plants I most wanted, whether they could be in-ground or container plants, what they were compatible with, and which plants act antagonistic toward them. I did this by hand. See, some people prefer typing, but my brain changes course so quickly that I never know what I'll end up with.  A list

Eureka! A Valuable Companion Planting Discovery

Eureka!  I've done it! Ok... it's nothing as glorious as that.  What I discovered, however, does bring a huge smile to my face.  I discovered information.  Good information. I had to go all the way to Australia by way of Bali to do it! Yeah.  I'm being dramatic again.  I didn't physically go anywhere near Bali... or Australia.  I simply did a web search that eventually brought me to a valuable guide created by the IDEP foundation in Bali... but, you know... it just sounds so much more awesome if I make dramatic claims of great adventures.  Right? Maybe? Well, then.  I'm sure you want to hear about what I found, especially since it's something you can use, as well. Amazing knowledge right at our fingertips. Amazing, downloadable knowledge. Amazing, downloadable, and useful knowledge. SCORE!!! So, what was it, you ask? Nothing mind-bendingly spectacular for most people, to be honest.  Rather, it's a simple chart. I mentioned earlie

De-Icing That Treacherous Trail, the Quick and Easy Way

It worked!!!! Yesterday I went out to take care of the treacherous trail leading up to the fenced in area of the backyard.  The ice was an inch thick in some places, and non-existent in others.  If I had brushed the slush away from the path while I had the chance, everything would have been easy. But when have I ever done anything the easy way? That ice had to be dealt with before I ended up breaking a hip or a knee on that trail.  Time for a simple DIY project, I believe! Yesterday, I talked about two methods that I knew of for ice removal: salt and sand.  Salt was out, because it would harm the soil I'd be gardening in when spring arrives.  That left sand. The application was simple. Total time taken to add sand to the hill's trail was about 5 minutes, and I didn't use much sand or boiling water, at all. Step 1:   Grab a couple of large cups.  Make sure one is thermal. Both of mine are thermal, but that's just because that was what I found.  M

The Icy Trail: Salt or Sand?

The ice on the trail I use to go up to the fenced-in portion of the yard has gotten pretty dangerous. What I should have done when it was raining is gone out onto the trail and brushed away the slush that covered the steps.  Naturally, however, I didn't. That would've been way too smart! Instead, I allowed it to sit, and when the cold front blew through, it froze the slush solid . Yesterday's slipping and sliding was nothing like what I'm going through today.  The temperatures have stayed low, and as I write this, it's currently 3 degrees... and snowing. Oops. Putting things off is very rarely a good idea.  In this case, the resultant ice caused me to nearly fall over a few times while walking down the path cut into the hill. The area below that path is frozen even worse, due to the heavy foot traffic, but I can avoid that danger zone.  It's a wide area.  It's easy to step around it.  The steps leading up, however, are unavoidable.  Somethin

Crazy Weather! The Joys of Slush and Ice

As mentioned yesterday, the last two days were warm enough to melt snow . And a lot melted!   What was once totally whitewashed, was now showing the ground beneath.  The majority of snow became slush, with only a few patches of white remaining on the ground.  It rained, creating large areas of slush.  Even my attempt at creating an igloo , which ended up becoming a small walled seating area instead... ...took on the haggard appearance of ancient ruins, then almost entirely disappeared. I have to admit, I was very happy that it lasted as long as it did!  Next year I'll have to use what I learned to try to make another.  I expect that to be a lot of fun!!! The melting snow really gave me an added boost, yesterday.  My need to see something other than snow was becoming pretty overwhelming.  I was lucky to receive a tiny moss terrarium from one of my best friends ever for Christmas, but I really needed more.  Desert girls aren't meant to spend weeks in snow covere

Snow, Sidewalks, and Urban Heat Islands. Oh, My!

Yesterday the temperatures raised significantly. For the first time in a long while, it raised to as high as 39 degrees.  That's snow melting temperature!  Granted, I've seen snow melt even when the temperature is as low as 28, if the sun is out and there isn't much of a breeze, but 39 is pretty much a guarantee that you'll lose some snow. As early as 11:00 I was able to see some pretty huge effects.   I've always found melting snow to be pretty fascinating.  It doesn't, after all, melt very evenly.  Melting shows preference for pavement and areas in which the snow never entirely saturated an area, due to cover. Like this drainage grate. The temperature change due to air from within the drainage vent was so extreme that the snow this air touched melted at a faster rate than the sun touched snow above it.  You can even see that ice had formed on the underside of this pile of snow. Wow! Obviously, you can't see the actual grate in the photo a