Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Two solutions in search of a problem

Solution number 1:  I have lots of cloth strips that I've cut and pressed with an iron, ready to be sewed into face masks.  They hang on my tool bag here, ready to be put to use . . . 
. . . even though (yay), we have more than enough face masks in the world now, and I'm not sewing them by the dozens any more.

Solution number 2:  Beautiful cloth napkins!  They came in the "watch kit" that we bought for our Pitch Party.  They're locally made, organic materials . . . yada yada yada . . . 

. . . even though (yay), we have more than enough napkins in my home now, and in my kids' homes, and . . . well, in the homes of anyone close enough to me to foist cloth napkins off on.   This particular set is also really pretty, but also made of incredibly sheer fabric, so I don't want to use them to replace our (already pretty, and much more sturdy) existing napkins. 

So, two solutions with no corresponding problems.  Kind of like Jeopardy: I've got answers; what's the question?  

Clearly, it's time to invent a new problem.   And . . . here it is!  We've got so many CSA vegetables coming our way, that I keep running out of mesh bags because our available ones are already in use.    Where ever can I find good fabric and long drawstrings to make myself a set of nice veggie storage bags?

I think I win this round.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Miser Family update: Pitch Perfect

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household . . . or should I say, "pitch and full"?  A bunch of us celebrated our city's annual "Live Pitch" (although this year it was a "Virtual Pitch"), during which 5 different entrepreneurs propose cool Social Enterprise (B-corps) businesses, and the audience gets to cheer their awesome visions.  

The first three photos below show that; for the low, low price of $150 each [ulp], I'd bought two "watch boxes", with make-it-yourself food from local businesses, plus noise-makers and confetti blowers that totally delighted Prewash, so much that we tossed the confetti over and over (and over again) so she could chase it.  It was a fabulous evening, even though our favorite business proposals didn't win the contest.  We're going to go buy the vegan cheese anyway, darn it!

You can pitch in and help, pitch a ball, pitch a fit, or pitch camp. You can bring things to a fever pitch, give a sales pitch, walk around in the pitch dark, or fight a pitched battle. A-child and L2  went with the baseball connotations: "Pitch perfect: Alise hit the ball a few times at her first game!" and "A pitch in a pinch".

Several helpful members of the family went for the "pitch in" aspects:  N-son adds, "I pitch in at home goods and help get everything ready so you can buy it"; the dogs go domestic as "Guinness pitches in cleaning Amelia's face"; and my guy says, "MiserMom pitched In and cut my hair almost back to Army!".     Alas, Y says, "Feeling less like a pitcher and more like a belly-itcher... Just found out that there is no way to get around Greater Atlanta without a 20min drive on highways."  Aww, man, I hate having to drive, too!  I love my pedestrian lifestyle, so I feel for her.   Finally, I-child finishes us off on a high note (heh), showing her most recent chorus gathering:  "Fun fact: our director actually has perfect pitch!"

On a tangentially related note, my guy visited New York and felt he needed to contribute this bumper sticker to the conversation:

This week we've done the kind of stuff that is partly just being responsible adults, but partly that just feels great to have done it.  For example, my husband and I finished our taxes: federal, state, and local; we split the duties on this with me doing all the paperwork and record finding and data entry, and him bringing me coffee.  Works for me!  N-son also did all his taxes, with help from me and a bit less coffee.    Also for example, we've had lots of shots-in-arms, and I got this happy text from K-daughter containing a new vocabulary word:  "I hope we can see more of each other now that we are halficinated lol! We get our second shot in 2.5 weeks!"

I also did my quarterly dry goods shopping.  There's an Amish grocery store about 10 miles from our home that sells local, organic foods, and this was the week I drove there and stocked up on 75 pounds of flour, 40 pounds of oats, lots of nuts and dried fruit, and giant blocks of cheese.  I don't love driving, but if I do have to drive, I'm glad to drive through the farmland, past horses and sheets drying on the line and teenagers in their suspenders and broad-brimmed hats on push bikes; I love chatting about home-sewn masks with the women who staff the cash registers at this place, and I love that the receipt is just a long list of numbers, with no words.   And then I bring home all that food, and package it up in jars and airtight bins, and for about 3 or 4 months, if I need more baking supplies for the kitchen, I'll be able to "shopping in the basement". 

For those of you sitting on the edges of your chairs wondering about sock madness, I-daughter reassures us all:  "Made it through round 2! (209 beads per sock!)"   This, as you probably well know, is above and beyond since the minimum required number of beads per sock was something like 56, not 209.  

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous! 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Fixing my dryer with a circular saw, a cordless drill, and green paint.

Early in our marriage, I bought my husband a very large, Amish-made, wooden clothes drying rack.  He'd swooned when describing his memories of a similar one in his past, and not like I was jealous or anything, but I am darned competitive at times, and I didn't want to be beaten out by a former spouse on something as vital to a marriage as where he'd hang our undergarments.  So when I found this big and beautiful beast, I bought it.  It was pricey for a drying rack --- $40?  $60?  I don't exactly remember, but I love my husband that much, you know, so I was totally willing to shell out the big bucks to make him happy.  

My husband is the Lord of the Laundry, the kind of guy who jumps up mid-dinner to run down into the basement because the electric dryer is done and he doesn't want the clothes to wrinkle.  He uses the wooden rack mostly for delicates like bike clothes, and has mostly used the electric dryer for everything else, except when I can convince him to hang things (which he complains get "crunchy").  In the humid summer, we'll move the wooden rack outdoors to increase airflow and decrease drying time.  

MiserMom-themed comments, because I can't help myself.  When my husband is out of town for extended periods, our household electrical use drops by almost half.  The TV and the electric dryer use that much energy.  I myself don't use the electric dryer for anything besides killing bed bugs.  

At any rate, back to the main topic.   This drying rack has outlasted several electrical dryers and is older than some of my kids, so it's no surprise that it's started to break down just a tad here and there, not unlike its owners, I guess.   Fortunately, fixing a wooden drying rack is Heck-Way easier than fixing an electric dryer (although the latter is also frequently quite possible, thanks to the modern miracle of You-Tube videos).  

Last week, when I was supposed to be taking care of paperwork related to a jazillion committees I seem to be on, somehow I couldn't get my head into those.  So I headed into the basement, where I used my circular saw to trim down a pair of new dowel rods to the right length, and then use my cordless drill to attach them in place of the two broken rods, using the screws I'd rescued from disassembling a trash-picked dining room table (now a bookshelf).  

And then, since my head seemed to be happier playing with the drying rack than writing committee reports, I decided to paint the drying rack.  It used to be wood-colored, and then it was ugly-gray-wood-exposed-to-the-elements-colored, but now it's green.  

 Here's a dog's-eye view of the drying rack,
as seen from the balcony where Prewash and I like to hang out.

A drying rack has a lot of surface area to paint, let me tell you.  That's about 8 hours of committee work that I didn't do, right there.  But my husband likes the way the drying rack looks, and nobody reads my committee memos anyway, so I think I made a good choice.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Three thoughts on NO PARKING signs

These aren't thoughts about whether or not to park; they're really just random thoughts about the design of the NO PARKING signs themselves.

One, color. 
I'm sure I learned this back-in-the-day when I was taking my driver's test, but for some reason I just noticed again the color scheme. Black lettering is information; red is prohibition. So a NO PARKING sign has a black P with a red circle and a red tilted slash through it, the same way the black-on-white ONE WAY sign sits above the white-on-red DO NOT ENTER sign.

Two, font.
I look at the aesthetic of traffic signs differently ever since I watched the documentary "Helvetica". As much as I know how weird it is to see my peers Geeking Out on nerdy math facts, it was a lot of fun to watch these graphic designers Geeking Out on fonts. In the documentary, there are some people who get teary-eyed about Helvetica helping to reunify Europe in the decade that followed the second world war; there were others who could barely contain their rage over the use of Helvetica as a tool of the corporate capitalist oppression of creativity and individuality. I seldom think of fonts as moral choices (oh, except that once I read that "Century Gothic" uses less ink than other kinds of fonts), . . . but I do now realize that the font of each NO PARKING sign comes with historic, sociological, economic, and political significance.  Go figure.

Three, the symbol itself.
The NO PARKING symbol has an interesting relationship to the math symbol plus (+).  It was in the 1500s that a mathematician and physician named Robert Recorde invented arithmetical symbols that you'd think would have been around for forever: he was the first to use the symbols =, +, —. 

He invented the now-familiar equals sign to replace the phrase "is equal to"; he invoked geometry and used two parallel line segments of the same length, because after all what could be more equal than those? 

For the other arithmetic symbols, he turned to shipping for inspiration. People used standard sizes of crates to box things up, with a number written on it to indicate how much it held. If the box wasn't all the way full, as was common, you'd write a long line and then write the missing amount. So "25 —— 3" would mean that the crate that could hold 25 pounds, but the crate was 3 pounds light. 

Occasionally, however, the crate would be overfull, In which case you'd put a small slanted slash through the long line (it's hard to type it, but it would kind of look like this: "25 —/— 3").  So the plus symbol really comes from meaning "not subtracted from" in the same way that the NO PARKING symbol means "parking, NOT!": that little slash through them has a common symbolic ancestry.  Neat, huh?!  

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Miser Family Update: all is Egg-cellent version

 Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.  If you're wondering how we're doing, well, this week we're all doing egg-cellently, thank you.  

Somehow, I never made it to the store before Easter to grab candy (or nuts, or other standard basket fillings), which I know will shock you.  Me? not going to a store? Okay, time to stop the sarcasm. . . Easter morning, I pulled on my Creativity Coat and decided to make Bunny Pretzels with raisin eyes and cherry noses, and they actually came out really cute.  I'd also dyed eggs (and my ceramic instant pot liner) with turmeric, more eggs (but not the liner) with cabbage, and yet another egg with coffee.  And then I made cherry pies.   And that's that first picture, which I'm really happy with.

K-daughter and family painted wooden eggs, which are more sturdy (and I guess have more fiber) than the usual variety.  And I-daughter said she was visited by an unusual animal: "These eggs were laid by a Chocolate Bunny (or a *very* confused chicken)".   My sister-in-law, standing in front of EggSlut, chimes in with "I've been called a lot of things, but . . . This is actually a really cool breakfast place here in town."

In the next row, my husband seems to imply I am in a color-rut:  "the color egg-sactly matches the walls in our bedroom. That's taking things to eggstremes."   L1 skips the outside of the eggs and goes right for the innards, when it comes to breakfast, and in case you were wondering how the dogs would make their obligatory appearance, she adds, "Dog awaiting a bite".   And Y offers a minor lament, sharing her email inbox from "PCOM Office of Financial Aid" with the subject line, "Incomplete Aid Requirements".   She adds, "Not eggsactly eggcited to go back to reality after Hawaii . . . ".  Yeah.

And yet, I've been in my own particular happy medical corridor of a week.  I had my head examined, or at least the eyeballs in my head, and they seem to be in good working order.  And then I had another annual exam that came out Just Fine, Thank You.  And then yesterday, I got my first dose of vaccine, whoop!  Wow, that's a short paragraph, but it was a very fulfilling sequence of events.   

N-son didn't contribute a photo, partly because he's been so very caught up in his new job at the Domestic Clutter Emporium.  Any new job is a learning experience, and this job is his first ever job, so there has been a heck-of-a-lot of learning.  And by "learning", I  mean also that there has been a bit of roller coaster in there, which we've been working with him to ride out successfully.  So, it was a happy Friday evening dinner indeed, when he told his parents that he'd gotten a "Star Card" because of the good work he'd been doing toward the end of the week.  Egg-cellent news, N-son!

A-child is also doing some learning: she's on a softball team, and is learning to be a slugger.  She "hit 2 balls [last weekend] at her first practice!", and less than a week later, "Her coaches are all happy to see that she can hit the ball, we just need to work on her throwing skillzzzzz. She hit 6 balls today! "   She already has an impressive roster of games lined up, two a week for the next 6 weeks.  

(And she stole my idea for next week's photo theme, so get ready for more awesome photos of A-child in action, people!).  

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our eggventures.  May you and your be similarly prosperous.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Three thoughts about . . . light, light fixtures, and light switches

Three thoughts about light, light figures, and light switches.

1.  It's a personality thing.
According to "Snoop: What your stuff says about you", people who value organization and conscientiousness have spaces with lots of light. I've seen that pairing in my own life --- I love doing my work sitting in a chair by the window with light streaming in.  In contrast, one of my friends who had her finances in a mess asked me to come over and help her with them. The table where she had all of her records was in one of the darkest corners of the room, and I had to beg her to bring more light over so that we could work there. I know that these two examples don't prove a theory, but they do illuminate it, so to speak.

2.  It's a habit quirk.
Turning off the lights when I'm not around. I'm kind of obsessive about that. I'm obsessive to the point that I sometimes imagine myself in the position of Lot's wife, making that fatal final mistake: that Jesus appears and says to me, "drop everything and follow me now," and I respond "yes, Lord; I'm ready. I just need to run back inside and turn off the lights first!"  The Lord of the Universe, or the living room lights? I fear for my immortal soul.

3.  It's an opportunity for fun projects.
For both of these reasons, I'm loving the increasing variety of LED lights, and I'm planning a bunch of household projects for the summer to switch out dim or misplaced light fixtures for cheerier, brighter versions that hang where we actually need illumination. I'm so glad my parents taught me how to do some basic wiring: changing over these fixtures ought to be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

2-ingredient dog toy

 Recipe for an awesome dog toy.


    • tennis ball
    • sock*


Put the ball in the sock.  (Optional: sew the end closed).  Throw.  

 * I actually used a sweater sleeve, from a torn/snagged sweater.  

Wow-and-golly, is this a great dog toy!  Fun to chew on!  Terrific for throwing inside a corridor of the house!  Easy for the human to grab hold of, even when the other end is clamped between dog teeth!  Fab for tug of war!  

We experimented briefly with a variation (two tennis balls sewn into the sock); Prewash nixed that alternate design style; she chewed out the extra tennis ball and returned the toy to its one-orb state.  The two-ingredient version is not only simpler, it's also optimized for canine/human interaction.

The delight my dog and I have had with this toy makes me think of wheels on luggage.  I look at movies of times past, and see people carrying suitcases in their hands instead of rolling the suitcases behind them, and think "wheels on luggage should have been an obvious idea!"   And yet, wheels existed, and luggage existed, but wheeled luggage wasn't an idea, until one day it was an idea, and then wheels on suitcases became the norm.

So, just sayin', tennis ball.  Sock.  Together.  We approve.