Friday, August 31, 2012

Change of Season

Just as in the Spring, before it is nominally Spring, the season clicks over from Winter to Spring, so too has Autumn arrived, even though the calendar doesn't say so.

The light is different, the air is different, and in spite of the late heat wave, the nights are now suddenly CHILLY, as in You need a comforter, dum-dum. Yes, that chilly.

Tonight's low is supposed to be 56 degrees, but as it is already 59, I think that we may see 40's by daybreak, which is good snuggly-together weather, but will stop tomato production in its tracks.

I feel that I'm seeing too many clouds sweeping through at this time of year, as seen in the photo. Makes me uneasy, though God knows we were too dry last year.

May the Life That Guides the World give us what we need this coming Winter season.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tired But Happy

That's the heat for the coming winter.

My riding buddy, Cathy the Mad Horsewoman, lent me her truck so that we didn't have to use the Vibe and the Corolla to pick up two cords of wood. You can load the two cars with 1/4 cord -- we've done it before, and it's ugly and messy, but do-able. With the truck, it took four trips only.

256 cubic feet of wood.

I stacked a little on Saturday, just to define the length of the stack, Monday Alex stacked some, and then on Tuesday, Alex and I went at it in earnest, working quietly side by side, not too fast, enjoying each little zing of satisfaction when a piece of wood fits just where it should, making an anchor for the chunks around it. Little Joan Maria dozed in her stroller nearby, seemingly soothed by the musical clunks of the wood.

There is no doubt that my arms and back and legs were tired by the time we quit for the morning, but I had no soreness today, and Bernie and I were able to finish stacking the wood by 9am. Work goes a little quicker with him; he's not into the meditative part of wood-stacking, he just wants to get it done. The less-measured pace is more tiring, but the task IS done, which is a good thing.

Here's a detail of the right end, where the wood is carefully built into a structure that keeps the rest of the chunks from tumbling off.

It felt so good to work so hard. I haven't been able to do that in a while, and though some may find it odd, I missed being able to exert myself to the limits of my ability, even though wood-stacking is pretty dirty work. You can shower off the dust and spiders, but nothing is going to wash away the rich feeling of satisfaction. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Look At the 'Maters on That One!

These Marglobe variety tomatoes are undoubtedly the most beautiful tomatoes I have ever grown.

Far from being in full sunlight, as the seed packet suggests, these have only limited sunlight over the course of a day, a bit in the afternoon, and then shade the rest of the day, morning and evening. Each of these lovelies weighs more than half a pound, with the biggest at .75 pounds.

Marglobes don't have the *BANG!!* taste that the wild tomatoes do -- they're a bit mild. But for consistency of later-producing fruit and prolific production, wow, I love them.

There are two other Marglobe plants, seeded at the very same time, in the garden on the north bank. They are weedy and feeble-looking. Unlike the producers of these huge tomatoes, they are in full sun. Will they produce this year? I doubt it very much. My corner garden by the fence is too much full sun, too hot, not enough ventilation.

Live and learn. Next year all my tomatoes will have shade in the afternoon.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

"Take It Out and Shoot It," I Instructed.

Last Friday night, my glitzy Bosch high-efficiency washing machine decided it was too good to run spin cycles any more. Apparently it felt that three and a half years was long enough to suffer through the annoyance of wringing dirty water out of clothes.

We called the preferred repairman early Saturday morning, but after looking at the last repair bill for the Bosch dishwasher when it crashed, I had to ask myself: Do I want to spend that much money to repair a machine that I actually hate?

The high-efficiency machine uses less water, they say, and less electricity, making it a bargain in the long run. The high purchase cost will be offset over the life of the machine in energy and water reduction. Indeed, the little tags say that the HE machine costs about $18/year in electricity, while an agitator washer costs about $52.

Yeah, right.

What they didn't bother to mention was that if you don't use a chlorine bleach cycle, your clothes smell like dirty socks after about two weeks of use of the machine. And that if you do use a chlorine bleach cycle (only good for bleachable whites, of course), the wash cycle takes well over an hour.

Now if you don't want to bleach everything, and you don't want your clothes to smell like dirty socks, you have two options: you can use a heavily perfumed detergent (not an option in this household) or you can buy a "high efficiency washer cleaner" to use every three weeks at $8 a box. (A box contains three uses.) So instead of $18/year to use, we're up to $36, or more depending on how many bleach cycles you have to use, and we can now add in the cost of the bleach, because EVERY white load has to be bleached if it isn't going to turn out brownish-gray-tinted.

And even with the "high efficiency washer cleaner," the clothes still don't smell "clean," even if they don't smell like dirty sweaty feet. You wear them half a day, sweat a little, and wow, stinko. Wash the clothes more often, more energy cost.

The Bosch front-loader HE machine also insisted on full loads of clothes. There was no setting for Small, Medium, or Large loads. All of them had to be Big-Ass loads, or else the machine would not spin the water out, requiring extra spin cycles ... at an added energy cost, of course.

So when I saw that a new GE agitator model would cost only about $200 more than a repair of the Bosch (if we were lucky on the Bosch repairs), I poured out my heartfelt venom about the Bosch to Bernie, and we scoped out some reviews, and then went an bought a GE agitator, which matches my GE dryer perfectly, in looks and capacity.

Amazingly, most of the five-out-of-five star reviews of the GE were from people who were replacing their greatly-hated HE machines. When a friend of ours heard that we'd gone back to an agitator, he envied us. "I wish ours (an HE) would break down. I hate it. Nothing ever gets really clean."

Tonight, five days of laundry have been done since the installation of the machine at noon (and that's with time off to sit in the mister for a couple hours.) OMG, every batch smells so good! The basket holds more than the HE did, and I am able to adjust the water level to the size of the loads. The spin cycle drives out MUCH more water than the HE, which reduces drying time.  (Hmm, that's less energy use, isn't it?)

Now I have heard that the top-loader HE machines work much better, but they're fairly pricey, and I'm not willing to take that chance. I do know that the GE agitator model I bought is selling like hotcakes, and serendipitously, Home Depot had a sale on, so I was able to get the machine I wanted for less than I was willing to pay, and got a 4-year warranty for the price of a 2-year plan.

When the delivery man asked me if I wanted him to haul away the Bosch, I said, "I want you to take it out and shoot it somewhere."

I'm a happy little laundress tonight.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Surfing Time's Curl

In the evening sunlight, this year's red dragonfly perches on a bamboo stick over my Goliath tomato.

He doesn't worry about how many days he has left -- by the time winter gets here, he'll be toes up in some shrub, his life drifted away in some shallow respirations at the end of his mating season. He doesn't care. He lives, eats, flies, mates, eats, flies, lands on his stick to survey his kingdom. That's good enough for him.

I know that I don't have all that many years left (or days, truth be told) and I want to get to that dragonfly's mentality.

I don't want to worry about the future; that leads to broken sleep and miserable nights.

And in the time that remains, while the wave is still sweet and strong and carries me and my board to exhilarating speeds, I want to live, write, eat, write some more, play with the Press, and hold my newest grand-daughter. Then write some more.

Yet I see the ceiling of water hovering over me, and fret.

Lord, make for me a dragonfly heart.