Gather ’round, people.

We got the news.

Admit that the waters around you have grown.

This is the best news I have heard in a long, long time. As the former sponsor of Daniel Webster High School’s first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance, I cannot begin to explain how happy I am today. This morning, my kids — ALL of my kids — can marry the one they love, and would-be theocrats have nothing to say about it.

Emily

Earth Day

I had a massage this morning and work this afternoon, but in between, I had just enough time to celebrate Earth Day by weeding the Darwin Garden, filling my raised beds with a mixture of compost and peat moss and getting my tomato seedlings into the ground.

Behold:

I'm really excited about these raised beds. Hopefully the tomatoes will like them.
I’m really excited about these raised beds. Hopefully the tomatoes will like them.
I still can't believe these fish survived the awful winter we had.
I still can’t believe these fish survived the awful winter we had.
Darwin Garden is going strong, with arugula already going to seed and chives, sage and strawberries blooming.
Darwin Garden is going strong, with arugula already going to seed and chives, sage and strawberries blooming.
The asparagus I planted last fall is coming up nicely. We'll leave it alone and let it get established this year.
The asparagus I planted last fall is coming up nicely. We’ll leave it alone and let it get established this year.

I’m utterly amazed by my goldfish. We got that early, intense cold snap in November, and the top of the pond froze solid before I had a chance to dip the fish out and bring them inside for the winter. The layer of ice was thick, and the severe cold spells were spaced just far enough apart that it never thawed. I remember reading something that said not to break up ice on a pond, as the vibrations harm the fish more than the cold weather, so I just left them alone and hoped for the best. Upon discovering they’d survived, I promptly named them Ted Williams and General Skaldak, in honor of two other guys who were famously frozen.

I’ll get the rest of the garden in the ground sometime this weekend.

Hope your Earth Day was good and you found something kind to do for the planet.

Emily

Yes, I’m alive.

Sorry I haven’t posted in forever. I’ve been adjusting to the new work schedule and working on a couple of pretty substantial projects.

OK, so “adjusting” is probably the wrong word. “Reveling in the glory of following my circadian rhythm” and “catching up the sleep deficit I ran up while trying to conform to society’s asinine ideas about how my sleep cycle should work for 10 years” are probably more accurate descriptions of what I’ve been doing for the past two months. You have no idea how much better I feel. I’ve set an alarm ONCE since mid-February, and that was only because I had a prior commitment I couldn’t duck out of.

In addition to catching up on a decade’s worth of lost sleep, I’ve been revising my novel for the umpty-seventh time and working like a madwoman to get ready for a Route 66 mural-painting project that starts this weekend and should wrap up in a couple of weeks. I’ll blog about it when it’s all finished, but if you want to see the work in progress, I’m probably going to live-tweet it. The biggest mural I’m planning — which will take up three walls in a garage — will feature trompe l’oeil paintings of neon signs that haven’t lit (and in some cases, haven’t existed) in decades. The technique I use to get the glow effect lends itself well to live-tweeting, as it goes from blurry mess to photorealistic painting in a series of steps that are so easy, you really have to see them to appreciate them.

Once you see the technique, you’ll be mad you didn’t think of it yourself, because it’s so simple, I’m pretty sure my 6-year-old niece could pull it off. (And she’ll probably get the opportunity in the not-too-distant future. Something tells me she and the boys would really enjoy a little foray into superrealism.)

Stay tuned. I’ll have a photo-heavy post for you in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter at @redforkhippie.

Emily

Eco-Saturday: Razor rant

This week’s Eco-Saturday is less a suggestion than a rant masquerading as a question:

Why are razor companies going out of their way to trash the environment as fast as they can go?

I would like very much to minimize the amount of trash we generate around here, and I’ve taken many steps to that effect, most of which I’ve shared on this blog. But I shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage on the house to accomplish that.

A package of eight cartridges designed to fit Gillette Sensor razors retails at $22.29; two packages of four disposable Sensor razors will set you back $14.78. The same dynamic holds true for women’s razors, albeit usually in a less dramatic fashion: $17.49 will buy you five Venus replacement cartridges or six whole disposable Venus razors.

WTF, Gillette? You can’t tell me it costs less to make a whole razor than it costs to make a razor cartridge. Not when the design is virtually identical, and the cartridges use less material.

I thought I’d found a workaround a while back, when I picked up a package containing a Bic razor and several refills at a reasonable price. Then I got the damned thing home, opened it up, and found out Bic does not sell refills independently of the razors, so you’re still tossing it out and buying a new one way more often than necessary.

I’m not keen on trashing the planet or rewarding companies for implementing a price structure that actively discourages environmentally responsible behavior, so I did a little online research to see what it would take to tell Gillette to kiss my arse.

The answer?

About $30. That’s what it costs for an old-fashioned safety razor and a pack of five blades.

At worst, if I can’t figure out a safe way to recycle them, I’ll be throwing out one very small piece of metal every couple of weeks. Contrast that with the Bic semi-disposable I’ve been using lately:

razor

No contest — especially when I can buy 100 replacement blades for $9, and they come wrapped in tiny slips of paper I can toss in the recycler when I’m done.

I’ll try to remember to do an update once it comes in and I get a chance to use it and determine whether it’s as good a product as I’m hoping it will be.

Emily

P.S.: Here are days 12-18 of my Lent project:

I bought this for my classroom library when I taught. For some reason, I brought it home instead of giving it to another teacher. S.E. Hinton needs to be on a classroom shelf for a kid to enjoy, not languishing in a former English teacher's living room, so into the box "Rumble Fish" goes.
I bought this for my classroom library when I taught. For some reason, I brought it home instead of giving it to another teacher. S.E. Hinton needs to be on a classroom shelf for a kid to enjoy, not languishing in a former English teacher’s living room, so into the box “Rumble Fish” goes.
What is it with me and picture frames? I have no idea when or why I bought this one, but I think it's moved with me twice and still hasn't found its way out of the shrinkwrap.
What is it with me and picture frames? I have no idea when or why I bought this one, but I think it’s moved with me twice and still hasn’t found its way out of the shrinkwrap.
Cute shirt. I haven't worn it in years. I don't remember why, but I'm guessing I didn't like the fit.
Cute shirt. I haven’t worn it in years. I don’t remember why, but I’m guessing I didn’t like the fit.
Love this shirt. Too bad it's two sizes too small. Bye.
Love this shirt. Too bad it’s two sizes too small. Bye.
I have a picture somewhere of myself wearing this shirt at a festival in 2002. Or as I call it, "30 pounds ago."
I have a picture somewhere of myself wearing this shirt at a festival in 2002. Or as I call it, “30 pounds ago.”
I meant to leave this at our old house so the buyer could take advantage of the woodstove, but I forgot. I'll either ship it to him or give it to Mom.
I meant to leave this at our old house so the buyer could take advantage of the woodstove, but I forgot. I’ll either ship it to him or give it to Mom.
I think I bought this when I didn't own any pans with lids that fit right. Don't ask me why I thought that made more sense than buying a damn lid.
I think I bought this when I didn’t own any pans with lids that fit right. Don’t ask me why I thought that made more sense than buying a damn lid.

Eco-Saturday: Grow your own vegetables

Note to subscribers: You may have gotten a notice early this morning about a password-protected post. Ignore it; I’m just using that post as a parking place for materials related to a mural project I’m doing this spring.

I’d grow a garden even if I didn’t care about the environment, because storebought tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs simply don’t taste as good as heirloom varieties harvested half an hour before the salad goes on the table. The fact that organic gardening is better for the planet is just a bonus.

From an environmental standpoint, homegrown vegetables eliminate three sources of waste: transportation, packaging and pesticides. From an economic standpoint, they also conserve cash, as produce from the grocery store tends to get rather expensive.

Thanks to a little advance planning, all I had to buy for this year's garden was a couple of bags of potting soil and some heirloom seeds I wanted to try.
Thanks to a little advance planning, all I had to buy for this year’s garden was a couple of bags of potting soil and some heirloom seeds I wanted to try.

If you’re planning to grow tomatoes, peppers or other plants that require a little coddling to germinate, now is the time to start them. A few tips:

1. Use decent-sized pots. Peat pellets are convenient, but they’re also worthless; your plants will get rootbound and require repotting within a couple of weeks. Save yourself the hassle by starting the seeds in bigger containers to start with. Tin cans, yogurt cups and old disposable coffee cups all work well for this purpose, or you can recycle newspaper into biodegradable seed-starting cups.

2. Give them plenty of light. If you don’t have big south-facing windows, invest in a mini-greenhouse and as many growlights as you can afford. I gave $16 for a mini-greenhouse last year, and I spent another $75 or so on six small growlight fixtures, which I connected to a power strip and plugged into a timer to simulate night and day for the plants.

Less than $100 gave me a nice planting shelf that provides light, warmth and humidity for seedlings. If I were starting peppers, I'd add a heat mat to one of the shelves..
Less than $100 gave me a nice planting shelf that provides light, warmth and humidity for seedlings. If I were starting peppers, I’d add a heat mat to one of the shelves.

3. Don’t drown them. The soil should feel damp but not wet. Too much moisture can rot young plants at the root.

I recycled a plastic shoebox into a worm bin. When the worms outgrew it, I used it to corral old malt syrup cans full of potting soil.
I recycled a plastic shoebox into a worm bin. When the worms outgrew it, I used it to corral old malt syrup cans full of potting soil.

4. Find your planting zone, and DO NOT plant vegetables outside before the last frost date, or you’ll regret it.

5. Buy interesting heirloom varieties that are suited to your area. My favorite sources for heirloom seeds are Baker Creek and Seed Savers Exchange. Save seeds from the plants that grow well, and you can replant next year without having to buy more.

What are you planting this year?

Emily

P.S.: Here’s Day 11 of my Lent project:

I like bajas, but I have way more of them than I need, and for some reason, this one makes me itchy.
I like bajas, but I have way more of them than I need, and for some reason, this one makes me itchy.

Sustainability on a shoestring

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