Category Archives: Housekeeping

Way to go, Facebook.

On Aug. 1, I am deleting my Facebook account.

I’ve considered ditching it in the past, but I stuck around because it was the easiest way to keep in touch with my former students. After what I’ve learned in the past few days, however, I feel morally obligated to boycott the company.

Scientists operate under ethical standards that require them to tell people what they’re getting themselves into before they start experimenting on them. Experiments can end badly, and people have a right to know the risks before they agree to participate. But Facebook apparently gives zero damns about ethics.

The company’s execs apparently decided they’d like to know what makes users happy or sad, so instead of taking a survey or inviting people to participate in a study, they subjected about 700,000 users to a psychological experiment without their knowledge or consent.

At the time Facebook pulled this stunt, I was going through one of the most difficult periods of my entire life: grieving the death of a former student, dealing with outrageous stress at work, and battling chronic migraines — all just two months after surfacing from the most profound depression of my life. No legitimate researcher would have deemed me a good candidate for a psychological experiment.

I know for fact some Facebook users at that time were in even darker places than I was. I know because some of them were my students, and they confided in me. Some days, the knowledge that they needed me was the only thing that motivated me to drag myself out of bed.

Conducting psychological experiments on any of those kids would have been nothing short of child abuse.

My former students are the reason I didn’t ditch Facebook a long time ago. They’re grown, but sometimes they still need Mama Bear. So for the rest of the month, I’m posting something each day, telling them where they can find me.

When July is over, so is my Facebook account, because while I can forgive many things, endangering my kids isn’t one of them.

If you just found your way over here from Facebook, welcome to the online extension of my living room. You’ll find a lot of hippie crap here: folk music videos, vegetarian recipes, eco-friendly ideas, the occasional political rant, and a lot of pictures of my bees, my garden and my road trips.

Comments are moderated, so they may take a little while to appear on the site, but feel free to post them.


Back to basics (and feeling awesome)

We closed on the House of the Lifted Lorax on Monday (congratulations to new owner Josh, who is way amped about the solar panels and the woodstove, and whose young niece is way amped about the Lorax mural on the side of the garage), which means we have just enough money in the bank to pay off our moving expenses and put a privacy fence around the backyard.

You can’t fully appreciate the value of a good fence until you’ve spent six months putting out a pair of hyperactive dogs on short cables umpteen times a day. Yeesh.

In addition to affording us the convenience of opening the back door and letting Song and Riggy take themselves out, this fence will free us up to establish a new beehive, adopt some chooks, install a pond, start a compost pile, and — if I’m feeling really ambitious — maybe set up a small warren of rabbits without interference from curious neighbors of either the two- or four-footed variety.

I put in an experimental, totally halfassed garden this spring and learned enough about my new yard to feel pretty confident taking my usual “Darwin Garden” approach: Coddle the tomatoes and leave everything else to natural selection. So far, I’ve determined that California poppies won’t do a damn thing; cucumbers, strawberries, arugula and most herbs will thrive with absolutely no attention; green beans should do well with minimal attention; and tomatoes should perform fairly well if we choose a variety that’s tolerant of partial shade and try to protect it from the local wildlife.

After meeting the new owner of the old house Monday and giving him some pointers on living the eco-hippie life to its fullest, I’m in full-on DIY mode, so this afternoon, I mixed up a batch of homemade laundry detergent and am currently trolling for dishwasher detergent recipes, since I’ve got plenty of washing soda and borax left over.

Also on the to-do list for this afternoon: Get a new set of shelves for the basement, join a gym, stock up on soup and chili ingredients, find the source of the smell coming from the kitchen drain, and work on the coupon books I’m making the kids for Christmas.

Life is good.


‘Scuse my dust

As I’ve moved out of Red Fork, my old blog header seemed a little out of date, so I’m making some adjustments. Bear with me; things will probably look weird around here while I’m test-driving themes and dinking around with widgets. I’m sure I’ll get tired of rearranging the furniture and settle into something in a day or two.


How I spent my day

Thanks to a winter storm, Ron and I had today off. Thanks to the same winter storm, we couldn’t leave the house, as my car (which was blocking our other vehicles in) was so thoroughly glazed with ice that I couldn’t open the door. The scraper was inside the car, so I couldn’t chisel it out, either.

Not to worry — I found plenty of ways to amuse myself.

Here is some of my handiwork:

The bedroom desperately needed to be decluttered, as you can see from the “before” pictures, but I just hadn’t been able to find the time to do it. Being trapped in the house all day, I had plenty of time on my hands for such pursuits. It sort of looks like a boutique with all that stuff hanging on the walls, but at least I can see what I have now, and I won’t have to go searching all over the house every time I need a scrunchie or a hairclip.

While the bedroom cleanup was probably the most useful and satisfying part of my day, it wasn’t the most entertaining. That honor goes to my KISS Army Gnomes:

I painted the Paul Stanley one last summer, but then I got so busy with school projects that I didn’t have time to finish the others.

In addition to decluttering the bedroom and painting lawn gnomes, I made lunch (omelets) and dinner (broccoli casserole with part of a leftover veggie tray from Braum’s on the side); cleaned the kitchen; cleaned the bathroom; and started a project that involves taking a picture of the backyard every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours. (I will be finished with this project at 9 a.m. and will post the results sometime thereafter.)

I have one more gnome left to paint. I’m thinking he might end up being Jerry Garcia’s doppelganger….


Busy Sunday

I had hoped to go horseback riding today, but the weather was icky, so I just stayed around here and got some work done. Lots of work, actually: I scrubbed the bathroom, bleached the shower, replaced the shower curtain, cleaned the fridge, and cleaned the kitchen counters — all before church — and then I worked in the nursery at church, attended a committee meeting afterward, cleaned the living room, cleared the table, took a nap, cuddled the cat, decluttered the car, washed and vacuumed the car, installed a new seatcover in the back, wrote nine lesson plans, uploaded them to my classroom blog, did a small project my principal had requested, and went out for dinner.

I have to finalize grades, go to the dentist, take the cat to the vet, write an article, and enlarge several pictures for a bulletin board tomorrow. If time allows, I might get out my watercolors and work on a painting project, too … but only after I’ve soaked in a bubble bath and spent an hour or two curled up in the Fortress of Solitude with a book and a decaf cappuccino.

Hope your weekend was productive, wherever you are.



I just spent the past 10 hours or so building a set of shelves for all my computer equipment and reorganizing my office. I knew it was a mess, but I hadn’t realized what an unmitigated disaster it truly was until I got into it. This room probably isn’t even 100 square feet, but I’ve got so much stuff crammed in here that I had to drag half of it out just to find a starting point. I’m exhausted, but it’s a much nicer workspace now. I wish I’d thought to take before-and-after pictures, because it was really a mess.

It still looks pretty cluttered, but that’s mostly because Walter’s new furniture is in here. I bought him a kitty jungle gym at Target last night. It’s cute, and he likes it, but it’s a lot bigger than I was expecting based on the size of the box. It’s made of PVC pipe and parachute material, with some nylon mesh here and there for climbing. It had two toys hanging off of it, but Walter pulled one of them off this morning and brought it into the bedroom so he could play with it and pester us at the same time.

This is a little thing, but I’m really excited about it: I finally tacked up the racing bibs I had lying around. I’ve been procrastinating on that forever, for no particular reason. I started hanging up my bibs a few years ago to cover up the prissy-looking wallpaper border that goes around the top of this room. They look kind of cool. I’ll try to take a picture of them when I get to the end of the first wall.

Hope you had a productive day.



It is raining in Red Fork — an early autumn storm that seeped into my shoes and soaked my socks with chilly water. Jason is asleep, and Walter is exploring the house, making frequent trips back to my lap for reassurance every time he hears thunder.

I have a stack of papers to grade, a house to clean, and no excuse to neglect either one. Should be a productive evening.



Longtime readers know what the title of this post means. I’ll explain it to the rest of y’all in a minute.

In the past two hours, I have changed Gertie’s litter; cleaned Hedwig’s cage; scooped out Walter’s litterbox; changed Pongo’s water; scrubbed the shower; decluttered the bathroom cabinet; replaced the bolts on the toilet seat; bleached the tea stains out of every drinking glass Ron has ever used (in other words, every plastic cup and Mason jar in the house); washed a load of delicates; sterilized all the canning jars I could cram into the dishwasher; cleared the counters; cleared the table; cleaned the stovetop; put the dogs out; taken out the trash; and checked my e-mail, all in an attempt to clear my to-do list so I can dive into my favorite summer tradition:


The bad news is that half our tomato plants died while I was in Atlanta. The good news is that I harvested a grocery bag full of ripe fruit off the withered vines … which means that a couple of hours hence, I will be listening to the satisfying plink of canning-jar lids sealing themselves as the jars cool down.

I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled Folk Thursday as soon as I finish. 🙂


Things I could do with my afternoon

Ron took my car to work because his car is too low-slung to get through deep snow, so unless I can coax Gretchen into starting on a cold afternoon (not likely), I’m stuck in the house. Here are some of the things I could do this afternoon:

1. Clean the chicks’ cage
2. Plan next week’s lessons
(Rest of list below the fold)
Continue reading Things I could do with my afternoon