Archive for September, 2009

Mouse-proofing and transportation-wrestling

Mouseproofed gas line Well, my big accomplishment this weekend was mouse-proofing our kitchen.  Can you believe they were squeezing in next to the gas line to our oven?  I didn’t know they were so flexible but judging by the amount of mouse poop present, that was their primary hangout.

I found a nice guide to rodent-proofing from the Orange County Vector Control District in California (thank you, Google!) and spent a little time peering in all my cabinets and behind appliances to see if there were any other potential openings but I think this was it.  I stuffed some steel wool in a couple of other holes just for good measure.  And then I spent a very long time cleaning up a mess I had been in denial about for, oh, awhile.

It gave me an excuse to try out Thieves’ Household Cleaner, a product given to me by a friend who sells essential oils.  I’m still a little torn on how much faith to put into herbal concoctions but I thought it worked reasonably well.  Allegedly, these are herbs that were used by gravediggers back in the day so they could rob corpses without fear of contracting disease.  I think it’s a fabulous legend, whether or not it’s true and whether or not the oils are really effective.  I’m sure they help some and I must say, I’d rather have my house smell like cloves and rosemary than bleach and fake pine.  And most anything is better than mouse poop.

Hopefully that will be the end of our rodent guests although we seem to have a fresh batch of ants coming to visit.  Ah, wildlife.  Can’t you just stay outside?  I guess it’s that winter weather, driving everyone to warmer refuges.  I am anxious to do some weatherproofing before it gets too cold but this weekend was rather rainy and it just didn’t seem like the right time to be out with a caulk gun.  Perhaps next weekend although I hope to get in some camping this fall.   Mmmm, cuddling up on cool nights with a warm bonfire!  This is the season where I feel most motivated to get outdoors and I want to take advantage of it.

Today I got outside and biked for three miles.  I’m proud of myself although I did run out of energy halfway up a big hill and ended up walking to the top.  Both my lungs and my legs need to become reacquainted with the bicycle.  My new office is only about a mile away from home (and it’s flat!) so that’s going to be my new commute once we move in next week.

We’re still wrestling with the no-car dilemma.  Even without one of Will’s super special spreadsheets it looks like we’re going to break down and be traditional Americans and buy a new (to us) car.  Neither of Will’s business partners have cars and they’re planning a bunch of client meetings this fall so it would really be buying one car for four people.

Well, maybe that’s just my thin excuse for being a car addict.  Cars are so darn convenient!  And I like to do so many different things in different places!  What I really need is to develop superhero biking abilities so I’d feel comfortable biking anywhere in Bloomington.  I just don’t think it’s going to happen fast enough and it still won’t help Will take clients out to lunch unless they enjoy riding on the handlebars…

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Autumn Calamities

Chewed Up Apple TreeIt might not be clear in this photograph but this is (was) an heirloom “Freedom” apple tree I planted early this spring from Trees of Antiquity.  I had it nicely fenced in and it had grown about four feet tall with a nice healthy crop of leaves.  Then a deer came by (I think), ripped down the fence, and devoured almost the whole tree.   *sigh*  I’ve  mostly resigned myself to living in a yard of fences and barriers but it’s really frustrating when I think I have it all under control and then the tiny tree that  I’m counting on to produce apples in five years gets destroyed overnight.  (Actually, it has produced a couple of tiny leaves so I think there might be hope yet; Nature is amazingly resilient.)  I’m debating what to do to protect our latest additions – three gooseberries, two black currants, two red currants, and four pawpaws from Brambleberry Farm.  Maybe I should electrify the whole yard…

We also had a very small calamity this month involving our Earth Machine composter.  The dog somehow managed to wrap her rope around it and popped it right off the pile.  This revealed an exciting new food source, much to our disgust.  (She’s on a diet right now and her standards have dropped pretty low even for a dog.)  The composter kit came with screws originally so I guess I need to break down and screw the darn thing into the ground.  It’s a pretty nice composter although I must confess I’ve been shirking my compost stirring duties so I think it will be awhile before we actually harvest any black gold (you know, the garden kind).

Our major disaster this month is that our beloved Mazda Protege has kicked the bucket.  Will bought the car in 2003, hoping it would last him through two years of graduate school.  It lasted over six years but this weekend all the coolant drained out of the engine, causing major damage.  We could spend $3000 to get the engine rebuilt but that’s how much Will paid for the car six years ago.  So we’re now weighing our options.  Is this a sign that we should go car-free?  Could we get by with a scooter, our bicycles, and the bus line? Look for a future post with spreadsheets and complicated formulas and columns of pros and cons (we love making decisions).

Speaking of future posts, our current plan is to write one treatise… er, post per week that analyzes a project or product or concept.  We want to be generating quality articles that will keep everyone interested and also be considered for publication in our local newspaper, the Herald Times.  Drop us a line if there are specific topics you’d like to hear about.  Next week we plan to post about weatherizing our house, which is our home improvement project for the weekend.  We’re also planning to tackle passive solar heating, rain barrels, an evaluation of our portable dishwasher, an experiment with shredding fall leaves for more effective mulch, and of course our discussion of what to do with our broken car.  Will is also still thinking about green investing and I am doing some fun gardening projects with my new job at Nature’s Crossroads.  What green topics are on your mind?

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