Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

We can do better. We must do better.

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Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

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Sososososososohappy right now!


After 60+ hours without power we are back online. So happy about that, and feeling very appreciative of all the electricians and other workers who made it happen, and the first responders who kept us safe in the meantime.

We spent most of the storm sensibly safe indoors but if you’re interested in images of the derecho that affected almost half of this country’s population, check out these links:

The Weather Network – Schools close, local state of emergency declared after deadly weekend storm

The day after: Post-storm photos

#OnStorm – Twitter

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I’m thankful for the friends and neighbors who offered to help, and for now knowing how to use a generator and rebuild a fence. 

Aside from items like a BBQ, water heater that runs without electricity, and fireplace, I’d say the most valuable storm supply awards go to:

  • rechargeable power packs, 
  • long heavy-duty extension cords, 
  • shelf-stable snack and other foods, 
  • ice packs, 
  • good neighbors,
  • backlit e-readers and 
  • a good data plan. 

We also have a bunch of nightlight/emergency lights, the kind you leave plugged in but can also work as a flashlight. Those were invaluable (not least because our only real flashlight runs on (currently dead) C batteries which we don’t have). Our lantern crapped out on us, but pro tip: a flashlight under an opaque white container or lampshade works surprisingly well. 

The experience certainly gives me added appreciation for what’s “normal,” and the fact that we’re able to get back to it after just a couple of days.

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

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Still no grid power; we’re some of the 175,000+ people in the area who lost power during Saturday’s major storm. About 165k of us have yet to get it back. No standard internet, of course, and cell data is hard to come by as well (some day I will have enough data access for blog photos but that day is not today… or yesterday… or maybe tomorrow?). Trees, light posts and and power lines came down here, there and everywhere. We lost several major transmission towers and lines as well, which is complicating the recovery process.

And yet, life without (much) power continues. 

On the down side:

  • Opening the fridge and/or freezers has become a process in advanced risk assessment.
  • It’s Monday, and my internet-based, data-intensive day job is calling (not literally, because, you know, no power, but you get the picture). We’ll see what I can do here from the Land of Olde Time.
  • Mr Man is very tired of grinding coffee in a mortar and pestle. He is currently measuring the progress of civilization in terms of how long it takes to do simple (yet obviously critical) tasks like this one.
  • I reallllllllly wish I’d downloaded the next Murderbot book before all this happened. Note to self: stop putting things off, just in case. Also, keep your batteries charged and your backups up to date.
  • No estimated time for return to normality except that this will be “a multi-day process.” We’ve decided to remain optimistic, because why not.

On the plus side:

  • The city and power company folks are working very hard. Go them.
  • We’ve been talking about replacing that fence anyway, and its current level of horizontality is a persuasive argument on the side of yes.
  • A generous neighbor has a generator we’ve been able to use here and there, and hope to keep our food storage safe* and battery packs charged. 
  • We still have hot water, a BBQ, fireplace and our lives. Feeling very fortunate in that regard.

* To my brother with expertise in this area, I remember your warnings about spikes in food-borne illness after disasters. We’re being careful!

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This is a placeholder post to keep my daily streak alive, in case the very dramatic storm currently overhead cuts the power. Crazy wind! Giant raindrops! Emergency notifications! Flickering lights!

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Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

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My Day So Far

Photo by Louis Dupressoir on Unsplash

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Another Tuesday, another day when I am both inspired to reach dramatic new heights* and, after an intensive tour of the data mines, reduced to the mental status of a child. How appropriate, then, that today we have a Baby Yoda coloring book by the talented Martin Gee.

The Unofficial Baby Yoda Coloring Book


* A girl can dream.

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“You say you’re ‘depressed’ — all I see is resilience. You are allowed to feel messed up and inside out. It doesn’t mean you’re defective — it just means you’re human.”

― David Mitchell

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Photo by Jelle de Gier on Unsplash

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You may remember that I have a thing about Tuesdays. It’s work related and therefore largely unavoidable.

All sorts of ugh tends to accrue on the day, largely because it’s hard to feel groovy about taking out the trash or finding a big cobweb has somehow suddenly popped up on the living room light or whatever when your general attitude is no bueno.

Understandable. Still annoying.

Whatever, it’s fine, I’ve got this.

There are some nice things about Tuesdays, however. When the work day comes to a close I feel great. And sometimes I can share a bit of fun with you despite the day. Like this.

Tuesday Is Named For A One-handed God Named Tiu

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And yet I am still cranking away. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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We’ve reached the point where most people are aware that pollinators need help, that traditional grass lawns do little to support bees and other wildlife, add to pollution, waste water, and contribute to a host of other environmental problems. 

I have mentioned that I am not a big fan of grass lawns. We also know that Mrs. Mannerly (not her real name) down the street will give us stink eye if we don’t toe the weed-whacked, chemical-laced, 2-inch tall, monoculture turf line.

What’s the answer?

Partly, it’s changing what we grow, and we’re adding pollinator-friendly plants as much as we can. But until we’re ready to completely upend the lawn paradigm, we need better ways to deal with the grass we have.

And we’re hoping to bring our little corner of the world along for the ride.

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When Mr Man and I moved to this charming area a decade ago, a typical weekend was filled with the roar of lawn mowers. One fellow a few doors down sported a first-generation corded mower, but for the most part our new neighbors were all about gas.

Garage doors would open each Saturday morning to show off rows of gas-powered mowers, bright red gas canisters, leaf blowers and battle-hardened lawn trimmers. Our morning walks often required us to step gingerly around streams of spilled fuel and shout to be heard over the racket. 

No more.

Sure, that one neighbor with the riding mower still manages to spend a large proportion of his afternoon outside, but that might have more to do with his home life than his landscaping needs.

Otherwise, a remarkable sense of peace has taken over our street.

As new homeowners standing in front of the row of mowers at Home Depot, gas power did not appeal. We picked up a battery-powered unit that played well with our other power tools. The unit was light, easy to use, quick, quiet, cut well and, perhaps most impactfully, was a bright fluorescent green.

The neighbors noticed. The couple across the street watched us for months, then asked about it. It took time, but eventually they converted to an electric mower. Other neighbors on afternoon walks eyed us up as we mowed. Several years in we noticed another handful of neighbors had made the change as well. As minds changed the trend continued to spread.

Now a decade in, it’s hard to find a neighbor with a gas mower, and that’s terrific. 

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What’s the next challenge? Our neighbors still mow early and often. The good news is that the city lets our extensive network of road separators grow bumper crops of dandelions. Bright yellow carpets fill the streets (and feed the bees) for weeks. Still, private lawns account for a substantial amount of acreage* and could be key to turning the tide for bees and the rest of our unpaid pollinator workforce.

“When you run the numbers, it turns that almost anything is better than a grass lawn — except pavement.” 

Lawns are the No. 1 irrigated ‘crop’ in America. They need to die.

Take No Mow May. This movement started in Britain but quickly jumped the Pond to North America. 

What Is No Mow May | Better Homes & Gardens

No Mow May isn’t about laziness (although that is a side benefit); it’s about helping the bees.

Also laziness. Whatever works for you, no judgement!

No Mow May: 8 Reasons to Let Your Lawn Grow This Month – Bob VIla

When it comes to spring yard work, what if you could actually do more by doing less? By participating in No Mow May, you’ll spend less time, money, and energy on your lawn while helping to improve the planet.

I’m hoping that at least some of our neighbors will realize, as we have, that in the case of mowing, less is definitely more.

Why You May Not Want to Mow the Lawn This Weekend

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I hope our shift to an electric mower had some small local impact but it’s not just us, of course. The folks around the corner switched to a xeriscaped yard and posted signs about helping pollinators. The world is noticing that the pollinators need change and wants to help. The question is now less about “what” and more about how to do it in ways that work with the world we have.

So this year I’m supporting my local eco organizations, planting native flowers, and braving potential side-eye from Mrs. Mannerly across the street. 

Who knows? Next time I see her across my bee-filled yard, she might even smile.

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* For example, lawns can be counted as the single largest “crop” in the U.S. and are estimated to take up over 400 million acres in the U.S. And they don’t even taste good!

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Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

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