Tuesday, January 29, 2008

gDiapering the Woo: an essay in photos

Here is the gDiapers starter kit, displayed by the handsome Superman.

It includes 2 pants, 4 liners and 10 flushable inserts. Also a Handy User's Guide, which you will definitely need.

The test subject is prepped for gDiapering.

Lay the gDiaper out flat, with the 'g' in the back. (At this time there is no insert in the liner--I was trying to do too many things at once.)

Attach the velcro tabs, making sure to fit the elasticized inner liner VERY snugly into the crease between the test subject's legs and groin, so it will form a seal to keep the stuff in--otherwise you will get eversomany leaks.
A gDiapered baby!

When preparing the other pair of gpants for the next changing, make sure to tuck all the edges into the liner.

This is a cute little baby bottom.

I've used the gDiapers for a few days now, and I like them pretty well. The first day she leaked out of every diaper, but I called gDiapers the next morning , and the very polite woman told me to make sure to really get the liner tucked in snugly, which has helped immensely. No more leaks since then, even with a poopy diaper this morning--I just put her in a clean one, then dumped the poop in the toilet and tossed the insert. The learning curve is wicked steep, though, since putting on disposables is automatic for me, and I really have to concentrate when I'm doing this. I think that will improve over time, when I get more used to it. The little pants are like a backwards diaper--it's to keep little hands from pulling them off. Anyway, I like them enough that John is picking up the large case of refills for me when he goes to rehearsal. She looks so cute in the little pants, they don't leak if you make sure to put them on correctly, and they biodegrade so fast (I'm trusting them on this one). I would recommend them to anyone who is willing to take a fairly small loss in convenience for a substantial gain in earth lovin'. But I say again, wedge that elastic liner in good.

warm and costly

Weird weather we've been having. It's so warm that the cat water was water, and we have huge puddles in their customary places--surrounding the car and all across the driveway near the street. Emmett and Grant got new shoes recently, so it's important that they run through water and ruin them.

We've made some advances in Decorating on a Budget. We bought a couple of side tables and a rug from Ikea this past weekend, and our living room is starting to look a little more pulled together.

It's nothing great, but at least it's not ALL from the D.I. now.

The guy is coming to do our window measurements today, so they can start being made. I think I'm going to splurge and get crank-out awning windows on either side of the fireplace in the parlor. It's probably stupid, but I want both windows to be uninterrupted squares of glass, because it fits the house better. And John really wants windows that open, so we can create airflow for the swamp cooler. The windows in there now are sliders, and we can't even open them because there's a glass shelf in front of the window that we have to pull out to get to the latch to open the window.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

food in, poo out

Today's agenda includes two Chucking It topics: 1)gDiapers and 2)locavory

So, gDiapers. I have heard some crazy claims, not necessarily from gDiapers themselves, but from people who have tried them, including a savings of, just a minute . . . carry the 2 . . . well, $300 for a year of diapers instead of $3000. Whatever that is. Also they're supposed to be flushable, compostable (just the peed-in ones, because you can't put solid human waste--or any other carn- or omnivore feces--in compost), and if you do throw them in the trash, they biodegrade in 50-150 days, as opposed to when we're conquered by the intelligent machines. So we'll see what I think. I'm going to conduct some of my own experiments. I won't be able to test the composting time until the ground thaws, but I'll at least be able to see if they do a decent job of performing the functions of a diaper, and how much money I spend on them.

Now, about locavory. I read a couple of great essays recently, one in last week's issue of Time, and the Editor's Letter from last month's Cook's Country, that made me think. Both of them discussed the "eat local" movement, and the Time essay, for example, said that's fine for the folks in Iowa as long as they want to eat corn bread, creamed corn and corn on the cob for dinner, and follow it up with corn-flavored soy ice cream. Cook's Country said eating local is all well and good, but it doesn't mean you can't eat clementines for Christmas. And all this reminded me of the tendency I have to get fanatical about my causes, and start thinking that I've got to sew my own grocery bags out of old clothes, compost all our leftovers, grow a half-acre garden, drink only our milk, eat only our cheese, eat only food we grow . . . you get the picture. But really, my whole Chucking It movement is about making a good life for our family and getting rid of the noise that distracts me from truly important things. That's why we don't overschedule our kids, but it's also why we don't need to panic if we eat an avocado. Good food is good food. Now, I still believe in buying local to keep our local economy healthy, and because I don't want to have to buy peaches from somewhere else, when we've got perfection practically in our backyard. But we eat unusual things once in a while, and I'm certainly not going to give up eating lox just because it's not local, or salad greens because they don't grow in January.

So if the gDiapers work, great. I'll use them happily, because a diaper that biodegrades and saves me money is a good thing. But if for some reason they're terrible, then I'll go back to disposables without guilt. Likewise, I'll buy what I can from local farmers and fruit stands, and grow what I can in our garden, but I'm still going to spend a fair amount of our grocery budget on non-local foods.

Chucking It, if I could condense it into a manageable thought, is making the simplest and most logical choice that benefits the most people, and tossing anything else. Take the good, leave the bad. Push out the jive, bring in the love. Food in, poo out. Lots of ways to say the same thing.

*Edited: I am a big goober. The $300 cost was for cloth diapers, not gDiapers. gDiapers are actually a little more expensive than regular disposables. So now it's even more important that they work properly!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

q is for quiz

I'm a chocolate chip cookie, of course. Here's what they say about me (I had to correct a misspelled word):

You're sweet (but not too sweet) and you fill other people's lives with tasty bits of awesomeness. You're no perfectionist – in fact, you're a bit disorganized – but your friends find your easygoing personality irresistible. You're so popular and lovable that even when you're having a bad day, people still like having you around.

(Thanks for the link, Kellie!)

it tastes like burning

Recent adventures in Eschewing Convenience Foods and Cooking For Ourselves (even thought that's what we've always done, it sounds more dramatic when described thusly) include chili and french bread.

The chili was a vegetarian chili of exceeding hotness. I bought pasilla peppers and did this crazy thing that everyone's talking about (you know, in 1998)--broiling them in the oven! Then I skinned and diced them and foolishly added all three to the pot of chili. Now, insanity peppers they were not, and anyone with their chili merit badge would have handed us our rear ends in a paper sack, but it was too much for our baby mouths. The flavor was good, but both John and I had difficulty finishing ours, and the kids were repulsed. The leftovers went to the same place that all unloved leftovers go, so if you see one of our chickens exclaiming in dismay over the burning sensation left by laying an egg, you'll know why.

See how it's glowing and making that throbbing wouhm-wouhm-wouhm noise? That's the spent nuclear fuel rod I added towards the end.

The french bread was more successful. It wasn't complicated or time-consuming, but I suspect that's because I made a wussy recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I bet if I used a real recipe it would have me making a starter out of fairy wings and unicorn breath, which I would then have to put into the belly of a Fu Dog to proof until the moon was in the sign of Mercury. But my lazy-man's french bread turned out yummy anyway, and tonight we're going to make an awesome sandwich involving scrambled eggs and leftover pot roast.

Monday, January 21, 2008

in which I contemplate survival

Our ward held a class this weekend on purifying water, which I had to miss. I hope they'll do another one so I can learn something besides boiling the germs out, or covering a pool of urine with plastic, leaving it in the sun, and drinking the condensation. Note to self: do not get lost in the desert.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

you guys . . . I hit another deer

Well, to be fair, the deer hit me. Supporting evidence: the mirror that was knocked off the side of the Subaru in the tussle. I was doing, I am not lying to you, 20 mph because you know why, and the deer fully RAN INTO THE SIDE OF MY CAR. Good news is there are no dents, and the mirror just needs to be reattached. I can't see any carcass lying next to the road, so I think she probably got up and ran away. It reminds me of our late, great neighbor T.D. Hunsaker. He was over talking to John a couple of years ago, and related this story:

You commute to Salt Lake every day, huh? I drove to Hill (Air Force Base) every day for years, never had a wreck. One day somebody else drove? We hit a horse! Came through the windshield, cut my face all up, blood everywhere . . . friggin' thing got up and ran away!

He was an awesome guy. We miss him. He called Superman "you bald-headed thing."

Recently, John was in a conversation in which someone attempted to validate--and differentiate--the pageant with which she is involved by describing it as a "scholarship pageant." John had said he wasn't really a pageant kind of guy, and she said, "Oh, but [this pageant] is a scholarship pageant. These girls are just trying to get money to go to school. Their evening gowns are very modest, and their swimsuits are very modest." Wait, what? Don't most beauty pageants call themselves scholarship pageants? Also, good luck recouping your investment--even if you win. And I've never really gotten the cognitive leap from "you are the prettiest girl in this group of girls" to "here's some money to go to school." Couldn't we just as well say, "Dog, your teeth are sharp. Here's a pamphlet that says fur-bearing animals are permitted to shed in the summer." For reals. It's okay to reward people for being pretty and/or talented (usually just pretty anymore)--hey, pretty people are nice to look at. So are flowers. Just call it what it is.

In other news, I am going to murder my kitchen floor.

This part smells like a moldy plastic mouse foot.

It looks small, but it's like trying to wash cement off a sidewalk.

I cannot foresee a time in which I will not be scraping up tarpaper. The stuff I'm working on now is on a floor that was not only unfinished, but unsanded. Like, rough-cut boards with tarpaper glued to them. I'm pretty sure that the words I've been muttering under my breath are expletives in some undiscovered language.

Monday, January 14, 2008

what has two thumbs and no one who represents her political views?

I know that it's not polite to discuss politics, but I guess I'm not a very polite person. I'm trying to decide how to cast my vote on Super Tuesday, so I've been reading up on all the candidates and trying to sift any worthwhile content out of the doublespeak they all have on their websites. The different voices that are used to express their positions are really interesting--I'm sure a lot of research and work has gone into the way the issues are presented, and I wonder what, if any, effect it has on the vote. A good many of them seem to have been written for a junior high audience, and I'm having difficulty finding concrete descriptions of how any of the candidates expect to effect change. There's a lot of Citizen Kang-esque twirling-towards-freedom-speak going on. It sounds like no matter who wins, it's going to be costly--whether to socialize health care or build our army of killing robots. Also, John Edwards is the only one I've found so far who even pays lip service to the idea that the Patriot Act is abominable, and you know darn well that he won't do anything to change it. Show me a politician who refuses powers that his predecessor granted him, and I'll show you . . . a Jabberwocky or some other fool thing that doesn't exist. (Sorry I always link to the wik to defend my opinions, but it's usually at the top of the search page. Shut up, I'm lazy.)

When I sit down and list the things that I want in a presidential candidate, it starts looking awfully Pollyanna-ish, and I feel despair. Because I suspect that I will find someone who has the qualities I want right about the same time that we start having doughnut snow and hot chocolate rain. Here's what I'm feeling right now:

  • Edwards--despise the man, but he has such a desperate need to be liked that he may be fairly cooperative
  • Clinton--I don't question her ability to get things done, but I don't think I agree with her means to the end
  • Obama--such a new face that it's hard to say whether or not I agree with him
  • Romney--may do a decent job
  • McCain--meh
  • Thompson--reminds me of my grandpa, but I suspect that he's a lot meaner
  • Paul--I like the idea of a balanced budget, but he's a loony-tune
Let's take a minute to re-emphasize how much I loathe Mike Huckabee. This whole country bumpkin act of his is so offensive and insulting, and I hate 1)that he thinks we'll fall for it and 2)that so many people do. He is duplicitous and conniving and a snake oil salesman right down to his core, and a redneck to boot. The nonsense he's pulling with "oops, I didn't mean to say that" and "oh, that's not what I meant at all" and "I'm too honorable to use negative ads except for the ones that I'm going to show you right now" and he honestly sends me into a rage fugue with this Foghorn Leghorn crap.

Update: Ron Paul may hate the Patriot Act as much as I do, and that poor man has no prayer. I've given his stuff a cursory glance, and I think I agree with at least some of what he has to say--at least with what I think he's saying--but there's no way that he'll win. He has the stink of the crazy about him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

gonna dig me a hole . . . gonna put a lift tank to pump out the effluent in it . . .

Well, Ghetto Bathroom Phase 1 has begun. Our plumber came today and we discussed layout and need for other subcontractors, then he and his son got their tear-through-concrete machine and went to work. When they were done there was a good-sized "dinosaur trap," as they called it. It's so exciting! I'm hoping that the guy they recommended for the other work will be willing to build a furniture-style base for our marble vanity top, because that is not the kind of crazy that John and I are interested in buying. Imagine if you will the embarrassing monstrosity we would cobble together with his anal-retentive measuring and my impetuous refusal to learn from example.

That's the hole for the lift tank, since the bathroom is below the septic tank. You can also see John's feet, one of which is throbbing in pain from the ingrown toenail he had removed today by his brother Daniel, a superfabuloso podiatrist.

The goats are all super-furry in their winter coats and they still insist on pooping. It's frustrating to have all that fertilizer stacked knee-deep after such a short time, because we can't really use so much of it. Recurring topic #2: we need to fence in the pasture so they'll spread the wealth a little. Which leads to recurring topic #3: we need a dog to keep the goats where they're supposed to be. We don't need them wandering around the neighborhood jimmying car doors or anything. That reminds me--there was some random pygmy goat that got loose shortly before Christmas and was running all over the place trying to get hit by cars. Finally Animal Control caught him after he'd been out all night terrorizing everyone. Not that we got to read about it in the paper, which is a shame. We don't need to get all Promontory News on everybody, but I wish there were more details about what's been happening in the community, not just city council meetings. But I don't want the job of writing it, so I guess there you go.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

to discuss: potatoes, biodiversity, etsy

The other morning we were eating breakfast and discussing the mighty potato, raddest of starchy veg.

Layne: (something about loving potatoes)

John: Well, look what it did for Ireland!

Layne: The blight, you mean?

John: No, potatoes kept that country alive. Although, it does make the case for a diversified food supply.


I can't remember exactly how I said it, but here's the gist:

I know! It makes me think of those idiots who want to use cloned animals in the meat and dairy industries. I remember that piece I heard on NPR where they had a panel of people discussing the pros and cons of cloned animals. The woman representing the pro side was scoffing at a caller who had voiced concerns about treatment of the animals and potential for devastating disease--he referenced the hog cholera or hoof and mouth or I don't know what all epizootic they had in England in the last few years (what haven't they had to recall?). Anyway, the panelist condescendingly made the point that non-cloned animals aren't exactly running through grass pastures as it is, and they don't need to worry about a panzootic because . . . wait for it . . . they'll be careful to be really clean. That is basically what her argument boiled down to. I was practically screaming "BIODIVERSITY" at the radio, but they wouldn't listen. Now, I'm no scientician, and I would really like someone who knows better to explain to me where my reasoning is faulty, but couldn't an eighth grader with only the most rudimentary understanding of genetics tell us all that to have our meat and dairy industries supplied by clones is crazy stupid? And here's where I might be out in the weeds: in a typical animal population, when a disease hits, all of the animals don't always catch it, right? But that's because genetically each animal is unique, even if the differences are minuscule, right? So, doesn't that mean that if a disease were introduced to a cloned population that every single animal would get it? Because genetically they are not unique? They are all just copies of the exact same animal? And I don't know what they think they're going to change about animal handling and hygiene practices between now and Clonus: the Future that is going to keep disease out of their herds. Aren't these diseases already devastating enough, without guaranteeing that LITERALLY (used correctly, btw) every animal would succumb? Shut up, science!

A fun site to check out if you're looking for unique unnecessaries is Etsy. Just so you know.

winter chores at baba capra--an essay in photos

Here's what a morning of animal chores looks like at our house:

My alarm goes off at around 6:30 in the morning--I'm not sure what time exactly, because our clock radio is set for an undetermined number of minutes fast. It keeps us on our toes. I tried to get a picture, but was unsuccessful.

Then I go downstairs and wake up Captain America and The Hulk and tell Superman to go back to bed. He doesn't have any chores yet, so he wakes up nice and early.

Here's The Hulk. He responds to tickling and wakes up easily, but tends to remain in bed until he has missed both the Getting Ready Timer and the Chore Timer.

Here's Captain America. He is more resistant to tickling, but eventually succumbs, then usually gets ready fairly quickly.

We get all suited up in our chore togs, which can take anywhere from 2 minutes to (in The Hulk's case) 20 minutes or longer (hence the Getting Ready Timer). Then it's outside into the freezing mess, which is far preferable to the muddy mess of spring and fall.

This is the grain bin. We give the goats about 5 lbs. of grain each morning.

This is the haystack in the barn--known to most people as a garage. We give the goats 6-8 flakes of hay in the morning, then again in the afternoon. This is the new batch of hay we bought from my uncle Kenny, because ours was so pathetic.

Here are the ladies chowing down on their grain--you can see that Tilde has some in her hair.

Here's Cyclone eating his grain. We have to grain him separately because he can't fit his horns through the panels, and he shoves everyone else aside.

You can sort of see Captain America inside the chicken coop, getting ready to feed them. There aren't many eggs in the winter, because there's not enough light, and we like to give them a little break.

This is the cat's food and water dish--the water is frozen, and The Hulk hasn't fed him yet. The feral mama cat also eats the food, but it doesn't seem to have harmed Skiver.

As my dad says, he's almost as wide as he is long.

Here is the outside faucet, which is usually frozen in the winter, so . . .

. . . we take the water (empty dish soap) buckets inside and fill them in the sink.

Then we fill all the water containers that need it, and come inside to have breakfast.

Fascinating stuff, no? It doesn't take too long, but when it's 4 degrees outside I have to hurry and get ready before I think too much about it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

now comes the boring part of winter

This is the first post-Christmas week in which I have not felt guilty about all the unnecessary gewgaws we wasted our money on. We did it just right this year, I'd say. We got up and did chores, then ate a little bit of breakfast (we thought they probably needed some roughage in their tums to help insulate them against sugar shock), and then we opened presents. The boys each got a pair of cowboy boots (sigh), Grant and Emmett got art supplies, and they all got some mini cereal boxes. It was nice to have Christmas in our own house. John got me a clock radio that projects the time onto the wall, so now I don't have to roll halfway out of our rameumptom bed to see what time Ike has come wandering upstairs to ask us what color the lights are.

This month's project will be cleaning out the room downstairs so we can turn it into a Current Bathroom instead of a Future Bathroom. It's a little full.

In the foreground you can see the grody mattresses that John insists we keep.

I'm excited to have another bathroom to clean! Really, though, it will be good to have a spot so the boys don't have to make the long trek upstairs in the night to eliminate--or vomit, when it comes to that. Think of the barf trail on the stairs!