Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Happy Hallowe'en/Samhain from our house to yours.

A story worth noting

From today's New York Times:

Trained by Inmates, New Best Friends for Disabled Veterans


Insert exasperated sigh here

Part of our TV-free existence means that Oprah is no longer my afternoon guest. I do remain tangentially aware of The Oprah's activities, mostly through internet news articles. For the most part, I remain indifferent to The Oprah.

This article in today's Washington Post, however, raised my ire. Lisa de Moraes' snarky title, "Gee, Oprah. A thousand smackeroos. Thanks a bunch." pretty much says it all - about the pervasive entitlement mentality which appears to be spreading like a malignant tumor over our society.

Oprah gave each audience member a $1000 debit card, which is to be paid forward to the charity of their choice. The author of the article snarks about the "patronization of a woman whose financial worth has been put at $1.5 billion" and "the complacency of a woman who owns three homes."

Sorry, but Oprah doesn't owe anyone a damn thing. Oprah could very easily take her billions, drop out of public life, and live happily ever after without the tabloids cackling over every pound she gains or loses. I wonder how much Ms. de Moraes has contributed to charity this week.

Switching gears a little - I know what we would do with a $1000 debit card. It would go directly to the Mennonite Disaster Service. Gentle reader, how would you spend your $1000?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Maybe he wanted to go to Graceland

A manatee was spotted in the Mississippi River near downtown Memphis yesterday, far from his usual environs of the warm coastal waters from Alabama to South Carolina.

I think he just wanted to pay a little visit to The King.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What the ??????

Blogged for posterity:

20 October 2006, 14:02, Jefferson County, New York.

Same view, 30 minutes later.

And again, at 16:30, after I shovelled the driveway. Twice.

It has been precisely one week since Buffalo, NY was walloped with two feet of lake effect snow.

Whilst I have most of the requisite provisions for dealing with power outages, I am alarmed to note that we are out of wine and vodka at this time. Not good. Not good at all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eco-friendly dishwasher detergent

To my great embarrassment, it was only recently that I clued in to the environmental hazards posed by the phosphates in most dishwasher detergents. When the phosphorus returns to the water system, it acts as a fertilizer and promotes an algae bloom. The algae bloom, in turn, chokes out the rest of the life in the ecosystem.

In the Canadian Province of Manitoba, the leader of the Liberal Party is introducing a private member's bill to ban phosphates in dishwasher soap, as was done several years ago with regards to laundry detergent.

There are a few dishwasher detergents on the market which are low in or free from phosphates. Mrs. Meyer's liquid and Method Dish Cubes come to mind, but both are rather expensive and neither are readily available in my area.

Fortunately for me, and for the planet, an economical, efficient, and eco-friendly dishwashing powder can be assembled from basic ingredients which are already in my pantry and laundry room. Here's the recipe, courtesy of Lynn at The New Homemaker.

In a container with a tight fitting lid (like a recycled peanut butter jar) combine:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Baking Soda
1/4 cup table salt
2 packets of dye-free unsweetened Kool-Aid or 1/4 cup citric acid*
a few drops of tea tree oil and a few drops of a citrus-y essential oil**
Shake well.
Use 2-3 teaspoons per wash.
* I use Kool-Aid because I can get it cheap, cheap, cheap at the grocery store on Fort Drum. Citric acid is available at wine-making shops, of which we have none in this area.
** I am using Sweet Orange Oil as it was the cheapest essential oil at the local health food store. The Tea Tree oil is germicidal.

Apart from being phosphate free and economical, this powder is highly efficient and cleans my dishes as well as any commercial product I've tried.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Challenge of the day

Gentle readers, (at least, those who are optically challenged!)

How many old pairs of glasses are you holding on to? If you're like me, you probably have a couple of spare pairs just in case something happens to your current pair. And if you're like me, nothing catastrophic has happened to your spectacles since you lost your first pair 25 years ago and learned a valuable lesson in responsibility.

Those old glasses could be put to better use. The World Health Organization released the results of a study today, which indicates that glasses could help end the cycle of poverty for millions of people in low to middle income countries.

The Lion's Club collects old eyeglasses, cleans and repairs them, and re-distributes them to people in need.

My challenge of the day is for all 5 readers of this blog to gather up their old spectacles and bring them to the nearest eyeglass recycling centre.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pachyderm Anomie?

There was a fascinating and heartbreaking article in Sunday's New York Times about the breakdown of elephant society. Those who study the problem of Human-Elephant Conflict argue that "today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture."

The article is quite long, but worth reading.

How to disinfect the dining room floor

1. Decide to start quilting again after a one year hiatus.
2. Find a fun pattern.
3. Dig through stash to find suitable fabrics.
4. Gather supplies and get everything set up in the dining room.
5. Be interrupted by the cat who wants to come in out of the cool evening air and sit by your feet. Aw, how cute. Thanks, Gandalf!
6. Start cutting fabric again.
7. Be interrupted by strange crunching sounds coming from the vicinity of your feet.
8. Be horrified to realize that Gandalf is eating a mouse mere inches from your feet.
9. Notify husband that he is on rodent removal duty, effective immediately.
10. Gather rodent removal supplies - gloves and paper towels for the husband, a glass of Pinot Grigio for the freaked out hausfrau.
11. Note that only the mouse's liver remains by the time the supplies have been gathered.
12. Use entire bottle of bleach to disinfect dining room floor.
13. Have another glass of wine.
14. Order more de-worming medicine for the rodent murderer.
15. Be grateful that this time, Gandalf didn't kill a bunny.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's funny unless you live in Poland

Ananaova article offered without further comment because I'm laughing so hard:

Police hunt farting dissident

Monday, October 02, 2006

I thought I had become inured to this sort of thing

At the time of this writing, there is breaking news of a shooting at a one-room Amish school in Lancaster County, PA.

If an Amish school isn't safe, then what is?

What's worn under the kilt?

The answer to that question may well be revealed today, which is Kilt Day! (The classic answer is, of course, "Nothing is worn under the kilt. It's all in verra, verrra good condition!"

Alas, I am unable to wear my kilt today. Apparently, I was the size of a Keebler Elf when I acquired my kilt. I suspect that my 10 year old niece will soon be in possession of a lovely grey and wine-coloured kilt.