Sunday, May 18, 2008

Heirloom, Schmeirloom

I had a bit (just a bit) of an argument last night with my daughter. I'm going to go help her put in her garden today (she's never done one), and she's being very political about it. She wanted to know where she could get heirloom tomato plants. I didn't know, and told her that when I bought heirloom tomatoes last summer at the farmers' market, they weren't very good, and she'd be better off just getting Celebrity or Big Boy plants somewhere (the old "tried and true" for me varieties). Oh dear. She said she'd been doing a lot of reading and doesn't want to contribute to Monsanto and other seed companies by buying their hybrid plants.

Oh to be young and idealistic! I can't even think about such things. Guilt guilt guilt. If I took the time to research every item of food I buy/eat, I'd probably starve. She's right, of course, but I feel like I've got to pick my battles, and garden tomato plants ain't one of the ones I'm feeling like fighting. Isn't just putting in a vegetable garden being "green" enough? I guess not. I'm kinda thinking that driving all over town looking for heirloom tomato plants is going to make a bigger carbon footprint than walking to a close grocery store and buying some Big Boy plants. Oh well. It's her garden, and I'm pleased that she wants my advice.

On the consumer front, I just got some audio books from It's pretty awesome -- downloaded them directly into my iTunes. One thing I don't like, though, is that I bought some credits from them for my brother for Christmas last year, and they automatically made me a subscription. I don't always pay close attention to my bank statement, but suddenly noticed that they'd been taking $15 a month from my account since Christmas. I don't think I ever consciously subscribed, but there it was. No e-mails, no nothing. Just $15 disappearing every month, which I thought was sort of sneaky and rude. It worked for them, though, because now I will probably continue the subscription. I'm taking a solo drive next week from Nebraska to Montana, and some audio books on my iPod will be nice company (and won't be making me stop for bathroom breaks).

Gardening update -- a few hous later

We put in one heirloom tomato plant (called "Green Zebra"), and three "normal" plants (a Celebrity, a Jetstar, and a Better Boy). We did get them from a garden center that was local, so that was the compromise.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cleanliness and Godliness

I'm a cleaning supply whore. I'll try anything once. So I thought maybe I'd list a few of my favorites -- things that I've tried, loved, and now won't be without.
  1. Webster. This is a bizarre tool that looks something like a big koosh ball on the end of a telescoping handle. The koosh ball part has some sort of electrostatic property that make cobwebs stick to it. We have a 100-year-old house with really high ceilings, and always have cobwebs, so this tool is a wonder.
  2. Swiffer duster. At the risk of sounding like a damned advertisement, this thing is everything it claims, including being "fun" to use.
  3. Glass Plus. I love clean windows, and hate streaks. Of all the glass cleaners on the market, this is the one that works best for me.
  4. Cloth diapers. Our youngest is now 23 years old, and I still have one or two diapers left. Nothing is better as a dust cloth/window cleaner. They're hard to find, though, but I've heard a rumor that you can get them at Shopko, so I may sally forth to find some. It seems weird to go buy dust rags, but you really have to try them before scoffing at me.
  5. Pledge Wood and Glass. This stuff is great for what-not shelves with glass doors, glass covered pictures with wood frames, etc. Actually gets the glass clean, and doesn't damage the wood. So, why don't I just use this instead of the aforementioned Glass Plus? It's expensive, so should be used sparingly.
  6. Kelso industrial dust mop. You can only get them at janitorial supply places, and they come in 1-foot, 2-foot, and 3-foot. We have a 1-foot. This thing is amazing! It pivots every which way, goes under things, is washable, and picks up and holds everything. If you have pets and hard floors, it's indispensible.
  7. Miracle brush. These were invented when I was a kid. You brush one direction to pick up stuff, and brush the other way to clean it. I have never found anything better for getting cat hair off of furniture, drapes, clothes, etc. They really are a "miracle."
  8. Tilex "Fresh Shower." I was skeptical of this stuff, but my dad used it. I just spray the shower curtain lightly after each shower, and I have never (after six years) had to clean the shower curtains. I'm allergic to mildew and am therefore paranoid about it (gives me hives), but haven't seen a trace of it since I started using this.

And now for a few things that simply aren't worth the money (in my opinion, of course):

  1. Any of the Swiffer-type damp mops. Give me a good sponge mop (emphasis on "good") and a bucket any day. My biggest complaint about these is that the sprayer thing never works very well. Maybe some day the manufacturers will improve that, but I'm not holding my breath.
  2. Antibacterial anything. I think these are why people are sick all the time and why there are so many antibiotic-resistant illnesses around. Trouble is, it's gotten really hard to find products that aren't antibacterial (dish soap, hand soap, etc.). I seek them out, though. If I really need to disinfect something, I use a little bleach in water.
  3. Any hand-held vacuum. They never have enough suction for anything. They look so tempting and terrific, but they never work.

I may edit this later, but I'm not coming up with any more "not worth the money" products to be curmudgeonly about.

Update on the yard sale front: Yesterday was our neighborhood cleanup, and the PTA at the elementary school was collecting items for a fundraising garage sale. We were able to take ALL of the stuff from our aborted sale to them, so hooray! We got rid of stuff!