July 30, 2011


leaf cam

The tropical storm missed us. We had one cooler morning with a little spindrift cloud cover before the thermometer climbed back to 100. Rain is becoming mythical here.

July 26, 2011

July 24, 2011


The Heritage Foundation seems to be making the argument that 70 or 80 years ago most or all of these things were luxuries, so the poor aren't poor. Or something. I'm more struck by the number of people among us who don't have these things - if you read the Foundation's numbers backwards the chart doesn't really bolster their argument. I was surprised to learn, for example, that 70 percent of the poor in America don't have an internet connection.

Stove and oven
Air conditioning
At least one VCR
More than one television
At least one DVD player
Cable or satellite television
Clothes washer
Cordless telephone
Cellular phone
Clothes dryer
Ceiling fans
Non-portable stereo
Coffee maker
Personal computer
Answering machine [my phone plan includes voice mail]
More than two televisions
Internet service
Video game system
Computer printer
More than one VCR
Separate freezer
More than one DVD player
Big-screen television
More than one refrigerator
Photocopier [our printer includes a scanner]

(The Foundation seems to have skipped over car ownership costs, but maybe they're saving that for another study.)

I've crossed off the stuff we don't have. Seems to me a couple of the items don't really belong on the list anymore - VCRs, for example, are obsolete, as are cordless phones and answering machines.

I'm a fan of sustainability and simple living, but mostly in the abstract; I fantasize about having so few possessions that I can strap everything I own to the back of a bicycle and relocate at will. I'd love to pare down to a list such as the 10 essentials by mnmlist. But I'm a suburban householder, and I've accumulated some baggage. (My personal "ten essentials" would be half-filled with items from the above list: refrigerator, stove and oven, air conditioning, clothes washer and dryer, and cell phone. I suppose I could pare it down more by going to the laundromat or washing my clothes in the sink. And I could trade a cellphone for an internet connection and a wifi device. I text and e-mail more often than I talk.)

I can't really see doing away with the refrigerator or the stove, and getting rid of any of another half-dozen items on the list might cause considerable household friction. But it's interesting to see how much stuff on the list is simply for entertainment, and I wonder if it wouldn't be good to pare those items down. It'd be like living in the 30s without all the household drudgery.

I'm guessing that most of the world's population still sees most everything on the list as luxuries, and I can envision a time where none of us have any of these things. Someday we might be making lists of essentials that only include things like clean water or adequate food. But I think the Heritage Foundation is overlooking the real plight of poverty - choosing between the transmission and the cable, paying for health care, fuel, transportation, etc.

We don't have a jacuzzi, but we do have a blue plastic swimming pool for the dogs. I suppose cable would be the next easiest thing to cross off the list. I could live without the video game system (I've only ever used it to get to Netflix - I haven't actually played a video game since Centipede).

Meanwhile, back in the real world...


amy and aries

July 21, 2011

whatcha reading xix

The holes were already dug, and they set to work. Winterborne's fingers were endowed with a gentle conjuror's touch in spreading the roots of each little tree, resulting in a sort of caress, under which the delicate fibres all laid themselves out in their proper directions for growth. He put most of these roots towards the south-west; for, he said, in forty years' time, when some great gale is blowing from that quarter, the trees will require the strongest holdfast on that side to stand against it and not fall.

"How they sigh directly we put 'em upright, though while they are lying down they don't sigh at all," said Marty.

"Do they?" said Giles. "I've never noticed it."

She erected one of the young pines into its hole, and held up her finger; the soft musical breathing instantly set in, which was not to cease night or day till the grown tree should be felled--probably long after the two planters should be felled themselves.

"It seems to me," the girl continued, "as if they sigh because they are very sorry to begin life in earnest--just as we be."

"Just as we be?" He looked critically at her. "You ought not to feel like that, Marty."

Her only reply was turning to take up the next tree; and they planted on through a great part of the day, almost without another word.

- The Woodlanders, Thomas Hardy

best seat in the garden

chansons not so innocentes

July 19, 2011

thirsty squirrel

Clouds and a little thunder today, but still no rain.

July 18, 2011

fare y'all well

Vicki is moving to Colorado today, and Rebecca, Francois and Thomas are leaving for a year in France tomorrow. We gathered at Bren's mom's house for leave-taking yesterday afternoon.

July 16, 2011

amy's dresser

lol that's real hair

*my* pillow

Fergus has lost several toenails over the past couple weeks. The docs think it's an auto-immune thing. Poor little dude. First his eyes, then his teeth, now his nails. Next, what, his hair? But he just keeps soldiering on, spirit intact.

July 14, 2011

July 13, 2011

July 10, 2011


eve's necklace

pecan shade

Ondine's favorite resting spot along the trail. (I like the Ruffwear harness better than all the other collars and harnesses we've tried, but it doesn't help with her car issues. We're still working on that.)


July 9, 2011

July 8, 2011

garden camping vi

I bought a Cocoon silk sleeping bag liner and an Exped utility mat and tried them out last night. I bought the mat with the notion of using it to protect the tent floor from the dogs' nails, but I used it alone last night to see if it would work as a sleeping pad. Turns out it's a bit thin for that. The liner is nice - good stand-in for a bag on a hot night.

Nice morning - woke to chimney swallows and cardinals.

July 6, 2011

evening brought a breeze

and our trees whispered, "look up"

July 4, 2011

July 2, 2011