Monday, October 5, 2015

End of Harvest

Gardens are cleaned up and ready for the first frost.  That usually happens around October 1st in my area but the extended forecast doesn't show a single low near freezing, not even below 40F, which makes for a nice long autumn, but as always, makes me say "Climate Change" and wonder just what that will mean for us.  I hope you all enjoyed that finely crafted run-on sentence.

Cold frame has swiss chard, spinach, and a tiny bit of buttercrunch lettuce coming up.  The lettuce did not germinate well this year.  The seed packet IS 3 years old.  Time to invest in "fresher" seed for next year, I suppose, and sow more heavily.  Haven't had to get the lid down to cover the cold frame yet with our warmer than normal temps.

My herbs in the front yard are still producing, but slowing down.  They like heat and while it's been warmer than average, it's not been HOT.  I have enough dried oregano and thyme to last through the winter, but I'll run out of lemon verbena soon enough.  Next year, I'll plant lemon balm instead, as it is a perennial in my region and has the same scent.

The tomatoes did well in containers until mid-August when they gave up all at once.  A bit of blight, ran out of room in the 2 foot deep pots, and I just couldn't fertilize them enough for the size they were.  Next year, those will go into a new bed on the south side of our garage so they have plenty of room for their roots to grow. 

I think I have enough green beans frozen and in jars to last us until they start growing again next summer.  Some bug kept eating the seedlings as they emerged, so I had to keep replanting them.  This resulted in me having 6 weeks of harvest off of bush bean plants.  Next year, because our gardens are smaller, I'm going to buy some pole bean seeds to use space more efficiently.

Also need to make more wire cages for stand alone plants.  The rabbit and squirrel population in our neighborhood is out of control.  We have a couple families of hawks, and a coyote in the area, but clearly, not enough predators to protect my plants.  Artificial means are necessary.  At least I don't have to contend with a suburban deer herd like I did at our old house.  There, I used electric fencing to keep deer and woodchucks/groundhogs out of my gardens. 

I'm ready for the snow to start flying and the seed catalogs to arrive.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September in the City Garden

There is just not a lot going on in my gardens right now.  Still cutting herbs and drying them.  Still getting eggplants and peppers.  The tomatoes had an abrupt end when they got late blight on them.  Major bummer. 

Most of my work the past few weeks has been drying, freezing and canning the harvest.
In the make-shift root cellar

  I usually have twice as many jars of canned goodness.  Going from a large sunny yard with over a dozen raised beds, 4 which were 4 by 20 feet, to a mostly shady backyard and a smallish front garden has simply made for a smaller yield.  Next year, I'll till up a 4 by 20 foot sunny patch on the south side of my garage.  Yep, I'm already planning next year's garden...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Use Glass, Not Plastic

Some of the non-plastic ware we use.
I'm still in the process of not using plastic for food storage in my house.  I have a case of plastic water bottles in my basement pantry for emergency use, plastic sandwich containers, and saved take-out, peanut butter jars, and other random plastic food containers.  However, most of the time, leftover food goes into glass containers that I have collected.

There have been too many news stories about chemicals leeching into food from heated plastic for me to still be comfortable with using those containers on a regular basis.  And like anything with a coating, once it gets scratched or damaged, even MORE of the questionable chemicals can get into your food, which is why hot leftovers go into glassware.

Buying a set of glass containers can run you $15-20, easily and if you have kids taking their lunches to school, you definitely don't want those containers being tossed into the garbage by accident.  Even the most responsible kids mess up and throw away things they shouldn't (retainers, anyone?).  My youngest still uses the plastic for lunches, but she's bringing sandwiches and other "cold" items.

Mason jars work great for storing leftovers in the fridge.  Old pickle jars are good for large soup quantities.  If you freeze them, make sure there is plenty of headspace because cleaning out shards of glass and semi-frozen soup out of your freezer does not make for a good time.

When I buy food in plastic containers (which does happen), I try reusing those containers.  Large peanut butter jars have housed cookies for people at Christmas.  Smaller, tallish, plastic containers hold my paintbrushes, buttons, and other crafty items.   Instead of buying brand new containers for loose rice, pastas, lentils, and legumes, I keep those in labeled reused plastic containers.

side note:  This is called REUSING, not RECYCLING.  Big pet peeve is people saying they "recycled" something like a spaghetti sauce jar into a button container.  That is REUSING. 

I know I've left out so many more re-uses of items and so many more options for inexpensive glass containers.  Let me know yours in the comments, I'd love to know.


Monday, July 6, 2015

I Hate Air Conditioning

The couch is a bit higher than the window, so I added a book to lift the fan.
Temperatures are set to be in the upper 80s today, with heat indexes in the 90s, before dropping into the 70s for the rest of the week and I won't be turning on my air-conditioning.  People who have never visited Wisconsin in the summer, seem to think it doesn't get hot here.  Wrong.  90s and humid is not unusual in the summer.  And I work outside where it's hot.  And muggy. 

Maybe it's because I lived outside of DC until 4th grade, in a house with no air-conditioning where heat waves in the 100s were not unusual.  I remember my southern mother scoffing at the fact our next house in Wisconsin had central air and neighbors were using it when it was 78 degrees outside.  She did not think much of people using the air conditioning unless the temps were near 90F or they had babies or elderly people in their homes.

I do remember that I could always handle more heat an humidity than most people.  Apparently, if you rarely use AC, your body becomes more efficient at cooling itself and less affected by higher temps.  Doing what your body is designed to do. 

I open all the windows and doors early in the morning and add fans.  Opening the windows on the second floor allows the heat to escape and cooler air sweeps in.  As the temps outside creep higher than those inside, I shut windows and drapes.   I don't bake or cook during the day.  A quick sponge bath or shower in the middle of the afternoon goes a long way to comfort on extremely hot days.

We cook outdoors on hot days on the grill or the grill's burner to not heat up the kitchen.  Meals are much lighter and more vegetable based, as well.  No one wants a heavy meal when it's hot.  We up our intake of water.  We slow down.  

In the evening, windows are opened and a fan upstairs blows hot air out a window so that cool air gets sucked in, cooling down the house.  A quick shower before bed makes sleeping comfortable-especially under a ceiling fan (we have them in all of our rooms and the kitchen.

In late August, if we get a heat wave, I will sometimes turn on the AC at night ONLY because I suffer from ragweed allergies and would prefer to sleep through the night and not be up sneezing all night. 

We also have an unfinished basement that the kids will hang out in on hot days, playing board games, video games, or watching TV. 

If we could all just get past the need to have a perfectly controlled climate at all time, our budgets and bodies would be healthier. 








Sunday, July 5, 2015

Peas and Beans

I started picking peas a few weeks ago.  Because I planted new ones for 3 weeks, I'm still harvesting peas, but half of the vines are yellowing, so that season is about over.  Luckily, the green beans have started to really come in.  Tomorrow, I should be able to blanch and freeze some.

But tonight, tonight I will toss peas into pasta, eat slices of baguette with pesto, and dig into some buttered steamed beans. Love the first harvests.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Knitted Coasters







I came up with the idea of knitting coasters about 4 years ago when I taught myself how to knit.  my coffee sits on one every morning and my water glasses sit on them all day long.  Because it is humid here in the summer, the condensation on the glasses will drip onto regular coasters and make them stick to the glass.  I like that these coasters soak up the moisture.  Yes, they get wet, but they dry quickly and don't leave a puddle of water behind.

I use cheap-o yarn or FREE yarn for these and #8 needles.

Cast on 20 stitches.
K5, P5, K5, P5 for Rows 1-4
P5, K5, P5, K5 for Rows 5-9
repeat for 5 total sections
Cast off.

This will not give you a perfect square, but I don't care.  After a few uses, the basket-weave pattern will flatten out.

This is a coaster that I just finished.  You could dampen it and iron it if you want it flat sooner.

Added bonus: These are washable.  The white comes clean easily in the wash.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rambling Simple Living Post

First peas of the season are like candy
Yesterday, I began my search for a place to volunteer in my community.  I spent a few hours in the morning in a preschool classroom, a place I am familiar with as it's what I went to school for and an environment that I have worked in on and off for 20 years. I think I can safely say, I no longer want to teach in a classroom.  I'll stick with my piano students.  Next up I will try a local food pantry.

Spending time in the classroom was valuable in that once I returned home, I was newly grateful for this simple urban gardening/sustainable life that I have carved out for myself, and could cross one thing off of my list.  I make almost all of our food from scratch.  I grow most of our summer and fall produce.   And most of the decorative items in my home have been made, sewn, or painted by me.  I LIKE making homemade laundry detergent and hanging that laundry on lines to dry.  I have time to walk or bike where I need to go.

 I know that having most of my days to do as I like is a luxury that most people do not have.  I am grateful every day that I have time for creative pursuits and can sink into a sustainable lifestyle without worrying about how much money I am making.  My husband spends his days in an academic setting at a university working in the environmental field and we are frugal which has allowed me to only work part-time for money.

We've been able to afford living on one income for one major reason: We don't subscribe to the American culture of buying more.

We have owned four homes in our 23 years of marriage.  All have been what realtors consider "starter homes".  While our income has gone up (and down), our mortgage has stayed about the same.  That extra money has mostly gone to pay for travel all over the US and a few places abroad.  Our latest move was a downsize as two of our three daughters are now in college, we don't need the space, and we wanted to be able to help pay for some of their college expenses.

I don't dye my hair or get expensive haircuts.  I have long medium/dark blond hair and so far the bits of gray are only noticeable to me.  Because my hair is long, I don't have a "style" to maintain.  My daughters also have long hair, don't use product or heat to style their hair, and never have split ends.  Make-up is rarely worn by any of us, though I have worn moisturizer every day since I was fifteen. 

Lots of people think I'm cheap.  I prefer "frugal" or "choosy about where I spend my money".  I'd rather travel than have a large new house with a pool and granite countertops.  Those homes are beautiful, but that is not where my priorities lie.  At one point, we thought about buying a vacation home in the country, but I don't want to be tied to one place to visit on weekends. I have commitment issues to places.

You don't have to live in the country with chickens and goats to live simply and sustainably.  You can do it in the city, too.  Sustainable simple living, simply looks different in the city.  But it is still rewarding.  If you like that sort of thing...






Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Exchange Student Visit


The girls taking pictures at the botanical gardens.


We are hosting a French teenage girl in our home for the next month.  My oldest daughter spent time in Paris with her high school class a few years ago and her french brother came to visit us a few months later so this is not a new experience.  However, the duration is longer. She and our youngest daughter are sharing a room and seem to be getting along nicely. 

Apparently, the exchange students were told that Americans eat a lot of hamburgers and pizza (true) and very little fruit or vegetables (also true).  However, in THIS house, we eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, not a lot of meat, and mostly homemade pizza.  Because we live in a bike friendly city with mass transit, we don't drive as much like most Americans.  So she will go home with a slightly different opinion of Americans.  I hope. 

Already, we have biked places and taken the bus. Her response to every new activity? "Very cool!"  At a neighborhood music festival on Saturday (which we biked to), we ran into a friend's sister who is a French teach in Montreal.  So the assumption that Americans do not speak other languages, got blown (though that's a safe assumption). I speak French, badly, as do two of my daughters (less badly).  My husband and another daughter speak Spanish. 

Touring my gardens, she was happy to see all of the vegetables and I was happy to know most of their French names.  We had to google the french word for summer squash: courges d'ete. She hasn't had that before so I'll have to make sure we find some before she leaves.  I'm not sure mine will be ready.

We are looking forward to showing her more of our city and state and experiencing it as a nonnative.  It is wonderful to see the place that you live through fresh eyes. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

I've spent the better part of the past week, weeding my vegetable and flower gardens.  The large maple trees in my yard really want new saplings!  Thankfully, the seeds are finally done dropping.

Harvested some herbs and hung them on pegs in my kitchen.  Today, I'll finish drying them in a 200 degree oven.  Last year, having a new garden, meant very little got dried, frozen or canned from my gardens.  This year, I should have lots to store.  August-October should be a busy harvesting time for me.  I'm looking forward to freezing and canning lots of green beans, squash, tomatoes, and salsa. 

This year, I planted more peas than I ever have.  My youngest daughter eats them out of the garden before the rest of us can get to them.  It is my hope that I can get at least one meal out of the extra before she eats them all.  Not a bad problem to have at all.

My salad greens that I planted in the cold frame in February and March are just about done.  I think we will have 1-2 more dinners with a green salad before the heat makes them bolt.  All that is left is the buttercrunch lettuce.  The spinach bolted a few weeks ago and the rainbow chard was done last week.  I planted more spinach and lettuce under the bush beans and in about 2 weeks, I'll have salad again.  I'm hoping that the beans will shade the greens and put off the heat making them bolt.



Monday, June 1, 2015

The Garden Is My Happy Place

Cold frame is a raised bed in the growing season.

I've been dealing with a lot of uncertainty since February and my husband's impending job loss/restructuring due to our proposed state budget.  Sadly, his department did not have funding restored.  He is probably not out of a job, but pay and job title will most-likely change.  Two kids in college and me working just part-time make me nervous and pissed off.  I'd like to be all zen about it, but I'm not there yet.  At times I feel like my city is Berlin, surrounded by idiot East Germans.

Anyway...

The garden always cheers me up.  I love being able to turn a boring yard into a beautiful one and create a sanctuary where there was once none.  I have 8-10" of topsoil in my yard!  That's incredible!  Everything seems to be doing so well that I planted last summer.  Last fall, I added deep mulched beds to the borders of the backyard.  Now they are filled with berry bushes, fast-growing shrubs, hostas, an apple tree, and lots of perennials, courtesy of my mom.  The backyard is beginning to come together.

We built a large, 9 foot tall by 8 foot wide trellis to add some privacy, but also as a place to grow hops, which my husband uses when he brews beer.  I planted rhizomes about a month ago and thought they had rotted or not taken but 2 days ago, I found tiny little buds emerging from the ground.  Success!

The picture above is of my cold frame.  The plants are from seeds planted in February, which due to the colder than normal winter, took awhile to sprout, even with protection.  The spinach has gone to seed but the lettuce is still doing well, the carrots are growing, and the peas are flowering.  I'll replant this 4x8 foot bed in late July so that we'll have salad greens and carrots this fall and winter.

I like to create things.  Sometimes it's on canvas, sometimes in the kitchen, but mostly I like to plant, and tend, and grow.  I'm a nurturer by nature and that is a necessary trait for a gardener.  Knowing that the work I put into my gardens in the spring will turn into food that goes into my family's bellies in the fall is rewarding.

So even as I look toward an uncertain financial future, I know that I can keep my family fed on healthy organic fruits and vegetables for little cost.  That more than makes up for my small salary, I think. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Homemade Breads

Deliciousness
I make a lot of my own breads from scratch: scones, biscuits, pizza crusts, loaves, cinnamon rolls, etc. I also do it without a breadmaker or large KitchenAid-type mixer because I like being able to control as much of the process as possible.

Today, I made the cinnamon rolls and loaf of bread in the above picture.  We'll be having grilled cheese sandwiches for supper tonight with this bread.  Nothing beats grilled cheese on homemade bread for deliciousness.

My "recipe" is not really a true recipe.  I don't really use one anymore because the liquid amounts and flour amounts change based on the humidity.  My house is very dry in the winter so I add a bit more liquid.

Basic Recipe:

1 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons of shortening
5-6 1/2 cups of flour (I use white because I just cannot get a good rise with whole grains no matter what I do).
4 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix about 2 cups of flour, yeast and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.  In a small pan, heat the liquids and the shortening to hot, but not boiling (too hot and you'll kill the yeast).  The shortening is NOT going to melt, don't worry about it.

Slowly stir the very warm liquid into the dry ingredients and then really stir this mixture for about 2 minutes (or use a mixer on Medium speed).  Add in another cup of flour and stir vigorously another 2 minutes (or on High for 2 minutes).  Stir in as much remaining flour as you can and then dump on a floured surface and knead in the rest of the flour for about 5-10 minutes (or use your mixer).  I only knead for 5 minutes, but that's probably because I beat the snot out of it and have the forearms to prove it.

Form into a large ball and place in a greased bowl.  Let it rise for about 45-60 minutes.  On cold days, I set it on a heating pad to hurry it along.  Punch it down when it's about twice the size, form into a loose ball and let it rest for 10 minutes on a floured surface.

Cut the dough in half.  Form your breads.  Let rise until doubled. Makes 2 loaves, or 1 loaf and a pan of sweet rolls, or dinner rolls, or a pizza crust, whatever.  Bake at 400F for about 15-20 minutes. 

*For cinnamon rolls/sweet rolls: Roll out flat and spread about 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.  Sprinkle about a 1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar mixture on.  Roll lengthwise, cut into 12 slices.  Place in greased dish.  Once cool, drizzle a powdered sugar/milk glaze on top.

Plans

Still no decision by our state legislature on the fate of the budget of my husband's education center at UW-Extension.  I really want to be planting more fruit and nut trees-more than zero.  However, I just cannot justify doing so until we know if he has a job in October.  If not, I don't want to have invested time, effort, and money into something I won't be able to enjoy.  And yes, I could just go ahead and plant what I want, hoping for the best and if we need to move, know that the next people will enjoy what I've done, but I'm not feeling that magnanimous.

We did put up a large homemade trellis (9 feet tall, 8 feet wide) and I planted some hops to grow up it.  Mostly to screen the 6 garbage and recycling carts in the rental yard next door, but also because I wanted to grow hops for our homebrewing.

Built a raised bed for raspberries-small, just 4 feet by 4 feet.  Planted 5 bareroot canes and am hoping for a small harvest this late summer and into the fall.  I have a lot of peas planted in different places, including the front yard.  The backyard has a lot of shade and the front vegetable garden (on the SW side of the house) is a warm microclimate: concrete on 3 sides and the white siding of the house makes up the 4th side.  My peppers and tomatoes did great there last year.  This year, the tomatoes will be in containers on the south side of the house, on the driveway.  Those plants are susceptible to late blight, so I cannot grow them in the same spot this year.

The salad greens in the cold frame are finally big enough to pick.  Lots of spinach is getting tossed on top of vegetables and potatoes in the skillet these days.

The apple tree that I planted last spring is full of white blossoms.  I'm hoping for enough apples to do some baking and maybe freeze for use over the winter.

Friday is the planned planting day.  Herbs, vegetable starts, seeds, potting soil, rabbit fencing-it's time for all of it to get done.  Because of garden expansion last fall, I have room for green beans which I have missed having in mason jars and in the freezer over the winter.  Eggplant, summer squash, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, peas, greens, and herbs galore are going in the soil and in containers on Friday and Saturday.

If I'm still standing upright once it's all done, I'll celebrate a job well-done with a local microbrew.  I may not be willing to invest in fruit trees, but I'm still planting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What NOT to Say to a Gardener

I like to refer to myself as an "urban farmer" because I grow an incredible amount of the food my family eats in the summer and fall along with the flowers that are always on my table. What we don't eat gets frozen, dried, or canned to supplement our diets in the winter and spring.  I also can specialty items that I give away to friends and family.

I do have a few pet peeves:

1.  Assuming I don't really "need" the food I grow.  Usually this comes in an off-hand comment, something like, "Too bad blight/insects/drought killed your crop of tomatoes/beans/squash.  But you don't really need it.  You can buy it at the store.  It's not like you're an actual farmer and need the food".

Yes, I AM an actual farmer.  I plan out my garden.  I work the beds.  I eat what I grow.  I would never say to someone, "Too bad that tree fell on your car.  But you don't really need it.  You can take the bus or ride your bike.  It's not like you're a taxi driver."

2.  Assuming that because I'm growing food or flowers that you can just have some.

Now, I am generous with what I grow.  I love to barter.  I do give away surplus and if someone were financially struggling, I would invite them to come harvest some food.  However, I would prefer to offer.  Most people have no idea when food is ripe or know what my plans for the harvest are.  Asking me if I have some extra tomatoes because you forgot them at the store and you have a potluck is one thing.  Saying "Can you give me a bag of lettuce because I hate dealing with people at the farmer's market" is another.  Just don't.  Don't ask doctors for free medical services, or artists for free paintings, or gardeners for free food.

3. Telling me I HAVE to do the latest gardening thing on Pinterest/Facebook/whatever.  This always comes from nongardeners.  I like to try out new techniques and projects.  However, if I wanted to grow potatoes in a stack of 18 car tires or construct my raised beds and patio furniture out of wooden pallets I found at the dump I'll let everyone know. Which will be never.  If it sounds ridiculous, it probably is.

I am serious about gardening/urban farming. So if you wouldn't want someone to come into your office and say it, don't say it to a gardener, either.  Just because we love what we do and make little money at it, doesn't mean it isn't hard work. 



Thursday, April 9, 2015

Making Friends With Uncertainty


This house was fugly before I added window boxes, a fence, paint, and a Little Free Library.

When we bought our home in the city last year, to be able to use mass transit, be near our favorite brewpubs, and be within biking distance of my husband's job, we assumed we'd live in this house for another 10 years or so.  We now have no idea how long we'll be living in this home-it could be 2 years and it could be 10.  Our governor's budget, released in early February, eliminates my husband's department. He works in environmental education and outreach and that is a very low priority for this administration-they've even banned the term "climate change" from being discussed in some state agencies/committees.  So we're uncertain of where we will land.

 It's been two months and I've decided that since I cannot control the outcome, as much as I'd like to do so, I can control what I do now, in this house, and in this yard. 

We have only ever bought starter homes.  This house is the 4th that we have owned in 18 years.   We buy starter homes because we like to travel A LOT and experience concerts and restaurants, not have a big house and not be able to afford to leave it.  A starter home also means that I can teach piano part-time, do intensive gardening, and be around for my kids.  Two are in college, but my oldest has Bipolar Disorder and being "on-call" for her so that my husband can focus on work, is a priority for us.  Lastly, we buy starter homes because THEY SELL FASTER than bigger, more expensive homes. 

When we bought this house, it had been a neglected rental and was UGLY.  We updated and/or renovated every single room.  I put a small garden in the yard, but that was all I had time to do.  This year was to be the year I transformed my yard into my garden oasis.

Then that stinkin' budget got released.

Once I accepted that I just wasn't going to know how this would play out, I realized that I could only control what I did right now.  So I  began planning out my gardens, again.  After all, unlandscaped yards are ugly, especially in the city and I am very good at turning ugly yards into lovely yards.

Sometime in the next week, I'll buy a dozen or more shrubs to add some privacy in our backyard.  Planning to have my husband build a large trellis to screen the rental next door from direct view and plant some hops to grow on it.  And while I may be here for 2 years or 10, know that I've improved the yard for the next people to enjoy.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Getting Back to "Normal"

I pulled all of my gardening/sustainability/self-sufficiency books off of my bookshelves and have them sitting in a stack next to my recliner in the living room. I've been reacquainting myself with these books over the past few weeks.  Last year, most of my attention was on getting our house ready to go on the market.  I did such a fabulous job, the house sold before the sign was up in the yard.  My mad skills as a researcher paid off when I staged that house.  Time to refocus those skills onto the new house's yard.

Moving into the city from the suburbs was a tough decision.  A few years ago, we assumed we'd end up in the country on some acreage.  Once I honestly looked at my priorities, I realized that living in the country was a romantic dream and I wouldn't like it full-time.  We've been in our city of 250,000 for about 8 months now. I love how walkable it is and how easy it is to hop on the bus (the stop is around the corner) and get downtown without dealing with traffic or parking.

Our neighborhood has A LOT of mature trees.  Our last home had no trees in it when we moved into it 11 years ago.  I've gone from a sunny south-facing backyard to a shady east-facing one.  My vegetable garden was small and in the front yard last summer and it will remain a vegetable garden this next year.  We had the large silver maple in our backyard trimmed this fall because of some cavities.  Eventually the entire tree will need to be removed, but for now, the trimming should give us a bit more sunlight to grow some more food.

Most of last year's growing season was spent renovating the 1950s bungalow/cape cod that we bought.  It had been a rental and showed it.  After ripping out the bathroom and reconfiguring the kitchen, along with ripping out all of the carpet and painting every surface, I had very little energy left for my typical gardening and green living lifestyle. I bought paper towels and laundry soap for the first time in years.  I used my clothes dryer, A LOT.

Thankfully, the inside of the house is now finished and my energy for all things green has returned.  I have big plans for my yard this year that will hopefully pay off in large fruit and vegetable yields in the next year.  I actually want to make my own household cleaners again.   And I'm happily ignoring the clothes dryer, once again.