Toilet Seat Adventures

So we needed some new toilet seats.  One of them was outright broken.  The others were getting skanky.  Who knows how old those puppies are?  So I stopped putting off that task and headed out to get some new ones.  I went to Lowe’s in South Burlington.  The place has been open for a while but I had never been there.  I had some errands in that direction and combined tasks into one trip.  Actually two.

The thing is, I just needed some toilet seats.  Toilet seats have the potential to be embarrassing upon purchase.  Like toilet paper, everyone uses it and everyone knows what it is for, but we kind of pretend it is just another thing.  If I were a cashier ringing up the purchase of a toilet seat at Lowe’s, I would have to try hard not to picture the purchaser using the item.  See what I mean by potentially embarrassing?  For everyone involved.  Anyway, I just needed three toilet seats to replace all of the ones in our house.  I was quickly overwhelmed.

Do you have any idea how many types of toilet seats there are?  There are:

  • squishy ones
  • solid ones
  • round ones
  • oval ones
  • decorated ones
  • plain ones
  • wooden ones
  • plastic ones (heavy duty)
  • plastic ones (light duty)
  • chrome hinges
  • plastic hinges
  • nickel hinges
  • fancy new easy to clean hinges
  • slow closing lids
  • ones with no lid
  • regular old slamming if you are not careful lids
  • anti-bacterial mystery substance somehow molded right in ones
  • your standard wash it to keep the bacteria away ones
  • and my personal favorite–the one with the glittery butterfly on the soft foam lid one

Like I said, I just needed some toilet seats.  Of course, it took me way too long to decide.  I went with the nickel hinges. I mean why not? But ack! There was only one left! After all that time deciding, only one left! Quickly, I recovered. I went with one nickel plated hinge and two chrome plated hinges. The purchase was speedy because I only put one on the shelf to be scanned three times.  All the same price, right?  And I was out of there.

I installed one. I installed two. I pulled the third from the box and ack! A cracked seat! Back it went into the box and back I went to Lowe’s.  Now, on the way home the first time, I had a small amount of angst that the “associate,” or whatever employees at Lowe’s are called, scanned the nickel-hinged seat as a chrome-hinged seat. I knew it would mess with inventory, even the price was the same. Justice was served, however, as I had to deal with returning the one that was incorrectly scanned. I played dumb, of course, as if I had no idea what had happened. I hope the associate (since I am sure this is tracked somehow) doesn’t take heat for that. I did get a refund, then got another chrome-hinged toilet seat.

So we have three new toilet seats. It was a small and satisfying project, one of which I will be reminded daily (more than daily on days like today when my gut feels less than healthy, if you know what I’m saying). We also, however, have a leak in the tank of one of them, discovered upon seat replacement. When I went back for the return I looked to see if the bolts were available to fix it. I should have guessed that there are at least three types of bolts for different brands of toilets.  I don’t know what brand of toilet it is.  It’s a toilet.  So it leaks still, to be repaired soon. Stay tuned, friends, for the continuing adventures of my toilets.

Advertisements

Fall Arrival and Some Harvesting

Yesterday I pulled the few onions we had growing in our garden.  Most of the seedlings didn’t make it but a few managed to grow.  We ate a couple of them not long ago.  They are some strong onions.  Tasty, however.  These will need to dry a little so they can last long enough to use them all.  Too bad rain is in the forecast for the next couple of weeks.

Onions Out of the Dirt

Onions Out of the Dirt

I also picked a bunch of leeks.  I made a big batch of potato leek soup.  We had a slew of potatoes to use up and all those leeks in the ground.  It tasted pretty good last night for dinner with some buttered toast.  It tasted even better for lunch today.

A Fine Row of Fine Leeks

A Fine Row of Fine Leeks

The peppers are almost red as well.  We have been picking them and eating them but they are so much sweeter when they are fully ripe.  Plus the seeds will sprout easier if the peppers are fully ready when they are picked.  And they are beautiful.

Peppers Almost Ripe

Peppers Almost Ripe

The popcorn is still growing, trying to ripen before the cold sets in. Problem is, the cold kind of has set in. It’s not winter yet or anything but it has been in the 40’s in the morning.  I can’t imagine we will get mature ears out of these plants, but who knows?  I’m willing to wait it out.

Popcorn Still Making a Go of It

Popcorn Still Making a Go of It

The blueberries, on the other hand, have long given up the idea of producing fruit.  Their leaves are turning.  They are redder than the peppers.  They too are beautiful.

Fall Has Arrived for Certain

Fall Has Arrived for Certain

Planets

Half Moon

Half Moon

I loaded a program on my iPod called “Planets.”  I entered my longitude and latitude and now it shows me the position of planets in the sky.  It also shows the moon. It provides rise and set times for them, as well as the sun. It has been pretty handy.  I check it in the morning when I head out for a run.  It is dark at that time and I get to see what is still out.  I also check it in the evening.  Even if it is cloudy I tend to look to find out what I am missing.

Lately at night, just before bed, my son has been keen to see it.  He wants to see what planets are out there.  That is great itself, but the thing I love is that he wants to really see them. This little electronic gizmo is just a tool.  He wants to try to find the planets.  He wants to see the moon.  Tonight he ran to the window and pointed.  “I see it,” he shouted.  “I see Jupiter!” He was excited.  He was pretty fired up last night as well.  He has been loving exploring the night sky. That makes me happy, as a parent and as a human being. If he can learn to love the world around him, especially at night, both he and the world will be better off.

Lately, Jupiter has been the planet to spot.  Mornings, I can see Mars and Venus, but my boy isn’t typically up when they show themselves.  He can see the moon, however, and he has been enjoying watching it grow these past few nights.  “A half moon!” he spouted when he saw it tonight.  Good stuff.

Morning Webs

Every morning the spiders get to show off their evening work.  They spin during the night and in the morning have crafted their best to catch breakfast.  I see them when I head out for a run, if the sky is bright enough by the time I get back.  We see them when we walk down to meet the school bus.  If we are lucky, the dew has been heavy.  If we are even luckier, the sun angles just right to catch the dew-covered webs.  There are hundreds of them, so many it would be impossible to count them all in the short window of time when the light reveals them. Once the day advances too far, they disappear.  I have tried to photograph them but haven’t gotten a good broad shot of many of them at once.  You’ll have to settle for a close-up:

Webs in the Field

Webs in the Field

What Am I Doing?

This summer I read an article in Orion Magazine that has really stuck with me.  It was Forget Shorter Showers by Derrick Jensen.  Here is an excerpt:

An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

He goes on to talk about water (more than 90% is used by industry and agriculture), energy (individual consumption is 25% or less) and waste (municipal waste accounts for only 3% of the total).  The message that I took away was not that what we do doesn’t make a difference.  It does, and we need to do it.  But if we want to make the kind of change required to address climate change, then tackling it by recycling and carpooling won’t cut it.  We need change on a bigger scale.

The basis of our economy, of any capitalist economy, is that we need to grow and grow, endlessly.  A business is seen as a failure if it fails to grow.  Making a profit isn’t good enough.  We ask that businesses make more profit every month/quarter/year.  The GDP needs to grow, employment needs to grow, sales need to grow, new home starts need to grow.  We can never have enough.  That is the problem.  I love to get a raise, but when I’m told I can’t have one this year I make do.  My home doesn’t need to get bigger every year.  I don’t need to gain weight.  In many spheres of our lives, we know that growing is not always good–it comes with a price that often we don’t want to pay.

So why is it that we need to keep growing, in the big picture, in our economy?  The idea is so ubiquitous that it isn’t even questioned.  We hear regular reports on the news about “the economy,” as if any of us really know what that is.  The “economy” isn’t growing so things must be bad.  No, people are out of work, so things are bad.  People are out of work because we constantly depend on growth.  When growth turns into shrinkage, people lose jobs.  We don’t work with a sustainable model where our economy is flexible enough to accommodate fluctuation.  Or at least our values aren’t there.

We need to deal with climate change, but with a mindset that we need to keep growing, it is difficult to talk about shrinking carbon emissions.  I keep hearing talk of the search for some technological silver bullet that will allow us to keep up the same habits and yield lower carbon emissions.  It’s not going to happen.  We need to make major changes to how we think about our economy, agriculture, transportation, everything.  Changing light bulbs isn’t enough.  Changing systems is what we need.

This morning I heard the mayor of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl, noting how the city has been trying to change its image from dirty and industrial to “green.”  The very next sentence in the story noted that the city has this huge supply of bottled water ready for those coming to Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit.  Excuse me?  You just said you are going for a green image and you are offering bottled water for a summit where world poverty, which commonly involves issues of access to fresh water, will be a major topic of discussion?  Um, bottled water has too many issues to list.  Am I the only one to see the irony here?

After seeing the film The Age of Stupid the other night (moving and powerful and a must see for anyone who isn’t a climate change denier), and continuing to ponder Jensen’s article, I have been thinking about what the heck I might do.  I have made personal change.  That is necessary both to send a message to others that one is serious and to actually make a bit, however small, of difference.  I have changed light bulbs and I use the clothesline whenever I do the laundry.  I try to limit waste.  I compost.  I grow some of the food we eat.  I also, however, have been writing to my congressional representatives.  I at least need to do that.  If I want us to make big changes, I have to let some of the people in a position to make those changes know what I think.

What else might I do?  I am not all that sure.  That is one of the problems here.  We all need to stand up, to get involved, to cry for something bigger than tax incentives for solar panels we can’t afford even with incentives.  We need to get out there and take action now.  Climate change is a problem that won’t wait for us.  I’ll start by writing.  I will write on October 15 about climate change for Blog Action Day.  You should, too, if you have your own blog.  And I’ll talk to people.  I need to do more and I will figure out my place in the solution to this problem as I go.  I’m getting started.  We all need to.

Green and Yellow

Sunflower Finally Blooming

Sunflower Finally Blooming

Those were the colors of the morning–green and yellow.  Our one sunflower bloomed a couple of days ago and this morning it was big and bold as we walked out the meet the schoolbus. The seeds were old.  We got them, if I remember right, at a wedding. It was a nice touch for the wedding.  I wonder of the seeds handed out actually were planted.  There were a dozen seeds in the little brown envelope when I planted them at the end of June.  Only one grew.  It is, I have to admit, quite the flower.  My hope is that it will go to seed and we can plant the seeds next year.  As there are few sunflowers growing around here right now, however, I am not sure it will get pollinated.  I’ll find out if it has any seeds in a couple of weeks I suppose.

White Pine Needles

White Pine Needles

The other colorful item on this short walk was the pine needles.  The yellow ones are shedding and dropping to the grass, so we had yellow on green on the ground.  Of course, the trees themselves are decked out in green and yellow as well.  My son said this:  “I like it a lot better when the trees and green and yellow, not not just all green.”  It was rather striking this morning.   Perhaps it was the light–low clouds but the sun low as well–that made the colors stand out.  Fall is here, right on schedule.  With more colors to come.

Frosty Foggy Morning

We got our first frost this morning.  It was chilly and foggy, with ice settled on the grass and leaves and rocks.  Mist rose from the river.  I ran early again, determined to keep getting out there before the day gets too far underway. It always seems worth rising early, and today was no exception.  I ran into the fog across the river, I watched the sun tip over the hills, and I saw the color seep into the leaves with the morning light.  It was the last morning of summer.  It let me know that fall is here.  Apparently it arrived a day early.

Fog Over the River

Mist in the Valley

Running Into the Fog

Running Into the Fog

Frost on the Cut Field

Frost on the Cut Field

First Light on a Turning Maple

First Light on a Turning Maple

Cows Appreciate the Sun's Warmth

Cows Ready for the Sun's Warmth

Running Back

Running Back

Fog Lingering Over the River

Fog Lingering Over the River

Frost Lingering in the Field

Frost Lingering in the Field