iron woman

When I was in 4H, a million years ago, we had Demonstration Day once a year, when you would have to demonstrate something, talk about it (a hobby, a task, etc) knowledgeably, and show how it was done. I remember watching a girl demonstrate how to iron. “Pressing, pressing, pressing,” she said. “It’s so depressing…”

That’s all I remember from that particular demonstration (the phrase sticks with me to this day), but later in my early 20s I had an exacting boyfriend who showed me how to iron the right way, and then I always did his shirts. He was a big fat loser, from what I recall, but I can honestly say that I know how to iron well, and thanks to him, I guess.

Fast forward to today. Budget is blown on food and bills and Mr Husband has no clean dress shirts (the kind to wear with a tie) for work this week. He likes to take them to the cleaners, even though I say I will do them. He says it’s too much work and he’d rather pay someone else. I say, bad for the environment — plastic bags, hangers, chemicals, driving around, the expense — even though we go to a “green” cleaner who takes our hangers back and recycles. Still…

So he finally agreed, for lack of anything else to wear, threw two loads of shirts in the wash, and I spent the afternoon ironing. Something was in one of the pockets, of course, and two of his shirts and one of mine were ruined by something that looked like ink. I ran them through again but it was no use. Rags! I was cringing because it seemed like “proof” that washing them at home is not as good as the dry cleaners. But he took it in stride.

And as for me, I strapped on my iPod and boogied through three baskets of shirts, slacks, dresses and cloth napkins. Then I sat at the sewing machine and did a bunch of mending, then finished ironing.

The moral of this story is — once again — I feel really good about doing something for the planet when I choose to do it the old-fashioned way — and yet I get *again* what a commitment it is to have a commitment to something. It took me at least two hours to do all of that ironing, and although I enjoyed the work, it was still two hours of standing up and being on my feet. (Does it count as exercise?) And we both said that we could stop the expense of the dry cleaner, and he wants to learn how to iron, and we can share the duty, and it feels really good to have done this — and I’m pooped! So if we’re going to iron his shirts, every other week (because he has a sizable number, because of the dry cleaning schedule), then I will need to plan a couple of hours to make sure I can get it done.

I imagine doing this while conversing, visiting, listening to the radio or CDs would also be fun (I don’t watch much TV).

Pressing doesn’t have to be *depressing,* does it? It can actually be good for the planet. 😉

wait — one more!

ABOVE: Erik Kos, fabulous self with hot-pink do-rag (go Jets!), Carrie Beavers, Max Tubbs (go Pilots!), Mr Husband (aka Patrick Tracey), Linda Tubbs and Peter Beavers (go, Alameda!). Hometown pride in action…We’re near the Bladium and the other hangars, in front of the Seaplane Lagoon.

Here’s a shot that friend Michael Shiess, of Lucky JuJu Pinball Gallery and the Neptune Beach Amusement Museum , who was driving past, stopped and took. He also generously offered his Dumpsters for us to dump in (alas, they were already full). Thanks, Michael!

(Michael is also the guy who found the very old Jane Austen book in his house that I wrote about last January, when he returned it to the library.) (And, he’s Eric K’s landlord….six degrees of separation on a very small Island…)

Busy today — getting ready for NYC. Whee!

Earth Day

Every day should be Earth Day. Check us out…(captions below)

2. 3.

4. 5. 6.
7. 8. 9.

10. 11.

Who’s who?
1. Wide view of the tiny beach, with our “ready Fleet” far behind us. Also the USS Hornet aircraft carrier behind us (from which Apollos were rescued and the Doolittle Raid took off).

2. Close-up of the plastic stuff embedded in the driftwood. It was a big fat sifting job that ended when the wind blew it back into our eyes.

3. Linda Tubbs, whose husband is a Coast Guard intelligence guy, lives in our neighborhood, and her hubby got the tides right for us (or told us — he can’t actually change the tides…)

4. Eric K (my biz partner) and Peter, Carrie’s husband, sorting/sifting junk from between the boulders.

5. Carrie, doing same.

6. Fabulous self in grubby gear (note rubber boots — for wading after plastic in the lagoon) (note spectacular SF skyline behind me. We hardly notice it anymore…).

7. Max Tubbs, doing same as everyone else.

8. The Boy and the Husband, being cool.

9. The Boy’s job was to bury all the dead birds we found — a total of 12. He gave them all burials and a few solemn words. And a marker. Not sure what happens when the tide comes in — they go back to God…this is the dead bird graveyard.

10. A pile of the junk we hauled out — tons of plastic, plywood, an old mattress (which weighed more than 4 men could carry — they had to tear it apart to move it. Turns out it was full of wet sand, ugh). The yellow thing had a logo from an environmental firm — a boom for containing oil in the Cosco Busan spill we had last fall.

11. More junk.

12. Still more junk.

Boy, are my wings tired…

Mr Husband organized this neighborhood beach cleanup about a half mile from our house. You can see lots of abandoned buildings around us. About eight of us got our gloves and boots on and picked up a bajillion bits of plastic from this tiny beach-head. This is known as the Seaplane Lagoon, where sea planes formerly landed. It also has a nickname, as mentioned before: the Navy’s Toilet. The wind coming across the Bay was vicious, blowing increasingly from nothing to about 30 mph, and while it started out warmish, ended up very cold.

We gathered about a Dumpster full of stuff, but had no Dumpster. We brought it all home and are gonna run to the dump later in the week. We are SOOOOOO tired right now.

Notable Quotes from the day:

Linda: “Wow, I’m really gonna have to think about taking Tupperware from now on. Plastic is so evil!”

Peter: “I’ve decided to look for primary colors. Anything red, yellow, blue or green should not be on this beach.”

It’s all true. Plastic is evil. Try taking Tupperware, or wrap your sandwich in a dishtowel. If you had any inkling of how much plastic we picked up, you would stop using it at all.

Most intriguing/interesting finds:

Toothbrush, one child’s slipper, one disposable flip-flop from a nail parlor (for after pedicure), yellow army guy with no head pushing a wheelbarrow — he became our mascot for the day (he was about 2 inches tall — not a real Army guy with no head); comb; a daisy barrette, and a Hello Kitty barrette; one ear plug; a hard hat; a perfectly usable scrubby sponge; plastic flower pot; many returnable bottles worth money; lots of plastic rope; a float for a fishing net or boat.

What else? Hardly any glass. Way too much styrofoam, packing peanuts, tampon applicators, cigar mouthpieces (plastic), and fishing net. And way too many bottle caps, pens, lighters, straws and 6-pack rings. I thought we knew better than that.

For what it’s worth, none of the birds had plastic rings around their necks. That may not be what killed them.

(rant alert…)
But for heaven’s sake, people. Throw your garbage in the garbage, and recycle as much as you can. Stop using disposable products. There is no such thing as “away” when you throw something “away.” It goes somewhere. Use paper over plastic, and use reusable (even feminine products can be reused if you buy the right sort). Use matches, not a lighter. Take a fork, then take it home and wash it. Switch to cloth over paper, and start line-drying. Stop taking the ketchup and hot sauce packets from your fast food pitstops; you already have enough. You must. I know we do. Take what you need. Or stop going at all. Haven’t you seen Supersize Me? That stuff will kill you.

Start saving and get clean and green. If you haven’t done a beach cleanup lately, get out there and do it. If the ocean is the planet’s lungs, friends, we are in very serious trouble. We’re killing ourselves. It just isn’t OK anymore.

Rant over. Go kiss your kids.

news of the world

Cat on the lap and it must be blogging time. I guess my sitting here with an open, available lap is nothing but an invitation. *I* think it means I’m working. Clearly I am mistaken.

The Governator came to town yesterday and messed with our production schedule. We held the paper back by two hours in order to hear his speech — in which he attempted to blame others for the budget crisis, because it’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it? Getting the stories done, the paper proofed and sent took longer and the press was so mad and we were actually an hour later than all that, but we made it. There were also two fires the previous night, drama, adventure, you name it. It’s all there. Check it out in the Sun, today.

It’s Earth Day this weekend, at least here in Alameda, and we’ve got an event planned. It’s the Man’s idea: we’re gonna have a neighborhood cleanup of our little filthy beach here at the Point. It’s right on the edge of Seaplane Lagoon, which sounds so pretty, unless you consider the nickname for the place: The Navy’s Toilet. There are signs warning of toxins in the fish. Don’t eat it! Apparently there is airplane and ship fuel, probably fun stuff like dioxins and PCBs and mercury — all just waiting for us. However, there is also a lot of broken glass, plastic, an old mattress and more, so we’ll do our best to clean those things up and see how it looks afterward. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little stretch of beach that was not covered in trash? That we could sit on and smell the mercury once in a while? I think so. Kudos to Mr. Husband for thinking it up. We made a flyer and passed it to all the nay-bors and we’re all set to clean up, then potluck afterward here, on Saturday. Join us, if you’re free. Wear gloves.

I had the Tiger Cub Scouts in the newspaper yesterday afternoon, working on a merit badge, and they were so cute — but um, energetic. Very much so. I was thinking they’d be older and was unprepared for six very high-strung 7 year olds. But they were all very eager to know more and so I did my best to show them what we do and how we do it. Later I took their photo (getting them to sit still was a challenge). I told Mr. Husband that it was like dropping a jar full of marbles, trying to keep the “lesson” going. Crash, rattle, roll…but that’s how it is. Fun stuff. Look for their photo in next week’s paper. Very cute boys.

I posted a call for interns on Craigslist, sent the flyer to UC Berkeley, SF State, CSU East Bay, College of Alameda, Ohlone and I think a few other places. Laney, too. I hope to get a couple of good candidates to come onboard for the summer. I also have an eager high school intern who wants to learn the ropes. It will really help me a lot to have some interns. I just can’t keep all the plates spinning these days. I expect to spend the next few weeks interviewing and figuring out who is right for us.

Last night Ana and I baked a cake from scratch — she wanted to surprise her boyfriend for passing the proficiency exam. Good for him — yay, Vinny! I realized how easy it is to bake a cake from scratch — literally just five more minutes than baking from a mix, and the flavor is so much better that it is hardly worth it to get that nasty chemical taste and extra sugar — for five minutes’ saving? Yuk. I can’t wait to taste this one. The batter was delicious. Ten times better, no, twenty, than a box mix. A good lesson: The old ways are often the best ways.

On the list today is a meeting with a freelancer, a couple of calls to women friends from my group, continuing to clean up in prep for the Saturday Earth Day potluck, planning what I’ll prepare for that (probably a couple of salads, maybe a cake — from scratch!); water the veggies outside, and in the front, all the potted plants (they look wilty). A load of laundry, perhaps. Husband says we have to go to the gym tonight. Ugh. We just got a membership to the Bladium in trade for advertising — so it’s “free” — so I guess I’d better go (creak, moan, groan…) I guess that’s why I NEED to go, huh? To stop the creaking?

Dinner tonight: Vegetarian feast. That means salad. One daughter is sick. It’s a quiet few days at the White House (La Casa Blanca), out here at the Point. Potluck this weekend.

Next week: New York.

time out, time off, tune in again…

Hi again. Sorry about that. It’s been busy. I know I always say that, but it has.

Why, just this week we’ve had crazybusy antics with the school budget and student protest walkouts (see for the scoop), and Tuesday’s school board meeting when budget cuts were decided went until about 1:30 a.m. I was there. Ack.

And: this coming weekend is LunaFest, an awesome women’s film festival that is a fundraiser for breast cancer research via Luna Bar (yum), as well as the Family of Women (my women’s group) and it’s also Junior Prom Night for Alameda High, and two of our girls are going (ka-ching! hair, nails, flowers, limo, pre-party at our house, sleep-over afterward…). So it’s been a bit hectic just this week (not even mentioning assorted meetings, appointments, Mr. Husband’s taking the ferry that broke down and the Boy’s case of hives…)

In recent weeks we’ve had rounds of flu and cold, backaches, toothaches, headaches, tummyaches, attitude, deadlines, drama, backtalk, trips to Costco, windstorms, gardening, couch-surfers, birthdays, weekends, sleepovers, rainstorms, spring cleaning…you name it, we’ve had it. And boy, are our arms tired.

So where are we now? In the beginning of spring, in the month of March, 2008, with a bit of sun and a bit of cloud, a blustery breeze and the scent of flowers in the air: it is, I think, actually spring. It’s a Thursday, the day the Sun hits the streets (the newspaper, I mean), and I finally feel caught up on sleep since the two late nights, Monday (women’s program) and Tuesday (late school board).

I paid almost $50 for a tank of gas this morning so I’m feeling even more “green” than usual — time to start riding my bicycle, I guess. That and prom expenses and balancing a budget for our family of seven (college loans! cell phone bills! Costco! co-pays! vet bills! agh…) has kept me working hard and burning the midnight oil. No rest for the weary.

But enough — I can excuse being “busy” only so long. Back on track now and do drop me a line in comments or e-mail to say how-de-do. We’ll be catching up in no time.

Writing update (I haven’t been idle):

  • A Year with the Saints blog = almost daily, deep thoughts about spirituality, and sometimes shallow thoughts on mortality.
  • Backyard Bliss: Catching up there, too — I’ve been spending more time gardening than writing about it!
  • Nano-novel Mary Mary: haven’t touched it since halfway through National Novel Writing Month (November). It’s brilliant, though. (ahem)
  • My memoir Wedlock is in revision and waiting to see the lit agent again in NY; I’m heading that way again this year to see the Bee-yooti-ful Mia as she graduates from AADA in April.

(See Feb 27 entry on A Year with the Saints blog for thoughts on Mia’s recent birthday.)