Marsha Knits

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Name: Marsha Brofka-Berends
Location: US

Marsha knits . . . and reads and cooks and edits and gardens and hikes and thinks and eats and photographs and sings and writes and travels and plans and hopes and . . .

24 April 2007

The liberal conspiracy is at it again!

(I wonder how many Google hits on that title will bring people here...) In Making Light I came across this letter, written by a Little Rock lawyer and published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on 16 April:
You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two. This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they ? Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects. CONNIE M. MESKIMEN Hot Springs
My first thought was "Oh. My. Dog." Then I read through the comments and learned that the letter was apparently a satire--one that yielded lots of angry letters in the newspaper from readers unaware that it was a satire. Did the newspaper print the original letter in all sincerity, I wonder? Or were the editors also aware of the joke?

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12 April 2007

Not-stupid investments

Many many years ago, I started reusing my Ziploc bags. It's easy--just turn 'em inside out, wash them, then let them dry on the dish rack. The freezer bags are particularly durable; some of mine are three years old. The problem is that Ziploc bags aren't renowned for their ability to stand up on their own, so they usually fall over and take a long, long time to dry properly. When I first heard about a thingy (yes, that is the technical term for it) that holds your bags open while they dry, I thought, "That's stupid. No way am I spending twenty bucks on that thing." Well, I finally succumbed and threw down the bucks for it a couple of weeks ago. And let me just say this: wow, I should have bought one of these things sooner. Same goes for this compost bucket. I am a big believer in composting when you can. All through grad school, I lived in apartments with no yards or gardens. I yearned to have a compost pile of my own--and did, briefly, when I lived in Eugene, Oregon, for a summer while doing some predoctoral research. (I'll write more about that experience another time.) I remember one time my housemate and I had a potluck dinner that was attended by about a dozen people. As people were helping with the post-meal cleanup, they asked, "Where is your compost pile?" (It was in the middle of the huge garden, in the side yard.) Not "Do you have a compost pile?" but "I'm assuming you have one--'cause, you know, this is the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene-so just let me know where it is." I loved that. When I moved to the Mid-Atlantic, I was delighted to have a garden--and a small compost pile. And when Jan and I bought our house three and a half years ago, one of the first home-improvement things we did was built a compost bin (a "3-bin yard waste composter"--the free plans are available here). During my entire composting life, though, I've been putting my kitchen scraps into an old yogurt container on the kitchen counter, then taking it outside when it filled up. (This is a practice I developed in Eugene. After all, grad students don't have extra money to throw around on fancy-schmancy compost buckets! Well, maybe the engineers and computer scientists, but not the impoverished cultural anthropologists!) This system has the great benefit of not costing anything. It has the great disadvantage of stinkiness--particularly in the winter months, when trips to the compost bin are less frequent (brrrrr!). So when I decided to get the plastic-bag-holding doodad, I figured, "Why not? I'm already going to hell anyway for buying this incredibly yuppified and overpriced thing--might as well add on a fifteen-dollar compost bucket." After using this green bin (which fits nicely under the sink) for a few weeks now, I have to admit that I really love this thing.

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09 February 2007

Lessen your environmental impact

Recycling, using fluorescent light bulbs, watering your lawn with gray water...there are lots of little things you can do to tread more lightly on the earth. Knitters can use recycled yarn or yarns made from materials that already have a low environmental impact and are quickly renewable (e.g., soy, corn). There's yet another way fiber enthusiasts can be a little nicer to the planet: by using green cell foam for needle felting. Needle felting (which I have yet to try, I admit--though I've read enough about it to get the gist of it) involves stabbing fabric with tiny needles in order to get wool or roving that's on top of the fabric to stick to the fabric. Hmmm. That's an explanation just off the top of my head, and it doesn't seem very clear. Go here instead and read about how to do it. The fabric to be stabbed is placed on a foam pad so you don't damage any surfaces while jabbing it with a needle. Most foam pads are made of polyurethane foam, which is a byproduct of the petroleum industry. The folks at Sticky Wicket Crafts, however, have found a vegetable-based foam to use in their pads--and they aren't more expensive than most conventional foam pads. No petroleum byproducts! Happy happy planet! Hooray! P.S. If you want to make your own needle felting tool and like to play with power tools, check out this tutorial.

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