Thursday, June 9, 2011

Greene Thumb Thursday: Water Conservation

One day last week we were outside, knee deep in chalk on the sidewalk when the mailman came by. Kevin loves to see the mailman. Naturally, we rushed to the box to see what awaits. My sweet innocent toddler, always the optimist said, "Maybe there is a magazine!", but as I am much older and wiser (?), I knew the truth. Junk and bills. Ha. Among the papers was a little postcard that I normally do not pay attention to in the least: our water bill.

Now, I know that many people have much larger utility costs than we do, but when we first purchased this home, our water bill averaged about $35 each month. Last month's bill was $50. So what, a $15 dollar jump in 3 years? NBD, right? Maybe. But I am an analyst, and I need to understand why it keeps going up. The rate is staying the same, so how are we using more water?

I quickly scanned my memory for additional water usage last month: I washed my mom's car after borrowing it (but I think that will be relfected on this month's bill), Mark watered our yard after throwing out some grass seed, and I stripped diapers once. I guess that's it. But I don't want it to keep going up!

Now, with summer in full swing a serious 2 weeks before the official start of the season, this above 90 degree heat is seriously threatening our meager boxes of plants. My dad, the garden master, has informed that if I intend to get anything out of my tiny little experiment, I have to water it once, and sometimes twice, a day. Sheesh! More water?

With no rain in sight, I started trying to figure out ways to cut back on our in-house water usage to offset what I'll be using on the "garden". Wash larger loads of clothes. Take 10-minute showers. Bathe the boys together (now that Z can sit on his own, I think this will be fine). Let Oscar keep drinking from the toilet rather than refill his water bowl (okaayy...I'm not going to do that. But seriously, if his water bowl happens to be empty, our fat cat will drink from the toilet like a dog!)

Then, while I was crunching some numbers and daydreaming about my sometime-in-the-future finished basement, I remembered a very important appliance we have. The dehumidifier! That thing pulls 2 gallons of water out of the air in our basement every single day. Ta-da. There is my extra water for the garden! Yay! The best part is that the water collected in our dehumidifier is that it is untreated and doesn't have added chemical "purifiers" that we pay this lovely county to add to the rest of our household water.

Now...if I could just convince Kevin to stop flushing the toilet a thousand times a day, maybe we could level-off or, dare I suggest, lower our bill...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Greene Thumb Thursday: Outside chores

After a month's absence on this blog, I decided in a meditative moment that I needed to get back to writing. It helps clear my mind and reminds me of things I want to tell my husband (when I see him!). 

This 'meditative moment' happened while I was in the middle of an outside chore with which I have a love/hate relationship. Mowing the grass. When I was finished, I changed my Facebook status to reflect how happy I am that God has given me two little boys who will one day be strapping young teenagers, with nothing better to do on summer break than mow the grass. Oh sweet days of the future! 

But, I really don't mind mowing the grass, I've been doing it for years. As it turns out, when you have several acres of "lawn" to mow on a weekly basis and God blesses you with two daughters...guess what? The girls learn to mow too! Along with many chores I don't care for, I learned a while back that it's best to just suck it up and get it over with (hmm...remind me to write that on a post-it and put it on the dishwasher. Why I put off emptying and re-filling the dishwasher until I just can't stand it any longer is beyond me!) My dad always did the intricate mowing; around the house, among the trees, and near the driveway. I was responsible for the larger, clear stretches of land we titled "the road bed, the field, the side yard, and the back yard". All in all, my share of the mowing took about 2 hours or so. I thought it was torture, but my dad now singularly spends about 2 hours a night for 3 straight nights (or, an entire Saturday) mowing the grass. Ugh. I actually grew to enjoy it somewhat. I spent the time clearing my thoughts, planning my days, or just daydreaming. It was really relaxing. And a job well done (ok, so more like...just done, ha!) was always punctuated with a jump in the pool. 

I once turned down a date with the reason, "I can't. I have to go home and mow grass." It WAS the 100% truth, I swear! I was still in high school, and it was summertime, which meant I was working two jobs. Monday-Friday from 6:45 am until 3:15 pm at Nashville Tent and Awning, then 4pm - 9pm at H.G. Hills 4 days a week plus weekends. The night in question happened to be my night off from the grocery store, and it was the only chance I would get to mow the grass....unless I wanted to spend my entire Saturday (until work) on the mower. My friend was really hurt by this, because he thought I was surely lying. But to me, mowing the grass was a normal chore. 

But, I said this was love/hate, right? Well, you see, I don't mind mowing, but I am terrified of it. I have two incredibly irrational fears associated with cutting the yard. The first one is that I am extremely worried that the mower is going to blow up while I am on it. Actually, just at the beginning, when I'm starting it up...and at the end, when I'm parking it. I *assume* this fear was born out of parking my Dad's mower for years and running wildly toward the stairs with my hands over my ears, waiting for it to backfire. I know there is pretty much NO WAY it can blow up just from trying to start it, but it doesn't change the fact that my hands still shake wildly when I turn the key. 

The second fear is that I will run over a ground nest of stinging wasps and be immediately swarmed and stung to my pitiful death. I think this fear comes from the fact that this has happened to me, twice (not the death part, just the swarmed part). The first time, I was innocently bending to tie my cousin's shoe when my foot covered the hole of a yellow jacket nest. I was stung 17 times. The second time it happened, I was mowing "the back yard" and noticed the hole just as I was going over it with the mower. I am from TN. I know what a nest hole looks like. I jumped off the mower and ran to the house, narrowly escaping the swarm coming out to attack the noise maker. The lawn mower continued going, right into the woods, and finally came to rest on a tree (Later that day, I secretly wished I had let the hornets attack me, because it would have been easier to deal with than the wrath of my Dad over the messed up mower). 

I am not the best person to be driving a mower. I run over sticks, rocks, toys, anything that I think the blades will chop, I just run over it. I mow fast and leave small trails of dandelions and long weeds that escape my hurried pattern. I mow around large objects (garden hose, bicycle, etc) rather than get off the mower and move them (see fear #1) and mow wide circles around trees (fear #2). But for the most part, I do a decent job, and I'm happy to do it. My husband works hard, and my "job" is to take care of the house and home. This includes the yard, right? Plus, he is taking a summer class on-campus that does not end until 9:15 pm, two nights a week. I work in the Bakery two more nights a week. That only leaves one weeknight or the weekend for my hubby to do the lawn care. I don't like giving up my time with him to something that I can handle during the daytime, so my little sister comes over and plays with the boys for about an hour (only about an acre of our land is "yard", so it takes considerably less time than what I dealt with in my younger years.)

Now, I do not use the weed-eater. I have not yet conquered irrational fear number 3: that I will cut my leg off. Maybe someday, but not today. :)