Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Plumbing, completed!

Well, the plumbing work was finished last night. I have a renewed appreciation for the convenience and relief provided by water, gas, kitchen sink, bathtub, and toilet, having gone without at different times during the plumbing redo.

Now all that remains is to patch and paint the holes in the walls (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen) and install new linoleum in the bathroom. Those tasks were supposed to have been begun today, but nobody's here. When that's finished, then all (!) that's left to do is major vacuuming and dusting and putting everything back in its place.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Go read, and weigh in

In her most recent post, Leah at Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen is trying to get to the bottom of a sense of discontent:
I have admitted on these electronic pages that an underlying resentment niggles at me and I have always been hard-pressed, (out of laziness? ineptiutde? lack of perspective? too much perspective?), to identify it, thereby relegating it unintentionally to the odious classification of “problem with no name”. I suppose one could call it a “malaise” but that is as lazy and hazy as the word itself. And if the cure for modern malaise is popping a Prozac, I’m having none of it. It would seem to me a better cure would be to 1) understand the cause of my discontent 2) give the cause a name, and 3) overcome it, insofar as I am able.
I think there are other angles to the restlessness with which Leah wrestles but probably a common impulse. I look forward to the discussion I hope develops in her comment box.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Saturday morning

It is very overcast and downright chilly this morning. I wandered around the Farmer's Market; ran into a bunch of Lutherans I know; and bought honey dates, chard, and red Russian potatoes. (My orange supplier has not been at the market for the last two weeks, and I am having citrus withdrawals.)

Driving home I stopped by a church yard sale being held at one of the lovely mansions that lines Orange Grove Boulevard. I found a tatted doily and a large table cloth from Greece. I'm going to use the table cloth as a door between my entrance/dining room/living room and the kitchen. The cloth is a heavy off-white muslin decorated with white brocaded patterns. It will be a lot easier to work with than the flimsy rayon material I bought a while back for the same purpose and will look more elegant.

It's definitely the sort of day to spend lazily around the house, but with all the plumbing work going on around here, I think I might take off again.

[Edit 6/23/04 Grammatical question: Is it "one of the lovely mansions that lines Orange Grove Boulevard," what I originally wrote, or "one of the lovely mansions that line Orange Grove Boulevard"? I think it's "one...that lines" but maybe it should be "mansions that line." Maybe I should just write "one of the lovely mansions lining/along Orange Grove Boulevard."]

Friday, June 18, 2004

Plumbing, cont.

Yesterday they removed the old tub and surrounding wall board. Today they repaired the floor, put in the new tub, and started tiling. The plumber comes tomorrow to plumb the tub, and then the other crew will continue to work on patching the walls.

When I got home this evening, everything was covered in a layer of fine dust. I'd covered some things previously when they drilled through the bedroom wall to get to the kitchen plumbing, but today's work affected the whole house. I keep vacuuming, but I think I'll be breathing fine particles for a while.

The bedroom is piled with stuff all draped in sheets: books, the contents of my clothes closet, the piano. The futon is folded up to make room for the closet contents, so I'm sleeping on the couch. I tried sleeping in the bedroom last night (before folding up the futon) but creeped myself out by imagining what might crawl up from under the house through the hole in the floor and wall between the bathroom and the bedroom closet.

The bathroom door is off its hinges, so things definitely feel in a state of flux around here. I am resolved though, that as I put things back in order once all the remodeling is completed, to weed stuff out and only put back what fits. I asked the landlord to put up a couple shelves on a blank wall in the kitchen, which he is going to try to do. So I might finally get some more storage space in the kitchen, as recommended by a number of people who've seen my kitchen.

June is the perfect month to do construction work in California. It's not rainy (usually), and it's generally overcast and relatively cool.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

More updates

Some more of my favorite websites are being updated again.
Apt. 11D

Path to Freedom Urban Diary

Theory of the Daily

Maybe I should follow suit.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Genetic testing of beef

I've just started re-reading Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America. This Health (!) column in yesterday's WSJ punctuates Berry's dis-ease with industrial agriculture: "Better-Tasting Beef Through Genetic Testing?" by Antonio Regalado and Scott Kilman (paid subscription required).

MetaMorphix and Cargill announced that they are now able to identify the genetic markers for "desirable beef traits." The WSJ article underscores the industrial flavor of raising beef.
Over the next year or so, Cargill says it will experiment with whether it can tailor the diets of cattle to their genetic predisposition when they arrive at one of its feedlots -- where they are fattened on grain for several months.

Cattle lacking the genes for tasty meat, for example, might be denied expensive diets since they aren't as likely to be valuable. "If there is an animal that's never going to reach restaurant grade, you could just feed it to the max and get it through the system," Metamorphix's Dr. Denise says.

Cattle expected to yield the highest quality beef are typically fattened more gradually and given fewer growth-promoting drugs.
Hmmmm. So people who eat meat and who cannot afford the better grades of meat get meat produced with more drugs??

The article goes on to emphasize the need for predictability and consistency in industrial farming.
Genetic screening also could help bring order to one of the most chaotic parts of the food chain. So far, the cattle industry has resisted the factory farming techniques that have swept through the chicken and hog sectors. Companies such as Tyson Foods Inc. and Smithfield Foods Inc. have brought down the cost of raising chickens and hogs by rearing them indoors and controlling every aspect of their lives.

As a result, the quality of retail packages of pork and chicken has grown more consistent. Beef cattle, however, are slow to reproduce and are still raised on open land. More than 800,000 farmers raise all sorts of cattle breeds and crossbreeds, leaving beef packers to cope with a wide variety in the quality of the cattle they buy.

Genetic screens could help Cargill sort through animals that end up in its feedlots without making massive investments in infrastructure. "We have a tool to vertically integrate based on information," said Mark Klein, a Cargill spokesman.
Diversity is so inconvenient and inefficient!

Sunday, June 06, 2004


A favourite website is being updated again, Pioneer Melissa's. On Friday, June 4 she posted pictures of a cool quilt she just finished, "Log Cabin on Acid."

I am intrigued by quilts and but right now will continue to admire them from afar rather than make them myself because 1) I don't have the SPACE, and 2) I am overwhelmed by all the choices and decisions that go into quilt making.

I have picked up a couple (only two!) books on quilting from used books stores. The Mountain Artisans Quilting Book, © 1973, documents a quilting cooperative program in West Virginia. Besides quilts for beds or wall hangings, the book has pictures of very 1970s-esque quilted skirts! Piece by Piece: The Complete Book of Quilt Making by Dianne Finnegan is about quilting in Australia.

My great-grandmother made quilts, some of which my mother has. I currently use a "church quilt" my mother passed along to me. When my parents were missionaries, they were the beneficiaries of small church women's groups' generosity. These women's groups made quilts from used and scrap pieces of fabric. The quilts certainly are not "art" quilts but have their own charm.

The quilt on my bed is made of three-inch squares of random fabric and is backed with a flannel print. Each square is tied with yellow acrylic yarn. I've only recently started noticing the actual fabric in each square. I suppose some of fabric would be labeled "vintage" these days. (Perhaps my mother will leave a comment giving the exact provenance of my quilt.)

Church groups still donate large numbers of quilts. For example, in 2003 Lutheran World Relief's quilt project sent 406,560 quilts to various countries around the world.

Friday, June 04, 2004


The plumber has moved over to my side of the duplex after working on the other side for a number of weeks now. Originally it was to put in copper piping. But of course, once you start ripping out walls and looking under floor boards, you find all sorts of stuff, like lead pipes. Does anyone know of the possible side effects of drinking water for four and a half years that's come through lead pipes? I formerly used a Brita filter but haven't for well over a year now.

I don't know how long it's going to take fix up my side. The wall next to the shower and floor and joist underneath the tub is pretty much disintegrated. I'm trying to persuade the plumber not to swap out the wonderful old bathroom sink, even if it does have rust stains from the overflow outlet. I think it would be worth it to reglaze it.

The kitchen sink and wall faucet are going to be swapped out, too. I've also put in my request to add plumbing for a small washing machine in the kitchen. We'll see. Why don't I just come out and directly ask for a raise in rent?

To get to the kitchen sink, the plumber has to cut in through the bedroom wall. So last night I was cleaning up the bedroom. Between the bedroom and living room, I have at least 14 feet of unshelved books; approx. 43 feet of shelved books; 4 feet of magazines and binders (plus the basket full of magazines and catalogues); 2 1/2 feet of cookbooks; 1 foot of unshelved library books; and around a dozen boxes of books in the garage. I need an office lined in bookshelves!