I get nostalgic in the fall; I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the approaching holidays that remind me of my childhood, or maybe it's the cooler weather that makes me yearn for comfort foods, which in turn reminds me of times gone by. But every fall, I find myself wanting to do things differently, to return to the simple traditions I knew as a child: making jam, canning vegetables, baking, knitting, sewing.

Last night we had fried chicken and collard greens for dinner. How southern is that? :-D I wasn't happy with how my greens turned out, and I am going to work on that. I have some ideas for replicating the unbelievably yummy collards at Stubbs BBQ. Anyway, I also made some cornbread to go with those dishes. I don't have the right sized cast iron killet, but I do have a bunch of mini iron skillets. And so I present: mini-corn pones. :-D )

Another thing I've been thinking about in the last six months or so is how to cut back on my energy use. It seems like a no-brainer for someone like me, but I'd gotten lazy. I'd stopped thinking about switching off lights or turning up the thermostat. We've been much better about those things since Carter was born.

But one we hadn't thought much about was laundry. We have an HE washer and dryer, and the dryer is natural gas-powered, so we haven't thought much about energy or water use with laundry. We cloth diaper, though, and so that means a few more loads of laundry every week than we would do otherwise. I feel fine about the water use -- what we really need to do is change out our toilets to double-flush ones. But those diapers take a looong time to dry, at least two cycles on high. And geez, that's crazy!

So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to start line drying my diapers. I put some of the natural fiber ones in the dryer for a short cycle to soften them up (they are pretty crunchy otherwise), and then hang them outside, but the fleece pockets and microfiber inserts go straight on the drying rack. Wipes (which I had stupidly been drying and then re-wetting to go back in the warmer!) get folded, wet a little more, and put in the warmer again.

This has benefits other than saving energy, I've found. Sunlight is an amazing disinfectant and bleach. Stains just disappear, like magic. My diapers have smelled a lot cleaner, to my surprise. And there's just something cool about hanging them out to dry. )
Last March, the federal government took the gray wolf off the Endangered Species List after 30 years of protection. There were an estimated 2000 in the wild, what the US Fish & Wildlife Department called a "thriving population" -- despite the fact that scientists have stated that a population of 3000-5000 was the minimum to ensure genetic diversity.

Hunters jumped at the chance to start killing them again, and in a little under four months, nearly 5% of the population was killed, including wolves who had been made celebrities in wildlife documentaries, wolves that schoolchildren read about in books and watched films of. Shot dead by hunters. The government's protections would not have kicked in again until the population was down to 300 wolves.

Disgusting, sickening, and heartbreaking, right? Finally, someone managed to do something about it. From USA Today here:

A federal judge in Montana has restored protection to gray wolves in Northern Rockies. They were taken off the endangered-species list March 28 after federal officials said the species — once hunted, poisoned or trapped to the verge of extinction — was "thriving."

The order, by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, is expected to halt public hunts being planned by officials in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The National Resources Defense Council claims that 106 gray wolves have been killed in those states in the 118 days since being removed from the list. An estimated 2,000 wolves now live in the Northern Rockies after a decade-long restoration effort.


I'm still sick over the whole thing, but at least this is a step back in the right direction.

March 2013

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