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A Red Green moment. September 8, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I very much enjoyed watching episodes of “The Red Green Show,” a long-running Canadian parody of a “manly man” handyman DIY show, where the less than handy Red Green basically fixed everything with duct tape. (Thanks, Netflix!) Unfortunately, today I encountered the vehicle of another apparent fan of the show who had failed to realize that it was a parody.

I simply couldn’t believe my eyes when I pulled into the parking lot of the local grocery and found myself face to face with a gigantic pickup truck—bigger than a Dodge Ram—with its massive front bumper, the obvious victim of a too-close encounter, dangling from the front of the truck and held on by, you guessed it, duct tape.

I can’t say which disturbed me more, the idea of some idiot taping his bumper back on his truck with duct tape, or the thought that a bumper the size of my entire car would actually remain attached with duct tape. This did not, shall we say, inspire me with much confidence in terms of bumpers’ abilities to protect us from harm should the need arise.

Sadly, I didn’t get a look at the truck’s owner, so I can’t tell you whether he had a head the size of a small marble or had been urged by a friend to compete for a Darwin Award. But to all you fans of duct tape out there, please: Don’t get any big ideas. I don’t want to be driving behind you when the bumper falls off.

            ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

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Buy this blog. February 10, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben is sure I’m not the only person in the blogosphere whose ears perked up to read that AOL had bought The Huffington Post this week for $315 million. But I just might have been the only person who asked, “Is that all?” When multi-billion-dollar acquisitions fill the business columns daily, $315 million seemed, frankly, rather paltry for one of the most popular blogs of all time.

Naturally, this made me fantasize about selling our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, to the highest bidder. But Silence Dogood quickly brought me back down to earth. “Ben, only three of us write this blog. We write about whatever interests or amuses us, and though sometimes the subject is topical, more often it’s about my battles with stinkbugs or your visits with Ben Franklin or Richard’s coin collection. Who’s going to pay to buy that?!” Oh.

Silence followed with a one-two punch: “Would you really want to sell off our blog and stop writing it, anyway?” She reminded me of the “Red Green Show” episode we watched this past weekend where Red’s nerdy nephew Harold tries to interest a mainstream network in picking up the show for national distribution. As the parody goes on, not only are Red’s usual subject matter and language censored and changed to appeal to a wider audience, but a hot babe is brought in to replace his frumpy wife Bernice and a cool hunk replaces Harold himself. We were waiting for Red to be the next to go, but fortunately the real Harold returned and said that he hadn’t been able to get any networks interested in the show before that happened. 

Hmmm, good point. We do love writing our blog! And I still haven’t given up hope for a book deal or, say (hint, hint) a MacArthur Fellowship coming out of it. I guess we don’t want to sell it, after all. But if somebody’s out there with $315 million in chump change, do let us know. Our friend Ben would be very happy to talk to you!

Help! Our dryer broke! February 7, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Last night, the moment I’d hoped would never arrive finally did: I was drying the laundry when I heard an ominous “BAP! BAP! BAP!!!” sound, as though someone were pounding on the glass of the deck door. Rushing into the kitchen, I saw our black German shepherd, Shiloh, lying peacefully at the foot of the bird cages, as opposed to barking her head off and rushing around and around at the door. Oh, no: The sound was coming from the dryer.

Fortunately, the laundry was dry, so I hastily turned off the dryer in case it wasn’t a loose or broken belt or something but the engine getting ready to blow. (Having just watched a couple of DVDs of “The Red Green Show” with our friend Ben, I could easily picture the scene.)

Now, if you’re a normal person, you’re probably thinking, “So, call a repairman!” or “Just buy a new one!” or “Hang the clothes on a line in the basement!” or “Just hang ’em up on a line outdoors!” But as far as I can tell, none of these solutions will work. Here’s why:

The apartment-sized dryer-over-washer was in place when we bought our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, back in the day, and it looked ancient then. It has to be at least 20 years old, and could easily be 30. Or more. I have never to this day figured out how they got the washer-dryer into the tiny bathroom/laundry room off the kitchen to begin with; small as the unit is, it’s wider than the door, and there’s no way someone could have turned it past the sink once you’d gotten it in the door to begin with to position it where it is now. As far as I can tell, there’s also no way to get behind it to do any repairs, much less get it out of there, without chainsawing down the wall behind it.

Even if someone could manage to remove it, the cheapest replacement I could find online costs $949, plus, of course, tax and potential delivery, installation and removal charges. As we struggle to pay our monthly fuel oil and deregulated, skyrocketing electric bills in this bitterly cold winter, coming up with that sort of sum is out of the question.

As for line-drying, we have no basement, or any other place to run a line in the house. (I do have a wooden drying rack in the laundry room, but it’s hardly big enough for our friend Ben’s socks, much less a load of laundry.) And it’s so cold outside wet laundry would freeze on a line before I could get back in the house. Not to mention that we have a yard full of trees—and birds. I’ve never understood how people manage to hang clothes outside without having them splattered by bird droppings.

So here we are, dryerless and with no good alternatives in sight. At least the washer still works. My best plan so far is to do the wash here, then bag it up and carry it to the local laundromat, a mere 15 minutes from us, to dry it. (With just the two of us, we’re usually able to get away with one or, at most, two loads a week.) I’ve never washed clothes in a laundromat before, so I have no idea how much it would cost to use their dryer. But I have a feeling you’d have to do an awful lot of drying to rack up $1,000!

If anyone out there has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. And I have a question for anyone who does use or has used a laundromat: Is it safe to leave your clothes in the dryer while you go off and run errands, or must you sit with them while they dry? Many thanks for all advice!

         ‘Til next time,

                      Silence