08 June 2008

father's day gift guide

You wouldn't buy Dad another tie, or a t-shirt that says "World's Best Dad" on it for Father's Day, would you? I didn't think so. Well, if you need some help picking out a little something special for Pops for his special day, there's still time. Here are some ideas with every budget in mind:

  1. Gift subscription to the Green Guide. Opt for the downloadable version for an even greener gift ($15 paper version, $12 online version).
  2. The Kindle -- yeah, it's an electronic device, but it saves tons of paper. Dad can download books, magazines, newspapers, and even blogs ($359).
  3. If Dad's not techy, or just likes the old-fashioned printed word, get him a used or rare book from Alibris.
  4. Adopt an endangered animal, like the gray wolf (for as little as $20).
  5. Outdoor fire pit set made of a repurposed steel drum and utilizing clean-burning logs from VivaTerra ($259).
  6. Succulent garden -- an indoor mini garden that doesn't require a lot of water or care. Or you can make a succulent terraria yourself ($89 or cheaper if you DIY).
  7. Get him a class, like cooking or wine tasting. Or if he's more adventurous, surfing (prices range).
  8. Give him an experience, like a hot air balloon ride (commentary on the environmental impact here).
  9. Classic shaving kit with straight razor. Make sure the razor is made with good quality carbon steel, like this one (you can also get a cheaper, vintage one on ebay). Be sure to include shaving soap, brush, and strop (vegan options here). How to use one and a comparison of various shaving methods from Mother Earth News here.

For other holidays, encourage your friends and family to sign up for an alternative registry, where recipients can request gifts ranging from meaningful experiences to specific items that aren't necessarily available in department stores.

a little visitor

Last night as we sat down to watch "The Jerk," my boyfriend saw something out of the corner of his eye. "I think I saw a waterbug or something," he declares. I tense up a bit. I don't mind little creatures, and in fact, when they're in their natural habitat I admire them in fascination. But when one of these creatures finds his way into my home, I freak.

"Oh, there he is," a pause as he points behind the TV stand, "I think it's a mouse." Oh man. I don't like this. A look of disapproval comes my way, maybe because at this point I'm standing on the couch. Okay, I need to buck up and shake this irrational fear.

"He's so tiny... he's kind of cute," he says reassuringly. In the 8 years he's lived in this apartment -- and the 5 or so years that I've been here -- this is a first. We've been pretty lucky to have had so few parasitic visitors. Maybe a cockroach or two. That's it.

So on and off for about an hour or two (between snippets of "The Jerk") it goes like this: my boyfriend tries to scare the little bugger out from behind the TV stand. I, with big cardboard box in hand, eyes like a hawk, peer from my perch (the couch) waiting to pounce. My boyfriend shines a flashlight to expose him dangling from the TV wires, his shadow looming large on the wall. The mouse climbs onto the shelf where the DVD player and stereo live. Then he climbs down the wires and hides under the stand. Again, he runs up the wires. And on and on. Finally, makes a break for it. My weak attempt to toss the box over him is thwarted. He's now safe in the underbellies of the stove.

Weary and bleary eyed, we block him in the kitchen using a big mirror and steel wool and go to bed. To keep him from our bedroom, just in case, we stuff a towel under the door.

In the morning we assess the situation. He's nowhere to be found. I do some research on humane trapping. I'm not about to kill the little guy. I have to admit, the wily bastard is cute. And I don't want to come home to find a dead mouse belly up in a snap trap or worse, stuck in a glue trap.

So I found two methods for trapping, both DIY. We're trying this method from Chris Glass, who says it worked within an hour. There's also another method, using a 2-liter plastic bottle, but it's a bit more time consuming to construct.

(Left: Our version of the humane mouse trap)

Stay tuned...