inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #76 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Wed 10 Feb 10 12:46
    
I'm not trying to sound lackadaisical about the marketing, but I saw
the way that my first book sold. I got good reviews, I got it into
Barnes & Noble, and then I had to get distributors because B & N
couldn't buy directly from me. I didn't go around to gift stores,
nurseries, and co-ops to introduce them to the book--I had no travel
budget and simply couldn't afford to. Non-bookstores bought the book
anyway, and the woman who ended up becoming my agent bought my book in
a garden center on Long Island. 

I wrote the best book I was capable of writing, and now I just have to
hope that it has legs. The best legs, of course, are those that propel
satisfied readers! 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #77 of 145: Gail Ann Williams, aka (gail) Wed 10 Feb 10 14:38
    
That's a great attitude.

I have a story -- actually my mom's story -- for you to comment on if
you will, Ellen.

I spent a lot of time camping and backpacking as a kid, with my
backpacker parents.  Some time in the mid-sixties (because yes I am
that old) we kids got to go on a Sierra Club river run down the Yampa
and Green rivers, major tributaries to the Colorado, where they wind
through the fossil-laden cliffs of Utah near Dinosaur National
Monument.  Delightful on many levels!

My mom would not let us take our cups and utensils and wash in the
communal dishwashing line, but instead had us scrub them with sand and
river water.  

A few days in everybody got dysentery except for our family. Since it
was the Sierra Club, quite educated and professional in demographic
make-up, there were one or more MDs along on the trip, and while the
hiking-folkloric theory of that era was that visible pollen on the
water was messing with people's guts, they did decide to ask my mom why
we were still healthy. 

As she tells me, she was embarrassed to let them know what she'd been
alarmed about the traditional dish washing routine, so she told them we
spent a whole lot of time outdoors and drank a lot of stream water,
and might just be immune. 

But she felt the real story was that people were dipping their
utensils into common buckets of first soapy water then rinse water that
were soon only lukewarm, and she felt we'd add more microbes than we'd
remove if we put our cups in there too.  She also made us air-dry
rather than wipe with our bandanas, which a few of the others did
routinely.

Of course, if everybody washes directly in the river, the river itself
becomes the disease vector. So there are situations where water
sanitization choices like boiling, or chlorinating, or filtering make
sense, and where you have to remember that sanitized water can become
extremely contaminated very quickly once the cleaning starts. 

Of course it is possible that we had a little bit of immunity to some
bugs. The doctors actually believed her, way back in the mid sixties 
when that was a novel explanation. But I agree that her good judgment
about the tepid communal rinse was more to the point.  Now and then
some epidemic-like situation can give clues to what sort of casual
approach is healthy, and what is dangerous.  Of course, she should have
told the docs the truth about our abstaining from the dish washing
rituals.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #78 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Wed 10 Feb 10 15:17
    
Hi Gail!

What a great story! I did a lot of backpacking in the seventies when I
was in high school, and I never did the whole fill up a pot throw in
some dish liquid thing. I always just scrubbed with sand, rinsed, and
then airdried.  Complete airdrying is the secret to finishing off any
lingering germs.

I don't even do the fill up the sink thing when I wash dishes at home,
I just wet the dish under hot running water, scrub the dish with a
clean dishcloth with dishliquid on it, rinse under hot running water,
put the dish in the drainer and let it air dry. The way that dishwater
looks in a sink after a load of dishes has been washed does not inspire
me with confidence that the dishes are actually clean. The really
dirty ones may be cleaner, but the cleaner ones may have actually
gotten dirtier and greasier.

I think your mother was absolutely right, sharing lukewarm dishwater
is not the way to go. If you had a dog with you, letting the dog clean
your dishes would actually have been preferable to sharing the lukewarm
communal dishwater! 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #79 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Wed 10 Feb 10 19:27
    
i remember in the late 60s, in my 1st introduction to communal
hippy households and handwashing of dishes (i had grown up
with automatic dishwashers), being told that when new roommates
moved into a household, it wasnt uncommon for them to get sick
because they werent used to the bugs in that household. it was
a fascinating notion, that each household might have its own bugs.

i never saw this happen, but the idea was interesting...
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #80 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Wed 10 Feb 10 20:44
    
Hi Loris,

Our family definitely has communal bugs, we use each other's stuff a
lot. I tend to always carry a toothbrush and toothpaste in my beltpack
when I go anywhere, and the rest of the family often borrows it because
they are much too cool to carry beltpacks. We figure we all have each
other's germs anyway, and we'd rather not get cavities just because
we're afraid of sharing the germs we've already shared anyway.

I suppose it's vaguely possible that people who are very very
germophobic might be able to avoid sharing their natural microflora and
microfauna with other members of the household, but where's the fun in
living like that?
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #81 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Wed 10 Feb 10 22:05
    
it was just a strange idea to me that the natural household cooties
could make people -sick-, if they were new to them.
gotta say, there's never been -anyone- i would want to share a toothbrush
with!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #82 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 11 Feb 10 05:58
    
Hi Loris,

I think it's pretty common for travelers to new places to get sick
from the normal microorganisms in that place. Montezuma's Revenge, for
instance, only strikes visitors, not residents. 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #83 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 11 Feb 10 06:00
    
Oh, and as far as the toothbrush goes, we are a kissy family and we
share a lot of food, we all already have those mouth germs.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #84 of 145: For Rosetti, wombats held a peculiar fascination (loris) Thu 11 Feb 10 09:22
    
of course i have heard about montezuma's revenge,  etc etc. but the lower-
grade form of this i have never observed.

i think my feelings about toothbrushes dont have to do with being germphobic
(off topic)
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #85 of 145: the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Thu 11 Feb 10 10:20
    
Great stories!  We were at a Buddhist temple in Taiwan and were
washing our hands while a monk brushed his teeth.  As we dried our
hands, he carefully washed his brush before offering it to us.  We were
completely charmed and made more than a bit queasy by his generosity.

I was also charmed by your suggestion that matches be burned to get
rid of bathroom odors.  I can't count how many times we were scolded by
people when we were house guests, or when they in fact were house
guests ("It smells like the house is burning down!"), and told to use
air fresheners instead; some even bought us cans in case we didn't
understand.  Now when we have a party I tend to light a couple
unscented candles in the bathroom for a, er, genial atmosphere.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #86 of 145: Eric Gower (gower) Thu 11 Feb 10 11:27
    
Just ordered the GB -- sounds like a great read for my somewhat
germophobic wife, can't wait to read this in bed with her!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #87 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 11 Feb 10 12:17
    
Loris,

I am not suggesting that anyone besides my own family should share
toothbrushes! We are just all very unpicky about such things. We do
have our own toothbrushes at home--the sharing is only done while we
are away from home, especially if someone has eaten something sugary or
gooey! I am really hard on my everyday toothbrushes--which tend to
look as if an elephant had stomped on them--and no one else would ever
want to use those!

cjp,

That is a really charming story about the monk! He must have been
accustomed to living with other people who already share a set of
microbes.

And unscented candles are a really good solution to the problem of
bathroom smells during a party! I'm nervous enough about fire hazards
that I would probably leave the candle burning in a dish of sand in the
tub!

Eric,

I think in bed is the perfect place to read G.B. with your spouse!
(Hint: you might want to read about skin-brushing on page 35 first,
then buy an appropriate brush. You definitely won't regret it!)
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #88 of 145: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Thu 11 Feb 10 12:31
    
I know of families that share bathwater. IE someone uses a bath,
mostly to get warm before bed, and then other family members use the
same water for the same purpose. It is not something that appeals to
me, but it works for them.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #89 of 145: (fom) Thu 11 Feb 10 13:29
    
say more about skinbrushing for those of us who haven't seen the book 
yet? 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #90 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 11 Feb 10 13:43
    
Julie,

I usually take a very quick shower (a few minutes worth)and scrub
myself clean before I take my very rare tubsoaks (usually if I'm not
feeling well, or need to soak in Epsom salts or something). I'm not all
that interested in soaking myself in dirty bathwater. Of course,
around our household, when we are dirty, we are usually really, really
filthy because we garden, have chickens, and do vermicomposting on a
rather large scale.

fom,

Skinbrushing is a technique that uses hairbrushes to stimulate the
skin and the nerve endings in the skin. The brushing is done in a
circular motion, starting at the extremities and working in towards the
heart. Skin brushing may help banish chronic pain that is caused by a
feedback loop in the brain and nervous system. Traditionally, skin
brushing is done with natural bristle brushes, but I find these brushes
to be rather harsh and unpleasant--I prefer the feeling of those
air-cushioned hairbrushes that have fat nylon bristles with little
rounded tips. Try taking turns skin-brushing with someone you love.
It's sheer bliss!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #91 of 145: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 11 Feb 10 13:46
    
Thinking more about the shared bath story. If you are clean and
healthy, that's an awful lot like a hot tub. If you have foul and
dangerous substances to wash off (even ones that are not so visible),
or you are sick, that sounds like a very bad idea.  

Similarly with the toothbrush stories.  Tell me you have a sore in
your mouth, and I'll not use your washed-up toothbrush.  But what if
you have something that is bad but just starting, still asymptomatic?
That's where the sharing comes into question for me.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #92 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 11 Feb 10 13:55
    
Gail,

I agree. One must be judicious about these things.

However, none of my family members has ever had a sore in our mouths,
other than those that were related to a baby tooth falling out or a
dental work of various kinds. We certainly aren't sharing toothbrushes
with anyone who has just had surgery or a tooth pulled--we are very,
very careful when anyone is medically fragile!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #93 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 11 Feb 10 14:32
    
And speaking of shared baths, when my husband and I lived in Oakland
and were doing organic landscaping for a living, our apartment had no
shower, just a big old clawfoot tub. We would stagger home dead tired
and filthy after a long day's work, fill the tub and both get in and
scrub. By that point, we certainly were not going to introduce any
germs that either of us didn't already have! 

Of course, we were cleaning ourselves, not soaking in the filthy water
afterwards, and we rinsed off thoroughly after we were done scrubbing
ourselves. 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #94 of 145: die die must try (debbie) Thu 11 Feb 10 14:39
    

When we lived in India we got used to bucket showers. fill one bucket with
warm water, use scooper to pour some water over yr self, soap up, scooper
more water to rinse. a whole shower with less than a bucket of water. but -
it does feel fine in a warm climate, not as great when it is cold out.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #95 of 145: (fom) Thu 11 Feb 10 15:03
    
Thanks for the skinbrushing info. 
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #96 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Thu 11 Feb 10 16:48
    
Debbie,

Warm weather sounds rather enticing right now..


fom,

You're welcome! A friend of mine has started trying skin brushing on
her foot and leg to see whether it will help with the neuropathy in her
foot. She had both knees replaced about 6 months ago, and her foot has
been painful and full of pins-and-needles ever since.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #97 of 145: the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Thu 11 Feb 10 22:39
    
I love dry skin brushing and have been doing it for a couple of months
now ever since my naturopath recommended it.  The brush I use is a
soft natural bristle, really soft as soft could be, and it feels
wonderful first thing in the morning to get the blood flowing and to
wake up my entire body.  Highly recommended!

Ellen, as a professional worm wrangler, could you give us some tips on
worm composting?  I have a Can o' Worms in the yard, and I've had
trouble getting enough worm action in there to quickly dispose of
kitchen scraps.  As a result, fruit flies and ants show up, and then
everything goes downhill and the worms disappear.  Is this three-tiered
thingamajig the right size and shape?  How do I get it started right? 
How do I take care of it correctly?  Please please advise so that I
can start over again and look forward to success!
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #98 of 145: Ellen Sandbeck (ellensandbeck) Fri 12 Feb 10 06:37
    
Hi cj!

Worm wrangling, one of my other day jobs...

The Can O' Worms, as you have already discovered is nearly impossible
to run, in fact, in the 21 years I've been wrangling worms, I've only
met two people who have claimed that their Can O' Worms were running
well. After asking them a few questions, I came to the private
conclusion that they were wrong (though since they were happy, I didn't
tell them so) because both of these people were feeding their worms up
to half a cup of food PER MONTH, and were taking the whole apparatus
apart and setting it up again every month. I do not call that a working
worm bin; I call that a working person. I am much too  lazy to unpack
and re-set up a worm bin every month! I only empty my worm bins when I
am moving my entire household and the only alternative would be to
leave my bins behind! (My bins are 150 gallon ones. It would be
impossible to move them without emptying them first.) The bins that we
set up for people are meant to be run forever without ever needing to
be set up again. The longer a bin is run, the faster and more efficient
it gets because the bacterial population keeps increasing.

I have a small collection of badly designed bins that people have
given me after they have given up on those bins, and bought mine. The
Can O' Worms is in my collection. The problem with the Can O' Worms is
that the stacking trays are too shallow to allow food to be properly
buried so it is not in contact with the air--food waste in contact with
the air inevitably breeds fruit flies. These trays have perforatated
bottoms, which makes it even more difficult to keep the food waste from
being in contact with the air. In fact the trays are so shallow and
airy that the worms hate them, and end up migrating to the bottom tray,
the one that is only supposed to be collecting liquid. The total
usable volume of the entire Can O' Worms is also too small to deal with
the food waste produced by even a single adult human who eats a
homecooked meal more than once every six months.

Many years ago, Liz, a friend of mine who is a master gardener and
master composter, and has managed nurseries, was given a Can O' Worms
by someone who couldn't make it run, tried running the thing at the
nursery for a summer. She was completely underwhelmed and wrote a very
scathing review of it in which she mentioned ants, fruit flies, and a
total of nearly almost half a cup of food waste composted during the
entire course of the summer.

My business website, lavermesworms.com has lots of information about
worm composting, as well as an "Ask Ellen" feature where people can
send me questions. I've been fielding questions about worm composting,
organic gardening, and nontoxic housekeeping ever since I first
published "Slug Bread" in 1995. The internet has made it even easier
than it used to be for people to contact me.

So, to finally answer your original question, cj, you need to start
over with a worm bin that has been designed so it meshes well with worm
biology. The bin should have a minumum of a 17 gallon capacity,
smaller bins are almost impossible to run because they are too small to
gain any momentum at all. Worms do not like "airy" bins with
ventilation holes in the sides or bottom; fruit flies, however, love
airy bins. Food should always be buried completely under either
finished compost, damp peat moss, or damp coffee grounds. If you want
to make your own bin, you should go to lavermesworms.com and click on
"Do-It-Yourself Vermicomposting," where you will find very complete
instructions on how to make your own worm bin.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #99 of 145: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Fri 12 Feb 10 08:11
    
Happy Can O'Worms user here, with a bin that processes a couple of
pounds of food scraps per week.  It takes minimal maintenance,
switching trays around as I remove the completed compost and start new
trays up; and I have to be careful to keep the bottom drain clear.  It
may not be the best design possible, but it is possible to get it
working with plenty of happy worms eating a couple of pounds a week.
  
inkwell.vue.376 : Ellen Sandbeck, Green Barbarians
permalink #100 of 145: the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Fri 12 Feb 10 11:38
    
I envy you, (debunix), and wish I had your knack for the Can o' Worms!

Thanks so much for the detailed response, Ellen.  Wow!  I feel almost
vindicated after having committed the unintentional destruction of
many, many pretty beautiful red worms over the past couple of years.  

That website, lavermesworms.com, is wonderfully helpful, and I look
forward to lots of worm composting this year, especially since we make
homemade veggie juice and almond milk at least once a day, and it
practically kills me that no little worms are reveling in the leftover
mulch.  Thank you!  I also love the idea of covering the food with damp
coffee grounds.  That should really make the bin cozy and fly-proof. 
I'm now going off to order "Slug Bread" and set up my big new worm
condo.
  

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