Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

Sometimes a Pepper Mill

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

pepper grindersThere is no reason in the world for me to have this many pepper mills. Of all the mills that have come my way, the one that works the best is the one in black plastic from Ikea.

I’m no fan of the company, but this peppermill has good ergonomics and produces a nice even grind every time. Unlike the other mills, it doesn’t constantly come out of adjustment, since the top does not screw on, it slides on.

Lots of people collect salt and pepper shakers. That’s a whole different ball game. Although some of mine have matching salt shakers, I have no excuse for accumulating all these pepper mills. At least I haven’t spent much; except for the black Ikea model, I got them at yard sales or Goodwill. (Horrible blog confession: I don’t always remove the peppercorns.)

The largest pepper mill I own is just under eighteen inches. You can get a three-footer at And no, it’s not a phallic thing, it’s my quest for a perfect pepper grinder thing. Although anybody that grinds his pepper with a 36″ pepper mill…

Unfortunately, it is getting harder to find peppercorns in bulk packaging. Some supermarkets only carry the little plastic bottles of peppercorns with the grinder built in. This is lame, worse than disposable razors. And compare the per pound price of the peppercorns in these flimsy grinders with the bulk peppercorn price. Yes, a total rip-off.

Stephanie thinks I (we) have too many pepper mills. But she is a salt freak. She once took a continuing ed class about salt.  When my brother went to Paris this spring, she made him promise to bring back a container of Le Saunier de Camargue, Fleur de Sel.  Fancy salt like this is often served in a salt cellar.

Pin Dry

Monday, August 31st, 2009

praying hands clothespinA few years ago my housemate at the time returned from a trip to India with a present for me—a bag of colored plastic clothespins in the shape of hands praying. Not your typical gift, I must have mentioned to him once or twice how much I like to hang my laundry out to dry.

The clothespins from India were not so sturdy, suited more to a sari, or tourists, than a pair of dungarees. The yellow one here on top of my classic wooden clothespins might just be the last of the batch.

When my partner Stephanie moved in, she was initially reluctant to do the clothesline thing. She claimed the drier made towels fluffier. It also took a few tries to remember that you can only hang stuff on the bottom line.

For a long time one end of the clothesline was attached to the house and the other to a portable basketball hoop bequeathed to me by the previous homeowner. Despite the base being filled with cement, it had to be weighted with stones and tied to a fence to keep from being yanked over by the wet clothes. My plan was to eventually replace it with an old iron building column I had dragged into the backyard for that purpose.

In the meantime, Steph planted a garden, and did not want a portable basketball hoop in it. I had a standing offer from my next-door neighbor Sue to attach my line to the telephone pole in her yard. The pole held not only her clothesline but those of two other neighbors, whose lines came in over the back fence, a real neighborly setup that was once common. I was reluctant because my line would be over her backyard air space for almost 50 percent of the run.

Finally, realizing the iron column plan would take extensive engineering, I did take advantage of her generous offer, if only temporarily. As soon as the baby comes I plan to build a professional quality rig to handle the extra volume.


Clothespins and Guinness don’t mix.

Depressing fact: In California, about seven million people can’t hang their clothes in public because of the policies of about 40,000 community associations.

Here are some paintings of clotheslines.

It’s A Jar

Friday, August 21st, 2009

jar with homemade cleaning pasteSince she’s been pregnant, I’ve been haranguing my partner Stephanie about the avoidable dangers of cleaning products for the home, and how, using vinegar and a few other non-toxic, inexpensive ingredients, we could save money, be safe and get the house just as clean.

I was surprised when, several days after one of our (rarish) cleaning expeditions, complete with harangue, a box arrived at our door full of empty spray bottles and screw top jars, all rendered in unadulterated, pure, clear, plastic.

Part of me protested that ordering a slew of containers over the Internet to package your homemade cleaning products was not fully in the spirit of hardcore DIY. I had in my mind an idea of rinsing out used up commercial product containers and refilling them with our homemade recipes.  I was about to do this at any moment, in fact.

But I could not deny that a certain satisfaction can be derived by putting something or other in a nice clean jar and labeling it with a fancy custom label. I believe it may be a variant of the human emotion engendered by running around the office supply store, grabbing organizers and folders and pens and paperclips.

I briefly and half-heartedly tried to make a case for the financially nonsensical feasibility of the plan, but I couldn’t get hard numbers—after further inquiry I was only able to narrow down the expense of the jars and bottles and labels to  “less than fifty dollars.” Anyway I was still getting over the fact that a harangue had actually produced a result of any kind.