Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday was the day to take Aaron back to his college town, so we loaded up the car and the four of us-- Mike, me, Aaron, and Melissa-- headed out early to allow lots of wiggle room in the trip schedule. Good thing, too, because our first route across the mountains, and then the second, was closed because of a large forest fire. We ended up going far enough out of our way that we added two hours to the drive.

A wildfire, typical in the arid west.
No, I did not take this picture, yesterday or ever.

And that got us to Eugene 15 minutes late for Melissa's hair appointment, but not so late that her appointment was canceled. Whew. Mike, Aaron, and I toodled around while Melissa got her hair done.

First, we went to a little coffee shop that sells Stumptown coffee (I bought a bag of coffee beans) and makes a decent cappucino (a rarity).

Then we went to Borders to wander and browse. We bought Aaron a copy of Mark Bittman's
How to Cook Everything. I got myself a Barbara Pym book, A Glass of Blessings. And Mike bought the latest issue of The Economist magazine.

We went back to the hair salon to wait for Melissa, where we sat in the car and read. After a while, I decided to walk across the parking lot to have a look around one of my favorite home and garden stores,
Down to Earth. And I found something I've been looking for for quite a while. A good broom.

When my old broom broke months ago, I put it back together with strong tape and began my search for a nicer one. I had decided quite a while back that when it became necessary for me to replace any household item that I was going for craftsmanship and quality, good aesthetics, sustainable materials, etc. I wanted to shop for household items with the following idea in mind:

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." ~William Morris, British craftsman whose designs generated the Arts and Crafts movement

Even when it came time to buy something as utilitarian as a new broom, why not go for both useful and beautiful instead of buying another plasticky broom? Actually, my old broom had a wooden handle and natural bristles for sweeping, but it was cheaply put together, never very sturdy, and held together with cheap plastic. I was guessing I could do better than that, so I began looking for a useful and attractive new broom but found nothing that appealed to me. Then I went into Down to Earth and came across this:

It's a
Sweep Dreams broom. Handmade in Thailand with all natural, renewable (sorghum and bamboo) materials. Dyes, when used, are non-toxic and natural. My broom has green and yellow tinting (very pretty), but I think I would have chosen this plain broom had it been available. At any rate, the brooms are attractive enough to display in the open. I think I'll eventually get one of their pretty dustpans, too!

I'm sure it must seem silly to be enthused enough about a new broom to write a blog post about it, but that's the way I am. Easily pleased. Sweeping will be ever so much more fun from now on, I'm sure! When we arrived home last night, I immediately gave the broom a test drive on the kitchen floor, and it worked even better than I'd expected (but compared to my old broom, anything would have been an improvement).

Anyway... When Melissa's appointment was finished, we had a late lunch/early dinner at our usual spot,
Cafe Yumm!. I had my usual Smoky Yumm! bowl and asked for it "vegan" with avacadoes on top. Cafe Yumm! (a "green" company) is as quick as fast food, but the food is really healthy-- whole, mostly organic, real food. The Yumm! bowls are vegetarian and can easily be made vegan. And the food really is delicious.

Next, we dropped off Aaron, and his things, at his apartment. We looked at TripCheck on the computer for road closure information, and sure enough, the main routes home were still closed because of the fire. So, we chose an alternative route that would add only an hour to our drive and headed home. As we started toward the mountains, we found ourselves, once again, in thick smoke. Uh-oh. And as we began climbing, we could see clouds of billowy smoke and a bright orange glow ahead of us. Another fire. But we drove on, and, to our relief, it became apparent that the fire was far enough north of the highway not to threaten our passage.

We finally reached our driveway after 9 p.m. Ahhhh, home! (But we sure do miss Aaron...)