Sunday, June 29, 2008


It's over 100F today, and forecast to be the same tomorrow. We might 'cool down' to the low-mid 90s by Tuesday. Hopefully with a thunderstorm, but chances are low. It looks today as if there are t-storms developing over both the Boise Mtns to our north and the Owyhees to the south, but those probably won't make it out over the valley, unfortunately. At least, under normal conditions those storms wouldn't reach us. The La Nina effect has changed how our weather behaves this year, so it's hard to say. Anyway, it's darn hot. It's good for my peppers and tomatoes, but not so pleasant for me. Still, the house hasn't heated up quite enough yet to make us turn on the AC. We'll avoid doing that as long as we can. There's a point we reach during July and August where it doesn't cool down enough at night to cool the house, so we end up using the AC.

Our big news this week is the washing machine has gone kaput. It started leaking oil into the wash drum and ruined three loads of laundry before we figured out where the oil stains were coming from. So today we went out to price new machines, thinking we might get it repaired but wanting to compare that cost to the price of a new one.

We ended up just buying a new one. It's a front-load, which I'm not sure I'll like. I had one in the UK and it was a pain. It was smaller than this one, so you couldn't put much into it. It took two loads to do the amount of clothes I was used to doing in one load in the US. But, this one will hopefully be better. I'm happy we can afford to buy one.

The new one is at least bigger than the one I had over there, and through asking questions I found out the drum's suspension is probably stronger. I hope so. It seems much easier to unbalance a front load machine, which is the problem I had before.

The new machine will use far less water, and thus less electricity. We're on a well, so our water has no cost, but the electricity to pump it does. And since the clothes will be less wet, they should take less time in the dryer as well. It will be interesting to see if and how much savings we get from it. Especially since the electricity company here just applied to raise their rates 10%.

It's been a busy few weeks. Hubby was away at a violin-making course for a week, then gone for 12 hours every day for the next week because of Weiser National Fiddle Contest. He sets up shop there for the week. It's like Christmas for our retail sales. People come from all over the country. We were a bit worried the economy would make folks spend less money at Weiser, but in fact he did pretty well. Sold three good-quality instruments and lots of other stuff.

Even so, it's amazing to hear economists on NPR talking about how things really aren't as bad as consumers think they are. Those guys have never had to depend on their own small business sales for a living. Our observation is more people are driving shorter distances, making fewer trips, eating out less often, and cutting back on spending that seems unnecessary. That includes musical instruments and instrument repair, understandably.

We've seen a lot more big SUVs and 4-door trucks parked in front yards with For Sale signs on them in the past 3-4 months. I saw my first Smart Car on the road (as opposed to just sitting in a car dealer's lot) a few weeks ago. Here in Idaho, large SUVs and trucks easily out-number cars, and studded tires get used until April. I would NOT want to drive something that small here. Sure, I want a smaller car with good gas mileage, but something that small isn't safe in this environment. So, we haven't quite reached the tipping point yet for this area, but there are indications that things are about to change.

Which is why we're hoping to avoid buying a new car for a few more years. I'm very curious to see what new things come out on the market by 2010.

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