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Venting about dryers

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

Snow on the mountains means winterizing in the valley. Teton Ace Hardware was the locals’ hot spot recently with people filling carts with insulating products, heat tape, gloves, and beefy Carhartt overalls. I picked up a new dryer venting tube and fastener, which was just the beginning of an interesting home experiment.

The last load of laundry from my now-retired dryer resulted in a woodsy scented load of clothing. Woodsy as in a forest fire. The clothes were smoked and the filter in the back of the dryer had changed color from white to black. I was lucky the house hadn’t burned down.

Did you know that dryer vents should be cleared every two years? My husband and I had last attempted this task 5 years ago. We opened the trap door to the crawl space that houses the outside vent; it took two people, hammers, levers and an inordinate amount of cussing to remove the door to access the outside vent. As if moving the dryer from its tiny slot and making the skinniest child get back there to remove the inside vent tubing wasn’t a big enough pain in the —. I realized that I would never be able to convince my husband to clear the vent again. Fast forward to the present.

Before the new dryer arrived, I offered my 17-year-old son an exorbitant amount of money to open the freakin’ heavy, ridiculously-designed trap door and use the shop vac and a special brush to clear it out. I vacuumed out the inside vent. My husband vanished. My son emerged from the pit wide-eyed, announcing that there were spiders, glowing red eyes and maybe ancient burial grounds down there.

It was a happy day when I placed a wet washer load into the new Whirlpool. Twenty minutes into the drying phase, a bright red light flashed: Check Vent. My husband immediately packed his bags and disappeared on a three day fishing trip in Yellowstone. My son packed his bags and went to a concert in Colorado with some friends. My daughter gave me the stink-eye. I was on my own.

I hit YouTube first and found a great How-To video about clearing stubborn dryer vents.  I had been doing this all wrong. Armed with nothing but flabby arms, I pulled out the dryer and removed the new vent tubing. Then I went outside with hammers, metal shafts, and steel-toed boots. It took me 30 minutes but I moved that freakin’ awful heavy trap door and dropped in the pit. I opened up that vent, not once feeling that my life was in danger. Getting out of the pit was kind of hard, though, and I prayed that my neighbors weren’t watching as I dragged myself out of the pit and across the deck like an inchworm. A very large inchworm.

Here’s the good part: I inserted the leaf blower tube into the inside vent and let-er rip. It was cathartic. Huge piles of packed lint blew out into the pit. In 10 seconds, a mountain shrugged off my shoulders.

I ran 6 loads of laundry that day humming “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and scoffing to myself about the frailties of my menfolk.

For your own safety, clear your dryer vents. For a sense of true accomplishment, use a leaf blower.


Strolling down sensory lane

Strolling down sensory lane
Purple irises remind me of walking through my grandmother’s garden in Washington thirty-five years ago. The smell of Pine-sol cleaner reminds me of the mint-green bathrooms at Horace Mann elementary school in New Jersey circa 1969. Last week, I came across an item that took me back to childhood visits to the dentist: black licorice ice cream.

My parents had three children in a row and then a gap of 2 years before the fourth child. Dentist appointments were scheduled at the group rate with each of us taking our turn in the chair. For some reason, my parents rewarded us afterwards with a trip to the ice cream parlor. Have you tried to lick an ice cream cone with a fully Novacained mouth? If not, try it sometime and share your photos with me. Now picture 4 children under the age of 10 trying to demolish a double-scoop cone. We may never know if my parents were a tad sadistic or simply in need of comic relief.

Snelgrove Ice Cream parlor in Sugar House, Utah. Photo credit: Flckr/Clint Gardner

Snelgrove Ice Cream parlor in Sugar House, Utah. Photo credit: Flckr/Clint Gardner

Anyhoo, Mom and Dad would take us to Snelgrove’s Ice Cream parlor in Sugarhouse, Utah and allow us to order our favorite flavors. My favorite was black licorice. From that point on, after moving away from Utah and whenever I had occasion to visit various ice cream stands, I would always search for black licorice. Let’s be clear: the color of this delicacy is black. Some posers have sold it as aqua blue or pale grey. It must be black as in “black licorice”. Our visits to Snelgrove’s ended with the lower halves of our faces coated with ice cream. I often looked like Blackbeard.

My children and husband have become part of the search team for the elusive dessert. They’ve joined the team because they care about me and want me to shut up about licorice ice cream, not because they like the flavor because they don’t.

So last week, I was strolling up the frozen foods aisle with my daughter when she turned to me, smiled and said, “Look Mom, there’s a new brand of ice cream.”

People, spread the word. Broulim’s in Driggs, Idaho is now carrying Red Button Vintage Creamery in a selection of flavors including BLACK LICORICE! My cries of delight forced my daughter to run and hide in the toothpaste aisle. Waiting impatiently at the check-out register, the couple ahead of me noticed my carton of BLACK LICORICE ice cream and commented softly to each other about the flavor.

“And it’s black, not bright blue! I’ve been waiting all my life for this!” I exclaimed to them both, with an undertone of hysteria. They looked deeply into my eyes, decided that I was a benign lunatic, and assured me that they would sure check out the ice cream aisle the next time they came to Broulim’s.

My first spoonful took me back to Snelgrove’s, closed for almost a decade now. Memories of our family standing in front of the long counter to order, then seated around the circular booth, smashing cones onto our chins and cheeks. It was heavenly.

What sensory mode takes you back in time? Share the scent, taste, feel, sound or sight that flies you right to a certain moment. And then go check out the ice cream selection at Broulim’s. More

Rest Assured: My unplanned ‘car camping’ experience in Wyoming

By Ann Loyola It was surprising. It wasn’t the biggest surprise I’d had that day, but I admit I didn’t think my camera accessory bag would end up being a passable pillow, even with my jeans rolled around it for padding.  The 4-inch ledge between my car’s folded backseat and the rear floor mat presented the biggest problem while I snuggled down for a good night’s sleep in the back of my Honda but I resolved that by stuffing some canvas grocery totes under my knees.  Heck, I never remember to bring the bags inside the store with me but thank goodness I carry them around in my car. The biggest surprise I’d had that day – two Fridays ago to be exact – was discovering that Laramie, Wyo. is such a busy, happenin’ kind of town that every single blasted hotel/motel/B&B was full. I drove into town at 9 p.m., exhausted after 7 hours of driving but looking forward to picking up my daughter from a three-week camp held at the University of Wyoming. Car emergency kit infographicI called every hotel front desk. I shuffled into the lobby of several lodges only to hear bad news. By 10:45 p.m., I had to accept reality and began making a bed in the back of the car. I didn’t have a coat. Didn’t bring a blanket. I dug around my suitcase and draped clothing over myself. At 3 a.m., I woke up shivering and had to leave my spot in the Fairfield Inn parking lot to drive to the nearest truck stop. I bought a huge “I Heart Wyoming” hoodie, used the potty, and headed back. I considered staying in the truck stop parking lot but vaguely recalled hearing something negative about women hanging out in cars at truck stops. When I showed up at my daughter’s dorm (and yes, I tried to get permission to sneak into the dorm for the night), I was red-eyed, gritty haired and possibly smelly. Something had bitten the side of my face and my ankle during the night. I had managed to brush my teeth and scrub my face at the truck stop but that was as far as I could go without arousing fear among the other female patrons. So I was partially presentable as I met the other parents, mingled during a nice luncheon and then finally hit the road home. Sleep is important. Our bodies need ample rest. Our brains function better with the right amount of sleep. More studies are proving that consistent REM-involved sleep can lead to better all-around wellness. That’s why the moral of this story is worth sharing: If you ever have the slightest inkling that you may need to stay overnight in Laramie, Wyo., make a reservation well in advance. Do you have any travel stories like this to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below! More

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