A Rottin' Christmas

Personally, I'm all for recycling. I had a 1967 VW van that, although it leaked more oil than the Exxon Valdez, more or less biodegraded under my feet. I have a few pair of socks that are getting pretty close. I recycle aluminum cans, I walk to work and, by not watering or mowing it, I have freed my lawn to achieve it's genetic destiny of becoming a native plant/weed showcase.Still, I still have trouble embracing composting. I know it is the male domain to take out the garbage in the traditional gender division of labor. However, taking it out to my own personal landfill in the back yard is not what I had in mind. I pay a lot of money to have sanitary engineers take care of such things. Anybody with an engineering degree must know more than I.I know that I am out of step and reasonably unhip about this. In some social circles, talking about garbage has become acceptable dinner conversation. "Yeah, you ought to see my compost pile rot! Whoa Nelly, that baby was actually steaming last winter.""Yeah, but how many sea gulls did you have circling it? That's the true test," I feel like asking.This has gotten out of hand. The age-old parental admonishment has changed from, "Clean your plate, there are children starving in China" to "Save that for the compost pile.""Whatever happened to all the starving children in China?" I think to myself. "Let 'em eat compost."Let's take a little trip back in time. Before the advent of the community landfill, the garbage disposal and giant trash cans scooped up by robotic-armed trucks, each household was responsible for its own garbage. The best way to keep from becoming neck deep in your own potato peels and ham hocks was to form a compost heap. In less harried times a compost heap was just that -- a pile or trench where garbage was allowed to rot unfettered by catalog-driven, compulsive composting overachievers.Now, just in time for Christmas shopping season, pick up any home or gardening catalogue and you are confronted with a cornucopia of devices designed to compost everything in the cornucopia in record time. For instance, the Lincoln Town Car of composters is the Solar Powered Tumbler for a mere $400 (plus postage).Yes, you'll be the envy of the neighborhood with this baby. It has a solar powered motor that automatically turns your home and garden waste each and every day. In just three weeks you'll have usable compost. And given the high value of rotten debris, you'll easily make back your investment in only 73.6 years.You say you don't want to take out a second mortgage for a composter? Well, consider the "bio-orb" at only $129 (some taxes may apply, check with your state government). The bio- orb is a 3 1/2 foot in diameter black ball that you fill with garbage and roll around the yard like a Sasquatch soccer ball. Not recommended for people who live near cliffs.But wait, there's more. Just like every computer needs software, every composter needs accessories. Don't forget to pick up some "compost repellent" to keep your personal landfill from become a canine/feline snack bar (no guarantee that it works on sea gulls). You will also need some "compost starter" so that you aren't forced to let nature take its course. The true connoisseur of rot will certainly want to be sure to get a "compost thermometer" with a 20-inch probe, because no true garbage gourmet would want to turn compost until it is cooked to perfection.Hey but why leave all the fun to humans? I'm told the forefront of rotting technology is "red wiggler worms." These slimy little guys devour your dinner leftovers better than the average Kitchen Aide garbage disposer. What's better is that you get to let nature's fish bait live right inside with you. They are not guaranteed to be live and on the job if your worm composter/condo gets below 40 F degrees. Two pounds of the tubular intestinal wonders costs only $24.95 plus $9.95 for the book Worms Eat My Garbage. Bumper stickers are extra.If they slack off, you can always taken them fishing. Try doing that with a Kitchen Aide.

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