Outdoor solutions right under your nose!

Cheap, effective and already on hand: Problem-solvers don’t get any better than these. Add some creativity, and you’ve got winners for outdoor life.

Watering can even has a lovely string for hanging when not in use.

Watering can even has a lovely string for hanging when not in use.

Cat litter jug watering can

I looked around one day and realized that I had amassed a ridiculous number of plastic cat litter jugs. Surely they have more than one life.

Aha! A watering can! To transform the jug, I screwed on the cap, then drilled 3/8-inch holes through it with my trusty old Black & Decker electric hand drill. All the holes were placed on the outside half of the cap, the portion where water would hit first when the jug was tipped.

The new watering can didn’t need decoration, but I jazzed it up with patterned duct tape. On trial runs using gray water from the shower, it worked so much better than hitting a plant with a big ol’ glug out of an uncapped jug. (Confession: I made a bunch of these, decorated them with duct tape and tried selling them for $1 each at a flea market. A lot of people looked, but nobody bought. The darned thing is so simple, anybody could make one and use that $1 to buy herself something pretty!)

Is that a skirt or a sun shade?

Imagine you are crossing the searing sand, no trees in sight, your skin stinging under the sun. It’s easy to picture when you’re at the beach – and the beach is the perfect spot for assembling one of the simplest yet most romantic ways More

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How many Andrés Cantores does the World Cup need?

Oh, Dios mío, I thought, I had better call 911. A neighbor across the main road was hollering in distress. I couldn’t quite make out what he was hollering, until he

freedigitalphotos.net

freedigitalphotos.net

yelled a prolonged “GOOOOOOOOOOL! GOOOOOOOOOOL! GOOOOOOOOOOL!”

Oh, my God, I thought, I’m glad I didn’t call 911. Obviously, the only emergency was that the United States was ahead in its World Cup match, and I happened to be living only the length of five fútbol fields away from an  Andrés Cantor impersonator.

Even if you don’t know the name Andrés Cantor, you know the sound. He’s the Argentina-born, California-raised soccer announcer on Telemundo (formerly on Univision) who goes basically batshit crazy over goals. English-language TV stations run video of his famous “GOOOOOOOOOOL!” for comic relief; in fact, he appeared on “The Simpsons.” He’s not really an old yeller; he’s a much-beloved fixture of televised soccer games – much so that GEICO and Volkswagen used him and his “GOOOOOOOOOOL!” More

How dry I am, how wet I’ll be …

California’s drought isn’t a secret. It’s been up in lights on freeway billboards. Water agencies have tucked pleas to cut back into envelopes with bills. Sun and grass

There’s no rain in sight. Some people looking ahead to winter are even predicting a “dry El Niño,” whatever that means. If ever there were a time to put your water to work, it’s now.

I started just before the pleas and billboards. I wanted to see how much fortitude it would take and how much water could be saved.

Warning: I’ve done some things that are normal and a few that are patently weird, but they all add up to water savings – a lot.

California has run ahead of lots of other states in household water conservation. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average More

Where there’s smoke …

Slurry bomber for blog

Firefighting plane drops retardant on Panorama fire/Waterman Canyon, Calif.; 2012. (c. Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

At 4 a.m., someone fired up a barbecue. Or at least it smelled like one – minus the aroma of grilled chicken or hot dogs.

The wind had shifted during the night, carrying smoke from a wildfire more than 10 miles away as the buzzard flies.

Lights snapped on in the neighborhood. Nobody sleeps when there’s smoke. They worry.

We still see the scars of the massive 2003 arson-caused wildfire that scorched a path to our road and took out seven houses a couple of roads away – more than 1,000 houses in all. People still talk about the two-week evacuation, More

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