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July, 2006:

Yonkers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Part of living in any city is being part of the community. Which is one of the reasons that Stephanie and I joined a CSA…

For those of you out of the loop- a CSA is a program by a small (or not so small) local farm, in which they sell shares of their crop in advance to consumers such as us. In return for the upfront money, we get a “Share” of their crop– for about 25 weeks– June-November– whatever they are growing.

We joined the Yonkers CSA, sponsored by Groundwork Yonkers. Groundwork is a really great organization that sponsors educational and community building around environmental issues. They’re an excellent organization (we had one in Providence) and so when I discovered by chance their office and realized that they were starting a CSA, I thought “Great! Why join one outside of Yonkers that has been more established. Let’s support our local community organization.”

Groundwork Yonkers bought 50 shares in advance from a farmer, and then resold them to Yonkers residents. I’m happy to say that they sold all of their 50 sharess, so that part is working out. At least for them!

In theory this should work out for us too– our CSA share cost $250, so if we pay $10 a week for organic groceries that we were already going to buy, and we get $10 (or more) per week of groceries (worth) than it should work out fabulously. We get cheap groceries, small farm stays afloat, Groundworks does their mission. Win Win Win.

So far however, it hasn’t quite worked out the way we would have hoped. At least for us Partially it’s because we’ve already missed two weeks (one week we were on vacation, adn the other week through sheer boneheaded forgetfulness) That doesn’t help our cause.

But even so, our shares have been rather meager. Last week’s share was the following:
One tiny eggplant, one radish, 3 heads of lettuce, two bunches of green onions, a quarter pound of kale, two tiny cucumbers, and two green peppers– Not exactly the bargain that we were hoping for. I mean, what can you do with one radish?

We have friends that are in other CSA’s in the area, but we’re holding out with hope that the meager food is due to the weird weather, which no doubt has thrown growing off more than a little. If not— obviously, we’ve already paid for this year, but next year, we’ll probably get something a little more filling. (and hopefully equally fulfilling)

The sauna that is our pantry

I spent most of yesterday, and in fact a lot of the past week, in the small closet which is really a sauna that is our pantry. Adam already explained that we don’t yet have a/c, so the kitchen, and especially the tiny pantry, is sweltering. I’m quite sure I’ve sweated away pounds while lining the shelves, organizing cans, and shoving pots and pans onto high shelves. Perhaps we should have thought of this dual-use early on and put in a little bench? Then I could’ve really relaxed in there.

The pantry was a major dream of mine and, in a few kitchen layout revisions, nearly got lost. But I protected it fiercely, because frankly I can’t reach most of our upper cabinets and knew that we wouldn’t have too much other cabinet space to work with. So the pantry was designed to hold all of our food, plus large pots and pans, recycling, brooms/mops, and paper goods. In other words, just about the whole kitchen fits into our little 4’x3′ room. And amazingly, it really seems to work.

There are a few problems, of course, which are symptomatic of the whole combining households thing. Suddenly we do have two of nearly everything, and not enough space for both. This is evidenced by the two large soup pots we have each with their own vegetable strainer insert – nearly identical. Do we really need both? Ditto for the two sets of pyrex baking dishes (one rectangle and one square each). Apparently there are some things that are just standard kitchen issue. And then there’s the copious amounts of tea. Very odd because I don’t drink tea at all and I can’t remember Adam drinking tea either, except when sick. But between us we have over a dozen different boxes plus some odds and ends packets – lots of interesting flavors, too. So please, folks, come over for some tea. Nevermind that it’s 95 degrees outside. Maybe we’ll give you an ice cube or two from the new icemaker.

Ah – the icemaker. It’s still a bit of a marvel to me. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a house with an icemaker; my mom is a bit of an ice purist and we never had one growing up, and I certainly haven’t lived in such luxury in my apartments since leaving the house. But now we’ve got an abundance of ice – as if there were an ice sorcerer’s apprentice – it just keeps coming and coming. I thought it was supposed to stop producing when it filled the bin? I guess I need to read the fridge manual to figure out how to regulate the amount of ice it makes because we for sure can’t use it up as fast as it’s coming.

Overall, very very happy with the kitchen. Just another box or so (plus a few more loads of dishes as they’re coming out of the boxes – yeah, I’m sorta crazy that way) and we’re all unpacked. It’s really amazing, there were plenty of times that I couldn’t even imagine being at this stage. What a relief!

Yonkers Gothic

It’s been kind of a biblical couple of days– the rain and the heat has been completely intense– and naturally we are wishing that we had allocated that air conditioning money to the central air we are capable of, but can’t really afford. I know I need to call HVAC guys to get this all started, get more quotes,etc, etc, but I’m so burnt out on hiring people and then having to follow through with them and get a quote and worry if it’s too high, and if they’ll show up when they say they will, and do the job when they say they will, and wondering if I could have got it cheaper/better/faster. I know, I know, it’s silly to worry about such things. But I do. And it’s not making me any cooler.

We are not completely without A/C– my mom gave us a portable air conditioner, but it doesn’t seem to cool anything but immediately in front of it– and I fear the 5000 ConEd bill it will certainly cause. And we have A/C in our bedroom, and ceiling fans in the bedroom and office. But it remains prodigiously hot, and there’s nothing I can do about it, but open my wallet or suffer the sweaty consequences. I keep hoping that we can get away without biting the bullet on the central air this year– but I don’t know if we can….

At least we haven’t lost power here (which is more than I can say for 25,000 people in Queens, and 10,000 people in Westchester.

It’s not just the heat that’s been oppressive and impressive– it’s also the rain. It has been raining, thundering, and lightning prodigiously over the last couple of days. Today, it sounded as if the thunder was right outside our door. And the lightning storms have been beautiful.

Our house itself hasn’t been too wet– though there’s a bit of moisture in the basement (we’ve got two dehumidifiers running down there full time, and it definitely seems to be helping)

It’s also been raining Amazon packages– 5 packages came yesterday, and today another one. Well, time for a bit of sleep, followed by a long amount of sweating and complaining about the heat. Thank God I’ve got that pitchfork!

Roomba – today at Woot!

I spoke too soon yesterday. There it is, another Roomba Sage, at Woot for only $149. Let me tell you – it’s a deal! Go get one. You won’t regret it! But hurry – Woot only offers items for one day and then only until they run out.

Good robot. Good robot. Now sit.

I have a new pet. It’s green and about 18″ in diameter, and it’s sorta noisy. It doesn’t eat much (a couple of batteries and some electricity now and then) and it sleeps a lot. And it picks up lots of cat hair.

Just before we left for Florida I ordered a Roomba from Woot (one of my favorite sites – though I’ve yet to see another one turn up there since) and, due to our craziness before we left, it got left in its box while we were away. So of course one of the first things I had to do when I got home was unpack the new toy. On Saturday I set it up and let it charge as directed, and waited for the cleaning ladies to leave. Today Adam and I turned it on and let it go in the living and dining rooms, thinking that they were just vacuumed and mopped but maybe it would pick up a bit of stuff.

It’s really not a toy, it’s a pet. It is so smart, and so efficient in how it moves around the room, I just had to keep saying “good robot” to it as it found its way under the sofa, stopped short of the infrared “invisible wall,” went over and over in a dirty spot, and found its way back to it’s home base all by itself. Then when I opened it up and emptied it – tons of cat hair and dust! Adam says it’s because it’s closer to the floor and goes over the same spots over and over again.

Granted, it’s a bit noisy, but much quieter than a regular vacuum. And completely self-sufficient once we figured out how to keep it from getting in the dining room (which it was having difficulty with because of all the boxes still in there). It has this invisible wall that you can set to keep it from passing the wall, and the kitchen floor is slightly higher than the living room so it won’t go in there without assistance (just lift the little fella up).

Having Roomba might keep me from putting down rugs on the first floor. I don’t think it will like rugs, and I don’t want my new pet to be unhappy!

P.S. Yes, the Roomba link above is an affiliate link – hey, it’s what I do for a living! But if you use coupon code ROOMBA at that site you’ll get 10% off! And free filters or something like that. Enjoy!

Yonkers Safari

Are you all tired of Disney yet?

I can hear you all grumbling– “This isn’t the Disney blog- This is the house blog! Make with the house already!” I am always interested in serving the imagined wishes of my imaginary readers, so I will. Well, at least the outside of the house.

While we were at Disney, our house underwent a tremendous and radical transformation. Unbeknownst to me, it seems that our house must be radioactively charged In the 12 days that we were gone, our relatively tidy (and tiny) lawn became an unkempt jungle of weeds. The weeds are nearly 1 foot tall! And some are even larger!

Perhaps it is a secret government plan to grow inedible plants in case of nuclear disaster. Or a plot by Sears to make me buy more of the yellow string that runs my weedwhacker. Or perhaps the weeds are alien life forms on vacation, and somehow our house in Yonkers has become a “Disney-style” resort for aliens.

In any case it’s incredibly hot out (this area is supposed to have a heat wave this week!, with the heat index reaching 110 degrees! Stupid humidity)

Nevertheless, I need to go out and cut down huge swaths of weeds. I would do it with a machete, but in Yonkers that might seem to be a little like asking for trouble. Between the weedwhacker from Sears and the push lawnmower my friend Rob found on Craigslist, I might just make it out with my head still attached!

Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Yonkers anymore!

Amazingly a Tornado has struck Westchester county. Fortunately our house was not hurt (other than being completely rained on.) The lightning was incredible and the thunder was loud and long, but we didn’t have any damage at all (as far as I can tell)

Others were not so lucky. The Tornado hit harder about 20 minutes north. The California Closet store that we used for our closet was actually destroyed! A closet system was lifted out of there and deposited by the wind across the street. Many trees came down. The destruction was pretty amazing– but somehow nobody was killed, Thank God! Although a state trooper’s cruiser was lifted up in the air with him in it.

You can see the picture of what happened to the CC store below:

If you’d like to see more pictures of the destruction of the tornado, check out LOHUD.COM

You can also visit this website to see articles about the Tornado.

Weirdly, this is not the first time a tornado has hit in New York. It seems that several of them in the last few years have been spotted, and in the 1970’s, and a couple of major disasters in the 20’s. Cyclical cyclones, I guess!

Pictures of Disney Characters (with a little bit of Satan Inside)

So one of the days at Epcot it was a little rainy, and we said, Hey we are here– let’s prove it. Let’s get some pictures taken with characters! We were right by the Character Connection (which is an indoor place where you can get photos with the characters) we walked in, and there was ABSOLUTELY no line. Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Minnie, the Chipmunks. On the other side were Pluto, Snow White, and Mary Poppins. Although we both felt a little bit weird (two adults both way past 30 getting our pictures taken with some furry characters…. After the initial little bit of awkwardness it was loads of fun.

One of the things that’s pretty interesting is Disney’s real ability to control the situation. They’ve been thinking about the environment of their park for some time. For example, it was Stephanie’s Birthday, so she got to wear the Birthday pin. (A different one is available for each park) Just about every cast member in the Park wished her a Happy Birthday, and made an extra effort to talk to her. Many people said “What are you, 21?” (Clearly coached) They even set it up so that Goofy sang her Happy Birthday. Garsh Mickey! The girl at the Cool Coke stand called up the special Goofy Birthday phone code, and minutes later– Goofy Sings!

Of course, my shirt was a fortuitous coincidence, and has no social commentary on any large Mouse-driven corporations. (I was actually a little surprised that they took the photos– but Hey, what can I say?)

Disney is also pretty savvy on the commercial end– they take free photos and give you a photopass so that you can claim them by Internet (and pay High prices) They disabled the ability to grab the photos, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stop me. A little computer creativity and voila– low-res image gallery for everyone to enjoy. Of course, these are low-res– if you want a print out, I’d have to pay $12.95 per. Yikes!

If you click on this Epcot photo below– you should be able to see a whole slideshow of our character photos. You won’t see the Snow White photos– I’m saving those for a special occasion! Courtesy of Flickr and the Disney PhotoPass

Click the image to view a slideshow of our photos with Disney characters.

If that doesn’t work, try this

The Incontrovertible Proof You Didn’t Know You Desired.

We are all Disney’d out. Well– okay, not really. I’m sure that we would love to spend another two weeks and umpteen thousand dollars that we don’t have) exploring every nook and cranny and aspect of The Most Magical Place on Earth. ™

But we sure had a lot of fun, after spending nearly 12 days in Florida, and over a week at the four parks that make up Walt Disney World and Resort. And we now need a vacation from our vacation!

We have too much to tell, and not enough time to try to catch up to our life (that amazingly went on in Yonkers while we are gone)

While we have been gone, you have no doubt been clamoring for house and life details– and rest assured that we will have them in good time.

However, in the meantime–
I leave you with incontrovertible proof of three things with but a single photograph.

1) Proof that the Yeti exists.
2) Proof that Stephanie and I did indeed ascend and conquer Everest (or at least Expedition Everest ™ That’s right– Stephanie was not a chicken!)
3) Proof positive that the printer/scanner/copier that I bought two hours before we left does in fact work.

Here is that miraculous photograph: Enjoy!