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June, 2007:

Summer time…. And the Root Beer is Flowing…

The drought is over!

Well, the Diet Barq’s drought, anyway.

Here in NY, for whatever reason, Diet Barq’s (or DB, as we keepers of the diet rootbeer faith will refer to it in our Root Beer Cabal’s, held every third Wednesday in the cellar of the High Priest of Rooted Beer) has not been available. I’m not sure why, but the supermarkets didn’t carry it, the soda distributors didn’t carry it, nobody had it. I could have tried to import it from Rhode Island or parts even further afield, but it didn’t seem to make that much sense to do so)

Well, lo and behold, on my most recent trip to Stop and Shop, they had it. And it was on sale! I bought 5 12packs for $10.

Stephanie’s dad is a huge DB fan, so I’m sure that he’ll be pleased to note that the root beer is flowing at Casa Yonked, but if he wants some he better hurry– I only have 60 cans, and who knows when the next shipment will come in!

Some Photos From the Rafting Trip

We had a great time on our rafting trip as you can see from this selection of photographs that I pulled off of Steven’s surprisingly good waterproof throwaway camera.

On the photo above It’s Stephanie that is holding the oar and looking like she’s just about to hit one of her colleagues in the head.

This is us sneaking up on our comrades/slash enemies. Brice is getting ready to dump a whole bunch of water on somebody in the front boat.

This is kind of a nice shot that shows a lot of my view. I sat in the back and mostly saw everybody’s backs. Hey, I had their backs!

We prepare for war. They are heading right at us!

More war, and one that really gets to the heart of it. I love this shot and the next one. There’s a real sense of action. I think that Stephanie took both of these.

Another great shot of the war. The little gun was surprisingly effective, and Brice was a master with it. Stephanie took this one too.

The love birds our ownselves!

Whitewater Rafting on the Lehigh!

Yesterday (Saturday), Stephanie and I got up at 6 am, and after groping around like moles to find our clothes, keys, sunblock, and water-proof shoes, stumbled out of the house and drove to White Haven, PA to start a fun day of adventure. Well, first we stopped to pick up 3 of Stephanie’s colleagues. We picked up two Idahoans, and an Aussie. This was a team-building exercise, and Stephanie’s boss graciously invited me along to serve as the mascot of the team. Thanks Rob!

We managed to make it there without incident (with stops along the way– at McDonalds for a “delicious” breakfast burrito, and a stop at a WaWa for iced coffee found me my first siting of the Stephen Colbert ice cream “Americone Dream”.) Sadly, I did not get any, as I was not sure that eating ice cream at 9 am was my smartest idea ever.

We signed our waiver forms, allowing that any deaths, disfigurements, or other troubles arising from the trip were strictly of our own doing, put on our gear (Stephanie rented a wet suit, a jacket, and little rubber footies) and set off on our 45 minute bus ride from the place you park your car to the place you get in your boat. We passed the town of Jim Thorpe (and I amazed some of Stephanie’s colleagues with my knowledge of Jim Thorpe’s exploits– thank you sixth grade scholastic books!) and we finally arrived.

There were nine of us, and we hoped to get three rafts, but there were only two, so we split up 4 and 5. I was foolishly elected captain of our boat, which meant that I sat in the back and tried to get the 4 other people to row in approximately the same direction, while they ignored my directions. We went approximately where we wanted to go, and didn’t spend too much time going in circles, so I guess I have a small sense of accomplishment.

Along with us were 9 other rafts on our trip, including a group of boy scouts who were relatively rambunctious. The trip outfits you with two buckets-one for your lunch and one for “bailing” although it might be more accurate to say that it was for throwing water at other boats, and then bailing out the water that they threw at you. Several of the other boats came prepared with water guns, super-soakers, and smaller water munitions.

We were a little worried that the rambunctious boy scouts would be soaking us (and they did, they did) but we had a surprising good time splashing every boat in vicinity, getting completely soaked by our enemy boats, and the fershlugginer boy scouts. We requited ourselves fairly well in the process- our other team’s boat ended up losing their bucket to us, in a miniature skirmish. They ended up paying one of the boy scouts to steal our bucket back, but in the process we stole another bucket, so ended up never without. Along the way we rafted, and although there were a couple of spots of rapids, most of the trip was relatively beautiful and peaceful. Of course, there were several highway areas where local people were out smoking pot, or cops were driving by at full force.

Just as we arrived at the takeout point of the river, it began to thunder and lightning. It started to rain as we got into the bus for the next 45 minute ride back to the car. As we started down the highway it came down in buckets, furiously, and then began to hail. The bus pulled over, and I had serious thoughts that our bus might end up being a fatality of the storm. But we made it– and by the time we got back to the car/camp, all the bad weather was gone. If our trip had started 30 minutes later, we would have been drenched on the river not by our trip-mates, but by mother nature. We had excellent timing!

We came back to NY and had a great Indian dinner with most of our rafting ensemble (8 out of 9– the Australian member got a better offer to squire a bevy of Aussie beauties on the town) and then came back to the house (with two of Stephanie’s colleagues in town, who stayed the night as guests) and sacked out like lumps of potatoes. In my case, sunburned potatoes, as the tops of my legs are red red red.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and I’m thinking that I’d like to do it again, maybe on a more difficult river, and maybe in a kayak. (although the splashing and team work is less in those) Maybe arrange a group whitewater adventure in August when Stephanie’s mom and sister come to town (along with their boyfriends) It could be a lot of fun! (Especially if I apply more sunblock!)

CSA for 2007: Organic Eating.

As many of you may remember , we did not like our CSA last year with Groundwork Yonkers (Read this past post to remember) (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you back a farmer for a year by giving him money up front, and he sells you a share of his bounty. Kind of like being a pirate, but with agriculture.

Although we are both big fans of Groundwork’s mission, it just wasn’t worth it for us financially last year.. The portions were meager, and while it’s the risk that you take when you join the CSA (the bounty in good years, and the famine in bad years), suffice to say we were disappointed.

We recently had a comment from Rob Baron (chair of the Groundwork Yonkers board) that last year’s Groundwork’s farmer lost nearly half his farm in the 100 years flood last year. And that’s why last year’s portions were so meager. Of course I feel bad for the guy, but in the age of enlightened self-interest, I also feel bad for me. He was the horse I bet on. And my horse done lost.

Apparently, Groundwork Yonkers is going to have another CSA, which will pick up on Tuesdays at the Philipse Manor House in downtown Yonkers. They have selected a different farmer, and hopefully it will go well for them.

Their marketing for this year left something to be desired. I haven’t seen anything about it, (and I’ve been searching out Westchester and Riverdale CSA’s). They are not listed on the list of Westchester CSA’s on Local Harvest. or with NOFA-NYand the Groundwork Yonkers website only lists it as an event, not as something you can sign up for. As a matter of fact, when you google Groundwork Yonkers CSA, last year’s post is the first thing listed!

Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association of NY

But if you are interested, give them a call and see– maybe they still have a share available. Groundwork Yonkers Tel: 914-375-2151

We went with a different CSA– it’s in Tarrytown, about 20 minutes away. We have a friend who was in it last year, and got huge amounts of food while we were getting nothing. And they have an egg share and a fruit share.

While the Yonkers one would be more convenient to us, I doubt I could sell Stephanie on joining that one again (anytime soon, anyway) There are a couple of CSA’s in Riverdale, also equally convenient to Yonkers, but the Riverdale ones were full by the time we signed up.

So once a week we will drive out to Tarrytown. Not so bad. Did I neglect to mention the corn share? We expect to have 12 ears a week during corn season! (And maybe more!)

There’s a home delivery CSA that looked good but a little pricey.
http://www.myfarmshare.com/ $25 for a half share, $36 per week for a full share. And a fruit share is $20. Of course, they have delivery men to deliver the food for you, which is a convenience that may be worth paying for.

If you know of another web place to find out about CSA’s in the Yonkers/Westchester area– let me know in the comments below.

Gettty Square Safer Than it looks

My blog-pal Lesley has a very interesting blog post about her recent foray to the Park Hill Residents Annual Meeting (we don’t officially live in Park Hill, although we live directly beneath it– it’s probably 200 yards as the crow flies, oh but what a difference that 200 yards can make!) For those of you who don’t know Yonkers geography– Getty Square is kind of the Times Square of Yonkers– before Disney got in there. It’s a very busy section of the town that operates very much as the nerve and emotional center of Yonkers. All of the buses go through there (Hello Port Authority!) and it’s a block or so from Larkin Plaza (where the train station is) It used to be more elegant and very posh, and now it’s full of dollar stores, cell phone stores, and a lot of half-boarded up buildings.

Park Hill is an affluent section of town with beautiful Victorian houses all around. In the Seventies it had gotten kind of run down, but now people are really polishing it back up. It’s mostly a residential neighborhood with few shops.

Anyway, The Streuver guy was up at Park Hill’s meeting, talking up their 3.1 billion dollar plans (You can read more about them on their website, and her blog talks about the meeting and… well, she says it so much better than me, let me give you a taste:

at any rate, my only real issue with the fellow from sfc was the way he was scaring the park hill people with his descriptions of getty square: “it’s scary! it’s bad! you don’t want to shop there! there are 13 and 14-year-old kids there that need jobs!”


…I walk through getty square at least a couple times a month, when the weather’s nice and I have the time to walk home from the train station. I’m a 115-pound white girl all by my little ole lonesome, and I’ve never once felt unsafe. no, I’m not walking there at night. no, I don’t look like the rest of the people in getty square (nor do many of the folks at the park hill meeting last night). and no, I admit I don’t shop at the dollar stores or the off-price clothing stores. but I don’t think the area is quite the drugged-out, crime-filled, scary-people-filled wasteland that the sfc fellow was describing. . . . at least, not quite anymore.

I agree with her 100%– it’s not quite as scary as it was– but there’s definitely still some scare factor still there. Especially at night. Like anywhere else.

I’m also thinking that the Yonkers School system is better than it’s reputation (after all, it can’t get any worse!) But seriously, what most people know about the school system is based on what happened 25 years ago (integrated busing problems)

Houston… we have air conditioning!

After a few very hot days here this summer (and the memory of last summer’s heat wave, in which things in our dining room actually started to melt) We have tightened our belts, bought a month’s supply of macaroni and cheese, and bought the only thing that matters during the summer– Central air conditioning! Now we just have to figure out how to pay for it….

Yesterday the hvac guy and the electrician (both named Dave) came by and after a bit of good-natured jocularity got to work. There was some minor problems with our electrical board (including the stunning announcement that our Dominican electrician Willie did not necessarily follow standard procedures, and used cheaper breakers than the current electrician would have preferred) But Electric Dave figured stuff out, moved some of the breakers around, and most importantly got it done. Electric out to the other side of the house, breaker installed, all complete. We’ve got to call ConEd about something else, and then probably have Dave come out to bid the one or two electric projects that we have left (and also the largest one– bringing electricity to the garage!) He’s expensive, but I feel pretty confident he’s going to do the job correctly.

Meanwhile, Cooling Dave was manhandling our new Condenser unit into place. It turns out that the bigger the box, the more energy efficient it is. So we have a large ugly futuristic box outside our house– a box that is nearly empty, waterproof, and contains a large fan that mysteriously creates cool air. An interesting thing about it is that they no longer provide covers for these bad boys– it turns out they don’t really need covers, but they were provided for aesthetic reasons. But people were always running them with the covers on, and the company was going bankrupt covering the warranty on them. So they stopped selling covers.

Anyway, after that (or really, before that) was the drilling into the house, which it turns out is not so easy, thanks to those 1895 standards and practices. The foundation is pretty thick and not easily penetrated. But modern tools won out, and the condensing pipes and wires were all laid out properly.

Sadly, we then had another issue– apparently, one of the relays that had been operating our heating system was no longer doing so, and the oil company that we have service with apparently took it out, and didn’t replace it. To make a long story short, we needed a new relay, that Cooling Dave did not have in his truck. Which meant it was one more hot night in the abode for us (and because S is off to California for business, no a/c for her until she returns)

Tom, Dave’s partner came by today and fixed it all, installing the relay, and making sure that everything works. And now– voila! Air conditioning!

Anybody that had thought about donating to our air conditioning fund– now is the time to do it.

Send checks, cash, paypal, or large boxes of macaroni. And those that would like can come bask in our air conditioned splendor.