Lost in hell

The refrigerator saga continues . . .

After cleaning and some airing-out time, we decided that the second-hand smoke contaminated refrigerator we bought in April just wasn’t going to cut it.  I reposted it to Craigslist, and we sold it at a small loss (actually $5 more than the $80 we paid for the fridge, but we also paid $20 for delivery).  I was just happy to have it gone (just in time to put Roadrunner in the garage!).

Of course, the fact that it didn’t work out meant that the search continued.  I hunted through CL adds over the weekend, and found a promising option in South County.  Last night, I headed down to check it out, knowing that if it was a go, we’d have to return another time with a rental truck (despite the extra trip, we didn’t want to rent the truck not knowing if we’d buy it).

I had the address and looked up directions ahead of time, but my notes and small, rough sketched map were no match for the suburban subdivisions.  When I reached a fork in the road, I chose the left (and ultimately correct) fork, but, after driving about a mile on a hilly and curvy road, not seeing my turn-off, I decided that I should have chosen the right fork, so I turned around and back-tracked.

I repeated the hilly, curvy mile thing on the right fork, and came to a dead end.  I partially retraced my path on that road, then pulled over and called the seller.  After she figured out where I was, she told me that I needed to go back to the road that forked to the left (yes, the one I started out on), and go just a bit farther than I had initially.  Grr!

At that point, I just wanted to be done.  I didn’t want to retrace my route, and I most certainly didn’t want to return another time with a truck.  I called Matthew, teary eyed, and told him he needed to talk me out of just throwing in the towel and heading home without even seeing the fridge.

I finally decided that even though it was annoying as heck, I’d already gone most of the way to this house, so I may as well see the stupid fridge.


The entire time I was driving around this place, I couldn’t imagine who in their right mind would want to live in a place like this: no connectivity, ugly McMansions, cars required to go anywhere.  Ick. Blech. Blah.

I was also amused by the yard signs reading “No cell phone towers in my neighborhood.”  People, the picture above is not a “neighborhood,” and, if you hadn’t chosen to live out here, you might not need a cell phone tower.

Anyhow, I finally found the correct road and arrived at my destination (my gas light was starting to flicker at this point, not helping my mood any).  I took a quick look at the fridge (including sticking a thermometer in to make sure it was, in fact, cold), and told the seller we’d think about it and get back to her.

I was never so glad to leave that subdivision behind, and, later, when I crossed back into city limits, I almost cried tears of joy and relief.  The River de Poo never looked so good!

Once home, I informed Matthew that if he wanted to rent a truck and go back out there to get the refrigerator, that was fine, but I wasn’t going near that place again!

*Purchase is pending negotiations with the seller.  If Matthew does go to get it, I’ll give him very good directions — I’m actually fairly decent with directions (and quite good with nice, normal grid systems), and now that I’ve done it correctly once, I know I can do it again, I just have no desire to return to hell.

Friday free-for-all

All things go in cycles — for quite awhile there, my writing was very food-centric, almost to the exclusion of anything else.  My concerted effort to post more on the bicycling-side of things perhaps worked too well, as my food-related posting feels a bit sparse of late.

I blame this in part on my slightly blah feelings on cooking in general, as I’ve been feeling unmotivated and [finally] a bit tired of eating primarily from our frozen and root-cellared stores.  After a number of months, it began to feel like the same food all. the. time.

Fortunately, spring is here (today’s blustery weather notwithstanding), and abundant fresh, local produce is just around the corner.  We’ve already had a few small spinach harvests (from the plants that grew under the low tunnels all winter), and I can’t wait for more.

In the meantime, I finally caved and bought a head of broccoli at the grocery store.  That broccoli is the first non-garden, non-local produce (other than onions, garlic, and frozen corn and peas) that I have bought in I don’t know how long.  It’s easy to focus on the [still many] foods that we don’t grow ourselves or buy local, but in reality we’ve taken some pretty big steps to lighten our food footprint.

Back on the biking side of things, after debating whether it was worth thirty minutes in the car to meet a Craigslist seller (to buy a life jacket for Sir’s upcoming beach trip), I contacted the seller to set things in motion.  Rather then me going to her (over six miles away), she suggested a meeting point conveniently located about two miles from us.

I happily ditched the car for a lovely (though windy and chilly) bike ride and returned home with a worn-once (looks brand new) life vest.  Sir approved the purchase and happily wore the vest for the rest of the morning (you never know, our second story apartment could flood — better safe than sorry!).


He’s carrying the pump for my exercise ball, which he pretends is a vacuum cleaner (complete with cute sound effects).  Something about the life vest and pump-vacuum combination makes me think of Ghostbusters, though I can’t say quite what, having only watched the movie once, a long time ago.  For those of you more familiar with the movie, does my association make any sense?

Expanding our fleet

After saying for years that he could really use a back-up bike — something to ride when his usual bike is in the shop for repairs — Matthew began hunting in earnest this spring, trolling Craigslist and visiting some local bike shops to test ride different styles of bikes.

He found and test-rode a [Craigslist-ed] Surly Pacer  at about the same time he visited a local shop where he tried three bikes: a Salsa Casserole (yes, that is seriously a brand and model of bicycle, not a TexMex dish) and the Kona Ute (a longtail — be still my beating heart!) and MinUte.

While he liked the Konas (more on this below), he narrowed it down to the Salsa and Surly Pacer, which were fairly similar: both sturdy road bikes that would take a rear cargo rack and should hold up well for daily riding.  In addition to the ecological benefits of choosing a used bicycle, there are also significant cost savings.  After researching to make sure the Surly could be adapted to his needs (i.e., would take fenders and that rear rack), he opted for the used bike route.*

Actually setting it up with fenders and a rack was, of course, easier said than done.  In the end, it involved an extra bike shop visit, a new, narrower rear tire and drilling a couple of holes in the rear fender.

Late last week, it was finally road worthy, and not a moment too soon, as Matthew was starting to get buyer’s remorse, wondering if he should have gone with the ease and peace-of-mind of a new bike.  He’s still adjusting to the road bike position (his other bike is a hybrid, with a very upright riding position), but so far, so good, I think.

Now, to my favorite subject — the longtails.  He didn’t go into the bike shop intending to try a longtail, but when the Kona Ute presented itself, he took it for a spin.  He was impressed with the overall handling, and the fact that we could get a frame that would fit both of us is certainly attractive.

Unless we want to solely use the trailer for Gabriel (which I don’t), we’ll need some other option, as he probably will outgrow the IBert [front seat] before summer’s end.  While we could just attach a rear seat to one of our current bikes, it would mean sacrificing our rear cargo room, not a practical option when using a bike for transportation.  A longtail bike provides plenty of room for a little passenger and his (and your) stuff, not to mention groceries, towing other bikes   . . . the options are endless!

Given the rarity of longtail bikes in these parts, this will almost certainly be a new purchase.  We’ve narrowed it down to the Kona Ute (which I need to get into the shop and ride) and the Yuba Mundo.  None of our local bike shops carry the Mundo (the closest is in Columbia, MO), but fortunately, we ran into a family who is willing to let us test ride theirs.

I’m still not sure that we’ll end up going the longtail route, but I’m very excited about the possibility!

*For a nice guide on buying a Craigslist bike, check out this post from S. over at Simply Bike.

O Christmas Tree

Well, I’ve finally recovered from Thanksgiving (let’s just say our travels were a little stressful), which is a good thing, since Christmas is now upon us.  Unlike last year, when I was quite “blah” about the festivities, I’ve really been looking forward to them this year.

Maybe it helps that we have a bigger apartment, one without a queen-size bed in the living room, which gives us space for a tree and a few decorations.  We also have a mantle where we can hang our stockings.

When we moved here in June, I noticed a few items tucked under the basement stairs in a storage area, left by previous tenants long gone.  It smelled musty and looked dark and spidery, so I didn’t investigate too closely, but I noticed an artificial Christmas tree.  I assumed it was more or less junk, but you never know, so early last week, I braved the spiders and dust, and pulled out the box.

My efforts were rewarded with a simple 6-foot tree that was probably used once before, quite clean and in great condition, complete with a string of lights.  I set it outside to air out for a day anyway, and set about the more difficult task, convincing Matthew that this once, just this one year, it would be okay to have an artificial tree instead of a real tree, and it would save us the time and effort of hunting down a real tree* and the constant sweeping up of pine needles.  And heck, compared to last year, when we didn’t have a tree at all, this marked a real upgrade.

We agreed to use my found tree, and, with that decided, we spent Sunday making our apartment nice and festive.


I have some fabric somewhere that will make a decent little tree skirt.  All of the ornaments on the bottom branches are made of wood or fabric, safe for curious little hands.  So far, Gabriel is nonplussed by the tree; unless we’re over by it, he more or less leaves it alone, which is fine by me.

Environmental-impact wise, both artificial and real trees have their downsides.  Finding a used artificial tree (whether that’s one that just happens to turn up in your basement, or one from Craigslist or a garage sale) certainly reduces the impact, but there are other options.  Instead of having an official Christmas tree, my MIL is decorating the fruit trees in her front yard, as well as her houseplants for indoor decorations.   While Christmas trees are a well-rooted tradition, there are plenty of ways to create a festive holiday space without a tree.

*While there are a number of tree lots in town, as well as cut-your-own tree farms nearby, most conventionally grown Christmas trees are sprayed with chemicals that I don’t want in my house.  In years past, Matthew went out to his grandparents’ and cut down a small field tree (i.e., a tree growing in an unmowed field where it would eventually be cut down anyway).

Halloween trick or tart

Gabriel Bee

I lack the time or tools to be crafting/sewing costumes.  Fortunately, as I discovered last year, it’s easy to find nice, affordable used costumes — wear once and send back into the costume recycling circle.

Buzz, buzz

There will probably be no trick-or-treating this year, due to a conflict with bedtime, but we ventured out to the Botanical Garden’s event on Sunday afternoon.  Our little bee enjoyed buzzing around the garden on a gorgeous fall day.  He seemed nonplussed by all the other little ones in costumes, which (we discovered later) may have been due to discomfort from too tight pants (that I stuffed him into — sorry, Baby!).

We also whipped up a little treat over the weekend — this chocolate peanut butter tart, a recipe I’ve been eyeing since I made my birthday cake request in May.  We assembled all the ingredients except for regular peanut butter.  We buy the natural kind that needs to be stirred, and I was nervous since the recipe was specific on that point.

Tart before the chocolate ganache layer

Fortunately, the peanut butter mousse whipped up beautifully with our peanut butter of choice, though perhaps a bit less sweet.  We didn’t mind too much.

Better than Halloween candy 🙂

It’s hard to mind much when you’re eating the equivalent of a very high quality peanut butter cup (and watching a great football game, as was the case Saturday night).

I’ll end with one more for the cuteness column — Baba found not one, but two Halloween costumes, so we had a bee and a cow this year.


Who let the cow into the pumpkin squash patch?