Sunday, August 28, 2011

The big wet apple-still going strongish, sorta

Somehow the winds have been slowly picking up as the day has gone on, and now they are pretty sustained and strong. Evidently a separate tropical storm warning was issued this afternoon because it is so strong. I've tried several times to get a good picture of the trees blowing and bending in the wind, but it's remarkably difficult to capture (on an iPhone). Here are a couple shots to show you what a rainless tropical storm looks like:

Can you see how much it's leaning? (no? sorry, my photography sucks.)

Can you tell it's blustery in this one? (Still no? Gah. How 'bout dramatic clouds?)

I got a text from Kelly a bit ago saying they'd just lost power at the farm from all the wind, so it seems we aren't the only ones feeling the post-storm winds. She'd reported earlier in the day that they'd weathered the storm with just a few downed trees and minimal flooding...then she sent me lots of pics of her covered in kittens. I don't think she's suffering too much.

The big wet apple makes lemonade (and tea!)

So what do you do when you've got gallons and gallons of water leftover after a non-storm? Well, the same thing you do when life hands you make lemonade! (and tea.)

Step one: take a bunch of lemons (and one citrus fruit that can't decide if it's a lemon or a lime, added to the mix by our lovingly open minded 16 month old), wash 'em and cut them in half.

Step two: squeeze the lemon halves into the pitcher of water, then drop the rinds in.

Note: if you can have your 4 year old do it, it adds a spark of magic.

While the big girl is doing the grunt work, cover the Giant stock pot full of water and turn on the burner it's already sitting on.

Try to ignore the awful reflection on your awesome shiny stock pot, and return to lemon squeezing.

Once the lemons are all in, squeeze in some agave nectar under the theory that since its liquid it'll mix better.

Once your stock pot boils, add a whole bunch of teabags, and turn off the heat.

It'll turn into tea pretty quickly after that! Let it steep to your desired strength. Let it cool for iced tea!

Back to the lemonade: now its time to shake shake shake! You can enlist the little one to help with this job.

Of course, teamwork never hurts, either. But that's it, then serve & enjoy, with an emphasis on enjoy!

The big wet apple-maybe not so wet?

Good morning!
Hm, wasn't there supposed to be some kinda storm or something?

In case you can't tell through the wet window, that's...nothing. A few kids meandering down the sidewalk in shorts and t-shirts. Sigh. Guess we did all that prep for nuthin. Oh well, better safe than sorry.

I woke up around 7 and it seemed too quiet for a storm, and i was suspicious because the cats with all their good animal instincts were not at all worried and were doing their usual FEED US NOW routine, but I tried to imagine raging winds of nature earning some respect from these urbanites...and my phone kept chiming with warning texts from the city about flooding and road closures...alas, when I got up and peered out the window, I just saw a pretty standard wet morning, people milling about, no weather events at all. We stayed up for a couple hours after my last post, and evidently that one gust was kinda it, the worst it got. I don't even see leaves down from the trees.

So much for "the height of the storm" occurring between "8am and noon" as they said last night...our bathroom didn't even leak any more. (maybe it IS the neighbors, after all?)

In other cute news, Hazel helped me feed the cats this morning, and managed to get wet cat food ON the cats...all in all, far more destructive than our experience of Irene.

So anyway, now to fried CSA eggs and rolls for breakfast, then the commencement of operation cool- the-freakin'-house-down!

The Big Wet Apple - let the games begin!

....AAAAAnd thar she blows! Hello Irene!

Not the worst thing ever at this point, but equaling the worst weather we've seen here for long enough for us to declare defeat and remove the last AC. Operation overheat-the-house step 7, complete.

Also, good Kentucky Bourbon as a nightcap, and we're out. See ya in the AM, hopefully!!
Stay safe, all!

The Big Wet Apple - sweet dreams

The girls are (finally) asleep, and the rain is occasionally looking more scary and going at a sort of an angle, but only in spurts and gusts, and then it dies right back down.

Operation overheat-the-house continues with step 6, close up all the windows before bedtime. Given the calm-ish demeanor of the current weather we haven't taken the bedroom AC out yet, so we'll still need to move to step 7 before long...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Big Wet Apple - Hurricane Holiday

So, I'm staring at a tree across the street from our kitchen window, and it's standing completely still. NY1 is reporting power outages in queens and staten island, possibly some in brooklyn, too, and they say some places are already beginning to flood, but here there are still folks hanging out in the street, the rain steady, but not even as heavy as it was a couple weeks ago when we returned to the city after several months away and had to move back in in a thunderstorm...the leak in the bathroom has reduced to a few beads that drip occasionally, and according to the radar, we're being pommeled right now...but evidently we're in a weather bubble where not much is happening. So, what have we been up to instead?

Why, baking cookies with the girls, of course! Operation overheat-the-house step 5, complete.

Anyway, here's a look out our window. not much to see, yet:

The big wet apple-the anticipatory boredom

We just had a five minute debate over whether or not it is even raining.
(it is, but not very hard.) (The leak in the bathroom confirms this.)

This after Cadence and Hazel put on he LOUDEST show they've ever put on, from the pedestal of the kitchen stool. Hope the neighbors enjoyed the music! These kids have great lungs!

On the Shape of Cookies

At the end of an unsuccessful search for her star-shaped cookie cutter:

Cadence: "But, Baba, are we ever going to find it? If we never find it, then I'll be stuck with oval cookies forever!"

(I then reminded her we had some other cookie cutters she could use... she is now physically unable to contain her joy.)

The big wet apple- the heat rises

Dinner time!
Made some sautéed greens (fresh from Channery Hill Farm where Kelly is interning) and paired it with some fresh mini penne that Hazel picked out...Operation overheat-the-house step 4 complete!

In other news, the rain picked up a tad, and now mr. WeatherDude is saying there is a tornado watch...and that the eye of Irene is tracking directly towards us...

Oo, look! Now the 'on location' reporter is berating some genius who's at the (closed) beach, surfing. Genius says "c'mon, it's a category 1, Come on out and surf!"
"are you for real??"
"yeah, its nothin'!"

Personal opinion; if you are told "DANGER GET OUT" and you CHOOSE not to, the first responders should not have an obligation to risk their lives to save your butt.

The big wet apple-disaster begins!

Oh look, it finally started to rain!

Wait, what's that?

Aha. So, that really sporadic leak the maintenance guy thought was from the upstairs neighbor's failure to use a shower curtain seems, in reality, to be A LEAK IN THE ROOF, trickling down several stories to drip from our bathroom doorframe. (we're on the second floor here, folks, how is this possible?!)

Well, wanting to minimize damage from a possible torrent when the storm actually hits (it's still a solid drizzle at the moment...), we've taken extreme leak collection measures:

Good thing we have two bathrooms, huh?

The Big Wet Apple - the calm before the storm

This morning, when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed after one of those cozy wonderful lazy mornings with the kids playing on and around us while we 'slept', the sky was a whitish grey, and the world seemed deadly calm. No leaves rustled in the trees on the street below, no birds, no vermin, no bugs...hardly any cars, and the few people who were on the street were all hurriedly carrying bags of groceries and exhibiting an excited calm. Looking out our living room window, we could see the ominous darkness approaching from beyond the empire state building like the nothing from the neverending story.

Watching hurricane Irene (a storm which, incidentally, shares its name with my maternal grandmother), we thought it might be fun to blog through this adventure as it happens! As long as we have power, we'll try to check in whenever we notice something noteworthy. To play catchup:


Still dead calm outside, we begin to hear a far-off voice, seemingly amplified, drawing ever nearer...turns out it was a prostlytizer, preaching about the dark times and the guidance christ would give us through the quite literal storm. Wandering around on foot with some sort of microphone under his giant black umbrella, spreading his word to the empty streets. It somehow managed to be simultaneously eerie, pitiful, and cute.

We turned on NY1 to check in on the latest...the reporter standing at the south ferry began getting pelted with rain, so it was off to throw everyone in the shower one last time before the storm hit. Everyone clean and dry, the rain came...and then left.

Watching the news, the con ed rep made the rather amusing statement that it snows all year round in NYC. Huh, I didn't know that!

Cadence is concerned by the language they use to describe the storm, and keeps asking us why we're gonna "get hit."

Found some more containers fit for holding potable water, and decided to take advantage...we've been boiling & bottling/jarring water for just-in-case storage instead of buying jugs of it. Operation overheat-the-house step one complete.

Speaking of water, time to fill up the tub with water - not to drink, but to have on hand for such things as toilet flushing or washing things, should such a need arise. Uh oh, our bathroom drain doesn't work...DIY bathroom plug to the rescue! James sealed the drain with duct tape, and then I found an old silicone shoe insert, covered the drain with that, placed a washcloth over that and topped it all off with a mug. Seems to work pretty well!


It doesn't feel very hurricane-y around here. Only the lightest of breezes, the pigeons came out again, no rain, still cloudy, but the streets are full of foot traffic. No buses, though, which is odd...the MTA officially shut down all public transit at noon.

Oh! the MTA did do one thing I was actually proud of, though...they suspended fares for the last trains in evacuation areas (meaning people could ride for free) and allowed passengers to take pets with them (this is usually heavily restricted). Go MTA! Showing a human side!

James roasted the chicken we got from our CSA earlier this week. Smells AMAZING in here. Operation overheat-the-house step 2 complete.

Fresh baked bread? mmm, awesome! Operation overheat-the-house step 3 complete.

Really decadent hot-from-the-oven roast-chicken sandwiches with farm-fresh greens & tomatoes on bread fresh out of the oven for lunch? Not very hunker-down-adventure-like, but awesome. And tasty.

Cadence is now worried that we're not gonna get hit after all.

We'll check back in soon! Love to you all!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A glimpse into my head

We were finally departing. We dragged our many pieces of oversized luggage out of the posh, if oddly laid out, hotel rooms with their long winding rooms and the low marble steps to the sink,
the black wallpaper polishing the strange space to a level of acceptable fancy; through puddles in the dark, wettish night, the bags fighting back as we traversed over curbs and grass. I watched as my bag, then two, were thumped upon the pile to be loaded by the boatmen, it rocked, I waited a moment to be assured of its retrieval, then boarded the ancient vessel that so longed to be rusty, its lack of shine the only clue to the betrayal of its upkeep.

it begins to snow, in the dark, on the water.

we drift off to sleep, at long last, on our journey home.

Slowly, we are waking up. It is sudden. We are arousing to consciousness fully clothed in tweed suited skirts, matching jackets and quaintly matching hats. We are riding our bikes, unease striking us as we become aware; we can't be waking naturally, riding fully clothed through the falling petals of the blooming trees around us, in front of our housing, vacated yesterday, all modern, now here reality is all old. The petals are white, hints of green among the blooms, it is sunny and peaceful, no sign of aging vessels linger at the docks, visible through the structure of the bridge before us.

What is going on?

The official stance is that we never left.

Our things, they tell us, are back inside, we never packed them, we were not leaving.

Are they?
we cannot tell.

confusion tops a layer of absolute certainty; we know. We left, our lives were real, now erased, now...this.

a coverup.

for what?

She looks at me, and I at her, our hearts racing, something is amiss. It's dangerous, they want to hide us, they deny they let us go, deny they are holding us; we must be silent, covert, escape.

Memories return as we contact our loved ones back home. We've been away, months, maybe, working secretly under a thin pretense. We learn our pretense was a decoy, our real purpose deeper than our work. Tests, lies, experiments...

They discover our covert contacts, bring our families closer to us, dump them into this camp, this false world that seems lovely but keeps us silent. We are not threatened, never reprimanded, suddenly a home appears with family inside; they say it has always been so; we know better.

The network of women and few men recruited, willingly working, promised release, and amnesiated find each other like spiders, linking up invisible threads we hope will lead to the rescue of our families. Why is this?

My husband and I duck under a long wooden-topped table, our daughters small enough to help us be inconspicuous, the room crowded beyond us, the table's metal legs secured to the wall and floor, support beams filling the space around us. Greys, greens, yellows, it reminds me of that ship, the one they say never existed, with its desire to be old and hollow, and how they clean it anyway, forced march of utility, this is the military, you don't get to stop, you are used, you are used when and how they use you, you have no say, you are not you, but a drone projected from your skin, to be counted as one of a mass, not an individual. Just as that ship, you are kept in running order, and controlled.

I am wearing army fatigues, kind of, like posh clothing modeled after a soldier's plight, I have just gotten notice from a friend; someone in the medical department, a sympathetic soul, risking life and limb to orchestrate an accident of paperwork that lets me see my file. It's because of my allergies; if I was whole and healthy this mistake would be impossible. Now, under this table, dusty, winded, hiding from normalcy, heart pounding with deception, I have access to the dimly glowing yellow window that shows me my contact, prints out a single page document, my picture in the corner, in a real uniform, a soldier's flattop haircut, and detailed lists of the work of done, the tampering they've done with my brain. My breakdown as a soldier, the tests, the reasons, the beatings, no fluff just the core, my number among many. It is proof. It is deadly. Have they all been subjected to this? "take a look at this, love," I tell my husband, "This is what I've been doing. It's the only time you'll ever get to see me like that, as a soldier, they'll never let me look like that again." I only mean the picture. I am proud of my work, I am sad at its forced end. I hand him the paper. He takes it in.

25 more copies, I am told by a robotic existence, 25 more copies will be available for printing or 25 e-copies for distribution, after that, no more, access will be permanently lost. So, I know, this is precious. I immediately want to opt for e-copies. But I don't know how to hide them, I resist. I fold the paper, and hide it in my boot.

And so. And so we can work to freedom. I am focused on my family. My friend on hers, our peers on theirs, and this faith binds us together, those invisible threads keeping us linked though we pay each other no mind.

Now it is the dead of night. Now it is the time for the attempt. To get away, minds intact, to show that file, if not me then someone must show that someone beyond the reach of the forces holding us dumb. It is dead of night.

We are silent. Sneaking families, all, sliding through shadows and bringing precious little. Over the sidewalks, down to the water; our ship is there, but not at shore. Do they know? it hasn't docked. We have no choice, we must try. Silent, slow, families slipping into the water, a sea of bobbing heads praying for shelter.


My husband cannot.


I try, it is so hard with my babies, how do I keep their heads above the waves? We are ok.

A commotion; they know, we are all in danger, the water becomes choppy, in the dark there is now a searchlight, blinding yellow, passing over, disorienting desperate eyes among the white foam peaks of the churning deep brown waters, then it settles elsewhere. There is just enough light for us to see, we see each other, there are so many, and then we know, through our invisible web, this boat is ours.

Friends aboard have cast a net, people cling to it and make it aboard, a storm is brewing. it becomes clear; this boat is rusted and older than the last, is it the same boat? happily disheveled, this boat will fight for us, crewed by an overburdened few, they are friends, but they speak harsh and sharp. our captors know, they have that light, they have been betrayed. They are coming.

Through the waves, I must get my babies on the vessel. I have one shot, I send my body as hard and fast as I can, the small child on my left, the big child and their father on the right, helping as they can, but the crowded waters pose a stark reality, we make it to the net in a straight line, a narrow v of ripples spreading out behind me as I power through to the massive olive green metal wall that is this ship, the white ropes popping against it's dullness, I almost sink, but I make it, we make it, and I climb to the top, onto the wet floor of the deck, the baby clinging to my chest as we go, my left arm clamped around her. I set foot, there is no time for breath, I am in the middle, there are so many still to be rescued, and we have so little time, we may be sunk, and the storm threatens to topple this ship, the wind whipping, the clouds rolling so much they are visible in the dark as simple, pure, sluggish motion, they yell at me to go go go, I am to take a seat among the rest, in the middle, fill as you go leave none empty there are so many to pack in...

there are dozens of rows on the exposed deck, rows of simple metal stools with basket-like curved backs, each one touching the next, laid out in a semi circle stretching as far as I can see. The first half is full, people are piling around me, I am to take a seat as well, they are slippery and rickety, but as I start towards them, the workers hand me my older child, no longer with her father, she clings to my back, my right arms grasps her, too, and my fear stifled only by sheer determination; how can I do this alone? I do not know where my husband is, I know only that those ropes will guide him, I am not worried.

I find a place to be, I try to take two, I am reprimanded, I must hold both children in my one seat, there is not room for more, and as I move to sit there is a large swell, the boat rears violently upwards, wind, rain and now waves try to tear us all away, and I am terrified, how to keep my children safe from drowning? My big girl's arms wrapped around my neck, the little one pulling my clothes, I grab the rusted out, once-blue-green back of the chair in front of me and try my best to squeeze the girls with my arms, wedge the three of us onto this bolted metal circle and pipes that calls itself a seat.

The wave passes, more people board, I buckle down for a long night of danger, and as the wind whips and the waves threaten to overcome this old boat and the noise overwhelms, as our wardens bare down upon us, the rust giving my eyes focus through the rain while my muscles strain to hold and not crush, in the growing chaos and weakening odds I feel the love that threatens to burst my heart, my will demands, I know only that I can do my best.