Here are some answers to questions posted in comments by a reader named Jessy. I mention some difficulties. Please feel free to weigh in with solutions:
What are you feeding your dog?
Frankie is the weirdest eater you ever met. She’s skinny but only eats when she is famished. If you give a piece of food that is too big to swallow in one bite, she carries it around the apartment and wails in the saddest tones. She turns her nose up at just about anything, unless, of course, Isabella is eating it, in which case, she grabs it and gulps it down. Tears, sometimes, though mostly Isabella is glad to share with “my sister Frankie.”
Before Isabella was born, I fed Frankie raw, local, fresh chicken necks (and some other things in the famous Bones and Raw Food diet). But she dragged them all over the apartment—and yes, wailing—and we would occasionally find the bloody necks buried under our pillows. Since Michelle didn’t want Isabella to get salmonella, the idea got nixed. Now, I feed Frankie a kibble from a local company called Abady. It comes in a disposable bag—sigh—and I doubt the ingredients are local, but this is one problem I haven’t solved yet. Ideas for local and unpackaged dog food that would fit in with our situation, anyone?
How is your child reacting to the summer heat so far? And how is your pooch doing, too?
We are lucky that there seems to be a decent draft through the apartment. I open the top windows to let heat out and open the front door to the apartment which causes more draft. We dress very appropriately. We shower at night so we’re cool when we get in bed (remember, we’re not up to the water stage yet). Isabella sleeps in her “big girl panties” instead of pajamas. Frankie sleeps on the wood floor instead of on the couch, I think because the floor is cooler. So far so good.
Where do you dry all of your laundry?
We use the grape-stomper method for washing. We squeeze it out well so it doesn’t drip. We hang it from clothes hangers on the shower rail over the bathtub. Problems: clothes with dirt ground in, getting towels dry, getting tired form the wringing out. Ideas?
You still have running water, right?
Yes, and always will. I think we will ration and figure out a rudimentary gray water system when we get to that stage. By the way, when I first started the blog, I hoped to use a composting toilet (hence the “composts his poop” bit in the banner). So far, I haven’t been able to figure out anything that will work in a very small Manhattan bathroom, though. Ideas? Meanwhile, we do the normal “when it’s yellow, let it mellow” type stuff. Other ideas for sustainable water use in an apartment?
Is the circuit breaker to your oven still on so that you can use the gas to bake?
Yes, I’ve mentioned this before, I thought, but I can’t find the reference. The oven won’t turn on without the electricity so the gas stove is the only thing still plugged in to mains electricity. Progress not perfection. Again, ideas?
How do you charge your cell phones?
From the solar panel.
Can you give us some menu examples?
Our diet has changed radically. We don’t make a lot of fancy things. Last night for dinner, we had steamed broccoli (which just came in season at the farmers’ market), purslane (a weed that grows in the community garden I am part of), a wedge of bread and a chunk of cheese. My sourdough bread recipe is here, if you want it.
How's the composting coming along - are you doing anything with the organic matter as of yet?
I’m composting with worms (and Michelle and I no longer fight about it), and it’s working a charm. I am just getting ready for my second harvesting of the worm castings. One problem was that I must have put a veggie scrap in that had housefly eggs on it and I ended up with about 20 flies in the apartment, which was very demoralizing. I had to keep the worm bin sealed and then take it outside to take the lid off, once a day, to let the baby flies out. Eventually, with no adult flies inside to lay new eggs, it stopped, but it was gross. The castings go to the community garden.
Are you trying to grow any plants or herbs in your apartment?
I tried tomatoes, but they didn’t get enough light, so I gave them to a friend to put in her garden. In the days when we felt that doing without coffee was a terrible hardship, we grew mint, but, well, I’m no green thumb. I have some second-hand window boxes that I was thinking of strawberries for, but I couldn’t find secondhand brackets to put them in, so it stalled. At the Laguardia Community Garden (which is incidentally under threat from NYU development), I work with a wonderful old radical named Mayer Vishner, whose plot has sweet peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, spinach and more. Any ideas for indoor food growing in an apartment that is bright but not full of sun?
PS If anyone cares to tune in, I'm going to be on Good Morning America at around 8:30 on Thursday.
This post also appears
in my Green Parenting column for Time Out