Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Highlights

It's been a busy November, and I've been lazy about blogging. But here are some highlights:

I directed our bell choir for the first time. You can see video at the following site:

I have been appreciating the zen of peeling and chopping lately. Also the sweetness of root crops from the CSA and the farm across the street. We've been eating combinations of roasted squash, potato, sweet potato, turnip, parsnip and carrot often as a vegetable course.

By the way, a group of 9 turkeys have been gleaning the nearby farm field. They seem unconcerned about the Thanksgiving holiday.

I cooked our Thanksgiving meal for seven, the 4 of us and visiting grandparents.
Our menu:
the bird (cooked on the grill)
roasted butternut squash and onion with cranberries
cranberry/orange sauce
cornbread/sausage stuffing
mashed potatoes
raw veggie platter (carrots/radishes from CSA)
guests brought pie

We carved a special Thanksgiving pumpkin. It was a complicated design carved by me and the kids over a long afternoon.

We took a terrific family hike at another Trustees of Reservations property, Ward Reservation. It was an unusually warm November Saturday, and we hiked up 2 hills from where you could see the Boston skyline to the south. One had a stone compass/sundial at the top. We also walked down one of those wonderful wooden paths through a bog. There was great signage and info about the plants and geology. At the end of the path there was a spot to step onto the spongy, flexible plant layer that floats on the bog water. Really cool. Actually too warm (temp in the 60s), it looked like skunk cabbages were coming up as if it were spring.

Speaking of too warm, it's going to be in the mid-to high 50s today. 60's yesterday, the second warmest November on record. Bulbs in my yard are also sprouting.

Another highlight this month has been my work with the town Green Team and Transition groups. With the Green Team, we continued our work expanding deep recycling and composting at the local schools. At a pre-Thanksgiving assembly at my daughter's school, we did a skit reading a funny poem by Shel Silverstein about garbage, then presented the custodian with a "dirt" cake of chocolate pudding, dirt like chocolate cookie crumbs and gummy worms. He has helped the Green team and the kids to compost and recycle more than a ton of material that would have otherwise been incinerated since the start of the school year. We've started the program at a second elementary school, and built a raised bed garden there.

With Transition the group took another walk on the conservation trails in town. We walked around Pod Meadow, which is becoming a pond as beavers build an enormous lodge. We walked the trails that were not submerged and cleared branches that had fallen in recent storms. I also hosted our first Transition book group where were shared organic truffles, colorful local carrots and interesting discussion about Frances Moore Lappe's new book Ecomind.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Riot Summary

According to the Riot calculator here, the results for the items I tracked for the month of October 2011 follow for a household of 4 people:

transportation: 44.1 gallons + about 400 public transportation miles between school buses and the T, 29 % of US average
electricity: 386 kwh, 43 % of US average
heating/cooking: 15 therms, 18% of US average
garbage: didn't weigh this month, but it was likely very similar to last month. 1 bag (14 gal) dropped off at recycling center during the month. 1 barrel each (40 gallon) of mixed commingled plastic/glass/aluminum and paper recycling

Repeated power outages may be helping our numbers over the past 2 months. Our power came back on last night after 42 hours of power outage from the pre-Halloween Nor'Easter. We got about 6 inches of heavy snow. Some branches were knocked down in the yard. We saw some amazing blue flashes from arcing electrical transformers as the power went out.

Just like Irene (out for 4 days) I think we did well. It got down to the low 50's in the house, less than 10 degrees F less than we'd normally keep the daytime temp in the winter. Outside temps hovered in the low 30s at night and the mid 40s during the day. There was no school yesterday or today because of power problems and closed roads. The kids and I headed to the library where there was power (heat)! It was very crowded. At night we were pretty comfortable. The kids were in sleeping bags under additional covers. We pulled out a few more covers for our bed and actually ended up shedding sweatshirts and socks through the night.

Our food situation was fine. We didn't open the freezer, and once the power came on I checked it and even the ice cubes in the door were still frozen. We cooked on the stovetop from the fridge and by day 2 put perishables like cheeses, yogurt and cider in coolers on the porch. Dinner by candle light and Jack-o-Lantern light was cozy. We used up quite a bit of milk warming ourselves with lots of hot chocolate.