Some more updates for New Year’s

I have a five-day string of vacation that I’m enjoying very much, due to New Year’s conveniently falling on a Tuesday (we get the 31st and last Friday off, too). Our upstairs neighbors, being undergraduates, have gone home for the break. One of our first indications that they had left was the fact that we woke up on Thursday to find that it was 50 degrees in the apartment and the honey had gone almost solid. Now we get the real heating challenge! It turns out that under normal circumstances, 55 degrees is about our limit for chilliness. We can turn on the heat for an hour or two, let it heat things up, and then turn it off again and the house stays warm for the rest of the day. I’ve been wearing a thick wool scarf on my head most of the time, along with socks and slippers and lots of layers. And plenty of tea and soup.

One advantage to the neighbors being gone is that our next electric bill should be just about the span of winter break, and thus should include very few uses of the dryer. I’ll be extremely interested to see what happens.

We’ve mostly been hiding in my room staying cozy, but we’ve also gotten quite a bit of useful cleaning done. A clean apartment makes many things easier. Speaking of apartments, I keep seeing articles and discussions about ultra-small housing, and realized that I had no idea how big this place is. Five minutes with a tape measure indicate that it is just about 1000 square feet. (Not including the basement, which has large amounts of storage space that is mostly being used for the washer and dryer) I think it has the right number of rooms for us, but the rooms, particularly the common areas, could be significantly smaller and we’d be perfectly happy. What I would really like is some sort of cohousing arrangement with shared common areas. I might be able to adapt to living in one of those 100sf houses, but you can’t exactly have many guests over. Having guests over is important. I’d be quite happy sharing, say, a three or four bedroom house with another couple (or two other non-attached people who don’t mind sharing a bedroom, for that matter), so that maximum use could be made of a nice big living room and kitchen. Big houses have a lot of advantages over little ones in terms of having space for storage and activities and cottage industries and such…you just have to put a sensible number of people in them! Some of the green-housing movement tends to present a picture of everyone in their own tiny little yurt, which just seems kind of lonely.

The greens are growing splendidly in their little jars on the window. I don’t know how big they’ll have room to get, but we’ll at the very least have a lovely mini-greens salad at some point. I also have a quart of homemade apple cider vinegar! It’s not very strong, but I strained it out and put it in the fridge, where it might continue to ferment but will be taking up less space. I will definitely have to make a bigger batch next year. The turnips and one of the beets have a very small amount of mold on them, so they’ll need to be washed and used quickly. I continue to be amused at the fact that I’ve finally gotten my local-food act together, and am eating much more locally now in the dark of winter than I did in July, when we were swimming in tomatoes. Next July will be glorious. I’m planning a seed order (lots of greens and roots that will grow well in the shade), and in the next month or so we’ll be able to buy next year’s CSA share.

I finished a scarf over Christmas (and promptly left it at my parents’ house) and have started a hat for Ben. Knitting makes me feel empowered, though I still like spinning better. I should finish Rosie’s yarn…cashmere is harder to spin than wool, so I kind of gave up on it for a while.

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