Archive | August, 2013

Moving and shaking


This week was an exceptionally busy one. I have a bit of overlap with my leases in Brooklyn and Providence so even though I’m still wrapping up work in the Ocean State, I took some time to move most of my stuff down to my new apartment. With help from my incredibly generous friends and family, I spent the last several days packing, schlepping, unpacking, painting, cleaning, and setting up my new home.

My last move was just across town, so relocating without producing any trash wasn’t very difficult. I made many trips back and forth, wrapping things in blankets, strategically placing them in my car or a borrowed pickup truck, and I took care not to hit any bumps or make any hard turns. This time around I have a 3-4 hour drive between my old and new home so packing without boxes, bubble wrap, newspaper, and tape required some more careful consideration. My best friend and I rented a 4’ x 8’ U-Haul trailer and hitched it to his small pickup truck. We managed to fit the bulk of my belongings in this rig. My bed and breakfast table pack flat so that helped a lot. I wrapped some of my fragile ceramic and glass kitchen wares in my sheets and comforter and placed them into my small blanket chest. I was really satisfied with that parcel. It traveled well.


I own quite a few glass jars and bottles, in which I store dry and liquid bulk food and hygiene goods. I transferred those in some borrowed milk crates. The crates that were tightly filled and placed at the front of the trailer (closest to the hitch), like the rectangular one pictured above, made the drive without a problem. But I did have some casualties in a smaller square crate that wasn’t quite Tetris packed like the others. The items in that crate had a little bit of room to rattle against each other. It was also at the back of the trailer, which means it probably had a bumpier ride than the others. It was also one of the last things to go and by that point, already tired from packing and loading and eager to get on the road, I’d gotten a little careless. But I really should have taken the time to stuff some clothes into the gaps between the fragile objects to prevent them from jostling around, because unfortunately the broken glass can’t be recycled and now it will end up in the landfill. Plus, one of the vessels that broke was a bottle of red wine vinegar, which made quite a pungent mess in the trailer.


Still, all things considered, I am pleased that I didn’t have to wrestle with a single cardboard box. My place is scrubbed clean and painted with low VOC paint. I will recycle the empty paint cans and the roller will likely become trash (couldn’t figure out a way around using one and I’m not sure that I can get it to come clean even with the most thorough soaking). My mom always says that any place we choose to live is basically just four walls, a floor, and a roof, it’s the things we chose to fill that box with and how we decide to arrange them that make it feel like a home. I thought about that sentiment this week, as I hung my ceramic planters in the windows and art on the walls (all made by my gifted, beloved friends).


I thought about it as I set up my new kitchen. I took the doors off the cabinets so that I could see all my tableware, stainless steel containers, and jars full of ingredients. I find that having open shelving makes my kitchen more functional. Besides, having cabinet doors that swing open in a space as narrow this one is a little cumbrous. Heads are bound to get bonked. Eventually I would love to remove the cabinets altogether and replace them with extended open shelving. It will give me more storage room and I think it might make the space feel a little bigger. In good time. For now I will make the units that are there work for my purposes.


Setting up my bed and unpacking my clothes were two other tasks I needed to tackle before I could feel settled. I placed some herbs and a small compost container on the fire escape outside the bedroom window. Today the dry breeze carried the smells of a backyard barbecue and the nearby water through the apartment. Little by little the space really is starting to feel like home. Now I’ll be able to focus on starting school, knowing that I have a great spot to return to each day.

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Key factors


This week I signed a lease on an apartment in Brooklyn. Though I’d been amply warned about the challenges involved in finding a place to live in NYC, the undertaking proved even trickier than I’d anticipated. As a student, I will only be able to work part-time and my modest budget limited my options from the get go. Securing a dwelling that met my requirements took a good deal of time and energy, but in the end my tenacity paid off.

Feeling comfortable and at ease in my immediate space has always been important to me. In addition to finding an agreeable, clean, functional, sunlit interior, there were many other factors to consider before choosing a place to call home in a city as large as New York. My desire to live without making any trash further complicated my decision. Of course, the proximity of my home to my school and access to public transportation are both of great importance. But I was also thinking about access to resources, like bulk food vendors. And with each space I looked at I also had to consider whether or not I would be able to compost at home or nearby. Trying to familiarize myself with these factors as an out-of-towner was no easy feat. Nor was it easy on my feet. Despite my best effort to employ a daily blister prevention program of strategically placing paper medical tape on my toes and heels, while hoofing it from neighborhood to neighborhood on some of the hottest (sweatiest) days of July, I wound up with some rather raw dogs. But all the walking was worth it. I’ve started to get to know some neighborhoods, trains, eateries, and grocery stores in Brooklyn. After several weeks of searching I was able to settle on an apartment that seems to be a good compromise on everything I was looking for in a home.

I found a reasonably priced, no broker fee apartment in sleepy Red Hook. I really love the neighborhood. There’s an excellent grocery store that stocks an impressive variety of bulk foods and organic produce, an impressive community farm, some lovely garden centers, and a handful of great restaurants. One drawback to the location is that there are no trains that go directly to the neighborhood, which means that I will have a longer walk, a short bike ride, or a bus ride to get to and from the train into the city every day. But while I was hemming and hawing over whether or not I could tolerate the commute, a dear friend pointed out that I happen to be someone who is willing to pass on certain conveniences in order to experience other things of value that support a good quality of life. Hearing this from someone who knows me well made me realize that I’m quite capable of making the best of my time there. Of course it’s possible that come wintertime, I may grow weary of the commute, in which case I may choose to relocate for my second year of school, but for now I’m just excited to give it a try.


Meanwhile back in Providence again, I’m finishing up work projects, and preparing for my move. Being without my car has been great so far. I took my bike for a tune-up and replaced the synthetic squishy, leaky gel saddle with a quality leather one. I returned the gel saddle to my friend who built my bike for me. He said that despite the tear he could still make use of it. So far I’ve found the leather saddle to be a lot more comfortable than the gel. I don’t feel like I’m slipping and sliding the way I felt on the padded seat. Now that it’s the only vehicle I own and because it will ease my daily commute to the train once I’ve moved, I’m more focused on taking great care of my bike.

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