Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recycling at Park Slope Food Coop, Part II: Delivery

Getting There

Sunday morning I called the coop to find out if recycling was still happening--it was.

Earlier in the week, I'd gotten directions from Google Maps: change at W. 4th, take B train to 7th Ave. , then walk to Union Street. Saturday I'd checked the MTA web site for possible service changes on the B line--there weren't any.

I figured an hour would be way more than enough time to get there. Aiming to arrive by 1:45--which the coop requires to allow time for inspection of recyclables--I left at 12:45.

Waiting for my first train in the 8th Ave. station, I checked the legend at the bottom of the subway map to see how often the B runs on a Sunday, and got an unpleasant surprise--it doesn't run. No wonder there weren't any service changes.

The MTA's recommended alternatives were the D and the A, both a much greater distance from the coop. Suddenly my diminishing hour felt a lot shorter--would I end up missing the deadline and lugging my bag back in the heat?

A few panicky minutes later, I was on a train, checking the map again, trying to figure out what to do.

"Where are you going?" asked an elderly man.

"The Park Slope food coop," I said and explained my predicament.

He took in my bag. "Want my advice?"

"Sure," I said.

"Leave that on the train, and forget about it."

I decided to try the F train--it goes to the other end of Park Slope, but I'm a fast walker--then learned I could take the D to Pacific and change to the Q, which goes to 7th Avenue.

The D was fast and fun, with some unusual onboard entertainment--a guy skillfully miming, first boxing, then music playing and singing. If my Spanish were better, I might have figured out which fighters and musicians he was imitating.

At Pacific, I asked someone about the frequency of the Q, and with 20 minutes to spare, decided I'd be better off hoofing it.

Steamy though the day was, the walk wasn't bad, and I arrived with ten minutes or so to spare.

The Process

There were several people stationed on the sidewalk outside the coop to receive plastic recyclables. When I arrived, the lines were short, so the process went quickly.

First I handed one of the collectors my bag of #5s--these get screened individually by hand and must be free of labels. I noticed a woman at an adjacent table cutting labels off with an exacto knife.

Here I overheard something that isn't on the coop's website: they will take sturdy plastic containers used for heating and serving meals, even if they're the wrong number, to give to a homeless shelter. But they only collect these till they've filled a particular container, so if you want to bring any, come early.

On the other side of the table, a woman was collecting transparent #1 containers in a clear plastic bag even bigger than mine. I knew I'd brought a lot of these, but was amazed to see how many came out once I started dumping.

Finally, my bag was empty. I handed some transparent plastic wrap to a guy who was collecting that; he rejected a stiff circular piece--the only thing they didn't take.

Feeling lighthearted--almost giddy--but still sweating, I walked away.

Your next chance to recycle will be Saturday, August 8, 10 am-2 pm. You'll save time if you presort your stuff.

For requirements and other information, see

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Recycling at the Park Slope Food Coop. Part I: Intention

How far would you go to recycle?

Until Sunday, the farthest I'd gone is the ground floor of my building or a nearby container in another place.

In principle, though, I was willing to go farther.

Two years or so ago, I learned that the Park Slope Food Coop recycles some forms of plastic that New York City does not. So I started saving all those take-out and fruit and vegetable containers I'd been tossing, thinking I'd bring them there. . . one of these days.

At first I stuck them in rear corners of kitchen cabinets. Soon the cabinets were so full that stuff started tumbling out when I opened a door. There wasn't any extra floor space in the kitchen, so I moved them to a humongous plastic bag, which I set on a chair in the kitchen.

The bag

The bag inside the bag

The bag grew and grew as if it had a life of its own. I'd taken to explaining what it was to guests, in case it looked as strange to them as it did to me.

A few months ago, I got serious and checked the coop website. I learned that they take #1 and 6 transparent plastic, but not bottles (labels are okay); and #5 containers without labels and "specifically marked" lids. All need to be clean and dry.

I went through the stuff I'd collected: lots of #1s (those fruit and vegetable baskets), a few 5s and 6s, and some the coop doesn't take (2, 4, 7, and unmarked). I discovered that those little amber prescription bottles are #5s and that their labels usually come off pretty easily. I put the 5s in a smaller bag within the bigger bag.

There are only three chances a month to recycle at the coop-- the second Saurday., 10 AM-2 PM; third Thursday, 7 PM-9 PM; and last Sunday, 10 AM-2 PM. I figured I'd aim for one of the Thursdays, and was all set to go in April, until I got invited to a friend's birthday dinner.

Finally last week, I realized that the last Sunday was approaching, and that I'd be here with no conflicting obligations. I called to make sure it would be happening.

"They do it the last Sunday, and this is the last Sunday, so yes," a woman told me.

Rain or shine? I asked. She thought so.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Norman Conquests Countdown

For those of you who haven't yet seen Alan Ayckbourn's brilliant and amazing Norman Conquests on Broadway, you've got four days left.

You can see all three parts on either Saturday or Sunday, Round and Round the Garden tonight, Table Manners Friday night. If you can only see one, go for Table Manners; if you can only see two, add Garden.

If they're available, grab a floor seat for Table Manners and enjoy the eerie sight of trees and houses from the bottom of the disc that covers the stage in lieu of curtain dangling among the set's dinner table and chairs.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Janet Bode

Janet Bode's been gone for nearly 10 years, but she's alive as ever in my heart. I can still hear her voice on the phone, which would lift my spirits whatever either of us was going through. Janet went through a lot, including a losing struggle with breast cancer and, long before I knew her, surviving a brutal gang rape.

Besides her influence on friends, Janet left an extraordinary body of work--at least 14 nonfiction books for young adults on some difficult subjects, like teen pregnancy, romantic troubles, divorce, eating disorders, and teens in prison. The heart of each book is direct quotes from the hundreds of teens she interviewed all over the country.

Though she had no children herself, Janet had enormous empathy for teenagers and connected with them deeply. I'm guessing that her books may have helped save some of their readers' lives.

Here are the titles of Janet's books for young adults that I know about: Beating the Odds: Stories of Unexpected Achievers; The Colors of Freedom: Immigrant Stories; Food Fight: A Guide to Eating Disorders; For Better or Worse: a Guide to Surviving Divorce; Hard Time: a Real Life Look at Juvenile Crime and Violence; Heartbreak and Roses: Real Life Stories of Troubled Love; Kids Having Kids; Kids Still Having Kids; New Kids in Town: Oral Histories of Immigrant Teens; New Kids in Town: Oral Histories of Immigrant Teens; Rape: Preventing It; Coping with the Legal, Medical and Emotional Aftermath; Truce: Ending the Sibling War; Trust & Betrayal; The Voices of Rape. Some of them are illustrated with cartoons by her partner, Stan Mack.

For adults, Janet wrote Fighting Back: How to Cope with the Medical, Emotional, and Legal Consequences of Rape; and View from Another Closet: Exploring Bisexuality in Women.

Today, Bastille Day, was Janet's birthday.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Don't Miss The Norman Conquests!

You have two more weeks to catch The Old Vic's terrific production of Alan Ayckbourn's tour-de-force.

I saw Round and Round the Garden two nights ago and was hooked--jumped at the chance to see Table Manners this morning at the disturbingly early hour of 11:30. It's performed then on Saturdays, as the nominal part I of the trilogy, so that those who so choose can see the whole thing in one day.

And if you see one part, no matter which, I guarantee you'll want to see the whole thing.

As fine as Garden was on its own, I can't imagine having missed Table Manners--poignant and wrenching as it is hilarious--and can't wait to savor the delights of Living Together.

Circle in the Square , through July 26.

Salt and Pepper Fruit Heads

Turns out that the peach-headed guitar-playing girl I'd been using for salt for a few years was actually the pepper shaker--it says so right on her skirt: P. But salt flowed freely from her two large holes.

Since I grind my pepper instead of shaking and had lost the cork that closed her companion, the pear-headed reed-playing salt girl, I must have decided a while back to switch their roles--or maybe had them switched all along.

A few weeks ago, the peach head broke right off in the hands of a child who wasn't even trying to dismember Ms. P. Obviously it wasn't the first time--there were traces of dried glue along her throat. I vaguely remember applying the stuff myself.

So I switched the salt and the cork back to the official salt girl, though not noticing till today the S on her skirt that so proclaimed her. She has three holes, each smaller than Ms. P's two, and two of them are blocked, probably with years of dried salt. So the flow she allows is much slower than Ms. P's.

Now I'm wondering if a painter at the Napco factor way back when made a mistake and reversed the functions of the fruit heads, or if the hole-driller made the pepper holes too big.

Anyway, if you have a small-holed pepper shaker around, try using it for salt if, like me, you prefer pinchs to gobs.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dinners at the Farm

Last summer my friend Susanne regaled me with stories of cooking, once in the middle of a downpour, at dinners held on Connecticut farms over the summer. This summer I'm hoping to get to one.

The dinners, served, rain or shine, at candlelit tables under tents, feature farm-grown produce and include a tour of the host farm. They benefit several organizations supporting farmers and agricultural in the state. For six or more course, a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres, wine, and service, the $150 cost seems a relative bargain.

Dates for this year's Dinners at the Farm are July 16, 17, 18, August 13, 14, 15, 27, 28, 29, and September 10, 11, and 12.

For information, check out