“I’m a Toydarian, mind tricks don’t work on me. Only money. No money, no parts, no deal!” – Watto, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
Maybe I’m not quite as bad as Watto, but I do love a good deal – especially now that I’m being forced to rein in the budget something fierce. Since I don’t know if everyone else knows about it, I’m going to put in this link to Amazon.com’s bulk-buying Subscribe & Save program. I l.o.v.e this program. Every time I order something from it, I get free shipping and an automatic 15% discount. Woo-hoo!
What reminded me was that I just ordered some more HE detergent for my front-loading washer today. I get paper products (my much beloved Seventh Generation toilet paper, paper towels, and bath tissues, for example), Dad Windu’s favorite face wash (very hit or miss at the grocery store), “lady items” and other such bulky non-perishables this way. I’m a huge fan of buying local and supporting local merchants, but I’m also a big fan of being able to get my weekly groceries on my bicycle (hard to do when you’ve got lots of bulky items) or – if the load is really light – walking there and back. Plus the local grocery doesn’t even stock Seventh Generation stuff (yes, I’ve requested them) – and that bugs the crap out of me! So the the UPS truck pulls up and delivers 6-7 months of TP in a big o’ cardboard box.
To get the great deal, it makes me pick a recurring period (1, 2, 3 or 6 month time frames). That seemed a bit risky until I realized that I can cancel the repeat order immediately after buying something if I want to. They also send you a reminder email about a week before sending out the next shipment, too, so you can skip the upcoming order if you wish. Generally I order everything on the 6 month plan and move the order date back or forward as needed.
I hope this helps some of you out too.
Luke Skywalker: ”Boy, it’s lucky you have these compartments.”
Han Solo: ”I use them for smuggling. I never thought I’d be smuggling myself in them.”
Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Sometimes things get a little crazy around here and I simply run out of time. Then again, sometimes I’m just plain lazy and put things off too long. An.y.way. We were having friends over for dinner and a movie on Friday night and I found myself way, way behind schedule. My revised goal, around 3pm, was to finish getting the house cleaned, take a shower, and have something more presentable than my pajamas on by the time that everyone arrived at 5:30pm. I even called in Dad Windu, who was kind enough to leave work a bit early, to make a run to the store and get the chili started.
As I was getting ready to clean the kitchen floor, I kept tripping over some soda cans and beer bottles. As we don’t drink much besides water and milk on a day to day basis, it usually takes a while for me to gather up a large enough collection to merit the trip to turn them in for recycling. We had arrived at the tipping point it appeared. So I did what any good homeschooling mom would do. I pulled Padawan Learner away from his books for a few minutes to make a completely overdue trip out to drop off the cans/bottles because they were annoying me assist me in reducing the amount of recyclable material that enters our household’s solid waste stream. At the same time, I wanted him to buy some more soda for the boys that would be coming over practice his comparison shopping and currency handling skills.
As he was loading everything into my bike’s baskets (Cool aren’t they? Admit it, they’re hot.), he couldn’t get everything to fit, so I grabbed a bungee cord and strapped a big ol’ box from a case of locally brewed beers onto the rear rack and we tucked several plastic soda bottles into that. I had to laugh because he looked like a “can man” in training.
He was pretty amused by the situation and begged me to take a picture. As he rode away, he said, “You should put this on your blog. You could use Han Solo’s quote about smuggling himself on the Millennium Falcon.” Smart boy, he.
Uncle D, FilmChris and WineChris will be pleased to see a sixpack of Bell’s tucked into the basket. In truth, there was another one on the other side, as well.
“Why do I sense we’ve picked up another pathetic life-form?” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace
After Padawan Learner left for lunch and a movie with his grandma today, I biked over to the super-mega-regional-chain grocery store to pick up the things I needed for the week’s recipes. Although I’ve got a boatload of veggies in the fridge, many of which I’ve never cooked with before, I still needed to buy some staples that I’d run out of and some things to round out the recipes.
After locking up my bike, I headed into the store and grabbed one of those half-carts that I love so much. Throwing my helmet into the top basket, I headed back to the can return area with a few beer bottles and my (cat sitter) niece’s 2 liter soda bottles. After dropping them off, I began cruising the store.
After a few aisles, the following conversation took place:
A kindly older woman looked at my helmet and asked in a very concerned voice, “Honey, did you ride your bike here?” (I really, honestly do love it when older people call me Honey. It’s so cute.)
Smiling my best and friendliest, biking is for everyone smile, I replied, “Yes, ma’am I did.”
“Well, you’re going to need to put some of that back then,” pointing into my mini-cart, “because there isn’t any way you’re going to get it all home on your bike.”
“Oh, it’ll be alright. I’ve got baskets on the back of my bike to carry stuff in.”
“Still, there just no way,” she said, shaking her head at silly ol’ me.
A few aisles over, another woman said roughly the same thing. Tsk, tsk, tsk-ing, as she looked at my growing pile. And another woman in the dairy section said the same thing, with agreement from a man who looked over to see what the situation was.
Getting into the checkout lane, the cashier began ringing up my order and I asked her to please bag my stuff in the bags I’d brought (one of which is an insulated bag so my Dove dark chocolate butter doesn’t melt). For the record, doing this appears to drive cashiers batty.
Pulling my helmet out of the way as I unloaded the mini-cart, the cashier did a double take, stopped scanning, and said, “Girrl, did you ride your bike here?”
“Yes, I did. It’s only a couple of miles from my house and my bike has baskets on the back for the groceries.” I was getting into a groove saying that.
“Well, you ain’t gonna be riding your bike home today. You’ve got too much stuff for doing that.”
“It’ll be OK. I’ll rearrange the bags a little once I’m outside. I’m sure it’ll all fit.”
“Um huh.” And with that, she dismissed me as a hopeless case and continued scanning my groceries.
“Seriously, I’ve got an extra backpack for the stuff that I can’t get into the baskets.”
At this point, the people behind me in line, including the guy from earlier who I’m pretty sure followed me into the checkout lane just to see the show, began to voice their agreement with the cashier. “Uh uh.” “No way.” “Girrl, you’re plum crazy to think all that’s gonna fit.”
Well, by this point I was determined to get home with all my groceries in just two bags and a backpack, on my bike, if it meant that I’d end up eating half my groceries out in the parking lot! “Oh, I just love the taste of peanut oil on a warm summer day!” I am a determined woman. Perhaps also a bit pigheaded, but certainly determined.
“I have got to see this!” a voice behind me said and wouldn’t you know it, a little group of people followed me out to my bike and watched me pack all my stuff up - in two bags and a backpack, thankyouverymuch. While I was shifting things around, they asked me a few questions about my bike and why I ride it to the grocery store. “Don’t you have a car?” (Yes, but I’m not driving it this summer. I like to ride my bike whenever I can.) “Do you think that gas is just too expensive now?” (Not really, I’ve lived other places where gas is much more expensive. I like the exercise.) ”Did you have to get a special kind of bike?” (No, it’s a normal, everyday bike. The style is called a hybrid.) ”Did your bike come with those baskets?” (No, I bought them online but you can order them from the bike shops around here. They’re around $25, less than a tank of gas.) “What if it’s too hot or raining outside to ride?” (I take the bus, wear a rain jacket or get a little damp.)
As I rode away, my little group actually cheered me on for being able to get everything packed away. I even heard the guy say, “Screw $4 a gallon gas. I’m getting a bike!” My first convert.
Here’s the bags packed:
And the bags unloaded:
What was included in the bags:
- four bags chocolate pieces (ostensibly for Dad Windu)
- peanut oil
- 2 bottles olive oil
- bag cashews
- pound butter
- package tofu (don’t tell Dad Windu)
- large container yogurt
- 3 small containers yogurt
- parchment paper
- 2 boxes cereal
- canned artichoke hearts
- soy sauce
- large onion
- 2 heads garlic
- 3 boxes of chicken broth
- 2 large cans whole tomatoes
- bag of onions
PS – I completely stole the idea of pictures and a list from aLex over at Hank and Me. I hope she will forgive me.
“Patience. Use the Force. Think.” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
Last Saturday morning through this past Monday evening were devoted to finding a new bicycle for the Padawan Learner. What has three days of near constant activity in one bike shop or another taught me? I have come to the conclusion, after much thought and contemplation, that I hate having to find a new bicycle. I love bicycles and think that a return to walking for short trips and the bicycle for moderately distanced trips is the most reasonable, sustainable and fun method of personal transportation around. I do not, however, enjoy the process of buying a bicycle.
We have a lot of bicycle shops in this area, but commuter/upright bikes are still a rarity. Most shops are chock-a-block full of road bikes and mountain bikes. There are usually one or two hybrid bikes out on the showroom and maybe an old-fashioned beach cruiser with balloon tires. A few of the shops in town are beginning to carry the Electra brand of up-right bikes. Yeah!, a few commuter bikes…
We almost bought Padawan Learner an Electra Townie. It has ”one size fits most” frame geometry that would follow with him as he continues to grow and grow and grow, an upright cycling position (his biggest request) and it is very lightweight. Although I agree that far too many people have gotten carried away with the “weight” factor when choosing a bike, Padawan Learner is still under a hundred pounds soaking wet, despite his height, and has to frequently lift his bike to use the city bus bike racks, so the weight of a bike is a real factor in his being able to use his bike independently. Best of all, the standard 7 speed with derailleur was within our budget and he loved riding it. Loved, loved, loved riding it … until we gave it the “Dutch hill test,” that is.
Padawan Learner and I take Dutch language lessons. Seriously. We grab the bus from our house and ride it to the end of the route, two miles from our Dutch teacher’s house, and hop on our bikes from there. Near the end, we hit what we have come to call “Dutch hill”. This is a very steep ride for about 1/2 of a mile – San Fransisco steep. It’s a stand up and pedal kind of hill in light to moderate traffic. By the top of the hill on our current bikes, we’re both breathing pretty audibly. Since the Townie uses foot forward pedaling, this was a concern, since foot-forward doesn’t lend itself to standing up and pedaling. After a fair bit of internet searching, I learned that you can get some extra torque by gripping the handle bars and leaning back to increase your leg extension and find that much needed “gluteus maximus” power. It really does work, but not nearly well enough to make steep hills an easy or comfortable ride.
Now, a steep hill here or there wouldn’t normally be an issue, but when we started riding more and more around town we realized something amazing. Our city is hilly. Really hilly. “Where did this hill come from?” hilly. We never even noticed it as we drove from place to place. I knew we had come to the unfortunate decision to retire the Townie as a serious candidate when the Padawan Learner asked, “Could we just find routes without any hills?” Sorry, bud, not around here you can’t. Sadly, we returned home once again. As a last resort, we dropped the seat on Dad Windu’s bike and realized that Padawan Learner can just barely straddle the top bar and ride Dad Windu’s bike safely. So we’re going to put off buying him a new bike for the summer and see if he grows anymore before fall. We should then be able to buy him his perfect “last” around town bike. When Dad Windu isn’t with us, Padawan Learner will ride the full-size bike and I’ll do the on/off the bus bike rack duty and when Dad Windu is with us, Padawan Learner will ride his old mountain bike.
Yes, for the record, I have tried to find a good, used, medium-sized upright bike but have had no luck so far. I’ll keep trying through the summer. If only I could get back to The Netherlands….
Just to be fair – on the flat, I think that the Electra bike I rode during his test ride was just about the most comfortable bike that I’ve ever ridden. They glide so smoothly… but I wasn’t too impressed by the lag in shifting and Dad Windu absolutely despised the back and forth gear system of the 21 speed. That said, just drifting along on a flat bike path was absolute heaven. Tip: if you want to use a Townie on a city bus rack, spin the front wheel backwards to shorten the wheelbase (by a good 4 inches).
“Typical, the weather clears as soon as we’re leaving.” ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
There are a few things you can be sure of when riding a bike for your day to day transportation, but one of them is that eventually it’s going to rain while you’re out. I don’t ride at night (yet?) but I can’t be guaranteed decent weather and bright sunshine at all times either. Because of this, I was especially happy to a great product for bicycles over at Hank & Me. These flashing pedals will make intersections much, much safer for bicyclists. Ride safe.
“Anakin, the most difficult trial a Jedi must face is to look inside oneself. Often we see things we don’t like. But these aspects are not set in stone. It is our decisions that shape our destinies.” Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
Every now and then, I like to make myself think about what we’re really doing on a day-to-day basis because no matter what our stated philosophies might be, it’s what we actually do that makes us what we truly are. So…what positive acts have the three of us made so far this Memorial Day weekend?
- We finished installing the clothes line in the backyard and I put my first load of whites out to dry in the breeze. I was immediately in my own childhood backyard. What a simply wonderful visual reminder of a normal, happy chore from days gone by (and my arms got a workout too, carrying a basketful of wet clothes up the stairs and out into the backyard).
- We hit the farmer’s market for a flat of flower plugs for the front yard. I’m slowly taking over the grass area and replacing it with flower boxes and boarders. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get rid of that most ridiculous of all things, a water-sucking and drought unfriendly grass lawn, but I’m sure going to try.
- We bought several oh-so-yummy bunches of locally grown asparagus for our scrambled eggs and as a side dish with dinner this week. I got the best smile from the little boy selling it when I said, “I’ll take the rest of what you’ve got here.” It was great watching him and his brother working together.
- Dad Windu replaced the kitchen faucet and sprayer because the old faucet leaked from the body when you turned it on, it had just started to leak slightly when it was turned off and the sprayer was melted shut from a close encounters with a scorchingly hot frying pan a couple of years back. I won’t say who did it, but it wasn’t the Padawan Learner or Dad Windu. It was someone else. Someone who shall remain nameless.
- Dad Windu rode his bike over to the hardware store to get some necessary fittings for the new faucet. Yeah for faucets that don’t leak.
- We weeded and weeded and weeded until we thought we couldn’t weed anymore. We weeded some more.
- Dad Windu and I rode our bikes to get a few supplies from the supermarket, in a stiff wind that made the ride back a real workout. It’s pretty hilly around here, even without all of aLex’s bridges, and you know the wind is seriously bad when you have to pedal going down a hill. (Happy note: There were two other bikes at the supermarket’s bike stand on the nasty, busy road.)
- I used up some scraps of fabric hiding out in my closet to make a couple of needle cozies for my double pointed and circular knitting needles since my current method of storage and retrieval, which included primarily of tossing them all in a big bag and having to dump the whole thing out whenever I wanted to use a specific pair, was annoying to Dad Windu.
- I mowed the elderly neighbor lady’s front lawn because she’s in the hospital and her live-in son hadn’t done it for the past couple of weeks. Annoyed neighbors were threatening to report her to the housing codes department (city mows the yard and charges you $75 for the inconvenience), which is the last thing she needs right now. I used our horrid, old gas-powered mower, which is an ecological nightmare, but it was still the right thing to do.
- Padawan Learner rode his bike a mile away to his buddy’s house to see his buddy’s new puppy, even though he’s not a dog-lover.
- I walked down to the library with Padawan Learner and retrieved our books from the hold shelf.
What negative decisions have we made this holiday weekend in regards to living lightly?
- We drove over to a big box home improvements store for a new faucet because one local place was closed for the whole weekend and the other place’s selection’s selection is lousy (and they were also closed). We could have bought the faucet after the weekend at the good selection local place, but that would risk a loss of home repair momentum. A very contagious malady around here.
- We hopped in the car, again, to go to the farmer’s market because we waited too long to get there via the bus-walk route. We were punished by the consequences of the absolute pain of finding a space in the remarkably small parking lot and by the very rude lady who parked her SUV in the middle of the one-way exit lane, blocking all traffic behind her, as she went to retrieve her purchase.
- We grabbed dinner from a multi-national, everything shipped here because we don’t know the meaning of the phrase grown locally, fast food place since we focused on planting too long and didn’t have the time or energy to get dinner ready.
- Dad Windu and his beer snob buddy drove to two watering holes (the first, a preferred and locally producing one was closed) for the chance to drink and chat without wives & kids. At least they car-pooled.
- Instead of playing a boardgame, going for a walk or bike ride down to the park or another more sociable activity, we watched movies together both Saturday and Sunday nights.
- We drove to the doughnut shop on Sunday morning .again. for our turn to grab a dozen, to be enjoyed with our Sunday Morning Doughnut Buddies. Laziness on the doughnut retrieval, pure laziness.
How about you? What’s best and worst on your list?