Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chunky Milk and Other Stuff

This is the refrigerator that came with the house. It is ten years old and has worked great until a month or so ago. We started having chunky milk and figured it was a bad batch that didn't get unloaded quick enough. Then we thought it was Suiza milk and the three nuns kind seemed fresher. Then the calabaza got moldy so I stuck a thermometer in the refrigerator and we knew we had a problem! The ice maker stopped making ice. Then it would work. Then not etc etc. At the coldest setting the refrigerator was still climbing to 48-52 and never going back down despite staying on and on and on. and being on the coldest setting. Jeff is pretty handy so he dismantled things looking at the fan, coils, etc etc. We defrosted etc. Then we went to Sears and got a new one.

Looks the same huh? This one is white (other was almond), same capacity but the energy rating was much better - old one was 830 (used 4 kw hours a day) and the new one is 577 (uses less than 2 1/2 kw hours a day). Nice since the rates just went up from 24 to 28 cents a kw. There happened to be a "sale" which made the refrigerator $899 plus 10 percent off and another 12 % as a rebate if you stuck it on the sears card. Still too much for something you have to have that consumes most of the energy in the house (not counting the 3 times a week use of the compressor to fill scuba tanks). So now the story begins. We have a marginally functioning refrigerator. There is no food around. I am too cheap to eat out all the time and don't want to eat crap. It is scheduled to come in two days. They call (at least they called) and say it arrived at Mayaguez damaged. They don't tell us when it will come. Don't tell us if one will come. Nothing - they hang up! After calling a bunch we finally get another delivery date - a full week after we ordered it! They find the driveway, they make it up, they bring it in and it all looks fine but the doors seem a little non-matched. They don't quite line up. They are fine vertically but the refrigerator side sticks out maybe 1/4 inch or so - just enough to notice. The old one didn't. We measure - yes it is sticking out a little. What to do. The guys say something about "fabricacion de tienda" or something which I figure means they made it that way at the factory, but I have no idea if it is supposed to be that way or if there was a sale in China on mis sized refrigerator doors or something. Then they point to their arms and armpits and I am confused. "Una problema?" I ask. "No problema" they respond. Finally they get someone on the phone at the distribution center or somewhere who tells us that refrigerators in Puerto Rico are made with a bigger seal on the refrigerator side so there is less sweating or something. Seems to make sense. There is more in and out of that side and horrifically the inside temperature goes up about 8 degrees when you open the door even if you are fast. All I know is it cools down and stays cold, ice and cold water pump out of the magic door and it looks fine.

Amparo my neighbor friend always gets fruits and veggies first. Her secret is abono. I have assessed the situation and decided I cannot compost everything in my yard so off Jeff went to the fertilizer plant in Guanica. $35 bucks later we had a 100 lb bag of abono. Seems like a lot, but each platano, guineo, china, agucate etc needs approximately 2 to 3 cups of fertilizer 4 times a year! Seems like a lot to me but we have mature trees. I will keep compost/mulching to improve soil structure and give abono a whirl. We are still waiting for the wet season so fertilizing will get delayed until the rain comes. Getting the big bag was a real price savings - it is expensive elsewhere and comes in tiny bags.

When we first got here this area was covered in grass and the "bad" trees - all were over Jeff's head. First Jeff weed whacked. Then we hand pruned what we could to the ground. Then a lot or raking to take care of vines. Then more whacking and all of it again. 7 months later it is manageable with stumps cut (thanks to an on sale chain saw) and the beginning of terracing. I have relocated guineos, platanos and we planted papayas from seeds. I had to use hand shears to clear around each 2 inch thing before Jeff would weed whack so he could see them. Now it is a regular fruit factory with little fruits starting already!

I removed green beans and chucked some cut up batatas amarillos. Little sweet potato things are growing under the soil.

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