My host family in NYC went camping a few times over the summer, so I sent them updates about what has been going on in Apartment A609. The family consists of Mom, Dad, their nine year old daughter and five year old son. I was pleased to find that we had a lot in common. The kids and me, that is. (Mom and Dad, too, for that matter.) For one thing, we are all fans of Captain Underpants. While they were away, they asked me to take care of their fish. I took care of their robotic vacuum cleaner, as well.
Update from A609: We tried to have a Captain Underpants dance party last night, but even though I invited all the neighbors while wearing my Captain Underpants costume they all said they had other things to do. So it was just the fish and I laughing at the vacuum cleaner getting stuck. Now the fish and I are having a disagreement over whose turn it is to wash the dishes. I say the fish has to do it on odd numbered days. That seems fair. Later, the fish (does it have a name?) wants to go skating, so we turned all the air conditioners down as far as they would go, to see if we can get a layer of ice on top of the tank. Otherwise things are good here. Have fun camping!
Update from A609: Our skating plan was a bust. Although it is very, very cold in here, we did not get any ice on the fish tank, and the fish started to complain about how cold he was, so we turned off the air conditioners. I then accidentally mentioned the swimming pool to the fish, and he said that he would like to go, and that he was a very good swimmer. I told him that, although I did not doubt that he was a good swimmer, that probably the pool was to deep for him, because he is used to swimming in shallow water. So we went to Target to try to find some floaties for him, but they didn’t have any in his size. While we were in the pool gear section, he saw an inflatable pool, and said that that wouldn’t be too deep for him. We set up the pool in the living room, and it seemed like it might take a long time for it to fill up with water (by the way, fish are really bad at blowing up pools – no lung capacity at all). The fish said he was hungry, so we went out for brunch. By the time we got back, the fish was sleepy from eating too much, so now he is taking a nap. I have put away the pool, hoping he will forget that that was the plan. I don’t think fish have good memories, but I am not sure. Have a safe trip back!
When they got back, I learned the Betta fish’s name is Blue Dragon.
Update from A609: By the time I arrived back in Queens last night, it was almost dark. The vacuum cleaner was missing from its post, and Blue Dragon look worried and a bit hungry. I fed him (not bigger than his eyeball), and asked him what was the matter. He said that the vacuum cleaner went out and hadn’t come back yet. I decided to search the apartment while BD finished his food. I looked all around, but couldn’t find VC anywhere. BD and I decided to look further. We looked all around the hallway, trash compactor room and laundry, but didn’t find it anywhere, so we began to look outside. We started out small, just looking in the bushes and areas around the building, but still no sign of VC. We thought we might have trouble finding it, because the workers here are very good at cleaning up dust and dirt from the ramps leading to and from the front door, and we were right. We searched in ever widening circles until finally BD spotted a section on 75th street which looked cleaner than the other parts. The clean section formed a sort of pathway, so we followed it. It led us to PS69, where we found VC whose orange light was blinking, and it was mumbling something about no parking 8-8:30am Tuesdays. We think it might’ve been worried that it was going to get towed away if it didn’t finish cleaning the street there by Tuesday. We brought it home and put it back on its charger, and it seems to be doing better now. That’s all from A609!
I got a message back indicating the vacuum cleaner’s name was Neato.
Update from A609: So, BD got it in his head that he wanted to try sleeping in a bed last night. He said he heard it in a story, and he wanted to try it. First, he tried to sleep in my bed, but it was too hard. He was sleeping on the metal rail of the bed. Then he tried sleeping in mom and dad’s bed, but it was too soft. He was sleeping on the pillow. Finally, he slept in the kids’ room, and it was just right, except he kinda got lonely (you know how it is when you are sleeping far from home), so I had to sleep on the floor next to him. I don’t know where he gets his ideas. I must say, though, that he snores rather loudly.
This afternoon I needed to make a trip to Staples to get some copies made. Neato wanted to come along and see a different part of Queens. When we got down to the lobby, and Neato said that it had forgotten something and needed to go back to A609, so I waited in the lobby while it went upstairs. I was wondering what it was going to get, because I thought it had all its parts. It came back down in a few minutes, ready to go. I’m still not sure how it pushed the buttons on the elevator. I’m pretty sure it didn’t take the stairs.
We eventually made it to Staples, but it took a really long time because every time Neato saw a pile of dirt, it felt that it had to go and clean it up. There are a lot more piles of dirt on Broadway than I imagined. When we got to the store, Neato said it had never been to a store before. It was very pleased to go up and down the aisles. And up and down. And up and down. And up and down. It took us quite a long time to see everything. My advice is not to go to the store with a robot vacuum cleaner. Finally, its orange light started to blink, and I knew Neato was tired. I picked it up and carried it home, and set it in its charger port for a good night’s rest.
Update from A609: Well, the main fun today was the burping contest I had with BD. He wasn’t very good at it at first, having never tried it, but he got good really fast! I can still burp longer than he can, but he is definitely the loudest!
We had our burping contest first thing in the morning, which turned out to be a good thing, because that was when the painters arrived. I wasn’t sure why they were here, but BD explained to me that he called the painters (who left the phone so close to him? and who gave him the credit card number?) because he thought the apartment would look nicer if it more closely resembled his native habitat. Do you remember what that is? Rice paddies and slow moving streams with lots of plants and roots. He asked the painters to recreate that on the walls. I must say, it looked very nice, although the living room seemed smaller.
If I thought it seemed smaller then, I was wrong. Right after the painters left, a whole troop of people came by with sticks and plants and tree roots. They filled the whole living room. It looked a lot like South East Asia then.
If I thought it looked a lot like South East Asia then, I was wrong. Right after the tree root people left, the mud people showed up, and left a nice thick layer of gooey mud in the living room. It definitely was beginning to smell like a rice paddy in there.
If I thought it smelled like a rice paddy in there then, I was wrong. Right after the mud people left, the plumbers showed up to install the slow moving stream. I think BD is happy with it now. He is happily floating about making bubble nests.
You may be worried about a muddy living room, but fear not! Neato has been complaining about not getting enough exercise without everybody at home, which is why I’ve been taking it on walks around the block. I think it will get to know the neighborhood better, and not get lost so easily. It especially likes the fire hydrant and going the wrong way down a one way street. Anyway, it looked especially happy at having a chance to clean up all the mud, sticks and debris, although it might take a while to get around all the tree roots.
Update from A609: I’ve been trying to get BD’s mind off pool parties and food, so I taught him how to play cards. It was a bit of a struggle at first, because he couldn’t hold the cards – his fins don’t stretch far enough in front of him. Finally, we hit upon the idea of taping the cards to the side of his tank, and he bumps his nose on the one he wants to play. Once we had that figured out, I had to teach him the rules of the game. This also took kind of a long time because he’s a fish, and fish don’t have very good memory, except when it comes to food and pool parties.
After our first real game (I won), it was BD’s turn to shuffle the cards. That took a long time, too. I put the cards in his tank, and he pushes them around until he thinks they are shuffled. Then you have to take them out and let them dry. He talked about pool parties the whole time. He wants to get a slide for the party.
We played a bunch of games in the afternoon, and at long last, he began to win a few! Now he wins most of the time. He thinks he’s some kind of card shark or something. Naturally, his favorite game is Go Fish. We must’ve played it a million times. Neato has a favorite game too – it’s called 52 pickup, and if you don’t know how to play, I’ll show you when you get back, that is, if you have cards.
Update from A609: I went to a yoga class this morning, and BD wanted to go too, so I brought him. Neato wasn’t interested in going, because “there was laundry to do”, whatever that means. We were almost late to class because we took a wrong turn when we got off the subway. I saw a sign that said 34, and I knew we were headed to 33rd St, so we went in that direction, but then the next one said 35, so we had to turn around, and then I saw it was 33rd AVENUE, so we still had another 10 minutes of walking to do. I carried BD instead of letting him walk himself, so we wouldn’t be late. When we got there, we found out that it was a donation based class, so I put in 25 cents for BD, because he doesn’t take up that much room. Plus, he says he never carries cash. He quite enjoyed the class, and especially liked when we did fish pose at the end, except he kept insisting that we did it all wrong, and he should know.
Other than that, the only big adventure we had today was taking the compost out. We have been taking it out every day this week. Usually we just go around the block, but if the weather is nice, we might go to the park. At first, we couldn’t make it that far because BD was just getting used to sidewalks. We have to walk in the shady parts for him. It was kind of a pain to carry BD AND the compost, but Neato was kind and offered to carry the compost. That goes pretty well, except it falls off when Neato sees a lamp post to go around. Or a street sign. Or a tree. Or a fire hydrant. Or when there’s a coin on the ground. Neato really enjoys finding money and scooping it up.
Well, that was our day. I hope yours was good too!