Monday, September 28, 2009

Shopping Today - Pay More For Less

It was a near 44 degrees with winds about the same speed and rain going sideways when I left home today. Time to replenish a few supplies, pick up oil for the "new" car and drop off some donations to the free store. Sweetie stayed home to tend the wood fire and clean the pole barn.

Once home, I informed him that nearly everything I'd bought had decreased in size and increased in price. I had spent the entire $106 in cash I left home with and wish I didn't have to leave again until spring!

It's never fun driving in a storm, especially through construction zones. And if that hadn't stressed me out, well, stretching the almighty dollar was going to be more challenging.

I had the following items on my list: six quarts oil, $25 of gas and floor mats for the "new" car; 30 gallon plastic garbage bags, cat litter, dry and canned cat food, three packages chicken gizzards for our dog Lady (she's still hanging in there but eats only cooked meat now) and one eight count box of Yoplait yogurt.

The first shocker was the oil. We had stocked up last year when we paid $1.99 a quart for Penzoil. It was $3.32/qt. at Walmart today - the least expensive anywhere. According to the labels, a quart is still a quart but otherwise it costs $1.33 more.

The next eye-opener was the bag of dry cat food. We've always bought the same brand, same size and watched the price increase by more than $3 in a year's time. It cost 97 cents more than two months ago but we got FOUR pounds less!!!!

I bought the floor mats at Family Dollar - four for $5.50. They're cheap, cheap, cheap and I'll probably mutter about them all winter. But, I haven't found any used ones after searching junkyards, resale shops, dumpsters or yard sales. I will not pay $25 for four mats. The garbage bags had increased by 50 cents. We use two a week which contain mainly bottles and cans. Everything else is burnt or composted. The recycle center charges for drop offs now and our garbage pick up is included in our property taxes so may as well use it. We were at the point where most of our food was raised here and we canned it all we'd have less cans in the garbage. But, that's another dream/goal.

By calling ahead I found chicken gizzards for $1 less per pound than I had paid. Finally, a savings! The Yoplait yogurt increased by 43 cents in two months so I'll eat less of it. Two other grocery stores cut back on the amount and variety of yogurt they carry and none carry eight packs.

I was so pissed at the increase/decrease shell game that I started checking other items we usually buy. Virtually the same story. While at the check-out I overheard a customer complaining about the cost of motor oil. The clerk said Pamida had it on sale for $2.99 a quart. We both made b-line for Pamida and that's where $37.80 of my funds went. I bought 12 quarts instead of six. Sweetie wasn't happy about me coming home broke and said more belt tightening is on the horizon.

The bathroom shower and toilet need to be installed and the rotten sub floor replaced. We can paint the waterproof plywood and call it good until a later date.

Sweetie also loses $136 in Social Security next month due to his Medicaid coverage (which pays for his Medicare premium). His small portion of his late mother's CD the sale of his home downstate - which sold on a land contract - is considered an asset by the Department of Human Services. According to Big Brother Government, too many "assets" disqualifies Sweetie for Medicaid.

So we belt tighten some more and watch business as usual in Washington and Wall Street.

Friday, September 25, 2009

We've Got Wheels

Our 1997 Ford F150 is tired, falling apart and has more than 250,000 miles on it. Soooo...on our way to my oldest son's, we spotted this car. Stopped to take a peak and called the owner. Two hours later it was ours for the princely sum of $800.

It's a 1996 Crown Victoria with 106,000. MINT inside, no rust, and drives like we're on a magic carpet ride. Gives us a little more security too, living far from town and not knowing lots of dependable people here. Now, if I go shopping and Sweetie stays home he has wheels in case he needs to leave here.

While out yesterday we also stopped at the local Habitat Restore and bought a 24" upper kitchen cabinet - for $29. If we wait long enough I'm sure an 18" upper cabinet will come along. Then our kitchen remodel will be complete. Total cost thus far: $400 for cement board, tile, grout, screws and thinset; $29 for two additional kitchen chairs (wahoo, we now have four chairs!); and $89 for three kitchen cabinets. I had called Lowe's regarding the cabinets and the cost new would've been $255 plus the 260 mile round trip to get them. We still need new/recycled counter top to cover the new configuration. In the meantime I have pieces of plywood over the new areas.

Are they the cabinets I'd really like to have? Of course not! But, they're within our budget; we've recycled someone's cast offs; and we didn't go into debt!!! And, we could have saved money by re-applying the sheet vinyl as it came up in one piece. But, I didn't like the color/pattern. Even with little money, I'm still picky! Ceramic tile gave us a fireproof surface behind and below the woodstove and absorbs the heat from the woodstove and the sun streaming in through the sliding door.

Today is my youngest sister's 47th birthday so I have cooking and cleaning to do. Dad's taking her out for supper tonight and she'll be here tomorrow for lasagna, garlic bread, salad and ice cream.

My son feels better and plans to finish the tile job tomorrow morning. He, Sweetie and I are all offering suggestions as to how to best proceed with the bathroom remodel. The entire floor has to be replaced down to the joists which means all the fixtures come out. It's our only bathroom so good thing we have two camp toilets and a solar shower - though it's getting a bit nippy here at night.

Frost has killed the last of our veggies, despite there being no forecast for frost. Weather reports are great but they're not specific to every square inch of an area. I've kept a garden/weather journal that will be good to refer to next year. Still have onions to pull and dry/freeze but otherwise we're done. Hard to believe there will be snow here by Halloween. That's usually when we have our first blast of miserable weather preceded by rain, wind and ever decreasing sunshine. The electric bill already reflects this as it's now dark by 8:15 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.

Well, time to get to work. Hope you're all doing something every day to prep. Even if it's planning!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Since Last Post

Time has a way of escaping and before long I realize it's been a week or more since I posted on this blog; since I called my youngest sister; since I took a walk, or dusted, or scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom floors, or a zillion other things.

It's that old case of good intentions gone astray. If I did half of what I think about doing, well, I'd leave Martha Stewart in the dust. Probably wouldn't make the money she does 'cause I'm not inclined to pass off most of her creations as necessities.

Which brings me to my latest thoughts. What's the point of chasing after most of what we're indoctrinated to believe we "need" when most of it disconnects us from ourselves and others?

Buy that LCD flat screen, order in pizza, curl up on the sofa and insulate yourself from the world. And watch "reality TV!" What more could you need?

Park you parents at the local nursing home, your kids at daycare, your household chores with Mighty Maids and leave the "responsibility" of home and family to pursue the "good life." Of course it'll cost you some money, debt and time but, at least you'll be "keeping up" with the neighbors and the glossy print and TV ads.

Ain't life grand?

Not really. The status quo we're told is so important is empty, dull, hypnotic, insecure and a constant, futile form of escapism. And now we have, at the very least, three generations of people who don't even have the ability to analyze the meaning of this mindless existence!

It's insanity and we as a nation, and the "developed" world, have bought into it, hook, line and sinker. The hook is the message that you're somehow deficient without "product X" or "Service A." The line is the purveyor's claim that their product or service will make you "better", "smarter," "sexier" or "healthier" if you part with your money - or credit. The sinker is that you're saddled with more debt, more stuff, more false promises (and disappointments) and repetition as the latest and greatest model/improvement makes its rounds.

And we've cut back on spending - both discretionary and necessity - so alarm bells are sounding in the halls of government because lower tax receipts, along with closed businesses, foreclosed homes, and other ailments have threatened their livelihoods. Their livelihoods. To hell with ours. Imagine if an equal number of government employees were laid off (permanently?) as the average Joe. Of course it never really happens. Some program somewhere is created to keep the government people working. Or they're transferred to another department where magical money has saved the day. Or, better yet, some of the average Joe's laid off are hired by government to administer the government run programs that are "stimulating" the economy.

It's ludicrous but not surprising. After all, either government took their cues from Wall Street or Wall Street learned from government. On second thought, aren't they really one and the same?

And still, people don't wake up to the futility of it all. Is it fear, or ignorance, or numbness? Maybe some of each, depending on your past experience and current station in life.

Whatever the case, if you've found your way to survival and prepper blogs you're further ahead than most. If you're questioning your values, your beliefs, your goals and your associations and are not held back by the opinions, beliefs or dictates of others, you're brave and able to think for yourself. Congratulations. You just might survive the insanity.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Some Progress and a Surprise

Well, I've gotten over my disgust with the neighbors and realized some people will never change; never take responsibility for themselves; and never let go of the almighty booze. And the booze and narrow minded thinking leaves them in a fog that feels comfortable and familiar. So be it.

Here are pictures of the newly tiled kitchen floor and our wood stove installed. You'll note the wall behind it has not been tiled yet, but it's coming. My eldest son is taking a break for health reasons but is taking us and my Dad out to dinner Monday for Sweetie's 66th birthday. I am blessed to have this son. Really blessed. My younger son, who has two children and is the business owner, will try to get out here tomorrow so I can see the grandkids and he can visit and see the changes around here. I hope that happens.

Sweetie had a call from his eldest sister with news that she was sending a cashier's check. Seems his late mother had a CD come due and the other sister (the Bitch) divided it between the three children. So we're grateful she's at least remained honest with regard to his mother's will and grateful that we'll have a little extra to spend. We will not be depositing it in any bank, that's for sure. We've had a running list of supplies that either need replenishing or boosted so much of the money will go there. Then we're doing some vehicle maintenance, paying a couple bills and stashing more cash for more mortgage payments.

It's been Indian Summer here and I'm ready for fall weather. Neither of us thrive in heat and humidity. As usual, there are a few outside projects to complete before the snow flies and more fire wood to buy and stack. We were going to store one year's worth but have decided to bump that up to two years. Never know what the future will bring and if next year it costs more than we're a little ahead.

I did our monthly grocery shopping yesterday and came home thinking about all the "new and improved" products that are nothing but a marketing ploy and a waste of resources. Probiotics seems to be the latest craze and new models of Swiffer mops, dusters and so forth. What the hell is wrong with a dust cloth and a plain old mop? My Dad said he bought a toilet bowl cleaner that you attach something to and when done drop the piece in the trash. I asked him, "When did a toilet bowl brush become obsolete?" We have Walmarts full of crap that people continue to buy yet their bills become delinquent and they show up at a food pantry because they're hungry. It's plain crazy,

Well, enough rant for today. Time to hang clothes on the line. Imagine that! And the ladies at the coffee clutch last week couldn't figure out how we have such a small power bill! Duh!!! Guess the rates here are going up by 34% so they're all in a tither. No mention though of conserving. That would be deprivation. It's an attitude that helped get this country where we are.

Ooops, there I go again. This time I am done. Later, Treesong

Monday, September 7, 2009


Just wanted to say thanks to all of you who read this blog and especially those who take the time to comment. Don't know as I offer much in the way of "how to" stuff but maybe some inspiration or realizations after reading about our everyday life.

For me this blog is a form of therapy. Gives me someone to talk to, sound off too, etc. I would like to ask any of you to submit questions or topics you'd like to read about. I have been so consumed by getting things done before winter sets in that I may have left people feeling I've neglected the blog.

My oldest son spent another six hours here today and we are withing three square feet of installing the final floor tile. He may come by tomorrow after work to do that and the wall behind the wood stove. Sweetie is on the floor now cleaning the grout lines in prep for the grout tomorrow.

Thank God, tomorrow is garbage pick up. I have four bags of litter, three bags from us and three boxes and two large garbage cans of scrap from the construction.

My Dad is planning to come out here tomorrow to "check on progress" and spend the night as he usually does. Think I'll make a banana cream pie and roast with all the fixings. We so enjoy his visits and are still hearing stories of his Coast Guard days - stuff I've never heard! He has a dry wit and we're always laughing with him around. He gives our life so much joy, something we could all use more of.

Well, it's my turn to sweep the kitchen floor. Have a great week, Treesong


Today, we have lived here for 90 days. It's been an adventure for sure and we're still grateful that we were able to make the move. That being said, we've also had to realize that some of the expectations/dreams we had for this place will not be realized.

The greatest challenge we've had is building relationships with our neighbors. Granted, it's only been 90 days but we both feel that we'll essentially remain outsiders. Initially, this saddened both of us. We long for some close relationships with people who are nearby because it's beneficial for all concerned.

However, we're not willing to change our principles and goals for the sake of companionship so over time we've seen less of anyone. Thankfully, we're used to being alone. Were it not for my father and my oldest son and an occasional stop in town at my sister's, I doubt we'd see anyone.

People like us are in a minority here and as the neighbors have gotten to know us - and thus assessed us - they can't conceive of finding common ground or spending time together. We were told this week we're so "different." What's left unsaid is that we don't drink alcohol and party every weekend so "there's not much we have in common."

We were discussing this last night and decided that we had built up an expectation of "the life we would have" here and now we're feeling let down.

We're surrounded by a lot of people (some seasonal residents) who, despite being broke, go through amazing things in order to maintain the status quo. Staying home to conserve gas is unthinkable. Driving to one or more of the small towns around here to basically hustle work or offering to haul scrap or pick up returnable cans/bottles in order to keep drinking and "put a few dollars in the gas tank" makes more sense than conserving what resources they do have.

Their perceptions of us include thinking we have money because we're doing so much work on this place. When I said much of what we've done here we already had the materials for, they laughed. It was a reminder that perceptions and reality are seldom related.

I mentioned this to a woman who lives here seasonally and she said we were experiencing "the good old boys' adjustment anxiety." By this she means, they don't like change. The previous owner was one of the good old boys and we're not. We've cleaned up the place, posted the property lines and begun to put up fencing. According to her, these actions along with our different lifestyle, leave them feeling like we're the snobs and they're the "little people."

We've decided why bother even concerning ourselves with what they think? We are who we are.

This is, however, something to consider if you're in search of your dream homestead and need lots of companionship.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Emergencies Anytime, Anywhere

Today I woke up, walked down the hall, let the cat out to the back deck, turned around and fell. Kaboom! Hit my head on the kitchen table, tried to break the fall and gave myself a sprained left hand and really messed up elbow.

One thing I discovered was it doesn't do a lot of good to have lots of medical supplies if BOTH of us don't know where they are! With all the remodeling around here and shifting piles and boxes of stuff from place to place neither of us could find the box that held the sling and finger splints. By the time we did I was livid and so teary eyed I wanted to kill someone. Anyone!

Don't get me wrong. Sweetie is the greatest man alive (next to my Dad) and I love him dearly. But, God, he can try my patience when it comes to LOOKING for something. Added to the pressure was the fact that he was still asleep and does not wake up well when he isn't ready! Tonight we sat here and laughed about it all but at the time it was not pleasant.

And all this over an onion peel! Yes, an onion peel that the cat must have hid someplace and then dragged out to play with. That's the only idea I can come up with. We put all our scraps into a coffee can beneath the kitchen sink and dump it every day or so into our compost pile. I must have dropped a peel on the floor and missed it. Oh well. Another lesson learned. Many actually.

By the time we had me fixed up and our nerves composed two hours had gone by. And then I was getting the shakes because my blood sugar was haywire! Gotta love stress. It seems to come in threes so I was waiting for the next event.

Turned on the faucet to make coffee and we had no water! A few choice words later, Sweetie had discovered the well pump switch was broke. According to him, he's always had a warning of such an, they make a goofy noise a few times before quiting.

We had water stored, of course, but getting to it was another chore. Again, the remodeling is to blame. This helped us realize we should always have a small amount of it within reach at all times.

After breakfast he removed the bad switch, looked through the pole barn for the spares he had and COULD NOT find them. A few choice words again! So off to the hardware store we went - 22 mile round trip. He came out with the switch and I said, "Did you get a spare?" If looks could have killed... A few minutes later he was back with the spare.

I had planned to pick more blueberries today but decided it would be nearly impossible with one hand. So I spent the day dusting (probably my least favorite chore) and reading.

While in the hardware Sweetie also got a pressure control valve and fixed the water pressure. What had been a weak stream is now "normal" and it sure makes a difference.

I thank Tramp and Did It My Way for their comments. I was sitting here earlier thinking I sure sound like a bitch. But, of course, at times I am!

Taping and troweling the cement board in prep for the ceramic tile will have to wait another day. We're both exhausted. Have a great day no matter what comes your way. There is always something to be learned from it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


We're still working on the wood stove install and the kitchen floor. Got the chimney adaptor part that my son picked up from his ex when he brought his daughter home. ALL the cement board is on the floor and the wall behind the stove and above the stove! Went three places today to find the tape for the cement board seams. Ended up buying fiberglass mesh tape designed for drywall because no one carried the other stuff. Oh well. We had appointments in town yesterday and by the time we got home I could have cared less if I ever saw "Town" again.

The waste of people infuriates me. It didn't help my disposition that we stopped at my sister's home - home of the ultimate waster. I brought her a bag of clothes and a full length mirror we had removed from the spare bedroom wall. There were four identical mirrors on one wall and we don't need all of them, so I'm passing them out to others. Anyway, my sister had 10 bags of garbage in her entry and was complaining about the high cost of garbage disposal. Yet, none of the bags was full; none of the cans or boxes were flattened, and she throws out things she could have brought to St. Vincent de Paul, which is across the street from her! Good grief!!!

It was garbage day in our neighborhood too so we kept our eyes peeled for anything usable. Didn't find much until we saw a clothes basket full of fresh garden produce. Propped against it was a sign that read: "Please take it. I'm sick of picking and canning!" We mentioned this to another neighbor this morning and he said the woman was out of work, her husband had left her a few months ago and she had four kids to care for. Yet she's given up on her garden produce. Maybe it's too much for her just now but it sure helped us out. None of our Swiss chard germinated; we didn't plant any green beans; and the Hubbard squash is still blossoms. Her basket contained spaghetti squash, green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and acorn squash.

While shopping we heard people complaining about the high prices yet most of their carts were full of prepackaged, microwavable meals. We stopped at a restaurant to have coffee and visit my waitress friend. She was in a disgusted mood too. Four tables of people were rude, demanding, and had left most of their meals on their plates. One of the customers then ordered a pizza to go at the last minute. She asked if there was something wrong with their meal and was told, "No, I just wanted to have something different to eat later."

I don't know. A whole lot of coddled, spoiled, short-sighted people don't recognize how much they do have right now. It scares me to think what they'll be like as conditions worsen and they're unable to cope with being "deprived." As my waitress friend said, "I could have fed my family supper with what those people left on their plates." She mentioned hamburgers, curly fries and a fish sandwich that had not been touched; deep friend mushrooms and Cheddar cheese fries that were half eaten; and two salads barely touched. They ate the soft drinks and chicken strips and smeared the dipping sauces on the plates, napkin holders and tables. Pigs would have been better customers.

At my sister's it was pretty much the same thing. She had baked chicken and left it sitting on the stove, uncovered for hours. Her son said he'd rather have a baloney sandwich and was pissed that there was none. Her solution was to give him a few dollars to get a sub sandwich at the gas station! Meanwhile the flies were having a field day with the chicken because she keeps the windows open but doesn't have any screens. She was not born with common sense and I doubt it will be developed any time soon.

The litter bugs were in overdrive this weekend and I picked up $3.20 in cans and bottles on our road. It's not even the holiday weekend!

Some people on our road have already closed up their camps and two were broken into Sunday. Guns and alcohol taken from both.

We went to look at a used car where the people were selling a vacant house. Didn't have an interest in the car but spotted a chest freezer sitting on the side of the garage. Was told it worked and they'd probably sell it. Walked over and opened it up only to discover they had left the food inside - rotting!!!!!


When we got home another notice from our least favorite property insurance company was in the mailbox. I won't bother explaining their latest letter. Suffice to say it's no wonder people go postal.

I look forward to us having our projects completed; our wood fire burning and our selves quarantined for the swine flu. The rest of the world is plain crazy and I want nothing to do with it.