Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snow Snow Snow....AAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH

Yes, it's pretty.
Yes, it's natural.
But enough already.

There is like 2 feet on the roof of my trailer (I'm in Plummer).
The landlord says he's not worried about it collapsing. I'm worried. I have a guy coming tomorrow. It's going to cost me at least 100$ to get it shoveled off. I'm praying it falls off on its own. There is a snow roof, but the snow is not sliding off like it is supposed to. Oh well. The snow is not behaving in anyway as it is supposed to. I hear that Spokane has set yet another personal best...snowiest December on record. Woohoo. I just looked at the "plow" map for Spokane. They are flattering themselves if they think they are going to get plowed out any time soon. If it rains on this (as is predicted) we have what is commonly termed a cluster....well, you know.

Here in Plummer I can get around on foot but it is nearly 40 degrees according to my little thermometer and STILL FRICKING SNOWING!!! GEEZ. I shoveled the car out again. If I don't stay ahead of it there is no hope. I also talked to the neighbor lady. She's walking to work now too since it takes a half an hour to get her car cleared off in the mornings. She can walk to work in about 10 minutes. She too is worried about her roof. But her husband is a plow driver and has worked every day for 3 weeks. I'm sure those are long days. I need to bring them some jam. Seriously.

Anyway, enough bitching.

El Kid is in Spokane and is planning to take the bus down today. Hope he can get a ride to Post Falls to get the bus that's legal for him to take. If not...well, he'll just have to make other arrangements. I'd post pictures, but I left my camera up in Spokane. The phone camera pictures of snow look like a whiteout. You lose all the "Dr. Zhivago" romance of a wider, less grainy shot. I must say. It IS beautiful.
Thank god I'm not having to drive this week. And thank god I'm not a plow driver.

OK, now I'm going to try to order a replacement part for my loomtastic so I can continue my career of making stupid looking hats for people who don't want them. Not very frugal or simple but it keeps me busy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Xmas

It's Christmas Eve and I've just suffered a great tragedy...I broke the little tool that came with my "loomtastic" knitting loom that I got at the thrift store. I had finished my second hat (see photo) and was trying to be all fancy with a different knitting pattern on my third one. Just when I was thinking "wow, this is too tight" the little tool broke. I think I can use a crochet hook or maybe a nutpick, but I'm just being bummed for a bit. Sad.













Sorry it's sideways. But I have limited technology. I'm on dial-up from the trailer and since I glued the phone wire into both the caller ID unit AND the phone, I'm using the curly phone wire that normally goes from the phone base to the hand set. So my super fancy laptop is being run through the base unit of a cheap translucent purple phone, a cheap translucent purple caller ID unit (with a dead battery), and then into the wall jack. Pretty sweet and efficient.

I went to the luxurious Plummer Public Library today to download free internet services. Between the 2 I have 20 hours of internet surfing per month free...though at least 19 of that would be spent waiting for stuff to load on the dial up. But there are starving children somewhere with no internet so I'm not really complaining.

I AM also watching the BEST deer hunting movie ever.
Escanaba in Da Moonlight. Right now, we're at the fart scene. It's probably on youtube but no way do I have the time and patience to get youtube videos on dial up. Just look it up yourself.
For those of you who have seen it just say quietly to yourself "one potato, two potato, more" over and over. Then end with "That explains my dream."

I'm in Plummer, Idaho and it's snowing again. I shoveled for an hour today to clear the car out of the drift that had RE-buried it. I've had about 2 feet clear on all sides. I don't think it will last. I warned El Kid that he may have to hop on the casino bus to get down here. The bus has gotten through the worst snow during this whole event. But cars are littering the ditches.

Just in case I haven't mentioned it yet...sometimes it's good to work for the Tribe (that's not a metaphor. I work for an actual Indian Tribe). Every fulltime employee got a Pendletonchristmas present from the Tribe! No wonder they switched to a potluck over the big dinner. I'd rather have a Pendleton anyday.

I've opened a couple of presents already. The one from Aunt Billie came a bit mangled so I opened it to see how the gift faired. It did fine. It is a HANDMADE!!! reversible tote bag in multiple animal prints. I LOVE it. I feel like I need some shiny stretch pants, big glasses with a sparkly glasses chain, a sweater with a sequined cat on it, and BIG hotrollered hair. I've been using it for everything. Groceries, taking packages to the mail. It's awesome. It came with a coordinating scarf! I will never be badly accessorized again. Now if only I could put together a basic outfit worthy of such accessories. I'll try to get a totebag action shot.

Aunt Marcie sent a TON of delicious spices and spice mixes. The most exciting one to use will be the sandwich size zip-top baggie of spices labeled only "HOT". She also sent some spiced mexican hot chocolate mix which is delicious and should make incredible mochas (speaking of which, I should start grinding some coffee if I want a cup tomorrow).

Sher sent many gifts. She recommended I open on in particular early since we had so much snow. I did...SNOW SHOES!!! AWESOME (I must use them while carrying my animal print tote). BUT Sher is under the impression that I'm thin. So I've sent them back for a larger size more suitable for a woman of my...um...well...fat. I should get the replacements in 2 or 3 weeks. I would be just too awful to be out snowshoeing and sink up to my hips having the shoes now working as anchors rather than floats.

Aunt Chris (lots of Aunts...) sent many things as well. Two of these said to open before xmassanta or elf with a red outfit, white face (two black dots for eyes) and a tall red hat. Here's a lame phone photo of it in action:














Tomorrow I'll open the rest. I'm sure they will be as cool as the first batch.

El Kid got me some toys (don't know if I put that in a previous blog and I don't have time to wait for another window to open so I can check). My fave is the ice tray that freezes dentures! So it looks like you have grampa's uppers in your drink. I'll have to bring that to work.

OH, and my office mate and his wife, Sally of Peace Radio on Radio Free Moscow with me, gave me a harmonica, a t-shirt, and homemade toffee. Excellent.

Ok, bad things are happening, like the cursor has disappeared. So I'm going to close now. Sorry for typos. No time to spell check.
Blanket for our so I could enjoy the contents during the holiday. I did and I am. One is a straw-crafted mobile of little reindeer or something. very cute and hanging from the ceiling fan in the kitchen of the trailer. The other was a very very cool conical candle in red, white, and green made in such a way that it was a little

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holy SNOW, Batman

So, I'll admit that a foot of snow in 24 hours and then 8 or 10 inches in the next 24 hours (apparently the weatherfolks are sure it wasn't 9 inches...reminds me of David Sedaris' story 6-to-8 Blackmen) .
STILL...the plowing in Spokane is SHAMEFUL! I'm not blaming the drivers. They are apparently following policy and would likely be fired if they took matters into their own hands.

I drove down to Plummer today (El Kid is with his mom for the holiday week so I'm in Plummer) and about 10 to 15 miles south of Spokane, the amount of snow drops to a total closer to about 15 inches or so. BUT, the plowing in Washington remains CRAP. I go over the state line and there is an ACTUAL LINE on the road where one goes from the Washington method of allowing a lot of snow to build up on the road and be packed down onto the road. (The depth on the side street next to our apartment is about a foot...that's PACKED a foot deep. The ruts are amazing and dangerous). The country highway I was on had several inches of packed snow on it. No sand. No gravel. No traction. One car in the ditch (my question was "why just one?").
At the Idaho line, amazingly, the road is pretty well scraped. There are some chunks of packed snow on the road, but you can see pavement and there is SAND and GRAVEL on the snow/ice/pavement. In Washington, the "plowing" (down to the packed snow) covered only one lane each way. No shoulder and no second lane even when I know there is on on the pavement. In Idaho, except for the ramp going from one highway to the next, the WHOLE ROAD is plowed.
It's not perfect and given the fear of salt in the greater Northwest, it isn't as good as I remember the midwest, but it's not bad. I drove 35 to 45 miles per hour the whole way and was OK.

But why is Idaho better plowed? There are fewer tax payers total. Fewer tax payers per mile of road. Fewer pieces of equipment (they are maintaining the local roads with a road grader as the plows are on the main highway) and fewer equipment drivers per piece of equipment.
So what gives?
What do Washingtonians have against the plow?

Anyway, it is what it is. And what it is, is crap road maintenance. Hopefully I can keep the commuting to a minimum.

Being trapped in Spokane was not pleasant. I don't like city life. I appreciate the store across the street. But I'd rather be on the rez. This week I plan to be here until Friday afternoon spending a blissful quiet week in the trailer baking and cooking when I'm not at the office catching up on missed work.

And can I say that while in Spokane they routinely plow a burm across the side streets (they don't plow side streets), here in Plummer, they avoided even plowing in my driveway and they know full well I'm rarely there. They did dump a HUGE load of snow in the yard, but didn't burm the drive. That is manners. As a result, it only took me an hour or less to dig out a parkign spot and a path to the trailer. In Spokane, I dug the 2 feet of snow (we only have a foot or so in Plummer, maybe less) away from the car, only to be faced with a burm at the end of the street. Thank god that guy was wandering around with a snow blower yesterday. I paid him to snow blow a clear area around my car and the neighbor's car. He wasn't asking for cash, but he was clearly spending a bit on gas to run that blower for hours and hours. He even snow-blew the alley so a few more people could get out. Really nice guy.

Anyway, trying to let the road crap go....breathe....

So, I brought Hammy to the rez in his little travel kennel. It's a bit wee. He was not comfortable but I thought, "if I go in the ditch, I can't leave Hammy in the car to freeze and he won't stay in a pocket. " And I was not going to carry his large rubber tub home (open roof for air) around in the snow. He'd freeze that way too. So, I brought him in the little kennel which I could stuff in my coat if we got stranded. Now he's living temporarily in the recycling bin (re-purposed ...may I say "recycled"... for his convenience). I put a piece of cardboard in the bottom so his hamster tinkle wouldn't go out on the carpet, but, being the big boned hamster that he is, he quickly levered it up and was apparently trying to put in a lower level. I had to put him back on top of the card board and wedge it down tighter. I gave him a few toilet paper tubes to amuse him. It's kind of sad. His head pops out the far end before his butt has disappeared at the other. It's like a fat kid at McDonald's Playland...wanting to have fun, but just getting stuck in the equipment. I'll have to find him a bigger tube to play in. He's got an old food box (pasta or something) for a house. He seems happy enough.

And now, I'm off to watch movies BY MYSELF. Cook BY MYSELF. And have a nice evening BY MYSELF.

Happy Holiday of your choice and I hope everyone travels safe.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stuff in a Jar Recipes and the WEATHER update

I've had a request for some recipes for "stuff in a jar".
A couple of years ago I bought a book at a silent auction for 2$. It's a set of recipes for "stuff in a jar" with cut out directions and gift labels. It's been a very good investment. I've given away a few different things for Christmas/Solstice/Whatever. People seem to like it.

Last year was Oatmeal Scotchie Bars:
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butterscotch chips
2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Layer ingredients in the order given into a wide-mouth 1-quart canning jar. Pack each layer in place before adding the next ingredient.

Put this on the label you attach to the jar:
1 jar Oatmeal Scotchie Bar Mix
3/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350deg. F. In a large bowl, cream the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add the Oatmeal Scotchie Bar Mix and stir until the mixture is well blended. Spread batter into a lightly greased or sprayed 9x12 inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. cool in pan. Cut into 2inch squares.


And now for the weather:
HOLY SNOW BATMAN!!!!
we got 12.5 inches in a 24 hour period during Weds and Thurs. This was followed by another 8-10 in the next 24 hours. This, combined with Washingtonians' belief that you should not plow until ALL the snow is on the ground, made for some crap road conditions. We had something like a dozen semi's jack-knifed around town blocking the main drags (which had had only nominal plowing...they SERIOUSLY leave the blade 4-6 inches ABOVE the pavement while "plowing" so that they don't wear out the blade. I called and asked what was going on and this is what I was told.) So, we have anywhere from 6-20 inches of snow packed into ice on the roads. They don't salt, though sometimes they put down some sort of ineffective chemical. And apparently there is a sand and gravel shortage in the greater Northwest. I live next to one of the busiest intersections in town and there is NO traction material laid down. As a result, people are rocketing or slowly sliding through the intersection all the time. lovely. I've not gotten the car out yet. I dug it out yesterday and will have to redig a bit today, but I'll get to it. Just had the vehicle tuned up and am assured by a guy who only works on subarus that it is in fine shape now that it has spark plugs and a clean throttle plate, an air filter that air can actually go through, and a fuel filter that fuel can actually go through. I've got walnut tires on it so I should be fine, but I don't like to drive when the locals are out driving. Their style is very different from mine.

OK, that is all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'No 'Poo Update

Isn't it time for a serious 'No 'Poo update?
Well, it's my blog and I say it is.

"But Jill," you say, "How are you blogging? I thought those bastards took away your free internet."
Well, I'm typing it into "Notepad" and saving it on my thumb drive, then taking that to work and posting from there while still not abusing our internet privileges.

Anywho, it's been too cold to leave the house (apartment...trailer...)
(that's a Girls Will Be Girls reference for those following along at home)
{{I can't find a Girls Will Be Girls clip that is REMOTELY appropriate to include here}}


in the morning with a wet head, so I washed my hair this evening. And, rather than take another shower I washed it in the sink.
I think that actually works better. It's hard to get my hair wet now that it is all coated with healthy hair coating stuff (sebum?) so soaking it in a bowl actually works better than trying to get it wet in our shower with mediocre water pressure.
And scrubbing the scalp with baking soda takes a bit longer than working up a shampoo-y lather. Also, I like to let the long bit sit in the vinegar rinse for a bit and that is easier in a bowl than in the shower with just a cup.
The final benefit: it's good to finish with a cold water rinse. That is an issue in the shower because even if you just stick your head under the cold shower spray, you still get cold shower secondary spray all over your nude body (sorry for the visual...pretend I'm hot) which is fairly traumatic first thing in the morning.
In the sink, the water stayed pretty much just on my hair and my head. Much easier. Of course, in the apartment our water pipe runs up 2.5 stories of uninsulated exterior wall and it was 5 degrees outside today. That was some seriously cold water.

Coincidentally...the apartment fix-it guy called me at 3pm to tell me that there had been a "serious flood" and thus the water would be off for a while. I had just got home from the library (I worked in Spokane today as the car is in the shop getting a full physical) and had chosen, STUPIDLY, not to pee at the library, but instead to wait until I got home. After about an hour of thinking about the fact that I wasn't supposed to pee...I had to pee REAL BAD. We have a grocery store with a whizzer right across the street, but what if the water still wasn't on by bed time? (I was saving the single flush of water in the toilet tank for the inevetible morning whiz)
I didn't want to run to the grocery store multiple times this evening having it become obvious that I was just going over there to piddle. I get all my groceries there and thanks to Sher's gift of a teal colored handbasket that I shop with and all the check out chicks love (see previous entries), I'm quite well known over there and can't just slip in unnoticed. At about 4:15 I give up and go back to the Gonzaga University Library to enjoy a relaxing, unobtrusive whiz.

I thought this was bad until I called my friend BLANK (name removed to protect the potentially humiliated) to ask how things were. She lives with her sister and brother-in-law about 10 miles out of Moscow, Idaho on a mini-farm. Well, with the cold weather their toilet, which is always a bit iffy, had decided that it would only allow liquid to pass through the system. And I mean ONLY liquid...no paper. No..well..."solids". She refused to say what they were doing to cope with non-liquid-toilet-appropriate-items. She did concede that whatever the current system was...it was not, apparently, dog-proof. (EEEEEWWWWW) I've always argued that dogs are better than cats because if you die alone in your trailer/apartment/house/mansion with a dog, it will NOT eat your face. I may have to rethink that because it seems that the cats are uninterested in human effluvia, unlike their canine compatriots.
They have several cats, but I did not suggest that they put all the cat litter in a giant box...and...well....

As I type, I'm enjoying the classic film "A Christmas Story" [Angela: I know that should be underlined or italicized as should the title above, but I have limited capabilities on Notepad and limited time to post the blog at work. Please forgive the inappropriate formatting.]
{to everyone but Angela: She's a tenured Professor of English and quite unforgiving about spelling, punctuation and formatting. More than one student has shed a tear when cut by her razor like wit. My favorite current story is when Angela had to inform a young ADULT student that "you" is spelled Y O U, not "U". F'ing text messaging is ruining our youth.}

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Of Blogs and Blind People Canes

OK, I'm behind on blogging because the free internet at the apartment never came back! Those BASTARDS!!
How dare they get us addicted to the interwebs and THEN stop. They are internet pushes. If I had any idea whatsoever who "they" were, I'd write a sternly worded letter.

As it stands, we're sucking it up and I must say, I'm getting more done.
I do more yoga, watch more movies (I'm watching one now while I draft this in notepad), the laundry is caught up and I just made 4 candles (or a mess in the kitchen and ruined 4 jars...we'll see after they cool) from scrap wax left over from the unburned nubbins of real candles that I bought at the thrift store. (Have I just crossed some line...have I become the crazy thrift lady?) (I don't care, I'm just wondering).

ANYWAY, a couple of blog-worthy things have happened.

Let's start with my accidental impersonation of a blind lady. Not any particular blind lady.

Here's how it goes. So about a week ago I'm thrifting on a Saturday morning as is my wont. I see a blind people cane at the great thrift store. I text Jonny (Hi Poodle!)
to see if he wants it for his costumery activities. I don't hear back until I'm long past that thrift store.

Fast forward to Tuesday. I have a meeting to go to in Spokane for work so I just stay in town rather than driving to the rez. After the meeting I have some time and walk home via the thrift store. The cane is still there. I buy it. Turns out it is there not only due to the missing tip, but due to the fact that it no longer breaks down into a manageable size that would fit in a bag.

I have to carry a full length blind people cane home. That's about a mile and a half. I try casually slinging it behind my arm so it won't look like I'm blind. People in cars are slowing down...apparently thinking that the blind lady is not using her cane and could meander into traffic at any minute. I try carrying it in all sorts of positions and nothing works. So I carry it in a way that is vaguely like a blind person would...fewer people stare, or get freaked. At least not until I am at the corner waiting for the walk-light to change and texting on my phone while leaning on my blind people cane.

Right near the apartment is an eye doctor. I wanted to walk in and say, "You know, I've been feelingbetter lately. Could you check my eyes?" Then, when it turns out my eyes are fine, I could scream, "It's a MIRACLE", throw my cane away and run out of the store in mock glee.
Instead, I just laughed to myself, appearing to not only be blind, but nuts too.

I'll send the cane to Jonny as soon as I find a mailing tube big enough for it.

Other funny things: Hammy bit me. OK, not particularly funny, but with a hamster there are only so many activities. He eats, craps, runs on the wheel, and once he escaped. I put him in the big play pen again and he seems happy enough, but how would I really know?

OK, so now I hate Starbucks and will be boycotting them. I went to the Starbucks to use the internet and bought their non-fair-trade coffee and whatnot. THEN I find out that their wifi connection is NOT free. It is for fee. I'm going to try one of the other connections...so far nothing works.


I moved over to the organic free trade FREE WIFI coffee store. No more Starbucks. I'll just come here on the weekend.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Betty's OK!

Betty is my car.
It was the alternator. It must have had an attack and died on the road.
I asked them to check out the rest of the car before I paid for this repair. They said they already had (they've met me), and the transmission etc look fine. So, it's fixed. I drive down to Moscow tomorrow morning at some ungodly hour and pick it up. I'm hoping to get there in time to take a yoga class while I'm in town since I'll miss the one in Plummer.

To celebrate Betty's miraculous recovery, here is my current favority Willie Nelson video:


And, just because this was emailed around work today and CRACKED ME UP:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Of Cars and Crap

Oh for pete's sake!
So, I'm on the way to Moscow, Idaho--not Russia, today to get some holiday shopping done, pick up groceries, and be on the radio. As I am always early for EVERYTHING, I left the house at about 7am.
By 8am, I'm sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. The dash lights had been wonky for a day. Then, they went REAL wonky. Then the car started chugging and slowing down. Then, I pulled over and called a tow truck. They wanted to know where I was. It was so foggy I was unsure, other than the mile marker on the highway (yes, I pulled WAY off the road).

The tow truck guy and his wife...and their dog...came for me. They were very pleasant. Thanks to my habit of buying AAAplus, I have 99 miles of towing up to three times a year. So I got a 33 mile tow to Moscow, where my most excellent friend Maia picked me up. We got brunch, then some craft supplies, then over to her place where she and her sister and brother-in-law gave me one of their cars to use until I can get mine sorted out. How amazing is that?
Not only are they funny, they are so sweet. It's a new subaru with 120,000 fewer miles than mine (that's right FEWER). They are willing to sell if mine is a goner, but I'm so attached to Betty (my subaru) and want to drive her 400k miles just like the elder we work with who drove a similar subaru 400,000 miles. It recently passed away.
Sometime tomorrow I need to decide how much I'm willing to spend on the repair. Always a tough decision so I'm going to have them run a full diagnostic and check on the thing. If there are a bunch of things about to go bad...well, then we'll see. But if it's just a few hundred more dollars in repairs for another many thousands of miles, I'll keep using the car.

Environmentalist and frugal principals say to "make it work, make do, or do without". Doing without a car is a slim possibility. It would be monster inconvenient and probably impact my job too much. So, we're starting at the other end and trying to "make it work".
Here's hoping.

The word from the mechanical husband of a friend is that the wonky lights could be the alternator going out. That's not that bad. You'd expect to replace that at 200k miles (Betty has 205k miles). So let's pray for that.

Frugality says also "don't pour money down a rat hole" (that's either frugality or one of my Grammas). Hmmmmm....
Keep in mind that Grampa once replaced the manual transmission in a POS pickup truck with an automatic, then replaced the bed (rust), and I'm pretty sure the engine. We used to tease him that while it occupied the same space as the original vehicle, he'd replaced the entire thing and thus it was a different truck.
So I'm genetically inclined to repair perhaps beyond the bounds of reason.

THEN AGAIN...how do you know when you've hit the point of spending more on repairs and hassle, than you would buying a different car? You don't know until after.
Also, a different car can have problems too. I hate that.

OK, on another topic, just because I haven't done a "No 'Poo" update lately...the hair is fine. I dropped my good hairbrush in the trash in a public bathroom the other day so I haven't been able to brush it as much as I'd like, but it's still doing fine. Not itchy even with the change in the weather.

OH! And, yesterday I accidentally made a super good vegan pot pie.
I had roasted root vegetables earlier in the week and needed to recycle them creatively.
So, I grabbed a pie shell that I'd had in the fridge at the trailer for a while.

Put the bottom crust in the pie pan.
Put in 3-4 cups of left over roasted root vegetables (sweet potato, regular potato, onion, carrot--seasoned with rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper--roast until tender).
In a sauce pan, fry some chopped garlic in oil (I think it was 4 cloves or so).
Add a tablespoon of good vegetable bouillon mix (no salt kind), a quarter cup of nutritional yeast flakes, a quarter cup of flour. Stir and fry that together a bit.
Then add enough water to make a thick gravy. It was probably about a cup or a cup and a half.
Into the gravy, put a cup of black beans (because they are left over and frozen in the freezer), some corn, and some green beans (all salvaged from the freezer).
When the frozen beans/corn have heated through in the gravy, pour the mess over the veggies in the pie shell.
Top with the other pie shell. Seal the edged and bake until you think it's done.
I left it in the 350 degree oven while I cooked some squash so probably 45 minutes or an hour.

It is seriously good. El Kid thought it had meat in it...heh heh. He came back for more before bed.

And good night.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Friends are a Bunch of Saps...

Funny saps, but saps nevertheless.

I got about as much response to the "thankful" blog post as to any other. I thought you people would be sickened by the smarm.
But no. You're saps.

OK, perhaps most thanksgiving thankful essays/blogs/whatever don't include references to testicles, horse poop, Big Mama Thornton or other things I like. Still, I found it gag-inducing.

So, how about something more interesting today?

For example, why is it that the first couple of icy/snowy days people drive like crap?
Why? Most of them had cars last year.
I was in Plummer yesterday doing some christmas cookery and watching movies. When I got ready to leave a bit before 4pm, there was snow everywhere. Fine. I have a subaru and good tires. It was also foggy and rainy and slushy so I was taking my time. In a half hour I'd made it 10 miles. The roads were crap. The other drivers were horrific! Some were passing me as though it was mid-day in summer on dry roads! It was not. There were a minimum of 3 cars in the ditches. Those were the ones I could see. this is in 10 miles. There were other spots where people were milling about on the shoulder of the road (in dark clothing with no flash lights...idiots).

Right about then, El Kid called me cell phone and asked if he could stay overnight at a friend's house. I was all for that. That meant I only had to make it the 10miles back to Plummer, not the 40 up to Spokane. I made it back there just fine. But criminitly! What were people thinking?

Just for the record, we ALL have "4-wheel-stop" vehicles. Your big 4-wheel-DRIVE vehicle is no advantage when trying to slow down or stop. In fact, the extra weight will make it go further when you hit that black ice. You may well find yourself milling about the shoulder of the highway in the dark, your hummer so far off the road that I can't even see it as I crawl by at 50 miles an hour, not stopping for your stupid butt.

Aside from that, I had a cool thrift find today. This morning I was on the phone with Jeanne (Hi Jeanne!) and trying to grind coffee beans when the blade of the grinder decided it wanted to take a new, calmer path in life and so disconnected itself from the motor. The machine makes a whirring noise, but the blade just dangles all flacid among the unmolested beans. Damn.

Once back in Spokane (all the snow and ice melted by 9am), I went a-thrifting. At the second shop I found a hand-powered coffee grinder for 3$. Woohoo! Pam: Don't worry. It's got a plastic grinding teeth thingy so it will be well and dead by christmas just in case someone bought me a hand-powered grinder. I love it when I go out with something in mind and actually find it.

I also need christmas tins for home cooked goodies but haven't brought myself to buy them. I keep thinking something cooler will present itself but so far, no luck. There is no shortage of christmas-y tins at thrift stores so I'm not worried.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Time for Sappy "What I'm Thankful For" Crap

So, it's that time of year and I just can't help it. It's like blog peer pressure!
I won't go into the versions of the early Thanksgivings that are more about massacres of Indians by whites (or do you prefer the term "European Americans"?)
Those stories have made it a bit tough for me to celebrate Thanksgiving the same way most other Americans do. Though I still enjoy the gluttony at Aunt Billie's house (Aside: Billie was in the hospital for what appears to have been a gallbladder attack...sorry Billie! That sucks. Hope you're doing better).

BUT, I do like to think about fall, harvest, and what I'm thankful for. Sappy, but true.

Let's take the whole family-health-home-living in a country with flush toilets-stuff as read.

Leaving aside the obvious, here are some things I appreciate, but not in any particular order:

--That my friends and many of my family are funny and especially in a dark way.
Who can beat that story of Great Aunt Mary/HorsePoop ? That's funny. And sick, so funnier.
Or the Arm of Testicles story?
Or the one about Molly and, I think it was Katie, stomping through Billie's Christmas ornaments. In her own defense one of them said "I guess I lost my head."
Sure it's horrible to lose all those heirlooms, but now you've got a story and who can stomp on that?
Those are family things.
Friend stories...well, there is "Hellllooooooo Annnggggeeellllla", "Spokesmodel Bree", and many many more.

--People who put old blues, soul, and jazz on the youtubes. I love that stuff. Today I'm all about Big Mama Thornton
Her version of "Summertime" doesn't want to show up in the blog so you'll have to click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwlTOspKNh8
Here she is singing "Hound Dog" long before Elvis white-ified it (That's Buddy Guy on guitar)



There's also some great early Bo Diddley stuff that introduced me to the fact that he used women guitarists way back in the day.

--People who are strange and embrace it fully.
That's why "Grey Gardens" is one of my favorite films. Those ladies are NUTS and they don't care.
Also, Leslie Hall from Ames, Iowa. She's a youtube celebrity.
And, again, most of my friends. But not me. I'm totally normal.

--Obscure foreign and independent films.
Who doesn't love Blood Car, Following Sean, Persepolis, The Burmese Harp, L'iceberg, All My Babies, Whisky, etc (if you need more, I can copy my netflix history into an email).


--Random Weird Crap
Like when I'm at work and we get an email saying that there is free fish in the parking lot. It's usually huge steelhead. You have to clean them yourself.
Or when the woman who lives downstairs knocks on my door to ask if I'll take her partly used vegetables (they were organic and local and delicious)
Or when I was riding with Jonny in Iowa years ago, we were on the way to crash a party with Angela and a little fog and ice covered roads weren't going to stop us. Jonny was driving his little death trap down the road we could see nothing. The fog was like soup and the road was like glass. Out of nowhere, a car back across the road in front of us. It was surreal.
So was another incident on that trip...we stopped for gas and Jonny got hypmotized by the rotissery wieners that were blackened and blistered beyond recognition.
Or when someone in a recent road construction meeting I was attending said to a colleague "Do you have that erection plan ready for submittal?" I was the only one who laughed.

I don't think I can top that last bit so I'm out.
Happy Fall Food Fest

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Just Some Stuff

I've had some blogging idea buildup/writersblock issues.

I'm going to clear the buildup and blockages with blog-o (blog version of "drain-o")

Firstly, a rant:
PEOPLE>>>>Shut off your goddang cars! I saw someone yesterday IDLING at the Sonic Drive-Thru. It's bad enough they were going to eat that crap, but to sit there in an idling car while ordering, waiting and EATING (despite the idea of "drive-thru", they chose to park and have the roller-girl (on skates) bring their food). Do you know how many miles per hour you get idling? ZERO. You just sit there polluting the air and wasting gas/$. Glad we're sending people overseas to die for oil in an illbegotten war so that you can sit on your fat butt and idle while eating crap food made mostly of highfructose corn syrup. Your carbon footprint is as big as your ignorance.

OK, trying to let that go....


Non-Rant:
Xmas Thrift!
There are TONS of in-the-package new holiday decorations at the thrift. Are they getting these from stores that overstocked or went out of business or from people who bought them, then croaked or never used them?
It's just interesting.
I've seen holiday candles in the package, holiday planters in original packaging, artificial trees still in sealed boxes, and on and on. What gives?
I'm for it. It's cheap. But perhaps we're over producing our holiday kitsch. Just a thought.


And finally...
Hammy is fat. He's too fat to crawl through the holes in the spaghetti box that is his favorite toy. He could crawl through them before. But not now. I'm leaving him in his play pen and put the wheel in there in hopes he'll get more exercise. Is there such a thing as a hamster gym? A tiny weight set? He runs on his wheel and the websites say that a hamster won't overeat, but I wonder...
Did something bad happen during his escape and he's eating to ease the pain?



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Creative Giftery

Angela (Hi Ange) commented yesterday about taking the "stuff" out of giving. She suggested time is a good thing to give and got me thinking about other ways to taking the stuf-ing out of the holiday.

A few times in my life I've been in the name drawing sort of events.

All the cousins on the Wagner side used to draw one name each and get a gift just for that person. I think the price limit was 5$. It worked while we were all young or youngish.
After too many of the cousins got married and/or knocked up, there were too many people and too many of us were no longer acquainted. So, we quit gifting all together.
But as kids, this was a good way to go. We each got something, usually something silly, and a good time was had by all. It tended to limit gifts for those who were "easy to buy for" and make sure that those who are tougher to buy for got something as well.
The drawing was usually on thanksgiving day after we were all bloated from eating. I don't know if the Michigan cousins were involved. I hope so but I was a kid and I don't remember.

In recent years my group of friends from undergrad days at Iowa State U had a drawing event for two christmases with the requirement that the gift be "craptacular." That was pretty well interpreted as hand crafted or crafty in some way. We drew names among the 11 or so friends, though I think couples counted as one entity to simplify matters. It was great fun. I remember making a calendar the first year (well...Jonny assembled it) and being blown out of the water when Ange made the daily calendar...oh well. The next year I decoupaged a serving tray for the friends in Louisiana who hadn't seen many of us in years. I covered it with photos of us from back in the day and more recently and for extra craptacularity...I used glittery decoupage goo. This also had the effect of putting us all in soft-focus which was good for the more recent photos.
However, those other more talented friend took the "crap" right out of "craptacular". The first year I got a pillow from Laurie with Iowa themed applique's, and a matching cool/warm eye mask with piggies over each eye! That wasn't crappy. It's spectacular.
The next year Bree made me a lovely mosaic out of tiny tiles. It still hangs in my kitchen in Plummer. It's gorgeous.

So that was a fun way to limit the number of gifts and the amount spent, but it was also too difficult to maintain. We don't all have the time and ambition to make gifts each year.

I try to make some of my gifts (hope the Aunts and Uncles need more jam...) and most of those have been big hits, but I don't always have the inspiration or the time to do it. So it's a melange.

I agree with another part of Angela's comment...consumables are good. I love candles (even butt-smelling ones) and burn them pretty much continuously through the winter. The light cheers me up. In fact right now I'm burning 2 candles rather than having a light on. Also, we all look better in candle light.

A couple of my aunts often give me spice mixes and whatnot. I love those. I made some seriously good chili just the other day when I repurposed some fajita spice from last christmas into the blackbean chili pot. I should do that again...soon.

And one aunt used to always get me bloomingdales underwear. That was fun. It's sort of a "consumable" since undies only last so long. Last christmas she came up with some excellent socks (just wore them today) among other things.

I used to love getting towels and things, and while I still love those, I now have enough towels to supply a football team for a week. When I took on the second household people tried to give me things and my first words were: NO SHEETS AND TOWELS!
(But if anyone talks to Gram...I'm down to my last two sets of embroidered dish towels because I use them everyday and am wearing them out.)
I think the best set of towels I have were also pre-used. They are purple and teal and in perfect shape. They are still the "good" towels that I get out for company.

I'm not against non-consumables! I got a lovely duvet cover last christmas. I've gotten pendleton blankets now and then, and the kitchenaid mixer of course.
But, not everything has to last forever. We're all getting older and don't need as much stuff because we have more stuff.

Even though we don't "need" as much stuff, I think the act of exchanging gifts of some sort is important but I won't go into the dull anthropological theories behind that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To Gift or Regift, That Is The Question

Now that I've confessed to giving the occassional used gift, let me admit to the occassional regift.

Rest assured that I have NEVER regifted anything from anyone who could ever possibly read this blog. You are all wonderful, thoughtful people who gift the perfect gifts.

That said, I'm not above regifting something if it doesn't suit me AND I know someone it would suit. I think the first time this happened it was really more of a trade. My brother has had, in the past, a tendency to give my sister and I the exact same gift, though often in a different color. Most years that was just fine. For example the year we both got kitchenaid mixers...that was fine (OK, I'm not sure that happened but someone gave me a mixer). Or the year we both got floor lamps, probably from cabelas. I'm still using mine.

But in the early years, it didn't always go so well. One year Pam (the aforementioned sister) and I opened Stan's (the aforementioned brother) gifts simultaneously. I had received a yellow sweater. Pam got a fuschia one. If I wear yellow it looks like I have end stage liver disease. Pam in any shade of pink is redundant. So, we just traded sweaters right there. No one was offended. I wore that thing forever. It was bullet proof acrylic. No namby-pamby handwashery necessary. Throw it in with a load of jeans, hang it up or leave it wadded on the floor. It wasn't going to mildew as there is no known lifeform that eats acrylic. Eventually the pills were larger than the contiguous sweater bits and I must have chucked it (these days I would have used it to scrub stubborn stains off the floor or something but that was before my recycling days).

Sometimes I'll get scented candles from co-workers that smell like butt. I regift them to people I don't like much or give them to a thrift store.

I think regifting is fine and I know I've been a recipient. I don't mind at all as long as it's something I can use or send on.

On the theme of gifting...if the friends and relatives could give me SOME idea what they would like this year, that would be super.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Do gifts need to be "new"?


So, I've found several used items for solstice/christmas gifts this year. And yet, I know that some people would be insulted by a used item as a gift. For the record, I don't mind at all. I LIKE used cookbooks especially. You know which recipes are good because there are food goobers on those pages and often notes.

Gramma has often given antiques as gifts and aren't those part of the "used" genre of items?
So why not newer used items?

Pam already knows she's getting a silk and gold thread sari I found at a thrift store. I gave another friend an Icelandic wool hoody from the same thrift store (it is the BEST thrift store). Last year that friend got an alpaca hoody from a thrift store...we may be in a rut but that is beside the point.

What do Americans have against used?
When did we decide that new cheap stuff was better than used good stuff?
I could never afford a NEW Icelandic wool hoody, so I gave a used one. That hoody will last a lifetime. A crappy walmart hoody will last a few months and cost the same as the thrift one.

El Kid has a wardrobe of shirts with dragons and whatnot on them, all bought used. They cost about 3$ each so why spend 60$ for a new one that he will wear for a year when the 3$ one will last just as long? I don't get it.

So far I DO call people and ask if they would like the used item before I buy it so that I don't inadvertently offend anyone and I respect that some people have cooty issues with used items especially clothes. But for the record, I'm just as happy with used.

For any relatives afraid of getting used crap: if you didn't get a call checking, then you are not getting used crap.

A friend's blog talks about re-using things for gift wrap. Here's the LINK.
I've re-used wrap many a time. That seems to be OK in our family. And there is one alarmingly hideous piece of "ribbon" that we've been exchanging for years. In deference to Laurie (blog author), I will be endeavoring to use more recycled and re-usable gift containers this year. I love that Laurie notes you can iron wrinkles out of craft paper and reuse it. I haven't done that yet, but now that I know...I certainly will do it.

Just for those who are following the various threads of my life:
2 days without a jail break. Hammy is still in the cage though rearranged his space so that the cocohut was jammed on the wheel. He was not happy when I shook him out of the hut to move it over.
No 'Poo Update: Hair still good. Scalp not nearly as itchy as during my shampoo days. BUT, I still miss a good lather and the scent of herbal shampoo. My hair is quite a bit redder and wavier than when I was using shampoo and conditioner, and easier to comb. But I will never have the Valerie Bertinelli hair I dreamt of during my teens:













(christ! who has enough time to do that to their hair everyday?)


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Days Without A Jail Break: 1

Hammy is still in his cage. I had to jostle his cocohut to make him poke his head out so I knew he was in there.
Have I mentioned the cocohut?
95cents at the thrift store and he seems to love it. it's a coconut with the bottom cut off, a door hole, and a fake thatch roof. This apparently rocks the hamster world. You can stuff all of your bedding in it. Stuff it so tight it makes a floor that stays with the cocohut when lifted. you can climb on the roof, chew the thatch...roll it around the cage. Endless fun.

Anyway, he's home and safe and will not be sitting on my nose in the morning.

Now for the REAL excitement of the day.
El Kid had a debate tournament. He had to be there at some ungodly hour so I said I'd drop him on my way to Plummer to winterize the trailer.

I'm headed down the highway thinking "I wish someone would leave styrofoam panels lying around so I could insulate the back door with something other than that stinky old camp sleeping pad that I stole from Fred and Sher years ago and is still impregnated with Nigel-hair."

About 10 minutes later I see that someone HAS left styrofoam panels lying along the road! Sweet.
I go back and check them out. They are dry, clean, and non-stinky. There is adjacent cardboard indicating that these were furniture packaging. Must have fallen off the truck on the way to the dump. Cool. I load the ones in good shape into the subaru and head out.
The back door of the trailer is metal and poorly sealed. it is a serious heatsink. Now it is not. I not only covered it with 2" thick styrofoam, I put shrink film over the whole unit.

Of course, I forgot that I had both vacuums (shop vac and regular vac) up in Spokane to clean up after the fix-it guy who is accessing the attic through my closet. I forgot this until AFTER I had started cutting styrofoam and spread toxic beads all over the trailer, myself, and everywhere else. Fortunately my friend Wanda had a vacuum available for borrowing.

Now I have to decide what to do with the rest of the styrofoam. I would LIKE to bring it up here and insulate the wall between the unheated stairwell and the heated portion of the house. It's just a storage area so I don't care what it looks like. Well, it's also the main entry way but I still pretty much don't care what it looks like.

I would also like to stick some styrofoam to the inside of the front door of the trailer. I know it's tacky, but that door is SO COLD. I don't think double stick tape will do the job since the door is cold and shiny. Also, if the tape sticks, it will take off more paint than is already gouged and peeled off. I'm not sure the landlords would care, but still, one wants to be polite.

Anyway, first I will shrink film some windows up in the Spokane apartment while I decide what else to do with my styrofoam...I could turn ordinary cardboard boxes into coolers...then if I decopaged them with pictures cut from magazines while I wait at the doctor's office....I could give them away for christmas...or not.

If anyone has brilliant ways to recycle styrofoam, let me know. That crap never goes away and is turning up in the guts of many seabirds.

Friday, November 14, 2008

He's Baaaaa...aaaack...

So, I walk in this evening. The door opens on a small landing at the foot of the stairs. And who is sitting in the corner looking cold and sheepish?

HAMMY.

He was glad to be picked up and carried back to his warm, dry, food and water inclusive, cage. I hope he didn't fall all the way down the steps. But, he didn't squeak or flinch while I carried him.

I heard him ALL NIGHT in the dining/kitchen area rutting around in some paper. When I would get up to find him, he would stop moving and become both silent and invisible.
But, seriously, he's a rodent so I was pretty sure he'd be fine. There was a little jar lid with water in it out for him and some food on the floor that he'd chucked out of his cage over the last week and I hadn't vacuumed up yet.

So, all is well in Hammy-land.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Of Hamsters and Fat Ladies

OK, first things first. I thought I had watched all the "Two Fat Ladies" episodes and sadly sent the 3 DVDs back to Netflix so I could get the next thing in the queue. It turns out there are FOUR Fat Lady DVDs!!! WOOHOO. I've got one playing in the background now. Clarissa is diping some sort of shelled thing out of the ocean to eat. They are making wonderful foods with local foods.

Now for Hammy...it seems he's gone free range. Busted out of the joint. He's flown the coop. Gone over the wall. Broken out.
We don't know exactly when this happened. I saw him in the cage 2 days ago. He's nocturnal so we don't always see him. Jake fed him yesterday and lost the little twist tie that we use to keep the door shut. I was refilling his dish today and there was no Hammy in the cage. He'd turned the coconut-hut over so I lifted it to straighten up the cage thinking that he was in there...he wasn't He wasn't anywhere else either. BUT, the bag of food kept on the floor just below the shelf the cage is on has both bottom corners eaten off and there was a trail of hamster food. I followed it as far as it went...about 4 inches. After that I lost him.
We'll have to bring in a tracker, or a hamster whisperer or something.
For now, I've left some food and a tiny dish of water out (though I picked up the big bag of food and put it on the counter. I don't need 3 pounds of seeds strewn about the place.

A colleague at work had this happen and said that the hamster was gone about 6 months and then reappeared in the living room one evening.

I hope Hammy is having wonderful adventures (that do not involve hiding in my shoes or near the toilet and scaring the sh*t out of me in the wee hours of the night). I had a favorite series of books as a kid that were about a mouse who rode a motorcycle around and had adventures so I'm hoping Hammy makes the most of his free-range time.

I'm REALLY hoping he isn't hiding in El Kid's room because it is full of teen-stank and I don't think there is much oxygen in there. Also, if he hides under the laundry he'll be squished as El Kid roams about the tiny room.


I think I'll make a "lost hamster" poster and put it in the bathroom in the morning for El Kid to find when he gets up.
Or perhaps a ransom note signed by the dog who lives downstairs.


And one tiny "braggery" here at the end: El Kid has been accepted into the Rotary Exchange program for next school year, his junior year, and hopes to go to Japan. WOOHOO!

Monday, November 10, 2008

McCain Concession as a Wordle

OK, just one more, then I'll give the Wordles a break.



Interesting? or stupid?
you be the judge.
This is from http://www.wordle.net/

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Speech as a Wordle

I have a new fave site.
It's frugal 'cuz it's free (to use...there is a cost in the power to run all the servers and connections of the internet and whatnot)

Anyway, you feed text into the thing (cut and paste it in) and then it makes art.
Here is a link to the page:





I don't know if you can see it properly.
But it's fun.

The site is:
http://www.wordle.net/

Enjoy.




Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama!!!

WOOHOO!
They just announced on Air America the Obama has it nailed.
This is great (to me).

And, he's into frugality. What with telling people to tighten their belts and consume or spend less, to save, and watch their finances. We haven't seen that since Carter (who I also like).
This should be interesting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Sweater My Self

Alright,
Sure, I'm in beautiful Missoula, Montana, and have already made a couple of thrifty scores. BUT, there is a higher priority here.

I am sick to death of going to the thrift store and finding a cute wool mitten that used to be a lovely wool sweater. STOP WASHING AND DRYING YOUR WOOL SWEATERS IN THE MACHINES! I mean, Jesus people, some poor sheep had to grow that wool, someone cut it off, washed it, spun it, and knitted it. Sure, most of that may happen on a machine these days, but still. Have some respect for the sheep at least. And if you want mittens, just buy mittens. The sweater only has 2 sleeves. You have 5 fingers. it won't work as a mitten or glove.

(OK, I'm at a hotel and watching crap TV. Celebrity Rehab makes me ashamed to be an American. But I can't turn it off.)

So, how do you wash a sweater?

First, buy a good sweater. All wool is best. If it's mixed wool and synthetics, it won't handwash as well because the fibres will want to separate and that will make the wool felt and pill. Also, acrylic is the spider web of Satan. It is crap. Just don't buy it. Get all wool. If you must get a blend, make it natural fibers. They will do better in the handwash.

Second, make sure it fits. If it doesn't fit. Take it back. Don't try to block it into a better fit. It won't work and it will look funny.

OK, now that you have the sweater we can get down to the real business.

Third: if the sweater is good, wool, and fits, now you lay it out flat and trace it.
Do not trace it with ball point pen or a marker. You'll get ink on the sweater either now or when you wash it. Trace it with pencil or tailor's chalk.
Trace onto either butcher paper or light colored fabric. If you can get it, a giant sheet of wax paper, several inches wider than the sweater including the sleeves. Ask the butcher. If you cant get that, an old sheet, towel, or piece of muslin will work nicely.
Make sure the sweater is flat on the flat fabric or paper. Then trace carefully.

Once it is traced, remove the sweater and make sure the outline is clear. If you traced onto fabric you can go over the line with a fabric pen. Make sure to that this is a permanent, non-bleeding, color-fast type pen.

Fourth: wear the sweater around. It's good to wear an undershirt and try not to sweat on it. But eventually it may need a wash. Probably once a year is plenty for most sweaters if you wear a t-shirt under them.

Fifth: Gather the following supplies:
* sweater. Just one at a time for starters.
* clean sink or basin or bucket or very large bowl. CLEAN. No soap, oil or other residue in it. A dishpan works well, but so will a canner, a popcorn bowl (unless it is a giant heavy sweater).
* mild soap or detergent. I really like Soapnuts for washing wool. If you don't have that, try a DROP of laundry detergent or use a tiny bit of non-scented shampoo. Do not use dish soap. It is very harsh. The theory here is to NOT strip the natural oils out of the wool. You want those in there. They keep the wool nice and make it a bit water and stain resistent. So NOT MUCH SOAP. You do not need suds. Suds are crap. They mean nothing for cleansing. They just look nice for advertisements.
* the tracing
* a few big bath towels (old ones that have been washed many times. NOT something that will bleed)

Sixth: Shake out the sweater. Pick off any obvious things (candy bits, mud, etc). If it is dusty or it's been a while since the sweater has been washed, vacuum it with the skinny nozzle of the vacuum (make sure the nozzle is clean and will not snag the sweater).

Seventh: Fill the basin/bowl/sink with cool water and the bit of soap/detergent. Hot water will mess with the oils so don't use it.

Eight: Wash the sweater. Put the sweater in and push it to the bottom. Squeeze it gently with your hands until the whole thing is wet. Then just let it float bak up, push it down, squeeze gently.
DO NOT rub or twist or get over excited with the washing.
Let it sit in there a while. Up to an hour is usually fine with gentle detergent. The basic things with washing clothes are mechanical manipulation (agitation, squeezing), soap/detergent, and time. In this case, it's best to increase time rather than intensify the agitation or increase the amount of detergent. After it has set a while, do a bit more of the squeezing.

Ninth: Rinse it. Drain the water and gently squeeze the water out of the sweater. GENTLY. Do not twist, wring, or anything like that. That will screw up the shape and start to felt the sweater. Fill the basin with more water (sweater is still in the basin). Squeeze a bit. Drain. Repeat this until it seems the sweater is all rinsed out. No soapy residue in the basin. I find that 3 rinses is usually good.

Tenth: Find the tracing you made of the sweater and lay it out.

Eleventh: Spread out a towel, put the sweater on it (relatively flat and spread out but not stretched) and roll up the towel with th sweater in it. You can step on this while it's rolled up to get the most water out.
Repeat this with all but one towel. Your sweater should be relatively dry now.

Twelfth: Use the tracing to block (lay out) the sweater into it's original shape and size.
If the tracing is fabric, put the last dry towel under it and you can just leave the sweater on it to dry. So be sure to do this in an area where the sweater can stay for a day or two (and not on wood which will get ruined by the dampness).
If you traced on paper, you will lay out the sweater, cover with the towel, then turn the whole thing over (you can do this like flipping a pie crust, not like a pancake). lay the tracing on top to double check that things didn't get misshapen in the process.

Leave the sweater out for a while. After a day, turn it over and put it on a dry towel. Check the shape again. If the sweater isn't pretty well dry, put a fan blowing on it. If it stays wet too long, it will mildew and that is gross.

Store your sweaters folded, NOT hung up. they will get stretched out if you hang them up. FOLD THEM. Put them on a shelf, and put some cedar blocks around them, or anti-bug sachets, bay leaves or whatever. Keep the bugs out. Do not store them in a sealed plastic box or bag. They need to breathe. When the temperature cools, you'll get condensation on the inside of the box or bag and your sweater will mildew. Also, any stank in the sweater will stew in a box or bag. If you have a cedar chest, put the sweaters in there, but don't let them directly touch the cedar. Put a sheet down first. The cedar oil can stain things so you should always wrapp things in a cedar chest anyway and refold and restore them now and then.

OK, done with sweater lecture. Now I will print the url to this post on cards and hand them out to stupid college students who run their sweaters through the dryer.

Also, this method works for wool socks and long johns, and what have you.

Keeping your sweaters nice is frugal, thrifty, and respectful.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Handknit Socks!!



Someone donated handknit socks to the Volunteers of America store! It makes me sad for whomever spent hours knitting them, but good for me.
I washed them (with soapnuts) because I don't want to catch sock cooties.

Here's a picture of them

















The color is inoffensive.

I do want to darn one little bit before I wear them. It looks like a toae segment may be separating from the rest of the sock in one stitch. I would feel super bad if they unraveled on the first wearing.

If it turns out they are bogus socks, I'm going to make killer sock monkeys.

Also, please people! STOP PUTTING YOUR WOOL SWEATERS IN THE FREAKING DRYER. I see so may lovely wool sweaters at thrift stores. Only now, they are mitten size and felted. Cripes. I should post how to wash a sweater. Maybe I'll do that.




Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some Great Frugal/Eco Blog Entries Out There

This blog entry is just because I noticed that there are some good entries in my favority frugal/eco/simplicity blogs of late.

I'll link them so you can enjoy, rather than stealing their ideas which was my first thought:

Living in 100 square feet on The Good Human

This is about living in TINY homes and includes a couple of videos.
I've been fascinated with these particular tiny homes, Tumbleweed homes, for a while. I don't think I'll ever buy one because of the cost, but you never know. I will take design ideas from them.


My friend Laurie's shop, Flyright Gifts, is interesting in it's own right so please visit her blog. AND it's been featured on Apartment Therapy!! Another of my favorite sites because they focus on tiny apartments and homes and how they can be fabulous.

Why do I like the tiny? It's simple and it's frugal. You don't pay as much to heat/cool/clean/maintain/build a small home. AND it's simpler because you have less stuff than a big home can hold. You choose what to put in a small home (though some will always choose more than others) more carefully than what to put in a large home. My trailer is about 1000 square feet, but no basement, no attic, no extra storage. Thus, I had to choose fewer things to go in it than went in my house. The house had similar square footage on the main floor, but ALSO had a basement, attic, and garage to store more crap. Now it's in Pam's basement...sorry Pam.
The apartment is also small, though large for the price, and has 2 closets and a sort of storage area in the stairwell. So, less stuff (though more stuff than I need).

Anyway, here are a couple more interesting blog posts on frugality and simplicity:

SquawkFox, a blog about frugality, has an interesting call for input in this entry: What are your three worst financial decisions. Interesting how many people say "buying a house." There are also interesting comments about how the worst financial decision can be the best personal decision.

And I'm going to mention one blog that is no longer active, but it's the one that got me inspired to start blogging. It's Frugal for Life. The author brought herself out of deep debt and wrote about enjoying the freedom of debt free living. She's not adding to it anymore, but the posts are still up and she only retired it a few weeks ago so the ideas are fresh.

That's probably enough for now. I'll leave the "why the tanking economy doesn't scare me" stuff for another day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Asteroids!


It was a meteor, not an asteroid, but like 3 of my friends will get the reference to Girls Will Be Girls, the best all drag film of all time.

I was driving to work this morning at some on godly hour like 5:30am and I happened to look to my left (rather than at the edges of the road where the @$#&%)# deer are always hiding.
And there it was. A meteor / shooting star! How cool is that?

It was just a line at first and then I totally saw it burn up when it hit the atmosphere. There was a tail like they show on a comet. Then it burned out.

I've never seen one do that.
Let's see if I can find a picture of how it looked:

This is it.
















BUT that is a comet, not a meteor or meteorite.

Now I have to look up the difference between a meteor and a meteorite.
One moment please....


OK, according to the always reliable Wikipedia, this is the deal:
A meteoroid is a small sand- to boulder-sized particle of debris in the solar system The visible path of a meteoroid that enters Earth's (or another body's) atmosphere is a meteor, commonly called a "shooting star" or "falling star". On reaching the ground, a meteor is then called a meteorite.

So I saw a meteor which is the visible trail of a meteoroid and if I could find the lump of stuff that hit the ground, that would be the meteorite.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The 2 Fat Ladies Are Here! The 2 Fat Ladies Are Here!!


OK, not 2 actual fat ladies in person, the best best best cooking show EVER is "The Two Fat Ladies."

It's British and excellent. I ordered it off the Netflix (not an endorsement, just what I personally use) and it finally got here. There was quite a wait for it. You'd be surprised how hard it is to get obscure foreign shows.

Anyway, the show was great. They made traditional Brit fare...fatty, lumpy, doughy, greasy things. And the personalities, Clarissa Dickson-Wright and Jennifer Paterson, are wonderful. They ride around Brit-land in a motorcycle with sidecar and talk to the locals while makinging their food.

Here's a shot of the girls:




















I think if my sister and I ever get that cooking show done that we made (just one episode and it is stuck in post), we would be similar. Not so much in the fat...but in the weird women make sort of "off" food way. Not that either of us is underweight, but you know, we're more about the weird.

OK, I'm going to settle in and watch it by candlelight (not to be romantic, I'm just using candles in my bedroom more than my electric lamp (which sports a CFL) to see how I'll get by when I finally get to move off grid and not have electric lights...so a voluntary simplicity thing).

I'll blog as I watch...ready...

Already fabulous! They start out talking about shark fins and one thinks it will be bad because sharks are evil fish. And they pat their motorcycle when they pass by.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I was sick....


Sorry it's been so long. I was sick. And busy. When I wasn't being run off my feet, I was asleep.
Wednesday I was so tired, I had to pull off the road and sleep in the car for an hour after a meeting up in Sandpoint Idaho! Some sort of cold/flu thing that is going around.

I got over it in about 3 days due to hippie cold/flu care (no sugar, no dairy (which is actually standard for me), sinus rinsing 3 times a day, vitamins, lots and lots of herbal tea). Others have been sick a week or more so I'm pretty cocky about the hippie cold care practices.
I was really only gross sick on Tuesday, Weds and Thursday. Not bad. Our office assistant was knocked out for a full 7 days. She probably ate candy. Or was sicker than me. Whatever.

The sinus rinsing is gross, but so effective.
I recommend the neti pot to everyone. Mine looks like this one:















You put some salt (sea salt...not the iodized table salt), like a 1/2 teaspoon or so, in there and add hot (boiled for sanitary reasons though when I'm in a hurry I just use warm water) water. Let it cool to body temperature. Then you pour it up one nostril and it comes out the other. About half way through the pot of water, you switch nostrils.
The stainless steel pots are better because the outside of the pot is the same temperature as the water (with ceramic ones you end up sticking your finger in the water to check the temp..and introducing germs off your finger), and it doesn't release toxins like the plastic ones. Also, you want one large enough to do both nostrils unless you want to spend twice as long waiting for water too cool in the pot.

When I'm being good, I do this every morning. Since I used to have a pretty much permanent sinus infection, avoiding dairy and rinsing my sinuses are worth it to me. I can actually breathe through my nose now. After nearly 4 decades of being a mouth breather, in my late 30s I finally found out that people can breathe through their noses. I remember asking my gramma when I was about 4 what noses were for (mine only seemed to get me in trouble for sniffing or having snot come out of it unexpectedly). She told me people breathe through them and I was pretty sure she was lying to me. I decided we had noses because people would look funny without them. Later, I decided that was not it because if no one had noses, we would not think that looked funny, we wouldn't know any different. ( I was an odd child ).

Anyway, that is why I'm willing to forego dairy and run water through my sinuses like a hippie. I can now breathe. I've almost got my boss convinced to try the neti. He has terrible allergies and noticed that I no longer seem to suffer from mine (I also use a homeopathic anti-allergy item during the main pollen season...more on that some other time).

Here is a bit of research on the neti for those who are doubters:
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/neti-pots?print=true

And just to answer the questions I get in real life:
No, it is NOT like when you get water up your nose swimming. Once you get the salt/water mix right and the temperature neutral, you can't even feel the water in there.

Yes, sometimes gross things come out. But if you keep the sinuses clean then no gross things come out or they are too small to see.

Wierd things I've noticed:
If you're tense, the water won't flow through even if your sinuses are clear.
You have to blow your nose gently several times when you're done to dry out the sinuses a bit (but not totally dry them out!)
Sometimes, it seems to also rinse my eustacion tube and I get ear crusties. BUT my inner ears itch much less than they used to.

Enough with the grossness. I will now drink some herbal tea and go to sleep.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cannin' and Jammin'

(Bad title! It's all I got)

I spent yesterday down on the rez canning.
I made spiced crab apples and some golden plum jam.
The apples are pretty. Only a few have the skins split so far. Probably more will go before I eat them. I have no idea how they taste and I'm supposed to wait a month or two before I try them.

I swore last year I'd never do the golden plums again....but the trees were LOADED to the point the branches were about to break. It took me about 20minutes to pick 5pounds or more (plenty for jammin'). I forced them through a cherry pitter this year rather than shaving the pulp off the pits. It wasted more pulp...and I think it killed the pitter. But it was faster.
The jam is GORGEOUS. Bright orange. And SOUR!!
I used it in the breakfast bars with double the usual apple sauce and only a little sweetener. They turned out delicious

I took a jar of each (along with some apples I picked on the rez too) to a friend. She handed ME a jar of golden plum preserves. Must have been the weekend for those plums. They are tiny...like large cherries. And definitely NOT freestone. I'm going to clean up some of the pits and plant them. The trees are clearly hardy. The freestone purple plums (huge and easy to pick and process) were devoid of fruit this year. As were some of the apple trees.
I'm definitely learning which trees are the hardiest by picking the free fruit around the rez. Those cherry trees are still doing well. I'm going to plant pits again this year. BUT I'm also going to mark the plantings better and maybe protect with rebar so the kids who mow the lawn won't kill them (but they probably will kill them).

The raspberries in the backyard, that have spread over from the neighbor's patch, did quite well again this summer. Enough to eat, but not to can or jam. One of these years. Especially if I move the landlord's junk pile which is blocking the spread of the berries and is in the best gardening spot in the yard. But the odds of me moving that junk pile is zero.

It is nice to know I'll have 2 kinds of jam to get me through to next summer (huckleberry and plum). I didn't want to buy fruit to can/jam this year so my variety is more limited. I still have some from last year to finish up.

I'll let you know how the spiced crab apples turn out. They look pretty and I left the spices in the jars so I'm thinking they will be a bit overly spiced.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Worms Have Their Own Radio Show!!

NPR's Science Friday is running a segment on worm composting today.

I'm quite pleased.

Today someone who got worms from me is passing on a batch to another person. We're like the Heifer International of worms (with Heifer the recipients of help agree to pass on some of the progeny of their livestock or other assistance).

I've given worms to three people. The person passing on today has passed on one or two other times. It's like a Vermi-Ponzi-scheme! How cool.

Anyway, the worms are lovely, though housed temporarily in my office in paperbags in a Walmart bag. At least the WalMart bag is being re-used...sigh. I don't condone WalMart but I'm not taking the worms out because they would get worm juice on the carpet. Worm juice is pee. Plants like it but I bet custodians don't.

My worms are doing quite well. They like squash so fall is a good season for them. I did notice that the person passing on these worms has citrus peels in there. I don't feed mine citrus as it can get toxic and my bin is pretty small. I really need to split it into two or get a larger one. Probably 2 is better so I can let one sit and finish twice a year while the other is still going. If you leave them for a month or so with no new food they eat all the remaining bits and go through the bedding so you have pure worm dirt (poop). Then you don't have to pick through it as much.

Anyway, just happy to be passing on worms today.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty...

But not witty or nice.

I washed my hair today. With the baking soda and a lemon juice rinse because I was at the trailer and out of apple cider vinegar. I'm at work an hour and a half early anyway so decided to deal with my hair here rather than at the apartment in Spokane. I don't like that shower as much and the lawn sprinklers are on (in the RAIN) every morning at 4:45-5:30. That's when I need to be in the shower. There is no water pressure. That makes me angry.

Anyway, so I wash my hair and comb it out but don't brush it because it is still wet. I go to work with a big mop of wettish hair that dries in to a big mop of dryish hair. I don't want to put it in the daily pony tail until it is dry AND brushed. So I'm walking around with a big pile of messy hair.

This must be what passes for "sexy" in Idaho. I had two co-workers (not the usual lecherous-y ones who don't even count...normalish ones) stop me and say I looked real good today. It ain't the outfit (sweatshirt from a thrift store, muddy jeans and shoes that have seen better days...all in shades of grey and brown). It ain't the makeup because I don't wear any.
Each then felt the need to get specific "Your hair is down. You look different." No kidding?
Then "You should wear your hair down more."
Um...now we've crossed into EEEWWWW.

I can't get a photo and it will be all deflated by the time I can so you'll just have to trust my not-usually-creepy coworkers that my hair looks fantastic.