recent happenings,food and otherwise

All things recent. Mostly good for a change. Yay,go us! This of course means by next update will be THE WORST.

My biz has been going super well. We managed to get all the basics paid in June – rent, electric,Internet, and car insurance; plus had money for groceries and I think I paid a past due balance on at least one of the medical bills. I don’t think that’s happened in months.

I was sure that the last 2 weeks income would make us over the limit for SNAP again but apparently NY has new eligibility limits that make it easier for working people to qualify. I can find very little about this online and it was a NY DSS worker who told me.

Our SNAP will be available on the 9th and I’m already planning my grocery list to make the most of that $221.

We also were due to have the car inspected. It passed. Whew.

The husbeast built me a clothesline using all scrap lumber someone tossed out. I hate using the dryer on nice-weather days. Our electric bill is actually not that terrible here but large family=lots of laundry so it might actually lower it a little to line dry.


Still droughting it hardcore here in NY. We are in the epicenter of it. It’s rained 20 miles in every direction around us the past two weeks. Nada here. Our water source is good so far,though. We get our water from an artesian spring and by all neighborly accounts, has never gone dry *knock on wood*

Our friend put a hose hook-up in for us last week (Thanks, Bruce!) and the garden has gone crazy since I’ve been able to actually water it well. The peas and swiss chard are mostly fried but everything else is looking good.

Most meals I made recently were our boring frugal standards. Lentil based things this week (I usually cook a bag of a particular type of dry bean and stretch it in different recipes throughout the week), pasta one night. Dressed up instant ramen. This Potato Nacho Casserole thing I make .

I did attempt to make dolmas (my most favorite food ever) with cabbage leaves instead of grape leaves. The cabbage leaves were uncooperative.  I gave up and we just ate the rice mixture by itself.

We bought peaches at the grocery store one day and they were kinda gross. I made them into Peach-Rhubarb Jam and all was well.

It was the 1st time I did any canning since moving into this house. The stove is glass top. Before canning I ran through all the things I’d been told about canning on a glass top stove and kinda freaked out. There was that one lady who had the horror story about an explosion and a missing eye and another lady who brushed that off and was like, “Pffft. Canning on a glass top is fine!”.  My books and the Internet said a little of both. What I deduced was : flat bottom canner with not a lot of weight or many jars is ok. Check and check for the jam canning . I did it and both house and eyes remain intact.
Probably in the future when I do a lot of jars at once or something like tomato sauce,I’ll probably do the canning over an outdoor fire. I’ve done this once before when there was a power outage and I was trying to save everything in the freezer that had thawed and the stove was electric. Worked great.

Oh,also- my favorite treat this past week was Frosted Lemonade. Super cheap vanilla ice cream + frozen lemonade on sale for 99¢ …great inexpensive yummy.






SNAP news: Maine food stamp drama,the push accepting SNAP online,and more



Maine Gov LePage’s recent shenanigans

So,here’s what happened-
Governor LePage has been proposing bans on candy and whatever food poor people shouldn’t eat for awhile now. ( it’s been covered here and other posts on this blog).

On June 8th, the US Department of Agriculture (also referred to as “Obama” in most news headlines about this) sent Maine’s SNAP Director a letter that basically said, “No. Sit down. You can’t do that and besides, isn’t there a bunch of other stuff you should be working on?”

LePage responded by having a toddler tantrum in which he threatened to end all SNAP in the state of Maine.   Remember: the reason LePage’s admin stated for wanting the ban on certain foods was for the health of SNAP recipients. But ok,sure… take away ALL their food stamps so they can’t eat at all.  Obviously, Maine has it’s poorer citizens health as a Maine priority.

No, I don’t think for a second these bans have anything to do w/ health concerns. Every legislator who introduces similar rules is purposefully ignoring research that contradicts the idea that people spend SNAP on primarily junk food.

People had things to say:

There’s more to SNAP than Mars bars and Mountain Dew

With food stamp recklessness, LePage shows little respect for federal law, Maine’s poor


Maine’s first lady gets a summer job – LePage’s wife got a waitressing job to supplement her husband’s income. He’s making poverty wages at $70,000/year (he’s the lowest paid governor). I’m guessing Ann LePage will have co-workers who are also SNAP recipients, so that should be interesting,eh?


July SNAP Changes 

Louisiana Begins Work For Food Stamps Program

Staggered issuance of food stamp benefits starts July 1 – Idaho


New Bills Being Introduced

Protecting us from hordes of food stamp-using lottery winners – Saunders –  NC legislator Bert Jones wants to  require the state Lottery Commission to report winnings of more than $2,250 to the state Department of Health and Human Services every month so it can cross-check for food stamp recipients and applicants. Never mind that there are already federal mandates that disqualify people from SNAP if they win over a certain amount in the lottery.
I guess I’m wondering if there are really that many SNAP recipients who are also lottery winners that this even needs to be a thing?

Everything Else SNAP Related
You’ll be hearing more about this in the next few weeks.


What foods would you like to see in a Backpack Program?

I’m sharing this question today from a reader who is involved with starting a Backpack Program for junior high aged kids in her area.

For anyone not familiar with the Backpack Program : every Friday during the school year, food is sent home via backpack . The goal is to provide  food for the weekend to kids who rely on free school meals.

S asks:

If your student came home and opened their backpack on Friday afternoon, what would be most helpful to find?


Total gross weight under about 5 pounds

Picky kid friendly


Easy prep since some families have no cooking facilities except possibly a microwave

Pretty cheap, like $5 retail



new food stamp amount: $221/month for a family of 5

We reapplied for food stamps at the end of May and finally got a decision this week. We were denied but then also approved in the same decision. Because I’m self-employed, they said the amount I made in May put us over the qualifying limit by $87 but then averaged the past 3 months of my income as a guideline of what I might typically make and that put us under the limit.

The other thing that changed is they do not include our twins on our SNAP case because they are full time college students who are not employed at least 20 hours a week yet. So, we’re on paper a family of five but I’m still buying groceries for a family of seven.

I’m confused about some of the rules for when someone is going to college. I was told by one person that if the twins are working at least 20 hrs/week this summer ,then they can be included on our SNAP case but then someone else told me that yes, BUT their income will also count as household income and that would probably put us over the qualifying limit. I’m guessing the latter is how that actually works.

Anyway, as it stands now we were approved finally and our amount will be $221 a month. That’s just short of 2 weeks of groceries for us. The USDA “Thrifty Family Meal Plan” guidelines say we should be spending about $970 for our family size per month but my food budget has been about half that for the past 6 months, sometimes even lower. It’s totally impossible without going to the food pantry every other week.

On the gardening front, things are slow but happening. We’re in a drought-like spell. I have no hose hookup at this house and I’m watering the garden by hauling jugs from inside the house. It takes forever and it’s not the same as a good soaking rain. Fortunately we know people who know how to do things and a friend is going to put a hose hookup in for us soon. This sounds like a much easier solution than my daughter’s suggestion of building an aqueduct or elaborate irrigation system.

So, adding to my $88 worth of rhubarb, I now have chives and chive infused vinegar.
15 oz dried chives-$28 (I arrived at this price by looking at the bulk spice prices at 2 local markets plus what’s available online)
16 oz of chive infused vinegar – $10
several bundles of fresh chives -$8

My husbeast has been fishing a lot lately,too. Having terrible luck catching anything worth keeping but this week another fisherman gave him a nice bass he didn’t feel like cleaning. That was a nice free dinner. I have no idea what a whole bass costs. A 12 oz package of sea bass is $23 where we usually shop but this isn’t exactly sea bass.
I need to remember to add the cost of his fishing and hunting license into my food production expenses tally. So far without that figured in, I’ve spent $120 on seeds,tools,and other gardening things.
I need to keep better track of time spent in the garden. Once I have a good idea of this,I’ll start putting a monetary value to that time,too. Two separate rates – migrant farm worker wage and living wage.






links: philly’s soda tax, myths about homelessness debunked,and more….

I’m finally recovering from an entanglement with poison sumac. Thankfully, things have been calm this past week on all other fronts. We’re wrapping up the school year with all the end-of-school-year events, so it’s been busy.

Garden updates coming this week and maybe even some real recipes. Getting finishing touches on zine so I can get that out,too. For now, here’s some links for your weekend reading.

The Women Behind Harlem’s Farmers Markets  -“Unlike many other pockets of New York City, farmers markets in Harlem have evolved largely separate from the ubiquitous Greenmarket system. Some markets are run by a single person. They are used to educate an unhealthy zip code or attempt to transform a neglected area. But the random, scattershot and organic way they have developed proves that there is no corner in the five boroughs that wouldn’t be improved by a farmers market.”
Great profiles of these women.

Philadelphia passed a Soda Tax – The Mayor said ,”“This is the beginning of a process of changing the narrative of poverty in our city.”
There’s talk that other products will be added under this “grocery tax” measure.
These proposals always seem to me disconnected health advocates saying, “Think of the poor people!” without really thinking of the poor people.

The assumption with these taxes is that poor people consume most of the soda. Taxing those drinks will supposedly deter people from buying them and if they stop buying them, then the “obesity epidemic” among the poor will drop. There isn’t science to back this. The research says little will change and yes, it will decrease soda consumption but people will only replace those calories with other high sugar,high calorie foods. 

8 Common Myths About Homelessness – Debunked – we can’t end homelessness if we keep believing these things

California’s minimum wage victory: More to Come? – as some cities and states start raising their minimum wage, it’s quickly being realized that the minimum wage also needs to be a living wage. This is good perspective on what this means for California but applies elsewhere,too

Home Free | The New Yorker | Jun. 13, 2016 | 30 Minutes (7,588 words) – How a New York State prisoner became a jailhouse lawyer, and changed the system.

“I would love to see some hedge fund manager on Wall Street who might be sniffing a little cocaine here and there to stay awake realize that he can’t get his $150,000 worth of deductions unless he submits to a drug test.”


Because Caturday.


“Abuse is stronger when its silent and it wants to be a dirty secret because it can take control over the victim as long as they live. “

An important guest post today.
This is an anonymous letter from a mother to her daughter as she watches her struggle in an abusive relationship while dealing with memories of her own past experience. Sometimes those who are closest to the situation feel the most powerless to help. I hope these words resonate with some readers and give them the courage to reach out for help or to help someone else they know dealing with domestic abuse and violence. 

I am not just a mom. I am the very person who watches and keeps track of you even though you are my adult child. It may seem I am not paying attention but I do; among the other busy life tasks I must perform every single day. I will always worry. I will always say something that supports your independence and recognize your qualities that makes me feel proud of you even though you are defensive and biting. I still feel disappointment, kindness, frustration and pride among other things. I have done the best I can in raising you and I know more than anyone that no parent is ever perfect. Especially when poverty is in the fold and the struggles that we experienced as a family complicate a content household.

I just wish that I was better able to share my story about my past. To convey my experiences as you grew up. The time before you were born before I met your father. I failed you by attempting to diminish the memories and the emotional hardship in talking about my experiences. It’s a terrible secret that no one in my family knows about; and in that silence I know abusers are given permission to continue when they aren’t even in the parameter in your life any longer.

So mom’s know things. I know things. I know he’s threatened to kill you. He’s threatened to kill himself to me. Mom’s see things in their daughters and know they are not okay. They see the bruises that are scoffed off or given some improbable excuse. They see you as an unhappy, argumentative illogical decision maker that demonstrates poor choices for your future independence. I am tired worrying and I don’t know how to fix it for you.

I remained silent and unwilling to share my terror too long because I placed it far back in my memories and built new ones to bury them. But as I realize now, the bones are always there and by burying them I can’t help anyone else, especially you. Abuse is stronger when its silent and it wants to be a dirty secret because it can take control over the victim as long as they live. Even if the abuser is long gone or dead.

When I was a young adult I made decisions about my life that were misguided. I could never confide to your Grandmother. She would have shamed me and not said anything useful as she lived out of state and out of touch since I was a young child. She would have blamed me, for certain, for not being something or say something to keep the violence going. I had no trust with her. You don’t have to trust me and as much as that makes me sad and a bit hurt it’s more important that you trust someone.

I made bad choices. Horrible ones. Most of it out of a false sense of compassion which turned into fear. In essence I let myself be held hostage by a stranger.

My sweet daughter, meet my abuser. A man who was ridiculously shy at first and for certain odd. I felt compelled to go out on one date. At the end of the evening when I told him honestly I wasn’t interested in seeing him again he erupted in such a scene – an emotional episode that I was completely in shock. I was eighteen and I had no idea what to do. You should have seen this through my eyes. He tried to set his hair on fire and screamed hysterically he would commit suicide if I did not see him again. Me. A stranger. He stripped off his clothing and huddled on the edge of the furniture in a tight ball sobbing with a lit lighter by his hair. He rocked back and forth inconsolable and out of fear of witnessing this and general concern over his well being I agreed, in terror and trying to understand what was happening, to go out with him again. I have no idea why honestly. I was terrified at what he was capable of doing.

So you see, in my silence about my past I neglected to teach you about my painful experience for you to learn from. I am not sure if you would listen anyway, but to give it everything I have as a parent I must; I will forfeit my shame and embarrassment to help you. My experience was short lived; only over one year. During this time it was extremely painful emotionally and physically.

I learned he was on parole for robbery in another state (“RUN!” I screamed in my head). He excluded me from my friends and I had to like only his (“STAND UP!” my inner voices demanded). I was held hostage by a stranger that I did not want to know or be associated with. I was better than this and I was confused at myself for the experience. He stalked me at work (“HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH! I told myself “This is not as bad as I think it is.”) He drank at least a case of beer every day that turned into rage and tirades breaking everything in sight (“SURVIVE!” my inner voices demanded).

Almost daily if the broken items weren’t my personal belongings it was the windows, doors, walls. and then he’d turn the rage by hitting himself or threatening worse (my inner survival took over). He’d turn that rage onto me if I became visible to him. If I argued back. If I spoke out. If I commented. If I didn’t have beer. If I didn’t cook dinner. If I kept something special. I was strong physically but it was the emotional barrage of unpredictable shocking behavior and assault that left me numb and incapable of acting. I hated him and worse I hated myself for being there. He would work for short periods of time before he lost his job due to his drinking, and terrorize me while driving my car which he also demanded to drive sober or drunk.

He’d threaten to drive us off cliffs and jerk the wheel toward the edge pushing the gas pedal. The worst lie about all of these experiences is that on the outside he was engaging, funny, and other people liked him. I would physically feel ill when people talked kindly about him (“CAN’T YOU SEE INTO MY EYES AND HELP ME?” I’d scream into my own silence). I tried to tell people what was happening, and they never believed me. I thought about that as he would rip off my clothes and push me outside the front door and lock it. As he would bite me leaving ugly raw bruises. As he would beat anything in his path making me feel weak.

I never got the help I needed from friends and in part because it was so embarrassing to fully confess the depths of terror I was living under. You can imagine my feelings of betrayal when I tried to seek help but couldn’t articulate fully – and “they” blamed me. People can be like that, so go to someone and keep talking until someone will believe you.

When I did finally flee from his terror I was exhausted. I had the paperwork in place, a protection order, but it didn’t stop. He chased me in his car on the rural dirt roads I lived. He broke into my home while I slept in that exhaustion and I woke up to him sitting on my bed, stroking my hair, begging for me to take him back whispering his own venom into my ear. I woke up in stark fear and pushed him off the bed and he once again raged.

I had to leave the state and go to an unknown area and start my life over and I tried my best to bury these bones to never have to think or acknowledge it ever happened. To bury myself in busy. To raise my family like it never happened. Until now. When I see it in your eyes.

So dear daughter. I see you. We give silence permission to continue the abuse. In our stories we grow stronger together and I beg you to recognize this in yourself. Before it’s too late.



Transgender Housing Network

It feels like a good time to share this networking page again. The Transgender Housing Network connects transgender people with safe places to live temporarily while finding stable housing among supportive people. The posts in the network range from someone looking for a couch for a few nights to a room they can rent in a trans friendly environment. Sometimes posts are transgender allies who may need a housemate or other long term options.

Unsafe living situations, poverty, and threats of violence are an every day thing for transgender people in the US, disproportionately so for trans people of color. Homeless transgender people quite often have no shelters that will accept them. Unemployment and underemployment is high among transgender people.The eviction rate and housing discrimination is comparably high.  Networks like THN  are so important.

If you’re willing to host or are transgender and need a place to stay, check out the link below.

 >>>>>>   Transgender Housing Network  <<<<<<