oh,hai

This post is brought to you by running water,central heating, and clean laundry done in my own washing machine! And that smells like clean laundry and not wood smoke.

dishes

A screenshot of a vid I posted on IG since wordpress says I’m not endowed with those privileges. Hmmph.

The past month has been devoted to moving, being sick, and unpacking.
Home is now a 1978 14 x 70 mobile home in a trailer park. I’m learning to embrace minimalism as we squeeze our 1600 sq ft living situation into a 880 sq ft space.

That’s a lie. I’m not really embracing it. I’m tolerating it. This may be the title of my eventual book that will probably mostly be devoted to my love-hate feelings about kondomari and hygge and all the funny words for organizing: Tolerating Minimalism.

The trailer park is actually pretty nice with most of our neighbors being retirees or international grad students and their families. There’s a “lake” (it’s a big pond) stocked with fish.
The buses are better. It’s closer to husbeast’s work. The kids were able to stay in the same schools. Rent is $350 less. Electricity is less. We’re feeling a weird sense of stability, something we haven’t felt in quite awhile. I wouldn’t say we’re doing well but we’re certainly doing better.

I’m breathing easier at least.

AND WE HAVE RUNNING WATER. Heat is nice,too. This morning it was 8 degrees but nice and toasty inside. I’m thrilled.

 

 

 

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Love grows best in little houses

Inspirational Quote on Picture Frame.

[image via Google… from Etsy probably. I don’t know the person who made it but they didn’t attribute the quote to being from a song so I don’t feel that bad about not crediting them)

Flashback to 90’s country when Doug Stone sang about tiny houses being good for you.

For the record, I think that’s bullshit but I went and looked at a tiny ass mobile home that’s for rent and I’m bound and determined to squeeze my whole damn family into that thing. And they’ll like it, dammit.

BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED.

Yes, we still have no running water in the kitchen or for laundry. You know how when you live in a dorm at college and there’s not really a communal kitchen that close to your room so you walk down the hall to get water to make your ramen and coffee? It’s a little like that for us now except more and  I’m also hauling water from the bathroom to the kitchen so I can wash dishes instead of washing them in the bathtub which was murdering my back and kinda gross besides that.

So, I’m looking at a narrow options for housing in one of the most expensive counties outside of the NYC area to live. I’m trying not to disrupt my kids school because my 12 year old just cannot deal with transitions and the school district we’re in is fantastic for kids like him. My littlest one loves his little friends and his sweet little rural school (that still is in the city school district so gets those perks) and my teenager is trying to graduate a year early from high school. It’s hard. The market is saturated with student housing for Cornell and IC students ($800 per ROOM?! How even? I can’t imagine…)

Pretty much everything even close to the price range we pay now (and still can’t afford) is tiny anyway. I found a mobile home in a small park for $750/month. That’s $400 less than what we pay now. It has better bus routes so I could work elsewhere easier. It’s closer to husbeast’s work. It has pros. It’s still tiny as hell and I’ll have to sell/gift away a ton of our shit AND get a storage unit.

I guess my thinking is that this can be uncomfortable living but temporarily. The extra money in our budget could help clear bills and boost our credit rating. Maybe we could even *gasp* SAVE SOME.  We qualify for low income homebuyer’s programs but still have to better our credit rating and have a certain amount for a low down payment and closing costs.

Cross all your fingers and things this plan goes off without hitches, please? Please and thank you.

This Chili-Mac Stuff was the bomb (cyclone)


I know that the weather event known as the bomb cyclone, or cyclogenesis, was ages (two weeks. Same thing) ago but I’m still dealing with the fallout. That fallout is also why I didn’t blog this recipe when I made it 2 weeks ago instead of now. Bomb cyclone fallout is time consuming.

But I’m not telling you about all that yet. First I’m telling you the cooking stuff. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my one daughter who likes to cook, ALWAYS put your story after the recipe. If you don’t, someone searching the internet for a recipe will end up at your blog and stand in their kitchen  muttering while they scroll through your story, “Ok, I get it. Your kid is smart, your dog is cute. Blah Blah. I don’t care about your life just let me see the damn recipe!”.

Disclaimer:
I don’t know if what I post here are recipe. I wing it. You should,too. Mostly it’s just instructions for what to do with cheap ingredients particularly those found at food pantries.
Also, I recognize that as I’m compiling these non-recipes into a book ,I need to have better names other than Chili Mac Stuff. I’m working on it.

Ok, on to the thing I made.
These are the ingredients I used minus herbs and spices.
These were 100% picked up from the food pantry.  There’s very rarely name brand or even store brand from the food pantry but usually  there is no notable difference in quality.

The USDA packaged meat can take a bit to get used to,cooking with, all varieties from ground beef to chicken,turkey, and pork. It’s ground finer and therefore …mushier? Smoother? I don’t have an adjective to describe it. It has a different texture.

When cooking with this meat, seasoning is the big thing. I know – it should be anyway but really it makes the most difference with this.
For this meal, I sauteed it in a cast iron pan with a little oil, salt,pepper, onion flakes and garlic powder. I prefer to use fresh onions & garlic but I didn’t have any. The dried will work just as well.

In a pot, I essentially opened cans of tomatoes,sauce,and beans and tossed them in. I rinse the beans first in a colander.  I tossed the meat in and added more herbs and spices. For this pot, I was cooking for non-spicy eaters so I used cumin,oregano,more garlic, and a little bit of a chipotle pepper mix.  I cooked all if this together for 10 minutes then added dry macaroni and enough water to add volume and help the pasta cook without losing thickness from the base. Cook about 7 minutes longer until the macaroni is done.
Spicy lovers added their nonsense to their own bowls and topped with some shredded cheese. No sour cream on hand,unfortunately.

This dish hit the spot as a hearty,warming comfort food while we were enduring the “bomb cyclone” and -25 temps.

[end food bit]
The day before this bomb cyclone thing was supposed to hit us, we managed to find a mobile food pantry we could go to. We never get to go to them because they’re either during inconvenient hours or too far to drive. They usually have a lot more perishable foods and produce then what’s available at our usual food pantry.
It’s always held outside and we froze but it was worth it. That food helped us get through the week until food stamps came through and then some. The security of that helped me deal much better with events that came out of the storm.

The days during the winter storm in our drafty cold house were miserable and not surprisingly, the pipes froze. The pipes have never frozen while we’ve lived here but it was a pretty common problem that weekend. I worked for hours trying to get them thawed before I finally called the property manager. As I expected, they were swamped with similar calls from tenants. They couldn’t send anyone out that day. This was Sunday  (Jan 7th) in the afternoon. Monday morning, the maintenance manager called to see if we were still frozen. Yep. He said someone would be out. That was Monday. No one showed. (Pro tip: Don’t rent from a large property management company. They rarely can meet the needs of all their tenants during a weather event)
I called Monday late afternoon to get an ETA. “Tuesday mid-morning”

If you’re at all experienced with frozen pipes, you know that it’s really important to deal with it proactively. ASAP. You wait and see if they thaw on their own, they will probably burst. And that’s exactly what happened Monday night. 3:30 a.m. I’m running through a maze of water showers in the basement to reach the pump to shut it off. Because where is the water shutoff? No one knows.  Great stuff.
Tuesday mid-morning comes and goes without seeing anyone. I notify them that the pipes had burst  . Tuesday around pm someone shows up. To see what they need to fix it. They’ll be back on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, we’re getting water from the town pump. I’m melting snow in a big pot on the wood stove and then filtering it through a colander to get the pinecones and sticks out for toilet flushing. When the toilet stopped flushing I assumed one of those buggers got past me and clogged it. Oh,no. That wasn’t it. The septic drain line turned out to be frozen solid as well. Most things in this house are set up wrongly and that was no exception. Part of the drain line is exposed outside to the elements, not buried correctly, so of course it would freeze. This is also the drain line for sinks so everything was backed up.

In all this time, the property management never once asked if we needed anything or offered to provide at least drinking water. I called the office at one point to get an update on repairs. They sounded annoyed and I said, “Listen, I just need to know if I need to go get more drinking water and water to wash up with.” The woman acted surprised. “Oh!” Like it was the 1st time she realized that frozen pipes mean the people living there don’t even have water to brush their teeth with. Ugh.

By Wednesday the house was disgusting. I won’t even go into all of that. The plumber fixed some of the pipes, just the ones going to the bathroom. “We’ll be back tomorrow”. Okie dokie.
The roto-rooter guy showed up finally to thaw the drain so we could have a fancy toilet that flushes. He’s the hero of this story, truly. He did have to cut a hole in the line to thaw it. Yes, this means we have potentially open septic line in our backyard. In that dude’s opinion though, there was no other way to handle it and it should have never been exposed like that in the 1st place.
Wednesday night we had a working toilet and could take showers! Hallelujah.

Thursday . No plumber showed up to finish the rest if the pipes. I called to see what’s up. The topic of our one month back rent came up, even though we’ve been in constant  touch with them and they were agreeable to waiting for payment when we got our tax return. I have that in writing.
They made a decision with the landlord to NOT fix the rest of the pipes. The toilet flushes. They made sure there’s running water in the bathroom. All done. Don’t need to do anything else.

One week later I’m washing dishes in the bathtub and my kitchen is in shambles. It’s mostly because after that long stretch without water, the dishes piled up and I’m still not caught up. We’re using paper plates and plastic cups as much as possible.
And I will have to take out a small loan to get laundry done at the laundromat.

Tell me how this decision to not make sure the whole house functions makes any sense? I would think they’d want it properly maintained and such?
We’re at a standoff, I suppose.  All of this is one more thing to document and notify proper people of. Tomorrow is payday and we’re going to attempt to buy needed materials and fix it ourselves with help from plumber-type friends.  Wish us luck.

Taxmas is around the corner. We’ll be looking for a new place to live once funds hit our bank account. I’m just done with these people.

Go away, Elsa

Today’s post is brought to you by the Doctor Who Christmas special, bountiful leftovers, and firewood.

This is the third day of frigid temperatures here. robinson hollowThis morning’s ‘feels like” temp is -10. I think it’s actually 4°.
The forecast says much of the same for days to come. I feel like the goats could really use some pajamas right now.
Indoor temp was barely 50° when I woke up at 5:30. Three hours later it’s 57°.

As if I didn’t have enough anxiety entering my dreamworld, I’m now having nightmares where we run out of firewood.

I have to leave the house this afternoon for a dr’s appointment, shopping, and library stop. It’ll be nice to be inside where it’s actually warm but while we’re out, the woodstove won’t be fed and the temp will drop inside again. How annoying.

robholI need a babysitter for the woodstove.

Despite the cold, I’m enjoying the school break with my offspring. Mostly with the older offspring who are home from college. The younger two are driving me, each other, and everyone else bananas. There’s plenty to do so it’s not entirely a matter of them being bored. I think they just enjoy being chaos creators. Their break can’t end soon enough. How did I ever home school?

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All photos by @mae.lillies

If we make it through December

Today’s post brought to you by my 7th graders lovely holiday chorus concert, a marvelous surprise in the mail from Rose, running water to clean up 7 year old’s vomit and cat puke, and new Patreon supporter Angie. 

Add this to the Killjoy Christmas playlist.

I feel ya, Merle.

I had thought today I could pay November rent but then did math this morning and realized paying the full amount would leave us $75 for gas and groceries until next Thursday  – during a week with kids home on break. That’s not going to work. I’ll pay part of it. Everything else is caught up except for rent! I’m calling that a somewhat-success.

 

Littlest kiddo home sick today and sad to be missing fun activities at school. Today’s activity was a Sun Welcoming Centerpieces for the Solstice. I’m delighted to see Paganism being practiced in public schools. Finally, my traditions are being honored en mass!
(It’s funny,right? Public schools are being very conscientious about not focusing on religious holidays but inadvertently using Pagan themes as substitute. I love it)
Anyway, since today is Yule and he’s home sick, we’ll make out own Sun Welcoming Baskets here. We don’t have much else planned. Husbeast is working evening shift tonight and older kids are busy with other things so having any sort of Yule celebration isn’t happening. Guess we’ll have to wait until that other day everyone gets off for their holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goats in pajamas

Today’s fluffier post is brought to you by a Christmas card from Laraine and her cats, paying half price for snowpants at Target plus getting an additional $10 off, sunshine, and, of course, my neighbor’s cute goats.

Random Internet goats in jammies

Our neighbors are raising goats. They’re frickin’ adorable. They make me do things like baaaaa at them and talk baby talk.
The other day I said to my fam, “I should make pajamas for the goats. They would look adorable in pajamas.”
My husbeast said that he didn’t think the goat farmer would like that idea.
Teen daughter though was on board with the idea and was thinking of it as a guerrilla operation.
“What we do is sneak over there Christmas Eve, dress all the goats in their jammies, and then the next morning the guy goes out there to feed them and is like, *WITH LOOK OF WONDER* ‘SANTA?!’ . Magic. ”

I promise I’m not guerrilla-pajama-sewing for the neighbor-goats. Promise.


Cold house update:

Unseasonably “warm” so it’s very comfortably warm inside. Now if I could figure out a way other than all the ways we’ve already done to retain that heat once the temp drops again!


 

Heaven knows I’m miserable now

Today’s post is made possible by inadvertently iced coffee, a nice down comforter my neighbor left on my doorstep a few weeks ago, and cats playing fetch with Nerf darts.

I’m so miserable right now that I’m basically a Morrisey song personified. I feel that whiny anyway.

It’s so cold and I can’t get the temperature inside to a decent place. I’m sitting by the woodstove and I can feel a draft coming from somewhere that feels like an actual breeze coming through the house. And not a warm one.

I’m having a very hard time being polite and courteous to the property manager when they’re asking about the rent. I’m so cold and we frequently don’t have running water so it’s harder than usual for me to stomach taking part in the tenant to owner wealth transfer process.

To date: November & December rent owed.

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I’m also sooooo tired. I have to get up every 2 hours to feed the woodstove whenever the temp drops into the teens and lower. The other night I slept through one alarm (or more like I must have shut it off and didn’t get up, I guess) and the indoor temp when I woke up was 48°.

I can’t see renewing the lease here because they keep raising the rent and it’s indecent to pay $1150/month to live like it’s 1820.
But then I know to not live like it’s 1820, I’m going to have to pay more anyway.

And now I’m done writing this because my fingers feel like they’re going to fall off. I need to find some fingerless gloves for typing.

Exhibit 1 of why I’m not allowed to be in charge of the holiday playlist

Today’s post is brought to you by generous supporter Marisa (thank you!), the little fake tree we got on Freecycle last year, and a string of red lights my Mom didn’t want anymore.

“Father Christmas , give us some money. Don’t mess around with those silly toys”

As my mother said at last year’s holiday gathering, “Oh,my lord. These songs are all so sad!”

Sorry, Mom. You raised a killjoy. I like my Christmas songs to have drunk and/or jobless dads and no chimneys Santa can come down.

Have yourself a merry merry Christmas, have yourself a good time.
But remember the kids who got nothin’ , while you’re drinkin’ down your wine

 

 

 

Ending November

I’m glad November is almost done even if I have no reason to believe December will bring me better things.
My seasonal depression showed up on time and was joined by that special poverty induced depression that comes with being two months behind on everything with no hope of a way out. I’ve dealt with seasonal affective disorder most of my adult life and have learned many ways of managing the symptoms so that I have a level of functionality. The added despair just overwhelmed all efforts of self care this month. I’m finding my way around it and out of it this week and feeling better but it was a doozy there for a bit. The self care aspect where I can make myself eat good things, take vitamin d, do light therapy, and avoid watching HGTV is helping a lot.
(HGTV is one of those terrible things I do when I’m depressed. At first it’s divine escapism but then I look around and remember that I had to cover a whole wall with plastic because the wind was literally blowing through it, it causes the rage-tears to come. AND I CAN’T STOP WATCHING EVEN AFTER THAT)

I don’t think enough people talk about the anger that happens when you’re depressed. I get stuck in the wheel of “am I angry because I’m depressed or am I depressed because I’m angry?”. It’s both. Vicious.

An article popped into my social media about how poor people are more likely to be depressed and tries to make the point that the reason poor people suffer from depression is because they lack access to mental health care. Ok, yeah that’s true but a lot of poor people wouldn’t even be depressed if they weren’t poor. OK? This is true and I’m angry about it. And I’m angry that when I say that, someone will always chastise me for thinking the answer to happiness is money . Which I do not think is true but goddammit, I WOULD BE A LOT FUCKING HAPPIER IF I WASN’T WORRIED ABOUT WHERE MY FAMILY IS GOING TO LIVE IF WE GET EVICTED IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER.
Jesus fucking christ.
Not everything is solved with thinking positively and manifesting your own happiness bullshit.
I actually have access to mental health care. I’m really fortunate but it’s frustrating that if I go to therapy, the goals in therapy will be to give to a set of tools to help me cope with rough days where the landlord tells us we have 3 days to pay rent or be evicted or a kid begging to join a club that costs $30 I don’t have. The goal will be for me not give up and quit. It’s a good goal but shit, it would just be easier on us poor people if we fix a shitty system that makes people feel desperate and sick.

So I’m angry about that a lot right now.

I hate the holidays but I guess having all my offspring home for the Turkey Day break did help me find some light.  We had a beautiful dinner that was thanks to my garden and the food pantry. We used my mother’s pretty china, which is now my china. My mom, always very pragmatic, began giving out her belongings a few years ago because “that’ll be less you have to deal with when I die.” . Now that seems like it would be depressing but it’s not to me. I think it’s incredibly thoughtful.

I was stunned to realize that there’s a waning chance that all my “kids” are guaranteed to be present and accounted for at the holidays. My oldest is graduating from park ranger school in the spring and who knows where he’ll be next holidays. My twins will be finishing college next year and won’t likely find their careers at home. Even my 16 year old is getting on with adulting and trying to graduate high school this year.  I know this is the sort of thing that a lot of parents get down about but it’s one thing that I feel good about. I didn’t have babies to raise babies. I wanted to grow them into people who could go out into the world and do good things and live happy lives. They’re doing good so far.
I’m not longing to hold on to the days where they’ll always be around me but the limited time did help me snap into the moment a but. It’s so hard. Depression makes everything foggy and floaty, so difficult to see clearly and be present. I had to summon my inner mongoose to fight off the beastly woes and hopefully I can keep that fight around.