Life |No Money November

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I was thinking the other day about how November is the worst but I realized I say that about most months. Not usually summer months. The bad months tend to end in “brrr” or have the weather that is brrr.

Winter is informally here. Weather doesn’t care about calendar dates. I cringe when I hear the furnace kick on, hoping there’s enough in the fuel tank to keep us warm until HEAP helps out. I might have to have fuel delivered before we get HEAP. It’s a minimum delivery of 150 gallons=to around $575 so I’m trying toIMG_0328 (2) hold off. The heat is turned to minimum comfort & I’ve turned the trailer into a winterized cocoon. I could have paid for fuel if I had a dollar for everytime I said to someone, “Put a sweater on! Where are your slippers?”.

I really hate being cold so trust me,kiddos, this isn’t because I like it. And remember that last place we lived that was probably a Truman Show like social experiment to see if a modern day family could live in 1820? This is loads better.

Hand-me-downs have made it so that the only winter clothing I’ll have to get is boots for the smallest one. He has little Timberlands ($3 at a yard sale!) but he really should have regular winter boots.I tried to take advantage of a BOGO sale at Payless Shoes this past weekend and they had no boots. The salesperson said, “Well, we might get some in the next few weeks.” Might? You’re a shoe store in the frozen tundra of upstate NY. You should start putting boots in stock in September,silly.

Fortunately-unfortunately, my husbeast has been getting a lot of overtime hours so we should at least have funds to go buy non-BOGO deal boots this week.

I say unfortunately because he’s stressed, sore, and tired. Also, we did reapply for SNAP and got approved but it’s only $59 for the month because they were looking at the OT. I made zero dollars the last few months while recovering from my health nonsense, otherwise I’m sure we’d have been denied. In January, husbeast gets a 50¢/hour raise. I’m guessing for sure we won’t qualify anymore. Although maybe without the overtime,we might? I guess we’ll see. I hate the uncertainty of the safety net.

This area – the space where teetering income that keeps us from qualifying for assistance and from actually being enough to make all the ends meet – this is the scariest place to be. We’ve been here before. We’ve risen just above it at times only to fall below it again and again. This is where the most instability always is. It’s scary as fuck.

 

[this post brought to you by my new-to-us free refrigerator and a five day visit from my NYC-living daughter]

Chop your way to a solid core

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I absolutely just ripped that title from a men’s health mag but I’m seriously considering also making it the title of a Craiglist help wanted post.

People pay a lot of money for fitness programs and personal trainers,right? Why not save money and just come get a workout at my house splitting firewood? Plus, you get to leave feeling good that you’ve done something to help someone out.

I can spin this.

So far we have split and stacked about one face cord. I just want it all split and stacked so I can see how much wood we actually have. It’s hard to tell right now.

Jan 5: Yays,Boos,and Goals

Here’s what’s happening in our world.

Starting with the bad stuff….

BOOS

  • We’re late with the rent because we had to pay car insurance
  • We had no water from Friday night until Saturday afternoon. I lived in a house without running water once and forgot how much I love running water and indoor plumbing.
    melting snow on the woodstove for toilet flushing

    Eventually, I figured out that it was a small issue with the pump and fixed the problem myself which was a super good thing since I called the landlord’s rental agency, left a message for the “on call emergency” person ( a person took the message, not a machine) and here it is Tuesday and never have heard a word back. I suppose I should have called them to say I got the water running again but I was honestly curious to see how well they respond to issues. I think they failed that test and now I don’t feel as bad about being late with rent.

  • THIS:   Ok, I LOVE my boys but I did not enjoy winter break at all. Not only was there never (well,hardly ever) peace, it’s so hard to work at home and have kids home from school. It’s not like you can really get a lot of work done, which of course adds to stress and frustration when you really have to be making money.
  • Winter showed up. I was just kinda boasting yesterday morning about how awesome I did at winterizing and how toasty warm it was inside but I didn’t wait for the temperature to drop low enough. Holy Elsa, it’s fuh-reeeezing in here. Wood stove roaring and the temp this morning inside is barely 60. It’s the wind. If the wind isn’t blowing, it’s fine.

YAYS

  • Well, running water was welcomed back. I will never under appreciate it again  
  • I just complained about winter break but we actually did manage to have some good fambly time. We had some good movie nights ( thank you , library), baked( banana bread,of course), played games, and general fun stuff. We made these birdfeeders from my out of control dishes-to-craft-with stash  that I’ve acquired from free piles and yard sales to use for mosaics and various crafty stuff.

    the chickadees love it
  • Food pantry food. Seriously. What would we be eating without it? I guess a pluckier gal would use some of her thrifted tea cups to start an indoor garden!
  • The boys went back to school. I can get back to work. HALLE-effing-lujah
  • My ex (my twins’ dad) bought us a pallet of Envirobricks. With our wood supply running low, this will help a lot. So far, I think they’re awesome and I’m noticing that the bricks are definitely more efficient than the wood. img_1770

GOALS THIS WEEK

  1. pay rent ,obviously
  2. Figure out how to not have garbage. Not even kidding. We have to pay $18 a month for garbage plus $10 for a sheet of garbage tags that go on each garbage can. We barely have any garbage. We compost and recycle everything we can so all of our actual garbage is packaging and the few things that cant be reused or recycled somehow. I want to cut that $18+ out of my budget entirely (I didn’t even pay that bill last month,actually)
  3. Stay warm. Keep stalking all the drafts with non-expanding spray foam and scraps or rags. Make some more draft dodgers for along the floorboards? I don’t know what else I can do. Doorways are covered with drapes or blankets. Windows sealed with vinyl. Just so much ugh
  4. Figure out what to make with this.img_1944 Garlic Piastra? Even Google didn’t help me much. I asked my oldest son because he knows a ton about food plus works at a food bank in another city and he had no idea either. The best I can figure it it’s a dry seasoning for a rub or marinade?  Yay,flavor! I’m nearly out of every herb and spice in my pantry. My Taxmas shopping list looks ridonkulous. I will buy a year supply of ginger if someone doesn’t stop me.
  5. See if we can do our taxes ,like,now. I need Taxmas to be here.

 The Whiny Cold House Blog

[Content Notes: winter, home energy bills, HEAP, seasonal affective disorder, keeping poor people poor]

via my twitter. I will try my best to not make this happen here.For anyone not familiar with Cold House Journal, check it out here
. Even if you’re not trying to figure out how to cut heating bills, it’s fascinating to read about people living in a cold house on purpose. 

I am a winter hater. As I mentioned on my last post, I have a hard time with winter . Part of this has to do with seasonal affective disorder. The other part is just that I hate being cold . HATE. Loathe .Despise.

I’ve spent the last month trying to make our 1825 rented homestead as winterproof as possible. Just when I think I have all the cracks and holes stuffed or plasticked over or covered with an old blanket,   a strong wind will blow outside and I’ll feel another area that needs attending to.  There are drafty spots where I clearly feel air blowing at interior walls even. Maybe a freemason built this house and behind the walls are hidden chambers for masonic rituals.  Not cool, imaginary freemason dude. It’s hella cold in this house.

BUT only when the wind blows. Otherwise, the woodstove keeps the house pretty toasty.

Back in September, we found out that we would have to heat only with the woodstove and it has literally taken us this long to get organized enough to get a supply of wood. Remember how we were told we could not get HEAP for wood? That was not technically true. If there is no other source of heat in the house, you can use HEAP for wood. But that doesn’t mean it was easy to use HEAP for wood either. (disclaimer: this is my experience here. Elsewhere it might be different)

First we were given a list of wood vendors who accept HEAP. It is fairly easy for someone who sells wood to accept HEAP but not everyone does it.  Calling through the list was frustrating. I’d either hear that they didn’t have wood, they have wood but not seasoned, they have wood but they won’t deliver… or if they would deliver, we were out of their delivery range and wanted to charge quite a bit. Then I found, “Yes, we have wood and we’ll deliver but it’ll be a bazillion dollars for less than a cord of wood.

FYI: Less than a cord of wood isn’t going to get us far in NY winter. Also, less than a cord of wood should not cost a bazillion dollars. Interestingly, if I checked this company’s wood prices for non-HEAP customers, they were way less than a bazillion dollars. Clear price gouging to low income folks. Nice job,guys.

(No, it wasn’t really a bazillion dollars but might as well have been)

Basically,there’s a certain amount we’re granted for HEAP and if we had gone with one of these wood vendors, they would have taken our entire HEAP benefit and given us very little wood.

So, we decided to have our HEAP applied to our electric bill (we have one bedroom in the house that is kind of separated from everything else and stays cold, so we’re using an electric space heater in there and also in the dining room because it’s actually an enclosed porch )  and found a local guy on craigslist who just sells wood as a hobby. $150 for 2 face cord. Delivered. It will last for a bit before we need to hunt down someone else with wood.

Yay, we got wood.
Yay, we got wood. It’s all stacked nice and neat now.  It’s a little weird how much I LIKE to stack wood. 
I’ll also be really honest here and tell you that I have an inner 12 year old who could not help but find it hilarious every time I had to ask a guy over the phone if he had wood and if yes, could he deliver. Ok,maybe not hilarious but amusing. I was amused. It’s the little things that help me through.

 

Also, an acquaintance who lives in the area has been trying to clear trees from his property to make an actual yard and do landscaping. He offered it to us for free as long as we could haul it away. Some of it’s still green and needs to season but it’ll be a good source.

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Our cute little 2 door car wishes it were a rough and tough pick-up truck so we do everything we can to make it’s dreams come true. We can cram quite a few logs in there with the back seat down.

The good news is that I’m not AS nervous about winter as I was back in September.We aren’t going to freeze. High five to the man with wood who could deliver.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter is Coming

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Welp. Looks like this is what we’re heating the house with this winter. I haven’t named it yet. Does anyone else name inanimate-yet-productive things that are a daily part of your life? No judgement. I do it. If people think I’m squirrely because of it, that’s their problem.

So,yeah. She’ll need a name.

There’s a brand new propane furnace here but when we called to set up an account w/ the fuel company, they ran a credit check which went like you might expect for us. Since we got a big 0 on that credit check, the company requires a $600 deposit . That is absolutely not going to happen.

So, wood it is then!

It is such a scary,scary thought to be in this situation where we couldn’t set up an account with the fuel company and NOT have this wood stove as a backup.

I’m nervous. This house is wonky as hell. The main part was built in 1825. That corner you see in the pic up there is most definitely mostly original brick from where the fireplace and hearth would have been. It has been added to over the years. You can tell that parts of other buildings and houses were used to make the changes. It’s an upcycled house all the way. I call it The Frankenhouse.  The windows are kind of a nightmare and I am already planning on buying 80 rolls of plastic at Lowe’s to make them less nightmarish. Obviously, no insulation either. Except some spray foam insulation in weird cracks and places around windows.

As I said before, I LOVE this house and property but there are a lot of issues that explain why the rent is affordable for us. This really was the best option for us. Actually, it was the only option.

The good news is we qualify for HEAP and they will help us get a couple cords of wood delivered before it gets cold (usually mid-to-late October is when I absolutely have to turn the heat on) and the rest won’t be so hard to stockpile from local people who sell firewood.  I hope. I’m crossing my fingers this winter isn’t as awful as last winter.

Next thrift shop trip: Blankets and big,bulky sweaters!