Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Not to Register a Truck

Today is payday and today's task was getting the truck registered.

What a lesson in frustration. I went the first time about 4 weeks ago but needed the old registration which, apparently I had lost. I had to send to NH to get a replacement but didn't have the $15 to pay for it so had to wait. I finally made a sale on Etsy so used the money to send off for the duplicate.  It came yesterday.  I printed out the insurance form at my neighbor's (my printer is out of ink) and went to the DMV this morning to try again.

They told me I still needed more insurance and needed the insurance card - which, of course, I seem to have also lost. I didn't want to drive home (couldn't print and my neighbor is gone for the day anyway) so asked where the nearest library was. They gave me totally wrong directions and I ended up, after hunting for it for 30 minutes, driving back to Willis from Montgomery, about 20 miles, to use the library there.

 I almost burst into tears when THEY told me they didn't have change for the machine that runs the printer and I had to leave and find someplace to get change. Finally, I upped the insurance (the insurance company wants to hit me with almost $100 extra next month - not sure for what) and printed everything out and headed back. The woman at the DMV misread the insurance and was going to give me a hard time, but realized her mistake. I was about to lose it.

It cost a bundle - all the money I had to make a truck payment but I have shiny new plates and more papers. I'm home licking my wounds.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Recipes for Food Pantry Food

I'm not a cook, have never been interested in cooking, but I do like to eat. I'm reaching a food crisis though. It is becoming necessary for me to invent some new ways to use the same old ingredients. I'll be sharing some recipes as I discover them.

Food pantries are not all alike. Even in the New England towns I used to live in, there were differences. Some loaded you up with meat and cheese before doling out the canned goods. Some were canned goods only. Some had bread, but most did not. Some let you pick your own. That I loved. I didn't end up with 20 cans of my least favorite vegetables
Down here in Texas, the lines are longer and the bags are already filled. Everyone gets the same thing. I'm accumulating a closet shelf of food I don't particularly care for or have eaten so much of it, I'll gag if I eat it again.Two dishes I simply cannot face again are pasta and spaghetti sauce and rice and beans.

 Some months ago I had been keeping grated Parmesan cheese on hand. It seems to make everything taste better. I had ramen noodles which I was getting heartily sick of, but it is cheap. This time it was from the pantry along with chickpeas which I do like but not by itself.

I had a flash of inspiration. I discovered Ramen Noodle and Chickpea Soup.

I prepared a bag of ramen noodle by pouring hot water over it in a bowl and letting it sit for 5 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and sprinkle on grated cheese. Simple, filling and tasty!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Doc's Dilema

Doc's skin is looking worse than ever. I have $8 left until the next SS check. I can't take him to the vet or even get some tea tree oil for him. I've found it really does help. I can put a little oil in a shampoo and bathe him with it. If anyone wants to send me some let me know or donate with the donate button on the right. Doc will send you some wet, slurppy dog kisses.

Update 7/26/12
My gratitute to a generous person! I did get a donation to help us out and I did find a place that sells tea tree oil. Doc's skin already looks so much better. It will take time for the hair to grow in, but he's doing ok with a comb-over. The place smells like a pharmacy here...

NOW Foods Tea Tree Oil

Montgomery and Doc

 I took a ride this morning into Montgomery. I wanted to take some pictures of the old buildings there. The sun was on the wrong side of the street so I didn't get the ones I really wanted. Here's a sample though.

Now I'm having trouble staying awake. It hits me every other day like this. I just want to curl up with a book and fall asleep. I don't know why. I got plenty of sleep last night. Yesterday I was full of energy. I did my "house" cleaning and wrote a pretty involved article on spinning on a spinning wheel. It's not easy taking pictures of what your two hands are doing and snapping the shutter on the camera at the same time. 
 I'm almost out of coffee and am totally out of tea. I'm drinking plenty of cold water though. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Texas Sun

There is very little shade in this RV park. It's 5:00 and the the sun has been beating down on our metal campers all day. I feel like I can't breathe. I turned the air conditioner up but it just blows hot air. At least the air is dryer inside. Outside the humidity is 97%.  It's cooler on the floor since I put the fans down low. The dogs are not panting now. I'm afraid to leave them, though. If the power goes off again, it would be like leaving them in a car in the sun with the windows shut. They would die.
I sit in front of the air conditioner and try not to move anything but my fingers on the keyboard. It's too hot to even go to the back of the camper and lie down. I tried it. I was soaked in sweat. It will cool down a bit before long and I can take the dogs for a walk. They don't get out of the camper much. They pick up fleas if they try to get under the camper where it's cooler. I've been battling fleas and ants since we got here. I'm actually looking forward to winter. I've adjusted to that after 40 years in New England.
My neighbor got a new air conditioner that just has a hose for exhaust. She didn't have to take a window out to install it. It really works well. I don't think I'd have the room for it, but it's a great idea and does keep her camper cool. Her's looks something like this one.

Click on the image to find out more about it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Keeping Cool

Another thing that really helps keep the heat out, is not firing up the stove to cook, but cook outdoors. That would come right after having a tent. I don't have a hot water tank either so I have to heat water on the stove to bath or wash dishes. That definitely heats up the camper.
There's another advantage to having two cooking facilities. If one runs out of propane, you can always cook on the other one. Definitely an advantage when you don't know how much propane is left. Click on the image or click here to read more about outdoor cookers.
 This would be my first choice if I had the money. It has its own stand and is big enough for me to dye wool on. I won't be getting it any time soon though.

Most likely I'll get one of these. I've had several and they do work well. The only drawback is that it's a little harder to regulate the heat very precisely. It can be connected to a 20 lb. propane tank so it's economical that way. Click Here or click on the image to read more about these nifty little tabletop propane grills.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Tent or Two

One of the things that is in short supply down here in Texas is shade. As soon as I have a few extra dollars, I'm going to get a shade tent. It will give me some space outdoors that will look neater, keep things from getting rained on and give me a place in the shade. I've had big, pop up tents for my craft fairs, but I could make do with a cheap version since it wouldn't be put up and taken down several times a week. It will just stay there.

Here's a reasonably priced tent that would work well to keep the sun off. Click on the box to read more about it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Other Basic Necessities that a Less Affluent Person Might Need

There are other things a person living on the edge might need or want. Some are essentials, others just something to make life more comfortable.

Communication is often difficult. I avoid signing up for anything that results in a bill at the end of the month. I use a prepaid phone.
The phone itself is very inexpensive, especially for the basic model without any bells and whistles. I’ve always used TracFone for its availability. Almost every gas station carries a phone card for them. They are easy to use if not the most economical. I don’t talk on the phone much and don’t make casual calls. I have a phone mostly for emergencies. Texting, however, is cheaper on this phone than an actual call. I use that more often.

There are fancier models and all sorts of discounted cards that would make a super gift. Click on the boxes to read more about TracFone and minute cards.

When you’re out of spare change, you don’t get to do laundry. Fortunately, living in an RV park, I do have electricity. Some years ago I bought a little table top washing machine. It works great. I can’t believe how clean it gets my clothes. It has a couple of drawbacks though. One is that it only holds a few items. I have to do a wash every day and don’t get down far enough to get to things like sheets. The other is that this model has no drain. You have to dump the water out. It does have holes in the top so that the clothes stay in the bucket. It’s great for emergencies, but gets pretty tiresome.

   This one has a drain hose      

I'll be highlight more things that can make life better for someone  living on the edge. It doesn't have to be all gloom and doom. The way out is upward and onward.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Last on the Essential List - Clothing

Maybe we don't really need clothes, in the summer at least, but it's better to stay out of jail by wearing them. Besides, you wouldn't want innocent people to go blind, now would you?

I've never been a follower of fashion. I'll wear just about any old thing, but sometimes I do want to be neat and presentable. The only thing is, even if I had the money to go clothes shopping, I HATE SHOPPING. I try to get in, grab what I need and get out as fast as possible. Shopping actually makes me dizzy. (The one exception to this is the hardware store)

Lately, however, shopping hasn't been an issue because I haven't had any disposable income to buy clothes with. My friends have been giving me their cast offs and that works pretty well, when, and if, my friends are the same size. I have a lot of shorts and pants I have to hold up with safety pins and a belt.

There are free clothes closets here and there, usually run by a church. They are great, but you have the same issue with shopping. At least you don't have to check out. Other places to get cheap clothes is at something like a Salvation Army or Goodwill. The only thing I am a little squeamish about is used underwear and shoes.

Shoes can be another whole bag of worms. Sizes vary from brand to brand and people's feet are so unique. My feet have always been large and have spread another half size in my old age. I rarely can find my size in a cheap shoe store unless I buy a man's shoe. I can't wear anything with a cheap dye. I'm allergic to it. If the shoes have a thin mesh toe, my big toe will be poking through in a matter of days. I don't like shoes in the summer that are too hot but I want something I can walk and run in. I'm not too picky.

 I found my perfect summer sandal  - Keen Women's Whisper Sandal - and I'm listing it here just in case anyone wants to send me a pair (size 10.5) <grin>

Clothing is so personal, that it is a good candidate for a gift card. Amazon has some nice ones.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shelter - My Story

Like many people, when I was younger I lived in apartments. I've had neighbors leave candles burning which started fires, leave pipes to freeze so that the water to the building was shut off and it would stay off for weeks before the landlord would attend to it. I've listened through walls to child abuse. I've had landlords accuse me of damage that was already there when I moved in. I really grew to dislike apartment living.

I always wanted my own little homestead.One day I gave up apartments to move into a cabin on a friend's land. It did have electricity, but no plumbing, and a wood stove for heat. I had a job so I was able to buy firewood to stay warm. I managed to save some money and after a year or two I rented a house. That was another fiasco. The friend who got the house for me, I later learned, didn't own it. He was wheeling and dealing. The rent kept going up until I had to move. I was asked by an acquaintance to come to New Hampshire and live with  her elderly mother in a mobile home so off I went. After the mother passed away, I rented the home for a while, but the daughter had no interest in maintaining it. After notifying her about the condition of the wiring, sure enough, there was an electrical fire. My dogs were ok but it was traumatic. And it was my first night of true homelessness.

My sister sent me enough money to buy a little 17-ft camper. I had a friend with an 80-acre horse farm who let me rent a parking space. I went through several jobs before finding one that paid well and I thought, was secure. I managed to buy a little house on an acre of land and thought I was in heaven. I had sheep and goats and a garden. I had room to set up my weaving loom and work. I could have friends over.

Then the bottom fell out. Businesses were closing. My company went under after laying everyone off. I lost my house and my truck. I was facing homelessness again. I managed to get a car and another friend gave me a loan to buy a really cheap 25 ft. camper trailer. It's a 1969 model with a lot of problems. The water reservoir has been removed and water pipes cut. I never could get the heater or the oven to work although the stove top works fine. The electricity worked for a while but finally gave up. The toilet snapped off after about a week. There are holes in the floor. but it's mine!

For a year or so I parked it in another acquaintance's driveway, but that soon got uncomfortable. I decided to move back to Texas where the winter's are easier. I can put up with heat better than shoveling snow now. I won't go repeat what I've already written about the trip, but here I am living in an RV park and it's not bad for now. I'd like to be on my own land again someday, but at least I'm not homeless.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First on the List

I've written an article on the move down here. I wrote another article on camper living here too. If you don't know the story, you can read up on it or just keep checking in and I'll be putting bits and pieces in as I go. Right now, I'm starting with today.

I've been on pretty hard times since the move. I wasn't all that affluent before the move but I gave up a little part time job to relocate and that hurt. I thought I would write a little about what to give a friend or relation that might be in a similar situation.

 Depending on the living situation, and with little money it usually isn't too luxurious, space is often at a premium. I'm living in a 25-foot camper and don't have room for knick-knacks or ornamental gifts. What most people on hard times need is, more or less in this order, food, shelter and clothing.

Food is a daily requirement. When I run out of food, it becomes an obsession. I don't want candy or cakes, I want real food! Taking food to a friend in need is never an empty gesture. Taking a box of chocolate might  less  appreciated unless they are a chocolate fiend. I am not. That doesn't mean that I don't love sweets, but not too much of it.

If you are going to take food, consider what might be most needed. If your friend is going to a food pantry, or gets food stamps, they will not be getting some items like paper products, soap, detergent, dish soap, dish rags, sponges, cleaner, dog food, cat food and the like. Don't assume that if you take a few ingredients, that your recipient will have what is needed to make a meal. Hamburger helper is pretty bad without the hamburger. Don't take mixes that need baking if the person doesn't have a working oven.

Food pantries hand out a lot of canned goods, corn, green beans, canned carrots and  lots of dry beans, rice, and noodles.  What they lack is something to make this into a tasty meal. A good spaghetti sauce with grated cheese and some sausage or hamburger makes dry noodles into a great meal.

 Keep in mind that with limited food resources, pasta soon grows old, so anything else sometimes is a great treat. Things I don' t get to eat often, and I love is pizza, chicken, fried or otherwise, fresh salads and dressing, fresh fruits and vegetables and anything with mayonnaise. I rarely get to buy eggs, cheese, juice, tuna or other canned meats. It's a struggle sometimes to buy butter and  milk and I'm a confirmed milk drinker, in or out of my coffee. Oh, and don't forget, generally food pantries don't hand out coffee or tea either.

 If you aren't near enough to take food personally, there are gift boxes and baskets and cards to just about every store. You'd have to know which stores are nearby or buy a prepaid credit card. If you want to give them more of a treat, here's some I wouldn't mind getting. Remember that the cards will be useless unless there is a place nearby to use them. And the higher priced the food, the less you can buy with them. I personally would rather go to a place like Subway and buy more food, than a fancy restaurant and buy less.