12 hours

feeder1That’s how long I lasted…which to be fair was pretty good for me cause by 6 am on the 1st day, I had fantasized about spending quite a bit of money.  At 3 am it was 1 degree outside…and I was awake of course…so I went down the basement with the Infared thermometer One of my favorite things. The basement is not insulated, and about 43 degrees overall. the actual cinder blocks were about 32.  So that’s not good, but it’s not as bad as I was expecting.

While in the basement I tossed the laundry into the drier and found that I SHOULD have bought more stain treatment spray but had forgotten to put it on the list. So, now it’s on the new shopping list ..along with Barkeepers Friend..for when I absolutely HAVE to go to a store.

Another snow storm is coming tomorrow, so I added a snow blower on my wish list…for next winter of course. I have SO many things on THAT list, it’s not funny to joke about. I thought i was keeping up with the snow fall, though the driveway is getting narrower and narrower, I can’t manage to chuck what I am shoveling UP and over what I already shoveled.

Also on the TO PURCHASE list for the last week are snowshoes, used ones from the Portland Gear Hub. I wouldn’t have bothered even putting them on the list, not recreationally…but my entire yard is hip deep in snow…and I haven’t dug out the back door at all.  It’s hard enough to keep up with the driveway. So basically if I need to get into the shed or even if i wanted to fill the squirrel feeder, i would need snowshoes. Luckily right now I devised a way to fill the feeder from the porch window but i had to cannibalize my broom handle cause all the SPARE broom handles are in the bloody shed.

glovesSki gloves have been on my TO Purchase list for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t find a reasonably priced pair that fits. In December I HAD bought a pair of used Obermeyer women’s SMALL gloves for about $15 – which is a reasonable price, I think they go for about $40 new. But they had turned out to be too small even for me, so I regifted them. I have been looking everyplace for CHEAP waterproof warm gloves, and finding nothing.  I dreaded being forced to go to EMS or something to try to find a pair I can wear, as I know the price for new would be prohibitive. So for weeks I have been conveniently forgetting to buy new gloves. After I heard about the oncoming snowstorm tomorrow I poked my nose into ebay again, and there again were one pair of Mediums for $15, so I pulled the trigger.  They won’t be here for tomorrow but at least this way I can stop going into stores needlessly.

Yes, I have penalized myself appropriately ONE DAY, and added $18 to my list of budgetary crimes.  I am not sure if this exercise will end up saving me money all around, since I have already purchased a number of things I would have ended up purchasing later in the month.  But hopefully  by eliminating what i was going to buy anyway from the playing field, it will let be SEE what filters through the cracks and identify the things I really shouldn’t have bought if I had thought about it.  Ski Gloves in Maine?  a no brainer.

scavenger hunt

2015-01-30 13.20.31-2I feel like I am doing a scavenger hunt….before Monday, I’m trying to collect all the items I may NEED to buy in the next month.  I know it’s ridiculous and extreme and very OCD to do it this way. Why bother? I’m a grown up and no one’s keeping score, it’s not like i’m going to be prevented from getting these things later.  I think it just makes it more fair and easier to judge if I completely abstain from going INTO stores to get just that one thing.  WHY give myself the headache? we both know I have ABSOLUTELY no self control.  So I have unloaded quite a bit of money so far… shampoo, excedrin, cat litter, new charge cable for the iphone.   Mind you I DO HAVE extra cat litter and dry cat food for that matter, but it is under about 20 cubic feet of snow right now, so let’s not talk about it.   I don’t have near enough wet cat food for the month, both of the places I could get it were bare. So I ordered it from Dollar tree and I will collect at the store when it comes in which should be in 10 days when I run out. That works, right?

2015-01-30 18.54.42I also confess to doing a little preemptive spontaneous shopping.  There were a couple of books teetering on the edge of my shopping basket, not expensive ones… but I had cleared the decks so to speak.  After I ordered a couple of chrome latches for the kitchen cupboard.  I deleted nearly everything in my ebay watch list, and turned off all my searches, even the craigslist ones, ‘cept for the FREE local item category – of course.

But one of my very favorite things leapt to its death tonight – and I absolutely HAD to replace it.   I hadn’t realized I used this pitcher for everything, watering the fish, cats and plants etc. .. it was JUST RIGHT, you know?….so i replaced it exactly for $20 plus shipping…even though it originally cost me $3.  But it is one of my ‘rules’ that if I lose something I that ACTUALLY use i am allowed to replace it with the EXACT same thing….I  had to make that rule…cause what used to happen was that i would find an inexpensive replacement and not like it as much, so i find ANOTHER one and so forth and end up with three of something I DON’T use. Hey, it sounds like a   rationalization but it actually WORKS for me.  I am maintaining my equilibrium of STUFF.

IMG_0024Speaking of STUFF, I am letting go of 1693 Sophocles… hey, I’m a book SELLER, RIGHT?… Besides it was lonely  – turns out a buddy of mine HAS a 1693 Nostradamus…from the same publisher…and look at it…SAME bookbinder!, now that’s serendipitous right?   I think I gave him a good price – I feel comfortable and he snapped it up.  I WANT to see a picture of both of them side by side.   So that should replace some of the money I just pissed away.   Easy come, easy go.

 

 

Frugal February

2015-01-28 18.02.12So, I got this idea – about creating a “Frugal February” for myself…… I tried looking around on the internet, yeah I did find a few references to the phrase, but nothing so big I could sink my teeth into it.  So I decided to invent it myself – something BIG and challenging… if I fail, I fail, no big…if it works, then perhaps I can carry some habits out of February forward into March etc…

My idea is this. To spend as absolutely little as possibly for the entire Month.  It’s a short month, whats the worse that could happen? Okay, Utility bills are excluded.  And after I fill the tank on the first, gas will be  also excluded if I manage to go through it, but I will be watching my mileage.   Also excluded are things work related…for me that’s like restocking products and packing tape and stuff.  I would have said the pet supplies are excluded, but I think I have that down to a once a month shop anyway.

And the 1st thing I did when I got this great frugally money saving idea?  I went bloody shopping…yeah that’s how my brain works.   I MADE A LIST.. I swear I made a list… and I took a quick trip to you know where, and bought ONLY what was ON the list..mostly.   Anything I may run out of during the month…bleach, squirrel food, raisin brain, flour… etc.. the only thing not really on the list were rocks for the fish tank.

2015-01-28 19.10.58I really do have my ‘shopping’ down to a dull science, most of the spontaneous spending I do during the month is food related, stopping at a nice market for bread and meat, pr like chinese buffet takeout…. then there are the thriftshop trips…which I will admit I am really never gonna stop doing.  On the way to get the groceries I manage to drop about $30 dollars on what amounts to a handful of books and a box of frames and a really nice shopping bag.   In my own defense ONE of the books was 322 years old and worth about the same amount in dollars.   Another book is a nice little novel worth about $100, so as long as I am not buying actual CRAP, I think I feel good about this expenditure.  But seeing as how it will be Frugal February starting Monday, I will abstain from all spontaneous spending.

That also includes what I call Drunk shopping, though I am rarely drunk when I do it…or ever.  When i cruise the internet to see what is out there I might like.  That’s how I ended up spending $5 dollars here and there on cute little art for my cute little frames.  Or $10 for a book, because my TO BE READ pile isn’t high enough.  Or even MUCH more money for a first edition of a book that I love for my bookcase.  There will be none of that for the entire month… in fact I will need to come up with a penalty. ….how about for any spontaneous spending I have to donate an equal amount to a charity?  I dunno if that is in the spirit of Frugal February…or perhaps for every day I fall off the wagon I have to ADD one more day on the back end? that sounds much more painful.

There are still a few days left in January to work this thing out.  Tomorrow I will be picking up cat litter and squirrel peanuts at the co-op. And I am wracking my brain to remember if there is anything I MAY need during the Month that i need to lay in before Monday.  I picked up extra Nyquil in case I get sick and there is CERTAINLY enough food in the house to last many Frugal Fridays, though I may have to start eating things from the bottom of the freezer and the back of the cupboard. …I bought more canned sardines just in case.

I may have to break my vow and buy some lettuce and stuff in the middle of the month, that stuff NEVER lasts more than week if you don’t eat it.   The best way I know how to NOT spend money is to stay out of the stores, so, I bought a lot of flour, I will be making a lot more bread than i have since I moved here. Which was a goal I had anyway.  Hmm..i really should eat up some of the freezer to make room for all the baked goods.

 

snow forts

snowy1It’s not the 28 inches I minded….it was the drifts. Both doors of the house had 4 foot drifts in front of them…and the front door opens OUT. I don’t even want to talk about the eight foot pile of snow on top of the porch box with the extra cat litter and cat food in it. If i dug it out I have nearly no where for that snow to go…ok, WHEN i dig it out. I knew I would be late for work, i just didn’t know HOW late. I started digging at about 9am and didn’t make it until 11:30. So much snow and no place to put it. YES I MOVED HERE ON FREAKING PURPOSE.
snowy3

I seem to be the only person on the block who digs themselves out with a shovel.  The old biddies have services come and blow them and everyone else kinda blows themselves.  Yes I mean that like it sounded.  It would be nice if someone offered once in a while, I’m not saying all the time. But what the city plow put in front of my truck was sinful.  I calculated it to be someplace around 35 cubic feet JUST in front of the truck.

I shudder to think was i shifted getting up to the porch. It was well over the mailbox.  But i cleared it and a good amount of the porch just in time to put out my mail….which didn’t GET picked up, since for the there was no mail delivery…WHY i don’t know, the roads were fine. Yes I freely admit, if I didn’t have a cockamamie part time job to go to, i would have let that snow linger as long as reasonably possible and dicked around at my leisure getting rid of it. But there’s MORE SNOW COMING in the next few days, and I DO have that editorial meeting tomorrow, so sooner or later it would have had to get shifted and the sun was out today.

Yes, I moved here DELIBERATELY.

sbnowy2

its a fluffy world

DSC00777 AND it’s still coming down. I had to stick my arm out the window in the cellar stairwell to get these. And I have a serious feeling I am going to have to dig my way out the BACK door, just to get to the front door.  And boy o boy am i glad i installed a back door.   The south side of the house has all these snow drifts..like the one on my porch that is now way over my head.  to be fair, there’s that box underneath with the extra cat litter underneath. I am actually kinda wishing i had bought some of those used snow shoes they were selling down at the gear hub… yes i added them to my list with Mr Heater. Didn’t think i would NEED Snow shoes I figured they were purely a recreation thing.

DSC00776 I can’t reach the snow shovel since the damn storm door opens OUT…but i have a shovel inside the back door…chalk that up to one of my better purchases..along with those 55 gallon wheeled trashcans…love them, you have no idea. there have been squirrels at the feeder almost all day, during the worst of the snow.. i can’t explain it, i suppose they can’t reach their hidden treasures, i refilled it a little from the window, i need to get a cup on a pole set up that can do that better, sometimes more ends up on the ground….snow….when i do that. I will fill it better when the snow stops. I suppose if i didn’t have a feeder they’d be in their nest like they should be. my bad.

backdoor With all this snow, i am actually wondering if i will dig myself out in time to GO to work tomorrow. yeah I know if i can make it to the truck I can get there…i parked the truck close enough to the street where that’s not a problem. But i really should dig out the house, mail, fire, safety and all that jazz.

I was worried about the exhaust for heating system on the north side of the house, i was wondering if i needed to get over to that side and dig it out… I checked on it in the basement and saw that cellar window clear of snow and the steam happily billowing out just like burning money. Also like burning money, I found SNOW in the basement…turns out when i was trying to seal up all the cracks and open areas everywhere i could, i missed a spot BEHIND the panel where the heating system is mounted.  or rather THEY MISSED A SPOT.   If I had to guess, I’d say there never were any cinder blocks there, just cardboard and what i can ONLY HOPE is actual plywood behind it.  I can’t reach too far, so all i could do is cut a strip of pink insulation and jamb it down there as far as possible.  Now I am wondering if i need to hire the plumber to come and take down the panel so i can FIX this entire fiasco.  How the fuck did anyone LIVE IN THIS HOUSE BEFORE?  I swear the house was NOT ATTACHED to the foundation, not in any reasonable sense of the word.  It leaks heat like a goddamn sieve.

DSC00784

Can’t do anything about that until the snow’s gone. I need to filled that entire area with something more solid than pink fluff. right now i am thinking of two by fours, wrapped in mountains of Insulation foam in a can. I shudder to think about how much heat I am losing upstairs with that damn chimney. it’s like having a big snow filled hole right down the center of the house.  THAT’s going to be a problem for next winter.

Actually i keep thinking of what would have happened if i hadn’t added the backdoor on to the house…i’d have to try to crawl out one of the 19″ porch windows fully dressed for winter.  They would find me suffocated to death ass end up – planted face first into a 5 foot snow drift.  God that would make a hell of an  obituary photo.

winter’s coming

2015-01-24 10.14.16I fucked up…..I pissed away a lot of money this winter on books and frames and art supplies, and put off buying what I really needed…that Propane Space Heater for the living room. I guess I had been figured the snow storms we had been getting here were pretty mild, and I would buy it NEXT MONTH, or even NEXT YEAR. I just kept putting it off…and it’s not even THAT much money relatively…88 bucks for the Mr Heater, another $40 for hoses and filter, and i dunno how much for a tank of propane these days… I just didn’t THINK ABOUT IT…and for someone as detail oriented as I am…hey…look i got my little camp stove, i can make a cup of luke warm tea…what the fuck was I thinking? Lesson learned…next fat check i get, Mr Heater gets delivered.

That’s my intention, though I just got last months gas bill and a nice little poll from the city assessors office asking how many square feet of my house is finished and how many bathrooms I got.  So there’s already a LINE ahead of Mr. Heater for any monies that come my way.  But strangely for the 1st time I’m not all that worried…yeah i would have been better if I had a much larger chunk of change in the bank..but it will work out.

If I really want something to worry about ,  there is a huge MOFO of a storm coming our way or so they tell us.   No I wasn’t one of the million lemmings racing to the grocery store for the loaf of bread that will save me from the coming storm.   I snuck over at my leisure very late last night…and came home with important things…like wine..and rootbeer and a couple of chops which I put in to make a Cassoulet….I had already MADE bread..and have about 10 quarts of shelf stable milk, and cat food and food food and toilet paper.. THAT kind of stuff I always have.  I figured out  a while ago, that that kind of stockpiling has less to do with weather emergencies and more to do with financial ones.  I am always ready for that DOWN turn in income…like …well SUMMER, when I may not have the $20 bucks for a bag of catfood etc..

2015-01-25 15.52.31 The place where i work in the morning will be open tomorrow storm or no…and it’s actually within walking distance…so we will see what the weather brings. It would be a shame to get hit by a car walking to a part time job. The other women I work with won’t be there, they are much more sensible. I just don’t like to call in unless I am dead.  The appointment I had to meet with the folks who may actually HIRE me as an editor was moved from Wednesday to Thursday…just in case . But even that’s only 20 minutes away down ONE road.   It sure is cozy here in Maine.

My real estate agent called tonight to see how i was getting on… that was nice of her…aside from asking about the house and the job, she asked me if i made any friends. I had to think about it…sure i meet people, but not really on that level…I told her the kid who works at the place where I repair bikes.  Which is essentially true…but indeed she’s a kid and i’m old enough to be her mother, so that sort of makes her an acquaintance right? at my age, it’s making NEW friends out of wholecloth takes a lot of work, and some luck. It’s not really something I walk out of the door meaning to do.  …i dunno where i’m going with that, it was just an unexpected question..i guess something like your parole officer or psychiatrist would ask.

With these winter storms you DO get to meet your neighbors.  Everyone’s out shoveling and shooting the shit….at the last house, if i didn’t have anywhere to go which was MOST of the, time I didn’t bother shoveling myself out.  The Mail carrier could reach the box and I wasn’t expecting company… here I feel guilty if he has to slog up the driveway through snow.  I suppose if i had a box at the street I wouldn’t dig myself out until it was time to go to work.  But I get out anyway and shovel myself out and wave at the neighbors and say hi to the folks who have walkable dogs. I suppose if I let the snow accumulate now, they’d think the cats had started eating my eyeballs.  Winter’s coming…buckle up.

location location location

2015-01-25 13.32.07 It was about 40 today… that crisp sunny winter day, when you can go outside in a t-shirt to shovel snow off the truck. There’s more snow coming tomorrow or next, so i filled the squirrel feeder and shoveled the edges of the driveway. While I was out there, that nagging thought came back that two years or ten years ago, i couldn’t have seen myself standing in my own yard in MAINE no less. I am not sure about one year ago…i think the visions of getting a new life were the only thing that kept me going last year. For 5 months now I keep expect to do a look back at last years posts and compare and contrast…i was going to do it on the day i closed on the house, then the day i moved in, then the day the porch was done…then my birthday etc… as it happens i can’t bear to scroll back and read last years posts…not yet… I’m doing extra good distancing myself from all that guff. if I dwell on who did what to whom and how I drifted through the 1st 50 years of life ‘waiting’, i will get all tangled up inside my head again. I really can’t say ‘I should have done this sooner.’ It’s quite frigging obvious. But so many things had to happen FIRST for me to let go. I had to be making just enough money to not be tied to a location, I had to be read to cut all ties to friends and organizations…yeah you can say, but your friends are still your friends, but you’d be surprised at how little anyone calls or emails me…just cause i moved an hour away. But my days are my own. after i take care of the cats, and the dog, and the goldfish and the squirrels and now the plants, and soon the garden, but they aren’t chores, these are things that bring me joy. Granted that one elderly cat who is mistaking his bed for a litter box is getting on my nerves. But if i don’t take care of him who will?

2015-01-25 11.25.13 I have never been any good at guessing the future. I never thought i would own a chihuahua…but i do. Spider’s a very nice fella as dogs go. The cats..well the cats I could have predicted… And i have always WANTED to live in Maine since i was a kid reading Louise Dickinson Rich’s We took to the Woods and Robert McClosky’s Blueberries for Sal… and after trying and failing to alter my life course, I sort of gave up at about 30… I just figured I’d have died well before now.

For a long time I thought I would successful at something… and I tried many different things, many of them I was and AM very good at it. But nothing ever panned out into what one would call ‘success.’  For many years at a stretch I was depressed and very unhappy…two subtly different things, that can occur independently but once you have them together you  are really fucked.  As the years ground on, my ambitions got smaller and smaller, what I call successful now would be considered failure by others…hashtag firstworldproblems.

I was looking at all the detritus i have stacked up in the cellar…it’s nice having everything I own in ONE place, it makes it much easier to see what’s important and what can be discarded.   I remember writing 2 or 3 years ago about trying to divest myself of most of my belongings…or at least half…well now i am down to less than half..MUCh less than what I started with all those years ago.. thank god I did that I’d have never fit it all in here.  And now it is just a flick of the wrist to donate something or give it away, I don’t have three other ones stacked behind it.

One of the neighbors walking his dog asked me if I liked my house… yeah, I like it fine, I said.  Why can’t i say ‘I love it’? what’s wrong with that?  is it that I don’t love it YET? will I love it more when i finish all the things that I have in my minds eye? will that make a difference?  What about that little red house with the view, that i STILL love, so much that i try not to think about it? it was truly fucked up inside..and would have cost me more than this one in the end. But why do i LOVE that one and not this one?  Is that the romance of the hot guy who is nothing but trouble, and this house is the schlubby dependable guy you settle for and grow into a comfortable old age with?   Is that what I am preparing for? my old age? did i move here to grow old? When I’m an old woman I will live in Maine and feed squirrels.

I don’t miss much about my old life… I do miss the view a little bit, but I didn’t appreciate it. It just kept me from feeling the claustrophobia I was actually suffering from.  There were NINE mourning doves in my trees waiting out the snow yesterday.  they don’t come by often, I don’t think they like the seeds in the feeder as much as the cardinals and the bluejays.  I may set up a feeder for small birds next year after I get the garden going and figure out where to put it.  Can’t let the squirrels empty that one… they are fat enough now.
mourningdoves_72

overspray

smallseahorseI added another picture to the bathroom wall today. It’s starting to get pleasingly crowded now. This one has a custom frame from yours truly. I had to put my foot down with myself, I have accumulated a LARGE number of frames for $1 & $2, I scoop a few everytime I go to Goodwill. My original goal was to UPCYCLE the plain ones, and I had been collecting more than decorating.  Tiny house needs tiny art right, so I have been collecting little art for my little frames. The seahorse got a coat of a sand texture Rustoleum and then some of the beach debris I collected in my very few expeditions last fall. The card of course was about $3 on ebay. I can’t draw for shit. I’m lucky I can handle a can of spray paint...right now i’m a little in love with Rustoleum’s textured paints.   

2015-01-24 18.56.52I try to do SOMETHING constructive or decorative every weekend…hey, I’m lucky if I wash the dishes during the week, I have been managing to keep busy. Winters and Seasonal Affective Disorder usually kick my ass, and these last few weeks I have been doing very well. I have a nice routine, work, eat, scoop litter boxes, sleep, with some goof off time worked in. That’s the key to beating SAD and winter back, keep busy and don’t think about it and wait for spring. I am valuing the long weekend days, now that I have a ‘job’ to go to on weekdays, even if it is only 4 hours of non-ditch digging…#firstworldproblem…. One of the days is usually clean the house, do the laundry, and finish any projects that are laying around. The picture frame was one of the things hanging around on the work bench in the basement….i have a spray booth set up down there, where I can throw a coat of paint on something every time I rotate the laundry and don’t have to hang around and breath in the fumes.

2015-01-24 18.44.36

Today I also finished spraying some bin pulls I had in my toolbox… the kitchen drawers have those cockamamie underthe drawer fingerholes instead of actual handles. Considering the size of the kitchen, knobs would just tear the pockets of my clothes, so I elected to spray the pulls three times with high gloss appliance paint and then bake them hard.   I still need three more, so I ordered them off ebay..which is just about where I get all my hardware these days.  If you look long enough you can find things for reasonable prices.

2015-01-24 18.50.13 HDRI also got some paint remover sprayed on to the lights I brought with me. One is supposed to be for the front porch…now that the paint is stripped off. The  other one  for the back door.  I also have a new one for the bathroom which is MUCH more appropriate than the one that’s up there. My mother was a big one for ‘the right lamp’ so I inherently buy lights when I see them. I also want to replace all the ceiling lights in the house.. but i haven’t got any of those yet. I suppose if I had them all ready to go it would be worth hiring someone to come in one day and just put them all in. Perhaps in the spring, when I have all the other things magically done with money i haven’t saved yet. It’s a new old familiar feeling to be broke again. oddly comforting, but still a pain. I need to learn to manage my money better..according to the US bureau of statistics I have about 25 years left to do that. Perhaps in 25 years I will be able to make my own art.

2015-01-23 18.55.00

2015-01-24 14.10.02

something fishy

2015-01-16 15.46.07 It took me a while to get around to going to Harbor Fish in Portland...which is apparently the only decent place to get fish in town…yes i know NOW that is is practically world famous.  I just figured there would be more selection at ALL the stores, and alas there isn’t.  Nearly all the fish stores i have visited sell dressed fillets, scallops and lobster that’s basically it. The only time i see fish with a head on it is the odd trout. The biggest thing keeping me away is the street, it’s very narrow..VERY NARROW.

harborfish2 I figured out the trick for the truck, if I can get DOWN the street to the end and turn around I can WAIT until the coast is clear to leave. Parking that’s another matter.  Apparently mid week midday is quiet enough to take the chance… come warm tourist filled weather who the hell knows?

Once I actually got there I found the herring I have been looking for…..and a lot of other fish with their heads on…. I didn’t understand it,  Maine used to be FAMOUS for sardines….Atlantic Herring canned and labeled sardines…but the only thing they are used for now is baiting the traps for lobsters.  But I am not going to complain at 1.99 a pound, i bought 16 of the little bastards, beheaded and cleaned them and packed them two by two for the freezer.  I can try to get down that street again when these are gone.

Sardines0_72 One of my goals is to ‘eat more fish’ – and I have been diligently trying to warm up to Canned Sardines…now i LOVE canned kippers, but the texture of canned sardines is putting me off. I’m fine with them all mashed up and spread on things, but whole and slimy out of the can isn’t doing a thing for me. But when i have had fresh ones broiled I’m quite fond of.   Since I never do anything by HALVES, I have discovered an entire world of canned fish…and there are probably more than a hundred different brands of canned sardines..hell walmart has at least a dozen.  But no longer are any of them canned in Maine or the US for that matter.  2015-01-13 13.37.01There’s a couple out of Canada and other cold water countries which are quite tasty…but who am I kidding? I can’t tell good from bad, yet.

So right now I am reading canned fish recipes, especially Canned Sardine recipes – which seem to be plentiful.   Before the US stopped fishing and canning sardines…they were a major part of the American diet. American’s didn’t mind the Fishiness, it was before our diets were so filled with salt, so getting the natural ingredients from all canned fish ( fresh ocean fish had to be transported so, most of the US got their fish canned) was just another flavor profile in their diet.  Sardines weren’t gross, they were considered delectable…and Americans also needed to get more of their vitamins and nutrients from canned oily fish so they were encouraged to eat it in every sort of dish. from breakfast, entrees and snacks.  I don’t see myself EVER eating them from the can but you never know.

2015-01-16 21.20.33 I wish I had remembered that I did want to try Stargazy pie before I beheaded all the little buggers. It’s an old cornish dish where you tuck them up to their necks with pastry before you bake them. Yes there was a time when that grossed me out too…but you get old your taste buds change…you need to eat the Omega 3 fatty acids in the fish or you die…so fish heads ain’t so gross these days.

green intentions

photo (2)It’s that time of year when an old woman’s fancy turns to garden planning. Whenever the snow melts down far enough, I start visualizing where I want raised beds, and which shrubs i need to kill, and where I need to undo the things the previous owner had done, which at the time I paid for the house I had found charming, and now I find an inconvenience.  At the last House I had given up gardening about 15 years ago, I was sick of defending my little patch of green from the lawnmower men and my brother. Obviously HERE I can do what I want, where I want. If i want to rip out all the shrubs that annoy me I can. if I want to replace every blade of grass with something i don’t have to mow every weekend, I can do that too.

In essence I have planned to squeeze in as many raised beds as I can fit in any place that gets sun, which amounts to a straight 60 foot strip down the left side of the house.  The patio bricks will come up and find their way around to the back of the house where If I wanted to sit outside I could.  What I envision is a strip of raise beds, with less obnoxious shrubs on the fence side and a paving stone walk to the back door, curving away from the house on the right.

But when I think about 60feet of wood for those beds along with all that dirt not to mention seeds and such, i got very depressed.  If i built the beds properly from pressure treated 2x10s lined with tyvek sure they will last 10-12 years…but that’s a very expensive way to go.  But you can build anything you need out of pallets if you just think about it long enough. I figure just start building the beds….and down the road you can upgrade them as need be.

On Friday, the opportunity arose: someone downtown had free pallets on Craigslist, and it was warm clear weather and I was feeling rather ambitious.  The benefits of owning a pickup truck, you can collect up anything you want whenever you want without having to make arrangements. What I did learn from having the 1st three pickup trucks, is that you have to REALLY WANT whatever it is you are picking up, or at least have plans to get rid of it if you don’t want it. Because it is so sinfully easy to just cart home everything you see, and this way madness lies….So after two trips, the pallets are now parked in my front yard.   I have intentions of moving them around to the back, i just have to decide where.  And if I wait long enough they will freeze in place and I won’t have to decide until mud season.

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I think we all know that FREE doesn’t always mean FREE. It means free with a price you pay on the back end. Many years ago I spent an entire summer disassembling FREE pallets. BTW the BEST free pallets and wooden crates are behind the places that get windshields. And I wish I knew then what I know now. The fastest way to break down a pallet is to use a reciprocating saw and slice through all the nails. Here is a video. It also looks to be the best method to get the wood to stay intact. Now I am not the twenty something I was when i broke down the largest crates with the the longest nails, so just for giggles I checked out reciprocating saws and like everything else they are expensive. HOWEVER I did get an idea, and I found a listing for a Dewalt 18v cordless saw..used, saw only, no battery, no charger,  for $54 no shipping. SUCH A DEAL, I one-clicked that puppy immediately. CAUSE I HAVE a couple of 18v batteries and a charger that I got in the Pawn shop before I moved, when I bought the circular saw and the power drill. …yes I am feeling smug, that is working out to be a good decision.

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IN MY MIND’S eye, I see the pallet wood being immensely useful. After I break them down into lengths I can design raised beds that fit the wood I have at hand. Though I think i need a few more larger heavier pallets if I can find them. I get the feeling my neighbors are going to be very unhappy with me for a while this spring.

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