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Archive for January, 2010

I have tried for nearly a full year to do without a dryer. I have frozen fingers and waited six weeks for a dry day to dry my laundry outside. I have had underthings hanging all over my laundry room and sun room to try and keep my carbon footprint low, but today I have had it.

First off, my toilet overflowed… (yes, here it is appropriate to say “gross!”) and I didn’t realize this for several hours (Ewww!). During these lapsed hours the “overflow” saturated a good chunk of my bedroom carpeting. It took EVERY towel in the house to sop up the bathroom floor and affected carpeting. I ran a load of laundry but it is WET outside, and cold and neither of these two things look to be changing soon. I broke down and did not only a load of wet icky towels, but also a load of jeans, swear shirts and pants. Then, I headed to the laundry mat.

I also cranked my heat to 70, hoping that the heat (without the humidifier) would help dry the carpet. I am roasting – way too hot in here – trying to fix this problem.

I tried… and I am weak. I throw up my hands and say “that’s enough!” I want to live in the land of the indulgent again. Screw the environment! I don’t have children… I don’t care if there is a planet for them to live on once I drop dead.

It’s almost 4:30 – I think I will fix myself a drink and try to forget this day.

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Death

On Sunday I fulfilled my second term as a warden of my church – first junior warden then senior warden. I am happy to be done with that, and was really looking forward to being able to fill my now freed-up time doing more fun things. Instead, I am thinking a lot about death.

Yesterday and today I spent time researching medical supplies to keep an elderly (almost 101 years old) friend in her home as long as possible. More and more often I have been getting calls from life-line (the “help I’ve fallen and can’t get up” folks) after I am asleep to go pick up this friend off the floor because she has fallen. The doctor seems to think her body is breaking down and it will just be a matter of months, but it is heart-wrenching to hear her cry in agony as I tend to the scrapes on her paper-thin skin that have bloodied both arms – “Why don’t I just DIE!”

On Sunday I attended a memorial service for a person I knew fairly well a decade or two ago when I was very involved in the lgbt community. I realized that his memorial and that of a good friend who died just five years ago were probably on the same date (or off by just a day) – just five years apart. So I have been thinking about both of these two individuals, as well as my chosen dad who died just three weeks before my friend five years ago.

Yesterday I received a notice from my church that the wife of one of our members had just died. It seems like it was just two or three weeks ago they learned that the cancer had spread throughout her body. I didn’t know her well, but she was very helpful in creating a pattern and templates when we made the pads for the “Goods for Girls” a year or so ago, and as an employee of a fabric store, she got us a discount from the store manager so we could create the 73 cloth sanitary pads to be sent to Africa. I remember her as being a wonderfully energetic, happy and caring person. My thoughts are with her husband today.

I am also thinking a bit about next week, which will be a full ten years since my marriage ended – which in a way is a kind of death… I’ve had a new life since then, but thinking about the good, the bad and the ugly of an eleven-year relationship does stir up quite a few emotions.

Today I think I would like to climb back into bed. Perhaps what I really need to do is plant something soon so I can be reminded of life. We’ll see what actually happens.

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The Pantry

It was a productive Saturday!

I spent Saturday cleaning out my bedroom and kitchen. I sorted out clothes I haven’t worn for two years to give to charity, and a few nice pieces to pass on to a person who has lost a huge amount of weight and some pieces in my “in case I lose weight” pile might fit her.

The reason it is important to clean out my bedroom closets – aside from the fact that last time I went out it took me over an hour of trying on clothes to find something that looked good and fit – is that I have food stored in one of the closets. I have 20 pounds of rice, and sealed containers of flour and sugar and extra bottles of water, jars of jellies and stored in there, and I needed to rotate some of this.

The next order of business was cleaning out my pantry. Now, I am fortunate that I have a fairly large pantry with deep shelves for food. I do not have a walk-in pantry, as a friend of mine does, but, alas, we do what we can. I have put in additional shelves so I can make the most out of the space I have available.

Shelf by shelf I went through my pantry and threw away items that had expired. One that had never been opened but had expired in 2005, one a box of pancake mix that had expired in 2007 and something that did not have an expiration date on it, but it didn’t look quite “normal.” Also to go, a bag of sugar that never made it into a sealed container and had formed itself into a rock.

Then I placed like items together. The higher shelf had “baking” items on it. Things like sugar, flour, corn meal, brown sugar, oils, boxed brownie mix (I know, bad for me, but I love chocolate and it is easy to make) and my back-up coffee (mostly because there was space and it is not something I grab on a regular basis.)

The next shelf is for pasta and other starches. Since pasta has a long shelf life (up to seven years in air tight containers), I have purchased a large amount of it during the 10 for $10 sales at a local grocer. I have several large food grade storage containers and in each container I have placed a different type of pasta – at least the kinds I use a lot. I can get 20 boxes of spaghetti into one of the containers, and all the containers stack well, so it is a real space saver. I also purchased pasta sauce on sale, and it has another year until it expires. Also on this self are containers of rice, barley, beans, split peas, dried tomatoes, and cheap storage boxes filled with packaged items like roman noodles, cornbread mixes, and other easy to make items I have acquired over the years. I could probably live for two months on the food on this shelf alone!

The next shelf contains canned soups – all purchased on sale (50 cents a can). I can easily store 88 cans of soup on this shelf. This shelf is where I keep the canned tuna and cranberry sauce (the shelf is for shorter cans) and a long thin box where I keep tons of microwave popcorn. OK, perhaps you see a trend here – Julia Child I’m not!

The next shelf is for canned veggies, tomatoes, broths, and all things that were “canned” and are in jars.

Finally, there is the misc. shelf that has all things tall – like jars of peanut butter, oatmeal, containers of powdered hot chocolate, individual packets of flavored oatmeal given to me by a friend who decided she didn’t like it, and other misc. “boxed” food things.

Once I organized these shelves, I began making notes about what I needed to better use some of these foods, or items I was running low on. I also noted that I could free up space for things I really like once I ate things that I had forgotten I had (perhaps because they weren’t my most favorite food.)

This cleaning project also got me thinking about the foods I eat and how much processed stuff I still have in my kitchen. I’m slowly learning how to fix foods that use more fresh foods, but it is a matter of changing habits – and that takes time. Now, let’s not get crazy here – I’m never going to part with my macaroni and cheese in a box, microwave popcorn, or powdered hot chocolate mix. But, there are other items which I hope to eventually have fresh or fresh frozen rather than from a can.

Next I cleaned out my spice drawer. Yes, I think it is funny that I have a spice drawer when I don’t cook – but I have lots of them, and actually found two or three of some items I’ve never used. I tossed all but one of each spice, and checked expiration dates and tossed those that had expired years and years ago. Now my once full drawer now has a single row of spices, names facing up, so I can see what I have and perhaps learn how to use them.

When all that was done, I fixed myself a bowl of microwave popcorn, a mug of hot chocolate, sat in front of my fireplace and watched a little television. I figured I had earned the break.

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OK, after my comments yesterday I pulled the sheets off the line in the afternoon and they were bone dry… and they smell so good! I decided I didn’t want to have to tumble dry unless I really had no other choice. So, today was another low humidity day and slightly warmer so I did another load, and this time I grabbed some of those reusable gloves people sometimes wear to wash dishes (I use for cleaning out the gutters – and had a new pair available). These kept my fingers away from the water and cold, and I was able to line dry my jeans, sweatshirts and sweatpants. They are taking a little longer than the sheets – but they should be dry soon.

Yes, line drying in the winter is doable – just not as enjoyable as during the spring, summer and fall.

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Line Drying in the Winter

It is 15 degrees outside – with a negative 1 degree windshield – and I took a few wet sheets outside to dry on the line.

THIS IS INSANE!

OK, those of you who do this on a regular basis… how do you manage without freezing your fingers with the wet fabric? I was only out for a few minutes and only had three large sheets to hang, and by the time I got back inside I thought my poor fingers were going to fall off. The knit gloves I was wearing did me very little good.

I have one sheet hanging in my sunroom on a line, and several towels and pillowcases hanging off of hangers in the laundry room. It is about time to do jeans and sweatshirts, and I’m not sure how I will dry all of these smaller pieces inside – or handle them outside with the cold.

I may very possibly break down and take my wet laundry to the laundry mat to dry, which really defeats the purpose of me not having a dryer.

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It is January – a new year! The sun is shining and even though it is three (3) degrees outside, I am thinking about GARDENING.

It seems to fit – a new year, new beginnings, the possibilities of a new garden and all the wonderful tasty foods that can be grown.

Yes, I am looking forward to the next time I can get out and look at the vegetable seeds available in the stores. And, in a few weeks, I will plant the tomato and pepper seeds and set them in my sunroom so they will get a nice long growing season.

On this cold January day, thoughts of gardening warms my soul.

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Today I stepped outside my comfort zone as I promised I would with one of my New Year’s Resolutions, and I was rewarded with a great time, the renewal of old friendships, and the possibility of future gatherings – some that include canning and gardening. I had an INCREDIBLE time!

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