Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year

I didn't actually make resolutions this year. I thought about it, but couldn't come up with anything that 1) I thought I could keep and 2) actually described what I want and need to do.

The idea for this year is to use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without until credit card, personal loan and student loan debt is paid off. Now this totals around $25,000 (which is pretty much what I bring home) so this year will be a lean year. I have plenty of yarn, so I don't need to buy more (want isn't allowed to be considered), we do have some gift cards that we got for gifts so we can have a little splurge now and again.

A long while ago, I posted about using my shampoo samples instead of buying new shampoo. Guess what? I'm still using shampoo samples. Mr. Gaia is traveling regularly for work, so I get new bottles every few weeks. I am getting low, I'm down to only 3-4 bottles and will probably have to buy shampoo this year. I've thought about using baking soda and vinegar ala "no-poo" but I'm afraid it will strip the henna from my hair.

I'm having a hard time adjusting to the cold this year. The house stays no cooler than 65 and I'm constantly freezing. We used to keep our house at 62 and I didn't notice being especially cold. This could have a negative effect on our utility bills, so I'm bundling up and wearing blankets. I just wish I could figure out how to keep my hands from being too cold.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of Year Update

(So pretend this actually posted NYE, humor me)

This was a big year for Mr. Gaia and me. Which is why things have been so quiet.

In April we found out the economy was hitting Mr. Gaia's company and that the company would be closing its doors in June. Eek!! I hated my job, so I was not opposed to moving (although I love Bug Hill and loved my house), so, with my encouragement, Mr. Gaia applied with another company in Big City. And he got the job starting June 1. So, whew!, no interruption in paycheck for him. Mine was a different matter, but I was only without a paycheck for about 9 weeks.

The cool thing about living in Big City is that there is usable public transportation. So with the purchase of a monthly pass, I can take any bus I want. I work downtown, and am able to park at the park and ride (which means a slightly longer drive than I had in Bug Hill, but not much) and ride the bus to right outside my office. I find that I can knit on the bus fairly easily and I've gotten to know my fellow passengers fairly well. The bad thing is that my commute ends up taking almost an hour, so I usually leave the house at 7am and get home at 6pm. Which is a huge difference from Bug Hill where I worked part time.

We found a nice house that was well within our price range and not too far from shopping and the library. But the economy means that we still own our house in Bug Hill. We took the advice of all the real estate mavens and found a property management company to lease it. I can't believe the amount of rent people are willing to pay, but since it's so hard to qualify for a loan, people are willing to dig deep. We hope our renters will eventually be able to qualify for a mortgage and will buy the house from us - rent to own is not an option in Texas (nor is it a viable option for me). Right now the house isn't costing us anything, but taxes should be interesting when it comes time to file.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Historic Day

I cannot express how proud I am of my country today, nor can I express how full of hope I am.

Oceanus is 10 and is in 5th grade. When I was 10 and in 5th grade, we had a class discussion about the presidential primaries. This was 1984 and Jesse Jackson was one of the democratic candidates. I remember the utter disdain I suffered from my classmates because I wouldn't consider Mr. Jackson a nutcase for thinking he should run for president. Why did they think he was a nutcase? Well, we were 10, so we weren't paying attention to the issues (I don't even remember what the issues were in 1984). They thought he was a nutcase to run because he was black. No other reason than that.

It took 24 years and a generation, but we finally broke the color barrier in the white house. As Oceanus says "it's the end of a tradition" and it's about time. I have increased faith that we will see the first woman president within my lifetime.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Small town values

Hello again from Bug Hill. It's been a long time since I posted (not quite 6 months, though, so it could be worse, right?). I have no excuses - I miss a few weeks because of too much going on, a little bit of the blues, etc and then each day it's just harder and harder to come back.

Bug Hill is a small town. And I mean a small town - smaller than Wasilla (which is not, in fact, the 2nd largest city in Alaska - what the heck is Karl Rove smoking?). I've lived in many small towns, some that are fairly liberal (or at least less conservative) and some that are really conservative. So imagine my surprise when the RNC was all about "small town values". How do you define small town values? Well, it seems that most people at the convention weren't able to define it, either. But people have been asking me and once I got over my knee jerk reaction of "bigotry", I decided to put some thought into it.

I finally decided that small town values can be summed up in one phrase - "We've never done it that way before". As I said, I've lived in many small towns and some have been more "home" than others. I no longer fit in in my "home town", but Bug Hill works for me, and here's why - in my home town, I am different from everyone there - I don't go to the Catholic or Baptist church (or any church for that matter); I believe that Christ truly wants us to: "do for the least of these", "turn the other cheek" and "be peacemakers"; I believe that "love is of God" and I don't care who a person loves, etc. In short, I'm a liberal. Now, it isn't that the people I grew up with don't believe these things, it's just that they've never lived those beliefs and "We've never done it that way before".

Small towns are incredibly resistant to change. They can change, but they have to be dragged into change kicking and screaming. Change scares them. I have a part of this in me - I found out this week that my office will be switching to Macs in the near future and I'm terrified, I don't deal well with change, I dropped yahoo because they had too many changes, I'm freaking out because my work computer uses IE 7 and I HATE it - so I understand the physical reaction to change. It's visceral. It's often overwhelming. Change is never seen as good - things are working fine now, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Now, small town people know that things don't work well for everyone but they feel those people should either change to fit in or move out. It's why you'll see very few mixed race couples and gay and lesbian couples in most of the small towns in the US (not all the small towns, just most).

Back to Bug Hill - school is back in session. The town council decided to try a pilot program - the elementary school zone is now a cell phone free zone. You can talk on a hands free phone, but no hand held or texting is allowed while driving. If you are caught, you will be fined $200. Parents can still park and call their kids, it's just while driving. Now for me, I'll just avoid the school zone (like I didn't already as much as possible). I do drive while talking on my phone - usually for directions or to find out where I need to be. I've tried handsfree devices and they don't work for me - they won't stay on/in my ear and I end up trying to feel around for the earpiece - which is not safe - while yelling "hold on, the stupid thing fell again, don't hang up".

Also at Bug Hill, we're trying a new idea of having a parade every month possible. We just had our labor day parade - that was a lot of fun. In October we'll have a "Fall Carnival" carnival and costume parade, November will be a Thanksgiving parade and December will be a "Winter Carnival" parade. The town council has asked for a permanent volunteer to coordinate the parades - there will be no pay for this, but it is hoped you'll have lots of fun. So if anyone wants to volunteer, they should call the city manager and let her know.

Finally, I've been asked to request that people donate any extra school supplies they can. There are still quite a few students who don't have all the supplies they need. Remember, with the cost of gas, electricity, and food rising, many of our people are finding that they just can't stretch a dollar as well as they need to. We'd also like to ask that you donate any extra clothing you have to the clothing bank, all clothes - even stained and torn. The plan is that volunteers will sort the clothing by condition - pristine, good, okay, and needs work. Then there will be work days to work on the clothing that needs work - ideas are still being formed but currently the plan is to dye clothing that is stained, sew patches, use clothing that is past mending to "frankenstein" into something new, etc. The local 4H and FHA chapters have volunteered to remake clothing as possible - this will be a new skill for them and the teachers are very excited.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bug Hill update

Megan, my coworker who had the baby New Year's day is back at work. The bosses are nice enough to let her bring the baby to work with her. The baby had jaundice that lasted longer than 6 weeks, so they had her move the baby to formula. The idea, apparently, was to see if it was breastmilk jaundice, but they didn't test the bilirubin levels after 48 hours on formula, they just had her pump and dump for 48 hours and then start nursing again. Which seems bizarre.

Happily, Megan did continue to nurse after that 48 hours. I told her I was proud of her, so many women I know would have stopped at the first sign of problems.

Our receptionist, however, is not doing well. I don't remember if I've mentioned her here. She has a failing kidney and needs another kidney transplant. Part of the problem with her kidney is that her periods are lasting 2-3 weeks so she becomes anemic. But she can't get the hysterectomy she needs because she can't pay the co-pay. She looks awful - her skin is much darker and bruised looking. I'm really worried about her. She has a little girl.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Adventures in reclaiming yarn

So, it's spring break which means I don't have to rush home after work to go get the boys from school. I decided to use that "leisure time" to go to a thrift store and look for sweaters to unravel for yarn.

I hit a great deal - 3 sweaters for $1. So I bought 6. I bought another one at the other thrift store for $2.50. Beautiful yarn, not so beautiful sweaters.

I came home and threw them in the washer. Now Mr. Gaia swore to me that there was no hot water hooked to the washer, so maybe I wasn't as careful as I should have been (okay, I wasn't at all). I threw all the sweaters in together along with some kitchen towels. I pushed the button to make it a cold cycle. Then I decided "you know what, these sweaters have been in thrift stores and who knows where else, why don't I use this stain cycle?" and then didn't notice that that changed the temp setting from cold to hot. Sigh. And one sweater was red. Yeah, the white cashmere and cotton sweaters? Are now pink. The kitchen towels? Also pink. No hot water hooked up my ass. Oh well, the kitchen towels actually look better pink (hides the stains) and now I have an excuse to dye the other sweaters and the pink is actually kind of a nice color (if I decide not to dye).

So then I decide to take a sweater apart and frog it. I bought it because it was only 33 cents (I wanted an even 6 to make the math easier and had found 4 I really liked) and it is 70% silk, 14% rayon, 11% alpaca and 5% cashmere. I didn't pay attention to the fact that it was something like 40 stitches to the inch (that may be an exaggeration, but it's tiny). Yeah, I start getting it apart and this isn't even thread weight yarn. And it breaks every few yards. But it is gorgeous. I guess this will be my excuse to learn to ply on a drop spindle.

The good thing I did, though, was I figured out that my barstools make a perfect swift when turned upside down. The legs are straight and I can just spin it around to wrap the yarn. Of course, at the rate I'm going, it will take about 3 weeks just to frog this sweater.

Otherwise, I'm plowing away at studying for my certified arborist exam. I applied for my test date on April 18. The application scared me a little, my experience is so old and they didn't give enough room to list both colleges I attended, so I could only show 2 years of school.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

So here's what's keeping me

I seem to only be able to have so many "obsessions" in my life at a time. Blogging has suffered for this.

Right now I'm:
1) in the middle of my Master Naturalist class. I'm loving it. Most of it is review from college (my forestry degree was exceptionally well rounded) but there's been enough new that it's been very cool and interesting. I've also met some other great people, so it's a nice outlet that way;
2) busily tracking my eating and exercising through sparkpeople.com. I don't like it quite as well as fitday.com for food tracking, but I definitely prefer their exercise support. I've been concentrating on getting at least 30 minutes of cardio each day, more when I my cable is working properly;
3) studying for my Certified Arborist. My testing date is April 18, so I've got 5 weeks (give or take) to get prepared. Right now, I'm doing a portion of my CD-ROM each night - coincidentally, the time I always used for blogging.

I'm also almost done with knitting a sweater, I combined 2 patterns and did some other modifications so I'm using cheap, cheap yarn. If it works out, I'll use cheap yarn (lion wool) to make it. But I've also found the sweater I want to make with my alpaca, so I'm trying to hurry and finish this sweater so I can start on my alpaca sweater. I've just got the sleeves to go.

I'm going to do my best to carve out blogging time at least once each week. And of course, after April 18, I hope to have more time. I hope I pass and don't have to worry about retaking any "domains".

Of course, there's a chance that we might be moving in June, so if that happens, my posting time will be taken up with packing and cleaning and doing minor repairs to the house to get it ready to sell.