01 April 2008

Hodge Podge

I have several things to talk about today, pretty much all unrelated.

First, the property manager here has given me permission to start a community garden in the small field (huge useless lawn) on site. She even said it used to be a community garden, but they had problems with crime and eventually dropped it. When I asked about reviving it, she said I could be in charge of it. I made up a flyer (pending approval) pointing out the benefits of gardening and inviting everyone to participate. I even promised a potluck dinner at the end of the year with garden grown veggies. The property manager offered to have maintenance do the tilling for us, and I am just waiting on her approval for the date and such. Woo hoo!

Secondly, I cleared out a lot of space in two closets so I can start storing food. I am waiting for a call from the local homemade candy store (wouldn't that be store-made, though? local, anyway) about 5-gallon buckets. I also need to find shelving to fit in the closets. I am very proud of my food shopping thriftiness lately. I visit the food pantry (which is still very well stocked, fortunately) on Wednesdays, then I make up a menu for the next 7 days based on what we got from the pantry. I try to have to put no more than a dozen items on the shopping list. Last week, I had probably 10 things on the list. I was able to buy almost all organic and spent just under $50. I am desperately hoping that the price of organic food won't rise as much as that of conventional food since organic requires less oil inputs. We are down to eating meat about 3-4 times a week now, down from 6-7 times a week, and nearly all of it comes from the food pantry. We still have to buy meat for our cat, but even some of that can come from the pantry. After all, even with 6 mouths to feed every day, there is no way I am serving roast chicken 3 times a week. One, we get other meats as well usually; two, that much chicken causes appetite fatigue in our house; and three, ... well, I can't think of a three. We are purchasing a piglet this month for a local farmer to raise for us, and the price of uncertified organic hamburger at our local farm is $3.39/lb.

Third unrelated item -- a few days ago I took a detour while taking my daughter back to her dad's house to stop by the house in Nostalgia and we were invited in by the same man who bought the house from my folks 20 years ago. It looks so different. He has expanded the second floor to be a full storey instead of a loft, installed a bathroom, a full-fledged kitchen, two bedrooms upstairs and windows downstairs. It looked so much smaller than it did when I was my daughter's age. It was very cozy. The gentleman said that he was struggling with the payments for two reasons. He is a carpenter and work has been slow, and the taxes have gone up from $600/year in 1988 to $3400 now. Ouch. But it was very nice to see the house again. I had just driven up the seemingly shortened driveway (surely the whole property shrank over 20 years) and looked around while staying in the car, but the man came out and I explained who I was and that I just wanted to show my daughter, and he invited in me in for a look-see and a chat. Very talkative gent. I think we spent 45 minutes there chatting, so I had to make up time since my husband had specifically said not to take 5 hours for the 4+ hour trip. I made it home in 4.5 hours. Very little traffic at that time of night helped a lot. The little hill where I used to build my forts turns out to be about half the distance from the house that I thought. The 30-40 feet in my memory turned out to be merely 10-20 feet.

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