Monday, August 31, 2009

Fans Are My Friends

So are air conditioners.

I've spent the last few weeks with more hotflashes than I've had in YEARS. I had my first hot flash maybe 8 years ago, but they had fallen off my radar for the past couple of years. While I had a hysterectomy two years back, I had the doctor leave the ovaries behind.

I planned on a nice, gentle continued slide down the hormonal mountain. The past few weeks have NOT been nice or gentle. I'm not sweating thru' my clothes or sheets or anything, but I'm spending lots of time red and flushed. Like taking niacin for high cholesterol but without the itchiness/skin irritation. [Note - I am NOT taking my niacin for my cholestrol/triglycerides for a while, I don't need the hot flashes compounded!]

Of course all this started during a heat/humidity attack here in the swamp that Washington DC is. Today is cool, and the humidity is low - but the hot flashes go on. They are just less compounded by the weather.

When I was having hot flashes a few years ago I considered spending the winter sleeping in a tent in the back yard, and figured that if there was snow it would all melt back at least 3 feet from the tent. This time I'm considering simply not heating the house in the winter, and using my body as an alternative and green source of heat.

Think I can sell the husband and spawn on that idea?

Frondly, Fern

Monday, August 17, 2009

Freezer Prep

My 'big' freezer - a freestanding, NOT frost-free, 14.7 cubic foot one that we bought in 1979 - is rapidly running out of food. Normally I'd be filling it at this time of year. It would have pretty technicolor bags of fruits and veggies multiplying rapidly.

Not this year.

Part of it is the money crunch - I simply can't afford to stock up on fruits this year. But as much of it is that I've changed my focus from freezing what I store to canning what I store. Canning is harder and more time consuming, but having the veggies canned means I don't need to worry about losing power and thus losing the food.

We used to lose power all the time. The first year we lived in this area we lost power 8 times in the first year, usually for 2 hours at a time. Sometimes the cause was clear - a car accident took down power lines, a power surge from lightning blew a transformer, etc. Sometimes it was NOT clear. And then there were the longer outages ... we here, east of Washington, DC, get hit by the remnants of hurricanes. Floyd took out power for a week. Isabel took out power for most of a week. But 3 weeks before Isabel a thunderstorm took out power for longer than Isabel did!

I became very good at tracking down dry ice.

I also decided to rely less on my freezer, at least for things my family is happy to eat canned. They have not been gracious about the idea of canned meats so far.

Since I still have meat in the freezer - less since we've been eating down our stocks rather than maintaining them lately - I still have to prep the freezer for outages. Besides, freezers work most efficiently when pretty full. So along with the 'bones that will become stock' collection that IS still growing the freezer (I'll make stock after the weather cools!), I'm filling the freezer with ice cubes. That way there's lots of ice in the house if power goes and if it doesn't, we can just use the ice in drinks - my husband is DEEPLY into ice in his drinks.

When Isabel was still way out in the Atlantic, and already a category 5 hurricane with a projected track aimed at us, I didn't have a freezer full of ice. So I started making ice as fast as my freezer would do it. I had learned THAT much from the thunder storm induced power outage a few weeks earlier! And we really were ready for that storm. Not that I turned down the dry ice from the power company, mind you.

What natural 'issues', if not disasters, hit your area regularly? What preps have you taken to be ready for them? Suz - if you lose power, how will you water the horses? Miss Nic will get VERY pissy if she gets thirsty!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Food costs

Blessings, Fronds!

I'm trying to figure out why my food budget is so frakkin' high. Well, I KNOW why it's high - too much spent on meat and some spend on soda pop. But I can't figure a way to get the rest of the family on board in reducing those items.

Here's the basic summer weekly spending, excluding things I don't buy weekly (like beer, wine, flour, sugar, etc)

$12.00 milk - 4 gallons
4.50 soda (4 2 liter bottles)
7.50 one loaf bread at farmer's market, one pkg buns, one cheap loaf bread
15.00 produce
3.00 oj
20.00 meat
6.00 eggs (free range organic, 2 dozen

That's already $68, and I'd LIKE to only spend $80 a week. Doesn't include cereal, staples, etc. To keep family happy would take $100 a week. And there's only 3 adult humans and two cats!

Son would be willing to drink more v-8 fusion instead of cola, but that costs even more. Husband wants 'some' cola in the house - which means son will drink it. Bread costs are lower in winter, when we can't get great bread at farmer's market, same with eggs.

I have to find a way to get them on board. Like, having one meal a week without meat? Cutting back on soda? Great bread every OTHER week?

Dramatic Sigh.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Peach Season!


This is on of the most important days of the year - the day I hit the farmer's market and the Ungers have fresh peaches. Oh, I suppose they might have had them last week when I was out of town, but c'mon - this blog is all about Fern (sorry, Suz).

The Ungers grow the most amazing fruits and veggies. Great flavor, lovely stuff. Cherries, beans, plums, green beans, peppers, are all wonderful. But their PEACHES are amazing beyond words. I bought two boxes (10 peaches) of seconds, which came to about $1.25 a pound. Yes, about 25 cents a pound more than grocery store sale price peaches. But these are from the UNGERS - we are all blown away by the flavor, and the heck with the tiny cosmetic flaws!

Being broke I didn't buy enough for us to each eat one a day, let alone enough for me to bake with or can. Might do some canning later, if $ allows. But I have 4 jars of peaches left from last year .... no, I HAD 4 jars left from last year. I only have 2 jars now. For I just made peach cobbler out of two of the surviving cans. And my husband is so happy with it that I might have to make more this week. Or make a cobbler of the canned cherries.

Life is sweet.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Envy vs Astonisment

I'm back! I was on vacation, visiting my Mother in the Chicago suburbs for a week, then staying with my mother in law for a few days in South Bend, Indiana. We (the spawn and I) drove, so South Bend was on the way home, and my husband went there after the conference HE was at to visit as well.

I come from a BIG family. Not my nuclear family, where I was an only child, but my mother was one of 8 kids, my father was one of 6, both of Mom's parents were one of 6 .... and most of the extended family lived in Chicago. So when I visit I visit with lots of relatives, mostly the daughters of my mother's sisters but some of the others as well.

I don't seem to live like the rest of the family. Even aside from religion, since my side of the family is all Jewish and I'm pagan. But I clean my own house, make my own food, deal with my own yard (well, the spawn is mowing as I type but I get credit for nagging him and not hiring a lawn service), etc.

Now, I indulged while in Chicago - it was a vacation my mother was paying for, sort of. (Paying for in that she didn't want to cook, didn't want ME to cook, so we ate out a lot. And, bless her, she paid for the Museum of Science and Industry for me, the spawn, and a cousin's granddaughter that I took along. THAT was pricy - $16 to park, $78 for tickets to get in and see the Harry Potter exhibit for 3 'adults'.) We swam in the pool in her condo complex, we visited folks, I made my mother actually do the walking she claims she does daily, etc.

But I'm not ashamed to share a restaurant meal with my son or my mother, and they aren't comfortable with doing things like that in public. I don't join clubs to play bridge or mah jong or such to fill my time - I don't have free time to fill! I certainly don't buy clothes and then get tired of them so give them away (to my mother or to charities) soon after. I notice when my cars need maintainance or make funny noises and deal with the problems, tho' 'dealing with' usually means having someone else fix the problem I've identified. I rarely eat out. I don't get my nails done. I don't drink half a jug of wine a day. I can't imagine getting worked up because I wanted to go to another city for my 3 year old grandchild's birthday party .... honestly, I'd probably try to avoid a 3 year old's birthday party, not spend $700 traveling.

But am I feeling envy or astonishment over our lifestyle differences? Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to have more money and have the option of living without financial worries. But I don't THINK that I'd make the same choices that they make. I just don't LIKE to shop for clothes, for instance. I don't LIKE to spend hours a week playing cards/D&D/mah jong/WoW/whatever. They don't recycle. I'm pretty dang green. We're just SO bloody different!

We were all raised by the same generation of women, tho' I'm about 15 years younger than they are, and during my life time lived close to each other or even with each other.

It was just a 'WTF' visit, I guess.

Frondly, Fern