Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Transmogrified

Bella's on spring break from school this week, and additionally, is a little sick with a touch of bronchitis-type stuff. So, as you can imagine, we're scrambling for indoor activities for her, and she's not so much on board with Mommy's Super-Fun Laundry Blowout Extravaganza. Smart kid.

During the feverish days, she spent hours in the middle of our big bed, reading from The Complete Calvin & Hobbes. She also spent a lot of time on the floor of my closet with her markers, paper, and huge dry-erase board, which is pretty typical for her.

As a longtime Bill Waterson fan, I was delighted beyond belief when my own six-year-old came rushing excitedly into the living room, carrying a large cardboard box, and announced, "I made a transmogrifier!"

It was, indeed, a pretty faithful rendering of Calvin's trusty space/matter manipulator, with "Transmogrifier" written on the side, and on the top, a dial, bright yellow construction-paper indicator arrow, and a "start" button. I think the settings on the dial of this particular transmogrifier are a nice snapshot of my daughter's current state of mind. There are eight of them, and they go in this order, clockwise:

Fairy
Princess
Fairy-Princess
President
Prince
Ruler of the Universe
Super-Hero
Smartest Person in the Universe

I love how "fairy princess" is obviously a wholly different entity than either "fairy" or "princess," and I'm kind of hoping that "Prince" might refer to the diminutive performer from Detroit. I'm just not going to ask, and pretend that it does. And I did check, and the "President" setting does not turn you into Barack Obama, but it makes you president yourself. I'm under the impression, however, that when you become President, you get to keep the Obama family (this child desperately wishes for siblings, and is also completely and totally enamored of the Obama sisters).

My favorite part of the whole thing, though, is the implication of that final setting. Because it's obvious, even to a six-year-old, that the Ruler of the Universe is NOT going to be the Smartest Person in the Universe.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If It Weren't For Bad Luck...

Well, you know the rest. Or, at least you do if you were ever subjected to "Hee-Haw" as a child.

I knew, when I registered for BlogHer '09, and paid the money, and also made a deposit on a hotel room, that I was tempting fate to slap me down. And the slapping has commenced.

Our mower is in the shop, and on the same day we found out what THAT was going to cost us (enough for a new laptop, *sigh*), we lost an entire section of fencing that will have to be repaired and will run another several hundred dollars. Alex lost his keys here at the house somehow, and though a locksmith came and opened his truck, he'll have to have all the keys on his keyring replaced.

Speaking of Alex, he's still really not doing well at all, though he's improved enough that he can make it to work again, which is always a good thing, considering the bills we have to deal with. Bleah. OK, I am not officially boring MYSELF.

What do you do when you need money that you don't have? I'm scrabbling around for things I can sell, and have had some luck there, but there's a long way to go. YES, I had an "emergency fund," but we've already had an emergency this year that depleted that to the point that I've had to start over building it up again little by little. I can't imagine, at this point, paying for the stuff that has to be paid for, and still being able to make the trip to Chicago in July...but I dearly want to.

I have done some interesting bartering and haggling for things we needed lately, and that is turning out to be very rewarding. You don't get cash, usually, but in this economy, you might find that you actually get a higher monetary value in goods and services than you would if you you dealt in cash currency. Some of the things I've sold and/or baterted with or for lately include live turkeys, extra roosters, eggs, seed potatoes, strawberry plants, and fresh raw milk from Guernsey cows which I can't wait to make into cheese.

I'm getting set up to make soap again, because that always brought in a small but steady income. I'm going through Bella's baby clothes and toddler clothes and preschool clothes to pick out things to sell (*sniff*). I'm ruthlessly combing through our storage shed and picking out anything that hasn't been used in the last couple of years, and running straight to Craigslist with it. I'm cutting out XM Radio service (which really hasn't been the same since Sirius bought it out, anyway), eliminating much of our DirecTV bill, stripping down our phone service to bare bones (I really wanted to take us off the LAN line altogether, but our DSL is tied into it, so we wouldn't be saving much).

Magazine subscriptions must go, the few that are left. The daily newspaper that NO ONE HERE EVER SO MUCH AS OPENS is on its way out. I met with much resistance over this last one, because everyone is just in the habit of getting the newspaper, and it seems so uncivilized not to get one...but honestly, we get nearly 100% of our news on the Internet, and we get it instantly instead of waiting another day for the paper to print it. We supplement that coverage with NPR and, well, if I'm honest, The Daily Show.

I'm getting back to my coupon-obsessive roots, though the things we buy now are even further into whole-foods-only dogma than ever before, and we're not buying any bread or cereal or crackers or sugar in any form...but I can still make great strides with coupons by focusing on toiletries and paper goods. We've been coasting off my giant stockpile of free toothpaste and shampoo, for example, for nearly two years, and the supplies are getting low.

I'm becoming a utility-nazi, too. Opening windows, shutting off the A/C, obsessively checking that lights or appliances aren't left on (or, in some cases, even left plugged in). No water wasting!

I'll be planting more veggies and fruits than ever before this year, and storing as much as I can. The strawberry plants are already beginning to flower, and I'm looking forward to about 50 quarts of strawberries being put away during spring and summer, as well as tons of squash, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and every herb under the sun. Using gift cards I'd been given for Christmas, I found a FoodSaver on sale through Amazon, and will be getting LOTS of use out of that puppy, by buying large quantities of fresh, organic, grassfed meats and freezing it in portion sizes. Ditto with our own cockerels and at least a couple of turkeys, which will be going to freezer camp as soon as they're well-grown. I'll also buy bushels of whatever produce I can't or don't grow, and freeze it for later use. What I put up last year has really lasted well, and we should be using up the last of that supply just as this year's crop is at its prime. That worked out well!

I happily sell fresh eggs, which for me is kind of neat because it hearkens back to my depression-era ancestors. Back then, to be called an "egg-seller" was pretty insulting, and meant that you were pretty darn desperate. Well, so be it. I've never felt that there was any shame in doing anything that needed doing when it comes to supporting your family. So I'm out there gathering eggs every day. The chickens MORE than pay for their own keep that way, and I've learned that they can even provide a decent profit for us if I sell some of their eggs for hatching, instead of eating.

Speaking of selling poultry products...I'm also selling poultry itself. If anyone is near here and would like a start in chickens, I have a couple of trios of young adult Buff Orpingtons (a trio is two hens and a rooster) for sale at a good price, and also three Tom turkeys who are at prime butchering age, or would just make gorgeous decorations strutting around your place. I also have a few started chicks for sale.

Is there anything I WON'T sell, at this point? Well, not much. So many things around here are in desperate need of repair, and we're only a paycheck or two away from total disaster...which is no way to live. I'll get us back out of it, though. I don't much doubt my ability to do what it takes in that regard.

What about you? What do you do when you must have money, and there just isn't any? How are you cutting corners? How much are you saving? Where is this economy hitting you the hardest?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday To My Husband

I dearly wish that I could give you what the salutation implies: happiness. I put in an order for it quite some time ago, and I'm still hoping that it arrives soon.

The sooner the better.

I love you.