Friday, August 26, 2005

I am feeling disheartened. We've been rentign the place I'm in for a year and a half now, and having 5 kids in a 1 bedroom house has been pretty stressful. I don't really care to attempt it with the addition of a newborn baby. Previously, I didn't make enough to be able to put even a tiny down payment down on a place of our own, or to qualify for much of anything at all. Now, with slightly higher wages, I do...and I don't scrape bottom every month like I used to when I was working seven days a week and hardly getting by (now I work only 4 days a week). Unfortunately, land prices have since skyrocketed at what can only be termed as an insane rate. The people here do not make enough to afford the prices that the real estate is selling at. Newcomers moving in had better have a damned secure retirement fund or something...because they are extremely unlikely to be able to sustain themselves otherwise. Personally, I harbor the malignant thought that we haven't had a truly nasty, i.e. normal north Idaho winter for a very long time, almost a decade. It just doesn't routinely hit -35 anymore, let alone stay that way for several weeks. People gripe if it delves to the comparatively mild -15.... See, that's what we need, a true blue Idaho winter to drive back some of the new growth so that the ones who really love the area with all its vagaries can afford to stay here.


I know exactly what I want: acreage and a house.

The acreage: preferably at least 5 acres, though I'd settle for 3-4 happily enough under the right conditions. Water, in the form of a well in existence or a price low enough that I could afford to have one drilled. Power and phone and access (why would anyone buy land that they cannot legally get to??!!) It needs to be in an area that doesn't restrict me from having the goats...otherwise I had might as well get some dismal place in town. In all honesty, I'd prefer something that hasn't been raped to death (in other words, clear cut), but I would buy clear cut land if the price were low enough...regrettably...and then replant portions of it. Better than getting bought by someone else, paved over and planted in lawn or worse, allowed to rejuvenate and then clear cut once again!!!! Also, after seeing what happens with goats in a very damp, low lying place, I'd sort of like to get something a bit dryer overall, or for it least to have a dry area on it somewhere for the goats. Ideally, said area would have rocks for my girl to practice their caprioles on ;-) but again, I don't mind hauling boulders in for them.

The house: actually, I don't want a perfect dream house ready to move into. A run down fixer-upper or a mobile home (we could move one onto the acreage if the prices of both allowed for that) would be just fine for now. What I really want is to build my own place, myself. I want to sink my soul deep into the house and the land, to plan it all out and live in the work of my own hands.

So, the house: Paper bale construction, made of recycled paper that'd otherwise wind up in a landfill somewhere. The foundation could be either of recycled tire bales or plastic bales (for example, baled up plastic laundry bottles- yes, there is such a thing). By necessity and design, such a house has to be one story and of either a very basic square or rectangular design. I like simple rooflines anyway. Exterior finish, concrete stucco, a soft sienna color, with light french blue trim. Interior, some heavy duty plaster that'll stand up to scrubbing, with whitewash finish or paint in cool whites, paler versions of the french blue, and perhaps soft buttery yellows. Floors- either soil cement in sienna or ultramarine tones, wood (plywood would be fine) or possibly clay/terra cotta tile or natural stone in some areas, *sealed* against dirt buildup and cushioned with woven cloth rugs. In the bathroom area, a floor drain. Kitchen- a large stainless steel sink, the sort you find in a diary or restaurant. You know, the kind we have in the deli where I work!! It drains by turning a handle from the outside- I love that feature. Mostly I want the kitchen to be bright and sunny, not dark, dismal, or depressing. In fact, I want the entire house to be fairly bright and natural. No drywall anywhere....I have come to loathe drywall...and I would like to incorporate large built in planters (of soil cement) throughout the house: in the kitchen for a small herb garden garden (possibly under an overhead drain rack or near the sink for easy watering), the living room, and the bathroom. Well.....bark plaques of orchids might be OK for the bathroom....:-) Anyway, lots of windows, lots of light. I need to find an energy efficient way to use a lot of windows..because one of the huge benefits of paper bales is their very high R value.

More on this pipe dream (sans pipe) later.....

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Incident at work today:

A couple waits at the coffee counter impatiently for someone to make epressos for them. Two 20 oz mochas with chocolate milk (this seems like sacrilege to me...but I comply without comment) and a flavor...I think it was English Toffee. I search for the flavor, it isn't there, one of the bottles totters and crashes to the floor, splattering sticky syrup and broken slivers of glass....oh lovely.... They are silent to this is just another obstacle to their lattes being made quickly. They decide that they'll settle for vanilla instead.

Being aspie (Asperger's syndrome) which is just a fancy term for very high functioning and verbal austitic, I don't often make direct eye contact with people, especially people I don't know or trust (i.e. almost everyone). But I do look at people indirectly, not at their eyes, or glance at them while they aren't looking right at me. I sneak a look at these two while I'm preparing the awful chocolate milk. The woman had contempt in her voice, and she's about what I'd expect. Low class white trash with an "I'm better" attitude, streaked dyed blond hair. Smoker, makeup, not pretty, acts like she's worth a million or some damned thing. The guy's a regular, and I'm a little surprised to see him with this fairly cheap looking gal, because he looks like a decent sort. I am making the shots of coffee.

Just then, I hear him say these words, and my opinion of him plummets lower than the woman: "I see a FAG." His voice is full of hatred, imagined, fantasized acts of violence, and above all, loathing. I feel my left eyebrow arch critically with contempt, attitude, and smart assed remarks that I will not say. Who does he think he is, to go around picking people out at random, hating them because he imagines that they aren't attracted to women, like the slouchy piece of goods he has? What business of his could it possibly be? Why in the hell should he care?! They have seen the mounting coldness and precision and extreme politeness in I silently vow that if possible, I will never wait on these two again.

Still fuming after they walk off, I think to myself that I should have told them: "Better than the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Rednecks around here!!!"

Honestly, why in the world did he feel the need to broadcast and announce his antipathy and prejudice to the world at large? Couldn't he contain his own hatred like poison in a bottle instead of spewing it around? Why did he think we all needed to hear it and agree with him? How can he be so sure that A: I'm not gay, or B: that the man he spoke of, is? Asshole....

Yeah, I have prejudices too....for people like him (and her).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I stumbled across a page of demographics for Priest River, Idaho, and now I'm depressed. Consider the following:

Median household income: Local $26,765 (National $41,994)

Education: of 1271 people in the 1999 census, 338 of us haven't graduated from high school or completed a high school equivalency. That's over 20% of our adult population!

Employment: out of a population of 1,327 people aged 16 and older, 724 of us were not employed(!)

Sex and income: In 1999, out of 478 men, only 42 of them made 50K a year or more. For women, the stats are worse: of 378 women, only 2 women made over 50K, and these made less than 54,999. Most of us make less than 20K. Remember, these stats are for the people who were able to find work.

Our area voted for George W in 2004. Now, that's depressing!

To be fair, a LOT of people did not participate in the 199 census, and I was one of them. *But* I have a nasty feeling that this wouldn't alter the results much, and it might even make them worse.

It's almost enough to make me want to move. So, why do I live here? There are practical, rational, logical reasons: for example, my ex lives here, and we have shared custody of our three small children together. Moving would necessitate stressful commuting or long periods of time away from the children for one or both of us. My mate and I both have jobs in this area, and frankly, getting a steady job that we're happy about isn't easy for this makes us leery of relocating. The cost of living here is lower than someplace like, say, Sandpoint, Idaho...a place where I could find more likeminded souls of a more intellectual bent (considering that Sandpoint is only 25 miles away, I can easily drive there when I want to).

In truth, my real reasons for staying where I am are wholly emotional and subjective: I am attached to the place, damn it! I know the nooks and crannies of the forests, the store where I work is the same one that I used to dart in and out of furtively as a socially phobic teen, the faces I see include some that I've known for close to two decades. I may have undergone a transformation from a bible thumping conservative who fervently believed that all of creation was put there by God for the use of mankind into a liberal agnostic leaning towards a gentler, more ecologically sound approach....but I still swoon with delight when some logger walks by the deli with the scent of fresh trees and pine sap wafting about him (I try to ignore the fact that yes, I also like the aroma of chainsaw intermingled with it, and that somewhere, there are a lot of stumps where a forest used to be). This is my home, and I am as deeply rooted in this place as the flora around me.

I'll try to overlook that my coworkers (avid readers of tabloids and romance novels- when they read at all) are shocked that I actually read non-fiction and listen to classical music (country-western is the standard fare here). Or that the school age girls my kids play with have only been to the library once. Try as I might, I can't quite reconcile myself to the fact that my son's school mates tease him relentlessly for being brainy and the best reader in his class (and possibly in the school). He's actually told me that he's going to give up reading -his passion- because it doesn't do him any good and the other kids hate him for it. But this is where change comes in; someone has to care enough to want it to be different, and I like to believe that even a few voices can make a difference.

Maybe someday we can have the best of both worlds?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

What is going on here:

Elton John's "If there's a God in Heaven" seems very appropriate to me today. Some of the verses:

If there's a God in heaven
What's he waiting for
If He can't hear the children
Then he must see the war
But it seems to me
That he leads his lambs
To the slaughter house
And not the promised land

I'm making lunch right now: onions, eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini sauteed in olive oil. This will go with steamed rice. It's pretty much the sort of thing I've been eating for the past ten years, but I didn't realize just how expensive it was: onions, .79 #, and the one I used was close to a pound, eggplant, $1.50 (I got it on sale, lucky me), the zucchini was free at the thrift store, otherwise...I don't know, ay least .69 a # and probably more...mushrooms, I got on sale also, a dollars worth. The olive oil is about $24 for close to a gallon, and it lasts a long time. I don't know about the rice, I buy it in bulk.

Three years ago, I would have skipped the eggplant and mushrooms and added some cheddar cheese on the top. Here's what it would have cost:

Onions- I grew all the onions
Zucchini and other summer squash- I grew these as well
garlic- I could be liberal with it because we grew that, too.
rice or pasta, bought in bulk, a dollar a pound or less
olive oil- roughly the same
cheese- for this dish (enough to feed the whole family) I would probably have used .25# of cheese at $2 or $3 #.

Of course, I left out the eggplant and mushrooms, but these items were hard to get. My partner disliked buying them excpet for special meals, and after all, we had more than enough summer squash, so much that it was being fed to the goats. Right now, it wouldn't save me any money to use more squash unless I could get more of it for free from the thrift store.

Other meals commonly eaten then:

Cream of spinach soup: with homegrown onions, garlic, milk, and spinach. Only the flour and butter for the white sauce base had to be purchased. Sometimes we used stinging nettles instead and that was even better. I believe I also used lamb's quarter's (a wild green) on at least one occasion.

Stir fried vegetables over rice (most of the veggies homegrown, the rice boughten).

Vegetable soup: same thing, except that there were usually dried beans and a can of tomato paste.

Pesto sauce with pasta- homegrown basil and parsley, boughten olive oil and parmesan cheese and pasta (oh well, one has to splurge soemeimes!!!)

Borscht: homegrown beets, onions, garlic, potatoes, and dill. Bought the sour cream and minimal amounts of cider vinegar and honey used.

There were bizarre dishes for breakfast that are hard for me to describe...soemtimes they were also lunch or dinner. Basically, you fry up an onion, add some leftover pasta or rice, summer squash if you have it, and the stir in some scrambled eggs and let those cook, and top it off with cheese. A little chopped up kielbasa can be added. It was good as long as the eggs were fully cooked (we grew the eggs too, or bought farm eggs). After I gave birth to my fourth son, I wanted eggs nearly all the time, and so I wanted this particular dish almost 3x a day!!! I must have been anemic from the blood loss....

Popeye pancakes: like a cross between a pancake and an omelet baked in the oven- homegrown fruit (raspberries or apples), milk, and eggs. The butter and flour were purchased.

Now, making most of this stuff wouldn't save me a lot of money. I'd have to buy the eggs, milk, veggies, and fruit. I've started buying my food in bulk again, and that does save money.
I guess what I'm thinking is, I didn't value my work there very much. Even though I grew most of those veggies as well as the milk, and was a prominent figure in picking the fruit or finding free fruit elsewhere to pick, AND I did a lot of the cooking (which was sometimes time/labor intensive), along with birthing, nursing (which saved on formula and medical bills) and caring for five children (no daycare), I still felt like a lazy slouch.

Again, I could blame this on him, but one has to be responsible for one's own state of worth, happiness, and well being. And frankly, I didn't relaize how much all that was worth, how much money I was saving, until I actually had to go out and buy it all- *ouch*!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I've been reading a book about financial repsonsibility. Most of it, so far, seems like common sense to me...but it is full of all manner of horror stories, of looming debts and credit card accounts run amok, bouncing checks galore, bankruptcy, etc etc. I am havign a hard time conceiving of making the sorts of choices made by soem of the unfortunate (but true) examples detailed.

And it's odd....because I was a flagrant spendthrift in my youth, the sort of kid who had her allowance spent the very moment it landed in her hand. After I hit my teens, I had almost no money at all to spend, and certaily not enough to get experience with handling it responsibly. I could either credit or blame it on my ex, but that's hardly fair...and his first wife was reportedly less responsible than I am (though my information on this subject is limited and secondhand).

Ya know, I think what it is, is that I was bascially tossed out on my ear, homeless, as soon as I left home, and I've had to fight/work my way up from there. All the while, the threat of the streets gnaws at me soemwhere, in the back of my mind. It scares me...and I don't like that...but it's also what keeps me in line and motivates me to squirrel money away and be frugal and careful. Also...I developed survival just can't be homeless or desperately poor without either resorting to handouts/panhandling/other forms of prostitution or, alternately, becoming very skilled at making the utmost of every available resource that comes your way.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I didn't give my boss enough credit. After bringing up the subject with him, my mind is at rest. He doesn't want anyone to suffer, and I think that if he had been aware of the situation, it would have been resolved much more quickly and decisively than it was. Perhaps it isn't so much a matter of distrust or lack of credit as it is fear/expectation of mob or group mentality. I was afraid he would agree with what the other managers had said and done...because that is what people tend to do. A lot of people simply don't bother to make up their minds or consider facts- it's easier to go with the flow.

I also realized part of why I was so upset by the incident: I love my job. I like working at the store, it feels like a second home to me. I am *attached* to the place. The assitant manager told me I was "sick" when I told her that...she was sort of joking....I didn't want to have to leave it or quit.

The newest twist now is that the people who opposed the girl leaving work early are saying that if she didn't have so much sex with her boyfriend, every night, they say, she wouldn't have so many backaches or cramps!!! Excuse me??!! Since when is my co-worker's sex life my business? It's not. It is not anyone's place to dictate whether she should have sex or not or how often.... :rolls eyes:....How do they know the details? Perhpas she just snuglles with her boyfriend half the time, or maybe she gets laid 3x a night. Either way, I don't care to know or think about it.

Now, I ask you: would they make such a rude, uncalled for judgment if she were married to the guy? "She and her husband have too much sex, she needs to settle down and grow up!" Seriously, who would have the balls to say that? Why does it suddenly become grounds for debate simply because she isn't married to or even living with him? Rude!!!! Rude, rude, rude.......

(And I'm not saying that I agree with casual sex or not, that isn't the issue here). It's only that even mentioning such a thing is grossly, glaringly unprofessional and should have no bearing on whether or not her state of health allows her to work on a given day.