I collect junk.
So much junk that it's actually visible from space. Don't believe me? Just look up my address on a Google Map. Check it out...
I collect junk that will someday be made into something else, oh wait. My daughter tells me that's called upcycling. Upcycling sounds too much like what happened back in 1974 or 1975 when I entered a bicycle race. Sheesh, talk about 'cycling' an 'up' in the same sentence. No thanks! I rounded the first bend and bang, a hill...going up. I had to upcycle for real. Anyway, long story short. At the end of the race, they gave out medals. The men got medals for first, second and third place. I got a medal for being first of all the women.
Um, did I mention that I was the only woman in the race? True. I could have walked the entire course...backward and still come in first of all the women! But I treasure that medal to this day because I finished the race. Cycling uphill, be damned! I did it, I finished, I didn't quit and have the medal to prove it. Completing that race meant a lot to me. It's right up there with my feeling of accomplishment when I climbed Mount Washington, the highest point in the White Mountain range in New Hampshire, part of the Appalachian Trail. Have you ever climbed Mount Washington? It is so strange to be up, up, up above the treeline. No trees. Heck, where would my dogs pee if they were up above the treeline? Someone certainly does a good job of keeping the lower trails clear but above the treeline, there's nothing to cut back.***
And all of that has absolutely zero to do with this blog post but heck, I had to start somewhere. So, back to junk.
If someone places something at the curb for trash pick up, I'm there. Just yesterday in the pouring rain I picked up some cut off lumber, 2 kitchen knives, and a plastic box that will be handy for storing things. Litter on the beach - I pick it up. Drop something in the woods - I pick it up. Picking up trash and litter in the woods it's just good um, what's the word? There is a term for it, you know, leave the woods cleaner than when you arrived. What in the heck did we call that? I can't remember what it used to be called but now there's a hip new term. Thanks to the Swedish we can all go plogging. Yes, when you go out jogging or hiking, remember to carry the necessary tools such as disposable gloves, reusable trash bags, etc. You can take my word for it, look up plogging, or check the link* below.) It seems that the Swedish people are very good at keeping fit, keeping things clean, and having the tools at hand to get the job done. It's too bad they can't invent a way to not get smacked in the face by branches while running along a trail in the woods.
Oooh, I just remembered something. Way back in 1995, I was walking through the Home Depot parking lot somewhere in Florida and, as always, I picked up a piece of trash. This trash just happened to be one of those paper envelopes the bank uses when they give out cash. Two men behind me started laughing and I could hear them, "Look at that. She thinks there's gonna be money in that envelope. Stupid...(fill in the blank)". I quietly and quickly put the 'trash' into my pocket. There was money in it. Seventy-five dollars. But I let the men have a good laugh. Why spoil their fun?
Standing in line at the grocery store...trash at my feet. It was an envelope. Most likely it was someone's shopping list. I find it enjoyable to read shopping lists created by other shoppers; might be good for a laugh. I pick it up and stick it into my pocket, the same as I always do. Driving home from the store, I became curious. What if? No. It couldn't happen twice, right? As the traffic light turned red I stopped and took a quick peek. Five dollars! At the next light, I looked again. More than five dollars! I forced myself to wait until I was home safe and sound to open the envelope and count the money. No name. No identification. Not even a shopping list. The envelope contained a little over $600. Even I didn't believe it happened. I checked to see if anyone posted an ad about lost money. Checked the notice board at the grocery store. I waited for about two weeks. Nope. Nothing.
Whenever I walk my dogs along the roadside I always pick up small pieces of metal, nails, and screws that might cause someone to have a flat tire. I once ran over a metal clothes hanger that caused a flat tire, on a Sunday, in downtown Savannah. A nice police officer named Elvis came to my rescue and directed me to the nearest tire repair place. Gotta love that his mom taught him to be helpful and gave him such a cool name.
Walking the dogs in the rain I once found a one hundred dollar bill. A few minutes later I found a second one hundred dollar bill. Hmmm, this can't be real.
It was movie money. Fake money for motion pictures. Yes, Savannah is a popular location for filming. As a matter of fact, I could register my property to be used as a potential filming location, well, if I didn't have so much junk all over the place.
Sometimes I pick up things that will be useful to others. Things like baby walkers, high chairs, cribs, etc. that only need to be washed and disinfected then given to friends or donated to charity shops. Bicycles are a big deal; people throw away two or three broken bicycles, I pick them up and take them to a man who uses broken bicycles to make one good bicycle. Keeps him busy and he feels good when he gives the newly refurbished bicycles away to young people. When the Instant Pot became popular it seemed that everyone was discarding their old slow cookers. Okay, the electric part may not work but the crocks are good and heavy; they make excellent water containers for the chickens and dogs.
Don't worry. I am not about to list every type of trash that I pick up. It's enough for you to understand that I love doing this. It makes me happy. Having all this junk and making plans to upcycle everything keeps my mind active. Hope for the future and all that jazz.
Picking up trash is something I occasionally do on a much larger scale. When my friend and neighbor William went into a nursing home his nephew had the daunting task of cleaning out his uncle's mobile home to sell. I volunteered to help. It was a 3-bedroom, 2-bath mobile home packed to the ceiling with junk. We struck a deal - no money involved but I would be able to keep whatever junk I wanted. Armed with trash bags, cardboard boxes, plastic totes, gloves, face masks, and knee pads I slogged my way through a hoarder's paradise. I separated the junk into trash to haul to the dump, garbage to be placed in the weekly bin for pickup, recyclables to be places in the yellow-top bin for pickup, things to keep, things to give away. The nephew had already removed what he considered to be 'valuables' but I found treasures galore. Lots of hand tools; I love tools. I won't list all the items but will talk about just one thing - pool table fabric. My friend William had owned a billiard parlor and had tons of fabric, both used and new, piled, stacked, in boxes, on chairs, stapled to the wall, toppling over onto the floor. I filled my car three times with fabric and thought that sooner or later I'd figure out what to do with it. I mean...Kermit the Frog was created by using mom's discarded winter coat; maybe I could do something creative and/or useful with that much fabric.
Skip ahead. Yes, eventually I discovered that no matter how stained, stained, or smelly (think stale beer and cigarette butts on the barroom floor stinky), the fabric could be run through the washing machine a few times and be good as new. I started sewing blankets for shelter dogs. It worked! And the fabric was all free. I wrote a blog about it over here.**
Okay, I lost my train of thought again. Where was I going with this blog? Let's see...trash, dogs, walking, Swedish, um...oh, I remember. Someone posted on Facebook Marketplace that they were giving away two used garden hoses for free - no money. I just happen to need those garden hoses because I have accumulated a huge brush pile and, after obtaining the proper burn permit from the Georgia Department of Forestry...not from the Canadian Forest Rangers, I will set the pile on fire and end up with some lovely wood ash for the garden. But, safety requires me to have a garden hose that will reach over 200 feet from the spigot to the pile.
Note: My mom lived to be over 100 years old and until the very end she had one regret - that she didn't know how to spell the word 'spigot'. She could have won the grade school spelling bee but she had spelled it incorrectly as 'spicket'. Her parents were immigrants to this country and never spoke a word of English; I find it amazing that my mom came in second place in a spelling bee. If only the neighbors had called the thing a hose bibb and not a spigot; she could have been the winner! Well, anyway, one good thing is that her parents decided to settle in Pennsylvania instead of in Canada. There was a large group of Ukrainians who called themselves Galicians that arrived in Canada. Some of them lived as squatters in the Canadian woods and every spring the Forest Service would have to get them to move along. Who knows what my mom would have learned if she had grown up as a Canadian child?
My mind wandered again...let's get back on track. I met the Facebook person, let's call him Carlos mostly because that's his name, at a local storage facility. We chatted. Put the free garden hose into my car. We chatted. He sold me a brand new in-the-box-never-opened garden sprayer for $4. We chatted. Carlos will be moving and there's a ton of junk that he can't take with him. I thanked him and drove away with the garden hose and sprayer and that should have been the end of it. But no. Carlos sent random texts throughout the day about concrete blocks, slightly rusted metal shelves, and a few other things and we agreed to meet at 9 the following morning to see what we could fit into my small car. Just in case you don't know about me and my little car, I tend to make things fit. It's like a clown car except for junk, not clowns. Here are a few examples:
Caffeine-deprived and blinded by the morning sun, Carlos and I worked together to disassemble the shelves so they would fit into my tiny car and all the while we chatted. Carlos is a very entertaining person; it's a shame he's moving all the way to Ohio. He would be fun at a party. Into my car went six almost new concrete blocks, 2 metal shelves, a leaf rake, and a thing.
What kind of thing?
I don't know.
A 'what is it' kind of thing tool.
How did it end up in your car?
Oops, I skipped that part.
As I was preparing to leave the storage place I had spotted some kind of hand tool I've never seen before in my entire life. Did I mention that I hate not knowing what something is? I was getting ready to take a photo of the thing so I could research when Carlos said, "Well, heck. I got that thing for free so you take it. I never did find out what it was. It's yours now!"
And into my car, it went.
(...but what is it?!)
I have no clue, but it's my thing now.
I asked a few friends.
I sent photos to people.
I searched on some forums about tools.
Nope. Nothing, but I did read a whole bunch of interesting stuff about other tools. Bookmarked a few forums for later. Rainy day reading.
I even showed the thing to my dogs and they tried to pee on it.
No, no, no. Dogs should not pee on tools; they should pee on trees, saplings, shrubs, weeds, and concrete blocks.
I sent photos to a friend in Tennessee and asked her to please show the pictures to her husband and his buddies. Nope. Nothing. But...her husband did offer what he knew was a wrong answer. His wrong answer allowed me to change the direction of my research and hurray.
Whoa, I gotta calm down.
Whatever this is, it weighs about 2-3 pounds, the handle is approximately 20 inches long, there is a very sharp blade that's about 5 inches long...well, the part that cuts, not including the two ends that are attached somehow to the metal 'thingie'. I figured it must be to cut wood. Just for fun, I whacked a fence post and yep, it's sharp. Very sharp.
Here are two photos of the tool.
Please, if you know what it is, hold off for a while so people can post some guesses.
If you need any hints I will say that all the hints are already in this blog post.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Okay, at this point I will do the 'long story short - too late!' thing and say that I did eventually learn what the tool is but telling you flat out would take the fun out of it. I know what the tool is and how to use it. How to sharpen the blade and how to replace the blade if it ever wears out (good thing I brought that bench vise home!) I even know where to buy a new tool like it just in case I want to give someone a gift. Oh, and don't worry about the rust. I know that a soak in some white vinegar and a bit of elbow grease using a wire brush and a green scrubby pad will get rid of the rust and a light coating of oil will prevent new rust.
This is part 2 of my Thanksgiving blog post.
Yesterday, half the world was preparing for Thanksgiving, cooking up a storm. I did the same but in my case, I was making dog food. It's my own recipe and it turned out well. During the prep, I offered my dogs some of the cooked chicken livers which is a good thing. It turns out that my newest dog Chico Burrito does not like chicken livers. No worries. I just divided the ingredients and made one batch with livers and one without. Since I don't have an oven, three cooking methods: slow cooker, Instant Pot, and microwave. The microwave was the clear winner, hands down! Oh, I guess that emoji would be 'hands up'.
Microwaved meatloaf for dogs:
The original plan was to achieve something that would slice like meatloaf but even though it's tasty, it's a bit too crumbly so I needed to change the packaging method:
Portion control packages without livers:
When people start talking about all the hard work they did to prepare for their Thanksgiving meal, I no longer have to say, "I live alone and have no one to cook for". That would pretty much bum people out so now I can smile, nod my head and agree, yep, it's a lot of work preparing food.
Here's my recipe:
1 pound chicken livers (rinsed, microwaved in water, drained, cooled) $1.68
1 pound brown rice (cooked in Instant Pot, cooled) $ .79
2 pounds ground chicken (raw) $6.00
2 bags frozen peas & carrots (not thawed) $1.68
1/4 cup dried parsley $ .22
1 can pumpkin $ .87
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed), $ .58
3/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (uncooked) $ .18
1/4 cup textured vegetable protein $ .27
1/4 cup nutritional yeast $.41
8 eggs ($ .00...I keep chickens!)
pulverized eggshells $ .00
I used coconut oil in each cooking container to prevent sticking. $ .18
Shredded cheddar cheese will be added when serving. $1.79
Yield 40 servings at approximately 36 cents each. Not bad. Next time I'll try to catch a sale on the chicken.
Today is Tuesday, November 26. Two days before Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Yep, it's true. Nothing much is happening around here.
I make plans. Life gets in the way. The several loads of free composted horse manure turned out to be contaminated with residual herbicide so I lost my entire garlic bed. I had also added the composted manure to a new garden bed, added coir, pine fines and all the good stuff one does when creating a new planting bed. I got a bit sick and didn't actually plant anything in the bed but mysteriously, there were zero weeds growing in the bed. Huh? That's when I started researching and learned about the evil thing I had brought home to my garden. It was a huge waste of time and money and all that soil will need to be removed and replaced. Sigh.
There were some trees I'd been looking for and wasn't able to find anywhere. Everyone was sold out. I worked with one nursery who was finally able to locate the trees for me. I bought 4 trees, over $88 plus shipping costs. I had put the trees in a 5-gallon bucket with some good garden soil until I could dig holes and get them planted. And...well, you guessed it. The 'good' soil is from that new bed so I lost 3 of the 4 trees and one is barely hanging on to life.
Back in September, there was a mandatory evacuation order as Hurricane Dorian was expected to hit my area. Instead of evacuating (and where does one actually go with 2 dogs and something like 14-15 chickens?), I drove a bit inland and adopted a dog. He is so cute and funny that he makes my face hurt from all this laughter. His name is Chico Burrito.
Mowing over an acre of grass and weeds with a push mower was getting tiresome so I researched and learned how to repair the Cub Cadet riding mower that's out in the big shed. I replaced the battery, repaired one tire, drained the old (ancient) gasoline and was thankful that the old gas didn't cause any major problems, added new gas (non-ethanol, marine gas) and then had to get my limbs coordinated to go forward and reverse and make turns without tipping the mower over on its side. After that, I decided that raking over an acre of grass and weeds and hauling it to the compost bins was...well, just plain idiotic so I researched and ordered a bagging attachment. Whew, the box was large and heavy and somehow I managed to install it. Works great. Here, look at the huge pile of clippings.
As the chickens grew, I removed them from the house to the shed, then to the coops in the garden area. Yes, coops as in more than one. Eventually, the chickens decided they were grown and no longer wanted to be put inside the coops at night. Find, you wanna be grown? Be grown! But don't complain to me later.
Some of the chickens were roosters and honestly, I only need one, so little by little I have been giving away roosters. I gave one rooster and a hen to my former neighbors who stopped by for a visit. Last week I gave away 3 roosters to a man who was looking forward to his Thanksgiving dinner (oops!) There remains one rooster that I am unable to capture. He's just too smart. Time will tell.
Since the chickens are grown and now select their own sleeping place in the evening, I no longer have to round them up in the evening. Unfortunately, the sleeping place that some selected was not very secure and I lost one hen to a very hungry Great Horned Owl. It took that owl 3 days but eventually, all that was left were a few stray feathers. Owls have very good table manners.
Let's see. I did mention that I got sick? Well, I got sicker. I lost a ton of weight and my hair fell out. Ugh! So I bought some wigs and...laughed myself into insanity. No way could I actually go out in public wearing a wig. I created a collage of how silly I looked.
After living without hair it was quite a surprise when it started to grow back. Here is my "Before, after, and after" picture.
My neighbor will be moving and the new people have 5 dogs so I'll be installing a 6-foot privacy fence. Hmm, I'd better get cracking and finish installing the fence to keep the chickens contained. So far there have been 9 cedar fence poles and 6 T-posts installed. Yesterday I purchased more T-posts. Wish me luck. The plan is to fence a perimeter around the house where the dogs can play, to close in the garden area to keep the chickens from straying too far (and annoying the new neighbors). The Cub Cadet has reminded me that wide gates need to be included in this plan.
For about 3 days I was very happy because a homeless person offered to help with some of the work. He worked hard for one day - I paid him. Worked sort of hard for the next day - I bought him new shoes and some food. And the third day he stole what he wanted. I paid him for the first two days so I guess we are about even as far as money goes.
Speaking of money, sheesh, I need to find enough money to replace the HVAC system. Mine is just plain too old. It has the old type of Freon. The good part is that the new system will be more efficient and will save me money on my electric bill. Now...if only I had a spare $5,285.00 laying around the house. :)
Almost forgot. In my spare time, I volunteered to help transport dogs that are going from foster to their forever homes. The group is Echo White Sheperd Dog Rescue. On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, Facebook is having Giving Tuesday and will match donations up to a certain amount but the money runs out very quickly so...if you're not busy at 8 am (Eastern Time), why not chip in? There's a link at the end to explain more.*
And just in case you can't watch the clock that closely, there's what I call the equivalent of 'early voting'. You can send your donation early (only 4 days left!!) and the monies will be pooled and donated by the group at the correct moment in time. Use this link for early donations:
Here is one more picture. For anyone who is a bit overweight and trying to lose a few extra pounds, be careful what you wish for or you could end up looking like me. Yes, that's me and I am moving a 148-pound Sodefor anvil made in Sweden back in the 1920s. (It's okay to laugh!)
The next project on my to-do list is to make a new chicken enclosure from an old 12-foot trampoline. Wish me luck!
I added a part 2 to tell about my DIY dog food experiment.
I'm a bit busy today cutting grass and heading to the laundromat but here is an experiment from yesterday - click on the link. Dairy-free 2-ingredient rice pudding made in the Instant Pot. The experiment was a success!
A few months ago I had bought some coconut coir at Walmart. I thought the price was good compared to my local garden center. $7.98 .
Today I was back at Walmart to buy one more huge block of coconut coir and was surprised to see a price drop. Only $5.88. WooHoo!
After adding water, one block completely fills my garden cart. I think this is a very good deal. I will be back at Walmart in the morning to buy more.
Hope this information helps some of the frugal gardeners who are trying to stay within budget.
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