Sunday, January 1, 2012
A New Year and A New Resolve
I began anew the process of reading my Bible through over the year. I don't follow any website recommendations just do my own thing: a bit of Torah, a bit of Old Testament, a bit of Psalms and a bit of New Testament. It worked well for me last year and I think it will do just fine this year as well. I felt rather well nourished after reading this morning.
Next order was breakfast. I was vastly hungry but at the same time felt a bit ick. I think this is due to the fact that while feeding the dogs this morning, the skies were overcast, (so much for the promise of that sunrise) and fog moving in and I could smell the paper plant down south, something which dealt me a number of sick headaches in the years we lived in that vicinity. These days I often have the symptoms of a migraine without the migraine pain, nausea being one of them, though I was a bit slow in realizing that was the problem today. So I made myself a piece of toast in the toaster, which came out burnt and I just couldn't stomach toast that smelt scorched this morning and put in another piece of bread, adjusting the temperature a bit lower. Out came a second piece of toast more burnt than the first. I promise you any other day I'd have eaten the first piece and been done with it but today, I felt my tummy lurch a bit and so I determinedly lowered the temperature a bit more and put in a third piece of toast. I suppose the toaster was feeling a mite testy itself at that point. This piece, when the toaster popped, landed on the counter a good three feet away from the toaster, which made me laugh out loud. And by the way that third piece of toast was just right.
From that point on the morning moved on rather hurriedly to the appointed time for Mama to arrive to pick me up. She offered to drive but I'm just a bit leery of her driving. She's not seeing as well as she ought, but steadfastly refuses to see another eye doctor. It didn't take much convincing for her to let me drive. We went out to dinner at a popular chain and had a pleasant enough meal. Not at all crowded as I feared it might be. And then on to Walmart to pick up dog biscuits (me) and dog food (her) and then home once more.
The skies have done funny things today. Sunny and clear and then heavily clouded with odd looking pink and purple clouds in the distance. I would have sworn it was about to pour heavily with rain, but it cleared and got sunny again fifteen minutes later. When I went out to feed the dogs this evening there were more of those heavy threatening clouds tinted in pink and purple moving across the sky. It's not too cool outdoors and not humid exactly. There's no forecast of showers but they are indeed the oddest looking clouds I've seen.
So the New day of the New Year has moved along at a steady enough pace, with a bit of work and a bit of visiting and a bit of time to think about the year past and the year ahead. I've spent the last few days reading old blog and newsletter entries for January but this afternoon I'd suddenly had enough. I'd seen the evidence of procrastination, forgetfulness, floundering. I'd seen evidence too of determination and a year that started out far better than it continued last year. But that was then. Today is the day in which I live and this is the year I'll live. I decided I'd looked at the past quite long enough so I pulled out the goals for the month ahead and seen the direction I'd like to steer.
John mentioned a couple months ago that when he retires we'll have perhaps half what we have now to live on. Now mind you, while many people think otherwise (and I can't for the life of me see why) we live on what at best might be described as a very modest amount of money. What people see, however, appears to be an alternate reality, brought home by a teasing comment of an acquaintance yesterday who hinted that there was more money than we confessed to. If only they knew! lol We try not to complain too often and never in the hearing of outsiders, but five years with no raise, inflation that is out of whack, and one modest income takes a lot of prayer and tithes and blessings to stretch the way our income does. We're very grateful. John works hard at a job that is beyond demanding in a field that is underpaid and overwhelmingly under appreciated. He likes the work he does. He's also a careful thoughtful manager of our funds. I too try to do my share of careful managing of the funds I'm responsible for handling (food budget/clothing needs/gifts etc), but I was a bit flummoxed at the idea of living on HALF. I'm sure it can be done, it's just a matter of figuring out all the ways that we can. And so I mean to try to do just that starting TODAY.
I've been practicing over the last couple of months. "Instead of..." thinking was one area where I started. "Instead of buying bread crumbs, why not make my own?" I'd ask and put back the can of bread crumbs I'd just picked up. "Instead of buying packaged cookies, why not make our own?" "Instead of buying a new bread box, what can I use instead?" Oh I expect to be doing a lot of that sort of thinking this year! I want to concentrate hard on figuring out a way to save every penny I can. I've never stopped being frugal but I have relaxed in several areas where I mean to 'go commando' once more. I actually think this will be fun. And I'm not going to be so serious about it that it stops being fun and becomes a source of dissatisfaction either. Besides which right now I'm young enough and healthy enough that I can work harder at the savings than I might be able to when I'm 80, you know? So I'm going to be gung-ho for as long as I can be!
Trip into Walmart today with Mama was a case in point. I stood there in the aisle watching as she'd grab this and that from kiosks in the center of the aisle and toss in the buggy. Mama, bless her, has seldom said no to very little when it comes to spending. And I'm not grousing. She's worked harder than most and deserves the ease she experiences now, but I do a bit of comparison here only because I realized today that I simply cannot do that. Purchases have to be thought about if I'm going to try this experiment and make it succeed.
I seriously considered what I had at home (I haven't shopped in two weeks now, by the way, not even at the local store except a dog food purchase last week) and what I really needed. It came down to three items: flea and tick medication for all three of the pets (the warm weather we've had has shown no signs of letting up and the dogs frequently have ticks), dog biscuits (Old Roy, the super economy sized bag) and AAA batteries. That was it. I'm out of half and half for my coffee, but I've been using canned evaporated milk ('instead of' thinking...and by the way it's not less expensive but it was what I had on hand), so I didn't wander back to the grocery aisles. I stuck to my very short list of known immediate needs and I can't think of a single thing I should've thought to buy in the hours since my return.
But it's not all scrimping and saving this coming year. Indeed no. I want to learn new things, and mean to. I plan to try my hand at making English muffins this month. I've cooked for years and years on end and I used to do more complicated cooking than I do these days. I thought it would be fun to brush off my old skills and learn some new things. I want to renew my acquaintance with a needle and thread both via sewing machine and hand stitching. I meant to try my hand at embroidery last year and didn't. Why not try it this year? I'm inspired by darling darling guest towels seen in a January issue of Victoria (year of publication unknown) in which the linens of an auto tycoon's estate was shown and there were hand towels for the children's nursery embroidered with Raggedy Ann and Andy. Soooo sweet!
I want to make my garden plot in the old kennel. If I can't swing raised beds for the total area, I'll do a mix of lasagna gardening and a single raised bed. I'm inspired by my little garden pots which produced a small batch of radishes (glad of that as I realized after I'd eaten the first one that I don't even like radishes! lol), enough lettuce that I can stretch a salad out of it about every two weeks, a lovely crop of cilantro, and beet greens though the plants formed no beets. Oh and the peas are blooming in their pots with tiny peas filling out on the plants. I am convinced my green thumb will prevail and I can grow some portion of our foods. I mean to plant a new crop of lettuce, more peas and spinach seeds here in the next couple of weeks.
I had a brainstorm one evening in early December and realized that I need the tile topped table I use as a desk in my kitchen as my sewing machine table in the craft room. So some shifting about of furniture is in the air. We bought a lovely antique replica radio/phonograph/cd player as part of our Christmas to ourselves (really it's John's gift but we'll both benefit from it) and I need a spot to put it. More shifting of furniture and possibly looking for 'new' (used solid wood) pieces at thrift and antique stores sounds fun doesn't it?
I've spent several hours contemplating the possibilities of winter reading. Shall I start with one author and stick hard to him/her and read all I can get my hands on by that one or just set up a nice neat stack near my chair and sample them all throughout the season?
There's a notebook I mean to compile of home remedies that I think we should start to employ and I want that information handy. I'm looking about at the possibilities of home employment, something to bring in just a little more income to put into savings. I'll be starting to list items on eBay this month, gathered from the excess of my own bookshelves and china and collections and we'll see how that goes for a bit. There are pecans to pick up and house to keep and new studies to begin, and I think this year is off to a very good start indeed with all this possibility in the air, don't you?