Monday, April 23, 2012

Running in Place

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else -- if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 2)

Are you feeling a bit like Alice? I know I am. In more ways than I care to think about.  The price of EVERYTHING has been going up, with no end in sight. We're all working harder to stay afloat financially, and things are getting harder, not easier. My husband, who works for the federal government, has not had a salary increase in four years, and it looks like he will not for at least another several years.  We've been making do with less and less, just like everyone else out there. We certainly are not hurting as much as we could be, but finances are definitely tighter than they used to be.  I often wonder how families with less income than ours manage to feed and clothes their families.

What really makes the situation frustrating and makes my blood boil is the total disregard by the government to be good a steward of our tax dollars.  Oh no. It's as if they have a credit card with no credit limit, and they keep spending and spending like a drunk sailor. I just heard on the radio the other day that our President's deficit spending in real terms means the government has ALREADY spent all of the lifetime tax payments by our grandchildren! And he wants to spend more! It is obviously unsustainable, and it scares the CRAP out of me! 

As a general rule, I don't buy ANYTHING now unless it is on sale or clearance, except for vegetables at the grocery store. I hate going to the grocery store because you get so little for SO much! I remember when we first got married, we used to be able to fill up our grocery cart and spend less than $100. Now? I might have 6 or 7 items and pay close to $50! Insanity, I tell you. And the reason I avoid shopping as much as humanely possible.

We are fighting back by expanding our vegetable garden again this year. We will have twelve 4 x 8 beds when all's completed. I already planted 3 whole beds with tomato plants in the hope of canning the surplus so I will not have to buy canned tomatoes to use in recipes. The materials set us back $60, but we hope it will pay us back many times over in the future.

But as I work to get the garden prepared for more plants, I see a day in the not-so-distant future when the government will tax us for the pleasure of growing our own vegetables. Call me paranoid, if you will, but I have no doubt that this is something coming down the pipeline. Case in point: we have a well on our property, and we are certain we will get taxed to use it sooner than later. The city  already taxes commercial property owners with a well for the use of the water, regardless of the fact that the city does JACK to maintain the well and the pump. The government is getting too intrusive, too powerful, and too downright scary! And it really annoys the HELL out of me that too many people are ignorant about the dangers of an out of control government. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Frugal Landscaping Continued

Our home is on a septic system and has a dedicated septic tank off the kitchen sink right by the front door. It was a huge eyesore, covered up by some thick plastic pool liner to keep out the weeds from growing up around it. The previous owners had some small pebbles tossed over it, but I was trying to come up with a better solution that is easily removable if and when the concrete tank needed to be pumped out every few years.The solution eluded me for almost 4 years, but I finally had an "ah ha" moment! An ornamental foot bridge! It would span over the tank, not place any additional weight on it, and it would be easily removable, AND it would be pretty to look at.  One big problem. The cheapest mail order "assemble it yourself" foot bridge cost $299 plus shipping. Forget THAT.

So I decided to make it myself. I already had some 2 X 11's long enough to cut into the curved supports. I measured it to completely clear the top of the tank plus extra for the two supporting ends. Here, I had already cut out one and I'm working on the second with a jigsaw. It was quite a bit of work, even with the power tool because the wood was 2 inches thick. (Blogger still has not fixed the glitch in photo quality when uploaded from a smart phone. . . Drat!)

Next, I cut some 2 X 4's into 24 inch lengths and screwed one at each end to stabilize the structure before I figured out how many more I needed to cut out.

Then I started screwing in the rest of the 2 X 4's to complete the structure. The total cost of this project was a whopping $15.00, including some new blades for the jigsaw! Sure beats $299!  With a little bit of elbow grease, I saved a ton of money!

And here it is, placed on top of the aforementioned septic tank. The flowers were purchased last weekend for $4.99 and planted in pots I got for free from the dumpster when we lived in an apartment complex in between houses.  The lily plant ( the green mass of leaves on the right) is a transplant from our previous house. It blooms year after year in May without fail. After this photo was taken, I transplanted some in front of the bridge, so it should fill out nicely in a couple more years to soften the line where the bridge and the walkway meet.  I can't help it, but I'm awfully proud of myself!