FLOTSAM

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Poverty is grueling. I know there are people below me and people above me. I thank god we have heat, hot water and were able to pay the rent on time…this time. i feel it in our make-do, hand-me downs, that are neither what we enjoy wearing or suitable. There is a daily battle over trying to make stuff work, and making sure there are enough clean clothes available to do so. Our washing machine broke, first the dryer, which I made do by line drying. Now the washer. It costs $2.25 to do a load off clothes. It adds up when you have kids and a limited amount of clothes. I have been hand washing loads in the tub, and either hanging the to dry, or takimg them over to the dryers in the laundry room. It is ok. thankfully I can really wring out the wet clothes using the spin cycle. it really makes you appreciate clean clothes more. Mindful labor. Hand washing is not hard, but wringing out is hard on the hands. In the winter you really need to get as much water out because it takes so long to dry. Now that I don’t have instant access to washing when I need, all my clothe rags and hand towels are more problematic. I can see paper being a more viable option. Meanwhile I boil them and hang dry them until laundry day, otherwise they become mighty nasty.

Food has been a challenge because one gets used to eating what one wants, when one wants, as much as one wants. Going back to frugality means making do with odds and ends, days without as much vegetables as you’d like, and maybe no fruit. Meat we spread out over the week and beans have been making a comeback, something that actually makes me happy. There is nothing more delicious that a plate of black beans over rice, topped with fresh cilantro and a bit of soy sauce. It is hard to deal with the kids though, trying to maintain a food budget with fruit. I have a girl who would eat the entire bag of clementines if I didn’t step in. School hot lunch is not their favorite, but thank god it is there. They complain how bad it is and I believe them, but this is what we have to do; I can’t do lunches every day, and not lunches that they’d want to take anyway. You almost want to weep when you see how fast a big container of yogurt goes, or that bag of clementines. What can you do? On the bright side, we are eating beans, and I am having to get creative in the kitchen. I am baking bread again. One thing that has been hard is weaning off take out. I’m good now, but the first week, you have to really whip your reptilian brain into submission. NO MORE shwarma and fries! NO MORE CAKE! No! No! No!  It feels a lot long than it has been, to be honest. This has been a slow decline into making do, and making even more do…. almost rock bottom. Your pantry gets depleted pretty fast when you are in budget mode. Pantry being, all the well stocked staples, some of which are a pricey initial investment. I can’t wait to have enough “extra” to be able to save money (takes money to make money… or save money) for a trip to the next biggest town and buy jasmine rice in bulk from the Asian grocery store, and bulk meat from the halal butcher. Spices and legumes are also more affordable in bulk there, than the regular supermarkets.

Now, I don’t feel like I am sobbing here, asking for sympathy, I’m just laying it out on the line. Add to all this the other costs of getting to affordable grocery stores or work or school….cars and gas. We have two cars, both old, one from 1991, which needs to be smogged. Old cars do not get the discount price of a coupon smog, and it takes awhile to find a place that will acually smog such an old car—$66 then the fees with DMV for that $80. This car is old, and is not great for going long distances or high speed, however it works a lot better than our other car right now. That one is newer, and has been more reliable until now—now it wants to die on you. We have to try and make it work until we have enough money to afford a mechanic. It is dicey. Wehn you have no money for gas, you use one car anyway. Still challenging.

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