Monday, August 29, 2011


In some ways Italians have it figured out. In other ways, not so much.

Take plastic. They put everything in plastic. I don't understand how they got attached to this means of packaging and distribution. When you buy something that is processed in a factory and sold, such as crackers, it is individually wrapped in plastic and then wrapped again as a whole. When you buy something at the store, say cheese, it is wrapped in plastic. Fruit and vegetables bought from the market are put in plastic. Even if you have your own cloth bag, they put it in plastic first. Just put the damn fruit in my bag. (In Italy, you don't handle the fruit at the market, only the vendor can touch it. So you say how many kilos you want, they pick it out and bag it and then you pay.) The first time we bought prosciutto they put it in a plastic container. It was very pretty , but the second time we bought it, they wrapped it in paper. Much better. More of that, per favore.

There is definitely a sense of disposability within this country. Recycling is available but I am not sure how much of it is used. I see plenty of metal, plastic and cardboard in the trash. I wonder if it is because Italy has been plundered for a very long time and there are very little places of natural wonder. Kids do not go and play in the woods because there aren't any woods. Every inch, just about, has been planted or developed. Their beaches are about the only thing that are still somewhat natural. And let me tell you, they take care of the beaches.

Maybe that is the key. Tell them plastic will ruin their sea if they don't curtail their use of it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


With out a job, I tend to putter around the house. Which is good because there are many things to still get done.

This past weekend, Kent was at a frisbee tournament. My team didn't go, so I was home alone. This scares Kent sometimes because he never knows what he is going to come home to. Tee hee.

I decided to spruce up the walls and put art and photos up. I have to admit that this is scary. That first hole in the wall is treacherous when you were the one installing it, painting it and the like. We worked so hard to make it perfect. (Well, not really, by now there are marks all over from moving in and life. That's probably why it has taken almost two years to do this.) Once, I got over that first hole, the rest was easy. Kind of like killing your first chicken. (I can blog about that some other time.)

In the stairway, I used the time honored tradition of hanging photos of the family there. I had a few collages from the old house, but got creative and resourceful and was able to fill the space quite well. I am happy with it and now I can see my friends and family every time I go up and down the stairs.

I also put up art in the guest bedroom. I don't have a picture of it, but it is big. I don't know if it will stay but for now it is taking up a lot of real estate. In the smaller office room, I hung some art that we have had for years. It was hanging in the old house. One is a serial piece from an art school friend and the other is a large painting by this guy who used to have an art shop uptown. I think we paid 60 bucks for this piece and at the time I thought it was exorbitant. Now, I can't believe we paid that, not because it is so awesome but because it is a large piece of art and materials cost more than that.

Downstairs is the hardest room to outfit. There are so many windows and distractions that there really isn't that much room for art. A photographer friend gave us a panoramic photo last year of McKees junkyard and that has been hanging since then, but this weekend I put up this series of fish sketches done by Kent many years ago. The photo doesn't show it very well, but the drawings are colorful fish that exist only in Kent's mind (and now on paper). They are fun and I like them.

My ultimate goal is to get photos from our various trips up on the wall. Websites like Snapfish and Shutterfly (and others I presume) can put you photo on canvas for an excellent presentation. We did this years ago for friends that went to Italy with us. It is still a bit expensive, but still cheaper than most art.

It is still a work in progress and could change at any time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


*First of all, I want to apologize for some of the details of this blog. I am going to use it for reference later in the year.

Well, I finished my year of Americorps VISTA, and now I join the ranks of the unemployed. But don't worry, I can't take any of your hard earned tax dollars since I am not even able to file for unemployment. (Part of the VISTA credo, we pay you shit ((10K/year) and then leave you to the wolves) But alas, I have been applying everywhere, telling everyone, and hoping something comes up.

However, this has given me ample opportunity to get stuff done at the house. When people ask if the house is done, I want to say, will it ever be done? We did finish the siding on July 4th, so at least it looks done from the outside. We still want to put a porch on the second st. side (is that the front or the back? I don't know) but first we have to tear off the kitchen of the old house. That means shifting what is in that house. So that is one project.

In the house, I finished the floor to the pantry. It was just various sized plywood that I fit together so that I could put the freezer in there. Since the freezer was empty (was being the operative word) I moved it out, bought some pine tongue and groove at our new Habitat Restore for cheap, installed it, and gave 2 coats of poly. Then I promptly moved the freezer back in and turned it on. Which leads me to my second big project of the past week.

Preservation of food. I can and I freeze depending on what it is. Canning tomatoes is easy and tasty when they come out of the jar. Other vegetables I like to freeze, i.e. broccoli, beets, beans, corn, peaches and berries. I have been going to the market and produce auction to buy large quantities of produce to put up for the winter months. Yesterday and today I canned 42 quarts of tomatoes. That was from 3 bushels that I bought at the auction. The tomatoes were $30 and I only needed to buy one more pack of 12 jars for $10, so my total cost was $1/quart. That doesn't include energy costs, but if I were to purchase the tomatoes over the coarse of winter, I wouldn't include gas costs, so we'll call it even there.

I also froze 3 pecks of peaches. These will be awesome in the winter when the only fresh fruit I can get locally are apples. I also froze some peach sauce, which is a first for me. I usually just freeze slices. We'll see how that goes. I froze a bunch of berries too earlier in the summer, and canned some strawberry jam (sugar free, wahoo).

Kent and I have been hard at work gathering wood for the winter. After two seasons of heating with wood, we are still trying to get a handle on how much wood we need. I will say that I like burning certain types of wood at certain times of the year. There is nothing like a oak and locust fire in the middle of winter.

This is the boring part of the post where I am going to describe where wood is stacked so that I can come back to it later in winter and know what piles of wood are.

Stack on Karen's wall: Locust that we got in early spring when they put the sidewalk in behind our house.
Stack near telephone pole: Trees that went down in last September's tornado and sat until late July when we cut it up, took it home and split it. (About 1 1/2 cords)
Stack on our wall: First layer is the cherry tree that went down in our extra lot. Don't know when it fell, but we cut it up in the beginning of August. On top of that is the wood we got from B. on N. Congress. It was cut in April, not sure what the wood it. In front of that is the groovy wood that we got from the guy on the corner. Not sure what the wood is, but was cut early in the year.

Okay, thanks for reading all the way through.