Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When was the last time you were exhausted?

Back on the ranch I often worked myself to exhaustion.  Whether it was mowing, digging, or shoveling manure I would walk into the house and flop to my chair after grabbing a cup of coffee often so stiff I could not move.  Here in the city the feeling is different, after a long day at work my brain feels so tired there is nothing left that makes any sense so I plop on the couch to watch my favorite show "Murder, She Wrote"  before heading to bed to rest for another day.  This goes on until Friday when despite my weariness the smile creeps out knowing that I have a couple days off of the treadmill.

When many say they are exhausted their tone has the "help me" quality and if they are lucky someone will come along and do something nice like excuse their feet on the couch or bring a give them a break on the many things that are not yet done.  We all hope for this understanding and should give it to others as well. 

Long ago I learned that despite my whining being exhausted was usually a good thing.  It meant that I had worked hard, given my all, and pushed beyond the laziness limits that threaten to overcome us all if we do not keep the temptation at bay.

So if you are exhausted today or plan to be I offer a "well done"!  Pat yourself on the back even if no one else will. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why I keep blogging.

From a statistical standpoint in many respects I am well aware that my blogging efforts have been a failure.  Every few months I re-evaluate it and wonder if I should continue as I don't have the time I once was able to devote to research and writing.  At this point it is two posts a week that I set aside Sunday afternoon to do.

Intentionally I have avoided all the "successful" blog tips I have read that may have resulted in income and readership.  For those who also write blogs they are:

  • Posting comments on other blogs
  • Advertising
  • Doing guest posts for other blogs
  • Track backs
  • Getting a " dot com" address
  • Joining Yakenzee
  • Featuring guest posts from other blogs to attract their regular readers
  • Developing relationships with other bloggers and promoting one anther's blogs for mutual benefit though comments and links
  • Using key word searching in my titles to gain more hits
  • Utilizing Search Engine drivers
  • Intentionally clicking on my own posts to raise the counts for the Alexa rating system
  • Following up on leads and opportunities for increased visibility for the blog and book
  • Providing timely, quality posts regularly - (now we know I slip in this area sometimes :)

Yes, you can clearly see that I have read the books.  So if YOU want to have a successful blog do not ignore these items but embrace them for whatever subject you choose to write on.

I'm not saying I will never do these things for as some point I may so don't hold me to it as a specific standard.

The reason I so far have chosen to bypass those things is largely due to my friends Ann, Cleo, and Paul.  Here's why:

It goes back to when I was going through the worst of my own In The Trenches experiences and did not even have adequate heat, water, broken windows and holes in the floor. My friend Ann would stop by each morning after dropping her kids at school and we would share a pot of coffee before we got busy with our days.  We talked, laughed, shared, and had our good and bad days.  She seemed not to notice I had no car and scraped for every thing.  Sid, Cleo, and Paul were the same though not as often.  I cannot imagine how I would have gotten through without them.

That is what I have wanted this blog to be.  One real person talking to another real person.  It is not a business.  Those who have found this blog needed to for one post or regularly. One thing I have noticed as the years have passed is the one thing people are needing more than money is connections.  Facebook has become a billion dollar business just for that reason.  Our lives have become so busy and hectic that we have little time for the cup of coffee with a friend or the neighbor across the fence like Wilson in Home Improvement.

The blog has hit 50,000 pages views this month.  A drop in the bucket in blog world but amazing to a woman who once lived in a home with no phone.

Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Extra Money

I guess in reality there is no "extra money" as we should be wise about all our habits.  There are times when we do have more than our basic needs require and at that time we feel more free to splurge a little on the things that are important to us but we may set aside when higher priorities take precedence. 

Each has our own list of splurges and it is those things that show who we are as an individual.  I have had many in the past: 

  • Books
  • peacocks
  • Garage sale treasures
  • going out to eat
  • one of my past indulgences was Little Golden Books written in french (talk about weird)

Others I have seen are
  • clothing beyond the necessities
  • men's toys - boats, 4 wheelers, top of the line tools that don't get used
  • quilting fabric
  • a manicure or pedicure

The list can go on forever.

Something about having "extra money" makes us feel, or reminds us that we are rich even despite the overall challenges we might be dealing with. 

Of course I'm not referring to those who routinely have an over spending problem that they are trying to curb.  The advice might be taken as telling an alcoholic that only one drink is okay.  I'm referring to those who are seeking to manage on a limited or reduced income and are scraping to make ends meet every month.

Years ago I learned it was important to budget "extra money" or spending money in, even if it was only $5 a month for an ice cream cone. Going on month after month and feeling like no headway is being made can cause one to loose hope and give up, or blow all their efforts with a major spending spree. 

Of course, I could have showed the picture of a book right here but it just didn't seem like it would give the same message :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Basics of Financial Management

Lately I feel agitated.  It might show.  As much as I have been trying to tune out the upcoming election news I continue to get forwards and emails that remind me.  The cause my discomfort stems largely because I believe that no matter who is elected or what the news says it is simply not over yet.  I feel a stirring that won't stop that what was crystal clear in 2009 was just the first wave and another is coming. 

That is just what no one wants to hear so every time I bring it up I risk being forever branded as a pessimist.  One thing that really gets on my nerves is hearing President Obama branded as the anti-Christ himself.  Now before you think that makes me a die hard Democrat that could not be farther from the truth.  My politics have always leaned toward the right and I enjoyed working at the campaign headquarters for Republicans on a few occasions. There I said it.  I have revealed my own political persuasion but it's not that simple because in the last few years I have totally become an independent meaning that my views no longer align with either of the parties.

The chief reason for that is that I am sick and tired of people in political offices on both sides getting caught with their pants down or their mouth flapping when it should be shut.  I'm a strong believer that if one cannot contain their  personal impulses they are in no position to lead the country.  We don't need any who have not gone beyond the stage of teenage hormonally charged individuals leading the most blessed country of the world.  It is a sham and a disgrace.  And the big mouths are on both sides.  Anytime a leader has to resort to name calling and defamation of character as the keys to their platform it's just time to step away.

Remember Chuck Connors as the Rifleman?  I loved him.  Honest and good who worked hard but was a defender when he needed to be.  Or, Loren Green as the head of the Ponderosa?  Same thing.  What happened to our men?  What happened to our women who were also strong, courageous, and noble?  Of course these were t.v. characters and not real life.  But regardless of that they were our role models.  Who have we got now?  A bunch of sports figures, Kim Kardasian, and Ellen Degeneras.  These are the people we have allowed to be the spokespeople for our nation around the world.  In the meantime big business keeps scheming about how to get more of our hard earned money. No wonder everything is a mess!

People want to think that this has nothing to do with our economy but it has everything to do with it.  When we esteem those without integrity, self-discipline, and common sense, we are bound to run into a ditch.  When we think a person's personal life has nothing to do with their politics we are only fooling ourselves. 

I didn't intend to jump on my soapbox this morning because I wanted to lighten things up.  If my own words sound abrasive or trite than do us all a favor and do not vote for me to be president.  If you detect ulterior motives from me - do not vote for me as president.  Or, if I seem to be one who will just say anything to get elected - do not vote for me as president.  By now you get the idea. 

But whoever we as the American people vote into office they do deserve to be called "Mr. President" by all for the next four years.  To not do so is not a slam to the person, it is a slam to the office itself and our own country.   We cannot profess to love our country while at the same time we undermine the process which makes us a democracy and tear it down.

The reality is that it is not so much about them as it is about us.  When we as individuals take responsibility for our own actions and words it becomes the standard that can spread.  This includes all areas of life and our values are easily seen in our own personal finances.  As we continue to strive to get to the place we should be it contributes to the overall health of ourselves, families, communities, and the nation.  We can only expect from others those things we adhere to ourselves.  Not to do so is hypocrisy. 

The ups and downs of life and the hits and blows may have thrown some of us off course.  Keeping the goals in focus will help us get back to where we need to be.  As a starting place for financial management:
  1. Expect to work for any money you have and need.
  2. Live within your means.
  3. Save 10% of your income. Recognize that no matter how tight money is today it could be tighter tomorrow.
  4. Give generously to those in need. This can be your neighbor, church, disaster victims, or orphans. It does not always have to be cash but could include no longer needed items or a ride somewhere.  A tithe of 10% is the commonly accepted principle among church attendees.
  5. Invest some of your earnings. This is above your savings for it is the specific intent to have a higher return than the amount you put in.
  6. Stay out of debt. That means friends, family, charge cards, or banks. If you are already in debt pay it off as quickly as possible. Debt is the negative result of not doing #2.

We may not be able to accomplish these things all the time or in every situation but they establish the direction we are going.
Simple? yes. Easy? no. Possible? definitely.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Walmart Underwear Sale on Now

It's time again for the annual Walmart underwear sale for the entire family.  No this is not an ad but just a chance to share the news about saving money on name brand garments.  It's the little things in life that can put a smile on a kid's face whether they are 5 or 50. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Drought - 2nd hit to the American Economy?

A few extra minutes at lunchtime allowed me to scan the MSN news to find out what was going on in the country.  As usual the top stories revolved around what prominent actresses were wearing and who they were seen with,  the U.S. participation in the Olympics, and who said what about the upcoming presidential election.  Buried in the corner was a small headline about drought conditions.  I clicked on it with memories of what happened in Texas only last year.  The only way to describe my reaction was:  Appalled.  I was appalled at how widespread the drought already was and I was appalled that the news which is supposed to be our lifeline to the facts of what is going on in our country had so effectively buried the information thus skewing our perception of its impact and importance.

Being a native of Washington State which is known for its rain, evergreens, and rivers, lakes and access to the ocean it is difficult for me to imagine what a drought even looks like.  We rejoice in the few days a year it does not rain and pour water upon us from the sky.

So I grabbed some pictures off the internet to give me a better idea of what was going on:

The crops most affected so far are corn and soybeans and the conditions are said to be the worst since 1956.  It would be easy to think that we could easily pass up our fresh corn on the cob this summer but remember corn is one of the main crops for raising dairy and beef animals and is a key component in ethanol which is used in gasoline.
Recently I did a post about the change in the farming population in this country.  We are down to 2% of our population who are still living on commercial or private farms.  And now this 2% is in trouble.  This could affect us all.  We are relying on a fraction of the population to provide our entire food crop and when they are calling for help and sounding the warnings we need to listen.

My mother was an example of preparation.  Each winter she would put a blanket, extra coat, boots, and a flash light in the truck of the car...just in case.  She had adequate insurance of all types...just in case.  And, we all knew where the candles and matches were in the house...just in case.  I admit that I use my mom as the example here because I was the one always walking out the door without the coat, without the umbrella, and without any preparations for the just in cases in life. 

What can or should we do regarding the conditions and seem to be heading our way?  First, I definitely do not have all the answers but a few things immediately come to mind.

1. Pray.  Not everyone is willing to do this but thankfully in this case the majority does not rule.  In fact the scripture itself is directed to a select group.

2.  Start or increase a food storage program now while things are available and affordable.  There are a number of posts on this blog which give ideas about this and links on the right hand side.  This will not only allow you to save money and provide for your family but can help displace some of the demand if supplies become limited.

3.  Plant fruit trees.  If you have even a small yard investing in one or more fruit trees can help in the preparations to establish  local food commodities.  If you have no land community gardens are a way to participate.  These are easy to locate...if you have a computer available google for the one closest to you.

4.  Read, talk to people and get ideas for your own best ideas.

5.  Be aware of what is going on and pass the word.  Some may think that all they need to do is provide for their own family but this is sadly naive.  If people become hungry many throw the rules of social ettiquette aside.

Hopefully though prayer and preparation any hardship can be avoided or minimized.  However, ignoring the situation may not be the wisest choice.  My own plans may take up to 5 years to have fully in place so I am thinking on the long term not just the immediate needs.  This is not intended and should not be construed as a message of fear.  When our alarms go off in the morning we do not run screaming out of the house.  However we should get up and be ready.  We can only hit the snooze so many times before we find ourselves late.  Far better to get up and be on time.

Here are more articles on the subject and searching under "2012 dought" will provide many others. 

All purple lettering indicates a link for more information.
Added note on Sept 7, 2012:
Well CNN is now also publishing information about a predicted food crisis in 2013, read the article here, published on Sept 3, 2012 Opinion: Global food crisis in 2013

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Beggars Purse - Book Review

Toni NelsonToni Nelson, the author of A Beggers Purse continues to share her life and story to raise awareness about the plight of the homeless.  Now she is spreading the word to help raise money for the homeless vets.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and visiting Toni on a couple of occasions and love her helpful and cheerful attitude toward life and others.  If you would like to get her book or contribute to her work I'm sure she would love to hear from you.  Her event is another way to remember and thank our vets who served our country with dignity, honor, and at the risk of their lives.  Now for the book review...

The small town where we lived has many freight trains passing through daily. Often we would be waiting at the tracks and watch the hobo's as they whizzed by. It was always a great mystery and curiosity for the kids and their imaginations ran wild as they tried to figure out who these men were, where they came from, and where they were going. There was a moment of excitement every time a hobo was spotted through a doorway amidst the fast moving, loud, and clanking cars.

Toni Nelson was raised in a similar town in the 50s and her grandparents home became a safe house where travellers passing through could have a meal on their journey. The hobos had placed a secret code on the house to identify it as such to others and her grandma prepared a huge meal each morning to serve the guests that might drop in that day. They would eat their meal on the porch and continue on their way with a simple "thank you".

I especially enjoyed seeing the world though Toni's childhood eyes as she reminisces about a simpler and quieter time where bikes were the mode of transportation for kids and hours could be spent catching frogs. The story is written as one friend sharing their experiences with another and would be a wonderful book to read on a winter evening with a crackling fire and cup of cocoa.

The impact of her childhood experiences carried into adulthood as she continues to reach out with a smile and something to eat for the homeless and hobos she and her husband meet throughout their normal daily activities. Her attitude and approach is one of compassion coupled with practically. Toni does not come across as a crusader trying to change the world but rather a kind person who does not look past those that others might be tempted to turn away from.

Recently we are seeing more people on the streets and I have read a few blog posts on other sites about dealing with the modern hobos of our time under whatever name they might be referred to. I encourage all who have thought about this situation to read Toni's book. I had the opportunity to meet her a month or so ago and her warm smile is the first thing a person would notice. She recently has worked to encourage others with a sock drive and passing out a lunch sack with each book sale. You can find Toni and her book at her blog and on facebook. If you ever have the opportunity to meet Toni expect that she will give you a big hug.

Originally posted Dec 2010

Sunday, August 5, 2012


There are some things we take for granted.  Water is one of them. 

Our family had the opportunity to live without water for four months.  Opportunity may be a strange word for it and it did not feel like it at the time...

What would a young mother with three children do without water?  This was not a city dwelling where one could merely call the utility company and have it turned on.  Rural areas obtain water from wells or underground springs.

There are four primary areas we use household water and these do not even include the agricultural necessity of producing food:
  • Cooking and dishes
  • Bathing
  • Bathroom
  • Laundry

It was trial and error at first but little by little we developed our system.  My memories of my grandparent's ranch and the hand pump encouraged me along.

My next door neighbor allowed me to come over whenever I wanted to use the outside hose.  I had two 5 gallon buckets.  Mind you this is a rural area so next door neighbor means one field away, not one house away.  I would only fill the buckets about four gallons full because all the sloshing on the walk would spill some out so it was wasted energy to try and carry more.  Besides, the pails were too heavy to carry more and I remember more than once crying on the way home from the strain.  My arm muscles quickly developed and hence started the "muscle contests".  This water was used primarily for bathing and  flushing down the toilet which was only done when absolutely necessary.

I developed what I called a "pour bath".  The kids probably thought I was saying "poor bath"  A large pot was heated on the stove and I would then add cool water to make the comfortable temperature.  We would take this pan into the bathroom and set it in the tub and pour water over ourselves to wash up.  This was our daily routine but at times I would get enough water to fill the bathtub two inches deep and we would bathe in that.   An average bathtub holds 55 gallons.  One learns these things when water is hauled by hand.

During this time I was making friends and had some relatives so once a week would go as an invited guest and could take a wonderful shower or bath.  After bath time we would sit and visit over coffee.  Off the top of my head I can think of at least 3 people whose showers I used but there may be more.  One cannot appreciate the gratitude of a steam filled bathroom until one has done without.

I also had a five gallon bucket with a lid that was used for cooking and dishes  The household water was again heated on the stove and conservatively rationed. The local gas station was the source of drinking water.  I also bought 1 gallon jugs of water for coffee.  This was closely guarded to enable me to stay within what at that time was a meager budget.

The laudry was easily dispatched with a weekly trip to the local landromat.

We cheered when the toilet was first flushed and had a celebration.  As we contined to work on repairing our water system, which was delayed because of the winter, the water continued to increase to meet all our needs though on a very conservative basis.  One not dare flush a toilet while another was taking a shower or the water would be cut off for five minutes causing a very unhappy naked person.   

Why do I share this story?  It happened almost 25 years ago.  I could put it behind me and remember it no more.  The experience changed me.  Each time a toilet flushes I am happy and grateful.  Each time I use too much water doing dishes I feel wasteful.  A shower now feels like an advantage of the rich and I often am aware of how rich I am even when things are tight.

Over 1 billion people do not have clean water available.  Recently I became aware of an organization that drills wells in impoverished areas.   The cost was stated as $500 to put in a well that would serve up to 200 - 500 people in the community with a hand pump.  There are many excellent ways to help others but I tell you this one got me excited.  Imagine what it would be like to have clean water for cooking, bathing, and growing food for the first time in ones life.  A miracle. 

In my research I located the link provided I wanted to share.  If you know of other organizations feel free to share them.  If you have been looking for a way to really change the life of others in a meaningful and lasting way WATER may be something to consider.   I am just now beginning to participate and hope and plan to increase my efforts in the future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In The Trenches - MOTIVATION

I love this picture that has been going around on Facebook.  I can so TOTALLY relate to it.  Maybe you can too as more than 47,000 others have pushed the LIKE button:

When I know that company is coming I can switch into tornado mode.  I am amazed at how fast and organized I can move.  Picking up, dusting, and pushing a vacuum sometimes all at the same time.  Give me half an hour and the place looks totally different.  Give me 15 minutes and I break into a sweat and do the same amount.  Sometimes I would invite people over to jog myself out of a slump.  When my 3 kids were still at home we worked as a lightening team with me barking orders and them flying to the challenge.  When the knock on the door came we would all smile to one another and immediately switch into a calm and welcoming family ready to take your coat, pour your coffee, and make our guests feel right at home.

It's called MOTIVATION and it is a gift bestowed upon us. 

Much of our motivation is caused by desire or fear.  When we WANT something bad enough we go the extra mile to see that it happens.  Fear propels us to spring to action and run away or take defensive action against a pending threat.  Each has it's place in our lives at times.  Often this can be the making of an average person into a hero for seeing the threat and they are able to take courageous, focused, decisive action.

What ever the challenge the many forms of MOTIVATION will see us through to the end.  Lack of MOTIVATION on the other hand will quickly stop us in our tracks.  It can be in the way we raise our children, clean the house, succeed in diet or exercise, or even in our finances.

If you are not making the progress you hope for check your MOTIVATION first.  All the best plans and methods in the world cannot overcome without the energy that is the driving force behind our actions.