Poverty Is Not an Accident

Poverty Is Not an Accident
Nelson Mandela

Sunday, November 30, 2003

baby, it's cold outside!

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baby, it's cold outside!

Group: news:alt.discuss.clubs.public.arts-lit.writing.rriverstone
Date: Sun, Nov 30, 2003, 6:55am (MST-1)
From: (Rogi Riverstone)

But it's going to warm into the high fifties. So, as long as it's not windy, I can work outside today.

I found a blue tarp in the garbage a few weeks ago. I have a green tarp over my ard which is getting too sun rotten and is starting to fray from the wind.

I have 3 tarps over my yard: heavy grey, on the back side, the green at the angle of the L heading toward my door, and blue over the door and front entrance. I think it'll look more presentable to have matched blue tarps in front.

It's going to be a chore. The green tarp attaches to the grey right at the peak of the roof. And I only have step ladders. So, I'll have to use ropes, pullies and long handled brooms and garden tools to get the new tarp up and get the old tarp up.

While I'm up there, I'll hang that rainbow striped Hoby surfing sail I found last month, to cover the seam between the grey and blue tarps, and to add some color to my yard.

I've found two more plastic storage tubs in the garbage. One is a real Rubbermaid tub, with a lid, about ten gallons. So, I can organize tools into those.

I found 2 Rubbermaid under bed storage containers last week, with lids. They're large enough for me to store my video tapes. The storage containers the tapes are in currently can go outside for gardening tools, etc. They're not weather proof.

This is a small apartment, and I have lots of tools and art supplies which need storing between uses.

And I don't like clutter. So I'm always glad to find storage that can be made invisible by stashing it under furniture and such.

While I'm working in the yard, I'll do some laundry and other water chores.

The cats made it pretty clear, the other day, that they've missed helping me out in the yard.

I sure wish I had a ladder!

Saturday, November 29, 2003

#1 On Google!

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I'm so amazed! My Hood Life blog is now ranked #1 at Google, when people search for "hood life!"

THANK you for making my humble blog a special place on the internet!


I'm No Vegetarian!

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I finally got to a store today. Not Stadium; I don't even know if the Broadway bus comes on Saturday, and it only passes once every forty minutes on week days.

There are about six groceries, all independently owned, under Affiliated Foods. They all sell the same generics, and often share the same advertising that comes in the mail.

So, I went to Fair & Square, straight on the Central Ave. (which runs only three blocks from my house) bus line. I thought they'd have the same ad as Stadium, and I could get a turkey there. But they didn't. And what they advertised was scant and over priced: normal, for the week after Thanksgiving.


I forgot: chicken doesn't sell well Thanksgiving week. They had a dozen packages of whole, cut up friers, marked down to two pounds for a dollar! I got three, each less than two dollars. I froze two, and will fry one tonight. They had generic cigarettes on sale, too: still more expensive than the Pueblo Cultural Center, but enough to tide me over for a week.

I HATED getting off the bus there, a block from my old War Zone apartment, two blocks from the old boarding house. No trees. Bleak. Passersby on the street looking worn and crazy and depressed and frightened. It literally stank.

I got my food and walked to the bus stop, my hunting knife in my fist on the stroller handle.

A young Black man sat on a suitcase at the bus stop, head down.

I walked up and said, "Now, you've got your suitcase, and you're leaving this hell hole. Rejoice! You're getting out! Be glad! Get on that bus and NEVER come back here!"

He lifted his head and smiled. He got out of jail yesterday, came home to his wife and kids, and found her high as a kite on crack, the kids dirty, and THREE boyfriends in the filthy apartment! He'd spent the night in the alley behind her apartment, and was leaving now.

I shook his hand and said, "no place but up, Bro! I don't care WHAT you did that got you in jail, just don't ever do it again! Get you a job, even if it stinks. Get yourself a crib. Save up your money and get your KIDS BACK! Get them out, TOO!"

He nodded and laughed.

I recognized a lot of people, on the streets and on th bus. I didn't speak to any of them.

As the bus pulled out and passed my old streets, I waved and said, "so long, suckahs!"

I couldn't breathe easily again until I saw the cutesie college shops on my side of town.

I pulled up with my stroller, let my dog out on his lead, said hi to the cats and said, "it's so good to be home." And that word, "home," hung in the air like a chime. It's hard here, yes. But it ain't the HELL I endured for ten, miserable years over there! I sat out in the empty lot, looking at my dead garden and my frisking cats and dogs and just rejoiced, tears in my eyes. There are trees here. It's quiet here. My pets and I are safer here. There are options here.

I hadn't realized how small and frightened I'd become from ten years of that hell.

Now, here's my fried chicken recipe:

I mix some corn meal, flour and corn flakes (if I have any) with sage, cayenne pepper flakes, black pepper, onion powder and tumeric in a big, metal bowl. I smash the flakes.

In a smaller bowl, I beat an egg, add some water and just a sprinkle each of sugar and chicken boullion.

I coat the chicken in the egg batter. I put it in the flour and scoop flour over the chicken. I press it down so the flour sticks well.

Dip the floured chicken back in the egg batter, repeat coating with flour.

In an electric skillet (I like them because they have a thermostat), preheated to 350 degrees farenheit, I put just a dab of either vegetable oil or shortening. If I have some bacon grease, I'll add maybe a tablespoon or two of that.

I lay the chicken in so no piece touches another. I slosh the hot oil onto the sides of the pieces.

I fry, uncovered, until the bottoms are golden brown. Then, I turn the pieces and repeat.

Once both sides are sealed and crisp, I put the lid on the chicken. I open the steam vents, so the crusts won't get soggy. I cook until a meat thermometer, stuck in a thick piece of meat (breast or thigh, but don't touch bone, only meat; bones get hotter faster than meat), reads 180 degrees farenheit.

I put a wire rack over the pan and lift the pieces, one at a time, onto the rack to drain. Then, I lay the pieces on a plate, covered in paper napkins, to absorb any remaining oil.

Then I cook another batch. Don't crowd the chicken; it won't cook evenly, the crust will fall apart and get soggy.

I'm usually eating a piece as others are cooking. I just can't wait!

Off to cook chicken now!

Friday, November 28, 2003

Feeling Like A Loser

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I STILL can't get to a store with a cheap turkey! I walked to Smiths today, about 2 miles round trip and there's ice on the ground and wind.

They stopped selling cheap turkeys yesterday and I missed it!

I did do some trash picking on the way, though. I found a bag of gold and red glass ornaments, gold and red GLASS bead garlands, red velveteen bows and a small, spiral xmas tree with star and lights.

SO, I strung it all up outside my front gate, along the fence, and under the eaves of my kitchen, where it'll be safer from wind and theft.

I put a big, cardboard box on top of my wheelbarrow out there, covered it in plastic and covered that with a dark green table cloth with holly leaves woven in it, shot with gold thread. I weighted it with a concrete block inside.

I stuck the spiral tree inside a flower pot and covered the dirt with silver mylar tinsil. I stuck 3 white twigs in the pot, covered with velveteen bows and balls. I stuck 4 silk pointsetta flowers inside the spiral tree.

I put the pot inside a silver mylar shopping bag that says "season's greetings" in small, green letters and set the whole thing on top of the box.

I have 3 plastic candy canes, about big enough to use as walking sticks, that I set around the wheelbarrow tree stand.

The lighted tree arrangement is right outside my kitchen window, so I can see the lights at night.

I have a grape vine wreath I found in the trash last summer, with eucalyptus sprigs, silk flowers and a huge rafia bow in corn husk color on it. I put 4 sand dollars, a tiny music box, a corn husk doll and a fabric horse from India on it. I also have a miniature wooden embroidery hoop, holding a fabric picture of a cat, tied to the wreath. I put the wreath in the middle of my front gate.

Everything out there is trash I found, except the music box and the horse, which were presents from friends.

It looks like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy plus Martha Stewart out there, and it didn't cost me a damn dime! NOBODY else around here will have any decorations; it would take away from the BEER DRINKING time!

I burst into tears in the grocery store today, because I'd planned my food SO CAREFULLY this month, and there's nothing left in the house to eat except a frozen, 2 lb pkg of grey hamburger meat, labeled "dog food." I don't even have any bread or pasta, so I'm going to have to eat something made up. I'm thawing the dog food now.

No busses ran yesterday or today, so I couldn't get to the stores that still have turkey for thirty seven cents a pound. I'll go tomorrow. But it'll still take two or three days for the damn turkey to thaw!

Losing that innertube on my scooter has caused a BIG problem, getting any food on Thanksgiving weekend!

I ended up buying two more of those cheap burgers at Wendy's on my way home. I ate one already and, even though I'm hungry right now, I'm saving the other for later.

So, yeah, I started crying in the middle of the grocery store.

I could barely walk at all, yesterday, from pain.

I'm in SO MUCH PAIN from walking that scooter home uphill for three miles or more the other day, and another two mile walk today in the cold.

It's really hard not to feel like a loser.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving Breakfast

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Well, I've been feeling rather low, since my scooter tire popped and I couldn't buy another turkey yesterday. Feeling trapped and deprived, as I've only a dab of turkey left, and a frozen package of grey hamburger meat marked, "dog food."

So, I decided to make myself a cheerful, if decadent, breakfast of that French toast with cream.

I started the sausage frying.

I beat the eggs, whipped in some cream and some vanilla.

I'm out of bread! All that's left is a flimsy heal and a slice that's squished. Well, French toast was designed to use up stale bread, but THIS was DEPRESSING! Besides, I'd mixed enough egg and cream for three slices!

So, I added flour and milk to the eggs.

I made five vanilla crepes, fried in butter, in a cast iron skillet.

As I flipped each, I barely dotted it with butter, cream cheese and either blackbery jelly or orange marmelade. I rolled each in the pan and laid it on a dinner plate.

As I worked, I turned and saw four, brown bananas on my kitchen table. They weren't creepy brown. They were just really speckled and screaming, "This is IT! We're RIPE, already!"

When the crepes were done, I lowered the temp. so I could melt butter without burnig it. I sliced all four bananas into the skillet and flipped them once.

I've seen Bananas Foster made, once, but don't really remember how. Something about cognac. Yeah, right. Set on fire.

I have a bottle of fake Amaretto I got about six years ago. I dribbled just a TAD in the bananas; I don't want to overwhelm the banana flavor with the almond. And the amaretto is very sweet, as are the bananas.

So, to flame it, I tossed in a jigger of bourbon, tilted the pan and fwoop! Bananas flambe!

After the flames went down, I folded in oh, maybe an ounce or less of cream. I was gentle, so I wouldn't smash the nanners.

I spooned some of my Bananas Riverstone over the crepes, like gravy. Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Two sausage patties.

The rest of the banana will be eaten later.

I can't describe the joy of each mouthful! Each crepe is a different flavor, and a delight to discover under the thick, creamy Bananas Riverstone. The crepes are light and spongey. The cream cheese adds some much-needed sour to the sweet.

It took me fifteen minutes to make, and that's only because I was washing dishes as the crepes and sausage fried!~

Deprived? With THIS mind? Impossible!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Lily Tomlin

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I almost missed watching a PBS special tonight. I don't know why I didn't know Lily Tomlin received the Mark Twain Award for American Humor. It's the highest award given for humor.

They picked the appropriate recipient.

In the 70s, Lily performed in a benefit for the Los Angeles Women's Building. So did Cris Williamson, Margie Adam and several other women. We were raising funds to move the Women's Building to a new location.

My roommates were among the producers. I was living in a collective household of six, on a hillside in Pacific Palacades, CA. Seems the Reagans lived near by.

Well, I was too terrified of Ms. Tomlin to even speak to her, either before or after the performance. We had a lovely party at the old women's building afterward. I'd perch here and there, in the corners and the shadows, and just watch Ms. Tomlin. She looked my way once, questioningly. I was wearing a 1920s hand silk screened silk chiffon dress. My head was shaved. I'd wanted to wear that dress to my high school prom, but my mother wouldn't let me. I still have some scraps of it.

Lily is a magnificent talent. Of course, Jane Wagner puts most of the words in her mouth. And that's a monumental job. Ms. Wagner is very perceptive, ironic, dry. She's a lot like Dorothy Parker, minus the maudlin alcoholism. When Lily speaks a Wagner line, my heart literally exhults in my breast. I am thrilled to hear my truth spoken by two genius women in one body.

Lily can portray an outcast without contempt for the character. Most jokes about bag ladies make me furious. But Tess, and her later bag lady, make me proud. They're prophets, critics and clowns. Like me. I named a truck I once owned "Tess," for one of Lily's bag ladies.

Now, I sat here tonight, watching this tribute to Lily, and I felt very ashamed of myself. I felt like a complete loser and failure. I am a good writer. I am a good reporter. I'm a decent artist and I'm a damn good performer. Hell, I'm even musical.

Lily didn't come from the "good side" of town. She came from poverty, abuse, alcoholism, uprooted southerners, trying to make a go up north. Just like my family.

But she made it out. Whoopi Goldberg made it out. Roseanne made it out, but burned like a moth in a porch light. Rosie O'Donnel made it out, but is too nervous to enjoy herself.

What's wrong with me? How come I'm living like a hermit, in other people's pants, with broken teeth and a busted down scooter?

I tell myself I didn't try hard enough. But is that really true, or just the biproduct of living in the age of Rush Limbaugh style blame-the-victim syndrome?

I have volunteered in community groups my entire life. I've worked to publish magazines, produce radio broadcasts, research news stories, operate food pantries, start community centers, plant gardens, run churches, protect children, resist wars, harbor refugees, play flute in concerts.

All the while, I supported myself at menial jobs. They were all I could get; I couldn't afford any college education beyond two-year community colleges. Without a degree, all I could do was factory work, pizza delivery, house cleaning, janitorial, nurses' aid: minimum wage, no benefits. I'd come home so sick and tired, I couldn't even make supper.

And, speaking of college, I kept taking classes, anywhere and everywhere I could: all over California, in Kentucky. And I'd LOVE to go here; I'm right down the road from a community college. But I can't afford tuition.

I can't do the physical work I've always done anymore to keep a roof over my head.

And I don't know if it's these reactionary times, the conservatism and reactionary cliquishness of my present location, or if I'm just too "out there" for people to tolerate, but nobody here gives me even an opportunity to show them what I can do! I volunteer all over the place, but am not welcomed to stay and work. In fact, if I stick around long enough, they'll invent excuses and put up road blocks to keep me out. And I get angry, make a fool of myself, and get a reputation for being a crack pot, I'd have to assume. I don't know this; I'm guessing.

So, I'm a failure. My poetry is in foot lockers, unpublished. My art sits on shelves, unsold. My blogs and web pages go unviewed (about 10 visits per day, each). My love burns in my heart, unacknowledged.

My greatest fear, and I'm sure it'll come true, is that I'll die in here, all alone and my life's works will be thrown in the dumpster, unread, uncared for. My animals will be killed and I'll be a specimen at the medical school. And that's all I will have been good for. A joke about bag ladies.

Alice Walker wrote an essay a long time back, before she got too comfortable with new age and hot tubs. It was called, "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens." Poor women don't have to grow flowers. We don't have to sew quilt pieces into patterns. We don't have to braid the bread for it to be edible.

We poor women who create do it to keep from going crazy. We're smart. We can't make ourselves small enough and dull enough to tolerate the monotony of day after week after year of drudgery, abuse, deprivation, taunts and exploitation without SOME beauty.

Our gardens are our art. ANYthing from which some color, some life, some joy can be fashioned keeps us from suicide or worse.

So, Lily Tomlin makes me cry. Because she made it. Some how. I don't know how, or I'd have done it, too. It's not like I didn't try.

Lily made it. For every Lily, Whoopie, etc. who made it out, there are approxemately three hundred million women who didn't, if the population of the planet is six billion, if half are women, and most of us poor.

I have an education. That makes it worse. It's the tortures of Tantalus, knowing how close I am to freedom, and how chained I am by prejudice.

I do try. I try damn hard.

I'm not lazy; I'm exhausted.

I'm not crazy; I'm scared.

I'm not weird; I'm wise.

I'm not a failure; I'm failed.

All my LIFE, I've been told, "you have so much potential! Why don't you DO something with it?"

I did. I survived incest. I survived abuse. I survived homelessness and rape. I didn't become a junky or a drunk or a hooker or a thief. I didn't die, even though there have been times when I sincerely tried to kill myself.

I don't want to be famous. I'd like to be successful. I'd like to make what's around me better, like I do with the animals I've rescued and the garden I've scratched out of hot gravel.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I'll spend it alone, without enough food, because I'm in too much pain to cook. I'll see the heart warming commercials about eating too much, spending too much, being a good, conspicuous consumer. I'll hear all about family love and friendships and children.

And I KNOW I'll cry. I cried tonight, for the military, stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan. I cried for the helicopter pilot from Kirtland who came home for the holidays in a body bag. I cry for Lori Piestewa's children. I cry for the dead of Manifest Destiny: "Kill them all, big and small; nits make lice!" I cry for the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the USA.

But I'll try to watch some movies on my VCR. I'll comfort myself the best I can.

I was so scared today when that inner tube popped. People jeer and throw things at me, when I'm on the scooter. I was in a bad part of town. I risked my LIFE, just to get some damn groceries, and came home empty handed! And exhausted.

No, I am not lazy.

I hereby present the Mark Twain Award for American Humor to Rogi Riverstone.

So, Lily Tomlin makes me cry. Because she made it. Some how. I don't know how, or I'd have done it, too. It's not like I didn't try.

It's not like I've stopped trying.

Tire Repair

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I think I just figured out what I can do to repair that tire, if the tube can't be patched. And, since I drove on that flat tube for about two blocks without knowing I'd had a flat, I'd say the tube's probably toast. I'm lucky I didn't shred the rims of the tire!

I will sew a donut. I have some jeans that reporter gave me. I'll carefully measure the width and diameter...or is it circumfrance?...well, you know what I mean.

I'll sew a tube of denim, about three layers thick. I'll fill it with sand. I'll sew another tube of that clear, vinyl shower curtain material and pack the denim donut inside it. I'll put the whole thing inside the tire.

The problem was how to evenly distribute weight on a moving wheel, so it wouldn't bump. Something like foam rubber is too prone to get a dent in it.

But a tubular sand bag wouldn't. The sand will distribute itself around the wheel as I go, compensating for any acute pressures, such as running over a stick or a rock.

I'll have to sew it by hand, with nylon fish line. I'll alternate the seams of each layer of denim..maybe I should either use two or four layers, to keep that even. The seams will have to be along the side walls, not against the road.

I'll have to take my time, make small, strong stitches in a double seam. Maybe I should paint the denim with some of that oil-based house paint, too, once it's filled. That would make it water resistant and help keep small particles of sand from escaping the weave. There's a park with a sand box not far from here.

It's going to have to be a snug fit. I don't want that tire sliding on the wheel. I'll measure by using the inflated tire on the front, minus the thickness of the other tire.

It probably won't last too long. I imagine the wheels can get pretty hot, because they're small and turn fast.

But I go slowly, usually because I have Porkchop with me. I take lots of breaks. I ride in sprints, not in marathons.

My longest trip is to the Pueblo Cultural Center, about 12 miles, round trip. I guess I could go back to taking the once-an-hour bus there. damn.

I knew, when I got this scooter, that it's a prosthetic device to enhance walking. It's not a motorcycle or a car. And I knew not to treat it otherwise.

I just put new tubes on the stroller/trailer about a week or so ago. One of those tubes is already popped from a goat head. It's just too hard, on thin tires, to get around this god forsaken hell hole town! You should see the beer bottles all over the streets!

I THINK this might work.It's definately worth a try.

I'll still remove the tire tomorrow for inspection. But, frankly, patching a load-bearing tube sounds pretty iffy. Maybe I can swap it with the FRONT tube. That might help.

I'm too tired to care.


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It happened just as I predicted, and just where I'd imagined.

I got a flat on my back tire on Edith Street, about three miles from home.

I couldn't get the fix-a-flat nozzel onto the valve stem. So, I folded up the scooter, took off the seat, put it in the stroller and walked it home. It was uphill most of the way.

Porkchop was a real sport about it, considering he was walking three-legged most of the way, because of all the goat heads everywhere. Poor guy!

We took only one, real break: in front of the convenience store, about four blocks from my house.

I broke down and bought four dollar burgers at Wendy's.

The busses won't run tomorrow, because of Thanksgiving, so we'll be stranded. I only have enough turkey left for two more meals.

I bought a 2 liter bottle of Coke on sale for a dollar, too.

It was quite windy out. My lips got chapped and my spit was thick. I was pretty dehydrated and very hungry by the time I got to that store.

Porkchop knew it when we got about a mile from the house, even though we took a route we've never taken before. He took the lead and trotted ahead, meaning business. He wanted to go to sleep. He had four water breaks on the way home. I had none.

He's at my feet, snoring peacefully.

As we came up the alley, I saw a big, black plastic trash bag, next to the dumpster next door to me. That's always a good sign. Someone in that apartment leaves out decent food (earlier this year, I found a frozen turkey!). I've gotten a lot of canned and dry goods that way.

Well, the bag was TEN pair of sweat pants! Brand new; the fleece is still fleecy; with pockets; they're my size. They smell freshly washed.

Usually, I'd throw them in the washer before wearing them, but I know they're clean. I'm wearing a pair on my aching, throbbing legs right now.

Normally, I'd have to sew up crotches, clean stains, sew holes, etc. in sweats; people don't usually throw them out until they're not fit for cleaning rags.

Sweats and stretch pants are the only pants I can wear. My genitals are mutilated; my mother tried to tear them off with her fingernails when I was very young. Non-stretchy pants are too stiff in the crotch and cause me a great deal of pain. So, I mostly wear skirts and dresses. But, on REALLY cold days, my legs are always cold in even the thickest, longest skirts.

And I can't wear skirts on the scooter.

I'm too tired now. But tomorrow, I'll take that back tire off and survey the damage.

I'm thinking of forgetting about replacing the inner tube. I ride near the shoulders of the roads and on sidewalks, occasionally. I'm always dodging bottles, broken car glass, stickers, etc. I really need a tubeless tire, especially because it's the back, which takes the most weight.

But I won't be able to buy anything online from eBay or a manufacturer for months; I just won't have the money.

So, in the mean time, I'm thinking of stuffing the tire with something: perhaps towels, wrapped around a "donut" of hard foam rubber, or something. I wish there were some sort of self-healing gel innertube I could use that doesn't deflate. I avoid pot holes and bumps, so I don't need the shock absorbing quality of air too much.

I'm grounded until I can either patch the tube, find a replacement locally, or invent a substitute.

There's another grocery, on the main bus line that's two blocks from my house, which sells the same cheap turkeys and stuff this week. I'll have to go there.

Porkchop rode in the cart most of the way until we had the flat, so he didn't have to run or walk six, whole miles. He only walked a little over three. And my pace is slow, so it doesn't wear him out to walk with me.

But I know he's just as glad to be home as I am.

Hopefully, my legs will thaw out in these sweats. My butt's cold again!

I think I need a nap and probably a good cry. I was really looking forward to another turkey for tomorrow!


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I'm exercising every day. But I'm weak.

Yesterday, I washed 4 loads of laundry, mostly blankets, and hung them to dry. I watered and cleaned my garden. I worked on my "basket fence," added a small section of garden border, harvested my gourds. I tidied my little yard.

I made a big pot of animal food from the turkey carcass and a bit of old ham, chopped up. It's on the stove now, warming, so I can add cornmeal. I'll bake it tonight into kibble.

I need to go to the store today for another turkey. Everything will be closed tomorrow and drunks & out-of-towners will be on the roads, so I don't dare get on my scooter then.

I'm taking two and three hour naps, every day. But I'm always tired and sore.

I have the house warm, so I can shower. I'm waiting until after noon, when it's warmest out, to run my errand.

But I'm a little scared to go out there. If the scooter broke down, if I fell, whatever, I don't know how I'd get back home safely. I can't walk very far and I certainly couldn't push the scooter very far.

But I've got to go. I need at least one, possibly two, more turkeys, while they're so cheap.

It's been a week now, and I've almost eaten all the first turkey.

I made a new batch of mashed potatoes yesterday. The stuffing's almost gone.

This second turkey will be baked like the first. But I'll eat it differently. It'll be taco salads, turkey salad for sandwiches, barbeque, etc., to add variety of flavors and side dishes.

But I'm so weak!

I'm hoping I did more yesterday than I realize, but I honestly think I should have been able to complete yesterday's chores and still had enough strength for other projects.

Part of it may be that, after a three month break, I have my menses again. Darn! I was hoping that was over with.

A neighbor had to move suddenly, over in the war zone. She had a bunch of merchandise at her house, to sell at the flea market.

As she was leaving, she hollered out to me that the house was unlocked and that I could take everything they'd left, except the television and the microwave, which went to another neighbor.

I brought home at least two pick up trucks' worth of stuff, including a case of sanitary napkins. I thought at the time they might last me through menopause.

Well, that was about a year and a half ago. I've still got about a hundred pads left.

I literally moaned as I pulled another package out of storage, eyed the few packages remaining, and thought, "I don't ever want to have to buy these damn things again!"

So, maybe the assault to my body from that has weakened me.

I never had any trouble with my menses, not since puberty, anyway. Not until my baby died. Since then, it's been very VERY painful, especially on the left side of my abdomen, where my fallopian tube is missing now.

Every menses since has been torture and a hideous, physical reminder of the loss of my daughter. It's not nearly as painful as the first time was, but it's bad. Close enough.

So, maybe that knocked the wind out of me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Make Your Own Pet Foods

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Cats can digest cornmeal, but not very well. And the cornmeal used in commercial pet foods isn't Grandma's cornbread meal. It's the crap that's leftover, after all the stuff that's edible to humans has been processed.

The same is true of the meat "byproducts" used in commercial pet foods. According to The Truth About Commercial Pet Food, there's even road kill in it!

I don't trust this website, necessarily; its readership is into "holistic" pseudoscience. They start the article with some disclaimer like, "don't read this if you have a weak stomach..." and go on to describe pet food composition as containing chicken heads and feet.

Well, I raised chickens. When one died of something that wasn't disease, I'd throw the whole damn chicken (intestines removed) in a big pot of water, feathers and all, chop it into chunks with my butcher knife, and toss it in the yard. And guess what? Cats and dogs don't mind chicken heads and feet, one bit!

The feet are full of natural geletin; the brains are pure protein and fat.

I try not to feed my pets much commercial food. They eat homemade kibbles and stews I make, at home. For one thing, I can control the ingredients. For another thing, the average cat kibble costs two dollars a pound, or more. I don't eat foods that cost that much. Why should I feed my pets garbage that's expensive, when I can prepare balanced meals that cost less than fifty cents a pound?

What I'm calling "kibble" is just a cookie dough, made with meats, eggs, powdered milk, corn meal, flour, powdered cheese (I found a hundred pound sack of mozerella powder, in the trash outside a shelter, seven years ago.), stale bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, vegetables. Everything's blended very small, mixed up, rolled flat in a cookie sheet, baked. When it's cool and dry, I break it into smaller pieces, put it plastic bags inside of paint buckets and pop corn cans. I put lids on the containers, stack them outside in shelter, and feed the animals!

Stews contain the same, basic ingredients. I make about a gallon at a time and feed as needed. The rest refrigerates up to a week.

Dogs and cats both have trouble digesting SOY, and that should be avoided. I made the mistake of buying a sack of horse, cattle and pig soy meal: fifty pounds for five dollars. My animals got very farty. I fed th rest of the soy meal to the chickens; I didn't stick around to smell for farts. BUt they ate it all up and the eggs were even better than usual.

You can buy a sack of cracked corn or mash for chicks and use that in pet foods, but it takes awhile to boil soft.

I'll post some pet food recipes.


Sunday, November 23, 2003


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Group: alt.discuss.internet.sites.weird
Date: Tue, Nov 18, 2003, 6:49pm (MST-1)
From: (roboT2003)
--- Reducing the amount of trash we generate by connecting people who have things that they no longer want with people who want those same things. The only rule: Every item posted must be free.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Bet You Wish You Were Me!

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I didn't make banana cream pie. My arms are too tired for rolling pie crust.

I made chocolate mousse, with thin-sliced bananas, topped with real whipped cream that is flavored with just a hint of Kahlua.

Been hanging on to that Kahlua for four years now, and counting.

SO, here I sit, eating the smoothest, creamiest, dreamiest bowl full of yum you ever saw!

I may be poor, but I ain't stupid!

Friday, November 21, 2003

A Question of Fairness

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This week, NOW examines A QUESTION OF FAIRNESS:
In the United States, the idea that anyone can succeed is a vital part of our national identity. But today, the middle class is shrinking, the gap between the rich and poor is widening, and the American dream is at risk. What's behind the growing disparity that's creating a two-class society?
On Friday, November 21, 2003, A QUESTION OF FAIRNESS, a special edition of NOW WITH BILL MOYERS, analyzes how the politics of the privileged is jeopardizing America's economic future. The program traces the roots of the growing economic inequality in the U.S. and illustrates the sometimes forgotten human toll of government policies that favor corporations over individuals through three compelling stories.
First, NOW examines NAFTA's role in the impending extinction of a cherished American way of life in the story of a once-thriving Pennsylvania mill town and the hardworking residents plunged into the desperate ranks of the working poor in WINNERS AND LOSERS.
Then, NOW reports on the tangible human costs of financial deregulation laws passed in the late 1990s by corporate-friendly politicians and the WorldCom collapse that stole the future away from so many individual investors in REWRITING THE RULES.
Finally, NOW tells the tale of the best intentions derailed by corporate greed in a profile of a Republican governor's thwarted bid to reform the nation's most regressive tax system and level the playing field for Alabama's poor in TAX JUSTICE.
"Essential to the soul of democracy is the question of fairness. Absolute equality is impossible, but can a country with great extremes between rich and poor be fair? This is an extraordinarily complicated story, and in this hour we analyze some of the examples of how real people are affected when the see-saw of economics tilts so far in one direction," says Bill Moyers. "We live in a political economy, and viewers of this report will see how what happens to America on the economic front can often be traced through what happens out of sight, behind a closed door in some political corridor of power."
NOW WITH BILL MOYERS continues online at PBS.org (NOW). Log on to the site to for information on executive pay in relation to the average worker; for updates on the WorldCom scandal; for a job re-training resource map; for an evaluation of the state of American unions; for a comparison of an average family's tax rate to 10 of America's corporations; and more.

Yes, I Ate Turkey Dinner For Breakfast

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What a satisfying feeling! The cats had some drumstick muscle. Porkchop had a bone.

I'm warming the house so I can shower. It's sunny and calm out there today. I'm going to do some laundry and mess in the garden. There's clutter in my little yard. It needs to be picked up.

No big plans. Just some organizing, tending and fixing.

You know, of course, that the flavors of that turkey dinner are even better, the second day.

Maybe the can man will come by, and I can at least make him a sandwich!

Thursday, November 20, 2003


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Another bombing in Istambul today. Gawd only knows what's going on in Afghanistan and Iraq. Michael Jackson's mug shot is on the 'net. Protesters, bless their hearts, resist the FTAA and Britain's first court jester in eight hundred years. AIDS ravages Africa. Gunfire rings out in Chiapas. The planet's full of crazy people, pooping in their own diapers and blaming it on everybody else.

And I'm on my fluffy feather bed, burping turkey dinner, wishing all those crazy people out there were as happy and as satisfied as I am right this very minute.

I literally cried as I ate. The scents and flavors brought back so many memories. The food was so well prepared. Everything came out absolutely perfect. It's pure art. Really.

It's going to be freezing out tonight. I remember homelessness.

I'm in a lot of pain from standing on my feet in stupid shoes to cook. But I'm not in the pain I remember from homelessness. Walking for miles to the next service agency appointment. Standing in the cold, waiting for the shelter to unlock and let me back in. Carrying everything I can on my shoulders and in my arms. Seeing people either stare or move away, as though I am dangerous or contageous. Feeling like a failure and a freak.

No, this is not that pain.

And millions are out there tonight, feeling that pain.

There's a guy who comes down my alley almost every day, looking for aluminum cans to cash in. He pushes a shopping cart full of cans. He has a digging stick to fetch them. He always looks so tired.

I've talked with him almost every day, all summer, as I gardened and he passed. Porkchop loves him.

I don't know his name. He calls me "ma'am."

I've offered him blankets, because I have plenty I can spare. I've offered him a coat, if he needs it. He's got stuff stashed all around town, so he'll have what he needs where ever he ends up.

He eyes the trailer in the empty lot, and tells me how much he'd love to sleep in it on cold, winter nights.

He's gentle. He's smart. He's so tired.

Today, I told him that, if he came back in four or five hours, I could serve him a home-cooked turkey dinner. I told him the only thing that came out of a can was some chicken broth, for the mashed potatoes. But he didn't come back.

I give him all my aluminum cans.

If you have an extra blanket, or some shoes, or a coat, or a toothbrush or a razor, or some soap or deodorant, take it where you've seen homeless people and just leave it on the ground, in plain sight.

Just do it. Don't preach. Don't leave propoganda, either religious or political. Don't ask anything from them. Just put something useful where a homeless person can find it easily. Don't throw it in the trash. Give it, and a person, an extra dose of life; give it away.


I Can Cook Turkey Today!

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Oh, boy, the legs and wings are loose; the cavities are open. I even managed to wrestle the neck out already!

My arms are sore from turkey wrestling.

I went to two stores yesterday, about seven miles on the scooter. It hurts my arms, holding myself on by the handle bars. I guess you could say, "I flew to the grocery yesterday, and boy, are my arms tired!"

Plus, I did a LOT of exercising yesterday. I just can't remember that I'm in BAD shape, and need to do it a little bit at a time. So, my arms and legs are all burny and achey and stiff. I found a new way of pulling the weights that works my shoulder and back muscles better. I have a lot of pain back there all the time, and I think the exercises will help. I just don't want the Schwarzenneger Hump, if I can help it. I don't want ANYTHING Schwarzenneger, for that matter. Puke. That guy is a FREAK!

But I probably did too much.

I woke at five am, but couldn't stay awake. So I collapsed for three more hours, dead to the world. When I've been working hard for a week or so, I sometimes just need to sleep one day. Guess today's the day, huh?

So, I'm listening to a Soliari (sp) opera, scratching the dog's back with my toes, and trying not to disturb Osa, who's sleeping on my right elbow..as usual. She's my bed buddy.

Soon, I'll be back in there, freezing my fingers, digging out the giblets, turkey soup and gravy packets from the bird's cavity. It's a miserable job; the ice takes all the skin off my knuckles. But I'm ready to cook that BIRD!

I bought FOUR packages of cranberries yesterday; they were only a dollar and a half each at Smith's! So I got PLENTY!

THe bread's cubed for the stuffing. Vegetables and fruits are washed and ready to chop. Potatoes are washed and ready to boil.

I am GOING to make my turkey dinner today! If it KILLS me! I can't wait until I don't have to eat balogne sandwichs for awhile! LOL I've eaten up damn near any other meat in this house, to make room for turkey!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

House FULL of FOOD!

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I just can't get over it! I have filled my house with the most scrumptious, decadent, tasty, wholesome, wonderful foods!

The turkey's thawing, covered in 2 plastic grocery bags, in the fridge. I even got sausage on sale, for the stuffing. But they won't have cranberries 'til Friday, so I may have to go to Smith's for those.

I got a big, fat bird. I know these Shur-Fine turkeys very well; a bigger bird is just as tender as a small one, and it's more meat-to-bone ratio.

The cats are already looking hopeful.

I watched idiots on food stamps at the store today, pissing away money on processed crap. Thirty dollars would only fill two bags. I filled a WHOLE CART for forty!

I know I probably sound obsessed with food. But let me explain: I have to live on two dollars a day. For awhile, it was three, but it got reduced for reasons I can't understand.

But, for two years, I lived on less than a dollar per day.

I had to take hand outs of half rotten crap from food pantries: catering truck burritos and sandwiches that made me sick, dry goods with bugs in them, dented cans that sometimes spewed bacterial gasses all over the kitchen when punctured with the can opener, breads with mold.

And I made it. From August until November every year, I'd live on meager rations, to save up my food stamps for the winter holiday sales. I can remember one New Year's Day when all that was left was one rib eye steak, a sack of potatoes and a jar of horseradish. I still had a week until the food stamps would come in. But I made biscuits, tortillas and bread, and stretched that damn steak into seven meals. That steak was the last of four, bought at deep discount when the date came up. Each steak cost me less than a "Happy Meal." And I can't tell you how satifying it was to eat.

See, before Christmas, it's possible to get better food. Groceries discount stuff to attract holiday shoppers. Food pantries get better donations.

But after Christmas, it all goes away. It's not just as bad as it was before the Christmas guilt-giving, it's worse. I mean, pantries are barren. And nothing's on sale at the stores.

There's no more depressing feeling than going to bed hungry. Or knowing the food that's left is going to cause intestinal cramping and, well, painful bowel movements, but you've got to eat it, because that's all there is.

So, this seeming obsession with food is really survival.

The current sale goes on for two weeks, instead of the usual one week. I bought a ton of stuff today. But I WILL go back, and I will borrow money against next month's disability check to do it. Because it's rare to find a fifteen pound turkey for five dollars.

The sale will be over before I get next month's food stamps.

And I'll be at the mail box this afternoon, to study the grocery ads that will come in the mail today, to see what else I can scrounge. Maybe some OTHER store will have turkey even CHEAPER! They do have "turkey wars" this time of year, to attract customers.

I am not going to wake up some winter morning and have to invent some slop to eat. I will not spend these winter holidays, all alone, with food poisoning or fitful sleep from hunger.

So, if that means I'm obsessed, so be it.

And I won't have some ignorant bible thumper, spewing hate in my face for a bag of crappy canned goods. I won't bite my tongue, while some Lady Bountiful tells everyone in line how irresponsible we are with our budgets. I won't steal. I won't eat out of a dumpster. I won't.

I'm going to make a banana cream pie, with real cream, and real bananas. I'm going to bake fresh popovers, with real butter and good jams. I'm going to bake apples and bake potatoes.

I'm going to eat turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and sausage stuffing.

I am not going to beg or go without. I already have to go without companionship, employment, decent transportation, medical care, love, respect and, too often, dignity.

I'm going to EAT, dammit!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Bunk Bed

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This is sort of what my bed looks like: here -- I got it from a dumpster, years ago.

I don't use the top bunk frame as shown. Instead, it's bolted, vertically, to the tall side of the bed, down the wall, for stability.

Instead, I have a sheed of plywood set lenghtwize over the top head- and foot-tubes. On that, and on a particle board shelf above that, I have suitcases of blankets, mattress pads, sewing yardage, etc.

Sunday, I found another large, canvas suitcase. It's on wheels and has a pull-out handle to pull the suitcase through air ports.

That meant I finally have enough suitcases to put all my linens in.

So, I took all the suitcases down and arranged their contents by type. I painted a note of their contents on each suitcase.

Then, I lifted each of those heavy suitcases over my head and placed them on the shelves. Each suitcase has some packets of fabric softener sheets in it to keep the contents from smelling stale.

I organized and moved six large suitcases. It took three hours.

You will notice smaller bars at the head and foot. I strung a long rope, front to back. At the foot, I hung two 20-oz. plastic bottles of water. At the head, I attached a jump rope, with wooden handles. To each handle, I tied a bandana which hangs in a loop.

I pull on the jump rope to lift the bottles. I use the wooden handles when exercising my arms. For my legs, I loop the bandanas around the arches of my feet.

After all the suitcase lifting, I exercised a lot yesterday, to warm my muscles.

I also found an exercise toy in the dumpster. It's a wheel, about six inches round, with handles on either side of the spoke. The wheel's attached to a bungee style cord, which is attached to a knee rest. I kneel on the rest, grab the handles of the wheel, roll out and back. I think it's supposed to exercise the abdominal muscles, but I'm afraid to push the wheel out too far yet; what if the bungee cord snaps or I fall? SO, mostly, I'm exercising my upper thighs and my arms. I did about ten reps.

Today, I can barely move.

I'll do some more exercises today, to work out kinks.

I'll have to do this every day. I don't mind. It's not difficult, really.

Bad weather means I don't get much natural exercise in the winter. So this will help. Usually, by the first gardening days of spring, I'm too stiff and out of shape to do much. This should help.

Just did too much yesterday.

So, I'll take it easy and do stretches, etc. to work out the major kinks, cuz I need to buy TURKEY tomorrow! oh boy!

Monday, November 17, 2003

Preparing For TURKEY!

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I was going to work in the yard, when suddenly I remembered: TURKEYS GO ON SALE WEDNESDAY! Good lord, I'm going to be shopping and cooking! I've got to get ready! It's the last day, cuz I'll need to rest up for a long shopping trip on Wed!

Whenever I move, I try really hard to make my itsy bitsy slum kitchens as user friendly as possible, as soon as I unpack. But kitchens are more fluid than other rooms: I'm always dragging in more stuff. If it's not food, it's small appliances, cook ware, etc. I find in the trash.

Yesterday's dumpster dive netted me a butcher block knife block, complete with knives (I can always use extra knives; they come in handy for crafts projects, too, so duplicates go into craft supplies) and a miniature cuisinart, presumably for herbs.

I looked at my Parsons' shelf. On top, I have my microwave, a lamp, my cute maple syrup cans shaped like cabins, and some wine bottles of rice, tapioca and sesame seeds. Oh, and a lamp, shaped like a tea pot; I like to SEE my dishes, while I wash them!

The second shelf was full of cereals in mouse proof containers. Those needed to move. I got all my small kitchen appliances and put them on that second shelf, easy to plug in to the power strip. I moved my plastic storage containers and my basket full of foils, plastic bags, etc. and put them on the shelf by the table, where the appliances had been.

I washed out my turkey roaster.

I inventoried the cabinets. For some reason, I have a box of Stove Top Stuffing. I'll use the seasoning inside the bird, without the stuffing and mix some of it with fresh sage, rosemary, black pepper, tumeric and powdered chicken boullion, whipped in butter, to massage under the breast skin.

I stuff my turkey for baking with whole onions and potatoes. They're easy to remove immediately for storage. They provide flavor and moisture to the breast.

I make my stuffing on the stove. It's why I bought 2 loaves of cheap wheat sandwich bread last week: one for toast, one for stuffing. I cube the bread, throw it in my giant, 2 gallon collander, cover with netting, and set outside to dry for a couple of days.

I melt butter in a sauce pan, add turkey juice, nuts, raisins, dried cranberries (when I can find them), fresh sage, candied lemon or orange peel, one of the onions (chopped in the food processor), black pepper, chopped celery. I simmer slowly, until the raisins and cranberries are plumped. I use very little fruit; I don't want to make fruit bread pudding. I let it cool COMPLETELY!

Once it's cold, I whip two or three eggs into the mixture.

I put my croutons in the turkey roaster.

I ALWAYS dismember my turkey into a plastic container as soon as it's cool enough to handle; it takes less room in the refrigerator and I can get it cold FAST, before bacteria grow.

I slowly pour my stuffing goop over the bread, folding it in gently with the widest spoon I can find. I smooth it down by patting it; I don't want to break the bread.

I cover the roaster and bake in a 350 degree farenheit oven for about twenty minutes or so. Once it's good and brown and doesn't jiggle, it's done.

I usually have some turkey juice left over, even with the stuffing. I make gravy with that.

But first, I cube some potatoes in it and cook them tender for mashed potatoes...might as well have them turkey flavored, too!

You can always add chicken boullion, if you don't have enough turkey juices.

Here's my gravy: Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter on low heat. Whisk in about three or four tablespoons of flour, any kind, until blended into a nice, smooth paste. Start adding milk slooooowly, so you don't make lumps, whisking as hard and fast as possible. Once it's blended, let it cook down a bit, add more milk, etc. I put TONS of black pepper in my gravy. This is one of the only foods where I might actually add some salt. Usually, I just sprinkle in a bit of powdered chicken boullion, though.

My taters are mashed with a potato masher, the old fashoned way, with the skins on. Lots of minerals. I add milk and butter. I can get them just as fluffy and soft as can be, with a potato masher. No need for the egg beater. Besides, have you ever flung a glob of mashed potatoes across a room with an electric egg beater!?!

Those are the main components of turkey dinner. We can fight about recipes, if you want, but that's just a quick and easy way I like to do things: no fuss and feathers.

I'll tell you about my cranberry relish. Everybody loves it and begs for it.

2 sacks, minimum, of REAL cranberries. Wash, inspect for booboos and leaves or stems. Drain and dry thoroughly.

In a food processor, COARSLY chop: 2 cup cranberries to one orange and half an apple. Add sugar to taste. Keep mixing fruits 'til all is done. Mix all together in a big bowl. Keep your greedy mouth off it for a few hours, to let the sugars and juices blend thoroughly. If you can. I recommend 2 bags because the damn stuff is absolutely addictive and disappears faster than the turkey! I just about smother my turkey in cranberry relish. No gravy; that's for taters and stuffing.

Now, do NOT tell me it's a lot of work! Cubing the bread for the stuffing takes the most time of any, single chore, and that only takes a couple of minutes!

Now, it occurs to me that some of you may be intimidated by turkey. Get over it. It's a dead bird, not a Picasso. Here's how to cook the dang bird.

As soon as you get its frozen butt home, remove the wrapper and wash it in warm water. Rub with salt, to kill bacteria and rinse again. Drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper napkins or towels or whatever. Cut the cooking instructions off the bag and WASH THEM! Nail them to the cabinet, if you have to, but keep the cooking directions!

Seal the rest of the bag, giblets bag, whatever in a plastic grocery bag, march outside, and throw it in the trash! You DO NOT want those bacteria breeding in your waste basket!

Throw the bird in the turkey roaster or something covered and shove it in the lowest part of the refrigerator, as far away from the cooling coils as you can get. Let it thaw for a couple of days. Every now and again, wiggle the legs, wings and flaps over the cavities until they're loosened from the body. The body will thaw faster that way. As soon as you can get in there, pull the giblets package out of the cavity. These days, they throw in other stuff, too, like gravy mix (feed it to the dog; don't ruin your turkey with that crap) and "soup mix" (soup, schmoop; it's great in the mashed taters, the gravy and the stuffing), so make sure you've dug everything out! Once the cavity's clean, do the rinse/salt thing again.

ALWAYS clean sinks, cutting boards, knives, counter tops, hands...whatever has touched that turkey IMMEDIATELY with some bleachy water! Those damn bacteria will give you the squirts and ruin your turkey!!! Keep that turkey cold until you're ready to use it!

Like I say, I stuff my turkey with whole onions and potatoes, and massage herb butter (and I MEAN butter, not margerine!) under the breast skin. If you don't care how the turkey looks, flip it breast side down...the juices will give you a breast as juicy as a peach. If you want a Norman Rockwell turkey, put it breast side up. Wrap some foil on the wing tips, so they won't burn; same with the ends of the drum sticks.

Now, massage some herb butter on every visible surface and speak nicely to your bird, telling it how beautiful it's going to be.


Cover your bird and toss it in a preheated, 450 degree farenheit oven... cook for about twenty minutes, to seal the skin (keeps more juices inside the muscle, insted of in the pan!).

Baste bird. Get used to basting bird. If you're a good mother, you will be basting that damned bird every thirty minutes, for however many hours it takes, until that dang bird is done. It keeps the skin from turning leathery. It keeps the breast moist. It steams the vegetables in the cavity. It gives the skin a beautiful tan, especially if you've added some tumeric.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees farenheit. I think they want about twenty minutes per pound; read what the processor instructions are on the bag.

I cook my turkeys at night, timing them to be done an hour before I go to sleep. This warms the house, too. I get to gnaw on a wing while I dismember the bird to put in my plastic refrigerator container. I make my stuffing and gravy. Usually, I've already spooned off enough turkey juice for the taters, so they're already done.

In an hour, the stuffing's done. I munch some of that with gravy and taters..and a tad more turkey. Toss it all in the fridge and go to sleep.

There is nothing like waking the morning after you've made a turkey dinner. A slight aroma lingers in the air. I wake, knowing something wonderful waits for me. The first day, breakfast, lunch and dinner are all turkey dinners!

It doesn't last long, at my house. My cats and dogs love turkey dinner, too. Except for the cranberry relish; that's all mine.

It's wholesome comfort food; it brings back some pleasant memories. It fills me with energy and protein to work in the cold. And ten or more servings of turkey dinner cost me five dollars!

Basket Fence

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I'm trying to get to a great story of what I found in the dumpster next door last night, but first, lemme tell you what I did yesterday, and why I was ALMOST too tired to check the dumpster. Glad I did, now, because it's Monday now, and the trash truck comes WAY too early for that dumpster in the morning for ME to be out there! I'm usually awake by five am, but definately not up for a dumpster dive yet!

OK, it was a pretty day yesterday. Chilly, yes, but bright and sunny. So, when Performance Today came on at nine, I threw open the bedroom window, cranked the radio volume, grabbed my cigarettes, thermos and coffee cup to go outside.

Hitched Porkchop to his lead in the yard, so he could sniff things.

Pulled out my bucket and gardening tools.

By now, all six cats who were, moments before, dead to the world in the nice, warm house, ambled out to help. They stationed themselves around the empty lot to supervise me from all angles.

What does one do with nearly a hundred tall, dead sunflower stalks? They're all over the lot. Many still have seeds, as they're too narrow for birds to sit on while eating. I bundled some and set them outside my bedroom window. I like to watch the birds eat while I'm in bed online with my coffee and a pile of curious cats.

But I can't put all of them outside the window! I'll lose my wonderful, morning light!

Throw them away? Maybe; I guess I could compost them. But they're the consistancy of styrofoam and don't break down easily. And they take up so much space in the compost barrel, there's little left for kitchen scraps and other yard waste.

I tried just raking them, and the stray twigs in the yard, into a pile by the abandoned trailer. Well, THAT looked hideous! And was a fire hazard, although the cats thougt a pile of sticks by the trailer they hide under was a FABULOUS idea. Nope, this would not do.

I have a bunch of wire brackets for political yard signs. I don't know why; can't even remember where I found them. But I'd thought that, some how, they'd make good flower border fencing.

I repaired some of the flower bed borders. I pulled out all the dead stuff, piled up the twigs and stalks.

Rowen, across the alley, had set out about a dozen boards over the summer. She says I can use them. They're about four inches wide, three feet long, and about an inch thick. They have faded, blue paint on them and ragged edges. I think they were shelves once.

I measured the edge of one flowerbed with the boards, cut trenches for them with my shovel, set them in place and piled dirt on both sides, to keep water in the garden. This bed is uphill from the alley and tends to pee.

Well, now I had another problem. Since I'd removed all the twigs, stalks and other tall plant materials, Porkchop now thought this flower bed would be a good place to wander around. I wouldn't mind, but he's on that dang steel lead and chain leashes, and he started knocking things about and pulling up plants with his lead.

This will not do.

Yard sign brackets! I placed them as far apart from each other as they are wide and hammered them into the edge of the flower bed, right up against the boards.

Porkchop walked right under one and pulled it out with his leash! Damn! HE doesn't know it's supposed to be a fence!


I ran around and pulled out a mess of stalks, all widths, all lengths. They're easy to pull right now, because it rained earlier this week and the ground's soft.

I WOVE the stalks between the legs of the brackets! I WOVE A FENCE!!!!

I left all the flower heads on, seeds and all. They poke out so cute, all the way around the fence. And the birds can eat them easily, now that they're horizontal and not vertical, because they can now perch on the stalks easier!

So, I now have a two foot tall basket fence around my flower bed!

It hides how raggedy some of the boards look, too. It's all very quaint and rustic and reminiscent of both Mexican and Native American basketry...very New Mexico.

I just wove stalks, in and out the legs and then pushed them down the legs to make them secure. I can add more, too, bit by bit. I've still got about five inches of space at the top.

I also snuck in some stronger twigs and tree limbs. These are more rigid, less brittle than the sunflower stalks. They'll keep the fence stable against cat attacks, marauding dogs and wind.

I wish you could see my basket fence, covered in birds! It's quite fetching! Cant' wait to get back out there and do some more!

Friday, November 14, 2003

Meat Loaf

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I'm making room in the freezer. Turkeys go on sale next week. I'm planning to bake one immediately, and freeze another.

So, today, I got rid of the last of the breaded catfish "nuggets" and one of two 2 lb. packages of that "dog food" hamburger I got for fifty nine cents a pound.

I'll never buy those catfish nuggets again. They don't taste fresh. They were only a dollar a pound, or I wouldn't have bought them in the first place! So, after I finished my catfish sandwich, I gave the rest to the cats. Happy Cats! It was only about half a pound, anyway.

Then, I made my meatloaf. I sprinkled some beef boullion powder on the meat and worked it in.

In the food processor, I mixed: 2 cloves garlic; 1/4 of a giant sweet onion (about half a cup); two eggs and about 1/4 cup of that Ragu sauce I got for thirty cents because the label had fallen off.

I added about half a cup of cottage cheese and mixed this with the meat and kneaded it in.

I flatten the center of the meat, to about half an inch thick, and form the meat into a bowl shape in a pyrex dish. In the indentation, I pour about a cup of mixed vegetables. If I'm feeling rich, I use: artichoke hearts, pearl onions, brussels sprouts, snow peas and baby carrots, fresh or frozen. But today all I had was frozen, "mixed vegetables." That's ok; the sauce will give it some flavor.

Then, I mold the meat up over the vegetables until it completely encloses them.

Most times, I make some drop biscuit dough and cover the entire meatloaf in that. Not today; had other projects and didn't bother.

You'd think the biscuit dough would blacken before the vegetables in the center had even thawed, but it all comes out perfect. The dough seals the heat inside the meat. The meat steams the vegetables. By the time the dough is golden brown, everything's done.

Once it's cooled for about twenty minutes, all the juices are absorbed into the loaf and it maintains its form when sliced. One slice, plus a glass of milk, makes a complete meal.

I could have used some of that salsa I bought for thirty cents. It didn't have a label, either.

But the spaghetti sauce was already opened, and needs to be eaten up before the turkeys arrive.

For less than two dollars, I've made about eight hearty, satisfying meals. All I need to do is cut a slice and warm in the microwave.

And the baking warmed my house.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


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The rain against my window looks like someone's blasting my building with a fire hose. The wind is intense. I hear things knocking around in the yard and I worry for my old, beat up tarps. I am NOT going out there to look! But it's nerve wracking.

My muscles are so sore from long rides on the scooter. Holding myself on by the handle bars causes sharp, deep pain in my shoulders, neck and upper back.

And my teeth are giving me fits. I have an old crown, under which a molar is rotting. It aches. And an upper tooth has a deep cavity, to the nerve. I tell myself, as I have with the others, the pain is only temporary. Within a few weeks, both teeth will finally be dead, and won't hurt anymore. But right now, they hurt from my eye to my ear and down my throat.

So, I opened the bourbon. No mixers, no bs: straight bourbon, swirled in my mouth and swished through what's left of my teeth. Burned like a you know what at first. But then the pain all subsided as the alcohol cleansed the infections.

The pain in my back, neck and shoulders has reduced to a dull throb.

And my nerves aren't jumpy from the weather. I know I weatherproofed everything just as well as I could, before the storm. All I can do is wait for morning, daylight, and drier weather before I can make repairs.

I shut off the heater vents in the front of the house. They still blow a slight amount of hot air up there. There's a blanket over my front door and plastic over my windows.

There's a drapery that seperates my bedroom from the rest of the house. The heater, which has only had to kick on three times today (I have the thermostat set to fifty degrees, as it's in the front room). My bedroom is good and warm.

Most of the cats are lounging in the livingroom. Poor Snuffy got caught in the first ofthe storm and thought he'd have to spend the night on a blanket, inside my doghouse, in my yard. I went out and rescued him and he hasn't moved from the easy chair I set him on. The two girls, Miss Thing and her daughter, Osa, curl up on the bed with me and Porkchop for awhile, then go out front to hang with the boys.

This is a short term storm; it should pass by tomorrow and, within a few days, the temps will be quite pleasant again. So I have no fears of cabin fever, either for myself or for my animals.

I wish I could get these teeth fixed. I worry about a staph infection, so close to my brain. I also worry about gangrene. The bottom molar, with the cap on it, smells dead. The taste in my mouth is hideous. I can smell pus, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Scooter Abuse

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This is the most satisfying feeling in the world: I have enough.

I have toilet paper to last until next month. I just bought dog and cat food and cigarettes.

The rent's paid and the repairs are done. I'm not in danger of eviction; that was all smoothed over in an accidental meeting with the property manager.

I have heat. They even fixed the leaky faucet in the bathroom; I no longer have to move the drip-catching bowl before washing my hands.

There's plenty of fire wood for emergencies or just for cuddly days.

My cupboards are full. So's the refrigerator.

And I still have about thirty dollars' food stamps left.

The phone bill is current. There's still some money in the bank.

In a week, turkeys go on sale for about four dollars each or less.

I'm looking forward to plenty of home cooked comfort foods that bring back good memories.

There's a big basket full of cheap chocolate.

Vegetables are growing in my greenhouse and my window sills.

I have a scooter and trailer to get me, my dogs and my junk around town easily.

I have my new domain name to work on and a chance to earn some money at it.

Tomorrow, I meet with a woman about volunteering for Working Classroom.

I have a washing machine, a feather bed, a fireplace, internet, televisions, vcr, good clothes, pretty things.

I don't need one, single thing right now.

It feels SO good!

Porkchop Is Scooter Trained

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For those of you who don't know, Porkchop is my ninety pound pit bull terrier. He's only that heavy because I couldn't run him properly and our yard is tiny.

Now that I have a scooter, that's changing rapidly. He's looking much more svelt and sleek and much less like a stripedy pig.

For a wild and crazy, nervous nelly, Porky has the scooter down now.

He runs on the sidewalk, parallel to me or just ahead and to the right on the street. He knows not to get his leash wrapped around trees and poles. He waits at intersections until I tell him to cross.

He will even avoid confrontations with dogs, if I keep an eye on him and don't let things get out of hand. I don't trust him, yet, not to chase a cat. He stays on leash.

But I have let him run beside the scooter on private property without leash, just to see what he does.

Today, he INSISTED on going with me to the Pueblo Cultural Center. I thought yesterday was a long walk, almost four miles. The Center is about 15 miles, round trip.

He did about five miles, with two rest and water breaks, before showing signs of fatigue. Then, I told him to get in the traler.

He was skittish, at first, because the trailer moves around a lot when standing still. But I coaxed and told him he's a good boy. The trailer command is, "go to bed!" which is a well used command in my home, especially if guests visit. He lay on my bag of canvas bags to put things in, my coat, and the tarp, so it was nice and soft. The trailer's just long enough for him to lay down in.

The scooter pulls him just fine; I could barely feel the difference, except when starting from complete stops.

Once it got moving, he was fine with it; the ride is stable and smooth. It only wobbles when it's standing still.

So, he got carried like a princess for about six miles of the trip. He also sits in the trailer just fine, as long as I have it propped securly against a wall. So, I can go inside a store and leave him in the trailer!

He's very tired. He couldn't wait to get another drink at home. He's sleeping with his head on my knee.

I'll bet, when I start up the scooter tomorrow, he'll be begging for another ride! LOL.

How I Use My Scooter

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The scooter's so small and relatively powerless, it's categorized as a bicycle.

I can ride it on the sidewalk, but I avoid that whenever possible. It's actually bad manners to ride a bike on the sidewalk, too. Besides, with the trailer on the back, it's pretty wide.

I stay in the street, wherever possible. I stay off busy streets, riding through subdivisions and on access roads (like beside train tracks, industrial areas, etc.).

When I must use a busier street, I use bicycle lanes, when possible or I ride facing oncoming traffic. I get off busy streets within a block or so.

I do not imagine my scooter as a miniature car. I imagine it as a prosthetic device which enhances walking.

I rarely run it at full throttle, and then usually going up hill. With the dog food in the trailer, I had to get off and walk beside it, holding the throttle on full speed, to make it. But that's still a lot easier than pushing groceries up hill in a stroller!

I assume I'm invisible...which is the major reason for all the colorful, shiny stuff. I assume all other vehicles on the road will behave in either an indiffernt or hostile manner.

I have: wrist guards and knee and shoulder guards. I think these must have belonged to a skateboarder. I found them, all together, in an mesh bag, in the garbage.

I usually drive at Porkchop's trotting or walking speed, even if Pork isn't with me.

To blow it out, I will run it full throttle in empty parking lots. I just zip up and down the length of the lot for a few laps. Keeps the carburator blown out and keeps the gas lines flowing well.

I'm still fiddling with the air/fuel mix. Living at five thousand feet above sea level, in autumn when air temps. change frequently, is a challenge. Cold air is literally thicker: more air molecules in the same space as warm air. On warm days, it's easier to run than on cold days, unless I adjust the mix.

It's very strong, but easy to operate.

I changed the inner tubes on the wheels of the trailer the other day. Having inflated tires, of course, means it rides even better now.

I ride standing up, whenever possible. This puts my field of vision slightly higher than the average passenger car driver. I only sit when slowing, turning, or negotiating problematic road surfaces.

I've had no problem encounters with police yet. But, then, I avoid police, as well as dangerous traffic, by staying on smaller roads, bike paths, etc.

It sure makes my life a lot easier! I can drag home a grocery cart full of stuff in the trailer with no perceptible disadvantage..except on hills, of course!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Preparing For Food

man, a week's worth of hard labor caught up yesterday afternoon.

I went to take an hour nap, and woke five hours later. I stayed up a few hours, but went right back to sleep. I woke at eight this morning, having slept twelve hours. I could still sleep.

But, I got the scooter ready yesterday to make a grocery run today, the first day of my food stamps. Filled the gas, checked air in the tires, etc.

Things are beginning to discount for the holiday season. It's a little early yet, but baking supplies are already much cheaper. Soon, turkeys and hams will be cheap.

The refrigerator's defrosted and cleaned. The kitchen's clean and ready to process whatever I bring home.

My foodstamps were reduced 1/3 this month, without warning or explaination. I've gone from $90/month to $60. Last summer's droughts were a good excuse to raise food prices. So I'll have to be very careful.

But, for almost two years, I lived on $28/mo. food stamps, and did rather well. I seldom paid cash for foods. Of course, I had easier access to food pantries then.

I'll make it, but it's going to be a challenge.

Production Does Not Equal Jobs

Bush can stop puffing now. Yes, production is up. All that means is each worker is working longer and harder, for just about the same pay.

So, since each worker is doing more, the companies don't have to hire.

Except in manufacturing, which is all going overseas.

In India, they're trained to speak like us. They answer customer service calls in "American" English, and get paid 1/10th what a now-unemployed American earned.

In China, they're beaten if they don't produce enough singing snowmen and barking bedroom slippers. They're fired if they try to demand a living wage or safe work conditions, like those of a now-unemployed American factory worker.

The jobs in this country are no longer in manufacturing. We don't make things in this country anymore; we buy them from "American" corporations who manufacture offshore, where there are no environmental controls or unions.

About 80% of the jobs in this country are in "the service industries." That's mopping and burger flipping, to you and me. That's minimum wage and no benefits, to you and me.

The "service industry," huh? As in "servants?" As in "serfs?"

The middle class in this country is one of the SMALLEST in any industrialized country!

We're heading, full speed, back to feudalism. And nobody's complaining, as long as they can drive through for a Happy Meal at the end of the day.

We're losing our country, our dignity, our inginuity.

Friday, November 07, 2003


Someone said my kitchen is cluttered. I took it to heart, and felt bad about it for a couple of weeks.

I am not Martha Stewart; I don't own a dozen houses, a warehouse, a tv studio.

I just COOK like Martha! ...or better.

I was watching a sitcom tonight, "3rd Rock From The Sun." The premise is that 2 couples invest in a time share. When they get there, it's a studio apartment.

They made a big joke about the kitchen area and how small it was. One, overhead cupboard; a small, double sink; two undersink cabinets; utensil drawers; stove; refrigerator. The counter space, on either side of the sink, measured less than two feet in length. An actor referred to the counter space as, "postage stamp."

My kitchen cabinets are almost indentical, except that I have only ONE, undersink cabinet.

I've added three shelves, a cabinet on wheels, a table and wooden crates ON the table, to act as shelves for plants, cat food dishes, condiments and fruit basket.

My entire kitchen measures six feet by maybe eight feet, and that's only because I've pushed the refrigerator part way into the living room.

I don't have clutter. I have kitchen appliances, herbs, seasinings and condiments, utensils, etc. They're neatly stacked on the shelves. On the top shelf, I have my tea pot collection.

In the sitcom episode, the two couples were whining about how substandard the conditions were, how intolerable the conditions, how pathetic and inhuman it was to expect them to live like that.

I have the largest kitchen in this complex. I almost didn't rent here, because the first units I saw had "kitchens" built into closets!

There's nothing wrong with me wanting to own an Easter bunny cake mold, a food processor, a tortilla press, etc.

I realize we "poor" folk are expected to only eat fast foods or microwave tv dinners. But I'm REALLY low income, and I'm also really intelligent! I can't live on macaroni and cheese powder in a box. I like to cook quality foods, so I won't feel deprived and get depressed.

I LIKE it that I can run to the kitchen in the middle of the night, whip up a batch of pop overs, smear them with real butter and home made blackberry jam, and eat them with a Parmasean cheese and jalepeƱo omlette and a cup of home made espresso! It takes less time than driving (if I HAD a car) through a fast food joint. And, even "paying" myself ten dollars an hour, and including prep time through clean up, costs about one tenth of what they'd charge for some salty, sugary, greasy crap. And junk food restaurants just don't serve what I can prepare!

Why would I WANT to eat at McDonalds or thaw out frozen crap, when I can eat like this?

Is it really so "crazy" to want a high quality life, that doesn't come in shrink wrap?

Clutter? Bite me! "Clutter" is collecting crap for the sake of collecting crap! Except for my teapot collection, everything in my kitchen is about preparing and preserving foods!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I Fixed The Heater...I hope

Moved all the stuff on the shelf and moved the shelf. Found my flashlight, glasses and screwdriver.

Opened the plates Veto screwed on and looked.

I think the reason that one plate is short is to allow air into the housing, to keep the pilot lit.

Found a candle to relight the pilot.

Moved more wires--AND a GAS LINE!--away from possible flames.

Put the plates back on the way they were before Veto messed with them.

Set the thermostat to just above room temp. Turned off all lights and the oven.

The heater kicked on, went for awhile, turned off. I waited.

As I was writing this, the heater kicked on again.

So, the heater is working.

Oh, while I was in there, I checked the vent out, to make sure Veto didn't loosen it while pounding on the furnace housing. It looks ok, as far up into the ceiling as I can see, and doesn't wiggle.

Still No Heat

I woke to a freezing house. Turned on all lights and turned on the oven.

Veto came on Monday, found the faulty part, said he'd be back Tuesday.

There's a wicker shelf I keep between the furnace door and my bed to keep my essential stuff on. I left it in the middle of the room, all the stuff in a basket on a table across the room.

He didn't return on Tuesday. Instead, I found notes taped to my gates, saying they'd repair heaters on Friday and Monday and that, if we weren't here for the appointments, they'd charge us for a call back!

So, I put the shelf back and put some stuff back on it.

Yesterday, I washed bed linens. I can't have piles of blankets all over this small house. I washed four loads, watered my garden and did outdoor chores while washing. I was exhausted.

About 5:30pm, after I'd gone to bed for the evening, Veto tapped on my window. Didn't ring the bell; TAPPED. I could barely hear it. Porkchop barked, or I wouldn't have known Veto was here.

Moved the shelf and the stuff.

Veto replaced the part. But he didn't put it in its original location, inside the heater housing. Instead, he PUNCHED a HOLE in the housing with a screw driver and a hammer! This, of course, could have loosened all manner of stuff, including the vent that takes carbon monoxide out of the house!

The heater turned on. Veto said a small, metal shield was missing from the heater housing, and that a backdraft was blowing in, forcing flames out onto the electrical parts and melting them. So, he jerry rigged the housing panels and added a strip of aluminum foil.

Then, he stood in my living room and made a long, personal call to his wife while I WAITED TO LET HIM OUT!

The heat is out this morning. I have to assume the pilot is spewing gas in there, and I'll have to move the shelf, open the now-screwed-on plates, and either relight it or turn it off.

My house is SO COLD! It got below freezing last night.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Feathers, Furnaces and Fools

Well, I USED to sit on my sofa to work on the web. But my neighbor makes SO much noise, and startles me when he screams, and I couldn't concentrate.

So, I moved everything from the living room into the bedroom.

I have a cheap mattress I found in the trash. I think it's stuffed with trash, as it's very lumpy. I mean, it feels like there are chunks of wood in the damn thing! I don't notice it, lying down, with my weight evenly distributed across it.

But, with just my butt and feet touching it, those lumps just grind into me!

So, I HAD to do the feather bed thing.

Besides, the feather bed was too heavy as a top blanket. With the dog, and all the cats, and my keyboard and it's tray, I felt like I was buried alive! LOL.

Having the feather bed on the bottom works very well. It comes up to meet me, conforming to my body, and keeps me very warm. And the softness is a blessing to pain.

I woke with four of six cats and the dog on it, so they must think it's comfortable, too.

Of course, I STILL don't have HEAT yet! Veto never returned with the replacement part yesterday. I found a note taped to my gate saying they'd be repairing heaters on Friday and Monday, and that, if we weren't here on those days, they'd CHARGE US for coming back! Whining that they had over two hundred units to manage.

Well, if you can't manage property, maybe you've got no business in the property management business? Just a guess...


$#@!! SLUMLORDS!!!

Monday, November 03, 2003


Landlord Tenant told me to call the following: BBB, ADA, Adult Protective Services and City Zoning.

I called bbb, and must go to their website to fill out a form.

ADA didn't answer the phone. Adult Protective Services says they don't handle landlord tenant stuff. I'm afraid to call Zoning; I don't want to end up homeless again because of them. They got my boarding house condemned for bad wiring and a leaky roof and I was evicted on the spot.

Basically, I'm on my own. The girl at landlord tenant today invented me and attributed motives to me that aren't mine. And then started a soap box about the Patriot Act (!?!?!?).

There's Legal Aid, but they won't help me until I get a Doctor's appointment, which is another whole can of worms, since my medicaid and medicare are useless.

So, as usual, I'm sticking to my guns as well as I can.

I've defended myself before, even in a court of law, and did just fine. I can do this.

What's weird is how many people are warning me to set aside the 1/3 rent I'm withholding for noncompliance! OF COURSE, I am! The money's in the bank, even as I write this, waiting to go to them. But not until the repairs are done. I'm following court requirements as closely as I know how.

I'm not going to risk homelessness over this! I guess people think I'm going to spend the money? Maybe I look stupid, but I'm not! LOL.

I don't WANT to mail two checks this month; means I have to buy more stamps early! Means I use up the last check in my book, and have to reorder. Means I risk alienating some pretty thick-headed people who don't seem to know too much about property management.

Maybe someone ELSE would spend that money, but I'm sure as hell not! LOL

I'm starting my own web site!~ I'm looking for work! Winter's coming! I'm getting sick again! I don't NEED to move!

I'm THIS CLOSE to getting a little bit ahead, and now THIS comes along to threaten everything I've been working so hard for? I'm not taking ANY unnecessary chances!

Sent to Landlord

Dear deleted Property Management Company,

In accordance with New Mexico State Landlord Tenant Law, I am withholding one third of this month's rent until such time as repairs are made. I am doing this based on consultation with the Landlord Tenant Hotline.

I was only required to give seven days for compliance. I gave a month.

Inclosed, please find a check in the amount of $deleted. This includes the withholding of $deleted.00 for noncompliance.

I will pay the remainder of the rent when the items below are completed.

Thank you,

Rogi Name

Inclosed: last month's letter re: repairs to my unit.


I'm getting ready to do battle with the landlord, who REFUSES to repair my air conditioner, heater, electrical wiring and put a bannister on the stairs so I can use tem.

I'm scared to death. When you've been homeless a few times, you have an automatic reaction to the threat of eviction.

I surfed landlord tenant law this morning and was shaking so badly, I could barely type.

I actually went into the bathroom to throw up!

I have to do this, but I'm really scared.

As soon as they open in an hour, I'm calling the landlord tenant hotline for some advice.

The rent was due last Friday. I get my check on the 3rd, which is today, and never mail out my rent before the money's really in the bank. I gave myself the weekend to think about it.

What I think is: my rent on a one bdrm. garage conversion is as much as a house payment, if I had credit. I pick trash to pay rent. I make arts and crafts to pay rent. I go without to pay rent. I grow my own food to pay rent.

I deserve a heater without melted wires, that goes on when the temperatures reach eighty degrees farenheit. I deserve an air conditioner that doesn't catch fire when I turn it on. I deserve electricity that doesn't just suddenly go out without reason, and takes three days to have someone flip my circuit breaker. I deserve to use the front stairs, without the threat of breaking my neck.

I'm, of course, afraid of alienating the landlord. I'm already harrassed by the alcoholic, drug-addicted tenants. I can't afford to make enemies.

But I've waited over two months for some repairs, and seven months for the bannister and to have my electricity repaired.

I have to do this, scared or not.

Wish me luck.

Rental Noncompliance

I asked for a bannister on the stairs when I signed the lease, eight months ago.

My air conditioner caught fire two months ago.

My heater wires are melted, and the heat was going on at 80 degrees farenheit.

My electricity goes out without warning. I have been reporting this since I signed the lease.

Tenants are criminals who harrass me.

Here's a copy of LAST month's letter to the property mgmt. company:

From: (Rogi Riverstone)
Date: Wed, Oct 1, 2003, 12:29pm (MST+1)
To: self, to print out to property mgr.
Subject: property address

1) I still have no heater.

2) I still have no air conditioner.

3) Electrical problems persist.

4) Raoul Nieto's "friend," Joe (who formerly rented apt. D here) unplugged electric cords I'd placed while power was out. He doesn't pay my rent; he doesn't even LIVE here! My refrigerator was warm when I returned from church; my internet (one source of my income) was messed up; my VCR was broken from it.

5) Raoul Nieto DELIBERATELY cranked up his music while I was sitting in my yard, occupied with a long distance business call. I went out there because I couldn't find an ashtray within reach of my phone. My business contact commented on the noise, thinking it was my fault. Of course, Raoul turned it back down the minute he couldn't hear me anymore, so there was no way or point to call police.

6) I've waited 7 months for a banister on the front steps.

7) The woman in Apt. C stands directly outside my kitchen window, SCREAMING "turn the music down!" to Raoul: her only "joke," a way to harrass and belittle me.

This is my notice of noncompliance. I need these repairs. I will withhold next month's rent if they aren't completed soon.

I will be telephoned or contacted by US Postal Service to make appointments for these repairs.

I have multiple sclerosis; I can't tolerate extremes of heat or cold.
And I'm tired of people in this building discriminating against me for my disabilities!

Rogi Riverstone

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Stretching Food With a Mandolin

This is a Japanese mandolin. It is not a musical instrument. It is a food slicer.

Mine isn't this fancy. I got mine from a carnival barker at the Los Angeles County Fair who was giving them away with the purchase of kitchen knife sets. He gave it to me because I kept him in hot lunches while we were working there. I kept an igloo cooler and a hot plate behind my booth, so I wouldn't be tempted to leave my work station to buy over-priced but tempting-smelling fair foods.

ANYway, this device is a great food stretcher. I make my own potato chips and fries with it. I julien vegetables and cheeses.

But its best function is as a meat stretcher.

Last month, I bought a ham. Not a good ham, made from a real pig leg, but I bought one of those "particle board" hams. You know, where they glue pork scraps together under pressure, shoot it full of salted water, shrink wrap it? Looks like a football?

I cut a section off the ham, no wider than the mandolin blade. I have to remove the skin, because it catches in the mandolin. But I feed that to the cats and dog as a treat.

I thinly slice the ham. I end up with rectangles, 2 inches wide, about 4 inches long, and about a quarter inch or less thick.

These can be fried like bacon. They can be chopped into omlettes. They're good for sandwiches and ham salad (with mayonaise, mixed vegetables, lettuce or cabbage, pickles, hard boiled eggs and either pasta or rice). They're fantastic laid over a baked potato which has been stuffed with either butter, sour cream, cheese, or chili and warmed in the microwave.

I can make a five pound ham last several months this way. And the ham only costs about a dollar or less per pound, on sale, which is the ONLY way, of course, I'll buy one!

The mandolin works on poultry, too. It sometimes works on beef, depending on the cut of meat.

I can jullien meats for french bread pizzas, pasta salads, casseroles, soups....just about anything.

As I rarely eat meat as a main course, but use it to flavor othe foods, the mandolin gives me evenly-cut pieces which are small. Julliened strips can, of course, be cross-cut to make small dices.

I unscrew my mandolin's blade from time to time and sharpen it. It's hardened steel, and gets sharp as a razor.

I wash and dry my mandolin and its slicing blades immediately after use. I don't want rust.

And I always handle the foods I'm slicing with the little "handle" that came with the mandolin. It's very sharp and I don't want to cut myself.

The mandolin makes fast work of any firm vegetable. It's not too good for tomatoes; it's too easy to apply too much pressure and squish them. But, for celery, carrots, potatoes, jicama, turnips, cucumbers and many other vegies, the mandolin is wonderful.

And the mandolin doesn't use up electricity, like a food processor does.