"Hey Mom, We Need to Talk."
So Caesar and I had a long talk the other day. We do have the best discussions and he comes up with some absolutely wonderful ideas!
He shared with me that this whole social distancing thing was getting to him too. He can't play with the grandkids, no one is coming up and petting him when we go on walks like they used to and we have not taken a trip down to the river yet either. Poor dog is going through social withdrawals. Even his kitty sisters are fighting more with each other and it is getting on his nerves because they want him to pick sides. Everybody is a bit on edge, including the humans.
So...we had the dreaded talk. No, not the birds and the bees one, but how things in the world had changed and was going to be "different" for awhile to come. Caesar was not pleased but he agreed that we needed to brainstorm some ideas together to make this all more bearable for us all and to keep us all as happy and healthy as possible.
Caesar was worried about grocery stores running out of things and if his kibble would be there for him. I reassured him that we had bought extra bags for him and his kitty sisters and that I would be doing this on a monthy basis to get ahead...just in case. I also share with him that Jeff and I would be trying to keep our shopping down to once a month if possible for all people food and supplies and that we were stocking our pantry with basics like flour, sugar, yeast, salt, oil, canned veggies, beans, and things of that nature. We were also getting fresh produce that would last a long time. We would be using Imperfect Foods for fresh produce, cheese, nuts and other things in between shopping trips when needed. Another thing he was worried about was meat for Daddy. Daddy loves his meat and Caesar overheard us talking about meat shortages. I reassured him that I had been stocking up on those too and putting them in the freezer. We were also going to eat less meat and we going to be sourcing some of it locally directly from farmers and ranchers here who have a deal with the local butcher. That should keep his Daddy happy and the bills as low as humanly possible while helping keep our farmers, ranchers and local butcher in business.
Gardening...Caesar loves to watch us garden and wants to help us "dig" at times. I told him the garden would be in full swing this year so it would provide him lots of entertainment. He has been supervising me already getting seeds started in pots and in the garden (the cold weather crops have been directly sown into the garden soil). We were given a huge amount of free mulch, so we are using some and are sharing it with friends and neighbors also. Everyone needs to work together right now to get through this thing. We were given permission to dig up some plum trees from a public right of way in our town and will be doing that this weekend and getting those planted. We also have some volunteer prune plum trees in our yard which will be replanted in another location so that we can utilize the area they are in now for a compost pile. One of those prune plum trees is being given to a friend who wants to start a mini orchard in her yard also. We are sharing seeds and will be doing a lot of trading and bartering in the near future as things get even tougher. The plan for now is to provide as much food as possible for our family and for friends and neighbors as will as preserve some for the future. This will cut costs and provide us with healthy foods for us and others.
Speaking of cutting costs. So many people are out of work and trying to get through to unemployment is nearly impossible here. It is a mixed blessing that Jeff still has his job (for the moment at least) since it provides us with income and the ability to have health insurance. He is doing everything he can to keep healthy, maintain social distancing and keeping things disinfected while he works. Poor guy has been having a huge amount of anxiety about possibly bringing this virus home to me. Anyway, we are preparing for the worst case scenario money wise (the future is not looking bright at the moment) so we took the following steps...
1. We paid off our yearly property taxes in full with our stimulous check.
2. Paid off a hospital bill with more of that check.
3. Banked the rest of the check in an emergency fund.
4. Trying to use less electricity by hanging most of the laundry out to dry on the line when it is nice outside.
5. Not turning on lights until they are definitely needed.
6. Me not blow drying and styling my hair most days.
7. Being careful to try and not waste food. If fruits or veggies go bad, they are added to the compost bin or buried directly in a corner of the garden to self compost over time.
8. Doubling or tripling up on recipes so that I can freeze some for a future meal. This cuts down on food waste, energy, time and money. Let's face it, having a yummy lasagna in your freezer is reassuring and can also be given to someone who needs a meal for whatever reason.
9. Reaching into the depths of the pantry to see what needs to be used up ASAP before you use the newer items. I took inventory of our pantry and found a whole other 5 gallon bucket of rice in there. SCORE!!!!
10. Taking inventory of our HBA items to see what we do and don't have and trying to make sure that I don't overbuy or underbuy what we need and go through on a regular basis.
Now, more than ever, it is important to make your home a haven and a happy place to be. Caesar saw that gleam in my eye when I started to talk about this. He knows me well. Some of the things that we are doing or plan to do are to grow a bunch of flowers from seed this year. I was able to get the flower seeds for .25 a package. I love flowers and Caesar loves to stop and smell them. I also transplanted volunteer Columbines to other areas of the yard that needed more color and cheer. Columbines are some of my favorites. They and they sunflowers that come back year after year make me so happy and require little to no work on my part. Jeff is also going to be rebuilding the deck with some free rough cut lumber that he has been collecting and planed down to make it smooth. We bought the screws needed for the project and will be getting some deep charcoal grey deck paint to finish it off with once it is built. The plan is to start the build next weekend. I will then get to decorating it with pillows on the porch swing, a fun candle lamp and a few other items.
Speaking of redecorating, I love to change things up by the season and have been pulling out framed pictures and switching out the Winter decor for Spring decor. We have picked up several pieces of free furniture from the curbside here in town that people are getting rid of and they will be cleaned, painted and repurposed here at home. One smaller freestanding cabinet is going to become my baking center to free up counter space. It will also allow me to have most of my baking supplies within easy reach at all times. Another is a old hutch which will go into our front bedroom turn pantry and craft room, to store things more efficiently and get things up off the floor. I am excited about that also! The fleece blankets will soon be going away and the more Spring/Summer like throws will be coming out. The Fall /Winter cloth napkins will also be put away and out will come the Spring/Summer ones. My mother made quite a few of them for me so they bring back wonder memories of her and of my brother who gave us a gift card that I used to buy all the material for them. Some furniture will be rearranged and moved to new rooms giving everything a fresh look. I am excited about these changes!
I am looking forward to revisting with some of my favorite books and reading new ones that I have here. Our library is currently closed, but I have a huge library of my own. Jeff and I are also enjoying watching movies we have on hand and Caesar is enjoying being able to share some old fashioned popped popcorn with us when we have a movie night. Caessar definitely thinks we should do these more often.
The hardest thing for Caesar, and for us, is not being able to spend time with our family. Caesar misses the family, especially the grandkids who are his buddies, as much as we do. We try to do video chats with them and my parents on a regular basis. We also have a running story that we send back and forth with the older grandkids with us each adding a small part to each time. It has become a fun activity and the grandboys love getting mail so it is a win win.
Hopefully they will find a way to stop this thing and protect us all. My prayers and thoughts are with all the front line workers, medical staff, and individuals, friends and families who are dealing with this illness and/or loss of loved ones. I am hearing first hand how bad things are from a dear nurse friend who is working with FEMA at a hospital in the Bronx. What she is sharing is absolutely devastating and breaks my heart. Please keep her an all the other people working with patients in your prayers.