#5TF: Technology Time-Out

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 4 – July 15 – July 21, 2017

I missed 4 phone calls and I don’t know how many text messages this week – on purpose – and it was so nice!

Earlier this year I read a little book called How to Live a Good Life by Johnathan Fields. The book is chock full of practical exercises to help you fill your life buckets (and ultimately achieve a better quality of life). I remember thinking at the time how much fun it would be to do the exercises with a group and after listening to my mom philosophize for a solid week about the meaninglessness of life when you are over 65, I decided this was the perfect intervention. I also know my mom well enough to know that if I hand her a book, it will take up residence in her to-do basket, never to be looked at again. So I printed the introduction and first chapter of the Vitality Bucket (the area she scored least on in the Snapshot360™ Online Quiz) and we started on the Good Life Project together.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was being unplugged. The Good Life Project chapter we’re working on now is about being aware and intentional. One of my favorite quotes from the chapter says:

Everyone and everything else can wait. And if they cannot, which is almost never a reflection of true need, but rather an expectation you’ve trained into others, you process them quickly, without distraction, having made an intentional decision, then move back to your big thing…

I have trained a lot of people since moving back home. I’ve trained them to call/text me when they need answers from Google, when they need a few dollars for gas, when they are having a meltdown over something trivial, or when they need something done immediately but are too tired, bored, occupied, or ___ (you can insert almost anything here) to do it for themselves. I did all of that and I did it by simply picking up the phone every single time it beeped. Well not this week! When we were busy doing something for ourselves, including simply relaxing, I ignored the phone. Once I even realized that I had left it in the car all afternoon!

I am grateful for tomatoes! Okay, I suppose I should rephrase that to say that I am grateful for the wonderful crop that our garden has brought us this year (despite some problems with end-rot and pests). I had no idea that we’d have so many beautiful, healthy, delicious tomatoes and I’m overjoyed by the fact that we likely may not have to buy canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, or spaghetti sauce all winter long.

I need to let go of trying to change other people’s unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. This is always a work-in-progress but specifically this week it relates to the fact that my mom thinks a happy life is a busy life and by busy, she means constantly cleaning, maintaining, and sometimes even acquiring things. It’s sad because the meaninglessness she’s been feeling lately is directly related to not having the energy to take care of her stuff. Despite my best efforts to explain that 1) she has a sinus infection and is supposed to be resting and 2) it’s okay not to do something every day, she just plugs her ears (figuratively speaking) and refuses to hear me. Worse though, she expects everyone around her to want to be just as busy and if they aren’t there’s something wrong with society as a whole. It’s hard to talk to someone who won’t listen so I simply need to stop (and hope that she gleans some of this messaging from our Good Life Project endeavor).

We made progress on putting up veggies for winter. We cut 2 dozen ears of peaches and cream corn off the cob on Saturday, put away 7 quarts of squash, carrots, and okra, and are stewing a bushel of tomatoes for the freezer today. I’m beginning to think we need a bigger freezer! We also gave ourselves a haircut, earned $52 for our vacation fund from a random side hustle off Gigspot, and took a picnic lunch to the lake.

The funniest thing that happened this week is a toss up between our trip to the lake and Angie’s first encounter with a horn worm. On the latter, I’ve never seen anyone jump backwards as far as she did when I pulled the giant green globby worm off of our tomato plant, where it had successfully sheared the leaves off one stem and the faces off a half-dozen green cherry tomatoes. She probably would have screamed too if she hadn’t been struggling to regain her balance. As our appointed worm relocation agent, it’s Angie’s job to dispose of them. Up until now, this has meant tossing tiny cabbage worms in the creek and hoping they never return. When she saw the horn worm, she immediately shook her head and told me there was no way she was touching it much less tossing it anywhere. So I am now a worm murderer. My current body count stands at 2.

As for the lake, well…it definitely wasn’t the peaceful day we were anticipating. Picture instead what would happen if the TV shows Cops and Naked and Afraid ever made a crossover episode. Yes, we saw a “full moon” during the broad daylight (and it was not pretty!) and a man running around gangster style telling everyone he was going to “bust them in the head”. We should have known better than to even park the car when the attendant came flying over in his golf cart and said to us – complete strangers – in one run on sentence, with what looked like a grin on his face, “Metro PD is on the way, there’s a guy tripping out over there, threatening everyone, did you pay the fee? great day to be at the lake, have fun!” I believe this was the most excitement he’d seen in his entire post-retirement career as a volunteer park attendant. For us, it was just another day in the South.

50 [Somewhat Crazy] Ways to be More Frugal

A few days ago I was skimming a post in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to. The question posed was “What frugal things do you do that your friends consider crazy?” As I read a few of the comments, I got to thinking – with few exceptions, we do just about everything that was listed – so we must be crazy frugal after all!

From the comments and from our own brainstorming exercise, Angie and I compiled a list of 50 somewhat crazy ways to be more frugal. They are in no particular order. We put an asterisk (*) by the ones we currently do or have done in the past. How many do you do? What did we miss that should be added to the list?

  1. Split or share meals at restaurants*
  2. Drink water at restaurants instead of purchasing a drink*
  3. Use family cloth instead of toilet paper
  4. Stop wearing make-up*
  5. Learn how to give haircuts at home*
  6. Re-use baggies (Ziploc, plastic grocery bags, bread bags, etc.)*
  7. Shower less often*
  8. Reuse bath towels for several days*
  9. Shred newspaper to use as cat litter
  10. Make your own cleaners and laundry soap*
  11. Use a wool dryer ball instead of dryer sheets*
  12. Wear clothes for multiple days*
  13. Hand wash dishes*
  14. Borrow books, movies, and music from your local library*
  15. Dumpster dive*
  16. Hang clothes outside to dry
  17. Buy clothing and household goods from thrift stores (or garage sales)*
  18. Take extra condiments and/or napkins from fast food restaurants*
  19. Raise the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and lower it to 68 degrees in the winter*
  20. Open windows and use fans (when possible)*
  21. Couchsurf or tent camp (for vacations)*
  22. Use only prepaid, no-contract cell phones*
  23. Cut cable*
  24. Use newspaper or color-print ads for wrapping paper*
  25. Use the backside of printed pages for scrap paper/post-it notes*
  26. Refill ink cartridges*
  27. Recycle birthday and/or Christmas cards into holiday postcards*
  28. Pick up change*
  29. Skip using deodorant or shampoo
  30. Walk, bike, take the bus or carpool
  31. Cook at home*
  32. Grow your own food*
  33. Compost*
  34. Use coupons*
  35. Drive a used car*
  36. Use cloth menstrual pads or a menstrual cup
  37. Use the internet at free wi-fi spots*
  38. Use cloth diapers
  39. Make your own toothpaste*
  40. Wear mismatched socks and gloves (ones that have lost their mates)
  41. Reuse tea bags or coffee grounds
  42. Pay cash for all purchases
  43. Take your lunch to work*
  44. Exercise at home (bonus points for using canned goods as hand weights)*
  45. Eat less meat*
  46. Shop the day-old rack for discounted breads and pastries*
  47. Barter with or borrow from your neighbor*
  48. Glean untended fruit trees or gardens in your neighborhood*
  49. Take water and snacks with you whenever you leave the house*
  50. Use the ice machine at hotels to refill water bottles or small coolers on road trips (even when you didn’t stay at the hotel)*