Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Low Income Housing

I have been searching for an apartment for my son to rent. Holy cow! How does anyone begin to afford to move into one when they are paying rent on the one they are in currently? What if  they have other bills to pay too? I can understand the landlords wanting to make money off the tenants and all. Yet who can afford the first and last month rent, plus security, plus utilities too???? I mean they are expensive!

In a city near us, Binghamton, NY, which includes several other towns and cities in the surrounding area, there is a college, Binghamton University. So the landlords in the whole city of Binghamton, only want college students for renters. That eliminates a lot of citizens of the area. People complain constantly about everyone moving out of the area. Yet they do everything they can to make people have to move out of the area.

Just a few days ago, our local newspaper had an article about a revival in the downtown area, which is not a safe area, no matter what they write in the paper. The owners put a lot of money into remodeling the lofts of the buildings on the main streets in downtown Binghamton. Yes, they are very nice. These apartments are all very high rent and  not affordable for the typical downtown dwellers.

Why can't a city give incentives to landlords to provide apartments for low income families, disabled, singles and retirees without putting a lot of stipulations into the rental agreements? If you are applying for low income housing, you have to give them access to your bank accounts. As well as, sign all kinds of paperwork saying you will never do this or you have never done that. I understand former apartment referrals to check if they ruined a former apartment or something of that nature.

Low income people cannot come up with a huge amount of money at one time to rent an apartment, so they are left out. If they want to share an apartment with others, usually the landlord will not allow that. Sometimes there are ordinances against people living together who are not related Or if they are getting Social Security Income (SSI) or social services income (welfare), they cannot live with other people. If they do their checks and food stamps will be cut. Makes no sense that if they are trying to get ahead and share housing, so they can buy enough food or whatever, the programs keep them on the bottom. It is easy to see why so many are forced into committing crimes to survive. What other choice do they have? It is easy for someone else to pass judgement on others when they have never worn their shoes. 

I think this is discrimination against low income or disabled people. They do not do this to people with money. Money is all it takes to get into any apartment no matter what your history is. It wasn't that long ago when landlords did not want to rent to college students. The reason being that they party all the time. Well, they still party all the time. Landlords look the other way on that, as long as mommy and daddy pick up the tab for the apartments. A college rental house is rented per bedroom to each student. They may pay a few hundred dollars for their room, and the rest of the house is shared with other students. If I had it within my power, I'd invest in some good quality housing for low income people. Make them proud of the place they live, and maybe things would start looking up for them in other areas of their lives as well. After all anyone, myself included, could end up in the same circumstances. You never know!    


Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, February 27, 2012

McDonough General Store Closing

When we moved here to our homestead in 1999, we quickly discovered the local stores and businesses. We especially liked becoming customers at the smaller local stores, where the owner was many times, the person ringing you out at the cash register. Making small talk with each customer helped them identify the buying habits of each person. Big stores are not usually able to give that kind of service. You may get to know a cashier, but  not the owner. Before too long, the cashier you knew is gone, the next time you come in.

We are fortunate that in our rural area, we had many so called "mom and pop" stores and businesses. Our local drugstore offers such personable service that I have never, ever received in any drugstore in my life. Talk about awesome customer service! The owner is one of the pharmacists and even if he is not the one filling your prescription, he will come over to you and welcome you and see if you have any questions about the prescription.

Within a short distance of our home, are two small town hardware stores. One is so small town, that they do not take debit or credit cards. Doesn't stop anyone from shopping there. Both of our hardware stores offer a big selection of canning supplies, cast iron and graniteware cookware. One of the hardware stores also sells animal feed and that is where we purchase our horse feed and shaving bales for bedding.

These small stores must compete with the larger so called box stores in nearby areas. A little over thirty miles in either direction are cities with shopping malls and all the well known stores. Within 12 miles is a larger Walmart, Lowes and Tractor Supply. So you can see what these stores are up against. I must confess to going to the larger ones often after comparing price.

So it with much sadness, that I tell that the McDonough General Store is closing. This Wednesday will be the last day it will be open as a store. The owners kept it going as long as possible. It was one of those of those true old time general stores, even with the coolers and lottery machine. For a small town such as McDonough, it was a wonder that the store lasted this long. Bowman Park is close by and in the summer many customers were camping there. We tried to shop there at least a month, because we knew they needed the business, and we really enjoyed going there. We will miss it.

  Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Double Glazed Windows For Insulation

Old wavy windows on our house

One way to increase the insulation on your home is to put in new windows. Our house was built in 1850, and never had been updated until we moved in. In fact, the windows are the old "wavy" kind. It is a lot of work, time and money. As money allows, we are putting in windows that are double glazed. Double glazed windows are windows that have two panes of glass and a space between the panes. The thickness between the panes is of a certain thickness to meet certain standards. The air between the two panes serves as insulation. A drying agent is applied to make sure that no moisture is inside the two panes of glass, as it must be airtight before being sealed.

Double glazed windows we put in

Using single pane windows will cause you to lose about sixty percent of your heat. That is a lot. In the long run, it will cost less to buy the new windows for your house so that your heat is not lost. Heat costs you money too. Even if you are using your own wood. There is the work involved and gas for the chainsaw. Checking around for the double glazing cost will give you an idea of what these windows will cost you. All Double Glazing click here.

These double glazed windows made a big difference!

If you buy a good quality double glazed window for your home you can be sure that there won't be any moisture getting in between the two panes. I have had that happen in other houses I have lived in. You really want them to be airtight to insulate. Keeping the heat inside the house in the winter, and the heat outside your house during the summer is the job they do.

This is a sponsored post I was paid to write about windows using this process. Since I am replacing my windows with this very type of window, I felt it was a good time to point out the difference between the two. I did not understand it completely myself, until I did the online research. Now I highly recommend it!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, February 20, 2012

NY Homesteading Group Meeting

Yesterday our NY Homesteading group, "Basics," met in Harpursville, NY, at Gramma's Country Cafe, for a luncheon and get together. We do this every so often. This is not a formal meeting or anything of the kind. Just a time to meet in person and touch base with each other. Our administrator, "boxwoods," was not present, as he has taken to fleeing the cold winter of NY, for the south in these recent years.

Our group includes homesteaders of various degrees and experience. Most of the them raise livestock for food and/or fiber, some do both. The talk around the table centered on such subjects as bees, eggs, fiber, goats and sheep, as well as other topics. Our group is made up of people who live in our area of NY state, and are living this life of "modern homesteading."

If we need to ask someone how to do something or where to get something, someone will usually have an answer. Sometimes you will get many different answers. We sell, barter, trade and give things to each other. As well as offer help in a variety of other ways. Friends with a common interest, we often cheer each other on, cry on their shoulders, laugh at ourselves, or each other, and value each other's knowledge.

It is pretty easy to start a group of homesteaders in your area. Our group is limited to NY, and to PA residents just over the border. We have a forum to talk together on and usually go there daily. This group started in 2007 and is still going strong. We keep it private so nobody can come on unless they are a member. That way our conversations are not broadcast all over the internet. Kind of like it that way.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Country Living For Me

I love living in a rural location. Too many years of my life were spent living in, visiting or shopping in cities. I have been in many of the biggest cities. So it is not like I have never been in one or didn't know how to get around in one. I did. And I do. My life though, living in a state forest has been the absolutely best of all of my life. I love the forest and everything about living in it.

It is not that I don't like people or neighbors. I do. Just not right next door. No problems here with anyone in all the years we have lived here. We are by ourselves most of the time and enjoy the solitude of the forest. For some people, that is not always the best thing. I know for my son, he goes back and forth a lot. He will get where he has to move back into the city, for he misses people. He doesn't talk to anyone unless it on the computer or his cellphone while he is here. For my husband and myself, it has never been a problem.

Our area is surrounded by state forest land. The Fingerlakes Trail runs in front and behind our house. The Ludlow Creek is a peaceful little creek that runs along it. When it rains a lot you can hear the creek running. I love the sound of it. It never goes dry, even in a drought it keeps running. You can swim in it or fish in it. The natural world is less stressful and healthier to spend your daily life in.

Living in a rural location, we are able to have horses. It is very peaceful for these girls. Nobody bothers them and they live their life feeling safe and cared for. The only excitement they have is when the hunters come out in hunting season. Occasionally we hear coon hounds at night when the hunters are hunting at night. For the most part though, it is peaceful and safe. Having horses is like having big watch dogs. They are very alert to anything going on in the forest around us.

If you are a person who likes living in a city, that is good. Nothing wrong with that. It is a good thing that there are some people who want to live in the city. Or the country would be way to crowded, and not country at all. Enjoy whatever you prefer. Life is too short to spend it where you do not want to be. Choose what makes you happy. I did.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Born On Valentine's Day Is Special

Last year I wrote a post about my son, who celebrated his 42nd birthday today, in this post, Special People Are Born On Valentine's Day. He has been staying with us for this last year or so. I know he will eventually be getting his own place, but for the moment he is here and helping us quite a bit.

I have had more people come to my post about his birthday last year. It seems many people are interested in the fact that I think special people are born on Valentine's Day. They are! My son was.

It isn't always easy out here and especially if you are a social person. Nobody comes here to visit and that is fine with my husband and myself. Now my son, wouldn't mind more visitors. He liked it when our friends, Jamie and Jeffrey used to come here. They moved from NY to Missouri so they aren't here to visit with anymore.

So he enjoys hanging out with our three girls and being outside. 


Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Paying For Convenience

How important is convenience to you? Is it more important than money? Is it more important than time? As we all know, in centuries back, people did more hard work than we do today. Children walked miles to school. Nowadays, parents drive their children to the end of their driveway. Housewives carried water from a well, split firewood, cooked from scratch, as well as cleaned their houses, made their clothing, gardened and preserved the food. Not to mention raising their children, and helping their husbands raise the livestock and processing the meat and milk from them. Maybe that was one of the reasons for raising so many children. Extra hands were worth the extra mouths to feed since they had plenty of food anyway. The family worked together back then. Nice idea!

As time went by, the housewives' chores became easier and easier. Especially with the invention of electricity and processed foods. Most women made bread daily. Many loaves depending on the size of the family. When store bought bread came out, they loved eliminating that job, not to mention the appearance of the soft white bread. They gave up that chore without a second thought. Now if someone comes to your house, and you have just taken some freshly baked loaves out of the oven, it is special. They keep complimenting you about how good it is, and how you can't buy it that good anywhere. I know that!

Heating with wood, cooking with wood, cutting your own firewood is replaced by going to a job and giving your time in exchange for money. Then you pay for heating fuel or for firewood, however you buy it. So in the long run, how many hours do you have to work to pay for that firewood? Instead go out into the your woods with your crosscut saw (that does not use gas), and cut the firewood you need. Do it one day a week for four hours, all year long. You would build your supply, get exercise and cost less than a load of logs delivered to your home, which in NY,  is over $600.

I admit to liking convenience myself. I think my choice of convenience is different than most people of today though. It is not that I am living old-fashioned as everyone thinks I am. Not at all. It is really more in the future than you may believe. Though I see the things that come to be, when we are too dependent on services and products, and how it will effect mankind in the future. Not a pretty sight once you really start learning about it. At least try to provide some ways to do things, if there is no one to do it for you. No one to pay for the service you need. Make a list of all the things you are dependent on, and couldn't live without. Then figure how you would manage without those items. What you would do if the service you paid for stopped.

I have been reading a book on my kindle that really brought it home to me. It is a fiction book, but the author presents it in such a way, that it will make you think twice about the very things we are so concerned about. Giving up the choice of taking care of ourselves for the convenience is one of the main focuses in this story. The name of this book is,Dark Mountain and is written by Andrew Culver. Today it is free in the Kindle store, but won't be for long. I wrote a review of it for Amazon and I compared it to the book, 1984 by George Orwell.

I am not trying to scare you. Just trying to make people think for themselves and not give up their independence for the easy way of life. Sometimes it is not so easy after all.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Foods Should Be In Your Pantry

A little snow fell last night

As I was making my list this morning of the supplies I am getting low on, I realized that many people still do not prepare. They think they have time. Or they think nothing is going to happen. Well, it doesn't have to be the collapse of our country to be an emergency. It could be many different things, that would necessitate you not being able to leave your home for some reason. And possibly not having any electricity either. Try living for a week-end with your power turned off and see how you do. Plan it so that you, or anyone in your family, cannot leave your home during this test period. How do you think you will do?

Make meals from the foods you have stored. Now we will take a look at your food. I am not talking about your garden produce here. What are you missing? What don't you care for? Do not store foods you or your family members will not eat. Almost everyone I know stores rice and beans. We never eat rice and beans. I think it would get pretty depressing if we stored them, and had to eat them in an emergency. I like to make a bean soup, or baked beans, occasionally. Now when I am writing this, I realize there are some rice dishes we like, but I haven't made them in a long, long time. Rice pudding is one. Who doesn't love homemade rice pudding? Stir fry on top of a plate of rice is another. So I will put rice back on the list. Just not a lot of it.

Flour is one of the main foods that needs to be stocked. You can make an awful lot of food with that. Make sure you have some basic baking ingredients. Along with the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, powdered milk, yeast, oil, some vanilla extract and spices. Yes, you can make cookies, biscuits, cakes, pies, breads on a campfire or wood stove! Give the family some treats. That will help them to not whine so much. Or you can stock up on wheat berries and grind your own as you need it. That is really the best way to cook with flour.

Salt can be used for many things. Besides being needed in many baking recipes, it can also be used to preserve food. I suggest loading up on some, as you can store it forever.There has been talk of banning it in restaurants. Quite frankly, that worries me that eventually, it won't be available for the home either. I mean why do they pick on the restaurants, who are making recipes that need salt? When the food manufacturers load up processed foods with MSG and too much salt. Not to mention the other ingredients they stick in there. Next will it be sugar? Bacon? Or whatever they decide isn't good for us?

All of these ingredients are interchangeable, and will make other foods besides baked goods. It is possible to do all your cooking and baking right on an open fire, or even on a grill. So make sure you have other ways of cooking prepared for, if you cannot use your kitchen range. Take a look at your family's routine foods and try to build your supply from that. It is perfectly okay to have some store bought foods. I would go more for canned foods, than foods in boxes, because they will last longer. Once you build your supply up, use it in your every day meals. Believe me, you will be glad you did! 

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole
*Unless stated otherwise on photo

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

First Time Gardeners

Producing Our Own Food!

If you are thinking of planting a garden for the first time this year, I say, "Congratulations to you!" This is the best step anyone can make toward self-sufficiency, self-reliance, independence, frugal living and most important, surviving. My father has always had a garden, and as a child I always remember those special salads he made with fresh lettuce and a homemade bacon dressing. Mmmm! It was so good! Make memories with your children!

Digging in the dirt is part of it!

I hope you are not one of those people who say they are scared to dig in the dirt because of bugs or worms. Not all bugs are bad and worms are never bad. In fact, I love to see the worms in my garden. Unfortunately, so do the birds! Next month my robins will return and will be digging in my garden for their special treat of worms. I don't begrudge them their meal as I have plenty of worms, and they do a good job at keeping most insects off my plants.

Heirloom Seeds

If this is your first year of planning a garden, here are some quick things to keep in mind:

  • Do not make your garden too big, if it is your first one.
  • Plant what your family likes to eat.
  • If you must try something new, limit it to one or two types of plants each year. 
  • Buy seeds meant to grow in your climate.
  • If you have children, include them in the whole gardening process.
  • Do not panic or get overwhelmed by the garden. Enjoy it!
  • If you have limited area for your garden, use containers instead.
  • Do not get jealous of other gardens. Do your best with a small one at first.
  • To make watering easy, put some containers around the garden, so they fill up when it rains. 
  • If you need compost, contact a local horse stable or farm and ask for it.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole