Sled Dog Skippy

Mar 07 2010

Sunday Short Letters

Filed under: Short Letters

Dear Debt,

You fucking suck. I plan to end my relationship with you. Permanently. Don’t try to win me back.

Dear Little Yellow House,

We would have made a great team. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. You will make someone very happy.

Dear Peg,

I am very glad we are friends.

Dear Homemade Bagels,

We are so hawt together. Why don’t we do it more often? The baking, I mean.

Dear Universe,

Mama needs a new cheapo rental stat! Come on, show me what ya got!

Dear Right Scapula and Upper Trapezius,

What the HELL is your problem? Don’t you know that you are part of an intricate system of bones and muscles that is supposed to work as a unit?! Don’t you realize that your selfish whining and “oh, woe is me, I’m hurty” bullshit is keeping me up at night in pain and making even sitting on the couch uncomfortable? Don’t you think I have enough problems without you being all needy and annoying? Get your act together already or no more massages for you.

Mar 06 2010

Warning: This post contains very angry ramblings and call for Financial Revolution

Filed under: The Compact, Voltron

I just found out yesterday that we can’t buy a house. We had one all picked out that was just right for us.

So I do realize that there is a reason for why we weren’t able to purchase the cutest. house. EVAR. I always tell myself that and I’m always right–there is a reason for everything. Even if it seems like I am totally just getting absolutely shit on, I’m going to learn something or another door will open for me. It’s hard to keep convincing myself of that when the shit is landing on my head, but after almost 2 years of shit and it all EVENTUALLY working out, I have little reason to ignore the evidence.

The reason we weren’t able to buy the house was because our wage versus debt ratio was too high for last year. We took huge pay cuts for 2009 (even though we were making way more money than we had in 2008 as dog handlers) and the amount of money we poured into student loans, car payments and credit cards was a lot. In fact, it was really refreshing to have a loan officer we worked with last year (almost exactly a year ago) tell us the amount of debt we have now is MUCH lower than the amount we owed last year. I was really proud of us for paying so much off. Sure, a lot of months we barely made it and paid only the minimum payments. But towards the end of 2009 when we were more prosperous, we shoved a lot of money towards our debt. And it paid off. Just not enough to buy us a house. Wah wah

“Buying a house is like riding a rollercoaster,” my friend Sarah told me. Yeah, I LOVE rollercoasters. The one I was on was not fun at the end and ended up being out of order. I cried. That’s okay. I’m getting more and more fed up with the “Be happy all the time or you are dysfunctional!” way of thinking that our culture is obsessed with. That, to me, is total and utter bullshit. The reason we are so obsessed with being happy is because well, we think if we ACT that way, then nothing is wrong. How messed up is that? That is not true. That is what delusional thinking is all about and I’m not about to be delusional. I’m certainly not advocating for all of us to wallow in self pity and despair when we face disappointment, tragedy, or trauma. What I do want is to DO something about it. It’s not enough to just say you are happy you must take action to BE happy. That action taking part is really hard for a lot of people because there is fear of risk, of failure, of doing something different. BE BRAVE FOR YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH! Okay, I’m done with this part of my rant. Basically, here is my thought: I can’t just keep saying it will all work out. I have to work at it. I have to keep up with the Voltron Project and pay off a lot of debt as fast as I can. I have to sock away money in savings. These things will be hard and my lifestyle is going to have to stay the same or I will have to spend less, even though Ryan’s business is EXPLODING and he is doing really really well financially. It will be really hard to turn off the shoppies and vacationies, but it has to be done because future stability is a priority. Right now.

Anyway, this is my rambling way of saying: get out of debt. Be free from this weight that holds you down and does not allow for real financial freedom. Don’t buy a new car if you can’t afford it. Don’t try to buy a house if you already have a plan that would say you SHOULDN’T until you pay off your debt. Get those credit cards paid off. Push more money towards your student loans. I know, I know, you are saying: “But I’m part of this shitty system that keeps me at a low wage! I still have to pay rent, buy groceries and gas, child care, etc, etc.” Yes, you have to survive. Are there more creative ways that you can do that? Can you have a roommate, carpool or be car free? Can you not eat out for a year in order to push all that money towards your high interest credit card? Can you trade childcare or ask a family member to help you out for a certain amount of time? Can you simply ask yourself before purchasing something, “Does this thing help me reach my greater goal? Will it mean something later?” Yes, it is scary. Change is scary. Being different is scary. But it is trying to be like everyone else that has gotten me, personally, into this mess. I felt I had to have a certain lifestyle, to compete, or even be better; that made me spend money that I didn’t have to spend.

We have to stop thinking this way. This madness, this obsessive zeal for instant gratification, is what is destroying our planet and economy. Spend, spend, spend, consume, consume, consume. It doesn’t work. It isn’t sustainable. It isn’t healthy, mentally or physically. It is NOT REAL. Again, I’m not advocating for all of us to live in a cave and have nothing. I’m just advocating for us to stop this delusional thinking of “I buy, therefore I am.” I am what? Happy? Normal? Well-adjusted? Hardly. Work to change this crazy way. Change for something better, for yourself, to be your true self, for the planet, for animals, for all the other humans who have less. Do not sacrifice what you want most for what you want right now.

Mar 02 2010

Independence Days (whuuut?)

Filed under: Independence Days, food

I really like Sharon Astyk. She is a well-spring of information and ideas. It is truly her (original) blog that gave me a peak-oil primer and information regarding energy transition’s ramifications. I discovered more blogs and information from Sharon’s blog roll or links and I have definitely taken a trip down the peak-oil rabbit hole. It can be scary sometimes–thinking that the planet and its inhabitants are totally, well, fucked. And even scarier to think of all the things it will take to put the breaks on this demise. Change is scary. But I see it as a good change, one that is very exciting. No, I don’t plan on having a stocked bunker anytime soon for when the zombies come…yet. But there are some really valuable lifestyle changes that will work for me–and I’ve implemented some and plan to work on some more.

Sharon hosts the Independence Days Challenge, where she asks (of herself and) us to do something in each of the categories during the growing season:

1. Plant something

2. Harvest something

3. Preserve something

4. Waste Not

5. Want Not

6. Build Community Food Systems

7. Eat the food!

I know that these categories can sound daunting, but Sharon offers down-to-earth examples that can fit in to your busy, even urban, lifestyle. While I would love to be the person that screams the Led Zeppelin lyrics “PICK UP YOUR PLOW AND HOE!”, I know that the agrarian lifestyle isn’t for everyone…and once again, Sharon has amazing information and statistics to share about urban food production.

If this all sounds crazy to you, good! Read some more, investigate, think about it. It is a little crazy to think about your own food security, where your food comes from, how to grow food yourself….but crazy good. And only crazy because of what? Because we’re taught that food comes from grocery stores, not land or people who take care of that land? Because we’re so used to that system and we don’t think it will be easy to change it? Once you learn more about factory farming and food security it will seem crazy NOT to just try to grow your own herbs in a pot on your windowsill. Staring small is a great way to start! And deeeeeelicious.

Want to join me? Don’t worry, this isn’t an “all or nothing” kind of challenge. Even doing one of the categories on a regular basis could really reduce impact.

Feb 28 2010

100th Post! The Compact, Days 22-28

Filed under: The Compact

Wow, I’ve posted something here on this little ole bloggie 100 times. Most people do that in well under a year….it’s taken me 2 years. Oh well. We all travel at our own pace.

As far as The Compact goes, I assure I bought nothing new this week. I had another massage for my IT band in my leg and I bought some lunch. That was it. So no need to bore you with my run-down list because it will be very sparse and well, um, honestly, I did a REALLY bad job of tracking expenses this week. Mostly because I bought a bagel and didn’t need to track ANYTHING.

So there you go. I am still participating in The Compact. It has pretty much become a part of life and is helping me consume less. YAY!

How are your compacting efforts going? Are you interested in trying it?

Feb 28 2010

Sunday Short Letters

Filed under: Short Letters

Dear Sasha the Corgi Puppy,

While you have thoroughly convinced Ryan that you are the breed of choice, I’m on to you. I spend more time with you and know how TRULY crafty and stubborn you are. You can’t deceive me with your cuteness!

Dear Work in Progress,

You are a most excellent band and I would like to see you again.

Dear Kirin Ichiban Lager,

Oh, how I have missed you! How could I have gone so long without you? We are truly in love, aren’t we?

Dear Legs,

Thanks for hanging in there, doing your leg thing. Cooperation and support is key to our relationship. Remember that. I won’t take you for granted, I promise. Look at all the massages I’ve been enduring for you! That’s true love.

Dear Spring,

Where are you? I miss you.

Feb 23 2010

This just in: Americans are hypocrites!

Filed under: Uncategorized

No way. Get out!

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/02/when-it-comes-to-green-we-are-hypocrites.php

Feb 21 2010

My new favorite word is….

Filed under: Uncategorized

fungible.

Feb 21 2010

The Compact: Month 2, Days 15-21

Filed under: The Compact

Hello, Compactors or People who like to read about Compacting!

This was a good week. While Ryan and I strayed a little from our food and entertainment budget, we still managed to keep our money on lock-down. Again, we have to reserve a lot of our pay for our vacation next month. So apart from bills and groceries we are trying to save so that we can ensure that we have money for: vacation, renting a new place next month, repairs to Ryan’s car, and taxes. Bleh. That’s a lot to save for in a short time, but we are making it work.

We are renting a new place next month as my management of Tails by the Bay is coming to a close! I am very sad to be leaving but it is inevitable, as the owner is returning for the summer. Karen agreed to come back a little early so that I could take a position with Era Aviation. Yes, I get to be around planes again! In a professional environment! With insurance and benefits and travel! Wheeeee!

So, it has been a good week for the Skipper. Things are looking good, even though a very fun and profitable chapter of living in Homer is coming to a close. The new chapter looks very exciting!

Here are the numbers…

Day 15
Grocery: $27.50

Misc: $2.00
This was for some fancy pants linen paper to print my resume. In what category would you put that purchase? Miscellaneous seems pretty apt.

Day 16
Entertainment: $7.73
This was for lunch for me. I can’t say no to an everything bagel with Mediterranean schmear and a de-caf Americano. I’ve tried.

Grocery: $9.48

Day 17
Massage therapy: $80.00
Another excellent massage. And by excellent I mean that I thought I was going to die several times. It was a good pain.

Grocery: $17.77
This, I remember, was for a box (plastic! ARRRRRGH!) of organic salad, some Annie’s dressing, some organic PB and some apples. Wow. Pricey.

Misc: $.70
I’m a big spender, I know. This was for a color copy of my license and social security card for my new job.

Clothing (?): $28.00
This was for a new swimsuit for my vacation. Not that I want others to be blinded by my translucent Alaskan whiteness….but I need some sun. This included shipping. Sorry, but buying a thrifted swimming suit/bikini just seems un-hygenic. I wish that we had a budget category for clothes & shoes because we never make one.

Day 18
Grocery: $28.32

Day 19
Entertainment: $50.00
This was another big splurge. Not cooking at home is bad, people. It makes you buy overpriced pizza, beer, and dessert. This was for a 12″ pizza (and mind you, I think it was really only like 9″ in diameter, and I’m being generous), 4 pints of local beer, and a freaking piece of cheesecake. Outrageous.

Day 20
Household: $11.00

Entertainment: $12.00
This was for 2 large bottles of Alaskan Smoked Porter beer. I went to a party. With new people! I am growing, as a person. I even shared my beer.

Day 21
Nada

So, I am almost at the end of month two of The Compact. I’ve certainly not done a perfect job, but that’s not really what I’ve been aiming for. I want to greatly reduce my consumer-y ways, save money, and buy consciously so that I and others can have a better way of life. Again, I know that The Compact is not for everyone, forever. It’s also working for me because I am on a pretty tight budget so buying superfulous items CAN’T happen. I think The Compact would be a greater challenge if one was in a really good financial position and had to really restrain oneself. But then think of all the money that could be given to great causes….or all that money that could be used to enhance one’s life with more education, travel, changing jobs. Something to chew on.

Feb 20 2010

The Compact: Month 2, Days 8-14

Filed under: The Compact

Well, I don’t have much to report here. Ryan and I are in Super Saver Mode since we are going on vacation next month. The dog sitting business also slowed a bit this month so we cleared out our pantry and did a good job of not purchasing silly things. Here are the rather boring numbers.

Day 8
Wood: $175
This is for a cord of cut wood, delivered. A cord is A LOT of wood. Which means it has to be stacked and that takes forever.

Grocery: $21.65

House essentials: $25.76
This is for things like TP, paper towel, cleaning supplies.

Electricity: $107.50
I don’t know if I’ve documented bills before. I’m too lazy to look at the other posts, so here. Now you know.

Day 9
Massage therapy: $80.00
This was for a massage prescribed by my physical therapist for my knee injury. Beth almost made me fall off the table–I had to wear my strong pants. This was not a fun, relaxing massage. But I’ve still been able to run and am feeling great, so it is worth every cent (and worth the initial pain, too).

Snow plowing: $40.00
Yay for random snow storms!

Days 10-13
Nada

Day 14
Entertainment: $25.00
Ryan and I went out for a champagne brunch for Valentine’s Day! We don’t usually do stuff for Valentine’s Day, so it was nice to go and eat a delicious breakfast.

That’s it. Riveting stuff, I know! How is your Compact coming along?

Feb 07 2010

Sunday Confessional and Month 2 Days 1-7 of The Compact

Filed under: The Compact

Forgive me Compactors, for I have sinned (again). It has been some days since my last confession. *cough cough*

Okay, I bought some Chaco sandals. On Ebay. New in box for a screaming deal. I do need sandal-y footwear for my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico. I used to have a pair of Chacos, that I had owned for almost 3 years. And then a horrible dog, belonging to an even more horrible person, ate the straps. Said horrible person did not offer to replace said Chacos. There was a great falling out and we shall not speak of this again (this happened 5 years ago and I have not had a pair of good sandals since then). So again, I purchased something that is MADE IN THE USA BALLS! THEY ARE NOW MADE IN CHINA. Mega frowny face. I should have done some more research. I am having buyer’s remorse now… Unfortunately, I just learned (after visiting the Chaco website) that the model I bought can not be re-webbed or re-soled at this time by Chaco. (DOUBLE BALLZ!) Well, hopefully by the time my Chacos need repairing they will be able to do the repairs. Or I’ll just go Alaska style and use some duct tape.

So, I have something else to confess. I didn’t do a good job of tracking my numbers/budget this week. We didn’t buy any groceries and just ate out of our freezer and pantry–I was proud of myself for coming up with some new cheapo, vegetarian & nutritious recipes based on the food we had.

We did buy groceries today Finally, fresh veggies and my fruit weakness: Pink Lady apples. Seriously, people, if you have not had one of these, you are missing out on LIFE. Total grocery expense: $111.00. This was a big spend for us but we did have to replace a lot of pricey staples. I think organic maple syrup is more expensive than gold, currently.

I do know that I spent $120 on a physical therapy appointment (again, no insurance). This was worth 1 MILLION dollars to me–to hear that I can continue to run and work out and to be given exercises/stretches that have given me so much relief was worth it. I also get to have a massage a week for the next 3 weeks! WOOT WOOT Although, Dr. B did say that these will be “somewhat painful. You’ll need to wear your strong pants.”

Another (semi) random expenditure was on haircut/style for me today. This was something that we need to budget for, but always forget to do. This was a major expense. I got the works: color, cut, brows done, and bought a mini flat iron. Ahem. Yes, new. I suck. This is what this post is proving. Should I reveal how much I spent, including tip? Nope. Not gonna. It was a lot. I do love my stylist and she walks the walk of real enviromentalism. I am willing to pay more for services that are in tune with my ideals and don’t create a huge impact.

While I don’t want to validate my lack of keeping good records, I will say that the big reason I didn’t keep track of expenditures was because Ryan and I didn’t allocate cash for the budget….which sounds really strange. We use the envelope system and we, um, neglected to fill said envelopes at the beginning of the month. We have an envelope of cash for each budget category. Once the cash is gone for the week/month, that’s it. Anything leftover we deposit into our savings. So, we just used our debit cards and apart from the sandals & flat iron, I didn’t buy anything new.

So apart from THIS GIANT FREAKING WEEK OF FAIL, I am still motivated to continue The Compact. Probably even more because I need to, like, purge my shopping soul or something.