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Johanna Sol

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since Feb 06, 2014
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Recent posts by Johanna Sol

In addition to the postage stamp, another idea to run by this person as long as you have their attention would be to introduce the concept of using neighborhood electric vehicles NEVs, or better yet ,electric trikes or bikes with trailers to deliver mail. Definitely the most cost effective and least energy intensive powered transportation on the planet...
2 years ago
My husband and I live on a lot in a small city. Rather than putting out a garbage can weekly, which we consider wasteful both money and energy wise, we collect wrappers uncontaminated by foods in reusable garbage bags and store them in a shed. Glass bottles, cans etc. are saved for recycling, as are tree trimmings (mostly thorny) that we have no use for. These all go to the local landfill every 10 to 14 weeks, which incidentally happens to have a great view of valleys and mountains. We like that we can deposit metal items on the metal pile, wood trimming on the wood pile, and put recyclables in the shipping containers that are provided.

We currently pay $10 for a pickup truck load. In return, we can pick up a load of free mulch (we go back in after they've weighed us) since they chip up the wood trimmings people bring. Occasionally we find something to take home and extend its life (making sure the workers in their big equipment aren't watching as this practice is frowned upon - although all they're doing is burying the stuff). Items have included a wicker table, hardback chairs, a beautiful blanket that just needed washing, a giant white teddy bear in pristine condition, folding chairs that just needed a little repair etc... Another pastime is dumpster diving for lumber and windows, and gleaning fruit, which is abundant here some years.

Food scraps and some paper items are composted at home - we have no chickens as yet. Meat/fish scraps/containers are kept in a bag in the freezer and then periodically disposed of in the garbage can at our local store (most of these foodstuffs are purchased there to begin with) or during our landfill trip.

I do think about the ultimate end of containers and wrappings when we purchase items and try to minimize these. We use reusable shopping bags and reuse plastic bags and paper in multiple ways. However, we're definitely not anywhere near zero waste and are unlikely to be in the foreseeable future. I think it would be more doable if we were part of an intentional community where we could purchase and store items in bulk, and pool resources for things such as grinding/milling equipment, large storage bins, or a woodchipper, as well as have designated people expending their energy in certain areas instead of two people like us trying to do it all.
2 years ago
We are rockhounds so bring home all sorts of rocks - the ones that don't end up in the house become "working rocks" in the garden -
we've used them to outline beds, hold down netting and mulches, and they also serve as decoration when nothing's growing. The area with
the design using landscape rock someone gave us free for the hauling was to cover up a patch we do not irrigate that only held unsightly
plants - since then it has become an amazing mulched area where all sorts of volunteer plants arise - I simply pull out the ones I don't want
and leave the rest - it changes every year. The bigger, colorful rocks are the first things to appear when the snow melts.
2 years ago
My biggest problems with any kind of mulching are sow bugs (roly polies) and earwigs, both of which like to munch on most of my green vegetables.
They usually nest very close by, so after I notice holes in the leaves I check under the nearest items that might provide cover, whether it be wood chips,
rocks or even a layer of compost. I've tried going out with a flashlight after dark but am usually too exhausted to do this regularly and in the daytime
I too can see them much better - especially the earwigs as they'll try for a fast getaway.

I like the coffee grounds idea for strawberries as there is also a slug problem with our berries. Might try the coffee grounds for other areas - we're in an
arid, windy climate so I'd much rather cover up the soil. I have had good success with a deep layer of twig mulch around our apple trees, and with more
intensive planting of some things.
2 years ago
Having lived in umpteen places, I've found that there are givers and there are takers. People who love themselves generally want to give to others. People who hate themselves generally want to blame you for their rotten feelings. Often underneath that is jealousy... I've found people who have struggled and have the least have frequently been the most generous with their time and help.

When our kids were small in Medford and Portland, Oregon, I never had to buy clothes for them other than underwear. Several times while washing clothes at a laundromat, strangers would offer me bags of kids clothes. Other times, people would ask if we needed the clothes they were giving away to Goodwill. My pride long gone, I always said yes - and I'd pass on whatever didn't fit to someone else in need.

Before we left Oregon, we were giving away surplus items and had a free sign on the playground set my hubby had built out of scrap wood. (Our landlady was evicting all her tenants because she was mad about her husband dying and we had no savings for another rental deposit - hubby had been working on his master's degree and we'd lived there 5 years.) A gentleman we'd never met before heard our story and took us all out to dinner! When we got into California, we were living in the travel trailer we'd been refurbishing to sell before the eviction. I bought a frozen turkey but it hadn't thawed. The town of Mt Shasta advertised a free Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who needed it - I gave them the frozen turkey and along with about 300 other folks, we had a wonderful meal that tasted home cooked. We were at another campground near Sacramento when my hubby ran across a lady trying to evict some non-paying tenants. She told us we could move in despite our low and uncertain income and a recession which was making it difficult to find work. It was just before Christmas. On Christmas morning, someone left $100 bill on the windshield of our car...

3 years ago
Great job regarding expressing yourself through rap and your explanations seem to me to be right on.
Wonderful that you are getting a chance to share this with kids - planting seeds in their brains!
3 years ago
For the past three years I have been learning how to play backup (rhythm) guitar for the tunes my husband plays on guitar, mandolin, and mountain dulcimer. (I also play recorder and mountain dulcimer). We work on around 100 tunes at any given time. Jam sessions and performances are my motivation for practicing the guitar stuff - it has been quite a challenge starting this new instrument in my mid-50s. Using a metronome for consistent timing has been an essential tool - you don't need to buy one if you have Internet with speakers in your practice space. Although hubby practices his instruments every day, I give myself days off since otherwise I'd burn out. The most fun we have is when we play to a non-discriminating audience for tips. When we get paid a set sum there are usually expectations that limit the choice of what we play.
3 years ago
Having been without medical insurance at various periods of our lives, we've found that working on preventing conditions, being creative and doing lots of research (nowadays via the Internet) is key. It's also important to know when you do need the medical system.

One of the biggest and best things we did was to lower our stress substantially by getting out of the rat race after too many years of high stress. Our income was greatly reduced but we found ways to keep going by full time RVing and working part time for three years. We saved the money from the sale of our previous home, then added a chunk out of a retirement account to buy a place in an area we love, so we no longer have mortgage stress. We made sure the property taxes were low. Imagine not having to earn $800 to $1,200 a month extra just to pay to live somewhere of your choosing! We like to hike and explore and are next to one of the biggest public lands areas in the U.S. (We could literally hike out of our neighborhood to the Pacific Crest Trail.) It is much easier to stay in shape without a gym membership than it was in the cities we lived in previously. At the same time, we can walk or bicycle just about anywhere in our town and do the majority of our errands and shopping that way. (Electric bikes made from kits added to regular bikes help when it is really windy or we go more than 3 miles.) We have a twentieth of an acre - enough to grow a good portion of food for the two of us, which I am working toward. We've changed our food shopping habits to include organic or non-GMO wherever possible - partly as a way to vote with our dollars. I am seeing more and more such products in the two stores where we shop. The farmer's market is really expensive so we don't buy much there - we usually have produce from our own garden when it's in operation anyway.

An example of when prevention would likely have been better than the cure.
I recently had a Facebook friend die after a multi-year battle with cancer at age 59. She was a lawyer who trusted the conventional medical system to help her. She said it started out as breast cancer due to environmental causes. She'd always been somewhat stout and I suspect not eating the healthiest of diets. She made it sound like she was overcoming things and it wasn't until 9 months before she died that I messaged her and asked if any of the oncologists or medical staff had mentioned nutrition or other alternatives to her. She said no. I also sent her a link to the Truth About Cancer website but think she was by then too tired to keep fighting. I feel that if she had not had insurance, she would have been avidly researching for other alternatives and chances are good she would still be alive today.

Being creative:
Hubby and I delivered Christmas trees one year and at the end of the month, he had a back attack and started throwing up. He'd never had any back trouble before so we were afraid it might be his appendix. I got on the computer to research appendicitis symptoms and they didn't match. He mentioned back pain so I crushed up some Vicodin (left over from another ailment) and put it under his tongue so he wouldn't throw it up. This did relax the back muscles and stopped the vomiting so we figured it was back spasms from him having too much fun tossing trees around. Result - a valuable experience for both of us and we avoided the expense and discomfort of an ER visit, which would likely have included unnecessary tests.

Another example is ear infections - I simply take a bit of gel from a garlic pill, put it in the ear, and that works within a couple of days every time.
If I feel a cold coming on - and sometimes even after my nose has started running - I start on garlic pills (could also use fresh garlic but there's an associated odor) and rest as soon as possible. I make sure to tell myself, "I don't want to be sick" or "I don't want this cold, go away" (rather than, "Oh no, I've got a cold" with the implication that there's now nothing to be done about it). I look at it as a cold trying to catch me rather than me trying to catch a cold. This has prevented/turned around at least twenty colds in the past 10 years. Only got caught by one, a real doozy, recently - and then I figured it probably gave my immune system a good workout.

Research and knowing when to seek medical advice:
Currently we are on Medicaid and I've been having foot problems for the last 6 months. Did a lot of research and tried a bunch of things but they didn't match my symptoms and I didn't get relief (although I'm happy to say I didn't make things worse). I finally was able to see my primary care guy who immediately prescribed two different types of drugs because he wasn't sure what the problem was either - I tried one medication but refused the other after reading the side effects. Since the problem continued, I was sent to a physical therapy office and saw four different PTs over six visits. Each had a different idea of what might be the problem and a different set of exercises for me to follow - they did not coordinate care. Don't know if it was because I didn't have standard (i.e. "non-poverty") insurance or just the way this office operated. Podiatrists aren't covered in our state by Medicaid so I paid a sports injury chiropractor who immediately diagnosed the issue as "pronation syndrome" which was something I'd not come across in my research on foot pain. It was worth spending $99 to get help with understanding the problem since I can now do further research - everyone else was trying to tell me I had plantar fasciitis, which was not matched by my symptoms.

Other times when we paid for medical emergency care: My hubby broke his wrist and went to the ER - we didn't have the $200 they charged and they let us pay off over time. Our daughter tripped and split her chin and we also ended up paying over time to another ER for the stitches. That was when ER visits were cheap - if that happened these days and we weren't insured, we'd go to Urgent Care. Note: Supposedly hospitals cannot refuse to treat you if you have life threatening symptoms regardless of insurance - I think it helps to have a persistent, squeaky wheel type person with you if they are reluctant to take you in.

So, bottom line, do what's right for your body as much as possible, be your own advocate (or find someone who will advocate for you) and educate yourself about what is going on rather than turning it all over to the "experts," regardless of whether you have insurance or not. It is a real chore sometimes to spend time on doing so rather than recreating, but it does pay dividends in my opinion.
3 years ago
Had a couple of mortgages and then ended up buying a house outright. The first mortgage was a good deal - definitely cheaper than paying rent and the house almost tripled in value by the time we sold it at the beginning of 2005 - 7 years later - thanks to the real estate bubble. We put a larger than 20% down payment on the second mortgage, and sold it two years later towards the end of 2006 for about 20K less than we'd put in. The market was going down and we had realized that we did not want to stay long term in the town we'd moved to - hubby had landed in a really toxic work environment among other things. We didn't want to be stuck paying a mortgage there so priced the place to sell. We set the money from the sale aside for our next home purchase, putting it in a CD that still paid fairly decent interest at the time, and did workamping out of an RV for a couple of years. Hubby did try another year of full-time employment - another toxic government job - and decided that was it working for someone else.

Neither of us had full time employment when we bought our current home, so we had to pay cash - adding in some money from a retirement account. Since we only had a limited amount of guaranteed income, and we weren't exactly sure how we would support ourselves, it was a huge relief to only have to pay taxes and interest. Since we're low income, we wouldn't get any benefit from deducting interest on a mortgage - in fact, with the first home we had, the standard deduction started outweighing mortgage interest by the 5th year. A bonus was that our home has a pretty low property tax rate (started at $800 a year, now ajust over $900), and insurance is less than $50 a month. The previous home was about 3x as much on the property taxes.

Basically, for us the reduction in stress has been the biggest benefit - we had both been under major stress for multiple years and it was just a matter of time before that translated into a major health issue. Another plus is that, should we choose to do so, we can rent out our property and go full-time RVing at any time.
3 years ago