The bedroom in my new little rented house used to be the attic, reachable only by a trapdoor. Now it's my favorite spot in the house - and also the warmest, which is nice while the weather is still unsettled here in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. This morning I'm taking advantage of that warmth to catch up with email and Facebook while enjoying the electric blanket turned up to three.
One of the windows up here overlooks the street, with the view filtered by a huge old tree just now getting its green leaves. It's like living in a treehouse, which is probably the reason I moved all my sewing things up here from downstairs. I can hear such a wide variety of bird songs, too, which is fascinating. I've been assuming that the rustling noises on the roof were birds. Nope - it's squirrels running up and down, then leaping into the tree, on their search for food and other squirrels. While watching them, I've also been wondering why I haven't added anything to this blog since moving in last month. Perhaps the squirrels might hold the answer.
According to this article,The Scholarly Squirrel, "Although ground squirrels hibernate for months at a time (some mountain varieties are only awake three months of the year), tree squirrels stay active during the winters. To survive the frigid temperatures, squirrels subsist on buried nuts and keep warm in groups (sometimes of a dozen or more) in their nests. Squirrels can sniff out an acorn through a foot of snow!"
And that's what I've been doing for the past month - staying active during the winter.
After two years of living a nomadic life in the 23-foot motorhome, it's wonderful to "nest" again, to plan for a long time in one spot. But, even after moving everything into the house from the RV, it barely made a dent - and this house is small. I put everything away, hung up quilts and other wallhangings, stuck some inexpensive weatherstripping around windows and doors, and covered large windows with plastic to keep out drafts. This house was built around 1907 and doesn't have much insulation, if any. So, it's been pretty cold.
All the basics were now in place and it was time to make the place more livable. Because my goal is to become debt-free in the next few years - and that will be a definite challenge - I decided that buying things retail would only add to that debt. So, my winter activity became searching out thrift stores, garage sales, auctions, Freecycle, Craigslist, and anywhere else I could find good bargains. Each day, with a a little cash in my pocket, I wandered through Goodwill, Salvation Army, Tuesday House, Bargain Barn, and other stores. I spent time with a map of the area and with Mapquest online to find garage sales in the area. And all that "work" has paid off beautifully.
There's now a like-new two-drawer file cabinet ($15) in the dining room along with a glass-topped dining room table and four chairs (free). The pantry (aka former laundry room)is filled with dry foods in a variety of lidded jars (mostly $.25 to $1.00). On the kitchen counter is a good-condition electric citrus juicer, the brand I used for many years - metal instead of the plastic they have now ($2). Theater Bartlesville had a wonderful book sale for three days, so I started filling my shelves again. Although my book collection is nowhere near the forty boxes I sold when moving into the RV, it's a good start, especially at a cost of ten books for $1. Upstairs is my "new" ironing board ($1) which only needed a little cleaning and a new cover and pad. Probably the best bargain was three large black plastic bags full of linens of all kinds - tablecloths, napkins, aprons, sheets, and so forth. Each bag was $1 and I now have enough good condition fabric napkins to last the rest of my life. Some of them were still in their packages. I used one lace-bottomed sheet to make curtains for the bedroom, and cut up the things I'd never used for quilting fabrics. My favorite thing from one of those bags is a beautiful ivory-colored hand-knit afghan that now graces the foot of my bed.
Besides staying busy during the winter with finding bargains, I've also been emulating a squirrel in a different way - preparing for the fall and winter to come by starting a garden. I used a Home Depot gift card from my son to buy a shovel, leaf rake, wire cutter, pruner, and a roll of hardware cloth. I used the shovel to turn the sod, a little at a time so my back wouldn't kill me the next day; the rake to gather up the dry leaves from under the trees; the pruner to clear the overabundance of ivy from the front yard; and the wire cutter to turn the hardware cloth into a simple compost bin. I'd love to plant a wide variety of Heirloom vegetables, but maybe this year will need to settle for plant starts from the nursery instead.
So, it's been quite a busy time - but a very enjoyable one. After several years in sterile all-white apartments in San Diego, then two years in an RV, nesting in a house again is such a great relief and challenge. But, it's time to begin branching out a little, so I've been participating in a drumming circle in Tulsa, become active in the small UU church here in Bartlesville, and done a day of Hospice training with intentions of volunteering. I love being in one spot again. Like those squirrels in the tree outside, I'm staying active, preparing for the coming seasons, and staying curious about everything.
And now it's time to begin blogging regularly again.