The Time is Now

Hello all, I have been quite busy lately and have neglected my blog, and you.  So today I am back with some interesting ideas to reduce your footprint, save money and build a community around you.

My lake

This article is mainly about the Brattleboro Time Trade,  but scroll down to read everything you need to know to start a Time Trade group in your area and see how easy it is to make ends meet without money.

Building community through sharing. Here neighbors pick from my strawberry bed with my blessing.

 

Want to save 40% on your electric bill without turning anything more off?  There is a little known secret most electricians don’t  tell you and that is you can save big on your utility costs by having an electrician “balance the load”.  To do this you need to turn on every light, appliance, and anything in your home that can be plugged in (using the outlet you would plug it into) then have the electrician check where you are overburdening your load.  You can learn more here.

Repurpose and make do:  Here I took a broken toy box headed for the dumpster and created individual chalkboards for the grandchildren.

Repurpose and make do: Here I took a broken toy box headed for the dumpster and created individual chalkboards for the grandchildren.

We need to think about more than just growing our own food. With the decline in the bee populations adding plants that will attract bees like these, and avoidance of all pesticides and herbicides, will increase your odds of a healthy harvest that will feed your family.

We would be lost without our strawberry snacks.

We would be lost without our strawberry snacks.

Reconsider where you plan to live.  With cities expanding exponentially in the southwestern states where water is scarce living in desert areas with little natural water you are at the mercy of surrounding states to provide you with potable water.  Arizona may see their water supplies cut in the near future.

Newest member of our neighborhood who found my lap comfortable to sleep on.  Sharing pets with friends is beneficial to the mental health of all.

Newest member of our neighborhood who found my lap comfortable to sleep on. Sharing pets with friends is beneficial to the mental health of all.

My youngest son has applied for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.  While I was visiting with him he shared his experiences with me of the process.  He was accepted and given one insurance plan, his daughter was assigned another and he was told to apply for medicaid (welfare) for his wife who is pregnant. He argued that he had the money to pay for insurance for his family and does not want to apply to Medicaid, he was refused.  The other thing that irked him was that he was given no choice in what insurance company or plan he or his daughter were assigned.  With this in mind, it’s a good time to look at options to standard insurance plans.  Katie did a fine job listing three programs that might be an option for you.  I don’t know about you, but I see problems arising now that government and insurance companies are working together.

Resize your life to meet but not exceed your needs.  Source: Facebook

Resize your life to meet but not exceed your needs. Source: Facebook

There is much we can do to be healthy and happy while reducing our ecological footprint.  What ideas have you tried to reduce your footprint?

38 thoughts on “The Time is Now

  1. Hi Lois…sorry to hear about your son’s insurance problems. And I agree that having the government and insurance companies work together is troublesome…but I’ll bet most of your problems come from how your state has set it up. I hope along with everyone else that it works towards being a stepping stone for us all.

    And as a person who happily lives in the desert southwest I tend to believe that our climate is actually more temperate than much of the rest of the country. While we do have water issues that need to be addressed, our utilities in many cases are much less than what others pay during the cold of the winter. Plus with all our sun, solar works really well for us. We have a long growing season (just opposite of what northern states have) and our water costs are relatively inexpensive if you are mindful. Our average water bill for our single family home is about $12 and $7 of that is for service fees.

    Oh and thanks for mentioning about the balancing your load to discover if you have electrical things that can be corrected. Having an energy audit on your home is VERY IMPORTANT and can definitely save you money. ~Kathy

    • Thank you, Kathy, I too hope things work out soon for my son’s family for insurance. Luckily, he wasn’t without insurance and his wife has been covered through his part-time job for now.

      I briefly lived in California (Los Angeles area) years ago and would agree with you on the temperatures out your way. Our electric bills were cheaper then just like yours are now.

      When I lived in California I didn’t garden and didn’t give the growing season much thought, but living in Phoenix, years later, it took me a while to get used to when to plant. It was strange to me to be planting during the winter months rather than the summer and not being able to find certain fresh foods during the summer months when I was used to having them.

      Since you use solar panels on your home doing a load balancing might reduce the amount of energy you use too. An energy audit is very important. Even though I rent and my landlord won’t pay for an audit I still went around to find any drafts and plugged them up.

  2. The ACA’s implementation varies by state so folks have to be careful on judging something that offers more than there ever was before. In Oregon you can just apply to whatever insurance company and plans are offered, just depends on what you want to pay. The ACA has saved a lot of lives including my husband and I who have preexisting conditions – being self employed, I’d never been eligible before this year. From what I’ve read, it’s the state leaders who are messing with the Medicaid and screwing over their own people. Obama wanted universal healthcare and this is the best he was able to get passed because of so many Republicans who don’t think healthcare is a basic right. It’s not perfect and no overhaul goes smoothly with this amount of politics, but it’s a great start. With my husband leaving a country with universal healthcare (Australia, which like most offer supplemental insurance to purchase), it’s dealing with the insurance companies, not the government, that’s been the most hassle.

    • Ecogrrl, thanks for explaining that, I guess my state is one of the worst for signing up then. I am glad you and your husband were able to get health insurance I have always been in that “uninsurable” group having been born with Muscular Dystrophy and a bad kidney, I couldn’t even buy life insurance.

      • Yeah it totally is a stinker how different states can implement ACA differently – not sure what state you are in but I know Georgia and some other states have made the Medicaid stuff completely awful. It’s still expensive for our insurance, but compared to the cost without, it’s still better for my hubby. We’ll be glad when his employment authorization comes in so he can get working and therefore employer benefits that are cheaper :)

        Have you read Radical Homemaking? I think you’d love it…

        • We live in Pennsylvania, which is a state that is usually so far behind in everything but education it’s not even funny.

          I did read Radical Homemaking and did love it. :-)

          • Sweet! The part about opting out of traditional health insurance really inspired me. My husband has enrolled but I’m waiting until he gets a cheaper plan, as I’ve been without for 2 years as a business owner due to the prior preexisting issues then realized, I really only need catastrophic coverage, so I’m chucking money away myself for that instead of giving $300-500/mo for insurance that doesn’t cover 90% of my existing way of healthy living (naturopathic medicine, yoga, massage, bicycling and a great therapist!). This may evolve as we start a family, but I love seeing alternate ways of living off the “grid” when it comes to health…

            PS – great words on the green savings which I forgot to comment on…our library has a Kill-o-Watt you can check out to test your electricity as well. Our bill is only $40/mo here though so it’s not a huge issue for us.

          • I love my doctor but have considered finding a naturopath for a while now. Because of insurance changes my doctor has her hands tied in how she treats me. She asks me to have tests done I don’t want because she could get in trouble if she doesn’t have them done. In order to opt out of these tests she has to bring another doctor in to witness my refusal which really bugs me.

            I’m not sure how well the kill-o-watt would work to load balance but it would be a good way of knowing how much energy each item is using. I don’t know how your state is but here $40 seems to be the base minimum, well done!

  3. Hi Lois,

    I recently published Take a Big Bite out of Climate Change. http://www.ahhthesimplelife.com/take-a-big-bite-out-of-climate-change/

    Here’s the introduction:

    According to hunger statistics from WFP, 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. We now have about 7 billion people who call planet Earth “home.” By the year 2050, this number is expected to increase to 9 billion. At the same time, due to the spread of prosperity, there’s an increased demand for meat, eggs, and dairy products; this demand boosts pressure to grow more corn and soybeans, as feed crops for animals.

    An excerpt:
    What YOU Can Do: Take a Big Bite out of Climate Change

    The single most important thing you can do is to transition to a plant-based diet. Choosing to eat less meat, or cutting out meat entirely, is one of the most important personal choices we can make to address climate change.

    quoteThere has been a lot less discussion of meat than a lot of the other factors, in terms of what we can do as individuals to influence climate change… But we need to talk about diet, and if that’s where we can make our impact, then that’s what people need to know, and understand.”

    —Roni Neff, research and policy director, Johns Hopkins Univ. Center for a Livable Future, Baltimore

    What we choose to eat is so important!

    • Carol, thank you for sharing your article as I must have missed it before. I was first introduced to the costs of meat consumption to the planet and humans when I stumbled across John Robbin’s book Diet for a New America. Recently, I watched this full length documentary on how Cuba survived a major oil shortage and how they are better off for it as a way to learn how to reduce my consumption further. You might be interested so I’m including it here

    • Hi LouAnn, I was thinking of you last night and left myself a note to visit soon.

      It’s funny because our politicians are so quick to tell us how fortunate we are not to have a medical system like Canada or the UK and each time I hear them I think anything even remotely like what you have would have been a good place to start.

      I just this week learned about balancing the load to reduce energy costs. A one time payment to a qualified electrician would be well worth the savings in the long run. I think of all the things I’ve done to reduce my energy from light bulbs to eliminating my fridge and realize this could save each country major amounts of natural resources and reduce blackouts in peak hours. I’d love to hear how it work for you if you have your balanced.

        • LouAnn, that sounds like a normal system. We are able to still see our doctor of choice although the insurance companies have now decided how our doctors can treat us. For example, I had injured my knee. My doctor told me she was required to send me for an X-ray which wouldn’t show her what she needed to see, she needed an MRI but couldn’t send me for that until I had the X-ray first. I haven’t been affected by Obamacare, yet, not sure how things will change if I do have to sign up.

          Of course if you hear our news stories you probably know that our Veterans have suffered due to waits to be seen at the Vets Hospitals and doctors, many have died waiting.

  4. Sometimes we talk about places we might want to move and unfortunately we rule out the southwest because of water problems. I guess we’ll just have to enjoy it in visits.

    • Live and Learn,I know just how you feel, I’ve tried moving away several times, the last time it was to Arizona. I lived in Phoenix for three years trying to make a life there so I wouldn’t be trapped in the winter months up north but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the wasted water I saw daily in an area that got 3 inches or less of rainfall each year I was there. I realized I couldn’t justify my lifestyle in the desert at the expense of so many others who had to ration to provide me with necessities such as water.

      When we lost a transformer, knocking out our power for a couple of day in the hottest part of the summer months because bird poop ignited from the heat I got severely sick from lack of air conditioning and knew it was time to move north for good. And here I am, for better or worse I won’t move away again.

  5. Great tips! I’ve been trying to buy more and more things second-hand (or not at all) to try and reduce my footprint – especially clothes. Shoes I struggle more with as I don’t often come across second-hand ones in my size.

  6. I have very mixed feelings about Obamacare. On the one hand, I hate the fact that the insurance companies are still part of this whole mess. Then throw in the whole Medicaid thing on top of it and it gets even crazier. I ended up right on the border between the expanded Medicaid and Obamacare. I really didn’t want to go into the Medicaid program, especially since my income can vary so tremendously from month to month… I figured I’d be caught in an endless nightmare of red tape falling in and out of the program. If that had happened my only other choice would have been to keep buying insurance on the open market with no tax break at all. Thankfully, I came out on the Obamacare side of it.

    But here’s the thing that confuses me about your son’s situation. When I finally got rejected by Medicaid and was able to apply, I had at least 20 plans from 6 different companies from which to choose. Did your son go through a broker, or did he apply directly through the exchange? Colorado has its own exchange so I didn’t have to deal with the national website, but the story you’re telling me just doesn’t jive with my experience of signing up. And “they” (whoever “they” are) cannot prohibit him from buying insurance on the open market, only that you cannot get financial assistance (tax credit) through Obamacare if you qualify for Medicaid because they are separate programs. AAARRRGGGGHHHH!

    Anyhow, if your son is using a broker, I would urge him to consider applying directly through the exchange because who knows what “interests” the broker throws into the mix.

    At any rate… in terms of my mixed feelings on Obamacare, I am grateful that people who could not previously afford health care can now get it – many of the musicians I worked with at the school lived (and died) with horrible medical situations because being self employed, they were at the mercy of the insurance companies who would refuse them coverage and/or charge ridiculous premiums like over $1000/month for an individual – that was often more than 50% of their entire income! So most just went without. I personally knew 2 people who died for lack of healthcare simply because they had chronic health conditions and could not afford coverage.

    However, what they’ve created here is a complete and total mess because our elected officials are all bought and sold by the insurance companies…. and one certain “independent” senator from Connecticut vowed to join a Republican filibuster of any bill that didn’t include a hefty share for the robber barons! Grrrrr…

    My only hope is that Obamacare can serve as a stepping stone to a REAL national healthcare program – a single payer Medicare for all system that will actually serve the interests of the people over those of the corporations.

    Sorry to rant… it just all makes me soooo angry!

    • I am in a similar boat- our income fluctuates and we are in and out of the gap. That is why at this time we went with a different alternative. Good luck.
      Katie

    • Cat, I agree with you in hoping Obamacare can become a stepping stone to a better universal medical plan for all. As for my son: I had heard security issues about the website and suggested he get the phone number to call directly rather than leave private information through the website, which he did.

      Why in the world with his income and both him and his 3 year old daughter being accepted in Obamacare why his wife can’t. Medicaid has given him the run around so his wife still only has coverage through his part-time job.

      You have no idea how much I wanted to rant about this subject in my post. Not only is it a mess but it’s affecting my family which is enough to get me going. ;-)

      • I think the crux of the mess is that part of the program involved expanding Medicaid to cover people who previously made too much money to get into that program. But here’s the stinger… Medicaid is a STATE run program, not a federal one. So the states still run Medicaid, they just got extra funds from the federal government to cover the new people. AND to make the confusion even worse, some states opted out of the Medicaid expansion entirely, leaving a whole pile of the most vulnerable people with no help at all! It’s infuriating!

        Anyhow, so there’s now all of this wrangling about which program people fit into, and it’s all because of battles over whether the federal or the state government has to pay for it. So, that’s my guess as to why your daughter-in-law is caught in the middle. But why they had to apply individually and not as a family unit is mystifying… I suppose it’s all part of the wrangling over which budget pays for it.

        Also, my understanding is that security concerns over using the website were WAY over blown. It was all another Republican plot to get people not to sign up.

        I just have to keep reminding myself that as frustrating as this whole situation is… it is still progress.

        • About the website, I didn’t know how much was true but since my son’s work involves him having perfect credit thought he should err on the side of caution.

          I don’t get the separate plans either. My son called and tried to get a plan to cover his whole family but this is what he ended up with.

          The whole thing has me shaking my head. How far we have come from the actual Constitution where states rights superseded Federal except in a few situations.

          It is still progress, I guess. ;-)

  7. Dear Lois I can not read all your post as I’m viewing from my phone. But just want you to know I agree. There is no time like the present in all the things we do. I am also living more in my Now moments. And have neglected my blog and followers recently. I felt a little guilty at first. Then I told myself. I have to live in my own Now moments more and stop spreading my self around. So my ME time is getting priority. :). Hope you and yours are all well my friend. See you Soon x x x Sue X :)
    Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

    • Sue, I am glad you are taking more Me Time. With your schedule and everything you have on your plate I have no idea how you aren’t worn out. Enjoy that me time and I’ll see you when you are ready to join the blog world again. Take care of yourself.

  8. it all looks wonderful…Love the four footed friend.. And, it is very nice you can enjoy him, without the upkeep (maybe the odd treat).

    re your son applying for insurance..How bizarre they do not let them apply as a family unit, and at least have a list of choices for which/who insures them.

    re your comment on government and insurance companies together..yup, gotta agree. never a good idea/economic/as well run/as good quality when government and business rub each other’s back and work together. nasty.

    • Lynn, I love animals but the responsibility is not something I want at this point in my life so I enjoy the ones that visit me.

      I don’t understand the problems my son has been having but I know he did apply as a family, he just didn’t get accepted as a family. It’s a strange situation and one that is frustrating him to no end.

      • I sort of feel the same way about animals, right now, myself. we had a lovely hairy huge dog. wonderful part of the family. truly. however, I/we worried over him as a member of the family, and much as I loved him, the hair was “trying”. he was a good (untrained) guard dog, and likely litterly saved me twice. Still, I am happy right now to pet other’s dogs at the dog park. (if I am driving by and see one similar to ours, I often stop, and ask If I may pet them.

        re the insurance, it all sounds odd/disorganised/not the best use of the government/insurance resources…to split up a family and assess them individually. very weird. I wonder if there are any advocates/resource persons/others who have been through the “wringer” who he could ask for info/help?

        • Lynn, I had many pet growing up and while raising my boys but it became hard to take vacations as so many places refused to allow pets and boarding is expensive. Right now, my living situation would be hard to walk a dog in the winter and pick up it’s droppings which is the main reason I don’t have one.

          I don’t know what the answer is for my son. He was fortunate to be well-respected in his field that when he left it to work full-time in real estate he was offered a position where he only works 5-12 hours a week and receives full medical from the company. The company knew he only needed the position until he could buy insurance. He can’t wait to no longer need to work the extra part-time job and the real estate agency has offered to up his base pay to cover the cost of paying for his family’s health insurance, but even with that he can’t get them all covered. It’s strange, just because his wife is pregnant the insurance companies won’t take her.

          • wow. you say the insurance companies won’t take her because she is pregnant? I thought, under this new healthcare laws, it was not allowed to discriminate on “pre existing” conditions. guess pregnancy would be pre existing.

            doesn’t sound right. however, I have read in quite a few places, that many families are being “harassed” like your son’s family. there was always some reason trotted out (first time I recall pregnancy being used), but I do recall reading about a lot in same situation.

            it makes NO sense.

          • That is my assumption because her health is perfect so why else would she be rejected from Obamacare when her husband and daughter are accepted? My son has one health issue (gout) their daughter no health issues with the exception of eczema which they treat themselves. The worst thing my daughter-in-law has had was a mole that didn’t look right and the doctor, rather that test it, removed it that day in the office. So what else could be the reason she’s being rejected other than being pregnant?

            The worst part is that they have insurance through work as a family but can’t get it through Obamacare. it makes me sad for my son who has taken the whole thing personally as the husband/father.

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