"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Feb 6, 2013

Don't Cage Me In

"You already have a home.  You just don’t have a house to put it in.”  Mom-the-Wise, c. 1980’s.

I’ve been jotting down pros and cons of living in a real house since I began this Caretaker’s position last November, particularly useful right now as I fight against being forced into some government housing project.
I make it sound more dire than it is for me, but if you had even a momentary tightening in your chest at the news, I thank you, because there are too many other Andreas out there right now.  Please keep that in mind when you hear about ‘the Takers’, a term I learned last week at City Hall.  That, on the heels of being asked in the new, politically correct, way,

“Which sexual orientation do you most identify with?” by the nice lady on the telephone.  It took me a second to translate and finally answer the big F; but since they're being more flexible now, next time I’ll have some fun and choose something else.  I’ve got a pair.

My temporary abode is a 1892 Historic District home with 12–16 foot ceilings, which seems totally impractical unless you’re Gulliver, and if I was in that story I’d definitely be a Lilliputian.  Why did they build them like this?  Whilst here, I'd hoped to save some money for needed repairs to my trailer, but au contraire: even with most of it closed off, gas, water, electricity and garbage are a small fortune (to me), so thank goodness I don’t have the mortgage payment on top.  There are plenty of pros, but the utility hurdle alone prevents me from taking full advantage of activities in my temporary home-town.  I need free stuff.

Victorians are lovely, but I prefer the smaller cottages tucked in between.  Single story cuties with perhaps an attic or loft; that’s more than enough room for BC and me.  Some even have black holes down below.
How can you people find anything?  I’m only using a few rooms, but even so I’m constantly looking for eyeglasses, phone, shopping lists…which only makes me happy to be moving back into my 112-square foot rolling home, which the government says is inappropriate for a permanent dwelling.  So are cars, but I understand kids are growing up in them, too.


If I'm coerced into an apartment, because I’m sure I wouldn’t qualify for a home all to myself (nor should I; families first), I’ll have to start acquiring STUFF to fill it up, since I got rid of everything I owned before downsizing to Ruff Life in ’97.  It's not like I have progeny to leave it all.  Now that I’ll be moving on shortly, I’m still getting rid of STUFF, such as Puerto Rican gourds I’ve schlepped since I left.  And for the next few weeks I’ll be eating up what I bought 3 months ago to sustain me through the winter.

Faux painted ice cream
I’ve already written about the holding capacity of this home’s enormous, stainless double-wide refrigerator.  Fridges no longer impress me; not since Ruff Life’s loaded upright (above) knocked me over before falling on me during one particularly rough crossing at sea.  Not realizing it wasn't attached to anything, a ratchet strap held it during future passages, and shortly thereafter it was unplugged for good, storing condiments and dry goods. 

It's lifeline was not pulled because of my petulance, but to conserve battery power; it was a terrible drain.  So for 12 years, my refrigeration consisted of a cooler on the back deck (behind ancient Czar, who offers great scale); replenished daily with a bag of ice, sometimes two, if it was really hot.  Bags were a buck in 1997, gradually increasing to $2.00 by 2009.  I could have bought several refrigerators for that.

Typical contents:  a plastic kitty litter bucket contained the melting ice.  Alongside was the ½ gallon of milk the Captain required daily for Bubba Mugs of Iced Mochas and periodic swigs; plus the mayo jar and anything else tall.  A tray kept the eggs, butter, cheese, sandwich meat and occasional candy bar out of the melting ice.  That’s it.  But in all fairness, we did have one advantage I should mention here:

Carmen, my Shell Shop friend and only permanent neighbor, owns several coffin-style freezers to hold the Queen Conch she collects during the season (Oct 1 – May 31).  Freeze them for 24 hrs, thaw for an hour or two and the meat slips right out, leaving an intact shell.  (Look closely at the one on the left and you'll see his foot.)  Most times you’ll find a hole in the top where fishermen have driven a knife through the shell in order to cut the animal loose.  You decide which is kinder.

The Conch meat went to local restaurants for fried snacks, and Carmen sells the shells.  She’d leave room in one freezer for us to freeze our chicken, ribs, hamburger, and sometimes my own Conch.  No room for ice cream; besides, what a pain to fix a bowl.

Ruff Life in La Parguera, PR
So every morning, I’d dinghy Czar to shore, fill up one or two 5-gallon containers of water at a friend’s dock, swing by the back deck of Carmen’s shop to pick up dinner and head back home.  For 12 years…you should have seen my arms.  No, it wasn’t always fun and I got sick of it plenty, but often I’d meet and greet friends and tourists, or spot a dolphin on my way home.   The Captain had the evening run of dog, milk, ice, more water if needed and any other little errand, meeting and greeting his own acquaintances along the way.  It evened out, and it gave us time away from one another.

No freezer, no room for fattening food ready to pop into a microwave, like I have now.  No wonder I gained 10 pounds since November.  My trailer has a fridge larger than the cooler so I feel fortunate, but my shoebox-size freezer would still turn the majority of Americans off.  As would my toaster oven.

Size is a priority when equipping my trailer.  I’ve never been a fan of microwaves, especially the one bolted to the top of Ruff Life’s fridge, and I really don’t miss owning one.  Seems silly to keep one around for popcorn.  But I do love toaster ovens.  This little guy doesn’t broil and only holds one piece of bread, but at least it won’t hurt me, and here’s the genius of it:

With traditional toasters, when you pull out two (or more) slices of toast, bagel, whatever, one is cooling while you race to butter the other.  With mine, I’m leisurely butter-and-jamming while the second is cooking, munching #1 while #2 browns nicely.  If I need two at once, I just stack them and flip ‘em around.  I enjoy the challenge.  Contemplating that advantage the other day, I decided to finally come out of the closet:

I like to eat standing up.  Seems like I’m always on my como-se-llama, so eating is one of the few times I’m vertical.

It’s amazing what you can learn to live without, but I can’t live without my freedom to move about at will.  So allow me, please, to continue living in my inappropriate travel-trailer, and give my housing chit to the kids in the car.

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