It’s funny, I can go a long time and not buy anything extraneous, and then in one day buy a number of items. This afternoon, my ds10 and dd8 accompanied me to make some Craig’s List purchases. (I try not to do errands in the morning, because that’s our homeschooling time and it throws off our routine when I go out before their work is done.) Usually it’s hard to coordinate private sellers efficiently, but today it worked out beautifully.
We started off by heading off to buy some raspberry and blackberry plants – a man who has a large garden dug up a bunch of the roots since his plants had spread so much and were getting overcrowded. He told us that usually he throws them away, but this year it occurred to him that someone on CL might be interested. He was very surprised at the response, which was much higher than he anticipated. He had a beautiful garden – huge, well organized, the kind of place where you take one look and it’s clear he really knows what he’s doing. I seriously would have wanted to take a picture of it home with me to study all the things he did. We were all very impressed. We bought five raspberry plants and five blackberry plants. He threw in an extra raspberry and two extra blackberry, so for $20 we got quite a bargain! (Each of the blackberry plants I ordered online a couple of weeks ago were $10.) He asked the kids why they weren’t in school and I told him that they’re homeschooled, and this is part of their education. And I mean it!
Then we headed to the next private seller, and bought 2 garden shovels (we have only one shovel and that’s simply not adequate for a family our size!), one snow shovel (ds10 broke ours when he was shovelling for others this winter, and wanted to buy one for himself), and a couple of large empty propane canisters (for camping).
Directly from there, we went to yet another seller, the most trusting I’ve ever dealt with on CL. He was selling two hardly used propane camping stoves (two burners each, $30 for both), and told me he’d leave them on his front porch and I could leave the money under the mat when I picked them up. The kids wanted to get them from the porch, so I handed one the envelope with money and asked them to knock just in case someone was home. It turned out his wife was there, and I was glad to be able to directly pay them instead of leaving it in an unsecured place. I wouldn’t have wanted anything to happen to the envelope I left and then it would seem like I hadn’t left the money as agreed. These camp stoves will be handy for our yearly family camping trip (that won’t take place until late May or early June), since every year until now we’ve borrowed one from someone. Last year the stove we borrowed didn’t function properly, and it was a good thing that we’re a family who is able to improvise, because not being able to cook can throw a major crimp into a three day trip! It will be nice to have our own, since it will be one less thing to organize before the trip (I think we’ll be able to hook up the big canisters I just bought up to this instead of buying several small ones, which should be a savings in fuel, too).
All of these purchases added up to just $66, and though I realize it’s not the kind of thing most people are buying less than two weeks before Pesach with their miscellaneous funds, I’m pleased with them all and consider it time and money well spent. Getting bargains means buying when things are available, not when it’s most convenient for you. All of these errands went very quickly even though they were in totally different directions. I enjoy taking a child or two with me when I do errands, because it’s an opportunity to spend one-on-one (or one-on-two) time together. Being with them, the time went by so quickly!
Then I stopped at Whole Foods to speak to a manager about the possibility of them ordering coconut or palm oil in bulk for me. I would have called but it was on my way home, and I thought it would be more clear what I wanted if I could show them which brand, size, etc. This quick question took an hour to have answered, and I still didn’t get the details I wanted. I don’t think I’ll pursue it further – she said I could get a 10% discount if I buy a case of small containers, but I don’t want small containers. (Ds saw the 14 ounce container of coconut oil for $9, and exclaimed, “Whoa! That’s how much we use in one day!” And when we’re baking, he’s right.) If I’m only going to get 10% off, I might as well stick to buying from the health food store close to me, which has 10% off once a week of all purchases, regardless of how much or how little you buy. Fortunately, they had kosher organic corn chips out for sampling that the kids enjoyed, and on the way out they got to sample some fresh pineapple chunks. Amazing how an unexpected little treat like that can redeem a lot of wasted time for kids!
It’s been raining all day, but I was still hoping there would be a chance to get the berry bushes planted. Ds10 wanted to do it, but it ended up being a lot more work than either he or I expected. I haven’t had a chance to prepare the soil in that area – I wasn’t expecting to plant anything there for another three weeks – and it’s very hard and compacted. Just in the nick of time, yesterday I gave away the basketball hoop that’s been in that space, so at least the space was available! But the soil was like a rock.
Ds was out there in the rain for a long time, digging and digging. I told him he didn’t have to do it, but he said he started and he wanted to finish the job. He has a lot of determination and persistence; a cold and rainy day is far from an appealing time for garden work. He got five of the raspberry plants in (forgot about the one extra we were given when he was figuring the spacing; we’ll figure out what to do with that another time).
It’s currently ds10’s turn for dishes – we alternate between the oldest four kids every two weeks. It’s a very intense job, which is why it’s two weeks instead of four. He got a rash a couple of days ago on his arms, and yesterday night told me that washing dishes is exacerbating it. I suggested he trade jobs with one of his siblings, to give the rash a time to heal, but he hadn’t yet found any of them who wanted to trade. When he came in from digging, wet and muddy, I sent him straight upstairs for a hot bath, and did the dishes myself while he was soaking. I told him afterwards I consider it a fair trade for all of his work, and asked him what he thought – I’ll do dishes for all of today in exchange for the bushes he dug this afternoon. And if he wants to plant the five blackberry plants tomorrow, I’ll do the dishes for him again tomorrow (erev Shabbos and motzei Shabbos are the least favorite dishwashing times, for obvious reasons). He was very happy with this idea – and only half jokingly asked if I had any more bushes he could plant for me a different day!