Sunday, February 19, 2012

Making Do

Lots of open land on the Rez.
Since I last wrote, our family moved to Arizona and we are now living on the Navajo Indian Reservation. It is the most secluded place we have ever lived and quite different from Las Vegas where we were living before. On the reservation there are few stores or other businesses. There are no Walmart stores. We have to drive 45 minutes to get to our bank. The little "town" we live in has a grocery store, Subway, pizza place, gas station, and chicken place inside the gas station. Oh, and there was a laundromat and car wash, but right now they are closed because of water issues. We live in teacher housing and I teach the Navajo children at the middle school. Our house is actually pretty nice. From what I understand the teacher housing here is the nicest on the "Rez" (reservation). Our house has a wood stove, which is great! The other two appliances we were given are a stove and refrigerator. There's a place for a washer and dryer, but we did not have one. We will have to rent a trailer to get one here. There also is no dishwasher.

We were unable to bring all of our stuff in the truck that we could afford to get here. So we left half of our things in a storage unit. Well, probably more than half. So when we got here, we unpacked as much as we could right away. We managed to get dishes, pots and pans, and some of our food storage here. With that said, there are some things that we realized we did NOT have. Or at least did not find right away.

The first thing that we were really missing was towels. Now mind you, we could not run to Walmart and buy a few towels and we did not know anyone here so we couldn't borrow any. So we had to make due with what we did have. I did bring fabric left over from Christmas projects and my mom had given me a couple of large pieces of felt. Felt is a good replacement for towels. The kids also had their warm fleece "snuggies" and those were great after a shower or bath too. The grocery store had some kitchen towels that we bought for doing dishes. About 5 days later, we found towels in one of the boxes we didn't get unpacked right away. We were grateful, but often keep in mind that the flannel and fleece are much warmer than towels and still use them from time to time when it is really cold.

Missing towels made it difficult to do dishes too. But we made due with the little hand towels we found at the grocery store. We laid them down on the counter and let the dishes dry on top of them instead of trying to hand dry each dish. This worked pretty well. Doing dishes without a dishwasher has been probably the easiest thing to learn. Quite honestly, we tended to do that before sticking dishes in the dishwasher anyway. We just liked that the dishwasher cleaned everything a bit more and sanitized the dishes.

The hardest adjustment has been learning to live without a washer and dryer. The laundromat was expensive when it was working. So even before it stopped working, Lee started washing clothes in the kitchen sink. He filled the sink with clothes, add a little detergent and filled the sink with water. He'd then "massage" the clothes for a few minutes to clean them. Then he would let out the water and let in new water to rinse the clothes. He would ring out the clothes as much as possible in the other sink.  We had some rope 

that he strung up in each of the bathrooms to hang up clothes on. It was not really very hard, but definitely time consuming. Now we are waiting for some 5 gallon buckets and plungers to show up to try another technique we learned online to wash clothes. We will put them in the bathtub, fill them with clothes, soap and water and then use the plungers which will stick up through a hole in the lid to agitate the clothes. We will hang the clothes up to dry after ringing them as dry as we can.

What else have we had to live without that we are used to having? Tables and chairs. We lost our kitchen table when we moved away from Alabama and could not take everything with us because the truck was too small. We also didn't get to bring our computer and sewing room tables. We couldn't fit night stands into our truck from storage either. We did make it here with lamps and plastic tubs and lots of boxes. So
we are using the plastic tubs as night stands and as a little table in the living room. The advantage to this is extra storage.  We also have a box that we keep our computer on. We've covered them with a sheet or blanket so it isn't so obvious that they aren't tables. We have one little couch and a rocking chair that made it. For additional chairs, we have a few camp chairs. We also brought in one of the seats from our van which gave us more room in the van and gave us more seating in our living room. I guarantee our living room will never be featured in a magazine article showing style and class, but we are cozy and it works.

Water was an interesting adventure for us as well.  The water here is VERY soft.  We are used to hard water.  Here it feels like you never get the soap off when you wash.  Also, it has a filmy look to it.  We were warned by several people when we got here NOT to drink it.  We had brought some water with us, but not enough to sustain us for long.  We were buying bottles of water every couple of days so we would have water to drink.  After about a week, one of the ladies from church was very generous and bought us a water filter.  This is something one should definitely keep on hand.  The water was definitely potable once we had the filter.  Before that....  EWWWW!

When we first arrived we had less than $300 to live on until our first paycheck which would come 3 weeks later. This had to cover any food that we needed and any startup fees. Fortunately, we brought food storage with us. We had already been working to learn how to use food storage and been occasionally using it in our meals so we knew things we already liked and knew recipes and how to use everything we brought with us. We had plenty of food for those 3 weeks and ate pretty well.

With all of this, we have considered ourselves very blessed. We had all of the necessities for living and the know how to make do for the things that we did not have. Part of being "prepared" is being able to improvise and make do with what you have to take care of needs for your family. We are grateful for all Heavenly Father has given us and provided for us.

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