Thursday, December 15, 2011
Going Up and Down
The humidity has been very high, as you might imagine, so nothing gets dry. Towels are a real challenge. They won't dry all the way inside or outside hanging on the clothesline. My pal Debi has had laundry hanging under her house for days, waiting for it to dry. I've been forced to use the clothes dryer more frequently this season, which I hate to do. We just got our new electric bill: we used less and got charged more than last month. Why? Because the rates jumped to 50 cents per kwh! Ten times what we paid in St. Louis!! Why are the rates so high? Partly because they have to import diesel fuel to run the generators and are dependent on fluctuating oil prices. (We paid $4.60/gal. for gas yesterday.)
Many people out of work on the island are also without power now. Our gardener had had his electric cut off when he couldn't pay the bill (which they do if you don't pay your bill within 6 days!) and was so grateful to get work and get the power restored. Reco charges nearly $25.00 to turn the meter back on; that's a lot of money for these families. He'll have at least another week of work for us when it quits raining. The minimum wage here is $15.00 per day! Debi and I talked to one of the supervisors at the grocery store the other day. She is forced to work 12-13 hour days for the same pay. She brings home only $6000. lempiras a month...$270.00! She said she had no choice but to accept the hours; her husband has been out of work for months. No overtime or holiday pay here.
Other things things that are ridiculously priced: Christmas lights and ornaments. I have my one string of LED lights hanging out on the deck. Hard to believe I'm looking at $25.00 worth of lights. I wanted to get some ornaments to hang from the beams of the deck, but I'm too cheap to pay $12-$15. for a box of 4-8 ornaments! I so wish I had brought Christmas stuff with me.
I'm baking cookies to put in the food baskets that our church is making for 25 of the poorest families in our congregation. The prices of some cookie ingredients are also high: around $5. for a bag of chocolate chips, at least $6. for a small (6 oz.) bag of pecans...if you can even find them. I bought a package of walnuts for about $8. but at least I got 4 cups of walnuts. Peanut butter is also high. I did find a store brand (U.S.) for $2.50 this week; Jif and Skippy are closer to $4.00. So, I'm keeping to simple recipes. I can't find any Craisins or Rice Krispies for two of my favorites. I paid $3.00 for a small container of colored sugar for my sugar cookies when I couldn't find any food coloring other than yellow and it was just as expensive.
I did shell out nearly $30.00 for a 16 lb. turkey this week for our Christmas dinner with Bob and Debi and an island family. We won't be having pecan pie or fruit cake this year. And no cranberry relish. No cranberries to be found anywhere other than cranberry jelly - sometimes. Still, our Christmas dinner will be wonderful and fun to share with an island family who wouldn't otherwise have any special Christmas dinner.