I’d like to thank my parents for teaching me the art of planning and the importance of preparation. My dad was career Army and brought home much of the structure of the military life into our upbringing. My mother was mostly a stay-at-home mom who hardly threw anything away just in case we needed it later. Long before the modern day catch phrases of being “environmentally friendly,” “going green,” or the Earth Day driven mantra of “Recycle, Reuse, Reduce,” as being the responsible way to help save the planet, my mother was already utilizing those measures to help save her family. Old margarine containers held leftover dinners; empty milk cartons became water jugs; paper grocery bags were turned into garbage bags, and even one of our favorite treat — homemade pickles — was from the reuse of watermelon rind, which my mom carefully cleaned, cooked, and canned to enjoy long after the summer season. My parents weren’t trying to be socially “hip,” in the 60s and 70s. They were raising six kids on an enlisted soldier’s salary, and it was pure survival for them to keep us out of the poor house.
Because of that, I learned early how to make a little go a long way. So that even when I started making a pretty good salary at my former job, I never felt the need to spend all of what I made. A car was for transportation, not showing off. I didn’t care if it wasn’t the top of the “cool people’s” line. I resisted the pushing from certain associates of mine to buy a home in a particular area. I didn’t believe in spending more money to get less house, just to have a certain zip code. Sure, I liked the comforts of home, eating out at a nice restaurant, and shopping in my favorite antique district. But I regarded all of those as special outings, not an everyday lifestyle.
So in 2008, when the sand unexpectedly shifted under me, as it did for dozens of other people I knew personally, and thousands of other Americans across the country, I quickly realized I was going to have to rely on many of the things I used to know, and let myself remember how to once again live life to the fullest, on less. Some of my adjustments came rather immediately, even though I didn’t know exactly where I was headed and for how long I’d be there.
It was on one hot summer afternoon, as the clouds grew darker, and the winds picked up, that I gathered my water buckets and strategically placed them at different places on my deck. I had done this routine several times before, as this was now the third summer since life as I’d known it had changed. But when I was asked by a house guest what I was doing, I said without hesitation, I’m catching raindrops in water buckets! I could tell by the look on her face what her next question was, so I continued, “so I can water my plants later in the week after the rain stops for several days again and the summer heat returns.” And just in case she still didn’t get what I was saying, I finished with words I’d come to love, “and it’s free!”
And that’s where Catching Raindrops in Water Buckets began. My desire is to inspire, encourage, and share suggestions, tips, and new discoveries of some ways to live life to the fullest, even when the pantry, bank account, gas tank, and perhaps even your physical and mental reserves are close to empty!