GO SECOND CHANCE SHOPPING: Some Recent Thrift Store Finds


 Here at Second Chance Homestead we furnish our home with previously owned items that need a second chance. Shopping “second-hand” is sustainable living at it’s best: Taking home used items saves them from landfills; buying something old instead of something new saves the energy involved in the production of new items; and spending money at thrift stores benefits the local non-profit organizations who run them. It really is one of the best ways to participate in your community. And it saves you money.

But it’s not all environment and economics.

Don’t forget about the THRILL!  It’s like going on a treasure hunt and finding gold. You make your way through shelves and racks and suddenly stumble upon the most amazing find!  For example, I recently came across two handmade Portuguese plates (In the 1990’s I lived in Portugal for a year and a half and have a love for the country and it’s crafts). I was ecstatic! And I didn’t even have to go overseas to get them!

 Here are some recent thrift store finds:


How Now Brown Cow. This cow is actually a “piggy” bank. $1.50.


Used baseballs add a nice decorative touch when stacked atop a plate handmade in Portugal. (baseballs 75 cents each; 2 handmade plates 75 cents each. The other one sits under the cow)


An antique adding machine (with period paper receipt roll). $12.00.


A retro ceiling light fixture cover in glass and wood. Fits in perfectly with SCH’s “rustic ranch” look. $3.00.


Morton’s Salt vintage tin. $3.75.


Handmade ceramic “mini” milk pitcher. $1.50.


Dancing Plates. Set of four. 75 cents each.


Metal and Glass “lantern” covers for votive candles. Set of 3. $2.25.


Vintage Candlestick holders. Glass. Set of two. $1.50.

TOTAL SPENT: Just 33 dollars.

Have a good weekend! I hope you take time to do some “second chance” shopping of your own! 





Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Tribal Chief Jeff Grubbe. The Tribe is suing the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District, alleging years of mismanagement of the local water supply.

Water officials in the Coachella Valley are claiming to be making progress in their efforts to keep from depleting the natural aquifer that the Palm Springs area sits atop. They’ve come up with a solution: keep on pumping water out of the aquifer. Replenish it with water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta. The only problem? The tunnels which could transport the water have never been built.


Sign announcing the use of recycled water, a responsible approach to water management, but one that only 18 out of 124 Coachella Valley golf courses employs.

The Coachella Valley has some of the heaviest water use in California, due in no small part to the presence of 124 golf courses in the area, only 18 of which use recycled water for irrigation. The remaining 106 draw fresh water from the ground. And that’s just the golf courses.


Philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg with First Lady Betty and President Gerald Ford

There’s is also the problem of zip code — the 92270 of Rancho Mirage, one of the “richest” zip codes in the country. It is also the realm of the politically well-connected. Senator Barbara Boxer calls Rancho Mirage home, as did President and First Lady Ford. 

Perhaps nothing illustrates the success of Rancho Mirage excess better than the Sunnylands estate, the former winter home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg and now a high-level retreat center for national and international leaders.  It sits on 200 acres of manicured lawns and gardens and even boasts it’s own private golf course. President Obama recently met there with Chinese President Xi Jinpin. It’s that kind of place.

Groundwater levels have dropped by more than 100 feet underneath Rancho Mirage since the 1950’s, indicating some of the most intense water consumption Valley-wide. It takes a lot of water to keep the landscaping green as money. 


Aerial view of a not atypical estate in the desert city of Rancho Mirage.

It should be no surprise that the Valley’s original residents, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, are suing the Coachella Valley Water District and the Desert Water Agency to assert their rights to the groundwater. Their suit accuses the agencies of mismanaging the water supply.

“DWA and CVWD continue to…mislead the public into thinking that everything is OK and that they have a handle on the issue when clearly they do not,” Tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe said in a statement to the Desert Sun.

Is a desert really the place for dozens of golf courses and sprawling estates with acres and acres of manicured lawns?


If the water dries up in Rancho Mirage, no doubt they’ll just truck in pallets of Evian Water to fill up their swimming pools and water their parched gardens. But what about everybody else?

To read more visit the Desert Sun at http://www.mydesert.com/interactive/article/20130908/NEWS07/309080001/Our-declining-water-reserves





Wanted to share this incredible gift I received from the Gibsons, friends whom I once worked with at a nonprofit organization years ago.

When they received word of my intentions to create Second Chance Homestead, they were quick to send me an amazing package with a gift that will come in so handy once my goats have arrived.


Charlotte and Steve found the book together, but I know that Charlotte made the beautiful accompanying card. Talented, sincere, creative, sensitive, smart, funny and clearly inspired, she is one of my favorite people. And very good at her craft. Steve is a bit more serious and sometimes quiet…but his qualities add up to just as much “wonderful” as Charlotte. That is why they make such a great team.


There is nothing more wonderful than the best wishes of friends, whether or not a gift is included.


Thank you Charlotte and Steve. And when you come for a visit, I will make sure you have the best comforts available! And I hope it will include goat’s milk and maybe even cheese (but don’t hold me to that).

BLUEBERRY’D (blue buried?) TREASURE…


So I was digging in the yard and found these two beautiful blue berry colored tiles. It is amazing what you can find in the desert dirt. It’s not a wasteland. It’s a treasure chest.

I take pleasure in small things and unexpected finds. These two work perfectly as coasters to protect the antique suitcase I use as a nightstand next to my bed.

Reminds me of the plot of my favorite Swedish children’s film from the 1970’s. No, it’s not one of the Pippi Longstocking yarns. It’s DUNDERKLUMPEN!, a mixed animation/live action (think Roger Rabbit) written by and starring Beppe Wolgers. He’s the guy who played Pippi Longstocking’s father, so there is a connection. I guess the world of children’s film in Sweden circa 1974 was small after all.


Beppe’s son Jens has a treasure chest which gets stolen by a lonely old man named Dunderklumpen. He also steals some of Jens toys which come to life and call out to their pal to rescue them. So Jens and his father begin the chase. Dunderklumpen hightails it out of the woods and all over Southern Sweden, never having time to stop and open the treasure chest which he is convinced must be full of money.


When at last the chest is opened, those looking on find only the treasures of a child: a feather, a dandelion, and a rock. Those are the kinds of things I’d like to keep in my treasure chest. And those are the kinds of treasures (and simple pleasures) I like to find. 

You can catch the trailer for the film at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzdSLN-Dmrk



Phoenix, part Chihuahua, part Terrier. Chief four-legged Executive Officer of SECOND CHANCE HOMESTEAD. Expert in digging, following scents, stealing cat food, chasing quail, and barking.

Several months ago I was reading a column in the back of the UTNE READER, that good old alternative standby to Reader’s Digest. The author was ERIC UTNE, and he made reference to an old Chinese proverb that often inspires him: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” (read more: http://www.utne.com/environment/what-gives-you-hope-these-days.aspx#ixzz2MQfmQQog)

Right then and there a branch broke off that tree and hit me right between the eyes.I had an epiphany (or a slight concussion). In either case I saw stars but also thunder and lightning. I couldn’t tell if I was in awe or just terrified.

“Tim,” I told myself internally, “If you keep on waiting for the RIGHT time…–whatever and whenever that is – nothing will ever happen.”

It was a very sobering thought.

Some of you know (and others will come to find out if you continue reading this blog) that I haven’t always had the easiest time of it, adjusting to this world. After 43 years I still fight everything and everyone including myself – tooth and nail. I have lots of reasons I don’t always fit in – I was born left-handed, gay, uncoordinated, creative, with a tendency toward the dramatic. I’m a recovering addict/alcoholic.

If there was a hard way to get something done then that was the way I was going to do it. “Yes, I know you said not to touch the stove because it’s hot, but I’m going to do it anyway — with my right hand. And now that I’ve burned that hand I’m going to touch it one more time with my left hand just to be sure.” That was me. And even though I hoped to grow out of it that little stubborn tyke is still with me.

Life was hard, and not always because I made it so. I took some punches in my childhood and adolescence and tried my best to roll with them. But I wasn’t always to blame. By the time I was in my twenties and thirties, I was the one throwing punches, at myself and others, at the establishment, at  life, at the unfairness of it all.

Despite all my anger and frustration I was able to hold down a job and even made my way through college courses at night. I was what they like to call “high functioning.” Because behind the scenes I was nursing a nasty addiction to drugs and alcohol and it was beginning to spiral.  Like every good addict, I convinced myself as long as I could  that I had things under control. In reality my chemical dependence was taking me down and under long before I admitted it.

Eventually I made it into recovery and established sobriety through fits and starts and an awful recession that made me question everything I’d ever known about this country I live in and the people who run it. I finally had some hope for my PERSONAL LIFE, but PROFESSIONALLY I felt adrift in a sea of disillusionment (mine and everyone else’s).

One thing I knew for sure: I didn’t want to find myself in another cubicle. Never again for the rest of my life. It killed my soul and made drugs and drink look that much more attractive. And though I had enjoyed teaching in my early twenties, the condition of the schools – with ever larger class sizes and “teach to the test” approaches emphasized – seemed to be worsening with every state budget crisis.  I just couldn’t get excited about earning my credential and becoming “Mr. Hane” in some overcrowded high school language arts classroom.

A good therapist helped me process through a lot of the pain and mistakes of the first four decades of my life. If you want to know what therapy is like, take a look at the T.V. show IN TREATMENT. It’s deep and intense and it can go on forever. Luckily when I seemed stuck in an overanalysis my past this therapist threw me a life line. After months of me sitting on his couch and  going over my feelings and foibles and fears and frustrations again and again he had the courage to interrupt me.

“Ahem…” he said, clearing his throat. “It seems like you’ve got a pretty good handle on the first half of your life. But what do you want to do with the next half?”

That was the best session I ever had with him.

Going forward I want to plant a tree. Maybe one I should have planted a long time ago.

I want it to take root in the desert soil and in the same light of the Southern California sun that formed me. And I want to be an integral part of the life sustaining process — to recover my sanity by living, breathing and working the land.

I want to begin and nurture a sustainable life, challenging the way I live, act and think about myself and the world around me.

I want to do it on a manageable scale, where half an acre and a two bedroom farmhouse is ENOUGH. I want to be satisfied with what I create. I don’t want to become obsessed with visions of “growth” and dreamy expansive ideas about a “bigger” and “better” and “brighter” future. I want to be okay with my half acre farm and the life that comes into being there. I don’t want to ask “Is that all there is?”  Hey, I’ve been in cubicle nation.  if that’s all there is I’ll take it.

Most importantly I want to do it now, in real time, not tomorrow, and not next year, and not in my head or on some proverbial drawing board.

And so I’ve broken ground. Or should I say “we” have broken ground. Because in the beginning of February I moved on-site along with my wonderful dog Phoenix and my two cats Diogo and Sophie. The three of us are in the process of renovating the farmhouse (and learning to “poop” outside). Soon it will be time to till the ground and plant our first crop. We’ll be raising organic agricultural product in raised beds, and producing fresh organic eggs from a gaggle of hens in their chicken coop. But rest assured, there will be no cubicles here.

Come along for the journey. I invite you to follow this blog and improve it with your comments.  Together we can see what a second chance can look like.

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