Thursday, January 31, 2008

What You Do When You're Tired of Waiting To Move To Acreage

You figure and figure and figure, and while others are mailing off their seed orders or their fine live chicklet Murray McMurray hatchery orders, your stuff...the BIG STUFF THAT'S BEEN ON HOLD HOLDING AND HOLDING AND HOLDING...keeps on holding. So you get more daring in your simplicity.

Because you want to Get There.


Much faster than it's feeling like right now.

Yes, you know you must plan and work and have patience and plan some more, and that things will unplug eventually, but you still search the craigslists and wonder and begin becoming the radical freakoid you worried you might one day least in your mind. Or maybe it's more worrisome because you start thinking that thinking these things are less and less radically freakoid and actually are MORE SANE (which might be true).

Yes, we actually had a conversation today about how to live in a horse trailer. Oh not the sort of conversation that goes, "oh well, if we can't get there soon because of this or that, we could just park a horse trailer on the property and make coffee over a campfire (chucklechucklechuckle snortsnort!). No, there was an actual lengthy conversation along the lines of "well we could adapt a horse trailer to sleeping and have the bedding be removable so we could use it for animals later, and we could wire it for AC or electric if we had to, and you know my cousin knew somebodyortheother who used theirs in remote locations and threw down Navajo blankets over some built-ins and on the floor and you'd never know it wasn't a little camper" (and so on and so on).

And so went the off-road topic of living in a horse trailer.

Or a converted school bus.

Or a slide-in truck topper. Or a pop-up camper. Or a trailer-ish anything that could fit a bed. A gypsy caravan (we actually said those words, though covered wagon didn't come up).

No tent...too many snakes, panthers, wild tusked hogs and things that could eat you. No yurt, same reason, plus the wet. Something that could be plopped on location at will and lived in...either WHILE or UNTIL we build other things (yes, we have to say that, right, or we're one of THOSE PEOPLE who are just a little too nuts to read further? lol!)

Um, ok, we're taking things a bit too far...LOL

THIS from the girl who hates primitive campgrounds, spiders in the dark concrete block recesses of damp campground showerhouses, and bugs flying down her back or hair in any situation. Yes, I'm a contradiction in terms, my own conundrum, lol!

What I have right now is sort of like spring fever. When things are so close to happening you can almost taste it, and we're poised like a diver hovering over the water just before taking the big plunge. We want the plunge! When all our kindred spirits out there are gathering eggs, shoveling poop, starting seeds under grow lights, ripping old clothes into quilt squares or dustrags or homemade baby wipes, making goat's milk soap, building engines that consume only old Chinese restaurant cooking oil, finishing fantastic structures made of cordwood and wine bottles....our present "NORMAL" feels like being stuck in algebra class while everyone else is out having a snowball fight.

Someday our "NORMAL" will change. I'm having homestead spring fever. We're SOOOOOO CLOSE!

I type blog thingies and then read back over them and find them totally boring or complete rants, and then push the delete button. I tell myself that this stage is part of the whole process, just as important as if I were building the much anticipated chicken coop or buying our first sheep.

Ok, now the whining is winding down, for now :)

We're stalled in paperwork with one property that looks favorable, awaiting the dislodging of the clogged bureaucratic pipeline that seems interminable just now. The other property is subject to the vagaries of human scheduling, negotiation, and... more waiting.

I feel like the race horse stuck in the starting gate after the bell dings and all the other horses are galloping madly.

Or maybe I shouldn't use the horse just brings back the possibility of the horse trailer allllllllll over again! LOL ;-)

OK, I'm heading off to read about black-belly sheep

and heritage breed chickens

and pastured poultry and the NAIS and staining concrete floors and Zone 9 fruit trees I'll order if I ever have a place to plant them, and rattlesnake pole beans, and barn cats and grazing cattle in woodlots....

Back later when I'm not a whiner and haven't said the word "horse trailer" for at least 24 hours, ha!

Reminder to Self: I have MUCH to be thankful for and God's timing is always perfect. And I'll be content. But still scribble lists and dog-ear seed catalogues ;-)

Photos from these sources:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Some More Greats: Blogroll

As always, I'm remiss on catching my blog up with all the ones cached in my Favorite Places folder. I have a lot to add here, so if you don't see your own blog name on the sidebar, it's likely just a plain old oversight on my part, or part of my procrastination.

There are four, however, that must go here before any more time passes. If you're not already familiar with them, I know you'll soon be loving them as much as I do! These are all people I wish I had for neighbors...the distinction of these 4 particular blogs is their emphasis on family and home. Each one has really invested in the success and the particular uniqueness of their family, and are solution-finders with warm and inviting home lives. Their homesteads are as unique as they are!

Mommymommyland is a daily stop of mine. This young family with 4 children is Jewish, fun, conscientious, and has just purchased a 60 acre farm! They have big plans as they make this transition, and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds for them in days to come as they see the beginning of a dream realized :)

Pile of O'Melays is another family you'll wish were just down the road. Another family who truly loves their children and really love BEING a family, and homesteading together. It's not a fantasy world, it's a real account of the nitty gritty ups and downs of homestead life as experienced by the whole family. Seeing the pictures of their family meals made completely from their own garden has really encouraged us that it IS possible, and worth the elbow grease!

DownToEarth is another must. Rhonda is a woman who truly cares and has so much practical wisdom about everything from household basics, to frugality, to the utilization of edible unusual or native plants, to crafting wonderful creations (I especially like her soap, and hope to try making it sometime soon). Her warmth and intelligence is evident, and I like the way she and her husband utilize permaculture principles. But mainly, as with these other blogs I'm mentioning, I just LIKE this blog!

LaFermeDeSourrou is a family of two (but really so many more since they're in such a close-knit community) who live in the French countryside in a home partly renovated and partly hand built. They have integrated many concepts, making most everything themselves, and their blog is SO full of beautiful pictures and information chronicling their many efforts. I love the house and the potager gardens, the chickens, the instructions for curing meats and cooking in a fireplace...and so much more. Enjoy! Update: Oops...I stand corrected! The house is completely owner-built; so authentic in detail that it looks like traditional craftsmanship that has stood the test of time :)

Ok, there will be another blogroll update forthcoming, but I'm still on a wacko work schedule, so that's all for just now. I sure don't mean to leave anyone out! Over and out, till the next little break :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Scratch Two, Bonus One, Add Another

I'm making much more manageable lists these days. The list from a couple weeks ago is down by two now.

Scratch Two
#1. I did make homemade bath salts using the very very simple recipe from the homesteading magazine...only I can't remember which one. It's said to be great for relieving acheyness after exercise or working in the garden and especially for taking the itch out of bug bites that come with that territory in the warmer months.

I do remember the ingredients:

1 part epsom salts
1 part sea salt or coarse kosher salt
few drops of essential oil of preference

Baking soda is optional, and there are plenty of sites online that suggest adding other things, such as coloring and glycerine. But I just kept it simple. The fun part of it is the addition of essential oils, so I went to the health food store, which carries a line of selections. It's really hard to judge by sniffing the samples, and essential oils come on pretty strong.

One of my bosses really loves the fragrance of patchouli and put in her request for that as a test scent. Not sure quite what I wanted until further experimentation, I settled on a vial of patchouli, another of clove, and a third of peppermint.

It was hard getting any droplets of the patchouli oil out of the container, so I shook really hard. Still, nothing. I then undid the cap differently and tried to pour a single droplet out. Nevermind that a fairly big Splat came forth. And cemented the learning curve. Patchouli, when in quantities of obviously more than a droplet reeks like a combination of week old body odor and burnt gym shoes...oh, er, I mean "powerfully exotic"?? (I'm positive that now, since pouring too much of the stuff out at one time, somewhere, in the wilds of southeast Asia, is a panther frantically searching for a mate.)

Well, long story short...the patchouli salts had to be tweaked, since I'd mixed a large batch and it was still too overpowering. I took a BIT of that, and bagged the rest, mixing the smaller portion with more salt. And did this process again. And yet another time. And then added sprigs of fresh rosemary, unsure just how much like gym shoes patchouli is supposed to smell. The rosemary gave it a nice herbal balance, and it turned out that the boss said she loved it. Let's see. I've asked for feedback after using it in the bath.

For myself, I mixed a batch of fresh salt and added MUCH less peppermint, and then some rosemary. It's really a pleasant smell, though the combination sounds odd. I'm going for the mint/herb pick-me-up sort of bath, with this one. I could have done with a single drop of peppermint, but that's fine. I'll dilute it with some more salt and divide it among several jars here soon. The fun is in the tweaking. I learned that with fresh rosemary, it needs to be removed after a day or two, because it darkens. We'll see if the scent stays, too. If not, I'll probably get some rosemary essential oil. I was trying to use what I had. The bath salts experiments will continue more, after we've tested these first in the tub.

The use for the clove oil is to combine with dried orange peel strips, and hopefully the outcome will be something along the lines of those pomanders we used to make when we were younger. We have an overabundance of orange peels right now, and they don't seem to decompose well in our compost pile.

So the Add Another is to look for a dehydrator so I can make my own orange and lemon and lime zest, if that's possible. We have a lot of it and I want to come up with something useful. And of course, we'll use the dehydrator for all those other necessary things as fruits and veggies come along.

#2. I finally got some seeds for growing edible sprouts: a packet of organic mung beans, and two other organic mixes that include alfalfa and other seeds.

This will be my first time to do sprouting. The seeds are having their initial soak as we speak and will be ready to be rinsed and jarred here shortly in a recycled spaghetti sauce jar. It should only be a few days, with rinses all along, before we can have some fresh and crunchy sprouts to add to our meals...yum!

3. And finally, a Bonus One
I made a home-mixed warm drink for colds and flu to help us over this cold season, since flu symptoms abound in our house just now. Here is the warm drink that has helped my husband recover...and that I'm sipping now that he's shared his ailment with me ;-)

Cold Care Concoction

Gypsy Cold Care tea bags (or other organic tea that contains echinacea; one or two tea bags steeped in an extra-large mug of boiling hot water)
Juice of 2 fresh squeezed lemons
1/4 cup or more 100% juice black cherry concentrate, enough to sweeten
Top off with an all-juice (no corn syrup) cranberry juice splash or two, if desired

Pour all together into container or thermos, cover and shake, and pour a serving and sip slowly. If it is too lukewarm, heat portion in a small pan till the desired drinking temperature. (Don't microwave! It kills the good stuff). You can adjust the proportions of ingredients to suit your individual taste. The lemon really works well on the throat and sinuses, and the liquid's warmth feels soothing. The ingredients are packed with Vitamin C and anti-oxidants. Anyway, it seems to be helping; that and the chicken soup!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Husband Takes His Colds Very, Very Seriously

We seldom argue. I really love this man. Not to say that we seldom disagree, but usually we can manage basic adult communication skills, and we appreciate each other's viewpoint.

Which is severely put to the test when he is convulsed and in the throes of dire afflictions requiring all his attentions...and pleas...each of which is preceded with the word "Robbyn." (Yes, that IS my name)

But that's not how he SAYS the word.

It comes out, during these times of testing, as "ROOOBBBBBBBYYYYYYYNNNNN!!!"

Many, many, many times in a row. The suffering can be heard. Neighbors weep out of compassion. The stars realign. Flocks of migrating birds are knocked out of formation. The earth shifts in her orbit.

I've endured, in my lifetime.
Pregnancy was no picnic, and natural childbirth is a memory I've chosen to keep repressing. Surviving junior high -- same category. Surviving my daughter's junior high, ditto. But you get the idea.

They, of course, are all eclipsed by the male common cold. I have the same cold, but as most know, it's not THE SAME.

Take your medicine, honey?

Can I get you some hot tea?
Put it over there. No, there. NO, THERE. It's too hot. It's too cold.

More Kleenex, sweetheart?
(Sounds of blowwwwinnggggggg, blowwwwinggggg, snuffle, snort, more bloooowwwwinggggg...) I can't reach the Remote.

In all seriousness, he looks pretty ragged and feels terrible. And so does Everybody Else...NOW...hahaha ;-) Ah, well, just a bit of teasing. I'm about to give him a good Vicks rubdown and roll him up tight in clean blankets like a tamale, and tuck him into bed.

And now guess who else is feeling so darned rotten??

My throat is swollen and I can barely swallow. My ears are infected. My head feels like it weighs 40 lbs. Not that I've ever really weighed my head before. (Now I'm wondering what my head usually weighs...a sure sign I'm addled and need to go directly to bed, do not pass hot tea, do not collect 200 dollars...)

Anyhow, this clip from YouTube made me chuckle. You may have seen it before, but I hadn't. Since I can't understand some of the words they're saying (seeing as they're not in American English - yes an oxymoron, ha!), yea, I do verily print this disclaimer if it's got offensive words.

I'm laughing all the way to the Nyquil... g'nite! I hope to write more relevent posts in the near future. Such as making patchouli bath salts from scratch. For someone else. Who likes patchouli.

For now, later... :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Overheard While Eating At Mexican Restaurant a 40 year old man, to his parents, loudly, in the booth behind us:

Man: Wow, look how many people are here, and it's only 4 PM. This must be where the locals go.

Mother (looking at menu): It says the enchiladas are on special. What's an enchilada?

Man: I'm not sure, but I think it's wrapped up in something and comes with sauce.

Waitress, coming to table and asking if she can get them something to drink and take their orders: Can I help you?

Mother: I'd like to start with a bowl of cornflakes, and a mango soda.

(This is the point at which I ceased all conversation with my husband and was frozen in one of those long

Waitress: OK, a mango soda, and you want some tortillas?

Mother, consulting with son: What's a tortilla?

Man: I think it's chips. The ones made out of corn. I think.

Mother, to waitress: Oh THAT's what they're called. Well, then yes. And can you tell me what is an enchilada?

Waitress explains what an enchilada is.

Mother: Yes, well I'd like one of those enchiladas, but no sauce with it.

Waitress: The sauce is usually cooked with the enchilada. Are you sure you want it without the sauce?

Mother: Hmmm, well, I think so, yes.

Son: Mother, Mole' sauce is chocolate sauce.

Waitress, silent.

Father, silent all the while.

Mother: Oh yes, well then no sauce, if it has chocolate in it.

Son, to Waitress, in louder voice as if she is deaf: ARE YOU MEH - HEE - CAH - NO ??
Waitress: Um...I'm from the U.S.


Waitress, still being polite: I'm from Chicago, originally.

Son: OHHHHHH, Chi-CA-go, really??

Waitress smiles and leaves to place orders. Or escape.

Me, to J, silently, making him read my lips: CORNFLAKES??

J, knowing me, gives me cautionary look to stifle any overt outbursts of mirth: Shhhh!

Me, barest whisper: Do enchiladas even have mole' sauce? They think it's fudge sauce, I think...

J: Shhhh, they'll hear you!

Rest of Behind Us People's Loud Table Conversation turns to expertise on types of beer, etc... we ignore and have pleasant conversation ourselves at lower decibel level till our order arrives.

Son, later, returning to his booth from men's room, and passing by our table after our single order of shared fajitas was just placed before us: (in loud stage whisper): You should SEE how much food they just brought those people! It's hot and is a whole lot of meat and vegetables all in the same dish! I think they actually eat it with their HANDS...

J and I: Staring at each other...

J, knowing I may very well begin shooting Diet soda through my nose if he doesnt help me retain control: Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh....hhhhhhh...hhhhhhh

Waitress, returned to their table: How was everything? Can I get you any refills?

Mother: More cornflakes, please...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

When You Can't Sleep

and your body can't figure out what time to check out
...because you work night shifts....some of the time...

and you need to count sheep

Can't Get Around It

Genetically modified plants.
Transgenic and cloned animals.
Nationally mandated personal "smart chip" I.D. cards for all citizens.
Chicken meat with human DNA.
Sheep milk with pharmaceuticals genetically engineered into it.

There arises a common denominator...... ETHICS. Our world has become less gentle and we cannot gently withdraw from the encroaching issues. They directly affect us all.

No matter who we are, what our faith, what our lifestyle, sooner or later (now, sooner)...something we touch or eat or drink or breathe or wear or use will require our awareness....and our ethical choice.

There is an interesting phenomenon with all this supposed broadening of new "advances"...the parameters of our choice and voice in relation to those "advances" are narrowing.

Follow the money. Where there is pharmaceutically-engineered DNA milk (or whatever the official word for that is), there is a pharmaceutical company, with "research," and with hands tightly clasping the mainstream medical community, and big buck lobbyists.

BEFORE buying the "this will help Granny live to age 150," or "this will regenerate limbs," or "this will wipe out (name the terminal condition)," don't we need to look at who's shouting know, the ones BEHIND the REAL people being sold the "sure cure" arguments? It infuriates me that victims of horrible illnesses are being used for mad science to peddle arguments for cures to the public, when really it's really all about engineering a whole new market and marketplace for the BIG MONOPOLIES.

It's not the little guy who's benefitting here. And despite the promises of a medical Utopia, does the chance at manipulating this symptom and that condition justify creating an environment resulting in resistant-strains and super-plagues that could wipe out whole populations? And confusing the purity of animal and human DNA by crossing the boundaries built in to begin with?

Ethics is not just a college course or the domain of seminary students. Somehow, there has to be right and wrong, and a right WAY and a wrong WAY.

What happens when these altered genetics begin filtering through the entire creation as we know it??

We have to decide what our standard is, and how it is to be interpreted for our day. It's not a matter of theory. It's a matter of our survival.

We believe, we act. We live according to a code, a standard, a defining point...even having no code is its own code.

I'll be looking in the Torah to see what it says about these things. We're seeing what happens when some of the most basic boundaries are transgressed deliberately by man's arrogance. I need to study more, and see the instructions in the texts specific to these issues. When it says the instructions in the scriptures are life-giving, I'm beginning to understand just how much that's not just a convenient metaphor.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It Ain't Over till...

it's over? Or till the Fat Lady sings?

If I thought that last one would work, I'd be doing my very best Mrs. Miller rendition!

Don't you HATE having to exercise CAUTION in being soooooooo sooooooo SOOOOOO close to seeing something wonderful, something that has occupied your dreams and prayers and much much work, begin to near completion??

I won't spill, but I'll hint...

The land-acquiring process for us (and all our various confines of money and such), has gone something like this:

Drive, dig, research, more driving, days and days and weekends of driving, dig dig dig, eliminate the impossibilities, get a little down in the dumps, shake off the dumps, get inspired, repeat entire process several times, window of opportunity, hopefulness!, more research, more eliminations, countless conversations, interruptions, more interruptions, will this ever happen?, possibility!!, N-E-G-O-T-I-A-T-E, and

SPLASH!!! Big dash of cold water as this particular ALMOST HAPPENED doesnt.

But we're resilient, ever vigilant, completely dogged and determined. We pray. We keep on keeping on because...well because the alternative is to live a life less in sync with our life goals. We rack it all up to God's perfect timing, which it is. All the Not Yets are hard to be thankful for, for at least the first few moments after they don't work out.

There have been a LOT of those, but the anticipation builds and so does the excitement...if, after all that process, there might be a couple of possibilities that HAVENT fallen through yet.

The more the suspense builds, the more we're invested in hoping that the dream will soon be concrete. Hope swells! And dread...of it falling through again...well, that's what tempers my ability to leap to big whoops of joy just now...I just can't Fat Lady Sings.

I hope she's warming up. I don't even care what she sounds like.

But if you hear a loud and unusual noise coming from this part of the world, and wonder if it's a sign of the Last Days, it's likely just the event that ONE OF THESE THINGS works out!!! Me, not having to be cryptic, and careful, and reticent about REALLY SEEING THIS HAPPEN, FOR REAL!!! Me, at the top of my lungs, being unrestrained and LOUDLY thankful, for all the world to hear, and not necessarily singing in tune!

And until then, I do the necessary homework involved...





on my fingers


counting the minutes till we Know For Sure

or days

or weeks

and so on

till it's time to know something and I can run wild like a screaming heathen and tell the whole world.

And till then the Fat Lady waits. And hums :)

Plus, when the day comes that it's actually "over," it'll really just have begun, eh? :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Whole New Meaning to the Phrase "Radio Programming"

I've heard it now multiple times, and that's saying alot since we're very media-minimalist around here...we don't get TV broadcasts and seldom listen to the radio except when in the car.

Even so, now I've heard this multiple times. Remember the good ol' "public service announcements"? Something critical it was timely to air via radio waves for the public good??

Who out there besides myself has heard the recent "public service announcement" (that's what they're calling it!) called "a Bio-genetic Minute"??

A man's soothing voice introduces the topic of bio-genetics by reassuring The Public that genetic altering has been happening now for thousands of years, and that the recent "advances" in science have allowed for remarkable strides in producing foods that are resistant to all those baaad badddd things out there. Biogenetics good! Resistance to Progress bad!!!


It infuritates me!!!

THAT on top of the announcement I heard yesterday that just this week The U.S. food regulator this week sanctioned cloned foods (See article HERE)


This is the SUBSTANCE production from cloned matter born of chemical soups, and transgenic animals (Transgenic animals, i.e., engineered to carry genes from other species)

I'll elaborate more soon, but our futuristic nightmares compound daily. Exponentially out of control.

Something has to be done. Is it too late??

One thing we can do. We can be the resistance who refuses to participate as much as possible, mostly by taking control of our OWN consumption and production by getting our hands on our OWN food and growing it ourselves. Until that becomes somehow against the law...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Where Am I?

And where has January gone??

I've been on my upside down schedule, and many things HAVE happened, but blogging hasn't been one of them. It seems having 3 adults with ever-changing schedules really knocks the wind out of having a routine, and I really need some routine to be productive around here. Somehow, the clothes are getting washed, we're getting fed, etc., but on any given day somebody is asleep while others arent, and vice versa, and going to work while others aren't, and so on.

I've been writing copiously, only not here. There has been drama happening in friends' lives, and much of it is along the lines of matters of faith and their religious organizations, and abuses that have been transpiring. Since that has figured largely into my own past history, I've been digging into scripture and doing writing for my own self, just to get it down on paper now that I have some perspective (for myself) that was lacking during those years when I was in the middle of it. I'm less and less tolerant of heavy-handed authoritarianism in the guise of religion, and I am even less tolerant of religious justifications for anti-semitism, in its various forms. Judaism is my CHOSEN faith, as I've alluded to here before, but I don't use this blog to air my particular beliefs. In the past, when I was formerly of another faith, I simply did not believe or accept the suggestion that there were really foundational anti-semitic elements to that history or my beliefs. I thought people just were carrying a chip around on their shoulders.

Now, I see much more clearly some of the ugliness I never used to believe existed. I won't elaborate. But I will write, even if just for myself. If some folks use scripture to justify their bigotry, it doesn't mean all do. But there are a lot of mainstream "justifications" along that line that I feel strongly should be addressed. I'm not sure how my writing about it is addressing it, but I'm very very sure biblical texts are not to be used as weapons of hatred, and it's those that I'm digging into and finding solid ground to hold onto. You can't just randomly pick and choose this and that passage to mold to an exterior agenda and then pass it off as God's will.

And so, this blog has been neglected, though the keyboard has been burning through the Word documents at a rapid rate.

Ah well, the blog is a chronicle of what transpires, and our beliefs are central to our lifestyle and the How and Why we do things. I've been keeping to a Good Southern Girl's upbringing of not introducing religion and politics at the "table" here, but sometimes it'll come up somewhat.

I'm working on a post, upcoming, on the flip side of how we're wanting to set up our homestead...once we have one to set up...along precepts we find in the Bible. It's interesting what is in there that I've never paid much attention to before we've concentrated our efforts to a more agricultural direction. I've mentioned one of the particulars before...the question of whether to castrate cattle or not. There are many other specific instructions given about planting, animals, and land care that I'll be digging into in an upcoming post. For now, I need a bit more sleep before tonight's longggggg shift.

I'll also be doing a long-overdue blogroll addition, so many apologies to the fantastic blogs out there I've been finding but have failed to add yet to the sidebar!

I hope all are well and enjoying your cooler weather, for those up farther north than I am :) I am so enjoying my few minutes here and there of down time reading your blogs. It beats TV any day, and keeps me encouraged and more focused.

Back in a day or so, hopefully!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I like...

Beautiful fruit...

And old bottles. Especially old cobalt blue Milk of Magnesia bottles.

And this man. I don't just like this man, I'm crazy about him. I'm likin' this picture because he's all happy walking around on some property that's near the one we hope to get. And I like him because he's just the most wonderful husband in the world.

And I like this gal, too... :)

On Productivity

I like to feel like I'm making headway in some real areas, or I begin feeling restless. It seems like the recap of 2007 was a series of major adjustments. And boy, did it ever fly by! It also involved major events in the lives of those close to me, namely my daughter. I love being invested in her life, and that has come into play in a much more concentrated way now that she nears the completion of her LPN program. How very much hope, expectancy, scheduling, and finances have gone into our team effort of her arrival at this point.

I'm trying very much to back off and allow her to make her own decisions, mistakes, and express her personality without my input so much, or at least my censure. Since she lives at home, and since we are pretty comfortable with the structure of our relationships and how our household runs, R's becoming a woman comes with its testing of our personal comfort zones...some of which are the better for a shake-up and others that are the product of wisdom she, as yet, finds confining. She's itching for independence while still needing to be here at home for economic reasons. We are seeing this as a transition stage for her...and for us.

We weathered the "age 18" phase, where suddenly she felt she was given a magic pass to have no expectations placed on her altogether while still living here. I'm chuckling as I remember HOW many times that phrase was used "but I'm 18 now! you can't tell me what to do any more." Well, the "ones what pays the car insurance and hold the car title, pays the mortgage and bills and all the food" continue to have the highest voting share ;-) After a couple of Expectation Shakedowns, a general peace ensued. But the three of us are expectant of a change happening in the next two months, and we're all pretty excited about the transition.

For those following events from early last year when I first started this blog, I may have mentioned the grueling schedule we all teamed up to help with for the past three years. During R's last two years of high school, she was bused (bussed?) an hour away every school day to her nursing program classes, and then midday, bused back to her high school where she took her regular classes, many of the honors classes. Because she and I moved here only three years ago, upon my marriage to J, the relocation itself had been quite a life change. That was right after the series of hurricanes had devastated this area. MUCH happened during that time.

For R, she had to make a new start in a completely new environment, late in high school, and find new friends here locally. And because of a glitch in her credit transfers, she had to take a second semester of Latin 2 which was not offered at THIS she took it online. And it was QUITE difficult and intensive.

So, that said, at one given point, when she was not yet old enough to drive, one of US would get her to the bus stop by (ugh) 5:15 AM, wait with her till it arrived, and go back home to catch a few minutes more sleep before the alarm went off. But R got herself up and her own breakfast, was ready on time, traveled on the bus for an hour to nursing classes, listened to lectures and such, at her lunch on the bus back to school, took her afternoon classes there, caught the bus that stopped near the house, and then did homework. And took dance classes. And talked on the phone. And managed to have her first official boyfriend. All at the same time.

We felt this was a heinous amount of work for a daughter to be put under, but frankly, she seemed to thrive more with more challenges than with too much time on her hands...she is easily bored. She really began to thrive in her nursing classes. And during those two years, we two parents flew her regularly to her Dad's (my ex) out-of-state for visits, paid for all her fees, went to orientations, filled out scholarship and school paperwork, ran the Parent Taxi, and logged 50 hours of passenger seat time as she fufilled her driving practice hours necessary to get her drivers license. The first time out, we were all together, and she was still very nervous about braking. She braked in slow motion, trying not to jerk the car. We all had a very memorable moment (NOW we laugh, THEN we didnt!) when we were all in the car together and she was practice driving through the narrow streets of the neighborhood we lived in at that time...there is enough room for a full-sized car on the streets, so if anyone oncoming passes you in their vehicle, both vehicles have to hug the sides of the street. Which is ok...if no one else is on the side of the street. Long story short, R nearly creamed an older Russian lady who was getting her mail out of her mailbox. The noise inside our vehicle as she approached, and another car approached was "R, stop the car....R...Stop the Car.......R, oh my gosh just STOP THE CARRRR.....(then at yelling pitch) PUT ON THE BRAKE NOWWWWW!!!!!" It was like one of those slo mo dreams where you just can't seem to speed things up fast enough.!

We survived the driving lessons, and the boyfriend, and the phases. And for three years it's all been building to this point...the completion of her LPN program. Yes, she'll go on to more schooling now in college...her courses are college level now. But she'll have done this major thing, and I'm so PROUD of her! She's so proud she did this, too...that's what makes it enjoyable for me. She loves caring for people, and she is good, and is learning a lot.

Why have I posted this here among the homesteading stuff? Well, it's the chronicle of our lives, and our lives have had this as a major focus daily for these years. As we've wanted to relocate and find our land and build and put in our gardens and transition away from where we are, we've had to balance the timing of everything with the committment of helping R complete this goal...or she may never have had the chance to again. It has required a sizeable financial committment, too, weekly. Daily she has used my vehicle for her commute, now that she's not in school and can't have accesss to the bus. We're nowhere near a regular public bus route, and our city is a considerable drive to anywhere else. Gasoline has skyrocketed, meals are bought on location while she is doing her clinicals at the area hospitals, etc. And her bio dad (my ex) contributes nothing as far as financial support. So essentially, my job right now pays for R.

I have no complaints! I'm grateful! Here's what's about to change...

As of a few weeks from now, R will get a job and begin taking over most or all of her budget needs. She will sit for the state exam...and we're certainly praying she will pass on the first try! She will shoulder the responsibility of applying for her grants and such, unless she asks for and needs our help, and will sign up for her own classes in college needed as prereqs to the R.N. program she wants to take there.

Those may not seem like major changes to others, but in our world, it gives momentum and some more breathing room to our move elsewhere...namely to land. Where we were not free to immediately relocate before, now we're free. And though she might choose to live with us as long as she needs (we're always available), her scholarship will transfer to any state or private school in our state. We're not tied to this location any more! :) :) Also, we can now make faster progress in our continuing attempt to pay off our debts. We can see the progress so far, but what has seemed like a crawl will feel like a leap, soon!

I'm not looking forward to the eventual empty nest...fear creeps into my heart whenever I think about it. But I love seeing R becoming the woman she is, and I know in the right time, that will be my comfort seeing her off into her life. I'm a little beset with fears lately, namely because with the hours I'm working at night, I'm seeing less of R and less of my husband. Two days out of the week, he and I don't see each other at all, though we talk on the phone. I hadn't thought of myself as so attached, but I guess I'm getting old and set in my ways :) I really value the time I have with each of them so much right now. I long to be productive in the things we peruse and dream of regarding gardening and such...the seed catalogues tease me, and the McMurray Hatchery catalog has my favorite chicken breeds well-dogeared. We have made another stab of progress at the red tape process necessary in pursuing the particular acreage we're hoping will be ours, and we await news on a second under negotiation. So many have fallen through at this point, but the work we're doing right now has the possibility of ensuring permanence if we can push through to the end. Negotiating, I suppose, is not just an art, but it's work. I can't give details yet, but as soon as I can announce anything, you'll hear it here first!

Anyway, much is changing, yet I'm not feeling productive. I'm feeling jet lagged from working nights part of the week and trying to be up days the other days of the week to keep meals and housework and such on an even keel for everyone. But mostly I'm dragging around, which makes me feel somewhat blah and out of sorts, and wonder if I'm losing steam in general. But my conclusion, for now, is that this, too, shall pass and change is a constant, and 2008 has many new things ahead.

I hope to have some better perspective soon. I'm loathe to start new projects when my tail end's dragging...I simply am craving time with my family.

Hopefully, J and I will get a really big perk soon....a vacation!! We've never had a honeymoon, and during everyone else's holidays this past fall and winter of 2007, we worked straight through, especially since so many other employees quit at the last minute. I think we'll try in a month or two to have a couple days together, just us two, somewhere a few hours away. My brain needs it. I need some juice for all the wonderful things ahead :)

Here are some things I'm hoping to be teaching myself in the "Meantime" part of this waiting process, since we arent putting in a garden till we have land:

1. Soapmaking, including experimentation with soapberries/soapnuts
2. Making homemade bath salts from a recipe I saw in one of the recent homesteading magazines
3. Making and using my own household cleaning products, for ease, eliminating chemicals, eliminating dependency on buying them from the store, and to experiment and find what works best for us
4. Making a clothesline and line drying most of our clothing
5. Making our own homemade wine vinegars
6. Making our own homemade yogurt
7. Making handmade paper with original designs
8. Getting back to artwork
9. Compiling list of edible landscaping plants, unusual and edible fruits, and plants that thrive in our Zone that have multiple uses
10. Compiling list of the vegetables we're most attracted to growing for our Zone, and their companion plants and flowers, and a general idea of proximities, such as which DONT do well near each other, so we can plot these things easier when we get our acreage
11. Canning on a very small scale, such as pickles, with a hot water bath canner
12. Shredding all our junk mail and used paper and storing in bags till we can use it for bedding or in compost, or for incorporating into handmade papers
13. Cleaning and organizing all areas of our house and storage
14. Eliminating ALL unnecessary possessions we have stored...the stuff that just collects and could be sold or donated
15. Incorporating new recipes into my regular cooking...I'm in a rut.
16. Trying a few simple Indian and Mediterranean recipes
17. Making our own alfalfa and other edible sprouts to eat regularly
18. Walking every day and cutting out most of our white flours and sugars, substituting the healthier ones
19. This should be first on the list, but reading the Bible daily and learning Hebrew.
20. Getting enough rest and enough time with family. Laughing more and being irritable less! :)

I will say the one thing I have been doing more of is catching up with long-distance friends I haven't spoken with in a long time. I'm receiving calls on a regular basis as some life events happen to those I love, and I'm trying to be a good friend-across-the-miles when sometimes the only way I can do that is just to listen. Hey, THAT I can do :)

Ah well, enough ramble for tonight...better get to bed so tomorrow I can ;-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Black Market Hay

What the hay??

Is this the beginning of the great "Hay Underground"?? ( sheesh, wish that were funny)

I just learned that the ol' 'voluntary" NAIS has been successful in certain locales in stepping things up in myriad ways to enforce the "VOLUNTARY" registration of premises IDs...this time by dangling the tantalizing (er, survival-ensuring) prospect of hay to those areas severely affected by last year's heard it right...ONLY farms whose premises are registered. Uh huh.

Don't think these are harmless regulations. It means you DON'T get the hay UNLESS you register your farm premises. That's sort of like having to show your drivers license to buy food with cash, isnt it? Except with your drivers license they can't pull up a data base with a list of all the animals you own and all your movements on and off your property with said animals, tracking them by microchip. Yet.

You can't have hay for your animals unless you MANDATORILY sign up VOLUNTARILY???

Read Phelan's article about this here.

And if you have some hay for sale, see if any of your unregistered farming neighbors could use it...

I Have Now Exhausted My Design Skills

...and it took nearly no time at all. Wait, who am I kidding? It took SO much time, time I should be doing laundry, cleaning my floors, making meals, going to the library. But I was determined. I had to try again. How is it that there are so many wonderwomen out there who have great beautiful terrific blog graphics and design while mine languished in the Novice zone?

Well, I DID BUY a graphic. For one buck! So tah-dah.... I learned how to superimpose writing over that. It only took me 3.047 days to learn THAT one skill, hahaha!

Even after all that, my new design is showing up grainy and blurred once published. Oh, the original is perfect and crisp and doesnt take up half the screen. But in the process of computer-speak, I have not mastered the art of communicating through kindergarten-level blog publishing means the SIMPLE and NICE presentation that could have been. I DID talk to the computer the whole time. I exhorted, wheedled, cajoled. I begged. And yet...well, and yet. I'm a relic, and I have relic skills.

Is this what it's come to? My web page design skills are the equivalent of my grandpa's skills with television reception so long ago. Every night we clustered near the blinking TV screen, snowy with white and gray scrolling glare, he'd go outside, rotate the antenna (muttering under his breath things my grandma would hear and hiss "not, in front of the girls, Wilbur!)and shout through the window "How's that? More to the right?" Then he'd position it as directed, make his way back inside, finally get settled in front of the old black and white set, until the next good gust of wind dislodged the antenna again.

"PSHAW!!!" (I swear he said that)

"Wilbur! Not in front of the girls..."

I couldn't tell today, you what an IPod is, how to work a Blackberry, can't figure what buttons to push on most of the fancier cellphones, never have trusted being able to NOT lose one of those hand-held digital organizers, don't know what an MP3 is or how to download one onto a CD, can't operate Excel, can't do a decent spreadsheet...and have no clue how to fancy up my blogger blog to look professional like many of the blogs I love. Where did I get off the train??

So this is's the scissors and glue version. Is this my Progress ceiling? Am I one of those people who refuses to learn how to microwave popcorn because you have to push a button, or who won't learn how to check their voice mails because it's "technology?" Well, thankfully, I do know how to do those things (though we dont use microwaves any more). I guess I'm feeling less and less inclined to keep up. Maybe I prefer relics because what with all this planned obsolescence, it's just a matter of time before I'll have to relearn the Newer-Better-Faster.

At any rate, what I'm hoping to learn more of is not the new but the old...the ways things were done for generations, or sometimes thousands of years, before "progress" erased their memory.

But I made a weak stab at updating the graphic header on this blog, and it may not progress farther without the intervention of at least a 6th grader. This is like the day I learned to operate the Subtitles button on DVDs. It's almost as thrilling as the moment I plugged my new camera into the computer and it ACTUALLY loaded pictures!

I'll stop while I'm ahead. After all, I did realize when opening up the html for the blog and peeking around a bit, one wrong keystroke and the whole thing could blow up. Nothing has exploded yet, so I'm stopping before it gets downright dangerous. For a relatively smart person, I can't believe I'm so chicken hearted and behind the times. And I can't believe I'm so ok with that...ha!

OK, enough ramble. Let's see if this gets posted when I hit Publish.

You never know...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And now about my Aloe, Vera...

This very special variety is called "Thrives on Neglect," and is the only aloe in my plant repertoire that has ever survived its master's attentions. Or inattention. I prefer calling my gardening style, in the spirit of homeschooling's "unschooling" movement, "ungardening." ;-)

Once again, my work schedule has changed. Two longgggg nights and a regular length one. The long ones are 12 hours each, which knocks my sleeping schedule off, and I feel hung-over getting back on a day schedule the other days. The weather has gone from the 60s now back up to the mid to high 70s...still quite nice, but no danger of freezing at night.

I went out to clean a few patches of the dormant plant bed in front of the house, and found these hardy fellas waiting to greet my bare hands --

...just waiting to take off one of my fingers like a buzz-saw...

I pulled out the dead grass that was waiting to revive, and here was the survivor!

Oh, but wait...
Mr. Aloe's been busy this fall...
twenty plus aloe babies waiting to be replanted..and take over the landscape. My kind of plant!

This sidelines my reputation as being a sure killer of hard-to-kill plants. And now I know that even if none of my hand-nurtured seedlings or purportedly Florida-hardy plant starts ever make it, I can have acres of aloe...(Vera!)