Sunday, March 24, 2013

Clearing the Perimeter

Hey!  Just a quickie post before March is done and I leave anyone with the impression that nothing good has happened..

Throughout this post, I'm putting pics of the first clearing of the property perimeter! The weather has been as close as we get to a true winter.  Grasses are brown and crunchy, and the palmettos and pines and some other shrubs are evergreen.  This is still the dry season in Florida, but it will soon make way to what everyone here calls the wet season, even though overall we are still officially in a drought.  We have wetter droughts than many states...since we're pretty much a state-sized sandbar.  The temps in the daytime during these pics were in the 40s at night and high 60s to low 70s during the days.
ruts where machinery pulled out the broken down equipment

What with the time frame of how long it takes to save up $$ for each step, this baby sure takes its sweet time "getting born"!  The GREAT news is that another step was taken about two weeks ago!

Time for us is measured in our availability to go to the land.  We have opposite schedules, so we have to "book" time together and it's always around when the next time we can travel to the property will be!

What was a property so thick with saw palmettos that we were not able to walk from boundary line to boundary line because of the wall of spiky green now has a ten or fifteen foot swathe cut (mulch-cut) around the perimeter...and we can now not only circle the property but also walk into some pockets of natural clearings!!

Even that was a careful process.  Early this month I was still recovering from a knee and tendon injury (our best guess requiring cortisone and steroids and bed rest, ugh).  About the time the clearing was completed, I was up, but still limping and having to be really careful how long and how carefully I walked.  For 8 days it had been a process of lying in bed with the leg elevated, using a walker to excruciatingly shuffle to the bathroom only, and as it slowly relented, eventually to the kitchen to make a sandwich.  And, to my thinking, wasting a whole lot of time I could have been working and trying to refresh the nest egg of savings for the next projected project (do you ever think project-to-project like that?).

I will interject here that upon (forced) reflection, I probably needed that mandatory bedrest in a lot of ways.  I caught up on sleep that had gone into a serious deficit.  Being a person who does not take vacations due to the fact that being on our land is SO important to our wellbeing in the future, it was the closest thing I 've had to a week off.  It initially included a lot of pain, but as the pain relented, at least as long as the leg was not in motion or being stood upon, I had a lot of time flat on my back to think, pray, and read to my heart's content.  Some of the things I began realizing that were nagging worries took a different place when choice was removed.  Some of them disappeared, because I sort of gave them up...they are too exhausting to maintain.  Others remained, as I felt helpless to DO.  But all in all, I realized my dependence on God's goodness.

I also felt very vulnerable, and was reminded both of how delicate is the thread of what I think of as survival, and also how very extremely BLESSED I am to have Jack and our daughter, a roof over my head, and food to eat.  I also realized I lack friends within close range, and that is a big adjustment from the days I lived in Memphis, but I do have friends within a do-able commute who would have been up for heroics had we needed them, and I have many wonderful friends farther away within easy reach by telephone.  I also got to read the Bible a lot more than I manage to most weeks, and really enjoyed going off into forays into the Kings and Chronicles accounts, which I hadn't read in a while.  Remembering that they are actual events that happened and actual people who lived, those accounts are filled with so much drama and overthrow there's no telling what the ratings would be if they were accurately "movie-fied." They are NOT boring, ha!

Back to the land...

We love the man who cleared the perimeter.  We had gotten estimates from other companies, but with the property being so far out there geographically, the numbers came in slowly and too high each time.  Plus, some of the people we talked to just creeped us out.

This man, Brandon, is a workhorse with an artist's touch when it comes to land-moving-and-clearing equipment.  He leaves as much as possible in the way of trees and larger shrubs and the mulching equipment returns the shredded brush to the ground exactly on site, not disturbing the topsoil.  If you ever needing brush clearing in any part of south-central to south Florida, write us and we'll give you Brandon's number.

The first attempt out there was when his equipment broke down and Brandon spent the entire day going and getting MORE equipment to pull the other machine out.  We were able to walk along a path that was partially cleared along one side of the property for the first time even as we waited for everything else to be completed the next week.  The rut where the heavy machine had been pulled out with chains was the path I used, cane in hand, to gingerly pick my way along that Friday afternoon we went out to check on the work.  My leg still was not cooperating.

But we got to SEE the property in a different way for the very first time!

Why could we not rush at any point into the thick of the greenery, machetes in hand, and just begin clearing it ourselves??  Because of warnings from every veteran of palmetto scrub about the rattlesnakes. 

Even though they can't really be seen, there is a variety of wild rat that lives all around the foliage and root tunnels of the saw palmettos, especially ones growing that thickly.  And the natural predator of those rats is the rattlesnake.  Lots and lots and lots of rattlesnakes, if any of the stories are true to any degree.  Years ago, that alone would have been enough to prevent me from EVER wanting a property with saw palmettos, much less any property in Florida.  (If you've ever lived in beautiful Tennessee, you'll understand...)   But this is where we ARE and that's the property God led us to after a very long journey, deal with it. 

If rattlesnake bites were not so life-threatening and even deadly, I'd get over myself and be done with it.  But the property is at minimum 30 minutes' DRIVE to the nearest ANYTHING, including emergency medical care, even if we called 911.  And there is also the little matter if cell phone reception, which can be had, but can NOT be depended on.  So we have to exercise great care.

On that Friday of walking in bulldozer ruts to see more of the property than we had before, we brought Kaleb, our Australian shepherd.  He was thrilled!  It was the first time we let me off-leash out there, and he did just fine and stuck pretty close to me.  Jack took the push mower as both a rattlesnake-scarer and to simply chew up a finer path for us to safely walk on.  He ended up being able to go into the interior of the property some, too, as there were natural weedy clearings where no palmettos grew.

Oh, it was beautiful!  I always forget how much we need the peace of being out of the city, the noise, the bustle.  I begin to hear the REAL sounds of birds, the wind in the pines, the whispers of moving creatures rustling not far away, the dry sounds of grasses, the crunch of footfalls, and a sky hung with clouds.  And we can just BE.  It is perfect!!!

And I want to be there YESTERDAY...and  so does Jack!

Most of the pictures here are from that day before all the clearing was finished.  A week later we got to see the finished produce, and on that same day the truck got stuck in the sand, we got it out, then at day's end, right before dark when the mosquitoes suddenly appear and begin a relentless bloodsucking attack, the truck wouldn't start. 

There is a memory of AAA managing to find a tow truck to come out that far, a nightmare ride down an unlit 2 lane country highway squish together in the cab of said tow truck, gripping the dash and prayyyyyyyyyinnnnnnnnnnngggggggg that no animal ran across the road, etc, while the man who will now forever be known as Large Marge's Crazy Husband (think back to the nutty PeeWee Herman movie with the Demented Ghost Truck Driver Large Marge) drove 80 mph (I do not exaggerate) down a 55 mph highway in the dead of night.  For a LONG LONG drive.  Ever paid to be towed 25 miles to the nearest facility??? And then...after all that....when it was put back on the ground, the truck started.  After ALL THAT (and all that money...)  OK, back to the pics.

We need to fence the property so we can put No Trespassing signs up and keep out the stray 4 wheelers and begin working in there with less chance of theft from opportunists who watch rural properties and take apart projects as quickly as non-resident landowners make improvements.  We have a list of what we think it takes to Make It relocate there.  As slowly as things are going, perhaps we get to savor each step??

It's now the end of March and Passover is afoot very shortly.  I'm caught up in the cleaning and baking I did not do before now, and the clock is my competitor.  But I HAD to post these pics before any more weeks got away!  It may appear rough, or just more pics of all green, but it's the stuff of our hopes and dreams and attempts to get off the hamster wheel and on to work that is not simply work for the sake of keeping the plates spinning, and hopefully more work with definable outcomes we can see benefitting us more simply and ....helping us live the lifestyle that is more realistic to our basic needs.

What happened in YOUR March??  I'd love to know!  Thank you to all for your continued encouragement!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Holding Our Breaths

...that there will be no more emergencies for a while.  I haven't been here at the computer enough to elaborate, but thankfully we're still standing (or, well, limping?) and I have hopes of a more thorough update very soon.  A few of the highlights would read along the lines of

Client emergencies, or prevention of near-emergencies

Leg and Knee injuries, both of us

Being unable to walk without a walker for a period of time for the first time in life

Missing a good bit of work

Worrying (while missing work) about missing work while simultaneously really enjoying the fact there was no choice about it, and repeat

Disappointment in not having nearby support network to help my family when we can't help ourselves as well as we'd like

Reluctance to unload frustrations on long distance friends due to my loathing of The Whine Factor, as I've usually already whined to Jack about such, ad nauseum


Inability to do projects and basic everyday things, thus getting "behinder" in the ever-growing To Do Since Way Back When list

Scheduling frustrations at work, miscommunications, oversensitivity on my part about perceived insensitivity on others' I just a worker bringing in numbers till I drop?  Probably not processing these thoughts accurately...not feeling the love but feeling I go the extra mile, and feeling the mileage at times

Feeling pressured and feeling unappreciated and feeling underpaid in various ways (though never by husband, he's been great)

Truck problems

The AAA driver who drove us and the tow truck 80 mph in a 55mph  two lane unlit country highway in the dead of night for a VERY LONG DRIVE, thus very nearly putting the "dead" in that particular phrase

$$$$ spent on truck problems

Time spent on truck problems

Having opposite work schedule as husband

Being a worthless lump of napping lethargy on my days off

TAXES OWED this year (!!!) despite careful planning throughout past year (!!!)

$$$ expenses sucking the wind out of my sails as I watch us put some things on credit cards that we worked SO HARD to pay off

I hate car rental companies

I hate mechanics who don't do the job right the first time and require return visits and...CAR RENTALS to get to work while machine is in the shop...AGAIN

I was in a car accident that wasn't just a car accident

It was traumatizing

I'm still getting over it

I'm not prepared physically (house cleaning and food, etc) for Passover, and it's almost here

I want a vacation

I'm having to exercise extreme diplomacy in a particular sphere of my daily life ALL THE TIME and it is sucking the air out of me!

I want to be living at the land NOW

Water system problems

Have I mentioned there are lunatics inserted periodically into these little vignettes we call life and they keep reappearing!

blahblahblahblah and now I have to get to bed.  Oh, I've been having really strange dreams, too, and premonitions, bleh

And THAT is why I hope to get here to write a more coherent post any day now :-)   And probably why I should NOT write until then!!

I hope your March has been a lot easier ...and clear headed...than ours has!

In all things, God has been so merciful to us, so very very kind and good.  I'll never have any complaints in that department!!  And Jack has been magnificent.  And my daughter is a joy.  I'm blessed beyond any reasonable doubt, and ever grateful.  SO GRATEFUL

 So off to bed to see if April will hurry up and get here, wheee...more about the land and the GOOD news amid all the yuck, in a future post.  Adios ~~

03/22/13 update from the next morning....water went out.  Well equipment replacement, $1,000.00.  Youch.  I feel like I just fell down a well...of debt.  That makes about $8K in the last few weeks, and our stash of carefully shepherded reserves is now "unreserved."  Feeling low, but grateful ever...thank you, God, for Your goodness in everything.  Thank you for my precious ones, without reserve.  Amen and now begins shabbat...shabbat shalom...