Monday, September 29, 2014

Work Worth Doing

It’s been just over 6 months since we moved in, and with little time to explore since Spring, we're now both welcoming the Fall.  Our makeshift greenhouse served us well and though we didn’t expect to have a garden this year, our harvest was bountiful.  Not only are the onions the best tasting we’ve ever had, they're the biggest.  Though we did little to the garden that was in place upon moving in, we were able to can kraut, tomato sauce, and pickles as well as drying onions and peppers with enough to make tomato leather which our little bit of basil went into. 
Storage onion harvest 2014

Drying Walla Walla onions in our solar dryer 2014
Hopefully this next year we’ll be able to till most of the garden and make raised beds like we had at our other property in Junction City. The asparagus will be the only bed that will go undisturbed as it was a delicious treat welcoming us. Though our other property was no till for over 10 years, we have to raise the beds up over the walkways as they are sunken for the time being and we’ll need to continue amending the soil if we want the same results.  

We purchased a beast of a tiller (BCS) and it’s done a good job of throwing David over to the side a few times.  When we lived here in Southern Oregon in the 80’s, we had one and it never let us down with the amount of rocks we had as well as the clay soil.  It’s always worth it to buy a good product and we have no complaints about BCS.

We didn’t know if we would have a garden this year as we had no idea if we would find property to buy.

Garden 2014
Our guess was we were going to have to rent for a year and look while living in the area.  Needless to say we are once again humbled by the graciousness of nature and what it provided for very little work.

A sink load of tomatoes 2014
A quarter of one harvest 2014


After having some compost and sand delivered, David was able to till both in, but after we started working on the cottage remodel, the garden was left alone and we’re quite surprised at the amount of food it produced.  We’ve dried tomatoes and canned them for sauce (40 quarts ) and soup, we also made an herbal tomato leather in which one load consisted of 32 pounds of tomatoes and net us 20 ounces of product.  

We had more zucchini then we needed, 
Drying zucchini chips in the solar dryer 2014
and luckily for the meat birds, they devoured the shredded frozen treats that were offered in the 100+ temps we had.  Peppers still producing and we’ve dried four dehydrator loads thus far as well as all the fresh that was eaten and stuffed with delicious ricotta cheese that our goat friends in Eugene gifted us with. 

Tomato Leather 2014
Tomato sauce or soup? 2014
Our drying beans that we just finished harvesting/shelling, netted us over 40 pounds in an area of 330 sqft.  The varieties we grew this year consisted of Rattlesnake Pole, Brockton Horticulture, Swedish Brown, Tongue of Fire and Aztec Runner.
Drying beans in the garden 2014

Rattlesnake Pole, drying beans in a jar 2014

Our 17 layers are now giving us about 13+ eggs a day and we’re selling the surplus which is paying for the organic/soy free layer pellets.  We let a broody set and so far she’s been great but with 20+ eggs under her we doubt we’ll have that many chicks.

Our 47 Red Ranger meat birds are now part of our freezer and though the deal with neighbors ended bitterly, we were able to end on a good note with nice people that contacted us through an ad on CL.  They had all the equipment (scalder, plucker, killing cones) and were willing to demonstrate how it was done for 8 birds which they kept live.  After about 4 hours (not including the wrapping) we had the birds in coolers and everything cleaned up, (it was another couple of hours to do the wrapping after we returned home).  We learned a skill that many don't/won’t do anymore and were able to build relationships with those who feel the same way we do about sharing and we hope to continue helping and supporting each other.  They were very supportive and quick to help if we needed it but for the most part sat and watched us do a fine job (per what they said).

We learned some very important lessons the hard way and know now what not to do next time.  We didn’t expect for them to cost so much per pound, but neither did we expect to give away 8 birds as our neighbors had butchered before and were going to show us how as part of the deal.  Nothing is lost if lessons are learned and knowledge doesn’t come cheap these days.  Sometimes those chance meetings are the best kind. 

We visited the Farmer’s Market in Medford (the Thursday one by the Armory) and got to see firsthand the display of goods from some of the farmers we’ve met in the area.  I met a spinner that has Shetland sheep, Gotland sheep and Pygora goats.  The fleece from the latter was soft and I imagine a dream to spin.  She indicated a need to sell her farm and animals before long and we exchanged emails and phone numbers to keep in touch.

In posting this blog, we thought it would help us put things in perspective as well as share what we continue to do on a daily basis even though we’re considered to be “doomers”.  Like we’ve mentioned before in our posts even though we don’t see longevity in our lives… we do see reason to continue.  This is what feeds us both physically and mentally.  It’s the richness of the time we have here now to experience, no matter how long it is.  
Following is a list of what we’ve done since moving here the end of January 2014.
  • Moved in
  • Secured chicken coop, fenced in run for egg layers and got 18

  • Red Ranger chicks 2014

    Australorp and Barred Rock chicks 2014

    Australorps and Barred Rock layers 2014
  • Also rewired chicken coop by digging trench and burying it, was strung across in front of old greenhouse from storage area.
  • Got 50 meat birds and helped friends who will help us butcher secure a trampoline with feeders for them as well as housed them on our property and took care of them for 2+ months, as they got bigger they were going through 12 gallons of water a day and spent hours shredding and freezing zucchini when outside temps were over 100.
  • Fixed chimney burned from flue fire and cleaned wood stove.
  • Hot water heater, replaced 2 thermostats
  • Added water shut off valve from well to house
  • Installed new water line to garden
  • Redid electric in shop, fixed wiring problems
  • Built over 6 shelves in shop
  • Put in cat door and built shelves in storage area
  • Put new knobs on all kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Hung clothes dryer in house, wrought iron one we bought with us
  • Fixed hall drawers so they would open and fixed shelves in closest with supports
  • Fenced orchard and then had to add wire to it when deer still got in
  • Dug holes and planted 37 fruit and nut trees
  • Planted all transplants that we brought with us including elderberries, blackberries, raspberries, hops, lemon verbena, rosemary, and dahlias.
  • Built hoop house for starts after we discovered old greenhouse couldn’t be repaired
  • Planted and cared for starts until transplanting in garden
  • Had 20 yards of compost and 15 yards of sand delivered… tilled both in garden
  • Washed all wood floors in house with vinegar then oiled them with Olive oil
  • Knitted and felted slippers for Keith
  • Made two pieces of hardanger embroidery to share as gifts
Hardanger piece made for friend's birthday 2014
  • Made three hats to share as gifts
  • Knitted collar for gift
  • Knitted moebius for gift
  • Knitted shawl for myself
  • Attended Grange meeting
  • Volunteer on Wednesday’s at school thrift store, helping to raise funds for new roof
  • Sold extra tomato plants on CL and delivered them to people in town
  • Had several people over for dinner, Farming Fish owners and intern, neighbors that we met buying eggs from, contractor who did work on cottage, librarian that we knew from the 80’s while living here, and cooked a couple of meals for friends we knew while living here (now in their 80’s) one of which was their Anniversary meal
  • Replied and contacted people from iFarm and
  • Tilled a small area where horses were, several times because the soil was so compacted
  • Changed all locks including shop and cottage
  • Set up accounts and met those doing bulk ordering
  • Picked up 20 bales of straw and mulched garden beds
  • Attended two dinner parties from different people
  • Had contact with three of the neighbors surrounding us
  • Still exercising (walking, riding stationary bike and other, lifting weights)
  • Had overnight stays with friends and family
  • Painted bathroom
  • Spent a day driving up the Rogue River to Galice (yes we have fun occasionally)
  • Wrote three blog posts
  • Cleaned shop
  • Insulated attic
  • Drained pond twice, then dismantled and fill it with dirt
  • Transplanted the plants that were around the pond
  • Cut off eve on house that was rotted and reinstalled flashing/gutters
  • Bought tiller
  • Hung ceiling fan in living room and one in cottage
  • Installed new light fixture in our bathroom
  • Fixed drain in both bathrooms
  • Fixed front door so it opens and closes now…and locks
  • Created burn piles
  • After completion of outside of cottage, painted outside and in, picked up trash all around it including all the old roofing shingles
  • Had rock delivered and spread it for cottage driveway
  • Helped neighbors make chicken tractor out of a trampoline
  • Installed bathroom fans
  • Had vapor barrier placed under house and dry rot fixed
  • Harvested and dried herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, greek oregano,lemon verbena, costmary and calendula also processed fresh for sun infused herbal vinegars
  • Fermented 20 quarts of sauerkraut and 12 quarts of pickles
  • Canned hot cauliflower, sweet pickles and dilly beans
  • Fixed solar dryer
  • Peeled and cut 40 pounds of onions to dry
  • Cut and dried 25 pounds of peppers
  • Processed tomato leather (about 96 pounds of product) and dried it
  • Cut and dried zucchini for chips
  • Worked on tractor…oil change, flushed radiator and changed air filter and thermostat
  • Maintained garden
  • Still continued to make lotion, salve, deodorant, toothpaste and tinctures
  • Bathed dog, combed daily both dog and cat
  • Fixed chipper, replaced blades and sold it on CL
  • Transplanted plants that deer were eating into the fenced area
  • Pruned apple tree for friend we met through Azure Standard
  • Harvested tomatoes, processed and canned tomato sauce
  • Harvested tomatoes, processed and canned tomato soup
  • Remodel of 650 sqft cottage including: new roof, new siding, new windows, new drywall, insulation, painting inside and out, new steps and new stove

Cottage before remodel 2014

Inside of cottage during remodel 2014

Cottage nearing completion of remodel 2014

Sometimes we all lose track of what we do and commiserate over what we don’t get done, but after viewing this list, not only does it help to put things in perspective, it reinforces what we’ve always said, “actions speak louder than words”.  We know why we get up in the morning and why we go to sleep at night.  If nothing else this list shows that we haven’t given up and we’ll continue as long as we can to live and enjoy what life gives us.  We’re both thankful to be able to say, “we’ve always tried”.

We enjoyed profit in the form of money for years, we're so glad now to enjoy more of what  we grow... 
Morning Glory with the beans 2014
Amish melon 2014

and what we see...

September's Full Moon 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

Staying present...Show, don't tell

We have always tried to follow through on what we say, and do what we say we will do, so I owe this post to Dmitry Orlov who asked four questions recently here:  Thank you Dmitry for opening a much needed dialog.

Though it’s a very busy time for us, we both felt driven to reply with our answers as brief as they are.  Much can be written about the subject and we have tried over the years to post some of our thoughts while in the midst of building, whether its infrastructure or relationships with family, friends or community because nothing is more important to us right now.  But…we also know that it takes all sides to be ready, willing and able.

Dmitry’s first question is one we have asked ourselves many times over.  But, our answer is probably a good answer to all four questions, live like you speak about, do what you can and stay in the moment.  We have found it's easy to get stuck in the past or persuaded into the future, so we try to live each day to the best of our ability.  When we stay present,  others tend to pay more attention.

Especially now when there is little we can do, why risk losing touch with those we love?  And why waste our energy with those who think we’re nuts?  We try hard now to take the approach of answering when asked and not before.  This is especially hard to do when those you love do not care to see the reality of our current crises.  It’s easier when adult children say they already know these things and they don’t care to discuss them as it removes the guilt we sometimes feel as parents for not being truthful and it relieves some of the stress of letting go, though I have to constantly remind myself not to share.  It’s become easier for us to deal with reality one day at a time while practicing doing what we say.  Our words have always come with action and our actions have not changed for over 10 years.  It’s hard to accept that even though we do what we say, we haven’t earned much respect from those who turned away from us. 

In my previous post I mentioned the fact that we haven’t had a relationship with our youngest daughter since 2006 when our gloomy, doom behavior pushed her over the edge and for that I’m sorry.  A relationship that in my eyes was beginning to blossom as she reached adulthood and could support me as I her.  I can’t begin to answer how I get up in the morning knowing that I have a daughter who is alive and well that refuses to talk to me.  A beautiful girl inside and out whom I can’t talk to about the most important things in our lives, which include living.  Now I only want to hold her and love her, I would never risk losing her all over again.  Soon enough she too will understand the predicament as life will certainly change for all of us as time passes.  Perhaps the loved ones who have turned away from us will never be back, perhaps they will die with their pride attached and this I find horribly sad. 

How can I begin to offer answers when I have failed at the most elementary level?  I would begin to answer this by saying that when I first discovered that things were not the way I thought, I got depressed.  Some people get severely depressed when discovering the truth is something different then what you believed for over 20 years.  This news is depressing when you live in a fantasy world and I would worry about those who don’t feel this way.  It took me a good couple of years to find my way through the horror of what I learned.
How a ripple can change a reflection.
Today I acknowledge more fact based information and I try to keep my personal emotions out of it.  Before I may have only looked at things as how they affected me, now I try to go beyond and look at a bigger picture.  Some days are better than others.  Early on in my journey, I remember reading, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and now when I’m “stuck in the mud”, I try not to stay stuck for too long.  I acknowledge that I’m stuck and DO what I can to get out.

Now I have a better understanding of how powerful the punditocracy is, and how alert I must be in deciphering what is real.  I ask who is saying it and why?  Critical thinking is needed if one wants the truth.

Here are the questions that Dmitry asks and our answers.

1.  How can we communicate the reality of collapse to family and friends in ways that are constructive rather than destructive and find helpful ways to reflect our “endarkenment” in our everyday behavior?

Communicating a reality that family and friends are not ready or willing to see is very hard to do by talking.   We started down this path in 2003 if not before with some members of our family and friends.  At first they may have listened but as time went on and they began to think about the implications of what this information means to their individual lives, they resisted hearing it anymore and some made themselves unavailable.

We assume reflecting our “endarkenment” means delivering what some feel to be bad news.  This becomes problematic when others view you as “glib” about the dark forecast of our future when in reality we’re only trying to make the best out of the time we have left.  We have had others ask us how we talk about news like it was all in a days work while we discuss it over breakfast, then go about our daily chores?  I’m not sure if this is a conditioned response learned over time, or if it’s just who we are as people.  If we still want to enjoy what is left, then we must go about living as joyfully as we can.  Reality based facts are just that, our minds make up what is negative and what is positive. 

Unlike “positive thinking” one deals realistically with the present moment, makes their decision on what to do and proceeds to do it while letting go of the so called “problem”.  Again it’s the “stuck in the mud” that Eckhart Tolle writes about.  We feel what needs to be felt then we move on.  For  our relationship we can recognize if one of us is “stuck” for too long and we kindly nudge each other along.  One wouldn’t stand on the side of the road waiting for their tire to gain air; instead one would either call a tow truck or fix it oneself if one wishes to continue to travel further.

It’s been a long struggle to get the message out and we’ve written about some of it on our blog.  I don’t think anyone wants to feel like the odd man out, but as time has passed, we’ve found we could do nothing but embrace the reality of it.  This is our choice as others choose their own coping mechanisms.  Unfortunately denial is one of them.

For us it’s been easier the last 4-5 years to accept how others view us.  Most who have chosen to put up with us can see more today as the situation (collapse) evolves and have chosen to speak more about it and some have even asked questions as to how we live.  It’s easier for them to ask us as we’re happy to share then for us to tell them when they’re not listening.  Time and energy is precious to us, so we choose now to reserve it.
Planting Beans
Beans beginning to climb
Rattlesnake pole drying beans, results from doing.
The simple answer for us is to stay present and live by the example you speak of.  
Like a good story, 
Show, don’t tell.

2.  How can we form personal relationships with people that can survive the disappearance of official life support systems based on finance, commerce and centralized authority? 

Good luck with this one.  Trying to find people who can is the first problem, then just because they can, doesn't mean they will.  We have met many who are in the position to step down but choose not to.  Until it affects them directly, we don’t see them volunteering.  We would feel extremely lucky to accomplish this but rather think it will most likely happen by osmosis, if at all.

Again living by example of what we talk about and sharing our personal experience(s).  We listen to what others say, but watch more to see what they do.  Words are easy to come by,  so many are talking and not doing anything that backs up what they’re saying.  We walk the talk.  We are not so arrogant to think there isn’t more we can do and we welcome what others can teach us.  We’re never too old to learn.  

Since marrying over 36 years ago, our lifestyle changed very little when we became even more frugal.  We only had a short distance to fall unlike others who fear they will never stop falling.   Our debts were payed before anything else therefore we haven’t traveled as much as others or shared in the fun that they have had.  Like many boomers, we or should I say “I” believed in retirement and working towards the goal of fun.  I now understand how selfish that was as I have lived as a Queen compared to most and if I die tomorrow, I have lived a good life.

We have been trying for several years to form relationships with people of our community by educating them on what they can do now while they still have a choice.  Collectively put our finances together while we still have money (and it’s still worth something) to build something of value.  So many empty buildings where leases are sky high as owners wait for the economy to pick up.  We need serious conversations at the Grange Halls as well as our bars, libraries, food stores, gas stations and wherever else we can communicate our concerns. 

Our community is worried once again about the fire season.  Last year was a summer of smoke in the area and many were lucky to escape with their property still intact.  We remember being evacuated from a fire in 87.  We saw what a small community could do to help one another when we agreed to do so.

So what happens when there’s another disaster and the nearest Costco is over 25 miles away?  Maybe we should think about that money that won’t be worth anything and invest in a local food co-op?  Maybe we should be having conversations with the local businesses in our areas about what their plan is when disaster strikes?  How about getting local people together to order bulk supplies, if not for the good of community, then for their own families?

3.  How can we transform our physical selves into ones that will stand a chance, by eliminating lifestyle diseases, bad habits, luxuries and comforts, and by finding maximally independent and resilient ways to provide the necessities?

As Nike put’s it, “just do it” .  Dig deep and find the fortitude.  How many know anymore what “real comforts” are?  How many know the feeling of starvation?  Cold showers?  No water?  We know luxury, unlike a bomb ridden war zone.  Where does individual compassion come in? 

When I was little and I didn’t finish my food on my plate, I was reminded of how other children were starving and maybe this was used as a form of guilt but I think otherwise as I now know what my parents intentions were.  They taught me something that I keep close by. 

The head and heart need to come together.  When that happens amazing transformation can and will take place if we nourish it.  Our personal health has always been our responsibility, we’ve just become lazy and complacent in taking care of ourselves.  As things start to affect more of the population, people will be forced to give up luxuries and will live to be depressed or rise to the occasion as they have done in the past.  Just as we wrote about in our post “Time to Find a Dance Partner,” we need to buddy up and start sharing and caring about one another.  Much like our elementary school days when we practiced fire drills, tornado drills…and even later in my career there were those of us that volunteered to stay behind with those who were physically impaired.  Though I’m sure many would call me idealistic, but I would like to think that without the support of many, the few would not survive.

4.  How can we make use of ritual and spiritual practice to transform a group of individuals into a community?

Think this comes from within and has to be felt individually.  Spiritual practice means many different things to different people.  I can commune with nature and feel a sense of spirituality recognizing how much I am a part of it so I care for it as it cares for me.  I believe we can evolve but I also know there are others who think we’re nothing more than “heads on sticks”.  I’ve been through the Tower of London, it’s just an ugly reminder for me.  

When I’m one with nature I notice the changes of the outside world and I feel the effects on me.  There are so many things right in your face when you’re looking. 

People who visit our homestead hear about the differences we’ve noticed over the years.  Some later come back to share what they have noticed after watching and it’s a start to a new dialog.  The differences are right out our doors.  I remember driving to work and noticing things over the years.  Less wildlife, trees dying, less water in our streams and creeks, do we think if we ignore it, the reality will change?
Magnificent Oaks on the property

Both of us practice yoga and incorporate meditation while doing so in order to focus better.  We also read.  Many of the books are by authors who speak of “mind chatter” and how it prevents us from doing, as well as adding unnecessary stress to our lives. 

In a recent video of Robert Jensen,, he speaks of attending church and how he is has learned to be more respectful of religion for the sake of building community. 

During the depression, bars were meeting places and gossip was shared not in a “nosey” way but from a deep concern about others in the community.  Those whose health was failing or maybe someone in need.  Too often now we lock the door, pull down the shades and hope that the neighbors don’t call or come by.  This is not what we consider to be spiritual in nature and we try to keep communications open with those close by.

Ritual behavior is behavior that is done over and over.

Early onions 


Results from doing

Again we seek to live by example and not by mouth.  Even if it’s once a month, breaking bread together on a regular basis becomes a ritual that community members can do together.   I once belonged to a “spinning group” where we shared news of people who were ill and did things to help.  We taught each other new skills, offered help on projects and shared in events that were happening in our area.  We gathered once a month for a pot luck in the afternoon and took turns hosting at each other’s homes.  These are not new ideas, they are tried and true from days of past. 

Years ago I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable and Miracle.  It reinforced many things that we had already been doing but it also reminded us to get more involved with community and it prompted us to make appointments to talk to the “movers and shakers” as well as city officials (ie: city planners that had only heard of the term, “peak oil” this was in 2008), who we knew were only playing “in charge” but thought we could open their eyes a little, perhaps enough to see that they too were being played.

Not sure if any of our answers will help, but if we don’t try we’ll never know and even then we may never hear.  It’s what we do and how we live that will make  a difference for tomorrow, it may be the only day left.
Enjoy the beauty and take time to smell the flowers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What's up?

Quick post today as we wanted to share.

We were outside painting the cottage today,

 and noticed how quickly our blue skies overhead turned cloudy (hazy).  We looked up to discover the sun with a huge ring around it.

Usually after this happens, it rains and according to the weather, we're suppose to get rain on Wednesday.
This stuff is really getting fascinating. 
We're curious to see what's next.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Wishes Part II

Since writing Mother’s Day Wishes, Jan Lundberg has contacted us at least a couple of times to ask about our relationship with our daughter.  For this and his ongoing work, we both thank him. 

It’s been five years since Mother’s Day Wishes was posted here and much has happened including the worsening of environmental degradation, climate change, lost jobs and the economy, politics and the loss of more rights.

I wrote Mother’s Day Wishes after three long years without a relationship with my youngest daughter.  Now it’s been almost eight and my heart aches more than ever.  I’m now an aging senior with a discount and she is well into her adulthood.

My last email I sent her was on March 6, 2011 which ended all contact since.  She expressed that my emails did more harm than good and with no response to my last message, I decided to listen to the advice of another,

If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.
Dalai Lama
Natural Beauty 2014

I still remember writing Mother’s Day Wishes and reading it out loud in my writing class.  I also remember the young lady who came up to me after class and thanked me.  She, my daughter’s age shared with me the fact that she couldn’t talk to her parents about the future and how different it would be.  We hugged and I walked to my car crying in both sadness and joy that this young woman didn’t have the support of her parents but understood and embraced the pain of her future. 

I also remember meeting face to face with Kathy McMahon from who wrote a response to my essay that can be read here:
She spoke at the Eugene, OR library and I couldn’t wait to meet her and for her to meet me.  Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t a Raging Grannie, hell, I wasn’t even a Grannie then!  I just remember how I felt after reading her response and questioning myself.  Sad to think now that I did that, but understandable as I looked up to her and doubted my own motherly instincts.

I often ask myself, why?  Why did I feel the need to educate, reach out, protect, defend and probably much more, in order to risk losing a relationship that I loved.  Looking back, I never thought this would have happened, never.

After five years I see the error of my ways.  I ask myself today, how many people my age do I know that still live in denial or worse, know, but do nothing.  Why then would I expect a youngun whose life is still full of wants and goals to accept something that may not allow their dreams to happen?

This past Thursday, I listened and read comments of those who attended the webinar in memory of Michael C. Ruppert.  I was surprised but not shocked to hear from some 20 somethings who have embraced Mike’s work and will continue to go forward carrying his torch.  I have to remind myself that these youngun’s were only ten years old or so when 9-11 happened, about the same age I was when Bobby was shot.  I was sad because my parents were, but I certainly didn’t understand what I do today.  I was still so impressionable at that age, had my parents shared their thoughts about what really happened  in the late 60’s, I too would have known more by the time I was 20 something.  Hat’s off to these brave young souls who can go into dark places and still see the light.  I question if their parents had anything to do with it? 

It was while watching the documentary, Chasing Ice, that I recently thought about that young lady who came up to me after class.  I broke down at the end when James Balog spoke about his efforts and how important it was to him to do what he could for his children as well as mine.  Again, heartbreaking but real are the photographic facts that he showed us, much like the snapshots we’ve taken outside our own back door over the past ten years of a changing landscape.

Acknowledging these pictures are real, is a hard thing to do and I understand why some of my friends would not care to view this documentary.  I also understand the predicament of humans who think they can live on a finite planet  with infinite resources.  Magical thinking is what got us here.

Along with magical thinking comes false days of celebrations like today, Mother’s Day.  Flowers, cards, candies, jewelry, pajama grams and whatever else can be bought and sold to deliver our love and abolish our guilt. 

Though a “how to” book is still something I would like, one that would tell a mom how to talk with her child about changes that will affect the way we all live and die.  I realize a mom would be the one to write it but I'm sure there aren’t many that have been successful getting their children to embrace collapse, look it straight in the eyes and shine in spite of it. 

This Mother’s Day I wish for much more, a world of people coming together, using their brilliance to light up all the dark places so we can hold hands going forward with a new vision for as long as we can.  Seems like such a simple request, one that will last a lifetime and is priceless.

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is to “let go” of my relationship with my daughter.  It would have been much easier for me to hunt her down, get a plane ticket, show up at her home or work and…then what?  It’s the “then what” we both worry about, I think her especially and I love her way to much to force her to do something she is uncomfortable with.  No, this Mom’s day I only want one thing, for her to be happy, loved and safe, though depending on the day the order may change.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Simply the BEST
April has always been a hard month for me.  I lost the first true love of my life in high school while Spring was in bloom, last year this month I lost my big brother who entertained my conversations about which he already knew and just a week ago, another man who had such a huge impact on my life, took his, with a bullet to the head.

The news of Michael C. Ruppert’s unnerving suicide has made me think again of the many memories of years gone by and I’m overwhelmed with sadness.  His passion sparked a fire that spread rampantly throughout the lives of those who allowed it to light their way through the darkness.  Though it was dark, Michael spoke of no other way but to confront it and change it.

It hurts me so to think that a person who spoke the truth could no longer live with the pain while we’re lied to every day by those in power. 

Seeing Ruppert “perform” live on stage in 2005 changed my life.  He woke me up from a long induced sleep of beautiful beginnings and fairy tale endings.  Instead the facts he presented explained every reason why things were not as they appeared to be and how worse they would become.
My husband's favorite worn out gardening shirt
I remember walking out of that theatre nine years ago and wondering if others got the same message?  Sickened, angered, discombobulated, and scared about a future without electricity, without gas, without food?  I thought about my age and how I lived more than four decades not knowing the things he shared and it opened up a box full of books that I needed to read. 

I remember feeling depressed almost every day as I learned more.  I grieved for years and I missed the innocence of my childhood and the parents who were always there.  I knew both gave me the strength needed to continue building a case to never look back but to plough ahead in search of the truth.  Even though it was painful to read more, I found solace in learning the truth.

I questioned what my life would look like, living it differently.  I thought about the choices I had and how to make them speak for me.  I thought about a life without debt owed to any mortgage company, one where most of what I eat can be seen growing in a garden outside my window, a life where my choices will speak not only for me but for those who shout desperately and are never heard, a life free from consuming that which I don’t need to give to those who only know how to take.

Today I reflect on how I felt then and how I feel now.  My relationships with family have suffered, I have few women I can talk openly and honestly with and I miss the love of my daughter that has not been a part of my life for the last eight years, this is the pain I bear, every day of my life.

Some days are worse than others and I seek refuge wherever I can. 

I will miss hearing the voice of the Lifeboat Hour speaking to me as if he knew me, and I will always remember how he spoke to me that night nine years ago when the audience was so quiet as we listened. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Choosing Home

Moving has never been easy for me but this move was probably the hardest knowing I was picking a new place to die and leaving behind my first choice was hard enough.  Though the when is never certain with death, I’d like to think I may have a choice of where.  The home is humble and warm, the acreage is enough to roam on and the trees are big and beautiful.

I love creating home, hanging century old pictures on walls that have shared so many other lives, no matter how temporary.  We plant roots wherever we live and recently we planted our 37 fruit and nut trees.  The orchard fencing was finished in less than a month of moving in.  Though we many never enjoy a harvest from the trees, their roots like ours will stand firmly on and in the ground until we/they can’t anymore.

We consider ourselves lucky to still have a roof over our heads as our chimney caught fire while we were relaxing after a hard days work shortly after moving in.  In less than five minutes I went from enjoying a warm fire to standing outside in the cold, thinking about what I need to retrieve from inside. 

The Sykes Creek fire of 87 was a strong reminder (one we were evacuated from), and I quickly gathered my thoughts around necessities.  Instead of calling the fire department, we called our closest neighbor who came over to watch the thick black smoke turn clear as the fire got hotter and the flames started shooting up and out of the chimney.  With ladder and hose we soaked the roof for over 20 minutes then sat back and had our first beer with the neighbor, a memory we will hold dear in the
future I’m sure.

Pretty scary looking

We were lucky to have been home and awake.  Seldom do we burn a fire all day but the previous owners often did and the creosote had built to the point of combustion.  We felt it our responsibility to tell them, and were glad that it happened to us rather than them as they were more likely to be sleeping with a fire going. 
Looking down the chimney at the terra cotta lining
The next morning after the cap was cool enough to remove we discovered the terra cotta lining had collapsed down inside the chimney and proceeded to get the repairs done.  The pictures of the damage made me realize how a little maintenance can prevent something we seldom see.

We were sidetracked for a few days while repairing the chimney and making sure the stove was safe to heat with again, but continued to move ahead with the garden amending the soil with sand and compost and replacing the roof of the greenhouse that was here.

Old Greenhouse
As the roof came off the walls came down and we discovered the rotten corner posts that were holding it up.  Our saved seeds (some of which have been started) are in a small hoop house that was built to serve the purpose for this season.  Dismantling the greenhouse was not something we expected to do but we took it down to the foundation leaving something else to rebuild.
New temporary greenhouse
Seems like we have always had to start small, much like walking before running, we take it all in stride.  It reminds me of where we started years ago as an “us”.  When we focused together on a goal, we started simple and worked upwards.  Our steps were small and incremental and we learned as we built one foundation after another.

It’s been nice to focus on building a different vision as it’s become clearer to us now after a little fine tuning.  Not much matters anymore about what is said whether it’s about climate, political or economical crises.  We know we’re screwed and the redundancy of what’s been said and said again doesn’t help the motivation, usually it stifles the ability to do meaningful things.  As we put one foot in front of the other we move in a direction that will better suit our needs and we don’t feel bad about it. 

We’ve tried for years to educate, listen to, debate with and even feed those who had an interest in what we were trying to do.  Now the time has come to stroll casually through the garden of life, enjoying the fruit of our labors.  We don’t own what we have because of luck, we’ve only asked for financial help once and were declined (this was for a small amount of the down payment on our first home), and we BOTH have worked hard (though a choice of ours), giving up having fun like many others our age.  We work more than we play as long as there is work to do and we play when we can.  It’s kind of like spending money, the less you have to spend the more you appreciate what you buy.

Having read about many different aspects of collapse years ago, we embarked on a journey of hoping, though we know it’s not a strategy.  Then we began to share our message with those we cared about and hoped once again it would be heard.  We built what was needed for 6-8 people and began to market what we had. 

Many times we’ve said what I’m about to repeat but it’s worth hearing again if you’re in the business of building community.  Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.  Communicating has to take place and talking things over is a good place to start, but taking action and working together will prove that it can be done.  Just being aware of what is going on around you is only the beginning and it takes much more than talking or listening, it takes time and energy to put a plan into action and make it work.  In trying to communicate this with others, we never got past the common goal part, so very little got done. 

There are some who are dependable, responsible and communicative but primarily every idea is based on a market economy as they don’t see the future the same way we do.  Or, there are those who know where we’re headed and are right and ready to discuss it…but when it comes to taking action, they are still clinging to the old paradigm of making money and have little to no time to invest in a very different future.

Very little now spoken or written have we not heard so we read less and do more.  I must admit though we still like being entertained and without television we turn to the online tube to watch video’s of Gerald Celante and Jesse “the body” Ventura.  Abby Martin is also worth watching occasionally on RT and we enjoy the education we get from Paul Craig Roberts.  His hair seems to be on fire these days with the mess in the Ukraine.

Like the blog Survival Acres, I too have thought about giving up this blog. Sitting behind a screen typing is too much like work for me and I would rather be handling the month old chicks,
 Australorps and Barred Rock Chicks
planting in the garden or just sitting outside watching the chemtrails mark up the sky like a tic tac toe board.  It’s a challenge we play trying to decide where the next one will be as well as guessing when it will rain.

Speaking of rain, sure is interesting weather we’re getting.  I’ve never seen wind pick up so fast and become calm so quickly before in my life.  And what was that all about last week in the Dakota’s with both tornado and blizzard warnings, really?  Is there anyone still doubting that our climate is changing?

I enjoy walking in the rain as I did the other day and I love to stay dry while doing so.  Being part of the uniform program at work the last eight years of my career awarded me some bitchin outdoor wear, (though I was never an outside tech, all my wiring was done inside).  I stayed completely dry in my 4 mile trip though I appeared drenched on the outside and a kind gentleman must of felt sorry for me when he offered me up a ride.  I smiled and replied, “no thanks, I’m enjoying the walk”.  I laughed out loud to myself thinking about being branded with a telecommunications logo, maybe I should wear some Kevlar underneath just in case.

I notice many things while walking, that I don’t see while driving or sitting in the passenger seat.  I marvel at the signs posted, mostly religious.  Some say, “Prayer, America’s only hope”, or “Pray for America”.  The latter has a quote on it, “I will heal their land” and below in red, Signed, God.

Looking past these red, white and blue signs as well as the flags flying high, I noticed the soft pink blooms on the manzanita bushes and the brown mustard colored trunks of the madrone trees appearing like gold in a bright green forest of cedar trees.  As a cement truck passed me, I could feel the spray on my lips and it brought me back to reality and the road I was walking on.

My thoughts traveled quickly beyond the gates of the homes boasting these signs to the lives of the individuals who live there.  How does religion affect the way they live?  What things do they do to protect nature?  One home I passed had a prayer sign out front and I noticed the new fencing that was up as well as the two strands of barbed wire strung above it.  I PRAY that a animal doesn’t get hurt by their lack of concern for other living beings.  I know there are some wonderful people who live by these scriptures both in and out of church, I’ve met them, but I’ve also met those who live a life much different than what is preached about.

I enter my church when walking our property under the cathedral of oak trees.  I’m humbled by their size and age. I can’t wait to identify the herbs that grow naturally in this region, which reminds me of the other signs along the road like the “NO SPRAY” ones.  Very seldom do I see these and the religious ones together.  The best one is just a few driveways down from us it states:

  No Trespassing
      Survivors will be prosecuted

It’s fun to read while walking and I find it very entertaining at times.  With the amount of work to be done in preparing for a season, I try to smile when I can. 

We don’t allow ourselves to get overwhelmed.  Our last blog mentioned the fencing of the orchard and the fruit trees that needed planting, now a thing of the past.  We dug a hole, planted a tree and moved to the next one.  The deer watched from the outside.
New orchard
We even managed to find Pinot Noir grapes at a 40% discount that were nicely placed in the orchard along with the trees and much of what we brought with us.  The elderberries look healthy with new spring shoots as well as the raspberries, thornless blackberries and hops.  One of the hops is already up about 6”, maybe this will be the “year for beer”.
Elderberries we brought with us
Obviously we’ve always focused on living more than dying as it gets the work done.  But we also know that many species are dying every day and without them we will cease to exist.  When asked now, “what can I do?”, our reply is, “live simply, do no harm and be involved in our basic needs such as food, shelter and water.”  Time is short, find a purpose and make your life meaningful.
Our first rainbow on the property March 2014