Friday, October 23, 2015

Judging, What Does It Mean?

"A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

John F. Kennedy

Recently it’s been brought to my attention that I’m judgmental and this post is to apologize to those I have judged.  Apparently going down the road of collapse made me look at people differently and dislike those who carried on as if life would always be the same, living as if it didn’t matter how.

It’s interesting because I don’t remember being judgmental when I was growing up and I can’t say I remember my parents being so, although they didn’t like people taking advantage of the system.

Living my life in the past meant fitting in with the majority.  Working full time for a large utility company deemed it necessary to “fit in” and one of my appraisal strong points was “gets along with others”.

Then, I had no reason for judging in the same sense that I would do so today.  Maybe it was my naivety, age and/or the need to be liked (though the latter I still struggle with) that made me want to “fit in”.  Not that I’m saying it’s right to judge today or that there is justification for doing so but I’m now needing to understand the change that took place within me.

In our struggle to find others whom we may live with, we have changed, along with our ad(s).  Depending on communication with the many contacts we have had, we added to, took from and sometimes completely eliminated our ad.  Totally frustrated at times we gave up the idea of building relationships with others, finding our paths/lives had been so different that even though we seek now to live close to the same way, our baggage is there for the ride.

My baggage consists of bitterness, envy and lack of trust.  I’m bitter that when I started down this path, humans couldn’t think about giving up something in their lives so that maybe others perhaps our grandchildren would have a fighting chance, not to mention all the other species.  I’m bitter for the decisions I made then that separated me from loved ones and how little good it did.  I’m envious of the lives that others have lived and the fun that they have experienced, I thought mine would come after 30 years of persevering, but I soon accepted that that too was just another lie. 
Real Life 2015
Smoke filled skies in the Rogue Valley 2015
I come from the age of entitlement, my parents could have sung with Cat Stevens then (Islam Yusef now), “work hard boy and you’ll find, someday you’ll have a job like mine”. 

As a youth, I sometimes was up early enough to kiss my dad goodbye, but even as I slept, I knew the routine.  Mom was up before him making his lunch and getting his breakfast, then dad would put on his shined shoes to go to the factory where he worked to enjoy a weekend off. During the summer one of the weekend days was usually spent at the park/beach where Mom got a little reprieve outside still cooking though, over the Coleman stove.

I don’t ever remember going without, though perhaps my parents did before I was born.  It must have been a hard road to travel living in two different countries with three children, before settling down here in the third one having me.

Much like my dad, I accepted a job that paid well for the late 70’s and I felt lucky.  I hired on at the telephone company when I was 19 and after 25 years I had 5 weeks of paid vacation time, though we didn’t “go places” as others did, most of our vacations were spent relaxing at home where we put our money and time into creating a nest where we both belonged.  Instead we used our money to build garages, have new carpeting installed or painted inside and/or out.  Usually when we did go away, it wasn’t without our tent or tent trailer as camping was inexpensive and we usually didn’t have to go far to enjoy some time hiking in the woods.
We're in the woods now, right outside our back door 2015

Two Bucks, better than one 2015

I’ll never forgot though while living in CO, we took my parents to Central City/Blackhawk, it was my first time gambling.  I hit the $2500 jackpot and before leaving we put a few more bills into the machines but left shortly after with the rest in my purse, using it on a vacation to Hawaii, memories of fun.

Just before reaching my 30 year goal at work, my life became more serious than it had ever been before.  As my story has been told in previous posts, I became more aware of the necessities of life and I learned to let go of most indulgences.  Not that I had many compared to most in this country but collectively we had our fair share.  We purchased the NFL and NHL packages for a few seasons and spent a fair amount of time watching sports. 

I was raised on hockey and enjoyed watching the game with my dad, brothers, boyfriends, daughters and my husband (some of whom couldn’t understand the change in me when I quit watching).  I never missed turning off the cable in 2008 like I thought I would.  Now when I find myself around television, like at the doctor’s office, it makes me feel nauseated to watch the data streaming back and forth across the top and bottom hearing voices that sound alike, repeating the same message.  It’s no wonder why many don’t read anymore as we get most of what we believe through sound bytes and short sentences.  Long articles written above a 12 year old’s ability usually don’t get read. 

We do enjoy watching a good movie/documentary once in a while as well as music dvd’s we’ve collected through the years, though we’ve had more fun laughing while playing cards or board games.  Time is now our indulgence and we try to spend it wisely.  Every now and then we bring George Carlin out for a good laugh, I often wonder what he would think and say if he were here with us today.  I’ve seen him “live” several times and always felt his judging taught me so much about myself.

Sometimes we just listen to some good music while sitting at the table picking mint leaves off the stems and the calendula petals off the blossoms to dry.
 Apple, Peppermint, Spearmint and Chocolate Mint drying 2015
 Also the time of the year for shelling the drying beans.  It's nice to see the jars filled with beautiful colors, just as the trees begin to change theirs.
Colorful bowls of beans 2015
I sometimes feel strange telling people especially other women that I cut my own hair as well as my husbands.  We both went to a beauty college back in Eugene a few years ago, that was probably my first time going to get my hair cut in 15 years and I can’t remember the last time my husband went as I’ve cut his hair for as long as I can remember.  I’ve had one manicure in my life that my daughters paid for, one professional massage from a neighbor since moving here and have never experienced a pedicure.  I realize typing these things how silly I feel because most people in the world haven’t had the luxury of these experiences either.

I mention this in order for you reading, to understand the complexity of finding others who meet my standard of living.  Not only am I judgmental, but I have expectations, which I hate.  Our lives are more of the old fashioned homesteader whose frugality was often viewed as extreme. There are very little complexities with the way we grow food, build the soil, plant the seed and hope for harvest. 

All of our lives we raise and lower the bar to accept what we need to.  Things that we wouldn’t have accepted early in the journey, perhaps today we would as it’s hard to find exactly what were looking for.  My husband now has limited expectations but routine and work ethic is foremost.  It’s about rising early in the summer to get what needs to be done before the temps get above 90 degrees. 

For me it’s about authenticity, and simple understanding of the predicament we’re in.  It’s a respect for the way we live, and having a clear understanding of where the things we need and depend on…come from.  We’ve been told, “you’re more of a homesteader than a farmer” and now I understand what was meant by it.  No, it’s not just about money and making it, it’s about giving and getting. 

Every day I get eggs from our chickens and in return I give them a safe, healthy environment where they can depend on food and water.  Unlike farming, we homesteaders work to produce what we eat, and if any money is raised it goes back into the homestead feeding those who feed us. 

Sometimes the costs exceed the little money we may make but usually we break even and always have fresh eggs to eat.  We have both come to understand that some people appreciate the amount of work, time and resources that go into feeding our chickens and are willing to pay those true costs, but I believe the real understanding comes from doing the work.   It's at least an hours worth of time to clean the coop and usually about six times a year, not to mention the cost of straw to fill it back up again.
From coop to compost 2015
All through the year we enjoy food produced on the property and understand the amount of work it takes to produce it.  We live to enjoy another day where our meals are made mostly from ingredients close to home.
Making tomato leather 2015
Beyond everything else considered to be an expectation when living with others, is a certain comfort one feels with being close.  Living in close proximity to each other is something many have never experienced and it’s not always easy.  Living on rural property we leave the comfort of the inside and carry that outside enjoying a space that allows us to be free of other people.  It’s usually a choice to have visitors, even walking up to the garden.

Burnout and failure to succeed weigh heavy on one’s mind when trying to build community.  We have literally in many ways lived our lives for others with the amount of time spent on narrowing our search for a good fit and it’s hard not to be judgmental when you choose. 

Living and sharing the land with others makes one realize the amount of effort that goes into getting along and without that connection, there is no bond.  We moved onto this property 18 months ago and had come with the notion that we had given up trying to have others live with us.  It was shortly after the cottage was completed that we took a chance on a young guy who a nearby farm recommended.  He was here for 3 months, poached a fawn, killed a couple of turkeys and trashed our newly remodeled cottage.  We were both devastated to say the least and hurt beyond belief.  No more we said…until we received a call.

It’s been a nice transition seeing how well the cottage is cared for and have appreciated the help including getting our greenhouse built.  Dynamics play a huge part when living with another couple and perhaps it’s the fact that we’re all the same age and we’ve lived such different lives.

There is also the fact that we (my husband and I) haven’t spent much time apart in our 37 years.  Probably the most time we’ve spent apart was recently, when I spent 3 weeks with our daughter and son-in-law.  I can’t say I’ve ever met another couple who spends so much time together, we’ve even been told by others how unhealthy it is but generally speaking, it works for us.

Together my husband and I have weathered many storms and grown up as friends.  I was a teenager when we married and had never experienced living out on my own.  We’ve always enjoyed working together and have managed the daily rhythm for years.  We’ve been told in the past, “be careful that the energy of others don’t disrupt what you have.” 

I can only speak for myself when I say I like a certain rhythm, I like when things come together and mesh.  We said when we moved here that it was a good place to die, and if I’m sharing what we’ve worked so hard to enjoy, I want to feel at peace with others on the property, but because I am who I am I’m finding it very hard. I have more expectations now then when we started down this road and I think my husband has less as it was more his idea all along and so wanted it to work.

Unfortunately, we females tend to appease our partners, learning to follow their work, depend on their pay and trust their decisions.  Our life was so different having reversed our roles, I wonder what or if that has to do with the way I feel now.

I’m just too judgmental to live with anyone else, after all this time of ups and downs trying.  I don’t have the same energy that I once had.  I trust what I’ve had to work with for years and that’s enough for me to keep going, it’s good and bad that we’ve learned to live with.

It’s been one of the hardest moves after 13 years, leaving my daughter and granddaughter as well as a dear friend that I’ve waited so long to meet.  I won’t say it compares to the move from our daughters into an “empty nest” but the stresses we’ve been through since living here have topped some of the worse times and I was beginning to look forward to some peace and quiet.

I’m done with prepping to survive in a world that I don’t want to live in, I just want to enjoy what I have in the time left to do it.

Think everyone has passed judgments on others in their lives.  Whether it’s lazy people, big people, gays, lesbians, bankers etc. one is always judging another.  I haven’t traveled this path alone and though my husband is much further ahead in his journey, he has gone through the grief cycles and is now more ready to accept than me.

I stood strong to beliefs that I learned through his knowledge and lost friends and family including 8 lonely years without our daughter that even though she is back in our lives, I’ll never know what memories could have been shared together.
Arches National Park, building memories while seeing beauty 2015
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah 2015
My last couple of years at work were hell.  I began to put pieces of the puzzle together seeing the companies pit union employee’s against each other and trying to get all of us who were in the same boat to see this.  I felt at times I was back in kindergarten where kids were cruel making fun of each other, I know what its like to be judged.

Fast forward to today, turning your TV off is now seen as “cool” and many are.  Some of the same people who called me judgmental then are now judging others that still watch it.  They argue the same arguments and state the same truths about how they feel now.

I’m trying to “let go” of judging others, looking inward instead, to find other things I can do to help in this journey forward.  I know that sometimes people who see things differently can be our greatest teachers so I try to remain open, it’s when I feel that my moral compass is being turned in a different direction that I struggle to stay on the path.  I remember once a friend telling my husband, “his moral compass was too strong.”  Is this judging or just someone's opinion? 

Maybe Ron Paul has a point about too many laws, I say we remove the stop signs and see how we do with that first, maybe then we’ll understand something about most of us…that we all judge each other every day in many ways.

"I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say,
and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions."
Dorothy Day

Saturday, March 21, 2015


“of course, it’s only natural to respond to a waning
by trying to escape the threat”

-The Mindful Way through Anxiety
by Susan Orsillo and Liz Roemer

It’s been awhile for me to pick up a pen to write but sometimes the hardest things to do are the most therapeutic, so today I write.

Over a year has passed since our moving and our last post told what we had done up to that point and the beat goes on.
A hike up Lower Table Rock, Mt. McLoughlin...what we do for fun
Sharing birthday meal with a good friend 2014

2014 was probably one of the most intense years since before retiring in 2008.  I chuckle when I think about retirement and what it meant then compared to what it means now.  Entitlement is what we should have called it then and maybe the new term now could be “retitlement”.  Sounds good to me a new title in a new time but it says nothing of tire and for both of us, it’s been very tiring.

I hate to even tell people I’m retired but it’s hard not to after 30 years of my life doing something I didn’t necessarily enjoy.  I always thought retirement was about enjoyment and I’ve been confused lately with that word also.

It’s been an emotionally upbeat year with moving and feeling like we’ve been given a new lease on life, then realizing that we’re still on borrowed time and the lease in almost up.  I may have been more complacent before we moved, but as with past moves (13 of them), it’s a change and we roll with the punches and sometimes it hurts but the outcome has never been so bad that we can’t come back.  This move has brought back memories from previous moves and now I’m retired and having fun, right?  I know in my heart of hearts that I too, still have dreams to live and things to accomplish.  Right now “collapse” is a major inconvenience, it’s interfering with my extreme living before I die.

How can I have long term goals and see into a different future when the knockout punch has already been delivered and I’m struggling to get up for the 13th, 14th and 15th round?

This move has brought us to a good place to die and that’s the most I can hope for.
“If teardrops were pennies,
and heartaches were gold”
-Carl Smith

If I shut myself inside my abode, I’m perfectly happy with all that I do.

Husband's birthday gift, sweater with sweatshirt pocket

Winter Solstice making pierogi together
Drying pierogi
Friends gift for watching the property
Even on the property outside I’m ok, but it’s when I look around, all around…up, down and most places in between I see things differently from the past.

The bright blue skies of my youth now appear like a tic tac toe board with the chem trails winning the game and when not sunny the sky is hazy and gray with an Air Stagnation Advisory in effect for weeks at a time.  The seasons, all four that I once enjoyed…rain in the  spring, sunshine in the summer, cool breezes in the fall and snow, yes snow in the winter are all mixed together in a melting pot of obscurity.

This winter we’ve seen temps in the high 60’s, lows in the 50’s and 7.5” of rain in 6 days.  Before Christmas we strolled around Lithia Park in Ashland where the rhodies and vinca were in bloom.
Lithia Park, Ashland, OR rhodies in bloom, December 13th, 2014

For the last few weeks, it’s felt like spring.  The almond and peach trees are in bloom and just the other day we spotted a baby flicker in our front yard.  I tried researching to find out when they have their young in the PNW but was unable to find anything of value.  The third week of March, I saw my first hummingbird at the slider when I was lifting weights, I love when things like this happen, this is our TV (distraction).

Lithia Park Vinca in bloom, December 13, 2014
 Most of whom we’ve spoke with have said that this summer will be bad.  No rain (except for downpours), no snow pack and warmer than normal temperatures, at least out west.
This article summed things up, stating:

"The previous record low was in 1981, and we measured 17 inches of water. This year we are measuring 5 inches.”

and this link made it even clearer with a picture: 

Some are talking about the abnormalities but most are still too busy with more important things in their lives.  I recently read an article on the Arctic News titled, “Watch where the wind blows” from February 3rd, and after sharing the article with a friend, the response I got back was, “but they don’t tell us what to wear”.  Apparently there are many who don’t want to read "bad" news (as if it makes it less real), don’t grasp it or plain just don’t care.  I think some older folks still think they’ll escape the mayhem…who knows?

The growing season will definitely be an indication of the changes in weather patterns.  This is the time of the year for going through last years leftover seeds as well as what we have saved.  We always ask “will they perform the same as the year before?”  What will mother nature provide us with this year?  I’m waiting for the billboard on I-5 that asks, “got water?”
Seasonal creek on property 2015
Life is never without turmoil and I know it’s only going to get worse but the difference now in my life is enjoying what it gives me now and I feel rich, so rich in so many ways.

Our new home though a roof over our heads didn’t have a bathtub when we moved in, I enjoy a weekly ritual of soaking but know that it’s a luxurious want not a need.  Well now I have a bathtub and I soak in a tub full of scented water with a lit candle, wow, what luxury.  We have lived like Kings and Queens compared to most.

I can’t begin to tell you how I feel about the communication now with my daughter.  Since last October we’ve been corresponding and just yesterday I heard her voice for the first time in 8 years.  When she said, “mom” I immediately flashed back to that fall day when she was placed in my arms, life is good.

Our winter was busier than it’s been in years trying to accomplish quickly what we had in place before;  including a room for our pool table that came with us, Italian slate can travel anywhere. 

We converted a 600 where we can enjoy pool, darts and perhaps shuffleboard.  Some dreams we don’t let go of and this is one of them.  It’s also a nice warm room for exercising, even though the bike goes nowhere we can now eliminate the hat, scarf and gloves.
Glue Laminated Beam
The major hurdle in creating this space was a supporting post,  dead center of the room that impeded the play of pool.  We were able to replace it with a glue laminated beam which opened up the space and completely changed the ambiance.  It’s no longer a square box but an attractive space to share time in.

Stairs on the outside where moved in and the space up above has become my craft room where someday I will sit and spin while looking over the sheep below in the pasture.  This is what dreams are made of.
Stairs going up to craft room
Finished Recreation Room

Where the post once stood, now the pool table stands

Not too much on the docket now except building up the soil in the garden, getting or building a greenhouse and possibly building or extending the chicken coop for our new addition of Buckeyes, hopefully we won’t have a problem selling the chicks to the duck fans, sorry. 

Buckeye Chicks
I realize the small town atmosphere we live in now as the call came from the post office at 7am one morning.  I answered and the voice on the other end said, “hold on I have someone here for you”, the peeps came through the wire loud and clear, “I’ll be right there I said”.

The birdsong is beautiful this time of the year and the peeps from the new chicks are endearing as always.  Daffodils are in bloom, fruit and nut trees are in bloom…Spring is in the air and birth is all around us.

Maybe there is something to be said about staying home and hunkering down, it’s a peaceful place where there is life.  Sometimes going to the city is a ruinous wakeup call, seeing cars driven by people with gadgets on or in their ears, while others are walking into businesses texting while shopping and the hard part is seeing more of that than homesteaders/farmers who are too busy to get together for a dinner.  It seems like one extreme or the other and unfortunately we understand both, though struggle with it.

Garlic and new tilled herb beds

Raised herb beds

Our cottage that we spent so much time and money on when we first moved in remains empty.  Not because we didn’t try to rent it, but because we realize more and more as time goes on that it’s difficult at best to share your land and property with someone else.
Back of remodeled cottage

Front of cottage before remodeling

We've thought recently about turning it into a commercial kitchen and have spoke with a few people from the extension service.  Talking to them as well as farmers in the area, we’ve learned that the Farm Direct Bill (HB2336) allows for one to process more without having a commercial kitchen.  We focus on what we can do, while trying to keep a reasonable timeline in view.
Aztec Runner Drying beans 2014

Homemade bread

Homemade Biscotti

Recently we had contact with our friend Paul who writes here:  We spoke about the “mixed bag” of emotions as all the charts like the one on his most recent post are one color, red.  I’m hearing Don Meredith, “turn out the lights, the party’s over”.  Like us, Paul is enjoying his time moment by moment like we all should be doing.  Not much matters anymore,

“if the button is pushed, there’s no running away”
Barry McGuire, Eve of Destruction

Love while you can with all your might, live intensely with passion, and laugh often for no reason.

With so many buttons yet to push, best to enjoy life while we can.  I struggle with the duality of it all especially when the worse of the two are winning, but….
I know there is so much still to enjoy and I’m enjoying it while I can.
Quinn, our new German Shepherd pup named after the writer, Daniel Quinn