Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Epiphany... er... change of plans!!

Our little Hayli went back to North Carolina to live with her mommy in March and we thought things would get back to normal (whatever normal is) and we'd make a more concerted effort to start whittling away at our possessions. I made lists and charted everything on a calendar but yet..........Life has a way of throwing you a curve ball once in a while.

We've planned this move for several months... and when it comes right down to the wire (we'd even given 30 days notice to our landlord) we discovered that maybe things are okay the way they are... that we don't have to make such drastic changes in our lives or our lifestyle... and that even tho' we'll never admit to our friends and/or family that we are crazy for wanting to build a cabin & live off the grid... that maybe we are only meant to have that land as a place to relax and enjoy God's creation? Maybe someday we will build a small cabin... but just something small... a weekend retreat... about the size of a KOA kabin! Just big enough for a bed, a small table & a couple of chairs, and maybe a space to prepare food & wash dishes on. No other amenities... simply simple!

That said ~ we did tell our friends that our plans have changed and they seem to be glad & relieved that we're not going to move permanently. We've been told by family members that there was actually a "pool" regarding who would cave first & want to come home... or maybe even more drastic (someone mentioned a murder /suicide!). I doubt we would have gone that stir-crazy out there!

After our "epiphany" I called our landlord & asked him if he had rented the house yet. He said he hadn't.... and so I continued to explain our situation! He was glad we were not going to move after all... and we were glad to not have to go out & find another place to live!

We had planned to have a tag sale...hoping to sell most of our furniture & household goods. Since "the epiphany"... we decided that we'd go ahead & have the sale like we'd planned, get rid of things that bog us down (we don't own our possessions, our possessions own us!), and still live a simple life here in the middle of suburbia! In a meager attempt at being self-sufficient we even dug up an area in the yard to plant a garden! By summer we'll be having fresh snap peas, green beans, carrots, cukes, sweet peppers... and some fresh herbs! Hopefully Skeeter won't be using the garden for digging! I'd like to plant some more flowers around the yard as it is quite plain. My latest request - for a clothesline - was met with a frown, but I'm betting it will happen soon! There's just nothing like the smell of clothes that have hung on the line to dry!

I know most of you who read this are shaking your heads. Believe me, there has been a lot of head shaking on this end too! I think the real clincher in this deal was not the back-breaking labor of building a cabin ... but the amount of money it would cost to put in a septic system, a cistern or well... but mostly get the solar system set up initially... (we figured it would cost more for power than the cabin would cost!). There were some "what ifs" that came into play. What if we build & decide we're too wimpy to stay during the winter? What if we decide our lot is too remote for comfort (there are no neighbors within a couple miles who live there year round)? What if.... what if... what if...??? And there was the "distance" factor. Our parents are aged: Jerry's dad (85) lives in central Nebraska, my folks (78 & 74) live in Kansas... it's a good 10-12 hour drive from the lot. His boys all live in/near Lincoln, my older two kids are military - one stationed in North Carolina, the other deploying to Iraq the end of April; my youngest lives in Lincoln.

We are planning to take an extended vacation to Colorado... hauling the camper out there & hanging out enjoying nature & getting to know people from the area I've met online & chatted with for the past 6 months or so. We have some friends who will be traveling to the area this summer as well... and we plan to meet up with them & show them around! We also decided to apply for passports & may head to Mexico to enjoy some beach time... and a change of scenery! This, of course, will depend largely on the price of gas this summer!

I guess that's about it for now. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? As of this moment we will be content to be city dwellers living a simpler life. I'll try to do better keeping this space up... so check in now & then to see what's new & exciting!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Time is Running Out!

MAKING THE CHANGE:

Time is running out! One thing I’ve been trying to do in preparation for our new lifestyle is to use household cleaners that are eco-friendly. Things like Windex, SoftScrub and other cleansers are being traded for vinegar & water, baking soda & borax. This hasn’t been easy because like so many others, I’ve become accustomed to going down the cleaning products aisle at the store & loading up with chemicals! The thing I’ve noticed the most is that my nose is happier… it’s not stuffed up or running when I clean! I haven’t been able to completely wean myself off of my favorite bath soap and shampoo… although I’ve tried a shampoo (from a health food store) that I REALLY liked… so I will probably make that switch when I’m done with what I’m using now.

Paper and Plastic! After much nagging & reminding from my husband I have made the switch from paper towels to newspaper to wash windows & mirrors… but I should probably get rid of paper towels & paper napkins too. They are a waste… not to mention the trees that are killed to make them. (Sorry… I won’t budge on toilet paper or Kleenex!) I’m sure using a cloth washcloth in the kitchen and cloth napkins at the table would be just as effective… although I’d have to wash them instead of just throwing them away. Like everything else... it’s a compromise!

I’ve not been good about recycling newspapers. I hate that the local newspaper overcharges (I believe) for the paper you buy… then charges you again to come pick them up for recycling. Grrr. We have used newspapers previously for packing boxes when shipping eBay items, wrapping gifts in and kindling in our outdoor fire pit… but once we make the move we’ll no longer get a local paper so that problem will solve itself. All the decorating magazines I’ve been holding onto will probably end up at a women’s shelter or doctor’s office.

I always keep the plastic shopping bags (paper bags aren’t even offered where we shop)…and use them in smaller wastebaskets in the house. The excess often gets used for a “trash sack” in the car or when I have a garage sale. Since garage sale “season” is over and my huge bag o’ bags was nearly overflowing I put that bag in the car to take back to the recycling box at the grocery store! I think it was in the car for 2 weeks before I was "reminded" to drop it off! When we move I can see us using coolers for cold/frozen items and tubs with lids for the rest of our groceries.

Miscellaneous Recycling! I need to start being very diligent about recycling cans and glass. Space is an issue for recycling…I’d have to put large containers outside then remember to take them to the recycling center (4 blocks away! oh my!).

I’m not sure where I’d put a compost pile now (in town) – but it’s a habit I need to form. I’m sure we’ll have some sort of compost pile in Colorado as we won’t have garbage service. I’ve seen very simple compost piles made from recycled wood pallets attached to 4x4 posts. The compost would have to be turned by hand (so to speak). Jerry has mentioned buying a fancy barrel-type composter that looks like a cement mixer… one that you turn with a crank. I’m thinking the simpler (cheaper) the better!

My parents didn’t do any composting out on their farm when I was growing up (or now)… table scraps went to the barn cats and the occasional opossum… and other scraps (peels, egg shells & such) went into the garbage disposal. I have to say – they are very good about recycling cans and dad uses newspaper in the fireplace. For many years my mother reused margarine & Cool Whip containers to freeze produce in and she also has a good stash of glass jars that she freezes chopped peppers or onions in (for easy use). I remember my grandfather took his recycling (cans & stuff) and food scraps out to the windbreak… maybe he thought it was far enough from the house to keep the critters & smell away.

Electricity & Water! We are currently renting… and have only one utility bill a month (electric, water & garbage are bundled) but since we’ve made the decision to live off the grid we have become more conscious of how much electricity & water we use. Often at night I use the computer with the lights off, play the piano in the dark, and watch tv in the dark. We turn off lights when we leave a room, keep the furnace turned down to 68 during winter and the a/c up to 78 in during summer. If it’s nice outside we open the windows & enjoy the fresh (*hack*) air and maybe use a fan. I am able to take a shower in well under 10 minutes (slightly more if I have to shave my legs!) - 6 minutes is my "personal best"; I no longer run the water while brushing my teeth; I don’t use the dishwasher – I run the sink to ½ full and run the water only a bit (not full blast) for rinsing dishes. I should get into the habit of using a dishpan to rinse in (run water & dip the dishes) then re-use the water for watering plants or for cleaning.

Lots of "shoulds" and noting that things are "habits I need to form"... Time is running out... Change is coming!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Friends...

Last night we entertained 3 other couples... good friends that we enjoy spending time with... one couple in particular has become extended family! We enjoyed appetizers, margaritas, mixed drinks & soda... and lots of conversation! Amazing! Even without music or bar noise...we were really loud!

As time went on last night... the conversation turned to our plans of moving to Colorado. Everyone expressed their thoughts & ideas (not all positive, I might add)... and there was lots of teasing... at least I hope they were teasing!
We've long ago established that this (moving to Colorado, living in a camper, etc.) is not everyone's idea of a fun time... especially for those who don't like to camp in the first place... but I get the idea that some of them believe we'll not have any contact with civilization
(in the words of one friend " where is the closest shopping & does the hotel have room service?"), we'll have no "modern conveniences" (i.e. electricity, phone/internet/tv, bathroom) and we'll be living off berries, roots, tree bark and road kill. (I'll have to send them each an autographed copy of the cookbook I'll write on cooking with those things! Ha!)
On the upside... the same friend who wanted to know where the nearest shopping was also commented on what great shape we'll be in from all the work we'll be doing out there. There's the positive comment we were looking for! I think it will great fun & very interesting to hear what they have to say once we get out there & begin "homesteading".

OT: Yesterday we loaded up several boxes of Hayli's toys & clothes, along with items we'll be selling at a garage sale & took them to the storage unit. I undecorated our Christmas tree but left the tree in the living room with berries & birds on it. I moved a couple things around in the living room & it's starting to feel less cluttered. Of course, I have a LONG way to go as we will be selling (or giving away?) wall decor, knick-knacks, and "stuff" - in general. Some of the furniture will also "go". Some days when I think about getting rid of "stuff" I'm really okay with it... and other days it's like losing a dear friend or family member.
Today we'll be taking more stuff to the antique mall... I think this will be one of those less traumatic days!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Just a short note to wish you all a Happy (healthy, prosperous & blessed) New Year! We even downsized our New Year! We did not spend lots of money to celebrate (as we usually do - going out to dinner with friends, dancing & drinking)... but instead we took Jerry's dad, son Alan & 3 grands to McD's for burgers & playtime then home to watch movies & play cards. New Year's Eve for 7 for under $50.00! Whoopie!

We haven't made any "resolutions" ... yet... but will try to keep the things we've written here (keeping the faith, downsizing our household, spending less money, living simply~ on our way to being debt free!). The following would be a good "resolution": The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. Lamentations 3:25 For us there will be LOTS of depending on GOD in the next year! He has been faithful to provide for us this past year & we are thankful!

God Bless you in this coming year!