Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Breaks My Heart

I have been losing hope out here. I'm lonely, it's cold, things go wrong constantly and the kids whine and complain. Some days I just want to hide in my bed and play solitaire all day. I was ready to move. I got so down that anywhere seemed like a good idea. However, I was getting totally unrealistic. Where am I going to go that is better than here when I live on an income of less than $1000/ month?? Who am I kidding? I live in California. Where could I go where my kids would have this much room to play? Where would we go that we could keep 5 chickens, 3 cats and a rabbit? Where could we go that I would have time to be with my kids, be self-employed, grow my own food and live by my personal ideals? And if I did manage to find some place like this, how was I going to move all of this that I have built here? Where else could I live that would allow me to pay off my student loans, save up some money for my future and be able to consider affording fixing my car, much less looking into getting a new (to me) one?

So I was completely set in my head on the failure of this arrangement when I went to talk with Shannon and Morpheus. They helped me put a lot of this into perspective and reassured me that this IS the hardest part of living out there. Winter IS lonely, cold and discouraging. Nobody is visiting us... however, there are other people living out here. They reminded me of all of the resources that I haven't yet taken advantage of. They suggested I start some sort of social meeting group like a Stitch & Bitch or something at the Junction (which is a bar, yet also a sort of community center out here). We made a list of my "problems" so that we could resolve what we could of them. That really helps, to have someone else state your issues and think about how they can be resolved. Talking with them, I also realized that my frustrations are compounded by the emotional issues I am dealing with in going through a separation and divorce. The kids are dealing with this too, emotional reactions to so much change in their lives. It's going to happen wherever we live.

After talking with my amazing friends and 'landlords' about my frustrations, I listened to a Survival Podcast interview of Margery Wildcraft about building community. This just put the final wrapping on what they were saying about connecting with other people out here. So far I have only really had much contact with one neighbor, because I end up making so many business transactions with him (I bought the 5th wheel from him) and, thus, end up talking to him a lot. I need to reach out, go to the Junction, and start really becoming a part of the community around here. There are other families with kids, but I will never meet them if I stay in my trailer/house all day.

Well, then I had a good talk with the above-mentioned neighbor. He was kind of cranky with me about something so I went over to talk to him about it. In the course of discussing the issue, we really did have a great conversation that ignited many new ideas and some hope for my future out here and in general. He's no longer cranky with me, so far as I can tell, but he has some serious expectations of me that I would be a fool to not live up to. Mostly I am being very vague about some good business ideas and plans. So, I headed home after this and felt this renewed surge of hope. I know that my kids will not join me in this until they see a noticeable fix of that which irks them, but I think we can get there. As a mom I have to trust my own gut and keep going even if the kids resist and/or complain.

There are issues I still don't know how to fix. But, I can work on solutions and I am not alone out here. I have friends who are crazier than I am and willing to tackle just about anything. I moved out here to live my life from my heart, as I have always tried to do. Part of living that way has always meant that falter and failure are crushing. My heart breaks. Living your passions is like a romantic relationship with yourself and we do not want to break hearts or have our hearts be broken. But it is only when we live past that fear that we are able to experience the highest love.

This new hope is a great relief. Moving is hard work and the thought was holding me back from making infrastructure improvements and planning out getting the dog I know I should have out here. It is not the choice that many of you reading this would make and you may not understand me or what motivates me, but that is why I am living my life and you are living yours. And now my love of my life must make it through the rest of this cold, wet and difficult winter...

How many darkest moments and traps
Still lay ahead of us
How many final frontiers
We gonna mount
And maybe no victory laps
But if you stepped on path of sacred art
and stuck it out through thick and thin
God knows you become one
With undestructable
This is my life and freedom is my profession
This is my mission throughout all flight duration
There is a core and it's hardcore
All is hardcore when made with love
Love is a voice of a savage soul
This savage love is

-Gogol Bordello

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mountain Lions, Marmalade & Tech Gadgets

I haven't really been in the mood to blog for the last month. Nor have I had much time for it. I was getting ready for the holidays, catching the kids up on their schooling, sewing for income and constantly trying to keep the house running. But now we're in the new year, 2011, the holidays are over and we return to our schooling tomorrow. And, now, I have new tech gadgets. I came away from the last of our Christmas travels with a brand new 16gb iPad and a used back up hard drive. So, this is my first attempt to blog using the iPad. I wasn't expecting to own such a gadget, but it is fun and I have been busy trying to determine how it can help me with my homemaking and homesteading tasks. Perhaps I will write an entire blog on that topic soon.

Christmas this year brought us some new cast iron for the kitchen, some great books on homesteading, canning and gluten-free baking, fleece sheets and, most importantly, some amazingly unstressful and enjoyable time with family. Jamie and I managed to travel to Fresno, Redding, Valley Springs and Sacramento to see almost all of both of our families! But, Christmas also brought an unwelcome visitor to our little mountain homestead... A mountain lion. We knew it was getting closer, but we thought it would keep a distance from a human home. I thought I only had to worry about the kitties straying OUT of the yard. I was very tragically mistaken. While we were out, and just before we arrived home one evening, a mountain lion entered our yard and took our smallest kitten, Maia's beloved kitten named Batman. We found tracks in the yard that told the tale of the wee kitten's demise, as well as tracks behind our newer trailer. This makes me feel as if we're being watched closely and makes me nervous that the new visitor is going to go after a slightly larger member of our family next. We have made new rules regarding going out after dark and keeping the kitties inside more often. Batman was a tiny, sweet and extraordinarily polite kitten. He would not leave the yard and had to be invited in or out of the house. He never made a fuss unless Maia wasn't home, and then he would cry out for her and look for her until resigning himself to accepting someone else's love until she returned. He was probably distraught by how much we were gone for the holidays, and I imagine him sitting there at the edge of the yard waiting for us to get home. He wasn't fond of the dark and cold and wouldn't have otherwise been out there like that. We are all very sad and Maia has been devastated. She's an amazing kid though and is doing her best to process her grief and love the other kitties as much as she can. She asked me at one point "Mama, do ghost kittens cuddle?" I said "I'm not sure, honey" she replied, "Well, I think Batman will come and cuddle with me at Samhain." And then she seemed to be doing better.

On a lighter note, as we all here know that death is part of life and life goes on after death...

The rainy and cold winter days are keeping us indoors and we are playing a lot of board and card games, baking yummy things and yesterday I tried my first attempt at marmalade. I made Morning Cheer Marmalade from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It has oranges and carrots, and the few bits I tasted were delicious! Though the recipe says I should end up with 6 8-oz jars at the end of it, I only ended up with 2 12-oz jars (half of what it says, if you don't want to do the math). I had the same problem when I made apple butter. Why is this, I wonder?

Now it is 2011, time to prepare for a new year, make our resolutions and go on with living the life we want to be living. We're ordering seed catalogs, discussing new plans and doing our best to stay warm. I hope you few who read this blog had a lovely holiday and I wish you a great new year.

(Btw, I lost my patience with the iPad for blogging in the second to last paragraph.)

RIP Batman...