The Balance Between Joy and Grief

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I had a post mostly written a few weeks ago, then scrapped it. Our family has been on a roller coaster of sorts for the past three months or so. I haven’t had much time alone to think, much less write.

My brother is terminally ill with cancer, and my parents have moved their camper up to our property to be closer to him. We’ve shared some great times together, savoring every moment we can with him. He’s growing tired; the pain, and disease are taking their toll.

I wrestle with my own selfish thoughts, wants and so-called needs. I want to spend more time with him, but there’s another part of me that only wants to remember my strong, funny big brother like he was before this horrible thief of life took that away from me. I want to stay away, I want to hide in my own selfish feelings, but I know that’s not fair to him.

My folks are older, and this is wearing on them as well. I try to be strong for them, but all of our nerves are starting to fray.

Two weeks ago my brother’s oldest grandson passed away. He was 18, his 19th birthday would’ve been this month. He had been in a horrific car accident last fall. He had worked hard and rehabbed back, learning to walk, talk and he even moved back home. We were so optimistic for him and his future. Then suddenly, his mom found him in the middle of the night at his desk…Gone.

In my other post, I had all sorts of rants about who to blame for things going wrong in this world. The shootings, kids in drunk driving accidents, the breakdown of the family, I had it all. I threw it out, because none of that can change anything. My heart is still broken, our family is still barely hanging on, and the world continues to spin out of control, it seems.

What I can change is how I handle each of these things in my own life. My family has a huge support system surrounding us and lifting us up in prayer constantly. Without that, we would be much less able to cope with these things that are piling up around us.

A couple of weeks ago, I brought my grandkids home with me to give their daddy some time to study for a test he’s going to take soon. As we were driving up our dirt road, they asked why I want to live out here.

I think about this a lot. Especially when things are hard. The constant wind is annoying. The heat of the summer is oppressive. The water leaking through the window in our bedroom is depressing. The lack of money to finish our house is discouraging, but….

What I told them is the quiet is one of the things I value the most. I love the animals, birds and even the critters that we live with in harmony.

To be able to look out and have an unobstructed view in any direction is priceless. I look out our window at night and I can see the stars, billions of them.  I try to find beauty and joy in all things, even the smallest blossom on a weed. We’ve been given such a wonderful opportunity to live here, for however long. I’m not talking about my property. I’m talking about all of us.

We need to connect with whatever love and beauty we’ve been given. Find joy in the everyday things. Love when you can, grieve when you need to, and live your life with as full a cup of joy as you can every single moment.

“…Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

 

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There’s Something Strange in the Neighborhood

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Things are changing around here

 

Let me point out a few of the changes to our normally peaceful neighborhood.

  1. For the past few weeks, I’ve been awakened to the sound of a helicopter going overhead most every weekday.
  2. Our newest neighbors fenced in their property with barbed wire fence. Yikes!
  3. Our other new neighbors moved into a 5th wheel on their property. (This is actually pretty cool.) My hubby has met the guy and I think we are going to have some good friends here.
  4. The people who own the forty acres directly west of us had a drilling company taking core samples on their property.
  5. The people who are directly north of us are building a road that I’m sure is big enough to land a 747 on.

I knew deep down this might happen, someday, it’s progress. I just figured there weren’t enough brave, (or crazy) people out there to do what we are doing…Living off the grid. Well, mostly off the grid. My son-in-law tells me I would have to give up my cell phone and internet to accomplish that. I lived for nine months without the internet and all that did was cost me an arm and a leg in gas money to have to run to the library every time I needed to work. Not worth it!

I’m slowly adjusting to the changes…

The helicopter is temporary; they are fixing power lines up on the mountain.

The newest neighbors haven’t made plans to move out here, so it’s still relatively quiet, except when he comes out to shoot his guns.

I’m going to like the new neighbors building on the hill, I can feel it.

The road building is done, and it doesn’t affect us, except now we have better access to our property on the other side of the ravine.

Change is inevitable I guess. I was remembering the first days and weeks we were here. I was feeling sorry for myself, sitting in a hot little camper with no electricity, no water, and barely any food (the fridge wasn’t working).

I dug out my old journal and Bible and sat on the bed and wrote. The quiet was overwhelming. The only sound was the wind blowing through the parched grasses. I had two dogs and a cat staring at me like I’d lost my mind, and at that point I thought the same thing. What had we done?

Once we got our new camper it was a little better, but still hard. The first shower I took in here was freezing cold. We hadn’t figured out how to light the hot water heater yet. Dave was over in the other camper with the dogs when he heard me scream from the shock of the icy water. He came over and asked what happened. When I told him, he laughed and went back to the other camper. I finished my shower, then when I tried to open the shower door, it was stuck. It wasn’t as much stuck as I couldn’t figure out how to open it. I stood there shivering wondering if I should try to get Dave back over here or figure it out myself. I tried everything I could think of…

Before I could start laughing or crying, Dave showed up to check on me. He told me how the door worked, and I was good to go. The next day I figured out the hot water heater.

We stayed in the old camper because we didn’t have bedding and any place for the animals yet. That night I laid awake listening to the coyotes sing. I thought I could see them in the moonlight, but now I know they were not in plain sight.

Since all the activity has been happening around here, we haven’t heard the coyotes for weeks. I miss them. I’m hoping they are whelping or just re-grouping and will come back soon.

Yes, things are changing, but I’m adjusting. Some things are good. We’ve had so many different birds here. Bluebirds, Hummingbirds, House finches, Quail. Even the rabbits are not as shy. I’ve always wanted to live close to nature and now I am.

I thank God for those first hard days. I’m thankful that now our lives seem so easy in comparison, but most of all I thank him for the beauty of being able to live here in the quiet beautiful place I call home.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

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Tangled in the Red Tape of Bureaucracy

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When you are a product of your own thinking, you find out how just how flawed those thoughts can be.

I’m not talking about being a bad person, I’m talking about instant gratification. I’m a child of the 70’s, the last of the baby boomer generation. We were taught that you can have and do anything you set your mind to.

While this isn’t wrong, I know we can become what we think we can, or what we think about we bring about. No, what I’m talking about is waiting, saving and working towards a goal that doesn’t come automatically.

We naively stepped into this project thinking we could get it done in a matter of months, now we are approaching our second year of living here in our camper. I had accepted things as they were, this will take time, money, and lots of patience.

A month ago we were thrown another curve ball. One bright sunny morning a pickup with a county logo drove up our driveway. I was curious because we hadn’t called for an inspection, and the county assessor had already visited in January.

I greeted the man, who was all business. He introduced himself as the compliance officer for the county. He started in by informing me that someone had complained about the tires on our property. He looked over at the building site with seeming contempt, asking me if the county had approved us using tires to build with. I assured him they had.

The conversation went this way back and forth for a while. He intimated that living in our camper and using our septic for black water disposal wasn’t allowed.

After a little while, he eased up and told me we could probably work something out. He said to expect a formal letter in the mail and we would have to respond within a month.

I was very upset and texted the hubby at work right away. He laughed it off and told me not to worry about it. Then when the letter arrived two days later, he got upset. We called our attorney, just to see what our rights were.
We met with her a few days later and she advised us to comply as best we can and make a plan for the rest.

We had let our building permit expire and when we called the county building department, they said to wait until we were closer to getting an inspection before we renewed it. Obviously, that wasn’t sound advice.

We have renewed our permit, and tried to contact the engineer about the septic, etc. I wrote a letter of explanation to the compliance officer yesterday.
All of this to say, just because you are off grid, doesn’t mean you are out of the tangle of red tape of bureaucracy, in fact you are under more scrutiny.

We are slow, but we do learn from our mistakes. I’m hoping that anyone following this and dreaming of an earthship of their own will learn as well. I had thought we were far enough out of town that no one would really care what we were up to. Apparently, I was wrong.

Until the time where people stay out of other people’s business, we will play nice. Dave always reminds me to let love be our guide. Sometimes I would like to show people that love right up close and personal.

I’m reminded constantly that words matter. I wanted to lash out. I wanted to retaliate to whomever “tattled” on us, but I am calmer now. I am excited that things are moving again. We have been forced to take positive action.

“A gentle answer turns way wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Peace and happy sailing. V

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Spring is a Fraud

 

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Spring is definitely on its way

 

I’ve been dreading the coming of Spring. Yes, you read that right. It’s my least favorite season. Here, next to a mountain, its cold, windy and bitter. It’s my husband’s favorite time…he always tells me, “It’s the return of the light.” Maybe I like late Spring, like May. Yes, that’s the Springtime I like.

The early Spring is a fraud. There are a few warm days where you feel like you can leave your heavy coat at home, then BAM! Snow! That happened to me last weekend. I went to church with a light jacket and by the time I got out, there was a massive snow storm with huge snowflakes and blustery wind.

I’m not exactly bitter, I just want to reserve my delight for the warmer weather to where I can count on a sunburn from the cloudless day, not have to worry if I have my snow boots in the car just in case.

What’s really got me puzzled is the change in the weather patterns. It’s not Winter in December, sometimes not even January. This year we had no snow until January and the temperatures were in the 60’s until then. It’s weird, that’s for sure.

All that aside, living like we do, I am learning to appreciate every little gift that comes our way. The mountain blue birds came for a visit and one even perched on the hook outside the window. I can hang the clothes on the line, and after a couple of hours they might be dry. There is green peaking through the dirt (okay, so it’s weeds, but still.)

Our house is on hold for a little while till we can save a bit more money. I’ve been in touch with the plumber to let him know we haven’t forgotten him, and are re-grouping and will move forward as soon as we can. He seems like he’s still interested in our project, so that’s good.

As I said in a previous post, our building permit has expired, again, and when we called, the clerk advised us to wait to update till we have something for them to inspect. That takes a bit of pressure off for sure.

When we first started our house, we had an approximate completion of around six months. That deadline has come and gone, but I’m no longer anxious about it. I’ve relaxed, and I realize with the delays, I can now plan and get exactly the home I want.

I thought we would have to settle for some finishes that may not be what I would ultimately want. The last house we built was finished in approximately 90 days and the builder asked me question after question and I got tired of answering and caring, so I just quickly picked things. Not this time. I’ve had time to change my mind 10 times.

We will get this home built and it will be everything we dreamed of and more. We are grateful for what we have been given and for what’s to come. It will be worth the wait, no doubt.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

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Be careful what you pray for

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In my last post I was worrying over the lack of moisture we’ve had this winter. Now suddenly it seems we are getting hit left and right with storms. This is both a blessing and a curse for me. We desperately need the water, but I’m affected by the weather changes in the form of migraine headaches. At times I can tell you exactly when the storm arrives to the minute from the pain in my head.

If the low (or high) pressure stays in place for a few days, my body gets used to it. But the fast-moving storms are the worst!

I am so very thankful though. I was wondering if there were a water shortage and rationing if we, as outside customers to the town’s water supply, would be excluded from purchasing water this summer. I’m not sure how that all works, but something to maybe plan for.

We have been trying to find a way to make some money quickly to fund the next phase of our build. Dave has started a new business and we are trying different marketing plans to sell my books, but both of those things take awhile to see the fruits of our labor. Dave’s work in the oilfield has slowed down considerably as well, so our money is not as abundant as we would like it to be.

After much thought and prayer, we decided to jump back into the real estate market again. We have bought and sold a few houses. We fixed them up and rented to friends and family, then when we needed money, we would sell them. We’ve learned a lot in the years since we started doing this, and now we feel like we can make more educated decisions. It’s a stressful business, but we actually like this, using our appraisal skills comes in handy as well.

Last week we went to look at a house in the town where we used to live. This house was definitely a fixer. We haven’t counted it out, but I’m not sure this was what I envisioned for us to tackle. Dave thought if we needed to, we would live in the house while we were rehabbing. I immediately had a sad feeling wash over me. I hate to leave our quiet solitude we have up here. Besides, this house isn’t livable yet anyway. No plumbing pipes, no bathroom, etc.

Sure, it’s not easy living in a camper fulltime, in fact, we woke up to wet pillows from water coming in through the wall last night. I got another big towel and I tried to clean up the wall as best I could at midnight.  When I woke up this morning, the wall was bulging and when I pushed on it, it cracked from the ice inside the wall. I’m not sure what we are going to do in the meantime, but we will have to eventually tear out that wall and fix it, along with the window where I suspect the water is coming in. My son and I did a quick fix on it last winter, but obviously it needs more.

     The night before I had to clean out everything under the bathroom sink, due to a leaky pipe. Our water pump sounds like it’s going out as well. I list all these things, not to complain, or have you feel sorry for me, but to let you know in spite of all of this, I’m more determined than ever to stick this out.

If we moved to town and fix up a house, we would have to get used to noise, neighbors and trying to fit into a neighborhood again. Here, I can enjoy my morning walk with my dogs without fear of other dogs rushing us and starting a fight. I can leave my door and car unlocked without fear of anyone taking anything. I don’t have to worry about utility bills, mortgage payments, or any of the other stressors we had to deal with before.

As I look out the window of my warm, imperfect little camper, I see not only the natural beauty of the snow and fog, but I see the simplistic beauty of the life we are creating. Is it easy? Are we close to moving into our dream home? Not even, but this is home. We are comfortable, happy, blessed, and we are here to stay.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

 

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Living in the Moment

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I stare out the window of our little camper at the snow covered building site, I try to be thankful for how far we’ve come. Dave has spent hours and hours pounding tires and we are almost to the point of needing plumbers and electricians to come stub things in. We didn’t have enough done to get an inspection, so we’ll have to renew it once again, but this is a process. I like to compare it to the pioneers living on the prairie in sod houses. At least I don’t have a dirt floor. (Well I guess the earthship floor is dirt now.)

We purchased a small shed for our water tank and it has really been a lifesaver for the hubby. He doesn’t have to go to town on bad roads to get our water every week. We can make it last for almost three weeks if we’re careful. We open the doors with a southern exposure and warm the small shed and tank up. When it’s really cold Dave starts a small propane heater up for an hour or so and it keeps it warm enough so the water in the tank doesn’t freeze. We’ve had such a mild winter, this is the first snow that hasn’t melted after a few hours.

Everyday I walk my dogs down to either the place we call the point, or down the deer trail to the bottom of the ravine. I am constantly in a state of gratitude for being able to walk on our own land, looking for rabbits, or just enjoying the beauty I’m surrounded by. I thought I was really living in the moment, but once again, I’ve been schooled.

My husband and I recently attended the funeral of a dear friend. She was 83 and her name was Joy. I’ve never met a person so aptly named. She was so happy and laughed at everything. Her joy was muted when she lost her husband of 60+ years a few years ago, but she loved her family and she loved the Lord and eventually her joy returned.

We are very close to her daughter, in fact she worked for us for a time, that’s how we met Joy. If you’ve ever heard the term “fast friends” that would describe Terri and me. We worked together in a mortgage company first, then when we set up our appraisal business, she came to work for us. I love her like a sister.

I sat in the service with tears streaming down my face. Not because of the loss of this precious lady, I know she’s in a better place. I cried for my lost moments. I watched the slideshow of her life with tons of pictures with all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and she was always right in the middle of the shot. She certainly lived in the moment. She lived and recorded the moments with her in them. This family now has memories and pictures to invoke those memories any time they want.

I have been reluctant to be in pictures because of how I looked. Whether my hair wasn’t fixed just right, or I needed to shed those pounds, I stepped back and took the pictures instead.

One of my intentions for this year is to live in the moment. I thought I was already close to doing that, but sitting in that service, looking at pictures of someone’s else’s life, I realized I have my head in the moment, but I’m not all in. The pictures may bother me initially, but when it’s all said and done, does that really even matter? Will my grandkids care whether I was plump? Isn’t it more important that I came to their dance recitals and lacrosse games?

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The same holds true for this process of building an earthship. We need to plan and move forward, of course, but this isn’t going to happen overnight. We have to find ways to make enough money to fund this, do the work and move forward. I’m struggling with this concept because we live in a world of instant (or almost) gratification. Need a house built? Go get a loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars and it’s done. We aren’t doing that, but on the other hand, when it’s all said and done, we won’t have to make those big mortgage payments either.

Life can be simplified, but be prepared to work hard, be patient and thankful to get there.

Psalm 30:5  “…weeping may remain for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Peace, V

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Happy New Year from the ship builders

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Whew! What a fast year that was. I can’t believe we are in the New Year already. So many things have happened in the past 12 months, I thought I would give you a little readers digest version of them.

In January our son was laid off from his North Dakota oilfield job, so he headed back home, and he and the kids lived in their 5th wheel again. We celebrated our granddaughter’s birthday with a big bash at Chuckie Cheese’s and she had a ball. Well, up until she got home and had the flu all night. Poor babe.

February was cold and dry for the most part. Dave celebrated his birthday, and we plugged along trying to get used to life in the camper in the cold. We had a problem with humidity and found several of our important papers that were stored in the upper cupboards were soggy and ruined. Our bedroom was another place where we had lots of moisture. I guess we are heavy mouth breathers. I would wake up in the night and wipe down the walls with towels. We’ve since purchased a dehumidifier, but so far we haven’t had any rain or snow for months.

Speaking of that, we could be headed into a drought. That makes me a bit nervous since we have to purchase our water from the local town. If they don’t have enough, we may be out of luck. They will probably just charge us more per load, which is really reasonable right now. That is something to think about in the future.

The spring brought cold, harsh winds. I’ve always dreaded the spring winds, even in the town we lived in before. It would feel like the wind came straight down from Grand Mesa bringing the coldest, most bitter air it could. Now we live at the base of that mountain, so we are that much closer, and that much colder.

Our son got another job in late spring, so that was a big blessing. He worked long hours and since he had no vehicle at that time, I had to drive him to work. As long as he was working at the shop, it wasn’t too bad, but when he would have to meet his ride at the Interstate at 3 a.m. this old mama had a bit of a hard time.

We made it through and he got a place with one of his work buddies in July. This was a mixed blessing for me. Happy that he’s doing so well, but, I have to admit, I got very used to having him and his kids living so close.

I had to have emergency gall bladder surgery the Friday before Father’s Day. I had been feeling sick for quite a while, but I was afraid to admit that something may be wrong. There was no denying it then. I had the surgery and my folks came down, and helped out while I was recovering. I was better after a week or so, but there were certain things I couldn’t do, like start the generator for air conditioning by myself.

My sister and brother in law stopped by to help me most days, and a neighbor did it if they couldn’t make it. Eventually we got the automatic starter going, so that was even better. We did fine until the whole thing broke down. My son and his roommate took it to a little shop, but they were so busy they never got to it.

That was a mixed blessing, because as it turned out, it was still under warranty and if they had worked on it, we would’ve had to fit the bill. We found an authorized dealer to fix it and four long, hot weeks later we had it back.

In the meantime, we had a small portable swamp cooler, so I could at least tolerate the heat. A gift from my brother in law, and I’m so thankful for his generosity.

We were in need of a vacation from life and trying to build this house, so we planned to go to Taos, New Mexico and check out the earthship community there. We were going to time it so that we could drive down to Albuquerque and catch the annual balloon festival. I told our son about our plans and he told me in no uncertain terms that was no vacation. I laughed him off, but a few days later he called and told me to get a passport and pack warm because he was sending us on a real vacation.

He wanted to surprise us, but since I don’t have a passport and they need a destination to let you have one, he had to tell us. He sent us on an Alaskan cruise!

 

We left our dry, parched parcel of land and headed to Denver to catch a plane. From there we flew to Seattle to catch the boat! We were so excited and didn’t want to get left behind, so instead of exploring the city a little bit, we went straight to the dock and checked in. We ended up having plenty of time, having to wait in a huge room at least an hour before we could board the ship.

Dave gets so excited to explore new places. He had us up and down on every level of the ship within the first few hours we boarded. I think there was only one place we never got to, a chapel. We had wanted to check it out on the Sunday, but there was a group in there most of the time.

I thought we would start to relax as soon as we boarded, but it took Dave at least 24 hours to relax and when we did, we slept. I think I slept for 12 hours straight, then we ate (of course) then I napped again.

We had so much fun exploring the little villages and towns we docked at. We went to a logging show, and when we were in Juneau, we purchased a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier, and a whale watching tour.

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We were so excited for the whale watching and had to catch another bus, so instead of hiking around and checking the glacier all out, we took a few pictures then sat and waited for our next bus. We are such goofy travelers. I get all worried about the schedules and I don’t want to miss the bus, I end up missing what is right in front of me.

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The boat for the whale watching was small and since we were the last to purchase tickets, we ended up on the “honeymooner’s seats.” It was a little bench at the back of the boat, outside, but they gave us a blanket and gave us our own private talk about what to expect. We had a blast and saw quite a few whales. Magnificent! That alone was worth the trip. When we got back to shore, the tide had moved out, so we had to hike up a long dock to get to the bus. There were bald eagles perched on every pole, tree and on the buildings when we got there. They were all over the place, kind of how ravens are here.

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We had another day at sea then we got to Victoria, B.C. We visited the Buchard Gardens. Spectacular! I had been as a young adult, but I had forgotten how remarkable the whole place was.

We flew back from Seattle to Denver and had breakfast with my cousin and her hubby the next morning. When we got home, I was worried I would be dreading our dry climate and sage brush and redish dirt everywhere. But I was surprised to feel the sense of peace of coming home. Dusty, dry, dirty home.

The rest of the fall flew by. I wrote another book in my Xander James Mystery series in the November (NaNoWriMo) writing contest.

December was dry and warm. We only had light snow a couple of times, but that’s good for our solar system. Dave worked on Christmas, so I went to the kids’ houses and visited with them on Christmas morning. I stopped at my sister’s house and saw my folks, then came home and made us a nice little Christmas dinner.

My family got together after Christmas at a church for a potluck. It was so much fun. No stress, just food and visiting. I told Dave that day felt more like Christmas than ever.

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I’m at peace, feeling exited and energized for the first time in a long time.

I’ve given up resolutions, and now have intentions. My intentions for the new year are to be grateful for every blessing I have, and to live in the now.

God bless you all in this bright new do-over. V

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Waiting for Blessings Take Patience

 

 

 

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Blog post #18

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most patient person in the world. I tend to be a go-getter, if things don’t happen quickly, I’ll go make it happen.

I know the Lord is teaching me to stop and wait for him to give me everything I want and more. In jumping ahead, I miss out on the good things and the surprises he has in store.

I have been given gifts that I would’ve probably never gotten for myself, or at least not for a long time. Let me back up.

I’ve always wanted a matching bedroom set. When Dave and I got married, we had a hodgepodge of furniture that was given to each of us by our parents. We had a bed, but no bedframe, mismatched dressers, goofy lamps, a bed stand, even a love seat to complete the room. The thought of spending money on a good bedroom set was in the back of my mind, but since guests don’t usually go into your bedroom, I just put it into the file of “someday.”

When my Aunt Evelyn passed away suddenly my cousin, Janet, was given the daunting task of going through her things and divvying up who gets what and what should we do with this? I had no idea we would be a part of her answer. My Mom and Dad took a trip over the mountain to help her move some things and my dad called and asked if we would like to have Aunt Evelyn’s bedroom set. I said sure, not even knowing what it looked like. Things were loaded up in a borrowed horse trailer and Mom and Dad delivered our new bedroom set. It is high quality and very nice. Thank you, Janet, Mom and Dad. Oh, and God provided when we didn’t even ask.

Since we’ve been doing our project, we’ve been living in a pull trailer, which probably has less than 300 square feet to live in. The winter was a little difficult, but I dreaded the summer more. I don’t deal with heat very well. I made up my mind I was going to be ok. I’d just crank up the generator to run the A.C. if I really needed to.

In the meantime, I had to have emergency gall-bladder surgery. I was helpless as far as starting the generator, it had to be pull started and I didn’t have the strength after my surgery. Family and neighbors stopped by to help me most days, and on the days when they couldn’t come, I would take my son’s dog to the park, sit and read and wait for Dave to get off work. Eventually he got the electric starter charged up and then I could do it myself.

A few weeks after that, the generator stopped working all together. It would run, but no electricity would come out. Our son and his roommate took it to a repair shop they knew of for us and we waited. We called after two days, then four, then it turned into a week and they hadn’t even had a chance to look at it. Good thing, because it was still under warrantee and there was only one place in town that was authorized to work on it.

They picked it back up and left it in their garage and we found the dealer to work on it. I delivered it with no problems and they promised me they would have answer.

In the meantime, my sister and her husband gave us a swamp cooler that saved my sizzling bacon. We had started looking at small window mount coolers just to get us through… Another answer. The generator was eventually fixed after about six weeks. We survived and since it was still under warrantee, it was all free.

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Since my son was in middle school, my hubby and I have dreamed about taking a cruise to Alaska, but again, we put that way down on our priority list. Like maybe, someday, probably never. With the building of the house, breakdown of equipment, my expensive surgery without insurance, hubby starting another business, well you get the picture.  We really needed to have a get-away, but it had to be fairly close and not too expensive.

 

 

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I was looking at Pinterest and decided the Albuquerque balloon festival might be just what we needed. We could stop in Taos, New Mexico and check out Earthship Biotecture and be inspired. Hubby agreed and put in for what little time off he had.

I was on the phone with my son and told him about our plans, there was a long pause on his end of the line. He told me, “Mom, that’s not a vacation.”

I just laughed and told him, “Well that’s all we can swing this time.”

 

 

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A few days later, my son called and told me to grab my passport, pack warm and get ready for a trip of a lifetime. No questions, no turning it down, just say yes. I cried, not even knowing where we were headed.

I called him the next day and asked for more specific information since I would have to know where we were going if I was to apply for a passport. He reluctantly told me he’d paid for my hubby and I to go on an Alaskan cruise. I cried again…How awesome is God, our son and the way things work out.

We had a fantastic trip, the weather was beautiful; no rain, sunshine, happiness, whales, glaciers, food, fun. I didn’t even have much trouble with my stomach, which could’ve been bad since we were on a floating food buffet.

It did take us about 24 hours to settle down and relax. Dave loves to go, go, go, and he wanted to explore every nook and cranny on the ship within the first 6 hours on board. There was only one place we never got to and I’m sad about that, the chapel. They had a group there for a memorial when we were going to check it out.

 

I was a little worried, after living in such luxury I might find it hard to come back to the dry, arid desert and the small camper we live in. What was amazing was I never felt resentful, sad or upset that we live like we do. I was happy to be home in our cozy little camper and welcomed October and the beautiful fall colors with open arms.

The month of November brings more work for me than ever. I am doing NaNoWriMo again, I released my 6th book, am getting ready to publish the prequel novella I wrote this summer, and I volunteered to make the turkey for Thanksgiving at my folks’ house.

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I am looking back at this year, pausing and thanking God for all of his abundant blessings. Some we don’t even remember we wanted. I am still learning, every day, every minute that God is in charge, he loves me and wants to give me the best life I can have.

So in this season, pause, think about all you have, and with a grateful heart just say thank you.

 

 

“Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10

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I See You

Workers

 

Please allow me to give a little attention to my love. He is the reason we are able to live here and to build our dream home. Thank you with all of my heart Dave. I love you.

 

I See You

 

I see you working.

I see how tired you are from working 12 hour shifts for 5, sometimes 6 days in a row.

I see you getting up at 3 a.m. even though you only had a few hours sleep.

I see you trying to hold on, to keep working a menial job, that doesn’t challenge your intellect.

I see you rushing home from work to do thousands of little things that have to be done to survive here.

I see you missing most birthdays, concerts, festivals, reunions, grandkids’ games, concerts, and church because you work every weekend when everyone else has time off.

I see you taking your vacation time to build our home.

I see you trying to better yourself, for us…and me.

I see the pain in your eyes when I’m sick, or hurt.

I see you get frustrated that you don’t have the time, or energy, or money it takes to build such a difficult home.

I see you work on another new plan to get you and us to the next level.

I see you struggle with negative thoughts, anger and other emotions that come so easy because you are exhausted.

I see you being my biggest cheerleader, my confidant, my friend.

I see you holding me, even when you want to rail at whatever, or whomever made me cry.

I see you always believing we will be successful.

I see you never giving up, even when we both want to.

I see you loving me through it all.

I see you…..

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A Year In the Life

 

 

 

A Year In the Life

(A glimpse of 365 days)

Earthship Blog post #17

 

I’ve been avoiding my journal and my blog for several reasons. One, I’ve been tired, another I’ve let negativity rule how I feel. I’ve been wallowing in self-pity- things with the house have almost come to a stand-still.

I had big dreams to spend out first Christmas here in our new home. That wasn’t to be, then I dreamed about maybe having the next Christmas in our home, but we might not make that either.

We’re in the process of building our funds back up. We are looking at several ways to do that, and it all takes time, so I am learning about patience.

I’ve been reading other’s blog posts about their journey to build an earthship as well, and it has helped me to understand this is not just building a home, but building a lifestyle and building a home that will not only shelter us, but will provide food and water as well.

Being a baby-boomer doesn’t exactly help either. We have been conditioned to expect instant gratification in all things. If you don’t have the money right now, go borrow it, or better yet, put it on a credit card. I know my grandparents didn’t expect to own things they didn’t have the money for. They saved and scrimped or just made-do without. They never went to bed under the stress of tremendous amounts of debt crushing them.

Dave and I are both go-getters, we have rarely had to wait for the right time to do anything, or certainly not wait for God to give us the go-ahead.

Now I’ve gotten off the pity pot and I’ve renewed my attitude, energy and excitement. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our share of ups and downs even now as we speak. I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery four weeks ago. (No insurance, by the way). We have had devastating news about my brother and his cancer. But all in all God is in charge, he is good and he loves us as his children.

 

Okay, all that said, now let’s get down to the year in review. Good and bad….The top 5

 

 

 

 

 

#1 A) The first day/night we arrived on the property it had to be at least 100 degrees. We had no electricity, no water and we found out the fridge didn’t work either. Oh, and to top it off, we had to borrow a camper to bring up here. I sat outside in the shade with the wind blowing fiercely. Honestly it felt like we were sitting inside of a blast furnace. I had a horrible headache and I couldn’t face trying to fit 3 adults, 2 dogs and a cat into a tiny trailer for a night of sleepless heat. We went to a pet friendly hotel for the night.

B) We now have a lovely (sometimes feels very crowded and cluttered) camper. Solar panels provide electricity, with a back-up gas generator. We have a water tank which Dave takes on a small trailer down to the town to fill up water for us. It costs $0.50 per load, plus gas, and his time. Our fridge works great and I’ve learned how to shop to be able to stuff everything for a week at a time into it.

 

#2 A) We had to figure out what to do with my son and his kids, nothing to do, no TV, no toys. He had a job at a motorcycle shop so I watched the kids for him, we had very long days, but the kids seemed happy once they settled into their own camper which he and I bought from a guy in a nearby town. It’s small but they seemed to be happy to be on their own a little.

B) After 18 months of trying, my son finally got a good job. The only drawback is, he has to be out of town for weeks at a time and can’t be with his kids. This past weekend he, and another guy he works with, rented a house. The kids are thrilled to have their own brand-new beds and to see the toys again that have been in storage for a year.

 

 

#3 A) We had dreams we would rush right down to the county and get the necessary permits and get everything started as soon as the dust settled on our dirt road. Many visits to the building department and fees, and more fees, and more time spent there, we were sadly disappointed that our plans were rejected. We finally contacted the architect Michael Reynolds, and he went to bat for us with the county. We got approval, but with many changes. Some of those changes will cost us thousands of dollars, but we’ll deal with that later. We had to have our septic system engineered. We paid our fees, got things started and were off. Then when the money dried up and the winter came, it all stopped.

B) After all the headaches and frustrations, we have a gravel drive-way and road (we had to pay $1800 for approval to put in a gravel driveway). We have our septic system (even though they won’t give us the final inspection till the cisterns are in). That’s okay. We have our solar system up and running. (I love this part) renewable energy. So, all in all we have our infrastructure, minus the water.

 

 

#4) The weather….Each time we faced something new, I was concerned and even a little frightened. The first night that a thunderstorm moved through, I spent the night awake counting the seconds between the thunder and lightening strikes. Sitting in the middle of a dry grass field would do nothing to stop a grass fire from devouring our little compound.

The rain while cooling, would leave greasy mud in our clay soil, making it difficult to drive out. In the road leading to our property there was a huge dip in the road that would become a small pond whenever it rained. We learned to drive around it.

The snow, while beautiful, would lead to treacherous, icy roads out of here to town. It usually melted the next day, but that only meant we would have soggy, slick mud to wheel through. My son and I were headed to a funeral in January when we got stuck in our driveway. He put some rocks down, and I insisted that I drive us out so I could make sure I could do it on my own.

B) I learned if it’s snowing, move my car to the area least likely to get me stuck. We just got a new load of gravel, so we will be able to drive out a little easier. Building our driveway and road last fall helped a lot. All the neighbors on this end of the road seem to band together and do what they can to maintain the road that the county refuses to work on.

Rain, snow, and now heat again, are something we have to deal with living this close to the earth. Once we get our home built those things won’t be quite as hard or harsh.

The one thing I haven’t gotten used to yet is the wind. When it gusts up to around 50 miles per hour or more, I worry that even the solar panels might go. We have only had about 3 really bad winds, each time I end up searching for items that weren’t tied down. This last wind took the inside of my son’s camper door off. (It was propped open and the wind tore off the fiberglass.) Wind has always made me nervous.

 

 

 

#5 A) Living (or as my daughter says camping) full time here has its ups and downs. We’ve had to replace our toilet twice. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

We had water running in through the window in our bedroom, leaking all over the bed and mattress during a thaw of ice and snow.

We had a difficult time with moisture in the cupboards and on the walls, during the winter, enough that I had to wipe them down in the bedroom multiple times at night.

Our generator stopped producing electricity, which we need to run our A.C. during these hot, hot months.

We lived without the internet for 9 months. Yes, I said lived.

Our families don’t come for special occasions. Some have never even visited.

Sometimes I don’t have enough water to do the dishes. (darn) or take showers every day.

I have to drive to town to do my laundry every week.

My home is covered in dust and dirt daily.

BUT!

 

 

B) Just look at our views. I wake up every morning and look out the window at the sunrise, and go out every evening and watch the sun go down and thank God for this opportunity to have this adventure.

We made it! One year in and we survived. I know we haven’t faced every circumstance that may yet arise, but we are here on our own land and we have the chance to do something different and fresh and brave. Are we even close to being done? Nope, but we aren’t ready to give in yet either.

 

 

 

Thank you all for supporting us on this journey. I know we don’t always have earth shattering things to share, but we are here and we are grateful for every day we have to be here struggling, laughing, crying and loving. Without your interest and kindness, we might not have the courage to push on.

Ephesians 1:16 “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

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