Living Space Makeover in Poem- Part 1

Oh my, there’s clutter and  everything galore

There are Christmas boxes all over the floor

I have books aplenty and furniture too

I love all my beautiful things, this is true

Vibrant plants fill the places fighting for sun

An inspiration ignited has begun

Trying to find my husband in all this stuff

But getting started here can be kind of tough

So out with the old, the new year rings tonight

And I want my house to be a pretty sight

So we’ll start with a paint can of creamy white

And begin to fill this living space with light

As the promise of bright tomorrow dawns clear

I’ll tone down the clutter, put things away I hold dear, decorate, because that’s what I do

And start the year 2019 anew.

Check back January 2nd for the “After” pictures and post!  Happy New Year!

Release and the New Perspective

I thought I would cry when the razor came on.  But instead I found myself laughing the rest of the day.  Joy and mirth followed me in awe and shock and relief.

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Struggles, burdens, fifteen hair colors, and my ego fell to the ground.

Release.

 

The New Notebook

The pink leather notebook, fresh and empty of ideas, lay open upon the wooden breakfast table near the wood stove. Ideas flourished and manifested across the pages. The intensely planted garden of organic produce, the small dairy, the ducks, the chickens, the sheep, the goats, the bees, the homesteading school, the farmgirl classes, the herbal classes, […]

via The New Notebook — Medicine Wolf

The Accidental Stocked Pantry (yea for over-canning!)

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We are getting settled in our new place.  Our eight cats (we had to have our sweet Ichabod put to sleep) joined our roommate David’s three and they are all getting along wonderfully despite all of my worrying.

Part of the deal there is that I am cooking the meals.  After being so long without free run of a kitchen I am loving taking over his mother’s warm abode.  The other night I put Andrea Bocelli on Pandora, poured a glass of Montepulciano, and made a delicious wild mushroom risotto with fresh salad and bread.

Another friend of mine lost everything this year.  She explained it as going into shock when needing to move suddenly and gave away or sold everything.  She later fell into hysteria over it but the shock is the only way she could have done it.  I know no one likes to hear, “I know just how you feel!” but at that moment I did.  Someone closely related to me made a comment that I don’t care about anything, I just throw things away and have no attachments.  Those words punched me, stole the air from me, I do care about things.  I cared about Doug’s grandmother’s dishes.  I cared about the poster of the Rat Pack that my son lovingly gave me one year that someone took before I could off my walls.  The cards my daughter made me.  I cared about my pie safe and my things.  They all held memories to me.  They all spelled home.  But that shock of being conned and having to leave so quickly certainly did aide in my getting out.

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Oddly enough, I kept all the canned goods I had put up the previous years.  This was no easy feat.  Margie’s walls were lined with boxes of dusty jars of apples, tomatoes, potatoes, jams, pickles, and peppers.  I kept thinking I should try to sell them, but I didn’t.  I could not imagine where I would be or where we would end up so I couldn’t figure out what to keep because I didn’t know if we would be in an RV, in a tiny house, or under a viaduct.  I couldn’t see what was next but the homesteader in me brought the canned goods.

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I always go a little overboard.  It is easy to do with canning.  The first year I preserved over 700 items.  Last year over 500 because we were moving and I fell short of my goals.  This year I canned a few jellies before we had to go.  But the lovely thing about home preserved canned goods is that they last for years.  If there is no mold, and the lid is secure, then save it!  I have one jar of apricot syrup that is five years old but the rest are newer and still very good.  So, yesterday I lined the laundry room shelves with my remaining canned goods from years past.  It was a calming and warming action to be placing jars of food along the wooden shelves ready for winter.  Even though I took the summer off, some of my work had been done the year before.  A stocked pantry always looks lovely.

Picking Personas (and cookin’)

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I knew it wouldn’t be long before I came up with another hair brained scheme.  It would take awhile to institute it and I have no idea how to make it happen but I do have a dream of a type of supper club.  Whether it be at a restaurant after hours or in our home once a month I can’t be sure.  It would include no more than three tables, very romantic, beautiful music, set five course meal for one price.  Wine pairings would be included and the meal would end with one of my daughter, Shyanne’s amazing baked confections.  All housemade specialties, local and seasonal produce and ingredients, nothing artificial, everything perfectly seasoned and paired.

I am not sure how so much complexity and personas can be in one person.  How can I be just as fascinated with being a mountain mama hermit as I am a high profile sommelier?  I am as comfortable in long dresses and old fashioned aprons as I am in stilettoes and a pencil skirt.  I love the entertainment of the city as well as the old farm truck and chickens in the country life.  I am a talented herbalist, have learned from shamans over the years, love food and wine and entertaining as well as gardening and chickens too.  I have taught, modeled, danced, and owned a quaint little shop.  I devour Country Living magazine and Food and Wine magazine each month with the same intensity.  Surely these things can all culminate into one lifestyle and profession?  Which persona to choose?  The vagabond hippie?  The chef that carries truffle oil around everywhere?  The music pastor?  The shaman/herbalist?  The food critic?  The housewife hermit?  Wouldn’t it be nice sometimes if we were a smidge simpler in design?

I was walking past a restaurant that is locally owned by a man that I have done farmer’s markets with for years.  We started the same time, sold similar products for a time, quit our jobs at the same time, moved to the country at the same time, now he still does lots of markets and runs a restaurant.  As with all the roving vendors at the market we had a bit of a love/hate relationship and hearty competitive nature as well as a reverent respect for each other’s craft.

Mark walked out of the restaurant and directly towards me and asked if I would like to cook at the restaurant.  I said no because I heard he yelled.

“Are you going to yell at me?” I asked.  He replied that he could not promise that he wouldn’t.  I told him that I cry if yelled at then throw sh#t. (Maybe I have been watching too much Hell’s Kitchen.)  He said fine.  I also told him I would be the worst employee because I never know my daughter’s schedule until the last minute and don’t know when I would be able to work.

“That’s fine,” he replied again.

I start Tuesday.

Act Two

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Our blessings come to the forefront of each day.  The days we watch our granddaughter, Maryjane, are full of laughter and fun.  We talk into the evening with the great friends we share home with.  We are going to a slumber party tonight at my cousin’s house.  It will be as if we were twelve again, except this time our parents won’t come roaring downstairs because of our inability to stop laughing.  Meals, karaoke, time with family, another break from the ordinary.  We know we would never be on the streets, so many great friends and family do we have.  All the light of our days made the focus now.  What beauty these days bring!

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In our time of renewed beginnings, our journey starts with rest and entertainment.  Things we missed out on for too long because of our focused life.  Our bodies don’t miss the intense gardening, farm work, and homesteading activities but my spirit does.  Filling my time with writing, hiking, visiting, sitting on the porch, playing with the baby, and dreaming of the next venture is surely a great way to begin the next half of my life.

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All of our experiences up to this point find themselves seamlessly woven in the book I am writing just as easily as folks I have known make themselves into characters, changed, altered, romanticized.  As if the last forty-plus years were an exercise in designing settings and characters for books.

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My future gardens await, my sewing room is out there, my large kitchen will be grand, my home will be mine, books to be written.  I read about a woman in her nineties who wrote her first book, an award winning compilation of poems.

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Friends, my best is yet to come.

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Writing on the Chalk Board (novels, vineyards, and Cherokees)

Such an interesting interim.  I am surprised at how many people have told us about going through similar situations.  It is as if life just sporadically erases the chalk board so we can live a different life or a better one.

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We have been keeping ourselves busy with the Celtic Festival this weekend.  I bet I talked to a hundred people.  Where else would a hundred people stop and talk to me?  Only in Elbert County.  We are at a place now where we are writing down ideas, desires, questions, and dreams.  Where do we want to live?  We are considering Elbert County.  We are really considering the western slope of Colorado (vineyards and farms, y’all!).  That one was Doug’s idea.  The same distance away is Taos.  My dream.  But, I got vetoed again.  Doug really wants to stay in Colorado.  We want the kids near us.  Will they follow us?

“Will you be homeless for long?” one of my favorite vendors asked caringly.

“Oh, I wouldn’t think so,” was my reply.  No, Doug and I are not ready to choose a bridge design to live under.  We are far too ambitious for that.  But we don’t want to rush into anything.

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My downfall is that I panic and we take the first place available.  That thus far has not worked out for us.  So, even though we have a general base of what we want that we agree on, we are listening.  A possible job offer came up for Doug but would he be happy there?  A homesteading couple has an idea for us we are discussing Monday.  We can manifest anything we want which is why we have to be careful what we wish for.  I manifested the opportunity to live in a shed on someone else’s land. (Remember that post?) Whoops.  This time we want a two story adobe house on a hundred acres!  We are listening to murmurs and whispers and contacts and choosing a path.

A man from one of the clans at the festival got an enchanted look on his face and walked towards me.

“I see a Cherokee Princess,” he said in all seriousness.

I was shocked.  “How did you know I was Cherokee?”

He said he was Cherokee as well.  I said that I noticed a lot of folks were Cherokee and Scottish/Irish.  He said that was because when the Scots came over to North Carolina and the east (my grandfather landed in 1716) they noticed that they had very similar religions as the Indians.  What folks consider Wiccan now was considered normal practice with the Celts, a deep reverence for the Earth, and symbols of things in nature matched up with the Native religions.  That made sense.  It is part of what my novel is about that I have been writing and filled me with a few more ideas.

Will I be the next JK Rowling?  Will Doug be a professional pool player?  Will we own a vineyard?  Will we….?

The Blank Canvas and Protagonist

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Yesterday I wrote a post describing our dread and fear and the tyranny we have been enduring for the past three months but then I chose not to publish it.  After I wrote it all out (this is why I love writing) it didn’t seem so big.  I realized the landlords can’t harm us anymore.  After tomorrow we are free.

Doug and I are now faced with a rare and interesting scenario.  We are in a unique position to completely reinvent our life.  Our children are in their own homes now.  We have no job and we have no home and we have unlimited potential.  Imagine if you were given  blank slate.  “What is our heart’s desire?” my friend asked us yesterday.  Doug has not yet lived his.  I have exhausted mine to this point.  I am tired.  I want to sit on the patio of my adobe hacienda in the sun with my cats and write.  Our friend had Doug write down what he really loves.  He folded the paper and put it away.  Unlimited ideas and colors float all around us.

Doug had a good book idea for me.  I have not written anything fictional since I was in high school but his idea sparked a million ideas in my own creative furnace.  The protagonist could be an herbalist, part native, part Scottish.  I have a lot of great stories of helping people with herbs from my own experiences and mixing in an old fashioned atmosphere would bring a sense of history to the pages.

What do we want our life to be like?  Where is it?  What do we do?  What do we love?  We are painting on a fresh canvas with any mediums we like.

Our Farmstead (a new chapter)

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The house smells faintly of wood smoke.  It is beautiful here.  Serene.  Earlier when taking my greyhound for a walk through the acres of tall grass, he startled a large owl.  It fled from a massive willow and swept overhead across the pasture, it’s long grey wings soaring.  The skyline is seemingly painted.  Such a sense of surreality to it all.  The sun rising over the prairie, those luminous mountain peaks, the glorious rose fire of sunset, the glittering city lights in the distance.   The night sky is dark and mysteriously layered.  There is space here for finding peace.  Space for finding self.

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Such an odd thing to move without one’s children.  Granted they are adults and don’t live at home anymore and I am a mere forty-two minutes away if one were counting (further from my son and daughter-in-law in Denver) but still quite accessible and a new era begins.  It has never been just Doug and I.

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As I walk up the long ramp of the deck to enter the house I feel as though I am walking up a dock, a sense of vacation permeates this place.  Entering through the door and into the warm kitchen, quaintly decorated, I feel as if I have rented a cabin for the weekend.  I may have to return home Monday.  But in fact, this is home.  What a wondrous thing.

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I don’t feel like this is a farm.  In fact, the idea of having a farm exhausts me.  This past year I attempted to grow enough vegetables for market, to start a CSA for milk and vegetables.  To sell dozens of eggs.  I could only grow enough food for us.  I only had enough milk for our use and for making cheese.  The chickens went on strike.  Interns are no longer in my future.  I like my space too much.  I will continue to teach classes.  I will have friends over for tea.  I will grow enough for us, have another milker to sell fresh goat’s milk next year, and now that the chickens are penned up in an eight food high large coop and yard, I should be able to locate their eggs!  No, I do not want a farm.  This is a farmstead.  A homestead with farm animals and a large garden.  It is a place to sustain ourselves and to teach others how to do the same.  A place to find inspiration and joy.  New memories to come.  Our farmstead, our homestead, our new place is here.  I can hardly believe I am not dreaming.

Pumpkin Hollow Farm Strikes Again

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I hate limbo.  I like things nice and organized.  Memos about the future, perfect accounting, smooth plan making…I am a tad power trippy.  I panic.  Our shop is for sure closing but our business is not.  I felt like we needed to move quick, save money, find a cheaper place, not live in a box!  I tell you what, simply mention how many animals you have to a prospective landlord and you aren’t likely to hear from them again.  I finally found a house (adobe, no less!) that would take all our animals.  She was in a pinch and needed the money ASAP.  By the time we would have paid the deposit, two rents in one month (already paid it here), two utility bills in one month, and taking into account the sheer distance of out in the middle of nowhere, but can’t have roosters, it was, the gas money pretty well took away any savings we would have gained.  So, Doug made an executive decision.  This is a rare occurrence, folks.  We will work our booties off.  We will set up a road side stand in front of the house.  We will make this work.  And we will stay where we are.  It is a relief for him to just make that decision.  I still worry about losing everything.  But I guess we can’t live our lives worrying about everything.  Here we are on a perfect mini-farm.  Let’s make it work!  Pumpkin Hollow Farm is going to be great.  Come by and visit our roadside stand!