Missouri Herbs

Missouri Herbs
Our new website

For herbs I don't grow, this is my favorite place!

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin
On our site, you will see selected links to books that have been valuable to our homesteading, permaculture, spiritual, health and natural building paths and links to products we use or feel are ethical. Purchasing any of these products through my site will help contribute to our homesteading success and our teaching others to do the same.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I seem to find out about things so late sometimes. I just found out about this movie. I loved the quote on their front page:

"Sit, be still and listen for you are drunk and we are at the edge of the roof" - Rumi, 13th Century

Click here for more on the movie. I can't find it used so I hope a used one will find it's way to my door one day.

I continue to find blogs and websites dedicated to simple living and homesteading. Some of these places have been running for years. Almost daily I find more and more information, there is just so much out there. It seems bizarre that I've been interested in simple living for years and I still manage to "discover" sites, or movies or blogs that have been around for a long time.

I've been working from home since August. My commute is from the bedroom to the desk and it's wonderful. The view from the desk is an old red barn with glassless window frames in the back. The field of yellow dandelions on the other side of the barn shows through the empty panes so that it looks like little yellow boxes on the side of the red weathered barn. If I lean a little to the right, I can see an old yellow house down the road and another field of yellow dandelions. If I lean back and look out the other window, I can see the back porch which is always occupied by at least one animal taking a nap.

By chance an animal lounge has been created on the back porch. An old recliner was put out when my cat had an accident after struggling with a UTI. Since we picked it up for under $20 when we got here, it wasn't too difficult a sacrifice to let the babies have it. I put the dogs' folded up comforter that is their bed and their pillow out. There is a blow up dog house that the cats usually lay on top of and occasionally poke holes in during the required claw extensions of stretching. There is a big piece of scrap carpet also perfect for lounging. We just put a few chairs there for us as well. Now all the animals just hang out there. All the cats and dogs together, staying out of trouble. Rufus the pig is sometimes found on the porch too since he's figured out how to climb the stairs. It's no small feat for a 200lb pig to go up stairs. It's great seeing a few cats curled up together on the lounge chair and at their feet lay a few dogs. There are cats lounging on our chairs and dog house too. I like having them close to the house and this couldn't have worked out better if I had planned it.

My employer has asked me to fly to Houston the first week of June. I have to be there Thursday and Friday, but they said I could come for the whole week if I wanted to. I'm really looking forward to seeing my friends & family, but these trips are always a shock to my system. I'm now used to driving past rolling tree covered hills, cows grazing, rivers, cliffs, old cemeteries and houses. I don't think I could take the whole week in the office. I'm not looking forward to driving to the airport, waiting in lines, going through security, sitting elbow to elbow in a sardine can with wings, transferring planes, public restrooms, overpriced junky airport food (I'm vegetarian and apparently the airlines feel it's too hard to slap a piece of cheese on some bread), renting a car, driving an hour and half to the hotel in the middle of the night and then getting up early to drive in the busy hustle. When I come home from Houston, my nervous system always seems a bit fried. I guess after years of working in that environment I became accustomed to the constant hum and noise. When I go there now, I hear so much humming and noise in the office and everywhere I go. I guess it's the hum of lights and equipment, but it can really be distracting when you aren't used to it. There is just too much stimulation there, too many sensory demands. I am so grateful for what I have and it saddens me that most people are numb to the hum.

I feel so much empathy for people that want out of the city and the office environment, but feel they are trapped and don't see a way out. I don't know why so many good things have happened to me in the last few years. I don't know why I get to live this way and others do not. I wish everyone could live the way they want and could experience other types of lifestyles so that they could even make an education guess about what sort of life they want. People all over the world feel trapped in their lives and so few have been able to find a way out of their prisons. I guess I feel guilty to some extent that so many things have just worked out. Who am I that I should be so blessed? Aren't there more deserving people out there? It seems though that there are many that could get out if only they knew how.

So much of this wasn't planned, but only dreamed of. Things just sort of fell into place every step of the way, things I could never have planned on. But many people have dreams, many people work hard. In Houston there are areas of town where you can pick up a day laborer if you need. Some of them have to stand around a good part of the day hoping for work that may never come. When you drive up, they run over to be the first to tell you they are the one you want. The few times I've used day laborers, I pay them whatever I would pay any other worker here and if they do a good job, they also get a good tip. I treat them with respect like the skilled labor they are and always buy them breakfast and lunch. They are always hard working men and do a great job. Is this their dream though? To stand on hot cement waiting for the chance to make almost nothing while taking the chance that the person picking them up won't drop them back off, won't pay them or worse. Many of them live without their families and in a cramped, run down apartment. I can't imagine most of the people picking them up treat them with very much respect. Why can't they have their dream? What can I do to help people get their dream? Is there anything? I don't know. Who am I to affect a change in any one's life, when mine is still in such a new state of change? Life is many things, but fair isn't always one of them.

I don't have the best job in the world and at times it brings me to tears out of sheer frustration over stupidity. I stay for several reasons though, the main one being I'm only a few years from retirement, have 3 weeks of paid vacation, can work from home (although that's a fairly recent development), and as frustrating as my job is, I know it well. I don't think I have the disposition to learn a new line of work since my brain is already focused on my second "full time job" of being self-sufficient. When you work in an office environment for a large company, you have to check your pride, self worth, creativity, power and logic at the door. Things that should be important are not, and things that are not important are critical. Any movie you've seen about the insanity of working in an office is probably true or even toned down a bit, at least in my case. Working here does conflict with the changes I am making and I do feel torn and even exhausted sometimes as the end of my work day nears from 8 hours of backwards thinking. I'm closer to being able to retire than ever before and as of right now, I see this job as being the fastest vehicle I can use to get to my goal. That's all it is. I have no desire to writhe up any higher on the ladder. I live like a person that makes a fraction of the income I do, so that I can get to retirement faster.

I carefully purchase items that will be needed when I no longer have a steady income; things that will last and that require little or no power. I've lost my courage to up and quit; though I dream about it daily and I was ready to when I moved here - if that is what it would take. So many people are brave and take a total blind leap of faith; I wish I could do that now. Before I worked from home I could. I told them I was moving to NY and I was fully prepared to find whatever job I could when I got here. Now that I've become accustomed to my nice quite cocoon of working from home, I fear having to go back into an office and spending gas on a commute. So I stay, and I count my pennies and the hours till that day when I'll need so little money coming in I'll be able to sell things from home. Once we have finished rehabbing this house, then I can re-evaluate the timing. We scavenge for used materials and only reluctantly buy new when there are no other options. We are many thousands of dollars under budget on fixing this old place up, though to be honest most of that is because the tree fell through the house and insurance paid for the roof. I'm trying not to plan details too far in advance, though loose ideas of plans at least give me an idea of where I'm going. A thousand things could happen betwixt now and then, so I'm hopeful that another wonderful change is coming my way to speed up the process.

I went online once and filled out a retirement calculator. The amount calculated is staggering and frightening. How could this number be correct? What is factored into the monstrous amount? Buying food, utilities and insurance I'm sure is included. Where is the retirement calculator for the self-sufficient? I think these retirement calculators do nothing but keep people in fear, keep them dependent on a job they hate and keep them focused on staying in the middle class job market as long as possible. I think we should all come up with our own retirement calculator. What do I absolutely need when I retire? What will feed and shelter me? For most purchases I ask myself if this is something that will last and will I need it to care of myself when I retire? Can life sustaining systems such as food production and storage of water be eventually semi-automated to provide for me when I'm older? In order to live full time in pursuit of my happiness, I need to retire from this job. I don't want work until I'm worn out just so that I have enough to take care of me when I'm no longer able. I want to work towards making my life simpler and self-sustaining now while I have the energy.

There are many systems that if set up properly will produce food and create a beautiful haven for wildlife with little human intervention. I saw a program once about a Japanese garden where a beautifully stocked coy pond spilled over via a waterfall fertilizing some sort of water growing edible plant. It could have been rice or something else, I can't quite remember. There were a few other wonderful steps in between and somehow the water filtered back through rocks into the original pond. It was all on a self-sustaining cycle just like in nature. The gardener said after it was all setup, he didn't do much to it but eat the produce. I have not been able to find that episode again though. I've also seen beautiful water capturing and cleaning systems that use a reed garden and other plants to provide water for the gardens and household use. Just a simple barrel with a filter under the gutters is a place to start capturing water. I've read articles about a mesh fabric that captures water from fog and provides water to a village. A simple search for self-sustaining gardens will turn up an amazing amount of material, so I have yet to find my Japanese gardener again. I haven't read this book yet, but I hope to someday soon: The Self Sustaining Garden. What value do these systems have in a retirement calculator? How much money would you need to live on if you spend your money now setting up systems such as these? They are in my retirement calculator and learning these sorts of things is in my retirement planning. It is one of the ways I invest my time.

I am looking for a hand-cranked grain mill and flaker. I am putting together a simple household with low maintenance, long lasting tools such as that. I don't think there are too many tools needed since many tools have dual purposes. If a knife will suffice for the job, then I don't need any other fancy cutting gadgets. Having an earth sheltered home with earthen floors and radiant heat will not only provide a beautiful tactile experience, but will help keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter and will mean little to no heating and cooling costs. A root cellar or pit will keep many of my food items fresh all winter. Solar panels and wind turbines can occasionally be found used if you are patient and will reduce dependence on a utility company. Metal trash cans are used to store grains in and old timbers used to make raised beds. I doubt any of these are factored into online retirement calculators. So If I have a low maintenance house with no mortgage that requires almost no heating or cooling and is made of natural materials, use solar panels and wind turbines for power, a water capturing system, self-sustaining and traditional gardens, fruit orchards, and I have gotten years of healthy exercise setting systems up and working my gardens; then how much will I need to retire? Suddenly it doesn't seem like so much.

The thought of building a house like this used to seem overwhelming and only for the rich. After meeting new friends and helping out others build their homes, I found out that if you are patient the homes can be built without a mortgage. There is a tremendous amount of wonderful people out there anxious to help the new ones. There are online green building groups. People put out the request for help making and putting up their clay plaster walls or earthen floors and people actually show up to help. I've done it. There are classes that can be taken, and though some are expensive, there are many that are not. There are videos for rent and some can even be found at the library. There are online book swaps and places like half.com where you can pick up wonderful educational resources for almost nothing. There are books like "Earthen Floors" by Bill and Athena Steen that walk you through the process. I haven't been to any of their classes because I found less expensive ones to attend, though they are flexible on the cost and will work with you. You don't have to be rich, college educated or wait till your 65. I have found everything I need to know is either online, in a book or just an email, phone call or letter away. As I've gotten further away from the city, I've met more people willing to help.

I want a retirement of health, beauty, learning, teaching and having enough to meet my simple needs. The faster I do that, the healthier I will be as I age. I don't want to sit on my butt for the next 20 years for 40 hours a week. I want to be out there creating that self-sustaining garden and fruit orchard now. I want to spend my day in movement looking at 3D objects. The more I learn, the more excited I get about how attainable this all is.

Here is a random thought that I doubt will ever fit into a blog posting: Wouldn't it be awesome if someone figured out how to harness the power of chlorophyll to provide for our energy needs? It seems abundant and powerful. Maybe they already have and I just haven't stumbled across it yet.


Kendall said...

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a blow-up dog house. The world is so full of things I never expected! But as to the main thoughts here, YES! It is possible. You're doing it, I'm doing it in my different way. Those retirement calculators ARE meant to keep people in fear. I tried one once, and it looked like I would have to get married (ha! not a choice!) and live to be 217 in order to "safely" retire. We're off that grid already, Jamie. Let's get off ALL the grids!

Ja-Co said...

(haha, it was a $240 dog house I got on clearance for $20, supposed to be for cold weather camping, but it's good for leaking and that's about it)

You are so right! Let's get off all those grids and there are so many ways to go about it.

texas_snow said...

hey girly. have you seen the movie "off the map" with Sam Elliot? When I first saw it a few years ago I thought of you even though you weren't homesteading yet. :-) I miss emailing you whenever i find something cool...i need to get back in the habit.

Ja-Co said...

No I haven't seen that movie. I'll add it to the list. Now to figure out who the mysterious Texas_snow is. I think I know! I'll email.

Ja-Co said...

hey I have seen that movie, I just forgot about it. Wish you could update comments.