Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Words to live by...

Those that know me well know I'm a bit of a nerd about quotes.  I think it's because I'm such a quiet person and I don't say much.  When someone can make a huge statement or get across a big idea with a few well chosen words, I get absurdly impressed.  And often I find them inspiring and even life changing.

The other day while reading one of my new favorite blogs - Cold Antler Farm - I ran across something that really smacked me upside the head.  Now this wasn't a quoted passage, but I certainly think it should be, so I'm going to quote it here and hope that it gains traction...

"It's not where you live, it's how you live"
~Jenna Woginrich

This really struck a chord with me because a couple years ago I decided I wanted to be a "Homesteader".  I believe I would be much happier and healthier if I had a small hold farm. Raising chickens and rabbits and goats.  Growing my own fruits and vegetables.  All that good stuff.  And so I've been reading books and blogs, watching YouTube videos and checking out things like Mother Earth News and Urban Farmer magazine.  Even participating in an online forum dedicated to homesteading.  This is a whole new world to me and I find it endlessly fascinating.  The only problem is I kept looking at it as "Some day I'll..."  Like I can't homestead without an actual home and land.  Yes, I realize that people everywhere are Urban Farming and that backyard chickens are springing up all over the suburbs, but it all seemed like a distant dream none-the-less. 

That one sentence changed my perspective.  Nine words.   That's all it took.  OK, sure, I still can't have chickens or goats where I live and I'm limited to a small container garden and one indoor rabbit.  But what I can do is take this time to learn the myriad skills that are needed to live a self sufficient life.  I can learn preserving and canning.  I can bake bread.  I can compost and recycle.  I can use more natural products.  Hell, I could learn to quilt or knit or sew or make candles for cryin' out loud!  It doesn't matter that the foods I preserve came from the market, it's the SKILLS that matter now.  So what if I use store bought ingredients to make my own cheese, at least I'll learn how to make cheese, right!?!  The more I can learn before I have the house and the land and the livestock to deal with, the better off  I'll be when I do have those things. 

The beauty of it is that it doesn't matter what your dreams are, this quote applies.  If you happen to live in a really wealthy area, you don't have to be a shallow, materialistic person if that's not you.  If you live in a slum, you don't have to be a thug.  Just because your neighbor acts or lives a certain way doesn't mean you have to.  If you live in Texas and hate cowboy boots, don't wear just because it's expected of you.  Likewise, if you live in Seattle and you love cowboy boots, wear them with pride! Your location doesn't define you, only you can define you.  Live the way that fits you as a person and do what you can now to live the life you want to ultimately live. 

Thanks for the inspiration Cold Antler Farm, and thank you for reading!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The winds of change...

Ok, so I freely admit that I don't have much to write about today.  However it was my intention to at LEAST write once a month to keep this thing alive.

That being said, I do find myself excited for a change...  The Mrs. and I are embarking on a new business venture to start up next summer and as things slowly progress it's looking good!  I've also decided to finally do something about my employment situation.  Don't get me wrong, in this day and age I'm fortunate to have a job and I feel for those of you out there that don't.  I've been there and it is awful.  Really, really awful.  But when the job you are "lucky" to have causes you to hate waking up every day and go through anxiety attacks a few times a week, I think it's time to move on.  And that's where I'm at. 

So, chin up, shoulders back!  Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot... and on into a better life!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Prepare, then prepare some more!

Yes, I am indeed one of the "prepper" weirdos that have been popping up all over the place lately.  I'd like to think I'm not some band-wagon jumper as preparedness has been part of my make-up for a long time - once a Boy Scout, always a Boy Scout, I guess...  However, it's really in the last couple years that I started to take it seriously and expand on what I thought it was to Be Prepared.

I'm not going to beat this dead horse and go into detail about what you should do to prepare yourself and you family for an untoward event - there is more then enough of that on the web already.  10 seconds on Google or Yahoo search will find you a month's worth of reading on the subject.  All I'm saying here is get off your duff and do something.  Anything.  Start small and add a little at a time.  You'll be surprised how quickly it adds up. 

The reason I bring this up now is because it's the time of year I go through what I have stored, check expiration dates and inventory new stuff I've added over the year.  This is very important - you certainly don't want to be depending on foods you stored that have since expired.  Rotate your stock, store what you eat and eat what you store.

I'm not nearly as prepared as I'd like to be, but I'm a lot better off than I was just 2 years ago, simply going one small step at a time.  I have very little "disposable" income but have managed to put up quite a bit, just $5 - $10 at a time.  Even if  $5 a week is too much to put aside (some of you may be laughing, but I've been there - sometimes  five bucks seems like a small fortune) spend $1 and put up a gallon of bottled water.  Just one for now, and everytime you have an extra $1 grab another until you have 6 gallons per person for your household. Why 6 gallons?  That's the BARE MINIMUM recommended by those in the know - 2 gallons per person/per day for 3 days.  Of course the more the better, but at least 6 gallons per person to start.

Get your water first.  EVERYTHING else is less important.  Not unneccessary mind you, just less important.  Three days without water and you're done.  Going that long without food would suck, but it won't kill you. 

Unfortunately, prepping for an emergency isn't something that's ever "done".  No matter how well set you think you are, you can bet someone will find the holes in your plan.  There are just too many variables.  But if nothing else, get your basics in order.  Water, food, shelter.  Sure a generator and an arsenal of combat-grade weapons, a dedicated "Bug-out Vehicle" (BOV) and a fully stocked bomb-proof shelter would be great, but being realistic just having food and water and not needing to rely on the .gov to come to your aid in an emergency puts you miles ahead of the average American sloth. 

I don't know about you, but I'll gladly give up some closet and cupboard space for preps rather than end up standing in some FEMA line for a handout come-what-may.  I suggest you do the same.  I'm not going to go all doom & gloom here, I'm not saying the sky is falling.  But you would have to have been living under a rock for the last  year if you haven't noticed that some very strange s**t has been going on.  Earthquakes, volcanos, wild fires, floods, crop failures, uprisings, etc. etc.  It may not happen to you, but then again it might. 

Don't live in fear, prepare yourself and your family.  Don't say I didn't warn ya!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Great Day today

Wow...  got to sleep in late, the Mrs. took our daughter to school so I didn't have to, had the day off from work since I had to work this past weekend, excellent pancake breakfast, lounged around & watched a funny movie, got a good haircut (always a crapshoot-you never know what you'll get!), got to hang out with the Mrs. all day, dinner from my favorite Hot Dog stand and to top it all off, pineapple-upside-down cake for dessert!

Who says getting older has to suck!?!  This was a great day!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I recently encountered something that has really stuck in my craw, so to speak, and feel I must rant a little... 

There is a house that I pass by quite often on my walks to work that underwent a 16-18 month full-on remodel/enlargement.  I'm very picky about workmanship and even though I thought the style of the house was ugly and nothing I would ever pick for myself, the quality of the workmanship was first rate - from what I could see from the outside walking by that is.  Anyhow, the work went on forever it seemed and finally when everything looked done they slapped up a For Sale sign.  Out of curiosity I stopped and picked up one of the fliers for the house.  The interior pics looked fantastic - every bit as well done as the outside of the home.  Asking price $1.45 million.  Not an uncommon price in my area (and actually quite low compared to some, which is why I've been renting a tiny apartment for the last 6 years!) and within maybe 45 days the house was sold.  Honestly I was kinda shocked it went so fast, and I don't know what it sold for, but you can bet it was at least $1.2 million, if not more.  So much for our failing economy, right?

So why am I irritated?  It's because I just walked past there the other day and discovered at least half of the home had been leveled so it could be made even BIGGER!!    The house after it's first renovation was 2,800 square feet and it wasn't BIG ENOUGH?  Are you freakin' kidding me!?!  I mean, what kind of asshole spends over a million bucks on an already ridiculously large and completely rebuilt, never lived in house only to tear half of it down to rebuild AGAIN?  That kind of crap just pisses me off.  I'm pissed for the craftsmen that spent over a year doing the last rebuild.  What an insult.  It's like a slap in the face.  I'm pissed about the mulitple 40 cubic yard dumpsters of building materials (lumber, drywall, plumbing, etc. all NEW) that have been shipped off to the landfill.  I'm pissed that they'll use even more building materials to rebuild again.  I'm pissed that even that much more of our "dirt" is being covered up - this is in a typical suburban setting, not some 2-3 acre lot.  These pricks will have about 150 square feet of backyard left when the mostrosity is completed.  I'm pissed that it will take even MORE energy to heat and cool this beast.  The whole thing is just a big goddamn waste on every front. 

When I was a kid, everyone I knew lived in small tract houses.  Most houses in my neighborhood were 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom on 1/4 acre lots.  All those houses had kids - my home with only 2 children was an anomaly - 3 and 4 kids was much more common.  And you know what?  We all survived!!  And now, families are getting smaller and smaller. but homes are getting bigger and bigger.  Unless you've got a HUGE family, why on earth do you need a HUGE house?   Do you need His and Hers matching walk-in closets?  If so, then you have to much CRAP clogging up your life.  Who really needs their own room for a home-gym?  Go for a walk, work in the garden, mow your own freakin' lawn for cryin' out loud and get some exercise that way!  Why must you have have a living room and a media/family room?  You can't live in the same room that you watch TV?  Is it so you can front to your friends that the TV in the other room is for the KIDS and you must be kept seperate from it?  You can't just BBQ in the back yard, you need an entire outdoor kitchen?  What, your kitchen inside doesn't work for foods eaten on the patio?  Do you really need an extra bedroom for the one time a year Aunt Edna comes in from Tallahassee?  When I was a kid, when visitors came, they slept in the kids' rooms and the kids slept in sleeping bags on the floor.  Even better, if the weather was nice we'd set up a tent in the backyard and turn it into an adventure.  Of course now with shrinking lots and growing square footage, most new homes don't even have enough room in their yards to set up a tent!  All these EXTRA rooms take RESOURCES which are in limited supply.  More lumber, more copper for wires and pipes, more petroleum based products like roof shingles, more concrete plus all the resources of the people doing the work - the trucks to get the workers there, the delivery trucks for materials, gas for generators, et cetera.  Then when you've wasted all those resources just building the thing you've got to HEAT it and COOL it and CLEAN it and MAINTAIN it.  All those things cost time, money and resources.  And for what?  An ego boost?  Even if you are multi-millionaire and you're living with your wife/husband and one or two kids and can afford all the EXTRA stuff, in my book you are still an asshole for being so wasteful.  Don't get me wrong, if you and your spouse have 5 or 6 kids, the in-laws are living with you since they lost all their retirement funds in a Ponzi-scheme and your no-account brother is living with you "just until he gets on his feet" then by all means, you NEED some space and I've got no beef with you.   It's wasteful, show-off pricks that make we want to puke.

I think it's high time we as a nation stop measuring ourselves by how much we consume, by how much square feet we have to fill with worthless crap.  I may not know much, but I do know this:
Bigger isn't always better.

OK, rant/off.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Taking the Leap!

“It is never too late to become what you might have been”

~George Eliot

So, here I go.  Why on Earth would I want to start this blogging stuff?  I'm not a Writer by any stretch of the imagination.  There is nothing "special" about me...  I have a lot of interests, a lot of ideas, but no real STATEMENT to make.  I'm not even sure what the central theme of my blog is...  Nevertheless I feel like it's something I should try.  Maybe touch someone by the simple fact of writing about something someone else can relate to?  Maybe the suggestion of an idea will open the floodgates allowing someone else to run with it?  Who knows? 

I don't suspect I'll post very often, but I just might.  I get weird whims sometimes and I just have to run with them. 

So, a little bit about me:  I'm a middle aged guy, born and raised in Northern California.  In fact I've lived within 30 miles of where I was born my entire life.  It was a great place to grow up but now I can't wait to get out of here.  I've been married for 20 years and have a daughter in high school.    Both my parents are still alive for which I'm thankful.  I have one younger sister that lives out of state.  She and I have never been close, nor do I expcet we ever will be.  I have some college eduaction and some vocational training but I've never earned a degree or become certified in anything.  It hasn't kept me from being "successful" - I've attained managerial and Director status at my last few jobs - but I still wish I had a college degree.  I'm planning to re-enroll in the fall and start over, but my plans have a way of getting thrown out the window so we'll see...

My passions include music, books and DIY stuff.   I was a semi-professional musician for many, many years.  By "semi-pro" I mean I did in fact make money as a musician, just never enough to make a living at it so I've always had to have a "real" job.  I work with the elderly now and I'm constantly shocked by how often they act like children.  I don't hate my job but I don't really like it either.  I like the "Do It Yourself" stuff because a) I'm a cheap bastard and if I can do something rather than pay someone else to do it I will, and b) I get a sense of satisfaction out of it.  I've learned a LOT by just diving in and fixing something.  It's a good skill to have.

The quote I used at the top of the page is something that I ran across about a year ago and it had a profound impact on me.  I'm at that stage of my life where I'm thinking "What's next?"  I had been feeling that the professional musician ship had sailed, that I had "aged out", and therefor was destined to spend the rest of my life in some crap job, doing things I didn't want to do and keep chasing the American Dream.  Well my friends, that's B.S.  I figure I've got at least another 20 years left to live, if not more, and that is no way to go through life.  Sure, there is a 99.999% chance that I'll never make a living as a musician, that I'll never be wealthy, that I'll never be just like The Jones' next door with the flashy cars, the fancy toys, the private schools, et cetera, but that doesn't mean I can't be happy.  That doesn't mean I can't express myself.  That doesn't mean I can't live life on my own terms and make things happen for me and my family.  I've spent too much time worrying about the cant's, being jealous of what others have and not being thankful for what I have, but those days are done.  I've thrown that way of thinking out into the cold, dark night.

I've always marched to the beat of a Different Drummer and will continue to do so. 

Thanks for reading!