Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preparing for Winter

"It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

We are in the midst of preparing for winter at the Coke Homestead. I've been pondering, of late, the implications and spiritual parallels of this task. I've always enjoyed anticipating and getting all ready for winter.
((( When we lived in town, in our cozy little home which was on-the-grid with "regular" electricity, natural gas heat, and a short little driveway leading to the paved street, the way we prepared looked quite different. We raked, mulched, cleaned up the garden, parked bikes, dusted off the shovel, and I found new hot cocoa recipes. That pretty much covered the necessary work.
Our winter preparation here at our home on the mountain looks much different. We heat solely with wood and cutting, hauling and stacking is a time-consuming job. Our generator has different needs and challenges now with freezing temps than it did this summer. While a few short months ago, we were struggling to keep the engine cool enough, we are now looking at the need to install a heater in the shed to keep it warm. We have a mile-long "driveway" leading from the paved street to our house. As the only residents in our area, if we want to get in and out, road maintenance is our responsibility. We struggle with mud in the spring and snow in winter. Our water supply is also a bit different. As well-drilling and finding water is spotty in our area, we elected to use the constant, ever-flowing, never-freezing creek as our source. Although we have to filter the daylights out of it, we knew it was there and available and there was no risk in drilling to see if we could find it. There is a 450 ft. run uphill from our well-house to the house and the waterline is somewhat vulnerable to freezing temps in some spots. While we believe we have fixed the problems we encountered last winter, only time will tell. )))
We cannot rely on anyone else to keep things running here. We are, in most ways, self-sustained.
I have struggled, at times, with looking back at the ease and relative comfort we enjoyed at our little house on Alder Dr. and wistfully remembering our old life.
Yet...there is something right and rewarding about being affected by the seasons and weather. I can't quite put my finger on it and often I decide that I'm just a "glutton for punishment" but really I believe that there is something real and valuable in all this. Have you ever been outside on a beautiful day and sat down on the earth, breathed the fresh air, gazed out on the mountains, and felt a soul-satisfying contentment deep down inside? If so, then you know what I'm referring to. "Earth's crammed with Heaven/and every common bush afire with God/but only he who sees takes off his shoes/the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."- Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

(I would almost say that anything good that has ever happened in the deepest part of my soul has happened outside.)

Ironically, relying "solely" on ourselves has required relying more fully on God. Maybe I'm getting to the core benefit to being affected by the seasons and elements. I have realized over the years that being close to nature brings me closer to my Lord and Saviour.
This past year has been one of extremes. Our highs have been the highest ever and our lows, the lowest ever. I have been learning (albeit the hard way) to continually set my heart and mind on things above...(Col. Chapter 3). The kids and I are in the process of memorizing the entire chapter and I find myself waking up to the verses running through my mind.
Romans 15:13 is written and taped to the mirror in our bathroom. It reads, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Recently, Jeremy added this to the mirror: "And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and awoke Him saying, 'Save us, Lord; we are perishing!' And He said to them, 'Why are you timid, you men of little faith?' Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm."
Our circumstances are often out of our control. The Lord gave me this little sentence and I notice the Holy Spirit brings it to mind often when I feel as though I will drown in all that's been going on: "Choose Joy".

Friday, October 8, 2010

On Education

Two quick quotes:
"Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind."--- Plato

Think about this a minute. Consider the truth found here. Whatever choice a family makes for education, this compulsory form of education is often the method used. Is it effective? Does it last? If I had time, I'd delve so deeply into this topic that my family would be lucky if I was out by dinnertime.

Also, I find this interesting:
Included in a 1893 report , "Cardinal Principles at Secondary Education stresses seven fundamental aims of education in a democracy:
1- Health
2-Command of Fundamental Processes
3- Worthy Home Membership
4- Vocation
5- Citizenship
6- Worthy Use of Leisure
7- Ethical Character"

How far we have strayed...

That's all. Unfortunately, I have bills to pay and paperwork to do. Rats.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

For Real- A Blog Entry!!!

I've missed "blogging", although my time away has given me a chance to contemplate whether or not I really want a blog. A part of me rebels against technology and while I enjoy keeping family and friends "in the loop" of our crazy and hard-to-follow lives, I don't like that total strangers can also see what's up. I am torn, sometimes, between sharing what I really want to say and feeling the need to be so vague that there's no point in sharing at all!
But I think for now, the blog will live on.
Exciting news in our basement-dwelling lives: after nearly a year of next to no Internet service, we will hopefully be on-line as of next Wednesday. We were hoping to get a land line in this fall, but our nearest neighbor (a half-mile away), with whom we will split the horrifying cost, would rather wait to do it next summer. We will be using Hughesnet for satellite Internet. Should be interesting. Although I'd like to think that it's no big deal to not get online, I must admit, especially to myself, that it really is hard to get along as usual without the option. A very frustrating part of the way we are living is that I'm attempting to live in the 21st century and the early 1900s all at the same time. We have no TV or much of a radio signal up on the mt. (plus, I have no antenna on my truck!!) so I really do feel as though we've been living in the dark ages. I won't pretend that I've suffered with not knowing what's going on in the world; to be honest, the political junk constantly going on in our country has raised my blood pressure over the top in the last few years. I've felt so passionate about everything, but been helpless to change anything, which has been so very frustrating. I have enjoyed the peacefulness which comes with ignorance to current events quite a lot.
I'm looking forward to being able to tell our little story again and share the journey with anyone, and will feel quite honored if I haven't completely lost my "readership" along the way!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

As I Was Saying...

I'll just pick up where I left off back in October, at "Happy Sadness".
We moved out of our house and into the camper on the property at the beginning of the last week in October. That left me the whole week to finish up packing/cleaning and having the carpets cleaned while not living there. On the 31st, we found ourselves barely getting out in time. The renters had already begun moving things over and were to begin staying there on Nov. 1st! At about 9:00 pm, I literally mopped (and moped) myself out the front door. Jeremy was in the other truck hauling the last minute things and my Yukon was bursting at the seams. We hadn't eaten dinner, so we went to about the only restaurant we could think of that would serve anything gluten free at that hour (it was now 10:00). IHOP was the chosen one. Jeremy and I pretended to enjoy the meal with the kids, as eating out is very rare for us and should be enjoyed! I tried to act like I wasn't crying, and did just fine, as long as no one talked to me.

Above is a picture of one of our first dinners in "the camper".

Work for Jeremy was a bit scarce at that time, which was actually a blessing as we were trying to beat the winter weather and get the basement concrete poured. Many late nights were shared while building the ICF (insulated concrete form) Styrofoam walls, into which we would pour concrete. We would get the kids to bed (always WAY past bedtime) and then go out to the slab, and by the light of the halogen work lights, we'd stay busy until midnight or so. Several times we were serenaded by a pack of coyotes howling eerily in the woods surrounding us. Sometimes we'd hear the owls calling.

Jeremy and Ryley surrounded the camper with insulation (blue board) to help retain a bit of heat. It really worked well and cut down on the propane consumption...until the ginormous windstorm of November hit and all the boards were ripped down and scattered about.
We used a small Honda generator to power the camper. With no running water, we used the outhouse. Jeremy would haul 5 gallon containers of creek water for washing dishes. We bummed drinking water off any friends we could, and used the showers and laundry facilities at the local gas station, until I couldn't handle the depressing feeling of sitting in a laundromat with soaps on the tv in the middle of the afternoon with all the kids.
That creepy old guy was starting to get to me too.
From that point on, we were so thankful for the friends and family we have! We never took another shower or did another load of laundry at that gas station again. Things were looking up.

The kids and I would do the best we could during the day when Jeremy had to be at work. The boys liked helping with the walls, as they are quite similar to Legos!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Still Smiling

The longer I stay away from this blog the more I dread updating it. Although I really enjoy "blogging", and actually, real writing in general, I've been avoiding doing this for a long time. I guess the reason is that I truly don't know where to start. We've been on such a wild and crazy ride this winter.
Most of what we've been through this season has been rough, scary, unpredictable, and just plain hard. And it has been so deeply personal for me that I can't figure out how to give just a glimpse, stopping short of sharing my deepest, darkest feelings with the whole www! But I will do my best. The updates will come very sporadically, I assure you, but they will eventually bring you up to speed on where we are now. Various family members have been missing our posts (thanks for prompting me to get back online!) and I have missed keeping in the loop those many miles away as well as those close to home.
P.S. The above pic. is Josiah's Valentines breakfast-dinner. I think it accurately portrays where we a bit of a sticky mess. But although things look sloppy on the surface, the key ingredients are here and the smile is genuine, albeit a little worse for the wear.