"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It's About Fun

Ronnie introduces the pigeons and chickens to Seth.

August 6  marked the fourth anniversary of my husband's passing. In some ways it feels like it's been a long four years, and in others if feels like he was here yesterday. The night Ronnie was given the diagnosis and prognosis, we lay together in his hospital bed. He told me, "Don't spend a lot of time being sad about this.  You still have a lot of life to live. Go have fun."

Shortly before Ronnie look his last earthly breath, a friend of ours, Peter Nillson, posted a link to Abba's song, "Move On." You can watch it here.

This song literally saved my sanity. The images the video maker, sssmacdann, used are as moving and as jubilant as the words to the song. The two together spoke to me in ways that I have never experienced before.

Images from "Move On".

Life is, indeed, motion -- forward.  It is, in fact, the only way to go. I will forever be grateful to sssmacdann, whoever you are, for making the video and to Peter for introducing it to me.

I've never been much of a party person. I don't have much rhythm, but I love many different kinds of music and I love to watch people dance. My kids  don't say it, but they think I'm boring and that I don't know how to have fun. Our interests are not the same, to say the least. Lol

"Fun" means different things to different people. To me, fun is being with people I enjoy, having heart to heart conversations about life and love, getting to know one another and myself better, growing to appreciate each other more, sharing memories of family, comparing experiences and discussing our different beliefs.  I have lots of friends who make me laugh. That's always fun.  I have wonderful  group of writers I see once a month.


Fun, to me, is also sitting on the patio, just me and Shelbie Pie, listening to music, running my fingers through her coat that's always as soft as cotton.  

Pink and lavender sky
It's sitting out in the yard and watching the motion of my beloved pecan trees in the wind.  It's listening to the soft cooing of the pigeons as they settle in for the night.  It's the drone of the crickets and locusts and the night birds. It's watching the sun come up over the trees casting pink and lavender colors on the clouds against a clear blue sky, listening to the morning birds.

It's watching the approach of storm clouds and anticipating rain!

It's watching a good movie without interruption, or watching a good movie with friends.

It's seeing my critters move about the yard. It's hearing that distinctive "peep" come from under my hen that tells me her eggs have hatched.  It's getting a glimpse of one of her baby chicks sitting on her back, just like in pictures. It's finding a new cantaloupe in my garden and then a watermelon. It's watching them get bigger.

Fun, for me, is when my five year old grandson hollers "I highly approve of you!" as we turn in for the night. It's seeing his Legos creations and hearing the stories he makes up when he puts SpongeBob's head on Marge Simpson's body -- and knowing I can encourage his imagination by paying attention, showing interest, asking questions -- even when the story doesn't make sense. 

Abraham says life is supposed to be fun. I believe that.  I also believe we each define "fun" for ourselves. Some of us look for it, some of us don't. 

My mother told me once, "You owe it to yourself and your creator to enjoy as much of this life as possible, so look for something to enjoy about everything you have to do."

Good advice. So was Ronnie's. Both pieces turned out to be a life changers for me.  I am having fun.

One of two cantaloupes -- so far.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mobile Kodgers

Open road on a rainy, snowy day

I watched a documentary on www.topdocumentaryfilms.com called "Without Bound."

It's about people who live in vehicles -- from vans to RV's and everything in between. There was one young couple, Josh and Meisha Manwaring (www.vagabloggers.com) but most of those featured are retired, not looking for work, live on their social security. Some had retirement from past employment. Some have art to sell.  Many are writers and have figured out various ways to make money from their blogs.

It was clear to me that these folks have the answer to stress free living. It's frugality and simplicity. They live cheap, most for under $700 a month, once they get their rig. They don't accumulate much because of space limitations in their mobile dwellings. Plus, they have figured out what their individual needs are.  Freedom is at the top of their list. They do as they please which doesn't appear to be much, other than enjoying every moment to the fullest.  They wake up in a new place anytime they want. They go wherever their heart desires -- well, almost.

It appears that "mobile dwellers" aren't welcome everywhere. One of those featured alluded to a need for stealth, knowing where it's safe to park and where it's not, especially in cities.

In another video, The Summer of Family Love, a young couple and their three youngsters took a road trip along the West Coast. They were living in a VW van, recording their daily lives in order to make a  beautiful and fascinating two hour video about living in close quarters, being on the road, looking for places to safely spend the nights. I'm not sure where they were, but they were asked to leave a national park. It seemed to have something to do with their VW van.  They didn't understand but they went peacefully.

So apparently "mobile dwelling" is viewed differently than "being on vacation." So if I or anyone else were to find themselves in a position to give this a try, research would be in order.

The Manwarings had come to a cross roads of sorts in their individual careers and decided to try something different.  They expressed interest in challenging themselves by living frugally. They have become mostly vegetarians because it's cheaper to eat without meat, but they also don't have to store it. 

So many beautiful places to see

Mobile dwellers stop in out-of-the-way places as opposed to RV parks, partly because of the cost, and I'm sure, they just prefer to find the more magnificent vistas off the main roads. They take advantage of BLM land when they can. That land belongs to the federal government, is wild, and it's open to anyone to stay a while. Ranchers use it for free grazing in some areas.

Because most of the mobile dwellers are connected through the internet, they arrange to meet up in various places, but it sounded like some of them see one another very seldom.

Another really attractive thing about Mobile Dwelling is in living frugally, you're not contributing so much to the status quo. Its the freedom from the responsibility of owning a home (that great American Dream that handcuffs us to the grindstone, gobbles up our freedom, and makes others richer in the process).  With Mobile Dwelling there are no outrageous  property taxes to pay every year or  sky high utilities every month. There is no maintenance on the lawn to suit the neighbors and city code, aka, mowing and trimming. One of the women in the film remembers  mowing and trimming her lawn for too many years. "What did that get me?" she asks.

Most of those featured in "Without Bound" don't have families. At least not in the traditional sense. Some of them chose mobile living when they ended up with no other recourse, but then they fell in love with it and have no intention of going back into the rat race.

We've been sold on the idea that "owning a home" -- which for most people never really comes about because as soon as they build up equity, they sell it and buy something bigger and supposedly better, most assuredly, more expensive, which ties them to that mortgage payment for another fifteen years minimum. So off to work they go with little hope of ever being debt free -- much less -- just free.

Randy Vining has a blog with many fans, www.mobilecodgers.blogspot. com  

I found lots of interesting reading on Randy's blog. His perspective on life and living is so down to earth and refreshing. Be sure and check it out.

Bob Wells, also featured in "Without Bound" has a great website, cheaprvliving.com where I found all  kinds of information on mobile dwelling, from how to stay cool in the desert to how to protect yourself from 4 legged predators. There is also an invitation to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in January 2016. Bob has some amazing photography on his site. 

The film maker of "Without Bound", Michael Tubbs had this to say about why he named the film as he did:  "In mathematics, 'without bound' is used to describe something that either increases or decreases infinitely. I encourage you to think about how that applies to your life. What is increasing? What is decreasing? Is the balance of the trade-off tilted in your favor? Are you happy?  Is there a better way?"

We have pared down expenditures around here and are living quite comfortably, yet frugally ourselves. Good practice.

I was so charmed by these folks and their individual stories, I started the "what if I could do that?" train of thought. I looked on Craigslist for "something" I could live in, within my price range.

But I have decided the open road is not for me.  Not right now, anyway.  I'm Seth's only grandparent.  If I left, he'd grow up without me. He starts kindergarten this year. After he learns to read and write, I might give mobile living a try - and take my family with me. That way he'd learn what life is really all about -- while he's young enough to really "get it."

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous -- which I believe has gotten bigger.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Color of Greed

It's the pitts to live your whole life believing certain things, only to find out when you get to be my age, that few of your beliefs were worth hanging onto -- or more to the point, many should have been completely discarded.

It appears we humans have dug ourselves into a mighty big hole. According to many sources these days, there are huge, uncomfortable, perhaps even disastrous changes coming, starting with yet another financial collapse. It has already happened in Greece and maybe soon in China.

When I first read about this several months ago, I chalked it up to some more overblown media crap, but then I read a deeper examination of what happened to Greece's economy -- not the blame game the news media is trying to sell the rest of the world. It was clearly orchestrated by those who would gain in many ways - from the misery of the Greek citizens. Check out that article here.

Considering what those scoundrels were willing to do for gain, I'm realizing the media prophets might be right. My big question, though, is why? Why would anyone deliberately participate in the financial destruction of a whole country? Of course it's for money and power, but why? They were rich and powerful to start with or they wouldn't have been able to bring about the downfall of anything. So why do they need more? Like everybody else, they're all going to die -- sooner or later -- and they can't take money or power with them, so what's the point in torturing other people? I just don't get it. But I'm fairly sane.

In his book, Turning Point, Gregg Braden points out that in ancient cultures, a person who accumulated more than they needed for survival was considered mentally ill.

We may as well face it, many of us fall into that category, with our expansive homes (the bigger the better) our expensive cars ( I nearly choked when I bought my car.)

Many of us have more than one vehicle. Many of us have boats, four wheelers and jet skis that we use a few times a year -- all stuff that is fun but not necessary to our survival.

But think about those who have all the toys possible, plus millions and billions of dollars -- socked away in numerous banks -- foreign and domestic. They don't know which high dollar car or yatcht to drive today, or which ostentatious mansion to spend Christmas in this year -- and yet they fight tooth and nail against raising minimum wage to a living wage for their employees.

People who accumulate massive amounts of various stuff until they can't even walk through their home or clean it up are featured on the TV show "Hoarders". We recognize that they are sick individuals. Their families hire professionals to help them deal with their "problem".

But the person who hoards money is seen in two opposing lights. We curse them for holding onto the wealth, (which President Reagan assured us was the way to economic health with his "trickle down economics")(that certainly hasn't happened), and in the same breath we wish we were billionaires -- because of what we see as the obvious benefits of having all the money we want.

So in a sense, we have put the wealthy on a pedestal.  We criticize them because we know most of them did not get where they are via totally honest, legal or ethical avenues, but we use their "success" as a beacon.  We try to emulate them in order to accumulate more resources in our own bank accounts. On the way, many of us learn to be as ruthless and heartless as they are.

Permaculture teachers often mention how unsustainable the U.S.  economic system is. It is based on waste -- probably worse than any other country in the world.  My mother knew that 40 years ago. It's gotten worse since she mentioned it.

We throw out everything we don't need with little, if any, thought to the environment into which we are tossing it. We've been told that if we crush it, burn it, bury it, pitch it in the ocean or expose it to the sun long enough, it'll be okay. Well, no. Not really.

In his book "The Lost Language of Plants" Stephen Buhner talks about our garbage quite extensively -- especially the sewage, how it's infused with all the medications we take, in particular antibiotics.  He talks about how those chemicals are impacting, not only the environment, but the animals, grains, fruits and vegetables we eat and so ultimately -- us too.

Many of our cities "compost" sewage waste in their landfills, then give it back to us to spread on our lawns and vegetable gardens. It works great -- except all those antibiotics and other medications we take are still in there, many even more dangerous in combination with other chemicals, and they leach up into the food we grow.

A friend who has a lot of knowledge about the soil and growing vegetables described U.S. farm lands as having "become sponges for chemicals". U.S. farmland is dead, and that's the only way the big corporations can get anything to grow - dump chemicals on it.

But companies that produce the chemicals we ingest when we eat commercially gown food, and the chemical companies that come up with a chemical cure for every little bitty uncomfortable twinge we humans experience on a daily basis don't care about the side effects  -- at least not until they get sued.

All they care about is MONEY. Americans are the sickest population in the world and we spend billions and billions of dollars every year on chemicals  that will eventually make us sicker than we already are. The agriculture chemical companies and the pharmaceutical companies have gotten bigger and stronger and richer until now they pretty much can buy any and all of the U.S. legislators they want to control.

Millions of Americans have been lured into a sense of wellbeing, a feeling of relative safety by our leaders over the past 50 years, only to figure out now, they are all liars! We are not healthy, things are not going very well anywhere and we are not safe.

The enemy, though, is not Iranians or Muslims, or Blacks, Whites, Mexicans, Asians or Chinese. It's overpowering, overwhelming greed -- and it comes in all colors -- even red, white and blue.

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