Closing Imminent!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, I was kind of afraid I’d jinx it.  So, we SOLD OUR HOUSE!  Like, for real!

Closing is supposed to happen Nov 9th!

Weekend before last, we packed up all our stuff, rented a uhaul, and drove it all to Montana and put it in storage.  So we’re currently camping out at our house and waiting.

We’re also living with one vehicle, which I keep telling myself is temporary!  We left our other one in Montana in storage.

It’s been pretty interesting to see how God has used this situation to consistently point out to us that He is with us, He is guiding us, and all is well.

We drove for 16 hours in the pouring rain with me driving our vehicle, and hubby in the Uhaul, both kids with us.  Yet we made it there safe, with no incident.  The front desk lady had spent most of her life as a Coast Guard wife, and we had a nice long conversation with her the next morning.  We unloaded everything into storage, and then spent the next several days property hunting.  We had a pretty frustrating time of it, no where we looked seemed to have anything close to what we were looking for in the price range we were hoping to stay within.  So we branched out farther, and the last day drove an hour and a half east, and BINGO we found something that was close to what we were hoping for.  It’s actually closer to Billings than Bozeman, but that’s alright with us.

The last night we were there we happened to be joined in the hotel jacuzzi by a gentleman who was a truck driver transporting Toyota’s.  When hubby asked him if he ever picked up cars in Portland, the man said yes!  So probably hubby has checked this fellow’s ID at one point.  Small world!  His name was Gabriel, and he was a solid family man from Nevada.  We started talking about alternative housing, and he told us about his grandmother’s traditional Mexican adobe house, and how it was always warm in the winter and cool in the summer!  We talked about parenting, and he commented that he’s been trying to convince his wife to move to the country too, so their kids can learn more self-reliance.  After, hubby and I were completely struck by how awesome it was to meet someone like him!

Our trip went SO smoothly!  At every turn, when we could have hit a snag, we didn’t.  And we were able to transfer our drivers licenses, register our vehicles, get our bank situation straightened out, open a PO Box, and a safety deposit box… and every bureaucrat we talked to was extremely friendly and helpful!  Hurray for Montana friendliness!

So now the plan is, after the house closes, we’re going back to Montana to get serious about the land search.  We want to see the properties this time of year, so we can make good judgements about accessibility, and possibly get a better deal.  We’re pretty excited about it!

But now that everything is in motion, and moving forward quickly, I’m starting to “feel it”.  I’m a bit sad to leave this place!  I’m so happy/sad it’s killing me!  So pray for me, I could use it.  I know the direction we’re heading is the right one, but it’s also tough.

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Oh, so you’re crazy? That’s nice.

Sometimes when we tell people our plans: That we’re selling our house in suburbia, getting rid of LOTS of stuff, packing up our things and storing them in Montana, while we travel in our trailer and have no job – we get the response, “Ooh, wow!” Which really means, “Oh, so you’re crazy?  That’s nice.”

CRAZY LIKE FOXES!!!!

Let’s see, which is crazier? Staying in our suburban house, with my hubby working a job he hates. Working crazy hours, spending little time together. Which equals two unhappy parents.  And after living this way for 15 years, with extreme safety and security, and ability to buy practically anything we want, we’re still miserable and most of the time pretty depressed.

“You mean, you don’t have a place to live in Montana?”

No.  Does that seem like a problem to you?  We have a 20′ travel trailer.  Yes, it’s small.  And honestly, I find that comforting.  Living in a 1800+ square foot home wasn’t my cup of tea.  It meant, everyone could go to their corners, and tune each other out.  It meant, when I called people for dinner, I had to shout.  And then it would take them a while to get to the table.  I don’t ever want to live in a house this size again.  I am craving small.  I want closeness, not disconnection.

“You don’t have family in Montana?”

Again, I’m craving connection.  Yes, my family is all here where I live now.  But since traffic has increased dramatically in the past 5 years or so, I hardly ever see them.  We talk on the phone.  That’s about it.  I can do that anywhere.  And even better, once we are geographically separated, we’ll have reason to visit each other, and stay with each other for longer more deliberate amounts of time.  So instead of seeing people for brief passing moments on occasion, we’ll stay with each other for a week at a time!  I’m convinced that this will be better.  Plus, we’ll only be a 2 hour plane flight away.

“You don’t have a job in Montana?”

No, we don’t.  But what we will have is 12 years of equity in our pockets.  Obviously, we don’t want to spend the whole thing on living expenses, but it gives us time.  Time to travel, visit friends and family, decompress, and figure things out.  It gives us time to plan our next steps.  We aren’t just looking for a new job and a new house, we’re planning our Legacy!  This is big stuff, it takes time, and a lot of thought, and a lot of conversations.

Legacy Folks.

So that someday, our children, will tell their children, about that time when they were 10 years old.  And their parents had this crazy idea.  They had this idea that life could be better than what they’ve been living.  That the typical American dream of a secure paycheck was not all it’s cracked up to be.  And they decided to do something different.  They decided to do what the pioneers of old once did, which is give up perfectly good houses and lifestyles, for the promise of cheap land and more freedom.  And that choice, made all the difference in the world.

House Selling Unsuccess and Cows

Yup, 4 house deals.  No, actually, just two.  Two of them fell apart before we even had acceptance.  But for sure, two that were real deals, where both parties were on board, have now fallen apart.

But does it really matter how many?  The reality is, our house is back on the market.

And we’re both so so so sad.  Like, we can barely look at each other sad.  Like, we can smile, but not really, sad.  Like I have this knot in my chest that wants to just sit there, sad.

Ironically, my children’s devotional this morning really struck a chord.  The title was, Shake It Off.  No, I’m not kidding.  And the bible verse was Proverbs 20:24 “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”

Most of this process has been trying to understand everything.  Trying to predict what another party will do, so that we can know what we should do.  Trying to mind-read people we don’t know, and have never met.  News flash, it doesn’t work.

Today I’m trying to Shake It Off.

So I’m writing today.  Somehow, if I don’t write about it, I can pretend it’s not real.

And I did some useful things, like printing out phonics flash cards, and canceling our moving truck and our storage space in Montana.  And I did some yard work.  And bought a decoration for our front door, because I have to try and make it look pretty again.

The thought came to me, I have this weird thing with writing.  Yes, I’m going back to that.  Part of me wants to be all deep and philosophical about life, and the other part just wants to tell myself to shut the hell up because I can hardly listen to myself without wanting to roll my eyes.  Part of me wants to ignore all the things from my past or present, or my feelings about them, because it sucks to live it let alone write about it.  And do I really want to go there?  Do I really want to share that with the world?  Or even with people I care about?  It’s a downer, why ruin someone else’s day?

I’d much rather read about cows.

Yes, cows.  Recently I’ve been reading about cows.  Which cows are good for cold climates, which cows are good foragers, which cows are good for dairy or beef or for pulling carts/plows etc.  Cows.  All about cows.  Especially miniature cows.  Yes, there is such a thing, and they are freakin’ adorable!

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I don’t know why, but learning about these marvelous beasts is helping me get over the whole house thing.  Looking at cute animals, and thinking about how awesome it would be if they were mine, seems to do that for me.

 

Preparedness in the Face of Disaster Pt. 2

In the face of Disaster, are YOU ready?!

Recent calamities in our country and our world have brought this idea to the forefront; that it’s important to be prepared.  But what can we do as individuals to be ready for whatever might happen?

In my last post, I discussed Shelter.  This week, I’m addressing Water, Food, and Clothing.

Water

Water, of course, is one of the basic requirements for life.  But how do we prepare and have water available if for some reason we couldn’t be connected to our city’s system?

One thing my mother used to do when a big storm was approaching, or some other disaster was anticipated, she would fill our bath tub with water.  Now, you might not want to drink water that came from a bath tub, but if you needed water to clean with, or use to flush the toilets with, then that would be a good option.  This would work ok if you only expected to be out of water for a day or two, but what about longer?

In our house, we have several 5 gallon water jugs, which we fill and treat with tablets for long term storage.  This is a good solution for, again, temporary outages.  It’s better than the bath tub trick because it’s drinkable.  You can also purchase jugs of pre-treated preserved water.  This would be a perfect thing to keep in your storm shelter or basement for long-term storage.

Ideally, for long term use, the best way to have access to water indefinitely is to have a good well or free-flowing year-round water on your property.  If you have a well, you’ll also need a pump.  If it’s electric, make sure you have a back-up generator or solar system so that it will continue to function if you are disconnected from the grid.  If you have free-flowing water, then you’ll also want the tools available to treat the water to make it drinkable.

Water catchment systems are fantastic for grey water or rain collection, and using that water to store or treat for later use.  If I had such a system, it would primarily be used for watering my garden or fruit trees.  I’m just now starting to learn about these systems, but there’s a lot of info about them out there if you’re inclined to look.

Food

Food preservation should be something that everyone should learn how to do.  Preserved food is naturally healthy, and will save you a lot of money!  One of the beauties of food preservation is buying or growing locally available seasonal fruits and veggies in bulk, and then preserving them for year-round use.  I have found that different foods are best preserved in different ways, and some experimentation is involved in discovering how you and your family like each product to be preserved.

I grew up canning.  Canning is an easy way to preserve fruits into jams & jellies, or canned in light syrup.  Vegetables are trickier, and will require the use of a pressure canner.  There is nothing else that makes me feel tied to generations of old than picking a crate of berries, bringing them home, and making them into jam.  Just like grandma used to make!  If you’re going to buy one book about canning, I’d recommend the Ball Blue Book.  It’ll teach you everything you’d want to know and more.

Freezing is also a viable method of preserving food.  We have a huge freezer which we primarily use for storing meat.  Other foods we freeze include pumpkin puree, shredded zucchini, whole berries, apple sauce, and freezer jam.

Dehydrating is a method I’m just learning about.  Ideally, it’s one of the best methods of preserving food because it requires little to zero electricity, and no glass jars with liquids inside which are susceptible to freezing.  Also, dehydrating  resolves part of the space issue associated with canning.  Dehydrated goods can be stored in ziplock bags, or glass jars.  But either way, foods shrink when you dry them, so they will require a lot less space.  Meat, fruits, and vegetables can all be preserved through drying.  And you can make a lot of great meals with food that’s been dehydrated.  You can make your own soup mixes, your own trail mixes, your own jerkies.  You can use a dehydrator to roast fresh nuts, or make fruit leather.

One of the very best resources for food preservation is your local extension office.  Often their websites will give you info about food preservation recommendations, and their offices often offer classes and workshops on this topic.

Clothing

The first clothing issue that most of us would have after a disaster is laundry.  Do you have an alternative laundry solution in your home?

Right now, we don’t.  Aside from washing our clothes in the bath tub with our bare hands.  But I tell you what, once we get settled in our new location, I’ll be getting one of these, and possibly a wringer to go with it.

As for what to wear when your clothes wear out?  Well, during such a situation, I’m thinking sturdy serviceable clothing is more important than fashion.  So purchasing clothing that will last and be suitable for working outside is a great thing to start doing now.  Learning to sew is always a good idea.  As well as knitting or crocheting.  Having a sewing machine, and fabric that you can use do make different things is never a bad idea.  Also, mending clothing is a skill that will certainly come in handy.

 

So what are your thoughts on being prepared for a disaster?  Are there any tips that you’d add that you’ve already implemented in your home?

 

Preparedness in the Face of Disaster Pt. 1

Houston.  Montana. Idaho. Oregon.  Now Florida.  All sites of natural and/or man-made disasters over the past few weeks.

It’s great to see people pitching in and helping each other.  As humans, as neighbors, that’s what we can and should do.  Picture3

But after all that’s happened, or still happening, it’s turned my thoughts towards how important it is to be prepared.

As a Christian, I’ve always sort of had this sense of, “It’s ok, God’s in control, no need to worry” mentality.  I’m not sure if it’s the church culture I grew up in, but it’s downright wrong.  Jesus said, “In this world, there will be trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”  He didn’t say, “maybe”, He said, WILL!  In the end, yes, God’s got this.  And in the end, yes, it will be alright.  If not in this life, then in the next.  But as long as we’re here, we should be prepared for trouble!

So what does being prepared mean?  It comes down to the basics: Shelter, Water, Food, and Clothing.  Let’s go over each one over the next few posts and talk about how we can be prepared in each area.

Shelter

Three years ago, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me, “Prepare your house.”  I had no idea what this meant.  At the time, my husband and I were not getting along, and I kept asking, “You mean, literal house?  Or like, metaphorically?”  And it kept coming back in my face, no,  you don’t get it,  I mean your actual house.

I didn’t like that answer.  So…. unspiritual.

You see, my house was a total disaster all by itself.  My garage was filled to the brim with crap, some of which I didn’t even know what it was.  Every closet was packed.  Every drawer a disorganized mess.  And my family, well, it was affecting us!  It’s hard to think when you’re surrounded by chaos.  It’s hard to function when every time you do something you can’t find something that you need in order to complete the task.

It took years, and a total change in our life’s direction to prompt us to get serious about getting rid of stuff.  Suddenly, the threat of moving and altering our lifestyle pushed us to face the reality behind the curtain, and it wasn’t pretty.  In fact, it was rather disgusting.

But crazy things happened!  We stopped fighting, a miracle on it’s own.  Suddenly, we had a joint project we both felt equally motivated to accomplish.  It brought us much closer together, and changed the dynamics in a big way.  Not only were we making visible progress, which feels great all by itself, but we were literally moving forward and doing something BIG to physically change our surroundings.

While sorting and cleaning and delivering things to charity, we kept having ah-ha moments.  One of them was that we had literally, and painfully, bought the American lie.  Maybe you’re familiar with it?  It’s that you’ll be happier, and you’re life will be improved if you buy this.  Consumerism.  It’s the death that kills you with each unnecessary purchase.  How much time and money had we spent accumulating all this crap?!  A lot.  And it was sobering.

So what does this have to do with shelter and being prepared?

Well, how well do you think we would have done if we had been given an evacuation notice?  Do you think we would have been able to quickly identify what was important and whisk it away in our vehicles with little notice?  No.  That wouldn’t have happened.  Instead, it would have been a massive crazy scramble digging through crap, ultimately not finding what we were hoping to find, and it would have potentially been destroyed.

Do you know how much time we spend looking for things now?  About 3 minutes.  Back then, it was hours.

What is most valuable to you?  What do you need to do to protect those things?  And do you need to massively slim down in order to reasonably do that?

Next, how do you feel about construction work?  Are you handy?  What skills do you think you should learn in order to be more self-sufficient.  If your world comes unhinged tomorrow, do you think you could build yourself a temporary shelter?  Or something more permanent?  What books do you think you should own in case you need to reference this knowledge without the use of electricity or the internet?  These are all questions we’re currently asking ourselves.

Steps we’ve taken?  We’ve purchased “alternative housing”  in the form of a camping trailer.  We’ve spent considerable time and money to insure that it is completely self-contained and organized to make efficient use of the space.  But we’re planning to not necessarily be in one place, mobility was important to us.  If we were wanting to be more stationary, we’d consider building a cabin, or outbuilding on a separate property.  Or at least having the knowledge about how to build on our own with available resources.

So those are my thoughts on Shelter!  Do you have any of your own that you’d add?  Please comment! 🙂  Next post, I’ll dive into Water!