I am One with the Grizzly

No, I’m not in a bad mood. As always, when I’m at the keyboard writing and/or blogging, I’m in my “zone” and all is well for as long as these fingers keep typing.

Outside, rather than the crisp, fall air that one would expect for early autumn, it is chilly, damp and overcast. I keep waiting for the leaves to really start changing, heralding that autumnal splendor that defines autumn in New England. Trees ablaze with glorious bursts of color: brilliant red, myriad shades of orange, warm gold, and sunshiny yellow. Such vivid colors warm the heart and, despite poetic references of trees dying, in autumn I feel that much more alive. Of course, it is only September and that autumnal splendor doesn’t usually hit until sometime in October here in Connecticut so I sit and wait, somewhat impatiently, for the change…even as I look at the mountain of chores still to be done in preparation for the long winter ahead.

I’m not bemoaning the cooler temps; I feel blessed by them after such a humid and intolerable summer. However, I’m finding that, like the trees that go dormant (not dead) for the winter, paradoxically, though I feel more alive, I also want to make like the grizzly and curl up for a long winter’s nap. I confess to sleeping a little later the last couple of mornings…and trying not to berate myself when I do, knowing my body is telling me clearly what it needs. The summer’s humidity made healthy, deep sleep next to impossible; now my body is trying to make up for all the loss. I try to curb my impatience with this cycle, knowing that not paying attention to it may trigger another bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I’ll really be one with the grizzly!

In addition to sleep, another part of this autumn wind-down is the sudden cravings for heartier foods. I haven’t given much conscious thought to the whole macrobiotic diet thing–eating with the seasons. It is supposed to be one of the healthiest ways to eat and, when I’m paying attention, I find that my body instinctively gravitates towards the seasonal foods. Where I looked to more fresh fruits and juices in the summer months, now I’m turning to squash, pumpkin and turnips–my favorites. Instead of snacking on a wedge of watermelon, I want roasted pumpkin seeds or pecans, all of the flavors of the fall harvest.

I don’t know much about a grizzly’s eating habits but it makes sense to me to consider that they probably consume a considerable amount of food before they go into their hibernation; humans, also being animals, following suit makes perfect sense–even if we don’t sleep through the whole winter wonderland.

May God bless you & keep you!

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Connecting Alcoholism with Homesteading

Homesteading. The phrase conjures up images of “clean” living: home-grown organic fruits, vegetables and herbs; hand-spun yarns and woven fabrics; beekeeping; permaculture gardens; wildlife habitats; green energies; zero waste; compost–the list is endless but, again, it typically equals “clean” in most people’s minds. Alcoholism–or any kind of addiction, really–typically conjures up that stereotypical waif with the rheumy eyes living in a doorway. What our society doesn’t see is the priest/clergy, the school teacher, the lonely old woman, the star athlete, the average Joe working the deli counter in the supermarket. In short, it is an insidious disease that affects millions of people, either directly or indirectly–people who still manage to lead productive lives, who still manage to make meaningful contributions to their community. My paternal grandfather was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize while being an active alcoholic; not exactly the rheumy-eyed waif. There’s no cookie cutter definition or description.

That’s actually true for homesteading, too. I’ve read numerous newspaper and magazine articles that typically define it as simply growing your own food yet they miss the myriad goals of reducing one’s carbon footprint; the utilization of antiquated farming methods; raising animals for fiber, as well as eggs, dairy and, in many cases, meat. As a pescetarian, my homestead will never be used for raising meat and that actually raises some eyebrows because of the goats, chickens and ducks that grace the land. To me, the dairy, eggs, pest-control (chickens love bugs; slugs are duck delicacies), and rich, free fertilizer are enough.

As for alcoholism, I’m in the latter category with being indirectly affected by alcoholism. Though I enjoy a glass of mead on rare occasions, maybe a glass of wine at a toast, or, on even rarer occasions, a shot of Sambucca, overall, I’m pretty much a teetotaler. I can sit with friends who are enjoying a glass or two of Guinness or an Irish coffee after dinner and not be nervous or uncomfortable, while sipping a glass of pineapple juice or a cup of Salada tea. But as soon as the blurry-eyed stare, the loud voices, etc. rise to the occasion, I’d rather be anywhere else but. Too many frightening memories get triggered.

Growing up, the violent temper tantrums were only part of the picture. Dinner came out of a box labeled Rice-a-Roni, Noodle Roni, or Hamburger Helper; in leaner times, it was white gravy on toast (gravy made with flour, water and a little bacon grease). Dinner was often paid for with food stamps after a touching story was given that the step-father had left us high and dry. He hadn’t; he had simply lost another job due to too much time missed. Shut-off notices and bill collectors knocking on the door to which we pretended we weren’t home were part of the picture; name changes to the accounts often followed as if a new tenant had moved in–once, the electric bill was even in my name though I was only 13 or 14. Winters were always toughest. When we could get heating assistance, it was a little better. And one apartment actually had a working fireplace + a separate chimney that we were able to install a woodstove; a neighbor allowed the use of an old garage for storing wood. When my step-father was working, things were also better. But poor money management meant they didn’t stay that way. A steady paycheck meant we shopped every weekend for more “stuff” we really didn’t need. We treated every kid in the neighborhood to a trip to the zoo, an ice cream cone when the truck came down our street, or the amusement park. In many ways, as a kid, these aspects were fun and I encouraged these rare treats; I was suddenly a popular kid. I didn’t realize it for the poor management it was until many years later. And, of course, there was always money spent on beer. All of it would’ve been better spent in saving for leaner times or getting out of debt. We moved a lot. Beloved pets were disposable at the local pound, as were the endless litters of puppies and kittens because spaying and neutering was either too expensive or we could “always” find homes for them so why bother(??!?); cherished possessions were tossed or left behind for someone else to clean out–if they didn’t get destroyed during one of those temper tantrums. Beloved pets sometimes went hungry during the leaner times and were abused along with their humans when the temper tantrums started. The sound of a pop-top opening still sends me into shivers.

As a kid, I was always eligible for free lunches at school. In high school, we actually had a salad bar and I frequented it as my body craved the vitamins and minerals these fresh foods provided. I confess to often feeling guilty as I enjoyed these salads because I knew everyone at home was living on something much poorer. We often received baskets of food from local charities but it was almost always more of the same–packaged, processed foods because they retain a longer shelf life. This poor diet, as well as the stress that went with it, has led to some digestive health issues: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, gluten-sensitivity, lactose-intolerance and, in more recent years, some acid reflux. In learning about these health conditions, I’ve also learned how important a healthy, balanced diet really is. I’ve learned about food additives like High Fructose Corn Syrup and Monosodium Glutamate and how really bad they are for the body; the former being a leading culprit in the development of IBS. I learned about artificial sweeteners like Sweet N Low, which is saccharine and a leading carcinogen; Equal, which is aspartame and has its own health issues; Splenda, a by-product of the pesticide industry. In short, I learned the difference between organic foods that are grown without the use of chemical pesticides/herbicides, without any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) vs. the Franken foods that dominate most supermarket shelves. The desire to grow my own food, for homesteading, was born.

Of course, once you get started down that road to homesteading, if the itch takes hold, food production is only part of the picture. Yes, growing that food in a manner that conserves water, builds up the soil and maximizes space is a major part; canning and preserving, making everything from scratch, making one’s own bread and condiments. From there, as an herbalist, I’ve branched off into making my own medicines, health and beauty products, and even some natural cleaners. Because of all those lean years, there is also a deep desire to become more self-sufficient, to not be dependent upon the grid, to minimize the cost of living as much as possible while also taking better care of the planet. Because of the neglectful animal care, the desire to implement more humane practices–well, this is at the heart of it all because I owe it to the memories of so many pets to make sure current and future generations don’t suffer similar fates. Spaying and neutering, regular check-ups, adopting rather than breeding, and simply seeing these animals as the living, sentient beings they are complete the homesteading package. In many ways, homesteading has been the vehicle for curing the hurt and the ills created by that alcoholic upbringing. With each new skill, with each new and positive practice, with the care that goes into a homestead, my confidence and self-esteem rises. Therein lies the link.

When I started this blog, I was determined that it would only be about homesteading endeavors. Many false starts, and years of dormancy, led me to simply start writing whatever came to mind–even if it didn’t have much to do with homesteading at all. I’m finally finding my voice and the direction I’d like to take it. And, oftentimes, as I write, I find that blogging has become a sort of therapy. It is a hope that, by sharing my own experiences with alcoholism–and abuse–that I might help others to heal; knowing you’re not alone can be the most liberating experience. I have considered creating a separate blog, one that deals only with the alcoholism and abuse, and leaving this one to homesteading, animal stories, and faith-based postings but they are all part of the same world and I fear I might neglect one over the other. Besides, homesteading brings about its own liberation.

As I read back over this post, and realize where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come in life, suddenly the over-grown yard; the fact that this homestead has a long way to go before becoming a “working” homestead; the fixer-upper status; the less-than-perfect conditions that I often bemoan or shy away from fall away. Both homesteading and recovery from addiction/the affects and/or abuse from someone else’s addictions are journeys. You’re never quite done; there’s always room for improvement, always room for more growth. And as I plant those seeds for more growth, I also plant a few seeds of faith because, above all else, homesteading and recovery need a daily dose of that.

May God bless you & keep you!

Technical Difficulties

This morning I finished my yoga practice and jumped in the chair behind the PC, intent on adding a new blog post. Lo and behold, Hewlett-Packard had different ideas. My PC was midway into a major update from Windows 8 to Windows 10 (not sure what happened to Windows 9…) so I sat here reading a booklet that I found while organizing the office last week that deals with being more assertive. There’s no cover page so I don’t know the actual title or author but it was an interesting read while I munched a couple of slices of whole grain toast slathered with peanut butter. (What 20 lbs. by Nov. 20th???)

One thing that stuck out for me was a passage that read: “Some [people] are unconcerned whether you agree with them and share their views. Others are rabid in demanding that you fall in line with them. They feel that they know best and this gives them the authority to tell everyone what they should be doing and saying. It is their way or the highway.” (Anonymous) I think we all know a few people with this mindset; having been afflicted by alcoholism and abuse as a child, I, too, can get on my high horse about certain subjects. It is learned behavior. And this is where that Al-Anon slogan of “Live and Let Live” comes into play. I don’t have all the answers and neither does anyone else; we can only do the best we can with what we have…and allow others the same courtesy. However, this is where the term “boundaries” comes into play…and the need to assert those boundaries.

The booklet goes on to talk about how women, especially (though not confined to women; just more common), tend to be people-pleasers. Old-fashioned values passed down from previous generations instill in us a belief that standing up for ourselves is unladylike, unfeminine. And then we wonder why we keep finding the same situations over and again: being over-whelmed by too many responsibilities/social engagements or commitments; being passed over for better job positions, or lower pay scales; or finding the same abusive and/or controlling partners ad nauseum.

Some of this is simply that innate desire to be loved and accepted. We want to fit in so we say “yes” to every request made of us; we give in to keep the peace; we give–because it is better than receiving, or so we are told–and we give and we give until, like that old children’s story about the giving tree, there is nothing left to give…except maybe the built-up resentment and anger that stifling our own needs–and even our core values–has developed. In seeking to please others and neglecting our own needs, we actually give others an unspoken permission to treat us as doormats; to ridicule us; to continue to assert their “control” over us. In short, we allow unacceptable behavior. And, as a result of this tolerance of unacceptable behavior, that anger and resentment eventually spills over until we resort to some unacceptable behavior of our own.

Boundaries. This one is a tough one for me. I grew up in an alcoholic home. Frequent, violent arguments often made sleep impossible and left a little girl quaking in her shoes. The one time I remember standing up for myself was when I was around 17. It was over a chair that my stepfather had picked up at a yard sale to replace the old rocking chair my mother had reupholstered for me years before. The rocking chair went hurtling across the floor and Mom barely managed to stop the incessant stomping that would have reduced it to smithereens in another moment. My assertion was simply to suggest couldn’t we put the new chair in the living room instead of my room (which was only, roughly, 10 x 8)? Today, I can understand that this was not an unreasonable request but, the reaction to that request, set a precedent that my feelings, thoughts, opinions had no value and, in fact, asserting myself might bring about some serious consequences. This is a little extreme but even those from unbroken homes often struggle with asserting themselves. What good is it to establish healthy boundaries if you don’t maintain them? Saying “no” is not a bad thing. It doesn’t necessarily mean “never”, just “not right now”. Or it means I find this behavior unacceptable and I’m not going to tolerate it anymore. Setting boundaries, and asserting yourself to maintain those boundaries, says that your time, your money, your health and well-being are all valuable and important–as is the time/money/health, etc. of others. Setting boundaries is not the same as building walls; setting boundaries doesn’t shut everyone out–and isolate you in; they simply provide guidelines for protecting yourself. Boundaries are a way of saying “No” with love rather than the hostility that characterizes aggression. Aggression builds walls. Aggression threatens and tries to manipulate others. Boundaries protect you from that aggression.

After over 20 years of therapy, I am learning–finally–to set some boundaries and also, to assert myself in maintaining those boundaries. I’m also learning that sometimes the people closest to you do not like this sudden change from the church mouse mentality to, well, not exactly the lion ready to roar, but at least the cat who stoically goes their own way regardless. I have a mind of my own. And, while I strive to respect the feelings and views of others, I am also striving to have my own feelings and views respected–even if those views are not shared. I recently had someone give me an ultimatum because I did not share their views about something. Ultimatums are unfair under almost any circumstance–unless you’re a soldier or police officer giving someone the ultimatum to come out with their hands up. For once, I stood up to this unacceptable behavior because to give in to it would go against some pretty solid principles. I did my best to maintain calm and simply stated my feelings, and that I was not going to conform to what they expected me to do. It didn’t go over well but I expected it. It hurts. Talk about reinforcing some negative, learned behavior but I also know that my standing up to this negativity is much healthier than any conformity to another’s expectations. Though it hurts, in some ways, taking that stand has also been liberating. The outcome of my being assertive may not have been the one I was hoping for, the intent misunderstood, but I realized my own worth. The little girl is no longer quaking in her shoes.

May God bless you & keep you!

For the Birds

Many years ago, when I bought the present homestead, there was a bird feeding station outside the double windows over the kitchen sink. The previous owners of the property had set it up and I continued the tradition. Bird feeding–and watching–has always been a favorite pastime. I remember my paternal grandfather keeping a feeder in the backyard as well as a birdbath for his avian friends. It is a lovely sight each morning to see the variety of feathered friends zooming in and out for their daily sustenance. No matter how tired, depressed, sad or lonely I may be feeling (eh, we all have those feelings once in awhile…), the sight of their aerial antics lift me up. Sometimes I wonder if that old wives’ tale is true about them being God’s messengers–like little fluttering angels in disguise; it would seem so at times.

Of course, when I first moved in, that variety had me stymied a bit. I could recognize the mourning doves, the cardinals, robins, sparrows and the chickadees but what was that little gray bird with the crest? What about that black bird with the brown cap? And that little yellow guy is adorable but I haven’t a clue what kind of bird he is. So I bought a Peterson’s Field Guide for Eastern Birds. This book has received a lot of use.

Today, I can easily identify the titmouse, cowbird and finch (respectively, from the above paragraph). I also delight in the nuthatches, the starlings, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and the occasional oddity. This can be a unique bird that’s come to visit or else a non-avian visitor. Toads, chipmunks, squirrels, and baby bunnies all come to dine from time to time. Of course, last week Mom and I entertained a visitor of another sort that, while not entirely unwelcome, did leave behind an unpleasant aroma. We see larger friends, too: deer, wild turkeys, the occasional fox or hawk.

Despite the noisy Interstate that runs almost through the front yard, it is particularly gratifying to know that this lonely, little acre provides a safe-haven for so many creatures. If I stay, there are plans to develop some wildlife habitats here–above and beyond the bird feeders–in the form of native plant gardens as well as bird gardens that provide food for our avian friends. I’ve added birdhouses over the years; every spring new birds are born here, providing a gift beyond measure. With so much natural habitat being destroyed by over-development–especially in northeastern Connecticut–it is important to provide a few oases in the midst of such chaos. We share this earth with so many beautiful–and sometimes not so beautiful but equally important–species; it seems selfish to the extreme to keep taking without giving back. God made all creatures. Not for us to exploit or destroy, but to share this great planet with in harmony.

If I relocate? A wildlife habitat will be created in the new digs; it’s a plan that can be readily implemented but I do worry about the creatures here, especially with so many properties on this Interstate being sold as commercial. This is a fixer-upper. There’s no doubt in my mind that, if I sold, it would be bulldozed down to make way for some sort of strip mall. And then where would these creatures go?

In the meantime, I watch their daily flight in for their breakfast. I delight in the occasional friend who finds shelter from the storm either in one of the birdhouses or else in one of my feeders (one has a rooftop). And I pray that, whatever choice I eventually make, my feathered friends will still find their oasis.

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

Peterson, R. T. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Birds, 4th Edition. Houghton Miffler: 1984.

A Home-Based Business

I am hoping that “someday” my writing, artwork and, of course, the eventual development of a working homestead, will all negate the necessity of working a “job” off-site. And, with that spirit in mind, I decided to spend some time today dusting off (figuratively-speaking) the Go Fund Me campaign that I have had for several months’ now to try to raise start-up funds for a home-based business using goats to clear land.

With the first version of this campaign write-up, I used the term “goat wrangling”. I obtained this terminology from several similar businesses out West but, apparently, it has scared a lot of people off. The term wrangling seems to be conjuring up visions of a rodeo with goats instead of horses and bulls–the latter of which I would never condone, so why would anyone think I’d start a business doing the same thing with goats??? But it’s okay. I got some recent feedback bringing this concern to light so I am happy to oblige and change my future occupation to “Goat Handler” rather than “Wrangler”. No lassoing. No roping. No taunting with red capes or any other rodeo stereotypes. It’s all humane here.

I baby all of my animals. A couple of winters’ ago, Connecticut was hit with a blizzard that dumped nearly 3 feet of snow on us within a 48 hour time period. Prior to the storm’s arrival, local news stations were predicting power outages for most of the area. Knowing my only source of heat in the barn is from electric heat lamps, I cleared everything that might possibly attract a goat’s interest out of my laundry/rabbit room, set up every travel cage I own and made 30+ trips from the barn to the rabbit/laundry room, relocating chickens, ducks, and last but not least, the goats. We used a child safety gate (set on its side to make it taller) to keep said goats from straying through the rest of the house. I threw a piece of old linoleum onto the floor, covered it with wood shavings (the goats never figured out it was there…or maybe they knew they wouldn’t like the taste of linoleum), and there they stayed for several days until I could effectively shovel a decent path from house to barn, and clear a decent-sized area for daily exercise outside again. Am I loony-tunes? Maybe. But my babies were safe and that’s all that mattered. Amazingly, they gave little to no trouble throughout their stay but, I confess, they try every tactic, now that the threat of blizzards and power outages are over, to come back into the house. I guess they liked it better inside with us.

All this being said, I think it’s safe to say that these guys–if I can ever get this campaign up and running, ever get this business up and running–will be loved and cared for…even on the job clearing land of unwanted vegetation in an earth-friendly manner. I hope whoever reads this, and/or my Go Fund Me campaign page, will consider a contribution–or, at the very least, be kind enough to share it so that more will see it and, possibly, make it a success. I thank you for your support!

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/akt2hu9s

Friday’s Flora & Fauna: Basil

MMmmmm…

My first introduction to pesto sauce was atop a slice of gourmet pizza. Instead of the usual tomato sauce, or the sometimes “white” sauce many pizzerias provide, this particular restaurant slathered a rich and spicy pesto sauce over that crust. Spinach, broccoli and, of course, lots of cheese rounded it out. That first bite felt like a slice of heaven on earth; I’ve been hooked ever since.

And, of course, the main ingredient of this culinary miracle is sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum).

Basil = pesto sauce in my book. But even a little bit of basil sauteed in some olive oil with some fresh garlic and a little onion, then tossed with some pasta, makes a delicious, healthy and easy-to-prepare meal. And, of course, basil is a popular spice for more traditional pasta sauces as well.

I love basil. Even if it wasn’t a culinary miracle, that aroma is divine. I can’t help but brush my hands over the leaves whenever I see it, just to catch a bigger whiff. Amazingly, many bugs do not like the smell and, thus, it is pretty effective in keeping some of them away. Just grab a few leaves and rub them over any exposed skin. You may smell like an Italian restaurant but it beats the acrid stench of chemical sprays–and it’s safer for you, and for the environment.

I grow basil primarily for its culinary uses. It is easy to grow and it’s also an attractive plant. I’ve grown it both outside in the garden, and inside the house in a pot on the window ledge. It does need regular pruning or else it may grow quite “leggy” but this legginess doesn’t seem to affect either the flavor or the scent. However, “leggy” means there’s more stem, less leaves. And it’s the leaves you want for either pasta or pesto sauces. With regular trimming, the plant will bush out beautifully, adding a pop of bright green color, a sweet aroma, and a handy spice to any kitchen.

Medicinally, it is not a usual “go-to” for me but it does have some medicinal properties. It is said to be good for alleviating bad breath, headaches, and basil contains at least 6 compounds that help to lower high blood pressure (Duke 312). It may also be used as an expectorant, helping to expel excess mucus from the lungs and throat. I even found one reference for using basil to treat warts (Duke 549-550). This actually makes sense as basil also contains many antiviral compounds and warts, which are benign skin tumors, are caused by a family of viruses called papillomavirus. I confess, I have never tried using basil for this purpose but I also don’t have any warts to experiment with at the moment.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is provided for educational purposes only; it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Whenever I think of warts, I associate them with witches and, as we are heading into the Halloween/Samhain season, I decided to look this herb up in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. This book brings a touch of romance and whimsy to the art of herbalism and I love reading it. But the first thing that caught my eye was that it is said to “keep goats away from your property” (Cunningham 48). I’m not sure I like that use for it, as my goats are my life. They don’t seem to mind it in the garden, nor do they flee from home whenever I plant it, so maybe this is for wild goats–like in the Rocky Mountains–rather than beloved pets. Primarily, Cunningham talks about its use in love divinations and for exorcisms, the latter needing only to have basil strewn upon the floor to protect one from evil (Fr. Karras could’ve used this with Linda Blair; somebody should have told him about basil on the floor…). But, while I jest, there is a variety known as “Holy Basil” (Ocimum tenuiflorum) so maybe there’s something to it after all. Either way, at least the rooms will smell nice as you walk through them.

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

Cunningham, S. Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, 2nd Edition. Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota: 1985.

Duke, J. The Green Pharmacy. St. Martin’s Press, New York: 1997.

Is it Wasted Time or Time Well-Spent?

I have spent the better part of this morning searching through a directory of towns in Maine for a list of towns with the least amount of population. I’m looking for unorganized townships with less than 500 people. Next, will be to research their locations. If I decide to relocate, I would prefer being near the ocean. Not necessarily a waterfront property; they tend to be grossly over-priced, but I would like to be within shouting distance of the ocean…or a lake. Somewhere that I can plunk a canoe down in the water and paddle away. Is that possible with goats in tow (not in the canoe but farming in a coastal region)? Or are coastal towns all zoned into tourist trap submission? These are things I am hoping to find out. The mingled scents of clean farm animals and salty sea air would be the sweetest perfumes. And the cry of a gull amidst a chorus of bleats and neighs and cock-a-doodle-doo, the sweetest of songs. This will be my paradise here on earth. If I can find it. And if I can afford it when I do.

As I type this I am also thinking of all the improvements I’d like to make here on this little one-acre homestead in northeastern Connecticut. Being influenced by the folks at Path to Freedom (please Google for more information) in knowing that it is possible to have a sustainable homestead on a smaller piece of land–i.e. quoting Jules Dervaes in their excellent film, “Homegrown Revolution”, I decided years ago to “start with what I have”. But I worry about things like carbon monoxide from Route 6 settling on my herbs and vegetables, and the increased development of this Quiet Corner town. It’s becoming too commercial and yet the job market is scarce, public transport is so poorly planned as to be almost non-existent, and, despite being on this main Interstate, I feel like an island unto myself anyway. There is little by way of a “community” feeling.

Of course, I do little to encourage that community feeling. My yard is always overgrown. When someone knocks at the door, I seldom answer–unless I’m expecting someone. And I walk around with the feeling that I’m sitting in a fish bowl. The Thujas bordering the front of the house offer a great privacy screen but it is not enough; I’m that eternal hermit-in-the-woods. Not exactly the most encouraging attitude for an ordained minister but I crave solitude like the flowers crave sun and rain. It’s one of the reasons I’ve had such a difficult time adjusting to having a roommate–even though that roommate is Mom.

Whine, whine, whine…

Or maybe that should be wine, wine, WINE!

No, I seldom partake of the latter. Having felt the effects of alcoholism many times as a child–from watching a beloved grandfather vomiting blood each morning, and losing him all too early, to a stepfather’s drunken rampages and pedophilia–I’ll take the fruit of the vine in the form of some organic grape juice instead. (Albeit, I wouldn’t say, “No!” to a wee drop of mead though…)

As for the whining? The best remedy is gratitude. No, I am not where I really want to be. And I am feeling the shifts everywhere in my life right now, shifts that say change is coming and it is time to move on, move forward, get out of this rut that I’ve been “stuck” in for the last several years. Despite my hermit-in-the-woods mentality–which is another side effect of having grown up with alcoholism–I do desire that sense of community, that sense of connection with others. But I also want that oasis in the middle of it all, that place of quiet retreat where I can recharge my batteries–literally and figuratively speaking. We all need that.

So, as I draw a ragged deep breath and prepare to send Wendy Whiner on her way again, I make a short list of all of things I am grateful for right here and now:

I am grateful for the air I breathe, the water I drink, a roof overhead, the food on my plate and the clothes on my back.
I am grateful for my roommate, my Mom; grateful that I am fortunate enough to still have my Mom with me.
I am grateful for family and friends, my community of loved ones–whether they live in this Quiet Corner or not.
I am grateful for all of the myriad animals that share this home with me–both domestic and wild.
I am grateful for the gifts from God of being able to write, sing, play music, paint, draw, create and homestead.
I am grateful for my job, for being employed, and for the wonderful co-workers who share that part of my week with me.
I am grateful for my garden, for the herbs, fruits and vegetables growing there.

And I am grateful, most of all, for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for my sins and gave me everlasting life.

Now what the heck was I whining about?

May God bless you & keep you!

Works Cited

“Homegrown Revolution Quotes.” Quotes.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2016. Web. 22 Sep. 2016 .