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At Sixes and Sevens

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

“A state of confusion or disarray”, says The Free Dictionary online to the phrase “at sixes and sevens”. Confusion? Yes. Confused how I got to this place again in life, worrying about foreclosure, which is eminent if I cannot get back to work soon. Confused with how to stay afloat, where to turn, what to do. I find myself so weary of the constant struggle. It’s been this way since 2009 almost indefinitely. Only brief little respites. I start to pick myself back up again. And I fall back down. Why?

Yup…I’m in that wowzy wowzy woo woo mode again. I know I’m suppose to release that struggle to Jesus, to trust Him to make it all work out–even if it’s not exactly how I would like it to be. And whining about everything surely doesn’t help but, would everyone understand if I said, “I can’t help it?” (Ok, ok…maybe I can but indulge me for a moment, please)

I’m in over my head right now. And, while the shoulder is feeling better, it’s still not 100%. Holding a cellphone for more than a few minutes becomes quite uncomfortable. I’m getting impatient with being a patient again…and this one is serious. Bones don’t mend overnight. But there’s too much of that disarray right now, owing to the current lack of income.

And yet, amidst all of this disarray and confusion, there’s a part of me truly grateful for the rest that this convalesce has provided on a physical level. I’m not as perpetually sleep-deprived. I’m writing more. Singing in the choir at church. Spending some quality time with Mom and the pets here at The Herbal Hare Homestead. And even sharing a few visits with friends who, prior to my injury, probably thought I’d forgotten about them. If I wasn’t so worried about finances, I would focus everything I have on the positive outcomes and just allow myself to heal. That’s why I’m home right now. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple. Focusing on just healing is the ideal; the reality is something altogether different.

But, I’m not giving up. I’m going to trust that He does have a plan for all of this. And that everything will work out for the best in the end. In the meantime, I will keep posting my Go Fund Me campaign link and asking everyone to share it. There’s been a few “bites” for which I am eternally grateful; I am eternally grateful for all of the love and moral support that has been coming my way lately, too. I know, deep down inside, that He really does have my back.

And yours, too, no matter what storm you may be riding out right now…blessed be the name of the Lord.

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/manage/9fymzf-medical-leave

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Donor Help

My cousin, Gary Chelak, just found out he has one kidney not functioning at all and the other at only 17%. I am reaching out to my WordPress community to share this link in the hopes that we might find Gary a donor.

Many thanks…and May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.USCLivingDonor.org

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A Living Wage

“And woe to you, King Jehoiakim, for you are building your great palace with forced labor. By not paying wages you are building injustice into its walls and oppression into its doorframes and ceilings.” (Jeremiah 22:13)

As much as possible, I try to steer away from politics on my blog but, if my tagline is truly, well, true, then sometimes getting political is a must. If we are to heal as a people. And, if I’m being totally, brutally honest, Ivanka Trump just hit a nerve with me. A big nerve.

Ivanka stated: “I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something. People want to work for what they get” (Reints; politicalobserver.com).

Yes, there is a lot of truth in that statement. We are a strong, courageous and proud motley of people who would rather work for what we get/what we have than to receive hand-outs. There is a certain pride in being able to pay for your cost of living. It is a pride that allows you to lift your head up and look people squarely in the eye. It is a pride that allows you to open the doors wide–to your home, and to your heart–because this is the home and life you have created (or, rather, that He has provided you the means to create). When that pride is missing because of a job loss, an illness or injury, or simply inadequate wages, suddenly the signs of neglect are everywhere. Homes start to show signs of neglect, disrepair, unkempt, over-grown. Clothing is much mended and threadbare because the means to purchase “new,” even in a thrift store, isn’t there. Faces take on a tired, drawn look. Dark circles and/or bags form under the eyes. Tempers flare. And people withdraw. Invites to dinner/outings with family or friends are declined because they don’t feel they have anything to contribute, or can’t afford to pay their way to an event. People start to feel like a mooch (uh-oh, here they come again, Martha, pretend we’re not home). And, in the case of illness or injury, if there aren’t any outward signs of it (i.e. brace, cast, etc), people even start to sneer that maybe this person does not want to work. Or hint that they brought it on themselves.

The end result?

Total.

Isolation.

Addictions.

Disorders.

Loneliness.

Depression.

Even suicide (No, I’m not, but I can certainly understand at this point why people feel so hopeless in the face of such conditions and, PS, I have a therapist; a lot of people are too ashamed to even seek help when they need it. Keep that one in mind the next time the temptation to judge another’s situation arises)

So, while I can agree with Ms. Trump for her acknowledgement of human pride in wanting to work for what you get, she’s missing the biggest piece of the equation. What if you’re working–and working hard, not a slacker in the least–and yet, your wages are too low to pay for even your most basic necessities?

Let’s crunch some numbers here:

Minimum wage sits at $7.25 per hour. It has been $7.25 per hour since 2009 (Reint; politcalobserver; Miller; Amadeo; Numbeo). If you can find a full-time job (because, despite Trump Sr.’s avowal, they aren’t as prolific as he’d like us to think; voice of experience) at $7.25 an hour, your gross pay after 40 hours of work is $290.00. Multiply that times 4 weeks in a month and you get a gross income of $1160.00 per month. Working overtime, say 50, or even 60 hours per week, would drive that up exponentially. But most employers don’t want to pay overtime. It may be because they cannot afford to pay the time-and-a-half required for overtime but, either way, most workers are not getting it. So they take a second, or a third job, working a total of 50 ($362.50 wk/$1450.00 mo) or 60 ($435.00 wk/$1740.00 mo) hours each week, traveling back and forth between those 2-3 minimum wage jobs, become over-tired, get sick–or injure–easily because they’re rundown, and cost their respective employers more money in sick/PTO (paid time off, if provided).

Granted, the above numbers are a single income household like my own. So, if you have a partner, maybe we can double this. And, if it’s just you and your partner, maybe you don’t have to work that second or third job. What if you have children? The average cost of daycare in 2018 was $211.00 WEEKLY(!!??!) (Care.com). That’s almost a full week’s wages for one partner at that minimum wage, 40-hour gig. Some will willingly pay it because that extra $79 left over in that check might be a week’s grocery shopping. But that’s the cost for ONE child; multiply for 2, 3, or 4. If you’re a single parent, and you only have that minimum wage, 40-hour-gig, do you see the problem? How is anyone supposed to hold their head up high under those odds? How can you expect to work for what you have when you can barely provide the most basic of necessities?

Now let’s look at housing costs in America (I would love to see a freeze on housing costs…):

The average median price (2018) for a one bedroom apartment in America is between $991.62 and $1266.40 (Miller). The prices vary depending upon location with the higher prices reflecting those homes closer to the heart of the city and all the amenities that affords. If you’re living in the suburbs, or the country, the lower rental price is balanced against the higher cost of transportation, usually an automobile, because bus services can be quite sketchy, especially in rural areas (again, voice of experience). A 3-bedroom apartment can range from $1601.58 to $2058.96, same variance reflected. The single parent does not even make enough to cover a month’s rent in the city, and less than $200 more living outside of the city’s heart. Again, these are gross wages; this is not what these people are taking home. And this single person may not qualify for government assistance at these wages, even if they can swallow that pride to apply for them. The U.S. Poverty Line used as a guideline by Social Services, etc. is as follows (Miller):

Family size: 1 person $12,140 annually gross income (AGI) Family size: 2 people $16,910 AGI
Family size: 4 people $25,750 AGI

$1160 per month at the minimum wage of $7.25 times 12 months is $13,920. If this is a couple, both earning $13,920 a year, even if there are children involved, they do not qualify at all because their combined wages are $27,840 annually. Without children, it may not be an issue. But, with children, they’re also likely to be forced into that bigger, more expensive apartment, as well as have daycare expenses to pay. Unless they opt to nix any quality family time to work separate shifts, or take on extra side gigs.

With mortgages, it is even more varied. Most people scraping by on a minimum wage position, even a full-time position, can never get approval to own a home of their own. However, if, like yours truly, they had a better paying job before the economic crash of, roughly, a decade ago, and still own a home, they may be paying for a mortgage instead of rent. The average cost of a mortgage is “$1030 a month, according to the latest American Housing Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau” (Pritchard). This is reflective of a fixed rate amortizing in taxes and insurance costs; principal and interest alone averages $853 per month.

The Green New Deal, which may become a topic here for a while, wants to provide “a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security” (Reints). It isn’t proposing that we simply hand people a new job; it is proposing that the job market overall should provide wages that a body can live on. We’re not talking about that random deadbeat who doesn’t want to work; we’re talking about millions of Americans right now who are working–and trying to “secure a job” that really will provide that “upward mobility” Ivanka talks about–and yet they cannot move upwards because they can’t afford to feed their children. Or even themselves. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct in stating that “a living wage isn’t a gift, it’s a right” (or it should be) and workers often are not paid for “the value they create” in their company (Reints; Sullivan).

And, sadly, far too many employers are aware of all of these numbers. If you don’t like it, you can always leave. I encountered that attitude a decade ago when I was still working a corporate position that barely provided for my needs and they refused to give wage increases the last three years’ running.

You expect some struggle. Hardships happen. Hopefully, grace will pull you through. And some careful budgeting, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and a local food pantry who doesn’t care about guidelines. You pray for miracles. And a community that cares. You endure the sneers that maybe you don’t know how to balance a budget, or that you’ve brought your hardships on yourself. You have statistics thrown at you that, even with an increase in minimum wage, people will spend that extra money instead of saving, investing and/or getting out of debt. Yes, maybe there’s some truth to that one, too. Oftentimes, people pay off a mountain of debt and go right back out, get another credit card…and run it back up again. More likely, increasing the minimum wage to a level that affords most families the ability to move upwards, will amount to them buying their own groceries, paying their utilities and paying off at least a portion of their debt. In short, it’ll place the 12.3% of Americans living below poverty guidelines (Miller) above those poverty levels and take them out of the welfare system. Heck, it might even stimulate the economy as they move out of poverty and, possibly, into home ownership. At the very least, they might be able to take in a movie, or go to a doctor when they’re sick. Because now they can afford the co-payment.

Ivanka hit a hot spot. I don’t begrudge her the advantages she’s had in life. It’s simply the way things are that some are born into privilege, while others struggle indefinitely. However, while she has the right on our American pride of wanting to work for what we need/have, and to grow wherever we are placed, she needs a lesson in reality for the other 99% in this country who don’t earn enough–no matter how hard they work for it–even to keep a roof overhead. If she, and others in that top 1%, were to switch places with even the so-called middle class, they’d crumple into a fetal position. And, knowing that, is a reason for us 99% to raise our heads high after all.

Now, if only our wages reflected that pride we take in ourselves, in our work, and in our lives. Yup…I know about the sin of pride. I suspect, with my reason fall, injury, and impending foreclosure, He’s working on that sin in me. But that’s another post for another day…

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

Works Cited

Amadeo, Kimberly. “Living Wage and How It Compares to the Minimum Wage: How Much Do You Need to Live in America.” The Balance. Web. https://www.thebalance.com/living-wage-3305771

Miller, G. E. “What is the U.S. Poverty Level Line and Could You Live Below It?” 20 Something Finance. Web. https://20somethingfinance.com/what-is-the-united-states-poverty-line

Numbeo. “Cost of Living – U.S.” Web. https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=United+States

politicsobserver. “Ivanka Trump, Peasant-Whisperer, Does Not Believe Americans Want a Living Wage.” US Politics. Web. https://uspolitics.10ztalk.com/2019/02/27/ivanka-trump-peasant-whisperer-does-not-believe-americans-want-a-living-wage

Pritchard, Justin. “What is the Average Monthly Mortgage Payment?” The Balance. Web. https://www.thebalance.com/average-monthly-mortgage-payment-4154282

Reints, Renae. “Ivanka Trump: Most Americans Want Upwards Mobility, Not Guaranteed Minimum Wage.” Fortune. Web. afortune.comp/2019/02/26/ivanka-trump-minimum-wage

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How Did It Come To This So Fast?

“I waited patiently for God to help me; then He listened and heard my cry. he lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God.” (Psalms 40:1-3)

I face foreclosure soon if I cannot come up with the back mortgage money by the end of March. I’ve been working with the mortgage company to try to modify it. And I’m still knocking on every door that looks like it might remotely be able to help. Life is pretty scary-looking right now so, as with yesterday’s post, I will be eternally grateful if you could share/forward this blog post on to as many of your online friends as you can.

I thank you for reading…and for the loving support that I continue to receive from this community.

May God bless you & keep you!

https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave&rcid=r01-155121056357-7c399618cb174c25&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

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YouTube Junkie

“We toss the coin, but it is the Lord who controls its decision.” (Proverbs 16:33)

Who would have thought that life could change so much in the blink of an eye. I know that sounds like a cliche; it is. I’m not sure what I would have–could have–done differently. I fell while going out to shovel the driveway in anticipation of work the next day. Sure, I could see the ice coating the driveway but, in order to shovel myself out, I had to navigate over it.

Now I’m laid up.

Yesterday I was wallowing in self-pity. The mortgage is behind. I’ve been knocking on every housing assistance door in Connecticut. Mom & I have visited a couple of local food pantries to get by until I’m back to work. I put up a Go Fund Me campaign to see if I can generate help with the bills/mortgage that way. And I am grateful to the friends who have been generous in their support; it is appreciated far more than you can ever imagine. I’m still looking at a hefty mortgage payment in three days that I don’t have adequate funds to pay.

But I’m taking it on faith. Either He will provide the means in time. Or He won’t…because maybe He’s forcing me into a decision I haven’t quite been able to make. I’ve spent the better part of 9 years’ oscillating between selling out and relocating (which might just mean closer to my work in Massachusetts) or finding another part-time income to help supplement…provided I can get back to work next month. My medical leave has been extended another month until the third week of March. Of course, part of that oscillation has been the very honest two years of unemployment, followed by 6 years of underemployment. It’s only been a little over a year that I finally found a full-time position. So, in short, the financial means to relocate hasn’t been here…anymore than the means of providing the most basic cost of living. I was still playing “catch-up” when my accident happened.

Okay…so some of that wallowing factor is still happening here…

And yet, it’s not crippling me completely. I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon knocking on those doors I mentioned earlier, filling out applications, etc. to see if there’s something to help preserve this would-be homestead…either here, or in a new location. We have to allow for processing time though. So…

…in the meantime…

When I’m not writing, working on my novel, I’ve become a bit of a YouTube junkie. Having my left arm in a brace means my activity levels are pretty low. Where my days’ off, especially in winter when farm activities are pretty minimal anyway (outside of feeding), used to be spent watching gardening shows on YouTube (Jon Kohler’s Growing Your Greens: BBC2 Gardener’s World with Monty Don; Charles Dowding’s No-Dig Gardening), now I’m expanding. Roots and Refuge Homestead. Off Grid with Doug and Stacy. The Urban Farmer with Curtis Stone. Living Big in a Tiny House. Tiny House Living. I’ve watched videos on raising angora rabbits, angora goats, silkworms, and training border collies to herd the sheep I don’t have land enough to raise.

Yet…

In addition, Mom & I have had a lot of laughs watching Late Night with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And ooh-ing and aah-ing over agility competitions where, most of the time, the border collies rock! I’ve watched interviews with old “idols”: Kevin Von Erich (pro-wrestler); Rik Emmett (frontman, Triumph); Jane Seymour. The latter happened to be a walk-through with her researching what became of two of her aunts during The Holocaust; it was actually quite interesting. And she gave a bit of advice in one interview about how her mother always taught her that when you’re down and have nothing to give, you give more. I’m paraphrasing but, in essence, her mother was big on giving back, of giving help to someone else in need. By doing so, you open the door to resolving your own problems. That one’s been taken to heart quite a bit. I’m looking for ways that I can do just that.

Lastly, I’m feeling like a kid watching MTV again. Music videos. This weekend it was some 80’s, early-90’s music that I haven’t heard in a long time: Powerstation; Platinum Blonde; Andy Taylor; Triumph; April Wine; Concrete Blonde, etc.

Of course, the nostalgia conjured up by this music does sort of feed the wallowing factor a bit. I remember my dreams back then and how I gave up on them. I have no desire to give up on the current ones. Ironically, in remembering, it also feeds my determination to hold on to the current dreams; I’m not getting any younger.

Maybe in a month’s time that first draft…well…let’s not jinx it by giving voice to it.

May God bless you & keep you!

PS I would be so grateful if you would share my Go Fund Me link with your friends, family, acquaintances and readers. https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=campaign_link_t&utm_campaign=welcome

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One Day At A Time

“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! Trust in the Lord God always, for in the Lord Jehovah is your everlasting strength.” (Isaiah 26:3,4)

I’m holding onto these words of encouragement. As I navigate through this forced convalesce, and watch the bills pile up, and receive letters from the new mortgage company threatening foreclosure, and the bank account getting smaller, the above passage from Scripture reminds me that He really is in control…and my faith tells me He has a plan.

Even if I can’t see it.

I’ve been on the fence about whether to sell and find land/farm in another location, somewhere a little more manageable from a financial standpoint, but also more acreage, less house. The logical, human side of my brain says, if I do default, what are my chances of being able to purchase again? I need to keep up on everything to build my credit score up. Yes, I can see that dream farm somewhere in upper-state New York, or Maine. But my “day” job is in Massachusetts. Logic is saying it’s all beyond my reach. That I need to really push back, commit to staying. And trust that He’ll get me over this rapidly-growing bump in the road.

My faith says to trust in Him…regardless of the outcome. Though it all looks impossible, nothing is impossible with God. He is not bound by human rules of equity and credit scores. And, if the opposite is His will for me, then He’ll provide whatever I need to make the next mortgage payment, car payment, etc.

He’s teaching me patience…I say this while I rail and chafe against both my limited mobility–and my limited cash flow.

More importantly, He’s teaching me to truly put my trust in Him. I have too much of a grasping nature, holding on too tightly to what I have. In short, He’s teaching me to let go.

Can I do it? This one’s a tough one. I don’t like not being in control (as if!)…or at least feeling as if I’m in control.

So, I take a deep breath…

And wait…

And fret…as only I know how to do.

And keep reminding myself that, even if I can’t see the outcome at all, He’s got this. And His ways are always perfect.

May God bless you & keep you!
https://www.gofundme.com/9fymzf-medical-leave&rcid=r01-15506107597-500376eb83394fe0&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

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My Apologies for the Delay…

Good morning (or whatever time of day it is in your part of the world…)

In the middle of some major “renovations” here on this blog. As soon as they are completed, I will certainly include more information about them. For the time being, I thank everyone for their patience. New content will be added soon.

In the meantime, keep working towards that faith-filled, sustainable and compassionate future. We CAN be the change we wish to see in the world.

May God bless you & keep you!

Creativity, Environment, Faith, Hauntings, History, Spirituality, Supernatural

Happy Halloween

Thanksgiving is truly my favorite holiday. Though I abstain from eating any meat or poultry, I love gathering together with so many loved ones and sharing such a wide array of vegetables: turnip, squash, pumpkin pie and green bean casserole are some of my favorites. But Halloween is a pretty close second.

I’m turning 50 in a few weeks but, if you turned those numbers around “05”, 5 years old is about how old I act when it comes to “dressing up” for the occasion. I have never outgrown it. No, I don’t go trick-or-treating–or mumming and guising, as it was originally called–but I like to make people laugh. Or, at the very least, smile. And, no matter what costume I decide on, it usually does elicit an upturn of lips wherever I go. To me, that’s reason enough to indulge that inner child.

Halloween tends to be a bit controversial within the Christian community. All Hallows’ Evening (Halloween is a contraction for this holiday), is said to be the time when the veil between the Otherworld and this one is particularly thin and the souls of the dearly departed are free to roam the earth–and, potentially, to right their wrongs. This, of course, has its roots in Gaelic traditions. The night of Samhain (pronounced SOW-en) marks the end of the harvest season, when spirits–or fairies–enter this world and must be appeased to ensure that people and livestock survive the long winter ahead. Earlier generations would invoke God’s protection upon approaching their dwellings, and guising–or the donning of a costume–was done to disguise oneself from the Fae Folk. The carrying of a Jack-o’-lantern by guisers was to protect one from any evil spirits lurking about. And, interestingly, the Jack-o’-lantern was originally either a turnip or a mangel wurzel (a type of beet). When early settlers to the Americas arrived, they adopted the native fruit–the pumpkin. Within the Roman Catholic Church, All Hallows’ Evening is part of the triduum of Allhallowtide, a time set aside for honoring the saints and praying for the souls of those dearly departed as they journey from Purgatory to Heaven. In many countries, All Hallows’ Evening celebrations also include a church service and the lighting of candles upon the graves of departed loved ones. However, as many Protestant religions do not believe in Purgatory, this practice, or belief, goes against their notions of predestination. Hence, some of the controversy surrounding this holiday.

For myself, the only “controversy” I feel about any holiday is the commercialization of it. Big box department stores have been lining their shelves for weeks with costumes and accessories, many of which will wind up in landfills after tonight. I’d hate to think I had so little gumption as to buy a costume. I’d rather give the creative genius a little room to spread her wings. Albeit, as I type this, I will confess to purchasing some rather toxic make-up to enhance today’s disguise. If anyone has a safe, less-toxic means of creating green face paint, I would greatly appreciate it for next time.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing the smiles, and receiving a few chuckles, as I don this year’s ensemble. And I will continue to tell myself that the smiles and laughter are a tribute to that creativity and not the result of everyone thinking, “Look at that old fool!” Eh, you’re only as young as you feel…and I won’t say “No!” to a bit of soul cake* either!

May God bless you and keep you!

*Soul cakes were given during the Middle Ages to children and the poor when they came knocking during mumming and guising. They were cakes made with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, raisins and/or currants and topped with a cross to signify their giving as alms. Homemade with organic ingredients they must’ve been much healthier than our sugar-laced commercial treats (albeit, I won’t say “No!” to a Kit Kat either…and hang the IBS! LOL!)

**Information retrieved from http://www.wikipedia.com for educational purposes only.

Ghosts, Hauntings, Supernatural

Violet?

As we wind down towards the end of October and one of my favorite holidays of the year: Halloween, or Samhain (pronounced SOW-en), almost all of the hauntings I have related thus far, occurred between 2001-2002 when Dan and I first purchased this property. After awhile, they seemed to die down unless some major changes were happening here (i.e. our divorce; renovations; roommates, etc.). Albeit, one can still hear voices whispering late at night if you’re awake into the wee hours of morning and, occasionally, a push pin or two will drop seemingly out of nowhere. But, overall, it is pretty quiet now.

However, a question I often get asked is, “Have I seen any ghosts?”

To that, I have to say, “Maybe.”

And this ambiguous answer stems from some small part of me not wanting to own up to this “visit”, a bit fearful that someone really might send the men in white coats to my doorstep.

Another weekend morning I was lying in bed, awake, but indulging in not having to get up early. The property wasn’t a homestead-in-the-makings then so no livestock to feed and water. And, as it was still fairly early, I was confident the dogs would be okay for a few more moments while I gave in to a bit of laziness. I don’t remember what I was thinking or daydreaming about, or even for how long, but I started to feel distracted. At the opposite end of the hallway from the master bedroom was/is another small bedroom that Dan used as a computer room/office space. I thought I heard someone moving around there but it didn’t really worry me because Dan spent his early weekend mornings playing video games, such as “Tomb Raider” on the PC. I glanced down the hall but, while the computer was turned on, Dan was not sitting at it. I saw shadows moving on the wall behind the PC but, as the shelves where Dan kept his video games (this was an old, 1998 Sony desktop model–a dinosaur today) were on the opposite side of the room, again, I wasn’t worried. I simply assumed he was searching for whatever game he was in the mood for that morning.

I snuggled back down into the pillow and contented myself with scratching the chin of one of the resident felines, smiling at the rumbling effect. Until the opening of a can of cat food downstairs and Dan’s, “Kitty, kitty, kitty” sent said feline racing downstairs for breakfast.

Wait a minute…

If Dan was downstairs, then who was moving around down the hall?

I glanced up and noticed the shadows moving on the wall again. Traffic from Route 6? I was about to laugh at myself for being so spooky when one of those shadows took shape.

Standing behind the computer desk’s chair stood an older woman, rather thin and transparent–I could still see the desk and PC behind her but I could also see her. She wore dark clothing: full skirts, dark veiling behind her head (a widow or someone in mourning?), dark gloves, and a cameo broach. Gray (or maybe blondish) hair was pulled up in a bun on her head; her eyes were dark. She stared at me a moment, said, “I’m Violet” and then walked into the wall. I can tell you I made it downstairs to the kitchen in record time.

“Oh my God! (Yes, I was shaken up enough even to taking His name in vain, something I usually refrain from doing) You are never going to believe this.”

Dan’s response was that, “In this house, I’d believe anything.”

By this point, cats “escaping”, scavenger hunts, and VHS fascinations had already transpired so this was just another haunting in a long list of them. By this point, it was becoming old hat. And, while I can still see her face and hear her introduction of herself, despite all of the other occurrences, I still doubt my senses, wondering if during my daydreams and ruminations, I didn’t conjure her myself. I mean, what are the chances?

That’s what I kept telling myself. Until Mom arrived in September 2014. I received a very sarcastic “Thank you” after she was moved in and then I began telling her about some of these hauntings. As she was a new occupant, I worried that maybe things would stir up again here. However, for the first month or so, it was business as usual.

One night Mom couldn’t sleep. As she made her way downstairs to the bathroom, she happened to glance down the hall to that same computer room–now my bedroom (Mom is in the master bedroom)–and saw a woman standing in the doorway. A woman in dark clothing: full skirts, dark veiling and gloves, a cameo broach at her throat and her hair in a bun. Mom said she nearly screamed but found it wouldn’t come. It was then she remembered my description of “Violet” and, though still shaken, ran downstairs to the bathroom where she waited, long after her business was completed, before climbing back upstairs. She says she glanced back down the hall when she reached her bedroom door but Violet had disappeared. Later, she confessed to worrying that I might think she was crazy–or dreaming but I’ve seen dead people, too.

As I have records going back only to the late-1970’s of former occupants here, with her full skirts, I have never expected to find Violet’s name in these more current records; more likely, she may have been an occupant during the years when this house was first built, around 1911. I like not thinking she may have been one of many lost souls who met her Maker under a chartered oak. As she has never done more than stare at us, I prefer to think of her as someone’s old-fashioned granny watching over us in sleep, someone who may have died peacefully in her sleep many generations ago. At the very least, perhaps she was convicted of a more minor crime. As I’d rather not find that she was an ax-murderer in 1874 or some such year, I’ve neglected any further research and prefer to stick to the grandmotherly figure; it makes sleep a bit more easy, if you get my meaning.

And, yes, after each haunting, after each incident, I always pray for their souls and bid them to “Go to the Light!”

May God bless you & keep you!

Ghosts, Hauntings, Supernatural

Haunted Movie Night

I’m going to date myself a little bit but there was a time when all of my movie collection was on VHS tapes. When Dan and I first bought this home, that’s what we had. I lined them up on a bookshelf in alphabetical order (I have stated before that I’m OCD, right?) near the entertainment center for easy access…and the site for another unexplained incident.

VHS tapes, for those who may be unfamiliar with them, came in two different types of protection. Some had a hard-shell case that snapped open and shut to protect the tape from damage. The other was a cardboard “sleeve” that slid over the tape. The majority of our movie collection had the latter type.

It started out innocent enough. I found a couple of sleeves pulled up to reveal the bottom inch or so of tape. I pushed the sleeve back down. A few days’ later, I found a few more sleeves pulled up. This kept happening over the course of a few weeks, with more and more sleeves pulled up until it seemed a regular pattern was developing where one sleeve would be pulled up; two were down; one was up; three were down, and so on and so forth. I pushed them back down only to come back a day or two later to find them up again. I started getting irritated and suspected Dan was pulling them up but I couldn’t figure out why. Was this a practical joke? But, no sooner did I push the sleeves down again, I’d forget about them until the next time, so I never thought to ask him.

Until one afternoon, we were both in the living room together and I looked over to find the sleeves all up in that crazy every-two/every-three pattern.

I huffed out a breath of impatience and asked, “Why do you keep doing this?”

“What?”

“Pulling up every second or third video sleeve. I keep pushing them back down. Why do you keep pulling them back up again?”

“Dammit! I finally left them alone because I thought you were doing it and I was afraid if I kept pushing them back down again, I’d finally catch hell for changing it.”

He wasn’t angry. Just resigned to his fate.

“Why would I pull them up like this?”

“I don’t know. I thought maybe it was something you saw in ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ or something.”

So Dan wasn’t pulling them up either. I walked over to the shelf and pushed the covers all back down, flush with the shelf. It was then that each of us started sharing some of the strange things we’d been noticing around the house, things we each thought we were nuts to consider and afraid to share with the other. We did have a penchant for “Haunted History” and “Haunted Travel” (or whatever the shows were called on The History Channel and The Travel Channel, respectively; it has been a while since I’ve watched either); perhaps our imaginations were running wild. As we talked, I think we both felt a sense of relief to be finally sharing these phenomena–if, indeed, that’s what it was.

Dan got up and went into the kitchen, both of us still talking, and got a drink out of the refrigerator. Rather than yell through the house, after a glance back at the shelves, where all of the cardboard covers still lay flush against the shelf where I had straightened them, I got up and followed him into the kitchen. Our conversation continued as I made myself a cup of tea.

When we returned to the living room, maybe fifteen to twenty minutes later, we both glanced over at the shelf of videotapes. They were all back up, every two/every three, marching across the shelves.

May God bless you & keep you!