Friday, March 4, 2016

Update from Hell

Our dream has hit the fan and turned to shit. Our neighbors have gone beyond problematic. I don't understand things that are not logical or not reasonable. It's like giving a computer a bad command that sends it on an infinite loop taking it back around to the bad command. So we had the arrogant doctor purchase the place north of us. We started off by trying to be good neighbors and allowing access, selling land off that we didn't really need/want, and offering a 15 foot easement on the corner to move sheep and farm equipment. Then it all started with not even the courtesy of letting us know what was going on and the worst fencing one can have around horses put on the property line. All the trees being cleared so that the golden silence and enchanted forest is extinct. Property damage, inconvenience, constant bleating of sheep and barking of dogs ALL day and ALL night. We brought damages, timber theft, and their worrying our animals to their attention to no avail. Somehow, because we had problems with this arrogant doctor, our other neighbors decided they have a problem with us and started treating us in the same manner as the arrogant doctor. Disrespect and telling us what they could do on our property. An easement does not mean our property is public land. These neighbors didn't repair their fencing and their horses kept getting loose and coming over here. We were lucky because our horses were always locked up in the barn when this happened. Our luck ran out on October 15th, 2015. Diesel is dead. Our hearts are broken and our life as we knew it was completely shattered. Mike rushed back here to the cabin from Oklahoma. Let's just leave it at Mike was upset. Mike is now overseas to put distance between him and the dickhead neighbor. (I'll pause here for a moment. Yes, he's in another country right now. It's best as people like our neighbors are not worth one's freedom. Diesel was Mike's buddy. You've seen all the pictures. We feel we have lost our equine son. We are devastated. I've been doing Winter here all by myself. It has been rough is an understatement.) We knew what happened was no skin off their noses. Not so much as an apology. Then a couple of weeks ago, the "adult" daughter of the man responsible for Diesel's death, her dog took a package off my mailbox and opened it and I received the remnants in a couple of crumpled, used grocery bags thrown to the back of the inside of my mailbox complete with snow packed into the cap of a hand blended, natural perfume oil and chewed up bits of wrapping paper and some of the other items I ordered. I left a message for her to put a check in my mailbox for $79.20 and to get her animals under control, that they had done enough damage to my family, and to continue to stay away from us as it is in everyone's best interest. I thought I was just direct and matter of fact. I didn't swear or threaten. The phone call I received is beyond believable. Snarky, snotty, abusive and downright cruel. She berated my behavior right after I watched Diesel do this pitiful whiny, cry thing and take his last breath. Her father arrived to retrieve his murderous geldings just a moment after the horse we raised from a baby and was part of this family for almost 13 years died right in front of me. I make no apologies for swearing at him and who knows what else I said. The "adult" daughter's rant continued snarking at me and told me that it had been four months, animals lives don't matter, get over it bitter bitch. Needless to say, at that point I broke down. I couldn't believe the cruelty and what I was hearing. I said, "What? You're going to pick on me about my behavior after I just watched my horse die?" "Yeah, so. We said we were sorry. Okay. Get over it," she said. And, did you know, that we are the bad neighbors? All I could muster was that no one ever said they were sorry. Needless to say a person like that is pleased with her ability to break someone down and not pay for damages caused by her animal. Like father, like daughter. We are "lawyered up." A couple of letters from our attorney have been sent requesting payment for our financial loss of Diesel. Those letters could have also caused some of this wrath from this vile person. I'm a bit concerned with being here by myself and the actual lawsuit hitting their mailbox. Diesel's death left a huge emptiness in our lives. This is no longer home. I'm sorry I ever dared to dream. We would have NEVER done this had we known it was going to cost us a member of our family. As a side note: Diesel's stablemate, Keira, is okay. She is lost without him and I'm trying to help her through her grief as much as I can. We did locate a small pony and he's here trying to keep her company. Keira's a bit despondent. She is eating and drinking. She understood that Diesel died. She was in the round pen and quietly stood on the other side of the fence by his dead body until I put her up in the barn in anticipation of the backhoe's arrival. I did make sure she got to see, sniff, and touch his dead body. She did this cry, squeal thing and pawed at him. She's never called for him so I know that she understands in whatever way a horse understands death. We're all like Keira right now. Lost. If I had some place to go, I would load up what's left of my animal family and throw a lit match on our way out.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Status Quo

Bzzzzzzz. Look! I shaved my head.
I am starting a new blog that is completely unrelated to the off-grid thing so I ended up here. Oh, wow, people are still reading this thing. I do hope it helps answer some questions as it was always intended to provide information. Now, really, the last couple of years, living off-grid is just our life style and we don't even think about it. It's all routine. Status quo.

I do have a "big reveal" which leads a little bit into my next adventure. I didn't share this because I didn't want to be defined by it and/or treated differently because of it. Remember, the Winter I was here mostly by myself and I was hauling firewood around? I still move some firewood around but The Husband is home most of the Winter. Still, I run with horses. I play in the dirt. I play in the snow. I mess around with the tractor. All that farm girl stuff. While I have shared some back pain bouts here and there, it's more than that. On top of some old injuries, I have fibromyalgia. Yep. I get up and I kick chronic fatigue and pain's ass. If I can do this off-grid thing, anyone can. Don't get me wrong, while cleaning stalls, I've fallen asleep leaning against the shovel when I wanted to close my eyes for just a minute and I've cried when no one was looking because it hurt so bad but darn it all, I f'ing did it.

My new adventure is that I'm going back to work. For a paycheck. My personal/home life is a completely thankless job for very long hours. And I want to be of use. I want to contribute. I want to help out in some way. I want to do something with my life.

A little sprinkling of back story:

Once upon a time, I grew up on the back of a horse and in the show pen and honestly, I wasn't allowed to do anything else. As my 50th birthday approaches, memories of my 16th birthday have been flooding back. I was so excited about turning 16. Unfortunately, a few weeks before my 16th birthday, I told my mom that I was burned out on showing and wanted to try other things. Apparently, photography and writing and dancing must be horrible and shameful endeavors as I was lamb basted for being so ungrateful. While I appreciate the lessons of going for our dreams that my childhood provided me, the key is to go for our own dreams ourselves and not force someone else to live them for you, beat down who they are, and live through them. There was no celebration of any kind for my 16th birthday. It was barely acknowledged. Having such a small scope of experience only having ridden and showed horses, I had always wanted to do something with my life. It was an uphill battle but slowly I was headed where I wanted to go. Enter The Husband. Everything I had built for myself crumbled away under the compromise of marriage. I kept hearing, "When I retire, when I retire, when I retire...." The Husband's retirement hasn't exactly taken the shape I'd hoped. He's down in OKC now, loves teaching, and is getting another certification to be able to teach more classes. Earlier this year, I saw my 50th birthday coming and that was it, I'm done waiting. Now that it's almost here, I've taken action. I shaved all my hair off to shed the first 50 years and all the shoulds, meeting other's expectations, and being there for everyone but myself. I've been going to school again. I have some life coaching certifications. By the end of the year, my business will be up and running and I will be a certified hypnotherapist specializing in pain management and fibromyalgia. I'll be mixing a little art and magical living in there too. So, really, I guess there is a little bit of new thrown in there with the status quo.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Still here.

Ok. So we did NOT move to OK. Oklahoma for those that haven't been following along; I couldn't resist saying Ok as in okay and OK as in Oklahoma in the same sentence. Anyway, our buyer's agent down in OK, in our opinion, was not working on our behalf. He was advising us to do some things that  even without my having a law degree were obviously not in our best interest. Between the real estate BS and getting the "rest of the story" on the job which was only perceivable by actually working the job for two and a half months, it became clear that investing in a piece of real estate down there wasn't something we wanted to do. Yeah, their governor did sign some crap law into effect that is going to financially penalize those with solar panels and the drones/sheep/collective were all rattling off some stupid "yeah, they need to pay their fair share" nonsense because people that generate some of their own electricity apparently need to pay for electricity that they don't use from the utility company otherwise they're not paying their fair share; hence, the word nonsense. However, that didn't have much to do with our decision. There is a unprecedented, mountainous pile of BS that has gone on since my last update but I'll try to take it easy. Let's do a photo essay.

I got a purple rock for my birthday from The Husband. It's technically Charoite. Kind of reminds me of the sky in van Gogh's Starry Night painting. I should probably note that I collect pretty rocks and a man should probably not buy a woman a rock as a gift unless she asks or hints at such a gift, least the man have the gifted rock thrown at him. I've only been collecting rocks for a year and a half so I'm no expert but I feel pretty safe saying that this one is not for throwing.

The feLIONs continue to do their usual impressive feLION things like throw their toys in their food dishes.  

Token photo of this year's fawn crop.

Turkey passing through. I like these kind of turkeys much better than people who are pain in the butt turkeys (understatement).

Once again, we had our annual Summertime bat in the cabin with feLIONs in hot, chaotic pursuit. This year topped last year as I spent a bit of the evening feeding the mosquitos out on the balcony while I freed this particular bat from one of those sticky fly strips. Lovely.

My sister and I posted on Facebook our 4-H Fair flashback photos during this year's Monroe County, Michigan Fair. It was lots of fun. This was my 1983 photography entry and below is....

my poetry entry.

It was pretty cool when I posted this 1979(?) picture of me and Jag (front) and my first show horse Tag with his new owner right behind us. I shared my memories of that Fair and ended up reconnecting with the lady pictured on Tag and got to hear her memories of that fair.  
A moment with The Husband in Lake Superior, at McClain State Park on one of his brief visits home from OKC.

There were some ducks at the lake that day too.

Oh, what is going on here? Yep, that silver car is a Chevy Volt and….

it's being charged by the Sun. While this is easy to plug in, it's not so easy when one is laughing her butt off because she thinks it funny that the plug in thingie is shaped just like the gas pump handle at a gas station. I will have more to report to you on The Volt Experience. 

Unfortunately, Diesel's donkey friend passed away in February. He spent the Summer all by himself. He did okay but really, horses are herd animals and they are happier with a buddy. This is supposed to be his new friend, Keira. Keira is about 750 pounds and stands about 13.2 and wears a 66 blanket. Diesel is about 1200 pounds and over 16 hands and measures for an 84 blanket. Diesel is still getting used to the pony; when she first got here, he was terrified of her because she tried to kill him (Diesel's version of the story). They are doing better now but the pony is the boss horse. 

Keira is mostly hair and yes, you are smelling hair conditioner through your computer screen. It took two and a half days to haul her up from Scottsdale. Emphasis: she was in a trailer for two and a half days. You would think that trailer would be a stinky mess. Nope. Smelled like hair conditioner. The barn smells like hair condition. Sitting in the cabin, we can smell hair conditioner. We know exactly where the horses are at any given moment by the smell of hair conditioner. That's all you can smell now that Keira has joined the family. PM and for a small fee I will tell you the brand as a stock tip.
Sigh. Diesel's impression of an Unicorn. We go through this every Fall with the burrs.

Keira is a Southern girl and needed a light Fall weight "jacket."

The lighting and textures were great this Fall.

I found a Fairy Castle in the woods.

Ya know how when you cut your own hair and then you keep cutting and trying to fix it and before you know it, you're basically bald. And then you go to your hair stylist and he screams when you take off your hat and he's completely horrified and you end up surrounded by three exasperated men working feverishly and they manage to fix something that was truly unfixable. No? Okay, cringe, me neither. Anyway, imagine that phenomena only with trees instead of hair. For the second year in a row,  even more trees were murdered over the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I'll spare you the drama of trespassing, timber theft, and making a mess for me to clean up and just say the neighbor isn't trying to fix any thing. When the leaves fell this Fall, we saw the Lake from the balcony of the cabin. 

Keira is a 5 year old Gypsy Cob born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. This Summer she learned to graze on pasture. No pasture in the desert. And this was the first time she saw snow. With the exception of bossing Diesel around, she's pretty laid back and doesn't get rattled but she didn't seem too sure about going out into the white stuff.

She kept eating snow. She's got burrs in her hair too. I'm probably going to be doing burr removal all Winter with this one.

Previously on this blog, we had sold all our farm equipment in order to move to OKC for this "wonderful" job opportunity. I'm not happy with a certain liar down in OK. Let's just say that Mike was asked by a co-worker if he too was tricked by said lair. Anyway, thankfully, we were able to find another tractor. You'd think it'd be easy to just go buy something but that is not the case. There are territory restrictions and budget. This tractor is a "program tractor" meaning it was used for PR at some events. Also meaning, lightly used and specially priced. This particular tractor was out in Oshkosh, WI hauling people around in a wagon at the air show. I know I shouldn't say this but, isn't it cute? My previous ride was a 5000 series. This is a 4000. However, and this is the really important thing, it's in a-whole-nother class. The 5000 was a "real" tractor and weighed about 8000 (without the loader). This 4000 is basically a garden tractor on steroids and only weighs about 4000 pounds (again, without the loader). That is an Erskine blower on the front. One model size smaller than our previous blower. However, they have discontinued that previous model and this is their most popular model meaning readily available parts that we hopefully won't need. Remember, we had a bit of a problem last Winter and parts availability was an issue. So, this is a different beast. Lucky to find her and lucky she got here two days before the snow started to fly. Hopefully this 4000 series will prove tough enough.

More fantastic lighting and shadows.

White birch is one of my favorite trees. Yes, I say that about a lot of trees but….look at the fabulous texture.
Put your limbs in the air like you don't care, la, la, la…

Well, that was our Spring, Summer, and Fall in snippets. I've had worse years but this one was pretty exhausting. A good side effect, though, I've been spending a little more time doing Art in an effort to maintain my sanity. Speaking of Art and sanity, I'll sign off for now with a quote I just came across today: "Artists, while painting, are quite literally out of their minds." ~ Plato

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The fate of The Secret Cabin

So. To recap, The Husband got a job in Oklahoma City, OK. Bheki-locks is going from too cold to too hot. While I love adventures, I'm not digging the idea of heat, heat, and more heat; tornados, earth quakes (it was news to me too), and not one but three different poisonous snakes including one that is about three feet long that can lunge it's body length at you very quickly. Lovely. We sold MY tractor so I'm down one of my great super powers. I always learn so much about myself with every new adventure. For example, in searching for a new place to live, I have discovered that I am a Toilet Snob. Not proud of it but I've always tried to be honest with myself and others. We will discuss Toilet Snobbery in another post at greater length but for now, I am out of the water closet.

But, what, pray tell, about The Secret Cabin? I don't know. Neither Mike, nor I can bear the thought of selling right now. This all has happened kind of unexpectedly and quickly. He made one phone call just to inquire and the next thing you know, we're off to see the Wizard. Close enough. We've thought that maybe we could vacation here in the Summer. We've even thought of renting The Secret Cabin for  Solar-cations so others could vacation and experience off-grid goodness. Too early for us to know. What we do know is that once we get a place in OK and get all the Beasts moved down and settled in, I will be coming back to the cabin to do some cleaning and maintenance. I really need to paint the windows. Really, getting The Secret Cabin all tucked in to go solo for a bit which is really hard to think about. The Secret Cabin has a really nice toilet. :D

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Winter 2013-14 Album

What happens when your neighbor clears the trees on his property? 
Mike and Bheki end up with snow up to their armpits in their drive. Lovely.

The road was worse; I'm sure the road commission is still cursing.

Broken blower thingie. 
(I actually know what all the thingies are called but 
ever since the 7th grade when I was the only one in the class that got 100% on the engine part quiz,
I'm tired of the tendency of men getting mad at me 
because I actually know what I'm talking about. I was also Outstanding Industrial Arts I student in shop class which won even more fans but for the sake of full disclosure, I got a C in Home Ec. That was an interesting few moments at home on report card day; sometimes even I feel sorry for my parents.)
I'm kind of fascinated by the way the metal "smeared" on the left. RAWR, torque, baby!

Broken blower means snowshoe time.
 Half mile trip to the mailbox. And starting the half mile back.
I saved the best for last. Snow almost up to your tubes
  (evacuated tubes on the solar thermal water system) 
hence the height of the wooden rack.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Are you all sitting down?

But first, let's update. 

Back spasms from Hell weren't just back spasms. Something or other with discs and spinal cord and nerves and PAIN that hurt more than when a horse stands on your foot or horse dumps you and falls on you. Lasted longer than that too. I didn't get to go visit family for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. I was mad. My back and I aren't speaking to each other. I started an exercise program. I do 30 minutes a day, six days a week on my stationery bike or treadmill or hike the driveway. I want to add yoga but that's enough health stuff.

Winter. Seriously, it's supposed to be all green grass, bunnies, and roses soon and it's doing a "wintry mix" as I write. Whatever.

Hot Water system. LOVING it. On several occasions I have stood under the shower head and wasted hot water. It feels good. INTERESTING (and kinda weird) HOT WATER NOTE: When the Sun is out there cranking, it seems the more hot water we use in the cabin, the hotter the tank gets. Running downstairs to check the temperature gauges after we each take a hot shower and see the tank not only not loose degrees but actually go up a degree or two just never gets old. 

Beginning mid-February is when we started consistently making more hot water with the solar thermal system. We even had days were the floor loops were on and heating the bathroom and front porch. This coincides with the solar panels producing more power and cutting back on generator reliance. 

Our food stash proved useful when the snow blower broke down. We were down about two weeks. Eleven words to the wise: Thirty day food and supply stash for both man and beast. And one more word: Grateful.

Loss and Grief: We lost some of our aging feLION family members and Diesel's donkey buddy, Pumpkin. Diesel is having a tough time. While Diesel is still a pain-in-the-butt, we now know who the mastermind behind a lot of the mischief was. We're grieving, Diesel is grieving, and we've got feLIONs  grieving. We keep reminding ourselves that there is grief because there is Love.

Okay, you should probably sit down now. Recently, Life as we know it here at The Secret Cabin has gone ….

BOOM! The Husband received a career opportunity that we couldn't refuse….in Oklahoma. Pause for shockwave to pass. Okay. He's leaving today to go where old, retired Air Traffic Controllers go---to teach the next generation of Controllers. It's where he started off twenty-seven years ago. Full circle. Pause for nodding. Yep. Well, at least I won't have to watch him run around the acreage chasing the two airplanes that fly over the cabin any more. It's been a whirlwind of loss, endings, changes, and beginnings in the last couple of weeks. When we went to put The Secret Cabin on the market, we just couldn't do it. Not yet anyway. We sold my beloved tractor and all of the implements. I feel stripped of one of my great superpowers. As soon as Mike gets settled in his new job, we hope to find some place for all of us to move to down in Oklahoma. I've been scouring Trulia without any success. Oklahoma has heat, tornados, and 300 days of Sunshine and yet there are no solar powered, earth berm homes. I know that I'm "different" but sometimes, a lot of the times, I just don't understand what the deal is. I haven't been able to find a "normal" house either. 

BOOM! Definitely, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

More From The Secret Cabin Dept. of Culinary Delights

Eat Your Veggies Pasta
photo credit: Mary Jane's Farm
Okay, so we've been discussing building up a food stash here at The Secret Cabin. So far we have six jars of almond butter in the pantry and one tiny jar of chocolate hazelnut spread hidden in an undisclosed location. Recently, I did a review of our positive experience with Outdoor Herbivore. I've mentioned Mary Jane's Farm as another  group of products in our stash. I made her Eat Your Veggies Pasta the other day. I had purchased the bulk bags for a more economical price. It was easy enough dealing with the bulk bag, however, I will have to adjust the amount of servings I prepare next time. One serving makes two servings. The Human Garbage Can that I live with, aka The Husband, oinked down two servings before I could even sit down and the chair is literally two steps from the kitchen. Because I have the DNA of an air plant, or whatever my problem is, I had dished out not quite one serving for myself. While my taste buds savored the cheesy pasta, The Human Garbage Can helped with dishes by cleaning out the remaining serving. Seriously, I want to beat this man. I don't know where he puts it and he's lost all kinds of weight since retirement. I have found it (the weight he's lost), hence, my wanting to call him a b*tch and beat him. If I ever end up missing, it's going to be because a herd of dark windowed, black SUV's loaded with guys in mirrored sunglasses and black trench coats came roaring up in a cloud of dust, nabbed me, and hid me in some under ground government research facility. I will never feel the warmth of the Sun on my face again as they run test after test trying to isolate whatever it is that makes my metabolism function like a combination of a three-toed sloth and aforementioned air plant. If able to isolate this phenomenon, it will end world hunger and they will be able to develop the most efficient source of power generation whether engine, battery, or fuel. Yes, my metabolism may be the key to the end of the US dependency on foreign oil and I will have had a role in world peace. That said, because The Human Garbage Can still needs to eat, I am still planning on adding soups and pasta and sauces. I'll decide our next steps after that. I still have to think about it some more. I have frozen veggies in the freezer BUT if something happens and we can't get to a gas station for fuel, The Human Garbage Can will eat through the frozen veggies quicker than a blink of an eye. This leaves us with the possibility of canned veggies which are loaded with, cue the scary music, SALT! There may also be some blow fish code in my DNA. I don't handle salt well at all. I will have to do some research into the freeze dried veggies. This kind of brings us to what I think is one of the main tenants of building up a food stash. You want food that you already usually eat. A 50 pound bag of wheat in the basement isn't going to do anyone a bit of good if you don't usually use wheat like that in your every day cooking/life. In case of emergency, everyone is going to be freaking out like someone has gotten wound up in barbed wire and is bleeding out. Bodies are going to be pumped with stress. Stress allows illness to step in. Things will just spiral down to ugly and uglier from there. BUT, if we are eating meals like it's business as usual, maybe with the exception of cooking over an open fire, that's going to provide some semblance of your "standard operating procedure" providing some comfort and calm. Additionally, you can just keep eating out of your pantry and replenishing as necessary. This rotates your stock and ensures freshness. Even Human Garbage Cans cannot eat spoiled food. And finally, for your further perusal, I give you Food Storage Made Easy. I found it user friendly as I think it could be easy to feel overwhelmed during your first steps in building up a pantry.