Monday, February 23, 2015


My older daughter tells me she thinks I'm a hoarder. This is coming from a child who for several years when she was in college could pack everything she owned in her car, and did, so I take her accusation with a grain of salt. She once, shortly after starting college, showed up at the farm with boxes and boxes of "stuff" and asked me if I could burn it for her. Inside were lots of papers that she understandably didn't want to end up in a landfill somewhere, but also her high school track medals and high school diploma and other such mementos. I asked if she was sure, that maybe someday her children or grandchildren might be interested to come across these items, but she was adamant.

Fast forward several years, when she then had a child or two of her own. I was going through my filing cabinet and came across a folder of her art work and school papers from grade school. I had offered these (to me) treasures to her a few years earlier, and at that time she was aghast that I had saved them in the first place, and certainly didn't want them then.  Lo and behold, now that she had her own babies she said she understood why I had kept them... the first time your child traces their name that you had outlined with dots, the kindergarden and first grade construction paper creations they lovingly carried home, the little "I love you Mommy" notes they left, the birthday and Mother's Day cards they gave you...

Yes, I admit I do have some hoarding tendencies, maybe because for a good portion of my adult life I have lived at zero money and we couldn't afford to just go out and buy new "stuff" all the time so we made do with what we had. Maybe because my favorite aunt had a saying: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without, and that struck a chord in me as a child. Maybe because I'm just frugal, or tight, so tight I sometimes squeak. (although I can also spend money like a drunken sailor at times  lol) If you replace the expensive submersible well pump, you better save the old one, because someday you may be able to use parts from it to repair the "new" pump that has failed. Don't throw out those jeans or Tshirts just because they have a stain (or ten), or a hole (where the leg used to be), they're still good for work clothes. The handle broke off your favorite pan? No worry, you can use it as a dog food dish. Maybe it's part of my hippie back-to-the-land reduce-reuse-recycle attitude. Whatever you do, clean your plate and don't waste food! Just because you see an ad for it on television or in a magazine doesn't mean you will be less of a person if you don't go out and mortgage your soul to buy one.

This attitude towards consumerism in general has been pretty good to me overall, except now when I'm getting ready to move, and I have all this "stuff" scattered about in more than one location across the country. Part of me even regrets parting with some of the things I gave away last summer when I was up north, items that may have been good to have in the future. Part of me is struggling with getting rid of stuff now so I don't have to put it in storage or haul it north with me because I may have need of it in the future. Yeah, some is easy to part with. Some other stuff, not quite so easy. And some I am totally unwilling to part with.

Last fall at my uncle's house on his 85th birthday, when we were talking about my brother giving me the family land in SD,  my cousin said I was the family historian. True enough I guess, I've often thought of myself as the family's Keeper of Memories.  I remember sooo many things from when I was a child, details of houses and their contents, details of family gatherings, etc., and  I've done a lot of geneological research on the family.  I also have several large totes full of  items from 100+ years ago, photos of my grandfather and his sisters when they were young, his report cards from high school and college, my great-aunt's and my great-grandmother's eyeglasses, photos of my favorite aunt when she was a girl and when she was homesteading in Indian Territory in South Dakota along with an incredible several hour long audio recording of her reminiscing about life and homesteading on the prairie in the late 1800's, some neckties and collars and cuffs with a handwritten note from my great-grandmother to my grandmother saying "These were your Father's just as he wore them to the bank" (He owned the bank in Alpena, South Dakota until it went under in the Depression).

When my cousin said I was the family historian, I pointedly looked at the nieces and nephew present and said "Hopefully one of you, or one of your children, or one of my grandchildren, is interested in the old family history, so I have someone to pass it on to." My younger cousin (I only have 2 first cousins) is the only person in the immediate family to have a son who will carry on the family name. And none of the the younger generation has any direct memory of the people that meant so much to me and are gone now.

Sometimes I find it depressing to think about. In 100 years, very few people will remember me or who I was, and in 500 years it will be as if I never existed, so why does it seem so important to me that this oral history and these few tangible items are remembered and kept?  That the land is kept in the family? That someone in the future holds on to these small mementos and trinkets from another person's life?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

4:44 PM

That's when the lights went out yesterday as the ice built up on the power lines and trees. I moved into my bedroom and closed off the rest of the house, lit a few candles and kerosene lamps in the bedroom/bathroom, and stayed fairly warm for the evening. It was still around 60 in the house when I went to bed, but was down to 45 when I woke up this morning, so the dog and I moved into the camper where there is heat, lights, and water. Still no power this afternoon, so I'm sitting at *gasp* Starbucks to use their internet.

The chest freezer is covered with a couple heavy blankets, and the stuff in the refrigerator should be fine as the house isn't much (if any) warmer than the food should be. There's really not a lot I can do with all the ice, other than hope they get the power back on soon and pray the water lines haven't broken from freezing. I may drag out the generator when I get home and run the heater under the house for a few hours to help keep things a little warmer under there, we're not getting above freezing today. It's only supposed to get down to 21 tonight, but tomorrow night the low is supposed to be 0 and Thursday's high is only 19, Thursday night a low of 6. I'm NOT amused!  lol

There are a LOT of branches and trees down, lots of trees totally uprooted. The sun has tried to peek out several times today, and it's really gorgeous when it does. I took a few pics on the way into town, but the internet here is so slow I'm going to wait and upload them when I get my power back at home.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Well, on the bright side, after crawling under the house yesterday and getting the electric space heater plugged in, the water thawed out in short order. It helped that the temps were in the mid 30's. As the day went along though, the sky clouded up and the temp started to drop. Sometime during the night it started sleeting, I could hear it hitting the metal porch roof. The sleet mixed with then changed to rain early this morning, and it's been coming down steady all day. The satellite internet dish is icing, so the service has been on-again, off-again all day. During one of the lighter rain periods I took the camera outside to get a few shots of the ice starting to build up on the trees. Even the bluebird house on the front of the porch has icicles hanging off its roof. I hope the trees don't get heavy enough to start snapping, and the power stays on. At least I have the camper here if the lights do go out, so I can still cook and stay warm.'s forcast for here:
  • Washington's Birthday Freezing rain and sleet, possibly mixed with rain before 4pm, then snow, freezing rain, and sleet. High near 33. East southeast wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime ice accumulation of 0.3 to 0.5 of an inch possible. Total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
  • Tonight Snow, freezing rain, and sleet before 1am, then a slight chance of snow between 1am and 4am. Low around 15. North wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 10 to 15 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New ice accumulation of 0.1 to 0.2 of an inch possible. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than one inch possible.
  • Tuesday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 29. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ahhhhh.... the joy of living in the south...

where water lines are not protected from freezing, necessitating a chilly experience crawling around under the house to plug in the electric heater which will result in thawed pipes, hopefully soon, and a $350+ electric bill. *sigh* At least the black widows that live under there aren't active. lol

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Have I mentioned...

.. that I hate moving? It's true. I really, REALLY HATE MOVING!

My youngest daughter moved back in with me after her divorce, and when I bought the "winter" house here in Tennessee she moved here full time and went to school in Nashville to pursue her photography career. My almost-son-in-law finally proposed to her at Christmas, and she be moving to Utah, where he lives, after their wedding in August. We've spent the last several weeks sorting through all her belongings and packing up some to move in the fall, marking most of it to be sold or donated. He lives in a 38' 5th wheel RV, so there is no place for furniture or much other stuff. He does have a climate controlled storage unit, so a few (very few) things will be stored there... eventually. In the meantime, until I can haul it to Utah, it's going into storage here in TN.

With her moving out, I just can't justify keeping the house here just to have a place to crash for a few months in the winter. I would have to pay a lawn care service to keep the jungle yard hacked down for 8 or 9 months in the summer when I'm gone, and empty houses seem to run down fairly quickly. I'm not interested in renting it out, as I'll be 1000 miles or more away most of the year. So, I've decided to sell the house and land here. The next door neighbor's son is very interested in it, and he is talking to the bank about getting a loan. I should know in a week or so if that will work, and I have my fingers crossed that it does. The neighbor is a very nice woman and we have a lot in common. It would make me happy to see her boy get the land.  If he can't get financed I'll have to list the land with a realtor or else try the For Sale By Owner route for a month or two first. I really hope to be out of here by late spring, but who knows.

With oil prices stubbornly staying low, my income is also staying low. I can't afford to make multiple trips hauling furniture and "stuff" north until the house sells. It costs (at current gas prices) about $450 to do a round trip, and I have way too many trips to make hauling "stuff". The antique furniture from family is a load by itself with my current trailer, the daughter's stuff is another load, the shop is a load, the motorcycle and miscellaneous yard/farm/shop stuff is a load, the camper is one trip, and the old Class C RV is another trip. Plus the household contents that I'm keeping... food, chest freezer, canned goods and canning jars, clothing, things that just won't fit in the camper. 

Dang, where did all this stuff come from!?! I swear, it breeds when you're not looking! At any rate, it all has to be out of here, so I've rented a storage unit and started boxing stuff up to store, as well as marking items for a huge moving sale. The daughters bedroom is empty other than her father's paintings and the bed, and everything currently left in the living room is to be sold or donated. I plan to have a moving sale next weekend (when hopefully the weather is a bit better) and every weekend until I sell the house. There's still a lot of "stuff" to go through in the shop and the storage building here at the house, but we made a lot of progress in the last couple weeks.

This morning my daughter packed up the car with a cooler for food and beverages, her camera equipment, her clothing and personal hygiene items, tucked her dog into the backseat, and headed north to South Dakota where she'll be checking out wedding venues and dresses, and crashing with friends/family. She posted on her Facebook page (which I didn't see until hours later) a photo of the dog looking out the car window as they backed out of the driveway, and said
"4 years I've lived here. Thank you Tennessee. As we depart one last time, I officially become homeless until August. I am met with the mix of excitement for the next chapter in my life, and the sadness that always comes with saying goodbye."
 I later told her I would be following in her footsteps soon, but I would still be homeless after August. She correctly told me I would have the camper - my home on wheels - but I've not been 'houseless' since 1989 when I bought my first piece of real estate. 

At this point I have no idea where I'll eventually end up. I currently have 5 pieces of real estate, but only one has a house (here in TN) and that will hopefully be sold. The others are too far north to park on and overwinter in a bumper-pull camper. A few years ago I was quite excited about living in my RV full time, but the continuing downward spiral of the economy makes me less than thrilled with that idea. I really want a home base, somewhere that I can garden and preserve my food supply, knowing that I have a water source, a way to heat and/or cool a dwelling,  and basically be as self-sufficient as possible.