Friday, April 22, 2011

Relocalizing my life

Maybe it's my mood, but all kinds of red flags are giving me this sense that the giant rotary fecal disbursement mechanism is nearly operational.

Slowly, very slowly, I'm making progress on things that are important to me. It's probably not really that slow, but it seems like it.

One thing that's really important to me is supporting local businesses and products. Making my community stronger and more resilient... more self-reliant. More "crisis proof" - especially when it comes to food and farms.

Thankfully, this is a region where it's much easier to do these kinds of things than where we were before. We're working on fruits and veggies and eggs on our own property, but you can get those locally in most places. But check out what else we're working on:

7 miles north - Milk & butter (& ice cream!) from a solar powered dairy farm
13 miles north - Beef, pork, lamb, & chicken from a diversified farm running a "meat CSA"
11 miles west - Locally grown and milled organic chicken feed
17 miles south - Biodiesel made from locally sourced waste oil

So not only can we be locavores, so can our chickens. And so can my car.

But I don't have to drive to all those places. I can get most of those things in town, within just a few miles. The dairy products actually cost less than the organic from the store. The chicken feed is a bit more expensive, but still pretty reasonable. The meat is not cheap, but I'm okay with that. And at $3.75 a gallon, the biodiesel is actually cheaper than either diesel or gasoline at this point.

There are days when I think the relocation is going to blow up in my face - especially with the job not always living up to its billing, and the Ohio house still sitting up there empty. But we're getting some showings again, and, well, I'm still employed.

But when I look around at what this area has, and what our old place didn't, I don't feel any hint of regret.


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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Wandering in our woods

A nice little spot where the brook babbles

The next generation

Some trees that came down
behind our house
in the last rain storm

Anybody home?


Spring beauties

Deer tracks

These little white flowers were everywhere


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Friday, April 01, 2011


Is there such a thing as "reverse white coat syndrome"? You know, where your blood pressure goes down rather than up when somebody in a lab coat takes your blood pressure. My blood pressure is always lower at the doctor's office than it is at home or at one of those automatic blood pressure machines. Maybe it's just the fact that not having any kids around and not being at work makes it one of the more relaxing places I find myself.

This blog used to be about doing stuff. But I haven't had much to say about doing stuff lately, because I haven't gotten much stuff done. With essentially a less-than-zero budget for projects, and a lack of motivation due to stress, it's been hard to muster up much enthusiasm for telling stories here.

Stress. That's the buzzword for me right now. The house in Ohio is still sitting there, empty, as the value falls faster than our payments pay down the debt. My new, "secure" Federal employer is going through some massive cuts right now, and if there are cuts to be made in my group, I have to imagine myself as being "on the bubble."

I'm thankful that I've got a good command of the nuances of words. I never send a single email at work without carefully considering the implications. I spent five minutes today crafting an email that basically said, "I've got this one." I haven't been there long enough to make much of an impression, so I feel like every syllable counts. I'm glad I'm not the guy who threatened to quit the week before the big "reduction in force" announcement.

Of course, I don't want to change jobs. But the thought crossed my mind to try to start looking. Then I realized they just paid for my move. If I quit, I have to pay that money back. In fact, it looks like if they lay me off, I still have to pay that money back. Two houses, no job, and a moving bill - now that would be an interesting pickle.

But what woke me up this morning was perhaps an even more sobering thought. My dad recently found out he's got some none-too-trivial heart problems. He actually had a heart attack when I was in college, but has been doing well ever since. He lives a pretty healthy life by most standards - I think he probably eats better than many and gets a decent amount of exercise. He no longer smokes, he doesn't drink much. And still, one of his main arteries is blocked. It's a case where there's not much to be done for it. He's already on the right medications, and surgery is not an option. So basically, no more snow shoveling, no more rearranging furniture, no more of any number of gardening activities. He just can't do those things any more.

And what popped into my head at around 6:15 today was a simple calculation. I worked out that my dad was 44 years old when he had that heart attack. I'm 40 now. And I probably live a less healthy lifestyle than he has. Especially when I'm stressed.

Tomorrow, we're getting a pair of babysitters and going out on the town with some friends - dinner and the local comedy club. A suitable de-stressifying activity I hope. But I also need to figure out among all these factors what's in my control and what I can do about it.

We all face mortality in different ways and at different times. But when you're the parent a special needs kid, it feels like there's a whole other aspect to it. And I plan on using that as a primary motivator to get my butt in gear.