Monday, August 31, 2009


The picture after another big day of work; it's sure coming along! John and his crew came out for another morning of sawing and splitting. Kaleigh and I picked up 6-7 buckets of kindling, plus filled one of the ash cans with kindling. Joe helped me stack wood, and made braces for the wood to stack against. Mike came over, and with Joe, threw wood from the far pile to the near pile. Thanks to Dan again for the log splitter and to Don for doing the dishes.

It was nice, having a lunch of brats, getting to know John and his crew. Some of them live around here, and all of John's properties are in the general southeast side neighborhood. He's an honest guy, a good guy, a landlord worth having. He offered a house to Joe and Don, and as soon as it's ready (another week?), they'll be moving to Renfro Street, just south of Ash. I am very excited to have him as the landlord to the house behind me, and I may never need worry about the resident pit bulls again.

We had a Sunday get-together with the old crew. I had no time to cook, but friends and the Ods provided. Abby brought borscht, a winter soup that really hit the spot in the chilly yesterday, and also some gluten-free brownies made with rice flour and chia seeds. Patrick brought over some cheese he found on the sidewalk (in a bag with a butter knife), and he made up this delicious plate of sliced cheese and tomatoes, with basil leaves, with vinegar and truffle oil drizzled on top. The honey goat cheese was particularly marvelous. We dumpstered some scones on the way back from listening to bluegrass at the park (which also hit the spot), and also dumpstered some pallets to stack the wood on (we ran out).

In the evening, since the backyard is relatively cleaned out, we had a fire. New energy flows throughout the place. The fire was a great idea with the chilly evening, looking at the few stars and the almost-full moon, drinking wine, and sharing the whole experience with friends. There is abundance, there is community, and it's all present here, in the little house in the ghetto.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

community in action

This is the before and after. Most of the wood piled in our back yard is now cut, split, and stacked in the woodshed, which became so full that we had to start an auxiliary pile in the lee of the house, that we'll cover with a tarp. There's still more wood scattered here and there, and we'll tackle that tomorrow, but we got a lot done.

The actions resulting in these beautiful pictures are courtesy of John, the landlord of the house behind us, and his crew of four men who like their chainsaws and work damn hard; Dan, who loaned us the woodsplitter, and then stuck around to help, and his son Denison, who thinks work is fun; my good friends Joe, Mike, and Abby; and myself.

I feel pretty good about winter coming now, knowing I and my daughter will be warm. I appreciate all the help that everyone gave.


Friday, August 28, 2009

no way health care

I am quite fortunate to be in good health. However, I have some pesky spots in my molars that appear to my layperson's eye to be cavities. They're my first cavities, but four of them at once. My last dental checkup was three or four years ago, when I was pronounced "dentally boring" by Dr. Said.

I have a medical card, which sounds terrific in theory, as it pays for any doctor and dental visits as well as prescriptions. But in reality, for me it's not worth the paper it's printed on. I got a letter a few weeks ago, advising me that I was overdue for a checkup. I can't remember the last checkup I had. I also do not have a regular doctor, since I never go to the doctor, as I am rarely sick. The last time I attempted to see a doctor, I called the clinic, but it's a 2-week wait to get in, no matter how sick you are.

I think it's a good idea to have an established doctor, as well as to get a checkup, so I called to find a permanent doc. Turns out the only docs taking medical card patients are at the clinic. It's not a problem to wait a couple of weeks for a checkup, but in times of illness, like the last killer sinus infection I had (several years back), two weeks is way too long to wait to see a doctor. (Fortunately for me then, I had a friend with a couple of left over high powered antibiotics that cured me). I guess I will keep relying on health instead of health care. The ER takes the medical card, which I guess is why I hear about so many people with medical cards "wasting the time" of the ER when they should/could be going to a regular doctor (if only they can get an appointment!).

Today I went in search of a dentist. Five of the dentists who take the medical card are at the clinic, but the clinic is not accepting adult dental patients, only kids. The sixth dentist also is only accepting children. I called back to find out names of more dentists, but they are all out of town (the next three closest are in Taylorville, Virginia, and East Alton), and I have no vehicle to get there.

So, any ideas for diy dental care? Someone suggested superglue. I will research it at some point, and if I find out any useful suggestions, I'll let yall know. Right now I am feeling no pain from the cavities, but I know it's only a matter of time. The longer I wait, the bigger they will get, the more damage they will do, and the more it will cost if ever a dentist in Springfield decides to accept medical card patients.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

being poor

I found a slip of paper reminding me to find this great essay, Being Poor by John Scalzi. I found myself smiling though, at the ridiculousness of it all and the memories it invoked of my own childhood. I might add a few of my own:

Being poor is not being able to go to school for a week because you lost your shoe, and you only have one pair.

Being poor is putting empty food cans back on the shelf so the social worker will think there is enough food in the house.

Being poor is sitting in the dark, sharing one can of corn among five people.

Being poor is your parent's alcohol and drug addiction.

Being poor is not feeling your fingers most of the day in winter, after a morning tractor ride through snow drifts up to the hard road to catch the school bus, with no mittens.

Being poor is an hour bus ride to school and using text books published before you were born, or xeroxed text books.

Being poor is no music, no art, no culture, only tv and the bible.

Being poor is grateful for Christmas vacation, mostly because the well always freezes up about then, and there's no bathing for two weeks, and toilet flushing is rare.

Being poor is converting to being a Jehovah's Witness, because then there's a good reason you don't have any Christmas presents.

Being poor is feeling your friend's luxuriously soft rabbit fur coat, and wondering why you get nothin for Christmas.

Being poor is never believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.

Being poor is not going to the doctor because you can't afford the gas money to get there, even though the medical card pays for the visit.

Being poor is having fun playing in the dug out septic tank after a rainstorm or cooling off in the creek 1/4 mile downstream from a hog confinement farm.

Being poor is being the last person to live in a house, in every place you live.

Being poor is having a chronic sore throat because you have no heat in your bedroom and most of the house.

Being poor is 30 cousins taking turns using the same crib and wearing the same baby clothes.

And the flip side:

Being poor is an adventure.

Being poor makes you adaptable.

Being poor makes you mighty thankful for anything and everything.

Being poor gives you discipline.

Being poor forces you to rely on your community and the gift economy, and all the good feelings that come of it.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"What's gonna set you free
Look inside and you'll see
When you got so much to say
It's called gratitude"
--the Beastie Boys

Last night I cried. I haven't cried in a while. My heart was bursting with so much gratitude, I couldn't keep those feelings inside anymore.

Yesterday, my good friends Mike and Abby came over. It's so good to hang out with people I care so much about and that care about me. They both listened to me venting about my current living situation and frustrations, and they shared similar happenings and views from their communal living situations. (People can be good people, but sometimes it just doesn't work out living together. Got it.)

Abby put away the massive mounds of dishes in the kitchen. Mike replaced the spurting leaking hose on the sump pump in the basement with a permanent drain so I don't have to switch out the washing machine hose with the sump hose every time it rains hard (which is nearly every time it rains), and so that water doesn't run all over the floor, further contributing to basement mold. When they left, I gave them homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut and feralberry wine made from yard berries picked by friends.

Ahh, community. If we translated all the good gifts of time and stuff into money, did we equal out? Probably not, but that's the beautiful part of community. Giving and receiving are flip sides of the same coin. It's abundance, flowing freely, acquiring the wealth of community and investing it in renewed friendship. And knowing that I have friends that I can count on, no matter what, there is no substitute, there is nothing that money could buy that can even come close.

The house behind ours is a rental house, and it has a new owner now. I've been talking with the handyman who's fixing it up, and told him we were putting up a privacy fence, and that I really appreciated them cleaning up the overgrowth from their side of the fence so it's easier to get it all done. The owner came by yesterday with a crew of guys with chainsaws. They are not only got started on cleaning up the rest of my side of the fenceline, they also offered to chainsaw the giant pile of wood in my backyard into stove lengths.

I mean, what possesses people to be so utterly nice and selfless? Four guys with chainsaws can make quick work of the pile and the fenceline, so much more than one worn out housewife with hands that can no longer grip anything. I know they are getting a neater property and will hopefully get better tenants, but still. To me, it's a miracle, a godsend. They are going to keep me and my child warm this winter, and there is nothing I can do or say that will ever repay them personally. It's a debt I owe to the universe that I will repay each time I help someone else, and I intend to repay that debt for the rest of my life

And say what you want about rednecks, but they rock in my opinion!! Community still exists, and they get it. I don't care what someone's political beliefs are--you either get community or you don't. They get it loud and clear.

I am overflowing with gratitude.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

lazy men and the art of frustration

I've heard that dishes can make or break a communal living situation, and I'd have to agree with this assessment. I've lived on occasion with other people, and when it goes sour, it seems that dishes or generally cleaning up after one's self are right there in the forefront.

I was last in the kitchen four days ago, when I did a heaping pile of dishes, canned 6 quarts of tomatoes, cleaned up all the canning mess and dishes, and scrubbed clean a dozen canning jars from the last moldy box in the basement. Since that time, I've been focused on working outside, putting in a full day of hard physical labor, trying to get yet another giant ignored pile transformed into what it was supposed to be. This doesn't leave a lot of time and energy to come inside and be the domestic servant that magically outputs good food and clean dishes.

Every dish in our house is dirty: every bowl, plate, glass, cup, and eating utensil. But no one washes the dishes. It is extremely frustrating. I know that not all men are lazy, but I am begging for examples to the contrary. I don't know what it is about having a vagina that makes one the most appropriate candidate for dish doing.

When discussing the lazy men phenomena with my daughter a few weeks ago, I told my daughter that I hoped she did not end up marrying a lazy man. She shook her head and said adamantly, "I'm marrying a woman!!" If I ever end up having another partner or roommate after the current pair move out, I hope they understand how community works. I hope they get the idea about giving and receiving. I hope they can clean up after themselves.

Gratitude is the highest vibration. I'm looking forward to living on my own, and believe me, I will be full of gratitude at that time. I'll miss the company, but not the upkeep lazy men seem to require.


Monday, August 24, 2009

all chaos, all the time

The little house is experiencing chaos at this time. Don and I (Carey) are separating and Don is moving out in the next week or two. Daughter Kaleigh and I are going to be womyn homesteaders, providing for ourselves as best we can and relying on the strength of our community to help us where and when we cannot help ourselves.

People grow apart and that's just how it is. The last 15 years of marriage have left me with good memories, but I am ready for new adventures. Don and I remain friends, and I think, in time, we will both be better off leading separate lives following our divergent passions.

I love the homestead life, blending the ideas of work and play, providing for myself/ourselves the best I can, while contributing to the abundance of my community. Today I learned to chop wood with an axe! I might have gotten a whole day's worth of wood stacked up before I pooped out, but it's a start. Already I can hit the axe in the same place more than once. And if elm wasn't the hardest wood on earth, I might have gotten two days' worth of wood stacked! I'm not stressed YET that it's almost September and that this wood is the first to get stacked for the upcoming winter. But with everybody talking about an early winter this year, I might get to panic mode shortly. At least it's happening, and I will keep making it happen.

Other projects I've been working on have been cleaning out the basement. When I started, there was a narrow path from the door to the washer. Several dozen moldy boxes later, there is room. It's amazing how much stuff we had that could have or should have been thrown away. It's gone now, but there is still mold. Little by little, I'm reclaiming the space.

The behind us neighbors moved out, and now seems like a good time to get up the privacy fence we bought earlier this year. Joe and I cleared out old fencing, grown up trees, and miles of nightshade. I'm almost ready to start digging holes for posts, at least along one side. The other side is pretty well full of wood-yet-to-be-cut.

Oh yeah, and it's tomato canning season. Six quarts so far. If we get some warm weather, I'll be processing a lot more and how.

I plan on updating this a bit more frequently in the near future. Sorry to leave y'all out of the loop, but it's been all chaos, all the time, and that's just how it goes sometimes.