The upside to small town living

I ship a lot of things around the country. Now that I have penpals in Canada and Australia, I send a lot of things to various parts of the globe. It would be confusing as hell for me to figure out the most economical way to mail and ship things if I had to do it alone.

Enter the postmaster at our local post office.

He’s a genius. After the first couple of times I brought stuff in to ship via USPS, he looked at me and told me that from now on I should just bring whatever it was up there and let him figure out the most economical way to ship it.

I took him at his word, and I have never regretted it. I have wandered up to his window with the most random assortments of shit, and he never bats an eye. I sort it out into piles and we attack one pile at a time until he has gotten them all ready to ship, and it definitely has saved me a lot of money over doing it my way.

side note: he has saved me so much money that I have actually become emboldened to ship more shit across the country, so in the end it wasn’t much savings after all LOL

I have a funny feeling that, should I ever be sick or otherwise incapacitated, I could stick some shit in the mailbox with a note to the delivery guy to “please take this to Justin and have him ship this for me”, include the address it goes to, and enclose a signed blank check; and I’d get a tracking number and receipt in my mailbox the next day.

It doesn’t get any better than that. I would never have dared to try such a stunt at any other post office I have dealt with; they would have had me arrested for domestic terrorism for dumping 6 piles of random shit on their counter and placing a note with an address atop each pile.

Living in such a rural area, I am presented with so many opportunities to build relationships with the people around me. My next-door-neighbor taught me to can jam. The neighbor across the street has come over and fixed the lawnmower on the spot so that I could finish cutting grass. The neighbor at the end of the road has enlisted Sunshine’s talent for summer art classes at the local creative arts center. The local farm supply & hardware store knows that Sunshine’s purchases often belong under Mr B’s farm account to exempt them from sales tax and will always ask if the purchase should be handled that way; they also get upset when Sunshine comes in without Mollie.

This is part of what we were hoping to achieve when we made the decision to come here and try and start an intentional community. We were hoping to be able to connect with people instead of just having impersonal interactions with them. None of us are islands; we are meant to know each other. That is a huge part of what life is about for me these days, and I’m so glad that I get to live this way.

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Learning from others

I recently read a post from The Eco-Feminist that talked about her journey to becoming a mother. As an adopted child, it gave me a glimpse into what my own mother went through to become my mother. It made me cry, it made my heart swell with love, and it made me so fucking proud of the woman I know as mom.

I sent my mom an email with a link to that post, and a little bit of mushy “I love you” stuff about how I had never really thought about what she went through to adopt me.

Well, I had occasion to think about it again yesterday. I called my mom, just a routine “how are you, I love you” call. She answered the phone with “I was wondering if you’d call today”….

…which sent me into a panic, wondering what the hell I was forgetting that I totally shouldn’t be forgetting.

Turns out, yesterday was the anniversary of the day she and my dad took 3-month-old me home from foster care and became my parents.

side note: to make it even better, that day was also my mom’s father’s birthday. I miss my Papa. He was so cool!

I had never thought about that day as a big deal, because I am not a mother and never much wanted to be a mother. However, as I talked to my mom, I realized that it was a big fucking deal to her. I asked her if she had read that post, and she said that she did. She said that she could absolutely relate, and she was happy that this wonderful woman has a chance to become a mother at last.

Had I never read that post, I might have gone the rest of my life not really thinking about what my mom went through to become my mom.I mean, logically, I know that adoption is a long and drawn out process. I knew that there was paperwork, and social workers, and home visits, and more paperwork, and financial disclosures, and appointments, and more paperwork. But I had never thought about the emotional aspect.

Maybe because my mother always struck me as so very pragmatic, I never thought about how much hope and fear she went through trying to adopt a child. My mom was always fairly emotionally reserved in front of people. Throughout the six years of daddy’s illness, I never saw her cry for very long, I never saw her despair, I never saw her really seem like she was overwhelmed and on the verge of a total breakdown.

My adoption was always presented to me in a very matter-of-fact way. I’ve always known I was adopted, for as long as I can remember. The DFACS (Department of Family and Children’s Services) office had given my mom a little box set of books to help her explain to me that I was adopted (I still have those books); even before I could read, I knew those books were for me and they were about being adopted. It was always explained to me that I was not unwanted by my biological mother; she just knew that she, at 16 years old, couldn’t take care of a child as she would WANT to take care of a child and so she gave that child up for adoption in the hopes that this child would indeed be taken care of as a child should be cared for.

I always felt fortunate and loved. I was loved so much by two mothers that one of them went through the hell of giving up her child, and the other went through the hell of the adoption process to become the mother of that child. I was fortunate, because that child was me. Anytime anyone ever asked me if I ever wanted to know about my “real” parents, I was rather befuddled, because in my mind I HAD real parents. My mom and dad are the only mom and dad I’ve ever known, and they were damn fine parents. They were my real parents; I couldn’t understand why people didn’t think that mom and dad were my real parents. Of course I always had curiosity about my biological parents, but I never felt any overriding need to know more or meet them. I had my parents, and that was that. I understood that opening up the sealed case files might cause that woman great pain, as she might not have told her current family that she had once given up a child; or it might cause her great pain to know that I merely wanted to meet her to satisfy curiosity but had no need of a relationship with her.

side note: my mom offered repeatedly to help me have the files unsealed. I never took her up on it. I had a mom, and that was that.

After I hung up the phone, I went into the calendar function on my phone. I set a reminder for a yearly event for yesterday’s date, so that I can call my mom on her dad’s birthday every year from now on, and thank her for becoming my mom. I wasn’t always a good kid, because addiction is a motherfucker. No matter how much hell I put my mother through, she never quit loving me. I am the luckiest shithead in the world, because my adoptive mom is the truest definition of “mother” I have ever known of, and I am so grateful for that.

So this year, as Father’s Day approaches, I am thinking about my mother. That woman amazes me. She loved me no matter what. She raised three children basically on her own, because my father was sick for many years before he died; she had to be both mother and father to us. I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful mom; and I’ll have to make it a point to call her on father’s day and thank her for being her wonderful, beautiful self that did the job of two parents for a large portion of my childhood.

final note: I’m about to cry now, so I’m going to go clean house or something to distract myself so I don’t cry because I am fighting a sinus infection that is causing some really ugly vertigo as a result.

Growing and preserving my own food

So I’ve got the hang of this blanching thing, and I’ve been slowly but surely rounding up all the cauliflower and getting it stashed in the freezer. I think I’m going to try some mashed cauliflower at some point in the future. It has to be better for Sunshine’s diabetes than mashed potatoes, right?

Well, Thursday, instead of taking it easy before a marathon day at work on Friday, I decided to go harvest more cauliflower and get it frozen. Turns out, most of it was ready.

cauliflower almost done for this cycle

After I got done with that, I wandered the garden trying to see what did and didn’t start growing from the sprouts I grew. A lot of things didn’t grow: carrots, peppers, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, a significant portion of my snap peas, and some of the lima beans. I’m sure I’m forgetting something else, but fuck it.

I found a tray of squash sprouts that nobody had planted, so I planted those in the empty spot where the okra sprouts didn’t grow.

planted squash

I realized that there was nowhere to plant half of the stuff I needed to plant, because Sunshine and Mr B had planted a lot of turnips in the garden. I went to sunshine crying about how there was no room to plant anything I like to eat because the entire garden had been planted with things he and Mr B liked to eat, like lettuce and turnips and shit.

Sunshine wandered out to the garden with me and helped me think and plan. He took a look at his radishes and said that they were ready to be harvested, so he helped me pull those up and we found this monster potato sized radish growing in our garden.

I decided to plant peppers where the cauliflower came out, and multicolored carrots where the radishes were. I went over to the far northwest corner of the plowed area and planted eggplant and okra.

planted eggplant and okra

I had a little space free at the end of a row of lima beans that I used to plant some kohlrabi for Sunshine since he likes turnips and radishes and shit so much. I still need to find space to plant some green beans, black eyed peas, and other bean type stuff. Like, I still can’t figure out why we have so much lettuce and so little beans in our garden. Maybe as some of the lettuces run their course it will free up space for beans and peas and shit.

In with the new

I think we’ve officially added a new member of the community. Sunshine’s employee Biff has started buying plates and things for the RV he stays in out here. He finally basically admitted this is home now.

I think Biff is a great addition to the community. He participates, he helps us take care of Miss Mollie, he’s friendly, and he basically survives on Doritos and Nutty Buddy bars. Biff also works his ass off, which keeps the Doritos and Nutty Buddy bars from making him as big as a house.

side note: anybody that likes Nutty Buddy bars is OK in my book. Chocolate and peanut butter is the food of the gods and goddesses. Also? Anybody that helps us look after my Miss Mollie is welcome, because that little one is a handful–she doesn’t realize how little she is LOL

We definitely need more people in our community. We have more work than we few can handle. I know that Mr B has had many people express an interest in joining us out here, but I think many of them are looking for a community that is already established and running like a well-oiled machine. Established and well-oiled are a couple of things we ain’t. There are still a lot of growing pains and hiccups.

Biff is also more than just a hodtender (masonry trade terminology for mason’s helper). He’s done iron work and he’s been a carpenter. Biff seems willing to help us stain and seal our exterior doors, and help us build our bookshelf/entertainment center units; and that is a very welcome help to have when building a house.

It’s nice to have a new addition to the community. Diversity is our strength.

I can’t sleep

It’s not just the fact that my mind has too many tabs open in its browser or whatever. It’s Sunshine. That man makes more fucking noise in his sleep than most people do when they’re wide awake and screaming. It’s gotten to the point where benadryl doesn’t help anymore, which means I am really truly screwed.

It wouldn’t be so bad if Sunshine didn’t get pissed off at me for being frustrated that I can’t sleep because he makes so much noise while he’s sleeping. It’s not like he doesn’t get it, either; he’s been out of town with Mr B and had to sleep in the hotel lobby because Mr B apparently makes a lot of noise when he’s asleep, too.

This is one of the major drawbacks to living tiny. There is nowhere to go to escape the horror in my RV when Sunshine is making all that ridiculous noise while he’s asleep. I go to the living room to try and sleep on the couch and I can hear him through all the doors between us and over the two heaters or air conditioners that are running (depending on which season it is; and for the record, our air-conditioners are loud as hell).

It’s even worse when we have a houseguest. See, we don’t have a guest bedroom, so his kids have to sleep on the couch when they come visit. Which leaves me stuck in the bedroom listening to all that infernal noise.

I’ve tried tapping him and asking him to roll over. If it actually succeeds at waking him up, it pisses him off to no end. Generally, though, it has no effect at all.

I wake up in the morning, and I am already tired because I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I also wake up in pain; because without proper, deep, and restful sleep my neck and back muscles can’t relax enough to start the healing process and to allow my neck and back to pop back into alignment.

side note: I don’t want to hear any crap about popping my own neck and back. I’ve discussed this with my chiropractor, and he is all for it. Because I am far less likely to cause injury while self-adjusting than he is likely to cause even with all of his training. My chiropractor highly encourages self-adjustment, and I trust my doctor. He is the subject matter expert.

So I start my day tired and in pain. My COPD and anemia combine to make sure I am beyond exhausted by lunch. My lifestyle means that my pain goes from bad to excruciating before I get halfway done with my tasks for the day. It sucks to start each day with a deficit and have no hope of recovering from it. And that is exactly where I am most days: at a deficit with no hope of recovering from it since I have no hope of actually getting any quality sleep, or enough oxygen, or relief from pain.

I suppose the moral of the story is: make sure that you’re ok with having nowhere to escape to before you start living tiny with anybody. Because if your somebody snores, there’s no escaping it in a tiny house.

final notes: Mollie snores too. Which wouldn’t be too bad except for the fact that she likes to sleep UNDER MY PILLOW. Also, I’m trying to figure out a way to insulate me from the noise when we build our little house. Because I can’t continue like this–I need sleep. I need quality sleep that lasts more than a couple of hours.

Christmas Eve

This post has been scheduled in advance. Sunshine and I will be visiting his family in Louisiana today and I don’t want to travel with my computer.

side note: if I hadn’t been the dumbass that walked into the computer store and said “I want a laptop with a screen so big I give everybody in the room screen envy”, then I might be more inclined to travel with my computer. However, I was that dumbass, and screen envy comes with a price. My laptop weighs a lot, and I try not to move it any more than I have to.

This will be my 10th Christmas spent with Sunshine. We’ve been living together for eight and a half years or so. We’ve been crammed into this magic bus together for six and a half years. Mollie has been crammed in the magic bus with us for just under six years.

However, this Christmas will be our first Christmas as a married couple.

That’s right. Sunshine and I are getting married today. His nephew is an ordained minister and will be making it official.

Pretty fucking strange for two people who didn’t think they’d ever get married again. I guess the third time is a charm.

final note: Sunshine better not ever forget our anniversary. It can’t be that fucking hard to remember that we got married on Christmas Eve.

Conundrum

It’s almost Thanksgiving. The stupid little Christmas signs in the local big-box store are counting down the days to Christmas in an attempt to instill a feeling of urgency in consumers so they buy more shit they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t even fucking like anyway.

I digress…

I’ve generally put up a Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. I just like the twinkle lights, so I like having the tree. I should probably install tricked-out lighting in our little house when we build so I don’t feel the compulsion to put up a tree, but then again, maybe I’d still want the silly tree anyway. Also? Being a former stagehand, I know just how expensive it would be to do the kind of tricked-out lighting that would make me happy in the pants, and that’s not sustainable even if it’s LED lighting.

I enjoy having Sunshine’s participation in decorating for the Christmas. He seems to only do it because it is something I want, which is sweet and makes him a keeper. However, this year, we are living in a county that has very limited doe days for the deer hunters, and they fall on Thanksgiving and the black friday weekend. Which means that Sunshine is NOT going to want to help me decorate the house for the Christmas.

So now I’m stuck. Do I insist he take time away from hunting to do something he only does because I want it? Do I delay my Christmas decorating frenzy? Or do I just do it alone?

This one isn’t even about Sunshine. This one is about how I want to force my will on Sunshine. That’s not fair. So I guess I’ll be spending the next few days in some deep thought trying to decide if I want to be a selfish, spoiled asshole that forces Sunshine to do what I think I want to do. Do I practice some spiritual principles and let him have his doe days?

These are the existential questions that keep me awake at night.

Just kidding, what keeps me awake at night is Sunshine’s fucking snoring.