These words have great meaning to me. If asked and after great thought 100 people would describe 100 different versions.
Today my poster person for content of character swung by to visit and buy some tomato plants from me. He considers me the worlds greatest good luck charm. I have news for him.............
So what makes this guy who name is Mike someone I admire? He isn't rich, he actually is living in a travel trailer. He isn't terribly beautiful, he is a fifty year old red neck slightly short, with a bit of a gut. He does still manage to maintain a full head of blonde curls though. I tend to have great respect for people who survive various horrors that make my bones turn to jelly at the very thought of something like that happening to me.
His story below the squiggle.
Over the past many years I have gone from having enough, to being worried where my next meal would come from back to having enough to live and maybe expand a little do things like replace the television that broke and I got rid of three years ago. Oddly I have been unable to get myself to part with the money even though I want to be able to watch my childhood friend fish for crab and see what is new on Secrets of the Dead and Antique Road Show. I seem to be walking on eggshells waiting for the other shoe to drop even though my income is over double what it was a year and a half ago and my job is secure I see these good times as transitory. I live just as I did before when I couldn't really depend that I could buy food or that I would have enough money to pay the light bill in short I live on less than half of what I have the rest goes into savings. It is a new experience for me, I wonder if I will ever feel secure again. I wonder if anybody ever will, or is it just me?
People have handled these hard times differently some have grown bitter and lashed out. A good friend of mine who writes here once wrote an article about moving through hard times, finding strength he didn't know he had and being grateful for what he was learning from the experience and those bits of life he still had left. He penned it while sitting in the Van that had become his home wearing fingerless gloves to try to keep his hands warm. Writing was one of the things that kept him going during those rough times. His reward was being attacked and called a snot nosed trust fund parasite and on and on mainly by people who were in the same boat. He understood and so do I that it is really easy to feel like the world is against you. In the end he climbed out of his poverty right around the same time I did. I still see a lot of that bitterness here in many comments. While I get it in a sense we may be biting the hand of someone who is going to make a big difference someday if we use our experiences to educate instead of spew garbage all over the computer screen.
More below the fold.
The State where I live is in the process of introducing gay marriage. Our governor says that the majority of people now support it. I am one of that majority, I have been for along time.
Below the fold you can read about the people that taught me a thing or two about what love and commitment meant and why it is important that we fix it so same sex couples can finally have same rights as the rest of us in this country.
This is a time of year when I like to look back at the last year to see what changes have come. I spent much of my summer perched on a mountain outside Stevenson, WA watching over a farm so the owners could take work elsewhere The economy here is really in the tank.
The alter reality that is our local newspaper keeps claiming that houses are selling, there are fewer homeless, and more jobs. When I look around I see something different, the local homeless camp is getting crowded, I am getting more applications for each not great paying retail job I offer and the food bank keeps running out of food.
People have been seeing hard times all over. This year my lower jaw has hit the floor many times as people have spoken with awe in their voice of my survival skills. They believe that somehow I am tougher, smarter, or more fearless than them. That I have somehow accomplished something they can't. This is not true I am very normal. I do not have special genes or take a secret pill every day. I meditated on this some while I sat on my mountain what this secret ingrediant of my person might be and if there was one how could I share it with others. What I came up with is history I know the stories of those who came before me. In my case a long line of women with spines of stainless steel who faced down certain death until death blinked. Through their stories they blazed a trail and a way of thinking that is still valid in current times. I am sure everybody has these ancestors, mine are not all that different from thousands of pioneers the difference is I know the stories.
I have come to understand that about 98% of everything is how our mind looks at things that many of the battles we face are battles with ourselves. My ancestors gave me a different way of looking at and facing hard times perhaps they can do the same for others. If so then I am sure they would glad to pitch in.
So while I head off up the highway to spend Christmas with my 93 year old grandmother, a minor miracle in her own right. I leave you with a story from my family.
Step back in time with me to the Dakota prairie and let me introduce to you My great great aunt Mabel, she stood just under five feet tall and never weighed more than 100 pounds soaking wet, this is her story.
Today my Chihuahua Spanky turns 11.
Together we have been through much, he has been by my side for all of the good and bad times of the last 9 years since I became his owner.
When my husband Tim first brought him home as a puppy I was not happy. I knew Chihuahuas as nasty yappy mean little things. I was to be proven wrong in this assumption.
Over time I have read a lot of diaries about the great fall a lot of us have taken. Going from having a high middle class living to being broke and on the verge of losing everything.
I have been there, and I found my way out by reinventing myself.
Below the fold is my story. Feel free to use this path, this is why I am writing about it, it is not for every one and I certainly can not promise the results that I have ended up with.
The main idea is a state of mind. In this country we are used to having a benefactor who we put in our time with, in return we get the money that lets us live a hopefully comfortable life. I am suggesting that instead we approach life as an entrepreneur, the product being sold is ourselves, our skills and our time. Just as in a business we will want to look for a niche then find a way to fill it.
Her name was Lena, what I know of the facts of her life would fit onto the head of a pin with room left over.
Born somewhere in Italy her teens were marked by the reign of Mussolini and World War 2. Her stories of this feat of survival are unknown to me, I know only that at the end of the war she married an American Serviceman named Howard and came to live her life in this foreign place with its foreign language that was also the hometown of her new husband. They bought, settled in, and lived some 50 years in the small house I now call home.
Among the things she brought with her from her former home were a few special treasures. Some walnuts from the tree that grew in the back yard of her parents home, a few cloves of garlic, a start of oregano, and some Tomato seeds.
The people who knew her described her as tiny and kind. She never did quite master English, her accent was heavy and her speech broken by the need to stop and try to find the correct word. All say she was an amazing cook who shared the food she had generously with all. She also loved to garden and passed many of her days in yard tending her to the plants. She was good with plants, she also generously shared them with her neighbors. Smaller versions of my large old plants are in nearly every yard within walking distance of here. She died at age 90 only one month after her husband.
Several Years before the event below the fold took place, the Mexican Government had defaulted on some of its debt plunging the Peso, Mexico's equivalent of a dollar into a free fall. Millions of Mexicans that had been comfortably off were suddenly very poor. When the event started the Peso had been steady at 5 pesos to the dollar for awhile, at the bottom the peso was 8000 to 1. To better understand the experience imagine waking up tomorrow and going to the grocery store for a tomato. only to discover instead of $.50 a tomato now costs $500.00 what would you do? Think it crazy? I have seen a pound of tomatoes advertised for 3000 pesos. That same amount would also buy 20 tortillas, a quart of milk, or 5 pounds of beans. About 15 years ago the government dropped the zeros, 1000 pesos became one again with the introduction of the Neuvo peso. If before the crash you had $50,000.00 in the bank now you have $50.
Think about it..............
For all of my life I have loved my cousin Jack. Though I love all of my cousins he tends to stand out. We are kindred souls who have, when the chips down come through for each other often. Not in big spectacular ways but in small ways that looking back often made the difference between success and failure, between great overwhelming pointless struggle and overcoming the odds.
He had a birthday a couple of days ago. Eight years my senior he has often been the example I have followed when I wanted to learn to be a better person. The things he has taught me by example have served me well and helped me overcome many of the challenges and heart breaks I have faced.
This is our story from my perspective. I tell it with his full permission he will read it here for the first time along with you. We don't talk about it much, as wordy as I can get when I am writing I am not much of a talker and neither is he. Our bond comes from small wordless actions that have great meaning to each other. It is a bond so real that it can be felt be others.
I promised this story to a friend, I told him that he would be the first one I had ever told this to. At the moment our lives have taken us in different directions and I always keep my promises so I will leave this story here for him to find when the time is right for him to read it. In the process I will share it with you. He is a good guy, a high quality soul and among my favorite people.
I have come to believe that in our everyday life there are currents and patterns that go unseen because we are not looking for them. That there is more to our everyday world than we know, behind seemingly unrelated events and random choices there are reasons that we are not aware of. Some call this the hand of god, I prefer the term of my old friend the northwest Salish story teller Johnny Moses. He calls this phenomenon "The great Mystery". As a country woman of tough pioneer and Native American Stock I tend to be well grounded in the solid, and be a skeptical of anything else until the proof presents itself to me in a way I can no longer deny it.
So if you are prepared for a unusual ride that will leave you wondering if what I say could possibly be real, read on. I assure you that it is very real and I would know I have lived it.
In these times of tight budgets and rising food costs backyard gardens have become a great way to help make ends meet and provide better food. Vegetables from our own gardens are more likely to get used soon after harvest meaning they will be fresher and have more nutrition than those that have been trucked in from elsewhere. But, the time it takes to have a successful garden can often feel overwhelming with our busy lives. Luckily we live in times we have a great deal of information available to us that can save us time, labor and money. Here are some I have successfully used for several years.
The beauty of these techniques is they do in fact save a lot of time and labor making it easier and leaving me time to do other things including enjoying life. It has also made my garden very productive and my food bill much smaller. Here in the northwest, where it doesn't get terribly cold, I produce about 80% of my vegetables year round in the sunny south facing side yard of my city lot.
So if you also belong to the work smarter not harder school of life read on and please, if you have any other ideas share them. I am always looking for new stuff to try.
If you have a visit to Olympic National Park in your vacation plans. I have a notable detour for you to consider, I promise it will be worth the extra effort and drive. The Makah Museum on the Makah tribal reservation at Neah Bay is a very impressive place.
It is a something that every person should see at least once. The Makah Nation has done a wonderful job in displaying the treasures found in the excavation of the village of Ozette where five long houses were buried in a mud slide somewhere in the 18th century.
The objects found represent a way of life virtually untouched by European lifestyle, a life very different than anything we know. The Makah historians are very welcoming and friendly during my visit they answered my many questions with great thought, knowledge and, in my opinion, great patience.
Plan to spend some time there read and absorb everything, please, you will not be sorry. I beg you also to read the letters, reports from a BIA agent to his boss in Washington DC. Of all the treasures they have, it was these letters that had the greatest impact on me. When I was there they were framed and hanging blandly on the wall, easily overlooked but probably the greatest lesson I have ever learned came from those short letters. If they are not there please ask if you might read them.