How Do I Write?

It’s 7:45 am in the morning and I’m sitting at my computer looking at the smudges all over the screen, wondering if that’s an extra period I’ve added or a speck of food. It’s a touch screen and the first time I cleaned it I had to wait twenty minutes for the commands I accidentally activated to process.

Imagine just finishing a blog post and the commands deleting the whole thing, writing an entire new post that was pure Shakespearian, and publishing it; all while you look on helplessly.

Or maybe my cat could walk across the keyboard and accomplish the same thing.

Our fifth wheel has about a foot of snow on the top and I’m wondering how my husband and I are going to shovel all it off. I hope the ceiling doesn’t cave in while I’m writing yet I’m choosing to sit down and blog rather than get out there with the heavy equipment and clean up literally tons of snow. Easy choice, actually.

I love to write but being just months in, it’s daunting. I’m trying to find my sea legs and thrashing about every time I get washed overboard, which happens a lot.

 As I  paddle around in circles, I’m realizing just how much I don’t  know about writing. Did you know there are curly as opposed to straight quotation marks? And double and smart ones? I didn’t until yesterday when I downloaded a proofreader. I was having so much trouble finding a transition from one paragraph to another the other day I gave up and just wrote “segue” between the paragraphs.

Ever wonder if you’re the worst, least professional writer in existence? I do on a daily basis. I  suspect I may not be the only one.

I ran the proofreading tool on my last blog post and I didn’t understand what the thing was telling me to correct. I feel like an amateur but I was buoyed by a blog post I read yesterday by The Art Of Blogging.

It featured a book by Stephen King on writing. I liked the part about failure the most. I feel much better knowing that is a part of the writing process and to expect it.  If Stephen King failed and is still with us (boy is he ever), then I stand a chance.

I want to learn how to write better. I want to find my particular style. I want people to want to read my blog. Every once in a while I get frustrated and consider walking away but I immediately dismiss the thought because I love to write.

Most of all, I want to find my style.  I currently rotate between what I call my boring style to humorous, then some poetry with weird subject matter, to super descriptive, and the emotional stuff.  My favorite is the humorous.

I want to perfect the art of humorous writing more than any other style. I want to write like Jean Sheppard of A Christmas Story fame. That’s my biggest bestest aspiration. Funny words.

As far as cleaning up the roof of our RV, I’m already looking for a humorous angle.

I’m No Authority

What you WON’T find here.

If you’re looking for authoritative pieces on this and that you aren’t going to find it here. You see, I’m no authority on just about everything. What you’ll find on my blog is my personal experiences, thoughts on things, and some poetry with odd themes such as solar power set ups and Halloween.

I’m the first one to admit I’m not perfect. I have a really bad anger problem along with depression and anxiety.

We don’t have our shit together by any stretch of the imagination but when we made the big move from our suburban home to a wildly different setting, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about it. It was just too interesting.

We are, however, bumbling our way through this way of living. The bumbling part I hope, will make for some interesting reading.

We are self professed eccentrics; responsible people wannabes. We’re the folks who envy the people who seem to have their shit together. We are the ones who show up at the farmers market with a cute collection of things to sell only to discover the seller down the row has four times the inventory, professionally displayed with matching business cards (that really happened).

I’d like to think that we represent the archetypal underdog. That part of our collective consciousness that is in all of us that we hide from other’s view.

I hope that by being honest about ourselves and our mistakes, we can reassure others who suffer from less than perfect self esteem that it’s OK.

As a matter of fact, we like being a little off. Were intelligent and witty and we kind of revel in our offness. We are castaways on The Island Of Misfits. In a nut shell, we have low self esteem but we also think we’re pretty cool. Reconcile that.

As humans, I think we all struggle with the fact that we have aspects of ourselves we love and those we loath and they have to occupy the same space in our heads. Just stay on your own sides of the room.

So we’re not perfect, and we don’t have the picture perfect display. At the end of the day, you’ll find us using duct tape when we’re supposed to using electrical, and so on. Why? Because we either don’t want to do it the right way or we don’t know how.

Attorneys, Unsocial Norms and a Cul De Sac

Last week, our new neighbor of one whole month approached me in a very disconcerting way and asked me if wanted to cut down our trees or have him do it so he could move a huge shared cul de sac thirty feet over and onto our property.  He affected a totally casual attitude like this was a branch overhanging his side of the fence or something. It was as if he was trying to rush in and hit us shock and awe style. He didn’t approach us in advance.

We’ve all heard horror stories about property boundary disputes between neighbors and they are quite common. In this case, however, we think the neighbor’s behavior was slightly bizarre.

My husband and I discussed it at length and questioned whether his approach was appropriate and we thought about the implications going forward. We asked ourselves if we’d over reacted or perceived his motives wrongly. Should we be wary of this person? Does he have any other intentions? What kind of a person would act in this manner? Are we over analyzing?

Now notice what we’re doing psychologically in the above paragraph by questioning ourselves. That’s what manipulators count on and they use it to their advantage to do something called Gas Lighting. It’s the creation of self doubt in the target in an attempt to weaken their position and gain an advantage.

We’ve been doing a lot of research and have learned that manipulators take advantage of a person’s conscientiousness in order to cause them to question themselves and grow doubtful of their own judgment. The recommended reaction is to listen to your gut when dealing with people like this, don’t question yourself, and deal with them accordingly.

With that said, I believe it may be pertinent to our situation. I believe this guy thought we were naive and would be pushovers. We believe he would have gone ahead with his plans had we not stopped him; and gotten away with it.

We stopped him or at least placed an obstacle in his way for the time being. We’ve done our homework, gave him a written notice of trespass (he’d already gone onto our property and marked survey lines for his cul de sac with spray paint), told him we don’t want the cul de sac, and we saw an attorney to make sure we had a legal leg to stand on. We have a plan to deal with the situation as it evolves depending on what he does or doesn’t do and any conversations we might have in the future.

Yes, what happened is a big deal and we should be concerned. This is our property; our home.

We drove to Spokane yesterday for the consultation and everything went much as we thought it would. Here’s what happened: Our neighbor had done his own survey and discovered the existing easement road was fifteen feet to the side of where it is shown on the survey so he just decided he was going to move it to where it’s depicted.  The road, however, has been in place for decades and would most likely be considered an implied easement and remain in place.

Things get a little dicy beyond that. The easement is also described as being in the location of an existing road in other parts of the same legal documents! There seems to be a contradiction in the legal paperwork necessitating a little extra examination in order for the attorneys to determine what the law would most likely favor.

The deed we signed is subject to an easement agreement going back to 2011 which is subject to another easement dated 1994. In order for the statute of limitations of at least twenty years of the implied easement use to take effect, we would have to “tack on” our own term of use to those in the past or we won’t make that twenty year statute.

Another point brought up by our attorneys is that the proposed change would be to our detriment and the neighbor’s benefit. We would be the only ones out of the three property owners subject to the easement to be affected negatively. I guess that also figures into the decision by the court, in our favor.

We were instructed to ask our neighbor for a professional survey first, see if he could produce one and go from there but I realized after we left the attorney’s office that the current one seems to be accurate with the exception of the location of the road.

Confusing!

We’ve decided to just watch and wait at this point then take action as need be with another trip to Spokane if things start to go sideways. We were told that it would save everyone a lot of money to just negotiate rather than go through litigation. We could even propose a sum for the use of our property as an option. Not sure we want to do that but it’s nice to know that’s a possibility.

We hope the neighbor doesn’t pursue construction of his behemoth of a turnaround but his personality as evidenced by his actions so far concerns us. We could have lived without this threat to our home and peace of mind. It could go either way although most likely ours.

Time and human psychology will tell.

 

 

Overwhelmed

Trying to keep up.

I feel so overwhelmed right now. We got our shed about a week ago and I expected to have it up in one day (see picture below for current status). There it sits. We’ve been working on it but there isn’t enough time in one day and dark hitting earlier hasn’t helped.

Our little matter with the neighbor over the cul de sac kind of derailed us for a day and a half. We left a succinct, firm letter for him and his wife on one of the fence posts he erected stating we had checked and confirmed that the land survey was correct and recorded and asked him to respect our private property signs going forward. He’d previously gone onto our property, past well marked posts, and spray painted the ground while he was planning his cul de sac. We weren’t too happy about that.

I wonder what he’s thinking right now? My husband and I have wondered whether he made a gargantuan mistake in his surveying or thought he’d just see if he could get by with us offering no resistance to his grand plans. That’s purely speculation but one thing isn’t; he never mentioned a word about moving his road onto our property in advance. That baffles us.

He was up here with his chainsaw today cutting down trees again but we couldn’t tell if he was cutting them down along the easement or further out on his property. It was a bit disconcerting to keep hearing the “thumps” as they came down. I might walk down the easement road a bit tonight and check.

We didn’t get the covenants from the recorder’s office the other day and are still not sure where we stand legally in the decision process about making changes to a shared easement. Common sense says that we should be consulted and have to agree to any such changes. Still waiting on the attorney. There was a conflict of interest and we were referred out to another attorney.  Tomorrow morning we go and comb over those covenants.

The neighbor said he was planning on adding a lane to the easement road and a lot of gravel to a steep portion to level it out. This is OK with us but we’re not OK with not being consulted.

We had wood delivered the other day and you’d think we never get visitors by the way we spent an hour showing the guys around the property and exchanged antique ax heads for cash off the delivery. Very nice guys. One of them also does handy work so we may have our guy to help with some work around here. The shed might be his first project if he’s game. We can do it ourselves but the time….

I insulated the battery bank tonight as the inverter wouldn’t turn on the past couple of nights in the cold. Some research told us that with the battery temperature sensors now in play, the charging voltage is probably way up and the inverter is most likely protecting itself from over powering. We’ll see if the insulation helps. I got a plastic container and we hefted the batteries and about two million wires and cables into it. It’s now lined on all sides with foam board insulation.

The fire wood is mostly stacked thanks to my husband and son. We’ve been trying to involve our son more in responsibilities around here for the benefits those things offer a young person; a sense of responsibility, confidence, ownership, a sense of independence, family time. 🙂

Work in progress photos:

It was time to refill the huge water tank we bought about a month ago but alas, the freeze sneaked up on us and the hoses froze with water in them. It took us about an hour yesterday to drag them all downhill from the spring and get them into the tub of hot water. After soaking them, my husband had to use the pump to force all the ice out of them. It was exhausting and we’re emptying them after use from now on.

I moved the ever growing pile of tools, fasteners, parts, and the propane fridge we got a month ago but still haven’t installed out of the trailer. We want to put all the extra stuff in the shed but it still needs to be built! Uhggg.

We need to clean up from all of  our projects too. It never ends around here.

I also have a million administrative type tasks to do. I’ve been grouchy from the sheer volume of things to do. I’m a list person and I decided to get this stuff out of my head where it’s a giant whirlpool of thoughts and feelings onto paper where I could organize them. I drew a big mind map on some card stock and filled it with every item to be done, along with every sub category attached to it until I’d gotten it all out.

The page looks like a mess unto itself but everything’s there in bubbles that I can look at and know I at least don’t have to keep trying to remember what needs to be done. It’s still a lot but I feel like I have a semi handle on it now.

At least the main mission of the week is handled. The most terrifying to our sense of peace; the issue of the cul de sac. We are so relieved and there will be fallout surrounding the dispute but it sure wasn’t our fault. We simply had to respond to this threat to our land and our peace of mind in an assertive way.

Tomorrow is Monday. Another week starts but for the most part, my husband and I look forward greatly to our future here and have a concrete list of goals to grow in every way.

Writing my blog helps me to just get it out when I feel overwhelmed (between appointments with my counselor). It’s nice to talk at people

It also helps me avoid the bubble list.

 

 

Why Am I Blogging?

More reflections on blogging two weeks in.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself exactly why I started a blog. Just a searching query of myself to help define my position as a blogger and to clarify present and future goals. This is what I came up with:

  • I love to write
  • I feel compelled to write
  • I want to chronicle my life’s history and events for my future progeny and anyone else who might give a shit
  • My life has been very interesting and quirky and I want to share that with others
  • I need a job
  • It’s the perfect way to avoid folding my laundry and doing other things I don’t want to do but should do
  • I love humor and want to make others laugh in the hopes of becoming popular (to be cross referenced to the “popular” bullet item down the list
  • I hope to make money eventually (refer back to the “I need a job”) bullet
  • I’m an artist and I want to also share that with people on a totally unrelated blog
  • I’ve been told I should write a book God knows how many times so this is my compromise
  • I want to connect to others in my predicament….er, life situation so I don’t feel so alone
  • I want to be popular (who doesn’t?).
  • I want to be very honest about my life, myself and my problems in the hopes of making others realize it’s OK to be flawed=human
  • It’s good therapy because I suffer from depression and “getting it out” helps and writing distracts my mind
  • I like to write poetry. Never thought I’d see the day
  • Sometimes living off the grid can be lonely and this is my way of connecting outside of my world

Touching base on a few things. Humor: I like to try to emulate the guy who wrote A Christmas Story. The way the story is narrated in that movie is hilarious. And it’s a classic. That type of storytelling resonates with me. Taking every day events and describing them in comedic terms. I’m going for that sort of approach in my more humorous posts. I don’t know if I’m being successful.

Honesty:  I’ve been in jail, but not for long but I wrote that poem about my stay at the Issaquah Hilton (as it’s affectionately called) while I was there. That was one way I coped during my five day stint.

That’s an example of just being straight forward with people about my life. I’ve learned from past experience that honesty tends to help people feel more comfortable in opening up. A means to connect in our humanness. Kind of like swearing (in my case) immediately tells you a person is cool. I believe most of us tend to hide those skeleton in the closet aspects of our lives. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I think it must be a relief to some to just be able to talk about it. I really hope that being honest with (most) of my life will help others to be more “OK” with themselves.

Story telling. Boy do I have some whoppers! I used to live next to Sonny Bono in Palm Springs. I was walking a dog one day when she got bit by a rattlesnake at Sonny’s front gate and I had to take care of her nine puppies while she successfully recovered at the vet. That was a few weeks before our house burned to the ground.

That’s just one example of what I have to tell.  The unbelievability factor is strong with this one. I’ve debated with broadening the scope of my blog because I have so many stories not just off the grid but from my life. Still considering.

I started out with a little traffic with my blog and then it tanked. Of course I asked myself what happened and have been reading the “how to get more traffic” and doing some research. I need to promote. Been busy; working on that one. I made a “Stories” Facebook page. I need to learn  more about the advertising thing. I don’t want to turn people off with a bunch of ads on my blog but that’s the way things are. Ads make money for people including myself.

I looked at some other homesteading/off-grid blogs to see what others are writing. I think I’m hoping to set myself apart with the eccentricity. Off-grid stories with a twisted. 🙂

I come up with all sorts of random thoughts throughout the day that I think will make good topics. I know a little bit about writing but I mostly write based on my experience as a reader. That and just throwing whatever is on my mind as it flows into my posts.

Well, I’m yawning again. Time to go back to bed. I woke up super early when I heard a sound outside. We never knew what was out there at any given moment while we slumbered – until recently.

We got a super cheap but really cool surveillance system the other day. We want to keep and eye on what kinds of wildlife are active around here, including Asshole, our cat. Or what was getting into the occasional bag of garbage we carelessly left outside the front door at night. Last night we saw a stray cat come around on the surveillance monitor after we went to bed. It played with Asshole! We never would have guessed.

There are wolves in the area too that left paw prints in the snow last winter around our trailer. We’re hoping to get those on surveillance too and post it on Youtube and make a million bucks. 🙂

Good night and good morning to you.

Obsessions of a New Blogger

Things going through my head right now.

I probably edit every one of my posts approximately 12 times – after I post it. And that’s after I’ve already proof read it a dozen times before I post.

I find typos, redundant words, misspellings, too-long paragraphs, points that could have been made better with fewer words, things I forgot to add to the post that I add later.

I imagine someone reading one of my posts as I’m furiously editing it and updating it 10 times in 5 minutes then refreshing their page and it being a completely different topic with completely different images.

Then I question how interesting the content really is. Yellow Jackets? Is that compelling in any way? There’s no call to action or effort to change the world with my words. Just a stupid joke (which I came up with by myself, thank you), and stories about our experiences with them. Is this subject even vaguely fascinating or entertaining?

Then there’s the speck on your computer screen that looks like a period and throws you off. Caution: Don’t ever try to clean your touch screen while it’s active. The series of commands you initiate by trying to wipe that chocolate off will take you places…..

I’ve also tried to edit when I’m on the published public page. I’m trying to click on it to edit it and it’s not working. Duh.

I end up going in circles editing. Write the post, proof read it, post it while somehow overlooking the obvious, reading it on the “visit site” link to see what it looks like to everyone else and finding more mistakes. Adding one missing letter and updating it then going back to the public site and finding something else.

I’m getting dizzy.

Then there’s the stats page. Don’t get me started on that. Being new to this blogging thing, any kind of activity there is totally exciting to me. That page is a regular stop in my obsessive travel back and forth on my blog.

I’m finding writing to be immensely enjoyable and a great outlet. I even get to use some artistic abilities which just makes it that more great! I do amateur photography but I’m not bad at it so I can always photograph my own visual content or scribble it on Paint. I just got my new camera in the mail yesterday and can’t wait to get out and use it. I haven’t had a decent camera since mine got stolen a couple of years ago.

Sometimes I start to wonder if I’m spending too much time blogging but screw that. I’ve found something that maybe I can build into a career with time. I just have to learn how to monetize it.  I have a clear understanding that building any kind of business out of blogging may take years but the fun will carry me through. I’ve had a business before so I’m familiar with the realities and the hard work involved. Bottom line, time spent here is valuable to me in many ways and well worth it.

My husband has seen my excitement while typing away and I read him every post I do. He is incredibly kind, patient, and supportive. I couldn’t ask for more. Besides, it keeps me happy and busy. Of course he’s happy for me. 🙂

I’m guessing my story is familiar to some of you. The obsessiveness, the jumping to see who liked something you wrote, the unending editing, the staring at the computer screen for hours but being quite content as you do so.

Got my ticket for the Merry-Go-Round. I pick the black horse.

I bet this page morphs 6 times in the next 10 minutes 🙂 6 and counting. 7.

It’s Been A Year

Nostalgia time.

I was outside last night near where we’ve located our fifth wheel. It was actually around 1:00 am. An unseasonably warm breeze was blowing  and the chirps of the last critters of the summer drifted through the air.  It was a nice feeling and I was brought back to the early days and nights of a year ago when we first arrived in Colville, WA.

It’s funny how nostalgia works. Fortunately, feelings associated with memories are usually good even though the feelings of the time might have been less than so. When we first arrived last September, we were excited as hell to be new land owners. For my husband, it was his first time living outside of King county.

We originally had our trailer on this spot but moved it to a different part of the property thinking it was more centralized.  We soon realized there was a clear line of sight directly to the neighbors and we don’t like them. We kept the trailer there throughout the winter nevertheless but when we got our fifth wheel, we located it back to this original spot by a hillside where we could keep our “backs” to the wall. Being back on this side of our land brought back a lot of recent past memories, almost as if it happened much farther back in time.

Day 1 on the property, I explored every square inch. It’s 3.7 acres of a little bit of everything. It has two hillsides, a flatlands, forests, and the craggy windy highlands as I call them. I told my husband we should make a map of our place as a fictional land.

We bought our parcel out of a larger one that had been divided into four. Ours is #3 in the top left area. We wanted to buy the adjacent lots but someone beat us to #4.

property

We had seen “junk” piled up on an adjacent lot but I soon realized we had our own portion of the junkyard on our property. Only the last time the garbage was taken out was over 60 years ago. So their junk is now our treasure as they say.

We ordered a title search of the property at the courthouse. The land passed from the hands of the government into private in 1908. The last time it was actually occupied we figure was in the 1950’s. We had walked into a time capsule of sorts.

I think I found the original well. It’s at the top of the property in a little grove of trees in a sunken area. I found it when I was looking for a likely place for water. There was an interesting looking rock dead center in the depression that looked like it had been formed by hands other than nature. Maybe a marker? I dug a little and found the rock to be lose and ill fitting; like it had been moved there by machine to fill the well. We ended up locating elsewhere for water but I still dig up there now and then. I did yesterday and felt warmer water in the bottom as I did with our spring. Geothermal activity maybe?

 

 

In my explorations and aspirations I saw a lot to write about and decided to start a blog but I neglected it for a year. I wanted to write about the adventure we’d just landed on. I now had the biggest back yard an overgrown child could ever want!

love to dig. I grew up in a pile of dirt, in a tree, waiting outside the bar in a car for my mother…just kidding, kind of. Mom would shove us all into the station wagon with no seat belts, light up a cigarette, and make the trip to Grandma’s house several times a year. That was how it was back then.

Anyway, I grew up a kind of a tomboy so this piece of property is heaven to me. My husband told me repeatedly while we were still looking for a place, “don’t worry Babe, you’ll soon be able to dig all you want at any time of the day and no one will be able to stop you”. I have dug holes all over the place. Who does that? I have filled most of them back in for safety and aesthetic reasons.

Another example of the weird factor in myself was the night I found myself burying a salmon in my garden at 130am during a thunderstorm. I wanted to give it back to the land. I felt guilty I had let it go bad because it had been given to me fresh caught. The raccoons found it about 10 minutes later and the last time I saw it about 4 days later, it was hanging off a branch of a tree.

Nostalgia. It’s been a year. We’ve been through so much. Walking near the antiques hillside (the dump), brought it all back to me. That feeling of excitement and wonder. The pride of ownership. The explorability factor was high in this place and still is.

And now I’m finally taking up that blog I started a year ago.