Friday, February 27, 2009

Burned Out on Internet or a Bus Load of Faith

Do not know if anyone else experiences Internet fatigue/boredom :-)

Checked my email yesterday afternoon, got my Early Retirement Extreme fix (see blogroll) - closed out in quarter of an hour - oops, not correct- later patiently set up online banking. Later in the evening, when I might go on again said forget about it, I am going to read - much more satisfying to close a book instead of the computer . And not left with the lingering dissatisfaction of having wasted a little bit or a lot of time on Internet.

Check in: am so close to being 100% finished with the de-cluttering process - I have never been so organized in my entire life (no exaggeration)! It feels as if something or Some Thing has been dislodged, leaving room for . . . it's a mystery right now. It is kind of like jumping of a cliff and having faith - which reminds me: heard a new song by Lou Reed yesterday and love the title something like You've Got To Have A Bus Load of Faith!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Random Observations About Stuff, Food & Human Contact

1. My punctuation rusty - some of the rules come back to me after I post - oops - but there is always edit. I would have never thought I would succumb to using all lower case letters in emails, but I do.

2. I am going to San Francisco next week - have not been there since the last day of 2008, when I officially moved to the cabin. It will have been over two weeks since I have written in a car.

3. Looking forward to a couple of restaurant meals - one at Nopa. Great food and they serve hundreds of dinners a night and have something like one can of garbage - everything else recycled or composted. Instead of a gold watch I was given a gift certificate as a going away gift. Over the years I was given investment opportunities in real estate in lieu of any retirement plan. You bet I will enjoy this dinner and planning to celebrate with champagne!

4. Will have access to high speed internet & hope to finally upload photos. Maybe get it together with Twitter & Facebook. Maybe Not.

5. Bringing a batch of stuff to sell on Ebay.

6. By the time I leave here on Sunday, my de-cluttering process should be complete.

7. I have been shopping at a consignment shop Good Buys in the Pacific Heights neighborhood (upscale area) for over 15 years. As I have given so many clothes away, am afraid I will not have a decent outfit for Paris - and I cannot dress like a lumberjack walking those streets. BUT part of my plan this year is not to be anything - though did not ban used items - kind of a dilemma. AND my motto is "make it work" - a motto I am borrowing from Tim Gunn (think that is his name from Project Runway). Will See.

8. Not successful giving up caffeine - in coffee yes - but not tea. I had such an internal battle going on, I could not get things down. I am not one of those people who wake up in the morning full of enthusiasm - I need help. Whatever.

Simplicity: Not simple to simplify. Probably year of slow and steady work BUT the good news is there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just in time for Spring and . . .

Planting seeds - nothing like live fresh food for a fraction of the cost.

Step-by-Slow-Step to Design the next part of my life.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Number Three on List: Chimney Fires

Just so happens I had a dream last night the cabin burned to the ground & I lost absolutely everything (the capital invested in this property). Besides being stunned & horrified, I thought "Man, all that time I took to de-clutter - what a waste!"

I got thinking about chimney fires BIG TIME after reading I am adding this guy to blog roll - he has lived off the grid for over 30 years in someplace super freezing, as in Minnesota - hardcore guy and also writes insightful state of world financial affairs.

Chimney fires: clean flue every two week, burn combination hard & soft woods, burn hot fires (burn out creosote) especially after damping fire down.

Cabin burning down: always chance one takes living in California - especially as "managed fires" or fires that need to take place to clean out the riff-raff growth are stunted because people like me live here. The good news is there are many redwoods which are not easily burned & the cabin is down in a valley, as opposed to on top of a ridge.

It is not possible to get fire insurance - I have checked & once the insurance company maps out location: sorry, you are in a national forest - cannot be insured.

Just passing on a glimpse of practical things to consider if one has dreams of living in a cabin in the woods.

Simplicity: Heating with wood is not simple - there is a lot of tending the fire & if the temperature drops low one does not want to the fire to go out in the middle of the night.

This category is a wild card - if one has source for free wood - great - otherwise a cord of wood is pricey - I have not had to pay for wood yet. But the fireplace is not only source of heat but a great cooking /drying spot: clothes, mushrooms, nuts, whatever. Have considered a propane heater from Craigslist, but now on the homestretch of colder times.

Another bonus: exercise carrying & chopping wood.

Design: Burning wood is carbon neutral. Nothing compares to gazing at wood burning - connects me to people from all times and places.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wild Animals

Number Two on my List of Fears (not in any particular order on the Fear Scale)

I have carried a romanticized version of certain writers' day-to-day life - Virginia Woolf, the brother and sister Wordsworth and a number of other English writers. They seemed to walk every afternoon - after a morning of writing. (I am picking out the part I like about this vision, not the writing and migrane/serious psychological disorders part).

Walking has been a part of my life for years. My first big time walking started when I quit the nicotine habit many moons ago. San Francisco is no place for a car, though I certainly used one for transporting my daughter. If I had it to do over I would use public transportation. When she went away to college I sold the car - work was about 3.5 miles each way - which is only a 50 minute walk.

Get to the wild animals.

Here in the woods certain scary animals have been cited: bears and wild big cats - and I have seen the remains of their feasts - bones picked clean. I cannot always walk with my neighbor & her dogs.

Something about the rhythm of walking and the variation of sites does wonders for my mental health and this time is all about health. The dirt road by the cabin continues on for another 2 miles - I figure as a car or two travels the road per day the word is out to the bigger animals to stay away: cars are not friendly. After a week of walking the dirt road I am feeling more comfortable - I will have to live with my fear and do it any way.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Going Out On A Limb

This sabbatical, to date, seems to be about Facing Fears - going into it, all I knew was that I would not know what to expect - how's that for a twisted sentence?


1. Depression

2. Being attacked by wild animals as in bears and/or wild cats - probably at the same time

3. Chimney fire & cabin burning down

4, Physically never get back my strength & being stiff & crunchy the rest of my days

5. Never being able to get a job again

6. Being caffeine addict the rest of my life

7. At the end of my days - or whenever - finding out there is no god

8. Always having certain food preferences & not being satisfied with less


1. As I knew would be spending much time alone in the days coming up, it called for a ramping up of taking care of my business so as not to drop into a slump. The mind, being a wily force, seems to forget the things to help once a slight slide is perceived. The action called for was writing out a chart, as simple-minded as it sounds, of those things to help: walk, exercise, meditate, and be grateful. All stops were pulled on the gratitude tool: each weight set I finished, each step I took, I said "Thank You" - as crazy as it sounds, don't ask me why - IT WORKS - my days are happy. (Will keep this post just to #1 - god issue too big to tackle right now).

Simplicity: There are only a few things I need to do every day to make a world of difference on my outlook & thus my productivity: exercise - weights & walking & stretching & shoulder/headstands - granted totals a good 2.5 hours.

Frugality: By spending this time and all aspects of my health, am investing in my future capacity to earn money. As I read once on a PF blog somewhere - our greatest asset is the ability to earn $ - (unless you have a great portfolio :-)

Design: As I design my day-to-day life in the present, am planning for my future.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reasons Not to Blog

1. One has to be fairly consistent.

2. Have to practice "It does not matter what others think of me."

3. Have to put thoughts on paper = commit to ideas.

4. Fears have to surface: uncreative, unoriginal, slow-witted, inadequate writer & thinker, sound pathetic.

5. Cannot figure out (yet) how to upload photos (see #4).

6. Expose self.

7. All the above are reasons to write blog, in spite of it all.

Simplicity - What's not simple about writing? :-)

Frugality - It will cost me big time if I don't practice 1-7 as soon as possible.

Design - The design of my life imagined, slowly putting to life.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Things I Do For Health

I consider this time to be one of rejuvenation so I can hit it hard one more time (at least) - it's a sabbatical, not retirement. Addressing the little things that have bugged me for some time - health or otherwise.

1. My neck & shoulders are all crunchy from sitting at a desk for years - doing shoulder stands & head stands (makes sense to literally turn things upside down).

2. Scale weigh in every morning - numbers don't lie, financially or otherwise - I am not a nut about my weight but like to check in. Apparently there is some sort of Japanese diet solely based on this method - no surprise.

3. Free weights & bar - no gym required.

4. Physical outdoor labor - wood and all that.

5. Getting off the caffeine - finally getting the nerve to quit - been many years addicted.

6. Acupuncture - see #5 - I know better than try to attempt some endeavors alone - I am fortunate in having a neighbor just starting out & she is awesome!

7. Meditation - not yet - currently consists of sitting on couch & looking out at the forest & daydreaming. Grateful I have this time to do whatever.

8. Yoga - only a couple poses - I cannot believe that I use to have a six day/week Ashtanga Practice - not giving up on that idea.

9. Reading

10. Get in car maximum once a week.

11. Eat well

12. Don't sit in chairs often - got to unwind myself (in all ways).

Simplicity: Focusing on my health

The only thing that costs $ is the acupuncture - it's preventative.

Focusing on my life design - what works & does not work

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Will Not Be Able to Camp For My Daughter's College Graduation

I know many pf bloggers do not believe in paying for a child's private school education. I have a different take. My daughter, through her own merits, was accepted at one of San Francisco's best High Schools (believe me I did not put pressure on her to get into a "good" school). The kicker: no financial help. If she had the where-with-all to get herself there, it was my job to find the $. (I am a single parent & her father is not a dead beat dad - the opposite - he contributed his 50%). We both found a way to do it.

In college, in the mid-west, she as able to get combo scholarships, parental help & minimal loans. Junior & Senior Years she was an R.A. - and this year that covered room & board 100%.

From a very young age my daughter has earned, saved & tracked her money. She did not pick up that trait from me - I came into this way of living only recently.

Okay, I know I have to fly back for the graduation and rent a car (I am not complaining). I thought maybe I could save money by camping instead of a hotel. When I broached the subject with her there was silence and then "You cannot come to my graduation in a lumber jacket!"

End of discussion.

I love my daughter.

Sometimes that is not the most appropriate or wise choice.

Design: My daughter's life has been designed to thrive.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Decluttering Process is Becoming a Drag

I have got to be done with this mundane task by the end of the week. This whole simplicity thing is sounding a bit cliche (in a self-critical kind of way).

And why am I so obsessed with getting rid of stuff? The house I grew up in was a chaotic mess - no need for details here. One of my few childhood memories was delivering girl scout cookies to a little house set in an orchard - inside that house was only a sisal rug and couch - I was in complete awe. The strange thing I am realizing is this cabin is becoming that house - complete with the porch and sliding glass doors.

The last thing I want this blog to be about is finding ways to contain the stuff in plastic bins under the bed and clipping coupons and getting out of debt. I am after something along the words of Hans Hoffman (ran across this yesterday - I figure there are those who have gone before me who have a better way with words):

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary can speak.

- Nothing is ever really simple

Frugality - Did not spend any money today - except the cost of living - including $ for generator gas to charge batteries to listen to radio -and the usual food.

Design - By the process of massive elimination

Monday, February 9, 2009

Random Observations About Stuff, Food & Human Contact

1. I underestimated the amount of time it would take to organize my stuff.

2. The de-cluttering process could take another month.

3. Fantasy: All my stuff has its own particular place.

4. Fantasy: I will put anything I use back it's place when finished.

5. Fantasy: I will keep all surfaces clear (might as well add the fantasy that I will wash my dishes, dry & put away when finished using).

6. Not everyone appreciates not having stuff around - as a matter of fact can make them uncomfortable.

7. I can be happy eating rice/beans/lettuce/avocado on a crispy corn tortillas every day for a week.

8. I can go days without listening to music.

9. I do not like to go more than one day not seeing another human.

10. I like to talk to at least two people on the phone a day.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Would It Not Be Easier To Have A Job?

My job seems to be to spend the entire day with my self, without the usual distractions of job, news, let alone other people. I better like myself for the most part, but as with any friend, you need a break once in a while - well, without the normal day-to-day stuff to get my attention, I am pretty well stuck with just ME - and I can by annoying

Yesterday I had serious doubts of my choice of places to be - in the middle of the woods - and was feeling out-of-control & vulnerable in my situation - not a comfortable feeling. It had begun to rain (which is a great thing - don't get me wrong) but in this environment when it rains, it's a powerfully loud deluge.

As with most things, it all changed today - good to know feelings are not facts. My job is to be here, with myself, by myself for the most part - and see what happens.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Best Laid Plans Were Shelved

Every morning for almost two weeks I place a call to the Air Quality Department to listen to the recording letting one know if a green light exists to burn. As you may know, California is experiencing the lowest rainfall ever - and for the last couple of weeks a high pressure system has been in place = no burning allowed. Finally, yesterday, the recording stated okay to burn after 9 a.m. I have been clearing brush & pruning trees, in hopes to make the property as fire unfriendly as possible. There is always a slight unease I feel being in the middle of a forest - mix of fir & redwood - redwood being the less combustible of the two - but still!

In my basic living expenses of $1000/month, am not including all costs for maintenance and capital improvements of the property - believe me I find it hard to keep that one in check. How could I resist a logging guy with a bucket which reaches 40' and could do a super clean up job on the huge trees? The two logging partners showed up mid-afternoon - a couple of chainsaws each and a beautiful Ford 550 with the bucket on the telescoping rig. They wasted no time getting to work - no safety glasses or gloves but ear plugs -two hours worth of work with awe inspiring results.

Simplicity: I did not have to do any exercises with weights - got crazy work out moving limbs, stumps, branches - stacking for firewood or stoking the burn pile.

Frugality: Yes, spent money but preventative measures to protect investment.

Design: The two loggers get the design award for the day - they both love & respect trees & enhance the beauty of the trees by their work.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Only Human I Saw Yesterday

Though I very often talk to the chickens I do know the difference - at least for now. I had been hoping for a satellite dish here - had been willing to shell out the money - and had waited patiently for my appointment - though it meant a long delay in posting since I have been back from road trip almost two weeks. Anyway, the satellite surveyor guy performed his diligent search for south east satellite clearance and had to tell me no such luck - the trees were in the way - makes sense, this place is in the bottom of a forest. As it turns out I am quite content with the outcome - after he left I got on the phone to search for a dial-up connection - and practicing phone company patience here I am: on-line the old-fashioned way. If I do have to wait for something such as a picture to load (forget YouTube) I can get up and wash the dishes, do a headstand, or prune a tree, and maybe by the time I come back the photo will be complete.

Yesterday also marks the crossing of some sort of line: I put what is left of my hair in two pig-tails - imagining they were thick braids. This environment calls for a no-nonsense approach to vanity. I still have tad bid of pride - I stuck a hat on my head before meeting the satellite man.

Simplicity: Won't be compelled to waste much time on Internet - keep the focus on the here and now.

Frugality: Twenty bucks a month instead of sixty - Let alone the initial installation expense of $400 - yikes!

Design: No eyesore satellite dish and various cables.