Tuesday, January 27, 2015

And another day for the books!

Be warned. I'm going to bore you to death with winterpictures....
My wife made the first batch...


our neighbour's horses

We reached 2 milestones today, but before I tell you about them, let me tell you about the glory of living a rural life in winter conditions; shoveling snow and carrying wood. Well, there's actually not much to tell, only that we received a decent amount of inches of new snow, turning the world into one gigantic whipped cream topped adventure. Because that's how it looked.
Everything covered in a thick layer of it..... or icing... which ever you prefer. I go for whipped cream, thick and fluffy. And that thick and fluffy layer had to be removed from certain places; paths, stairs and parking area. When I started it was nice and cold and crisp and the snow was the same, but soon the sun came out and that turned the snow into thick, sticky substance... Heavy too, if you have to shovel it by hand. Especially if it sticks to the shovel... In no time I had to get rid of the scarf, the hat and the gloves, only keeping a pair of thin working gloves. Cold + metal + skin = a bad match.
After an hour or 2 all the necessary areas were accessible again and during the following teabreak my wife and I decided to have a little gamble; letting Rex play outside without a leash... loose... We did take one, just to be sure, took on of his tennisballs (he's nuts about them) and went to play with him in the thick snow. He was exhilarated!  He ran and he dived, fetched the ball and buried it, ran some more, until the ball was one lump of ice.... We tried a stick afterwards and he went equally nuts. He even obeys our commands..... sort of... And we had a few good laughs. Even now I was warm. Turned out temperatures in the sun reached a whopping 8C+!
After that it was time to walk the dog some more, while my wife was off to the bank for an appointment, which might just yield a bit more breathing space... hopefully. Nothing to eventful on my account, besides a handful of pretty pictures. Don't say I didn't warn you...

There's something funny with this one....
Check the shadows...

The surface of the lake worked like a coldtrap.
The warmer air fell onto it, causing a slight fog. That fog is much, much thicker now!

I am sure that many who read this blog dream about a place like this!
And there are many around here, some of which are used 2-3 weeks a year...
And some even less than that....
My wife's appointment took longer than anticipated and  we had promised to deliver a large sack of reindeer feed to someone in the village. Because it was getting late, I hitched up Rex to the pulka (sled), put the bag of feed on it (20kg) and let him use his excess energy to make a special delivery. After a awkward start things went well and we had just left, when my wife came down the path with our daughters. Annalena jumped out of the car and came along with me. On the way to the delivery Rex made some mistakes, turned to soon or simply lost focus and followed his nose. He also wanted to go fast.... tipping over the sled 3 times. The last time I got pissed off, because he just couldn't control himself. After that, things went smooth like clockwork!
He really got the hang of it, followed commands and discovered the joy of work! And he really did enjoy it! We delivered the sack, talked a little with the recipients, who didn't even blink an eye with our appearance, and we then went home again. Rex still had plenty of power left, so now Annalena rode the sled and he pulled it without much effort. He even ran (so did I!)! From a standstill! And Annalena? Well.... listen to the clip...


  1. The pictures are just so beautiful. I think I need to save one as my screen saver or something. . . Thank you for sharing! Love the video. Looks like Rex is enjoying it the most.

    1. It sure was fun and an eyeopener!
      If you need the bigger versions, just let me know and I'll email 'em to ya!

    2. By the way I was running next to the sled, not on it!

  2. As a person living life far from "civilization" like you I'm curious how you underwrite your adventure financially. Not one to pry into personal details, I would just like to know in general how you make it. We made our adventure possible by working at corporate jobs, saving as much money as we could and then took a ranch caretaker job that gives us housing and a small stipend. We also do odd jobs for the ranch and make extra money that way. Oh since we are "old" and worked for the man for years we now get Social Security, too. Along with that we are as self sufficient as we can be in growing food, etc. Would you feel comfortable sharing how you did it? Maybe there's a teaching moment to be had in this, methinks.

    1. A new reply, since the previous one was incomplete..

      Well...... here it goes.... Financially, we are piss poor.... we are currently living way under the povertylimit.
      We make do with a very meager salary my wife has as a cleaninglady, we get childsupport and some housing support... That is basically it.
      In between my wife sells her wool angels and other woolhandcraft and I get the occasional job for a few hours here or there, harvesting potatoes or fixing things. We live very frugal, no new clothes, food on sale and in bulk etc. No extras. Scraping and scrounging. One simple set back, like buying my youngest daughter her glasses... finally... after a year.... means we pay dearly for that for months to come. We survive.
      I do not make a secret out of it. Why should I? It is the simple, hard truth and it shows that one can survive on very much less than everyone seems to think.
      We bought this house dirtcheap, meaning a very low mortgage, we do not need to drive the kids to school, since there is a free bus, school is free, healthcare is free for the kids and cheap for us. Dental is free for them too and we..... wait till we are more well off.
      Heating is woodfed and that I got for free from the woods. I processed much of the wood from start to finish and last but not least... We do get quite some help from others. A bag or 2 of clothes for the girls here, a gift there etc. A load of extra firewood for a very low price etc. And we return those favors as much as possible. etc... etc...

  3. OK if nothing else it shows that a person can live happy without a lot of financial backing. The back story on my question arises from our investigation into leaving this caretaking job and going out on our own. We're contemplating a homestead of our own. We have the skills but not the financial means to do it...yet. That we're working on. We don't get free medical but it's low cost. I tell you that's the one single biggest worry that I have. Maybe I should say concern. And that is getting sick and not having the physical capability to do what we need to do to. As you may already know my husband and I are 64 years old each. But we're very fit for our age. Yet we're not getting any younger. In the final analysis though it comes down to this for me and I'm sure you will agree. And that is, it's better to have 2 days doing what you want than a lifetime of not doing what you want. If we have to go into some kind of assisted living (far into the future) at least we have some thing to reminisce about. N'est-ce pas?

    1. Well, we are living, but not always happy. Being forced to live at the bottom of current society comes with many worries too.
      As for your situation, you might also consider this; you are both still fit and maybe, through physical activeness and good food you might just keep that for many a year to come! I have no idea how pension looks like in your part of the world, but being able to provide for oneself is the best pension one can have.
      So the place you live now is not your own? Why would you need to leave otherwise?

      As for me; I really do think that in 20 years time, I'll be your age then, there will no longer be any form of paid pension. We will be left to our own devices, taking care of ourselves with help of others. Children, local community etc.

  4. Just lost the message in space someplace. .
    Ron, running next to the sled even better!! :)

    Interesting conversation guys. Tanks for sharing the details, Ron. health insurance is the biggest here in USA. This was discussed on other blogs. I quit my job once and we lived without official income for 3 years, and paying consequences still. . . We bought private insurance during that time, and paid dearly. Yes, not fun to stand in line for milk for kids and not be able to buy it, or beg for food stamps. I admire you guys for living with it, and taking things as they are.
    I am scared sh**less to quit the paying job again and go a different route and just a bit of courage to push me over the edge. :) 2 days of doing what you want, versus a lifetime of this. .
    Ron, does Sweden have government pension or do you not get it after 65?

    Tres, how are doing, getting close to getting your own place? Your current arrangement sounds interesting to me, I may consider something like that, especially if I am a single mom with kids, cannot handle the whole homestead of my own. Are you staying in California?

    1. Hej Bee,
      I often wonder... Do we really need insurances? Do we always need to play it safe or should we take chances? We only have the obligatory ensurances. House, car, because we have to by law or by bank decree (mortgage). Health insurance? Getting off the couch, growing your own, real healthy food and enjoying what you do... Sounds like good basics for good health, doesn't it? We do not need this ridiculously overpriced medical system with its phoney medications and illnesses.

      As I understood it, does Sweden have a statepension, but it is very, very meager. This whole pensionsystem is not sustainable, so it will collapse and disappear before it is my turn. Having a homestead will be my pension.
      My wife and I quite our jobs and social lives, when we moved here, not knowing how things would work out. We were living a lifetime "of that". Was it courage or was it desperation or were we just just totally fed up with it all? I guess a mix of those.
      Yet I do believe that one has to be the change one wants to see. Read that somewhere once and it has stayed with me ever since. And we will work toward that! Heck, we are doing that right now...
      No one ever said the road to success would be an easy one.

  5. Thanks, Ron. Very true. True about insurance, looking back, I wished I had not wasted the money, but was scared with kids being very little, etc. . So that fear, that damn fear that gets us.
    As far as moving along in new directions, I was just reading a nice passage from Thich Nhat Hanh "No Mud No Lotus"

    “There is a Buddhist teaching found in the Sallatha Sutta, known as The Arrow. It says if an arrow hits you, you will feel pain in that part of your body where the arrow hit; and then if a second arrow comes and strikes exactly at the same spot, the pain will not be only double, it will become at least ten times more intense.

    The unwelcome things that sometimes happen in life—being rejected, losing a valuable object, failing a test, getting injured in an accident—are analogous to the first arrow. They cause some pain. The second arrow, fired by our own selves, is our reaction, our storyline, and our anxiety. All these things magnify the suffering. Many times, the ultimate disaster we’re ruminating upon hasn’t even happened.

    We may worry, for example, that we have cancer and that we’re going to die soon. We don’t know, and our fear of the unknown makes the pain grow even bigger.

    The second arrow may take the form of judgment (“how could I have been so stupid?”), fear (“what if the pain doesn’t go away?”), or anger (“I hate that I’m in pain. I don’t deserve this!”). We can quickly conjure up a hell realm of negativity in our minds that multiplies the stress of the actual event, by ten times or even more.

    Part of the art of suffering well is learning not to magnify our pain by getting carried away in fear, anger, and despair. We build and maintain our energy reserves to handle the big sufferings; the little sufferings we can let go.

    If you lose your job, of course it’s a normal response to feel fear and anxiety. It is true that in most cases to be out of work is a suffering; and there is real danger attached if you don’t have enough to eat or can’t afford necessary medicine. But you don’t need to make this suffering worse by spinning stories in your head that are much worse than the reality. Some people in this situation may think “I’m no good at this or that,” or “I’ll never get another job,” or “I failed my family.” It’s important to remember that everything is impermanent.

    A suffering can arise—or can work itself out—for anyone at any moment. Instead of throwing good energy away on condemning yourself or obsessing over what catastrophes might be lurking around the corner, you can simply be present with the real suffering that is right in front of you, with what is happening right now.

    Mindfulness is recognizing what is there in the present moment. Suffering is there, yes; but what is also there is that you are still alive: “Breathing in, I know I’m alive.”

    Your eyes still work: “Breathing in, I’m aware of my eyes. Breathing out, I smile to my eyes.” To have eyes in good condition is a wonderful thing. Because you have eyes in good condition, there’s a paradise of shapes and colors….”

  6. I would hope that we could keep our health but sometimes the unforeseen happens. In 2011 I got Valley Fever which almost killed me. I still have to take meds to control it. Up until then I was very fit, very active. Getting that was part of why we bolted for the country. We realized something life-changing could happen and we didn't want to waste another minute not doing what we wanted. So we looked around for how we could accomplish that and as a stepping stone we decided to try caretaking. The place we live is not our own. But it's almost like it is. We see the owners maybe once every couple months. Yet there's enough shenanigans that we really need to move on at the first chance we get. In the US before Social Security people took care of themselves until they passed. It's not like it hasn't been done before. With enough planning and thinking ahead we must figure out how to live when we're really old.

  7. A wise person once told me "in life, pain is mandatory, suffering is optional."

    Bee, we're going to stay in CA. We need to be by our children even though property is bloody expensive here! If we could move out of state we could have found a great place a long time ago. So that's our choice and we will make the best of it.

    Caretaking. Most of the jobs are for almost no pay and they want you to live in a trailer. Peruse CaretakersGazette.com