Sunday, February 8, 2015


This blog is relocating!  I'd love if you'd follow me on over to my new space:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Winter's Day

I’m learning that winter never goes the way I think it will. In the fall I’m dizzy with romance; the sights, the smells, that certain something in the air, the knowledge of cold weather coming with its fires in the wood stove, hearty soups, warm family moments, and time to get to all those projects I’m too busy for the rest of the year.

When it snows I feel that same giddy romance. My Vermont blood, I guess. But here in Missouri it doesn’t snow much. An occasional winter will see two or three snowfalls worthy of getting out the sleds, but others we get just a dusting here and there. In the meantime, there’s school, there’s work, there’re dental appointments, the sun sets early and rises late and my energy drains like dirty, lukewarm bathwater after four of my children have emerged, squeaky clean in their turns.

I was horrified this week when I realized that at least five days had passed since I’d stepped foot outside. I’m a firm believer in getting out every single day, even just for a few minutes. Sunshine, clouds, rain, snow, hot or cold, healthy or unwell. But I’ve no goats to check on anymore, the children tend the poultry and enjoy fetching the mail from the box at the end of the drive, and there’s no end to my to-do list... it just sorta happens. There’s always something I could be working on, and usually feel like I should be working on. But priorities, Williams. Priorities. 

This morning I tackled some to-do’s, sitting in my sunny bedroom and enjoying our new bookshelves. (The light is so much better than in my office on the north side of the house.)

Denny schooled the children and I helped a bit with reading and math. After lunch I got the kids busy on chores; the weekly cleaning and bringing in firewood. It’s cold today, and the small bit of world immediately outside my home is dusted with snow, but the sun is shining. I grabbed my coat, put on my hat, and went for a short walk around our five acres.

View of the yard and garden soon after sunrise.

Snow on moss & lichen

So much color this time of year, if you've eyes to see it.

Happy little grass. I need to look this up; I've always loved it but don't know what it is!

Ice along the creek's edge

Witch hazel beginning to bloom

Tucker Creek. Heaven on earth.

A reminder to me, if not to you, to get out and enjoy the world around me at least once a day. It's a winter wonderland whether there's snow or not!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Domestic Bliss

The winter sun shines warmly on the long, polished pine dining table before me, interrupted only by the brief flickering shadows of chickadees and titmice alternately feasting and bickering at the feeder outside the window. At one end of the table my four younger children, ages four, six, eight and nine, attend quietly to various school work. Well, mostly quietly; if I remind them often. Blue and Royal are building math equations with plastic blocks designed for the purpose (we use Math-U-See curriculum), Little is copying letters and numbers in her lined primary pad, Justin has laid aside his coloring book and Tupperware box of old crayons and is now familiarizing himself with the math blocks by building walls and what he tells me are spaceships with forcefields. The older children have received their assignments for the week and are upstairs working on their daily portions of math, reading and writing. 

Little making apple pie
At my end of the table are a couple of bread pans, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and a mound of bread dough which I’ve begun shaping into loaves. After years of baking bread for my family, I know that the smooth and soft elasticity of the dough means I combined the right measure of ingredients and kneaded it for a good length of time. It will rise well and yield tasty loaves, light and easy to slice without crumbling. I love the feel of it in my hands. I love oiling the pans, rolling the dough out, pinching and tucking, placing it in the pans, covering it with an old flour sack towel, and placing it somewhere warm to rise. Today it rises near the wood stove. Which reminds me…

I peek in the stove and see a bed of coals needing attention. I pull the damper on the stove, open the door, rake the coals over with a tool my dad made out of steel re-bar for just such a purpose when I was a young little thing and he and mom burned wood to keep our family warm during long, cold Vermont winters. The firewood is nearby, but the pile is running low. I make a mental note to have the children bring in wood after lunch. The floor is due for a sweeping, so the timing is good. I select a few smaller pieces of seasoned oak and arrange them on the coals in such a way to allow the air to flow around them. I’ll add more once they get going well. Pulling my iPod out of my pocket I set a timer for ten minutes. It wouldn’t be the first time I started the fire up only to forget about it and let it go nearly cold. Setting the timer reminds me I didn’t set one for the bread, so I pop into the kitchen and set the timer on the microwave for an hour.

As I clean up my bread-making mess I check on the wee ones. Royal has done a fine job, but needs help reading a couple of words on his last problem. We finish up, he dates his page then runs off to my office to put it with the other completed schoolwork. As for Blue, her sixes and most of her twos are backwards again, and her 21 should be a 12, but she’s managing her dyslexia better than she did when she first began writing. I gently and matter-of-factly point out her errors and she corrects them without complaint or discourage. For the millionth time, I experience a warm ache in my chest. I am so glad that this brilliant, artistic and tender girl is able to learn at home instead of lost in a crowd and teased mercilessly at public school just because written symbols dance around unpredictably on her. She’s learned to read, albeit with more work and over a longer time than her siblings, and she enjoys it. She loves to write and make up stories, too, illustrated with the most imaginative and colorful creatures. It’s a pleasure to work with her.

And so the day goes. Beautiful moments that make up the good stuff of this brief life. Warm sunshine highlighting the cold, bare trees outside the windows, complimenting the cozy fire inside. Bright, lovable children going about their schoolwork and play. The whole family gathered for a simple lunch of cheese, crackers, pickles and fruit, then back to our various activities. Some of the kids bundle up in their worn, torn and mismatched winter gear and head outside. After bringing in firewood they visit the frozen creek to enjoy its wonders. Those whose assigned day it is to wash dishes get started after I add some hot water to the sink from the pot on the wood stove. I turn on some music, do some preliminary prep on dinner, and water the houseplants while the bread bakes. When I water the plants in the back rooms Denny pauses his design work and gives me a sweet smile and a kiss.

Domestic: adjective      of or relating to the running of a home or to family relations.
      (of a person) fond of family life and running a home

Bliss: noun      perfect happiness; great joy. 

I can’t remember ever being unsatisfied with my role as a homemaker. Frustrated sometimes? You bet. It can be overwhelming, yeah, and demanding, but I have never desired another occupation. In my late teens I held a very pleasant and suitable-to-me job on a landscape crew at a local golf course. That lasted about a year and a half before I had to quit due to my unplanned pregnancy. My boyfriend and I moved into a 5th-wheel camper in my parents’ yard, renting for $100 a month. I stayed home, cooked, cleaned, crafted, managed the finances, and planned while he worked construction five days a week. We married and, with the help of a midwife, we welcomed our firstborn in those cramped quarters. Shortly before my twentieth birthday we put a down-payment on our first house; very small, but roomy after seven months in a camper.

Soon we were welcoming another child. And another. I had plenty to do at home. If my husband and I ever talked about whether I would stay home and raise our children, I don’t remember it. He wasn’t the communicative type. In the last years of our marriage I think he resented me staying home. He seemed jealous of my freedom to manage my own time and enjoy the children, but he didn’t see half of what I did around the house and his own time at home was spent much differently. A sad and classic story, I’m afraid.

When I was growing up my mom had mostly stayed at home and seemed to find much satisfaction in it, and Dad, a carpenter by trade, seemed to appreciate what she did there, so I guess I just assumed that since I’d started a family, I’d stay home and manage things the way Mom did. 

I’d gotten a head start, but soon my friends were settling down and having children too. They weren’t all enjoying it as much as I was. “I’m stuck in Baby Jail,” one friend was fond of saying. “I’d love to go back to work and feel like I’m contributing. I miss it.” Interestingly, she'd spent two or three years working in a nursing home taking care of the elderly before coming home to start a family, caring for equally unappreciative droolers in diapers. I reckon the difference was that at “work” she earned a paycheck, had time off, worked alongside other adults, and was patted on the back often because she was truly good at what she did. It can be a little daunting, being alone with babies and toddlers all day, with no end in sight, especially if no one appreciates what you do.

I understand more of this now that I’m older. Not everyone is cut out for parenting and homemaking or enjoys the same rewards for their efforts. For the most part, that’s okay. Most families manage. There are extremes, however, and I feel more strongly than ever that people who don’t enjoy or find some satisfaction in raising children shouldn’t be bringing children into this world, but that’s a rant for another day.

I don’t know whether anyone in particular appreciated or cared at all about what I did—if my husband did he never expressed it and to expect children to is a burden I don’t believe they should bear—but I felt good about it. What I did and what I continue to do at home satisfies me.

Investing in my children with time, kindness, patience, firmness when needed, and thoughtfulness has resulted in a house full of interesting people whom I enjoy tremendously. Is it easy? Nope. I’ve shed more than a few tears, wondering if I was doing the right things, occasionally cracking under the constant demand. Let’s face it, some days are just demanding and we’re not always up to the tasks, are we?  But I pull myself together and put the children first. As the days go by and I watch these amazing individuals grow, I know I’ve done something right, something worthwhile. Maybe it has something to do with my belief that relationships are the most significant factor in enjoying a full, rich life. This is a huge part of my domestic bliss. Deeper, secure, fulfilling relationships for all of us is one of the reasons I am raising my own children instead of sending them away five days a week.

My home isn’t always clean. I like to clean, I just don’t do a lot of it because there are other things I enjoy more. I like things tidy, but I’m not fussy. Dust doesn't bother me. With seven children and various pets there’s little in the way of home furnishings that don’t take something of a beating, and there’s a constant barrage of clutter that must be dealt with, but generally it’s cozy and inviting, warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and so forth. No one who steps foot in the door questions which we love more, each other or the material things, and if you’ve ever been in such a home there’s something lovely about it. There’s usually good food on our table and the place buzzes with life and vivacity. There are interesting things going on everywhere, always a project or two in progress; the natural outflow of nine creative people who love each other, love life, and love being at home.

In the past year I’ve experienced an occasional spell of frustration, realizing how much of my life I’ve lived in a bubble, shutting out the sinful world, ignorant of world affairs, of societal issues, ignorant of my part, just focused on the goings-on within my four walls and engaging with a few families besides, leaving the world in God’s hands and washing my own of such responsibilities. I studied the Bible and prayed instead. Granted, I had my hands full with a bunch of young 'uns, trying to make meager ends meet. But I have moments of regret, hating how caught up I was in my own things and knowing I missed out on a decade and a half of learning, understanding, being involved. I’m ashamed of my ignorance, but I’m learning to deal with it. And slowly to remedy it.

When I’m having one of those days I try to focus on accomplishments that I'm proud of. I think about domesticity. I realize I’m good at it. Damned good. I can turn out delicious, nutritious food three times a day, balance my bank account, juggle bills, wash clothes, milk goats, build fences, garden, build shelves, make soap, sew up a storm, teach children these things as well as to read, write and do arithmetic, while fine-tuning their attitudes, having a good laugh, and so on... and it’s all in a day’s work. Fifteen years of this; I do it well, I enjoy it, it gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. It takes the sting off that feeling that I wasted my life on God when I could have been doing something meaningful.

Yeah, I guess what I’m saying is that when I get down about my religious past, I fold laundry, bake bread, tend plants, teach my children about evolution, and remember not to regret the past because I love who I am today. And tomorrow's possibilities are limitless.

Monday, February 2, 2015

So You Want To Start A Blog

I’ve recently been asked for blogging advice by a few different people. As always, I am surprised and flattered that someone should ask my advice about something. Anything. The following isn’t much, but I thought I’d share it here.

Bread, fresh from the oven. Smells like home!
If you enjoy writing and sharing any kind of tidbits of your life with others, by all means start a blog! is a free and very easy place to start, though you may want to look around for an online blogging community geared toward certain subjects; homesteading, homeschooling, spirituality, etc. Friends, family and can still visit, but you also tend to get more like-minded strangers stopping by, which builds your readership more rapidly and makes it much more fun. I like Blogger because, although it’s huge and it’s users varied, it’s simple, completely customizable, well-known, and I write about so wide a variety of things it didn't make sense to limit myself. (That said, until last week I ran two blogs; one for home and family updates, and this one for everything else. I aim to merge them now. Brace yourselves.)

But settling on a location and designing the blog may be the easy part. Maybe what keeps so many from getting rolling is that first blank post; the great expanse of white with the cursor blinking at you, impatiently awaiting your awesomeness.

You can spend a bit of time thinking about what you'd like to share; stories of your day-to-day activities, observations on life, poems, recipes, photos, how-to’s, politics, but the rule (so other writers tell me) is to write what you'd want to read. Personally, I love to feel like I'm in another person's home, working alongside them, talking about whatever's interesting and new, or beloved and old, sharing their joys and struggles in a close, personal way, so that's what I tend to write. Your first post could be an introduction, a little bit about you (and your partner/family), where you live, what interests you, what your goal for the blog is. (This first post could double as an "About" page that visitors can click on to learn about you at any ol' time.) I like to think of my blogs as my internet home and so try to design and share something akin to what someone might experience stepping into my real home. (If only I could capture and share the smell of fresh baked bread.)

My life is varied and casual and I like to share that, but another approach is far more specific. Maybe you want to blog about aquaponic gardening, run a commentary on the antics of the religious right, how-to build almost anything, or your world travels. Maybe you just want a place to share pictures and stories of the kids with long distance friends and family. Maybe you want to make money with your blog, in which case I recommend checking out The Blog Maven; she’s got a well-designed blog, a nice writing style, and some sound advice.

You don't have to get it perfect right out of the gate—or at all. You can always tweak it. Just get started and see what happens. Learn as you go. I do highly recommend labels or categories for each of your posts, to keep your randomness approachable. Make them up as you go along. Also, I love a search feature because I’m often returning to good blogs looking for something I’d read previously. Like, six months prior. With the word chicory in it.

If you’ve started a blog recently, I’d love to hear about it!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Sorry, bit of David Bowie there. Did I get enough ch's in?

Since beginning this blog early last year I've been running it alongside my older blog, which deals more with every-day life on the homestead with photos galore. It's been interesting, keeping my sharing separated, wondering which posts would be better suited to which blog. It's not been easy, as aspects of my life aren't often conveniently detached from one another. As a result I think I've actually blogged a good deal less than I used to.

That said, I've decided to merge my blogs, using just this one and posting all pictures of my family and critters here, garden harvests, the raising and schooling of children, long stories of DIY madness, and continuing with my thoughts of humanism and atheism as an unbeliever living in the Bible belt. I hope that you will benefit from the mash-up and enjoy knowing me better.

In other news...

Here you are, enjoying the various things I share on my blog (you are, aren't you?) and commenting on the posts that strike your fancy (aren't you?) and you've even bought a copy of my first book (you did, didn't you?) and you're wondering if there's anything else you can do to show your support (right?). Good, good. Well, I have news for you. There's now a quick and easy way for you to offer a little something more. (No pressure or anything.)

Patreon is a website and community connecting artists and other creative folks with the people who adore them. I've set up an account over there and you can, too (it's free). Better still, with the click of a button you can pledge your financial support; anything from $1 per month on up. I will continue blogging here and sharing my life with you free of charge, so no worries. Financial support is an option.  And at various pledge amounts I will offer perks to my patrons, so keep your eyes on that.

Every bit of financial support you give helps free me up to create more of the content you love, both for the blog and the upcoming books.  

Support me at: Kaleesha's Patreon page.

I can't tell you how much your support is appreciated!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DIY Well Pump Replacement

January 20, 2015

Home ownership is not for the faint of heart.

Here’s what Denny and I were doing Monday morning:

Gorgeous, sunny, spring-like day. Missouri winters are my kind of winters, sometimes bringing the snow I love, but also offering stretches of beautiful mild days. Den and I had decided it was a good day to salvage some old cedar fencing and repurpose it into shelving inside the house. We’d just finished stage one and were inside taking measurements when my seven year old announced that no water was coming out of the tap when he turned it on. While Denny checked the other faucets, my brain went into troubleshooting mode:

Pipes frozen? No way. It is January, but like 60°F outside.

Power out? Glance over at the fish aquarium, see the light still on. Not a power outage.

One of the kids messing with the main shut-off located in the bathroom? Doubt it. Even the kids are wary of the area behind the toilet.

Fuse in the box in the well-house? Let’s find out, shall we? A moment later we’re walking down the hill to the well pump house, a dark, dank, cobwebby place with a configuration of electricity and plumbing that I have, for the most part, managed to avoid familiarizing myself with for the eight years I’ve lived here. I was only partially sure I knew which was the pressure tank and which the pump itself…

We opened the door and were immediately met with a burnt smell, recognizable as something mechanical gone horribly wrong. After knocking down some cobwebs, with Denny rigging up a light, I checked the ancient fuse box. All was well. Hmm. I turned an ignorant eye to the plumbing. What next?

Call Mom and Dad. Duh.

I’m thirty-four years old and still call on my parents in times of need because, frankly, they are the most experienced and knowledgeable people I know when it comes to practical things around the house, farm, or automobile. They live half an hour away and Dad often comes over to give us a hand with such things. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to come over this time because he and Mom are halfway to Florida on vacation. Damn the luck.

Oh well, maybe they can help over the phone. I leave a message.

Meanwhile, back in the house… 

Yeah, this was the pile of dishes awaiting washing at our sink. We generally let breakfast and lunch dishes pile up and the kids take turns washing them after lunch. Of course, it would be a heavy dish day.

Denny is starting to stress a bit. For some reason, I don’t stress over these situations. I might even like them. Sick, right? I know. I mean, knowing it’s going to cost us gobs of money that we don’t have bothers me as much as it bothers Denny, but worrying about it doesn't change that. It is what it is and I often sort of shine in emergency, make-it-do sort of situations. Not that I have a pocketful of DIY skills or any such thing. I’ve patience and perseverance and I like to think I exude a calmness that helps everyone else stay calm; that makes me feel good. (I save my stress for daily, run-of-the mill things.) But you know what I think it really is? I'm able to focus for a change.

All day, every day, so many things clamor for my attention. I juggle them all, sometimes more efficiently than other times, but it’s often difficult to know where to focus my attention. The kids' schoolwork? Writing? Book promotion? Building friendships? Cleaning? Can I relax now? Nope, meals need preparing. You get the idea. But then something like this happens and bam! There’s one thing and it needs doing now. Everything else has to wait and I don’t have to feel guilty about that. I’m not sure I’m ever quite as happy as when I’m elbows deep in a project that takes my entire focus. It’s like a bloody vacation for me. (I inherited this particular illness from my parents.)

All that said, Denny did very well at not freaking out. We ended up calling a professional and arranging for him to come out the next morning because, as much as I like to do whatever I can myself, I thought I’d be in way over my head here and Denny is a self-professing whatever-is-opposite-of-a-handyman and abhors mechanical sorts of issues. (Lucky for him he’s good-looking and genius at everything else.)

My parents got back with me a short while later. My Dad walked me through some basic troubleshooting. He’s so patient. I eventually figured out what the pressure switch was and how it worked. Would you believe my nerdy mother even had, on her laptop, with her in a Winnebago at a rest stop in Louisiana, a photograph of my well house, pump and all? Believe it. Dad was able to look at that and guide me accurately.

Unplug the pump. File the points with an emery board. Plug it back in. Nada. The motor housing was hot to the touch and I don’t know much about pumps, but I was beginning to see there’s not that much to this system, not much that can go wrong. It’s likely frozen up. But the idea of trying to pull it myself and replace it… nah. And what if it’s something else? I’m still a little daunted and like the idea of having a pro evaluate it and do the work. Later Mom sent me a link to an inexpensive pump on Amazon that should do the trick and maybe I could have someone help install it? But I’m drawing a blank; I can't think of anyone right off who is familiar enough with plumbing. We decide to wait on the professional.

Now, about water. Just for such an occasion, I have a five-gallon container of drinking water stored in the back of the pantry. Water is one area it really pays to be prepared. That should last us two to three days, depending upon how much we use for cooking. Also, there’s two gallons of clean water in a pot on the wood stove. Fortunately and unfortunately, it’s been warm enough to go without a fire, so the water isn’t hot (which reminds us to go up and turn off the water heater, just because). A quick search turned up three empty five-gallon mud buckets. Denny and I head to the creek.

I admit, I found the situation somewhat romantic. I wouldn’t want to have to do it all the time, but there’s something I find deeply satisfying about taking care of our basic needs in a rather primitive fashion. Thank the Invisible Pink Unicorn that the weather was forecast to be mild for the next few days. It’s nice to be out. Especially when you have this to look at:

Tucker Creek Shut-Ins
Who’s complaining?

(Note the three children climbing around in shorts and t-shirts.)

One bucket goes in the bathroom for flushing the toilet. The rest goes in the kitchen for dishes. Den and I quickly figure out a system for washing the dishes, with water heated on our gas cook stove, a few drops of bleach added for bacteria, and so decide to excuse the children for the day and take the chore upon ourselves. Something about listening to tunes and washing dishes with this man really turns me on…


The following morning we kindled a fire in the wood stove and set on a pot of water to warm for dish washing. We had a bumpy start talking about finances, I confess--we're as human as the rest of you-- and I was a little out of sorts when the plumber arrived. He was an odd man, quickly deciding the pump was bound up and told us he wouldn't be able to get to it for a few days. Said he'd check on a pump. We asked how much the pump would cost and were shocked to discover it’s almost twice the cost of the one my mom had found online. Yeah, you often get what you pay for, but the reviews on the online pump were decent and this guy has no reason to shop around for a better deal than whatever he usually buys. He doesn’t even give us an estimate on the labor before he’s in his truck and pulling away, saying he'll call us.

Back on the phone with Mom and Dad, trying to decide if we should get the cheaper pump and find someone to help with it. I return to the well house and take a closer look at what I would have to do to get the old pump out. Now that it’s been confirmed what the trouble is, I’m a little more confident. That, and I’m getting used to this space. A little cleaning and some paint and it could be my new office. Not.

Now I see where I would have to disconnect the pump—different from my impression the day before—and there were only hose clamps holding the black ABS pipe pieces onto the fittings. Well heck, that shouldn’t be too hard. And it had to come off anyway, so it’s not going to hurt to try it. I had Mom order the pump for me. (She has Amazon Prime and can have it overnighted. She’s fancy like that.)

Back to the house. I was starting to feel pretty good. My grit was kicking in. No, not my grits, my grit; my determination, my courage, my resolve. I admit to being partially driven by the fiscal meeting that morning and was thinking; if I can save my family a few hundred dollars, it’s almost the same as earning it, right? By gum, I’m going to do it!

In the bedroom I changed into work clothes and put my hair back. I felt like I was getting my armor on, heading into battle. I thought about war paint, but decided to forgo it this time. There may or may not have been Rocky theme music playing.

(Sorry, OCD people, for not fixing my collar.)

I grabbed a couple of tools and told Denny what I was going to attempt. I watched his face light up. I rather lit up myself when he turned to one of the kids he was helping with schoolwork and said with pride and awe in his voice, “Your mom is awesome."

I mustn’t fail. They are counting on me.

My dad’s last bit of advice was to use a hair dryer on the ABS to soften it. The man’s a genius, I tell you.  Every homeowner, homesteader, and handy-person should have a hair dryer. I always end up using my hair dryer for these sorts of things and I can count on two hands the times in my life I have actually used it on my hair. Oddly, I still keep it in the bathroom drawer instead of with the other tools.

softening the ABS with hair dryer
When I'd loosened the hose clamps I'd realized there was still a good bit of water in the lines, so I'd grabbed two clean pots from the house and set them up to catch the water. Waste not, want not. 

Had to wait about ten minutes for that to drain out of the spigot on the outside of the well house. The hair dryer worked a charm on the first pipe. More water. More waiting. Finally, I got busy on the other two pipes that needed disconnecting. I wrestled with that forty pound pump for about fifteen minutes, pulling and twisting and prying, my fiery resolve cooling considerably as I met with no progress whatsoever. 

Reminded me of this play on a famous poem:

They said it couldn’t be done  
But she with a grin replied
She’d never be one to say it couldn’t be done 
Leastwise, not ’til she’d tried. 
So, she jumped right in 
With the trace of a grin 
She tackled the thing that couldn’t be done! 
And she couldn’t do it.

 So what? I shed a few tears of frustration, tasting the salty sting of failure. Give me a break, I’m not Wonder Woman.

At that point, my back, something of a mess generally, beginning to groan and complain. I realized I would need some help. Now that the situation had gone from “scary and complicated” to “simple and stubborn," I thought of a friend who is both smart and strong and would likely be willing and available to help. I took a break and told Denny my mind. He was unwilling to call in a friend until he had given it a go himself. I was disappointed at first, but after some thought and further discussion I understood. He was not happy about it, but he put on his big boy pants and, wielding a large rusty wrench that I’m surprised we even owned, he tackled the fittings. 

When he lived at the lake, he and his brother-in-law had some similar plumbing issues and he remembered they used a wrench this way. This man o’ mine twisted and twisted and kept on twisting the ABS (after a minute with the hair dryer) until it worked loose. He did the next and final fitting, all in ten minutes or so. I can’t believe it. I’m so happy and so proud of him, all the more because I know how he hated doing it. Alas, he doesn’t share my sense of satisfaction in completing this sort of job. (Later I fished around and thought of an area of life in which I similarly despise having to participate and that made us both feel better. Not everyone is cut out for everything, you know.)

We fetched some more water from the creek before returning to the house where we popped popcorn for lunch, and washed it down with some much deserved Redd’s Strawberry ale (you know, to conserve water). We make a fine team, if I do say so myself. 

And that was only half the day. Denny did school with the kids, and some design work. I took a nap, worked on some book promotion stuff, posted and sold some items on Craigslist, cooked and ate dinner, helped with dishes, checked with kids about their schoolwork, tucked kids in to bed, and wrote this here blog post. I’m tired, but satisfied.  The new pump should arrive tomorrow. We’ll take a look, run to town for any necessary fittings (as well as pick up groceries, and we’ll probably haul some trash in, too), and then we’ll see what happens. 

Tomorrow morning we’ll have the kids fetch water from the creek to drive home the lesson about water conservation. Yeah, we homeschool.

Just another week at Make-It-Do Farm.

(You know, after today’s work, I’d really like to take a hot bath. Doh.)

The following day....

Things pretty much went according to plan. I only had to call my parents three or four times, with minor questions. I'm also right grateful to FloTec for writing decent installation instructions-- with diagrams and photographs. Our first set-up leaked a bit, but we tightened up our work and by mid afternoon when we had a properly functioning system and water to the house again. And slightly improved water pressure, to boot! 

I don't think we'll go into the plumbing trade, but we are feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Peace in Life and Death

Today Denny laid to rest one of his closest friends, his little dog, Talula, who has been with him since he rescued her as a pup about fifteen years ago. 

He posted a picture to Facebook, of Talula on her last day, and the condolences began to roll in. Among them, however, there was a comment from a local chap with whom we are nominally acquainted, a Christian who never comments unless he sees an opportunity to witness to us. Why we have remained friends online is a mystery even to me. Maybe I’m reluctant to shut anyone out. He’s not been unkind, just pushy about his faith. He likes to argue and feel like he’s making a point. I’ve occasionally engaged with him when he’s commented on my wall because he’s a perfect example of the bold, condescending, and ignorant nature of evangelical Bible believers in my area.

Among the many unbelievers who offered their condolences and love to Denny, here’s this man's comment:

(I’m leaving his typos in for the full effect.)

“In times of sorrow and sadness for the loss of loved ones and things I am able to turn to my faith for solice. I know we share no faith but you always can turn to that cold mistress science that says the matter that makes up that wonderful creature that you have known for 15 years is never destroyed but only changes form. Science says your pup will live on throughout the eons changing form and shape over and over again. Now to me that doesn't give much hope but ya gotta work with what ya brought. Hopefully the chemicals that cause the emotional bonds to your pet fad quickly so you pain responce will ease and mend post haste.”

It took quite a bit of control not to post something in response, something along the lines of “Using someone's grief as an opportunity to discuss your beliefs and mock theirs… How very Christian of you.”

Out of respect for Denny and his grieving process, I’ll just say it here instead. Ha.

But it did get me to thinking about peace. I had my moments of peace while I was a believer, sure. Now I know it wasn't supernatural, it was just me and occasionally the kind words of friends. But I have far more peace in my life these days than I’ve ever had before. I'm not the only one; others I know who have come out of religion, and some who were never in it, feel the same: an overwhelming, solid sense of peace. (To be fair, not all the unbelievers of my acquaintance know this peace, but most do.) I’ve yet to help a Bible believer to begin to comprehend how that’s possible. As far as they're concerned Jesus is the Prince of Peace, the Sam’s Club of happy feelings, and if you don’t buy a membership, you aren't allowed to shop. Try getting them to see the same feelings grow as wild and plentiful as dandelions, free for the taking.

I have no reason to believe in an afterlife and so I no longer entertain the possibility. It doesn't bother me in the least because I love the fact that I am made of stardust and to stardust I will return. I have a deep sense of peace knowing that the molecules that make up my person will return to cycle through the earth and then through the universe for eons. That's something which I'm able to truly know and draw comfort from. Yeah, Bible believers believe the same, but for the faithful that’s just the beginning. From there it branches off into various beliefs based on myth and hope. The thing is, the purely natural cycle doesn't ask us anything in return. It happens whether we're good, bad, or ugly. It's as simple as simple can be. 

And I'm not just saying this because as an atheist I have no options. It true does console me. I don't wish for or need anything more than this.

As a believer I had so many doubts, as any honest believer does, and always wondered whether I was pleasing to God. Did I understand him correctly? Was I living the way he wanted me to? Was I spending enough time with him, learning him, living for him, witnessing for him? I didn’t know if I would make the grade when judgement day came, but I gave God everything I had and hoped for the best. There's precious little peace in that. I dare say my occasional peace came not because of my ideas of God, but in spite of them.

Rest in peace, Talula. Maybe we'll get together in five billion years or so and partake in the birth of a star.