Life, Love, and Ruminations on Boredom

Angie is visiting her parents in Texas for the next two weeks, so Caesar and I are holding down the fort. This annual trip usually takes place in June, when the garden is just getting started, but our favorite little human came to visit us then and the trip was delayed. So now, the garden is in full swing and Caesar and I are ever-so-diligently trying to keep up. Okay, truthfully, Caesar is no help at all. This is how he spends most of his time now:

He very much enjoys the $6 patio rug we “stole” at a yard sale earlier this year. (It retails for more than $200 at World Market. Yay, us!)

Anyway, it has only been a few days since Angie left, but they have been busy ones. The tomatoes have been coming off like hotcakes (and so have the field peas!).

Saturday’s tomato and pea harvest. Remember, we only have about 20 sq. feet of garden space.

I spent most of Monday washing, peeling, and cooking tomatoes to can or freeze – which meant that I also had to organize and inventory the freezer.

Almost full!

Yes, there are plastic things in the freezer. We have a “use it until it dies before recycling it” policy here, and most of these plastic things are older than Caesar. (Okay, maybe not that old. He’ll be 17 next month.)

Aside from preserving the harvest of our little garden, I’ve been watching our first ever watermelon grow. This is Angie’s baby. She saved the seeds from a late summer melon last year and convinced my mom to let us put it in the sunniest spot available – right next to the house.

And if that wasn’t busy enough, I’ve been working on crafts for the winter craft show, I picked up a new grant writing gig, and I started relearning the ins and outs of video editing for YouTube.

Now, make no mistake, I’m in no way glorifying busyness for the sake of simply being busy. I’ve taken some time to read and relax with Caesar on the patio too, but the truth of the matter is, I miss my person and staying busy helps tremendously with that.

You might think that two people who spend ever single day together would relish a break. Not us. In nearly a decade, we’ve not run out of things to say to one another. Our [crazy] ideas and adventures provide a steady stream of learning and growing experiences and we truly enjoy doing things together. When either of us is away, we miss the heck out of one another and get an insane amount of projects done at the same time. When I was in NC last fall, Angie took woodworking to a whole new level and even painted my mom’s kitchen!

Our life is never boring, that’s for sure. Speaking of which…

My uncle (yes, this one) is coming to visit my mom this weekend and bringing his kids (age 12 and 14). Right now, they are at the beach, enjoying the last bits of summer before heading back to school. Okay, that last part is a complete lie – not just a half-truth or an exaggeration. They are indeed at the beach but they are not enjoying anything. They are BORED. These kids haven’t left the hotel room except to go eat. My uncle spent $2,100 to stay in a resort right on the beach; and one day in, they are already BORED. They haven’t been to the pool, walked the boardwalk, taken a ride on the giant ferris wheel, enjoyed an ice cream cone, or picked up a single sea shell. My mom says they may even leave early to come here.

I mention this because I have a feeling that even though I’m not a child, I’m going to be expected to entertain them, and that’s just not going to happen. I have zero patience for bored young people, especially ones that have access to a plethora of things to do and deliberately choose not to do them.  And no patience for parents who think their middle-school age children can’t walk a boardwalk by themselves (or go out in their own yard) for fear they will be abducted. My grandmother (the same one who raised my uncle) used to tell me (repeatedly) that if someone were to abduct me, they would bring me back in a hot minute once they saw how much trouble I was. She was joking, of course, but the real message was this – go play, nothing is going to happen. She, along with my parents, taught me not to talk to strangers or get in cars or help find lost puppies; all the while instilling confidence in me instead of fear.

Yes, sometimes bad things do happen and real children disappear but in reality the likelihood of a child being abducted is 1 in 300,000. They are 100 times more likely to get struck by lightning. Yet, neither is a good enough reason to make your children so afraid to go outside that they miss out on the beauty of the world in which they live. I’m not sure how my cousins will fair on their visit to TN if they are already bored at the beach, but we shall see.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of safety vs. independence when raising children. Or your thoughts on life, love, gardening, or any other topic for that matter 🙂


Cover photo: Our niece (circa the summer of 2008) during our 6-week adventure in Colorado. She turned 21 this week and is still one of the most independent, free-spirited, fun-loving folks I know. Happy Birthday!! 

A Sno-Ball’s Chance

Another Tuesday conference call. Another round of head shaking and vowing to make some serious life changes. Another day drawing to a close without any attempt at putting together a plan.

That was how my week was going. Heck, that was how my life was going!

We had spent days talking about what life would look like if I were to leave my job, alternating between excitement and immobilizing fear. We poured our heart and soul into doing the suggested exercises in Tanja Hester’s book, Work Optional. We even drew our graphics. See:

Our ideal post-retirement life

Then we looked at our budget to see what the daily cost of our current lifestyle (including all our living expenses, entertainment, travel, and savings goals) came out to be. It’s $75/day, by the way.

But something was off. Was it our calculations? Our ideal retirement scenario? Did we even want to retire? Or was the real goal to just do what we wanted to do with our time? Sketching out what we wanted our days to look like when work wasn’t a factor should have illuminated the path we needed to take to get there. Expect it didn’t. Something just wasn’t making sense.

So, we shelved our discussion (once again) and left to go to the garden, stopping by the produce stand on the way. The first thing I noticed was the sno-ball truck parked in the lot. It was 96 degrees and I was mentally exhausted. A cold, syrupy sno-ball sounded like the perfect remedy. Little did I know; it would be way more than that.

Sarah is an acquaintance. For a long time, she worked at the pharmacy where my mom got her prescriptions filled. Each time we would stop in to pick one up, Sarah would talk to us for a good bit. She was never in a hurry to get to the next customer. She was always happy. Both Angie and I looked forward to seeing her at the pick-up window; but then, one day she stopped being there and no one told us where she went.

As I studied the menu at the sno-ball truck, I heard a familiar voice call out to us. It was Sarah. She was standing in the window grinning from ear to ear, just like always. As we stood there and chatted, Sarah told us about how she had quit the pharmacy to follow her dream of opening a food truck. She had even entered our city’s version of “Shark Tank” and won! Best of all – she accomplished all of this on the cheap, spending just $2,000 for her truck and $600 for equipment. As she talked so passionately about the benefits of being frugal, doing what you love, and having more time with family (she has 5 kids!), I suddenly saw what was missing from our own plan.

Commitment.

I have a dozen ideas a day and at least that many unfinished projects. I’ve been working on an e-course to help small non-profits train their volunteers to write effective grant proposals for more than a year now. I’ve dabbled at writing a book. I’ve toyed with making videos. I sew produce bags and make useful stuff out of our recycling. And Angie…don’t even get me started on her passion projects. She has a shed full of woodworking projects and I don’t know how many handcrafted hemp necklaces just sitting in a box in the closet. Plus, there’s the small fact that she’s an amazing cook and baker.

In short, we have an unlimited number of things to do with our time – a lot of which could produce an income, if we would just commit to seeing one (or more) of them through.

The happiest day of our week is always Saturday. Why? Because it’s the day that we get to hang out at the Farmer’s Market. Over the past few years, we’ve made friends with almost everyone there. We know their families, their pets, their goals, and in some cases, even their favorite (and not-so-favorite) foods. One of the things that Sarah stressed in her dialogue with us was making use of venues like the Farmer’s Market. It’s a super cheap and easy way to try out some of the ideas we have.

So…here’s the big reveal (thank you for waiting so patiently):

  • We signed another year’s lease on our apartment. No homestead or tiny house for us this year, but don’t rule it out for late 2020.
  • I’ve set a quit date for leaving my job in early 2020. Sorry, I can’t divulge the exact date yet just in case my new boss is reading this. (Hi, Linda!)
  • I’ve given myself a deadline to finish the e-course and created a plan to market it. I’ve also decided to keep my current freelance contracts and source at least 2-3 more. I do enjoy grant writing.
  • We are going to get a booth at our community’s Christmas Craft Show this year and try selling some of our handmade zero-waste products (produce bags, reusable trash can liners, pot scrubbies, etc) and Angie’s jewelry. Our niche will be that all of our zero-waste products are made from items that would have actually gone to waste – like clothing we find in the dumpster, cloth remnants from other crafters, stuff by the side of the road, etc.).
  • If the craft show is successful, we’re going to get a booth at the Farmer’s Market next year. We also have plans to sell a few types of produce that are easy for us to grow in our space and are missing from the market (like garlic) and maybe a baked good or two.
  • I also have ideas for chronicling our journey on this blog and our social media accounts. Which, by the way, if you aren’t following us on Instagram, you’re really missing out. 😊

Will we make the equivalent of $75/day from these activities? Who knows! It may turn out that working a “real job” was holding us back from earning a “real income”. That would be nice! But if not, we’re still going to be okay. Life is an adventure. You can either dream about what your life should look like or you can go out and live it.


PS – for anyone wondering how our fishing trip went, we didn’t catch one single trout! We did, however, come home with half a bushel of free apples and a quart of wild blackberries. You can read all about it here: Meandering Around Murphy (NC)