Our Notes

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Old Days before Internet everything

That's about where we are at out here in the hinterlands beyond the boonies. Our signal is pretty hit and miss as it is, but lately, it's been absolute misery. This "mountain" we are on runs quite a distance north and south, and still just a bit upwards from us. There are countless acres of 'dead zone' directly behind us, and beyond that you're lucky to get a 1X signal, let alone anything better. Used to be we had a decent enough 3G here at the homestead, and the Netflix movies or Pandora station did moderately well.  Not anymore. The days of cell service and Internet signal at the homestead are pretty much a thing of the past.

Part of me is pretty miffed about that. I mean, we live in the Digital Age. Everything is Internet-based, from the checkout at the grocery store to the reading of my electric meter, the water meter, the TV signal, etc. and yet they can't get a decent signal out in the sticks. A mile down the road it's not too bad, and even the satellite dishes produce a decent following. I should be able to sit in my own living room and get a phone call, kwim? And for what we pay for cell service, I'm pretty dang sure I deserve better service. At the very least, I deserve reliable service for that inflated price. I enjoy the fellowship of my online friends, I enjoy sharing their days, praying for their needs on a one-on-one basis. I like visiting the few blogs I keep track of these days, wandering my bunny trails from one crafting idea to another, from school blogs to devotionals. 

Another part of me though, that homebody isolationist part, couldn't care less if the Internet and cell service is bottom-of-the-pond quality. No cell/Internet signal means no news updates reminding me what a sad state of affairs this world is running headlong into. It means very little outside interference with my daily life, like Facebook drama and the like. It would mean I could just exist in my own little homestead world, secluded in the happy ignorance that living behind the farthest rock in the back of the cave brings.

Tell me there's not a part of you that longs for that quiet life, at least once in a while. No connections, no white noise, no "knowing" everything that's taking place outside your little personal world. Just God, you, and your family. And time...

...time to spend on needful things, and things that bring you calming peace and quiet joy, things you choose to include in your day

...time for the simple things that make up your day, like baking special treats and home-cooked meals, preserving the bounty of the land around you, creating memories around the dinner table

...time for quiet learning, not simply school books or preprinted Bible studies, but true learning from the everyday lessons that are found in the simplest of tasks like washing dishes, or mending clothing...or the deep reflection that can only be found when you take your books and disappear into the woods to find that perfect spot, with it's dappled sunlight and the silence of nature around you

...time to stop your chores and simply BE QUIET, no hum of electronics around you, no filtered sounds of Facebook games, television, dogs crunching on their food, cats scratching at the litterbox, text messages buzzing in...just you, the sounds of nature, and that small, still voice that speaks to your soul

...time to truly share with those people you choose to keep close to your heart, sharing snippets and bits of your history and your future...not from a sense of obligation because you're in that group, or committed to that project, but because you have selected to spend those moments with those friends

Of course all of these things can be done with all the bells and whistles that online connections bring. Not everyone has Internet woes and troubles, and not everyone gets sucked into the big old world of Facebook, blogs, and websites. Sometimes though you just need to be able to breathe and not even have the thought of being connected in your mind. I'm one of those types. If it's available, I'll use it. No sense doing without when it's right there, this isn't the Dark Ages afterall. I can easily rationalize it all out to make avoiding the things I've mentioned above seem like the best idea.

Forced quietness is necessary for me every so often because I have no natural slow-down or stop and rest setting in my life. I don't hibernate, I need the hard reset every so often to recharge and renew. Perhaps the wonky Internet connection is plaguing me for a reason. Might be time to remove some things I don't need and focus on things I need more of...like selective Internet moments. I do miss those slower days of simply wandering blog to blog among friends, and visiting via email groups instead of instant texting. Honestly, I miss the truly slow pace that old fashioned letter writing brings to life. I want to walk for a while instead of run. 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Come Autumn, Come


You know me, not a huge fan of the humid, sweltering summer season. This year wasn't horrible I suppose, but wet...oh so wet. And now August...hot. Sticky hot. I'm ready folks. Turn the calendar page and let's roll into a good old fashioned autumn season. Cooler temps, dare I say crisp nights even? All the autumn recipes are starting to filter around Facebook and Pinterest already. I'm seeing lovely apple pies, thick apple butters, the start of the pumpkin recipes...

Poor Stephanie. I pounce on her every year with my own flood of pumpkin recipes. Being anti-pumpkin, she often has to hide me from her daily Facebook feed to avoid my relentless pumpkin teasing. Gotta love friends, right?

I've lamented many a time about the distinct lack of autumnal changes down here. The Deep South just isn't a show-n-tell sort of region for separate seasons. It's green. And brown. Pretty much all year round. Perhaps I view from a different sort of eyesight. There are changes, I suppose. I mean, God didn't forget His whole seasonal plan just because He chose not to color the leaves in as many hues down here. I'll try to look differently this year. There's beauty in every season, even in an area where sugar maples aren't as vividly colored, and where the temps aren't cooperative.

In the school room we have a bit of a mess for our Term 1. Sure, we started 5 weeks ago, but it was a slow start. We are definitely 5 weeks in on some work, but behind on other work. And next week, Dad will be home all week with us...before he has to drive out and head to that job in New Jersey. I'm not complaining he'll be home or anything, but you know there won't be any school work accomplished then. He has fishing and camping time planned. I'm hopeful we can take our Term 1 break week (Sept15th) and get caught up, at least somewhat, but I don't know. 

LIFE. This is why it's just better to pencil in that school plan and skip the pretty ink pens and highlighters and stickers. 

We haven't completely wasted our 5 weeks of school...

...lots of nature for us to dive into as you can see. Can you see our find in that last photo there? I missed him as we passed. The kids did not :-) 

Our studies revolve around nature. Inside with books, outside with the real thing. We are always finding new things to explore. Schooling isn't always about books. There's learning everywhere...in your morning breakfast, your afternoon snacks, your math work, your social studies reading, your house, and your yard. We try to embrace all we can find to enhance our learning. Life skills. We are striving for life skills. Not commonplace education.

Among our regular school days, we have had various projects in the works as well...

...this years Term 1 studies include Little House on the Prairie reading, starting with Farmer Boy, a favorite. We are crafting paper ice houses, planning our own winter evenings, designing log cabins, mulling over whittling projects (well, most will start with soap carving), and planning some handcrafts. Our Astronomy lessons start with a look at the planets, and as soon as I find the right studies, we will venture into learning the constellations. Everything gets lapbooked, or notebooked, into our Term journals...simple, spiral-bound art journals where we will glue in bits and pieces from various lapbook units, hand-draw photos, staple in our notebook pages, etc.

...sewing is always going here. This was bits from a summer project of a Thomas the Tank lap blanket, but the idea is the same...sewing is just one of the many never-ending projects in a busy home.

...like hay. Always needing hay, and this year was not the nest year for hay around here. So wet, for so long. Local fields spent more time looking like rice paddys than hay fields, and cuttings were put off schedule. I'm hoping I've got my hay needs in. Still praying for a home for our 2 cows, which will leave me just the goats. That will help.

The summer included scouring the woods and the fields for the few wild black raspberries we could find. Such spindly bushes this year, but we got some and the jam will be delicious come winter.

...the little moose, or Ewok as he's been called lately...ever-present helper as we work in the kitchen. Just lays there on the back of the chair, watching and waiting. 

We had dentist visits this week. I just booked their morning appointments and all 6 headed in for cleanings and check-ups. Another year cavity-free :-)

Knitting is always in the basket lately as well. I'm fumbly and slow, but I'm persistent. Another dishcloth off the needles. You'd think after the swap this year I'd be wallowing in dishcloths. I am, sort of. All I made, I've given away. My basket is filled with the swaps from friends, and I'm filling the basket for the bath use now. I've switched to working with the #10 crochet thread, 2 strands at a time (the photo shows Aunt Lydia's cotton thread, which I find needs 3 strands to equal the 2 strands I use in Bernat Handicrafter) I really think I prefer the finished cloth made this way over the standard kitchen cotton. 

We're not looking forward to Dad heading off so far away to New Jersey, especially over winter months, but we'll press on. My next big project will be getting our wood supply laid in. I'm very anxious to see some colder weather so we can cut off these air conditioner units and fire up the woodstove. It's time to start cooking and heating :-)

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