Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Proud Tradition

A short while back, during the time I was trying to make my case regarding the welfare of Cherie’s parents, a well known saying was slung at us by both of Cherie’s sisters and Nate. That was “The pot calling the kettle black”. This really puzzled both of us. Sure it showed how all three were in collusion with this so at least I got them united on something but…What did they mean? To what were they referring? How did it apply to us? Sure it’s a handy thing to throw out when ones faults are being made public. Kind of intimates that the other has no right to express an opinion. “Oh, that ought to shut them up” is the thought behind it. It says you have the same faults as the other. So again “How does that apply to us?”. Had us dumfounded.

Then Nate sent me an E mail that gave me a bit of insight to their thoughts here. I had threatened him in order to get him to remove a picture that had Cherie in it. Not at all the right way to approach things but when it comes to Cherie I take the gloves off. Regardless, in his letter Nate threatened back. He said our electric was not up to code, our woodstove was improperly installed, and not having running hot water was a health code violation. The fact that there really isn’t a code out here in the middle of no where isn’t relevant. Our electric is fine, just not able to handle the extra loads we wish to put on because we are going all electric due to the gas piping being deteriorated. Some of it is polarized and some not and only the new part has grounded sockets. It still all works fine, just can’t turn on too many things at once.

The woodstove is absolutely installed correctly and safely. This is our house, this is where we are building a life, so there is no way I’m going to jeopardize that by taking shortcuts. So the stove sets on concrete stones which set on concrete bathroom tile backing boards. It’s two feet from the wall and the wall is covered with a UL listed steel lined insulated board designed to provide fire protection specifically from woodstoves. Then the chimney goes outside through a double walled insulated device made for that purpose. So what’s the point?

This country was founded by “Homesteaders”. People who came from far and wide to suffer great personal hardship in order to build their homes and lives. This country was grown with that same spirit. We expanded as these pioneers traveled into the wilderness’s and carved out their farms and homes. It was hard, it took sacrifice, it is the foundation of this nation. It was a time when neighbors gathered to help the new arrivals, when there was a fellowship, a joining of hearts, a coming together in unity of mind and purpose. A time of communion of sorts when all pulled together. How I longed for that as I read these stories of old, how I imagined what it might be like, how my imagination put me there as I saw through the eyes of the writers.

Uh, what’s that got to do with us? you might ask. Do you think homesteading died away with the advent of modern civilization? Go to my links on Homesteading and see. The spirit of America is alive and well. There are thousands who are pursuing the same dream, enduring the same hardships, carving out the life they choose with sweat and blood. Nah, no gunplay these days but I guarantee there will be a cut or two as they work. Some of these folks are lawyers and engineers who are tired of urban life and reject much of what it represents. Some were raised this way and are returning to their roots. All are willing to make sacrifices to pursue their individual dreams. And that’s where we come in.

When my grandmother died we easily could have accepted the offers to buy this farm and walked away with nearly a hundred thousand dollars in our pocket. We could still be in Toledo or anywhere else we wanted for that matter, living comfortably with nice cars and whatnot. Cherie could still have the security of her job with the health insurance that is so needed at today’s costs.

But that’s not the path we choose. We bought out my brother’s share of the land and took possession of this farm. We knew the house was in deplorable shape, we knew things would be pretty tough, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. And there were a lot of other things that we didn’t know. When all is said and done we came here with pretty much no money after buying the truck and putting in the new well. We chose what some would call poverty to pursue a dream, to build a life we longed for, something permanent and vital. This land can and will, through hard work and perseverance, produce a livelihood and provide for all of our needs. It will be a healthier lifestyle, it will be our creation, it will be good. So we heat our bathwater? So what. So I have a disability? So what.

I would like to think I can apply the term “Homesteader” to this dream we pursue. I’m kinda embarrassed to because some of those you can read of in the homesteader links are way beyond us. Building houses out of trees they cut down themselves, raising crops and livestock on land they cleared, making their own soaps and canning and preserving food for the coming winters, showing a grit and determination that puts what we do to shame. But I would think it an honor to be included in those ranks however meager our efforts are in comparison. But I see this as the spirit of America and though it may have died in many sectors, though the camaraderie, the pulling together to assist each other may have vanished in many, eaten away by the selfish cares of this world, this spirit is still strong and, though reduced, will never be vanquished.

Pot calling the kettle black? Still don’t have a clue where that came from. We are building, not tearing down, and we have no shame in this life we choose.


Amy E said...

Bob,you and Cherie certainly are homesteaders. More so even than myself. I may do the canning, gardening, and what not, even heat my home with a wood stove, but I am not living it near as rough as you are in West Texas. You are absolutely correct about the code thing. What others in the eastern/northern area may not understand is that Texas has pretty lienient codes, and have a more of a live and let live attitude in some regards. Even my own town doesn't have any ordinances for woodstove installation. We even checked with the local fire department and they sent us to a local plumber! Our insurance company even had no guidelines or restrictions. Plus, I can vouch for the cleanliness of yourself, Cherie and your home, and the correct installation of your wood stove. You have running water as my girls used your restroom (ha!)There's a vast difference between living frugally, and being filthy and neglectful.

Congrats on your lettuce! I planted that one this year and just loved it! Try Mescullin if you can get some! grows fast and great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Bob just count your blessings your 1400 miles from the fools. Every day you are trying to better yourself.I can see this the garden and the things you do around the homestead. But the pot calling the kettle black from Nate and Cathy LOOK at 1009 nela talk about tearing down a home that at one time was Teds pride and joy take a look at it now.

Phelan said...

hey Bob, I have been having a difficult time commenting on poeples blogs lately. But I am reading.

You are homesteading. Trust me, it all takes baby steps. And I think you two are doing great!

With family, well it got to the point where I had to stuff my concerns and stay away from the in-laws. There is only so much you can do. I'm sorry it is going this way for you.

Best of luck with everything you are doing.