Memoir, reality, countrylife, salt free, DIY, survival, blood pressure, vegitarian, Homesteading. 19 minutes.
20190922 00106db 10 minutes.
(Continued from the last.)
Three months later, a letter from the Health Department told me that the plans the architect had given me made the building illegal, not legal. Luckily I hadn’t given up my regular job so continued to work full time, and in trying to pull the chestnut out of the fire, B&Bed the “inn” on weekends. It couldn’t possibly work and, after five years’ struggle, in the end it didn’t. My lawyer said my only option was bankruptcy.
First foreclosure, then bankruptcy, and 30 years of savings flew out of the window. The proceeds of all that scrimping and saving vanished. No money, no credit: all gone.
To top it off, the company I was working for, decided to move. So my job vanished, too…at the height of the 12% unemployment debacle!
It took a couple of years before the bankruptcy was finalized – during my “six weeks of Job(=misery)”: first my car died, the bankruptcy was finalized, we had the blizzard of ’93, I survived my house fire, and then lost my new job. The night of the fire a cop gave me a ticket for a missing brake light – as if I cared!
It has been suggested that readers will want to know more about this period. That is not what this section is about. It’s about my “homesteading” – on the mountain and now in a one bedroom apartment. Briefly including my “six-weeks of Job” is to explain the why’s and how’s of my compulsion to preserve every fruit and vegetable within reach. Maybe in a different context I can expand on the Job period. (But don’t hold your breath!)
Having lost everything, including finally my job, I went into survival mode and didn’t feel anything. All I had to do was prove I could hack it and survive. No time for self-pity. It hurts more now, when I see my friends go on vacations, out to dinner, and buy gifts for the grandchildren, all of which, thanks to a rotten architect, I can’t do. But thank God for daughters!
No money, no savings, no income, but quite a bit of “stuff”. The bankruptcy had taken only the building. During a three week moving sale and four moving vans of furniture going back to the auction, tons of stuff was sold. Suggestion is frequently made that I should “downsize” and sell my cut crystal collection, and the copper: no-one wants either of them these days and it would realize very little money. Very few of the pieces are perfect, which doesn’t bother me. It gives me much more pleasure, just enjoying it and thinking about who made each piece, than the pieces would raise if I tried to sell them..
Where to live and how to pay for it?
Friends invited me to visit them – they had heard of an old farmhouse that needed fixing up and knew the owners who let me have the house over the winter in return for working on it – painting, scraping and painting the tin ceiling in the living room and dining room, a horrible experience, etc., etc. Sounded wonderful. The house didn’t have running water, was 25 miles from the Canadian border; and a quarter mile from the nearest neighbor! But I would have a roof over my head, a big wood-burning stove, and could survive. Hopefully, a new job would materialize in the Spring. Dreams are free, luckily.
Most places said: “over-qualified.” My resume had to be dumbed-down. At least I had unemployment, which covered living expenses, but not rent. But this country girl was off the treadmill and living in real country! I did see big tracks in the snow but was told it was only a snow-shoe rabbit!
This was when growing up in the war came in useful, and when most of my unemployment money was spent on food: it would be good to be able to eat if my unemployment ran out before I found a job. A wholesale food company accepted orders from “groups” if the order was $300 minimum, a lot of money in 1992. That would decimate my grocery bills. Shipping charges could be waived if I met the van at one of its stops locally. Most of their merchandise was organic and they delivered to local food cooperatives. They included my orders of many 25 and 50 lb. bags of grains and beans etc. with deliveries to a local store, and over time I met the drivers in the parking lot. It opened up a whole new way of living and cooking for me.
In order that the contents wouldn’t go bad, I bought a heat-sealing machine and put two cups of grains or beans into little plastic bags. The filled and sealed bags went into white plastic bins, acquired from the bakery departments of all the local supermarkets, which were then lined with white plastic bags meant for small trash cans. The contents lasted almost indefinitely.
This was before the internet; snail-mail was the only expensive option. After sending out over 2,000 job applications and after numerous interviews, eventually my next job was back down state – at half my previous salary. The country girl had to return to civilization. It took almost ten years to creep back to my previous salary level, but at least an income existed! By then I was competing with the new young, inexperienced MBAs who were still living with their parents, so cheap.
My sojourn Up-State, from October through August, was over. Most people go there from May to October; I always seem to do everything backwards! But I loved it. The work-treadmill had loomed as my expected fate until retirement so I decided that, no longer being tied to a “good” school district, and being lucky enough to kick the business cycle even for a short time, I might as well live where I would be happy and could afford until I landed another job. Trouble was, it was an awful long way from the girls. My biggest expense was the phone bill.
Now my income is social security, and very little else. Despite having always worked “on the books” it is not enough to live on. Thank God for daughters again! To buy organic food out of season from local farms isn’t in my budget. Much too expensive. So back to Plan B – canning: make up the difference in price by doing the work myself. It’s hard work, but so worth it. No salt, no preservatives, the produce comes from New York State and was “vine ripened.” It hasn’t been picked long before it’s ripe, travelled thousands of miles from some foreign country, and then transported half way round the world, and back, to be sprayed with pesticides and fungicides, to end up on our local supermarkets’ shelves.
You ask: “Are you a vegetarian?” Some people would think so. My answer would be “except when I’m not!” I usually don’t eat flesh and never buy it. I just don’t see why something has to be killed for me to eat it. However, if someone invites me to dinner, whatever is put in front of me, I say: “Thank you,” and thoroughly enjoy it. No need to be difficult, or upset a host or hostess who has worked hard on a delicious meal.
Hope that answers your questions as to “why” and “how” I look at these aspects of life differently from most people. Maybe it’s also a contributing factor in my incredibly good general health, and still being able to handle the work involved, even at my age!
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