Thursday, May 31, 2007

School Goals

It's that time of year with school that I start to realize we aren't going to finish everything up the way I want to and I start to dream about what we could get done next year.

Each year I think my dreams get smaller, probably a good thing since I never actually get everything done I want. We've ended the year doing very little book work, actually other than math drills we've done no bookwork just lots of read-alouds. Does this make me an unschooler?

I was looking through a few homeschool blogs this week and feeling like such a failure. There were lists of subjects like music, art appreciation, science projects, etc. When we first started this I used to plan and dream about stuff like that but life got in the way. There always seemed to be one more book we wanted to read, so music and art got pushed aside. The only really successful year of science projects we did was when I bought a self-contained kit for electricity and physics. No planning involved, the pieces were all there together and the questions we already printed. Maybe next year...

Talking this over with Paul the other night I realized that although I haven't reached my goals, I have instilled the ability to read and try things. When the kids have questions about a topic they go to the bookshelves, find a book and read about it. Usually an hour later then are instructing me on the neat things they've read. These things don't usually fit into my plans for what I want them to learn at the moment but they are still learning. Even more important than that, they are retaining what they learn. More and more I'm finding myself trying to fill in the gaps instead of planning every minute of our day.

Still, next year we are going to get back into Latin, read about a different composer each month, learn to play and instrument, do one science project a week, and... I guess I do still have big dreams, after all each year in a new opportunity to try.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Good Friends

I just got off the phone with a good friend who I rarely get to talk to and even more rarely get to see. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and 5 kids. Our relationship is the type where we are always comfortable with one another and pick up where we left off as if we talk every day.

I always feel so much better after talking to her. We got married within a few months of each other after meeting during our freshman year in college. She was actually one of my roommates but left after that first year to start a family. We had our first kids within a few months of each other as well. Paul and I are the godparents to her 4th child so there is also that special bond between our two families.

There is something to be said about friends who are at the same stage in life. I can tell her things and she understands because she homeschools too. I can vent my frustrations and worries and she's there to pick me up, commiserate, and just listen. I think it's impossible for that to happen with friends who are at a different stage or have never experienced the same kinds of hardships.

I've spent a lot of time recently questioning my life and myself. I've come to realize that I need that pick me up from someone who understands. I need to be able to tell someone my frustrations about being a SAHM without being told that it's my choice and I should go get a job. I need to be able to share my difficulties about finances without being told that I shouldn't complain, I've made my choice to live like this. Sometimes it's just nice to be told that it's okay to be sad and disillusioned, instead of the response to just be happy. I admit that my personality tends to be pessimistic and I sometimes wish I could be more happy. But as much as I have tried to be that way I am miserable trying to pretend to be something I'm not. I guess, sometimes, I just need to hear that it's okay to have doubts and it's also okay to express them.

So right now I'm exceedingly thankful for my friend in Nebraska, I can be myself and share my life and not be faced with anything other than acceptance and loving concern.


It's done!

The land line has been disconnected and we are officially a wireless household. After taxes we will save $30 a month, that's not too bad! Over the entire year we will save $360, it's amazing how quickly that adds up. Every time I think of yet another person I have to notify I just keep reminding myself of that savings.

After being without a cell phone for over a year, it's really odd to have one again. I'm used to hunting up the cordless receiver which is easy to see because it's so large. Now I'm trying to train myself to put the cell in my pocket when I go outside to hang up clothes and water.

I had to get the most obnoxious phone I could find, I think it fits my personality. At least I won't ever get it confused with Paul's which is a boring silver, perfect for trying to be professional but not much fun.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Not gonna apologize

Editted: I just wanted to make sure it isn't misunderstood. This post is not aimed at anyone who has comments posted on this blog. I enjoy getting comments that have a different opinion and discussing things. This is directed to the person(s) who has said that we are too picky and was offended by our beliefs.

To the person that was offended by my post yesterday, I'm not gonna apologize. When I started this blog I wanted to focus more on the paring down aspects of our life, but it's turned out to be a place where I can come and vent just a bit about what's going on in our adventure. So I have a hard time apologizing for our needs when it comes to a church. Instead I thought maybe I would explain how we ended up here and why we are soooooo picky.

It's gonna be long and not so pretty so consider yourself warned...

Paul wasn't Lutheran when we were married. He was a theistic evolutionist who had occasionally attended non-denominational and Baptist churches growing up. I was a non-practicing Lutheran who went to an LCMS church until I was 12. The first place I saw contemporary worship in a Lutheran church was at Concordia Irvine. Not what I remembered from my childhood and I still wasn't all that committed to going to church so I didn't really care much.

Up until the birth of our first child, neither of us really discussed religion much but that changed when Lorna was born. She had a genetic disorder that required surgery and I felt this need to have her baptized. We discussed it and that was the first time I realized how different our beliefs were. Of course, Paul didn't understand infant baptism and I didn't understand his idea of making a decision for Christ. In the end, the campus pastor came and talked to us and Paul decided it would be a good thing.

It was a small start. We tried a few churches in the area we were living in at that time but nothing worked. Years went by, we had lots of problems with money and life, I graduated from college, and we had another kid. After working at an insurance company for a few years I was frustrated and unfulfilled. We decided that maybe I should try teaching. Not what I went to school for but it would give me the opportunity to be with our kids more. We found an apartment closer to my job and Paul surprised me by saying we needed to start going to church. Now this wasn't out of the blue, we had talked about it many times, but our differences in belief were so different that it seemed too difficult.

He agreed to try the local Lutheran church. We got heavily involved in a short amount of time. Eventually becoming praise singers for the contemporary service although we still attended the liturgical service. At this time we had Malachi baptized and we both started adult instruction classes. The more we learned, and for me it was a refresher since I had attended an LCMS school, the more we questioned the practices of this church. To make this long story a bit shorter lets just say we saw what happens when an LCMS church decides it needs to be an outreach into the community. We watched as the services slowly lost the Bible readings, the reciting of the creeds, and focused more on being relevant for the times. Eventually the kids were shuttled off to children's church while the adults listened to an uplifting talk (sermon).

At this same time we had decided that I would quit working and that we would try homeschooling the kids. Malachi had been in daycare since he was 6 weeks old and it was a difficult transition for all of us. We were exceedingly unhappy at the church we were attending but since we were so involved it seemed impossible that we would leave. Ultimately we found you can't change a church, no matter how hard you try. We decided what we needed was something a bit more conservative. We were naive in thinking that this experience hadn't left a huge mark on the way we looked at things. Because of the changes we saw and the way they were implemented, we were very leery of a church that didn't strictly follow the hymnal.

Our next church was a place that we shouldn't have stayed at. We got hurt and people that we had a budding friendship with were hurt. We needed to be at a place that wasn't in transition but this church was, which wasn't the right place for us. In the end we found that we had made a huge mistake and left. It wasn't pretty and I only wish things could have been different.

The next place we attended was the church where we are currently members. It was a very good place for us, and still would be if it wasn't so far! We were able to regroup and start to heal. Unfortunately we couldn't stay there since Paul took a job transfer to Indiana.

I can't believe you are still with me!

We moved in the attempt to get a better handle on his job and finances. This was another tough move for us when it came to churches. We tried to find someplace close to a decent church but that's a difficult thing when you live 2000 miles from the place you are moving to. It was a good church but yet again in transition. The pastor was wonderful but the situation wasn't so great. We were all reeling from culture shock and in a church that had had a large split in the not so distant past. The church was in serious financial straits and we stayed against our better judgement. In the end, we once again hurt people we really liked and hurt ourselves as well. We still hadn't healed from the first church and this just added to our problems. We ended up attending a church an hour away, never really joining but going regularly.

Then Paul lost his job and was transferred to Western Colorado. That move was a nightmare, the place we ended up was worse, and there were no choices of churches. We tried one but it was just too much. I don't want to ever hear that we are an answer to a pastor's prayers again. Every time we have heard that it has turned out horribly. I admit it, we ran from this one. We had a very different idea about confirmation than this pastor did. Lorna had been confirmed and communing for about a year when we went there. This church didn't confirm this young and although they would accept her confirmation, there would be a problem with Malachi when he was ready. He would have to wait until he was much, much older. We were told it was the church's job to instruct the kids. Instead of fighting we left. There were other little things but this was the biggie.

So a year goes by, our life has turned into a nightmare, and Paul loses his job again. We move back to CA with the promise of a good job and we decide to make the 200 mile drive back to the one church where we felt at home. Now, we have seen some really interesting stuff over the last few years and not all of our experiences have been bad, but our church experiences have been molded by what we saw in that first church. We saw how the slightest innovation can be the beginning of something really bad. So we are picky, exceedingly picky. In order to accept something different you have to trust the pastor who is doing it. That trust is something that comes over time. So we continue to search, understanding we are never going to find a perfect church, they don't exist. But also understanding that we can only handle certain things. Trying to make ourselves stay somewhere that practices things that make us really uncomfortable is a sure way to make another mistake.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


We decided that since we can't get to our home church every Sunday due to finances, it's a 3+ hour drive each way, we would attempt to find a church around here to fill in the rest of the weeks.

The first one we called is a few miles up the road. Being that we are VERY picky, we had a few questions. We decided that since they practice open communion and have female lay readers this was not the place for us. It seems they feel that since they are the only "Lutheran" church for 50 miles that they can't turn people away from the rail. They see this as loving but I have a hard time seeing it that way.

We did find a pastor 50 miles from here in Bakersfield that seemed to be a bit better. They use a hymnal, LSB, have closed communion, and no lay readers. Sounded too good to be true. Of course being the EXTREMELY picky people we are we just decided that wasn't enough. The people at the church were very friendly. There was the less than stellar children's sermon focusing on Memorial Day, um...why do people feel the need to do children's sermons? Do the kids really need everything so watered down? I don't think so. But I can handle that, barely... The sermon was more of the Bible trivia type with no Law & Gospel, I could probably put up with that since the liturgy is good... The announcements during the service were just too much. After the offering but before the prayers was where they decided to discuss the youth group raffle, Sunday school, VBS, etc. To my horribly picky sensibilities it seemed disrespectful. We are supposed to be there to be receive God's Word and to interrupt that to discuss the goings on of the church was just too much. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be that way but I can't see it any other way.

It's frustrating! There was a few more things that we didn't care for, communion only once a month was one of them. But all together we know it's too much. Everyone has different tolerances so it might work for some but not for us. We've made a lot of mistakes at churches over the years, leaving when we could have stayed and staying when we really should have just left. One thing I have taken away from all those experiences is that when your mind is telling you not to go back, don't. Forcing yourself to fit into a church that's practices are more than you think you can handle is a very bad idea. People get hurt, especially if you end up leaving a year down the road. You become a part of that church and when you leave it hurts not only yourself but the people of that congregation. Even if you are leaving on good terms people get hurt and it has the potential for ruining any relationship with these people you might have had outside the church.

So this means the next closest church we can try is 1.5 hours away and that is stretching our resources. I knew there was a reason we decided to drive 3+ hours when we first moved here, I guess needed to be reminded...

Friday, May 25, 2007


We live in a rural area. There is no mail service in most of the area so we are assigned a post office box instead. What makes everything worse is that our street isn't on any map and we are the only house with an address on this street. The street curves and before and after our segment is a street called Macguire but our address is on a different street.

Most rebate forms won't allow a PO box mailing address. Most websites use post office guides for street and zip verification, so if you don't have mail delivery you don't exist.

We have decided to go wireless for our home phone to save money. We had to order the phone through Cingular (the only company with reception in the valley) because the local stores charge for the phones the company offers for free. The phone was sent out 2 days ago via FedEx for 2 day delivery with a scheduled delivery of today. We tracked the package and were frustrated to see that they decided we had a bad address. Ummm, it's not the best sounding address but it's not bad!

Paul called customer service and they said the driver said it was not a valid address. Well, he was calling from said address so obviously it's just fine. He left directions to our home with the agent who said she would forward the info to the driver. A few hours later the tracking info said the package was back at their facility. What happened to our delivery?!?

Another call, more explaining that this is a good address, not an apartment, not a new house (it was built in the 50's), and UPS is here numerous times a week. Maybe the dig about UPS made an impression... but after talking to a supervisor they decided they would try to find someone to deliver it tonight since they don't come up here on Saturdays. Some more waiting and the guy called back to say they found someone who lives up here and he would meet us in town at the gas station.

I'm pleased that they relented and agreed to deliver the package. Why do places like UPS and FedEx insist on relying on USPS records in an area that doesn't have mail delivery? The UPS guy had trouble the first time too. I've even seen the FedEx truck pass our home so I know they come up here on occasion.

The only really serious issue we've had was with Amazon. They offer free shipping but not to us. Malachi ordered a book, computer game, and joystick a few months ago. The joystick could not be delivered to a PO box but they said they would only ship via USPS unless we wanted to pay for shipping. We ended up sending everything to my in-laws house. We don't order much from Amazon anymore because it's too much of a hassle.

I guess it's just one of those things you have to deal with when you live in the boonies.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I realized today that we have become the stereotypical isolated homeschoolers. I used to counter questions about socialization with how we go to the store, church, etc. But I find that I can't even say that anymore. This is what having only one vehicle and high gas prices does to you I guess.

I find myself wondering how I'm going to respond to the inevitable questions when we attend the CAH clinic at UCLA in a few months. One of the members of the group of physicians is a psychologist who is there to determine how well dd is handling her condition among other things. The surgeon also wants her to meet privately (not happening without us present) with the psychologist to make sure she is okay with the surgery. There seems to be great concern because of the type of surgery and her age.

I am so out of touch with what's going on in the world that I didn't know how to answer questions about the way Lorna dresses when we were at the hospital last week. She wears jeans and boots everywhere. The nurse wanted to know if that was what the kids in our area were wearing. How do I know and why would I care? Of course asking Lorna inevitably brings out the, "I don't have any friends" comment that raises eyebrows. It's difficult to get angry with her, she doesn't have any friends in the area, there just aren't many kids here. The vast majority of houses here are only occupied a few weekends a year and then the people spend most of the time at the lake. Not that the kids are suffering in any way, they can hold a conversation with people just fine. But try to explain that it's not a necessity that the kids have friends their own age to people who can't imagine life any other way.

Maybe I'll just confirm everyone's suspisions that we homeschool and keep our kids isolated. At least then we will have earned those strange looks

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No more library books

This morning I received an email notice from the library saying I was being fined for "badly water and chew damage". I called the number to find out what book they were talking about since it wasn't listed on the notice. I was told to call another branch since the fine didn't list any specifics. After being told that they couldn't find the book and would look for it I hung up frustrated.

They called back a few mintues later saying the book was the paperback Old Yeller that I had Paul return yesterday. When it left our hands it was in perfect shape especially considering Lorna never got a chance to read it. The library hours are 10-6 which make it difficult to get in during since we have one vehicle. I had Paul return the books early since we only had a few days till they were due and I didn't want to forget and get fined. Something obviously happened to it in the book drop and we are being held responsible. I figure a rat got to it but they don't care. The lady just kept saying that this is the chance we take by putting it in the book drop. I admit I lost my temper, yelled into the phone and slammed it down. This was the last straw in a very trying day financially.

Paul will pay the fine on his way home and this weekend I will go in to have my library card removed from the system. Honestly, I can't take the chance and check out any more books, I can't afford to pay for library-incurred damage to books. We've been using various library systems for 6 years and have never had this kind of problem but I can't take the chance that it will happen again.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Starting Early

Yesterday we made our first trip into the forest to cut firewood. We found that we are only a few miles from the boundary and we only had to go 7 miles from our house to find enough for a full truckload.

Here are the stacked rounds that haven't been split yet.

Here is the small but growing pile that was split yesterday.

Paul should have all the rounds split by this coming weekend when we will go for another load. We figure we will only have to make 6 more trip to have more than enough wood for winter. Considering how many trip we had to make while living in CO, this seems almost too easy.

If you are wondering how we can cut wood in a national forest, here is how it works. Each year the USDA sells firewood cutting permits at the Forest Service Offices. It's $10 per cord (4x4x8 split and stacked) with a minimum of 2 cords purchased at a time. Each area is managed a bit differently but here we can go up into the forest from about April 1st to sometime in October. They do restrict cutting times depending on the fire danger, right now we can't cut after 1pm if we are using a chainsaw. There are a bunch of rules about what you can cut and where you can cut, but it's a lot cheaper than buying firewood and very satisfying. All total we figure we spend around $25-30 per cord for all the permits, supplies, and gas. These permits are only for household use, you have to get different permits if you want to sell wood. We went through probably about 2 cords of wood last winter and I want to get 4 stacked this year just so we don't have to worry and be frugal with burning. The great thing about this system is that it not only provides us with a cheap source of heat but it also clears out the fallen and dead trees in the forest, reducing the risk of fire. They still do controlled burns of the forests around here but that also helps the giant sequoias reproduce so it's necessary no matter how much dead wood is taken out.

It's a family affair when we cut and split wood. Paul gets the difficult job of using the chainsaw while the kids and I make a line to carry the rounds to the truck. We found it's a lot easier to have each of us only walk them a few feet to the next person than it is to have all of us tromping back and forth to the truck. When we get home, all four of us unload and stack the rounds. Paul uses an 8lb. maul to split the rounds and the kids stack the wood neatly. After the wood is split, Malachi goes around and picks up all the little pieces that flew off, these are saved for kindling. As much as the kids grumble sometimes about the hard work, they are always willing to help knowing that it's better to do this now and be warm later. My favorite part is the cutting in the forest, I love to watch the wildlife and smell the clean scent of all the trees.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Parking and Trucks

Yesterday Lorna had to go in for an outpatient procedure at UCLA medical center. We started out the day with the check engine light coming on again, grrrr... After driving through horrible Los Angeles traffic we found we had to pay $8 to park at the hospital! When we go to the medical plaza, the parking costs are $7 so we usually park a few blocks away and walk, making sure to be back before the 2 hour time limit is up. We didn't have that option this time since she was going to be there longer than 2 hours.

I ended up dropping Paul and Lorna off at the door since I couldn't immediately find a space. I drove around and around, frustrated at the lack of parking that I could fit into.

We have one vehicle, a largish truck. As you are driving from our place to UCLA you pass this point where the small cars start to outnumber the pickups and SUVs. Once you get into the cities around downtown it is rare to see trucks the size of ours, and ours isn't all that large. The parking structure at the hospital has clearance of 6'10" and we barely fit. The overflow parking is 6'7" so we couldn't go in there even though there was plenty of spaces. Did I mention the spaces are also very narrow? I finally found 2 spots, one had 2 minivans beside it and they had both parked over the line so there was no way I could fit. The second space was next to a small car and one of those "toaster" vehicles, you know the ones that are blocky and are supposed to be SUVs. The car had parked over the line but I was just able to fit. Problem was I couldn't open either front door enough to get out. I finally just crawled out the back. All this for the bargain price of $8!

We have to go back in November for a longer procedure that will probably require a few days of recovery there and I worry about how we are going to find and afford parking for numerous days. When did hospitals start charging for parking? And for all that money you'd think they would provide parking that was a little more user friendly.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Seven things

I was tagged by my friend Susan. I'm supposed to write seven unrelated, random, uninteresting things about myself. Trying to narrow it down might be difficult...

1. I dislike coffee, tea, and most alcoholic drinks so I primarily drink water and Diet Pepsi (3+ a day).

2. I dislike baking intensely but frequently make homemade bread.

3. Every room in our first home was a different color because I hate white walls.

4. Once I conquer a new skill, like knitting, I lose interest in it.

5. I love working outside but hate getting my hands dirty.

6. I love wearing tennis shoes and would wear them everywhere if I could.

7. I can offend someone just by looking at them, even when I don't mean to. Remember that scene in "You've Got Mail" where Meg Ryan is at the market in the cash-only line? Tom Hanks smooth-talks the cashier and as soon as he leaves the cashier scowls at Meg Ryan. That's me. No matter what I say or how I look at people, I tend to rub them the wrong way.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Wading Pool

Yesterday we saw Gideon, the large white dog, trying to fit himself into one of the 5 gallon buckets we have for water in the dog run. All he could manage was his front paws and his head. This explains why the dogs go through so much water in one day.

We thought about trying to find a salvaged bathtub but saw this wading pool at the hardware store this morning. Malachi insisted we needed the bigger one...for the dogs of course.

We got it home and he promptly got in with 2 of the dogs, as I suspected was his plan all along. Being that we have had a streak of hot weather, I'm sure the dogs appreciated the cool water to play in. Malachi sure did.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Our truck

We've had our truck for almost a year at this point. We had originally intended to buy a used truck so we wouldn't have this large monthly payment for ever and ever but due to circumstances at the time we ended up with a new truck.

Other than the payments we were happy with it for the first 7 months. Then the check engine light came on. We took it to the dealer, which is an hour+ drive one way, only to have them say nothing was wrong. A week later the light came on again. This time Paul opted to take it to a 5 star dealer north of Bakersfield. They were baffled but tried the only thing they could think of. 9 days later the light came on again... This has been going on for 5 months. Sometimes it take a few weeks for the light to come on. They have replaced the gas cap and emissions system with no luck. This last time they threw their hands up and said they needed to keep the truck for a few days. Um...problem here, we only have one vehicle. They wouldn't give us a loaner and Paul didn't even have a way to get home from the dealer. We dug in our heels and they didn't care. We offered to bring the truck in first thing in the morning so they could have it all day... They were done 1.5 hours later. It seems they had done some homework and think it was the charcoal canister. I didn't even realize the truck had one. I really hope this works. At this point the truck is well over the mileage for the manufacturer's warranty but since this has been going on before it was out of warranty they are continuing to cover the repairs.

Paul has spent an enormous amount of time at this dealer, which is 1.5 hours away from our home. They have been very nice and tried to be flexible, of course no dealer in the area has a service department open on Saturdays so it's been a struggle to coordinate thing with work and doctor's appointments. Hopefully this mess is over but I don't have much hope.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I'm having a blah kind of month schooling the kids. The weather turned nice, although a bit too hot for my tastes, and I just don't want to do school. The kids excitedly pull out books and want to read science, my least favorite subject, and aren't whining about finishing things up. I should be ecstatic and getting lots done, but I'm not. Instead we have done 2 abbreviated weeks with a few math drills, lots of history reading, catechism work, and science reading.

We've also played Oregon Trail for hours and I figure we are doing school since we are reading about the westward expansion right now. Legos are another favorite right now and Lorna's been sewing up a storm. So um, building/engineering and home ec, right?

The gardening is going well and we have been replanting the squash and a few of the 50 assorted tomato plants, can we call that earth science? And of course we've been reading a lot too because it's too hot to go outside during the middle of the day. So I guess we've done lots of English literature too...

I guess the days haven't been all that abbreviated after all, but it sure feels like we haven't gotten much accomplished.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This is why...

I dislike the tourists that frequent the area. They affect everyone and not just with their noisy dirt bikes and slow moving vehicles towing boats.

We had an appointment with the farrier this morning. He is a nice young man and seems to be good at what he does. His family owns a local cattle ranch. I much prefer for Paul to be home when he comes in case there is a problem with the horse, she can be very stubborn sometimes, and I am just not good with people. Unfortunately the farrier had to call and reschedule for tomorrow and Paul can't be here. It seems some dirt bike riders cut their fences so they could ride their bikes without having to go around. The cattle have moved through those fences onto the neighbors' properties and he has to help round them up.

It's not his fault and I totally understand the need to reschedule but I'm angry with the situation. Now these guys have to go out,round up these cows and fix the fences in the 90 degree heat. The farrier didn't sound happy with the extra work. When did people become so rude and unable to respect other people's property?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Stampede Days Rodeo

We were given tickets to the rodeo in Bakersfield so we could take the kids. I have to admit that I wasn't really looking forward to it. I've never been to a rodeo and I hate trying new things. I don't know what I was expecting but I was surprised by how much fun we all had.

The gates opened at 6pm and the rodeo started at 7:30. We got there a little earlier than I wanted but it turned out to be a good thing. We walked around, watched the horses getting ready, and looked through the booths of stuff. Then we picked our seats and watched everyone scrambling around getting ready. By the time it started the stands were full.

We got to watch the local mounted drill team perform a couple of numbers and then the main stuff began.

The time flew by as we watched the cowboys ride bucking horses and rope cattle. Our favorite events were the barrel racing and bull riding.

Of course you can't go to something like this without eating a funnel cake, shaved ice, and kettle corn. Even though we didn't get home until midnight we had a spectacular time.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Dog Licensing

I know I've posted before about our woes with licensing our dogs but this is a little different.

I heard on the radio yesterday that the county will be holding community meetings on proposed changes to the pet ordinances. One of those changes will be to put limits and require permit for pets over a certain number. Of course it will only apply to the city of Bakersfield, for now... They are also proposing increases to the licensing costs for unaltered pets. Already that fee is $60 per year, they are proposing raising it to $75 per year. I can't tell you how angry I am...

First, these permits they are suggesting would give the county the right to come onto your property and inspect it if you have 6 or more animals. That includes cats and dogs. This was, until recently, a rural community but the recent push is to rework it's image into one with upper scale homes and neighborhoods. So along with that idea comes the need to put restrictions on animals. Once this ordinance goes into place for the city it will be easy to extend it to the rest of the county.

Second, the rates for licensing of dogs are just ridiculous. In a few minutes time I was able to determine that if this goes into effect we will be one of the most expensive places in the state for dog licensing. Most counties charge more for an unaltered dog but it's usually twice as much, this will put our county at 5 times more. Statistics show that these types of things don't work. One of the first counties in CA to do this saw a drop in dog licensing and a dramatic increase in euthanasia at the shelters. The cost to redeem an impounded unaltered animal is huge so instead these dogs went unclaimed. We have looked into getting Hannah fixed and have plans to do so. The increased cost of licensing isn't doing much to help in our quest to save up the required $140 for the procedure.

I plan on attending the meeting, not that it will do much good. Each time we have moved I have learned to add to my "check these things out before moving list", it's time to add pet licensing onto that list. With 5 dogs and 3 outdoor cats we can't afford not to check that out next time.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Good Life

The freaky weather is keeping me in for the most part today, last weekend it was 95 today it's 60 and very windy. I just can't keep up with the changes so I'm staying in to do some school with the kids and read my latest find from the library.

Since I'm on a non-fiction kick and I have to live vicariously through people who homestead I'm reading The Good Life. It's about this couple's 60 year journey of self-sufficient living. I haven't gotten all that far into their experiment, and I don't exactly agree with some of their political beliefs, but I've found a few good quotes that have made me think.
Summer people do more than upset Vermont's economy. By living on their places during the summer and closing them for the balance of the year, they turn section of the State into ghost towns...Part-time towns are parasitic dead towns.

The social consequences of turning the countryside into a vacationland are far more sinister than the economic results. What is needed in any community is individuals, householders, villagers and townsmen living together and cooperating day in, day out, year after year, with sufficient output of useful and beautiful products to pay for what they consume and a bit over...Solvency of this nature is difficult or impossible except in an all-year-round community.

Of course this makes me think about the area we live in. Their is little sense of community and the town seems to stop breathing until the next vacation season. It's even worse than above as many of the homes aren't even lived in the entire summer, the owners are here maybe 4 weekends a year. They have no stake in the community. The place we lived in while in Colorado was different. There was some summer business but it wasn't the focus of the towns, there wasn't a whole lot of community feel but a lot more than here. The economy of the town wasn't dependent on outside influences so it was healthy. The story is much different here and I wonder if the high gas prices will result in death for some of these businesses that rely on the vacation owners.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I finally finished that scarf I've been working on for 4+ years. 3 moves and 3 states later it's done. It seems so anticlimactic. Now I just need to finish that sewing project I have started and the cross stitch project and that scrapbook and ...

More tomatoes and garden stuff

My little tomato sprouts are growing slowly but I seem to be losing a few every couple of days. They are too small to replant in the garden at this point but I need to do something to keep as many as possible.

(I do know that these particular tomatoes are too close together but they were only supposed to have a 60% germination rate, the other types aren't so crowded)

I read that they should be replanted just below the two leaves to generate more root growth so that is my plan. At this point I'm loathe to do anything for fear I will kill them all! It's like I'm obsessed, I need to make these work or I'm a failure.

The rest of the stuff is coming up wonderfully. Before I received Square-Foot Gardening from the library I had read a website about this method of gardening. Unfortunately either I read it incorrectly or it had some wrong information and I planted the squash plants way too close. They all need to be replanted in a spot that has a lot more room, not the end of the world but I'm hoping I don't lose any since they are doing so well.

The information in the book was extremely helpful on how to fix our dirt so it will support a garden. We have a small compost pile going and almost enough stuff to start another pile. To start off with I bought compost from Wal-Mart, not the best solution but the only one available and it has worked great.

Since the garden is as close as I am going to be able to come to homesteading I am turning my attention to more books about the self-sufficient lifestyle. Any suggestions for good reading material would be appreciated!

Just because I love how green the strawberry plants are I thought I would include a picture of those too. I bought them at the hardware store a few weeks ago but they already have tiny berries on them.