“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…”

Blowing snow…

We have snow and ice on the ground. The roads were worked on for a couple of days in our neighborhood, making it possible for me to drive them in my car. Prior to that, the dips and potholes made it impossible in my low-riding grandma car. But my husband’s 4WD truck could make it, although it was interesting! And this morning we woke to the winds. And the clouds. And the forecast for 3″ of snow this weekend, most of it landing on Saturday. Oh fun!

There comes a time, living in the far north, where you long for spring. The dripping of the melting snow is a welcome sound. Actually seeing sunshine is a treat and we all get excited to wear just a sweater and sunglasses. And you can see the buds on the trees, just waiting to pop into green leaves. And then nature says, “Not so fast! We have more in store for you!” A friend in Oregon gets excited when it rains for days because her well is filling up and she knows she will be able to water her garden! Up here, snow pack is good because the melt goes straight into the ground and the soil is that much richer for it. In Alaska, our dirt is amazing. We have not over-farmed and leeched the soil of its richness. In this climate, we also have glacier run-off, filled with mineral rich waters that further enhance our soil. I was surprised the first time I saw a glacial river – it looked like greenish milk!!

Kenai River, Alaska

Even though we are in for another bout of ugly weather, we are planning ahead. I am organizing what I hope is a good garden plan. Most of it is in my head, but I will be translating that to paper. This situation with Russia/Ukraine is causing ripple effects downstream, so to speak. The exporting of 40% of the world’s supply of wheat and corn has been blocked by this situation. Two of the largest fertilizer plants in the world were burned to the ground. (Coincidence? I leave that up to you). Fertilizer is crucial to food production. Worldwide food production. These political skirmishes have wide ripple effects. Food prices, and gas/oil prices, as well. With this trucker convoy taking its place worldwide as well, getting what we do have to where it needs to go, becomes problematic. I am not against what they stand for, not in the least. However, living at the literal last stop on the supply train makes me far more sensitive to the issue than someone who lives where goods are in abundance and the local grocery shelves are always full. Up here, if the barges don’t make it, we will literally not have a single pat of butter – anywhere. It is no joke. Planning your garden gives you insurance and peace of mind. We will be able to eat right from the garden and preserve our extras. We will be able to share with our neighbors and help our community. Gardening with others in mind is a healthy thing to do.

What we harvest out of our garden.

When we organize our garden this year, we are going to focus on the things we love to eat, that are easy to grow, and grow well in our climate. We have a short, but intense, growing period. There are months when the sun barely sets in 24 hours, so the plants have lots of time to soak it all up, growing far larger than their southern counterparts. This year, there will be far less cabbage, more leeks and onions, as well as more herbs. An herb garden can grow year-round in your house. We have shelves by our southern window in the dining room, and plan to institute a year-round garden this year, especially since there are grow lights hanging over them all!

This world is in chaos. So much is on the cusp of change. And some of that change may be hard to deal with. Russia is returning to the gold standard. Perhaps the US is planning that, too. What will that mean? The plandemic is proving to have far-reaching implications for those who supported it. This week, with Pfizer publishing their documentation, showing 8 pages of side effects they KNEW prior to using their jabs, should cause indictments. The documentation shows mRNA and DNA effects – forever altered in those who took their shots. The fallout of this plandemic is going to be felt for decades. Infertility – will my grandchildren be sterile? Will their lifespans be affected? My heart aches at the thought. However, I can simplify all this information by focusing on what I can do. I can share knowledge with others. Skills I may have that others many not know about. I can plant food. I can help to encourage others to do the same. Victory gardens! Entire neighborhoods getting rid of lawns and planting food! Just imagine the bounty. We could feed each other, without bothering to go to the store, but for the bare necessities you cannot grow or make yourself.

Homemade Soap

There is very little you need from the store. You can make your own soap – and once you experience handmade soap, you will not want to go back to store-bought. You can make your own butter. Ice cream. Bread. Potato chips. On and on the list goes. We can live without much of what has become easier to purchase. Yes, it is a lot more work. Think “Little House on the Prairie” life! It is beyond satisfying, though. I was so excited when I was able to make a meal with everything I used being sourced locally. I buy grains (to grind myself) locally. I buy my meat from local farmers. We have saved boxes of potatoes out of the garden. I have cabbage, leeks, onions, rhubarb, and much more, all vacuum-sealed and frozen. I have pints upon pints of tomatoes processed into a plain sauce, as well as quarts and pints of salmon. We have two freezers we try to keep full. We have cases of water. We have gas cans full. We bought freeze-dried foods in bulk. I bake bread (when I am in the mood, because I found an outlet for fresh bread – not gonna lie) and I have the grains to make the bread stored in 5 gallon drums in my pantry and the garage. Sacks of rice. Lots of dried beans. The list goes on and on. I do not want to be caught unprepared. I go to our local store, Three Bears, which buys in bulk for the people in the bush areas of Alaska from Costco, to purchase things like toilet paper in bulk. Lots of what I have stored is locally sourced. I hate supporting big box stores and Amazon, if I can help it. A friend recently said they were buying up coffee…because who can survive a crisis without caffeine?! Great idea!! My next bulk purchase, for sure! LOL!

Well-stocked pantry

So even though we are experiencing a longer winter than I would like, we are looking towards Spring – the sights, sounds, and pleasures of gardening – as well as just being outside without coats! Ha-Ha! There is something priceless about walking barefooted through your garden, wiggling your toes in the soft earth. Even 5 years ago, I would never walk barefoot in the dirt. I just wasn’t raised like that. This past summer, I spent hours upon hours in my garden, bareheaded and bare-footed. It was glorious. And it went deeply into my soul. I was never a gardener before last summer – not a serious, food growing, gardener. Oh I planted my dahlias and beautiful ferns (I love ferns), and other flowers – and they were gorgeous. But there is nothing like walking among your carrots and leeks and tomatoes, and smelling the aroma of growing foods. And the flip side? Eating all that glorious goodness throughout the next year.

So even if the storm clouds are literal or figurative, there’s a way through them. Definitely pray. Put your trust in God. But plan ahead, too. Storms do not last. Life settles into its routine. But just think of a bountiful table, feeding your family and more. Don’t let the current of politics and posturing delineate your life’s details. Be proactive. Pray – plan – plant.

Raised Bed Gardening
Pray – plan – plant!
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“…our way of keeping discomfort at bay…”

“This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.” Jeremiah 17:5

You know, I try to just “let go and let God.” And when I do, I can breathe. I can relax. When I take back that wheel, I have sleepless nights and an upset stomach. Take last night for example. I could not relax and sleep and finally went to bed about 11:30pm. I was up again at 2:30am, sick to my stomach and in total panic mode. I’d taken a shower earlier in the evening and my face reacted all weird in that I had gotten way over-heated and my face was on fire, and a tad bit swollen. It was like a hot flash on steroids. So when I had the panic attack, I figured it was all related. I know my hormones are not done with me, yet. But I also know that we have been eating junk and it affects my entire system. I need to return to my Whole30 attentiveness! I had expressed my concerns to my husband a day or so earlier, and he had calmly assured me that things were good and to just relax. Ha-Ha. I used to be so cavalier and not a worry-wort. I am not sure when that changed. Maybe when the mantle of responsibility felt firmly ensconced on my motherhood shoulders? Maybe recently when I realized my baby is graduating high school in May and everything has to be completed and turned in for the entire year by then…and I am woefully late on the grades/samples due already? Whenever it was, it is firmly on my shoulders and some days, it weighs so heavily.

“It’s important to recognize that fear does not only manifest itself as heart-pounding, sweat-producing anxiety. There is a quiet fear that can equally dominate our lives. That quiet fear manifests itself as procrastination. Behind every procrastination is an excuse and behind every excuse is a fear we’re not facing. Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say that procrastination is our defense against fear, our way of keeping discomfort at bay.” This quote is from an article in Forbes entitled, “Living Fearlessly by Facing Our Fears by Brett Steenbarger.

And you know what? Procrastination has been my mantra lately. “Maybe if I ignore this thing, it will resolve itself or just go away.” Ha-Ha. Never happens. In fact, I have found that facing these things that frighten or intimidate me often give me much-needed peace.

headdownonbills

Getting our affairs in order is something we all need to do. We all need to get organized and have a handle on things. All things. I have boxes I have not opened, nor looked inside, since I boxed them up almost 4 years ago. I know that some of them are still closed because this house is just too small to accommodate my “collections,” but I also know I could probably purge. My office is piles. Literally piles. And that is not my normal operating style. I was known, in the workplace, as the supreme organizer who could take someone’s chaos and bring them order and a smooth workflow. But it’s like that old saying, “The Shoemaker’s son has no shoes.”

I had written awhile ago that I had been in a funk but that I thought I was coming out of it. I think that is true, to an extent. I have worked on a few things – today I cleaned and am sanitizing my dishwasher! How often does that get done? (Uhmm…rarely to never). I cleaned up dog-hair-zombie-dust-bunnies. The dog hair thing really sends me over the edge. Since I now have totally groomed dogs, who are basically naked, I can get on top of the shedding. Ugh. But I desperately need to dive in and purge, organize, and clean my house. And why do I procrastinate? Why do I operate like I have to wait until we’re at “ground zero” or “critical mass” before I tackle these projects? To be honest, I am not sure. But I think it something about that quote from the Forbes article. In that article, he talked about successful people:

“In his book Crisis? Let’s Beat It!, Michael Virardi discusses the results of a study he conducted with 101 successful business people. He found that the vast majority (over 90%) engaged in two behaviors: 1) they made lists to prioritize their work and 2) they spent time each day and week preparing for the next day and week. In other words, the successful businesspeople were anti-procrastinators. They developed routines for facing the future…”

And then he wrote, “Emilia Lahti, writing about Hypponen’s text, argues that facing what we most fear builds our character and gives us strength. In so doing, we expand our mental and emotional reserves and find a second wind of motivation.” (same Forbes article).

Today, I faced those stupid things that woke me at 2:30am. I do feel energized, and far more relaxed. So now, I think I will tackle the actual dust in my house, and maybe conquer some more things on my list. The list that I need to make for today, and for tomorrow. And that is a list that I need to start checking things off of…for my own sanity, and to get ahead of the things I have allowed to slide. It does not reflect well on me, nor my family. I will get a handle on all of it; honest.

fears

I think our end-goal is to acknowledge and conquer the things of this world that are placed before us, rather than allow them to conquer us. Fear makes us almost immobile at times. Procrastination is not the cure for what is causing us to put things off. Right now, I am slowly coming to terms with that. And with the fact that our lives are finite. We are only given a certain amount of time on this earth, and I firmly believe we only get this one shot at it. So to waste time is to squander something we can never get back. Yes, there are days when we need to unplug, staying in our jammies, and just vegging out for a day. Everyone needs to recharge their batteries. But that should not be our daily “grind.” We need to be useful and productive. The Lord expects us to give this world our best. His best? He gave His life on the Cross. The least…very least….I can do is be attentive to the obligations in this life that I have taken on. Those obligations are my choices in life, and the resulting responsibility I have towards myself and others. It is the very least. And to that, I can add caring for my neighbors (near and far) and a renewed fervor and love of God that I have let slide. Lent is fast approaching. We had best get prepared for that, as well. I am writing my list. Are you?

wordsreflect

 

“Was that today????”

clipart-messy-desk-osgjcc-clipart

Have you ever faced a task that you truly do not want to face? Ugh. My “office” is a disaster. There is barely floor space. I have no idea what happened to me. I am usually organized. Things have fallen by the wayside and I cannot get myself going these days. I have started back on D3, because I know with no sunshine, that is part of it. And we went off our Whole30 regime of clean eating, and I am finding sugar is my enemy. It affects so much of who I am and how I feel. And it is not good.

eatwhole30-what-you-can-eat

I am so blessed to have discovered Whole30 and the amazing group of people online who work tirelessly answering zillions of questions. I once asked my son, “You have google on your phone. Why don’t you look it up for yourself?” He responded, “Because you’re here and you will know this.” Well, so many of us are LAZY. We ask others when we can obtain the information ourselves, with a push of some buttons. “Is this compliant?” is constantly asked, with a photo of a bottle of something or other they are holding up. I mean, come on! In the time it took you to take a photo and show us all how diligent you are about trying to do Whole30, you could have googled it yourself. Who checks Facebook at the grocery store? Not me. I don’t want to use the data! LOL! I print things out; I read the book; I read labels. We can do this ourselves, without constantly checking social media sources. I feel bad for those admins on Whole30 and my other weakness, the Instant Pot. Oh man oh man. I love that appliance!

instantpot-20-mins

It has made my life so much simpler and meals are done so fast! I’m a little obsessed, but that’s another post! Back to hating to do things…my office. Ugh.  I went out and got myself a planner for this year and spent the morning inputting all the birthdays and anniversaries for our family and close friends. I input important dates, like when school samples are due and my youngest son’s graduation date from high school. It seems so weird that I will soon have no one of school age in my home. So weird. All of these “rites of passage” that happen to us each year. This past November, our newest grand daughter was born and it was fun to add her birthdate to this year’s calendar. There are losses, but there are so many blessings along the way.

my2017planner

I’m not sure why my office looks like it does, or why I have allowed it to become this sort of haven for lost paperwork and stacks of books. It’s like a cave. And heavens to Betsy, if someone moves something or knocks a stack over, I am in deep trouble. My daughter-in-law purged their house and I acquired a new short bookcase and a rolling cart full of colored drawers where I can organize files. I just have to do it. The mattress we had for guests this summer is still folded in the corner, with the clean sheets and blankets on it. But our 15-year-old dog sort of claimed it as a bed during the day because our floor heater is right next to it, and the blankets make it cozy. It is a whopping 9-degrees outside today with freezing fog, so I don’t begrudge him his warm spot.

schnauzer

The planner in the second photo above is the one I chose. I am not an artsy person, so simple works for me. Stickers and such were bought, too, but I keep planning simple. I like lines to write on and I will add decor and photos as I can. I used to keep a scrap book sort of book calendar when my kids were small. I prefer something that highlights my week, but keeps me on track. So my data is entered and I have had some meaningful conversations, my laundry is waiting to be moved to the dryer so I can wear a clean swimsuit to water aerobics tonight, and…my office still looks like a cave. Tomorrow….at least I sort of started today. Sort of.

procrastinator-cartoon

“Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.”  That is pretty much me right now….lol!