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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

Ho, Ho, Ho . . . No.

Okay, let's pretend, for a moment that it's not Christmas.  'Cause, otherwise, I'm gonna sound like the biggest Debbie Downer you know.  I just need to complain a little.  Okay, a lot.  This is gonna be a long post.  Our story begins with what I wrote on Tuesday (well, it was really the wee hours of Wednesday) night:

* * *


Fodder is, by definition, that which provides us with something on which to build (a story) upon.  (Huh?)  For example, “some days, my life seems to be nothing more than fodder which I’ll one day use to write my memoirs and then become rich”.

Oi.  Today was one of those days.  Or, more to the point, yesterday was . . . as it’s 1:11 AM Wednesday morning as I settle in bed underneath my down comforter, laptop in (not so ironically) my lap.

In short, my LP tank . . . hang on, damn dog whining for something . . . they need to go out NOW?  Seriously . . . .

My LP tank is pegged out at zero.  I’ve been in steady communication with the propane company since two weeks ago when I watched it edge near the (dum, dum, dummmm) red zone.  I was watching it closely over the weekend, and it was near 10%.  Last night, on my way in from chores, I happened to swing by to peek down at the gauge.  WHAT?!  Zero?!!!  Literally, it seemed to have dropped those last few gallons overnight.  So, today was spent frantically trying to communicate with the propane company . . . while NOT using any electricity to send/receive e-mails or telephone calls.  How did we get from no LP to no electricity?  Like this.

See, in the winter when there is very little sun here in northern Minnesota, my (electrical, et al.) system runs almost entirely on the generator.  Because, no sun = no solar gain from the panels.  But, no LP for the generator = no electricity.

Today was the delivery day for my neck of the woods, but the truck had already gone out and there was no way to get ahold of the driver for a last-minute route change (no cellphone reception in my neck of the woods, either), so I couldn’t get a delivery still today.

(Tucker had to come in, Maisy WON’T come in.  She's probably eating a poopsicle.  Oh, it’s times like this that I really love having dogs.)

Actually, I COULD have gotten a delivery still today if I’d requested an “emergency” delivery for the driver to head back out again once he gotten in at the end of the day.  That would have been a $199 fee.  Or, I could “request that we break route tomorrow”.  That would be a $149 fee.  Or, I could wait until the end of the week when they’ll be this way again.  That would be no extra fee.

Guess which option I chose?

Buuuuut, if I do, indeed, completely run out of LP before they deliver, it will cost an automatic, mandatory $69.95 “leak test” (when ALL they do is come into the house, ask me to turn on a burner to see that I have gas and then leave!).  Therefore, my plan is to attempt to NOT run out of gas before they arrive to fill the tank.  How can I do that?  By living without running water, electricity, and cooking/baking.  (Right before Christmas, natch.)  I have everything turned off but the circulating pumps that run 24/7 on the wood furnace.  Refrig and freezer are off.  Phone’s off.  Modem/router for computer use are off.  E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g’s off.  I’m flushing the toilets with water pumped from the hand pump outside.  I’m hauling drinking water and not running the taps (which keeps the water pump & pressure tank from automatically turning on).

The biggest bugger is not using the stove or oven.  That means, no coffee in the morning until I have the wood cookstove hot enough to heat the water.  No using the burners for heating anything because that takes, you guessed it, LP.  No showering, no nothin’.

Normally, and still in a several ways, this is a “fun” challenge . . . it’s just bad timing as ALL of my Christmas presents this year are homemade ('cause I have NO money)!  Whether that's food stuffs or artwork using the computer, they do require energy (electricity).  And I ain’t got none o’ that right now.  On the up side, dear friends are leaving for the holiday tomorrow and have asked me to look after their place.  So, even tho it means expending gasoline to drive there, I am going to take FULL advantage of their electricity and LP and get a couple of solid “work sessions” logged in there in these next couple days!  They don’t have any running water, never have (you “run” to get it – ha!) – but that’s not a biggie.  I can work around that.

I have requested that Christmas Day, always held here at Swamp River Ridge, be relocated to Mama & Papa Pea’s house for the season . . . given my current limitations.  And, with their new living room nearly completed and the wood stove installed and corkin’ away, it will be the perfect year to “break it in”!

Just to add a little extra excitement to my day today, I had to get the plow onto the truck so I could plow the road so the propane truck could easily drive in.  I’d squeaked by, not having plowed yet.  I was trying to get the truck in to the mechanic to get the oil changed and the tires rotated.  Last Thursday was the last day for me driving home the “summertime way” in the little Yaris, and even the truck’s undercarriage was beginning to scrape in the new amount of snow when I got it ready to go that night for heading out to the garage on Friday morning.  I was really pressing my luck.

With the truck in four-wheel drive and FULL of recycling (added weight), I didn’t have any trouble getting through the snow on Friday morning, but I knew the car wouldn’t make it through until I plowed.  It took me a while to figure out why I was having a harder time driving back in that night, even though the 1-ton was still in 4-wheel drive.  Duhhhh . . . it was because I no longer had the extra weight of all the recycling I’d unloaded that afternoon!  Time to cut down some (standing dead or wind-killed) trees to throw into the back.  Which is just what I did over the weekend.

(Ohhhh!  WHAT is that damn dog barking about?  Hang on, I’ve gotta haul Maisy in.  It’s 1:48 AM, for cryin’ out loud!)

* * *

Thus ends that portion of the story.  Fast forward to me writing yesterday.  And, there's some language in my pity party.  You've been warned.  Oh, but first, the back story because I don't think I'd mentioned it earlier.

I had an interview for a great-sounding job up on the Rez last Thursday.  It went REALLY well, and I felt confident about getting it . . . aside from the facts that I had no idea who my competition would be AND that there was, of course, Native American preference.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011 – 7:45 PM

My body keeps telling me it wants to vomit today.  And the first time was even before I read the rejection letter.  The interview went so well.  I thought I had it.  So, what now?  Interview for the (hellish position as) manager of the Trading Post?  It’s a job that should require 3 managers.  At least.  F#ck me.  It’s any day now that the credit union is going to hand things over to the creditors.  My mortgage, that is.  Not that they’d be able to sell this place even in the best of markets.  Would it be adding insult to injury to continue living here while it was in foreclosure?    I just don’t know what’s going to happen.  Can’t imagine.  And it’s 3 days before Christmas, and I don’t have a single gift wrapped yet.  Merry f#cking Christmas to me.  Unbelievable.

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And then later again last night (pardon the repetition of some things):

December 22, 2011 - 11:52 PM

It’s not often that I can’t sleep.  But, right now, I can’t.  After tossing and turning, throwing off blankets, drinking water, even praying (and I’m an Agnostic/Atheist!), I’ve given up and decided to write a bit and then, hopefully, Solitaire myself into oblivion.

I think, too, that I tend to not write when things are grim.  After all, what’s there to write about?  All the bad stuff?

It’s been a bad week.  Seemingly overnight, my low propane tank (I’d been watching it religiously) plummeted from 10% to 0% on Monday night.  I spent a frantic Tuesday trying to get it filled, all while using no electricity (no e-mail nor telephone, a real trick, let me tell you!).  Best I could do was to get it filled “by the end of the week”.

Then, as I went through the mail tonight, tucked in amongst the Christmas cards, a thin envelope from the Reservation.  As it registered in my brain, I just uttered one word of despair.  It rhymed with ‘duck’.  I really thought I had that job.  The pay was not great by any means; matter of fact, it was hardly “good”, but it had full benefits, and I knew that once I was “in” there, I could stay for as long as I wanted.

What.  Am I Going.  To.  Do.

“Blink.  Blink.  Blink.  Blink,” goes the cursor on my screen.

I don’t have an answer, and I’m reaching the point with my unpaid mortgage where I just KNOW the next e-mail is going to be the threat of “the next step” . . . whatever that is.  (I *don’t* want to know!)

I’ve had a killer headache all day.  Hmph, small wonder, huh?

I hesitate posting all of this because some of you are going to worry so much.  But, it *is* my life right now, the tales of this lady homesteader.  For better or for worse.  ;)  And right now’s just pretty . . . bad.

I’m usually pretty good at putting one foot in front of the other, and I am still able to notice and ENJOY things in my daily life:  the snow outside, the blue jays at the bird feeder . . . but it’s these quiet times like now . . . .  Well, perhaps these are the ONLY moments – trying to fall asleep – when there’s nothing else that I’m DOING to take my mind off things . . . and I can’t HELP but think.  During the day I’m pretty good at thinking proactively.  But, when it’s dark, when you’re just laying, wait, wait, waiting for sleep to overtake you . . . trying to “force” yourself to relax (HA!) . . . it’s these times that are so hard.  I just want to snap my fingers and have fallen asleep so I’m waking up on a bright new morning.  Facing a new day of possibilities, a new opportunity to make some headway in this life.

Believe me, if I thought I could get by without the sleep, I’d just get back up and get dressed again and go back to my day.  But then, there’s the issue of all the electricity I’d use since it’s the middle of the night . . . and that gets me back to the stress of the power system and my current lack of money to maintain it.

Ugh.  Money, money, money.  Always sunny.  In a rich man’s world.

I wish I could just pass out tonight and let my body and brain recover.  I’ll go try Solitaire for a while now.  Lately, it’s been the only thing that works.

* * *

And, with that, we're back to the new day on Friday morning.

Regarding the seemingly overnight plummet of my LP use, I was actually RIGHT.  Because . . . the gauge is broken.  So, all of my conserving, turning everything off might not have even been necessary!  Ha!  Because the tank is owned by the propane company, it's their responsibility to fix.  But, initial research by the driver yesterday (they were able to come yesterday instead of me having to wait 'til today, thank goodness for that!) indicates that the problem is on the tank end . . . or, rather, INSIDE the tank.  And, remember, I have a buried tank.  Niiiice.  So, is it even possible for them to try to dig it up in the winter?  Even in the best of situations, that will be a disastrous mess.  Meanwhile, until it's fixed, I have NO WAY OF KNOWING how much LP I have.  Greeeaaaat.  Just great.  If I had the money, I'd have them come fill it up to the top because I know that would get me through until spring when they can more easily dig up the tank (it's a huge, 1,000 gallon tank).  But, I don't.  So, I'm still going to be uber conservative with my propane use and . . . what?  Just cross my fingers, I guess.

I was so, so "high", so UP after the propane delivery came yesterday.  It felt like Santa had come early!  So, I was cruising on that until I went through the mail last night and found the rejection letter . . . and came crashing, very painfully, back to earth.

Another little "slam my head against the brick wall" from the last couple of days:  on Wednesday night, it finally dawned on me that I could lug out the back-up generator, bring it down to the house and plug my computer and printer and the modem and router in to it so I could, at least, get done with the computer stuff that's waiting.  So, I did just that:  brought it down to the house on the toboggan, checked the gas and oil, hauled out all the extension cords I'd need and wound them throughout the house.  All while wearing a headlamp (thank goodness for mine!) in the pitch black of evening, of course.  And then . . . I couldn't get the freakin' generator to stay running.  Niiiiice.  So, scratch that plan.

Oh, and the nifty little auction I had going over at the Chicken Mama Designs blog?  Well, not being able to use electricity after the first day, I wasn't able to advertise or update it via e-mails or FB.  So, while I did get a little (much appreciated!) action that first day, there was no more after that.

On the up sides (we need a little of that!), I did make a decent sale on one of my eBay items this week, but eBay is STILL not letting me have access to those funds for 21 days (because I don't have enough sales under my belt to get out of the probationary period yet).

It's a beautiful, snowy morning today, and I hope Mama & Papa Pea are finally getting enough snow to make it look like Christmas there, too!

The cats and Baby (Jinx) are all getting along really well and spend the majority of their time in the little downstairs bathroom now - which makes it tricky trying to walk in there!  Baby has really brought out in the kitten in the two older cats, and they all seem to be having a great time together.  Baby still isn't too sure of me, and the only time I can pet him/her is when s/he's busy eating.  Then, s/he'll allow a stroke down the back.  AND, s/he knows all about litter boxes now, so yayyyy for that!

So, my plan for today is to enjoy the snow, put on either my current audio book or Christmas music and continue pluggin' away on what I'm making for Christmas . . . trying to remember to focus on the joy of the season, the joy of having the KNOW-HOW to make my presents this year!  I'm going to try to put the current job/money situation out of my head until Monday.  That's my goal.  Oh!  And, since I won't be starting my new job on Monday, I will be able to nanny for Baby Girl which will be a real treat AND bring in some cash!  I hope her parents want me to come every single day!!

On with it then.  Anyone have a Valium I could take?


  1. You know, I wrote out and backspaced out several comments because I don't know what to say that won't sound stupid - I hate, hate, hate that the fallout from your ex and the financial armageddon that this divorce has caused is still causing so much pain for you. I know how much you love that place and can only try to imagine what you must be feeling. Even if I was in a situation to offer a job or a place to move to, I KNOW that nothing could take the place of your beloved homestead, so I only have ears and my thoughts and prayers to offer you. I am so glad that your propane issue is temporarily solved, at least you know what it is and you do have fuel in the tank, this is the worst time of year to be dealing with all this stuff too. I hope you can have a wonderful day at Mama & Papa Pea's or your place if that is on again - I wish we were there this year to celebrate the holidays with you :) Ugh, I bet none of what I wrote made sense, I didn't re-read, just hit publish LOL

  2. Your comment post sounded FINE! Yeah, I was in a real slump and just had to mitch and boan. ;) Things will work themselves out. They always do, one way or 't' other, don't they? I just need that Valium so I can prevent myself from thinking about it all until Monday morning because I want to ENJOY this Christmas weekend! xo

  3. my friend, I don't know what to say either. None of it would help anyway. I guess it's what I would refer to as an Oh SH*T moment; only it's more than a moment. But I am wishing you well and that something good comes around really soon. foxylady


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