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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

Things Are Not Good

I'd been thinking about posting this morning, but then a comment from Anonymous this AM (on my previous post) asking if I was still around prompted me to do it for sure!

Let's start with some good news.  I am enjoying my new job.  Aside from the horribly rocky start, it's been good.  I have a lot of autonomy to do / order what I want, and I'm definitely "in charge" of my area . . . save any vetoes or "overrides" from the boss and her hubby, of course.  They're out of town this week, so things have been pretty low-key.

Oddly and sadly enough, one of the main staffers died last week!  I'd only worked with her for a couple of days before she took a scheduled vacation for knee-replacement surgery.  She'd come out of that terrifically and was back in our small-town hospital in a swing bed for therapy and recovery.  On the day they were going to discharge her, blood clots were discovered during her final exam, and she was rushed down to the big city.  One thing QUICKLY led to another, and suddenly she had pneumonia, wasn't breathing on her own, had to be intubated, and, eventually, was in a drug-induced coma . . . that she never came out of!  A DNR order was put on her file, and she passed away within a couple of days!  I didn't know her well at all, and I guess she was a bit of a curmudgeonly old lady, but, still, it was a shock to everyone.  Makes you not want to go in for any elective surgery, doesn't it?!

Anyway, my tasks at work have increased as a result of her loss.  She was the person in charge of ordering and stocking our fairly large, two-sided book aisle.  Number 2 Boss (the boss lady's hubby) came to me before their vacation and said, in his round-about way, "Hey, you said you wanted to take over the books, right?!"  I said, "Uhhhhhh . . . sure!"  And, the more I thought about it, I WOULD (and, subsequently HAVE) enjoy(ed) doing that.

I'm just getting my feet wet, exploring that aisle while the bosses are gone, but I realize that I am at the apex of my duties-to-salary ratio.  (And, I am going to ask if the addition of this responsibility will result in a raise . . . even tho I'm still w/in the first 60 days of the job.)  But, the point is, if I take on any more responsibility, I'm going to actually start bringing this job home with me, mentally, and it's been a real treat to have a job that I can completely walk away from at the end of the day.  Plus, I know I'll begin to feel resentful of the piddlin'-little I'm getting paid . . . for doing such a good job (if I do say so myself) on all that I AM doing!

So, that's some good news - that things are going well at work.

Everything else is . . . pretty rotten.

I finally faced facts last Thursday when two System Gurus were here to install the used, replacement inverter.  The job, which should have taken about 2, 2 1/2 hours, was an all-day, didn't go well affair.  After about 6 hours, at 4:30 PM, they gave up and went home.  There WAS progress made, tho:  the replacement inverter is working and is hooked up to the 16 remaining decent batteries (with 3 of the original 24 waiting in the wings to step in once other batteries begin failing).  And, so, I am able to once again take advantage of the solar inverter and the electricity that the sun provides.  That's all GOOD!

The bad was that they couldn't get the inverter-to-generator automatic start module to work.  At all.  Which was definitely frustrating.  For all of us.  I was frustrated that the skill of my local guy wasn't enough to do it . . . and I think he, was, too.

He thought an $80 relay switch might take care of the problem, but he wasn't sure.  And, knowing how I have no money to spare, there wasn't the option of ordering one "just to see" if it would work.  Guru #2, who lives hours away and who I was keeping abreast of the proceedings via e-mail, thinks the relay control is NOT the problem.  I am waiting to hear when his next trip up will be so he can take a comprehensive look at things.

So, in the meantime, I am still pretty much tied to the system here (can't leave it for money-saving nights in that little cabin just outside of town) because I have to monitor the system and MANUALLY turn the generator on when the inverter requires it.

The loss (or, more to the point, lack of gain) of again having a fully-functioning system was the last straw for me that last Thursday night.  It just finally, finally hit me that I CANNOT seem to catch a break here.  (Yes, I most definitely AM noticing any and all progress - like the inverter working, but still . . . .)  I was also reeling from the week's e-mail from the credit union whose message had changed from "please tell us when we can expect the next payment on your overdue mortgage" to "it would be in your best interest to sell your house and property".

The dogs and I took a little walk after the technicians had left, and my chest hurt and my throat ached.  I tried to cry, tried to get it out, but couldn't.  Of course, the tears came on Friday morning when I called my folks on the way to work to tell them I was running late because, after all of the previous day's work, I'd woken up again to NO power . . . and finally realized that my run here at Swamp River Ridge may be over.  Voicing that for the first time ever, I couldn't stop the flow of weeping and arrived at work Friday morning, still in tears.  But, it was good to be somewhere where I had to be "public-ready" and focus on other things, so I was able to lose myself in the day's work.

In a (desperate?) effort to staunch the proverbial blood flow of financial death, I contacted my realtor friend to say that it was time . . . time to put the eastern-most half of my 40 acres on the market.  I met with him on Monday to sign the papers.  Did I *ever* think I'd "give up" half of my oh-so-private land out here?  Of course not.  But, in light of my situation, and if it helps me keep Swamp River Ridge (house & 20 acres), you BET I'll do it!  So, in an effort to "choose my neighbors", do YOU want to buy it?????  I contacted two friends already who very badly want it, both single fellows, but their financial situations are the same:  n-o m-o-n-e-y.  And, I'm not kidding myself:  I know the market is the worst it's ever been.  But, I don't have any hope if I don't put it out there, do I?

I slogged through work on Friday and Saturday and then had Sunday off.  I began going through the past couple of weeks' mail (don't have the opportunity to pick it up very often with my schedule), and found the letter from the auditor-treasurer warning that my name would appear in the paper due to last year's unpaid property taxes.  That day was my first chance, first block of private time to really think about losing this place, really feel it . . . and I finally lost it.

I was upstairs in the bedroom when it began to get ahold of me.  I doubled over on a chair next to the bed.  But, still, it wouldn't come.  Not really.  I got downstairs and crawled onto the floor of the livingroom, tears sliding across my cheek and into my ears.  Tucker waddled over to check on me, but, still, it wouldn't come.

I was in the kitchen - the most lived-in room of the house for me - when it came.  The pain, the sorrow STRUCK and sent me to my knees.  I knew I was clutching the oven door for support, but I didn't know which way was up or down as I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  Gasped for breath.  Was on my hands and knees now.  Sobbing.  (And I'm tearing up just revisiting that enough to write this.)

Dosie, the "dead cat", was the only who came to my side.  Actually, she ran up my back and perched there, touching me once on the side of the face with her paw.  Maybe she, having experienced near death at the vet's when I was told to put her down last summer, knew a part of me was dying.

* * *

What's going to happen?  I don't know.  I've notified the credit union of putting half the property on the market and have requested a meeting to find out where the thin line is between me selling vs. going into foreclosure.  That will happen some time next week.

For now, I can't go back to letting myself feel like what it will be to sell this place.  It's bone crushing, that sorrow.  I'll have to face it again, but, in the meantime, I need to preserve my strength to do what needs to be done and just GET THROUGH the upcoming days.  My oldest, dearest girlfriend, the only other I'd shared this news with (besides my folks) observed that this loss may be greater than the loss of my marriage.  I think she's right.

The only thing that could potentially save me is the miracle that the 20 acres will sell in the next couple of months.  But, I know that chance is slim to none.

So, for now, one step in front of the other.  I'm relatively healthy as are all five (!!!) of the four-leggeds and the poultry.  I have two vehicles that I own free and clear that are in decent working order.  I have a job that I can say I enjoy, even though it doesn't pay all the bills.  I am still doing web & graphic design work that will, with end-of-the-month invoices, provide some additional income.  I'm working on my photography as time allows.  And, I have a whole boat-load of support in YOU.

Mom and Dad, I know this post was incredibly painful for you to read, but it's SO much easier for me to talk this way than in-person . . . where the tears will come again.  xoxox


  1. Oh girl...the stress! Prayers are going up for the land to sell fast.

  2. I know it must have been really hard to acknowledge all of this on the blog, but I'm glad you did it. I'm in the same boat as your other friends, I'd buy it if I could and put a yurt up for vacation use for the next few years, BUT of course our financial situation isn't much better until we sell the house we are in, which has been pretty much at a standstill in this economy. I think you will find nothing but support and lots of love from all of us out here in blogland, so please keep on posting and letting us know how things are going. I tend to agree with your friend that this may prove to be a much bigger loss than the marriage. You will get through this however, you have proven yourself to be very strong but definitely lean on your family and friends when you need it!

  3. I'm so very, very sorry to hear all the troubles you are going through.
    Sending you good thoughts and well wishes.

  4. It's your fellow Minnesota stalker here----I'm crying as I read this because I know how hard you have worked to make this work. My heart hurts so much for you. I wish I could afford to buy your 20 acres- I've already said more than once to my husband "if we ever win the lottery I am giving money to Swamp River Ridge-no one would deserve it more". I'm praying for things to go your way- praying hard. I'm soo sorry- I wish I were better with words and that I could hug you while you cry. ♥♥♥

  5. Well, so far, everyone's making my eyes well-up with your kind words. xox

  6. You left out one status-not wish I were you ,wish I could help you,I really do,because you came to the part about those bankers saying"FORECLOSURE" I was right there with you,felt exactly the same as you when it happened to me. I cried ,I begged my family,I said "you owe me" they do,but I'll never see it.Even after I moved ,I would come back to the house and curl up in ball on the floor and sob. when we had to look for a apt. I could not walk in the place for interview start faced [ and I was not laughing ]But I had to except reality,I didn't want to,I lived in a nightmare for 5 years following,I could not stand to live in a apt. Some people are apt. dwellers ,I'm not I needed my own space.So you see,I can see how you feel,I'm sending every good vibes I can and than some. It is what it is,someone is always telling me that.Its so hard-Erin is right,we are all there behind you,up up and away C.M.

  7. Being the space loving person I am, I do feel for you. I can't imagine having to do that. So sorry. Hope things will happen so that you can keep the place.

  8. I wish I could do something to help but alas I'm in much the same situation, no money.
    I hope the land sells for a good price and you can get caught up and not have to sell the house or be foreclosed upon.
    Sending out prayers and support.

  9. It hurts to see all of this coming down on top of you. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers during this most trying time.-"M"

  10. I am sending you as many positive thoughts as I can that the inverter problem will be solved by something easy (have you tried turning it off, then back on again? That works with computers :) and that someone who only wants to come up for a couple weeks a year will purchase your land.

  11. Oh, I am so, so sorry to hear this. And, as others have said, I wish I was in a place to help. Like Erin said- keep on posting. We'll support you however we can.

  12. Hoping your web & graphic design work will help you thru the end of the month. I know the recent rise in gas prices cannot be helping you either, saw someone post a picture of a gas pump on Facebook this morning, $125.00 for 28 gallons of gas. Thank God I don't have to communte to work everyday anymore, think I would go ballistic at the gas station everytime I pulled in. Hope your photography can bring you in some extra $$$'s also. Hang in there. Good Luck.

  13. Just know we love you and are praying for you my dear friend. I know how much your place means to you and we DO NOT want you to loose it and if (God for bid) you do, you will never loose us!!!!!!!!!!! Xoxoxox So not good with words but would love to give you a hug right now!! Love, Bundle of Joys Mama

  14. I truly hope some "miracle" comes your way. Wishing you the very best!

  15. So sorry CM wish I had the money to buy your twenty aces Jean

  16. My heart is breaking for you. I am praying hard!!

  17. I haven't read your blog for awhile, and I was riveted reading your open-hearted post about possibly losing your place. This makes me so mad, because it is happening to so many people. Would it be okay if I wrote to Ellen DeGeneres about your blog and this situation? I don't watch her show unless I'm home on a weekday, and last week I was and she gifted a woman with $10,000 and a new car. The woman had sent Ellen a letter about her story. The life you are working on creating is wonderful, so maybe your situation would catch her attention.

    Also, you are an incredible writer. Your telling of how hard you tried to cry and what it took to get there--thank you for sharing that. And the way you wrote it was so raw and unforgettable, and poetic. I love it that your cat came up on your back and touched your face. Have you thought of selling stories to a magazine?

    You inspire me, and not only about homesteading but that one can hang on and take the next step. And you really care about people. And solitude and dogs and chickens!! Take good care. Hope things with the inverter works out, or is already worked out. I have NO idea what an inverter is. A big strong hug to you.

  18. Dear Good Golly Miss Mollie - you sure were full of complimentary words to me on this Sunday! :) Thank you SO much for taking the time to write them. You put a smile on my face!

    So, writing to Ellen about me? Hahahahaha! You're funny! But, as Mama Pea says, "Sure, go for it!" Let's see now, who should play me in the movie, The True Tales of a Lady Homesteader?? ;p

    THANK YOU for the props re my writing - that means MORE to me! I really enjoy writing and find that I can work through things best when I write about them and "get it all out". I know I could write (this blog) in a more profound, grammatically-correct way, but then, it wouldn't be me. And I gotta be me. (Who said that - Kermit the Frog?)

    I'd LOVE to sell stories to a magazine and actually did write a column for the local paper for a short stretch . . . until the editor decided I was being too . . . liberal, shall we say . . . and axed me w/o even the courtesy of a good-bye column! But, as always . . . it's how to do it. Sure, I could pursue it if I took the time, but, then . . . who's got any extra of THAT STUFF layin' around?! ;)

    Anyway, thanks a big, big bunch for letting me know (as you ALL so wonderfully have!!!) that you're rootin' for me! ONE WAY or another, I'll make it . . . even if it's not here at SRR.

  19. Dear Chicken Mama,
    Okay, I'm writing to Ellen! I'll share your blog with her, but nothing that will identify where you live. I respect your boundaries. Just wondering--what are you asking for those 20 acres of land? Is it wooded, meadow, mixed?

    About writing for magazines--I was thinking along the lines of the monthly one for your state, and also search under homesteading, Mother Earth News, etc. Not sure if you've done this search before, but I thought I'd throw my ideas out there. I just did a search and got a lot of hits.

    I'll keep you posted re: my letter to Ellen.

    I really want your dream to stay real!



If you are familiar with me and where I live, please respect my right to retain some anonymity by not referring to me by anything other than Chicken Mama nor mentioning city/town/villages by place names. Thanks!