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I have never been a chicken owner or a farmer of any sort, but over the years I have had many pets of all shapes and sizes; just ask my family. Any pet that needed a home was the pet I needed to bring home. I pretty much develop an emotional attachment immediately and feel completely responsible for their well being. I understand that there are things that may be out of my control, but even in these situations I feel responsible to do everything in my power to help and heal my critters and make it right whether it's illness, injury, or some other unforeseen circumstance, just ask Nollie about the 6 months of my life dedicated to saving her leg and her life.

So naturally, in my first 2 weeks as the tender of a small backyard flock of 5 organic chickens, I have had very little sleep.

Lesson 1, I cannot control the environment. I can build a coop and fence a yard, but the weather and the wildlife are beyond my control. The first night I brought these baby chicks into my life the coyotes came. I'm not talking about some romanticized distant howling under a full moon. I'm talking about the sounds of a pack that just made a kill in my backyard that abruptly wakes me from my slumber. From my bedroom window I saw not one, but 5 coyotes pass silently, single file, under the streetlamp. Minutes later they were at my house. One skulked up my neighbors driveway and passed within 10 feet of my slumbering chicks in their coop. The coyotes had made themselves scarce all winter long, and the first night I brought home my chickens they returned, and have visited our neighborhood several nights since.

And now that it's officially spring and most of the snow has melted and my brain is in summer mode, the winter storms have returned. The temperatures have dropped as low as the single digits at our house in the evenings. The snow has accumulated once again, and the daytime temps have struggled to rise above freezing. At 7-8 weeks a pullet should be fully feathered. In chicken talk this means they are ready to leave the warmth of their brooder or their mother and fend for themselves. With all of their adult feathers they should be able to regulate their body temperature. With the shelter of a coop, they should be able to survive the elements. People raise chickens around the world in all kinds of environments. People have flocks in Alaska. Seasoned chicken farmers will tell you they don't need heat and if small wild birds can survive where you live outside without the safety of a coop that your chickens should do just fine. In theory this is all true. In reality, they are still babies and need a little more help than I realized. They huddle together for warmth at night and I try to convince myself that they are fine, that they will be alright, but then after a particularly cold night, the coldest the chicks have faced in their lives, one chick, Marcy (yes they all have names and yes they are my pets), was near death. Although I have not had chickens before, I have had birds and it doesn't take a seasoned chicken farmer to recognize the signs. Marcy was puffed up, Marcy was lethargic, Macy did not want to eat or drink or scratch or peck or do any of the things the other chickens wanted to do. Marcy did not survive. I brought her inside to warm her up, but that was not enough, and she gave up.

Renovations! At this point my chicks had problems with the cold, and I'd also had the smallest escape through the bars of the fenced yard. I spent much time working on the coop some more. Further securing the fence from tiny chicks getting out and larger predators getting in. Heat has been supplied. Insulation and warmer nesting spots have been added, the fence has been reinforced, the drafts have been further sealed, etc. I also watch the weather religiously in the same way I watch for winter storms to chase pow in season. I set alarms. I go outside and check the coop and the flock every 2 hours, all night. I don't sleep. Nollie is smart and she has learned this routine. I open the front door and tell her to go check on the peepers and she runs out and does a lap around the chicken coop on her own while I watch from the window. She will do good keeping predators away in the years to come.

The flock comes inside. I purchased what are known as starter pullets. They are not the tiny fluffy yellow chicks most people envision, but they are not full grown either. As mentioned, they are fully feathered, but still little with lots of growing to do and were 6 weeks old when I brought them home. They are sold as "outdoor coop ready," but I have learned that maybe they are not really ready for life on the high plains. Part of the point of this was to avoid raising chicks in the house. We don't have a barn or a basement or a garage and didn't want the dusty stinky noisy flock in the house with us and with a cat and two dogs that think they are the best toy or snack I've ever brought them, but I have a little sneezer and there is another winter weather advisory. Little Dot, my golden Wyandotte chick, has been sneezing. I wasn't sure if it was environmental or she was sick. She was still eating and drinking and acting like the other chicks, but she sneezes, regularly. I was concerned. I did not want to lose another one. I still feel awful about Marcy. I still feel responsible and that it was all my fault. The temperature is not supposed to make it above freezing, day or night, for about 72 hours or so. Thank god for my wonderful husband who is a realist and as compassionate towards animals as I am. The chicks are now inside in a tupperware bin in my bathtub. I got my best night sleep since the chicks have come to live with us.

Dot took a turn for the worse. She started wheezing all the time in addition to the sneezing. Her breathing is labored. She sounds like she is snoring. She is just a tiny little thing, less than a pound, and you could hear her struggling to breathe from across the room. Respiratory infections in chickens are a common ailment. Unfortunately they are contagious and often spread through the flock. Birds that recover and birds that don't show symptoms are still usually carries and can still pass it on to others. Chickens are social. Dot relies on the others. They keep each other warm. She sleeps under Harriet at night. I made a difficult decision. Dot needed to be separated from the flock and quarantined. This would certainly cause more stress for Dot to be alone, it may have been a death sentence, but it could potentially save the lives of the rest. I had tried every natural remedy in the book. I talked to the farmer/breeder and followed his advice. I brought the birds inside. None of it seemed to matter. Dot still got worse. I cried. I now honestly feared I would lose each and every one of them and that I'd acted too late. Nothing seemed to be working. I could hear Dot crying for her friends from the laundry room. I could hear her wheezing from outside the door. I could only hope she didn't suffer and the others would be strong enough to fight it off.

I called the vet. I was not going to spend boatloads of money on vet care for my chicks, but I needed some advice. I was not ready to give up.

What it means to raise "organic" chickens and eggs and my real options. The reality of the organic farmer is as follows. If you are really in it for "organic" eggs and meat and are selling these as your livelihood you cull the sick. This means you separate and slaughter the sick to protect the health of your cash flock. This often does not mean just the few showing symptoms, but those that were exposed as well, because as previously mentioned they were still carriers. So when you buy "organic" remember that this doesn't mean the chickens are treated any better, just that they eat special food their whole lives and do not get medicated at any point, so egg quality may be improved, but quality of life may not.

I only have a small backyard flock. I am not going to kill any or all of them. I do not risk infecting 100s of others, nor do I rely on them for income. The next option is quarantine and natural remedies. The goal of this option is really damage control. You may likely lose the sickest chickens (any showing symptoms), but hopefully you can boost the immunity of the rest and limit their exposure so that the flock can continue on, strong and healthy, minus a few. There are still no guarantees. This is where I was at up until yesterday. It pained me to listen to Dot trying to breathe and I was still extremely worried about which chick(s) would fall ill next.

I made the following decision as a pet owner, not as a farmer. This is a hobby. I feel responsible. This is not my only source of income or my only source of food. I cannot just watch a pet suffer. I feel I need to do just about anything in my power to help. None of my pets could survive on their own. They need me to do what is best for them. I decided to medicate. I have introduced antibiotics to my flock. Technically they are no longer organic. The antibiotics will be fully out of their systems by the time they are old enough to lay their first egg. They still eat healthy organic feed. They get sprouts and fermented grains and whole grain feed that is predominately soy and corn free except for the occasional treat. They get our leftover veggies from dinner. Weather permitting, they get to graze in the yard and forage for bugs. Even though the antibiotics will fully flush through their systems eventually, no matter how many years pass and how many eggs they lay and how healthy they eat in the mean time, they can never again be considered "organic," but it is my hope that many years will pass and they will still be healthy and alive as a result of my actions at this early age.

Yesterday I was anxious to get home from work with the first dose of antibiotics. I was anxious to learn if Dot had survived the day. (I hesitate to admit that Dot had become my favorite chick in the last 2 weeks, winning me over with her curiosity) I was anxious to see if anyone else had developed a sneeze or a wheeze. I got home and listened and promptly heard Dot peeping, a huge relief. I opened the laundry room only to discover the little bugger had escaped her hospital box and and was curiously roaming around and chirping and pooping on everything. This is probably the only time I have been happy to see a pet escape. She could barely breathe yet she was up and about and alert. Dot is a fighter. This morning I went to check on her and was greeted by silence. I was afraid to open the box and peer in, afraid she was dead inside. I peeled back the flap and her head was sideways, mouth open and inside I began to panic a little, and then she turned back to her food and kept eating. She was eating! She actually ate quite a lot. I could not hear her wheezing! She sneezed a few times, but she was up and alert and you could not hear labored breathing from across the room or even from up close. Dot may actually be on the mend and none of the other chicks have shown any signs of illness whatsoever. I know this is not over, but I know I made the right decision. I know I did everything I could. I know if they all survive it's because of my efforts and because of my decision to medicate. I know my eggs will still be healthy and organic fed and far fresher than anything I currently buy from the store. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can get the stinky peepers out of my house and back in their coop tomorrow, all except for Dot, who will be inside for quite some time yet.

On Politics

I am not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. I am an American and I am a human. I will vote for the politician I believe most aligns with my views and will do the best job. I care about human rights issues, animal rights issues, and protecting the environment, for these are global issues. I care about clean air, clean water, shelter, and a healthy food supply for these things are essential not only to my survival, but the survival of the planet. I want my leader to stand for world peace, defending the animals (humans and others), and not only protecting, but cleaning up the environment and trying to undo some of the immense damage our species has shamefully inflicted over the years. Maybe after we successfully take care of those things I can begin to care about the petty bullshit the media tries to shove down our throats like who pisses in what toilet, who can marry who, and what god(s) everyone is praying to in order to save us from our own evils.

Natural Born Helper

(wrote this months ago)
A series of events over the past few weeks has made it clear to me that I’m a natural born helper. I have been spending an increasing amount of time in a town with an increasing population. Cars make u turns, pedestrians stand in intersections, and life in general happens at an alarming pace. My inclination is to point out the nearest public rest room, rush over to a car accident I witnessed, ask people if I can help them find the restaurant or trail head they are looking for, etc. The politically correctness in me ingrained by society sometimes has to stop and ask when to help and when not to help.

When did offering a helping hand become offensive? When should I stay out of other people’s business and when should I get involved? Why should I have to worry about stepping on someone’s toes? Let me elaborate a little. If I offer help to someone they might be offended because I am inadvertently implying that they are not capable, smart enough, strong enough, etc. to do it themselves. Additionally in a world where there is a professional in every conceivable field, I am inadvertently implying that the trained professional is not skilled enough, quick enough, doing their job adequately enough to handle the situation on their own.

A simple real world example, I see a skier on the ground on the side of the trail. My inclination would be to ask if they are ok? Are they lost? Are they injured? Are they simply waiting for a friend? Society says it’s none of my damn business. It’s offensive for me to get involved. I am now implying that the skier is not skilled enough to stay on his/her feet, that they are too dumb to read a trail map, and ski patrol isn’t competent enough to handle an injury in a timely manner. This is not my intention at all! When did we have to start worrying about offending someone when offering a helping hand. Why is it shameful or embarrassing to ask for help? Everyone could use a little help sometimes, and even if you don’t need help per se, isn’t it nice to get it once in a while if it makes life easier and makes your day run a little more smoothly?

How do you decide when to help and when not to help? When did society change so that this is even a choice? Why doesn’t everyone just help everyone all the time? Wouldn’t life be easier? I’m not expecting anything in return at the moment; I am just forever hopefully that if/when one day I really need a helping hand that there may be a kind enough stranger to offer it, even if I’m hesitant to ask.

DONE.

I am done, I am spent, I am exhausted. This has been extremely difficult and I am beat down and defeated. It's hard to stay positive, optimistic, cheerful. I can no longer fake smile at people and say things are going good when they ask about my day in passing. I am used to the day to day challenges; the lack of electricity is a breeze, the lack of plumbing is a bitch, but showering at work or the rec center is a work around. These are the obvious struggles, but what is eating at me are the bits I internalize. Aside from the dust and the dog and cat hair and the pollen and mold growing in the camper are the thoughts in my head causing the lack of sleep and lack of appetite. I am constantly nauseous and tired. I cannot focus; my brain is elsewhere. I miss work, I do not see my friends, I do not interact with anyone.

Sunshine. Sunshine and my pets are on my mind all day every day. Sunshine has grown old, and while she is not in poor health exactly, she is in pain every day. She cannot get around. She cannot climb in and out of the car. This morning she could not even lean down to eat out of her bowl; she laid in the dirt. Her medicine helps, minimally. Living in a car is no life for a dog or a cat. They need to run and roam and be wild and free. My days can be dictated by the weather. The animals need to be either kept from freezing or kept from cooking in the sweltering sun. I constantly need to find pet friendly places to hang out, because that's all Sunshine can do, hang out.

Nollie on the other hand makes things difficult in her own way. She is the polar opposite of Sunshine in so many ways. Nollie needs to run wild for miles. She needs exercise, but Sunny can't. She does not like people she is fearful and would defend me to end of the earth. She guards the camper and the car. She chases off strangers on the trail and then crawls into my lap to be petted and comforted and told she did good. Nollie demands extreme attention yet wants everyone to ignore her. She gets in fights at the dog park and scares the crap out of little kids and adults alike.

Then there is my lack of hiking. The time spent juggling work and the dogs has left little time for the trail. Sunny can't join me and she can't be left behind. It's put a cramp on my hiking and backpacking which is my mental health cleansing activity. No overnight trips, no summit attempts, no long hikes of any kind. This also means no camping away from people. Town is getting increasingly busy as are all the 4wd roads and easily accessible trails. With the truck and the camper and the dogs we are restricted to easily accessible wilderness areas which mean, yay, we get to hang out with loads of strangers. Generally I head into the woods to get away from people, society, my own thoughts, and now we can't escape. There are people everywhere. This also cramps our style with Nollie, who as I've mentioned, needs to run, but can't handle the strangers, so now she needs to be leashed more and more often.

Maybe I'm putting too much stock in this house. I've for years had a dream of a little house with a yard. Nothing extravagant, but when I saw this place with the fence and the dog door, I knew it would be perfect. I want the dogs to run out the door and chase squirrels and not have to worry about them chasing strangers or being hit by a car. There would no longer be 3 flights of stairs for Sunny to struggle with and she could just hang out on the porch and relax in the sun with her nose in the air, or underground in a hole she's digging, enjoying the world. Sunny deserves to be a porch dog in her retirement, and it kills me to see them in the back of the car some days.

So no hiking on my own and no operating my hiking business either. The lenders are spying on me and I'm not making this shit up; I wish I was. I cannot be open for business. Next weekend is 4th of July, the busiest weekend of the summer, and I can't capitalize on it and make money. No classes, no trips, no rental equipment, no meal packages, hell, I'm not even allowed to update my travel blog about my final bits of my personal New Zealand trip months ago. I cannot answer my phone or return emails or advertise or update my website. At this point I'm pretty much ruined for a successful summer with Beyond Backpacking. Ugh. So dumb. They are still counting my debts from opening my business against me too, but won't let me operate to recoup any of those expenses.

Not just no hiking, but no vacations for me either. I always have to be accessible and in cell service and ready to access my financial files and documents and near a computer and able to respond to phone calls and emails quickly. So no headed into the wilderness, but no headed out of town either because no only do I need to be near this pertinent information, but I cannot use my credit cards. That means no plane tickets or long term planning. I missed my uncle's wedding, probably can't go to OBX in August because by the time I'm allowed to buy tix and leave town prices will be through the roof. I'm trying to plan travel to Bali or Costa Rica in the fall as well, or maybe join Kumar in Nepal as I've been planning for over a year. No booking a honeymoon either or planning my wedding.

That's right, the wedding, the one I may have to call off at this point, the one that is supposed to be in a few months, is totally on hold. As I said I can't use my credit card, so no buying anything, booking anything, putting a deposit on anything. I don't know how much closing on the house is going to be so I need to save every dime in my bank account, no big purchases of any kind. Also when this all began and we started looking at wedding venues and realized how absurd the pricing was we decided we'd rather spend our money on a house, that was more important to us, a place to live and raise a family for years as opposed to one day. We said that once we bought a house we could have a wedding in the yard. All we want is our family and friends to all come together, have a BBQ, hang out, see the beautiful mountains in which we live, and celebrate with us. I am running out of time. If there is no venue, there's no date, and I can't really set up anything else.

I want to have a family. It is no secret. Call it biological clock, or whatever you want, but it doesn't change the fact. I try and be responsible and right now I feel like I can barely take care of myself and my pets, let alone human kids. I think I should have a place to live first before bringing them into this world. I'd love a house, but really it's in part about living somewhere a bit more affordable because rent is astronomical. I need somewhere with 2 bedrooms where the second bedroom doesn't have roommates. I don't want roommates, I want a family.

These are the things that are eating at me every day. These are the things I am not talking about. These are the things that make me cry daily and make me angry because I work hard and try and do what's right and things are still a mess and I wonder where I went wrong. This house has been in the works since mid March, in many ways longer. In many ways it's been in the works since the day Clayton asked me to marry him. I've always wanted a house for the above reasons, but I needed someone crazy enough to want in on it with me, to share the dream of a better life. I put my condo up for sale January one and the madness began with regular showings and packing and cleaning and moving out and it hasn't stopped since, it just shifted into camper life. I don't know if we will ever close on this house. The lender continues to delay and the seller continues to want to back out of the deal. It just needs to end, to be done, one way or the other, so that we can live somewhere and move on with our lives. Hopefully it all works out soon, but it is still a day to day thing with no set closing date and no real end of the deal. The lender is still working the realtors are still working and I am still here, now a zombie, staggering around the mountains, hoping for a cure.
Defeated
So much for a house
With a yard
For a backyard wedding
And my dogs
So much for space
For an office
And kids
So much for affordability
Working from home
Living in the mountains
Raising a family
So much for luxuries
Indoor plumbing
Heat
Electricity
A bed
So much for dreams

40 nights of hobo life

Actually it's 43 total nights, 10 down, 33 to go if all transpires according to plan. I am currently homeless. My condo has been sold. We have moved out. Done.

Moving on. We are in the process of buying a house. We are under contract. We are in negotiations regarding inspection issues. We do not close for another 33 days. We cannot move in. We are homeless.

You may think camping for 40+ nights is glamorous. Being unattached. Travelling. Staying off the grid. It would be. If this is how it really was. I did not chose a camping adventure like when I traveled to New Zealand. There are no plans. There is no fun. I am still tied down. I have to show up for my 40 hour a week 9-5 job. Clayton has to show up for work as well. We are essentially sharing a car. We have extremely different schedules. I find myself driving him in at 4:30 am or killing time until the rec. center opens at 6:00 am. We are up before the sun and in bed before the sun sets and often up in between to run some heat so that we do not freeze to death, literally, in the middle of the night. We cannot keep the heat running or we will die in our sleep of carbon monoxide poisoning instead of cold, our heater and stove run on propane. We need to stay camped close to work which means we are still in the mountains in the midst of winter and the nightly temps are between 15 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit. There is frost inside the windows, I can see my breath while I lie in bed, I stop reading when I can no longer feel my fingers wrapped around my book. The ground is frozen and the snow comes up to the stop sign on the road where we are camped. This means no campfires, all the wood is frozen beneath feet of snow. This also means no cat holes, if I need to poop I poop in a bucket with a frosted plastic seat on top. No running water. I do dishes and laundry at work. I shower and wash up at the rec. center. If we are not careful our water freezes overnight. We move the camper every day so that we are not towed or robbed of our essentials. I have things in storage. I have things at work. I have things in my car. I have things in the camper. I have donated and disposed of many things. All this equates to is that I can never find anything and never seem to have just what it is that I need at any given moment whether it's to cook with or wear or even simply wash my hair. I am not asking for sympathy or help or even complaining. I'm just saying it how it is. It's the way my life is right now. It's not easy, but it works. I wish it was a fun adventure, but due to the buying of the house I need to be around to take care of things, I also need to keep working due to the impending mortgage. I wish I could just take off work for 40 days and travel around in the camper and have a real adventure. See new sights. Be carefree. Love life.
Wrote this a week or so ago, my ongoing issues with the system. Maybe it's my punk rock mentality, but I'm pretty sure society is broken in a lot of ways.

The struggle of the middle class in middle America is real. I'm not looking for sympathy so much as an acknowledgment of the holes in the system so that maybe we can work towards a solution in our lifetime so future generations stand a chance at success. The two places I have faced glaring problems are with the health care system and more recently, housing. I know I've talked about this before, but since I haven't reached a satisfactory solution in my own life, it's hard to just shrug it off.

Background on myself. I have a full time year round job. It's not one of the prevalent seasonal jobs tied to the ski resorts in the area, it's a genuine career type job with health insurance and paid time off. I'm an hourly employee, but required to work at least 30 hours a week. I make more than what the federal government has established as the poverty line and less than what the census has established as the median income for full time residents in my county. My credit card debt is minimal, and I do have a car payment, but on my used vehicle it is lower than most. Based on all statistics I think I fit firmly in the middle class.

Healthcare I have talked much about before, but I feel it factors into everything, especially now that we are essentially required by the government to obtain health insurance. If I were to get sick or injured, as is normal in human life, and go to a doctor and had to pay for the entire bill out of my own pocket, I could not afford it. I would be paying that bill for months, possibly years, and they might even send collections after me if I didn't just put it all on a credit card. If you put it on the credit card because you can't afford it, then your bill is even higher, because now you have to pay interest on it, and it's even less affordable. If I were to obtain health insurance on my own, I couldn't afford that either. That $200 plus a month is food for one person, or my car payment (and my car gets me to work), or more than my whole month's gas budget. I'm not talking about having extra spending cash to travel or buy new gadgets or gear, I'm talking about cost of living expenses. I also, according to statistics, make too much money to qualify for medical assistance programs. So, too poor to pay for medical care/coverage, but too rich to qualify assistance. This is where the struggle of the middle class lies. I hate to say it, but it's possible I'd be better off if I made less money. So what do I do, well, I'm fortunate that now, after years of this, I can get health insurance through work, which is marginally more affordable, but I can't help but think that money could be better spent on something else, especially when I still hesitate to visit a doctor when I need it because I still can't afford the deductibles.

Housing. The cheapest single family home on the market in the zip code I live in is listed at $160,000. You may not think that is all that bad until you dig a little deeper. This property has no well or septic and is not hooked up to public water, this means no drinking water and you have an outhouse. There are many properties like this on the market, they sound ok on the surface, but they are not habitable by the standards of the lenders. If you make enough money to purchase a home with a large sum of cash you have managed to save over the years and have more cash to spend on upgrades and repairs you are in good shape. If you are middle class, chances are you have possibly saved up some money for a down payment and plan on obtaining a loan to pay for your new home. This is pretty standard in America. What I wasn't prepared for is that if you are obtaining a loan, the property you are purchasing not only has to meet all of your personal requirements for your new home, but the bank's requirements as well. So that home for $160,000 isn't something you can buy because the bank isn't going to give you a loan for a property without running water and a toilet that flushes. Looking at move in ready homes, your prices tend to jump up. Here's another one for you. The next zip code over, so between my current residence and my current job, the cheapest single family home on the market is $667,500. Low income housing in the county starts in the $300,000 range. According to my banker, the purchase price of my new home needs to be under $200,000 or my monthly payments would be 75% or more of my monthly income, and after paying for my mandatory health insurance there may not be anything left over for a car or food or gas or a phone or utilities or any other luxuries. Oh, you don’t consider having a cell phone or internet access or cable tv a luxury? What about electricity? Again, these are the problems of middle class America. These are things we have come to accept and expect as standard quality of life necessities. I could sell my car and hitchhike to work. I could live without a phone at home. Do I want to? No. So I listen to my banker and hope that I can find a home I can afford because the notion of a higher paying job in the area seems absurd when this is the highest paying job I’ve had ever. Perhaps I am an idealist, and I like to believe that since I have worked hard my whole life, and hold multiple jobs, and have landed some sort of career, that I can have a roof over my head, preferably a house. We could look at the rental market, but here’s the reality, renting my own home is actually more expensive monthly than purchasing one (and we’ve already looked at the expense of purchasing one). Renting a room means I have to have strangers as roommates, I can’t live with my fiancé anymore even though we have lived together for almost 6 years and want to have a family together (and having kids while we live in different houses with various strangers as roommates really doesn’t sound like a good option to me), and I’d have to give away my pets, and I’m sorry, but I have had Miss Sunshine for almost 10 years now and it would break my heart and hers if we were to part ways, this is not an option. So these are the difficult choices I make as a middle class American. I choose to have a car and a phone and a fiancé and a dog (actually 2 and a cat). I choose to live in Colorado. I choose to stay at my middle income job. Because of this I struggle with housing and healthcare. There is no easy answer. The system is flawed. If I were to live somewhere the cost of living was lower, the wages would be lower as well. When I moved to NC for a summer, I learned this first hand. For the same position as I’d held in Colorado at the time (actually it was a higher position in NC) I was to make $3-$5 less an hour. I keep telling myself it will all work out eventually. The reality is that it will all work out because I work hard and make it work out. I’m not sure I’m trying to complain exactly, but I’m frustrated. There are programs in place to help low income families get food and healthcare and housing, but I make too much money for these programs and I don’t make enough money to take care of these things without them. I’m stuck in the middle class. A topic for another day perhaps, but what’s really eating me up is that I want to have a family and that’s even more challenging. I’m looking at housing with the notion that I’d like to have kids in the second bedroom not a roommate. I want to have health insurance so I can take them to the doctor or take care of myself so I can take care of them. One day of child care would cost as much or more than one day of my wages so available income for other things would be less. It’s a fragile and complicated system and I’ve yet to figure out how to make it work to my advantage.
Can't sleep. The sun isn't even hinting at rising. I am camped with the girls on the floor of my soon to be "old" condo thinking about the loss. People seem to assume that I'm selling to make some sort of financial gain, that I'm waking away from this with a boatload of money. The fact of the matter is that I'm paying a boatload of money to get out of this shithole. The longer I stay here the more money I will lose. In case you weren't paying attention, the housing market tanked, and in case you didn't know, selling a house is complicated and expensive financially and emotionally. As I lay uncomfortably on the floor of my empty living room in my sleeping bag and look around I see what made me fall in love with this place in the first place and I am sad it didn't work out. I was supposed to fix it up and flip it and move on to something bigger and better with money to spare, well that didn't happen. A few years after I bought I was still in the mindset to sell, but it was worth far less than I'd paid for it. So since I didn't exactly need to sell I did what a lot of people did and sat tight, hating living in this condo every day, waiting for the economy to recover. The recovery, if you can call it that, from possibly the biggest recession this country has seen, has been slow. When Clayton asked me to marry him I decided to take a chance, to cut my losses and run. It's complicated. I am taking a risk in hopes of a greater reward, a better living situation for me and my dogs and one day a family. I could keep waiting, miserably, for the economy to recover further, and in that time pay thousands more in interest and repairs over the next few years so that any profit gained by waiting is still essentially a loss. Instead I am getting out. In a few short hours we will be homeless. I wish I was more excited to be free, but the balance due at closing which is far more than I had anticipated is looming over me and I was unable to find a suitable rental that starts April 1 and we've been getting dicked around on the purchase of a new home and I'm beginning to feel like that will never happen and that was the whole point of moving out of here all along, to move into something better. In short, my life is a mess and I hope I'm not fucking it up worse.

House Hunting

The properties in my price range that are currently on the market include some real gems and have some great features. I have seen two houses with bullet holes, one with an outhouse, one with mold, 2 with bad foundations and one with no foundation at all. They range from plowed out and winterized to needing snowshoes and a shovel with totally frozen pipes. I could see myself living in any of them, but not happily. The most recent one even had a child slave dungeon. Their previous owners range from too emotionally attached to actually sell to so detached the bank has repossessed the plot. Maybe I should have considered myself lucky to live in Aspen Ghettos, or maybe one day I will have a house of my own.

so long fare well

so long, farewell, goodbye to social media, goodbye to telephones, goodbye to internet, goodbye to text messages, and pinterest, and facebook, and livejournal, and instagram, goodbye

i am taking a vacation from everything and everyone

i have gratitude for family and friends and time spent together and wisdom and love that we share

i will be back in a month, we can catch up then

without the support of my family and friends and coworkers this adventure never would have come to fruition

thank you all

i am out