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Just Go Out and Do It

February 3rd, 2012

Life on the Maine coast is hard, but it is a good life, a quality life, a way of living simply in troubled times. When Scott Nearing was ninety-five, I heard him give a lecture at the Common Ground Fair in Litchfield, Maine. He talked about gardening and homesteading, and concluded by telling the audience, “If you want to have a garden, just go out and do it. Just go out and do it.” I’ve often heard those words as I think about taking on a new project or expanding the gardens. Despite any divergence from Scott’s philosophy and practice Lynn and I have taken as we made the Maine farm ours, that too would be my best advice to anyone thinking of creating a new life for themselves: “Just go out and do it!”.

Stanley Joseph from Maine Farm: A Year of Country Life

I read this book a couple years ago and have been meaning to buy it. I actually forgot the name of it and had trouble finding it again until a few weeks ago. It was written by the couple who took over the Nearing homestead. When it arrived in the mail, Mr Chiots decided to read it. One evening, while we were sitting in the living reading, he said to me, “I just flipped to the afterward of the book to see where they are now and listen to this…” He then continued to read the quote above.

He continued to talk about how this was exactly what he needed to hear as we think about starting a new chapter in our lives. We’ve spent the last month or two looking at houses in Maine, Vermont and a few other New England states. After choosing a location we thought would suite us perfectly, we called a realtor, rearranged our schedule, and set off to Maine. Today we’re on our way home from this journey, with a lot to talk about during the 12 hour drive. You’ll be hearing all about what we saw and experienced over the coming weeks (perhaps a poll so you can help us choose which house to purchase).

This quote really resonates with us right now. You see, we’ve been dragging our feet a little, reluctant to give up the comfort we’ve achieved here for the unknown. Our reluctance is starting to turn to excitement, even though we know we have a lot of hard work and long days ahead. I have no doubt the future will bring many rewards and we’ll never regret just getting out and doing it.

Do you have something that’s been nagging your mind that you need to just go out and do?

Old as Dirt

January 23rd, 2012

Every now and then I reach into the junk drawer in the kitchen for a pencil, which doesn’t happen very often. I don’t like to use pencils being more of a cheap bic pen person. This pencil shows you exactly how little I use a pencil:

Yes, I got this pencil in 1990 when the census representative stopped by our house; I was 14 years old. The pencil has never been sharpened, still sporting the original short point and the eraser has barely been used. I guess it’s not as old as dirt, but it’s pretty old for a pencil!

For some reason I distinctly remember the day when this pencil appeared in my life, but I have no idea how it’s stuck around for 21 years. It’s not that I particularly like this pencil or keep it around for a specific reason, somehow it has just moved through life with me.

I’m not really a sentimental person and I don’t place much value on things, so I don’t have objects around the house that I’ve saved for that reason. Of seemingly weird trinkets from my youth, I also have this tiny blue cow eraser that I got in the 3rd grade when the dairy association came to our school to promote how healthy milk was.

No doubt this census pencil will remain in my home for many more years and I’ll chuckle every time I reach into my junk drawer and pull out the pencil. I won’t be sad when it’s finally gone or lost, but I sure enjoy seeing it surface every now and then! It’s funny how something as insignificant as a pencil or an eraser can float in and out of our lives for many years, not having any value but somehow carrying a few memories with it. Every time I see this pencil I can hear the doorbell ringing at our old house on Metzger Ave. in Rittman, OH and I remember seeing the census representative handing me a clipboard with this pencil.

Do you have any items like this in your house, insignificant items that seem to stick around?

Uncommon Gifts

January 20th, 2012

Mr Chiots and I have been working on simplifying our lives, which means we try not to buy things we don’t need. This presents a problem when it comes to buying gifts for each other. As a result, our gifts are usually things we’re buying anyways or things we need for our business. For example, I got a new camera lens for Christmas. We’d been debating on buying it, and it’s for our business more than it’s for me personally. I also got a few pairs of wool socks, that was it, simple and useful. Both items I needed and would have purchased eventually. Mr Chiots received some glass straws and Klean Kanteen Steel Pint Glasses from me.

You may be wondering why these particular gifts were chosen. Mr Chiots is a HUGE fan of chocolate milkshakes from Hartzler’s Dairy in Wooster, OH. Every time we’re driving by he pulls into the parking lot and asks “you said you needed butter right”. When I say “No”. He says, “Oh well, since we’re already stopped I may as well get a milkshake!” The only downside to their milkshakes is the straws, they are too small, filmsy and collapse when using them.

When I saw these glass straws on, I knew he’d love them, nothing flimsy about these. Stainless steel pints were added and now he can get a milkshake whenever he wants without worrying about the styrofoam cups or plastic straws. We have already managed to reduce the amount of garbage we produce to one small kitchen bag every two weeks, and now without the countless milkshake glasses it will be even less!

We haven’t used the cups yet as they just arrived Wed, but the straws are a big hit – Mr Chiots loves them. Although, he said because they don’t collapse he drinks his milkshake faster and says he’s going to have to start ordering bigger ones!

I’m thinking these stainless steel glasses might get a little cold when filled with a milkshake, so a felted wool or cork koozie might be in order to complete the gift.

What’s the most perfect gift you’ve ever received?

Where the Magic Happens

January 13th, 2012

I’m sure you’ve picked up on the fact that I work from home and have for most of my adult life. We live in a small two bedroom house, with one bedroom is set up as our office. Unfortunately there’s only one window in this bedroom and it looks at our garage, as a result our office is not very bright. I’m a big window, sun streaming in, bright room kind of person, so being stuffed back in my corner office can get a bit depressing, especially on these dark winter afternoons!

This is what my desk space in my home office looks like; you’ll notice how dark it is (it was 2 in the afternoon when I took this photo)! I admit, the dark green paint was a really bad choice, especially since we spend so much time in here. The thought of taking all the cabinets down off the wall to repaint is too much, so it stays.

When I started working for Ethel, I bought myself a little laptop. I knew it would be the easiest way to keep my on-line identities/lives separate. So now I am able to spend some of my work hours in the sunny living room. This is where I spend my time when I’m writing, blogging and social media management. I should say this is my Ethel Gloves office.

By some of the comments I hear from those around me, I think there are people that think my days are leisurely and filled with reading, cooking, gardening, blogging, and photography. In reality, the majority of my time is spend at my computer doing accounting, managing a few different businesses, writing, invoicing, taxes, editing photos, and all the fun stuff that comes along with being self-employed. I don’t blog about that because really, who wants to read about all of that! I really do enjoy what I do, it is work after all and there’s a reason I get paid to do it.

My desk isn’t as dreary as it could be, I have a Chiot’s Run calendar hanging beside my desk, along with a little magnetic board that’s filled with quotes and other things I love (a quote by Thomas Jefferson taking center stage). Beside my keyboard is my to-do list, which is divided into quadrants, one for each job. One of my friends gave me this idea, I print it out each week and populate it with what I need to get done. When you are juggling as many jobs and hobbies as I am you need something like this to keep it all organized so you don’t forget anything! (you can download it here if you’re interested)

If I could have the “perfect” work space, it would have a lot of windows, south facing preferably (with blinds for the summer months). It would be filled with lots of plants, have a big comfy chair in the corner and a few big photos of my garden on the walls. Alas, that is not my office, until I have that (if ever), I’m stuck in the corner in the darkest room of the house knocking out my work from day to day – just as many of you are. I think that is one of the things that drives me outside into the garden every chance I get?

If you could start any business at all what would it be?

An Inspirational Tale

January 10th, 2012

Mr Chiots and I have been spending a little time each evening watching through the Lord of The Rings Trilogy. I bought him the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions on blu-ray for Christmas (well worth purchasing if you’re a fan). He’s a HUGE fan, having read the books a few times and all the related books as well. I like the movies, but haven’t been able to sit through the books for some reason.

I find myself paying close attention to words and quotes as I watch movies. As I do when I read, I’m always writing down quotes and this movie has some great passages. A few times Mr Chiots had to stop it, rewind and let me listen to the quotes a couple times to make sure I got them down just right. Here’s one of my favorites sections, inspirations words to remember:

Frodo: I can’t do this Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

I like to pair quotes with images too (hence the quote calendar), I thought this image from yesterday’s post was perfect for the last part of this quote:

This is a winter tradition for us, after we’re done with the 007 Days of Christmas, we move on to the Lord of the Rings. One of the things we really appreciate about winter is the little extra down time we have. We sometimes use this to sit down in the evenings to watch something entertaining. Now that this series is done, there’s nothing on our list. We don’t have cable, and we live in a rural area so our antennae doesn’t work so well. We prefer waiting till shows are over and on DVD to watch them so we can get through them quicker.

Do you have any great recommendations for us of interesting documentaries, movies, TV series that we should add to our list?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.