Mountain Wonder

A moments pause on the walk down the road
The picture doesn’t quite capture it.

As you know I’ve been writing about the beginning of our journey but today I decided to throw in a little something from the here and now. To understand you first need to know where we’re currently at in the building process. The house is only a couple of weeks from being finished but the progress has been stalled due to three weeks of snow. We are currently living in the house but have not moved in. We have electricity and heat but no water. With that in mind I’ll move onto today.

I woke up this morning to check the weather. The winds were still blowing at over 20 mph, which meant our private road was still impassible for the fourth day in a row. No getting to school for my kids again today.

By 3:00 the winds had finally slowed down. So I called Todd. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Todd walked the mile and a half down our road yesterday so that he could stay at a friends house and get to work.

Anyway back to the phone call . . . I thought it would be a good idea for the kids to walk down the hill this evening before it gets dark so that they could get to school tomorrow morning.

The road has three to ten foot drifts most of the way down so we prepared ourselves for a tiring walk and headed out to meet their dad. The younger ones had less to carry so they took off a head of us, but the oldest had a saxophone plus a backpack plus stuff for going to state with the pep band this weekend. So we loaded his stuff onto a sled and headed down to catch up with the others.

It turned out to be a wonderful walk, filled with laughter. The sled worked perfect with a couple adjustments and we were able to walk mostly on top of the drifts. When we caught up to the others they were sledding down the side of the hill on their butts. The snow was high enough to cover stumps and scotch broom. We paused and had some fun sliding and sledding down the hill before they walked the remaining distance to the car.

On my way back up to the house I was admiring the amazing view and a thought occurred to me. So many people have come up to our property and admired the beauty around us, but many of them including me on occasion mention that it’s a pity the ugly power lines are in the way. As I was walking up and stopping to admire the scenery around me I realized that the power lines aren’t ruining my view. They’re the very reason I have such a miraculous view.

Beautiful evergreen trees surround me, and right now they are even more gorgeous covered in snow. But that’s all I would see if it weren’t for the power lines. The trees would block the sunsets and beauty we can see from the road along the power lines. I couldn’t help but compare my thoughts to life. It’s so easy to notice the hard, annoying, horrible, nightmarish things in life. But maybe it’s their actual presence that eventually allows us to see the real majesty around us.

The First Week

If you are asking yourself why I didn’t blog about this adventure while it was happening, I’ll explain. We had no electricity except our generator which we used to power the pump to our well. It could have charged my laptop and other technical toys but was rather inconvenient. We moved in July but didn’t officially have electricity until December 26th. My plan had been to keep up with my blogging and writing during this whole adventure but found it to be much more difficult than I had previously anticipated.

It was really exciting to finally move to our property that we had been working on for months. Our first day in the tent was July 6th. We also picked up our new puppy, Gypsy, that day as well.

Each person had their own hammock, so we spent time picking the perfect spot to hang them and enjoyed the summer days laying in them and looking up at the trees. However by the second day it was obvious my kids were suffering from slight withdrawals of our technological world. The four youngest ages are; 17, 15, 12, 8. They were all bored out of their minds. We had no TV, no internet, no gaming devices and lousy cell coverage. All things that my kids had grown up depending on. As a good parent I had limited their use of these items over the years but the sudden complete lack of them was a bit of a shock.

So I headed to the book store and bought eight books. To my complete astonishment they started reading. Well not my youngest. He was reveling in the outdoors. He spent his time catching bugs and making a terrarium, playing with the dogs, and roaming the property imagining.

I spent my time trying to set up house in the woods. We called the area where we slept Tent City. We had one large tent for clothes and one for sleeping. We also had two canopies. One with all of our camp chairs and one covering two tables, our camp stove and some shelves.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. Our builder was supposed to have an outhouse (Honey Bucket, Porta Potty, whatever you call them. They go by many names) for us by the time we moved up there. We got up there on a Friday and there was no outhouse. We called our builder and he said they only deliver on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So we had to wait until Tuesday before we had a something other than a hole in the ground. It sure made us appreciate it when it arrived.

That first week, I was very ambitious. I woke up early to take the puppy on a walk. Afterwards I came back and made blueberry, chocolate chip pancakes. There wasn’t much to clean so most of my time that first week was making sure things were organized. All and all, it was an exciting and enjoyable time.

A Summer Adventure

img_9056.jpg

Something about the word Adventure has an exciting ring to it. It sparks a fire of anticipation. Yet just like in the stories, adventures seldom turn out the way the participants expect. Such, has been my summer.

Originally, I would have to say my own adventure started in the spring of 2017 when we decided to sell our house so we could buy some property and build our own home. But that is not the part I’m going to write about. This journey began as we started the process of moving from my parents’ home this last June. Our destination . . . the property that our house was going to be built on. Amenities at the time: a well with a generator to run the pump, an outhouse, and tents.

As I was preparing for our move in June, I spent countless hours thinking about how we would live out of tents. There are six of us. My four youngest and my husband, Todd and me. I love camping but usually don’t sleep well, which was not going to work long term. So, after much thought I decided we would all sleep on cots in a tent we bought from Costco. As big as the tent was I knew it wouldn’t fit much more than our cots. So, what was I going to do about all of the clothes and other minimal things needed to live. This took a lot more imagination and thinking.

Finally, I came up with a plan to use another large tent filled with plastic containers for each of my kids’ clothes.  Along with an item found at Walmart that would allow me to hang some suits and dresses. Also, a couple of shoe racks and a shelf to hold plastic containers for each child to put bathroom things in. Filling very excited about my idea I started spending hundreds of dollars on containers. Even the cheapest containers add up when buying them in large quantities.

Armed with great plans and excitement, we started packing and making the many trips to move things to the property. It took me all of the month of June to tackle such an undertaking but finally we were ready to move ourselves to the mountain.

Busy Times

Well here it is another week gone by and hardly any writing completed. It’s been the end of the school year, which means multiple band concerts and last minute homework cramming. Of course because we’re moving there is the additional stuff like getting the kids registered and trying to determine what things need to be packed away for several months and what they need to leave out.

I was very excited to get my chicken coop completed. It took me all day but it had to get done. The chicks needed to sleep in it that night.IMG_9459

Summer break is officially here and I’m getting excited for our next big adventure. Next week I will be flying out for my oldest son’s graduation from boot camp in South Carolina. That will be an exciting week. I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done while I’m flying.

So until next week . . .

Time

Time is such a mysterious thing. According to our clocks it moves at a constant pace. Ticking away the seconds minutes and hours of our day. Yet in its mystery it can speed up and slow down. As a child, I used to wait for Christmas and in frustration exclaim that it was so far away. Now at summers close I stress because I know that in a blink of an eye it’ll be here.

Managing time is a constant process. My Life changes, my plans are readjusted and time seems to slip through my fingers. I try to prioritize, making sure that my time is spent in the most meaningful ways possible and yet minutes still slip through the cracks unaccounted for and impossible to reclaim.

I second guess myself, “should I have spent my time doing that.”  I reevaluate and then move forward only to question myself again. Being busy isn’t a bad thing. But it could be if I’m filling my time with things that don’t matter in the end.

So as the seconds tick I hope that at least my progress in managing something as precious as the time of my life is getting better. I hope that in the end I’ll be able to look back on my time, smile and be able to say “I did alright.”

Beauty

As a mother I have watched each of my children learn to create. They play with play do and color amazing works of art and then comes the sad day when they start to notice art created by siblings, friends and parents and everything changes. They stop believing me when I tell them that what they have made is amazing. They get frustrated with themselves and crumple up their drawing after seeing something they assume to be better.

I have reflected many times to my own youth. As a child I loved to draw. My parents always encouraged me, they even signed me up for a drawing class. I loved that class and at its conclusion I had a finished drawing of a tiger in charcoal. My parents were very proud of that drawing. Then came the day in middle school when a girl sitting next to me showed me a drawing she was working on. I don’t remember anything about her picture but my thoughts I remember with clarity.

I can’t draw. My parents were just being nice, because I’m their daughter, but I have no real talent.

I’m sad to say that I gave up drawing after that. Now when I look back I see the folly in my thinking. But even worse I watch my own children come to similar conclusions. Nothing I say seems to convince them otherwise. One day I was holding my sons bearded dragons with my daughter. She commented on how beautiful they were and I agreed with her. Then a thought entered my mind and I knew I had an opportunity.

I explained to her that many people detest lizards and don’t see them as beautiful. I then explained that God is the best creator. Yet not everyone appreciates all that he has created. He knew that some people would see beauty in some things and not in others. We are all different and knowing this he created a very diverse world so that all could enjoy it and find beauty in his creations. I then explained to her that if someone doesn’t like her art don’t get discouraged. There will always be someone that appreciates it. She just needs to keep working and improving.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that I’m my own worst critic. I have learned to handle criticism from others but still struggle with outing the critic in myself. My own doubt cripples me. It is my own voice that tells me that what I’m doing doesn’t matter and that no one would appreciate it. It’s an ongoing battle. Time is precious in my busy lifestyle and I tell myself that writing takes too much of that time and I’m really not that good anyway. So I put it aside for what I deem to be more important tasks. Then something inside pulls me back. I love to write. It fulfills a certain part of me. The battle is constant, but I’m beating the critic within, because my unique ability is worth sharing, even if it doesn’t compare in context or quality to someone else’s. There are people out there that will appreciate my work for what it is. A unique work of art. And art is meant to be shared.

Characters

I had a conversation with my son today about how I develop my characters. It was an interesting discussion. Every writer does things a little different and it’s interesting to see different ways to do the same thing.

My characters always just appear in the story. As I start daydreaming or writing the story they’re just sort of formed. I know how they’ll act in any situation I put them in. I have occasionally had characters confront a situation in my story and find that it doesn’t feel right for this particular character. At that point I’ll backtrack and make it right.

I do have character cards to help me keep track of my characters. They’re really not so much cards, as they are a word document with the characters and their names. The facts I keep about each of the characters has much more to do with details of their past, their family and their description. Their is almost nothing written on their personality. This is because I intuitively know each character and what they’ll do.

I’m curious as to how you develop your characters? Please comment and let me know.

My Box of Dreams

I love this quote from Erma Bombeck:

“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box.”

I’ve accomplished many of my dreams. Yet there are still many in my box. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should always have dreams in our box so that when we accomplish one we can work on another. The problem occurs when we think some dreams belong forever to remain in the dark secret inclosure of our little dream box. So why do I let some dreams escape and others stay hidden.

Here is my theory. Fear. If I take my dream out, then others can see it. It leaves me open to criticism. Fear of failure is another big one. What if I don’t succeed? I tell myself the big fat lie that not trying is better then failing.

Strangely another one of my fears is success. Why, you ask, would I be afraid of success? Because success would bring with it responsibilities, growth and new challenges. I tell myself that I’m satisfied the way I am. What a fool I can be. A caterpillar that told itself the same thing would never know the beauty and wonder that awaits it as a butterfly.

So here I am taking out a dream that was hidden for years. Attempting to do what I thought was too hard, so that my dream has a chance of coming true. Will there be criticism? Absolutely. Will there be failure? Of course. Will there be success? Only if I try.

What Motivates

I had a conversation with my son this last year that was intriguing. He told me that he wasn’t motivated to do anything. He’s in scouting, sports and school but felt no real drive to excel at any of it. He wanted to know what he could do to be motivated to do something…anything.

It was a great question. One that I think a lot of people struggle with. I’ve struggled with a lack of drive for short periods of time in my own life. So what do we do when that happens? How do we get up off our butts and get going? I’m certain there are as many answers to that question as there are people. For me, however, it’s been my faith. So that is the answer I gave to my son.

I told him that if he had no desire to excel then he could start by praying for desire. We aren’t meant to flounder. Each person is an amazing miracle that is meant to explore their creativity and possibilities. Each of us has so much potential. We shouldn’t let the possibilities of what we can accomplish, create, lives that we can touch, things that we can learn and explore go to waste in this life.

…So pray for the desire to accomplish great things and then get up and do it.