It’s not just me, apparently.

I have been battling a feeling of hopelessness and depression for probably a year — my spouse hasn’t worked a full time job in well over a year, I took a pay and hour cut at my job (though I got the hours back), the team atmosphere has been destroyed by a combination of upper management deliberate decisions and ineffectual middle management support for us line people, I’m legally committed to my job because they’re paying for my bachelor’s degree, I happen to work on the shift with a few truly nasty individuals, and so on.  And then there are the ‘customers’.  Things are getting desperate out there folks, and I see it in the people I come into contact with.  And it rubs off on me.

So knowing if I lost my job we were probably screwed, I’ve been quite the unhappy person.  If I had felt that I could leave, if I had another steady job lined up, I probably wouldn’t have felt so sad or trapped.  If my husband had steady work rather than here and there I also probably wouldn’t have felt as though the weight of the world (ours anyway) was on my shoulders.  If if if.   The problem with being depressed or with feeling trapped and the depression it brings, and the stress, is that you really aren’t capable of seeing things with any positive sort of spin.

I sort of woke up recently; I will have my bachelor’s degree by June at the latest.  I will go to speak with an admissions counselor at the university where I want to get my advanced degree in another week or so.  I will have my application submitted, if the counselor tells me I have a chance in he!! of getting in (at $65 a pop, I want to know my chances first), by the 15th of January.  And I will probably need to drop to part time in order to do well in my classes; this part scares the crap out of me but by part time I mean one day every other week will need to be dropped — my job still considers that to be full time but it still scares me to lose that much money.  However the stress level drop just from that will definitely do wonders for my quality of school work and my emotional state, which is also something to take into consideration.

My husband is working fairly regularly now, although he does not have a permanent position by any means.  That takes a load off me; even if we don’t use his pay for anything but stuffing the mattress, figuratively speaking, it means I am not solely responsible for our bills.

My middle son and his S.O. have made some changes to their lives; he has completed some education and is waiting for his license to be able to apply for jobs in his field.  She has taken a second part time job, which helps to keep them afloat while he waits.  My oldest son has moved back to Idaho and lives with his girlfriend and her father; they save money by combining households since she hasn’t been able to find a job since she graduated from college.

But, on to the reason for my post.  I read an article by Business News Daily recently and suddenly felt much better, about my situation and about life generally.  You see, I’m not alone.  I’m not the only one feeling as though the people in charge at work are completely out of touch, that they only ask us for our opinions (even though they NEVER act on anything suggested other than stupid little things) simply so there isn’t mass revolt because, after all, they are asking us how we feel and think…it’s most people.  Corporate Amerika sucks.  Like we didn’t already know that, but the corporations have really used the economy to their advantage and put the screws to their workers — who are, after all the reason their business works — because they know the workers fear losing their jobs.

I don’t know how smart it will be to incur more student loan debt, but I do plan to pursue my advanced degree because it’s the only way I’ll be able to work independently and make at least some of my own decisions.  I won’t make any more money, after the payments for the loans kick in, but at least I’ll not be going backward.  And I’ll have some degree of freedom.  Which is the key to avoiding depression, hopelessness, and a lot (not all, but a lot) of stress.

I’m hopeful about the new year.

What’s up lately?

My husband commented the other day that my blog isn’t devoted to much of the Tin Foil Hat stuff any more.  I realized he is right.  And there’s really a simple reason for that.  I can comment on whatever’s going on, but it doesn’t change anything.  Or.  I can talk about what I’m doing to make the best of our situation, to make sure we’re ahead of the curve with declining resources, and making due with less.  I can post a long diatribe about the price of food commodities, or I can post what works in our area and climate, and how best to preserve that harvest so others can make use of the information.  I can basically be a cynic, a Cassandra, or I can talk about what I’m doing to work around the obstacles.

So, if you find weaving, spinning, canning, etc boring, I apologize.  They’re simply my answers to thorny problems with no simple solutions.  And I’m finding that with spinning, weaving, and the rest of the fiber arts/home maker arts that the quality is simply so superior to what I can buy (except from other fiber artists of course) that I would rather spend my time making towels, washcloths, clothing, rugs, yarn, and so on.  If the choice is that or spend my money, I’ll spend the time ninety nine times out of one hundred.

Am I as prepared as I would like to be?  Hell no.  But, we won’t starve and we won’t go without proper clothing.  Hopefully we won’t live in a tent but that’s one of those eventualities I simply can’t plan for.  So I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it.  After all, there are literally hundreds of homes with more land than I have I can move into with little or no rent.  So why worry?

The Way is Narrow.

On the way to work this morning I was listening to a BBC broadcast of a debate between Christopher Hitchens, renowned atheist, and Tony Blair, former supposed prime minister of England and recent convert to Catholicism.  The statement they were debating was “Religion is a force for good in the world.”

I realized something important part way through, listening to both use the homily ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. I  listened with great interest to Mr. Hitchens warn of the dangers of religious fanaticism and how it is one of the chief causes of wars and violence, and listening equally to Mr. Blair pointing out that whether or not the world has religious fanaticism it will always have fanaticism and fanatics.  That’s when it really hit me.

Jesus said the way to God is harder to get through than passing through the eye of a needle (for a rich man at least) and also said that the ‘gate is small and narrow is the road that leads to life and few are those who find it.” (Matt 7:14, NIV) Many other religions speak of how difficult it is to become truly holy, to gain the life Jesus is speaking of; in Buddhism there are saints as well, and they like Christian saints must have lived a life of utter purity, self sacrifice, charity, and devotion.  The examples of the necessity for charity, of purity, of devotion and self sacrifice abound no matter which religious tradition one looks at.  And, giving credit to secularism, I believe along with Mr. Hitchens that one knows the duties and laws (if you will) of being human in human society; they don’t require a god to impose them, we know them in our biology.

The fact that so many traditions count those holy, and the accompanying fact that so many of us humans fall so short, means only one thing.  It means that true compassion, true service to humanity, is a rare quality indeed amongst us.  It means that perhaps there really are only a few in every generation who meet the definition of sainthood, and those are the rare few who really are better, more evolved, more ‘human’ than the rest of us.  That’s why we value them so much, tell stories about them, remember their names and deeds for centuries after their deaths, and even develop mythologies regarding them in the passing centuries.  They are valued because they are rare.

Turkey Day debrief

What a strange holiday this year.  I worked on the actual day, was lucky enough to get sent home about an hour and a half early, but then I had to work on a paper.  Fun.

We had Mr. TF’s dad, two of the three sons, the all-but-daughter in law, the grand baby, and a friend. Our holiday was Friday, because I worked.  Everyone (except Mr. TF) spent the holiday with friends elsewhere.

We had a Diestel Farms turkey as usual; this has become a new tradition for us and this makes the fourth year (?) we’ve gotten a pasture fed small farm turkey.  Delicious as usual.

For the first time, we had home grown yams.  I didn’t  make nearly enough — the entire casserole dish was eaten at the feast, with no leftovers at all.

We also had home grown potatoes for the first time, mixed in with a couple of organic potatoes.  I didn’t have good luck with my potato plants this year; they died before August was over so there was a small harvest.  I still got about a 10 to one ratio of potatoes though.  Not bad.

I made a pumpkin pie from pie pumpkins as usual; the major problem this year was I used a new recipe.  Which omitted sugar as one of the ingredients.  Yes, I made a wonderful pie that had no sugar.  I figured out after about my third bite; I spent the first two trying to figure out why it didn’t taste right.  I rechecked the recipe to see if I had missed it or it really wasn’t there…nope, no sugar listed.  Won’t be making that one again!

Every year I learn more about growing root vegetables, as well as the rest of what we grow.  Every year I get better, and refine my technique.  I’m definitely going back to container growing for potatoes and yams; the soil is deeper and the soil stays moister.  I just won’t do any more of the tower type growing; I have decided that the plants expend so much energy making more green growth that they don’t make any tuber growth.  I didn’t do any of that this year, and even though the plants died prematurely, I still got quite a few decent sized potatoes from 5 plants. And a fairly decent harvest of yams from four plants.  More manure!  I need more manure!

I hadn’t planned on making green bean casserole, since my beans did so poorly, but DH insisted (as did the kids when they learned I wasn’t going to make it) so I had my FIL stop at the store on the way to buy fresh green beans.  He of course had no problem doing it, but he’s used to my weirdness after all.  Then I had a ‘fight’ between DIL and DH over who gets the (very small amount of)  leftovers.  Kind of weird that the dish that gets the most requests, after stuffing, is a 50’s dish cooked up by Campbell’s kitchen cooks as a marketing tool for cream of mushroom soup.

I vary from what I assume is the standard recipe by using fresh green beans.  I chop finely a half onion, about six slices bacon (which in our case came from Windy View Acres, my friend’s farm) cut into small pieces, and saute the onion and bacon until the bacon is browned and the onions are transluscent.  Then I add the green beans and saute until bright green and a little tender.  This all gets a couple cans of cream of mushroom soup mixed in, a couple of splashes of Worcestershire sauce, some chopped mushrooms, and gets topped with deep fried onions (the ones from a can).  Bake for 30 min or so, then take the cover off and let the onions brown.  Whenever I learn to make my own cream of mushroom soup, I’ll use that instead, but I’m not going to ever make deep fried onions I’m afraid.

The best part of the holiday was when our friend, my FIL, and DH were watching grand daughter’s TV program (some weird cartoon one) with the sound turned off, listening to Arlo Guthrie sing Alice’s Restaurant.  They were mesmerized.  Crazy.  DIL says that program is like that, you get hypnotized by the colors…not sure if that’s a good thing for anyone to be watching, you know?

Garden’s pretty well done except for collard greens for the chickens.  I’m shocked that they are doing so amazingly well even with nightly frosts!  I thought they were a cold weather vegetable.  Apparently not.  Also doing well is the swiss chard.  And the basil, believe it or not.

On my next days off it will be time to start hauling manure home from the local stables to put into the garden beds and mulch with straw, in preparation for spring.  No winter gardening for me this year, I’m too tired from the toll school is taking.  Five more classes.  Twenty five weeks.  I feel like I’m pregnant, counting the weeks til I’m done.  I’m on  a time pressure to get it done and not take any more breaks if I want to get into a nurse practitioner program before they make it a doctoral level program in 2012 though.  So this fall is my last chance to get in.  Unless financial collapse hits before then.  Happy thought.

We woke up to a dead chicken yesterday morning.  Murdered and half eaten, actually.  My neighbor thinks it was a fox; I think it may have been a skunk, since I surprised one at the doorway to their cage in front of the coop last night when I went to shut them in.  We have gotten lax about making sure they’re safely shut in at night since we’ve never had any problems.  So now I feel guilty that my biggest, gentlest girl paid the price for her trust in us and our laxness in ensuring their safety.  Next project along with manuring the garden beds:  more stones along the fence line.  Big ones.