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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Rural and small-town living’ Category

Claire Wolfe

Midweek links

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
  • Even a gun controller calls Obama’s response to the UCC campus killings a tantrum and correctly states that nothing Our Glorious Leader wants will end violence.
  • Here’s a pretty good fisk of Hillary Clinton’s latest opportunistic anti-gun knee-jerking, too. Again, it’s by somebody who’s hardly a pro-gun purist. Here’s another good one.
  • I’d expect this sort of thing in over-regulated, over-zoned cities, but when rural Colorado tries to keep people from living off-grid on their own land, we’re truly in a pickle. (Via jed in comments)
  • Have you ever complained about how some arbitrary credit score governs too much of your life (from the ability to rent an apartment to whether or not you can get a job)? Well, if this article is accurate, you should be glad you don’t live in China. Where your political opinions and those of your friends might soon be scored. (I must stress, though, that I don’t yet know how correct this info is. A writer on the ACLU site confirms the original piece, but more solid info is needed.)
  • TPP negotiations are finished and the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls the (still largely secret) pact a betrayal.
  • The old-fashioned way to say this is, “The Bill of Rights isn’t a Chinese menu.” Pretty good thinking for a New York lawyer. ;-) (H/T S)
  • Sorry for the Schadenfreude, but I’m still laughing at “Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Lesson”.
Claire Wolfe

That felt good

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Glorious day. Seventy-five degrees under a blue sky, but still a distinct feel of fall.

Our walks in the woods have been short and halting since May — first because of my ankle and increasingly because Robbie’s getting so old. I walk a little bit, slowly, while Ava runs ahead. Then I stop to wait for the old boy. Not to wait for him to catch up, but just to come into sight. He’s fine on the familiar old roads with their high banks of berry bramble; can’t wander off and get lost. But he’s good for only a few hundred yards and a lot of stopping to smell pee on the roses. I wait for him just to see me and be reassured (both of us), then I move on. Eventually, though, we turn back sooner than we’d like.

Yesterday on our afternoon walk, Robbie picked up an elk bone that’s sufficiently putrescine and cadaverine to please the least refined doggie palate. He brought it home in the car (windows open, fans blasting), but Ava’s been dominating it most of the time since.

Today when Ava dropped it to get in the car, Robbie glommed onto it and said no thanks to a ride into the woods. So Ava and I went out to a favorite long-walk place and we walked and walked and walked — and at a good pace, besides.

It wasn’t anything that would impress a serious hiker, but enough to work up a nice sweaty glow and a good heart rate. Felt wonderful in the cool woods and the brilliant blue weather. It was great watching Ava dance ahead and not worry about Robbie lingering behind.

I felt guilty for being glad he wasn’t with us, though.


When we came home, I discovered an auto transport blocking the road just beyond the house. A shiny orange hot rod rode the top deck. The lower held a gaudy classic motorcycle and a dignified yet sporty steel gray Volvo. Vintage stuff. (Don’t think clunky, boxy Volvo. Think two-seater sports car.)

I walked over to enjoy something you don’t see around here every day, and now I know what my silent neighbor’s been working on in his garage so many late nights. That restored Volvo is on its way from the PNW boonies to a new home someplace in Europe.

“I could see myself driving a car like that,” I told the silent neighbor’s mother.

“Well, he has another one he’s about to start on …”

“Yeah, but I can’t see myself paying for a car like that. Not the type that gets sold to Europe, thank you.”

Sure was beautiful, though. I loved that subdued steely gray on the sporty design. Aside from the Avanti, the Mercedes 450SL Roadster and maybe the Delorean DMC-12 (even the non-time-machine models), I don’t think I’ve seen any vehicle so elegant and so spicy at the same time.

Claire Wolfe

You ever get those prickly feelings?

Monday, September 21st, 2015

There’s a crew out today, dealing with brush and noxious weeds on my property across the street. Two of the people, a man and his daughter-in-law, have done work for me before and I like them very much, especially her. And I trust them.

But he’s in the process of handing their business off to her and she’s brought in third relative, a man in his 50s.

The new guy’s been here twice and every time he’s around, I’ve got this prickly feeling. First time, he was here only 20 minutes and by the time he left I had the beginnings of a tension headache.

There are objective reasons I don’t take to him. He’s a know-it-all and very patronizing. But this feeling goes beyond that. It’s like somebody’s pressed a ringing alarm clock against the back of my skull. It’s to the point where I’ll probably tell her I won’t be using their services if he’s a regular (which she’s already told me he will be) — and I’d hate that because she’s good and super reliable.

You ever have reactions like this about people (other than ones you meet in dark alleys, I mean)? And have those reactions ever told you anything important?

Claire Wolfe

Post holiday ramble

Monday, September 7th, 2015

One of the little towns nearby held its annual “grand parade” this weekend. You understand that “grand” is strictly in the eye of the Chamber of Commerce.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Growing in fire country

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

A reader of this blog is right now doing the dangerous, punishing, vital work of fighting wildfires in one of the many blazing western states. Hats off to him, big time.

He sent me this:


It’s an oregano farm, so he swears. :-) And far from the only one they’ve come across. In fact, these grows turn out to be a mainstay of this particular area’s economy. And not with government approval.

Curious, I asked whether fire crews were being ordered to destroy the illegal “oregano,” report it, or let it be. He responded:

I knew I wasn’t going to monkey with anyone’s private property, and would have dodged the mission if that had been written in as part of it. We are here to protect it, otherwise nature would be allowed to run her course. She will eventually anyways, just not this season.

This whole region is a tinderbox waiting to erupt, and the drought has made things considerably worse. To my uneducated eyes things look the same as always in the timberline, but at their core and roots, the trees are suffering mightily. Or so I’ve been told by those in the know.

Once boots were on the ground and the nature of the local economy became apparent, I too was curious about how things would be handled, so I asked our handler/trainer/liaison (who is a REAL wilderness firefighter with 20 years of experience). His response was along the lines of, “If we were [in an area whose economy wasn’t so dependent on the crop], yeah, I’d probably report them. Or if it was a meth lab or something. But this? Here? Nah.”

The backwoods property owners have mixed emotions about our presence and are shadowing our movements (sometimes openly armed). The “townspeople” (all four hundred of them) are happy. That said, there are at least three fed LEO agencies here with us, but none of them are in enough force to logistically do anything. I suspect they were sent by their higher ups primarily to be seen by each other. Organizational phallic displays and measuring.

Despite the feds and their wars on everything, a ray of goodness penetrates this dark, smoky, perilous summer.

Claire Wolfe

$10,000 house article (part 1) is now online

Monday, August 31st, 2015

I don’t know when webmaster Oliver put this up, so you may have caught it before I did. But part 1 of my series on turning a $10,000 house into a home is now online at BHM.

Working on part 2 as we speak.

One of these days, I may even have a front porch. :-)


Claire Wolfe

Monday links

Monday, August 31st, 2015
  • “No Cupcake, there is no right not to be offended.” Nicki does it again.
  • They ripped up their kitchen floor and found a secret code + $50,000. Is that cool or what? Commentariat member Stryder informs me this story is a hoax.
  • Wait. Why would they bust a TSA agent for doing this? Isn’t molesting us their job?
  • Annalee Newitz does a follow-up to her expose on the lack of women at Ashley Madison and concludes that, yes, it was outright fraud by the company.
  • Despite hints of sentencing reform and lightening up of the drug war, prison vendors see continued signs of (groan) a captive market.
  • The Obama administration’s fiat war on contracting is not only a foolish attempt to turn the clock back 40 years; it’s a dangerous business. (H/T MJR)
  • Boy lost in the wilderness uses a survival trick he learned from his dad. Good on you, kid and family.
  • Loooove them lobbyists. A cop lobby has gotten North Dakota to legalize weaponized drones. Will other states soon follow? (But of course, we’re not to worry; only “less than lethal” weapons are allowed and in the hands of those heroes in blue, if we’ve done nothing wrong, we have nothing to worry about, right?) (H/T MJR)

And just for laughs … Mama said there’d be days like this.


Claire Wolfe

Hustling, bustling, and not falling off the roof

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

I’ve been hustling the last week to catch up on summer projects before the first autumnal rains hit tomorrow. The rains will be much appreciated by the poor, fire-scorched people east of the mountains; what a terrible summer they’ve had!

Even here, near the coast, a real rain will be a blessing for downing dust and cleaning sometimes-smoky air.

Normally, sea breezes keep our air clean, but it’s been eye-stinging a couple of times this week. I can only imagine what the poor east-of-the-mountains folk have been enduring.


I apologize to the Commentariat members who left interesting or helpful remarks I should have replied to. But I’ve been outside hammering, sawing, caulking, and painting. Cussing, too, of course. But only minimally because this week’s two projects went pretty well and I’m amazed that after nearly two idle months with a broken ankle I’m as caught up on house projects as I am.

The last three days I was up on a roof, though. Ugh. That part I could have done without.

It was no big deal, really. That section of roof is nearly flat and only about nine feet off the ground, so the job itself — scraping and painting a peak of the house and putting a cedar trim strip over the edge of the torch-down roofing — wasn’t all that perilous. I had plenty of room to stand, walk around, and stage equipment and materials. But knowing I had to take the first step back onto the ladder to descend freaked me out. Just thinking about it. Hate that part.

The first and third days I worked up there were cloudy and pleasant and no problem. The second day the sun baked the tarry black roofing — and me. Heat and fumes had me light-headed. I also had to do the “scariest” work that day, including cutting off some protruding bolt-ends and a piece of conduit for a satellite dish that’s no longer there. This was only my second time ever using an angle grinder. Though I marvel at what short work it makes of metal, the device totally intimidates me.

Metal shrieks! Sparks fly! Piercing bits of fire fall into my hair and onto my arms. I’m wearing goggles, of course, to protect eyes from stray metal bits, but you’d have to bundle up in a spacesuit to avoid all the sparks. They do no harm, but they definitely sting. And such high drama! That tortured metalic screaming. That flying fire. Those oweys. The risk of burning the whole place down (never mind that the risk is miniscule and I had a bucket of water beside me). Even though I did the cut-off work and other snall, stressful stuff first thing and only had to do the EZ second coat of paint after that. I felt out of balance all morning.

And I’m such a wuss. So that noon, hot and light-headed and freaked out, I go to climb down the ladder. And I can’t. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I try to step onto the nice, sturdy extension ladder borrowed from a neighbor, and my feet refuse.

I take a breath, walk back over to the wall I’ve been working at and inspect progress (merely for something to do). I take a drink of water. I walk back over to the ladder … and still no go. I picture myself, broken, on the driveway below.

I spot a young neighbor outside by his car and consider calling him over to help me down. And with that, I realize I’m just being silly. I climb onto the ladder and go down, no problem. But back in the house, it takes me 15 minutes and a large glass of sugary ice tea before I quit shaking.

The next day I have to go up and down several times and I’m perfectly fine.

Still glad that job’s over with, though!

Claire Wolfe

Conversation at a small-town hardware store while waiting for paint to be mixed

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

R. You’ve been working on this house a long time. Where do you live?

Me. Across the street from C_____. ‘Bout a mile from here.

R. Directly across the street?

Me. No. Two doors down.

R. Ohhhhhh, my great grandfather built your house! And the house farther down on the other side was my grandfather’s place. And … (goes on at some length)

Me. Cool. I knew the whole road had been owned by family a long time ago, but I didn’t know it was your family.

R. Yep. Your place wasn’t much more than a chicken coop when great grandpa first started it.

Me. I guessed as much. I can tell it was originally one room and that six additions have been made over the years. And I hate to tell you, R., but most of them were made badly. You know how old houses are; full of surprises. But I’ve never seen as many stupid decisions as in this place. Oh, I cuss. And cuss. And cuss.

R. Yep, that sounds like great grandpa.

Me. I love the place, though. It’s fixing up really nice and what a beautiful spot.

R. I tried to buy it from him once, a long time ago. But he said there were too many other grandchildren and great-grandchildren and nephews and he didn’t want to look like he was playing favorites.

Me. Too bad. ‘Cause if you’d have bought it you could be doing the cussing instead of me. And at least you know what you’re doing when it comes to construction, which I don’t.

R. No, I’d have just sold it. (laughs, then adds) Great grandpa was originally from Wisconsin. He and his wife owned a bar/dance place back there. He made moonshine and sold it under the table, so to speak. But he found out that the feds were onto him, so he fled out here. Literally packed up the car in the middle of the night and escaped. When he got here he added an “e” on the end of his name so they wouldn’t know who he was.


So my house may have been constructed and repeatedly added onto by an incompetent (and perhaps a drunken one). But he was also an Outlaw in the best American tradition.

R. also told me other things about the house, such as the fact that there was once a pond inside the (now blessedly defunct) mystery room I dubbed the not-a-garage. He didn’t tell me why there was an indoor pond. But such a thing would be entirely consistent with what I’ve experienced about the place.

Claire Wolfe

Weekend links, too

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015
  • This cop is a shapeshifter! And he and his cohorts are liars and manipulators.
  • This article is nominally about millions being about to lose their Obamacare subsidies. But the most intriguing part is how many people aren’t filing their tax returns.
  • The war on walking?
  • Personally, I think all these busybodies who are so worried about every little thing being “cultural appropriation” should quit speaking English. After all, our language has been appropriating words from other cultures at a furious pace for thousands of years. Our culture would be considerably improved if the “appropriation” yakkers stuck to speaking pure Anglo-Saxon.
  • While I don’t agree with every word of this, her core argument does make sense. But excess license can produce twists similar to excess repression, too.
  • Fascinating. New research suggests it’s not the loss of memory, but the loss of moral compass that defines the worst loss of self to dementia.
  • Why is Windows 10 checking users’ systems for pirated non-Microsoft software and games? Who is Microsoft’s product really serving?

Finally, from Mike Vanderboegh:


Which joins the one Joel is so fond of:


Claire Wolfe

I applied for a job today

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Yeah. I applied. For a job-job. You can blame furrydoc if I get it because she nudged me into this. It’s a job I’d actually love to have. I know the people. I’ve seen the work they do. It’s meaningful and varied and interesting.

Though it’s part-time, it has benefits up the whazoo. Benefits. When’s the last time I had benefits? Oh, such a long, long time ago.

While I was talking to the boss about what they’re looking for, another potential applicant came in. A woman I know. A woman they know, too.

“I’m desperate for this job,” she said. “Desperate.”

She lives in a lovely house on a hillside that was recently and extensively “done” by a short-term husband. I’m not sure what’s driven her to desperation, but I’ll bet her house doesn’t have broken foundation beams and a joke of a bathroom like mine does. Even if my house were falling into a sink-hole, though, and even if I were in dire financial straits for any reason, I don’t think I’d choose “I’m desperate” as a job-seeking strategy.

But who knows? Whatever works. This would be a terrific job to have. So I’ll choose “I’d be excited to work with you wonderful people, doing this wonderful thing you do. And I’ll be as big a help to you as I can be.”

Claire Wolfe

Just life

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Sometimes it’s so nice just to be. We forget that. Well, I do, anyway.

This weekend was perhaps the nicest of the summer. We’ve been having glorious weather for the most part, but often way too hot. A few weeks ago, the southern Oregon coast sweated through several days of 100+ temperatures, and it got to at least 97 here. When it’s that hot it saps you, even when you’re huddled in the shady house with a ceiling fan spinning. I know you folks in the midwest and south have it worse; so no complaints, really.

But this weekend was everything a summer ought to be. Temperatures around 70. Cloudless afternoons after cool, maybe misty, mornings. A little breeze blowing. The kind of weather you don’t even have to think about because it’s precisely what weather ought to be.

In the mornings, I grabbed a pair of loppers, a squeeze-bottle of Off!, and a bucket and picked some lovely fat blackberries while the dogs hung out and ate their share.

At home, after ritual coffee, I trimmed the inside of the front door and started on the next 1/3 of the Infamous Ceiling. This section was originally going to be the fraternal twin of the bit I already did. When I realized how (pardon the pun) over my head I am, I figured it would be more like a half-sibling. Now I’m aiming for third cousin once removed. More drywall; less beadboard.

I do think that old beadboard would make better wainscotting than ceiling. Since finding the amazing Lost Vanity, my thoughts are turning to a nice wainscotted bathroom.

Today I started cleaning up Ye Olde Vanity. It’s coming back to life quickly and well. Some gouges I’ll never gracefully get rid of and one inlay piece is missing, which is beyond my ability to fix. But it’ll be close to its old self. That spare garage-sale sink I had out in the garden shed is going to fit it, of course. An hour of scrubbing the porcelain and scraping old caulk and that was like new.

An hour or two is all I’ve been doing. Just enough to resume steady progress while still doing other things and enjoying what’s left of summer.

No long, sweaty, achy, brain-hurting days of labor. No depression or anxiety* or self-doubt or anger. No being among the walking wounded. Just quietly getting things done, and even doing them reasonably (if far from professionally) well.

Yesterday I ended the day taking a long walk in the woods with furrydoc and her bounding lab mix — like Ava, 10-years-old but still unstoppable. Robbie trotted right along behind us. In June and early July I thought he was at death’s door. He’s rallied remarkably. But even with him doing a little better, we don’t usually walk so long these days, nor does he keep up as well as he did yesterday evening.

But then, he had his girlfriend to impress (he’s got a polite crush on furrydoc’s dog). He did a good job of it, too.

Days of contentment. They may not make for exciting, fiery blogging, but they sure make for good life.


* Well, there was some anxiety a few days ago when I woke up at 1:00 to Ava rambling randomly about — and shortly realized whe was distressed by a bat swooping around the living room and kitchen. I was eventually able to shoo it out the backdoor and never came in contact with it, but those were some not-happy moments. I know this is the season when juvenile bats, not yet fully possessed of their bat-sense, get into houses. But all the doors and windows were closed. So clearly I still have some structural gaps to fill.



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