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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

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.

Claire Wolfe

A tale of serendipity

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

This is a story about an act of serendipity that happened yesterday. To tell it, I have to begin with something that happened in 2000 or thereabouts.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Just Sunday

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Mid 60s with a gentle breeze. A few horsetails of high cloud in a blazing sky. Going to be ice tea weather in a few hours.

This year’s wild blackberry crop is enormous and right on schedule. The dogs and I enjoy handfuls of sweet berries on our morning walks. I’ve so far done no serious gathering as I don’t have a stove to make jam or syrup (and a hotplate is too tippy). I’ll soon head out with a bucket and grab some berries for the freezer.

The dogs wait patiently for their share. They could easily gather their own from the low vines, and they do when I’m not picking. But the moment I stop to grab a handful they stop, stare, and wait for the meager share I dole out even though they could get more, faster, on their own.

No doubt there’s a message about the effects of the welfare system in there somewhere.

Though the berry harvest is exactly on schedule, the September spider crop has arrived early. I have to be careful when I step out my back door or when walking in places where vegetation presses close on the logging roads. Ick! To get a faceful of spiderweb — or worse yet, a mouthful of spider!

First sign of fall — too soon. What with the conspiracy of minor disasters that kept May and June so unproductive, it seems more as if summer should just be beginning.

I finished that one segment of ceiling Friday (pix later) and am now plunging in to delayed spring cleaning.

Pardon me; I must go tear the kitchen apart.

Claire Wolfe

Quitting the full-time grind

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

Mohit Satyanand talks about how he gave up full-time work and why he highly recommends it.

One might wish he addressed the economic realities more clearly. Or at all. But he waxes lyrical about the delights of doing nothing.

(I can wax lyrical on the subject of creative idleness, too. And no doubt will do so after I’ve finished the ceiling, met my next deadline, caught up on my email, and spent some time contemplating how I’m ever going to get the house foundation repaired and the plumbing replaced.)

Claire Wolfe

Weekend links

Saturday, August 8th, 2015
  • Sorry. But when it comes to security, I can’t agree that this makes the Tesla any more secure than a Jeep.
  • Nor do these systems make homes more “smart.” (The last bit, with the dog and the hot tub, was pretty good, though.)
  • “This vet is not a threat.” Oath Keepers, three percenters, and even local sheriffs and legislators rally to prevent the VA from confiscating guns. The resistance is building.
  • Meanwhile, the NRA would like to see more abuse of gun owners/buyers in the dubious name of “mental health.” They don’t get it, do they, what the rising tide of “mental illness” is actually about? Useful idiots.
  • Hm. Wonder if the EPA will bring criminal charges against itself?
Claire Wolfe

Friday links

Friday, August 7th, 2015
  • I really like this tiny house story (via Shel in comments). These folks aren’t trying to be trendy or green or holier-than-thou. They just know what it’s like to have been economically clobbered and don’t want to be vulnerable again.
  • Cops kill an unarmed white kid and the world says ho hum.
  • In Montana: another Oath Keepers operation to protect miners against fedgov intrusion.
  • ;-) Kickstarter campaign raises billions to wall off the Bay Area during Burning Man. (Via A.G. in comments)
  • Islamists hack to death a fourth non-theist blogger in Bangladesh.
  • Boy, I’ll bet the fedgov wishes it could do this.
  • Indeed, let these crony billionaires and their crony puppets pay their own way. (H/T jb)
  • A guy who doesn’t speak French wins the French Scrabble championship. (Given how snobby they’re reputed to be about their precious language, I’ll bet that really ticked off some Parisians.)
  • Your awwwww story for the day. And this time it has nothing to do with dogs.
Claire Wolfe

Midweek links

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
Claire Wolfe

Don’t have much

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Sorry I don’t have much for you at the moment. Been a weird week. When not feeling inert (probably lack of sleep + gray weather) I’ve been busy beginning or resuming long-delayed spring projects.

Picked up another 75 pounds or so of broken glass and rusted metal from the lot across the street. Scrubbed stale cigarette scuzz out of Old Blue. Am gradually de-nailing, cleaning, and sanding 150 pieces of beadboard for my ceiling project.

It feels good coming to life again.

If I do too much my ankle reminds me to slow back down. And unfortunately the ankle’s idea of “too much” is still way less than the rest of me is ready to handle. (I’m ready to tackle that complicated ceiling; the ankle says it’s not getting on any kurflussed ladder for hours a day.) But we compromise.

My brain and body are full of summer.



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