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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

Wednesday links

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
Claire Wolfe

So far, so good

Monday, February 8th, 2016

I finally finished a good first draft of that cannabis article and got it sent off to 10 people so they could check the parts about them and offer corrections on anything else they spot.

Already heard back from three. Not a single change requested or goof noted. That’s unusual. It won’t hold for all 10, but very nice start.

The interviewees range from a police chief to a couple whose medical dispensary was destroyed by the DEA. And here they are, all in harmony, even as they come from such different perspectives. I simply can’t stress enough what a remarkable experience this is, both writing about it and witnessing it.

The one big drawback of the writing part: It’s exhausting. All the research (and all the things I still didn’t learn). The scheduling and pulling myself out of my hermit hut. The days and days of drafting, which, with so much information, is like wrestling an octopus. Even the best moments, the interviews themselves, leave me all emptied out. It’s the most glorious exhaustion. But still.

The last couple writing days were all about shifting the last bits into their place in the article, polishing, and — above all — cutting, cutting, cutting, cutting. I sacrificed nearly 1,500 of my own, precious, darling words in the interest of the whole. By the time I’d sent all the emails winging on their way with article attched, I was — not kidding — slightly faint.

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic. After all, I’m not also dying of tuberculosis in a garrett. (Always a plus. that.) Life’s good. I’m just tired. If I’ve been a little quiet and continue to be a bit more this week, that’s why.

Claire Wolfe

Report from the writer battles

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Sometimes I’m not sure which is harder: writer’s block or that rare and supposedly wondrous state of flow, where words fly from the end of your fingers without conscious input from your mind, where things like eating, getting dressed, and taking the dogs for a walk either get forgotten or force themselves upon your attention like the unforgivable person from Porlock.

I used to live for the flow state. Now it exhausts me. Definitely more exhilarating and productive than writer’s block, though.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

A mega-scrounge project (not mine)

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

In the olden days, people around here built garages (or perhaps they were originally carriage houses) on steep, otherwise useless, hills. The front of the building faced the street while the rest of the structure stood on posts.

These great old garages had magnificent 4 x 12 treated floors you could have parked a tank on. But the combo of wooden understructures and unstable soils of the hills doomed the buildings. Ninety or a hundred years later, most of them are gone and those that remain look like this:


Until a couple weeks ago, this one was still completely shingled and there was stuff stored inside that nobody had touched in decades. I pass this sad old beauty every day. I tend to think of myself as a decent scrounger. But it never occurred to me to ask the owner if I could take it apart and haul its pieces away. Even if I’d had the thought, I’d probably immediately have concluded, “Too darned dangerous.”

Another neighbor wasn’t so chicken. She asked and it was given. I don’t know her well, but she’s a beautiful woman about 40 with impressive artistic abilities. Oh, the projects she’ll make from this!

She first emptied the contents, and now has begun prying off the shingles. Isn’t it cool how the formerly hidden parts of 100-year-old cedar (there on the mid-left side) remain fresh and red when the exposed parts long ago turned gray and grew layers of moss?

I admire that lady’s chutzpah for taking this on. Never mind that she’s got six kids and has recruited all but the youngest to help her; it’s still a daunting and dangerous task.

I might just have to ask her what it would take to buy that old floor from her when she gets down to it. Those ancient floors make great retaining walls and, cut up and set into a bed of sand, could become unusual and attractive patio blocks.

Claire Wolfe

Between rains and interviews

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Today we were between rainstorms. In the same way the Inuit are said (even if inaccurately) to have 200 words for snow, the NorthWet ought to have a word for this. Something like “interrainum.”

Be that as it may, by late morning I was also between interviews for this cannabis article I’m working on. I’d just wrapped up one at the coolest retail store and didn’t have another until tomorrow.

The day was already pleasant and just about then turned bright blue. I took the dogs walking on a river trail. We moseyed along in comfort, no fleece-lined jacket for Robbie’s old bones and joints, not even a sweater for me. Then, despite a determination to econommize this month, I splurged a whole $5.63 on a chicken basket (yeah, I really know how to live it up!) and sat in the car near the trail, sharing lunch with the dogs.

About then it began clouding over and by the time we returned home, the day was gray again. But still blessedly dry.

Tomorrow I’m set to meet a couple who had their hearts broken by the cannabis trade — and by the feds — in California and who are starting afresh here.

After that, my final interview is with the area’s pioneer of commercial medical cannabis gardening. Until recently, the medical system has been completely separate from the i502 recreational and I was going to stay away from it because there’s so much else to cover. But last year the legislature began the uncomfortable task of trying to merge the two systems and this guy is in line to score himself a nice, big pair of producer (grower) and processor licenses. He’s also a charmer who probably gets more press than anybody in local cannabusiness. He’s as connected and informed as anybody around, so I stand to learn a lot about what’s going on in the trade.

Wish me luck. The article is growing and I may have to go back to my editors and re-pitch it to them as a two-parter. I’ve already begun the first draft and it’s shaping up as one of the best pieces, as well as being one of the most fun projects, I’ve done in years.

I am loving all these former “criminals” and their newer partners in non-crime.


On another subject, in case you missed it, David Haywood Young dropped into the comment section today to announce that he’s got a new Kindle book, Take Back Your Privacy: The Barefoot Anarchist’s Guide to Navigating Today’s Digital Landscape, and that’ll be free for five days, starting Tuesday. I’ve only read what’s available on “look inside,” but it seems well-written and done in an engaging, easy style.

Claire Wolfe

When last we visited the bug-out bag …

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

… I was still living in the flatlands. The contents and setup of the bag were premised on the scenario that a flood, earthquake, or tsunami would drive me and the dogs into the nearby hills. We wouldn’t have to go far, but we might have to stay out there quite a while.

The only nearby buildings big enough to serve as shelters were all either in or across the zone of most likely damage. The neighbors, mostly poor and unprepared, might be liabilities. Camping solo was in the cards.

That was then.

Two and a half years ago I started the long, slow move into this place. In the hills. Quite sheltered. Good neighbors. Smart people. The neighbors here have pantries, guns, and in several cases, generators and garages full of useful tools. These are neighbors who make a point of getting to know each other, of gathering for parties where the conversation sometimes edges toward politics and preparedness — not deeply, but enough to indicate that a number of us are on the same track.

The much more likely scenario here: bug in.

Of course you know the old saw about the best-laid plans. A fire or a landslide could still put any of us on the run (and it creeps me out a bit that the houses on both sides have had fires in the last four years and one of those was also hit twice by landslides in the last decade).

Still. Bugging in seems likely. And no reasonable scenario would put me in the cold, wet hills for days. Time to revisit the bag. Of course I’ve tended it a bit since moving here. Changing the water container and replacing the food. Little duties like that. I haven’t re-evaluated it, though. Been too busy. So it’s time.

But … ulp.


That’s a lotta stuff! And what you’re seeing in the photo doesn’t even include the big white tarp I already pulled out to carry in Old Blue, the sleeping bag (also Old Blue), and the gallon-sized water container currently bleaching in the sink.

Old Blue has its own bug-out kit, very recently tended. But this one’s more comprehensive. I’m looking at the bags and bags of medicines, water filtration equipment, fire starters, toiletries, maps, winter clothes, pet food, cooking and eating gear, emergency lighting, signaling equipment, and … OMG, just a LOTTA STUFF.

I think I’ll go eat lunch and deal with this later.

Claire Wolfe

Monday not links

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Various non-news, non-link musings follow

How other people see the ‘Net

So there I was last night, all set to prep a links post for today. And — boom! — down went Firefox, taking with it all my tabs.

Maybe the Intertubz is trying to tell me something, eh?

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

More on Oregon

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

The background on the “arsons” the Hammonds were accused of. And more on the vicious prosecutorial overreach.

This looks very much like Ruby Ridge all over again — the liberal self-righteousness against the “armed nuts,” the prejudicial distortions in the media, and the handful of citizens standing alone against a bullying fedgov — except that (knock wood) no one yet has died.

(H/T GL)

Claire Wolfe

Monday links

Monday, January 4th, 2016
Claire Wolfe

Kimber Pepper Blaster II unintentional test and review

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

A few years back, a reader and friend gave me a Kimber Pepper Blaster II. I’d seen them favorably reviewed in S.W.A.T., and knowing that S.W.A.T. has a no-BS review policy, I was sold.

I’m a believer in “two is one and one is none,” but I can’t afford a second carry gun, so this seemed a good backup choice. Besides, I wanted something non-lethal against aggressive stray dogs.


Of course, you don’t go out and just use pepper sprays. You carry them around until you need them — or until they go bad and you try to use them and they don’t work. Or you use them on a windy day and they blow into your face, not the bad guy’s. So it’s hard to be quite sure of them.

The gifter also gave me this carry pouch, which was great for keeping the blaster handy, but not for quick access. So eventually I ditched the pouch and started sticking the Pepper Blaster in my pocket.

Yesterday afternoon, out in the woods, I spontaneously decided to give it a test. You know, what if it was all filled with pocket lint or something and wouldn’t work? So I aimed down the road (and down at the road), nudged the guard aside, and pulled the trigger.

Shazam. I had forgotten the Kimber Pepper Blaster is not a pepper spray device. It’s a whole different animal.

I pulled the trigger and heard a spronnnng and a snap, a lot like an old BB gun (as one Amazon reviewer described it). Instead of the steady spray I was anticipating, the blaster … well, blasted is the only word for it … a shot-like mass of red glop. One discrete blast, one discrete mass. Definitely not a spray. But damn, it was powerful! It hit the road with approximately the spread I’d expect from a shotgun at that range. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be the bad guy who got that stuff blasted even onto my clothes or my hair. A direct hit to the face would be crippling. I had to use Mace on a dog once many years ago, and this stuff was nuclear compared with that.

On the Pepper Blaster website Kimber says it shoots 13 feet and has little danger of blowing back on the shooter. This I believe.

The site also reminded me that the Blaster gives you exactly two shots, another fact I’d forgotten. My shot emptied the lower of the two cartridges you see in the photo. So my test used up half the capacity of my backup weapon. But it impressed me enough that I’ll eventually order a replacement blaster. This is serious pepper weaponry.

At first I was disconcerted with myself for having forgotten that this was a two-shot-and-done weapon. I expected to test via a quick squirt of spray that would barely affect the weapon’s capacity. I felt dumb. But quickly I got to feeling good for carrying something so superior to standard $10 hardware-store pepper spray.

Sprays do have one advantage, in that you can sweep them past an attacker’s eyes and spray will keep coming out until the canister is empty (or something fails). As you’ll see in the video below, with the blaster, at a distance you can miss. But the spread I observed was pretty decent and up close, a miss seems unlikely.

For quick access, I believe I’d go for this concealed carry belt holster or a belt clip or an inside pants/IWB holster, all made specially for the Pepper Blaster II (and none of which were probably available when I got the original gift).

However, it’s quite well-sealed against invasions of pocket lint and now that I know what it can do, I won’t worry about its effectiveness should I ever need it, even if it travels several years inside a pocket.

Here, BTW, is the kind of test I hope never to give it.

Claire Wolfe

Name that cottage, the sequel

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

After the glorious comment thread on the original Name that Cottage post, here are the 11 happiest names:

Mo Saoirse
“My Freedom” in Irish; pronounced mo seer-sha; Suggested by Pat

Dripping Cedars
Inspired by Kent McManigal’s suggestion, Dripping Leaves

Casa Solana (or just Solana)
“Sunny spot” or “sun room” in Spanish; From Seibert

Suggested by Vince

Beth’s modification of Chris’ suggestion

Inspired by Lady Locust’s suggestions

Chrysalis (or Chrysalis Cottage)
Suggested by capn

From A.G.

A late entry from TJ Madison

Carraig Cottage

Both from my original list. Adnamira means “flowing water” in an Australian aboriginal tongue (so the Internet tells me) and in Ireland a carraig is a giant, unyielding boulder.

Now the big question is how to choose. Names in a hat? List under my pillow until I dream the right one? Poll the neighbors? See which one tastes best to Ava? I’ll gladly take your input; it’s already been both invaluable and fun to receive. But the right name will ultimately come from within. Or be suggested by the house itself at some odd moment.

Some names there I find beautiful, but am not sure they’d trip naturally off my tongue. The one I can most hear myself speaking is “Dripping Cedars” because it’s a little wry, unpretentious, and so very true. The place is flanked by cedars. They drip. But I like the poetry of other names.

Ohhh, this is going to be tough!

BTW, though, it’s interesting how many suggestions had something to do with sunshine. Because aside from the yellowness of the house (it’s actually khaki, but let’s not get technical), you didn’t know about this:


Claire Wolfe

Name that cottage

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015


Although my house has a boring number and that gets packages and plumbers to the door, I want it to have a name.

It’s a great old rural custom, even for dwellings that don’t rank up there with Pemberley. You know … “Take the lane past Rose Cottage” “Oh, Miss Smythington? She lives out at Bide-a-Wee.”

I’ve been calling it Ye Olde Wreck in my BHM articles, but hopefully that name won’t apply a few years down the road. Something a little more evocative would be nice.

I toyed with names last summer but couldn’t settle on anything. So maybe you can help.

What’s a name suitable for a modest house on a narrow lane, tucked against a wooded hillside, enjoying a pocket view of wetland and forest?

Here’s a sample of what I’ve been noodling, but the name is probably still out there.

The Hermitage
Cedar Cottage
Selkie House (Celtic)
Carraig Cottage (Celtic)
Waterfall House (because it has a tiny seasonal waterfall)
Adnamira (“Flowing Water”; Australian)
Aalican (“Great Calm”; Celtic)
Dromore Cottage (Irish)
_________ View
_________ Hill
Casa __________

You see where I’m going? But I’ll bet the collective wisdom of the Living Freedom Commentariat can come up with something better that I haven’t thought of yet.

P.S. The first person to suggest any variation on “Wolfe’s Den” or “The Dog House” will be summarily shot. Don’t. Do it. I warn you.

P.P.S. Have you ever lived in a house that had a name? Or do you now?



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