All posts by The Fatal Lozenge

Paid of Our House, No Big Deal

(Photo: I don’t think he bank people expected me in my work jeans and moldy old vans to walk up to the counter with this request)

Actually it is a big deal!

BAM! Take that New Year… I think this satisfies any New Years resolutions I might have felt the need to make for at least a few years (if I made New Years resolutions that is).

It’s weird. All I can say is it really doesn’t feel like a big deal yet. We don’t feel any different. Our habits won’t change. We won’t take any grand trips (did that last year… before we got the chickens).

I know it’s a big deal though… Intellectually I realize how much that sets us apart from most everyone I know. I can only think of one close friend or family member who doesn’t rent or have a mortgage… And they bought for cash with an inheritance windfall 20 years ago. So it’s not like we come from a group of wealthy people who make a habit of this.

I will point out:

I am “lucky” to have made a good choice in career that pays a good wage, and to have had scholarships and family support in my schooling, so we were able to start my post school career with relatively little debt (but there was debt…and my first paychecks were devoted almost entirely to paying it off until it was gone).

But other that, we’re pretty normal people! We don’t deny ourselves. If we really want or need something we get it.

On top of paying off the house in the last 4 years we have:

1. Paid for our “location” wedding and housing for guests
2. Paid for our honeymoon
3. Paid off my new-to-me car at 35k (I DO like nice things)… a requirement when my transmission went out and I was working 2 hours from home
4. Paid for rent, etc. on our house and my apartment while I worked said job 2 hours from home
5. Taken a couple small trips for family/professional purposes
6. Paid off those student loans I mentioned
7. Moved to a new state!
8. Fixed up our new house… Still a work in progress… Forever
9. Bought a tractor with tools. Cost almost as much as my CAR
10. Loaded our emergency fund with enough money to support a year of no work at our current general standard of living (confidently now that we have the house paid off)
11. Took a 3 week trip to India and Nepal, with a nearly equally expensive 4 night stop in NYC.

When I look at the list of what we’ve accomplished … I’m not really quite sure how we did it!

I can tell you we honestly don’t compare ourselves to others (much), so there is no need to keep up with the Jones’s or any of that. We DO wonder at how others do what they do sometimes, and in that sense we compare I guess, but there’s no competition. I guess all those years of being weirdos who didn’t fit in and learning not compare yourself to others pays off in this respect.

If we didn’t care what people thought about us as oddball youngins we sure as heck don’t care as secure financially adults. And as on might say, it may appear to some as a hovel, but it’s *our* hovel and we own all of it.

I rambled on and had some point I tried to make. Then site glitched and didn’t save post. I forgot what I was getting at so I’ll end here now 🙂

Kitchen Microbio


I’ve been messing with water kefir (or “hassenpfeffer” as the husband likes to call it… A completely made up name that sounds equally healthy and exotic, and unappetizing). Also know as tibicos or sugar-kefir it’s kind of like kombucha, but in my opinion way less gross. I haven’t sold hubby on it… Yet. His attitude is something like meh, it’s ok, but why?

I’m not even going to get into a how to here since I’m barely successful myself. I’ve yet to decide if it’s worth the effort. Though I do think we as Americans generally live a little to “clean” and antiseptically I also don’t quite buy into the probiotics cure what ails you tag either.

Regardless, in an effort to rediscover some olde timey skills I’ve begun my exploration into cultured beverages with water kefir. It had a relatively cheap upfront buy in of about $15 and didn’t require any other equipment I didn’t already have. Probably a bad choice to start my experiment in winter as most edible cultures like a warmer temperature than my house in winter. Opps.

I’ve read plenty of other blogs and websites, but was hoping I might get some feedback from others;

I think I’ve got the first ferment down. Seems to work “fine” because my second ferments with juice get nice and fizzy. I just use cane sugar. Throw in an eggshell now and then and made one batch with molasses (didn’t like the taste of that.. It got tossed). I usually leave it more like 4 days? Before changing the water since it’s so cool. I’ll experiment with more often once it warms up.

Regarding the second ferment, I like it fizzy. Fully carbonated. The only thing I’ve had any luck with is half first ferment, half fruit juice. Nothing else gets a good fizz. I’ve tried just adding more sugar and then vanilla extract at the end for a “vanilla soda” but it’s too flat. I’ve tried varied dried fruit. Also flat. Just finished with some candied ginger. Also flat.

Given that my fruit juice works so well, anyone have ideas on what might be going wrong? Any favorite brews you’d care to share?

I particularly like Concord grape juice. Reminds me of a wine spritzer! Reminds hubby too much of a wine spritzer as well and he says if I ever get pulled over a trooper will NOT believe that I haven’t been drinking.

Happy fermenting!


Reality Check.

I pulled out the laptop. Suspicions confirmed. I really have no idea what I’m doing.

Funny, my husband who had designed a webpage for a record label he ran 10 years ago also has no idea what I’m doing. I think his attempt to help me decompensated at him trying to understand the difference between and and my attempting to explain why at the time I thought it was better to go ahead and purchase my domain and use “Setup a blog in 10 minutes” they said. “No experience needed” they said. Plenty of pages for walking through with beginners no background, google said.

Shenanigans I say.

I decided to reveal my fledgling blog in the hopes he might help somewhat. And since I haven’t had and viewers/readers/visitors and since I was still trying to figure out what I was doing my husband was unaware of my attempt. I became ultimately frustrated after installing a new theme (screenshot below) that I thought looked so fancy and pretty… only to find that it would no longer display my images. I could display images as a gallery setting, but not as an image. As husband was explaining again (repeat conversation from 10 years ago) “A HREF” and how to link an image from html we discovered that this is a whole different animal than he was familiar with.

I guess since I’ve purchased hosting and domain, I’ve also decided I have a new hobby of learning to build these pages and learning about CSS – huh? CSS? I knew a LITTLE about html and then there was Java which I knew nothing about and now CSS? Oh Lawdy. Help me.

So, I have a decidedly simpler, more boring, less visually stimulating design than I had wanted. I can’t customize the way I intended. I guess the content will have to speak for itself (or not… in which case I will continue my personal diary to myself).

Instead of taking pictures of our first major frost today I just may be reading “WordPress 101” tutorials.

Happy new year. Says I with completely flat vocal inflection.


Losing (blog) Steam

I’m making a point to make a final entry before the new year. I am proud of myself for sticking with it through my initial goal (I think).

I’m not sure why my motivation to write waxes and wanes as much as it does. But it does. Perhaps if I get to the point where I feel I “owe it” to someone paying attention to put something else down, the external motivation might keep me going.

That’s not to say I haven’t been busy. I’ve been picking up extra work when offered, figuring I never know when it will be around and I should take advantage when I can.

With that, I’m hoping we can have the house paid off early next year! Our mortgage payment isn’t problematic and there isn’t any true necessity to getting it paid off, but owing nothing to anyone, debt wise gives me quite a bit of pleasure. I’m one of those who really likes paying things off… Actually, I like watching my savings my add up more than paying things off, but the end product is the same and when I see the end in sight I push for it. And when it comes to your home and your ongoing stability, there’s sure something to be said for knowing that if all else fails, all you have to make is a property tax payment. It relieves so much pressure (again, not that I currently feel pressured) to know that if I lost a job it would be ok (for a while) or whatever. Or that when we save money toward the next project , it’s not at the expense of more loan interest.

Flip side is I’m always trying to save more. I feel like it’s never enough. I’m ok right now, but what about later years? What if I want to work less in the future? What about retirement? What if our house falls apart when I’m 60 and we need to rebuild? I want each year to bring me closer to knowing that the future will be comfortable, and that leaves me trying to strike a balance between enjoying life now, always aware that for any of us each day could be the last, and also planning for the future. So far I think we’ve done a pretty good job.

I’ve also decided that it’s time to focus in my physical fitness. The years steadily creep up as do the pounds… And the little bit of manual labor I get in during the summer disappears come rainy season. I’m not saying I’m doing great or have even noticed any improvement yet, but I’ve stuck with it for a week straight (no small task for me), and will continue to lurch along with the help of the free Blogilates youtube videos and workout calendar. ‘Cause the yoga class I went to in my little village “sometimes doesn’t even stand” through the whole class, and though relaxing isn’t what I needed to keep from contemplating a new wardrobe of pants.

So, I’m not really losing steam. There are definitely things going on, minor as they seem to me day to day, it sure seems like more when I write it down!

Maybe once I get a feel for where I should go with the writing topic and style wise and once this feels less like a diary (as I constantly wonder did I say too much?) I’ll pick up me steam again.


So As I mentioned in a previous post I’m not so good about thinking of documenting things as they happen. I also have a tendency to downplay things in my life. I’ll blame that on being a “gifted” over achieving child and learning early on that people often down want to hear how good things are for you or what you’ve done. I’ve learned to be (or appear?) humble, perhaps to the point of fault, assuming that people around me (outside of my small close circle) don’t really care what I’m doing and that if I divulge on interesting things and happenings in my life that I’m bragging or something. Another complex I guess. But the magic of the internet is if you aren’t interested you don’t have to read this or pretend to be interested! That and, people seeking out blog reading etc are probably looking for positive, interesting topic and so I should feel free to brag and inspire. Maybe that will be the header for a new running blog installment: “Brags and Inspiration.” I don’t think I’m very inspiring, but I can hope.

On to my brags!

Hubby has been diligently working away at the garage. It was a dark unfinished spider hole. Not long after moving in he installed a bunch of overhead lighting (the only light prior was the auto light on the garage door opener). Last fall he moved our laundry area out of the house into the garage to make way for a pantry with work space off the kitchen. This summer he tackled the rotten garage wall (we have to wait until summer when it’s dry for most outside work). Before he could work on the wall he also had to reroof half the roof valleys. So he replaced a wall and added some windows. Over the last month he insulated, sheet rocked, textured and painted! I’ve got a semi finished not freezing garage with white walls! We were finally able to setup some nice shelves we got at Costco a year and a half ago and we’ll be ordering some kitchen cabinetry and counters to make a workspace in the garage separate (and clean) from the dedicated shop.

It’s the simple things that make me happy. Having more space. Having clean space. Organizing (or trying). As my home becomes less cluttered so does my mind. Mentally I find it difficult to devote myself to leisure activities when there is any chaos around me. Unfortunately I often can’t wrangle that chaos (when for example, it’s a husband project), but it still interferes with my ability to relax and do other things.

That’s it for now. I should take some photos that will seem decidedly underwhelming since I don’t have a “before” to go with my after.

Mushroom Time


The rains have been coming and that means mushroom season is in full swing. I can’t always convince hubby to go out with me, and it being (real) hunting season, with bears and steep hills I wouldn’t wall to fall down without someone knowing exactly where I was, well I don’t go out as much as a like, but we’ve been a few times. Hubby even surprised me one morning asking if I wanted to go mushroom hunting (later to find out he didn’t really want to go, but he knew I would). That’s nice of him.

We did ok. Enough chanterelles for about five meals. Not enough for me to feel like pulling out the dehydrator. We learned a little more about our backwoods area (and got more confused). We got a little lost and I fretted over having only two granola bars in the car and starting the venture with only a half tank of gas. But we found our way home, albeit on a different road and we’re not sure where we made our wrong turn. I decided that since we’re no longer in the high desert where you can spot landmarks easily over the sagebrush, it might be a good idea to invest in a GPS intended for hiking and some maps. Car Garmin wouldn’t find me a satellite this time.

We’ve found a few (what I’m sure are) porcini. But with my unscientific calculation of being only 95% sure we decided not to eat them. Problem around here is there’s not really anyone to ask and I only feel so confident with myself until I’ve successfully identified something so many times. And my understanding is there are no deadly toxic boletes in the area, but if you eat the wrong kind (which should stain blue “quickly” or be red pored etc) you’ll get a nasty GI experience you don’t want to remember. Couple that low probability of being wrong with a new-ish anxiety over health (that’s a topic for a different a blog post) – and it doesn’t seem worth it to me to eat something and then spend the next 12 hours feeling my adrenaline spike every time my intestinal gas shifts if ya know what I mean. It’s anxiety, it’s not rational. And despite what you’d think, in my case education does not improve the situation, it only helps my mind to further come up with scenarios and situations that heighten the anxiety. So unless I’m extremely confident it just isn’t worth it.

I need to find a local group of people who I can foray with. My only current option is an hour away once a month when I may or may not be working. That’s hasn’t worked out, since I’m also a little lazy/unmotivated and there’s a book to read or button to repair on my day off (apparently I’ve got priorities). Locally, everyone around here seems to be retired, and I don’t want to seem like a needy weirdo: “hey so I need someone to show me where they find mushrooms and help me identify them.” If I had any talent in making friends or even acquaintances this might be easier. So I guess well keep collecting choice specimens then throwing them into the woods.

It’s been interesting this year to see the differences in my local fungi. Totally different things are popping up. Last year I didn’t see any amanita muscaria (fly agaric) on my property, this year there are a bunch. Last year we had lots of russala, this year it’s all slippery jacks and poor mans slippery jacks. I wonder if I’ll be able to find any trends as the years pass in who fruits when.

That’s it for now. Now that I’ve got my writing’ feet wet again hopefully I can bust out a few more entries instead of waiting a month in between.

If you spend your whole life documenting it when are you living it?

I realized I’ve put off writing anything because I don’t have any current photos to accompany what I’m writing (and I’m still using the ipad – just haven’t been motivated enough to break out the computer). And that got me thinking on something I’ve considered before.

Discussion likely started with my husband; we came to notice a trend of people who had great photos of events or times in his past (he was around for some good counter culture moments). And he would ask, who are these people? I never heard of them? Or say something like “I didn’t have the time or foresight for pictures we were too busy living it! We never thought people would be looking back like this later.” And to me, that rings true today.

Now if you’re a photographer by trade, I get it. But for the rest of us I often wonder about this. I definitely don’t carry my good camera around (especially not out doing any dirty farmy work) and my phone stays inside at home (it doesn’t get signal, a blessing in disguise). In making a conscious effort to put the technology down and be more present at other times I find that I forget about it altogether. That, or I feel somewhat guilty if me and my husband are enjoying a walk and I tell him to stop while I get some good shots. Good shots for who? I’m not going to publish any of this and I’ll be luckily to get a few likes on Instagram.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken my fair share selfies. But I also realize this was a solitary indulgence. I did it when I was alone. Not with friends, not with my husband and I would have felt weird if I did. And I do take a selfie now and then (still alone). And I enjoyed taking arty or interesting pictures, but that too was a better activity for alone time, on lunch breaks or work commutes or when my husband worked swing and I worked day. It seems though that as my life becomes fuller I think of these ways to occupy myself less often. I still have plenty of “alone time” but not really. I can hear husband hammering in the shop or I have chickens to give treats to. My life is richer and I don’t feel myself reaching for the camera when what’s going on around me is all the fulfillment I need.

Here’s the flip side to this discussion; I’m a little jealous of people who can flip through albums to remember their whole life (both me and my husband have few photos of childhood or teen years). And I often wonder and wish I could do a better job documenting the changes in our life and around the “farm”, if just for comparisons sake.

So there you have why this may not be the most beautifully photo full blog. I’m too busy living sometimes, even if that living is a sun bath on the couch or sitting in the grass watching my ducks for 45 minutes.

Lastly, below is a photo of my project for two days. All the edging on the garage wall we replaced. Gotta get in all the dry work before the rains come full force!