Saturday, January 9, 2010

cars, goats, and phone calls

So I feel like I should share some good news after all this rough stuff. Starting with a little freedom. Today I made the final payment on the Subaru! As of today I own both of my vehicles. No longer is my chariot co-owned by Chase Bank. It is mine, and another step towards owning my own place. (Banks love a girl without car payments.)

Another bit of goodness: I got to visit Finn today over at Abi's. Soon as I parked the car in the driveway I ran to the fence and yelled for him. He came running and nickering! I was so happy to know the little guy had not forgotten his girl. I kissed him on the forehead and scratched his ears. My good goat.

It is so So good to visit him like this and be able to stay in his life. I feel blessed with how well he's doing with the alpaca's and the Connors. I stayed and had a cup of coffee with Greg and the kids. It is so great to talk to other people who dance between technology and homesteading. Greg's a novelist and computer guy, but has 60 chickens and a pair of alpacas. (Talk about my scene...) Abi's a blogger and an amazing knitter. I'm so happy they came into my life.

The last bit of good news: I talked to the family out west that owns the cabin. Turns out they're in Oregon, not California. It was like talking to old friends. They seem like wonderful people. I was on the phone for a long time, listening to the history of the place. Man, it was great to witness the stories. Hear the anecdotes about snakes and toads and the beautiful people who have owned it in the past. I heard about tulips and fishing, childhood friends and famers. It was almost surreal how perfect it all sounded. It seems like having me there may be a good thing for us both.

I have no idea if this place will work out for me, but after the conversations I have had with the people who love it—I want to make it mine so it stays a beautiful place. They call the cabin Foothold, as in the "Foothold to Heaven". It has raised summertime children, told stories, entertained girl scouts and made these people 3,000 miles away nearly cry on the phone. I might have fallen in love with it too. Which is scary because I don't even know if the place is something I can afford, or if the repairs would be prohibiting. But I do know what my heart tells me, and it is singing for this place. The last thing the daughter of the owner said to me before getting off the phone was, "I'm glad you called." So was I.

Paying off my car, scratching the kid I love behind the ears, hearing the owners of the cabin teach me the history of this town... This is all good news. To celebrate I'll be raising a bottle of hard cider and sewing a new messenger bag as a present for myself. I ordered some brown corduroy and this fabric of songbirds and deer with giant antlers as a lining. Working with my hands will be a good distraction from the stress and end in a fine result.

Friday, January 8, 2010

a day of panic followed by a day of rest

Yesterday I went out with my band to play some music at a bar and eat good food. We laughed and sang and it was just what I needed. I am still worried, but calmer. (Or maybe just tired from being out till 1AM) Regardless, I'm determined to figure out the next steps, however daunting. I tracked down some information on the cabin, and yesterday Steve and I went to see it in person on our lunch break. There it is in the photo! My instant reaction was great, just look at that place. Tucked into a hillside with a winding staircase. A neighbor with ample land to loan or possibly sell. A small, affordable, cabin almost waiting for me to bring it back to life. I could make this place everything. I could start new. I'm trying not too get too excited, but honestly, just the idea that this might be the perfect solution is what had me smiling as I sang last night at the bar. This could be home.

All I know right now is that it is in fact for sale and the woman with a connection to the owner will call me tomorrow. It's a long shot. Everything from getting approved for a mortgage to finding a new rental is a long shot. But I feel like I am finding my feet after being knocked down and starting this new part of my life.

Everything is up in the air right now. I'm running on fumes and gut feelings. It's been a raw week: both in good and bad ways. The hit of finding out I was losing my home, followed by a night of music and friends and forgetting, followed by the slightest hope I could buy this small house and start all over again—has left me emotionally exhausted. Tonight I am just staying in to write and enjoy the fire and maybe sew. It has been one good day of work in starting over, possibly mildly hung over. I am okay with that moral deficit in this situation.

I am constantly amazed at the kind words, emails, offers of help, moving buddies, and letters I have received since I announced the cabin vacating. Thank you so much. The longer I write this blog and read your comments the more I feel like I'm building my future community. I am lucky (even when I'm not) to have all of you. If it takes me a while to reply to your email, or if I forget, please know I read everything and am deeply grateful. You just can't know how much.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

the beginning of an end

I came home to find a note in the mailbox from my landlord. My stomach instantly went empty. That feeling you get when a plane just drops from turbulence or you miss the bottom step. I stood outside in front of the Subaru's headlights to read the notice in the dark. It said—in a polite and calm tone—that she would be moving back to Vermont this summer and doing renovations on the cabin. She would soon be mailing me a notice to Vacate on or before May 1st.

After I read it I just stood there. I stood there with that same hollowness you feel when you realize something you thought was real, wasn't. Like when you finally understand your love for someone is totally unrequited (I'm actually an expert on this) or Santa wasn't real. Tonight, reading that letter, I finally understood Cold Antler wasn't real either—it was always someone else's. You could have pushed me over with a feather.

I understand that four month's notice is generous and ample time to pack up and move. I understand that a kind note sent to alert me of a notice was courteous and friendly. (I have no ill will towards my landlord, at all. She is just doing what landlord do.) I get all that. I am not an irrational person. It doesn't make the feather-pushability go away.

I want to write something to you about the amazing affirmation the note was. How it was just validating my own plans and dreams, and that the universe is colliding to make my life happen as I visualize it. But honestly, I don't feel any of that. I'm terrified. I. Am. Absolutely. Terrified. I'm sitting in a ticking time bomb and have no idea how I'm going to pull this future farm off. I always thought I would be the one sending a notice to my landlord. I thought this place would be mine for years...That I could live here until I was ready to move onto the next big thing and plan my life around that. But things have changed so much since the holidays started. So much.

If it was just me and the dogs, this wouldn't even be cause to blink. I've done that time and time again within a month, no sweat. But this is no longer moving a girl and some huskies to an apartment in Bennington—this is trying to move an entire lifestyle. I have to find a place for me, a flock of sheep, a coop of birds, and two dogs in what is now just sixteen weeks. I need to either get myself into a position to buy, quick, or find another small plot of land that will let me rent for another year while I save. That second idea means finding a landlord somewhere in the area that welcomes a working small farm. It's not impossible, but unlikely. If I can't buy a small home with a bit of land in time, I will have to find new homes for the remaining animals (not Jazz and Annie - they will never leave my side) and abandon the farmlife for a while. The idea that this is a likely possibility feels like someone just knocked the wind out of me.

Like I said. Terrified.

Now, with all that said, there is a bit of gossip in town that gives me hope. A small house on an acre and a half on the other side of Sandgate might be for sale. It's nothing fancy, but the locals say it's in solid condition and the woman who inherited the cabin recently lives in California and doesn't want it. Which means it mightbe up for sale and in my modest price range. I called the contact that the owners of the Wayside gave me, but I haven't heard back from her yet. I am hoping the rumor is true. Crossing my fingers. Knocking on wood. If it is, it will give me the slightest bit of comfort on a night humming with anxiety.

I know I'll be okay. I know this will somehow work out, even if the situation isn't ideal and involves a lot of heartache. I knew this was all coming. I was just hoping it was coming in late summer, or maybe fall. I just wish I had a little more time to figure this all out. I'll keep you posted, and please, wish me luck on this mess.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

home from a run

Monday, January 4, 2010

maybe, then.

After three days of being housebound (save for the two trips to Wayside) I am back into the weekly grind. It's always a shock going from the farm to the office—but after three days of writing/cabin life it was like emerging from a monastery into a freeway. That sounds negative, but I don't mean for it to be. I love my job and am grateful for the people it brought into my life. Sometimes it just shocks you. Sometimes that's a good thing.

We had a going away lunch party for my boss and another coworker just announced their move to the midwest. (A pretty happening day for the small company I'm a part of.) A lot of people's lives are changing all around me. There are promotions and plane trips and moving companies involved in that office. Sitting at the lunch party felt a little sordid. I'm never the person eating soup and wishing someone else good luck. I'm the person the going-away parties are for. I've lived in four states in five years. That lunch was the first time I realized I was staying put. I have a lot to figure out first.

I know I don't want to move anymore.

I would like to stay right here in Vermont, thank you.

...except maybe when I am much much older and Tennessee asks me to come home.

maybe, then.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

fiddle workshop update

I've slotted the weekend of February 20th as the Saturday for the beginner fiddle workshop here at the farm. About four people contacted me and I have faith we'll find a fifth. If you have no idea what I'm talking about—last week I announced a four hour intro-to-fiddle workshop for people who want to learn old time mountain music but have no idea how. (Of course, musically experienced folks are welcome too!) But if you are free that weekend, and always wanted to learn, email me to make arrangements and such. I plan on hosting it from 11 AM - 3 PM, and if anyone comes from out of town (or wants to stick around) we can plan on going out to dinner that night as a group in Manchester. Maybe hit up Northshire books too. You know, make a day of it.

The point of the workshop of course is to help beginner fiddlers find their feet using the Native Ground method. I'll have beginner materials for all the people who come, you just need a fiddle (and no problems with large sleddogs who may demand you keep scratching them if you sit on my couch). The other point is to put some more coin in the farm fund, which is what will be the nest egg that gets me in the door of my own home this spring (god willing). So please, come over and learn to tune, bow, rosin up and play with us. It'll be a lot of fun and a way to meet folks who share your love of music, farming, and fresh eggs. Plus, you'll be helping your gal Jenna turn the key to the dream.

the locavore way

A great little book hit the presses recently, and I wanted to share it with you. It's called The Locavore Way by Amy Cotler. It's a beginner's guide to eating locally and understanding food economies. It's not what you think, which to some might be a scary anti-industrial food book with pictures of confined feeding operations and charts about cloned corn. Nope, this is a kind, light, read with beautiful illustrations and good advice. It covers all the options we have now from CSAs to farmers markets, small farms, and how to get local food at the grocery store too. There are recipes, dining out guides, and even beginner gardener advice. It's the kind of book every farmers market in America should have on a rack. Its best feature is the chapter on building community—a theme the book never stops singing. Amy knows the importance of putting farmer's names to our food and learning how to get involved. Also, people with similar food values have a lot in common, and learning to eat local may not only help our health and environment - it may make you some new friends. You'll find some mighty cool people at those weekend markets. (I think it's the new dog park for blind dates.) The book costs less than a large pizza, so pick up a copy and make your own at home instead!

sal beyond the garden gate