Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The inbetween season

While I was cutting firewood I saw a couple of chickenhawks today. After I heard one call I started looking around to see where the calls came from and spotted one circling overhead, gliding effortlessly and I had the distinct feeling it was watching our chicken coop. Then I heard another one call somewhere behind me! I wheeled around, just to see that one attacking a magpie! That one got away, but the hawk involved was bigger then the one I was looking at. That means no free roaming for our chickens for a while! And that after they are allowed to do so again after the bird flu "epidemic" (which was more of a panicky reaction to a totally blown out of proportion string of events). And speaking of chickens.... they act kind of weird, whenever they hear us opening the door and walk into the garden....
Unfortunately 2 of the 3 cocks have to go. One, Weasley, is a mean son of a bitch and the other, Dr Watson, turned out to be a weak cock. He is not only being bullied all the time, but a complete outcast too. Those two will make a good "cock au vin" someday (soon).

Spring is inching its way across the land.
But winter is not giving up. Not just yet. We have had a few days of sunshine and warmer weather, but these quickly became outdone by a new spell of cold weather. Temperatures barely reaching the plus side of the Celsius Scale during the day, dipped well below during the night and we were treated to snow showers. Not many, but still. Last year I started sowing on this day, but this year I will wait a little longer. It simply is too cold.
Gardening is slow, nothing much to do yet but the lakes are all but icefree. That could mean that the frost has left the ground enough to start work on that; finishing the fencing around the garden, so the dogs can be outside... And shed their hair there!! It is a hairy mess ínside, because of it.
It gives me plenty of time to think over the projects for this summer. As said there is the fencing and we need a doghouse too. In a month or two we (hopefully) will be done with exchanging the sewagesystem and in order to get that going we need to take down a handful of mature trees. That means a lot of sawing and cutting. Splitting and stacking too, but that can be put on hold for a while. There is also the greenhouse that will be built onto the southern wall and we want to reuse the timber framing from the garden shed for that. It has to be taken down anyway in order to have room to manoeuvre when doing the sewage-job. And if that's not enough there will be the sowing and planting and, depending on the outcome of the sewage-job (and the spread of the lilies of the valleys we have), we will be building a goathouse and -pen. That means more building and fencing.
And for bad weather days we have some plans too!! The heatingsystem for one. By the looks of it we finally will be able to get and install 2 hotwatertanks, meaning decent showers for all, a steady temperature in the house during winter and, unfortunately, a higher consumption of wood. But if we simultaneously install a batterypack and solarcell charging system, we will have independent heating and hot water supply year round. With any luck taxreturns will cover those costs.  Another project will be the reversing of the livingroom/kitchen arrangement. Those will swap places, meaning more day/sunlight during winter in the kitchen, where we reside most and less in the livingroom, which we use mostly during evenings anyway. Kitchen will be a lot bigger too, so more room for all of us, reducing the risk of bumping into one another or getting in each other's way. But these are projects that can be put on hold for those late autumn days, too. Practically everything we need for that we already have, except for some new plumbing.
How are we all going to do that? No idea just yet. The whole sewage business will be taken care of by a professional, so not much for us to worry about. We need to take care of the removal of the trees and I will not try to do that alone! The same goes for the installation of hotwatersystem, so all that means a lot less work to tackle by ourselves.

Eggs died with red cabbage, onionpeels, kurkuma and paprika..
In the meantime I hope you all had a good easter. Kids are having their  spring break/easter holidays and already are bored witless and I am waiting to start the sowing. It simply has been too cold for that, but apparently we will see the nightfrosts disappear. The lakes are all but icefree too now, which would mean the topsoil will be workable. I ordered a bunch of seeds; tomatoes, cucumber, but mainly herbs. Herbs for tea-making! Given our love for coffee and tea, we want to give making our own herb teas a try. Too bad we can't grow our own coffee though....

But before the spring break came, there was a day of open doors at the school of our youngest daughter and my wife, who is now a teacher there. Such an occasion is not only good to see what's going on in school or meeting other parents. It sometimes holds pleasant surprises too. I could not pass by the schoollibrary ( of course) and behold..... they were selling off "old" books. You can see where this is going, can't you......? Yes, it cost me dearly. A whopping 15sek. For the whole lot! A good thing our to-be livingroom will be divided into a tv/launch half and a library/study half. We are running out of bookshelfspace!

Other books have found their way into our own library this year too....
The first were part of a great deal (real cheap) including some military history books (not relevant here) and the latter I got to support a local writer, despite having read them, so I went for the pocket versions... A couple more moved over here, but these are subject of a next post, since they proved to be of a very significant importance.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

An update on vacuum sealed food

Since we have taken up vacuum sealing food quite recently, there still is a lot we need to learn about it. Scouring the internet for information on the subject, I came across the following article and thought it might be a good idea to share it with you.
It comes from and was written by Tess Pennington.
if you follow the link you will find more information about oxygen absorbers and related topics too.

Vacuum sealing, or ROP (Reduced Oxygen Packaging) slows down the process of spoilage by reducing atmospheric oxygen, and creates an anaerobic environment that  limits the growth of aerobic bacteria or fungi, and prevents the evaporation of volatile components. Vacuum sealing is often used in combination with other packaging and food processing techniques.
As effective as this food storage source seems, it could put your health at risk. There are certain types of bacteria that prefer low oxygen environments and will grow on foods that have been vacuum sealed. Knowing the dangers that these bacteria possess can help you avoid them and keep your food storage safe.

Botulism and Listeria Monocytogenes

Even in an oxygen-depleted environment, Anaerobic organisms can proliferate, potentially causing food safety problems. Botulism and Listeria monocytogenes are examples of pathogenic bacteria that cause food borne illnesses from growing and thriving in an anaerobic environment. Moreover, these bacteria have the capacity of growing at a faster rate in vacuum sealed foods due to the oxygen-free environment as well as the fact that these bacteria are not in competition with other spoilage bacteria. These bacteria often do not produce noticeable changes in the foods; therefore, relying on sight, smell and taste would not be helpful. However, only a tiny amount of these spores (a few nanograms) need to be present in order for them to be deadly.
According to the FDA, the following are dangers associated with vacuum sealing food sources:
  • Facultative bacteria (most foodborne pathogens) grow under aerobic & anaerobic conditions
  • Most spoilage organisms are no longer “indicators” for temperature abuse
  • Extended shelf life could allow “slow growers” to reach high numbers under refrigerated conditions
  • Secondary barriers such as low pH or aw are not always possible with cook chill and sous vide packaging
  • Potential for temperature abuse at retail and in the home is great
  • Cooking and fermentation destroy most vegetative cells but spore formers survive

Safety Guidelines for Vacuum Sealing Food

If you have  taken proper steps in preparing your food in a clean and uncontaminated environment, then this should not be a problem. However, if there is any question about the safety, then err on the side of caution and do not vacuum pack the food, as you would be creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Follow these guidelines to properly vacuum seal food:
  1. Vacuum sealing food does not replace the need to pressure can or water bath home canned foods.
  2. Wash hands before and during the vacuum sealing process.
  3. Try not to touch food with your hands. Use clean spoons, tongs or something else to handle the food.
  4. Be sure to keep utensils, cutting boards and counters clean.
  5. Keep vacuum sealed foods in the refrigerator or freezer. Dry food, like crackers and nuts, can be stored at room temperature.
  6. Freeze low-acid vacuum packaged foods and consume immediately after heating. Never heat a low-acid vacuum packaged food and allow it to stand at room temperature in the vacuum package.
  7. Ensure that you do not cross contaminate food.
  8. Properly label food sources with type of food and date packaged.
  9. Ensure the seal is complete and that there is no debris in the seal.

Which Foods are Safe and How Long Do They Store?

Shelf life of vacuum packaged foods
FoodStored InNormal Shelf LifeVacuum Shelf Life
Large cuts of meat: beef, poultry, lamb and porkFreezer6 months2-3 years
Ground meat: beef, poultry, lamb and porkFreezer4 months1 year
FishFreezer6 months2 years
Coffee beansRoom temperature4 weeks16 months
Coffee beansFreezer6-9 months2-3 years
Berries: strawberries, raspberries, blackberriesRefrigerator1-3 days1 week
Berries: cranberries, huckleberries, blueberriesRefrigerator3-6 days2 weeks
Cheese – hard, semi-soft and pasteurized cheeses.*Soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Ricotta, Cottage and Teleme MAY NOT be vacuum packagedRefrigerator1-2 weeks4-8 months
Cookies, crackersRoom temperature (periodically opening)1-2 weeks3-6 weeks
Flour, sugar, riceRoom temperature6 months1-2 years
LettuceRefrigerator3-6 days2 weeks
NutsRoom temperature6 months2 years
Oils with no preservatives, like safflower, canola, corn oilRoom temperature5-6 months1-1.5 years
WineRefrigerator1-3 weeks2-4 months

Above table adapted by Tilia Inc. from Dr. G.K.York, Dept. of Food Science & Tech, U of California, Davis
Vaccum sealing food can be a productive way to maintain your food source as well as prolong its shelf life. Ensure that you take the proper steps in handling and storing your  food to reduce the presence of bacteria in your food storage.

vacuum sealing can be hazardous to your health

Monday, March 27, 2017

A sad day....

Spring is here!
The sun is shining and the thermometer is pointing at 19C in the shade.
The air is filled with birdsong and calls. Flights of geese, swans and cranes pass overhead all the time and in the garden the snowdrops and crocus are blooming. Virtually no snow or ice remains in our garden.
However it is a sad day. The one thing(s) that I really was hoping to see, did not emerge. No bees....
So I opened the hives and both were stone dead. The probably cause is famine. There simply was not enough food for them last year to gather enough and build a strong hive. I tried to help them by feeding them sugar water, but they would not take that very well.
Checking hive 1, the weakest of the two, I found that many bees were stuck inside the cells trying to get the last food and died there. The main clusters were covered with mould, so I think they died some time ago. There were thick clumps of dead bees beneath these and these were decaying pretty bad already too. When I brushed off the dead bees from the wax there too many bees were stuck inside the cells. They had only built 2 combs, but not filled them, so this was really a very weak hive.
One I sort of expected to not make it, but both? That is a blow....
So I checked hive 2 as well. Same scenario, but with a difference; there was one comb still filled with capped honey!?? And they had been expanding pretty well, building 4 new combs too.

Be that as it may, it is back to square one again. Well, not entirely. We already have the hives and the gear.
Just no bees.....

This is the capped honey left in hive 2.
There is a similar patch on the other side too!
Plus a lot of uncapped honey....

The combs in hive 2.
They have been building after we transferred them, but then it seems they just stopped.
Nothing's filled or used....

Monday, March 20, 2017

development and growth

The birds are singing, the snow and ice are all but gone. We have passed the springequinoix and brighter days are ahead. The first migratory birds are returning. There are male blackbirds all around us, whooper swans up in the skies and in the field. Buzzard were seen soaring through the sky above the vantagepoint above our village and last night the first four cranes passed over, announcing the coming of spring with trumpeting sounds.
We can smell the lakes and the soil again, mixed with an unmistakable sweet scent. Sap's rising!

As an afterburner from my previous post, questioning the viability of continuing this blog, I decided to go for it after all. I like doing it too much to just quit and in becoming silent I would see myself as a part of the problem(s) I address regularly here.
One of the key guidelines I try to live by, is being the change I want to see. And by showing that I hope to set an example and maybe even lead by it.
Another thing I like to do, is to challenge and analyse myself. For me this is a prerequisite for personal development and growth. Changing jobs or surroundings, leaving comfort zones, despite clinging to them and trying new things, although I really do not like change..... all these things happen regularly. Thinking out of the box and questioning common ideas/beliefs or official policies are part and parcel of my everyday life. In other words, trying to remain open to other points of view. And every once in awhile that means letting go of things too.
So I cleaned up my act, left a number of forums, cleaned up contact lists and removed a number of blogs that I used to follow. All the things that did not give me anything new or only confirmed my current point of view. This cleaning up business had another, more profound reason too. Turned out I was not nearly being as openminded as I thought.....
Another thing I have adopted, is a challenge I once read on a Swedish bookreading network. Every once in a while pick up a book of an author or on a subject one would usually not read or even completely out of one's area of interest in order to open up to new views and/or facts. Personally I feel that the latter would be very demanding in as reading a totally uninteresting subject would make it a struggle to finish such a book and by not finishing it, it might just add to the prejudices one might have. So I compromised somewhat. There had to be some relation to me, just to make it through the book.
The first one I picked up was written by a Pakistani - Qaisar Mahmood. The book in question is called "jakten på svenskheten" or The hunt for Swedishness (free translation by me) and was actually recommended, and I fully agree, to both immigrants and Swedes alike. Both sides really would learn a thing or two!!

Another author I am currently reading/studying is Richard Dawkins, an ethologist, evolutionary biologist and passionate atheist. I came across him in a highly unlikely manner; him being featured on the latest cd of a Finnish metalband called Nightwish and their latest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Now I usually do not have much with music, but this album to me is special in as it touched me deeply both in sound and in lyrics.

Now both authors were/are completely new to me as are their subjects. However both authors also do touch some common ground with me. Mahmood in being an immigrant, seemingly struggling in or with Swedish society, wanting to find out what it means to"be Swedish" and Dawkins by questioning religion and its effects on society and history.

But in the meantime I have gotten into a bit of a tight spot. One that had the potential to completely overthrow my life..... and not just mine.
Due to various reasons, up to and including my own emotional and mental spiral downwards towards the gaping abyss of ever lasting doom, my wife delivered me the shock of my life, by announcing her wish for a divorce.
And that shook me to the core. With that announcement she dealt me such a savage blow that I finally got some sense knocked into me. I will spare you all the details, but thankfully she did not press on. The only thing stopping her were my pleas to not do so. Turns out it was an act of desperation from her side and that move eventually created room for dialogue. It also ensured that I first went through an emotional discharge, unleashing a lot of bottled up feelings, anger, pain and frustration, clearing the air for myself as well. But most importantly it made me realise and understand what was going on and how much I actually still loved her.  And that still is with all my heart, even after knowing her for almost 30 years. And the feeling is mutual.
So for now a relational disaster has been averted and we are working on growing toward each other again instead of apart, We are confident that our future together still exists. So much so that we are willing to go through with another change we were considering; a move.
Yes, we actually are considering leaving this place...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why bother

The world outside looks as if it has been covered in whipped cream. A fresh load of fluffy, yet wet and heavy snow covered the world I live in and now the temperatures dropped again. before that world was glazed over. Days of thaw, followed by nights of frost followed by rain..... and the roads looked like covered in glass. It was fairly hazardous to venture outside, but for now we can go outside and enjoy winter renewed. And we, or at least I, do actually enjoy it again. This comeback reminded us that it still is only february and thus still winter. Despite the high temperatures we experienced, we even sat on the balcony for tea, spring and all its regrowing wonders is still a long way off. No flowers for us for quite a while I'm afraid...
We'll enjoy these blooms instead

So I am sitting here and think. Think about what to do. With this blog for one.
I have reached the 5-year mark and I have written a great deal about a variety of subjects. In the meantime I have seen most of the blogs I followed, come to a complete standstill or change and become far less interesting. But that's the way things go I suppose. Blogs come and go, get born, evolve, mature and fade away..... or change all together. Just like and because of the people behind them. And sometimes I wonder; maybe the time has come for mine to become quiet too? It has changed a lot I think and I am running out of subjects right now. It appears that people do not want to know about current crises or political/banking schemes. It does appear that they do not want to become confronted with unpleasant articles. Those that do have far better options to go to anyway. Apparently the subjects I am touching these days do not rank high on the demand-list. The days of roaming the woods are few and far between, interests change, personal mindset too.
I ask myself the question as to why I write regularly. What is my motivation? Reaching out to people, yes. But why? To entertain? Not really. Maybe a small part. To educate? Perhaps to show that things can be done? Yes. To inspire and motivate. That certainly too. But not in the least part to connect as well. But lately even those connections are falling silent...
I once read somewhere that people often read blogs like these to escape reality, not become confronted with it. People want to live their fantasies, like roaming the woods or have a little farm or whatever, through the life and writings of others.

The list of concept-posts gets longer, because I am asking myself if it would be worth posting. And often the answer "why bother" comes to mind. Because when there is no response, then why bother indeed? So I will think things over. If or how I should continue. Maybe it has become to diverse, to confronting, to depressing or simply to dull. Personally blogs that ramble on and on on the same subject quickly become boring to me. Someone showing nothing but walks in the woods and pictures of coffee pots over a fire quickly lose my attention, no matter how nice it looks. And the same goes for those showing their seedlings growing. Reports on buying the latest knife/axe/gadget or tray of canned food doesn't hold my interest for long either if at all. But that might just be the way to attract and hold a crowd??
Maybe I need to ask myself the question as to why I really am doing this or what I want to be? Do I do this for me or for others? Am I a storyteller or a guide? A doomsday prophet or a teacher? Or maybe I just like the attention? I sure like to write. And I do think I have something to say. Something meaningful too.
I am leaning toward turning the page, not closing the book, but maybe it's time simply has come.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wasting daylight

These past few days we have had a serious spell of thaw. The sound of dripping water everywhere, singing birds and on the balcony in the sun temperatures reached 20C!! The first flies have been active and our youngest daughter even saw a butterfly yesterday!! Bluetits are investigating the nestboxes, magpies are bickering over what I think should be nesting sites and the black woodpecker calls out to mark his territory.
The theme of change still seems actual. But if the weather forecasts are anything to go by, and they are quite erratic these last days too, winter will not just give in and should return after the weekend. It still is only february after all.
These are days that I feel at my worst. Not enough work to fill my days, one can only do so much household, anxious to get going in the garden, which is still hard as rock and covered in ice. I can not let out the chickens either, since the birdflu curfew still is in effect. Walking the over-dynamic duo has also become a high risk enterprise, since the roads are icing over and the studs underneath the boots do not always guarantee a sufficient footing! Yes, I think the fifth (Swedish) season has begun; vårvinter. That time between deep winter and spring.
So all in all my days are filled with a lot of reading. There are books to be found everywhere and authors like Forstchen, Paolini, Canavan, Rothfuss, Hoffman, Pullman or Sapkowski can be seen lying around or in hand. A welcome change in subject there too. For now no military history, biography, homesteading or gardening books, although fantasy has always been a popular subject with me.... or us. It is more the absence of the others that is noticeable.
And I have picked up my scale modelling hobby again too. Some creative juices are flowing again...
But these last few days my wife has been keeping me company. She is recovering from her flu and so we sit and drink coffee, do some chores together when possible.... and drink some tea.... and do our hobbythings.... and drink some more tea...

So we wait...... not really able to do more.
And that feels like wasting daylight to me.....

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Winter is coming

A phrase from a popular tv-series game of thrones. Great books too as far as I can tell.

But I do believe that winter indeed is coming. Winter for our society, for the world as we know it.
Because I can already see the signs of the following spring; the preparations for a new awakening, a rebirth. Buds have been forming to start growing and blooming after winter. An awareness that spreads. People waking up, seeing that what is today is not good. Is sick and has to die. That will be society's winter. I think we are in the final days of society. It has sprouted, it grew and it is going through the final cycles of wilting. It has spent its vigour, its youth and has only one thing left to do; to die. That will be winter. The time where all things have to stop, all things have to die. That which is sick and weak will not make it to the new spring. The seeds and buds lacking the strength to regrow will never sprout, the seeds that have that strength will.
The buds I mean are the people, who wake up. People seeing the world for what it really is. Understanding that it is wrong, became rotten, ruthless, cruel and ruled by the greedy and powerhungry. People who resist complying anymore and are actively seeking new ways. People trying to awake and inspire others. I see this more and more and I also see the established structures reacting ever more desperate and violent.
This winter will bring death and destruction to many, but that will be inevitable. Winter is merciless. Those unprepared or unfit will perish and probably many that were too. But after each winter a new spring will come and we can only do what we can to make it until then, either by reaching it ourselves or by creating the best possible conditions for others to do so, like preparing "our young" just as it is the way of nature.

And speaking of illness; our family is going through a spell of illness too. The wife's down with flu, our youngest daughter's stomach thought it was time to regurgitate its contents at 02:50 this morning in the middle of the bedroom and hall, resulting in the ultimate sleepless night. We all have the sniffles and feel generally unfit.... But there was that inconvenient truth that homesteading leaves little time for illness. Animals have to be cared for, fed, watered and walked and as I was doing so this morning I was treated to some heartwarming scenes. One of our neighbours is using flower pots as temporary birdfeeders and the trees were positively alive with them. Several species of finches and tits were fluttering about and chattering and I did detect the first notes of the songs they will be singing before long.
A few moments later I was witnessing the "birth" of another day; the sun rising above the hills, heaving itself higher over the summit ever so slowly. I actually saw it grow and the light intensify as it try to pierce the morning haze. Even the dogs granted me the moment and kept quiet, waiting until I was done watching.
Such moments make life worth living.

And as I was writing this post we got confirmation that another, significant change is coming our way. One that is going to force self dependence on us. Our social safety net will shrink considerably. We had expected that to happen, but now it will become a reality and soon, too.
And I have that strange feeling that changes are not over for us just yet.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The drums of war - war with Iran


They have been beating a while now, but I think they are now beating louder than ever!!

A quick rundown of the situation;
Iran has announced to drop the dollar.....

As did Saddam Hussein, when he wanted to exchange the (petro)collar for the Euro -> the second Gulf war....
the guardian article

Gadaffi wanted to do something similar; drop the (petro)dollar and install the goldbacked Dinar -> a revolution starts and Libya gets bombed into the stone age by NATO....

And now Iran dumps the dollar too. Iran, a country that the US wants dead and gone for ages now.

And the propaganda machine for creating an excuse to attack Iran is being cranked up already;
Press-secretary Sean Spicer falsely accuses Iran of attacking us navy vessel

The plan to take out Iran is nothing new either as it was with Irak, Lybia;
General Wesley interview 2007

Now all of these links came up instantly just using google.
Dig a little deeper if you can be bothered and I am sure you'll come with much, much more...
Like why and how the US has been taunting Russia and China. You know minor things like treaties, monetary unions, Ukraine, South Chinese sea, embargos and looming trade wars..... insignificant stuff like that.

And then you might see connections!
Iran has alliances with Russia and China. Yes, those same two countries the US has been pecking and jabbing at and relations between those are tense..... Very. very tense.....
The US attacks Iran, a country not really loved by its neighbours, but maybe those neighbours recognise the common enemy here. You know the one that brought liberty, freedom and democracy to their countries as well. They might just join forces.
And maybe China will not directly get involved militarily, but might just see an opportunity to raise the South Chinese Sea-issues to a whole new level.....
And maybe the Russians will see an opportunity to join that merry band in showing that bully of the world once and for all that he is done for....
You are seeing a pattern here??

Oh and besides....
The elite in the US is busy bugging out and digging in on a massive scale....
Yes, the rich folks are running.....
Why??? government retirees bugging out

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Turning things around

After that wonderfully dismal, depressing previous post I figured I'd level out my whining with some other, non relevant side information.
Winter has returned. We are seeing the sun these days and temperatures dropped. Fresh crisp air that cleanses the nostrils and sinuses are ours to enjoy again.

We have become convinced that our Rex not only is a German shepherd-Alaskan husky male, not only is the older half of the over-dynamic duo, but also the reincarnation of an old, grumpy man. He at times is moody and indeed grumpy, groans and moans when he lies down, wants to lie on soft bedding and he even looks like an old man!!! More and more I believe he was sent back to Earth as a dog, subservient to humans to learn his place and as punishment for being a total jerk in a previous life.
But he is learning. He is getting more gentle, more friendly and he really is a good pal to all of us, including the cats. He is learning to contain and withhold himself, trying to accept that someone else is getting attention, but not he at that time. His overprotectiveness is getting less and overall he seems to become less anxious, although his brain still works on overdrive and his fierceness has not lessened yet...
Doesn't he??!!
Odd and I are on a roll too with that whole bog out food box. It went from BOB F-72 to M T-72 (Matlåda or foodbox, T for timmar or hours) to M T-90 and that one become a part of the bigger picture, called MEK-5 beta, standing for Modular Evac Kit for 5, development-version. I'll get back to that sometime later on. But it is fun; 2 no more spring chicken roosters, balling back and forth ideas and going nuts over it like small boys with new toys. Like he said": Got to have some fun too. Can't all be serious..." The MEK Beta is his idea by the way.

But keeping with the whole change-thing; there's more change in the air for us.
The other night we had a familymeeting, something we do when there are issues to discuss concerning the whole family, so everyone is involved. It all started with my wife finding a house and dreamily commented that that would be something for us. My typical reaction was rolling my eyes, but still I looked at it..... And she was right. It really would fit us. Enough room for us all, easily adaptable to off-grid, a larger piece of land, so more room to grow food and have plenty of space left for us and the dogs and located in a community of which we know we would fit in much more.  And precisely that is the keyissue; we do not fit in her. We feel tolerated, but not really accepted, let alone welcome and above all we feel lonely here, especially the girls. No other kids in the village for them to hang around with. That place even has a Waldorf school right across the street (If there is a thing we miss since we left the Netherlands, than that would be it), so the girls would not only not having to take a 30-45 minute bus drive to school, they'd also have much more opportunity to meet friends and hang out with them.
So we had this meeting.... and all were positive!! We talked everything through; housing, schools, social aspect, but also finances and other potential pitfalls. The main thing that struck me however, was that we were unanimous. We are all ready to leave this place. That really hit me.....
Now there is a next to none chance we might pull this through, but we feel that every step we take will increase our chances. The first babysteps have been taken and we have many more to go, but the most important one has been taken.
Now I realise that this place has served its purpose; we found a place for ourselves in a new country. We learned what it is like to live out in the country here, have learned to be relatively independent and we have come to appreciate that very much. But we also learned we are not loners. We need people around us. We need a small community, preferably with a similar mindset to really thrive, interact and cooperate with. We have outgrown this place and the time to move on has come.
I truly believe that destiny has given us this place to learn and grow and I do believe that when the time is right we will move on and grow more.
Maybe this is that time....

We feel ready.....

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Some things never change

The weather's been grey and dreary for quite sometime again. Seem winters are similar to the Dutch ones we left behind more and more; not really cold, humid and overcast. Today everything's just..... light grey. Where snow ends and clods start is hard to tell..... A good, depressing atmosphere to tell a bit about recent events.
It started the previous weekend. Our youngest daughter was going to have a scouting overnighter and we would go grocery shopping afterwards. A usual routine these days after payday. Except..... payday was a little not what we expected. Due to administrative errors beyond our control my wife got only about 40% of her salary.... That was friday. To make things more interesting my wife, after leaving our youngest one at the scouting, turned out to have run a flat tire. That was saturday morning...
This meant changing a tire with the tools supplied with the car. We did that before last summer, but now conditions were quite different; cold, with snow and ice on the ground and wheel, grime and sand and did I mention cold? Snow and ice melt when you touch it, but metal stays cold. This was a useful lesson though. Changing the tire in itself is not that much of an issue for us. We do it twice a year at least. But I wonder how many people do not? Have you ever changed a tire on your car? Can you unfasten the bolts on the wheel with nothing but the handtool supplied?  We do not fasten the bolts with powertools, so we can... Having a spare set of gloves in the car is another must have. Wet gloves make for numb fingers very fast. A rubber mat to sit on would also have been nice. Makes for dry and less cold knees.
Well, the tire was changed in under half an hour, so we could go on our way. Fixing the tire was a no-go however. There were 3(!) holes within a 10cm row. Maybe she hit a lost horseshoe?? This meant a new tire and another hole in our budget. You can see where this is going, right.... We did the shopping and loaded up the car real good. And we do that once a month, so we have some supplies at home just in case we happen to run into trouble like low funds, a broken down car or any other circumstance unabling us to do shopping. Plus buying in bulk means you get more for your money. Not just because of larger packages, but also because of less visits to stores.
And that night, again my wife,,,,, This time her cellphone died. Just like that.... A little over one year old, so no guarantee. Wouldn't you know it... That means more expenses coming our way. And then, last week, we got a letter from försakringskassan, a government institution that is supposed to help people with benefits. Supposed to, because if you hear and read the everyday stories about those people.... They help you alright (*insert major sarcasm here*) and so did they with us. We got the final calculations from 2015 and now we have to cough up and repay a very substantial amount in housing benefits, which they deem we received unnecessary. True, we did get it and yes, I worked the summer at the churchyard. Yes, I reported that and no, they did not alter the benefits, saying it was of no consequence and yes, we did spend it. Turns out in hindsight that my income was of no consequence to any health benefits I should want to claim! Not housing!!
But wait! There's more! Due to financial shortages we had to suspend the road tax from our Pajero (roughly the amount of a week's salary), which means I can not work on weekdays and I haven't been called to substitute since before christmas, which means.... You guessed it; no income for me.
And then there is a large car maintenance coming up shortly. A job I can not do myself, so.... Another week's salary down the drain in the near future.
And now we finally got a building permit from the municipality, allowing us to change the sewage system that that same municipality forces us to change! Meaning an increase in mortgage.
As you see some things never change. Finances are always an issue, especially when things are turning out ok and we seem to be having more room in that matter. The more room we get, the harder the blow afterwards is! It is as if something is trying to teach us to get by with very, very little and whenever that little gets more and we adjust to that, lesson 1 is put back in power again!

Thou shalt not receive and thou shalt not spend it!
Thou shalt live as frugal as possible!! 
Thou shalt get by with as little as possible!!!

But there is one change though; a quite significant one. My wife has landed a fulltime job now, meaning a steady, if not massive income. It will be slightly over the barrel scraping minimum we have lived on these past years, but a vacation to the homeland, as my wife would like, will not be a possibility. At least not for all of us at the same time. For us that also means that we will roll into a set pattern; my wife working for an income and me staying home, taking care of kids, household, animals and garden. Very little, if any paid work for me, except maybe during the weekend or school holidays.
We get by and still have the most essential things we need; a roof over our head, wood for warmth, food and warm clothes and gas for the car. The usual bills get paid and we can afford luxuries as cellphones for all.... Although those bloody things seem to be quite mandatory these days. But it showed us just how dependent we are on those devices; social contacts in one form or another, banking and even navigation... It all is gathered in one, battery driven, hitech, prone to fail (because that's the way they are designed, called designed redundancy) handheld gadget, doing it all for you. But when it breaks.... Who knows the phone numbers of their families and friends by heart? Who keeps an up to date copy of the roadmaps in their car? Banking is not even longer possible without such a thing!!
A grim lesson again.