Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Working Kitchen

Years ago, I was visiting with a friend about how some folks decorate kitchens.
She told me that hers was a "working kitchen."
I've always remembered that.
And I've evidently followed suit.
I don't really decorate the kitchen.
I don't do themes anyways, and I like things that are useful.
Maybe I don't decorate because at any given time,
you can almost tell what the season is
by what my kitchen looks like.
(See the entirety of my decorating~ the oil can with flowers and pumpkin.)
Right now,
it's rather easy to detect autumn 
by the bucket of spuds, collection of winter squash, the miscellaneous hunting gear, and tailings of canning tomatoes.
It's been slim-pickins for hunting season this year.
Between last winter and wolves (and cats and bear,) the game has suffered.
We even stayed a night up on top 
to see if being up high at dawn would show us anything.
We got snowed on during the night - yowza!
Not ready for that yet.
Anyways, on the way home, I asked Mr.LB if he would mind if we stopped at a little produce stand that's on the way.
It's quite a ways from anywhere, and I like to support such folks if I can.
We did and what a bounty~
For $28 we got: 2 huge spaghetti squash, 1 huge mystery squash,
3-4 lbs. plums, 17-20 lbs. of tomatoes, 5 lbs. red spuds, 1/2 gallon of fresh apple cider, and a peanut-butter cookie for me (yum.)
I went up for a hunt this morning and made it back many vertical feet later
about 12:30 and went to work on the tomatoes.
They are now sauce and cooling in jars on the counter, 
and there is a spaghetti squash in the oven. 
I saved some seeds - hoping to grow some of these biggies myself next year.
Those seeds are in a bowl on the table to dry.
The kitchen is where we seem to congregate when there's company.
Some of my fondest memories growing up are of peeling spuds or cleaning string beans with extended family in the kitchen.
I think that's something that's missing in many families today.
There really is a roll for everybody.
The older folks can still chop walnuts and show the little ones how it's done.
You've probably gathered by now that we live along old-fashioned lines.
Years ago, a significant amount of ones time was devoted
to the growing, gathering, and preserving of food not only for the family
but for any livestock as well.
The value of working with your grandparents or great aunts and uncles rather than just seeing them at parties or holidays is unmeasurable.
We use our kitchen.
And if you happen to stop by about meal time, 
you'll of course be welcomed to join us, 
but don't be surprised if you are asked to chop carrots or slice tomatoes. 
You see, it really is a "working kitchen"
and that's all the decor we need.

If anybody knows what kind of squash the mystery squash is,
please do tell.



Monday, October 2, 2017

~Focus~

That's my word of the year.
Have you ever heard of that?
At the beginning of the year, you choose a word 
to reflect your primary aspiration.
At the beginning of this year, I felt as though I had spent the past two years in "Remember."
I lost two very special people who were like grandparents to me 
within a year of each other.
I didn't want to loose or forget their influence in my life.
Now, I felt I needed to look forward rather than backward.
Not only did I want to look forward, 
but I wanted to move in a positive direction.
That kinda forced me to ask myself some tough questions:
"What am I after?"
"What do we want our lives to look like?"
That's pretty deep, personal, and specific to our beliefs and values.
I say "we/our" because MrLB and I are in this together after all. 
What happened when I asked myself these questions is amazing really.
Spending a little time in my own head and heart
offered an element of clarity.
In my mind's eye, I envisioned our lives, circumstances, and surroundings.
Maybe what was most astonishing was what wasn't in the picture.
We weren't loaded down with debt, obligations, or physical "stuff."
It looked so clean, not just clean like when you sweep the floor.
It was more like peering through a really dirty window vs. a very clean one.
I was in awe of my own vision.
The thing is, this wasn't fiction - not like those dreams where you can fly 
or do some super-human feat.
It was just clarity~
and letting go of what wasn't helping or didn't belong.
Now let me tell you a little something about myself.
My knee-jerk comfort zone is scarcity 
or fear of not having or not being able to provide.
It comes from years of training.
I could look around and see the result of that mindset.
This year has been "transitional" for us - in a good way.
There is a learning curve to this Life thing.
Way back here I made the grandiose plan to spend zero.
Then here I shared my first failure.
And since then, I have failed more times than I can count.
But what I learned is that it wasn't the right goal.
Perhaps a wiser statement would have been
"only spend money on items I will use."
That would have been closer at least.
An example~
This step stool I found as I walked in with a bag to donate - eerrrrg!
It was $12.
I could beat myself up for spending the money, but I use it almost daily 
in the pantry to reach the upper shelves.
It's not something I could run out and buy 
when I decided I was ready to purchase it.
Maybe that's partially what's meant by seizing the opportunity.
Granted, not all of my spending has been on such useful items
-just a matter of full disclosure there.-
Buuuut. . . . . 
I am mindful, and we are still making really good progress.
We've done some major decluttering 
to remove much of the physical stuff that just took up space.
That post was relatively recent so I won't expand on it much here 
except to say, "It's so nice to have clear spaces."
And the fun bit is that people have paid us to haul it off 
which is how I prefer to look at it.
And lastly, we haven't really committed 
to any extracurricular activities or events.
That's not saying we haven't done anything,
just that we haven't formally committed to things and have operated from more of an "act of kindness" mindset or "pay it forward" maybe.
Whatever the words?
For some reason saying that or seeing it in print seems sorta selfish,
but it's really working for us right now.
We both work full time so our home time is rather sacred.
(Maybe more folks need that?)
The year isn't over and we could certainly derail at any given moment 
- just as any of us could.
We are as busy as ever~
still need more firewood before winter sets in,
middle of various hunting seasons,
preserving harvest, and
we still have a couple of large expenses ahead of us
including property taxes and beef.
So you see, our year isn't taken care of yet.
That's where that 'Focus' comes in.
It's the word whispered in self-talk.
Keeping that vision not only in vision but in 'Focus' as well is essential.
I've not even thought about next year.
Right now, what's important is Right Now, 
and staying 'Focused.'
I realize this is more of a serious post, but life isn't always candy and roses.
There are real decisions to make everyday.
And it's those everyday decisions that take us where we're going
whether it's in a good direction or not.
So today is all about today.
And that's a good thing.