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Home Is Where The Heart Is

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Daddy had spent many months building a lean-to onto our trailer to house four growing children and a fifth on the way. This trailer was situated on one hundred and fifty acres of land, a mile and a quarter from the highway, and eleven miles from the town of Homer, Alaska.

I believe this picture is of Daddy putting the roof on the lean-to. I wish I had a picture of the finished project. It will always be in my mind though.

Mother scoured the pages of the Sears and Roebuck catalog like a kid at Christmas time, and made her wish list to furnish this large room. I don’t think she ever got everything on that list, but the first thing purchased was a big black iron potbelly stove to keep us warm on cold winter nights. This was also a place to gather around while Daddy played chess with his ‘bachelor’ friends in the evenings, and Mother read to us from anything she could put her hands on. Whether it was child literature or a novel she was reading at the time, we listened intently, her melodic voice putting us to sleep.

This picture was taken in the small living area of the original trailer. Bedtime story time!

The lean-to, with its unpainted exterior of rough cut lumber and a door whose handle was whittled from a pine branch, was primitive – to say the least – but we thought of it as a palace. I’m not sure of the square footage, but anything was better than what we were calling home at that time. We were like wild Indians, as Mother referred to us many times, with all that wide-open indoor space to play on cold snowy days.

The trailer the lean-to was attached to was forty feet in length and eight feet wide – the bare minimum for raising four plus children in. There were two bedrooms, a small breakfast/living area combined, tiny kitchen, and one bathroom with murky, but running cold water, and a toilet which was more-often-than-not, out of order. That’s where the outhouse came into use.

Now many of you probably have never seen an outhouse, much less the inside of one. Believe me, it’s not an experience to cherish. There were no electric lights, no flushing, and no lavatory with hot and cold water to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer had not yet been invented. I do believe we had real toilet paper though. After all, we weren’t savages. There were some things Mother put her foot down on.

This isn’t the actual outhouse we had but I’m sure it is a close facsimile. I can’t imagine Daddy carving a heart in the door!

Daddy was away working two weeks at a time so the task of child rearing fell mainly on Mother. Traipsing down a darkened path to an outhouse, before bedtime, with four tired young children in tow must have been an ordeal. I’m sure when the fifth child was born, Mother was glad there was one in diapers, even if she did have to wash them.

I, for one, was not about to be left in that trailer or anywhere else without an adult by my side. My preference was my mother. Yes, I was clingy and I’m sure my siblings will attest to that fact. I was like my mother’s shadow and didn’t leave her side often. I can imagine she longed for solitude more than once.

After homeschooling her three oldest (first, second, and third grades) on the homestead for a year, Mother decided we needed to be in a real school. It gave her breathing room and forced me to become socially acceptable.

Naomi, Lindy (me), Debbie, Chip, and Mother – Tish wasn’t born yet.

Daddy built a small three sided shack at the end of our road so we could stay out of the weather while waiting for the bus on the mornings. Relying on my memory, I believe Mother and my younger brother, who was not school age yet, walked us down that hill to the bus stop most mornings and when Daddy was home, he walked with us.

In the afternoons we were entrusted to get ourselves back up the hill to the safety of home. It was scary. I do remember that. We could see moose tracks and the occasional bear tracks in the ruts in the road as we made that mile and a quarter hike home up the hill through the woods.

Today, I can’t imagine my own children experiencing some of the adventures we had while homesteading. It was a different time then. Life was simpler.

You can read more of our homesteading adventures in Coffee-Drunk Or Blind. In Kindle or Paperback on Amazon.



When Is Free, Free? Another “This is Joe” Enterprise

When Is Free, Free? Another “This is Joe” Enterprise

My land line just rang. It was Joe again, a medical health care advisor. Apparently, someone in our household is suffering from hearing issues. That may or may not be the case but if and when it happens, Joe won’t be the first to know.

I’m just about fed up with telemarketers. Day and night they call, badgering me with good news of free medical care, debt consolidation, offering a special promotion that is going on for this or that, or congratulating me on winning a free trip. That 5 day free cruise I won will only cost me $199 per person – yadda…yadda…yadda. Free is not free anymore!

By the time you’ve paid all the hidden tax and fees, bought a new wardrobe for the trip, gathered up spending money, and arranged travel to and from the ship, you’ve spent a small fortune on a trip you didn’t know you wanted – and can’t remember signing up for – you may have to take out a small loan to pay for it.

The difference between my answering the phone and H answering the phone is about twenty minutes. I can usually tell when something’s not quite right. I always say no quickly and hang up. And when they ask for H, I say he isn’t available – even if he’s standing next to me. He tends to listen to the whole spiel and then ask questions before saying no and hanging up. This tends to happen, more often than not, as we are walking out the door.

Have you ever gotten one of those calls saying you have been awarded a free government grant? Really? I sincerely believe that if the government was going to give me a chunk of money I never applied for, they would not hire foreigners to advise me of how to go about receiving it. Who’s with me here? Puhlease!

Calls from medical advisors stating Medicare as the key word aggravate me to no end. Numerous times the voice on the other end – usually a foreign accent that no normal person can completely understand – informs me that they have been notified that someone (if they had been notified, surely they have my name) in the household is having knee or back pain.

Of course older people have back or knee pain. It’s called a fact of life. I haven’t admitted knee or back pain to any medical offices and haven’t authorized disclosing my medical conditions to a third party. When they mention the word Medicare and you are there or nearing that age, most of the elderly stand up and take notice. Or they stay seated depending on the amount of pain they are in at the moment. These senior citizens are drawn into the web of deceit by the spider. I’m nearing that stage, but not quite there yet, and my mental faculties are still in tact!

Getting old means not always hearing or clearly understanding the guy on the other end of the phone line. These telemarketers know exactly which words and phrases to use to draw in the elderly and prey on their lack of knowledge. Mention pain combined with Medicare to someone who doesn’t know any better and you have the formula for disaster. By the end of the conversation you could be the proud owner of a piece of medical equipment you’ve been convinced you can’t live without – one that will do you no good sitting in the corner, still packed in the box, because it’s too complicated to understand – and a chunk is missing from your bank balance no matter how much Medicare chipped in.

I have no problem understanding Joe, but there is a lack of communication between us when I say, “We are not interested. Don’t call back.” What can I say? He’s a man and has selective hearing.

As soon as H retired we started getting calls informing us not to worry. Our credit cards were not in arrears, but we were eligible for a program to pay off our debts at a greatly reduced amount. That threw up a red flag because we didn’t have but one credit card and it carried a zero balance.

The daily mail to retirees and the elderly contains offers of programs to consolidate their debts with the letter worded consistently and expertly to make it sound as a notice informing you of the fact that if don’t pay them off immediately, with funds from their offers, you will be facing ruination or possibly a lawsuit. Another disaster in the making if you don’t read and understand the fine print.

Another offer we get quite regularly is for extended coverage on our vehicles – both of which are less than three years old. The letters are worded as though our warranty has never been activated and if we call now all will be fine in the world. Actually, they are trying to sell us an extended warranty which Dave Ramsey says to never buy.

I signed up for Social Security last year because it made sense for me to draw at sixty-two. I immediately started receiving offers of supplement insurance by phone, mail, and email daily, even though it would be three years until I would be eligible.

What happened to the days when you wanted some information you went looking for it? Now it comes looking for you whether you want it or not and doesn’t take NO for an answer.

I’ve decided that there is no way to stop these calls or letters or offers in the mail. They will keep coming as long as we have a phone and an address.

“Try it for free today!” Watch out for that statement, on the phone and in print, and never give your banking or credit information to these people.

Be careful. It’s scary out there! Rant over…


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