Everything for sale

‘Its been a weird week to know you’- The Joker’s best friend.

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Indeed, I can only imagine how the view looks from the outside. Even my past self would stare, mouth agape. Yet, here I am -home made apple wine I  hand raising a toast to the rest of life! I used to spend a lot of time feeling the best days had passed. How niave of me.. Life is what you make it (and a string of those clichéd-but-true sentiments)

Have you ever stared out the window in a trapped sort of way? Ive been doing that for years. I’m far away day dreaming and making grand plans for myself, but never actually doing anything.

We viewed the mobile home.. It was a sweaty, nervous drive with very tired children in tow (thanks a million to my wonderful friend). We followed country directions down a road ‘to the red van’ and ‘you’ll see a man a man in a feild’. There were lota of men in fields,  all with eyes on us.

The moment I stepped out of that car and looked at the Joker, we just knew. I tried my damned hardest to find fault with the home so it would be ok to not afford it. But it wasnt so. Batman brought his friend into his future bedroom and proclaimed ‘my room!!’. My friend pimped us up as we checked fixtures and bit fingernails.

The children went off to play with the crazy kid (yep,  a goat) in the feild.  They said they would think about giving us the goat. Such nice people. How do you come right out and say ‘I have no money to give you,  my shoe has a hole in it and I skipped dinner today’.? Yes, we have some. But nothing we can give right now. Here’s how: you take a big enough breath to feel dizzy and go for it.. I worked through kinks and assured them we would take it, and at full price.

As it turns out, some people are nice enough to give you a chance. We had to scrimp and borrow to get 100 today to get the ad offline. In less than 7 days we need 400 for the rest of the deposit. Then they will be patient with us as we get them the lump sum (by around mid Sept, I guess).

I had to ask myself possibly the most defining question on the drive home.
‘If I want to simplify my life, then does anything I own matter?’
‘Can I really be immaterial? ‘
That’s the moment I decided that everything is for sale. Its only stuff. Its not memories or dreams. Stuff is expendable, replaceable- it is never constant. If we are going to move, it needs to be suitable and sustainable.  This home is.

24 hours later the entire contents of my home are up for debate. My phone has needed constant charge. Ive not had as much luck as I’d like, people offering to pay in one or two weeks. Still, I will keep on hoping,  smiling and dreaming. We are on the way!!! (Hopefully)

(Im not going to go all beggar on this: but I thought id give a mention to the new set up- we now have a donate button on the ‘about’ page.  It won’t buy us a home, but even a euro will still see a good use.)

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Its been a rollercoaster week here at cherry tree acre. We’ve had highs and lows. Ive had colder feet than a penguin in the Antarctic. The support from friends has helped us persevere. We now realise we aren’t alone. We need our friends more than ever. We need to build a community.

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As I type this my fingers ache. Im stinging from brambles,  thorns and nettles. Many trees have been cleared and tossed aside for wood later on.

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Today’s adventure has given me a pain in my jaw from smiling. We left the mobile home to go to a car boot sale. Both penniless we hoped to find things for our future

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Along the way we met some very nice country dwellers.  We spotted a number  of things we didnt know one could pick up at a car boot sale- solid fuel stoves, for example. Next time I will be making a list and the aim will be to divide and conquer. 

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My haggling skills went to good use. The outfit above cost 2 euro.

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I got this for a mere 25cents!!!

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I feel like I really could get used to this way of life. I asked the joker to keep in mind that here on out we need quality, repairable items. No more things that are destined for the landfill. At the very least it should be burnable.

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We even found tools! Our garden lawnmower is crying like a tiny puppy going through our brambles. We know its days are numbered but with little money, there wasn’t much choice. The scythe was 20, as was the strimmer.  And a lovely lady backed me up on the goat suggestions. She reckons we may be able to get someone nearby to graze the goats on our land for free. I like ‘free’.

While browsing,  The  Joker was approached by a man who advised “you shouldn’t bought those”- nodding at scythe and strimmer.  We looked at each other in panic, did we get ripped off? He smiled and said “its too much hard work”. Indeed it is! But wonderful hard work.

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Look at him go! I, on the other hand was given the job of picking up. Within seconds of cutting down a tree, I’d cut up my hand. Himself was worried about my never ending clumsiness.

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Luckily he forgot quite quickly so I returned to my idiocy and am now aching from hard work.

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There’s a lot of junk to be cleared, hopefully all salvageable.

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And tomorrow we get to go view that dream mobile home and see if we can strike a deal. Theres a rising feeling I  me that this is no longer a fantasy I’m harbouring. It’s actually happening! Even Batman is looking forward to a change

High hopes

Today I’m back in swing, with butterflies in my tummy. I have fallen in love with a mobile home. Its nicer than my own apartment! And probably as big. Central heating, fully furnished kitchen with -I dont know why- a dishwasher!  Its more than a mobile home.  Its original value is upwards of 8, 000. Yep, I spluttered when I read that. And since the owners have put in central heating and made it even more cosy, they are being generous asking 4, 000euro.

But that’s 4000 we dont have. Our max limit is 3000 including sale of former batchelor pad. I wrote to the seller asking if we could work, trade or pretty much do anything to reduce the price. But jeepers, they are already more than fair. I have to go see it, even if its self-torture.

Im sitting in a house that’s never felt like a home with possessions I dont care for, and could easily sell. But I doubt it will be enough. I could offer a small sum as deposit,  come back with three thousand and pay the rest in bank drafts… Or I could stop dreaming and go do something useful. I think this is what the Joker will say. Hes the realist, I’m the optimist.

Anyone want to buy a kidney?

One of those days……

Today I admit to feeling defeated. Amongst a week of broken plans, dead laptops, rain and tiredness- I throw in my towel.

Yesterday we ran at the overgrown weeds with my garden lawnmower

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Limited by electricity, we could only get so far.

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But it looks good! Its a start. Not niave about how fast it can grow back Im eager to get further afield. At the very least I would like to harvest some of the apples, or the upcoming blackcurrants.

Then the rain fell, and all plans had to be abandoned. So inside we sat, lazing around. I watched a few shows, read a lot of blogs on smallholding. I felt so inspired I wanted to run screaming into the acre and build a hut. But instead all I could do was dream.

There comes a point when you need to stop dreaming,  and come down to earth. Im at this point. I feel too many things weighing on me at the moment. Life can be filled with too many complexities, I’m dying to escape them. Im bored of the mundanity too.

I cant even escape with a book. Nor can I even have a cup of tea at the Jokers place. And he’s not been in high spirits either. This kinda puts a halt in my dreamworld. We just cant seem to agree in the past few days. My suggestions are ridiculous,  and his are going nowhere. His brother and friends of ours have scoffed at how ridiculous this all is… which kinda made me more determined. Batman’s at his dads, so only a few days break to get on top of all of the demands life has been asking.

So I must admit I had my moment of insanity. I attempted to clear the acre with a hedge clippers. 

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As you can see it barely made a difference,  and this was an hours work. I admitted it was silly, but I wanted to do something.

So my towel has been thrown in for today. Im fed up, tired of disagreements.  And Im going home for a bath. And a cup of tea. With almond milk of questionable date. Payday tomorrow so the cupboards are bare. Here’s hoping a good night’s sleep will help all around.

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Oh, and here’s a lovely spiders nest I found down the acre.

I’m tired of being trapped

I let my mind imagine our future; I conjure up the image of our self-sufficient small holding. We make little waste, generate most of our power. We sell produce small-scale at farmers markets, craft fairs or online. Everything will grow from seed, and flourish year on year. Eventually there will be self composting toilets, outside rocket stove and inside wood-burning. I will master the art of bartering, even if only among friends. We will become part of the natural cycle of things and help heal the earth, at the very least- have little impact. We  grow an abundance of veg. There are six chickens for eggs, and two goats for milk and cheese. We shop for a handful of items once a month. I imagine myself exhausted, with a scrap patchwork blanket for draped over me, and a glass of home-made wine/ herbal tea in my hands- looking out at the land we have worked hard to restore. Home-made bread and Jam for Batman. We are content being penniless. This dream gives me the strength to get through each day.

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I know we are fortunate  to have access to rent-free land. But, this certainly doesn’t make the dream anything short of a dream. Currently, I am a single mum living in a council estate with just my son and dog. We are on state benefit for summer, until I return to college in September. The Joker is also an un-employed student, albeit a rent free one. My son starts school this year, so my outgoings have massively increased. I’m not splurging, but school does cost! In fact, I’m lying to myself when I say I’m retuning to college;  currently I can’t afford my fees, or even contemplate childcare. Batman’s father (not The Joker) doesn’t chip in for anything. It’s a shame because I passed all my modules with distinctions, and my tutor told me he could ‘count on one hand’ how many times students have done that.

A major road-block along the way is debt. Everyone in Ireland has some form of debt. Ours comes from low income. Its quite simple, even frugality cant save you from high taxes, rates and utilities. We have switched everything to the lowest cost possible and even only put our waste out once a month. It is still not enough. Last year, I could barely afford buses to college due to creche fees, material costs, medications and general running of a  household. We often skipped lunch and breakfast, to keep shopping costs low.  We live hand to mouth already.

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I am tired of being trapped in a world where I am what I have. I am a hard worker, who has run myself into the ground for a chance to earn my way. The work simply isn’t there. The change in weather is a reminder that it will get cold once again, last year I did my coursework wrapped in a duvet and hot water bottle, while my son had the rest of the blankets. A local charity worker dropped in and seemed astounded that I could live this way and pleaded with me to take a donation for heating. How could I not live this way? What choice did I have?  The Joker and I cried many nights over debts. We argued. My local council do not answer my calls to help a sick woman and her asthmatic child with a major damp problem because we owe rent. I am being punished in the most cruel way. It is hard not to feel it as a personal failure.

I have avoided, and lost friends because a blanket of sadness coated me. How could I possibly have tea and make small talk when my world was closing in? I turn on the radio and I hear people cry over the same problem. I have friends who worry about banks taking over their home. My stomach churned when I would put on my coat at a friends house to go home, home to nothing more often than not. I spend a lot of my days alone, not having bus fare to leave anyway. Everyone is suffering, yet it is something we do alone. This is why I am tired of being trapped. I no longer want to cry about money. I no longer want any money. This journey is about empowering myself, and others. We might want out in different ways, but I hope we can all learn to help one another to find a way out. Let us be alone no more.
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Blessings xx

“People see me on Sky News and assume I’m loaded. They forget I sleep on a mattress on the floor in a house I share with five people.” The Guardian.

This woman is an Icon for us all without a voice. I cannot say if I would be heading down the road I am had I not have to face what I do every day. I have lived her post Hunger hurts, and I know I’m not alone.

When will the politicians remove the rose-tinted glasses?

 

COOKING ON A BOOTSTRAP

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To read the full article by Patrick Butler, click here.

Jack Monroe.

Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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Rain, catterpillars and waiting patiently

This week has been a quiet one for us. Ireland has been reminded of what rain looks like! While it’s nice to have a break from Mediterranean heat, it puts a pause on our plans to clear the ground on the acre.

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We are currently debating getting goats once done. He thinks it’ll be way too soon, yet I dont see how else we will get rid of a blackcurrant bush the size of my current garden.

We’ve tasted our first batch of homemade wine. I think the elderflower will have to mature more for flavour, and it was a tad weak. But there’s always something about homemade things that make it taste sweeter,  despite the faults. The Joker made another wurzel this week of cranberry wine.
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Thats blu tack in place of a stopper.

Ive been researching a lot on heirloom plants we might grow for our plot. We managed to scribble up a plan for where things will go. This sits happily on a shelf to remind us of the adventure that awaits..
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I’m known for my thrifty ways among friends. I enjoy frugality; it breeds creation and contentment with what yoy have. In fact, I get rather upset about the waste and rubbish we all create.. all the skips households need in order to make way for more things. This week I was rather shocked at the price of food. I knew it was high, but I just couldn’t seem to squash it right down. I need to eat! It saddens me that I must pay so much for a basket of veg, that will have been sprayed and treated also. I cannot wait to taste my carrots- the Joker says they will taste sweeter than I can imagine
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(That’s a dresser, made into a raised bed)

My plants are so few, but bring a lot of tranquility.  I cannot wait to stand at my door and look out at nature in abundance.

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This is a mystery heirloom squash I brought home from a farmers market this week.

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Our first ever pepper!

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This, sadly happened so fast I was left scratching my head…. until I found these:
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Little green catterpillars… Believing that I dont own this earth, im not off to grab some poison to wash them away. They have as much of a place here as I do. Yet, Im not happy to let them ravage the plants either. So, time to boil the kettle and research what else I can do.

I would love to hear your thoughts on goats, heirloom plants, catterpillar control or anythin else

Well wishes xx