Thursday, April 09, 2020

No Time For Fear

“What you imagine as overwhelming or terrifying while at leisure, becomes something you can cope with when you must, there is no time for fear.” 
Rebecca Solnit

I wrote this and my other blogs focused on the modern homesteading life. Always pointing out to my readers that there were no rules. You never had to follow any rules, regulations or guides to being a modern homesteader. People would tell me that they could not do it because they did not, or could not, live off the grid. I knew living off the grid was no proof that you would be a real modern homesteader. I always felt deep inside that I was not really living what people believed it to be. I believed it meant something way beyond living off the grid. Generating your own power really had nothing to do with modern homesteading. Nothing at all.

One thing I have come to recognize is that it is easy to be prepared and be self-sufficient when you live in the country. Not so much living in a city. Especially living downtown in an apartment building. This needs to be the focus of my life now. Being prepared living this way as much as possible. As more people age, they may have to step back from that life of country living. It does help if you have your health and physical ability. I do not. I cannot walk far at all. Barely any distance without my walker. Do not say, "I would never move to the city or a  town," instead say, "What would I do if I had to move to a city or town because of my health or financial situation?" You never know.

Instead of waiting for an emergency situation to appear, such as what we are living through now, the Coronavirus. Everyone needs to prepare before it happens. Instead of maxing out your credit cards or using all your savings on buying supplies suddenly, do it before it happens. It won't always be for a virus such as this. It could be a trucking strike, a natural disaster such as a hurricane, a flood, an ice storm or it could be an illness in your family or a new roof expense. If you have your food and supplies and a roof over your head, that is the key to any kind of emergency that might occur.

Since I am living in the downtown of a small city I have to figure this out. How can I best prepare for anything if I have to stay in my building for two weeks or more? As a senior citizen with mobility issues, this is the plan I have in place. You would need to make your own plan based on your life and health. As long as I do not need to go to the store for anything, I am fine. My son lives down the block from me. So he can always come here to me. This explains why so many people became anxious about getting that toilet paper and food. They always do this when a storm is coming, but now this is country wide not just a certain area. And they did not know how long they may have to stay home.

One thing I think that will hinder your efforts to prepare is if you live with other people, family or not. Many times, I find that others will use your hidden supplies or not want to spend the money on any to begin with. They would rather get a pizza then buy a bag of canned foods to put away. You need to sacrifice. Living alone means it is easier. I can live on leftovers for a week if I cooked a big amount of something. No leftovers get wasted in my home. If I don't want to eat the same thing over and over, I can put it in the freezer.

I do a lot of cooking. I buy larger packages of meat because they are cheaper. Then I repackage them using a vacuum sealer and store them in the freezer in my refrigerator. Even in a small studio apartment I have room for a small freezer, if I chose to have one. I could do store more food. My neighbor has a freezer in her apartment and is never concerned about not having enough food. I don't feel the need to do that. Maybe if I was living with another person I would consider it.

If you are concerned about the expense of stocking up food and supplies, this is the way I do it and have tried to do it for years. Put in your budget a certain amount of money for your prepping food and supplies. What I did was to take the money I used to spend on ice cream, snacks and bread and now I spend that money on my stocking up food and supplies. I might put aside as little as $5.00 a month for that. Then I buy things like canned ground beef, pork, tuna fish, chili beans, garbanzo beans, pasta sauce, vinegar or laundry soap. The next month, I buy completely different things. Just keep doing that. If you use some of it, replace it quickly.

Water is kind of tricky to store for the future. I am not really comfortable with plastic bottles, even though that is now what I am using. I do what I have to do. You need to work with what you have or can get. You could get a water filter for the water that comes from your faucet. If you had the water filter on the faucet at the sink, you could fill canning jars with water when you knew ahead of time about an emergency situation in the near future.

Becoming panicky or depressed over this whole situation will not help you. Stress will cause you to become fearful and that alone can cause you to get sick. My mother always told me not to worry about something until I had no choice. So I try not to worry ahead of time. I just keep on with my life, staying busy and not stressing over what I might get. Now if we are confined to our homes for a certain period of time, it would not cause me to panic. Every time something happens though, it is a test to see what I should or should not do. What did I need that I didn't have? I prepared for a power outage and instead had a different type of emergency. You learn as you live through these emergencies.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Discovering Who You Are Meant To Be

My life before I got into the homesteading lifestyle was much different. For many years, I lived in a beautiful home and drove beautiful cars. I went on vacations, belonged to a health club, regularly had manicures and hair appointments. I did not worry too much about the price when I spent a day shopping at our local mall. Spending the week-ends or a week or two at a resort in the Catskills, at Long Beach in NY or out at Fire Island were my routine. My son and I went out to dinner several times a week with my husband at that time (Jeff's father). Even with all that, life was not really that great. I always felt my husband made all the decisions. I felt like I had lost myself and who I was. You know, like deep down.

It took me many years since then to discover myself again. The homesteading lifestyle derailed me for a time. It was not for me. It was too hard. Too expensive. Too depressing. I tried to love it. I wrote about it and learned about it. Maybe if my husband had loved it too or wanted it as much as I did. I thought he did in the beginning. I figured this lifestyle is what I've got, so might as well make the best of it. I could not stick it out for the rest of my life. I just could not. Not for my own sanity. Not for my horses' lives. I had online friends who I felt turned on me. I don't really know for sure, but people I thought of as friends who deleted me and blocked me. Or ignored me. They stayed friends with my husband. I couldn't help but feel that they judged me for leaving, for giving up the homesteading life. They did not live in my house and see the true story. They will never know it.

Now I have been here on my own for almost two years and I am discovering me! Slowly, but surely finding my way again. After so many years of not being able to do things that everyone takes for granted, I am enjoying life again. I remember a few years back asking, "What is fun?" I didn't know what it felt like at that point. I lost the memory of it. I know now. I have fun quite often. I recommend to anyone, man or woman, living in an unhappy situation to change it as soon as possible. Life is too short to be miserable. Don't make your happiness dependent on another person. Someday, you may be alone. Find your own happiness and if you have someone to share it with, that is wonderful. If not, you can still have a happy life.

My tips for creating a happy life are:

1. A home. Wherever you live make your home inviting to you. Even if it is just a room in your parents' house. Do not let it be cluttered because that affects your frame of mind. I  know this from first hand experience. I have lived both ways in my life and every time I was in a cluttered home, I was depressed. Throw everything out and clean it. Then decorate it.

2. Cook! Yes, cooking your food adds to the happiness factor. The routine of shopping for your food, preparing it and eating, is a way of showing how much you love yourself. You can share your meal, but you don't have to. I like to try new recipes and methods of cooking. It is fun (yes, that fun word again) and then comparing notes with your friends who cook too.

3. Music. Music has always been something I love. I like all kinds of music so not stuck in one genre means I am open to listening to new music. I play CD's almost daily and it always turns my mood up a notch or two. Try it! It is better than watching television.

4. Reading. I do not know how I would survive without the option of reading books. Now most of my books are eBooks on my Kindle. And that has made me read even more. I had gotten where I could not read very well because of my eyes and I lived in a dark house. Now I can read whenever I want and have plenty of lights.

5. Love. Well, I cannot ignore love and the importance it plays in our lives. I was soured on love. I had no expectations of finding love or being in love ever again. Some people have to have a love relationship in their lives. I don't know about myself, as I have never had a long enough period in my life ever, of being alone without a relationship. I really do not go looking for one. It just happens. As it has again. It does make you enjoy life a lot more. BUT you do not need a relationship to be happy and enjoy your life. I do not want to say anything more about that. I don't want to jinx it.

6. Family. I do not have a large immediate family. Just my son who lives a couple of blocks away. I have a brother but we do not see each other very often. I love all my many cousins, but my relationships with them is mostly online. I am always hoping to see them, but haven't been able to do that yet. If you do not have a family, you can always spend time with friends and after awhile they will become your family.

7. Pets. I would be mistaken if I did not include pets. Pets will make you happy. Yes, they cost money, time and often, stress. But they bring you so much more than that. I think if you are not happy and do not have a pet presently, getting one may change your whole life.

8. Finances. It goes without saying that your finances will affect your ability to be happy or not. Living without any money is no picnic. I know this from my own life. I have lived for too many years without enough money to cover my bills. Now I have been slowly climbing out of that hole I had been in. I am able to afford to do things I could not do before. But you have to start. If you do not at least start, you will never get out. My number one tip on that is to write by hand a budget every single month. Then live by that. If you want to buy something, put it on your budget for the next month. It takes away that cloud you were living under. What a relief!

9.Personal Care. Personal care is something you do not do when you have no money or time or whatever other reason. Personal care is so very important. Yes, you can give yourself a manicure or cut your own hair........BUT that is not the same! To have a professional give you a service they are trained for makes you feel, oh so special! Do those things you have been neglecting. Get your hair cut. Have your nails done. Buy that lipstick. Color your hair. Get dressed up and go out to a nice restaurant. You deserve it and most of all you NEED it. I know this is true because it is what I do now and I never feel guilty.

10. Be true to yourself. Be who you were meant to be. Don't dress to please someone else. Don't go places you do not want to go. Say what you feel. The most important person to please is yourself. It may sound selfish, but you will be a much happier and better person by doing so. For other people in your life, wouldn't they rather be around a cheerful, pleasant person than an old grumpy grouch all the time?

You can make your own list of what you feel, need or want. This is my list and I am positive doing these things in my life have helped me discover the person I was meant to be. If you are not happy with your life, you need to start on it today.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Planning Or Scheduling Daily Life

I was wondering the past few days, if other people when retired, disabled or at home for some reason, do they follow a daily routine? A structured plan for their day? Things they have to do every day on a schedule like you do at a job? I have always kept a journal and maybe don't write in it every single day, but try to write at least something every week in it. I am also a list maker. Lists surround me! I might not do every single thing on my list. But I have an idea of things I need to do. It is rare that I can check off more than 2 or 3 items on the list. One of the perks of living alone (well, except for Rabbit, but he has his own list) is that if I don't do one single chore all day, nobody is going to care. Rabbit doesn't care as long as I remember to feed him....but of course, that is not on my list!

Birds follow their own schedule!

Some people might think if you don't follow a structured plan for every day, that means that day was a wasted one. Are they? Living close to a world of wild life for almost 20 years made me see close up the structured plan the critters have. Yes, especially the birds! In spring, they are very busy. Building nests and filling their bellies with all the nutrition they need for their upcoming family life. From the first note sung at 5:00 AM to the last one at dusk, they are busy following their plan. Sometimes they fight with each other, but they still get their work done.

My computer

For me personally, not having each day planned out is what I like to do. No need to live like you are in basic training. I understand if you live with others or a family you might need to do that. At this time in my life though, I do not have to. I can do what I want, when I want. I still manage to keep my apartment clean, my laundry washed, my meals cooked and Rabbit cared for. I am not one to watch television all day. Now I'd say my vice is the computer, where I like to spend the majority of my time. I am alone a lot, even though I live in an apartment building full of people. It does not bother me or depress me being alone. I always have things to do. My son is the same way. He has turned into an introvert also.


I keep a constant running list. Keep adding to it as I need to. It is a great feeling when I can cross one or more off. The most important thing for me is to not be rushed to finish something. Some people need to do something or have a schedule to do certain things. If you are one of those people, then make your schedule so it is automatic. Do things at a certain time every day. Soon it will be a habit. What is so nice about my life is that I have made it my own. My own schedules, my own routines.........yes, it is all about me and Rabbit. I believe it is about time after a whole life of putting others first.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Winter Time 2020

Winter in NY

Winter time finds so many people complaining about the cold weather and snow. When I moved to my apartment in May of 2018, I swore to myself that I would never do that. I have always loved the beauty of the snow before it is cleaned up. Before the plows or snowblowers push it into piles. At my house I used to take pictures of it from my door or deck. I was in awe of its beauty. It seemed that no one but me ever appreciated it. Southerners who have never traveled to a snowy climate in the winter have never experienced it. I imagine they would not like it for long. Maybe they couldn't take the temperatures.

The view from my apartment windows

Now I live downtown in the small city of Norwich, NY. The population in 2017 was 6,718. So no walking in the forest after an early morning snowfall. Though to be completely honest, I hadn't been able to do that in the last couple of years before I moved. I was having serious mobility issues and walking was difficult. It is still hard, but I manage. I don't have a lot of work to do. Simple housecleaning tasks can be difficult, but I am not in a rush to finish by a certain time. I do what I can and then sit down. I am able to put my legs up for an hour or so during the afternoon. That helps.

Sonny's snow covered deck

My boyfriend lives in the country so going to his house gives me that shot of country life. I am not out walking around in the snow there either. I am careful of falling, so I don't take any unnecessary chances. We took a ride out in the forest to cut blackberry brambles for Rabbit. He needs to chew on sticks and he really enjoys the ones I get from the woods. I need to get more now. That ride was very enjoyable to me, as it was along my old road. That is another thing I miss, going outside to pick stuff for Rabbit. He had a more varied diet back then. Even in the middle of winter, I was able to pick grass and dandelions that grew in the barn. I was able to dig down under the snow and find kale that got left in the garden beds in fall. Now I mostly buy his food from the store.

On our way to pick brambles for Rabbit!

The change from wood heat to electric heat didn't really affect me much. This old school building I live in is very well insulated and my electric bill for the year is less than $500.00. I keep my heat down because I am always hot. Nothing to do with the electric bill. Has my power ever been out? Not since I have lived here. I asked my neighbor across the hall since she has lived here for years and she could not remember it being out. I have some 115 hour liquid candles I bought from Emergency Essentials, just in case. I am planning on getting some of those light bulbs that will stay lit even if the power goes out. I have heard good things about those. I still love the smell of wood smoke in the air. But I do not miss the work and dust from it. The worry of a chimney fire or from the wood stove in general. One time the insulation in the wall near the wood stove in my house fell down on the wood stove. If it hadn't been caught in time, we'd have gone up in smoke for sure, because I think I was sleeping.

Norwich, NY

I am looking forward to spring, but not because I hate winter. In spring after they clean the sidewalks and roads up, I will be driving around on "Jazzy" my mobility chair. I had so much fun on it last year. I can't wait to get back out on it again. I have some new places to explore and new activities to try!

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole


Monday, January 06, 2020

Need More Counter Space? Make A Cooking Board!

The cooking area in my kitchen.
A small kitchen limits your cooking space. I am fortunate that my studio apartment has a nice kitchen with plenty of cupboards and counter space. It is designed for a disabled resident. My problem is that I have trouble reaching up into cupboards and have to stand on a stool to do so. I had to put some dishes on my counter so they are easy to get to. I discussed that in a prior blog post, My DIY Disabled Kitchen Design. I do not use the stove or oven that came with the apartment. I just don't like it, except for the clock and timer. I like to use several different small appliances for cooking. One person living alone does not need to heat up a big oven for a small meal. I like to keep my Instant Pot and Induction cook top on the stove because the exhaust fan is above it. It was an uneven surface and I did not like that. The burners from the stove were collecting crumbs and such. So even though I was not using it for cooking, I was still having to clean those out.

DIY cooking surface for small appliances.

I mentioned it to my boyfriend, Sonny, and he said he had an idea. He measured the top of the stove all the way to back. Then he dug out of his garage a piece of counter top from a remodeling job he did ten years ago. Yesterday he brought it over and put it on my stove. We took off all the coils for the electric burners and I stored them away. As  you can see in the picture it fits perfectly under the control panel. 

The oven stores all my cookware!

I now have a flat surface that is easy to clean and makes cooking here so much nicer. There is a spot to put both appliances, the induction cook top and the Instant Pot. With plenty of room to set things down near me while cooking. I have trivets to set the hot pans on. Being level makes a difference when I am cooking on the cook top. If you are cooking an omelet in a skillet it will all go to one side if the burner is not level. Hard to cook that way! I did learn when researching this project, that it is called a "Noodle Board" but had never heard it called that before. I am not making noodles on it, so I am calling it a cooking board. 

Ready to cook!

Now before you can warn me about the fire hazards of using anything on your stove.........I want to make it clear that the controls are on the back of the stove. If I ever turned on the burners or oven accidentally there would be a beeping sound. I do all the cooking my home since I live alone. Nobody will be messing with it. Being in a studio apartment, I can see my kitchen at all times unless I am sleeping or watching videos. I am very aware of fire prevention after having lived for over 20 years cooking and heating on wood stoves. 

Note: The reason I am saying this is that I belonged to a group on Facebook who are a bunch of know-it all's and give advice when nobody asks them for it. Besides what makes these women THINK they know SO MUCH more than me? I have probably lived more and done more than they have EVER done. Done with that! I am pretty much getting fed up with Facebook anyway.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Memories

Christmas Eve brings back so many special memories for me. As a child, my parents got tired of having to rise early on Christmas morning because of my brother, Mickey and I wanting to open our presents. It was their one day of being able to sleep late and we would not let them. Soon they were surprising us with Santa coming on Christmas Eve instead. We would go visit my Aunt Helen and Uncle Eddie and take presents to my cousins, Richard and Sharon. When we got home, wow! Santa had been there already and left our presents under the tree! We never put two and two together that my father, who didn't go with us (because he owned a gas station across the road and had to work while we were gone) had put the presents out.

I remember a couple of years that we went downstairs to the cellar so my father could show us what he had bought for our mother. Then we'd play down there a bit riding our bikes on the dirt floor while he tinkered at his work bench. Pretty soon we'd go upstairs and Santa had been there and we missed him again! After we moved to Florida, we were a few years older, our Christmas presents coming from Santa was no longer something we believed. I suspected for long time before that, but did not say anything because Mickey would get mad if I mentioned it. Both of our parents worked so Christmas Eve was a day off for them. It was always a day of doing work around our house. Somehow, Christmas in Florida was not like Christmas in New York. Maybe the snow? My father would be outside working on our house, not like the winters we were used to. So they would let us have our presents around noon.

We had a tree and decorated our house. My mother and I would make a nice dinner, usually ham. They did not go overboard with presents or food. We got the things we usually wanted. I think what I missed most during those years of Christmas in Florida, was our family in New York. My grandmother especially. I was really close to her and used to spend a few nights at her house quite often. Not seeing my aunts, uncles and cousins at Christmas or any other time was sad for me. We had friends but it was not the same. By the time we moved back to New York, everyone had grown up. Life was different.

When I had my son, Jeffrey, I made sure his Christmas was special. I know I overdid it, but it was the way I pictured Christmas being when I was a child. Many of the decorations in my apartment now are remnants of past Christmases in my own life. Life passes by so fast, we don't realize it. Now my son doesn't really care for Christmas or holiday celebrations. He lives down the street from me and I see him almost daily. I plan on making a nice dinner for my boyfriend, Sonny and me, and if Jeffrey wants to eat with us, he will. If not, I will just give him a plate to take home. It will still be a nice day and I am happy with not spending a lot of money on presents or big meals.

From our home to your home.......

Merry Christmas to all my readers! 

Copyright © 2019 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2019  Kathleen G. Lupole