Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Spring Is FINALLY at Peaceful Forest!

A raised bed I built a number of years ago.

Spring has finally shown her face in New York! I was beginning to think it would never truly arrive. Please Mr. Weatherman, do not contact me to say that more cold weather and snow is on the way. I took a couple of walks in the last few days, and the day before yesterday I was able to sit in my garden and soak in the sunshine. I felt it pulsing through my body as I sat in the quiet. I had not been outside much at all for months now. Oh, it felt so good to me! As our winter went through March, I was hoping for April to start warming up, but no, it did not. Still using the wood stove through the whole month. Last night is the first night I think, of no fire in the stove. Though it is a little chilly in the early morning hours now.

Snow still behind my house.

We had a lot of snow, as usual. I don't expect not to get snow. Though some people seem to be surprised when it snows......hey this is NY, we always get snow! Snow is left along the sides of the road and behind my house and barn due to shading. It is melting though and sun and rain will take it away very soon. Seems like our temperatures have finally warmed up a lot. I am hopeful it will stay that way now. Everyone kept posting on Facebook the snow they kept having, way after the beginning of spring. It was sad, after the winter, we were looking forward to spring and it didn't come. Now it should be here. Yesterday was beautiful and I think better weather is finally on the way.

Lilies in the backyard!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to our local city, Binghamton (NY) and it was a beautiful day to go. I had a doctor's appointment but just getting out and about, did wonders for my state of mind. I had such a good day that I was sad when I was on my way home. I came home and then it was back to the every day chores that I have gotten to dread. Making changes in this routine very soon though.

The Jurassic Bed

I have been trying to get up early to write when it is quiet in my house. But not always quiet. I am making a practice of writing this blog daily or close to it. I have neglected it and decided this is the one to work on. I am changing my lifestyle and want to leave the homesteading, off-the grid life behind. So this will evolve to whatever I choose to do. My thoughts and feelings on my life as I age. I hope it is interesting to my readers and I understand if you move on. After all I originally was publishing this blog as Homesteading on the Internet. Now I am not even sure I will keep that one going at all. Unless it is just a canning and cooking one. But life goes on.

Nutmeg's Garden

I have not been normally a depressed person in my lifetime. Circumstances caused me to become depressed and I was getting used to it. Soon I was having friends on Facebook asking me if I was okay. No, I was not. That caused me to think and take stock of my situation and how I can change it. I made a list of all the steps to take to make those changes. I am proud to say that my changes are slowly taking place. Everything takes patience and time, but if you implement those changes in your life, you will see improvements. Soon you will be moving on. As I am doing now.

New life appearing in the dirt!

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Believe In Yourself First

On Facebook everyone posts pictures or memes that are quotes, sayings or their own thoughts. Many times these posts mean something to the person posting it and can mean something entirely different to a person reading it. I know for myself, I find quotes that are meaningful for me, my life or what I am going through at that moment. I am not really thinking what it means to you. Then later I come back and have a friend who has written a comment about it from a different concept than I had in mind when I posted it. The reason being is that we are all different. In all ways, not just our physical bodies but our mental state and that includes our thoughts. Your environment affects you greatly. The people you are friends with, or live with, and your family, all affect your thoughts and beliefs.

If you have a child with special needs, such as "learning disabled" which is the tag put on my own son while he was growing up, does that limit his own beliefs that he is, in fact, unable to learn? Maybe. My ex-husband talked about it constantly within earshot of my son. So maybe it programmed him to not do any better than he was. I tried to encourage my son to do other things and he had a good group of friends of which none were in the special education classes like he was. I was happy about that because outside of school he lived pretty normal. He will many times exclaim that he can't read or do normal stuff, yet he does use a computer. I still try to encourage him.

If I believe I cannot do something, then I can't. The moment someone gives me encouragement about something I can do, I become very good at it. It was in me all along. Just like writing. I always wrote. My whole life was spent writing in notebooks. Journals, stories, poems, story books for children, magazine articles, etc. In school I did not get very good grades. I found it extremely hard and now I realize that I may have had some of the same issues my son had, but not as extreme. Learning was hard for me. Maybe I had a mild case of Dyslexia, though reading was not hard for me at all. Yet, it is classified as a reading disorder. So I don't know if I had it or not. I didn't notice mixing my letters up in a word until recent years. I can spell a whole word backwards correctly on my computer. I can't do it if I tried to spell the word that way on purpose. I would have to think about it first. I learned to read before I went to school at the age of four. The subject I was best in was English. I loved everything about it except standing in front of the class giving a book report. If someone had classified me as "learning disabled" or a "slow learner" or having Dyslexia, would that have held me back? Yes, in fact, I am positive it would have.

In school my teachers every year would try to change the way I held my pencil. My mother would come to the school and tell them to leave me alone and not to mention it to me again. She believed that would stop me from writing or wanting to write. I wrote all the time, even before I went to school. I still to this day, hold my pen that same way. And you know what? My whole life, everyone has complimented me on my handwriting! Like they say, "mother knows best" and especially about her own children.

My belief is that if you set your mind to doing something, you should be able to do it. I incorporate the Japanese method called "Kaizen" into my self-improvement program that I am currently doing. Now if you have never heard this term before, "Kaizen" simply means, "change for better." They use it in their businesses and continuous improvements are the result of this method. You do little improvements each day, no matter how little they are. Kind of like building wealth one penny at a time. I have been doing this now for awhile and have seen much improvement in my own life. Soon it will be paying off.

Believing in yourself is the key to developing the life you want. That is my whole idea. I believe I can do what I want to do and if it effects someone else, I am sorry. I need to to do what I can to make the rest of my life happy and free. I am not saying that to hurt people intentionally, but are they hurting you by keeping you unhappy? If so, it is time to move on.

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Favorite Hobby Is Canning

My 2 pressure canners doing their thing

My favorite hobby is canning my own food to use through out the year. The very first food I learned to can was grape jelly, jam and juice. The person who taught me how to do it was my Daddy. He grew the grapes and canned them every year. When I moved back to New York state from St. Petersburg, FL, I became interested in modern homesteading. I was living in an apartment in the country in Vestal, NY, and was reading about gardening and canning. Well the perfect teacher I had for that was my own father! He was an awesome gardener and his plants were always big and beautiful and produced a lot of food. When he was still working, he would load his car with excess vegetables and take them to work. His fellow workers would fight over who got what, even though there was more than enough for them all. You know how people are. One guy would try to take it all, of course. So he was the perfect teacher and another activity we shared as father and daughter. He had taught me how to fish, as well as garden.

Our home in Crescent City, FL 

I remember when we lived in Crescent City, FL, all the times he took me and my friend, Debra fishing in the St. John's River which was just down the road from our house. I will always remember Debra catching a big eel on her line and when she brought it up on the dock (in Welaka that time) we both screamed and ran and then both of us accidentally stepped on it. It was a fun day for us and my father enjoyed laughing at us. After that he always teased us about going to catch an eel instead of going fishing.

Preparing dried beans for canning.

Canning for me became a way of life soon. I loved doing it and was always canning something. I have found having the food in my cupboard ready to eat was handy and convenient. It still is. No matter how much work it is, when you are actually in the process, later on when you grab a jar out of the cupboard for a quick meal, you forget the work it was when you did it. Now you savor the taste of your home canned food. Want stew or chili for supper? Ready in about ten minutes. Open the jar and just pour it in a pan and heat. Want to add some more vegetables to it? Just open a jar and pour it in. So easy!

Canned green beans

Now I have become entranced by Cajun cooking in the last few years. I think it came from reading southern novels that take place in Cajun country. One of my favorite cooking tips was the way they use the Cajun Holy Trinity to season their foods. I took it to another level by canning the celery and peppers together, omitting the onions (because my husband will not eat anything with onions). Now I am going to can it again, but with the onions. He can have something else when I cook this. Many of the foods I favor have to include onions, not only the Cajun food, but my heritage foods of Poland and Germany. Onions are essential for the recipes. So most of the time I do not create meals like this. Mainly just meat and a vegetable or salad. I consider those meals quite boring. Not much else I can do at this time. 

Canned blueberries without sugar

Those little jars I canned of the celery, peppers and onions can be the difference between average and awesome. I was impressed with them and will be doing more of them every year. I put them in the pints or even the smaller jelly jars, the quilted ones. They will need to be pressure canned, of course. I will be coming up with other mixes of vegetables to can this way too. Maybe something including mushrooms. I buy these at the local produce market and bring them home and can them immediately. Always good to have in your cupboard of canned foods. Especially when making a soup, stew, chili or sauce that is lacking flavor. This will liven it up immediately. Try it!

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, April 20, 2018

Reality Becomes Your Dream

I lay awake at night thinking thoughts of how to make my changes become reality. It is not easy when someone else is involved. You are not free to just do what you please without convincing him or her that this is what you must do for your own self. For your health, happiness and life. Yes, making changes is never easy, but once you do it, you will feel the burden lifted from your shoulders. Life goes on no matter what. If you spend it miserable and sick, that is your fault. You cannot place the blame on someone else.

It is true that like the horses, you may think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Then you find it is not and you want to be led back to the side you were on. Like my horses do when they get out of their paddock. They can't wait to get back in. Alas, the same is true for us when making a change in our life. That is not saying you should never make a change. Change is actually good. It is part of growing as a person. The big life changes are the ones I am talking about here. They are hard to do, but if you really want to make a change in your life, you must take that first step.

A staple of the low carb food plan is bacon and eggs!

Over recent years I have made many changes in my life. I feel I cannot go any further now until I make one of those big life changes, which is in the process as I write this blog post today. A change I made a number of years ago was to start following a low carb food plan, the Atkins Diet, to be exact. I love it and it has helped me immensely. I have not stuck to it as I should though and many times I end up starting over. Now I have evolved to the Ketogenic food plan, which uses many of the same principals as the Atkins 72 (the original one). I am happy with this way of eating and now am making another change by adding Intermitten Fasting to my plan. On I go, making changes along the way to what suits me.

This month I made another big change and that was going to my doctor. I had not been to once since 2002 and imagine my surprise to find that my original and favorite doctor was still practicing and in the same office. I will be going back in a few days and get the results of the blood tests he had ordered for me. Then as I am incorporating whatever changes in my life he recommends, as well as the ones I am doing on my own, I will be getting healthier. I can then compare it to my doctor's reports on my tests. I may ask for a copy of those tests to take home.

The things I need to do to become more healthy are not new ideas to me. I know what I need and I have plans to start more of these soon. I have started drinking more water and I also cut out using any sweeteners for the time being. The ones I use are mostly Sweet Leaf Stevia in various forms and Swerve for cooking. But I am foregoing them presently just to give myself a push. Presently I cannot only buy organic products, though I try as much as possible. If you search on Google for the dirty dozen of fruits and vegetables you will see that some are okay to buy without the higher price of organic. I use that as guide.

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Magical Day At The Horse Farm

Horse Farm We Worked At

I remember a time that seemed magical to me. It felt like I was living in a dream. Only it was not a dream, very real indeed. In 1999, my husband, Larry, was working at a local horse farm where they raised Thoroughbred race horses. He helped train the horses, cleaning the stalls, breaking horses and all around horse care. Even though my brother, has always had a horse since he was an adult, I was not around any at all. I did not know much about horses except I was always intrigued by their beauty and strength. Now these horses being racehorses were very lively and spirited. 

Georgie Girl, Boss Mare

I started working there with him, mostly cleaning stalls, feeding the horses and doing some grooming. To make a long story short, I ended up working for a horse, Georgie Girl, that I bought with my work hours instead of receiving money. So she was still at the farm while we were working there, until we cleared an area at home for her. I let her go out with the "wild horses" (not wild horses, just the horses that were not being trained as racehorses) and she had become their leader, the "boss mare." I was really proud of her!

"Did I hear the word carrots?"

This particular day, Larry and I finished all the stalls early and it was a really nice day. I was still a bit nervous around the horses since I was still in the process of learning about them. He told me to come with him and we walked up the hill to the pasture where most of the horses, including some of the racehorses, were grazing together. They noticed us but just kept eating, and a few were drinking from a spring that was flowing nearby in a little gully.

Georgie Girl and Larry

He sat down on the ground and motioned for me to do so too. I sat on a rock and we just enjoyed the sunlight on our faces. It was relaxing, hearing the horses nearby munching on grass and water splashing from the spring. Soon though, one horse, I believe it was Tawny, who at that time I had no idea, I would own her one day, came over to see what we were doing there.  Before I knew it, we had a group of horses around us in a circle. They gathered right around us and were smelling our hats and hair. Soon they were eating grass, but stayed close to us. I loved this feeling of them all  around us!

Georgie Girl at Peaceful Forest

Georgie Girl being the "boss mare" now, stood off to the side. She didn't take to most of the humans she came in contact with (I told her history in a previous blog post). Her and I had established a special bond, and as the other horses finally left, she moved closer. She was the last one to stay near by. I felt honored by her doing this. As she came closer to me, I could feel her breath on me. She is not one to show much affection, even now, that I have owned her for 18 years. She does show it to me in her own way. She is a highly intelligent horse and proves it to me all the time.

Georgie Girl and Dark Shadow and the others

It was such a feeling, I cannot find the words to describe how I felt that day with those horses around us. I was not nervous so much around them after that. I think that is why Larry did that. My bond with Georgie Girl has always been very strong through the years. I will never forget that day and it always has a special place in my heart and memories.

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Time of Sadness

Sad days, sad times, seems like I have many,
too many, I thought I found the cure for it,
then I feel the cloud covering again, what I thought
was happiness and joy. I realize it may not be
meant for me after all. My feelings got in the way.
Being a burden, to others, I know I am,
struggling to unwind the ropes I am tangled in.
How did I get here? I ask myself daily.
Most importantly, how do I remove them,
if ever, and what if I never do?
Sadness envelopes me daily, as
I hold back tears, until I am alone,
in bed with a tear stained pillow.
Will it ever end this empty feeling,
or go on and on forever?
Sadness is such a worthless way,
to live, never feeling joy,
never feeling happy, just nothing.
No feeling, nothing to look forward to,
no life outside a monitor screen.

A wasted life, a wasted woman, 
always on the outside, never able
to find the key, the days of joy,
happy filled moments, of true love
of being important to someone.
To be cared about, to matter
to matter to another being, 
whoever, whatever he may be.
I searched and searched my whole 
life, but never found that happy
life, now my life is more than half over,
and I know it is not in the cards for me.
Life is a struggle every day, and most 
days I want to just disappear.

Oh to walk down the road and 
away from here, with no looks back.
With no second thoughts or regrets,
to just keep going where no one
is familiar, and no one speaks.
To be free of all the things, 
and the ropes that confine me,
every day of my life.
Just follow the road and sleep
in a bed made of branches
and leaves, eat the roots and
wild fruits found along the way.
Does it really matter if I disappeared,
would anyone really care,
or only miss me when it is time
to cook a meal, or clean a cage?
Why is it that I feel unimportant,
and can be cast away like nothing.
A useless object, makes me want to just
whisper, "Good-bye."

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, April 13, 2018

Growing Up In The Sixties

In 6th Grade

Aging sounds like such a derogatory term. Yet we have been doing this all along. From the first minute of our birth. To the last. Aging in my mind means I am alive. My grandmother would warn me, "Kathy, don't get old." I would think, even as a little girl, "Then I would be dead!" As we grow up and reach our preteens, we can't wait to be thirteen. The magic number to a child. I couldn't wait and wanted so bad to wear a bra, wear make-up and oh, this was the biggie for me..........to shave my legs! My mother fought to keep me a child as long as possible. Unfortunately for me, doing all those things didn't come at the age of thirteen as I thought they would. Many of the other girls in my class at school were already well developed and wearing bras long before thirteen. Not me. Finally after much begging, my mother relented and bought me one of those "training bras" for my thirteenth birthday. Now I think, what exactly is a training bra, training you for? Maybe how to put it on and take it off? It did not make my breasts develop any faster, so I was a little let down with my new bra. I put it on faithfully every day after that though. I wanted so bad to need it.


Wearing make-up was easy to get my mother to let me do. She always had a job and wore make-up to work. My father gave her a lot of attention and I could tell he was proud of her. As a child, she would give me her old make-up to play with and I could not wait to have my own. She slowly let me use light lipsticks and as I became older, I just kept adding to it little by little. By the time I was thirteen, I was a pro. My mother never used eye make-up. I became quite good at using it. Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were my new idols. I bought all the magazines targeting teenage girls. Ingenue Magazine was my first subscription and I read it cover to cover as soon as it arrived in the mailbox.  I think I was about fourteen when I started using Maybelline's liquid black eye liner. I loved this stuff and used it every day! Whether I was going somewhere or not. Maybe I was like those teenage girls of today with the heavy eyebrows. I don't like the look of them myself, but probably older women were not impressed with my black eyeliner at fourteen either.


Now shaving my legs was another one of those things I was dying to do. My mother put me off as long as she could. My next door neighbor and best friend, Debra, wanted to do it too. Her father was against it even worse than my mother was. I was probably a bad influence on her. I begged and begged my mother to let me shave my legs. I came up with every excuse in the world why I needed to do this. Her explaination was always, that she hated shaving her own legs and wish she never started. I would cry. I would have temper tantrums. Nothing worked. Then I had my very first boyfriend and my mother liked him and he would stop into her office and talk to her. She worked at a the local fuel company and was in the office talking to customers as they came in. Finally he asked her for me, and who knows why she relented because he asked her, instead of me asking? She finally said yes! I set off to our local drug store and bought one of those Gillette kits that included a green razor, extra blades, shaving lotion and body lotion in a drawstring pouch. Oh, I was on top of the world that day coming home to shave my legs for the first time!


It seems over the years, I am almost 66 years old now, I always was pushing for the next big number. From thirteen it went to 16, then 18, then of course, 21. I don't know if anyone is really thrilled to reach 30. But actually, my age has never bothered me much, not even today. I feel no different than I did before, until I look in the mirror. Aging does bring health issues that if they are not taken care of immediately, you will pay for, as I am doing today. Hopefully, I will get through this and get on with my life. My life, the way I see it and want to live it. Mom meant well, it was tough having a teenage girl in the sixties, as times were changing fast. I know I was a handful for her, but here I am.

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Frugal Life I Lived

Peaceful Forest Homestead

I have been researching for quite awhile now on living the "simple life" and I know many people who follow my blog, think that means the modern homesteading life. All I can tell you is that is not a simple life by any means. No, it is a hard life, even if you are on the grid (electric coming from the utility company). I used to call it the simple life, until I lived it for close to twenty-one years. I am talking about the simple living lifestyle, or minimalist lifestyle, or frugal life. Whatever you choose to call it. I just call it life.

Garden in 2000

Ever since I moved here I have lived very frugally, but it was not by choice, as much as no choice. I have learned to make do with a lot of things I took for granted. I sold a lot of my stuff just so I could buy food, gas and the necessities of life. I bought things I needed from the local thrift stores. I made things out of broken things or nothing.  I learned to garden and can my food, so I would have plenty to get through the winter.

Nikita eating carrion

I bought what I couldn't grow in bulk and canned that. I accepted the parts of the deer the hunters did not want and cut them up, which I hated to do, but did it anyway. Canned that also. Made venison stew and chili and canned that. Our dog's favorite food was raw meat and specifically venison. The hunters in the state forest around us would gut a deer and leave the rest behind. We would find the carcass and bring it home for Nikita. It fed her for weeks sometimes. The cold weather preserved it, but she liked carrion and it fed her well.

After the tornado

For years we did not have to buy fuel for heating. In 2000, we had an in-line tornado that took down over 300 trees on our small piece of property. We were able to heat and cook with that wood for a very long time. Cooking and heating water on the wood stoves all winter, fall and early spring. I even cooked breakfast in the summer on my wood cook stove. I liked it better and it was faster for me. It didn't really heat my house up at all. A very frugal choice back then. Firewood work is not without some sort of payment. The cost is in the manual labor and the chainsaw costs.

Kerosene Lamp

For lighting we used kerosene lights for a number of years. At night our house was lit up like an Amish home. It looked cozy and welcoming. Kerosene though, was not cheap and it went up in price. As soon as we had our solar array up and able to generate more power, out went those lamps. Electric efficient lighting was now free. Talk about frugal! As we enlarged our system, we were able to add appliances, such as our SunDanzer refrigerator, that uses less power than my laptop. Free to run now!

Wild grape or known as "Fox Grapes"

Living out in the forest has made it possible to collect many different wild plants, especially in the spring time. I use many all year round, for eating and for medicinal purposes. No chemicals sprayed on any of them. If you do this, make sure you have good guide book for your area to consult before using any. Or ask someone who might know. I have so many right in my own yard. I don't have to go far from my house to gather weeds for food or medicine.

The road to my house

To live frugally it just takes effort and research to see what you can do to cut your expenses down. I am sure it is much cheaper to live in the country than the city. I know though that my grandmother did it in both places but she was raised on a farm in the early 1900's and that knowledge was common back then. You can do it though, I did.

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole