So, here in Oregon it’s Week Four of shelter-at-home, and it’s really got my husband and I grateful for a few things in life that have made us particularly blessed during this time, and I wanted to acknowledge that because while some of my neighbors are whining, we could be in such a worse spot during the shelter-at-home order. We could be living where there is no running water, where there is no way to social distance, and/or where the air is so bad it drives up the fatality rates of this horrendous virus.
Why are we grateful?
We live on 5.6 acres. After a lifetime of being city kids, moving out to the coast in 2018 has been an absolute blessing. It’s quiet, it’s spacious, there is a logging road behind our house that is great for mini-hikes, birdwatching, and of course getting out of the house.
My husband is a butcher. The grocery business is obviously a mixed blessing because he goes to work every day, but he also is now our primary breadwinner for the first time in our marriage. He also does the majority of his meat cutting, grinding and packaging in a fairly isolated cutting room, as the co-op does not have a traditional meat counter, which means unlike folks at the register, he has less exposure to the general public…not to mention the ‘cleanroom’ environment of butchers that involves a ton of bleach and other food safety measures.
We have been living the farmsteading/homesteading life for years. Even in the city, we made our own bread, cured meat, raised ducks for eggs, planted our garden, preserved the harvest, kept bees for honey, and DIY’d a ton. Coming out here in 2018, we were able to up the ante even more with an upright freezer that enabled us to butcher a half-pig, raise 4 dozen meat chickens, and double our wild Alaskan salmon share each year, as well as quadruple the size of our garden, double the size of our pantry, start a second hive, and build a curing chamber for even more meat preservation.
Our carbon footprint is low, and our green habits are par for the course. Beyond our Subaru (we live on a farm but do not have a pickup truck nor a second car), we don’t have anything reliant on fossil fuels. Everything is designed for energy efficiency, from the Energy Star windows we installed ourselves, to our heat pump water heater, to the battery-powered riding lawn mower, to the composting toilet in our master bathroom. My husband rides his bike 16 miles round-trip to his job, and I’ve worked from home for 8 years, so our wagon is simply for errands and leisure (yep, even in the country), and our pantry has always been stocked with items from the bulk aisle rather than prepackaged…. both a tremendous savings.
Our mortgage payment is half what it was in the city. We actually pay more per month for property taxes and homeowners insurance combined than we do for our mortgage, and that has been incredibly helpful. In addition, I paid off my student loans before we got married, and we only put on our credit card what can be paid off each month, so housing & utilities are our only bills.
Because I’m self-employed, we’ve always had an extra savings cushion. When your work for the past 8 years has been in random chunks (similar to real estate agents or luxury car sales), early on you make sure to have 6 months or more of living expenses in the bank because sometimes work is at a frenetic pace and at other times, you might go a couple of months without those big ticket gigs, so you have to have a good insurance policy. And because of that, with this new adventure we’re on, we are in a decent place. (thank goodness for that because as an independent contractor, no matter what the ‘CARES ACT’ claims, we are screwed as they have put in all types of fine print as to who actually will get to file, as well as the DOL still having not provided guidelines to the states which would allow gig workers and other to file, along with the fact that they are only paying out ‘relief checks’ based on your income LAST year, not what you’re actually making this year…and some won’t get paid until late summer.)
And finally? We’ve always lived pretty simply. A big day of extravagance for me has 9 times out of 10 been us going to the nursery getting new plants for the garden. We don’t have expensive phones, we only do one streaming service at a time (if any at all, as we can rent a movie on YouTube if we’re desperate), our car is paid in full, I don’t have any crazy clothing/shoe/makeup addictions, and the happiest day imaginable for us is just taking a walk on the beach together and feeling the sun and wind on our faces.
So when we talk about keeping boredom at bay, we are highly aware of our privilege and these being #firstworldproblems. We hear the people complaining about being around their kids 24/7 and think of all of our fellow childless-not-by-choice sisters and brothers out there who would do anything to be stuck at home with a kid. We hear people complaining about not going to their favorite coffee shop and we think about how many billions of paper cups aren’t being tossed into landfills (while still having empathy for the baristas and other service industry folks who aren’t as fortunate as my husband). We celebrate as Oakland announces 74 miles of car-free streets, and we call out the billionaires who pat themselves on the back for the supposed philanthropy that is only an iota of their income while they are still not providing paid sick leave to their workers or safe working conditions in their stores and warehouses, and we also call out the millions who have the nerve to both criticize them AND continue to hand over their hard-earned money to them, even though there are more ethical alternatives.
And we keep busy, living our lives a little quieter, a little more introspectively. While my husband is at work, and my coaching work is minimized, these are some of the ways that I’ve been spending the time beyond the usual farmstead tasks…
I do jigsaw puzzles.
I read amazing books.
I build furniture from scrap wood.
I do mindless tasks like organizing the contents of the can of random screws.
I get educated online as I explore my interests and think about how I might reinvent myself for my next chapter as a professional woman in Oregon.
And yeah, I make a homemade mask out of a pillowcase and two hair bands for the rare occasion I need to go out in public, because this shelter-at-home order and social distancing mandate is not some political BS, but is there to save lives, particularly in our messed up country where the general public cannot get tested, where the sick cannot get tested unless they are either very wealthy or VERY sick, and where the faux leadership in the White House continues to lie every.single.day. Please vote the racist, sexist, elitist mofo out in November – and if you have a Republican senator who’s up for reelection, get him out as well. Life is literally too short to tolerate the lies and hate we’ve been subject to for the past 3 years. Let’s make this world one the rest of the world wants to emulate – not one that they make fun of for how utterly backwards our government is in its mistreatment of the 99%. Carpe diem.