Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Not so Simplistic New Beginning

Hello all,

It's been awhile, but I feel called to resurrect my blog.  Here's the thing though:  My life is not as simplistic or voluptuous as it once was; I'll attempt to give you a 20 second review of my life since my last post...

I did in fact graduate from Midwifery school, and passed the licensure exam. The I had to travel to Seattle for business, which broke my herbalist's heart to see lush plantain, dandilion, and chickweed and know that it would be 3-4 months before I had it at home.  I came home from that trip and decided to buy a house without my husband,(We are still together, but we rent his house and live in mine) but 4 weeks later I found out I was pregnant!  That house deal fell through, so around my birthday I started looking in earnest, because now this home was not just for my own middle-aged need for independence, it was for a new life-and good schools, and a safe street.  I moved into my Barbie Dream House on August 30th, and gave birth to my son on January 30, 2014.  These have been the sweetest days of my life.  My home is the sanctuary that I have been missing my whole life, and my son is the best thing I ever did!

I did choose a home that is very close to the farm, so I can have the best of both with a short commute.  I am doing more homesteading this year than I have in previous years.  We have 8 laying hens now, and just had a successful maple syrup season.  I was a little bit obsessed with making healthy first foods for my baby to be last summer, so my canning pantry includes tons of veggies and fruits.  I also stored water this year for the first time, which seemed a little bit too nutty until the watermains all over the upper midwest started freezing solid with the extra cold winter we had.

A week from today I turn 40 years old.  Holy Crap! HOW the fuck did that happen?  I will tell you however, that the rumors are true.  I've never been more secure, happy, calm, empowered, or happy in my life-but I do have some disappointments with my body.  So it seems I'm right on track.

Like all new moms, I have a hard time leaving the baby, so my social calendar is basically empty, but at least I love instead of hate my home.

I have always gotten introspective in the days and weeks leading up to my birthday.  Every year since 17, I have spent that introspective time in regret.  It occurred to me in the shower yesterday, that this year I have none!  I'm still a little down, but I started listing the regrets that used to consume me, with which I no longer struggle:

  • I no longer wish that I would wake up in high school and be able to do my early adulthood over.-This is directly related to connecting with some of my old classmates from high school whom are no more or less successful or happy than I am.
  • I no longer stress about money. In the words of Jimmy Buffet "I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast."  I have reasonable debt, decent savings, and good investments.  I drive a 16 year old car, because what I drive is not important to me.  I have nicer furniture than my income would allow, because I buy it used.  I have a beautiful, way too big, Victorian home, but I bought it on a shortsale and it needs a lot of work-it's worth much more than I paid for it. Because someone has more than me does not make me a loser.  Because I have more than someone else does not make me an asshole.  Money comes and goes, and it doesn't mean as much to me as it used to.
  • My sense of personal style is strange and I could care less if anyone (men or women) likes it. I like nice jewelry and very nice handbags. As a large curvy girl, clothing has never looked good on me, so I just don't care about it. Yes that is me carrying a $900 Burberry bag, and wearing Tiffany earrings with a my $4.00 Target dress from 2 years ago.  Whatevs-that's how I roll.  I am neither embarrassed nor self-conscious about either. Haters gonna hate.
  • I am so very grateful that I am no longer beating myself  up about my education.  I finally went back for my degree and graduated with a 4.0.  I can now admit that my first college experience failed due to my lack of maturity and lack of support, not because I was too dumb-which was my fear.
  • The world does not work at all like I expected, and that doesn't mean I'm doing it wrong.  Love is neither as wonderful nor as awful as we have been led to believe.  What goes around, does not always come around.  People do not get everything (good or bad) they deserve.  Sometimes you do settle-and that's ok.  Unanswered prayers are sometimes blessings. The entire world is shades of grey-and I'm not talking about mom-porn.
  • I am so happy that I don't have to wonder anymore what it would be like to have a baby. It's the best thing ever.

Now I'm just focusing on defining my values; how to live them and how to pass them on. Now THAT's pretty voluptuous.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 And so far nothing

I hate to admit it, but my DH's sense of doom has gotten the better of him, just a little bit.  He informed me last week that the housecat and I are being taken to the farm on December 20th "just in case"...Didn't I say this journey was not about the end of the world, oh dear...

Never mind that there is at least a foot of snow out there and the likelihood of either of our cars making it up the hill is a 50/50 shot at best.

I am graduating from midwifery school on Friday, I can't believe it is finally over.  Still hasn't hit me, although the bill for my student loans just did, not sure where that money is going to come from just yet.

The fall has not been either voluptuous or simple.  We are having a significant issue with our electrical system at the house, until next week, I will have still drove the 10 hour round trip to school each week.  The cars need tires, the dishwasher is still broken, and the dryer died while I was away in Florida over the summer...It takes several days to do one load of laundry when it has to dry hung up all over the house, in case you were wondering.  I handwashed DH's underwear in the sink and put them on the heat vent in my office, because that's his love language.

I saw a PBS show today about single female homesteaders to the plains from Norway in the 1800's.  Those women were awesome!  There was one lady, whose husband died on the trip over, who tended a ranch of 360 acres with two little kids and milked 80 cows per day! The amount of guilt I have over the moldy yogurt containers that I have yet to wash out, and my lamentation above about my appliances is pretty high.

I fluxuate these days as to whether I want to invest in more property as a half way to homestead living, or if I want to rid myself of most of what I own and call it "freedom".  I remember setting off to college at Moorhead State back in 1992, in my 1979 Volvo station wagon and saying to myself, 'I never want to own more than I can fit in my car, and I never want to drive a car smaller than will fit all my stuff.'  I wanted to be a self-sufficient, "get up and go" girl always ready to move on to the next adventure.  I don't know who I am now.

I feel strongly about self-sufficiency, and it has meant different things to me at different times in my life.  As a young woman, it definitely meant "belonging to no one".  As I reached my 20's it was "needing no one", and now in my 30's it's closer to "being someone".  I don't know what that has to do with canning veggies, or making yogurt, or quilting, but it does for me and that's all I can say about it.

So for now, the voluptuous truth is that I'm trying to manage the differences between whom I wanted to be, whom I have been, and whom do I want around me as I move forward in a state of Becoming.  And I find that I am surrounded by people asking the same questions of themselves, with varied results.

So 2012 may be "the end of the world" of sorts.  An end to a previous way of being.  A death and rebirth of the soul, perhaps...

May the Creator pour out light upon you and give you peace.  I'll see you on the other side.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My name is V. Nicole and I like electricity.

I like electricity.  I'm ashamed to say so, but I like it.  The off grid thing is great, and I have adequate electricity to work on my computer during the day and a little bit of light at night, but for the most part, once the sun goes down I am in the "dim" at best.  I can't stand it anymore.

It is fascinating to me that my ability to "make do" in the country is related to my emotional capacity at a given time.

So the months away from home, and the absolutely horrible year this has been, has tapped all of my ability to cope emotionally.  A computer hiccough yesterday sent me into a crying tailspin that lasted hours.  So I've decided that I'm taking a break.

The fact is that eventhough we had planned to get rid of our city house, we have not been able to sell it in this market, so it's still there, my little blue collar paracute.

So I'm going there.  For awhile. A long while.

So I'm still a Minnesota girl, and I'm still a homesteader, but I need to explore some urban farming and take a break from the burden that the farm has become.  It will be there when I am ready to return.

I am still voluptuous, I am still reclaiming simplicity, but I'm going home for awhile. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Return

I spent three months in Florida, finishing my education, and re-evaluating my life. I have some more work to do yet on both counts, but I have returned to the midwest and to my Voluptuous and Simple life. I have often said to friends and family with whom I have reunited, that all I want to do is to "can some tomatoes, make love to my husband, and wear an apron" thus far the apron is working out well.

Life is hard. Voluptuous, simplistic, or otherwise. To quote Maeve: "If you want to find out what happens next in my story, I'll give you fair warning: the next part is tough. But if you persist, you may recognize your own story of times too hard to bear that seemed as though they would never end. You may find the hidden gifts of those times. You will know that I know all about it. And I won't give you any crap. I wont' say things to you likd god-or goddess-never gives us more than we can bear. I won't lie. Sometimes life is just too much. When you want to lie down and die, I won't judge you. I'll sit and howl with you. Just remember: I am still here, I am telling you this story. And it's not over."

Bless you Magdalene by any name.

No my story is not over. My previous way of being, however, is. My way of being in love, my way of being in community, my way of working, and my way of relating to women is irrevocably changed. It remains to be seen exactly how.

I am so not Voluptuous right now, and nothing is simple. But simplicity is my refuge. Scrubbing cucumbers and making pickles, simmering the milk for yogurt, making cheese, mashing potatoes, and even washing the dishes is filling me with pride and purpose, as silly as that sounds.

I started this path longing to go back to basics, and to find the balance between a simpler time and the modern things that bring me joy (such as a latte and a great magazine) and so this is where I return.

Re-Turn: to turn again. Turn toward hope, turn toward things that are whole, and wholesome. I have buried myself in service to others, it is a perfect and socially acceptable place in which to disapper, so few really noticed, not even me. I have not only let myself go, I don't remember what it was like to be put together and present.

With the coming cold weather, all of nature turns inward in order to survive, those who find no safe place to return go mad or die. Like the rabbits on my German side of the family, I retreat and return to my warren and hope to find sanctuary.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Seeds of Change

I spent the weekend shopping for a new generator and looking for pussywillows by the side of the road-so many of them were already covered with pollen! This unseasonably warm weather is crazy!

The last couple days have been filled with work and chores, and starting seeds on the windowsills. I spent the whole weekend thinking about how big my garden would be and how I could get more chickens, and maybe two pigs and a cow for meat this year, since this is likely to be my last summer that I'm not on call the entire time.

Then I got a call from school...they want me to go to Florida for the summer. Why couldn't I have gotten that call on January 30th? Can someone tell me that?

I know if I go to Florida, everything changes. I know that what is here at home will be other than how I left it. I feel like this is asking too much of me.

My mom always told me I was too rigid, "The only thing you can count on in life, Nikki, is change, so you've got to get more comfortable with it." Well I've had enough, I want some down time and some predictability. Security is probably a myth, but a fairytale doesn't seem so bad right now.

I wish I could be like the seeds. I love them, because they are 100% potential. Within those tomato seeds are fresh salads, tasty sauces, and all the smells of summer. Right now with these seeds, my garden and my life are perfect. Nothing has been ruined by storms, pests, or neglect.

In my head, all of my plans turn out perfectly and nothing is wasted. If only life were that way.

Voluptuous update: I have been making fresh bread everyday and it is amazing.

Simplicity update: The joy of clean hair cannot be underestimated.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why I Hate February

I started hating February when I was 6 years old. It was in February that this first grader endured the shame of being moved from the top math class to the lower math class. I did not know what was happening until I sat down to a worksheet of mathmatical exercises that I had long since mastered.

Similar stories take place in fourth grade, seventh grade, ninth grade, and throughout high school. My college transcripts reflect the same. As an adult, I can recount break ups, weight gain, financial loss, and other disasters of life, all happening in February.

It has occurred to me that this is probably undiagnosed seasonal affective disorder or "cabin fever" as the case may be. But let me say for the permanent record..."February 2012 is the February that won." I surrender. And to top it off, this SHOULD be the last day......Damn you February!!!! (shaking fist in the air)

As a woman I have faced the necessity and opportunity of reinvention many times. A few times I have been brave enough to embrace change, and other times I have tried valiantly to resist...mostly by hiding :/ Today I am faced with the same, but this time as a Farmgirl homesteader. My planned on "happliy ever after" may not be my reality, as I had once hoped, so what will that mean?

I'm a lot more lonely on the farm these days. I am afraid more of the time. Afraid of coyotes hurting my barn cats, afraid that too much snow and ice on the driveway with not a lot of options for removal, afraid that I will not make the best investment decisions for my home. I have been able to work all winter with the current solar panel and storage system, but living in the dark the rest of the time has been too challenging. I don't know if I should get a more complicated solar voltaic system, or just tie into the grid? Is it time to get a new car, and from where is that money going to come? Do I want to do this hobby farm thing under any circumstances, or only if "XYZ" are true?

I am considering options that under normal circumstances, I would never consider. Like, should I sell my wedding rings in order to install a real bathroom, so I can have friends over? Not that I really have any country friends to invite over...which is also probably part of the problem. But for real, it is easy to adapt to constant construction and lack of amenities, but it is not as easy to adapt to the look on your mother's face when you show her how you are actually living...eeek.

I wish I could tell you that modern homesteading is all barn dances, fresh veggies, and calico sundresses, but it hasn't been for me. It has been a lot of self-discovery, an ongoing challenge to my marriage, hard physical labor, and more stress than I could have imagined.

But it is also silence, security, and simplicity. It's the voluptuous that I need to work on.

But rejoice gentle readers! March is coming, and it's entering like a LION!!!! This weekend I am spending an entire day learning about cheese making, goat rearing, and water gardening, within my new community. And I have just become the newest member of the Hay River Farmgirls! Meeting local people, who love what I love, and help each other is exactly what I need right now.

Voluptuous Update: I think I'm going to invest in some new underwear, like lipstick, it makes me feel better.

Simplicity Update: I'm going to ask for some more help, and I'm going to hang out with Shelly, check out her and her man's blog at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Falling off the wagon

Yes, we do have a wagon, no I did not actually fall off it...yet.

How does one blog about voluptuous when one feels neither voluptuous nor simple?

I am really concerned about the world right now. There is violence everywhere, and these economic times lead me to believe that a permanent change is coming to our world. In some ways I have both embraced and anticipated this change, but it is scary and sad to me that our world is moving so quickly toward destruction.

Do I think most of us will 'survive' of course, please remember I am not an armegeddonist...and if I were 15 years younger I would not be so nervous. I feel like when this empire finally does fall (or irrevocably changes-history does not lie) I will be young enough to suffer for many, many years, and too old to build any kind of new wealth. No wealth is not the goal of life, but it sure makes it easier to be an elder in this country. Plus we are childless, no one will take care of us if we become infirm.

Our investments in the stock market, retirement, even my husband's pension are really just burning money. If we actually burned it, at least it would keep the house warm. For now we have chosen to invest in knowledge. Medical knowledge, carpentry, husbandry, agriculture, homemaking skills. If we're right, we will be an asset to the community coming next, if we're wrong, well then we got smarter, and we saved some money, but that's optimistic in my opinion.

Change is necessary, but how many people realize that we will not live like our parents, or even grandparents, it's more like great grandparents...if we're lucky. Moving out of a consumer culture is a good thing right? But the revolution is being run by smart phone...Hmmmmm.

So I am not abandoning my charge to prove that modern homesteading is for everyone, not just wingnuts, but my heart is filled with fear of the unknown today.