Wednesday, December 31, 2008

using my room . . .

Having guests and where to put them (a reprint of a comment I left on a blog today)

Years ago we started having all our house guests (and their children if they had them) take OUR room as a guest room. Since the Master was bigger than the rest of the bedrooms, it was large enough for everyone to fit. We put the children on the floor with air beds. The family stayed together. It was really easy for Ildi and I to find a place to sleep since it was our house, and we knew where everything was.

The advantage of having guests in YOUR room is that it is usually prettier than normal (makes it like a hotel stay), there is usually a bathroom attached (people who are staying hate to be in public until they are dressed and ready to be seen), and it makes a quiet place they can retreat to if they want to be away from the common area. For example, if they are sleeping on a sofa bed and others want to watch TV in the same room, it makes them wait to retire for the night.

It seems to be a shift from housing people in guest rooms, to letting people use your room, but once you do it, the benefits outweigh the costs. And besides, when they leave your home, they feel like you have treated them like KINGS AND QUEENS. I still have people tell me they can't believe I let them use MY room.

We have had countless great experiences with people staying with us, and as an example experience I'll briefly tell you one. A friend just visited me a few weeks ago and I showed him to his room. He asked if it was my room and I told him that it was the guest room. He probably did not want to make me or Ildi feel "put out". After he returned home, in a phone conversation, he asked if I had let him sleep in my room. I told him all the benefits of doing what I did, and he agreed that it was a good thing. All this to say, tell them it's the "guest room". Even though it is YOUR room all the other times. :) He was another one that felt "honored" when staying with us.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

still on the cob . . .

Our most recent adventure has been shelling popcorn. A couple of weeks ago we noticed the field behind the woods was filled with corn that was left behind from the combine. The children asked if they could "glean" the fields and bring it home. Before this, we had never seen popcorn still on the cob. The corn cob is as long as regular sweet corn, but not as big in diameter. We shelled probably 20 cobs and got a gallon jar FULL of popcorn. This harvest is only one third of what they picked up from the field. The picture shows the children's hands BUSY at work shelling!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

note to self . . .

When the ground is frozen, then you have a few warm days, and it rains, don't drive on the grass . . . If the owners did not create a circle driveway through the grass, there was probably a good reason for it!

Today when we were leaving the house, we drove on the grass in our usual fashion. (even though there is no circle driveway) It did not occur to us that the ground would be so wet, and slushy, that our van might not make it through the pretend circle we had been using. Long story short, lots of straw, wood planks, and rocking the van back and forth finally got us out of the rut. One hour later! Not to mention that the wind was a gusting 20 to 30 miles an hour. Notice the towel in my right hand. Looks like I picked up a piece of debris from the ground. And it is sopping wet. And I do not have a belly either. It's the wind catching my shirt. Promise. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ornaments of paper . . .

Here is an example of the cards we made for this year. I love making things, and really enjoy including the children's creativity into projects. Here their paintings break the standard "keep everything in the lines" mentality that I have and makes the piece look loose, creative, and beautiful. The children drew and painted the circles with watercolor, then added salt to create a crystallized texture and pattern. I then added the gold paint pen extras to finish the design.

. . . and this is what the tree turned out to be when it was finished. It has that "folk art" look being pieced together. Over the years we have made ornaments out of paper and have kept them to adorn the tree. We mostly recycle old Christmas cards and use them to make "little" pieces of art. We have silver painted pine cones, several shapes of birdhouses made from white cards, geometric balls made from cards, some purchased handmade paper ornaments, and raffia as our garland. A few years ago I made a rustic looking tree skit out of some old green burlap. In addition to making the tree (this year), and the ornaments, we usually make most of the gifts we give as well. I am working on some Family signs for a couple of friends, as well as a "piggy-back massage" tool that I was inspired to do this year. During my Christmas break from teaching, the house usually feels like an elf factory with the amounts of things we have out and are working on.

Friday, December 19, 2008

scratching it out . . .

Here's an example of some of the artwork I have been doing at school. This year, I have been experimenting with various styles and mediums and feel like I am on the brink of making some HUGE changes in not only my students work at school, but also in my own work. This piece is done by drawing with crayons, washing it with ink, then scratching out the design. I had the students do 2 x 2 inch small pieces of work then mount them on larger paper. It is a great project to do, and it is a very limited time commitment.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

skimming off the cream . . .

This dial-up has got to go. I just took a small nap while my picture was loading!

Update on some things around the Fout home.

Thanksgiving was a wonderful time spent with family and friends. My brother, sister, and mother came over for our very first Thanksgiving together.

We looked at a house again today. Everything was going well, the house was FULL of character, outbuildings, creek, woods, and it was even snowing making our visit seem unbelievable. When we left I decided to drive down the road opposite the way I came as is my usual habit. You know, look around the neighborhood a bit. Low and behold, a turkey COMPLEX right in the back yard! Of course, not really right in the back yard, but close enough that each spring and summer we would be up to our ears in FACTORY FARM FRESHNESS. And then on a positive note, a home we looked at a few months ago has drastically come down in price. It's an Amish home that needs work . . .bathrooms, plumbing, electricity . . .but is sitting on 21 acres and is in the most beautiful surroundings possible. I am hoping to go see it again now that there is snow on the ground.

The picture above is of a weekly ritual now, the transferring of milk from the container to gallon jars for the refrigerator. Each week we pick up 10 gallons from a Amish family farm. We bring it home, along with twelve dozen eggs, and sometimes other items, and start the process of skimming off some cream for our coffee, and then filling the jars to be stored. The nice part about the weather being cold is that we can use our mudroom as a refrigerator. We can set the milk, or any other item that needs to be chilled, out in the room without any worry of it spoiling. When working with the milk I have developed an efficient system. I dip a half gallon jar into the container and then strain the milk into gallon jars. I think it is God's way of preparing me for when we get our own cow.

And can you notice the small green shell on the table? That was the shell from my first and only shot at a deer this morning. Several of us when out hunting and there was only one deer seen, and one bullet shot. It was my first time hunting and my first time shooting at an animal. Kind-of exciting I might add. A year or two ago I would have never believed I would have been doing this. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

random acts of thought . . .

This past week I finished the book 1984 written by George Orwell (Eric Blair). Winston, the main character of the story has finally learned to love Big Brother. Certainly not the ending I was expecting. It always fascinates me to read , or in this case listen to, books that are written by people who use pen names. What is it with the pen names? Do people think that their own name doesn't sound fluid enough to sell their stories? Is there a question about the meaning of their name that hinders them from using it in the first place? Whether it is a writer, singer, or actor, it seems that those that use pen names, or stage names, eventually revert to using their given names to credit their work. If they are eventually going to use their given name, why don't they just start out using it in the first place.

In talking about names, I have found it quite interesting that ART is included in my name. G art H is my given name, which means keeper of the garden, and it dawned on me years ago when I started teaching art that it was included in the middle of my name. Of what great magnitude is it that that occurs? None. It is just an interesting detail, among many, that are a part of my life.

We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with my family this year. It will be the first time we will have a Thanksgiving meal together in that most of our lives we lived several thousands of miles away.

Friday, November 21, 2008

too close to home . . .

Winston now finds himself in the middle of a cell, surrounded by others who have been arrested by the Thought Police for crimes against the inner party of Big Brother. His situation, being exacerbated by his recent discovery of his own thoughts and feelings, is a dismal , one-way street to the inevitable vaporization that happens to all who dare to "live" life outside the view of the telescreen.
The telescreen . . . I feel like I too have the telescreen where big brother watches my every move. My actions, words, thoughts, are all scrutinized by big brother. My philosphy, my reasoning, my rationale for teaching is constantly questioned. The overlooking of "Big Brother" has gotten to the point where every action and reaction from me or my students is becoming an exercise in psychology and sociology.
On a lighter note, Saturday morning I am taking the boys hunting for the first time. Deer season is in, I have borrowed a shotgun, we have the licenses, and I went and bought the "hunter safety orange" vests to wear. It should be fun sitting in the woods, quietly, motionless, faintly breathing waiting to see if a deer happens to walk our way. I am a little nervous about what to do with it afterwards though. I am sure I'll figure it out. You know, "I'll cross that bridge when I get there."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength . . .

Having grown up in Ohio and attended a somewhat country school system, not much reading was required through my high school years. In fact, the only book I remember being forced to read through was Lord of the Flies in my sophomore year honors English class. (the only year I took an honors class :) In fact, I remember only partially reading it and feeling somewhat lost when we were discussing it in class. (and then there was the term paper that followed. I butchered it.) I am saying this all to admit my failure as a reader in my early days, and have now gained a pleasure for written work and am on a mission to read, or listen to, works that I missed while going to school.

For the past several years, I have had to travel around thirty minutes to get to my work as a teacher. This gave me uninterrupted time to listen to books on tape that I wanted to listen too. I have gone through several of the classic literature novels, and now find myself listening to George Orwell's 1984. OH MY GOODNESS! I am so excited to get in the van and travel to and from work. It is an outrageous story filled with parallel for today's situation, and the narrator uses his voice to literary "paint" the scenes for me to see. In reflection, I am sure that the purpose of the work would have went over my head if I had read it so many years ago, and I am quite glad now that I have the resources, time, and desire to read the work that is considered to be classics in the literary world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

in a safe direction . . .

This past Saturday and Sunday I did something that a few years ago I never would have imagined doing. Let me paint a picture with words.

Eight o'clock Saturday morning, Ildi and the others drop Nolan, Asher, and I off at the McGuffy Conservation Club. Before I get too far, let me go back to the night before . . . I tried to Google to find the address of the place, and I even called 411 information, and there was no record of MCC anywhere in the village of Alger, Ohio. So, I "phoned a friend," and found out the place was right across the road from their house! Back to the picture.

So Ildi drops us off while she and the others go to the Amish to pick up our 10 gallon stainless steel jug of milk (it is like living in the 1950's) and then do some shopping. We walk into the "club" which is set up like a 70's lounge full of deer trophies, Stroble and Budweiser lamps, and card tables. It's early, cold, and everyone looks like they just got up and threw the same clothes on that they wore for the week before. Not to mention the rectangle radiator that hangs from the ceiling! The place looked like it had never seen the light of day. Not even once. So we three sit down at some tables they have set up in the back room for our class. The class you ask? What class? We are to embark on the two day, twelve hour session of the HUNTER SAFETY COURSE required before you get a hunting license in Ohio.

The day, and the following day, was filled with information about gun equipment, gun procedures, safety while using a gun, along with thousands of dollars of guns for us to look at. Hunting stories and hunting experiences also came as part of the class. The first day it seemed we were like fish on bikes. Just didn't seemed to fit in with all the others that were taking the class. However, after a few hours of listening to the men talk, Nolan and I started asking questions and interacting with the instructors. Both men were short, stout, home grown hunters that knew their stuff when it came to hunting. After several questions, and the fact that none of the other participants asked questions, it seemed like a personal class with both men mostly teaching Nolan and I. Asher was trying his hardest to follow along with the fast pace, slightly country accent, and the jumping from book information to side stories.

On Sunday, we met and asked the Game Warden some questions and after a small review, took the 100 question test on gun safety. Both Nolan and I scored above 95 % and and Asher got the chance to retake the ones that he had missed. He and several other younger students had one of the instructors read them the questions and help them to understand what they were asking for. In the end, he got 99 % right.

The part that was really fun for me was what we did after taking the test. Ildi was to pick us up at 2:00, and we finished the test by 1:00, so we were going to be waiting there for an hour until she came. Some of the time was taken up by Asher retaking his test, and during that time, Nolan and I talked with one of the instructors. Come to find out, he was the Mayor of the village. When Asher was finished, we listened to stories they told about hunting, about the club, about growing up and living in the area, and a man even took Asher outside to show him how to shoot targets. One of the men gave me his number and said if I ever wanted to shoot a gun, I could call him and he would meet me at the club with one of his guns. Just a great big bunch of locals enjoying what they do and wanting to share their life (and stories :) with others.

Sunday night I picked up a hunting license for all three of us, and I also bought deer tags for the boys. The dear tags gives them permission to shoot the "bag limit" of deer for the year. For those of you who are not familiar with hunting . . .maybe you can sign up for the Hunter Safety Course so you will be in the know with terms like "bag limit." :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

it's beginning to look . . .

The past couple of days it has been psychotically cold! I am talking like 29 degrees in the morning. I had to scrape the ice off the windows of the van before I drive away. I am sometimes nervous thinking that the van won't start because it has never had to endure this type of cold before. I think I'll will shortly take it in to get it "winterized" so that I don't run into trouble later.

New information on the house hunt. I am in talking negotiations with a realtor on a property south of the city I am working in. Here's the rundown . . . 20 acres of BEAUTIFUL rolling land, in the country with NO major highways or freeways in sight. Across the road is a huge plot of land that the owner is keeping as a nature preserve. It has an acre of woods in the back, several outbuildings, and the house is 3000 square foot. 7 bedrooms. There is a small house (500 sq.. ft) on the property as well. Here's the kicker . . . it's an Amish home that has NO plumbing, No electricity, and NO bathrooms. :) It does however have a 3-seater outhouse that works! We are working to try to buy it on an all cash offer and then we will not have to take even a small loan out for the purchase.

All of us have vision for the place. We have talked about this house more than any other we have seen. It seems like it will be TONS and TONS of work but in the end we will have almost EXACTLY what we were thinking a house should be.

~large living and dining areas
~large kitchen
~enough bedrooms to house visitors
~lot's of land to work on
~a guest house for grandma (or anyone else)
~a place for a fireplace and a wood cook stove
~a place for animals
~relatively close to work
~and we would be able to buy it CASH.

We are excited to see if this is the place that God has for us. I talked with the realtor again today and told him our story of getting out of debt and wanting to stay out even with a house purchase. We will see how it goes. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

on a sad note . . .

Death is inevitable. And it is always untimely. Not by God's planning, but in our understanding. A week ago Thursday morning, my brother showed up a my school to visit. I had a strange feeling that something was not right but dismissed it as I finished up the last few minutes of my sixth grade class. When the students left my room, I had a 1/2 free to visit, and to find out what warranted his coming to school. As I had anticipated, he told me that my father had died a few minutes earlier that morning. :(

He had been having a few minor problems with health over the last few years, and just a month or so ago went in to get checked. The doctors found a cancer spot in his bowels and decided they would operate to remove it. Long story short, they removed his bladder, the external sack gave him problems, and two weeks after surgery he was unable to hang on. It was sudden, and quite unexpected.

Not being close to my father leaves me with mixed emotions about his death. It also brings me closer to those that I love. I am grateful that I was able to visit with him more this last year than I have in twenty years, that I was able to be with my family during this time, and that my children were able to meet some of the extended family members they have never seen before. Death sure does remind me that we are only visitors of this world, and that our true eternal home is with Christ in heaven.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

fixing things . . .

The other day Nolan was closing one of the windows I had open on the laptop to pull an image to the front. When I closed a couple of the programs, the computer froze. "No big deal" I thought, in that I have shut the computer down on many occasions using the ctrl/alt/delete trick. This time, the computer went into the DOS mode and gave me some options. Of course I chose the easiest, fastest option. That was the F1 key. The computer flashed a couple of times then gave me a rectangular blue field asking for a password. "WHAT" went on I my head as well as a few "not so nice words". I tried several different passwords that I thought might work, but in the back of my mind, knew that I was not going to get anywhere with my futile attempts.

I called Toshiba help center and Mujibar answered. That's not his real name. :) He mentioned that my warranty was expired and there would be a $35. fee for helping me with the issue. He stressed that if he walked me through the whole process that he would charge me. So after a few minutes, noting that if he did not go through the whole process with me and actually fix it that I would not pay him, I agreed to the help and the fee. By question number two, he referred me to the nearest Toshiba Service Center. 1 1/2 HOURS AWAY!

I called and left a message and I got no response, So this morning, I called and talked with James, the service technician. Helpful young man . . . the kind of people I like to work with. I told him the situation and he said that it was an easy fix and would only take 15 minutes. Knowing that I did not want to drive for 3 hours to have something fixed that would only take minutes, I asked him to walk me through the process on the phone, and that I would pay him for his time and expertise. Long story shorter, he emailed me the directions, I tried it a couple of times, and it didn't work. I called him back and he said he would walk me through it over the phone. I got my Mcguiver equipment (foil and a paper clip) and jump started the Bios avoiding the password issue. I love times like this. I love asking people to help me and having them just help. I love not having to do the traditional 'bring it in' things. I love getting things fixed and it not costing me anything but time. I asked for his full name and the store address because I am sending him a Starbucks gift card!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

the message . . .

On and earlier post I mentioned that I was making some new art for a show. This is the second piece that I have done for that show that is coming up this next week. In addition, I mentioned that I had a message for this series of pieces. The title of this one is Make Good Choices. It is 18 x 24 watercolor with flies. REAL FLIES. They are dead of course. I have an idea of what I want to communicate, and possible responses to it, and I am excited to get some feedback on what people think. I am planning to make the frames for it as well. Instead of framing it traditionally in a nice glassed frame, I am building the frame out of old barn wood and leaving the rustic, weatherbeaten wood to add texture, dimension, and message to the piece. I am also posting the two other pieces on my site as well as my teaching art blog at

Saturday, October 4, 2008

something to say . . .

Back when I was in school studying art I really never "felt" like an artist. I'm not sure what it was that artists were supposed to feel that made them an artist, but I knew then, that I did not feel like one. Was I good at making art? Sure. Actually, I frequently had students collect my work because they thought one day when I made it famous, they would have an original from when I was still unnoticed. Still, I was plagued with not feeling like an artist.

For me the turning point for feeling like an artist came when I started enjoying the art that I produced. I no longer wished my art to look like other's work. I no longer cared if it came out "right." I started making things I wanted to make. You know, art for garth's sake! :)

As well, I never did understand artists that had messages they wanted to communicate to the larger population, society, or the world. I thought most of it (you know the way artists talk about their work) was just a farce. It was a pretend way to make their work seem more important than it really was. I never pretended mine was more than ink, pencil or paint on a background. It didn't have any hidden meaning. It was just art. This "having a message" has begun to change for me now.

On October 17th, some of the Lima City School's art teachers will be displaying their work around the city. It is a night that the small city has set aside for the local High Schools bands to play, people to walk around and visit the local business, and the art teachers to display some of their work. It's sort-of the small town's way of being "cultural" I guess to bring people up a notch or two in the appreciation of the arts. On that night, I am going to be one of the artists showing my work.

Instead of using pieces of art that I have made before, I am creating a theme around a technique that I enjoy, and for the first time, a message that I have. This will be the first time where I am displaying my work with the intent of having something to say.

Monday, September 29, 2008

giving credit where credit is due . . .

On several occasions we have had the opportunity to meet, and become friends with people from all over the world; people from Korea, South Africa, Australia, and many other far away places. Living in Los Angeles, the melting pot of America, gave us the chance to come into contact with so many different people and I am so glad to have lived there and came into contact with others with diverse backgrounds, cultural experiences, and fascinating lifestyles.

Here in Ohio, it doesn't seem to be as diverse as our experience living in California. But what Ohio has, that is equally rich in experience, is people who care, share, and lend a hand when others are in need. Patrick and Deb Allen have been those types of people for us as we have made our move "back" to my roots.

On previous posts, I made mention of staying "with friends" while we were looking for jobs, homes, or just visiting. The Allen family is the family that we stayed with the most on our seemingly monthly trip to Ohio. On each trip, they hosted us with gladness, and took time to ensure that our stay went well. Deb graciously provided meals for us throughout the day and we spent most evenings eating a desert, drinking coffee, and sharing our lives together. Both Patrick and Deb have gone far and above in hosting us on our trips up here and were always eager to invite us up to stay again and again. It is great to have people like the Allens help in the transition moving fromm the South, back to the North.

Thank you Patrick and Deb for your giving attitude, your hospitality, your endless provision (the stove came from their basement) and most of all your friendship.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

this little light of mine . . .

Recently I have had an earache. It started back about a month ago and has been quite a pesky little annoyance. At times it has been piercing with pain, but mostly it is just a dull, underwater type of feeling that has GREATLY affected my hearing. Feeling like I have stepped back in time, I have the children administer the "ear candle" to alleviate the wax buildup that comes with ear infections. In this picture, Maine got to light the candle and hold it to my ear. Why have I not gone to the doctor if I have a earache? Good question. Answer: Just moved, don't know where to go, and have no recommendations. In addition, I am leery of most doctors and the advice they give for remedies. So instead of going to the doctor and getting antibiotics, I am trying this home remedy suggested to me by a friend.

Here's how it goes. You push the candle through a hole in a paper plate so you don't catch your hair, the sofa, or the house on fire. As you can notice in the photo, I really won't be able to burn much hair. You then light the candle, which is made of wax, and stick it down in your ear as far as it will go. It takes about 15 minutes to burn down close to your ear and then you take it out. (so as to not burn your hair). The oxygen that is burned inside the hollow candle creates a vacuum that draws out all the wax from your ear. (reminds me a little of the movie "The Green Mile") The surprise at the end is cutting the candle open and seeing how much wax has been "sucked" out of your ear. It is really shocking how much wax your ear can hold. I have done the candle thing now around 6 times and still find that each time a crushed peanut's size of wax is extracted from my ear.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

all is quiet . . .

One of the things I did not anticipate about living in the country is the QUIETness of it all. Sure, I knew that the country was not filled with lights, stores, and the traffic that makes night time seem alive in the city. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck you know. But this evening as I sit here to post, I am quite shocked at how quiet it is in (and outside ) the house. No lights, no stores, no people, just the darkness and the "stuff" outside. Actually, to be honest, I am sometimes a little afraid to go outside in the evening by myself here. Not that there is anyone or anything outside here where we are living. In fact, just the opposite is true. There is NOTHING and NO ONE for miles around. It is just us, the neighbors, and the plants. On several occasions I have caught myself saying "I'll go out there tomorrow" when I feel like I need to get something from the pig barn at night. What would I be getting from a PIG BARN you might ask? It is where I am storing my stuff, sort-of like a garage.

The children are in bed by eight, asleep by nine. Ildi is usually tired early, and I can't help but think "I can't go to bed at 9:30!" I'm an adult now. However, I am faced with the ominous quiet and am really quite amazed at the reality of it in comparison to the idea that I had before I moved out here. I even think that this keyboarding is slightly echoing. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

much to do about . . .

It is amazing how many different emotional situations occur when you move. "I love this place" thoughts happen one day, "what on EARTH were we thinking?" the next. I have had so many different emotional reactions and responses that I am not quite sure which ones to believe.

School is starting to get into a small routine. The students are finding out more about me and therefore trusting me more. (and liking me) Today, I had a student, who is a GIANT of a child, not want to work. He was pouting because his project was not turning out perfectly. Since I was trying to encourage him to work I sat at his table and asked him to get busy on his work. He seemed angry and wouldn't even look at me. The other students looked at me when I asked like I would not get an answer out of him. Just to throw a curve ball at him, I said "Aaron, look at my bald, ugly head" with an attitude. He laughed out loud and looked. He did not work the rest of the period but I know for sure I made a connection with him today.

We have been looking at some farms for sale. I love the idea that we are not pressured to buy and that we can take our time and evaluate exactly what we want in a farm. Our good friends the Weihrauchs come with us often to let us know if it is going to work as a homestead. They are the ones who are currently homesteading and making a living of it. It is also great to be next door neighbors (if you call a half a mile a next door neighbor).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

giving thanks . . .

Having grown up in a small city just thirty miles from where I am living now, and then moving to Los Angeles and living most of my life, I never believed that I would end up back in Ohio, better yet on a farm. It is funny how God brings things full circle in our lives.

We sat tonight developing a friendship with some folks who live in the area. They run around with the same circle of friends that we know. I guess the main connection between them (us) all is good food. We all have various views on the church, baptism, . . . and yet the common threads center around family life, having children, and eating food that is closely related to it's natural state.

In talking this evening, we reminisced about our past, finding out more about each other, and continually were brought back to the reassuring fact that God has had His hand on us all our lives, and even when we didn't acknowledge Him, He knew our ways. It is funny to think that no matter where we go . . . He is there. No matter where we hide . . . He is there. There is no escaping the the magnificent sovereignty of God.

There are so many things that I am thankful for now. We are living within our means, we are establishing friendships, I have a great work situation, and we have even gotten kittens for the children to start our "life" with animals. (these three kittens are the first animals we have gotten as a family) But, there is nothing I am more thankful for than for God's grace as He has reconciled me to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son. The pain of death became a passageway for my life. And I am thankful that the plan for my life included my relationship with Him.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

being welcomed in . . .

So this is the "yucky " house in the country that I was talking about. This is the view from the road, at a later time I will upload a photo of where it sits in the middle of the planted fields. Turns out, it is not so "yucky" at all! I guess, from the first visit, and comparing it to houses we wanted to purchase, it seemed bad. However, the day we moved in, it had a whole new feel to it. I have actually thought about ways that I could change it if we purchased it.

So many changes have happened over the two week period that it is hard to limit what to share. I am going to just highlight some of the major events and maybe go into more detail on a later post.

  • School started and it is Great. Large room, small class sizes, good kids. Sure there is the occasional "BOZO" but they are mostly rural children in attitude.
  • I am able to visit my family members. It is nice to connect with them again. My nephew goes to the school I am working in.
  • I am developing connections with staff members, students, and people in our farm community already. (As a reception, four families came to our house last night for a belling! Around 9:30 they walked up the lane in the dark and then all 27 people started BANGING on pans, pots, drums, and "stuff" to call us out of our home. When we came out, they greeted and welcomed us to the "neighborhood" with snacks and drinks. We all socialized for an hour or so, and then they returned home. I nearly cried from the warm welcome of such caring, giving people.
  • We are mostly moved in and our eagerly anticipating finding the homestead. We looked at a place the other night that could quite possibly be "the place."
Thanks to all of you who have prayed for us, commented and helped us in our decision-making, and have continued to befriend us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Going back to donkey Dial-Up is going to take a bit to get used to. :) I am sure we will survive. Here's a photo from the dining room window the first morning. It was pretty shocking, and slightly overwhelming as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

how to spend your birthday day . . .

Today was Macy's 11th birthday. Normally on birthdays in our home, the birthday child chooses all the meals of the day, and in the evening we celebrate by eating some kind of sweet dessert and giving them a couple of useful gifts. Today however looked a little different. Today was full of packing and moving. We got a truck from the ABF Moving Company and everyone chipped in packing and loading the truck. We got 1/2 of the truck loaded and tomorrow we finish the truck off, and if we need, get another truck. It is great to watch the children get dirty and work, and it is equally nice to have them do a great job! More and more I am able to trust them to do just as good as I would do something. Rarely do I have to go back and change anything. During the later part of the work today Nolan made a comment that scared me. He said "hey dad, we should start a moving company!" I was stunned for a minute, and then pretended like it was a great idea. I guess I could OWN a moving company but I sure would NOT like to work moving homes like I have done these past few years.

Here's a picture of Gresham after rubbing his hands on the wheels of the truck, rubbing his face, and having been neglected all day. He probably felt like it was a great day where everyone left him alone to play the way he wanted. I did have to tell him a couple of times to not play in the street. :)We did have the meals Macy wanted so her birthday day turned out to be somewhat familiar.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

which way do we go . . .

The blue one, the green one, no the blue one, or maybe the green . . .

I feel like the last three weeks of our lives I have changed my mind more than I have in my entire life! Deciding where to live, if we should rent first, where to rent if we do, and what it is we are actually looking for is all becoming extremely VEXING! (in the words of Mrs. Bennett)
WE are so close to moving and still have not completely decided on if we should purchase the house we love, or hold out for the country home with lots of land. Here's the rundown and all of you can post your thoughts to help us in our decision.

1. Big beautiful house, (we love it) only 3 acres, no chance for more land later. Carry a little mortgage on it.

2. Move to a YUCKY rental next to our friends while we look for houses together as a family. It is a decent rental price, we don't have to sign a contract. As soon as we find the place, move. If we don't find a place, move to the house in number one above.

3. I leave and go to Ohio to work, live, and look for houses. Ildi and the children stay here in NC until I find a place. I don't find one, we move to the house in number one by November.

Here is some other information to help in the decision-making process. This sort-of feels like reality TV getting the audience to join in on the decision.

~The house here in NC is twice the rent, but it is a brand new home. We have the internet, utilities, and everything already in place. Don't have to move things twice. Pitfall, I will be away from the family, we have one vehicle, I would have to drive down on the weekends to stay. When I find a house I will want Ildi to look at it so i would drive down to get her to come up and look at it.
~The rental house in Ohio is half the price, no internet, (did I mention it was YUCKY) no lease or commitment, and we are all together with all our junk. We can look at properties together after I get home from school, we can visit friends, places to get online, and visit houses in the area. We could also set a tent out in the yard and "Camp" if we wanted. I don't have to drive 8 hours back to NC and 8 hours back to Ohio to work after the weekend.
~Just agree to the term of the landowners now. They only want to give up three acres and it is straight back to a forest the width of the property. Since it was this hard to arrive at this layout, there is probably no way we can get more land later. As well, it is 100k more than we were thinking of spending. But did I mention it was a beautiful home! 3100 sq. ft. new everything, we move right on in! And a full basement.

Please give us your input to help us on the decision process. I promise we won't hold you responsible. :) Here's the survey with a yellow circle around the land

Sunday, August 10, 2008

packing boxes can be fun . . .

This is the beginning of the packing process. The mounds and mounds of packing, loading, and unloading that I am SO looking forward to. As we were getting the boxes out of the garage, the children wanted to use them to make houses. My initial response was no. Boxes all over the house, more stuff to clean up, an overall mess. After a few minutes of thinking about the original no, I realized that we need to make moving as fun as possible, and I could deal with a mess of boxes for a day or two.
This year the packing will go a bit easier since we are not trying to sell a house at the same time. In addition, we have some boxes already packed from last summer's move. We are working on making packing as easy as possible, so, we first started on packing all the books. From our earlier moves we have learned a few things about moving boxes from place to place.
1. Pack books in very small boxes. Even though you move many of them, they are easier to handle and don't fall apart.
2. Use blankets, sheets and towels as packing material. It's nice to keep things together, but when moving dishes and breakable things, nothing beats cloth to wrap them in.
3. Pack refrigerators and freezers with boxes. This saves on room when you are renting a moving truck.
Over the next few days we will take things off the walls, pack the clothes we are not currently using, break the beds down, and then pack the kitchen last. Hopefully we will be able to move all of it quickly and efficiently this time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

country LIVING . . .

Here is an aerial shot of the property we are trying to buy. The house is located in the country and sits next to an old farm house. The house we want is a fairly new build (2002) and is around 3100 sq ft. Seems awful big, but we have a large family that is still growing. The relatives that own and farm the land around it have agreed to add five additional acres to the house (which will make around 6 acres total) so I took a snapshot of the land on Zillow and drew in what I wanted the lay of the land to look like. My hope is that in the future they will want to sell us some more land that will reach back and include the woods. We are in the last stage of negotiation and only need one of the family members of the trust to agree to sell the land. It's all exciting to watch unfold. However, I am so UNMOTIVATED to pack this house. I have been extremely lazy this summer, sleeping in and staying up late, that I don't want anything to do with work. Once we get the O.K. that the deal is done I am sure that they energy to pack and MOVE OUT will surge, and the motivation to work will return. For now, I am just going to sit around and enjoy the break.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

family dynamics . . .

During our stay in Ohio, we have two families that we have become friends with over the past year or so, and on this visit, split the time we stayed at each home. One is a family of 9, where the father is a Presbyterian minister, and the other a family of six, where the man of the house farms. It is such a pleasure to be friends with such diverse people and we find that having relationship with both families, however different, is such a blessing.

During the first two days we stayed with the family that closely resembles us. The children play well together, the adults stay up way too late drinking coffee and having snacks, and we talk about the ins and outs of a large, young family. Our visits are filled with bonfires, talking, and planning for our futures.

The last three days we stayed with our farming, plain friends. These are the people who are actually making a living doing what we want to do. The days are filled with lots of work, but the pace of the work is not rushed. Mornings are always early, and we try hard to stay up to talk more in the evening. With this family we generally don't see the children much because they are off on the farm either milking or riding a cow, chasing the cats in the barn, riding the horse, or the other myriad of chores that need to be done.

Both Ildi and I find ourselves somewhat in the middle of these two types of family dynamics. I think that's why we enjoy them both.

Monday, August 4, 2008

finding the right home . . .

What a WHIRLWIND of house hunting! Last week we spent the entire week driving in, around, and near Lima, Ohio to look for a home. We probably saw 20 homes altogether, and finally settled on one that we want. (or think we want) There are some catch 22 situations with it and we are offering a little more than we wanted to spend, but isn't that always the case when shopping for what you want? We always think it will take less time than it really does, cost less than it really does, and be easier than it really is.

We drove up Monday, and after driving by a few houses in the country, arrived at some friend's home by the early evening . On Tuesday, we spend the morning looking at homes, broke for lunch and then spent the evening looking again. We had two realtors and they split the workload by showing us property; one showed us the south/west parts in the morning, the other the north/eastern part in the afternoon. We then returned to our friend's homes to discuss all the places we saw that day. We followed that same itinerary for Wednesday and Thursday, and by Friday were exhausted. We went to a few homes on Friday just to get a few more looks in on what was available.

We put an offer on a house that sits on one acre and have yet to hear back from the family if they will accept the offer or not. We are also trying to purchase some land from the relatives of the family to be a total of 6 acres for us to do our work we are planning. It looks like we will not know for a few days, and I will need to talk to the father who owns the farmland that surrounds the house to purchase it without the realtor. Seems a little sticky but we are going to try. If this doesn't work, it will be another trip to Ohio to secure a dwelling.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

there is no " I " in TEAM . . .

This statement has always made me laugh when I have said it to others, or heard it myself. I must keep it in mind right now because we are experiencing a little bit of a stressful time, and it is easy to just think that you can do things easier if you just did them alone. As I remember the statement, I always say it to myself with a twinge of sarcasm. :)

From moving so many times, we have become proficient at the moving process. Locating places, starting and stopping services, updating addresses, loans, packing, hauling, acclimating, is all part of the process. I would write down a list of all things we must do in the next month but I don't want it to sound like we are burdened in any way. Not only is it not a burden, but actually, I find it pleasurable to have LOTS on my list and challenged to get through it all as smoothly and thoroughly as possible. Naturally I am a list maker and I have been for years. Even though I have a PDA, I still use pen and paper. As an artist I still enjoy the visual aspect of the list.

As a family we will travel to Ohio this next week to look for the farm. We are a little rushed for time in that I need to begin work on the 20th of August. Within the week, if I don't find the homestead that screams THE FOUTS NEED TO LIVE HERE! I will probably end up renting a place for a few months just to get out of NC and up to OH for work. I don't think eight hours commute each way is a wise decision.

paperwork, addresses, and planning . . .

It us now the crunch time for the final move to the homestead! I just came back from Ohio (this time is was a "drive by" visit) where I signed some papers and looked at some properties. I have that feeling inside that I am a little nervous, giddy, and excited all at the same time.

On the school front, the lady I interviewed with informed me that the Principal of the Elementary school position that I applied for is moving to a Middle School. I didn't think it affected me at all, but as she continued telling me about it she introduced the "idea" of me working at the Middle School instead. I could tell that she was carefully using her words so as to not scare me about changing things already. I couldn't help but think that she had no idea who she was taking to. Most people would consider it an underhanded decision of sorts, sort-of like a sales technique. One might ask "Why didn't you tell me if you were thinking of changing the plan in the first place"? I could not, however, have planned a decision like this better myself! I have always wanted to find a position in the Middle School level and it seemed that it just hasn't worked out. She said she needed to convince the Middle School art teacher to take the Elementary job and that she would tell me of her decision by next week. God certainly is on the move.

On the home front, we are quickly approaching the busy season. Here's a list of the items needed to be done all before August 17th. All of which I am excited to do and can't wait to start checking off the list. (I so don't have the attitude that I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. I work well under pressure and love efficiently accomplishing tasks)

1. Find a home this next week (if we don't, I need to procure a rental in the meantime)
2. Give my thirty-day notice
3. Stop all utilities
4. Pack our stuff
5. Move

Saturday, July 19, 2008

around the lake . . .

What a way to travel with some bikes! We have such a system working that I am afraid to buy a real bike rack and spoil the program. This past Wednesday we decided to extend our trip and ride a few more miles. I anticipated adding about three more to the seven already, but in the end, we ended up riding a total of fourteen miles this time. I am wondering if any one of the children will end up doing marathons when they get older. Gresham fell asleep two miles into the ride and remained sleeping for about twenty minutes. After that, he woke up and stayed awake for the entire ride. The day was beautiful and the weather was cooler that normal. This lake picture looks darker than it actually was that day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

something to think about . . .

Sometimes the Nature Quote of the Day feed I have on this site is a little contrary to the Biblical pattern. I have thought about it and wondered if I should remove it because on occasion it has quotes that are humanistic, quotes that are super-spiritual, and sometimes quotes from religious leaders apposed to Christianity. For the most part, they are thought provoking and truthful observations. For those that are offended easily by any ideas, attitudes, words, or even quotes that are from the "world" I apologize, and want us to remember that we are still in this world. And as for me, I am still reminded that it was not too long ago that I lived, thought, and desired to glorify myself instead of God, and believed my own wisdom to be the higher authority. That said . . .

The job deal is somewhat settled. I have to travel up to Ohio next week to sign some papers and show some information that confirms I am a legal citizen of the US. I can't wait until the retina scan comes into play and I feel like an agent on a special assignment by going to work each day. We are on the HUGE house hunt now and growing more excited about moving day by day.

We are currently hosting a family from San Diego County California while they are here for a anniversary party. They are a lovely family of 12 with children ranging from 18 down to 2. It is great to meet new people, share stories, and get to know how other families have interpreted what the "family" is. I am excited to learn from them as we sit and share our experiences.

Monday, July 14, 2008

change is in the air . . .

I'm feeling a possible "two posts today" feeling this morning! I just received a favorable call from the school district in Ohio and I just talked with a realtor and gave her the criteria for our home purchase. Change is in the air.

The school system in Lima, Ohio has formally offered the art position to me and this morning the Arts Magnet Director called and informed me of the salary they are willing to pay. I told her that I would email her today with my decision knowing that I wanted to get some feedback from Ildi first. When I talked with Ildi, she was excited and immediately got on to find some more properties. It is fun to fantasize moving to a farm in the country, and now, it is right around the corner. In the next few hours, I will email and let them know of my emphatic "YES" decision and start my family on the we're moving to Ohio trail.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

making a mess of things . . .

Today was a fun day using the bikes we just bought. We have already ridden once since we got them, but today was a real treat during our ride.

We ate dinner around four this afternoon and I was feeling really sluggish. Not that I was tired, but not doing anything all day just brought on the lethargic attitude and feeling. I knew a good bike ride would kick me out of the funk. So, we loaded the bikes on the van and headed off to the path that circles the lake. Since we have done this several times, the children all know the routine. Nolan gets on the roof and starts taking the bikes off our "redneck" bike rack. That's right, we load em' on top of the van and bungee cord them down. The others pass out helmets and listen for their name to be called. When they hear it, they pick up their bike and head off for a ride.

Before we got to the lake, the clouds were dark. Ildi had mentioned that there was a chance of showers, but I had decided that whether it rained or not, we would go and enjoy our ride no matter the weather. Around mile number three, we felt a teeny little sprinkle. It seemed the dark clouds had passed but the sky was still a solid, light gray color. I thought we would miss it, but within moments, the magic happened. From the teeny little sprinkles it started to DOWNPOUR like there was no tomorrow! It was warm outside still, and the drops drenched us within minutes. Our last four miles of the ride we spend splashing through puddles, covering our clothes in mud, and to make sure to be safe, watching our speed and braking. I should have taken pictures of the children when we returned home. It was as if they had spent the last hour throwing mud at each other.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

bikes and deals . . .

For awhile now I have been keeping my eye out for a good bike bargain. Macy, Asher, and Maine have been growing, and their one speed bikes have become hindering when we take our long bike treks. Recently, we have been riding around Salem Lake and even though the loop is 7 miles around, we are all able to do it fairly easily. Including Maine, the 7 year old! There are some other paths off the main artery but we haven't attempted them yet.

Since they had bikes, I couldn't justify buying new ones at the "super" stores even though they are relatively inexpensive. I struggle between the "keeping up with the Jones' " mentality like everyone else, and I wanted to have bikes that fit them, looked good, and that were in good condition. The ones they have have been given to us, and I am thankful for them, but I was in need (or want) of a couple newer ones. In Los Angles, we put many miles on them, but they are older now and the children have outgrown them. As I mentioned, it was hard for me just to go buy new bikes. Not because I couldn't afford bikes, or that the children didn't need them, it was more evaluative and trying to live frugally. Ildi and I have been living this way for a long time. We wait on things. Ildi does more waiting than me I must add. And, God usually surprises us with the things that we want for fractions of the cost. The same thing happened today.

I looked around Craigs list for a few days seeing if I could find a couple of bikes for $5 - $10. Didn't see any for a few days. Today I got on and noticed two bikes being sold from the same person. On closer look, they looked like REALLY nice bikes. I called and left a message, and later in the day the guy selling them (Malcom Wright look alike; except with a southern accent) called me back. I went over to his house telling myself that if they weren't in great condition, that I wasn't going to buy them. Anyway, not only were they in great condition, they were extremely GREAT bikes. The red one is a Roadmaster, a $70 bike, but the guy had hand-grip shifters put on for his son. The green one is a Trek 820 $350. Mountain Hardtail bike that has breakaway wheels, hand-grip shifters, and Shimano parts. All in all, when I saw them, I thought even if they aren't in good condition, those bikes are the good deal I was looking for. And, the price of $50.00 for both made it one of those situations where you say "thank you God" for always looking out for our interests.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

artist trading cards . . . and job offers

Here is an example of one of the ARTIST TRADING CARDS (ATC) I have made. It is similar to a professional sports playing card or the game trading cards in size (2.5 x 3.5) or (64 x 89mm for those from other countries) and it essentially works the same as other trading cards. There are however some distinct differences.

1. Artists make them originally. They are not printed. They are like mini-original works of art.

2. Artists trade them with each other, unlike professional players or gamers who don't trade them with each other. Only the people who collect the cards buy, sell, and trade them.

3. Artists use them as a way to share skills with each other, meet each other, and learn from each other. Again, unlike other trading cards, where the people who collect them don't have the skills the people "on" the cards have.

4. Artist's intent in making the cards is to create, enjoy, and develop as an artist. Other card traders usually are "in it" for what they can get "out of it".

I realized that this might sound like I have an attitude against trading cards of other kinds. To set the record straight, I don't. I have not collected trading cards before, but if I got my hands on one that I knew would make me money, I would be sure to get it. I just never personally believed in collecting pictures, jerseys, signatures, or memorabilia of "famous" people. Would I collect things like this? Maybe. I am sure that if I found a Andrew Wyeth painting or some Blenko glass in a thrift store, and the owner didn't know it was a rare piece of art, I would write a check, give them cash, or even charge it on the credit card!

And for work . . . I am in the last stages of finalizing a job offer in Ohio. PHEW! What that means is that we need to put all of our junk in a trunk, and move it up to a hometead in Ohio. I am hopeful that God will lead us to a place to dig our heels in for awhile. A LONG WHILE! I am so tired of moving. Since we have been married, Ildi and I have moved 7 times. That averages about once every two years.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

miscellaneous news . . .

Sadness (Gresham after hearing me say no :)
9 x 12
Graphite pencil

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I have been encouraged to start making art again. How long this "spell" will last, I don't know, but it sure does help to have this skill while I am sitting and waiting on a job to come through. I have also been making Artist Trading Cards to send to other artists. It is way for artists to trade small ( 2.5 x 3.5 ) original works of art. Making them, trading them and getting them is fun. I just sent my first two out in the mail. One went to Maine, here in the states, and the other to Iran. I am looking forward to giving and getting ATC's from all over the world.

Job front looks promising. I have one offer for a position and am hoping for a couple more. I really want the one in Lima to come through.

Finishing up the Contrary Farmer and am excited to start a new book Ildi got from the library. It is called The Concise Guide To Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour. This summer so far has been a book reading, art-making summer. This next week I will take the family on a couple of sight-seeing trips, then the following week will go back to Ohio for some more interviews. That week we are also going to host a family from California that is coming out to visit friends and family. They will stay with us about nine days, and everyone is looking forward to meeting them and spending time getting to know each other.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

what I was thinking . . .

My trips to Ohio are beginning to feel like traffic felt in Los Angeles. I find myself thinking after a few hours of driving, and certain landmarks, "I am almost there" and "I should be seeing this by now." Counting it up, I have traveled to OH six times this year so far and anticipate at least one more trip. This past visit I had a second interview at a school near the Columbus area. This area is still rural but has the closeness of the big city within the hour. I also interviewed for a position in Lima which is almost exactly where we want to live; really north and really flat. The lady I interviewed with has already invited me back for a 'second round' interview for the position. I will be traveling back up the week of the 14 th.

I have been motivated again to create art. There for years, I worked on a M.Ed. and making my own art was not a focus. I was more interested in the 'art' of teaching. Now, I am excited to get back to creating art and am looking forward to sharing it with a large internet audience. I started an online gallery that houses some of my earlier work. You can find it at If you click the gallery tab and then click on or click here for advance search find the box that says Files submitted by and type in foutfolk. Make sure to check the box for exact name match. Here is a link if that seems to difficult. PLEASE be careful if you are browsing other artist's work. Sometimes there is work that is not necessarily appropriate. For the major part, it is a fairly modest art site. It also gives you great lessons in drawing if you want, or want your children to learn to draw. I am thinking of focusing my art around the theme of sustainability, health, and agrarianism. Should be fun. I already have several paintings "done" in my head and only need to transfer them to paper or canvas.

These last few weeks in NC should be fun. We are now planning our trips to want we want to see before we leave. I think we are going to make it to the coast as well. Last summer we went to the Pacific, and this summer will be the Atlantic!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

are we in the field yet...

Ildi and the children went to the Greensboro Arboretum the other day. The girls found an apricot tree and collected some fruit that had fallen on the ground only to be wasted. They brought it home and were excited to get started on making some jam. This was their first attempt at making it and I am hoping it is by far not the last. It was tart and delicious! We smathered it on some buttermilk biscuits for late breakfast this morning.

Job front news...I had a couple of interviews and am going back to Ohio the early part of next week for a few more. It seems that the floodgates are starting to open up. Ohio teachers have until July 1st to inform the district whether or not they are returning. Hopefully this will open more positions to apply for. It is hard to keep in mind that I only need ONE job because I keep thinking of it being like shopping at the mall. Let me have a whole bunch to choose from and then choose the one I like the most. Crazy thinking! I am really hoping to get in a location close to the Findlay, Lima, Kenton area.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

father's day reflections...

Here's another video that Nolan has made. It is a dedication to me and a gift he made for Father's Day. Got to love it when your children make gifts that cost them nothing but time, and they learn a skill along the way. Sounds like a book in the making. And, giving credit where credit is due, he used a song from the westcoastrevival CD. Westcoastrevival is a group of young talented musicians that are part of Sovereign Grace Church in Pasadena, CA that we attended before our move here.

I think it is the second of many videos/movies to come; he has shown GREAT interest in learning more about video and video production. Hopefully this intrigue will serve him well in the future. For those who are interested, I made him a proposal of a small business venture yesterday morning. It seems that I am always sparking him to think about business ventures. He has had some small business experience of making white boards for classrooms, where he once outfitted an entire junior high school population of around 400 students with white boards. This next proposal includes video production. Here's the idea...

You send photos, digital images, text you want written, and music choice, and he makes a small movie production. No idea what to write or music to choose? No problem. Just send the photos and be surprised at what you get! All of this for a donation for his time. As well... you are supporting the Arts.

Now to the real information that I wanted to post today. I am reading Gene Logsdon's The Contrary Farmer. With some time on my hands now, I am using it wisely by reading some work that I have wanted to read, and some work that will help me in my new venture of cottage farming. I have so many things to say concerning how this book has already changed my thoughts concerning moving to a more agrarian lifestyle. Mostly it has caught me right before my apparent "success" from the world's standpoint. (I just corrected the misspelled word standpoint...I spelled it satanpoint...scary huh?)

I just reached the point in my life where I could have all the things that others would consider evidence of success. Cars, houses, and a large family. And all paid for as well. Everything that I thought was worth working for I have now decided that I don't want. Or better yet, God does not want for me. I still think that those things sway my thinking. I love beautiful homes, suburban communities, cultural activities, city life in a sense. But I feel that God has intercepted my own desires and has graciously nudged me ever so slightly to this way of thinking that will so shortly be a reality. As a spooked horse reacts to an aggressive master, He knew that it would take time and circumstances to convince me of something that eventually I am going to love. I am amazed at the way God stewards time, resources, people, and circumstances to change our ideas about what is important.

Monday, June 9, 2008

starting to see the light...

Today was a hopeful day. After weeks of sending out resumes' and not hearing anything, today I got a call for an interview. Whoo Hoo! Looks like Thursday I'll go up for an interview on Friday. Hopefully, this will be the season (these next few weeks) that I get a few calls and am able to interview at a few different places. I am really wanting to teach High School in a really small, rural town. The kind of school that has all the students, K-12, in one building and the total population is 300 to 400 students. Actually, there was one job posting that was similar to that and needed an art teacher for the K-12 grade. Small town USA would be great.

The children are finishing up studies for this academic year. It is hard to believe that this next year we will have one of our children in high school already. As most of you who have grown children already know, the time does go by quickly.

This week is promising to be busy. Tuesday is my last day at the school here in NC. Wednesday we are traveling to South Carolina to pick up some milk, then Thursday head up to Ohio for the weekend. Summer time has always been a traveling time for us as a family. We have got to Oregon, Washington, driven across the nation, camped in the Sierra Nevada, and Yosemite National Park. Our trip this summer will be our move up to Ohio.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tomorrow is the last day that I have students. Monday and Tuesday are work days for me to clean up the room and finish getting all of my stuff out. And then...I am officially jobless.

Our hope, and prayer is that I will get a call in a few weeks and be summoned to interview somewhere at a school that I have applied to. Last year at this time, I had interviewed at a few schools but did not decide until the middle of June where we were going to live. We ended up moving in the latter part of July. I have a lease agreement here until the end of July and then it is up in the air where we will be.

I am enjoying the freedom that comes with deciding where we want to live, but I am also excited to stop moving and plant ourselves on a plot of land and sit for awhile. A long while :) As I was taking boxes out of my classroom today, the thought of never moving again seemed closer at hand.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

watching TV...

Since we have no TV, this past year I have subscribed to the basic plan of Netflix. Netflix provides a great service of sending you movies in the mail that are postage paid, both ways. After viewing, you just send it back in the mail. I tried it for a free trial period, then decided to keep it at $4.99 a month. We watch two movies per month with two hours online viewing. In addition to the ABC.Com that I watch, it is plenty of time spent in front of a screen. The nice thing about this limited amount is that I can actually say exactly how much time I spend watching something. Total for the month was 2 hours and 50 minutes for online TV, and we watched Cranford for a total of 3 hours.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

wrapping it up...

As you can see, I have made a few changes to the blog. For starters, I added a widget from the Library Thing. These are some of the books that we are reading or have read. Another item is the counter. I never thought about it before this week, but the other day I was interested in seeing how many visitors check out our blog. What will I do with this information? Nothing :) Just an interesting tid-bit for me and a way to stretch my computer skills.

I have one more week of school, and no prospects of a new job yet. Last year at this time I was in the same boat, and in the month of July had to decide between three different job offers. I am assuming that it will be the same this year. Each time I apply for a school I get excited and practically move myself into that community. Ildi finds a a house in the country and we fantasize about living there. It is fun to dream about the situation.

Now that school is almost over, we are going to spend some of the beginning of the summer visiting places here in North Carolina. First, we are going to the Biltmore Estate. And of course, we will visit the NC Zoo which is only an hour away. Since we have been here, we have enjoyed a membership to Old Salem and have visited the living museum many times. In addition, there are many pottery places that I want to see located at Seagrove. We are going to start getting milk from a farmer in South Carolina, so our trip down there will take us close to Charlotte. The couple of times we go down to get milk will give us a chance to drive around there for a visit. I do have to confess though that I am not really interested in visiting such a large city.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

our great society...

I just finished a small novel, Henry and the Great Society tonight, and wanted to post a little bit about the message it brought to me. Before I do, I first want to preface this by referencing that there are many bloggers that I read on a regular basis, and most of them have to do with agrarian living. Some are radical, and some are quite "normal." So as to not offend any of them, I'll keep my opinion about who the radicals are to myself. :) Most of the ones that I read are located on the preferred blogs list. They range from city to country folks, institutionally educated and self-educated, financially well-off and financially struggling, and a smattering of everything in between.

Side note...I got my test results back today that states that I know enough to teach Art in Ohio. I am just waiting on the Ohio Department of Education to send me a teaching License now.

However, there is no need to move from the city to the country to live an agrarian lifestyle. You can do it right where you are. In fact Jules Dervaes at Path to Freedom is doing it in Pasadena, CA right around the corner from where I lived. Back to the novel.

In this story, Henry goes from a contented farmer with no modern conveniences to a ......(wait a minute, I don't want to spoil the story for you :) person who is not as happy as he used to be. It seems throughout the story that the answer is to always "get back" to the way things used to be. I enjoyed the story, and it made me reflect on many of the "conveniences" that I have now that are not actually convenient. But the point I want to make here is that no matter how hard we try to get back to a place in the past, progression takes us toward the future. Are we trapped by the forward movement and unable to stop its affect on us? I think not. Actually, having lived the progressive life for years and not finding too much benefit in it is what has causes us to desire a more rural, self-sustaining life in the first place. I think that if a person (or family in my case) establishes a vision for their lives and actively pursues accomplishing it, they will find that the future holds more promise than always trying to recapture something that they once had. So much for my Thursday, I just read a book, wisdom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

it pays to Discover...

Years ago, we cut up all of our credit cards when we joined Consumer Credit Counseling Service to become debt free. I won't go into the details about it here, but on this post, praise to God, I want to talk about the benefit of credit card use.

Last month I drove up to Ohio for a job fair. I made mention in an earlier post about it, and that I had a road issue with the rental car. I ran over a piece of rubber in West Virgina right before the second toll booth, near Beckley, WV. I was fine, but the radiator was damaged, leaking all the coolant, resulting in the car overheating and possibly blowing the engine. All I know is that I was traded out a car and only lost three hours of traveling time. When I returned after my trip, I found out that they were going to junk the car, and the charge to me was going to be $3395.16 for all the damage. Quite an expensive trip to Ohio. Since I only had liability insurance on my vehicle, and I refused the extra insurance they offered at Enterprise Rental, I would have to be responsible for the whole amount.

The young man I talked with at Enterprise claims gave me a tip about calling to see if my credit card would help me with the bill. Before this past year, Ildi and I had made the decision not to use credit cards because they had gotten me into trouble before, but when we moved across the nation I got one "just in case" and I used it to charge the move. Since then, it just sat idle in my wallet until I rented this car.

After photocopying paperwork, filling in and sending in information, I had not thought too much about it until I got home from school today. In the mail was a letter from an insurance group that works with Discover card. They referenced the claim, and mentioned that the letter they were sending was in reference to Collision Damage Waiver coverage. The next paragraph read
"Payment in the amount of $3395.16 has been issued to the Enterprise Rent A Car. A copy is enclosed for your records."
What a surprise! Discover COVERED my damage to the rental car. It really does pay to Discover.

Now, we really do know that it is God's hand moving on our behalf, so thanks goes to Discover Card Services, credit and praise goes to God.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (in 2008 on May 26). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action. All of this, of course, is from Wikipedia.

This day is usually a day that people have cookouts, parties, or gather with friends and family to celebrate. Sort-of an excuse to have another party. Annually, I do this as well. Most of the time we spend the day with one other close family friends of ours, and we cooked on the grill and spend the day talking and relaxing. Today, however, we spent the day in a very different way than we have done before. We traveled north up to Caswell county and helped some friends bale some hay. The fields were beautiful, the patterns of the hay laying in the field was artistic, and the weather was perfect; sunny, small breeze, and extremely quiet. Notice the horse drawn rake in the distance.

Asher had a time with the bales in that they were as big as he is. Nolan spend most of the day stacking them on the wagon. All together we got around two-hundred bales in the barn today. It would be nice if we were able to go back tomorrow to help them finish putting the rest of it up.

May God bless all of those that have served in our military and have given their lives so that I have the freedom to attend a barbeque, have guests over for dinner, or bale some hay with some friends.

Friday, May 23, 2008

an email posted...

This is an email I sent to a friend that says most of what I wanted to post about today. I tried to eliminate all the specific addresses to him and make it more general here.

it seems that I am selling my house!

I had a lady call me a few times about it and wanted to work me down to a frightening number. I thought she was another scammer so I dismissed her and just spoke bluntly to her. Nearing the end of the conversation, she told me that she was an investor and wanted to buy the property. I gave her the bottom line and said I would not take anything less than 500k for it. She agreed to buy it. Over the next few weeks, we talked a few times and she said she was still interested. I ended up writing up a contract and mailed it to the escrow company to look over. Long story shorter, I mailed it to the wrong place so it was returned. I then mailed it out for the agent to look over again before forwarding it to the investor. Before she received the one I sent, she faxed me an agreement she made up that was all wrong. Wrong name, wrong price (for more!) and wrong info. I thought for sure that this confirmed that it was a scam. I told the escrow agent I am working with to call her and ask a few questions. You know, kind-of play dumb about the situation. She did call a few times but the lady never replied. So, last week I called the agent again to see of she returned any of her calls. She told me she didn't and again it was a confirmation. After I hung up from talking though, the agent called me back and said she had just gotten in touch with her and that she had received the agreement that I made up, was going to sign it, and remit the 3% deposit to open escrow. I am hoping that she is going to buy it. :)

We are closing down our time here in NC. It's hard to believe that we have lived here for almost a year already. I still haven't secured a position in Ohio yet but in retrospect, I hadn't secured a position here in NC until mid July. I actually didn't even fly out here to interview until the end of May. I have sent several resumes out and am checking the job boards regularly. Ildi has encouraged me to apply for a couple of part-time positions in the city of Westerville, OH. She says it is the Pasadena of Ohio :) The pay scale there is outrageous as well. She said after I work a few months part-time they will be sure to pick me up for a full time position. Sounds good to me. It's either take a full time job in a small community and living somewhere in the country with a guarantee that I will make a decent salary, or work part-time for a bit making a little less than that with the potential of getting hired for a full position at a large sum. All for 180 days of work a year! At this point, if this house sells, we will still be able to buy a farm cash without me making any more money.

Which all brings me to the question I have for you (all). Remember one of the conversations we had about our children growing up and that we wanted to provide for them? I remember talking that night about the plans you all have for your children. It is not too far away. What is reminding me is that I just picked up the book I started several years ago called The Power of Focus. It is the kind of book that makes you think of why you are doing what you are doing. Anyway, it reminded me about goals that I had set many years ago that I have already accomplished. (ex. debt free, MA degree, have more children, live frugally.......) And now, I am starting to think about some of the things that I want to accomplish as we move into a more agrarian life. For example....I am thinking about having our family farm a tourist type of place equipped to accommodate school children visiting, community visitors, and possibly over night stays in a Wall Tent. Mary Jane Butters gave me the idea:) Sort-of like a bed and breakfast but on the farm. You know, a tent/cabin that you stay for the weekend listening to the crickets chirp with a small fire on a warm summer night. The morning comes with a hot /fresh cooked breakfast that includes milk and eggs that are from our animals. The day is spent leisurely touring the farm, milking a cow, gathering eggs, weeding/planting in a garden, and eating great home-cooked meals. The draw would be that it is a place AWAY from the rat race and a time to really relax, get your hands dirty, and feel part of a family farming vision.

Sounds like a huge plan. I better start writing all this stuff down before I forget it!

And, as a side note, long posts are VERY BAD. Sorry. :(