Country Living Series

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Never pass up a good opportunity

I laughed until I cried.

In 2014, it seems a Finnish dog show called Koira Mestar was progressing nicely with a variety of dogs competing in obedience. According to ABC News, "One obstacle involves dogs having to avoid a swarm of canine distractions [toys and food] while making it to the finish line."

However one beautiful Golden Retriever decided never to pass up a good opportunity. By the end, even the judges were applauding his happy-go-lucky enthusiasm.

As some commenters said, "It's the journey, not the destination" and "Fails at competition, wins at life."

As I said, I laughed until I cried.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The threat of contentment

I came across a couple of interesting posts recently.

The first is called “How Your Contentment Is Killing Your Future.” The writer (a Christian named Dale Patridge) wonders if our “healthy desire for contentment become an unhealthy desire for comfort.” He notes he and his wife had moved past contentment into “stagnant, dormant, and latent.”

This writer is a go-getter who became a millionaire by the time he was 30 (and guides other go-getters to follow his principles and become wealthy). As such, he puts great store in leadership, and using both leadership and the resulting wealth to minister to others.

He writes: “You see, as leaders, we can often spend years working to reach the mountain tops of our achievements only to finally arrive, overstay our welcome, and die there in a state of comfort. … But what if God has something more for you? What if He’s just waiting for you to ask, to dream, and to see? What if more life didn’t have to mean more stuff? What if more purpose actually called for less comfort? Ultimately, my challenge to you is this: Is your life small because your vision was small? Has your desire for less lessened your life? Could your obsession for a simple existence leave you with a simple story?”

We all have different gifts in life, and there’s nothing wrong with either leadership or wealth, as long as they’re used to the glory of God.

But a Christian mom who blogs about “living small” rebutted Mr. Partridge’s position. She wrote, “Contentment in circumstances can be misconstrued as settling for mediocre. Nothing could be farther from the truth. … Contentment has served me well as I’ve been frustrated with life circumstances over the years. I’ve learned how to stay content when my circumstances were less than ideal. I’ve learned the fastest ways to kill contentment. I’ve wrestled with what it looks like to remain content when I truly, deeply yearn for more. Truly there is nothing bad to be said about contentment. But settling for a moderate life out of fearful reasons or laziness? That would be tragic. Living small is not ‘settling’ for average. Living small is making choices on purpose to make room for extraordinary.”

While I admire Mr. Partridge’s success and go-getter attitude – we need go-getters in this world – my philosophy at this stage in my life leans more strongly toward “contentment.” Of course this is the difference between someone at the peak of his life’s productivity (30) and someone on the downhill slope of life’s productivity (55).

But the subject of ambition vs. contentment is an interesting one. A few years ago I was asked, by someone I like and respect, where I saw myself in ten years. What, he wanted to know, is our (Don’s and my) goal over the next decade? This question was asked because the gentleman is a go-getter, a business whiz, an operational genius.

I replied that we were very satisfied with our present conditions. Our children have grown into fine young ladies. Our marriage is strong. Our farm is developing well. My “ambition” is to continue following the path we’re currently on, for the foreseeable future, as long as God permits.

But my questioner persisted. Surely we had some lofty goals we wanted to achieve? Didn’t we want financial wealth or societal acclaim? Didn’t we want to change the world in some way? As politely as I could, I said no.

This line of questioning happened years ago, and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. Until questioned, I never realized I had such an utter lack of ambition.

The truth is, we DO have ambitions and goals, but they’re just not in keeping with the things corporate America values. We have ambitions of expanding the garden this spring and goals of installing a water tank in the next few months. We have ambitions of improving the barn’s infrastructure and goals to someday put hardwood flooring in the house. We have ambitions to become as self-sufficient as possible on our homestead. We have goals (which we’ve achieved) of launching two well-rounded, sensible, moral young women into the world.

In short, we may lead a life that is quiet and unassuming to the unpracticed eye, but the truth is we’re stable, content, and happy. These, presumably, are the goals and ambitions of many millions of people – to be stable, content, and happy.

“Ambition” is a relatively recent thing for the ordinary person. We’ve always had ambitious people, of course – history is littered with the corpses from the ambitions of tyrants and conquerors – but for the vast majority of regular people, ambition took back seat to mere survival. It’s only in the last few decades that our abundance and affluence has allowed so many people the luxury of career ambitions.

Is this lack of ambition a bad thing? Did we teach our daughters to ask too little of life? Should our goals have been higher?

I remember one time in late June, sitting in the barn working on my laptop, working on a magazine article that was due shortly. (In nice weather, I do a lot of work in the barn.) I was keeping an eye on a cow who was due to give birth at any moment. Chickens were all around me. The daisies and ocean spray were in full bloom. Later that afternoon I had plans to do dishes and laundry.

And I realized this, dear readers, was about the extent of my ambition. This was where I saw myself in ten years: right here. There will be different cows in the corral, and different chickens scratching in the dirt, and the daisies and ocean spray may not be blooming, and our girls have now grown and gone, but it is my dearest hope to continue this lifestyle we’ve achieved and come to love so well. There will always be manure to shovel and gardens to grow, eggs to gather and fruit to pick. And I find my ambitions becoming framed by the boundaries of our property.

But maybe I’m in good company. First Thessalonians 4:11-12 says to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

That’s become my motto.

The world needs leaders. The world needs wealthy people. The world needs ambitious people. But it also needs those of us who don’t harbor any of those goals and prefer to “lead a quiet life.” As long as it’s to the glory of God, it’s all good.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A surefire way to annoy your holiday host

Here's my WND column for this weekend entitled "One surefire way to annoy your holiday host."

Along these lines, reader Ken forwarded the following illustration, which I thought was apt:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Light bulbs and face palms

Last May when I was at the Northwest Preparedness Expo, I met a lady who was on her own preparedness journey and expressed an interest in blogging about it. I urged her to do so, since blogging is not only helpful to other readers embarking on their own journeys, but it helps the blogger as well, since it keeps us accountable.

Well she followed through beautifully and started a blog called Self-Reliance Adventures: Light bulbs and face palms along the self-reliant journey. I urge you to hop over and take a look.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Top 100 housewife blogs on the web

Out of the blue, I received a comment as follows:
My name is Anuj Agarwal. I'm Founder of Feedspot.

I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Rural Revolution has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Housewife Blogs on the web.

I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 100 Housewife Blogson the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.

Well isn't that cool!

Since my blog is not limited to domestic matters, I gather the only basis for this honor is the word "housewife" in the subtitle, coupled with my Alexa ranking.

No matter; I'm pleased to be the recipient of such a fun little award. I get to display the award button, plus the list includes all sorts of other neat blogs to explore.

Thanks, Anuj!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

You know what they say about necessity...

I needed to make a dessert to bring to our neighborhood potluck last Friday. I was bored with my usual repertoire and wanted to make something different (preferably with ingredients we already had on hand) but my brain was blank. I scoured my recipe books, I looked over our in-house ingredients ... and nothing came to mind.

Then suddenly it was Friday and I had to decide. I came across an online recipe for some mini apple pies ("tartlets") made in a muffin tin, and this sounded interesting. But my day was busy and the clock was ticking. So, in desperation, I cheated and turned to a faithful staple I always keep in the house: puff pastry.

Each box of puff pastry holds two sheets folded in thirds. What I did was cut each third into four pieces, giving me 12 squares per sheet or 24 for the box.

I rolled each square a bit flatter, and didn't worry when it stopped being "square." Puff pastry puffs, after all.

I tucked each square into the cups of the muffin tins.

Then I pulled out some of the apple pie filling I canned up in October.

As it turned out, one quart exactly filled 12 cups, one muffin tin.

Next I mixed up 6 tablespoons margarine (we were out of butter), 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup flour.

This is mixed to make "crumbs," the topping for a type of sweet bread my mother used to always make while I was growing up (we called it Grandma's Bread since my grandmother always made it.)

I sprinkled the crumbs over each cup.

I baked them at 350F until they were gently brown.

Because I was running short of time, as soon as the apple tartlets came out of the oven I put them outside to cool (it was very cold out). When they were cold, I piled them in a linen in a basket and we dashed off to the potluck. (I snatched this photo just as we were heading out the door.)

They were an immediate success!

The nice thing about puff pastry is it will lend itself to endless variations -- not just fruit fillings, but savory fillings (minus the crumbs, of course). The possibilities are endless. No wonder I love puff pastry.

You know what they say about necessity: it's the mother of invention. Case in point.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Inspirational ballerina

I love ballet. I just love it.

So when I saw the YouTube clip below, it left me both elated and sobbing. Get the hanky, you'll need it.

God bless the family that raised this young woman and her sister.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Tankard update

Here's an update from Don:

Thanks to all who have purchased my tankards. Just a quick note: We rapidly ran out of the pre-made Rural Revolution mugs. For those who ordered and are still waiting, I'll have them done and mailed by this Wednesday. Again, thanks for your support! -- Don

No trespassing, y'hear?

An online friend living in Maine sent this (photo taken through a car window, so not the clearest). I thought it was too funny not to share.

She writes: "This is our new welcome sign. it means that we have no infectious animals, but let the average idiot figure it out. The wording scares the hell out of the people. Rich [her husband] painted an orange biohazard sign complete with biohazard symbol for future use if the world collapses. It goes on the closed gait and should deter any trespassers."

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What a nice email!

I just received the nicest email from someone I'd never heard of. It's reprinted here with permission:

I owe you a huge thanks because of your commentary on May 5, 2017: When God Closed the Door, WND Opened the Window.

It was your article that caused me - a 71 year old nobody - to think and pray that I could be a columnist at WND. Your words echoed inside me and said, "You can do it, too."

Last night, my first article as a columnist appeared on WND: Why God Has Not Ended Abortion in America. I know it was God who ultimately set me in place at WND, but I also know, if you had not written your article, I wouldn't be here today.

Thanks and God bless you,

Larry Nevenhoven
Temecula, CA (a blogger, too)
I had to blink back tears upon reading this. All I can say is, wow. Just ... wow.

While I've never heard of this "71 year old nobody" before, I will follow his writing from now on. I have a feeling he's going to go far. Reach out, read his stuff, and support him!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Why do people scoff at preppers?

Here's my WND column for this weekend entitled "Why do people scoff at preppers?"

I was surprised to receive a semi-illiterate snark from a woman-hater as follows: "Another tradcon lazy women who wants women to be lazy house wives stuck in the kitchen with no rights and men to be protector's and provider's get out the past you idoit"

("Tradcon" is a contemptuous term for "traditional conservative.")

This comment came out of the blue and I have no idea why this person saw fit to post it, particularly since it has nothing whatever to do with the column. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Boot camp graduation

Well, she did it -- Younger Daughter has now graduated from Navy boot camp!

The graduation ceremony was Wednesday, Nov. 22 (the day before Thanksgiving). The link to the ceremony is here, but it won't be active for much longer (maybe a week or so).

Y.D. was in Division 020, and was placed in such a location as to make finding her virtually impossible from the television screen. Fortunately she was able to tell us in advance about where she was located, so Don downloaded the ceremony and slowed down the video until he was able to pick her out and put a red circle around her. (All the graduates started the ceremony wearing heavy coats and ear muffs since it was 22F outside. They later took them off.)

We watched every minute of the ceremony, from the beginning to the end, when the newly minted sailors were given liberty.

Younger Daughter very much enjoyed boot camp. She liked the discipline and camaraderie, and the challenge of learning the military way of life. In fact now that she's across the street and getting ready for "A" school, she says she misses the military bearing so strictly enforced in boot camp.

While at the moment she's not certain when her classes will start, it looks like she'll be able to come home for Christmas. So will Older Daughter. I doubt we'll have many other times when both our girls will be with us during this holiday, so we'll enjoy the blessing of their company while we can. (sniff)