Catching Up – 2021

Once upon a time, in August of 2020, a family of 5 set out on a family road trip. Slipping gently from quarantine, they investigated an incredible deal on island property. And while that particular piece of property was, in fact, too good to be true and too swampy to be useful, the trip was still considered a success. Not far down the road was Puddleberry Shore, which was breath-taking and perfect. By the middle of September, Puddleberry was ours.

But there was nowhere for us to live! The only infrastructure was power to the property, but nothing down to the actual cleared homesite. No well, no septic…everything would need to be built. This was expected, it just would require us to decide precisely what we wanted, and then figure out how time, people and resources could be best applied.

And so began a more concentrated, specific effort to define our next life. What kind of building? Did it even need to be a building? How about tents and yurts? What do codes allow for? What buildings will survive the (significant) snow and wind conditions here? We were swirling: so many ideas, so many possibilities, and all of them seemed wonderful and incredibly far from actualization.

It was hard being away from the land. Through November and December, when it was too cold to camp up there, we watched Netflix in Saginaw and planned, sketched and Pinterested and planned, and threw out ideas and brought them back in. We calculated snow loads and shipping costs and briefly considered doing our own architectural drawings. We came to no points of decision, except that everything seemed clearer when our feet were on the actual island ground.

The calm continued to call. In January, Brett decided to take time off from work. Alone, in the dark, in the snow, like a badass, he set up the canvas bell-tent to begin a month-long staycation at Puddleberry. Every day he sent pictures: sunrises, beaver sign, Julie-the-Neighbor’s front-loader pulling his Jeep out of the snow, island-grown pork chops cooking on the wood-stovetop. Cold, beautiful, heavenly.

We came to visit, though virtual school and virtual work tied the kids and I to Saginaw. Every time we left Puddleberry it was harder to go, though the call of clean clothes and hot showers certainly eased the pain. In the background was always the question: how can we get back here, build fast, and settle down?

The short answer is, you can’t. Or at least, we couldn’t. We did, however, remember that people on the island already had houses and some of those people were selling them. Some of them were far less than the hypothetical solutions we were looking to build, and most of them came pre-loaded with water and heat. After snow camping, real walls seem very luxe. I re-installed Zillow on January 20th, and on February 5th, we moved into our new house on the island. Being impatient leads to decisiveness.

We are now the proud owners of the original strip of heaven we now call Puddleberry Shores AND 24 acres of flat mixed meadow and forest with a house and a barn that we are calling Puddleberry Farm. There is work and cleanup to do, but the timing is perfect. I am so grateful that we have answered the habitation question. That means that planting and animals can begin this Spring!

Puddleberry Origins

Apparently, I set up a blog called Puddleberry 5 years ago, got distracted by real life, and completely forgot about it. These posts are from the Proto Puddleberry Period.


July 17, 2015

Well, friends, employment has come, and it has come in spades.  It looks like I alone will have at least 3 W2s come next year’s tax time.  All of them little, part-time gigs, but hey…it would be disingenuous not to call abundance by its name.

My Love is also employed in a job with a little more heft than myself.  He has met his goal of finding a job where he can work from home, giving us the freedom to choose where that home might be.  (Right now, we are limited only by internet access).  And while, in a few short weeks he will be code monkeying in track pants from the sanctity of the office/bedroom, he must put in a month of training time on campus.

This is where the Tiny House living comes in.

Rather than spend a girls-only month at home in Saginaw, where the outdoor pool is unheated and friends are all off on vaycay (first world problems, what?), we decided to join him on this sojourn to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin, thank you for your delightfully nice people, tremendously delicious beer, and the opportunity to stay at an extended-stay hotel, which we are calling our Tiny House.

For those of you who are considering living in small square footage, I highly recommend this approach for your proof of concept.  We are in a one bedroom suite, where My Love and I have the bedroom and the girls are snuggled on a fold-out couch and cushion-y floor pallet, respectively, in the little living area.

Living the Tiny Life, and experiencing cable.

We are learning a lot; for one, a bedroom with a wall and a door are a necessity.  Also, living with one toilet and one shower takes coordination.  We are also learning that it is well within our ability.  My Love was the one who gave the confirmation: “You know,” he said, “I could do this.”

Which is good, because we weren’t sure.  When Zillow offers you dozens of houses on decent land for less than a Seattle condo, it is easy to get over excited.  I admit, we have gotten lured by large farmhouses with four bedrooms and lofts and finished basements.  Hey, they’re standing empty!  And depending on how it goes, we may still end up in a spacious place – after all, we are really looking at finding ideal land more than we are looking at the accommodations.

But it is nice to know that we have the option, because it is well within reason to plant a custom tiny home on a beautiful acreage for under 100K, which is the equivalent of a Seattle parking space (I exaggerate…but not that much).  And when I’m in my more practical mind, why spend more money than we need to?  It would mean more available funds to start greenhouse building, and the sooner we do that, the sooner I can eat my own tilapia.

Waffles: the best thing on the menu.

Now, there are certainly some differences between residential stays and Tiny Houses.  After all, we have a pool, hottub and exercise room just down the hall.  Other people wash my sheets and my towels.  I eat a waffle every morning for breakfast.  The ceilings are high enough for My Love to stand up straight, and our living space is not limited by the long, skinny shape of a trailer foundation.

On the other hand, we are eating fabulously with no oven and only two pots.  I am somehow managing to wash dishes in a sink so tiny you couldn’t bathe a newborn in it (okay, that’s a weird comparison).  And everyday most days, we fold up the sofa bed and recreate the living room with minimal complaint.

“Who are you calling an ass-hat?”

The cats even came with us, and they are no more ass-haty than they are in our spacious 1300 square feet back in Saginaw.  We have even been pounded by torrential rainstorms that have lasted days, and I’m happy to report that no one got hurt.

Concept proven.

I am aware of the girls, and I am considering their need for privacy and personal space.  In a real Tiny House, they would each have their own discreet bed.  I am also thinking about people all over the world who live in close quarters.  We are den animals, in our way, after all.  Mostly, like many Tiny House people, I am striving to step outside of the traditional “because that’s how we do it here” thinking, and really stretch to define what we need, and what we value towards our quality of life.

I do laundry one load at a time.  I wash dishes right away.  I make my bed right away.  I have to do these things because the space dictates it.  In some ways, my behavior has gotten better, and the things I have found overwhelming (oh, laundry, we are have long been enemies…) have become less of an issue because…well, ya just have to.

We are at the half-way point in our experiment, and, while My Love can’t wait to get back to his sweet computer set-up and his all-day, every-day track pants, this experiment is going better than we would have thought.

So to all your self-skeptics that have nevertheless felt the draw to this kind of living – consider trying it out.  You may surprise yourself.


May 30, 2015

The Farm is our Dream, the big picture plan for the next big chunk of time.  The Dream we are imagining is foundationally about quality of life, as I suspect your Dream is as well.  Ours just happens to include a farm.

Once upon a time, I was treated for ADHD.  I came across this saying a bunch of times: “We don’t take medication to make things easier for us, we take it to make us easier for everybody else”.  I was grateful to have the little blue pills, because there have been periods in my history when my work and life obligations required me to do things that I found extremely challenging, things I didn’t have the resources to change.   But I don’t want my long term strategy for happiness to be self-alteration.  I actually think I’m a pretty cool chick.

So, part of the Dream is changing my perspective from “how do I live in the world successfully?” to “in what world will I live successfully?”.  I think it can be very easy to see our challenges, our pathology, the ways in which we struggle to achieve the norm, in which we strive to function, as our deficit, as our own fault.  I don’t feel that way anymore.

Lots of people want to park in the parking spots closest to the entrance of the grocery store.  Not me.  I want to park as close to the cart return thing as I can.  We are not all seeking the same components for our success.  What an idea, to embrace that!

Yea! Bang that drum, baby!

This idea, of creating your own best world, really became clear when I started homeschooling.  There are lots of reasons for alternative education (under the increasingly diverse umbrella often called homeschool).  Some people come to it for the philosophy, but as many come because they witness traditional schooling failing their own progeny: children who struggle with sensory issues; or who need permission to emotionally regulate in ways that cannot be offered in a classroom; children who have variabilities in attention that are incompatible with regular expectations.

I’m not talking about the universal ideas about children running more and playing more, but the very specific needs of individual children.  I’ve met parents who respect the complete profile of who their child is right here right now, and make changes in their life around that.

Sometimes it is easier to make these changes for our children than for ourselves.  After all, we’re adults!  Get it together!  You should be able to do better, to handle more, to let things go, to adapt, to change, to do what is necessary.  And we do.  We are.   At least, most of the time.

I don’t use the word “hate” very often, but I hate the word “should”.

I have been a lot happier since I embraced my shortcomings, and thank goodness for my wide arms!  There’s a lot of schlock there to love.  I’ve had to admit that I find it very difficult to comply with certain kinds of structure and formal requirements.  I’ve had to acknowledge that I have fluctuations in mood that make showing up consistently very difficult.  This has impacted my personal and professional relationships; bosses want you to come to work and friends want you show up to playdates.  Seems reasonable, right?  Sometimes I’m an unholy bitch to people I love, even the little ones, for no reason. (So there’s a therapy fund right alongside the college fund.)

Embracing these “broken” bits does not mean justifying or excusing my bad behavior.  Far from it.  I am responsible for my own feelings and actions.  It is tacky to be a victim of my own life.  But, like these beautifully unique little children for whom we strive to give the gift of a  compatible environment, I started giving myself permission to do things differently.  To accept that I was not my best self under the circumstances that work for most people.

(And as a side thought, with so many people working for the weekend, is that “most people” thing really true?  But I digress…)

There is no perfect life overnight; fifteen years ago, as a poor and stupid  newly independent adult, I had limitations when it came to work and lifestyle.  I do advocate reasonableness (did I just say that?) and doing what you can when you can do it.  Little step by little step, to mitigate the things that rub you wrong, the squeaky wheels that call for a special kind of grease.

So, to build my own personal Dream, I’m getting cozy with my broken bits.  This has come with feelings of guilt (everybody else gets out of bed, you lame-o…), shame (you’re whining, buck up), and fears of self-centeredness (why are you so goddamned special anyway?).  If you are up for embracing your own weird non-conformities, there’s no need to go down that road.  I’ve done it, it’s a dead end.  Heed the sign.

I give you permission to highly value the wearing of yoga pants over fancy office clothes.

I give you permission to desire a job that lets you pee when you want to.

Or permits you to work in a room all by yourself, in your pajamas.

Or lets you work in the middle of the night when you want to.

Or gives you yoga balls to sit on and green spaces to go walk around in.

Give yourself permission to be fulfilled by things that other people might not think are a big deal.

This can be difficult when you work for other people (as most of us do).  Tech companies are well known for throwing all kinds of benefits at you, like snacks and plastic ballpits and foozball, and even gobs of money to support your best work.  That’s all delightful, but not when what you want is a room with a door.  If that’s what you need.  What you need.

Do I love this or hate this?

The truth is, our Dream is not really a farm.  The farm is the vehicle, a piece of the holistic vision of a life where we are free to be ourselves, broken bits and all.


May 29, 2015Leave a commentEdit

Tilapia burger, tilapia kebobs, tilapia omlette, tilapia ice cream…

Food, meaningful work, a new model of living, connection with the land, technology.  This is about looking ahead.

What is Puddleberry Farm?

It is a model for a new take on sustainable living, leveraging the advantages that technology brings us: a diversified farm structure that includes aquaponics, permaculture and animal husbandry.  We call it the Micro Techno Farm.

We love science and data.  We love experiments.  I want to figure out how to eat local watermelon in the winter.  I want to find ten thousand ways to eat tilapia, and then pick the best three (Thanks, Bubba!).  My Love wants to figure out how to herd sheep using automated drones.  Dream wide, people!  Let me share with you a little bit about what things will look like.  Future posts are already in the works that go into these topics with more detail, but here’s the overview:

The Aquaponic Greenhouse

This is the heart of the farm, designed to feed the farm and its neighbors.  Aquaponics is a re-circulating system of farmed fish (aquaculture) and plants grown without soil (hydroponics).  As a closed system, it uses far less water and produces far less waste than traditional agriculture.  Augmented greenhouse growing eliminates the need for harmful pesticides while buffering against seasonal changes, allowing us to produce a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables all year round.

Outdoor Seasonal Permaculture

To supplement the greenhouse, we add seasonal outdoor food production in harmony with the natural environment.  For us in Michigan, that means fruit trees, mushrooms, and other seasonal foods that can be processed for year-round use.

Animal Husbandry and Wildlife

We include moderate quantities of livestock be kept for meat and milk supply, and for their contribution to the loop of sustainability.  In addition to these farmed animals, we support natural wildlife populations through careful land stewardship.

Many people have dreams of changing their relationship to the land, their community, their work and their food, but they don’t know how.  To all of you, we say, “Don’t worry, we’ll go first.”  We have the right amount of grit, bravery and craziness to do what it takes to make this dream come to fruition.  We can imagine hundreds of these micro-techno farms becoming community centers in this country’s wide open spaces, learning from our journey.

While we may be the first in our circle to run away and join the circus world of farming, we recognize that we are not really the first; we are learning from the visionaries in sustainable living and techno-ag who have come before us, to capitalize and improve on their experience.  We speak for a new group of urban refugees, those who would prefer to opt-out of the stresses of city living, but need a different way to do it.

If you decided to run away, where would you run to?  Feel free to share in the comments below.


May 18, 2015

I’m taking a sidestep here.  I want to talk about being bipolar.

I have earned the right to talk about it because…well, if you’ve met me, you probably understand.  I have “suffered” the negative effects of this as long as I can remember; I have also enjoyed the benefits.  I look back and just see Jessica, in good times or bad times.  I was just always being myself, my too loud, too colorful, too absorbed, self.  And for a while, I thought that self was fated to self-destruct, from time to time.  Phoenix reborn, yadayadayada.

I came late-ish to the diagnosis, and so I had a rich chunk of life, complete with professional responsibilities and child-rearing, before I understood that happiness wasn’t going to come about through trying harder.  For a rational person, I have spent plenty of time on the other side of my crazy fence, and I am very grateful that medication has worked for me.  Medication has put a coating back on my electrical wires, but I’m not fully insulated.  I am still very much my fluid self.

I used to cry everyday (I was feeling my feelings! Shit.  Do YOU have feelings about your groceries?)   I get more done these days, since I only really let the tears go for Gray’s Anatomy.  I have spent, and continue to spend, a lot of time thinking about self-care.  Part of taking care of myself means charting my mood, informally.  I have had to learn myself well, to watch my body and my behavior for signs that I am moving up or moving down.

I need to be careful, for example, when I go out with friends.  I get high on the conversation, the excitement of being dressed up, of being loud and swearing.  I need to make sure I don’t get too “high”, because the pendulum swings both ways.  I have come home from a wonderful social occasion, taken off my shoes and felt immediately and utterly dejected.

I have to be careful when I think about skipping the toothbrushing…just this once…because it’s a sign that I am sliding down.  After toothbrushing, medication falls away, and then I am raw and reactive again.  I have learned that, for an unpredictable kind of girl, I’m extremely predictable.

Moving is stressful.  Leaving your friends and family is stressful.  Being unemployed is stressful.

However, I love this shit.  I thrive on it.  I actually prefer throwing everything up in the air to doing it piece by piece.  I am, by my very nature, by my very brain chemistry, designed to respond, rather than to plan in advance.

I am getting better at doing things reasonably.

I am writing my book a couple of hours at a time, most days.  I never stay up all night.

An earlier Jessica completed a Russian Opera essay by writing nonstop for 4 days, followed by sleeping for 18 hours, suffering a computer crash and losing the whole thing.  I ended up dropping the course because I couldn’t get the fucking thing back out of my head and onto the page.  No, I didn’t make backups!  Or take notes!

I am learning, slowly, to live a sustainable life, and it’s not just about agriculture.

Here, we are in the great suburban-y vanilla abyss.  The earth is flat, the sun shines everyday, and we have had little to occupy our time but a comforting cycle of internet, television, job interviews, sex, and playing with kids.  It is strange to be without stimuli here.  Without the million things that legitimately tire you out, like the traffic, and coworkers, and the price of things.  Also without the delightful things that boost your spirits and make you feel happy, like playdates, and putting on red lipstick (mwa!), or going to a martial arts class.  It is an interesting resting place, especially for someone like me, where the thing that makes you sad or happy or excited or angry is only ever a part of the real story.  Bipolar reactions are always circumspect; the kernel is true, the emotion is real, but it is blown up to ridiculous proportions…sometimes.

It has been relaxing here, our true sabbatical.  I was expecting to watch myself flip out like a sine wave.  But rather, I feel a little more like I’m floating on the surface of the sea, bouyant, feeling the current without getting taken under.  I have been glad for it, because it tells me that what I am doing works.

I wish you all happy mental health!


May 13, 2015

We have been in Saginaw for two months.

We have made no progress.

Now, ‘no progress’ is not exactly true. I have been playing an endless match of back and forth of forms and letters and certificates and notarized hoo-haa with the Department of Education to get my certification.  It may never come, or it may mean that being a teacher here means going back to school.  I am practicing my patience.

In the meantime, I have been in the substitute teacher pool.  On one assignment, I stepped between two fights within the first forty-five minutes of class.  The teacher didn’t bring the class to order or introduce me before she left (it was only a half-day assignment).  I have never worked so hard for forty dollars.

Because I am a grown-up, and a professional, I told the administrator I could not say with certainty that a student would not be injured on my watch.  I wasn’t worried about myself; as many of you know, I go out of my way to get hit in the face.  Once upon a time, I would have held myself responsible for their bad behavior.

I spent two days in a 6th grade classroom full of bright, funny, interesting kids – at least, that is how I experienced them one-on-one.  As a group, I have never seen a herd more up in each others’ drama.  It was as if they lacked the gene that allows a body to mind their own business.  I have tried to find an analogous animal as a simile, but I realized such a population would never survive in the wild.  They would be too busy arguing when the lions came.

Again, because I am an adult and a professional, I told the administrator that I would not be in the class again without someone else in there with me.  They did do any better in the presence of the Dean, so it was easy not to take it personally.

Substitute teaching helps, but it will not pay all of the bills, and it will not build a farm fund.

Meanwhile, My Love has applied for countless jobs.  He has been largely ignored, though once he cut some of his early experience from his resume, things picked up a little bit.  Our analysis is that when they look at some of the companies he’s worked for, big shiny Seattle companies, they assume that he is a) overqualified, b) seeking great gobs of money that they can’t pay or c) not a long-termer because they can’t offer him senior level work.  None of the above is true; the man just wants to code for local market rate.

He did receive an offer a few weeks ago, which he accepted; it was messy, and the information came in pieces, and required all kinds of finagling with requirements and start dates.  The recruiter was not a good listener.

Because he is an adult and a professional, he wrote back today and withdrew his acceptance.  Past data shows that starting a position under a dark cloud never improves.

It is a difficult balance between creeping feelings of desperation and knowing what you are about.  It is hard, as the bank balance moves in only direction, to say ‘no’.  It is hard to say ‘no’ when there is no ‘yes’ waiting behind.

The wolves are not at the door, not yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hear the howling sometimes.  This is the price we pay for jumping without a net; we know this.  This could be a great ‘I-told-you-so’.  We might become a cautionary tale.

I am okay with that.  I still believe in magic, which doesn’t mean that all of sudden something great will just drop because it does.  I believe that in the process of the work, of the writing and rewriting resumes, of the answering of infinite questions about strengths and weaknesses, the breaking up of fights and the endless raising of hands for silence in the classroom, when you are busy doing the things that need to be done, life flows around you and fills in the cracks.

My Love responded to one of his interview questions like this: “If you need a programmer, I’m top-notch, but I think your questions are ridiculous.”  This led to an offer for an interview full of enthusiastic exclamation points; during their meeting, the CEO told him he was ‘a unicorn’ (with additional exclamation points).  I still believe in magic, that the ‘wrong thing’ can bring the right result.  I still believe that the solution will not be any of the ones I have loosely planned.  Past data shows the universe is far broader than my imagination.

I think the key is not to stuff those cracks yourself with worry and anxiety.  When I feel those flickers, I go to work, real work.  I bury myself in the writing of my book (which is coming along swimmingly), I bury myself in my children, we scale Zillow and look at pictures of the cheapest dream houses you could imagine, the better to keep them fresh in our heads.  We drive out to Bad Axe, Michigan, because there is no substitute for real-life research.  We are sticking to our plan, which includes the time when we must change the plan.

I have waited to write because I felt there was nothing to say.  No news, no jobs, only beautiful drives in all directions.  Spring is here, and the trees are remarkable.  There are buds of every color, and the whole world is a yummy Peter Pan kind of green.  I have no idea what anything is, so I guess at their names.  And we wait.

Just down the road from our house.


April 10, 2015

me Emma can now write on the blog!!! so hello friends!!! i miss you guys (and girls) so much! now why move to Michigan? read the blog/post thingy.


March 15, 2015

This has been the number one question since we finally chose the Final Destination.  It’s a legitimate question, but let me compare:

5 years ago:

“Hey, guys, we’re moving to Seattle!”

“OMG, I love Seattle!  But how do you feel about rain?”

“I have always wanted to live there, I am so jealous.”

“My brother lives in Seattle. You’ll love it.  It’s full of crazy liberals like you.”

Last month:

“Hey guys, we’re moving to Michigan!”

“<<crickets>>  You must have family there?”


“It’s like crazy cold there, you know?”

Poor Michigan.  It really gets a bum wrap.  Even from some of the locals!  So, why Michigan?

Before we made the final decision, Brett and I had spent 14 hours driving around Washington and Oregon.  We had followed a “too-good-to-be-true” farm purchase, which turned out to be just what it was.  We we were out of leads, but we soon realized that we were not out of options.  In fact, we had so many options it was overwhelming.

A moment of gratitude:  Oh, the luxury of choice.  One of the beautiful things about living in America is that we have the freedom to pick up and move thousands of miles away, and nobody gets in your way.  We could go anywhere, really!  So how do you choose?  Here was our process:

The Great Divide: Take all the states which have compassionate care laws, for both practical and philosophical reasons.  There are 22 states that fit this criteria (Sorry, Texas).

Cost of living: This varies dramatically between different cities and states, of course, much more than teacher salaries do.  We wanted a place where my one salary could support us, so that any other additional funds could go into the Farm Fund (Honey money, honey!).

Make it pretty! Find someplace beautiful, that makes your heart full to look at  everyday most days, and that has available farm land.  Obviously pretty is subjective – we like trees, water and hills.  It became clear on the drive out that we really needed two out of three (sorry, South Dakota).  And Desert People, we’re not hating, it’s just a matter of preference.  On a high note, I have to tell you that every state we looked at has beautiful land.  I will never write off an entire state again.

Less people!  (Sorry California). It’s not hard to find less people than Seattle.  But we learned that population density and population distribution have subtly different implications (more on that below).

Jobs, jobs, job:  As a teacher, I can find positions in most of the country (middle school + special education + mathematics is like the Holy Triumvirate of educational endorsements).  My Love, as a computer programmer, also has some options, but it is certainly more location-specific.  We don’t need a lot, just a little something, because we are on a train bound for farming.

This is what we figured out:

Check out all those people in Seattle!  Of course, there’s some action out toward Spokane, and towards Vancouver/Portland, but there’s generally a whole lot of (beautiful) nothing for 5 hours in between.

Michigan has a lot less practically empty space (though trust me, the Upper Peninsula, it calls to us!).  Detroit is playing strong, but please notice all of those mid-sized cities, many of which are grouped within commutable distances.  We live within 30 minutes of four cities that have a decent amount of advertised programmer positions.

So what?  Well, I’ve learned that when you live by a huge tech hub, all the companies and the techies swarm there, seeking a large available workforce for the one, and job security, job flexibility, competitive salaries for the others.  As a result, everything is concentrated in the metro areas, which makes it very hard to get away from the people.  I’m sorry, Wenatchee, you are not destined to be the next technology hub when Seattle is looming right there.  In Michigan, the positions don’t rain down from the sky, but you can work in a red spot, and live a short distance away in the relative quiet of the yellow.  And so far, the yellow is still pretty darn quiet.

But what about the snow?

We’ve only experienced one 3-inch snow fall, but that all dumped at once and was plowed and salted by late morning.  None of the Seattle histrionics and shutdown (it’s okay, Seattle, at least you know how to drive in the rain…wait, what?).  When you have the right tools, things really become much easier.  And don’t forget, my temperate friends, that people do already live here!  It was easy to forget that weather is just weather (says the girl who wears flip-flops all year round).

And now, the truth:

And while all that is fine and good (and I stand by my criteria), the real reason can be found here, right around 0:58).  And, I don’t even care that Paul Simon was going in the wrong direction:

Coming up:  How are you so nice?


March 8, 2015

Two steps forward, one step backwards.  A universal experience, I think.  Around here, we have noticed a different kind of development … we seem to move forward, and then somehow jump somewhere totally unexpected.  Sideways.

Take the inspiration for this blog, for example.  Here are some of the ways my family has described this next “sideways” step:

Moving toward self-sufficiency

Moving toward simplicity

Moving toward autonomy

Moving towards more meaningful work (self-defined)

Moving the hell away from people letting My Love express his inner hermit

Great and lofty?  Admirable, even?  We decided that this dream would manifest by buying some land and starting an aquaponic farm to make food for ourselves and others.  Our children would grow up free-range and exceptionally educated in the practical as well as the theoretical (cross fingers), I would write melancholy books that one day might get read, and my Love would build robots to pick weeds.  Idyllic, no?

But how to get from here – which meant unemployed, in the middle of a lease in expensive Seattle, with naught but a Texas teaching certificate, too many years of software experience, and a leeeetle bit of money –  to bucolic bliss.

Well, here were some of the failed/rejected plans:

moving to our family’s farm in Texas to live in the guest room and build a Tiny House

buying a piece of land on the Olympic peninsula and moving into what one kiddo affectionately called “the dumpster house” (this got nixed when we realized it didn’t have a floor.  Another place we considered had a huge indoor water feature!  But only when it rained…)

Buying an R.V. or trailer and driving all around the country doing…, um…, well…. (you see the issue)

Seeking grants/loans/kickstarter projects/lottery winnings (yes, I bought my first ticket) and/or generous benefactors who believed that a teacher and a computer programmer could make something magnificent

We stretched the box, then tried to think outside of it; we considered options I won’t even share (too crazy!).  We drove around the corners of Washington, we called, emailed, inquired and prayed.  We came up with nothing feasible.  We ran out of time.  We had to make a decision.  We stopped thinking about things emotionally, and came up with our answer in a single evening.

What we came up with seems kind of anti-climatic, though according to my friends and family it is no less crazy.  We moved to Michigan.  In the middle of winter.  We had no jobs lined up, no housing lined up.  We know no one here.  It was not a glamorous choice, and it didn’t seem at first like it was a move toward our Farm Fantasy, but I believe it will be,n if you’re willing to stay tuned.

As I write this, we have not yet been in Michigan one week.  We arrived on a Monday afternoon, after hours and hours of driving (“Just get on I-90 and go east”, My Love told me, “when we get to Chicago, turn left.”)  On Tuesday morning, we moved into a cute 3-bedroom townhome in the suburbs of Saginaw.  Now, we are heavily in the process of planning the next step (meaning, income).  With only five days of homeless, things are not as bad as they could have been!

I was hoping I could post pictures of a cute farmhouse we picked up for a steal, or a gallery of My Love building muscles along with a Tiny House.  Instead, I will show you our beautiful covered wagon that carried us post-modern farming pioneers to our new land.  As is our way, we headed in the opposite direction.  For us, the wrong way is usually the right – how do I know?  For one thing, the sun was shining the entire way.