Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Honeymoon Island Surprise

It’s just past 7:30pm and I'm sitting on the steps of Gus-Gus on a beach down in Clearwater FL somewhere near Honeymoon Island State Park. There’s someone a ways down the beach playing on their single bongo drum. I’m not sure how far they are down the beach since the fog rolled in, but now every nose seems to float twice as far on the mist. I can see a faint light in the distance past where the waves end their breaking point; it’s Mike. He’s got his hands in the water with a little red bowl trying to pick up some sea life to put into his future tank. We have a 5-gallon bucket sitting next to the steps with his now live rock and a few cleaners snails and shells that he mistakenly, but never the less happily, caught while doing a water change. The bucket next to me is now only half full, it would be completely full and we would be on our way from here, but his hopes of seeing some more sea life has driven him to take longer, look harder, and stay more patiently still waiting for something to swim into his bowl.

I have a slight burn on my shoulders from earlier, even though the majority of the day has been complete overcast, it did indeed not stop Mr. Sun from beating down on the massive amount of people that decided to come to this beach on a Monday afternoon. The few extra people that decided to stop in were a few that more than made my day. My father and brothers decided to come down for a somewhat surprise visit. I was on the phone with my dad a few nights before and he obviously knew I was completely home sick. He texted me, “It’s about to get warmer”. I only thought that Michigan was finally going to get out of it’s horrible cold spell, but that wasn't the case. My brothers and him just packed a bag and drove all the way down here. Now that’s family, I tell you what. I also told Mike that if we ever have kids he has an absolute obligation to be a father like mine, ha-ha. The complete overcast day aided in a matching burn for each of us to cherish and for them to get through the rest of the winter months. Since living in Gus-Gus only for a day with five people turned it into a hurricane disaster; the last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner for five people in it. The best idea we could come up with was fresh sea food. We were on the Gulf right?! So we found a awesome place called Crabby Bills just outside of Dunedin. We ordered half of everything on the menu and then ate off each others plates, couldn't of asked for a better short Fike reunion.

With a few hugs that completely cured my homesickness and a day in a half in the sun, they were off again; goodbyes that once again brought tears to my face. I'm really not good with goodbyes thus far I have found out in my life, but it’s more like ‘until next time’ I find.

After they left, Mike and I grabbed our blades, Monster, and began exploring the coast around us. We didn't make it too far before Monsters tongue was dragging on the pavement, our fault as parents for not exercising him as much as I suppose we should. At one point along the journey we spotted some moved ment among the brush. Since the first thing on my mind is sometimes the worst thing, I just imagined a rattle snake coming out since they were common on this island. Thankfully a little armadillo head popped out. We scared him at first, but not even a minute later he popped back out and continued his digging for grubs or whatever he/she was looking for. I brought my camera as well, A+ for me, so I snuck up on him a little bit and got a few okay pictures as it was paying little to no attention to us. Mike decided to take out his camera phone and get close; really close. With its head down not watching where it was going, the armadillo ended up running into Mikes rollerblade, looked up with confusion and then just turned around back on to it's business. Such a cute little moment. Mike came back grabbed monsters leash, and as I took a small skate forward to get a better angle with my camera, Monster thought that was a invitation to take off and go say hi to the little fella; leaving Mike on his bum. Afterwards we decided to head back to our home spot in central FL just in case the next day was going to be just as groggy, which turns out we were right. 
Now here we are; drenched from getting a tarp on the roof because a storm snuck up on us. We have all but one part to start repairing the hole in the roof, the most important one it seems as well. So until the rain stops and we get that delivered, here we will sit sticking out like a sore thumb with a giant blue tarp on top of us.

**Pictures soon to come when I find my camera cable!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Off Grid Choice

I was talking with an old friend of mine the other night and he asked me where I was going next and what my plan was after this step. Simply enough I replied, "...The next point I suppose is saving enough money for Earth-Ship academy. No rush. Just living life, living small, and doing what's needed until the finds are sufficient". To which he replied something along the lines of 'cool, and I've never met anyone doing what you're doing'. And that sparked this:

Why is it so rare to find someone that has or is in the process of taking the reigns over from a pre-apocalyptic government? 'Oh no, here she goes again, ranting and being a crazy conspirator'. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below, but here's my little rant that should be already well known in a sense. 
  1. We are being poisoned by almost everything we put into our mouth. For just a small example,"it's estimated that Monsanto seeds now account for 90% of the U.S. production of soybeans, which are used in food products beyond counting (1)." Just a small part of the huge list extends from the multiple flours, oils, and sweets we cook with to the lotions and sprays we put on our bodies (2). They're also trying to get their dirty little petri dish hands into the milk industry. And those who allow such atrocities are not only we the people who chose to not fight against it, but those officiaries that manipulate and hide the documents, preventing we the people - those that can and will stand against it, in dark corners. Making big money is the only thing these corps are interested in, but we all knew that. The issue is, those who know it, why do you accept it? Our resolution: Everything we can buy when possible is heirloomed, GMO free, organic, and local.
    Also, when we finally get to the point when we own our little plot of land and build our Earthship, the only produce we eat will be our own. Thank you to those in my family for teaching me how to be heirlooming-ly sustainable when it comes to what I put in my mouth. Your food should be your medicine! Modern science in the healthcare industry is indeed incredible, but also collapsible to your health when dealing with the pharmaceuticals that are being stuffed down your throat resulting in more aching symptoms requiring MORE drugs. Start at home, eat your organics, go for a walk, and when you feel a cold coming on, I don't not give a damn about your picky eating habits; stuff a clove of garlic, some honey, a touch of ginger, and pinch of cayenne pepper in a blender and make a shot of 'make you sweat it out' elixir.
    And to save my own bum, I'm not giving out medical advice; I'm giving out my opinion and personal positive history with the mix of it all. I have been to a doctor once in the past 10 years and it wasn't for any sort of flu or common cold sickness, shingles was a massive virus pain in my arse though, and they just said deal with it and sent me home. Good bye $160 to some great advice I should have googled...  In the end somehow for the majority it's easier to take someone else's advice that has a degree yet hardly cares (not all professionals of course, but I've been around a few heartless Dr's), than to do your own research and find what's best for you the natural way. 
  2. Another reason getting off grid is appealing is not having to depend on the local water, electric, natural gas and sewage departments, and also not having to pay their sometimes hefty bills with hidden fees. Although becoming independent enough to be able to not rely on these 'forced' companies comes with alot of research and required skills, the end result is a heart filled with pride that you don't need a bunch of money bags telling you that you have to 'have' this and that particular hook up. Of course there are some places that prevent you from doing what you must to get to this point, sometimes the best thing to do is just move. Money shouldn't be too much of an issue once you get to that point since you wont need that 9 - 5 job deep in the nearest city to pay for things you could be doing for your self on your own.
    But aside from the fight of knowing what you have to do to get there, there's the fight of getting there before the government somehow makes it completely impossible. It's already illegal to catch rain water (rain water harvesting) in 11 states unless you have a license or permit, depending on each state. It's now more difficult to live off grid and be self sustainable in many areas of the country.
    I have actually heard stories of people that didn't have cable or an electric bill and were threatened to have their auto insurance canceled because so. I said 'forced' earlier for a reason. Watch Eustance and his fight with living off the grid: 
  3. Your finances. Did I just see a shudder down your spine? So many Americans have been hooked and reeled in to the promises of a white picket fence and a steady job with livable wages if they just follow the standard societal promoted way of life. Credit card after credit card, loan after student loan, and then on top of it you qualify for it after keeping up with your cards, a mortgage comes. So much fun debt. I wrote a bit about this subject a few post ago, so I won't get into it too much, but how does this make sense? 'They' have transformed a once noble country into a greedy one that wants what it wants when it wants it even tho its either not good for them or to they have just been sucked into the vanity black hole and just must have that pair of $800 dollar shoes for show off. It's so bland, this way of living. Almost everyone is doing it, and if you're not in a hole of debt then you're not supposedly 'living'.
  4. Living basically all around is up to you! No more crap built homes that depend on other companies coming in and crappily repairing them year after year; if you did it with your own two hands with what nature gave you, you know it was done right. No more worrying while off grid about being in the middle of city catastrophes such as soon to come martial law and have no time to plan for a progressive future during and after. 
The conclusion with just this little bit of information why people don't tread on this trail more often is because it's just plain too hard. You've grown up being given everything you need to survive and some have even more. You have to work for a living to pay for things to survive, so why not just work to survive? It was and still is happily done by people around the world. I don't mind not following society. I have what I need and a little bit more at the moment. I'm still relying on the system for some of my food, gas, water, and electricity. The difference between some of you and I though, is that if you were to throw me in the middle of the woods with a leatherman, a rope, and a bucket, I could survive for quite a time. Also, we are on the road to becoming a non-cooperation supporting free couple. You're not free if you're being harassed for money, or to be dependant on things you don't need by people that have everything but the best interest for the American society.

ALSO: I believe the below article pretty much sums up part that we "think" we are free in this society:

(1) Barlett, Donald L., and James B. Steele. "Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear." Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair, May 2008. Web. Feb. 2015. <http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/05/monsanto200805>.
(2) "Soy Products." Soy Products. N.p., 21 Mar. 07. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/soybean/uses_soyproducts.html>.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Upkeeps and Updates

Everything in life degrades with age; this is an obvious fact to the majority with a brain. We knew there were going to be some issues with Gus-Gus, but we didn’t know we were going to fall into a semi half-dug pit of them.

When we went to go check the big guy out, we were already in love with him. It helped that the previous owners did some inside renovations to make it look more modern. We also knew in the end the main reason we were even going to take it home was because it was going to be mechanically sound. The other stuff wasn’t an issue for the time being.
Before we even called the previous owner we knew it was an old babe of 24 years old (now 25!), there would be degradation through out with a bit of rust on top. All in all, looked great for the age though.

But even with that knowledge that it was an old Bessie, the last owner lied and lied again about certain conditions:

  • “I don’t know why the gas gauge is all of a sudden not working, it was last time. Maybe just drive it around a bit, that should bounce it back”.
  •  “Oh, those water marks that look like previous leaks on the ceiling? All patched up, nothing to worry about”. By the way when we came to check it out the top was covered in snow and ice so there wasn’t much to get a good look at.
  • “We winterized all the pipes, so everything should be A-Okay”.

Okay, so you’re reading this and you’re like, ‘these people really need to stop buying vehicles without proper babysitting’.  I’d also like to defend the fact that even though it was indeed a Craigslist-er and they can never be fully trusted, this was still a decently awesome buy.

My one point I suppose is not to just ramble on about the misfortunates of Gus-Gus, but to be truthful. Especially since the buyers (i.e., we) knew there were going to be obvious issues with such an oldie. We were probably going to buy it any ways you (i.e., the seller) doe-doe brain.

Fix ups to date:
  • Screwed down and siliconed in the leaks over the cab
  • Got the water to finally work after replacing a pipe, or two… or three, and a few other nozzles and such.
  • Got the hot water working after a few weeks. My first hot shower in about a few weeks as well… Heaven.

Yet to do:
  • Gas Gauge – May or may not ever get fixed. We made it 1300+ miles without it, so I guess why waste $500+ if we don’t technically need it?
  • Big nice hole on the roof over the back room. It’s pouring out and thankfully we have some god sent neighbors that let us borrow their giant tarp to prevent more leaks. Supplies needed to correct this issue have been ordered last night and should be here within the next two weeks. Yay.

On other happy notes; Mike has gotten word that he will be passing on to the real interview for the company he applied to. Giggles. Me, alas, from the nine places I applied to haven’t heard anything yet, but there I one I have absolute confidence in that I will be hearing from soon that I actually applied to about 3 hours ago. I’d like to also say that I’m thinking they all have the vibe that I only have a bike for the time being which is the reason I haven’t heard back. Dang transportationists. I really have no issue with riding a dozen or so miles to and from work.

It’s been slow other than that. Where we are staying is quiet, but on the weekends the people around get a little rambunctious and play the country oldies just above medium on their radios. Their all wonderful people, and Monster has a lot of other dogs to sniff out occasionally. There’s a laundry area that costs $3 a load to wash and dry, but absolutely no way to get quarters unless you want to trek the 5 or 6 miles into town. Aside from that, this is Mike’s favorite part; they have a fishing dock. It’s about 120 ft. long and at the end it spreads out into a nice patio area with a few benches, chairs, and about a dozen reel holders. Mike can fish and I can try to get rid of my Michigan white legs once in a while when the sun is out. 

Ode to a Rock

(Mike's tank months before the take down)

For those of you that are acquainted with the world of saltwater tanks, you will hate me for this.

Michael has been an avid saltwater tank enthusiast for quite a few years now. In the sad reality that moving meant we had to take down his once beautiful largish tank he ultimately decided to keep his favorite rock alive and bring it along so when we were settled finally he could start up a Nano tank.

For those of you that are completely lost, here are a few definitions to help you follow along:

  • Live rock – “Rock from the ocean that has been introduced into a saltwater aquarium. Along with live sand, it confers to the closed marine system multiple benefits desired by the saltwater aquarium hobbyist (1)”. Usually it’s created in the process of building up a tank, which tanks a lot of time, leaving it to absorb naturally good, and some bad, bacteria and other macroscopic marine life leaving it with the name ‘live rock’.

  • Dead rock – Rock that had been either boiled, or left in the sun leaving it to kill all possible alive bacteria and organisms there in.

  • Nano Tank – “A Nano reef is a type of marine aquarium that is typically less than 140 liters (30 Imperial gallons / 37 US gallons). The exact limit that distinguishes a Nano reef from a regular reef is somewhat ill defined. Some claim that anything less than 180 liters (40 Imperial gallons / 48 US gallons) would qualify (2)”

So in order to keep the live rock actually alive he put it in a five gallon bucket with a marine heater in which was supposed to keep the saltwater around an average from 62 – 78 degrees. Every time we started traveling again we had to take the heater out and cover the bucket so we didn’t get a raging mess every a curb hit us. Miss smarty-pants here trying to be helpful put ‘everything’ back in when we came to our next stop and that ‘everything’ included the temperature gage actually flying into the potato bucket next to it instead of the actual rock bucket leaving the actual heater part to not know how hot it was and I ended up boiling the rock. I really didn’t know what was what on that thing to be honest.

Lo and behold I killed a rock, this is for all the little living guys on that rock, and you Mike. Sorry love, I solemnly swear I am usually up to no good and it’s always not on purpose.

  1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_rock
  2. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reef_aquarium

Perks of the Poor

Poor – “Lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society.” (Www.Dictionary.com)

After reading this definition the word that flies out at me the most is ‘normal’. So what do people that are ’normal’ think about someone one that is less ‘privileged’ then themselves in the same community? Are they thinking simply that they are ‘un-normal’? Or does the thought go deeper? Do they think that that person is dirty, or lazy, or naturally misfortunate? What if they have simply decided to go the inexpensive route in life and the other individual is just being one of many to place an opinion without consideration or research behind it? Somehow it comes with complete abashment from your fellow Americans.

Let me inform you what I’ve learned thus far in life, the inexpensive road is the one to drive down if you’re not naturally born into money or end up being a hefty butted, big lipped, blonde with a tiny waist that knows how to do her make up perfect and walk in heels like a goddess. I’ll tell you another thing; I can’t do heels so I’m already automatically out of the rat races at the Mansion.

What are the common stresses of trying to keep up in these first world countries? You have to keep up your GPA in high school in order to get into a good college. That was easy in my opinion; then again I didn’t have much of a social life in HS so that helped tremendously. Before getting into a good college, again - only if your daddy isn’t a Hilton or doctor, you’ll have to figure out funds to cover your college years if your parents could only afford the basics in life and your college savings went to pay the mortgage which wasn’t much to begin with. So then there’s grants, a multitude of scholarships, and then finally most will always have to fall into loans; which who in the heck even thinks about paying that back the first four years of college? It’s just free money then, right? Also! In order to keep half of that and keep your college years a’rolling don’t forget that GPA, which will be easy if you’re naturally brilliant, are going for a simple degree because you really don’t care about your future, or you have absolutely no social life. Ahh, the good ole days are coming, a few more days until graduation, if of coarse you didn’t get knocked or knock someone up (if you made it either way then go you!). Really though, it’s only six more months until you have to find the perfect career equivalent to the studies you went through, some of it not even pertaining to you degree of coarse, and then start paying off that $100k or so loans for the majority or more than half the rest of your known life. Plus all the stresses in-between; I won’t get into the rest of life, this kind of rolls over through out. Only 30 years later you’re now married with 2 ½ kids, a mortgage, 3 maxed credit cards, a lawn mower that works every other time you want to use it, and a hemorrhoid your doctor has prescribed about 15 different medications for.

Now don’t you dare go thinking I’m saying don’t go to college. Just be absolutely ready for it before going in, sadly the people around me weren’t much help and I’m a debt statistic now.

Back to the line, this is normal right? Follow the guidelines made by people that put themselves in power at a certain sense, break the bank, and work your whole life to build the bank back up, and then live a few more years in the sun just to be buried and give the rest away. Which is nice if you were a grandkid that stuck around in the hard years, but alas.

So the perks of being poor… For those of you in the dumps never thinking your going to get out of it. So what. For those of you with the right to drinking water, a meal when you need it, shoes on your feet, and a roof over your head even though it may be from place to place weekly; so what. You’re damn lucky to be living the life you are.

  • Things cannot possibly get any worse when you’re already at the bottom and you’re sleeping in your car with a couple cans of tuna you have to split with your dog. Especially if you have a needed work ethic and you live in a first world country, be proud of that at least that there’s a chance, and since you’ve already hit your bottom, you know you can be a titan in the future hardships to come.
  • When you live on a ‘poor’ budget you learn things that the wealthy simply don’t have time for. We learn to cook, clean, fix or own cars, take care of our own homes, and pay more personal attention to our own bodies with out leaving it all up to the ‘professional’ book keepers that they have following them for a buck.
  • It helps you appreciate not being broke. If you have $30 extra to spend then you jumping with a click in your heels. McDonald’s is finally not an option for a fancy dinner this month. 
  • Your creativity is running on the walls. While the majority of the above poverty line thinking they need everything a salesman tell them they need to have a more comfortable life, you’re in your garage building water ran engines or learning a new use for a strainer.
  • A lighter work load, hey, you might as well embrace not having much of a job while the rest of the white collars live their job and don’t even think about spending time with their family.
  • If you’re poor on purpose you have more of a choice in what to spend your little bit of money on. (i.e., us)
  • A full blown depression could run by you wearing a siren, flashing lights, screaming your name and you wouldn’t even notice.
  • Get into heaven easier? Mark 10:15 - “It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven”. My take on this is by coming from a wealthy family many people (not all of coarse) become more envious, greedy, and money becomes what real love is supposed to be to them.
  • Less money means less junk, which means less we are putting on our carbon footprints. We’re the green society and we’re not even trying on purpose ;)

So pertaining to #6, you can actually be happy and be poor at the same time, you just have to ignore the falsities that the wealthy try to throw at you of who you are supposed to be and what you’re supposed to have. We have been born into a society that demands ‘things’ and the things you have along with the money you bring in makes you who you are ‘supposed’ to be. I find this whole idea false. Who you are depends on your values, the lessons you have honestly learned from your past mistakes and have applied them to your life, and the way you act towards your fellow man. Which means you don’t need stuff clogging up your life. I love a few trinkets the closest of my family has given me, but that’s it. That’s all I hold close to my heart ‘thing’ wise. So we are, in a sense, intentionally poor. We are below the poverty level, but living comfortably. We are not relying on the state or fed for anything. So shove it Dictionary.com.

You actually have a choice in what you want in life and what you don’t have to HAVE. That’s part of our philosophy at Monsters Off Grid; more can definitely be less, and if you’re into the having a soul side of things, good morals can be built on a bowl of rice and peas or Ramon noodles (eat less Ramon though, bad for your tummy). Look at Gandhi, he was poor as they can come, by choice! But with his spirituality and ideals in karma, he made a greater impression on the entire world then say a Koch brother < Dirty rich nasty *BLEEP*.

Peace, Love, and Pennies