Even a “Simple” Dream Can Cost A Lot

I am just in one of those moods. Bare with me. Or just don’t read this. I’ll probably delete it in the morning when I wake up full of regret for writing it. I do that quite often. Or I write and write and click the “Move To Trash” button instead of “Publish.”

But, if you have a minute and nothing else to read, you may as well read on.

On the list of goals I had for moving my Llews to this place was to “live a simpler, healthier life, be more self-sufficient, and save money.” I know that takes time and I have much to do to get there, but right now I am mad that it hasn’t happened. I am not even coming close. In fact, it seems no matter what I do, everything costs more.

So, besides the usual mortgage and truck payment, the unexpected costs have been more than alarming. For instance, home owners insurance. It is triple what we pay in PA (and this place is smaller, but older, and I guess that is the insurance company’s excuse for robbing me). And I’ve been cancelled twice because of things they are making me do–like paint the house in November… and I had to get another separate policy because I have dogs. And then had to get another wood stove, which needs installed professionally, of course.

Then, automobile insurance is outrageous here. It is actually exactly triple what I paid in PA. The excuse for that is the high rate of automobile-deer collisions, which I didn’t understand at all because in all my life I had never hit a deer. And there are lots of deer in PA. I’ve seen less deer here. And so something like the day after I had a melt down on the insurance company over their ridiculous and absurd quote, I hit the first deer ever in my life and almost did it again 15 minutes later. Not really any damage, which I could hardly believe. Only a minor scuff and certainly nothing reportable. I was lucky. Dan, the fence guy, showed me all of the dings in his truck from deer. Wow.  So, I have pretty much resorted to not going out after dark. At least where there are oncoming cars blinding me… on the crest of a hill, in the rain… with another car on my tail so I can’t swerve or slow down and so I make hamburger out of a whitetail that isn’t in my freezer. Which I don’t have (a freezer) because I don’t want to use electric. Because I am cheap and want to spend my money on hunting trips, gear, new cameras, computers, maps, and GPS units. And kennels..

My dog food costs more here. I am working on that one and will (hopefully), soon be feeding the dogs better for less. The way I will be doing it will cost a lot more time and work, but I never said I minded work. I said I want better, healthier, for less money.

And then, because I get crappy cell phone service and have to stand outside on the hill by the garage with my arm extended to send a text message and because I live kinda-sorta remotely (1/2 mile to closest neighbor), but not really (because there is a road in front of my house), and the only Internet I can get is through big corporate, unfriendly, uncaring jerks at AT&T, instead of a nice, friendly, glad-to-have-my-business local company. And the world-controlling freaks make me have a phone line just to have the worst DSL speed possible and charge me $88 a month for this. Oh and by the way, I just received a notice they are going to charge me $10 more per month for this because I don’t qualify for the “deal” they had when I signed up which requires a higher internet package to qualify for! I kid you not. All the while, I call them once a week and beg for better internet because when I finally did give in and sign up (because I had no other choice) they told me I would have better internet by the winter when the “snowbirds” went south, thus opening up faster lines of which I could grab. So, now they tell me they can’t give me better internet. Oh my gosh, are they serious? So, someone lied.

 

And then, even though I do all I can to live more self-sufficient and use less electricity by doing things like laundry without a washer and dryer (yes, I do laundry in a bucket or the bathtub with a plunger-thingy and hang it to dry), cook on the wood stove instead of turning on the electric stove, heat with wood and rarely turn the propane furnace on (unless it gets below 55°F inside); I also wrapped the hot-water tank in one of those insulated blankets, use a flashlight outside in the barn at night instead of turning on electric lights, use oil lamps in the house at night, all this to save energy, lower my footprint, quit depending on utilities and live off the land, go solar, go without and guess what? My electric bill doubled last month. What’s worse is that I wasn’t even here for ten days of that bill.  Huh? Seriously? No, there has to be a mistake. And it is an actual reading, not estimated or so they say.  I’ve never seen anyone here reading my meter and it’s on the front porch. Must have been while I was away for ten days and someone else was here living high and partying with all the lights on day and night and showering ten times a day (with hot water no less), and cooking on the stove. So, I call them from my very expensive phone line and they say it is higher because it has been colder. Huh? I don’t heat with electric.  Then they try another ploy and say that I must be doing more laundry, more cooking, the kids are watching TV more (Hey, you idiots, I don’t even have a TV and no kids are here watching it). They, like AT&T, think they run the world and can do and charge whatever they please and we will pay it. And, they are right because we all just swallow their spoonfuls of crap and think there is nothing we can do about it. Just like we are all relieved and grateful that gasoline is down like 50 cents a gallon. Brainwashed. We are all brainwashed and just take this and do nothing.

I can’t wait for next month’s bill after running an electric heater and heat lamp in the puppy room.

So, instead of living this back-to-nature, self-sufficient life with the plan to eventually go completely “off-the-grid” with solar and wind power, and saving all this money and time and spending it with my dogs hunting, fishing, gardening, building things–like a greenhouse and a guest house, exploring the beautiful UP, and writing, I just have to work twice as more to pay the outrageous bills and spend less time with my dogs and less time doing all of things I came here to do.

 

And, to add to the current depressed state of my soul, all there was left of the little bit of snow we did receive, pretty much melted today because it was something like 42°F. In January. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And, the flies, mice, and lady bugs came back to life because it was 42°. And a lady bug died in my cup of coffee. Except, I didn’t know this until I almost swallowed it.

But, at least the bugs are small bugs and not like the giant bugs in like Florida or something. See? It’s why I like it in the Northwoods. Colder. Less big bugs. Sometimes more partridge. Sometimes more snow.

And, I had to go buy supplies and crates and kennel stuff all over again, instead of sending my wonderful children Christmas gifts, because hubby can’t get here to bring me all the stuff that I already have worked and paid for. And, I am living without (most) furniture because I can’t afford furniture (or the cool, vintage, antique-ish, farmhouse-chic furniture I want) because the phone and internet and electric and insurance companies are robbing me blind. And I can’t even have my live puppy cam because they won’t give me better Internet and charge me more because they won’t give it to me.

 

So, I work day and night to pay these ridiculous bills. This is exactly what I was trying to get away from and I am really trying and doing without a lot of things. And it isn’t working. At all. Like, I have discovered that I completely suck at cutting my own hair. And woodworking. And apparently photography.

 

Oh, and like none of my cameras work, now. It’s so weird. None of them will focus! What the h*ll? First, the really good camera, then the other pretty good camera, then the pretty good cell phone camera. What? I can’t even take good pictures of the puppies now. And, that’s what I am all about really. Sharing my life with Llewellins through pretty good photography and giving people all over the world an opportunity to make great decisions on their next hunting partner by being able to watch them grow up. To show them in pictures and video how amazing these dogs are.

 

I no longer can actually use my laptop as such because the stupid battery (that I just replaced in July) won’t charge. So, now I have to have it plugged-in. To electric. And, my other computer sounds like it is going to die. But, I have these ridiculous bills to pay instead of investing in new equipment so I can work more efficiently.

 

The USPS (here) will not deliver my packages. I fixed the falling-down mailbox when I got here. New, huge, cedar post in the ground, huge mailbox cemented to it. I signed a paper giving instructions as to where to leave packages if I was not in. That wasn’t good enough. I put a huge receptacle at the gate for packages that won’t fit the huge, giant mailbox. I wrote a note. That’s not good enough. They still leave me notes saying “Sorry we missed you, pick up your package at the post office. Tomorrow.” Of course tomorrow, or maybe Monday because they are already closed by the time they get around to delivering the mail except I am standing right there in the driveway 10 yards from them when they put such a note in the mailbox. They act like they don’t see me standing there waving. In my orange rabbit-fur or Stormy Kromer hat. Really, how could you miss me? They just don’t even put the packages in the vehicle! They can’t even bring me my packages. The USPS. I could say something not-so-nice like, no wonder they are going out of business, but I better not. I know it isn’t this way with every mail delivery person because I had the greatest mail lady on the planet in PA. I miss you Sherry! I appreciate you Sherry!

 

I’d just cool-off and watch a movie or something except I pay $99 a month for Internet that takes 22 hours to download one. Or takes 6 hours to watch a 1.5 hour movie if I stream it. But, that’s only even possible to do if I am not working (on the computer at the same time), which I always am (working… on the computer…because that’s what my paying job is.). And it is so unbelievably irritating to watch bits and pieces of a movie streaming that way that I just go out of my mind and give up.

 

I would go cool off by trying cross-country skiing or hiking into a frozen lake on snowshoes to ice fish for my dinner, but it was 42°F here today and there is no snow. Probably because I am contributing so much to global warming by running two computers by electricity. While working. While burning wood in the wood stove and cooking the meat I harvested over my dogs or with my bow. While working. Because I have huge electric, insurance, cell phone, and internet bills to pay.

But, really, I should be glad there isn’t snow. I don’t own cross-country skis, snowshoes, or ice-fishing gear anyway. And, I sold my snow plow last month because it seems my paycheck (not really a paycheck because I am a contractor) is late again and not having one since November, I had bills to pay and dogs to feed. So I could work. So I can pay bills.

And I am just dying to read all of the books and magazines I have (yep, I do subscribe to paper versions because I support creating habit for ruffed grouse and woodcock, right?), but I would have to turn on lights. And use more electricity. Plus, I am tired.

With that, I am going to bed. On my air mattress. So there, damn it.

Sorry about the potty mouth. I’ve picked up horrible language from the dogs. And, I haven’t been to church for way too long. I have to find a Reformed-theology church here that has services at like 2:00 in the afternoon on Sunday because I can’t get my chores done, get showered, dressed, and get to church by 10:30 AM. 🙁 I’ve tried. Really hard.

But, on the “up” side, the coyotes are howling on a crisp winter night with the full moon shining in the star-filled, northern sky, there is wood for the wood stove to cook and heat with, I am cuddled up to two Llewellin pups, and I can hear the Canadian-National chugging and whistling in the distance… and all is well…and yes, it is all worth it. Just to be here in this sometimes maddening, always humbling, always beautiful place. 🙂

Hug your Llewellin Setter tonight!

-ML

 

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