Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Interest - Organic Gardening

Over the last few months I have gotten really interested in organic gardening.  It started with tomatoes and some peppers, and then, when my girlfriend and I moved in together, I ended up with a lot more space in the backyard.  From there, I built four 12 sq. ft. raised beds, and started growing broccoli, carrots, onions, spinach, swiss and rainbow chard, and of course, more tomatoes and peppers.  

I find it fascinating.  I had never grown anything from seed before, and it blows me away watching this stuff take root and grow.  I have my first tomato plants that I grew from seed now yielding large fruit, and it is somehow deeply satisfying.  

It is educational as well.  For a while, I was starting seeds in the window sill or under a UV light, and then when they got a few inches tall, I would put them immediately into the ground.  I would watch them immediately wilt and die in the sun.  From the failures I learned that they need to be "hardened off" with just a few hours outside a day in the shade, as they get used to the harsher outside environment.  In my initial excitement, I would plant dozens of seeds, right next to each other, and then wonder why their growth would be stunted.  And of course this made me learn about proper spacing and how to thin out the seedlings as they grew. 

My current dilemma are these goddamn caterpillars who are eating my sugarsnap peas.  They eat huge holes in the leaves, and then leer up at me, bloated bellies stuffed full of my future salads.  All I can say to those little bastards is that WINTER IS COMING. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bump in the Road

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

Due to living frugally, saving diligently, finally paying off my debt, and doing my best to learn about managing money, this was supposed to be the year that I bought a house, invested in a side business and continued working towards being financially independent.  I just took a major hit to these plans that will put everything on hold and probably end up putting me back to square one before it is resolved.

Without going into details, I am looking at up to six months with next to no income.  Because of one of the quirks of this particular situation, unemployment insurance is also not an option. 

It makes no sense to worry about this.  I will strive instead for prudence.  What can I do myself?  What parts of the situation can I control?

Step 1 is, of course, damage control.  I need to cut my expenses as much as possible in order to weather the storm.  That includes cutting out cable TV, something I have been meaning to do anyway.  It also means cutting out my membership at the boxing gym, which is a lot more painful.  However, I can't justify that kind of expense under current circumstances, so there is no point in whining about it.  Rent is my biggest expense, but I have an extra bedroom.  I can either find a smaller and cheaper place to live or rent out the extra space.  I am leaning towards the latter option since I recently put in what I hope will be a cracking vegetable garden, and I want to see how it turns out.  Buying in bulk, cooking in bulk, eating at home for all meals, and going without luxuries are all going to be required as well.  If I do these things quickly and consistently, I will make it through the drought season with my tranquility intact, if not my emergency fund.

Step 2 is to do my best to minimize the time without money.  I am building up a new business and will be working on that full time.  Unfortunately, the nature of the business involves a long sales cycle, with a development stage, an adoption stage, a wait for the right season stage, a bulk production stage, and finally, after all of that, a "pay Martin" stage.  I will be hitting this hard so that the final stage involves as big a number as possible. 

While I have been a bit stressed out the last few days about the news, I am over that, and am ready to focus on the things that I can control.  Fortunately, I have very clear action steps that I can take.  Since those are fairly involved and require a lot of energy, they do a good job of distracting me from worry. 

Other than this, things are fine.  The weather is nice, the beard is growing luxuriantly, and I have been diving into the obscure writings of Hayek, Keynes, and Schumacher while sitting on my patio and keeping rabid squirrels from invading my garden.  I have also added the neighbor's kids next door in the gardening activities, and they have elaborate plans for safe-guarding our growing vegetables.  Plans include pitfalls, electric fences, and something they "want me to find a scientist for."  The one is 4 and the other is 6.  Makes me worry about what kids are watching on TV these days...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

URL Change

Hello all -

For reasons that I will elaborate on shortly, This Rugged Life will be changed to Siempre Mejorando.

If you would like to continue getting updates, please change your reader or follower subscription to the below address:

This will be effective tomorrow morning. 


Quotations #1

"We took our time, every day, every month, every year.  We had our work, did it, and enjoyed it.  We had our leisure, used it, and enjoyed that."

Helen & Scott Nearing

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Milestone Reached

Today, for the first time in my adult life, I am completely debt-free.  And it feels good.