Monday, August 31, 2009

Horses ... horses ... do you know how to pony

Ok, that shows how old I am that I just quoted a Patti Smith song. I fear kids today just don't get Patti Smith. Ok, so yeah - I really was thinking about actual horses. The mammals that weight about half a ton.

There's a horse I want to adopt from S.A.F.E. and I was showing a video to my 5 year old daughter, EJ, of the horse being ridden by a 7-year old boy. EJ's eyes got really big and she said, "Wow! I want to do that!" So far she has only been on lead line rides on my horse and on a couple ponies here or there. I want to start teaching her to ride but it's far too dangerous on my horse. Yesterday though, my friend, Judy let my husband ride her horse, Scandal, who is an Appendix Quarterhorse but who looks more like a Thoroughbred to me because he is so big and regal. JP did much better on Scandal because Scandal is a much calmer horse and hasn't been trained that you get lots of approval for running full-speed like a tornado. After Judy and I swapped horses and I rode Scandal and she rode Girlfriend, she offered to let EJ ride Scandal. I went off to get my bottle of water and when I came back, Judy wasn't leading Scandal, EJ was actually *riding* him. She was learning how to use the reins and how to kick him to get him to move out and she was even learning how to back him up. She was doing extremely well for a 5 year old, I thought! Even Judy said she was a natural. And I could tell she felt really proud of herself for riding a horse all on her own.

It was quite different to ride a calm horse who's been trained in dressage. It's been so long since I've ridden an English trained horse. I felt like I have really improved over the last year with the riding. I'm much more confident now that I've spent a "trial by fire" year of re-learning how to ride on an "experienced rider only" horse. Now I can't imagine having a horse who isn't hot like Girlfriend. It was nice to ride a horse like Scandal who does smooth transition between gaits but it felt like something was missing. He doesn't have that spirit that Girlfriend has. It feels like spirit just emmanates from her. Judy said to try cantering on the diagonal because she's been working on flying lead change with Scandal. So, I did just that and his gait got all weird and I felt like he was weaving all over the place for a moment, and it was because he changed leads in his canter with his back legs but not his front. I said I had no idea how to ride him to do that and it reminded me I am still a very green rider technique wise. I know how to hold my own on a hot horse and my confidence is a thousand times better than a year ago, but there is still a lot of technique for me to learn.

I was surprised watching Judy ride Girlfriend how hard it looks like she is to ride. Judy is a really good rider who has won blue ribbons in clinics we've had at the barn and at a few outside shows. She's been riding for her whole life and is older than me but she was definitely struggling with Girlfriend. I still think she's not as hard to ride as a spooky/nervous horse would be but then I'm not planning on riding any spooky horses. I'm too old to get thrown off a spooky horse. Plus, Girlfriend doesn't try to throw riders, she just tries to take off at a gallop and bucks and kicks a little when she feels like she can force her will.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I need a bigger machete

Recently, I read about building plans for tiny houses and I thought that might be kind of cool. Our house has about 1500 square feet of living space which actually feels really large for a family of three. But while we have what feels to me as a very spacious house, we also only have our 5100 square foot lot which feels really small for a girl who longs to live off in the woods. So, I've been trying to figure out ways to use all of the space in our yard productively and not waste any.

Today's task has been clearing out the ivy jungle behind our garage. The properties behind us are up above us so the back portion of our yard is a combination of retaining walls that were built along time ago and ones we built when we moved here nine years ago. Those reach about up to my nose (which isn't very high really cause I'm kind of short) and then above that is the ground level of the neighbor's backyard and their high fences. There are two "skinny houses" built on the lot behind us and one is a family with two kids and the other is a rotating parade of renters. The last renter I used to hear out on her back porch every evening, smoking and talking really loudly on the phone about her latest conquests and how much she drank the night before and all the gossip among her (pretty boring sounding) friends. I never hear the current renter but he/she has the air conditioner on all the time even if it's only 70 degrees out. What they all have in common is that they could care less what happens in their back yard and it has been flowing into our yard for years now.

True to the 100 year old nature of our house, our garage is detached and sits behind the house. There is about four feet of two levels of ground behind there and up until about an hour ago it was all a jungle of ivy. I took a machete to it to start but it wasn't cutting as well as I needed it to (maybe I'm not strong enough to get the full effect?) Then after a particularly hard whack it flew out of my hand and hit Willow the pitbull in the head with (thankfully) the handle. So I switched to hedge clippers. One of the other joys of living in the city is you can't leave a machete in the old detached garage because there are sooooo many untreated psychotic people who roam around the city. I'm not sure how we have so many people with potentially violent psychotic illnesses in our city. It seems higher than other big cities. Anyway ...

That area is going to be part of the chicken run instead of a wasted 480 square (rectangle?) feet of ivy jungle. I'm surprised I didn't find anything except old tennis balls back there. Luckily, I had big boots on so I didn't have to worry about running into any ROUS that I occasionally see scurry through the garage. I did see some garden spiders of unusual size though. I wish I'd had my camera out back for one which was the size of a small tarantula. I've never seen a garden spider that big! If it weren't the wrong time of year I would've thought she was getting ready to build a nest to lay eggs. As it was she has been given the honorary name of Charlotte and was places off to the side out of danger of the machete.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trucks and Hummers and PETA ... oh my ...

When I was young I wanted a military Hummer. Then right after the Iraq war suddenly fashion Hummers were created (the first models were 2003). I think that right there summarizes why society drives me nuts. The first Hummers were diesel and had a fairly high towing capacity. The current fashion Hummers are no longer diesel and they don't have a towing capacity any greater than my husband's ancient Jeep Cherokee. Plus, does anyone take those shiny, chrome covered monsters off road or would that mar the fancy yellow paint job? (yes, yellow is apparently a popular color here in town). It's that giant-vehicle fashion that makes me uncomfortable while looking for a truck big enough to tow a trailer.

It's come the time that I need to get a reliable truck that will tow a horse trailer so I've been researching the smallest possible truck that will pull a minimum of 5,000 pounds but still gets semi-acceptable gas mileage. While researching this I thought I'd look up Hummers and was not surprised that they are pretty wimpy cars. They are popular in the city though, along with giant SUV's. I've noticed giant SUV's are popular with the soccer moms in my neighborhood. The same ones that wear the latest fashions, diet until they are pencil thin and say things like, "Oooooh, you know, my friend, Jill ... Jill Vedder. Oh yes, the Vedders are very close friends of ours of course. But don't teeeeeeell anyone, 'k?" Sigh.

Back to my point. We're shopping for a truck and so far all I've really learned is that trucks are really really expensive. And I realized that while in some social circles there is a big "I have to have a car bigger than yours!" competition, in my social circle there is a "I have to have a car smaller than yours!" and in fact, it would be even better if I only rode my bike everywhere.

So, My newest challenge for changing my attitude is to let go of my need to hold onto "status" with my friends and neighbors. I have been feeling like I need a huge bumpersticker on the back of my new truck that says, "I really do care about the environment but that Mini will not tow a horse trailer!!!!" But you know what, I do not need to make decisions that will "impress" my neighbors and people I don't know. I do not have to justify what I'm doing because I'm worried about what others will think. I am trying to get the most fuel efficient vehicle I can find that will fit my utilitarian needs, but let's face it, an F150 is not going to get the same gas mileage as a Prius. But that doesn't make me a jerk for needing that kind of vehicle for my lifestyle. If I need to take my horse to the vet, I need a truck that will tow a trailer.

So, when I worry about not getting a Mini Cooper or a Prius because I won't be "projecting the right image" I'm really no better than the people who live in a townhouse and never leave the city but feel they need a Hummer or a Bronco to "project the right image". I've been seeing that a lot lately around me - this need to conform in the left-wing, green-environmentalist circle I run in. A kind of peer pressure and closed mindedness that can creep in and take over one's psyche just as much with left-wing stuff as it can with right wing stuff. Just like the atheists who try to convert Christians and hate anyone who is not an atheist like themselves - they are no better than extremist fundamentalist Christians. Or an acquaintance who said today that PETA has a right to be assholes and be nasty and hurt people's feelings so it will open their brainwashed/numbed out eyes to reality. But if the same acquaintance saw someone with a right-wing agenda act like that he would scream "foul". So, it's OK to be an asshole and hurt people if it meets your agenda and as long as your agenda is the "superior agenda". Wow. I guess that makes me neither left-wing or right-wing. Just kind of ... lost and without a nice cozy shell of rhetoric.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back from the mountains

The family went to Leavenworth this weekend for a short vacation stint. We stayed at a friends cabin that is perched on a cliff right above the river, which was very nice. Well, the cabin itself smelled like mildew/stale dust and made me sneeze but after we opened all the windows and doors it was much nicer. I loved the sound of the river. Not quite as nice as camping because tents smell nicer than musty cabins, but then having indoor plumbing and a kitchen is a plus.

As always happens when we got back to the city Sunday afternoon it all looked so ugly. I try to adjust my attitude and my thinking when coming back from being out in the country, but I always feel a drop in my energy and I try to see beauty in the city but really all I see is far too much pavement, a lot of ugly buildings and not enough natural beauty. I don't know why I am different from all my friends here - even my husband. I don't feel "at home" when we are in the city. I don't see the beauty even though I try really hard too. I feel an internal desperation to get OUT of the city again as soon as I can. I've been trying to tell myself all the good things about being in the city to change how I actually feel about it, but honestly, I am happier and have much more energy out in the woods. Plain and simple. Someday we will find a way to live out there. I wish it wasn't so difficult to come up with a way to make a living out in the country.

But the reality is we just need to think differently - obviously my husband is not going to find a software company to work for in a rural area, and there won't be a ton of small businesses clamoring to hire me to do their finances. But there are ways to make a living. I'm still brainstorming.

Actually, we were at a tourist-farm in Cashmere, WA to see the petting zoo (which Emma June was not so thrilled about because I guess she gets enough chickens and horses at home) and to buy some fresh fruit - and I almost wrangled a new client. They had this thing called the "cow train" that Emma June wanted to ride, so I was talking to the guy who drives it. He said he just does it for fun because his other job is owning a clothing company. I flippantly asked if he needed a bookkeeper and he said he did and asked to get my information. It would be hard having a client on the other side of the mountains 2 hours from Seattle, but it just goes to show there could potentially be clients even in small towns.

Speaking of the cow train, I still can not get over the difference between rural and urban when it comes to kids. So, the cow train was a tractor, pulling a bunch of little metal cars that look are painted like little cows and are attached to the tractor. The kids sit in the cows with a little seatbelt and get pulled behind the tractor. We were the only ones on the first run of the morning and we went barrelling through the field weaving around and doing figure 8's that made the back cow cars do a little whip in back and doing donuts. (I'm surprised it didn't make me woozy). Emma June thought it was a ton of fun and couldn't stop talking about at lunch and the rest of the day. I thought it was fun too actually. But what I can't get over is that I can't *imagine* the majority of the moms I know from the neighborhood letting their little kids ride in it. It seemed like a totally normal thing to do based on stuff we did as children in the rural suburb, but I couldn't stop picturing most of the mothers I know saying, "But where are the helmets?" "Isn't that too fast?" "My delicate child can not handle that!" In fact, I heard a couple of those voices in my head that had to be counteracted by remembering how I liked to play when I was 5 years old. I still remember when we would swing on the rope swing in the Haberman's barn when I was little and how the big dare was to jump off the 3rd floor hay loft. And how we had to be careful not to crash into the electrical panel for the electric fence on the other side of the barn.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Food

I'm feeling kind of punchy because I'm so tired. I woke up really early this morning and was thinking of getting up and doing some work for a client that I feel like I'm behind with, but as it was I ended up lying in bed debating that for a half hour, then had to get up with my daughter. In my "typical life" when I am not off riding my horse or planning our exodus to the wilderness, I do bookkeeping and accounting. I have my own business and a bunch of clients. The nice part of having my own business and being fairly successful at it is that I get to choose who I take on as a client so I like all my clients. It's also nice because they just hand me all their financial stuff and tell me to have at it and set it up and keep it in order, so even when working for my clients I am my own boss. Still, that means that it's up to me to make sure their finances are in order and sometimes I wake up at 4am thinking about so-and-so's budget (or lack thereof) or some screw-up with billing or one of their clients that won't pay on time or whatever. Sometimes I toy with charging for the hours I lie awake early in the morning worrying about my client's finances.

Anyway, I have digressed in a big way here. A big topic in my life lately has been food. I think it started when I read Fat Land. Then I watched some movies like Super Size Me and King Corn (the latter of which is the much better of the two) and that got me thinking also. I decided that the least I could do was not eat a lot of food with a lot of chemical preservatives and stay away from high fructose corn syrup. The staying away from HFCS is a lot easier said than done.

Basically, cutting back on HFCS means having to make most of my food from scratch. And I end up spending far too much time reading food labels and occasionally embarrassing myself by exclaiming out loud, "Oh my god! Who puts high fructose corn syrup in apple sauce! What the hell???" If you get unsweetened apple sauce though it apparently doesn't have HFCS in it. But because bread without HFCS and all those other chemical additives is actually pretty expensive, I make my own bread. And I make the majority of my own sauces. And I don't buy lunch meat any more because god knows where the meat that has been processed all the hell actually came from. Instead I buy whole chickens and use that meat for sandwiches. So, eating more "real" food is important to me.

What amazes me is how it is not important to very many other people, or at least the majority of people I see. Now if I eat a Dorito it tastes weird and chemically and not like real food. McDonalds is like eating fake food too (but will do in a pinch if I'm starving and on the road with no other food in sight - but then anything semi-edible would do). It's taken so for granted that it's normal to eat this weird crap. Maybe it is because I have an autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis) so if I don't eat natural foods and really take care of myself I feel crappy. Or maybe it's because I was lucky enough to have a mom who gardened so we had lots of fresh fruit and vegetables from our garden when I was a kid, but it just seems so bizarre to me that most of our country eats and drinks stuff that is mostly chemicals and doesn't think twice about it. Soda for example - what the hell??? It's like drinking carbonated chemical water - it even tastes like chemicals. Yet most people drink it. Candy is pretty gross too.

I wonder what has caused this to become the norm in our culture. Is it the media and advertising? Is it because the fake, chemical food that is barely actually food is so much cheaper that people need to eat it so they don't starve and that is just passed on from generation to generation as a normal way to eat? My friend, Nathan said yesterday that it seems to him that our culture just gets farther and farther away from nature as the generations go on. What we eat seems to be a big reflection of that. Don't even get me started on tweens who would rather sit in a cafe and Tweet than play outside.

I wonder if my refusal to join Twitter is my great act of subversiveness or if I've just finally become the quintessential cranky old lady?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Organic gardening and all that entails

My garden this year really sucked. Lack of water seems to be the main culprit. I think it has rained once since May in Seattle which is really weird. I keep hoping to see rain in the weather forecast and it's just not there. I've been watering a little but we only have one rain barrel which isn't enough for the flowers and the vegetables and fruit. My wildflowers and lavender is doing ok, but even our raspberries suffered. They were tiny and hard and sour at the peak of their ripeness which I assume is from lack of water because for the last nine years.

I plant marigolds around the periphery of my garden because the squirrels don't like the smell, but they didn't last very long before they started to dry up. The fennel (which attracts beneficial insects) is doing great though. My radishes did horribly but this is the first year I've tried to grow them. Apparently I did not thin them out like I was supposed to.

JP and I are in an argument about whether or not he can use moss killer on our grass. I vowed to not use any chemical pesticides or herbicides on our property so I need to find out if what he says is true - that moss killer is just iron because the moss hates the iron. It really is a futile attempt on my part to keep our yard sans pesticides and herbicides because most of our neighbors use them and our yard is so tiny and when it does eventually rain all that stuff just leeches into our yard. Plus, we've only been here nine years and who knows what the residents before us used.

One of the things we'll have to think about when we move to the country is if the land has ever flooded because you apparently can't plant vegetable gardens on soil that has recently flooded because the soil is contaminated and thus will contaminate the vegetables. There was one horse farm out in Monroe that was for sale on Woods Creek and JP actually really liked it (although he wasn't ready to move which is why we are still here and not on a horse farm in Monroe). Anyway, last winter all over Western WA they had crazy 100-year floods (or possibly 200-year or more floods) and most of the land at the farm had flooded so we would've had to wait through two growing cycles before safely planting a vegetable garden. A lot of places we have looked at which have not flooded for as long as the property has been lived on (100 years or more) actually flooded last year with the huge floods this area had. I'll have to find out the effects of a septic system and land contamination during a flood if we were to move before two years. Although, that will probably be a moot point because JP says that he will be ready to move in 2011 and not before. Which gives me one less thing to worry about - although who's to say if we're going to have any more crazy big floods in the next couple years.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Adendum: first chicken wire casualty

I was pulling back the chicken wire in the temporary run and trying to push it back with one hand so I could get through it and it swung back at me and got me in the face. Ouch! I will need to figure out a better design for getting in and out since I'll have to be doing that for at least a couple times a day for a week or so.

Also, word travels fast and the riff-raff has arrived skulking around the giant juniper tree in our neighbor's backyard.



The chickens have arrived

I picked up the chickens yesterday and put together a temporary run for them this morning. Hopefully N. will be done with the chicken coop by next week, but their little ghetto housing is actually not so bad. They don't seem to mind. I borrowed a metal cage from the chicken farmer and put chicken wire around it to create a run for during the day.

I bought two chickens whom my daughter has named Janey and Alina, and the chicken farmer gave me the third chicken for free who my daughter named Woodia. Woodia has a cross beak so she can't peck, but she can eat if she can scoop up the food. I bought chicken mash instead of chicken pellets because it's easier for her to scoop up and once a day I need to make wet mash in a deep dish that she can scoop out of and sit with her to make sure she eats enough so that she'll stay healthy and keep growing.

When the coop is done it will be secure enough that they can come and go from the coop to the run 24/7, but in order to do that I need to bury the chicken wire far enough down the raccoons can't dig under it (that would be about 2 feet). I'm not going to do that with their temporary housing though so I'll have to send them in at night. They're not old enough to lay eggs yet which is find because they don't have any nesting boxes yet.

I was sitting out there with them this morning and thinking that I just can't see myself emotionally bonding with them the way I do with my dogs, cats and horses. Girlfriend and I have a very strong psychic link and I can feel what she's feeling when we're hanging out together. I like these chickens but I don't feel that emotional give and take that I feel with dogs and horses so I don't think I'm going to have to give up eating chicken. It's the same void of emotional connection I have with rabbits. Even though I don't eat rabbits because they are really cute and I can't see myself actually killing and skinning one. I have a rule that I will not eat anything that I wouldn't be willing to kill myself. I'm always horrified when someone complains that they can't cook a whole chicken because it looks too much like a chicken and it's gross! But they'll eat chicken Mcnuggets because "they're ok because they don't look like a chicken". If you can't face the reality of what you're eating, people, you should not be eating it! Our culture is so weird.

Here are some photos:



The temoporary chicken housing.



Janey the chicken



Alina the chicken


Woodia and her crooked beak.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chickens.

My friend, N. is as we speak building a chicken coop for me. He recently quit his job as an embedded systems programmer and is trying to find something else he would like to do for a living. If all goes well with my chicken coop he is thinking of making chicken coops for a living. I think he has the right attitude to be successful. Especially when he was open to me turning down his initial list of (incredibly expensive!!!) materials after I declared, "We're making a chicken coop!" Of course, it would've been the perfect chicken coop for some Queen Anne townhouse dwellers who needed the coop to conform to the CCR's for the HOA, but I'm going for function over fashion.

Yesterday I dragged N. out to the farm where I board my horse so that he could look at the chicken coops out there. The woman who owns the farm loves horses more than people and chickens more than horses (so you can deduce where people fit in to that ...). She has more chickens than I've ever seen and some of them are like no chicken I've ever seen before. She travels all over the West Coast going to chicken shows and her farm is also the first place I've ever seen a chicken getting a bath. Obviously, she is the expert on chicken coops, having about a million of them on one side of her farm. And she is smart about chickens so since she bought some eggs as an investment in order to sell the chickens to the "city folks like you" I decided to buy my chickens from her.

Actually, I'm buying two chickens from her and the third is free. She's a little blueish-gray Americauna with a cross-beak. It looks painful but it's not, it's just the way she was born. But she will need a little extra TLC to thrive. But she is so sweet! She followed N. everywhere while I was out riding my horse, and she nuzzles right up against your leg and will jump right into our lap. The farm owner was going to give her to a chicken rescue because she doesn't have time to give her the extra attention she needs but I said I'd take her. I just feel really akin to her - you know, seeing as I have my own physical maladies and all. I can't remember what kind the other two chickens are but they are beautiful. I'll post photos this weekend after I bring them home.

I need to clear out a corner of our backyard for the chicken coop and run. As it is the chickens are coming home this weekend and the coop won't be ready till next week. So, I'm borrowing a chicken cage and putting up a make-shift run for the time being. That means I need to clear out this awful, overgrown section of our backyard. I started this afternoon and it's going to take awhile. There are literally two feet of ivy growing on the chainlength fence in the back corner of our yard behind the garage, and when I cut that down it will be part of the chicken run. This is a good exercise for me in small space management. I need to use all the space on our property instead of letting things like that four foot space behind our garage get filled up with ivy from the next door neighbor's yard. They're renters. They could give a shit what happens in the back of their backyard. I may have to climb over the fence and dig up the roots of the ivy myself since it is on their property. Which I doubt they'll notice because they have the biggest juniper bushes in the history of mankind taking over the back portion of the yard. I am convinced that Hell is lined with packing peanuts and juniper bushes. But that is a different blog post for a different time.

Fear of a Redneck Planet

When my husband and I were first dating I would occasionally make reference to how I someday wanted to live in the woods, or on a farm, or somewhere rural. I imagine that seemed like an idle threat as at the time I lived in an apartment on Capitol Hill in Seattle, WA - a trendy, overpriced urban neighborhood that no country girl in her right mind would live in. I would make these comments over a single, split-shot Americano with a touch of cream from where I sat on a kitchy old couch in the corner of the latest hipster coffee shop while propping my combat boots up on the coffee table covered with periodicals like The Stranger and Eat the State. Later in the evening we'd grab some Thai food and go to a show at Neumos or meet friends at Temple Billiards and be seen with the cool kids, doing cool things, all the while eschewing all those hipsters who tried so hard to be cool.

So, it's not like he wasn't forewarned.

Then I turned forty. Mid-life had set in. I was also been diagnosed with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis and now have to take a variety of highly toxic medications to that the disease will not permanently cripple me. Suddenly my someday was now. I was not going to wait any longer. It was time to move to the country before I was too old and too crippled to enjoy it. Unfortunately, this had not been my husband's plan and was a shock to his system. But he is rising the occasion and being a trooper. But we both have a lot to learn about life outside the big city.

I started out slow thinking, "Maybe we could move to North Bend." North Bend is a really pretty suburb of Seattle just west of Snoqualmie Pass. It's still fairly rural in it's own suburban way, but it's a half hour from downtown and populated by a lot of tech workers who were tired of the city. But then it got worse, this malady of wanting to live in the woods. I started volunteering for a horse rescue in Monroe, WA and fell in love with that area. These were my people! People who could talk endlessly about horses, gardening, farming and what to do when the Snohomish River floods. They aren't afraid of my pet pitbull and I don't stand out for wearing cowboy boots and no make-up. But Monroe is an hour away from Seattle and populated mostly by farmers and blue collar workers. There are actually quite a few tech. workers who've moved out there too but they haven't opened any scenester-ish coffee houses or pubs yet.

Then a friend who lives up by Monroe gave me her horse, Miss Town Tucker. She had been a national champion in cutting and gone to the national championships a few times in barrel racing. But my friend had a new baby and was retiring from competition and Girlfriend (Miss Town Tucker's nickname) needed to retire too. So, I found a stable in Bothell that I could afford to board her in and fell back into my childhood passion for horses.

Suddenly, I was not fitting in so well in the city. My friends eyes would glaze over as I talked incessantly about my horse and her behavior and the personalities of the other horses at the stable. I wanted everyone to come out and see my horse but some of my friend cringed at the idea of being outside in the mud and the cold and others were actually quite afraid of horses. The responses I got to "I want to move to Monroe" were varied but all in the same sentiment: Why would you move there? It's all a bunch of rednecks?"

Only one friend who live up in Lake Stevens (north of Monroe) seemed to understand. On an afternoon trip to the gun range to go target shooting she said, "You are such a redneck. You are totally Snohomish County. You should really move up here." Guns, horses, living off the grid. You know, I do come from a long line of "rednecks".

My grandmother moved with her twin brothers to Dupuyer, MT when she was sixteen years old when they homesteaded the Moy family land. The house still stand out in the field although no one lives there. You have to drive for a half hour across the prairie where there is no road to get to the house itself. My grandfather on my mother's side was an outdoors man. When my mom was little they lived in a tiny cabin in a logging camp with no running water. My grandfather died before I was born but my mom said his favorite things were animals, the woods and his whiskey. I have a large extended family and many of them grew up in rural areas, raising horses, breeding dogs, living in mobile homes and trailers. I've got redneck in my blood.

I don't like people who are prejudice, uneducated and mean. It doesn't matter if they live in the city or in the country. I don't relate to conservative fundamentalist Christians (or any other fundamentalists of any religion) and I am a bit of a conspiracy theoryist and believe the government is corrupted by money and giant corporations. I thought George W. was a pawn in an attempt to control the world by greedy, rich white men. So, most of my friends think that I would not last a week living in the country with all those backwards, toothless, Bush-lovin' fundamentalists.

But as I've been opening my eyes to the reality outside of "the city is the only place to live where there is culture" I'm starting to see that there are a lot of fundamentalist wackos in the city too. As I've been talking to people out in the country the majority of what I hear is, "I could never live in the city," "Why?" I ask, "Because it's too loud and too crowded. I like having lots of space and being right here with nature." When I talk to people in the city what I hear is, "I could never in the country," "Why?" I ask, "Because there's only rednecks and no culture and nothing to do. I couldn't live around all those weird uneducated, freaky, prejudice, fundamentalist people." When I point out there are people like that in the city to I often hear "But EVERYONE is like that in the country."

I'm starting to see that a good portion of people in the city - at least in Seattle - seem to think that they are "better" than people in the country just because of where they live. Without actually knowing any of the people in "the country". Is this becasue of the media? Is this prejudice stereotype because of movies like "Deliverance"? Or is it just because all us city folks need some way to justify to ourselves why it is better to pay four times as much for our tiny little city homes in a loud, polluted crime-ridden area?

The other thing I hear a lot is "There is nothing for kids to do in the country". What is there for kids to do in the city? Let's see - for teenagers on an average day after school they could go to the library, go to a park, go shopping at a cool store, go hang out at a cool coffee shop or do an extracurricular activity at school. For kids in the country they could go to the library, go to a park, do an extracurricular activity at school, go home and work with their horses or take care of their animals, go to 4-H. The only thing that kids in the country seem to be missing out on is going shopping at hip stores and hanging out in cool coffee shops being part of the "scene". Most of the "cool" stuff to do in Seattle is over-21. And the only thing that makes the activities in Seattle better is that they're "cool". So, if Mtv wanted to make a "real world" show they'd come to Seattle but not to Monroe. Because it is so important that your life be something Mtv would want to make a show about.

I think that living in the city and living in the country can have benefits for children on an equal level if they try to find them. I don't think it at all hurts children to grow up in the country, in fact I know more people who appreciated growing up in the country than did growing up in the city. So, it surprises me how many of my city friends put down my decision to move the country because of a judgment and prejudice they have, while all the while complaining about how prejudice and judgmental people in the country are.