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Getting By

Irene in Vermont

I’ve collected a few photos from around Facebook for this post.  I moved away from Vermont less than 2 years ago and nothing has made me want to go home more than this.  My beautiful state torn to shreds by flash flooding.  They didn’t even see much in the way of wind.  I hope this gives you a sense of whatmost of the state of Vermont looks like right now. There are entire communities cut off from each other with no way in or out.

If there is a road I could walk backward with my eyes closed, it's this one. Route 4 up to Mendon and Killington. Mind boggling.

I chose this photo because there is a man in a yellow shirt in the bottom right hand corner. It really helps with the size of the devastation here. I think this is in Cavendish, VT.

This is the road we took to park day every Wednesday. Also the way to my in-laws house. In Clarendon, VT just outside of Rutland.

The famous Quechee covered bridge. Many of Vermont's covered bridges were lost, but many still stand. I saw photo and video of water just POURING THROUGH this bridge. This should give you an idea of how high the water actually was.

This is the Killington Base Lodge at the ski resort. Or was.

Echo Lake in Tyson. (Ludlow area) The Lake where TJ's father and stepmother own a camp. That's not their camp, but they said they took in 3 feet of water on the first floor. Their first floor is probably 15 or more feet above the normal level of the lake.

This is pretty much the story all over the state.  Some communities were hit much harder than others.  I know that Killington and Pittsfield are completely cut-off at the moment.  The only way in or out is hiking.  I’ve seen the most amazing photos of rushing water where I’ve never even seen water before. Several people have lost their lives and many their homes.  It’s hard to watch from here.  I want badly to be there.

It’s absolutely UNREAL how much water flowed through these places.  I think they’ve been calling it the 200  year flood.  Some people like to say that Vermont needs to prepare better and build better roads…  but this water MANGLED STEEL BRIDGES MEANT FOR TRAINS and not just one.

There is a GIANT collection of photos here. Skip the albums and head straight to the community photos.  This is not one isolated area…  it’s all over state.  Some communities were hit HARD, but I don’t know if any town escaped at least some flooding.

For the next few weeks I’m donating 100% of the profits from my Etsy shop to hurricane relief in Vermont.  Many of the fundraisers set up cannot take credit cards so I’ve decided to donate to the red cross.  Please help if you can.  Thanks.

PS.  If any of these photos belong to you…  let me know.  I’d love to give credit.

My Etsy Store

Did you notice my new little blog button? Eh, probably not. I haven’t been here much lately, so I can’t imagine many of you are visiting very often either. I’ve been away from writing for a bit, and even though I miss it terribly , I’ve learned that I just need to be OK with it. It’s incredibly hard for me to gather ideas and find quiet time for writing with an almost 3 year old in the house!   It wouldn’t be fair to only blame him, between the 3 kids, the dog and cat, the chickens, and all the amazing exploring and bike riding we’re doing on this beautiful island it’s really hard to find any free time at all.  I’m not sad, I’m elated that I have been spending SO much time with my family.

However, I’m also happy to have found an old passion. What I am really loving about making jewelry is that it’s so much fun and feels so good to create with my hands. When I stopped writing, I stopped because I had a really strong urge to work with my hands., I figured I’d come back to it by now but, I guess I’ve accomplished exactly what I felt pulled to do. Not surprisingly, it also feels good to contribute financially to my family, even if it’s just a little. Even though I’ve never been asked to, I’ve been wanting to contribute in this way for quite some time.

Etsy is a funny place. It’s a great opportunity for crafters, but I’m learning that if I don’t do anything to get my jewelry seen, most of it just sits there, unnoticed. As an Etsy newbie I really have to work for it, if you know what I mean! Now here’s where I ask you for a favor. If you have a blog and you like my jewelry, then maybe you’d be willing to post my little button on your blog? If you do grab my button, then please let me know so I can express my heartfelt gratitude.

Making Life Happen

Making plans to travel has been at the forefront of everything lately.  Everyone is gearing up for a new adventure and ready to take that leap of faith…  again.  This time there’s a lot more excitement in the air.

When we moved here, we took a gigantic risk.  I think sometimes people think we moved here with the whole plan worked out perfectly, with enough money to support ourselves until business took off.  Or maybe we just led people to believe so, so we wouldn’t have to answer too many questions.  I know for me, other people’s concerns, while honorable and caring, tend to cloud my judgment.

Moving here, although not where we want to be, was a necessary step in our evolution as a family, and as individuals.  TJ managed to break free from employment and turn it into entrepreneurship.  He always liked his jobs, but even when you’re lucky enough to be working in a field you are passionate about,  there are still always things you would do differently if it were your own.

I haven’t been employed by anyone for quite some time, so I definitely get an interesting view of long-term employment with an outside perspective.  In simplest terms Americans (and many others):

  • Send children to preschool in preparation for grade school
  • Send children to grade school in preparation for high school
  • Ship teens off to high school in preparation for college or employment
  • Encourage grown offspring to attend college so they can be prepared for employment in the “real world” (even despite the statistics)
  • Then they get jobs and spend the rest of their lives, or until they are 60ish in servitude preparing for retirement.

Sure…  lots of cool stuff happens in between, but isn’t it strange that the majority of our lives are spent in preparation for the next part of our lives?

So we’re preparing to prepare, for preparing?

In all of this preparation, a vision of “real life” becomes ingrained in our minds.  Go to school, get a job, make a lot of money, buy a car, buy a house, have kids, send them to school… lather, rinse, repeat.

But it's organic... it must be good.

Status Quo is not my friend.  It never has been.  Some people were meant to make waves in the mainstream.  Once upon a time, that was incredibly hard for me to never feel like I had anything in common with anyone.  Now, I prefer to wildly pursue my dreams, even when everyone else thinks I’m crazy.  Risks aren’t really risks at all because I know Tj and I are committed to making our lives work happen.  We see the world as wide-open, when most only see hurdles and limits.  For us, there are no rules.  All the preparation for this life in the “real world” has long been forgotten, and we’ll go where our hearts take us.  Whether that’s starting an IT business in Seattle or building a rocket to the moon.  We know, that no dream is too big or too complicated.

That’s what we want to leave our children with…  some resourcefulness and passionate dream chasing.

Go make life happen.

Afterall…  you only get one.

What Do You Love – Guest Post by TJ Phillips

What do you do in your life that you really love?  This should be an easy answer, because you should be spending lots of time doing it.  I love playing music.  I love reading, and writing.  I love camping, food, beekeeping, drawing, traveling and MMA.

Does your job fall on this list?

I consult with Small Businesses about their technology needs.  I love it.  I love showing a business something that they didn’t realize was possible.  I love seeing the look of understanding after I’ve broken down something that was thought to be too complicated to approach.  I love it when I save a business a lot of time and money through adopting new technologies.    I love that every day provides me with new situations, new acquaintances, and new puzzles to figure out.  I love it when I can help save a business from disaster.

I have the best job ever, and I’m the best in the world at it, because I love it.

I was brought through a huge server room when I was about 11, and fell in love immediately.  At that age I didn’t say “Hey, this is what I want to do when I’m old enough to work” but I knew that this was the most exciting place that I had been in my 11 years!  No, seriously, I had left the house before.  I found a way to intern there when I was 15, and was hired as a part-time employee about 6 months later.  I had to be to work at 5:00am every Saturday morning and often worked until 5:00pm Saturday, but I didn’t care, I couldn’t get enough!

During my Junior and Senior years of high school, I had a better understanding of the school’s computer system than anybody at the school did.  They had a programming teacher who understood the basics, and they hired a consultant (who I would become friends with later in life, which made for some funny stories!) for the more complicated issues.

When the school would piss me off, I would break the network.

I would hear over the PA system: “can everybody please log out of the system now, thank you” and I would sit in my seat with my face in a book so nobody could see me tight-lipped and quivering with my face getting red at trying to contain my laughter.  “Take that!”

My programming teacher eventually caught on to what I was up to, though they never could actually catch me doing anything wrong.  I can remember the day I was called out of my English class to come out and talk to him in the hallway.  I walked into the hallway and he and the principle stood there, both looking down at me, and the principle said “Listen, we don’t know what you did, but we know you broke it.  How about you just make this easier for everybody, and fix it.”

I smiled, very genuinely, because in my head, I was looking at the principle and saying “How about you make my life easier and go fuck yourself.”  I didn’t though, I simply smiled and said “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but let me see what I can do.”  I didn’t have a problem with our programming teacher, any more than I did some of my other teachers.  He would get mad because I didn’t pay attention in his class and wouldn’t put forth any more effort than what was required to get a passing grade, but he wasn’t a bad guy, so I fixed the problem.

The point I’m trying to make is that I did like my programming teacher, and I knew he just thought I was a pain in the ass and a screw up.  When I got my first paycheck, I brought that paystub into school with me to show him.  I was really proud.  Look at this!  I’m using my powers for the forces of good!  I’m helping people, and fixing problems, and…and…upgrading the Citrix cluster!

So I found him in the hall after school and said “Hey Mr. So-and-so, I’m working in the IT department at Company X now, I just got my first paycheck, I’ve got my own desk right in the middle of their server room and…” and as I was talking I was pulling out my paystub to show him, and he looked at me completely uninterested, for about as long as it took me to say that much, before giving me a “mm, great” and turned and walked away from me before I could even finish.

I stood there, deflating, with my paystub in my hand, and waited until he rounded the corner before muttering what I wanted to tell him to his face.  “Fuck you too.”

He told me in 10 seconds that he could give a crap if I was successful in my pursuits of a subject that HE WAS TEACHING ME!  I was a disobedient trouble maker who didn’t care about getting A’s and didn’t learn it in the method that he was teaching it.

Teachers are not the problem though.  There are some really awesome teachers out there (I’m looking at you Peterson!).  I would guess that most people choose this career path because they love the subject, they like working with children, or they want to make a difference in a public school system that gets worse every year.  I don’t believe it’s a system that can be helped, and I think compulsory schooling by its very nature must put obedience in front of actual learning and that this is what actually creates teachers like my old programming teacher.

This was what I thought about when we considered taking our oldest son out of public school in the 1st grade.  Am I doing what I love today because of what I gained from school?  No.  I’m doing what I love today despite my schooling.  I had my family supporting me, but really, I was fortunate that the passion I had was for something that my family recognized as a profitable career.  If I had instead developed a passion for playing card games, or graffiti, I don’t know that I would have gotten the same support, and I might be doing something today that brings me no joy.

I want my children to do what they love and create their own personal definition of success and not live by somebody else’s.  My kids will always be supported in whatever their passions happen to be, and they will always have me as an example of doing what you love.

TJ Phillips is saving the earth several computers at a time.  He is also my husband and personal superhero.