mooretrees journal

Where are you and where are you going?
mooretrees
Posts: 240
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

@Classical_liberal
Okay, I've had some time to think about your question/comment. The one thing I've wondered is are you perhaps confusing tactics with strategy? I'm curious with exactly what the strategies you're waffling between are. I read tactics as the series of actions, with strategy the overarching structure. I have a hard time imagining that you're truly moving between different strategies, but, that could be my limited imagination. Let me know what you think and don't worry about derailing...this is all helpful for me too.

classical_Liberal
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

I suppose it can depend on how overarching you view strategies. Like, is "live a happy and productive life" a strategy? It seems a bit too vague. If you'd consider this a strategy, then I guess I do not have much CD.

However, there are many paths to this end, some mutually exclusive. This is where I run into trouble. For instance, if I focus on this by living with a "in the moment mindset", then there are definitely many moments I don't like. Most of them I have agency over and can change, not just attitude but physical real changes. Now, of course there is some temperance for the future. If I only eat dark chocolate and peanut butter, obviously that's gonna create many bad moments in my future. If I choose to do this by focusing on the future moments, then my actions or tactics for the current moment change. So I endure some significant discomfort now, for the potential of a more happy and productive life later.

These two strategies are somewhat mutually exclusive and create the CD. I'm not sure if that makes any sense? Almost like choosing between a type of nonreligious Pascal's wager for a potentially better future or Camus version of life due to absurdity. It seems one must choose a strategy here. I can't really "do both".
Last edited by classical_Liberal on Wed Apr 29, 2020 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

AxelHeyst
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Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I've been wrassling with strategies, tactics, plans, etc as well. Still muddling through it all, but I'll add two cents.

For me, I need another level or two of hierarchy to organize my strategies, plans, and actions. I'm a fan of John Boyd, and what I'm thinking of here is what he'd call the "Grand Strategic" level, a vision so compelling that it bolsters morale and draws supporters to your cause.

So for me, it's something like this:
I have a grand Vision for my life, a dream, a compelling narrative of how I am, my relationship with other people, money, career, activities, etc. There will be words in here about freedom of action, hobbies, etc. Pretty general and vague, but exciting to me, is the key point. Whenever I read my Vision document, I get excited about working on it, because that's what I want for myself. If I read it and don't get excited, I need to rework it. (I work on this document several times a year, and it's fun to look back at what I wrote 5, 10, 15 years ago). I build Purpose in to this level, meaning, what's my purpose on earth, what is the actual point of the formation of the consciousness I call "me" out of the cosmic goo.

This vision informs the creation of Strategy, the next level down, which I sometimes call Strategic Aims, Initiatives, or Areas of Focus.

Those inform the creation of Plans, which I typically call Projects (have been a GTD devotee for a long time as well, so I also use a lot of his terminology).

All a Project is is a series of Actions, and I typically only think one Next Action at a time (more GTD). I think this is tactics.

I don't have "strategic principles" sorted out yet. I suspect those exist in my system, I just call them something else.

It all rainfalls. I don't know what to do next (action) if I don't have a Project (plan) defined. I don't know what Projects I should be working on without a coherent Strategy (initiative/area of focus/etc) that makes sense to me. Strategies are just useless faffing about without a Vision and Purpose in my life.

--

A GTD thing is that if you don't have a grip on your day to day, you don't have enough space in your perspective to sort out what your Purpose/Vision is in life. So GTD is bottom-up, in that they recommend you just start implementing good time/energy management tactics in order to free up mental/energetic space in your life, and get a sense of the lay of the landscape of your life. Once you've pulled that off, you can take a break to get your head above water and think about your Vision/Purpose/etc, What you Want out of Life.

classical_Liberal
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@AH
I like the mostly bottom up approach. I think that's basically the only way things get done in personal situations. But, that's basically my problem. Will I be able to live the happiest and most productive life by being more of a "living in the moment" person or a "planning for the future" person.

Of course, the best thing to do in a system is find daily actions that do both. I love casual biking and hiking, could literally do them every day of my life and mostly enjoy the time. They also help the future by giving me a more physically health than a life without them, and provide me with time in my head for introspection and planning, thus a more mentally healthy life as well. However, most actions aren't so clear and come at a cost. When it's time to choose between them, I need to have an overall strategy to default to, rather than constantly wasting life energy making these decisions individually.

If I can think, will I enjoy the moments spent doing this activity? if the answer is probably not, and discard the idea for that reason alone... then I have a strategic view. It would avoid all the "hemming and hawing" about how it may make for a better future, so I should just suck it up. OTOH the opposite could be true as well. If I could ask, does this action have a high probability of making a more happy and productive future, then I can get through the unpleasantness of the day by knowing it fits my strategic vision of doing almost anything for a better tomorrow. At the very least have a line in the sand of how much daily unpleasantness I'm willing to suffer through today, for tomorrow. At least when given a choice in the matter.

Edit: looking at your post in the other thread about comic and tragic heros, it seems somewhat relevant to my questions here.

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:21 pm

If I can think, will I enjoy the moments spent doing this activity? if the answer is probably not, and discard the idea for that reason alone... then I have a strategic view. It would avoid all the "hemming and hawing" about how it may make for a better future, so I should just suck it up. OTOH the opposite could be true as well. If I could ask, does this action have a high probability of making a more happy and productive future, then I can get through the unpleasantness of the day by knowing it fits my strategic vision of doing almost anything for a better tomorrow. At the very least have a line in the sand of how much daily unpleasantness I'm willing to suffer through today, for tomorrow. At least when given a choice in the matter.
I see the serving two masters dilemma you're dealing with. Future self vs present self 'happiness.' But, it's not truly all or nothing, black or white. I do think since you are quite the analytical person, it is hard to imagine that you haven't sketched out effect mapping for many activities you like to do. The main takeaway from my research/reading of Chapter Five, is the focus on choosing value producing activities. Value can be: money saving, learning, health, community, etc. So, biking leisurely has the value of: not spending money, mild exercise, learning your area, and fun. I think a useful mantra to come back to when choosing an activity, is "what is the value in this activity?" Without judging yourself, and only seeking to be honest, that question could possibly be useful. It might be more intensive to actually do the effect mapping for activities that you find yourself consistently questioning.

While I get the attraction of an overarching 'principle', in practice I've found that for me, the strategy comes from requiring my activities meet the 'produce value' criteria. Meaning, I haven't done quite the work in defining an exciting future for myself that @Ah has. But, I'm starting to consider value as the primary driver of what I'm choosing to focus on in my limited time off. I don't have quite so much free time as #childfree people, so I'm not that ambitious in coming up with activities.

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

Expenses

Food $473
Health/medical $445 (two dr appt for DH, not sure why we bother to have health ins)
Home $905 (mortgage, taxes)
Transportation $73 (fuel + ins)
Personal $24 (book + netflix)
Pets $9
Utilities $222
Son $15 (bought a movie as I was desperate for some alone time)
Other $25 (stamps + new checks)
garden $98
food out $52
skoolie $120

Totals $2,462

Income

Savings $2,580 (HSA, 401k, savings after taxes)
Paycheck $3,509
Other $3,165 (tax relief + sale of mtn bike)
Totals $9253

Thoughts about expenses: We've lost the rental income from our tenant and it shows. Gardening spending shouldn't be so high again as I've figured out a way to DIY some pots for the seeds I've started that need to move out of the seed starting tray. Food is pretty high and reflects a lack of skill at getting a lot of food to reduce amount of shopping trips. I also tried to buy less factory farmed meat/eggs which is quite expensive. We put a deposit down on a quarter of a beef that our friend is raising so that's a partial answer to eating better mean-in many months from now. Health costs were very high. DH is taking two medications and one is a controlled substance that required him to meet with his provider every three months. So, some built in costs for his health. I don't want to talk about his health here, it's his story and not mine to talk about. Those costs shouldn't come around again for a few months.

For this month, my focus is on food once again. The garden is growing, but still quite small. I've got two 25 lb bags of lentils and steel cut oats on order and I hope to suss out some local egg options or reduce eggs and switch to oatmeal. During the pandemic I've gained a few pounds primarily due to increased carbs. I'm mixed about this. I don't like extra weight, but I also think I can keep doing intermittent fasting to address that. I'm enjoying the carbs and also like not eating so much factory farmed meat. It's a work in progress.

I get pretty envious of other people's savings rates, but it's apples to oranges as these are for a family of three and I usually am looking at single folks with similar incomes. I estimate that we'll be able to cut out $1000 from expenses with moving into the skoolie. That would be $1462 for three people, or $487/person. Long way to go until then, but it's something to look forward too.

mooretrees
Posts: 240
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

Some photos and updates. We are getting so so so close to being finished with metal repair! DH's skill in welding has increased tremendously and he is making quick progress on the final wheel well repairs. The last one is a big job, the worst section of all. Here is a picture of what he is dealing with after cutting out the rusted out metal:
ImageIMG_0178 by , on Flickr


He's got to rebuild a frame for both the top and side wall for this piece. He's been using metal from the interior walls and some odds and ends he'd collected awhile ago. I'm really learning how important scraps are for these kinds of building projects. I've felt like we looked really white trash at times with piles of bricks, metal, bike wheels etc. But, now that we don't have to run to the store to get material (yet) for this project, I'm coming around to his slight hoarding ways.

One of his other projects recently was dealing with some of the extra wiring that needed to be removed; lights and such that were school bus specific and need to be removed to be street legal. He saved all of the wire and got a good deal of the remaining wire mapped and labelled for future use. He was impressed at the wiring system. He needs to do some clean up of the remaining wiring as shown here:

ImageIMG_0180 by , on Flickr

I'm trying not to get my hopes up that next week end we'll be able to treat the rust, might have more prep work before that can happen. Once we can treat the rust and primer and paint, it's going to feel like the building portion of the job will finally have started. I'm not a patient person and I remind myself daily that we're making progress. I'm not much help with the build, and DH only has a couple of hours some evenings and my weekends off to make progress. Having a kid really slows us down :D .

I think we're committed to wool insulation for the whole build. It won't be cheap, but I think it will be worth it. Pretty soon we'll be dropping some cold hard cash on this puppy and I'm only slightly nervous about that. I've got $5k saved currently for the bus, and will alternate between regular savings and skoolie savings in the next few months. What's that old saying about fast, cheap and good? I'm coming to terms with good and slow, especially as it will spread the spending out over a longer period.

AxelHeyst
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I'm interested in your source for the wool.

Good and slow is the dream. Love the updates!

classical_Liberal
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Wow, you guys are really moving along. Keep going and keep the dreaming alive!

horsewoman
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by horsewoman »

Looks good! Slow is good with such projects I think. More time to think! Spending money speeds things up but in hindsight often expenses could have been avoided by work-arounds.

I can totally relate to the mixed feelings about hoarding of materials. It's tough to find the balance between being prepared and being a trash hoarder! On a farm this even worse because there is so much room to store stuff. But it is nice to get the cost of projects down by shopping in your junkyard :)

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

@AxelHeyst one popular company with vanlifers is Havelock Wool. They seem to have captured that community pretty well, lots of videos out there of builds with their wool. There is an Oregon company that I'm hoping to work with because shipping with Havelock is pretty spendy.

@c-L, @horsewoman, thanks! So much to do still, but progress is happening.

Regarding hoarding vs thriftily saving; I just build a big border bed for veggies in the back yard using salvaged bricks so that's two projects we've used those bricks for (the first was the hearth). I think the key to storing vs hoarding might be in the tidiness of how things are stored? I object less to outside storage of stuff if it is at least tidy.

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

I applied for unemployment today. I still have my job but under the recent legislation, if you have reduced hours due to the pandemic you are eligible. I was eligible four weeks ago, but opted out due to pride primarily. Now with two paychecks under $1500 and only saving around $600 after tax, I've jumped on the teat of the government. I am mixed about this. It seems likely that I'll be at 80% until July. I guess I caved because I want to save more money than will be likely right now, and we have some big expenses coming up.

Our farmers market has opened up and we'll need a big order of green beans soonish. I hate paying for the coffee business with regular living money, but if we don't make good money the next few markets we'll have to front the coffee. I think this is really an opportunity for me to be better at keeping coffee and regular money separate. I updated my money tracking spread sheet before I allowed myself on the forum this evening. I've created a better tracking spread sheet for the coffee business and am reaching out to folks for more wholesale business. I'm trying folks, that's all I can say.

One of the stupid things that comes with most homes is a lawn. And the normal person buys a lawnmower and diligently mows on the weekend. The last few years we used a free lawnmower from my sister. DH spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix that stupid machine. It pissed me off how much of his free time he spend working on that thing. He usually can fix just about anything so it was weird to see him struggle. I finally convinced him to ditch the machine and figure something out when the grass got too high. We put the lawnmower out front with a free side and our next door neighbor took it. Now that guy has three lawnmowers lined up in his back yard. Good riddance.

This year I've borrowed a friends electric mower and weeder. It was easy and fun. Also traded coffee for the loan so we weren't moochers. Now, however, we have a MUCH better solution! I didn't know we had one, but sometime ago DH bought a sickle. I spent some time today working on the backyard with the sickle. So Much Fun!!! It'll take forever, but it was a blast. Worked on my squats and got some upper body exercise too. Added the grass clippings to the compost and it was a good day. I had to guard it from the little boy as he was panting to play with it :lol: .

The real solution to a lawn is of course, to get rid of it. But we're counting the days down until we're outta this house. I've already spent more money than I meant to on the garden this year so I'm just dealing with the lawn until we move out.

I am going to think some more about reducing my 401/HSA withholding. I have used those vehicles to reduce taxes and so on, but as I think more and more about going part-time I'm getting interested in having higher amounts after tax savings available. Most of our money is tied up somehow just out of reach. House equity, retirement accounts ect. I'll still do the minimum for matching and keep some going into the HSA.

I don't know how to craft an exit strategy from full-time work. The one sorta plan I've got rattling around is the following (totally depends on liking the skoolie lifestyle): work full-time until my son is five or six (two to three years). At five he can go on a motorcycle and we'll take off for Alaska on two motorcycles and a sidecar (that DH wants to build). Either give my notice or ask for a sabbatical. Try and come back to work part-time or casual. DH has wanted to ride a motorcycle to Alaska forever. I say we do it, and then ride down to Mexico. We could wait until he is six for a couple of reasons. He would have more time to get used to being on a motorcycle and I would have more time to learn to ride a motorcycle. I mostly think he'll love being on the road so it might really be about me having more time.

I spent some indulgent time rereading my journal. Man have I complained about my job a LOT! So, this skoolie better work out as I need to save some cash and get outta this full time craziness. When I think about working two or three more years, it seems too long. Now that I have a month of 0.8 hours, I know that it is still too much time at work.

classical_Liberal
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

mooretrees wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 11:49 pm
I don't know how to craft an exit strategy from full-time work.
Making specific plans for more than a year out is really hard, because life happens. Probably even more so with a young child. I will say though, I think planning for the lifestyle you want to try vs some arbitrary financial number or date (like you seem to be doing) is the best bet though. I wish I had done it that way. I have no better advice than that, sorry :( .

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

@cL, for sure. I'm stuck in that place where I'm so focused on the 'escape' and the lack of energy from full time work that trying to plan for the lifestyle I want doesn't feel likely. I'm hoping that giving myself some arbitrary date and money goal will ease my irritation/frustration with work. However, I will try and think about your suggestion as I go forward.

ertyu
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by ertyu »

"almost done, only X more days to go" can be useful in keeping one from drowning into the dailiness of the suck. i received it as a suggestion when i first asked for help with how much i hated my job, and it helped. so i am repeating it here, in case it helps you, too. Even if it doesn't work as a reliable plan (life does, indeed, happen), if it works psychologically, it's good enough.

Re: complaining about job - I feel you, what can I say :lol:

Stay strong, you guys are almost there :muscle:

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

Metal work on the floor is finished!! Floor has had the rust treatment twice for good measure on some spots. DH as got two coats of primer and paint (bright freaking red, don't know why) and has started filling in the holes in the floor from where the seats were attached. It feels like we turned a corner! The wool is getting ordered this week and we're going to start laying down painters tape of potential floor plans. I'm really excited to do that part and imagine walking and living in the bus.

We've had two farmers markets with our new pandemic protocols. It's been interesting and we've quickly gotten used to dealing with folks this new way. Yesterday, my son and I biked back home during the market to watch the high school graduation. We live right across the street from the high school and they were doing a 'drive-by' graduation. The first couple of kids I saw getting their diplomas made me tear up. But, it did start to feel okay (as a bystander) and like it was a celebration.

I've had multiple people invite us over to hang out. Our old babysitter is going stir crazy and would love to watch our son. I keep saying maybe, we'll see and then don't follow up with any concrete plans. We've had less than 10 cases out here in a three county area. People are ready to get back to normal. I totally want to as well. But......I really don't want this disease. I'm not perfect and work is a continuous source of contact with people. Plus now the farmers market. I guess I feel like the only time I can really limit my family's exposure is on my days off. So, that's what we do.

I'll post a numbers post in a bit when I've got all the numbers. It's not good people.

It's morel mushroom season right now and we've gotten some decent hauls in the woods. DH in particular is getting really good at finding them. He's been on some scouting trips for dead larches for firewood and manages to bring home a bag of morels each trip. He's making spaghetti sauce with them right now. Next local food for harvesting are huckleberries, though they're just starting to flower now.

My garden is coming along nicely. I planted a ton of annual flowers all over. Cosmos, calendula,nasturtium, marigolds. First time I've ever planted the whole package. I really want a lush fucking garden. I plugged in a dozen or more winter squash all over the front yard today. If we are overrun with squash that would be amazing! Beets, carrots, beans, lettuce, and a few varieties of winter squash are sprouting. Still only really eating kale out of the garden but I think the peas have started flowering.

Lastly, I've been making some progress on getting rid of stuff. Mostly old kid clothes to other families. But I've organized my seeds and planted some mystery seeds (had them for years) and reduced my photos and old journals. I burned the journals. I didn't even try to read them, didn't have any interest. Still so much to get rid of before we're ready for the bus. But each box or bag that leaves helps me feel more prepared and lighter. I haven't been able to get rid of old letters. Kinda feel like reading them and maybe sending them back to people. Thoughts on that?

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

Another post so soon! I've been musing over @c_l's suggestion to build the life I want rather than focus on x amount of money or days left. I've thought about it, despaired over it, and maybe made some progress on it.

I've worked on my web of goals before, but this question helps me suss out more details about my life and what I want to change/build. I've thought about what I do right now that I'd like to do less of: work, clean, aimless internet meandering, procrastination came up to name a few. I've thought about what I want more of right now: gardening, hikes, feeling healthy, birding, engaged time with my son, and satisfaction of building our business were a few I came up with. So it has been helpful to think about the overarching life I want to build. Now, I haven't had that conversation (or conversations) with DH and he's got a big say. I'm not flying solo here. I also think about my son quite a bit. What do I want to give him, expose him to during his childhood.

I'm reading Atomic Habits now. I am enjoying it and getting into the meat of it soon. I've been exercising (beach body, yoga stuff) for a few days in a row. What a difference it makes to my mental health. I'm going to buy a kettle bell soon and get some weight work in for variety. I'm kinder to myself and a better human when I exercise. I had a tough week last week and I got sick of my negative outlook. I decided the simplest fix was to force myself to exercise everyday. I can find 30 minutes a day even with my child, job, husband etc.

My son had a CRAZY, demonic temper tantrum two nights ago. DH had been working in the skoolie and was soaked with sweat when it was time to put our kid to bed. Normally we switch off bath and bed time. This night I did both (total super star I know :lol:) and then had to deal with the demon child. I had done a good workout earlier in the day. He was literally crazy, this is not hyperbole. I've seen that craziness once or twice before and really handled it badly. Lots of shouting and anger from me. This time was different. Thank goodness. But, I really credit the choice to exercise as setting me up for success with him. We got through it and I was really pleased with myself. It was a good feeling. Most of the time he's an easy kid, so it's kinda easy to fool myself that I'm a good parent. It's pretty easy to parent a child who is happy all of the time. It was reassuring that I did handle demon child well. I must be learning.

Last interesting development story. When we went to Montana to pick up the school bus, we got a free mixte Motobecan bike from our buddy. It is all busted up and needs a total overhaul. Obviously it is pretty low on the priority list right now. One of DH's acquaintances is a die hard biker. But for some reason, he has a small motorcycle that needs some work. He asked if DH could work on it. My great idea (so modest I am in this post!) was to see if Dh's buddy would trade work on my mixte bike for motorcycle work. Some more figuring out needs to happen for parts and money spent, but I might have a newish fun bike to ride sometime this summer. I guess we could have taken the money, but this feels better. Also means one less broken bike hanging around the house. DH can get some work on the motorcycle when I'm at work, he can tinker on stuff while our son bangs hammers and kills bugs.

Okay, really the last thing. I accidentally bought a set of flash cards for birds of America. I mean, I wanted them but was going to wait it out for awhile. Anyway, they came and are beautiful and helping me learn birds. The best part of them are the descriptions of bird calls. This is an example from the lark sparrow:
"Song slow and varied, with a choppy rhythm of high rattling phrases and some long trills: zeek puk treeeeeeee chido chido kret-kret-kret-kret trrrrrrrrr. Flight call a high metallic tink."

We were laughing so hard in bed this morning trying to read the calls 'correctly'.

theanimal
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by theanimal »

Nice job with the morel finds! They're about to come out up here and I've debated heading out to go find some. The closest recent burn area to where I'm at is about an hour drive though. We'll see. Do you guys always just keep them for yourself or do you ever sell them?

Exercise always helps me manage tension/stress/anxiety too. It's so easy to do once it's done all the time and becomes a habit, but equally as hard to get back on the horse after you stop. Congrats on the streak, keep at it!

bigato
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by bigato »

I exchanged letters with one of my grandma when I was a child. When she was 80 something years old, she gave them back to me when I visited. It made sense as she was old. She was getting rid of her stuff, and was living with very little at the time. A few more years and she had a domestic accident, and she was weak, so broken bones were something easy to happen and hard to heal. She stayed in bed for a few more years and then died. So I guess by the time she gave me the letters back, she knew it was time. She was slowly purging. But one does not need to be near death to undergo such cleansing, as we all here know. In the pursue of a better life, we often make that kind of transition, letting behind stuff that was once important but not anymore. The cycle must be closed so that we can start anew. Is it the time to part with your letters? Maybe these reflections will somehow help you decide that.

mooretrees
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Re: mooretrees journal

Post by mooretrees »

@animal we haven't harvested enough to sell, though that would be awesome. I'm up for it, but likely this season is too far gone to find any big hauls now. Still working on my exercising streak, thanks for the encouragement!

@bigato, I'll ask the friends that I have old letters from and see if they are interested in getting them back.

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