Western Red Cedar's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@CL - Thank you! I definitely lucked out with DW.

I've been enjoying your perspectives on living with a working partner as I might be there in a few years. DW said she'd liked to work at least part-time indefinitely after having an extended break from work. She likes the purpose and structure of a job. We still plan to travel for at least a year (hopefully more) but she wants a job when we move back to the states.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Grocery Tracking

I finished tracking groceries for the last month (Nov. 15th to Dec. 15th) and it was probably a bit of a ERE fail. The total for the month was 384.76 for two people or 192.38 per person. The three month average in this tracking experiment is 337.94 as a household, or 168.97 per person.

We had a pretty extravagant Thanksgiving. This was our first Thanksgiving home alone and we decided to go all out - slow-roasted yams with maple syrup, mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, green beans almondine, a bougie charcuterie board, and a full size turkey. We snacked on fancy cured meats, foreign cheese, and crackers all day while we waited for our Turkey to cook. I did a pretty large, $90 grocery trip on Sunday and stocked up on a lot of "emergency" snack items like jerky and Lara bars for DW to keep in the car now that she's working full time and doesn't get more than a 15 minute break, including drive time, between her clients.

This has been a good opportunity to experiment with tracking expenses, which I hadn't done for the last few years. It made me more conscious of what I'm eating on a daily basis and how much of it I'm consuming. My long-term strategy for the food budget is to try to source the majority of our food through gardening, hunting, foraging, and possible work exchanges with local ranchers. I'm hesitant to invest much time or effort into gardening without my own property, but will need to explore more creative options if we decide not to buy a house at some point.

Roots vs. Wings

A few years ago I met up with an old friend from graduate school for coffee while I was in her city for work. We always got along great in school because we were two of the only true "intellectuals" in our cohort. We loved knowledge and learning for its own sake, but we were both a bit older and were focused on acquiring a professional degree so we could pursue interesting careers and make a decent living. We had also both lived internationally for a couple of years prior to graduate school.

I told her that I was struggling a bit with a decision between buying a house and building community where I'm living, or taking an extended leave to travel the world again. I had invested significant time and energy into a new career (even more now) so in some sense it didn't make sense to disrupt my professional progress for extended vagabonding. I consciously tried to put that phase behind me in my late twenties but a strong desire to travel, explore, and experience new places never left.

She told me that I was struggling with establishing roots, versus spreading my wings - common for people in their twenties or early thirties. Probably even more common for those without kids. I thought she had explained it through the lens of a psychological/sociological theory, but after a quick internet search most of the discussion stems around parenting advice for young kids. This makes sense in hindsight given that she had a young daughter. Here's the quote:

"There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other wings. Good parents give their children roots and wings: roots to know where home is, and wings to fly off and practice what has been taught them."

I've been bouncing around C40's journal, and recently reread portions of AxelHeyst's as well. Both seem to hit on a theme or topic that I've been pondering for years now, and which seem fairly common in the ERE sphere - roots vs. wings. Exploration and travel have an obvious draw. Regularly changing your environment and consciously experiencing new things thrusts you into the moment. As a result, time slows down a bit and the narrative of life seems richer. This typically comes at the expense of establishing long-lasting relationships, developing your own community, and creating a physical space to spread out and tinker on meaningful projects. After extended time on the road, sometimes the experiences don't feel as meaningful even though you've just seen something that others spend their lives dreaming about.

I don't think an answer necessarily exists as to the best option. I think the roots/wings dynamic is likely a continuum that we experience throughout life from a very young age. I currently am leaning in the direction of packing it up and hitting the road. Some of that is likely a reflection of the fact that I've spent the last 10 years focused on establishing roots, and I just happen to be more conscious of the downsides to that portion of the continuum.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

This pull between roots and wings can be quite existential and strong at times. Many of us don't get to experience wings until we are much older, and that might have some part of it. J Collins wrote an interesting post on this (from the lens of someone considering the purchase/rooting of a sticks and bricks house) https://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/03/20/root ... ownership/.

I can sense that there will be a time when putting down roots will feel right, from a location and timing perspective......but as someone who has lived in the same geographical area for my entire life, but gotten to experience doses of travel from a young age.....the wanderlust is sooooo strong for for.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I can definitely relate. After one three-month hitchhiking trip, changing locations every couple days, there was nothing that excited me more than coming to a place... and fucking STAYING there. My new situation is interesting—I'm in an apartment near my hometown with a roommate from another country, and a totally new social circle. So I'm sort of getting roots and wings at the same time :)

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@RF - I'm glad to hear the new accommodations seem to be working out. Switching up the social circle is great for keeping things interesting and building a wider network.

@2b1s - Thanks for the link. I've read all his posts but forgot about that. I'm sure it was rolling around my brain somewhere and probably influenced these thoughts. JL Collins weighed heavily in my decision to not buy a house. Every time I start to think seriously about buying a house I make sure to review his post on why your house is a terrible investment:

https://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/05/29/why- ... nvestment/

2Birds1Stone wrote:
Tue Dec 15, 2020 9:25 am
This pull between roots and wings can be quite existential and strong at times.
This pretty much nails it in my experience.

Yesterday I had a rough day at work and started thinking about taking off as soon as is feasible with COVID. I'm assuming that would probably be next fall. That cuts the timeline I was initially thinking about in half. I'm not sure we would follow through on this, but the more journals I sort through the more I'm enticed to accelerate our timeline. With DW working full-time it will increase our savings rate and bump up her personal stash to fund an extended trip. Not owning property certainly simplifies these plans.

I like the idea of a 3-5 year period of travel and mobility. After that DW and I can evaluate whether we want to continue with that lifestyle or establish a permanent home base back in the states.

Playing ERE on easy mode is certainly enticing, but life is short and the world is large.

disk_poet
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by disk_poet »

I also struggle with this and have been thinking of coming up with a rough routine. E.g. leave over the winter/summer whatever. Something that is predictable so I can involve my local community (for example have a regular meeting before I leave) and friends and have at least some amount of stability there but also make sure I explore and widen my circle. So far I've done a terrible job at this basically staying put most of the time (I used to travel much more). I think (hope) a large part of why I don't roam more has been that I didn't feel financially secure. So leaving and not earning money seemed like a risk. I am coming around much more now and I think that is in large part to my ERE journey.

I've not heard the analogy of roots vs wings before but it sounds like a good one. Thanks for sharing it.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I would also recommend compressing the timeline if you're feeling burnt....life is indeed short. With your current savings + DW's, you could afford to travel frugally for 1.5-2 years without much effort. If you save up another chunk between now and autumn, you'll be in a really good spot.

The big question is what happens with the current situation globally, and where will it be enjoyable/viable to live outside of your area. Right now Thailand is accepting tourists again, but only after a 14 day quarantine and two negative covid tests. They are doing a 90 day visa with the ability for 2 extensions of 90 days each. Other countries in SE Asia are still completely locked down.

This is currently a big struggle for us too. Not quite fully FI for life, but able to take some time to explore the broader world and learn more about ourselves in the process. DW and I are strongly considering rooting down in 2-3 locations once we figure out where those may be. From a financial standpoint, someone said it best in another thread, "you may need to work 5-10 more years to reach a traditional sense of FI, but they don't have to be the next 5-10", from experience, intermittent work is not that bad. As soon as the weather gets nicer, or the world starts opening back up, it's going to be really hard to stay working -_-

classical_Liberal
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

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Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@Disk Poet - I tend to dream a lot about international travel, but there are also great options to explore locally and regionally. Since establishing roots and a career over the last decade, I've emphasized getting outdoors for walks, hikes, car camping, and backpacking. Two of the things that I love about long-term vagabonding trips is the sense of adventure in the trip, and the fact that I really tend to stay in the moment, which causes time to pass more slowly. I don't typically get that feeling from a normal vacation, but I feel it when I'm on a multi night backpacking trip. When I'm in the backcountry I am extremely focused on my environment and there is a slight sense of danger or adventure on the trip.

I've started cycling a lot more over the last year and it's allowed me to explore my city and region in a completely different way. I'm also starting to dream about some longer trips - either touring or bikepacking - If I'm FI with a home base in the pacific northwest and DW is working. The Selkirk loop is high on my list right now as I've spent a lot of time backpacking in the Selkirk's.

https://selkirkloop.org/maps/bicycling-map/

I mention this because it looks like you are into cycling and touring. This could be one option to meet a goal of travel in an environmentally responsible way, that is low cost, while you are accumulating assets towards FI. One of the great things about living in Germany is that you have immediate access to a number of unique cultures, as well as some beautiful natural areas. I watched the documentary Pedal the World a while back and it seems like Europe has some great bike infrastructure for touring or cycling:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qruBre--S-w

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@2b1s - Thanks for the suggestions! I don't think I'm burned out but the occasional tough day at work quickly leads me to think of "escape' through travel. I think some discontent comes down to the Groundhog Day effect of working from home and isolation from colleagues and friends. We recently had an agency wide meeting with a psychiatrist as the guest speaker. She compared the current pandemic and the psychological impact on people to a natural disaster. She said that all of the uncertainty and trauma in 2020 has led to a tacit level of chronic stress and anxiety that manifests itself differently in everyone. That perspective reminds me to take it easy on myself, because the world is pretty fucking crazy right now and I'm managing quite well.

DW and I plan to keep working until the COVID 19 vaccine is broadly distributed and most travel restrictions have loosened up. Based on what I'm hearing next fall is probably when that might happen, at least in the US. There are obviously a lot of unknowns about how widely it will be distributed in different countries, but I'm not particularly worried because we'd be perfectly content living in the same country or city for multiple months.

I realized I didn't convey myself very well in my last post. I was combining two different thoughts when I mentioned plans to travel for 3-5 years. I'm thinking that we might want to be nomadic for a 3-5 year period, before settling down and purchasing property in the states. In terms of more concrete plans, I had a target date for a sabbatical in July of 2022. I figured that would provide enough time for things to normalize in terms of travel, we could pad the stash significantly, and it would line up well with the end date of a big project at work. We'd travel for a year to test out whether the lifestyle is sustainable or fulfilling enough to do for multiple years, then come back to the US to work for another year or two until we hit full FI. At that point we could hit the road again, or settle down and reassess our options.

I was playing with a compound interest calculator after I saw your post and it got me thinking about whether I would even need to return to full time work if we save for another 18 months.

Of course, things could change dramatically. I noticed that JL Collins linked to the Mad Fientist's plans for long-term travel in that post you provided. I mentioned earlier in my journal that MF quickly realized that he and his wife didn't really like the lifestyle, and found it more fulfilling to have a home base in Scotland to work on projects and have more structure/routine. I try to keep this in mind and maintain some cognitive flexibility for future plans.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 4:43 pm
IMO humans need a balance of something they enjoy each day AND some long term goal to work towards, which they may sacrifice some of each day towards. Also some balance of autonomy and responsibility. Without one of each we fail to thrive, without both we become depressed.
Very well said and I strongly agree. I think it could be expanded on in terms of needs for physical, creative, and intellectual pursuits. For example, I'm hitting on much of what you describe in my work and life, but I've noticed that one of the things missing is a physical/tactile element to work. I try to supplement with physical hobbies, and it often provides more balance, but not always.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

A Remembrance of Hikes Past:

I have been diving into the Life is a Daring Adventure thread over the past couple of days. A lot of really inspiring stories and content in there.

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=4130

I tweaked a muscle in my back a couple days ago in either the most pathetic or adorable manner possible depending on your perspective - building a snowman. Actually it was a large snow fox to accompany a 7 foot snowman one of my neighbors built. I'm feeling much better today.

Immobility combined with all of the adventures I was reading about led me back to photos and memories of my 2020 backpacking excursions. I was happy to make it out for four overnight trips, along with a lot of day hikes and some car camping between those trips. Here is a recap:

Trip 1 - Lolo National Forest (Western Montana)

I camped next to this lake on the first night and witnessed an amazing sunset.
Image

I woke up a 5 am the next morning and summited Cube Iron Mountain on the 4th of July. It was pretty much just a hike up to the top (7,110 feet) but I had to cross multiple snowfields to get there.

Image

Trip 2 - Harrison Lake (N. Idaho - Selkirk Mountains)

This trip was a good reminder that I need to do a bit more planning. I was driving to another trailhead in N. Idaho but a bridge was out on the road a few miles before the trailhead. The only alternate route was through Canada, and the border was closed due to Covid (I also didn't have a passport with me). I had already sunk a lot of time driving on windy forest roads, so I had to quickly find a new option that would allow me to hike in before dark. Harrison lake had been on my list for a while, and I'm really glad I ended up here. The hike in was only a few miles and I got to climb up to the ridge for some amazing views. There was only one other group camping the night I hiked in, which was surprising because this is a popular spot.

This was the view from camp my first night
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A young bull moose hung around the campsites the first hour or two after I arrived. It was really cool to see but a little scary. I tried to give him as much space as possible, but he kept creeping closer. I realize I set up shop in his backyard.
Image

A view from the ridge over Harrison Lake. The climb up was a bit scary at times and my adrenaline was pumping pretty hard:
Image

There were probably 60-70 people that came up to the lake the next day. Most were day hikers, but it started getting crowded and I was happy to give another group my prime campsite after the climb and a couple hours reading in the sun.

Trip 3 - Cabinet Wilderness (NW Montana)

This was probably my favorite trip of the year. I had wanted to visit the Cabinet Wilderness for years and it definitely didn't disappoint. I spent two nights here and had to ford a pretty strong creek four times. I realized I need to get a better strategy for fording rivers. I usually try to pack light and don't bring sandals with me. I ended up with wet boots for most of the trip even thought they are waterproof and I had gaiters on.The "brush" was also extremely thick on portions of the trail.

This is called "A" Peak. I camped underneath it next to an alpine like with waterfalls fed by glaciers. The wildflowers in the picture are part of the brush I was referring to, and was often 5-6 feet tall. It was kind of like hiking though a tunnel of plants at times, but not in a very pleasant way.
Image

I was the only one camped at the lake on Friday evening and woke up to something munching on my tent around 5 am. This was the culprit, along with a couple of his friends:

Image

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I had a leisurely morning next to the lake and read for multiple hours while waiting for my boots to dry a bit more. Loads of hikers came wandering in throughout the morning. I initially planned to stay at the lake for two nights, but decided to vacate and hike back to a really beautiful spot next to the river with a 40 ft. waterfall. It turned out that I had that spot all to myself. It was under a large grove of old growth Western Red Cedar's (one of my favorite trees). It was quite an interesting environment as large portions along the trail were burned in a wildfire. Some of the old growth trees survived and provided a sharp contrast to the fire-scarred hills.

I found a large, flat rock at the base of a cedar tree right along the river and read there for hours. I was running around the camp barefoot, like a carefree kid.
Image

Trip 4 - Bottleneck Lake (Selkirk Mountains - N. Idaho)

This was also a really great trip, and the first time I went out with a group in a few years. I went out with my sister and her family, along with my other sister's son. There were seven of us and a dog in total and we spent two nights up at the lake.

They brought a hammock and it made for an amazing spot to lounge and read.
Image

After our first night we did some bushwacking to see how far we could get up towards Snow Peak (the mountain in the background). My sister and brother-in-law decided to turn back with their two youngest and the dog. I took my 14 year old niece and 17 year old nephew further. We found a route up to the ridge that wasn't too sketchy, and they did awesome with their first, non-technical scramble in the backcountry. We bushwacked our way back to camp and experienced some sublime alpine meadows, small lakes, and views. Here is a view from the ridge next to snow Peak, looking down at Bottleneck Lake where we camped:
Image

Thanks for reading and wishing everyone out there some daring adventures in 2021, however you may define those!
Last edited by Western Red Cedar on Thu Jan 21, 2021 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Thank you for sharing the stories and pictures, can't believe how many beautiful places are hidden right in plain sight.

PS - loved the Mountain of Storms and Doug Tompkins video you linked in the Adventure thread. DW cried at the end of the later......it reminded us why we pursued ERE in the first place.

sky
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by sky »

Beautiful

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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

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I enjoyed the little vignettes. Thanks for sharing.

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Egg
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Egg »

Awesome photos. Here's a nature photo from the other day from our neck of the woods (Northern England):

Image

The roots/wings thing has always been an issue for me. We moved every 2 years when I was a kid and I completely lost all of my friends every time. It also left me socially isolated as a teenager, which I think kinda fucked me up a bit in ways that I am still experiencing. Basically, I think it sucks to have zero friends older than university, and don't intend to move my own kids around so much, because I want them to have roots.

So yeah, +1 from me that it pretty much depends on what you had as a kid, how much you might hanker for the other as an adult.

Western Red Cedar
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Post by Western Red Cedar »

Thanks all for the kind words.

@Egg - Thanks for the view from Northern England. It is quite impressive. My dad is English and I have many fond memories of trips through the English countryside with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins at different points in my life.

@2B1S - Glad you enjoyed the videos. Doug Tompkins has such an inspiring story and legacy. Both Doug and Yvon have talked about how that original trip to Patagonia in the VW changed the trajectory of their lives. I'll elaborate more a bit later as I'm just finishing up Chouinard's memoir. I'm posting this quote from the video here as a personal reminder:

"Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul" -Edward Abbey

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Financial Update:

457 B - 140,806
Roth IRA - 54,858
Savings - 31,040
Pension - 36,770
DW Roth - 49,470
DW Savings - 2,999
Brokerage (shared) - 21,069

NW - 337,012 (Increase of $17,182)

2020 NW Increase - $89,552

Another strong month for us financially. The momentum of compound interest is really starting to work in our favor. I mentioned that last month I didn't really feel much different after getting to 50% of our target number. I think I finally started feeling it after my update this month. Coming to terms with leaving work in 12-18 months, even if it is for only a year, has heightened the reality behind the numbers.

DW has continued working part time. She's full-time on paper but there have been a lot of cancellations over the holiday season. Whenever someone cancels at the last minute, we just say "well at least we don't actually need that money." It is a great position to be in.

Additional thoughts on Establishing Roots:

I've thought quite a bit over the last couple weeks about the roots vs. wings discussion. I realized there are a couple of other, underlying dynamics at play. I've slowly watched my city transition from a LCOL city to a MCOL city over the last 4-5 years. Part of my desire to buy property is based in a fear of missing out mentality, which is probably misguided. I have a strong social network here and know that I could leverage it in many ways to support a renaissance lifestyle or tap into deep pockets of social capital. I think there is also a sense of guilt about leaving my parents to travel at a time when they are getting older and may need more help. They are both relatively healthy and my dad is highly active, doing all kinds of physical labor in his late 60's, but things could change.

I've decided it really doesn't make a lot of sense to buy anything before an extended international trip. Particularly if I plan to take a sabbatical and return to work in the same city. I've been toying with the idea of trying to buy the 20 acre property that my parents bought a couple of years ago next to the original 9 acre homestead. They paid about $90,000 for it and it has a well, access roads, a 200 sq. foot tiny house that is mostly finished, and an nice outbuilding with a 5th wheel trailer. I don't think DW is too enthusiastic about this idea, but it provides an option to have a home base that we could return to while spending a good chuck of time abroad. We also wouldn't need a mortgage which is a plus.

In some ways, it doesn't really make a lot of sense because I can go back and use that property, or the main cabin, whenever I want without having to deal with the hassles and costs of property ownership. I haven't broached the topic with my parents yet, but I'm sure they would be interested.

I've appreciated the threads and comments elsewhere on the forum talking about all of the advantages of renting. It is a good reminder of why I chose this approach in the first place, and the continual, hidden costs that tend to accompany homeownership.

Thoughts on Barry Lopez:

I just wanted to acknowledge that Barry Lopez passed away this week. I've only read one of his books, a collection of short stories called Light Action in the Caribbean. A couple years ago I was doing a 35 mile backpacking trip in the Hoh Rainforest and on the third day found that I had unknowingly been carrying a hardback copy of this with me the entire way. At least it was small. I realized I had packed it the previous year and it was in a hidden pocket. I decided that was a sign that I should probably read it and spent a glorious afternoon sprawled out on the banks of the Hoh River in the sun. He's best known for Arctic Dreams, which won the National Book Award in 1986. It's been on my shelf, along with his collection of essays, About This Life, awaiting me for a couple of years now.

Here is an article about him. I didn't realize he was impacted by last year's fires in Western Oregon:

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/26/94886312 ... dies-at-75

I enjoyed this quote:

"It's so difficult to be a human being. There are so many reasons to give up. To retreat into cynicism or despair. I hate to see that and I want to do something that makes people feel safe and loved and capable." -Barry Lopez

Thoughts on 2020:

It goes without saying that this year was awful for so many people. It serves as a reminder how fortunate DW and I are to be financially secure and fairly healthy. I really enjoyed working from home full time and will probably continue doing it as long as I'm with my current employer. DW transitioned into a new job that allows her to leverage her skills and knowledge acquired teaching young kids for the last eight years, but in a manner that better fits her personality and provides new challenges. We both probably excelled this year because we are introverts.

Many thanks to those who have commented here, and elsewhere on the forums. As most of us know, this is a unique sector of the internet that embraces differences of opinion and unique approaches to life. I've only been journaling here for 4 months but have found the dialogue and encouragement extremely helpful in taking additional steps to create a better and more resilient life. I'm a big believer that those types of steps and actions ripple out into the broader community in ways we don't fully realize.

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RFS
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Post by RFS »

Hey WRC, I wanted to let you know that I really enjoy reading your general. There is a ton of valuable information/musings here, particularly the "roots vs. wings" topic (I, too, have been thinking about this.) And those pictures- holy shit! Please keep writing, sir.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@RFS - Thanks for stopping by and for the encouraging comments. Writing here has been helpful for me to sort through thoughts and ideas. I'm glad you've been enjoying it.

Hobbies - Fermentation and Cooking projects:

I've been wrestling with how much I should push myself to pursue new hobbies/skills. It's nice to not feel pressured to schedule all of my down time while I'm not working. I was reading a thread (can't find it now) that was talking about how you probably won't pick up new hobbies in retirement if you aren't willing to do them while you're still working. I'm not sure if I completely buy into this, but I can see the value in pursuing and prioritizing interests now. I've heard this advice on the MMM forums previously as well. Lately I haven't really been pushing myself on things I think I "should" do too much, but just putting energy into whatever is piquing my interest that fits within the web of goals. In the past few weeks that has been cooking and fermentation.

I recently finished David Chang's memoir Eat A Peach. His writing seemed much different than most of the shows he has created. He talked a lot about struggles with family, identity, mental health and depression. I never realized from his Netflix content how accomplished he is as a chef as he doesn't really talk about his awards. The book inspired me to branch out a bit with my cooking and try some new recipes. DW and I are both solid cooks, but we can get into dietary habits or "ruts" - particularly when we are trying to eat healthy. We had a really extravagant meal on Christmas Eve. Over the weekend, I made Bulgogi for the first time, which was actually pretty simple but turned out great. We have a lot of sauces and ingredients for Korean food, so I'd like to broaden the Korean dishes we can make. I'd say we probably make about 10 solid Korean dishes, but could double that without too much effort. Yesterday I made a chicken dish with a white wine and mustard sauce. For some reason cooking with wine has intimidated me a bit, but it really adds a nice flavor to some dishes - and there is usually leftovers for drinking!

I've also been reading through the Noma Guide to Fermentation. The book doesn't look at wine, bread, beer, or cheese, but focuses on seven categories of fermentation that are part of the Noma menu:

-lactic acid fermentation
-kombucha
-vinegar
-koji
-miso
-shoyu
-garum

I really only focused on the first two. I've been making Kimchi for about 10 years now, but I learned a lot about the science and chemical reactions behind different types of fermentation.* Fermentation will be critical if/when I ever have a large garden. It provides immense variety of flavors while extending the shelf life of local produce. Not to mention the health benefits.

I learned that traditional Kimchi is one of many approaches to lacto-fermentation. "Lacto-fermented products bring fruitiness, acidity, and umami to everything they touch...Thankfully, lacto-fermentations are also incredibly straightforward to make. The process is simple: Weigh your ingredient, add 2% salt by weight, and wait. How many days depends on how sour you want the final product to be."

Our preferred Kimchi recipe is actually much more sour than what you would find in a store (it's also vegan). We found a sushi restaurant in S. Korea that we loved, partially because they had a particularly sour Kimchi as one of their banchans (side dishes). We've replicated that, and have experimented over the years with the number of days we'll leave the kimchi at room temperature before slowing the fermentation process with refrigeration. Right now we leave it out 5-7 days, trying it out on day 4 or 5. I think most other people only leave it out 2-3 days. We've never actually weighed out the ingredients and salt content. We've always just eyeballed it.

I've often thought about using other types of cabbage, which tends to be cheaper than napa cabbage, for kimchi. I realized that the firm stems provide a natural crunchiness that balances the softer texture of the leaves. This makes a jar of kimchi juicy, but not mushy.

Lactic acid bacteria is on basically all fruits and vegetables, so you can experiment with just about anything. They have a recipe for lacto plums that I want to try as my parents have a plum tree and always have heaps of plums in the summer. I also want to try making Kombucha again. I got a SCOBY from a coworker about 6 years ago but the Kombucha didn't turn out. It's not something DW enjoys, but I love it and its really expensive at he store.

Our recent Kimchi project (bananas not included)

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The finished product with homemade bulgolgi

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One of the great things about making Kimchi is that it allows you to make some tasty, popular Korean dishes. We made kimchi fried rice last week with some of our older batch. After it has been fermenting in the fridge for a couple of months, the juice is really good in Kimchi Jjigae (soup) or Kimchi Jjim (stew). It's also just great with some rice and veggies.

*ETA - Another thing I learned after reading the Noma fermentation guide is that metal affects the chemical reaction in lacto fermentation. DW and I noticed over the years that when we initially salted the cabbage it didn't turn out as well if we were using certain pots or pans. We figured out after a couple of disappointing batches that ceramic, glass, or plastic tubs worked much better. Now I know why.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Wheaton Level Self Assessment:

I've never discussed my personal Wheaton levels. I was going to write that I've been stuck at a level 5 for the last few years, but after looking more closely at the chart I might be closer to a 6 than I thought. One of my issues with self assessment is that in some of the columns I might be at a five, while in others I might be closer to a 7. For example, my retirement goal was initially 4% of average monthly spend, but as I've read about semi ERE over the years and thought about future options I realize I'd rather leave things open and leave traditional work before I hit 4%. In this case, it seems like my thinking jumped WL 6 and went straight to WL 7. I actually think all of the 2-3% discussion is kind of bonkers.* I'd much rather pick up some temporary work, do some boondocking, teach ESL, or relocate to a cheap international destination for a while than work multiple extra years for a safety margin. I suspect my willingness to do those kind of things is exactly what will lower future spending and put NW in runaway mode.

Another example is the vacation and experience column. At my current WL, I'd be pretty comfortable with 4,6,or 7. I've kind of bounced between 4 and 7 at different times. Last year I was thinking about taking a 50% pay cut to do a fellowship in Germany, primarily for the opportunity to live in a new country and learn the language. I didn't go that route for other reasons. but I know I'm open to that type of thinking.

I introduced DW to the WL concept, and she got it immediately. I think it helped that she studied permaculture intensively in college. It's funny now, because she'll just randomly throw it into a conversation, saying "oh she probably just doesn't understand that because of her WL" - and it always catches me off guard. I suspect she's hovering between WL 4 and 5.

I realize the chart isn't concrete and and is simply a guide to understand the continuum of living a good, well-balanced life with a low impact. Perhaps spending is the most appropriate column to gage, in which case we are at a five. That would make sense in that my philosophy/thinking leans more towards a 6 or even 7, which balances out with DWs WL 4 or 5. A lot of our lifestyle right now is based on various compromises, so in that sense I think I've leaned heavily on optimization.

*ETA - This may reflect my lack of sophistication in terms of investing.

Hobbies:

I took my first stab at developing a sour dough starter last night. Just water and flower. I used some starchy water from some rice I rinsed and added blueberries to introduce some wild yeast. I don't eat much bread - pretty much cut it out of my diet - but thought it would be a fun to continue experimenting with fermentation.

I mentioned previously that I was shying away from scheduling hobbies or things I "should" do in my downtime. I realized after a few weeks I need a little more accountability. It's better for me to create those strong internal expectations, otherwise I tend to get lazy, watch Netlfix or hang out on the internet.

After a 4 day weekend it was clear to me that I'm much more open to other activities when I'm not working 8-10 hours per day. Still, that's a lame excuse for not spending more time on interesting activities during the work week.

I have a Linked In learning account (previously called Lynda) for free through work. I'm able to use it for non-work related pursuits in my free time. I'd like to complete an 18 hour photography course. They have shorter, individual sessions, but I think doing the full course will be important to better learn some fundamentals. Writing this here to create some mild, external accountability as well.
Last edited by Western Red Cedar on Thu Jan 21, 2021 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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