Friday, April 30, 2010

Learning things no one else wants to learn

I've always had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Unfortunately it's always been for things that aren't really important, or don't yield large sums of money. When I was in high school it was all about cars . I did buckle down halfway through college and get serious though. I was a great student during my last two years. That was mostly due to the fact that I didn't care to spend the rest of my life cleaning bathrooms at the Country Corner or topping and suckering tobacco.

Over the last few years I've become fascinated with physics and electrical engineering for some reason. I still don't really understand it but I absorb as much as I can on the subjects. Man, what if I had done that while I was in school? lol Quantum Physics? Fascinating! Nerd? Yes.

In my journey of "Backing er Down" I've made it a point to focus on learning the things that most others my age don't care anything about. The epiphany came as my Dad and I started gardening a few years ago. The man is a walking encyclopedia for all things gardening. I began writing things down as much as I could. This led to my asking more and more questions and learning more and more. That led to more internet searches on various topics and raised more questions. I suppose it will be a never ending journey, which is good! Gardening, wood splitting, changing oil, auto repair, hunting, fishing, writing, even cooking and manual labor.........all things that are slowly going by the wayside. Pretty sad IMO. My desire? To learn and practice things so that I can pass the skills on to my kids.

So what's next? I'm thinking maybe some woodworking skills might be in order. I would enjoy that and it could prove useful at some point. The big deal though is.....are you ready for this.......Auctioneering school. LOL That's right. Most likely the most useless of all skills that I desire, but it will at least be fun. Maybe I could go on the local charity auction circuit or something. Could be of benefit to some deserving charities. Who knows. I might never even make it that far, lol.

My wife and sisters-in-law often accuse me of being born 40 years too late. I suppose that's true. Am I ready to go Jeremiah Johnson on the world? Nah, love my wife and kids too much for that. Could I do without a phone or satellite tv? Probably. Could I do without radio and the Internet? Yikes! Probably not.

The next blog will be, "Simple life doesn't always = cheaper life" least on the front end. Still gathering my thought on that one. It's a topic I've pondered for quite a while and I think I have some pretty good insight on it. It may be rubbish. Who knows.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Focusing on the kids, making rain barrels and corn

I have to make myself commit to writing or I completely forget. I suppose that could be one indication that I need to "back 'er down" and it could also be a good way to keep me on target as well. I received another gentle reminder about what "it's" all about last night at dinner.

As our family sat down to eat my oldest son remarked with a sense of surprise, "Daddy! you aren't working tonight!" the exclamation was as if it was a wondrous discovery that he just came across. "That's right buddy, I'm here with you guys tonight." His reply would melt the heart of any parent, "It makes me happy when you're home Daddy." No doubt that God speaks to us through our doubt.

I do indeed love my job. The spring has been spent traveling and taking the Georgia Southern show on the road to our alumni and friends all over the southeast. What a rewarding experience it is to meet other Eagles, hang out, and eat some great food! It's my dream job honestly. I love people and I love Georgia Southern. This particular part of the year is a three month grind though. I'm thankful to have been able to see all the fine folks, but I'm glad it's over too. I very much look forward to being able to tuck my boys in at night and get my oldest son out in the garden. I know that my wife is ecstatic at the prospect of having "the enforcer" back too, lol.

My rain barrel project is back under way. For those not familiar, I made a couple of batches of rain harvesting barrels a few months back and posted them on Craigslist. Never in a million years did I expect the reaction. I've sold 14 so far and have only recently been able to get more barrels. I got 5 more last weekend and hope to have all of them outfitted by the weekend. This is an excellent example of how we should keep our eyes open for opportunities at all times. I was able to make something for my own needs and then make a pocket full of cash to boot!

I promised my friend Gloria that I would write about corn the next time I blogged. To keep that promise, we're at that portion of my musing. My corn is doing pretty well despite the dry spell we had recently. One half of the plot looks a little weak though. I think the soil in that section is poor. I rotate the corn each year, so at least this gives me the knowledge of where not to plant it again next year. I'll just plant squash there. I honestly believe that you could toss squash seeds onto hardened clay and yield enough fruit to feed an infantry. If you're reading this....have never planted a garden and want to try, start with squash. It will give you big confidence booster. It will also give you a boatload of veggies that you'll be sick and tired of eating after a month.

Ya'll have a great day.



Monday, April 12, 2010

Why the title "Back 'er Down?"

So Alex....why the title "Back 'er Down" for the new blog? Well, it's an old saying that I'm not sure of when it comes to the origin. A quick Google search shows it likely came from trucker's slang for "slow down." Makes sense. My definition has the same meaning, but when my dad would tell me to "back 'er down" when he was teaching me to drive a tractor as a little fella. So there you go.... back 'er down = slow down. An appropriate title for a blog dedicated to simplifying life.

That leads me to some other quips that I found interesting as it relates to this topic. Everyone loves inspirational quotes right? I figured I'd share a few that are dear to me and remind me that life is not all about the rat race.

"If you don't have the best of everything, make the best of everything you have." -Unknown

Since few of us have the best of everything, this is pretty good advice. No clue who first coined it, but it's saved me a heap of money and a lot of heartache too.

"We may not have the best stuff in the world, but the least we can do is keep it clean" -My Dad

My dad is always good for some gems. This was one that I remember from a very early age. We didn't really have nice automobiles or tractors, but he always washed and vacuumed them regularly. He was also pretty adamant that we keep our rooms clean too. I wanted no part of that, lol. Interesting that now I'm borderline OCD when it comes to keeping my stuff orderly and clean.

"Fix it. Paint it. Repair it. Weed it by hand instead of buying Round-up. Collect rain water for your garden. Basically, when your money is in short supply and your time is long, use your time and don’t spend the money." - Unknown

Money quotes are always fun. (I will say this though..... a simpler life does not always mean a cheaper life. At least in the short run. I plan to devote an entire writing to this in the near future.)

Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, "See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk."
- GearHead

Not going political here necessarily. This beaut came from a poster on a motorsports message board that I frequent. The point is that we have to be responsible for yourselves and our own families. I tend to count on myself for getting things done. If I need help I'll ask for it. I fear that many folks are becoming too reliant without even realizing it.

So there you go. A few things to chew on.

Keeping it simple over the weekend

Friday was a furlough day so I spent the entire day cutting grass. What a joy. I love cutting grass. The tractor and the lawnmower don't care too much about what kind of day you're having. they just hum along with a nice rhythm and they get the job done. There is a lot of satisfaction in looking back over the yard and field after a fresh cut. Realized accomplishment is a good thing.

Saturday was another day spent outside, spreading mulch and repairing a tractor for one of dad's friends. My one-year old- is loving the outdoors. I'm glad for that and my wife is really fired up at the prospect of sending both boys outside with me in the future ;)

My dad came over Sunday and we looked over the garden and planted some more tomatoes. 74 plants in all now. We'll have plenty if someone wants some. (On a side note, Harveys (regional grocer) has tomatoes for $2.58 each. Holy wow! Is a veggie stand in order in a few months? Garden is looking good. If we can keep the deer out we're going to have a really nice plot.

Ya'll keep it simple.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Here we go again.....with a new twist

Well whatta ya know! Old Alex is back blogging again.

Over the years I've written on politics, religion, motorsports or whatever other nuggets of interest made their way from my warped mind. I unplugged from blogging a while back because it just became too much to keep up with. Most recently I was doing opinion pieces on various forms of motorsports and defending NASCAR for what it was (that was a hoot!) Doing a preview and recap of about 5 different series became a bit much. I wasn't enjoying it much, so I did what all respected folks in media do. I edited an overpriced season finale and killed it off.

Well, over the last 4 years or so my perspective on life has changed quite a bit. Taxes and children will do that to a man. I'm fundamentally the same, but I found myself yearning for a simpler life. I've always been fascinated with simple living and keeping things laid back. I was never able to do that until recently. Like most I graduated college (PROUD alumnus of Georgia Southern University) and began the pursuit of "things." Life was good! I had a wonderful wife, a nice home, three automobiles. I lived 10 minutes from the beach, 10 minutes from downtown Savannah and my wife and I were making a heap of money!

We decided to move to the country about the same time we found that were were expecting our first son. Over the next four years I began to discover two things. 1: God has a plan for me (though I'm not 100% clear on what it is yet, lol.) 2: Some of the happiest people in the world go home each day smelly and tired.

This blog will be about my journey to simplify life. To live below my means, to be the best husband I can, to raise two boys to become good citizens. Most importantly to do it all without stressing out and trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Can it be done? Heck yeah! Can I do it? Not sure. I hope you'll read along and find out. I'd welcome your comments, opinions and advice. This is a blog that I will truly enjoy even if it's not read by a single person.