There is no doubt that not one person out there on Planet Earth hasn’t changed their life somewhat all due to the pandemic. Nothing is the same. There is no ‘before life’ to go back to. It doesn’t exist. The coronavirus and all it’s deviant mutant variants aren’t going to go away. We all have to address the fact that this pandemic is here to stay and all of us must adjust our lives accordingly or perish in the wind.

The first thing we need to do is educate ourselves with the truth. I have no idea where we are going to get the truth since most (if not all) media outlets lie (for whatever reasons). I believe in science and I believe the coronavirus was man made. Thus all the upcoming variants. I believe in the vaccines and I believe in the booster shots. That’s the way it is with the regular seasonal flu so why should this covid-19 be any different? I’ve had friends and family now who’ve contracted and survived both the coronavirus and it’s variant. After speaking with them and listening to their descriptive experiences with the virus I’m more convinced that getting the vaccination is the way to go. Again, this is my personal belief. Yours may be different. Granted, true, getting the vax is no guarantee I’ll never get sick and die of the virus BUT if I take the necessary precautions (mask, social distance, stay away from crowds, isolate as much as possible) I might be able to live out the rest of my life in peace and tranquility. I’m on the high-danger side of the virus as I am nearing 71 years of age and my health isn’t as good as I thought it should be.

For the first time I’ve seriously sat down and contemplated my death. If I thought I was going to die in a few months what would I be doing now differently? Truth is: nothing! I’m living exactly as I want to live and if I die tomorrow I will have considered my life to have been well lived and successful. I accomplished every one of my dreams and goals. I still contemplate seeing the Grand Canyon but if I never do, it’s no big deal. I’ve visited the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth State Park (click here) and that’s been good enough for me! I found the man of my dreams, have been happily married for 40 years! Have amazing daughters and beautiful granddaughters. I’ve done whatever I wanted to do in both business and daily living. Did all my traveling while I was young and physically able. Been to Paris (and the French countryside), London (and the English countryside), Rome, Venice, Florence, Bologna (and lived as an Italian local), Geneva and every single island in the Caribbean including Bermuda. I’ve mastered the Good Life while on a budget! What more is there left for me to do (other than enjoy life and live in peace and harmony)?

Here are some photos I took back in 2018 of Letchworth State Park:

I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. I’ve been solvent and I’ve been bankrupt. I’ve been healthy and I was once diagnosed with lupus and told I had 5 years to live. That was back in 1985 and we all see how accurate that diagnosis was. I’ve been happy and I’ve been sad. I’ve been hopeful and I’ve been suicidally depressed. In all the episodes of my life, whether good or bad, I welcomed them. Why? Because that’s the life experience. It’s both good and bad. You have to take them all in, live them and enjoy them. That’s what makes you alive.

Going forward, it is obvious to me that we have to become more self-sufficient. That means I have to tend to my garden more. Grow more veggies, leafy greens and perhaps put in more fruit trees. My peach tree is doing well and living in New York State, the apple capital of the world, there is no need for me to put in apple trees. I’ve got whatever I would want right down the road at a local apple orchard. Since I live in a rural area, I have neighbors down the road selling eggs, chickens (and rabbits for consumption but I’ll never indulge in Bugs Bunny!!) Wild turkeys and deer roan freely all about us. If the need arises, we’ll never literally starve.

We’re also in the middle of making ourselves more energy independent by installing a fire heating stove! Within the next two weeks our stove installation should be complete and we will be off the grid, so to speak. We won’t be dependent on our propane delivery truck much anymore. We have our own well. We pump up our own water. Our home is generator supported when the power goes down. We have the option of lugging our refuse to the dump vs having it picked up. We stockpile. We’re self-sufficient as much as possible.

Which brings me to the last frontier: money. I worry about money all day and all night. Ever since I got my first paycheck to my current day, I worry about money. No matter how much money I have ever had, I’ve always worried about it. Sometimes I feel rich and adequate. Other times I feel poor and downtrodden. It’s all in my head and with our super high inflationary times we have found ourselves in, I discovered worrying about money is useless. I know how to live on a budget and spend our money within the guidelines and parameters of our cash income. Call it frugality. Call it being thrifty. Call it being cheap. All I know is that whatever our level of income is, I make it work. I still have no idea what to categorize myself in. I just know I can stay within a budget and survive one way or another. Lately, I’ve been cutting out a lot of stuff. The priority right now is paying our basic bills, paying our taxes, keeping a roof over our head, food on the table, gas in the car and all our mechanical necessities in good working condition. More DIYing but my age is creeping up on me. For the first time I’ve had to hire a neighbor to weed out my vegetable gardens and the two decorative spots in the front of my home. I can not do it any longer. Hubby has his own chores to tend to and he literally can not take on any more.

We don’t socialize. We won’t eat out in a restaurant. We won’t attend concerts. We very rarely shop in person. We do most of our business transactions online. I utilize chat technology when inquiring about products or interacting with customer services. I rent more ebooks from my library than ever before. We do most everything outdoors now in the open air. We stay away from people and crowds. We’re not traveling as much as we would like to. No one other than family members are allowed inside our home or cars. Our home has become our sanctuary as more and more, each day, we are grateful for it’s space and the comfort it provides. I’m grateful for our new influx of neighbors on our ‘block’. It’s been so nice to go out, walk our dog and be able to chat with neighbors even if we are on opposite sides of the street. I’m grateful for my “new” friends I’ve made on my property such as the birds, the wild turkeys, the deer, the squirrels, the turtles, the ducks & the geese who populate our pond.

My husband has been out of work since March 2019 because of the pandemic. We had depended on his extra income to make ends meet. It’s been a challenge to continue to make those ends meet since then. He was supposed to go back to work this September BUT the contractor can not get the parts to do the job. Thus, no work. The contractor has no idea if and when those parts will ever come in. So, they sit in idleness. He was thinking of going back to school to learn a new trade but even with government assistance we would still have to cough up thousands of dollars and we are NOT in the position to do such a thing. Besides, at 64 to be saddled with student debt is the kiss of retirement debt. What would happen if he couldn’t get a job in his newfound career? How would he pay back the student loans? He can’t take any money out of our retirement savings for something so frivolous and useless. We’re not young people anymore. This time it’s serious. Very serious. I’ve advised him to utilize what he already knows and does: fixing/repairing anything electrical or vehicle/mechanical related.

My biggest worry/fear would be not having the money to pay the taxes on my beloved home. That is why I am vicious when it comes to spending any money. My favorite movie of all time (since I was a child) has been (and still is) Gone With The Wind. The horrors and sacrifices that Scarlett O’Hara and her family had to endure to restore their lives after the war (and we are always in a ‘war’ of some kind, aren’t we?) always affected me as a child and still do, as an adult, to this very day. Tara’s tax bill was $300. Scarlett said it might have been three million dollars (or in today’s money values, three billion dollars) for there was no way she could have paid it. So Scarlett schemed and connived, so much so that she even went to tempt the kindly Rhett Butler by offering up her body in prostitution to him in order to get that tax money. Eventually Scarlett found a rich man to marry her and get Tara’s tax bill paid, on time, thus saving the family homestead.

Enjoy these 4 minutes of a scene from Gone With The Wind. Mammy and Scarlett had taken down the frayed, green velvet curtains the Yankees still left hanging on a window in Tara, to make Scarlett a dress. Scarlett’s intention was to make her look so beautiful that she could fool Rhett Butler into thinking she was rich thus loaning her the $300 to pay the taxes on Tara as a very good investment. Let’s hope and pray that our upcoming lives in America, as we struggle to rebuild our own lives doesn’t resort to such inhumane tactics. With the looming evictions, high costs of housing, having a home to live in is more tantamount than ever before.

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