A Prelude to a Blog Post

By Cam Mather

Michelle and I constantly have debates about this blog.

I write these posts but Michelle edits them and makes them coherent (or as coherent as she can, given the material that I provide.) Our discussions usually occur when she has decided to remove a word/paragraph/section of a post that I’ve written. If she feels that something is inflammatory, libelous, offensive … you name it, she takes it out.

Sometimes I write a post and she just doesn’t getting around to posting it. She’ll say, “That was a downer.” She’ll post a more upbeat one instead.

We’ve been having a debate about a recent post that I wrote that she finds bleak. I didn’t think it was that bad, but she doesn’t like it.

So we’ve agreed to post it on Thursday and let today’s post serve as a warning to anyone who prefers to focus on the positive. If you are one of those “up” people, maybe you don’t want to read it.

I don’t believe it’s that bad, more philosophical than bleak, but that will be open to interpretation.

A lot of readers have found our blog through sources like Mother Earth News. Our blog started out more about renewable energy and living off-grid and has morphed into a broad sort of rant, with much of it centered on homesteading and country living.

Most of the time, the majority of the time … actually almost all of the time I love living where I do. We have an awesome place. This past July really sucked, though. It was because of the drought and oppressive heat. It was because of climate change. I wrote a blog, actually a rant, about how gross a month it was and we got lots of feedback. I don’t think it would be very honest to perpetually write blogs about how awesome country life is. It’s pretty awesome, but trying to grow food in a drought, an historic drought, the worst in many, many decades, is not awesome. It sucks.

I tend to dwell on the dark side of life. Michelle and I have developed a “code.” Whenever we’re (i.e. I’m) in a mode where we’re (I’m) spending a lot of time talking negatively, one of us will say, “Have you noticed how beautiful the sunflowers are this year?” This is our little reminder to change the subject and smarten up, because most of the sunflowers managed to survive the drought and they are awesome. And one should try and stay positive and stop dwelling on the negative.

I just finished reading Michael J. Fox’s latest book “Always Looking Up” (purchased second hand.) I’m hoping to learn some coping techniques. How can a guy with a debilitating disease like Parkinson’s stay so “up”? I don’t get it. I was inspired to read it because Macleans Magazine did an article on research that indicates some people may have a genetic predisposition to optimism. (http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/08/07/always-on-the-sunny-side/)

I don’t believe I have this gene. I remember standing in front of Burlington City Council in the late 80’s, when I was on their Sustainable Development Committee, railing on about how things needed to change because researchers were predicting changes in the weather like storms and droughts … oh … like the kind we had this summer. So yes, I must say I am not in an “optimistic” mode right now. I’m sure I’ll be fine when the wet cool fall weather returns. All will be forgotten. Until I lace on my skates and head down to the pond to skate on the… mud.

So on Thursday’s blog we’ll post a photo, which I have probably talked about previously, taken of our house many decades ago, and the effect it has on me. Shiny happy people – you’ve been warned.

14 Responses to “A Prelude to a Blog Post”

  • John-David:

    Cam, I too appreciate your honesty and sincerity. Like you and several other posters, I’m predisposed to a general level of despondency. Some days are better than others and my wife is just the opposite in her outlook which, I guess, balances us out. For me anymore, watching the news, reading the Huffington Post (or just about any other news source), is kind of like forcing myself to look at the aftermath of a bad car wreck – it’s sickening and gross… and it draws me in a macabre kind of way. I think I’d better go outside and hang out with my lone sunflower which, ironically, is also looking quite healthy and happy…

  • Jean:

    Well there is a silver lining in every cloud, but these days isn’t that due to high mercury levels???

  • Cathy:

    Cam, this is your platform (party) and you can rant (cry) if you want to, unless its about selling your books, those are always up beat. I too am a pessimist, bummed out, vocal and opinionated about most everything. I use dirt, fresh air and sunshine as my therapy. I’m tanked up to my eyeballs in vitamine D right now and happy as a lark. Come winter, I should hibernate or fly south. Keep up the good work, and rant if you want to…for me it is confirmation, I’m not crazy, your not the only one with these thoughts on my mind.

  • Neil:

    You two sure seem to do a good job of balancing each other out, hearing each other out and showing mutual respect… a good model for a long-term relationship. To echo comments that others have made, I think it is fine–in fact more authentic–to post the good and the bad. That’s life. Then again, I’m not a rose coloured glasses person.
    “There’s no point being a pessimist. It wouldn’t work anyhow.”

  • Heidi:

    Kitty H:
    Thank you.

  • Blanche H.:

    One has a right to complain! Sometimes its hard to find something to bitch about, but droughts definitely qualify. Hang in there.

  • I APPRECIATE the many different kinds of posts you write, Cam. They’re a great reality check when I get to thinking that living off the beaten path would be easier or somehow better than where I live now. I NEED my thinking challenged regularly; that’s one reason I enjoy your blog.

    I went to high school with Michael J. Fox’s sister, Karen. Both of them were very upbeat kids and I always wondered why, since their dad was in the army and they didn’t stay in one place very long. I remember Michael bouncing around the school (he was a few years behind us) all the time. Something about buttercups is flitting around in my memory, too. He was in all the drama productions. Ah, those were the days…

  • Gerrit Botha:

    I’d rather you blog honestly and truthfully about your experiences and thoughts than doll it up. Your readers are not children. Please continue exactly as you do; we’re all with you and rooting for you.

  • Dave W, Mayo SC:

    If you DIDN’T bitch/vent/release/rant about bad things (life), I’d think you were growing more than veggies at Sunflower.

  • Kevin J:

    Thanks for the warning and your openness to talk about your ups and downs. I enjoy reading your stuff so smile and keep writing. Oh and the sunflowers are nice this year. Smiles.

  • Steve:

    Cam, I appreciate hearing about the full reality of your life. I’m amazed and grateful that you’ve taken time out from a very demanding life to tell us about your struggles and triumphs. Keep bringing us the truth.

  • I have that same predisposition you do. I find it really depresses me so sometimes I just have to disconnect from the news, books, other people and sources that feed it and go to a happy place. Wherever that might be. One book that does help though is from Mother and written by her editor. Beautiful and Abundant. I haven’t been able to make it through the whole thing because I am constantly interrupted by a doom and gloom book that I feel I need to read but it is a good place to go when I need it. The other thing I do is (believe it or not) sit under the trees in my front yard and weed while my funny chickens, ducks, and geese help me. They make me laugh with their antics. I will read your post. I always do so rally on friend.

  • Kitty H:

    PS: Don’t think I’m talking out my behind. My husband has just been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer from Hep C, and I’ve had the first round of blood tests and have the antibodies for Hep C. Worse, neither of us are in the at risk population. So go figure.

  • Kitty H:

    Hey, life isn’t always sunny. If you don’t talk about all sides of your life, we’d think there was something really wrong with you Cam. As to climate change, I don’t think we can stop it. The forces of hate and greed are in charge right now and will deny it until they find themselves facing catastrophe and/or death. The thing to do is to prepare as best we can to outlast the worst of it. Me, I’m 62 and probably won’t be around, but lots of folks who read this blog will be. There is a movement of those trying to build Ark communities to survive. You folks might want to look into that concept. Personally, I just take one day at a time. When I start getting the poopy attitude, I focus on today and all the love and joy in my life.

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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