14 April 2009

Behind closed doors

Fifteen years ago, when Hanno and I first bought this little house, we drove along a one lane street, turned onto a dirt driveway and saw a very basic house on a magnificent piece of land surrounded by pine and rainforest. We didn't know it at the time, but this home, of all those we have shared over the years, would nurture us, bring us closer together and ease us along the path to a more simple life. We made some improvements as soon as we moved in to better suit our family, and put up fences to keep the dogs in, and in the time since then, apart from an interior paint job, we've been happy here and content to wake up each day within these walls.

I am still in awe of the land we live upon. I never say we own it because as far as I'm concerned, we are merely the custodians here until we pass it on to our sons; and in truth, the land probably owns us. We wake up surrounded by trees, sometimes we hear the rushing of the creek that is our back boundary, and when I walk into our back yard, even after living here 11 years, I often just stop and look, amazed at what I see. All my life's roads have lead to this place.

Our gate has been closed these past few days and if I didn't know better, I would say we had been cast adrift, completely cut off from the rest of the world. There is peace here, we hear birds call, sometimes a train in the distance, but apart from that, it's a wind rushing through the trees type of silence that feels alive with activity and energy.

There has been the undeniable whiff of self-reliance in the air over Easter. I've baked bread and nut slices, made a simple evening meal each night, set the table numerous times, washed dishes and clothes, swept, lit candles, watered plants on the verandah, watched rain fall and thought about my life here, on this land with my family, and you, my blog family. I also worked on my project, did some writing, knitting and a stocktake of the soap, yarn and fabric I have on hand. There are a hundred things I could do, and one by one I get to those that need my attention, all else can wait until its time. It's been a beautiful Easter when we both worked to produce what we need here and mended a couple of things to keep them going a while longer. After such days, it's easy to go to bed pleased with the work we've completed and tired enough to sleep deeply until the next morning.

The simple life, full of the home tasks of cooking, mending, cleaning and growing has been the way of life for the majority for many hundreds of years. But now, in the context of our modern times, when shops are full of fashions, leaf blowers, designer dog collars and pre-cooked food, when it's compared to what is available to us now, now it feels like it's in sharp contrast to how most people live. Working with one's own hands and producing the goods we need to live is truly empowering but the wonder of it is that is so easy to do - for me and for you too. These are just life skills that are easily passed on to all of us by example, by just watching others.

I look at TV sometimes and I wonder if what they show is real. Are the streets really that mean in cities? Do people really kill each other over drugs and money, and for no reason at all? Is road rage real? What life skills are being passed on by watching all that? I suppose I know the answers to all those questions and for now, on this Easter weekend, I've been content and well and truly happy to stay cocooned here, listening to the rain, stitching and knitting, and wondering if living simply can make a significant and real difference outside my gate. I wonder if Hanno thinks these same thoughts. I wonder if you do.

Thank you for coming here to share our days, it still amazes me that you do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and lives with us here too. Welcome to the new readers, warm hugs to all the older ones. Let's all work towards getting the simple message out to all those who surround us in the normal course of our lives, and show, by example, that this way of living not only empowers and enriches us, it builds contentment and greater expectations.



  1. Oh Rhonda Jean, what a wonderful post!
    I do many of the same things you do and find such satisfaction in them!
    I long to live in the country but things haven't turned out that way so I have tried to be content in my cozy little cottage and for the most part I am content { I must confess that I do have moments though!}
    Just wanted to come by and wish you a blessed week!

  2. As life becomes so complex, I often long for simplicity. I used to dream of living in a little home with a white picket fence with lots of trees, flowers and birds. I do live in a very nice house but find I have limited time to really enjoy it. It's been great coming to "visit you" in your life of simplicity. I used to bake bread and now I'm considering doing that once again. The herbs that I always wanted to grow may actually be started soon. And you had a role in that by your example.

    I am so grateful to God that He brings people into our lives at just the right time. May God bless you!

  3. Oh Rhonda I loved your post today. Well I always do but this one really touched me.
    Your walnut squares look absolutely yummy. Could you share the recipe with us?
    I live in a big city in Canada and yes the crime as they say is that bad. How I envy you and others who have their own little piece of paradise to live on. Someday I will, someday...


  4. Thank YOU for sharing your world with us! I learn so much from reading your blog. Thank you!

  5. Rhonda Jean, I totally understand what you are saying in this post. After living in the city (and yes, the violence and road rage you see on television is very much reality there) my whole life, my husband and I have been blessed with a house on three acres in the country. There are only 700 people in the community we live in, and as it is rural, the houses are quite far apart. I wake up to the sounds of nature and go to bed with the same sounds. Trains do pass through a few miles away, and planes occaisionally fly overhead, but mostly wind and animals are what we here. I have found contentment that I never knew existed when I lived in the city. Anxiety has almost completely left my person. We are striving toward self-sufficiency by leaps and bounds and I am loving every minute of it!

  6. Thank you Rhonda
    It is inspiring to read your posts. Your sense of peace and contentment is evident.

  7. Sometimes it's good to close the gate but I'm glad you opened it again.
    I plan to get more knitting done this week. I haven't done as much of it lately as I'd like.
    I am using my 'home sewed napkins' (no more paper)and my daughters noticed and thought it a good idea, esp when I told them how I had used up fabric scraps which had belonged to their grandma.
    The nut slice looks delicious Rhonda..wondering if that recipe is in your archives, I must look.
    Thank you for your 'warm post'..

  8. Thank you for this lovely post. I don't comment too often, but read your posts almost daily. This is one of those "feel-good" posts that I love to read - it actually makes me feel calm just reading.

  9. I have a wee 'farm' in suburbia and my house backs up to a busy boulevard. After a while I learned to tune out the street sounds and tune in to the sounds of nature. We have many birds that make their home on our property, with many trees and arbors to offer nest space. While I'd love a little spot of land in the country, I'm really quite content with where life has me just now. If we look for the beauty, we'll find it. :o)



  10. You go straight through my heart with this post. I'm so sad of the way we, humans, live. Maybe, one by one, one issue at a time, we can change it somewhat...

    P.S. Yesterday evening, I saw the movie "The day the earth stood still". I tought it would be a sci-fi movie : what a surprise ! Just like you said, it tells of how we do not own the land.

  11. As someone who has lived in the suburbs, the country, and the city (including South Central Los Angeles for a number of years), I can say that each has its blessings. I am so refreshed to hear about the simlicity of your life, Rhonda Jean, in the country--in A country I have never been to :) I think I am happiest in the country. I love being in nature, and I love the peace that, as you put it "coccooning" can bring. But, when I have lived in the city (or for now, in a little condo in the suburbs), I find that while it can be more challenging to see the blessings in these situations, I am called to find them. One thing I think is beautiful about being in a more densely populated area is the people! What I lose in closeness to nature, I gain in closeness to neighbors, and while that can sometimes be challenging--and even very sad--it is often a tremendous blessing, and in any case, it is always sanctifying.

    Simplicity is a blessing EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE. No matter where I live, I know I would be inspired and blessed by the simple life you lead, Rhonda Jean. We can't all have our own slice of paradise in the wilderness, but we should all strive to have some small slice of the simplicity and awe that a life lived in such a place affords.


  12. Many times I am torn between what I think I should do, and what I want to do. What I want to do is stay home, fix my family healthy, nutritious meals, laundry, read the Word, etc. What I should do is be more aware of the needs of others, and be more sensitive to the pains others are going through. Trying to do both with a whole lot of balance is my challenge.
    Good post, Rhonda.

  13. Beautiful post.
    I am continously appaled at what they show on television. Is that really what we want to show the generation under us? All of those things you saw on T.V. are many of the reasons we moved out into the country.
    I am so content with a simplier life. Folks like you and I have found the secret to living. We've realized what is really important in life. I feel as if this is the life humans were supposed to live.
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. I, too, appreciate your post. I don't think i can say anything to add to, or nearly as eloquent as what the other ladies have said.

    I love our life currently. We do live in a neighborhood but in a small community & a "good sized" lot with a lot of trees. (I love trees, & birds, & squirrels!) But we hadn't been in our home long before i was longing for the "true country." Somewhere that the nearest "neighbor" was a mile or more away, & the vista broad & green.

    That will probably never be a reality for me here, but i can have that hope of heaven!

    Thank you that i can live that dream vicariously thru your writing. :)

  15. What a wonderful post!

    You inspire me with your way of living, I hope I can do it with my blog for readers in the Netherlands.

    We make life so complicated sometimes... I hope more people will discover the simple life.


  16. I check your blog daily. Today was so touching. You have a way of putting things words that touch my heart. I live in the suburbs and even here we can approach simplicity. It may be off in the distance, but I am drawing nearer.

  17. Popping in for a "visit" is a favorite part of my day Rhonda!! You make me always mindful to stop & count my blessings. You have given me the motivation to live a simpler life & I have put my notice in at work. I will be home soon doing the work that needs to be done here at home. My husband is totally on board and I am thankful for the opportunity to make our home a peaceful well kept place. Thank you for the inspiration!

    central Illinois

  18. Rhonda,

    I feel comforted by your post. I love your ways with words, great imagery describing the land out back.

    I live in the High Desert in California, out of necessity at first but for now because of the beauty it offers.

    I am hopeful however that one day, like yourself I find myself taken back to a much simplier time, my "Mayberry" if you will, where small town living dominates.

    I want nature for my back and front yard, no fences just open spaces, someplace I imagine in the Pacific Northwest somewhere. I love the deep, dark, luscious, coolness of tall and somber pines, sentinels keeping watch over us at night.

    I would love to hear only the wind whistling in the pine boughs, and hear birds chirping.

    Thanks for sharing with us, your simple life as it is, down to earth!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  19. Good morning Rhonda,

    We too, have been spent a family quiet Easter. We are getting our apartment ready for sale. It is exciting to think we will be heading back to the country soon. I could go on and on about how lovely this post today is and how good it makes me feel, but all these lovely folk have just about said it all. So thanks again Rhonda for the inspiration. This world can change. We can change it by example. You and Hanno do it so well.

    Blessings Gail

  20. Hello Rhonda!
    Beautiful words that evoke a place of peace even as I read them. Sounds like you've got a wonderful "forward" for your new book right there.
    Even if the dangers of the world are true, it's not naive to be too busy to notice and love being present in each activity of living. Whatever you nurture will become your life.
    As someone said once,"Life is what you make it."
    Blessings, Carolyne

  21. Beautifully said... no wonder you were asked to write a book! Your life with Hanno is truly inspiring. I read your words and I feel the peace.

    I have moment where I let little things eat me alive. I notice many times during the day that my shoulders are up tight under my earlobes and I have to purposefully stop and relax them. Why are we so driven and under stress? What is it about stress that causes me to come back to it and take it on? Even our new little puppy stresses me out ~ with all the pawprints and digging and chewing! sigh.

    Rhonda please keep reminding us to see the joy and peace that is still around us. It fills me!


  22. Your blog really does give me pause from the fast pace life of the state I'm in. Thank you.

  23. Good morning Rhonda, although we don't have a gate, my mental gate was closed this weekend. A couple of dear friends came for Easter lunch but the rest of my time was spent baking, knitting, planting winter seedlings and sewing for our swap!

    Rain fell here too. Tony came rushing in this morning saying, "More rain fell last night since records have been kept....in this household!"

  24. Rhonda,

    I am so glad you had a wonderful weekend.

    Marc is off this week and it is the girls spring break so we are trying to get a few things caught up.

    Marc put in the windows in the greenhouse. We are working on trans-planting a few of our early veggies. My daughters and I are going to paint my youngest daughters room....so much to do...but no schedule and I Love It!!

    We are also finding down time to talk and laugh:)

    We are looking forward to warmer weather:)

    I wanted to thank you again for taking the time to write each day....I love ending my day knowing you are safe and you encourage me to work harder the next day:)


  25. Sounds like...Heaven!hughugs

  26. Rhonda Jean...Reading your blog is truthfully like taking a little vacation!
    I just came back from San Francisco. I had to go up there to get a biopsy done on one of my breasts. Which by the way wasn't all as bad as my mind had it being! The fact that I had to go into the heart of the City to have this done was much more painful and stressing.
    I came home, opened up my blog and there was this blog from you. I opened it, read it and all my troubles went out the window in the breeze.
    It is such a pleasure to "come home" to you and your soothing words. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  27. Lovely post Rhonda, and reminds me of what my husband & I are aiming for too.

    Bless you,

  28. I too am glad your gate is open again. I missed our daily visits. They have been and continue to be great inspiration for me.

  29. Great read today. I've just started on this journey of learning to be self suffient and I have gained a great amount of inspiration and knowledge from sharing your ideas. I've started small steps to begin planting vegies and simplify my life and at the moment it feels more chaotic then ever but I think this merely a change over time...thanks heaps for all that you share.

  30. Beautiful. Thank you! I just love this blog!

  31. great post as usual..You are so inspiring..

  32. I am one of the new readers and I've been spending the last few days catching up on everything you wrote (and I'm not even halfway through :) ) You inspire me. I'm 27years old, live in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (Dutch is my mother tongue) and my partner and I rent a nice little house in the city. We don't have debts, but not much savings either. We are happy, but your posts remember me how to be more content by finding peace and satisfaction in all the little things throughout the day.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us.

  33. I must admit, we have lived "in the sticks" over 20 years now, and I feel quite uncomfortable in big towns or cities when I have to go there. We went to Cardiff yesterday but only for the Museum and Art Gallery - the shops have no appeal! There is nothing better than pottering around on our own land, making improvements, planting things, enjoying the nature around us and glad to live in a lovely - if small - community.

    I am able to concentrate on my garden again this year and what simple joy that is bringing . . .

  34. I know what you mean, Rhonda: sometimes, in our little peaceful corner of the world, it's hard to believe that all the madness out there is real.

  35. Your setting sounds so lovely, hoe could anyone not appreciate somewhere as lovely as that. It is so nice to hear you are still in awe of it this far on! We spent this easter holiday camping surrounded by birdsong each morning and it has made our dream of a self sufficient home in the country even stronger!
    Television does have alot of impact on sooo many lives, what they show is very influential. We gave away our televisions earlier this year. Now I can chose what I want my children to see or for what I want to read.

    Enjoy your day


  36. I just loved reading your post today, Rhonda. You come across as someone who is very content after your weekend at home.
    I live in suburbia and work in retail and certainly look forward to my 3 day weekends and being able to escape the rat race. There are so many people about who have forgotten to smile....so sad.
    I am trying to make my patch of earth and my home, my heaven on earth and thanks to reading your blog and everyone's comments it is getting easier.
    Kind regards,
    Sue (Mandurah WA)

  37. Hi, Rhonda Jean!
    Your blog is such an inspiration to so many of us. I strive to keep my home a quiet and peaceful place. I really enjoy just being at home taking care of my family, gardens, and pets. The news casts are so full of violence, drug and gang activities, accidents, crimes, etc., that I think people have become desensitized to violence of any kind. I've seen road rage on some of our highways, usually during traffic rush hours. I have been a foster parent for 31 years and its been appalling to see the incredible increase in domestic violence. I have taken many children into my home when they have been removed from their parents for domestic violence or drug use.
    It is so sad to hear children tell about how their mom and dad are in jail for fighting...(some of these
    little ones are only three years old)!!!! They act as if it's not unusual for parents to be in jail! Many children tell of watching movies that I've never seen, nor would ever care to see because of the violence portrayed.
    I try to make my home a quiet and safe place for these children. They are fascinated when they see me make bread, cookies, or even a birthday cake! I garden a lot and give many 'lessons' in how to plant seeds that will grow and give them food. Many of these children have never slept in a bed
    or sat down at a table for a meal!
    It's time to return to a simpler way of living. Where we care for each other. Encourage each other to learn, or relearn skills that make us independent...self reliant. I think that's why I love reading your blog so much, Rhonda. You encourage others and share your knowledge/wisdom, and caring of others. We, as humans, do learn a lot from example. Thanks for taking the time to share your life and insights with all of us. Have a Happy and Blessed Easter.
    Hugs, Aunt Bea

  38. Rhonda,
    I love reading your posts and as usual this one is very inspiring and well said .Will continue to visit this blog as it brings me a sense of peace .

  39. No, no. Thank YOU, Rhonda Jean, for being so poetic in saying what we all are thinking! For reminding us to take pleasure in the smallest of tasks during the day. For showing us, through your words and actions, that a slow life is a deliberate life, one to be savored.

    Thank you.

  40. I'm glad your "door is open" again! I missed reading your posts the last few days.

  41. Dear Rhonda, Sharing your life a bit by reading your blog is such a joy and inspiration that I couldn't really say it enough times. I love making my life more simple. I miss my husband very much and the happiness we had together, but I am lucky enough to be very connected to my children and grandchildren. This connection along with the beauty of the earth in the part of Ohio where I live and the fairly simple life I am trying to make even more so, is all I need. I admit, I am at a point in my life where I can more easily do this than when I was younger, but I've always counted it a blessing that I am easily made happy and don't need too much of what civilization has to sell, even though I recognize no one can be totally independent, nor should we want to, really, cast off all ties.

  42. What a wonderful post. We spent a lovely, slow Easter ourselves visiting with family and friends. Will you please share the recipie to go with that picture?

    Have a peaceful week.
    North Eastern Maryland

  43. What a beautiful post. I am forced to live with family at the moment, but hope to be back in my own place once again soon.
    When that happens, my children and I will be able to live the quiet and simpler life we desire.
    Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  44. What a lovely post. It's amazing to see the violence all around us, and to know that it's really NOT the norm. Even living in a city, one can work to be self-sustaining. I so enjoy visiting to see how you do it in your corner of the world!

  45. Awesome Post :)
    I have a question about your ginger beer recipe, and I don't know how eles to ask you other then posting here...
    I have tried twice now to make it, but my "syrup" will not bubble. I first tried a pinch of yeast, then the next batch I added a teaspoon of yeast in the beginning. The yeast is good, I bake lovely bread with it. But it never ferments and bubbles :( I feed it every morning and still nothing. I don't know why it isn't working and am about to give up. I feel very sad b/c I was excited to have some to share with my kids.
    Am I doing something wrong?
    Thanks in advance if you can help me.


  46. Atlast! Someone who is really speaking to me - what a comfort to read your posts. I have only recently discovered your blog and I am spending time each morning reading back over your archives. Thankyou for your wonderful words that give me hope and encouragement to continue this path I´m on - I feel less alienated now knowing that you and all your readers are out there taking steps to live a simple, beautiful life. Greetings from Austria.

  47. I found your blog by "accident" -- by following some ladies' lists of blogs they follow.

    I really like what you had to say in this post. It makes me sigh. How beautiful your home looks inside and out (I'm referring to the pictures you've used for your header). It is inspiring.

    Beauty is valuable and restorative. I want to come back for more visits!

  48. i think your thoughts often, rhonda. nearly every day. i don't understand how people even have time to watch TV. or why they want to spend money on it, with all that stuff on the screen. i feel like a big anomaly in my city, but i'm glad i've somehow begun surrounding myself with people striving to live my way, too. like attracts like naturally, i suppose.

  49. I live in the middle of Australia's biggest city and no, all that stuff on TV is fantasy, as is the idea that cities are more violent than the country. For example, the top 15 LGAs in NSW for domestic violence incidents are all rural. Rates per capita, of course.
    As one of the other commenters said, you can live simply anywhere.

  50. Thank you Rhonda! This post really resonates with me, it is like a comforting hug! :) you truly do seem to have found great peace and contentment. I too am happier when I can hear the birdsong, potter in the garden or sit and knit. I rarely have the tv/radio on in the daytime now, the news is far too depressing! I try to do what I can by living simply, reducing, reusing and recycling and making the most of what we have.

  51. The post was picturesque and beautiful. I sit in a home overwhelmed with homemaking tasks before me and a day filled with the chaos that two two year olds and a four year old bring. Your post helped change my perspective for the day to one of appreciation for my life at home and the simple pleasures the day ahead will bring. Thank you Rhonda Jean.....

  52. I was given a link to this site and have to say i love it. I could read it all night. As a young mum I hate the fact people these days expect you to have a job and kids in care. That aint for me. I'm old fashion and believe mum should be at home caring for the kids. I also care for my mum now and as for family like nanna's well they aint there. So its like reading stuff 'nan would teach'. I've bookmarked you as Im wanting to enjoy the 'simply 0life' such as a few chooks and now the inspiration to try that veggie patch that didnt quite work. And best of all your blog is free. I dont know how people can charge to help others be more frugal when thats the point of it to start with. Thanks


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