Update: “Wise Grandmother” Moves to a New Community

Hello Peak Shrink,

You asked for updates from people who wrote to you two years ago… I wrote to you on July 4, 2006, and you signed my name as “Wise Grandmother.”

We have made many changes in the last two years. We relocated to an agricultural community that we feel is a good choice for long-term sustainability. The population of our community and the surrounding rural area totals about 6000 people. With the proceeds from selling our business and with some help from my elderly father who lives with us, we were able to buy several acres of land and an older house.

Our goals have been to get set up with growing food, to be as self-sufficient as possible and to get to know our neighbors and contribute to our community. The first thing we did was install a wood burning stove for heat, which allowed us to minimize use of the oil heat in our house. The following spring we put in a ground source heat pump for the house and the rental cabins on the property, which completely replaced the oil heat and also preheats our water before it goes to the water heater. Then we built a greenhouse (or hoop-house), which we need in our climate to grow warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers. We set up a back room of our house as a seed-starting room, built a seed warming table and set up lights and tables for our vegetable starts. I’ve been gradually collecting more canning jars and food preservation supplies, plus we’ve been buying food in bulk and storing some extra each month. My husband built a deer fence for the garden, and between the greenhouse and the garden, we have a lot of food growing! We have enough to donate some to the local senior meal site and the food bank, which feels necessary and good to do. We’re also adding to our collection of hand tools and other supplies as we can.

Next year we want to get an orchard planted (which means putting up another deer fence) and build a chicken coop. Maybe we can get some solar going, but there are some problems with our roof that we have to repair first. We want to do some more house weatherizing, too, and figure out how to further minimize our use of electricity. Lots to do, one step at a time and as we can afford it.

We’ve been meeting and getting together with our neighbors and are exchanging favors & food. We joined several local groups set up for gardening & resource management & localization – my husband volunteers on the administrative board of the local farmer’s market and I’ve been involved in several groups. We have the cabin rental business to help with income. We’re also exploring the area a little at a time, fishing and hiking when we get a chance.

Once we found this property and began to work on it, I settled right down, emotionally, I mean. The best treatment that I’ve found for worry is to take positive action, and although there are still many things out of our control that could happen, we are doing the best we can with what is possible for us. My husband and I both enjoy this lifestyle, and even though we are now in our late 50’s, we are working hard on the place. Our special needs son lives with us and so does my father, who is now 87 years old. We miss our other friends and our older children, but most live within our state and we visit back and forth. I hope travel continues to be possible. If things get really tough, I hope they’ll join us here and we’ve been letting them know that they are welcome.

My emotional challenge at the moment is to find the balance between informing other people about peak oil, and accepting them at whatever stage they are in. I tend to say very little anymore and just let our lives and choices do the speaking. I am so convinced that hard times are coming that it’s often difficult not to say too much, but I do notice that in the last six months, some loved ones are coming to us with questions and more openness. It also helps to be in an agricultural community where so many people have self-sufficient skills and cooperative attitudes already.

It seems late in our lives to make such major changes and to expect ourselves to do so much physical work, but it’s also very enlivening! It helps enormously that my husband and I are “on the same page” in all this. At first, he was not nearly as concerned as I was, but he did his own reading and research and eventually came to about the same conclusions that I did… that we needed to make these changes. This has strengthened our relationship in the long run and has given us shared goals and new meaning in our lives, individually and as a couple. We are feeling a deep contentment and joy that somehow coexists with a vast sadness in regarding the problems in the world. I hope what we are doing will help others, and it feels right to be doing our best and doing our part, however small. There is huge comfort in that!

Thank you for your site. I read it regularly and find many good ideas and thoughtful responses. We’re all in this together, and I so appreciate each contribution!

Take care,

Wise Grandmother


Hi WG!

So good to hear from you, and learn about all of your hard work and how it is paying off! Seems like you are tackling the “food, fuel, friends” trilogy quite nicely!

I share your perspective that those who were at best “neutral” and at worst “antagonistic” a few years ago, are beginning to come around and ask questions. I also resonate with the dual feeling of both a settled sense of contentment and deep, penetrating sadness at the suffering people are facing as this situation plods on. I hope people take comfort (and motivation) in what you’ve been able to accomplish in two years, and consider that, little by little, you changed your life, and increased your exercise while feeding yourself!

I look forward to hearing about your continued progress, and wish you continued great success in your life’s journey.

“Peak Shrink”

Have you made great changes in your lifestyle since you first learned about Peak Oil?” Do you have plans to change how you are living now but wondering how you’ll do it? Write us and tell me about it at PeakShrink@peakoilblues.com

About Kathy McMahon

Kathy McMahon Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist who is internationally known for her writing about the psychological impacts of Peak Oil, climate change, and economic collapse. She's written for Honda Motors, and has been featured in American Prospect, Greenpeace International, the Vancouver Sun, Freakonomics, Itulip, Ecoshock Radio, and Peak Moments Television.

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