Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

The Summer of 2017

Summer 2017 has been full of ups and downs. The ups always outweigh the downs but it seems like this summer there have been quite a bit more downs than usual. While my journey of getting off of Prozac has probably contributed a bit to the greater frequency of downs, I’m not here to blame it all on that. I knew that with a radical change in my life there was bound to be things I needed to process and understand. I also recognize that it is ok to have these downs and to allow them to exist in my life as part of the entire picture.

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I went to relax and this chair broke as I was sitting in it. I think it is a good metaphor for how life is going these days. Photo by Haley Hoenke because she is good at capturing the best moments.

I have been heard saying “holy shit, we are getting older and our boys are really growing up and becoming independent individuals” multiple times this summer. If I’m having one of my down days, I hibernate away from the world and eventually after I snap out of it. Then when I see Finn and Aero I get a bit down because I’ve missed a very special moment in time with them as I hid my head. The moments that we have in front of us are all that we have and if we miss out on them they’re gone forever. I feel like I’ve missed out on way too many moments with Finn, Aero, and Haley this summer. If I’m already in a down mood this just helps exaggerate that mood. I have to find a way to achieve a balance.

Finn and Aero are growing up into wonderful, unique human beings. Finn has a bit of inventor and engineer in him. We are doing all that we can to encourage and foster his curiosity. This summer he was in a number of camps that did just that and he actually asked us after they were done if he could continue doing them! That’s different than last year, when we could tell that he was itching to get to the end of camp season. Aero still wasn’t into going to summer camps and only ended up being part of the YWCA sports camp (which he really enjoyed). I have to remind myself that Aero is still just 5 years old and that he’s still really excited to have some special extra time with his Mom and Dad. He really enjoyed those moments with us this summer. Here’s some LEGO animations Finn made this summer. Enjoy.

We did a lot of gardening once again but nowhere near as much as we did in 2016. I think that has to do with the fact that Haley’s sister got married in May and that took up a lot of our focus. Nonetheless the gardens of Fidelia Hall were beautiful and bountiful and a lot of the stuff that was established this year will thrive for years to come (bamboo, blueberries, kiwi, and more!). We also finally got to reap in the rewards of our Fall 2016 garlic planting and boy oh boy do we have more than enough garlic to last us for the year.

And work on Fidelia Hall continued. The start of the summer led to a flurry of activity, mostly the beginnings of installing a heating system, an entrance, and painting the tin ceiling. After that flurry of activity things just kind of stopped. I don’t know exactly why. Lack of extra money coming was a factor, as was the reality that some people charge way too much when it comes to helping out with things like repair and renovation. I’m not built for physical labor, so after a lot of it I kind of shut down. It also didn’t help that our paint sprayer decided to stop cooperating with us. Anywho there is still work that needs to be done and eventually we will get there.

 

 

Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

A Series of Surprises

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In May of 1967 Derek Taylor spoke of the fate of Smile in his press release. Smile “has been SCRAPPED. Not destroyed, but scrapped”. Could this mean that there was still some merit seen in the songs, but they would be ‘converted’ into other songs? This was effectively the fate of the Smile songs. They were reshaped, in constant chase of improvement. Brian himself stated, “1967 should bring a series of surprises for everyone from the Beach Boys.” (from EarCandy Mag: http://earcandy_mag.tripod.com/rrcase-2.htm)


Life is a long series of surprises and my life is no different. One of the biggest surprises to me was that so much of what I grew up learning from the people in my life was either not true at all or was twisted to fit their specific idea about life. I chose a photo of dandelions for this post because I think it visually sums up what I’m thinking here. Here in America we’re told that a nice lawn is full of green grass, well kept and groomed, and free of what we’ve dubbed “weeds”. Dandelions have been unfortunately placed in the weed category. Because of this there’s been an almost all out genocide on dandelions. Despite their wealth of benefits for humans and bees, they’ve become undesirable.

I grew up in one of those neighborhoods where lawns had to be perfect. Ours was cut, edged, and manicured weekly. If a neighbor did something with their lawn you better believe we had 24-48 hours to respond. About once a month some guy (it was always a guy) brought his truck around and sprayed the yard down with what looked like pellets you’d put on your ice cream. I was always told that this helped the lawn look how it did and that the lawn was better for looking that way.

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Cut to the last two years of my life where the ideas of the home, gardens, and Fidelia Hall have become very important to my happiness. As I settled into this chapter of my life I learned a lot of things: your yard doesn’t have to be green and well manicured, what we call “weeds” are actually really good for the Earth and by attempting to wipe them out we’re destroying the world, and that those “pellets you’d put on your ice cream” that my parents were spraying their lawn with were horrible poison. Life is a series of surprises.

Now the point of this post isn’t to go all Captain Planet and talk about the importance of being kind to the Earth. Of course I think you should but if you’re already doing it I’m not going to change your mind and part of me thinks we’re fucked anyways. The point is to recognize that life is a series of surprises. The Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys album SMiLE and the quote which starts this post have been on my mind recently when I think about my life right now. Has everything turned out as they were originally planned? No. But nothing really ever turns out as we think they are going to turn out. SMiLE was going to be THE album of its time, but it didn’t become that. Sgt. Pepper by The Beatles took that honor. What came out instead of SMiLE was a series of songs and albums that were “reshaped, in constant chase of improvement.” My life recently had a SMiLE moment. Instead of it being a defeat or the start of some kind of long spiraling descent into depression, I’ve decided to see that this moment was another part in the series of surprises that makes up life and that and that what I’m doing is reshaped things around me, always tuned into the constant chase of improvement which follows my life.

That change? Via https://fideliahall.com

Fidelia Hall is first and foremost the homestead of the Hoenke family. It is our hope that through our passion for family, community, creativity, sustainability, flowers, bees, art, fun, and food, that our contributions to the world will chip a tiny crack in the massive wall of negativity, fear, and greed that drives our culture.

We are not a business. We are not a non-profit. We are not a church. We are not a social club. We have explored every avenue and consulted every consultant and nothing fits. So we’ve decided to just be us.

I don’t expect you to “get it” nor do I care. The only thing I’ve gotta get is a hold of my life and my happiness. And I’m always doing that.


The Dandelion Celebration: A Guide to Unexpected Cuisine is a great book to borrow from your local library by the way

Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Goodbye Muted World: Seven Years Ago

About seven years ago I was told the truth about how someone close to me had made their money in the world. Before that, I was under the impression that it was through years of hard work and dedication to their craft. It made sense to me for such a long time. Since I was a child I was told that hard work and dedication would pay off. I believed this because that's what you do as a child: you tend to believe what the adults in your life tell you.

Once I learned the truth about how someone close to me earned their way ahead in life, everything changed. I had long wondered why my hard work and dedication to my job hadn't paid off yet. I was still struggling to get groceries. I couldn't afford to buy a proper home for my growing family. I was at the point where things should have been changing, but everything remained the same. My outlook on modern life changed. Gone was the hope that all of this work in libraries would "pay off". Now listen, I always knew I wasn't gonna get rich being a librarian. I never really wanted to get rich. I just wanted to be able to exist. But after this it donned on me that the ability to exist wasn't gonna happen.

In the world we've created, there's always this extra step that people gotta take to make it. You've gotta give up part of your soul, lose your innocence, align yourself with someone who has money, or dabble in things that get you ahead. I decided I wasn't gonna do any of that and here I am now.

I wouldn't change a thing about the life I surround myself with. As a family we're top notch. We've got a connection, we've got a unique life, and we've got love. None of that is worth losing just to get ahead in the world.

At the same time, I'm recognizing in a post anti depressant world that there are hurdles and bumps along the way. Tonight was a big one that can't get out of my head. After visiting a friend this evening we walked home and I had to explain to Finn (age 8) why we couldn't stop along the way to have a drink in a local restaurant. "We don't have any money right now" is something that's really hard to say to your kid. To Finn, it's not just a quick 20 minute stop at a restaurant to have a soda. For him it's an experience and a moment in his childhood. And I couldn't give that to him. I was, and still am at this moment, almost completely devastated over the fact that I couldn't have a $2 soda with my family.

After talking a bit more Finn said, "I wish we were so rich we could get a mansion and not live in this old house". I explained to him that it wasn't that simple, but I couldn't elaborate much more because I was completely spent mentally. I spent the rest of the night partially mute because anything I said came out grumpy and frustrated, further fueling my present state of sadness.

Learning how that someone close to me had made their money in the world did two things for me:

  1. It showed me the path I did not want to take because I did not want to lose all that was good and pure in the world.
  2. It showed me how fake the world that we've constructed around us really is. If you wanna be a part of this world, you've gotta lie and cheat the system.

I know I chose the right path, but goddamnit sometimes I just wish I could get that soda with my family.

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Technology, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2016.9

THANK YOU TECHNOLOGY

Brief shout out to computers, the internet, and technology in general. It’s easy to be negative about technology and computers, especially since they are a bit confusing and sometimes don’t work properly. But in the long run, wow, technology helps us out quite a bit. A large portion of my summer has been spent working on budgets, grants, and building maintenance and without technology it would have been much more difficult. Google Drive allows me to keep everything I write related to grants and budgeting in one place and gives all of my proposals and work a continuity that is much needed. It is also really helpful to communicate project updates and changes with my board and the community via email and social media. Conversation and communication are key!

KISS

Thank you to KISS for all of their music and their makeup that my son Aero seems to love oh so much. Over the weekend he wanted to dress up as Paul Stanley aka Starchild from the 80’s version of KISS. That’s the version of him you’re seeing in this video. He was amazed that KISS could take off their makeup. Even neater is that he think that their song “Lick It Up” is actually titled “Pick It Up” and is about picking up toys.

SUMMERTIME

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I hope everyone reading this is enjoying their summer. We’ve been spending a lot of time with our rabbits and chickens and also watering our plants and gardens. Just last week we got to eat our first crop of the season, radishes. It feels great to live in what basically amounts to our own little semi urban farm. It fits our family.

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Three Things, Titusville, PA

THREE THINGS 2016.6

FIDELIA HALL

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I am a very anxious and constantly moving ahead kind of person. Fidelia Hall has been one of those projects in my life that has caused me to stop and think about who I am and how I can become a better person. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Fidelia Hall. The boiler sort of works and heats half of the building. The next project is ripping up the carpet in the basement, replacing some rotted wood, and making the hardwood floors beautiful again. After that we turn our attention to the gutters and how to get water away from certain parts of the building. After that is how to get event insurance and more stuff like that. It does not end.

I am learning to be more patient in life as I get older. Kids have helped tremendously with that. But there is still work to be done and Fidelia Hall will help with that. The important part is what the Fidelia Hall project seeks to accomplish: We believe that a community can be strengthened when it has a space dedicated to creative expression. I can’t let the little moments get in the way.

OLD ISN’T BAD

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When you’re a teenager and even into your twenties you have this idea that the old way is the bad way because look where the old way has gotten us so far. I have always been skeptical of this way of thinking and I am even more so now that I am way out of that part of my life. Take for example, the photo that you see above. What you see is a very beautiful and ornate tin ceiling. Fidelia Hall was originally built in 1873 and this tin ceiling most likely came in the 50-60 years after that. It is beautiful yet it is in need of quite a bit of love and attention. At some point in the history of the building it was decided to cover up this great ceiling with a modern drop ceiling. The drop ceiling did the trick….sort of…it managed to cover up the work that needed to be done to the tin ceiling and make the room usable for a time. But after awhile the drop ceiling got a bit wet, uneven, and moldy. It looks gross. It smells like it has kept every smell in it since 1975.

When Haley and I uncovered this hidden gem over the weekend we were over the moon. Look at that ceiling! Imagine that ceiling after being repainted. Won’t it be glorious? Won’t it add so much to the character of Fidelia Hall? It will. Just remember: old isn’t bad. There’s good things that can be taken away from things both new and old. Smoosh the two together and see what you get.

THE HOENKE FAMILY

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I enjoy all of the time that I spend with my family very much. There’s not much more I can add to this. They are perfect.

 

Family, Kids

“Don’t ever give up on life. Life can be so beautiful, especially after you’ve spent a lot of time with it.” —YOKO ONO

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I am getting older. I like this. I feel more comfortable in my skin. My brain hurts less. The things that people say don’t affect me as much. I can do whatever the fuck I want with my life. I got this chicken suit for the holidays. I can wear it out in public if I want. I don’t care what you might say. It is a comfy and cozy chicken suit. In other news, I spent most of December 25-27 in pajamas. It was glorious.

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I think I have a natural tendency to lead people. I could use this power for evil but I will never do that. It is fun to be able to recognize this and move on. I think growing older is great because you start to understand what you can and can’t do while you’re in this world. I could start a cult! But I won’t ever do that. Could I run a marathon or go jogging? Not at all.

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I used to worry about becoming a cyborg as I got older. The feelings inside of me calmed down a bit and I was legitimately worried I was becoming a cyborg. I could finally listen to Weezer’s Pinkerton  without tearing up! This was very cool, but I was curious about what was going on!

I’m here to tell you that you don’t become a cyborg as you get older! You calm down and prioritize what gets you worked up. Pinkerton won’t make me cry anymore. Death still makes me cry, but it doesn’t tear me up for years and years. I remember when my Pap Pap Pleczynski died in 1995. I thought it was the end of the world. I missed him for so many years and wondered about what life would be like if he were still here. These days? It’s ok! His physical form left the earth years ago but I have these awesome memories and vibrations of him still around. He lives! We all kind of live forever if we have someone who remembers us.

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Being a Dad is fucking awesome. The first three years are kind of rough and really weird, but after that everything moves a lot easier. Don’t get me wrong….the first three years are awesome too!  I like seeing these two little men grow up and bloom into their own unique and weird and awesome personalities. They are surrounding themselves and filling their brains with the neat things the world gives to them. Everyone should have that same opportunity. I think that is something the world needs to work on giving to everyone.

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Being married/in a relationship is awesome. I like and love Haley a lot. She’s the best roommate/life partner/tag team partner/friend ever. We have our ups and downs but as we both get older we understand how to deal with those ups and downs better. Life is full of those ups and downs. In the end, we stick together because we dig hanging out with each other. Haley is really good at kissing too.

 

Family, Life, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Haley

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Haley Read Hoenke, the love of my life. You are thirty today and I wish you a happy birthday.

I am really enjoying growing old with you. You keep getting smarter and wow are you so beautiful. Now that the kids are a bit older we can go on dates and do adult things again. This is the best. I missed those moments A LOT back when we first had kids.

Let’s do something awesome today. You deserve it.