Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Fidelia Hall (Spring 2018 Update)

It’s been a little more than a year since I last spoke in depth about Fidelia Hall on this site. Our “we’re really hoping it becomes a yearly tradition” Mother’s Day Plant Swap is right around the corner and with that comes the reminder for an update on all things related to Fidelia Hall.

Long story short: we’re still working on it. We’re a family of five who has one income and with that we’re still living a paycheck to paycheck kind of life. Our big outings these days are to the grocery store (Yay! We can eat!) and occassional visits to the movies (you have to spend a little to have some fun every once in awhile). We spend a lot of time in and around our home and with that we’ve become quite in tune and in love with our little 0.66 acres of land right in the middle of Titusville, PA. You may have read about me searcing for a new job recently. You’re probably wondering how someone so in tune and in love with their home was willing to give it up so easily. Here’s the deal: not everything in this world is so simple. I love my home. I love parts of this small town. I love our gardens. I love the fact that I get to renovate and live in a 145 year old church. I don’t like the fact that I make very little money. I don’t like the fact that I struggle financially to feed my family. I don’t like small town politics and gossip. Combine all those things together, and you get a confusing but very realistic picture of where I’ve been the past year…..At home, enjoying life, but trying so hard to get ahead and thinking about the possibilities out there. A perfect amount of happiness and confusion. A natural curiousity about what is and what could be. A very human thing.

The one thing that has changed is our living situation. 2017 was not kind to the actual house we live in: frozen pipes, leaking walls, mold in the ceiling and walls, and other not fun at all things you want in your house. With that in mind, we’ve developed a plan to move out of our home as quickly as possible and into the hall (aka the old church). While it sets us back from our original idea of Fidelia Hall being a community center for all people, it does something that is needed much more now than a community center: it gives myself, Haley, her mom, Finn, and Aero a happy and healthy place to live. Human beings should not have to live in a home that is falling down, has water leaking everyone, has frozen pipes, and mold in the ceiling. We need to take care of ourselves first before we do anything for the community. SO….we’re moving into a 145 year old church.

With that in mind, we’ve changed our mantra over the past year. Here’s what we’ve been telling people when it comes to Fidelia Hall:

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.

Here’s a list of what we’ve done in the hall over the past year:

  • The downstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to my father for his work on making this happen.
  • The upstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to Haley’s father and his wife Audrey for making this happen.
  • Half of the downstairs of the hall has been wired for electricity. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.
  • My father and I ripped out some flooring and a wall that was damaged due to water. We put in a new floor and an entire new room. Part entrance, part closet, the space is a welcome addition to the dowstairs of the hall.
  • We ripped down the plaster and lathe ceiling in the kitchen. It was crumbling. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.

All of these projects were funding by monetary and sweat donations by members of our family. We thank them so much for their love, support, energy, and time.

Here’s a list of what we NEED to do in the hall:

  • Complete wiring the downstairs for electricity. We are so close to being done.
  • Restore water lines to the kitchen and add water and sewage lines to a new bathroom. Basically we have to run water lines to most of the building.
  • Set up an LLC so that we can do some business, run some events, etc as Fidelia Hall.

We still have some stuff to do, but as you can read we are nearing an almost finish line. At the moment, we have some money set aside to get ahead on these projects. If you would like to make a donation that will go towards helping us, you can do so here: paypal.me/justinwilliamhoenke. I don’t expect anything, but if you feel like helping I can promise you that your help will go a long way in helping us get ahead to make the Fidelia Hall space something that we can not only live in but also use to give back to our community.

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For now, we continue being the Hoenke family and doing what we can with what we’ve got. As you can see in the image above, we’re doing our second annual plant swap at Fidelia Hall this upcoming Sunday. We love this event because it not only brings in a lot of people but it also is a good chance to create community, share gardening resources and plants, and all in all it just creates good vibes in the world. If our home falling apart due to busted pipes and the slower than anticipated renovation of Fidelia Hall has been tough over the last 3 years, THE GARDENS OF FIDELIA HALL have provided us with a much needed outlet. Last year I personally became very obsessed with sitting in our gardens watching all of the bees in the borage. The bees gracefully flew around from flower to flower, sniffing and collecting pollen. You can tell they were very appreciative of these plants. It helped me realize just how much of a difference a person can make by doing something simple like planting some borage. Gosh these bees loved it, and in turn I fell in love with Haley’s idea of building magical and inspiring gardens. Heck! I even wrote this song about it:

Curious about our gardens? You can see their growth and evolution here.

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Thank you for your kindness, your love, and your support through the years.

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Life

Routine and Order

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This weekend my mind turned to routine and order in an attempt to understand the world which I see in front of me. I believe that there is a lot we can understand from routine and order in our daily lives. We can then apply what we learned in our daily observations on a larger scale and through that have an impact on our overall lives. All of the things which we come into contact with both physically and mentally are connected. As individuals we can weave those things together into a giant tapestry which tells the story of who we are.

I am a being of energy, and that with my energy I chose to focus on positivity, creativity, and love. But the energy of an individual needs fuel and for me that fuel can come through routine and order. Below are some examples of routine and order that are in my life. These acts are simple but they give me great energy. This energy is needed in order to act as a being of positivity, creativity, and love.

WHEN I AM AT HOME

  1. Prepare and consume tea in the morning.
  2. Shower, brush my teeth.
  3. Spend time in the gardens (weather permitting).
  4. Piddle around in the gardens. Move some dirt, tidy up the area, etc.
  5. Water the plants inside and outside.
  6. Let the chickens and rabbits out to roam freely.
  7. Clean and feed the chicken and rabbit area.
  8. Make sure the bird feeder is full of seed.
  9. Perform or compose music in the gardens.
  10. Sit in the hammock and listen to the world around me.
  11. Unload and then load the dishwasher.
  12. Wash, dry, and put away laundry.

WHEN I AM AT WORK

  1. Set up my work space for a full day of work.
  2. Read and record our daily circulation and visits.
  3. Prepare coffee for the library staff.
  4. Water the plants inside.
  5. Take 1-2 minutes every hour to stretch.
  6. Open the window in the spring/summer for fresh air and to hear the sounds of the world.
  7. Actively observe the library around me when I leave my office. Try to notice something that can be improved for the community.

Routine and order use energy, but at the same time it fills our minds and souls with energy needed to move ahead. When we are aware of the acts that make up our daily lives, we become more in tune with the world. As beings of energy who are in tune with the world, we are able to focus and reach our goals whatever they may be. This is where change occurs. Be aware of the moment and that you have the ability to produce positive energy and in return you will experience significant changes in your life.

Family, Life, Titusville, PA

My Life

2016 hasn’t been a great year for a lot so far for a lot of reasons and it has really affected me. The negativity and unkindness that is out in the world seems to have risen to the top, casting a shadow over all of the positivity and kindness out there. I never realized how much everything that’s out there can have an effect on a person’s life until 2016.

Your point of view has a huge effect on how you go about your daily life. I am going to do my best to alter my day to day point of view. A lot of this will rely on me largely ignoring the news, social media, and almost everything else happening in the outside world. I’m not going to be horribly ignorant of what’s happening, but at the same time I am just not going to let what is happening consume me. This is my life and my chance to make an impact. I will not let others destroy it.

Recently my days have been filled with the feeling of “I don’t know where to go or what to do”. I love the home that we have built in Pennsylvania. It feels great and the future potential for both Fidelia Hall and Fidelia Home are bursting through the seams. I am part of a greater community: the world. Yet at the same time I have smaller communities that are in my life. One of these is my family and our home. I have a lot of happiness when it comes to these things. I will continue to surround myself with them and let the positivity that exudes from them fill up my soul. Every moment that I can spend with my family is precious and I will not get those moments back. This is our time.

I got kinda lost there for a moment and let the anger and negativity in the world get a hold of me. I will do my best to not let this happen again!

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Titusville, PA

Older Colder Full of Balance and Awareness

Yo. I’m 35.5 years old and if all goes according to genetics I may be half done with my life.

Both of my grandfathers lived to 70 years old. They didn’t really take care of themselves (I know they enjoyed alcohol, nicotine, and non-stop never ending work) and I am very much a different person (one beer per month, never have smoked, and I enjoy relaxation very much). I know life expectancy and all that is a crap shoot (I could be sitting on nuclear waste for all I know right now) but it just really makes you think about things and it helps you prioritize how you wanna go about your day-to-day life. You realize that you don’t have all the time in the world and that in order to actually say “yup I’ve done something” you’ve gotta do something.

In the last year or so I feel like I’ve toughened up a bit in my approach to life. Something switched on in my mind and started telling me to not to be too lazy, not to get involved in drama, and instead to just do stuff. I’m a walking chunk of slowly dying flesh and molecules and I’m here to do stuff. I don’t have time nor the energy to listen to or take part in the he said she said passion play that we as human beings love to stage. Longest running show on earth! A Broadway smash!

With this change comes a weird feeling…I can only describe it as “cold.” I am aware of this change and will not let it consume me. I can see how people become bitter and more and more conservative as they get older now. It is a change and it can become everything that you are if you don’t watch out. Balance, as always, is key. The first line of the song below sums it all up.

I am gonna stick it out here on Earth and do exactly what my new motto says:DO GOOD SHIT ALL DAY EVERYDAY NO DRAMA NO BULLSHIT JUST DO IT DO IT SHUT UP AND DO IT. Whether it be in a library, at my home, in my community, at Fidelia Hall, or even just in my mind I’m gonna do it do it do it and not look back. I don’t have time for the games! All I got time for is this moment in which I WILL DO SOMETHING.

 

Family, Life

These Silly Little Things That We’ve Invented

Money. Politics. Drama. Ego. Self-Importance. Popular Culture. Schedules. Work. More things that I cannot think of at this moment. Doesn’t it feel like that we’ve totally fucked up this whole “being a human being” thing? Don’t you think that we should start over?


Every time I talk to someone they mention how they’d just love to have a more casual approach to their life. They want to be able to wake up in the morning without an alarm going off. Everyone wants to have a nice and healthy breakfast, take a shower, go for a walk, and then go about doing their daily tasks. We all wanna have it a bit more relaxing and not have to live a life full of rushing around and worrying about the next possible bad thing to come.

I think we could’ve had it that way if we had just done things a bit differently back in the day. Instead we created modern society and filled it with things like money, material goods, and self importance. All of these things give us headaches. All of these things give us anxiety. None of these things are good. We have invented some silly little things that have ruined the human experience.

I aim to find a way to live a life that incorporates the following ideas:

  • Waking up every morning without an alarm clock
  • Eating a healthy breakfast everyday
  • Going on 2-3 walks everyday
  • Spending more time with Haley, Finn, and Aero
  • Raising chickens and rabbits and using their waste to help fertilize our gardens
  • Being patient with every human being that I interact with
  • Working with Haley to run Fidelia Hall and have it focused on community and events above profits and politics.
  • Spending more time sitting in the yard
  • Performing and composing music that makes me happy
  • Reading and listening to great stories and music
  • Playing video games that make me smile
  • Going to bed when my body tells me it is ready for rest
  • Eating things that are not poison

TL;DR: I think modern American society is rubbish and that there’s a reason why we feel so stagnant these days. In theory, modern society was a great idea, but in reality it hasn’t worked out well.

PS: I share a birthday with Wade Boggs.

Family, Misc.

Hi There

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The title of this post sums up what has been going through my head over the past two months. I’ll tackle these one at a time and then make some kind of semi-coherent synopsis that tries to pull everything together. I’m not a writer folks, but the internet lets me pretend that I am from time to time.

Small towns offer something that you don’t get much these days in modern society: the chance to explore all possibilities that life puts in front of you.  In small towns, you can walk to work, leave your house wide open, know everyone and their relatives, and most noticeably, have financial flexibility.

My move from a big city (Chattanooga, TN) to a small town (Titusville, PA) can be seen from many different angles. From a financial angle, I make a lot less in Titusville than I did in Chattanooga. But then again, my health care benefits are much nicer and cheaper here in Titusville. The same thing rings true with my mortgage. When I lived in Portland Maine, we paid about $1400/month for an 800 square foot condo. In Chattanooga TN, we paid $678/month for our orange house. Now we own a house and an church building here in Titusville PA and we’re paying about $500/month.

I also should add that my wife and I both suffer from the same disease that cripples most of my generation: student debt. Yes, we made the decision to better our lives by going to college and now we have to pay for it for 10-25 years.  But life in a small town makes the student debt thing a lot easier. Of course, it’s still a major hassle and a huge annoyance but at the same time it is manageable when you can live a lot cheaper in a small town. Why anyone would want to pay $2000/month to rent a room and have roommates and deal with student debt is beyond me at this point in my life, but hey, everyone has a right to make their own decisions.

The older I get, the more I think about quality of life. I think about how my day to day life looks and ask myself if I am happy with it. I am. Living cheaply, owning a home, being able to walk to work, and being in a town where everyone knows everyone else makes me happy. I ask myself this question: why isn’t most of my generation doing this as well? Why are they running away from small towns? What are they hoping to get away from? Happiness and a chance to live a fuller life? I dwell on this and I realize that I must live on a different planet from everyone else. Not everyone think like I do and that’s really awesome. Then I doubt myself and want to delete everything that I’ve just wrote.

I think we could all enjoy life a bit more if we took a step back and really thought about the important things: where we live, what we do, and how we confront the situations that face us. I don’t think this crazy thing called life needs to be difficult. I think it can be a whole lot of fun if we just say that we want it to be this way. Maybe I am an alien though and I have a different biological makeup than everyone and that’s why I think this way. I don’t know. I will never know. I am just going to do what I am doing and that’s about it.

Hi There.
I’m on my way I’m making it.
I had it made like a mountain range with a snow white pillow for my big fat head
And my heaven will be a big heaven, and I will walk through the front door

Family, Life

Small Towns

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Yesterday, my family and I visited South Pittsburg, TN (yes, no “H” at the end) to attend the National Cornbread Festival. It was a great festival full of great food, games, events, and more. The weather was absolutely perfect as well so we also had that going for us. All in all, it was a wonderful day.

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It felt great to be in what I’d call a small town. South Pittsburg, according to my observations, reminds me a lot of Meadville, PA.  That’s the town where my wife Haley and I met and lived in for about 3 years. There’s a “downtown” area, a few major side streets, and it’s surrounded by nature. The whole town felt rather clean even though there was a major festival with thousands of people running around.  The people that live in and around South Pittsburg, TN had a sense of pride about where they lived. They were locals and they seemed to be proud of it. They lived where they lived, ventured out when they needed to, and that was it.  There was something oddly out of touch with the modern world about it all. I think this hit me when I saw their local grocery store was Foodland, a store which I remember existing all throughout my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA in the 1980’s.

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I think I am out of touch with the modern world. I don’t feel that good living in the modern world. I think this is why my trip to South Pittsburg, TN and the discovery of this Foodland store hit me so much. I think it’s also one of the reasons why I look back on my time in Meadville, PA so fondly. I think I function best in a small town. Not only are they cheaper to live in, but they’re also a bit out of touch with the modern world.  When I lived in Northwestern, PA, a good friend once said that you could be immensely popular and well known in that area by emulating all the cool things that happened in “the real world” about 10-20 years later in Northwestern, PA.

I think I work best in small towns.