Where I’ve Been

Surprisingly, people are still contacting me through this poor
blog, neglected now for a year and a half. I’m heartened every time I hear that
another church is using Inhabiting Eden for a group study. Obviously,
though, I owe an explanation.

            

Two years
ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not unusual—1/3 of all women face this.
It was more annoying than frightening, though it took time to combat and heal.
I’m grateful to the doctors and nurses, my family, and all who stood with me.

            

By fall
2017, cancer treatments were over and a turning point had come. I had spent
seven years as an environmental writer and teacher following my early
retirement from Louisville Seminary. My spouse Don was ending his work at First
Presbyterian Church in Jeffersonville, IN, and moving to what he called his
“pretirement” in a halftime position in the town of Scottsburg. Sabbatical time,
I thought—time to retreat from public life, to step back, write, and enjoy grandparenthood.

           

And time to move. We had long
dreamed of homesteading on our land in Henryville, Indiana. With the help of a designer
of net-zero-energy homes, and a builder who is passionate about energy
efficiency, we planned a home that would use insulation, thermal mass, window
strength and placement, solar panels, geothermal, and a host of other
innovations to carry its own energy load without need of fossil fuels. A place to expand

Our unfinished house

our modest but productive vegetable and herb gardening, using root cellars and
a hoop house, and maybe even to welcome livestock. To create a “Grandma Camp” for
kids escaping city life: our two grandgirls born in 2015 and the two grandboys
who were on their way—and others who might join them.

 All this
was planned. What hadn’t been planned was the evident side effect of a cancer
drug. The same week that I began my self-appointed sabbatical, several joints
simply declared themselves worn out, and I found myself in more pain and physical
limitation than I’d ever known before. More time and money than I ever imagined
possible has gone to the medical system over the past year and a half. Some
pains yielded to physical therapy, but the right knee had to be replaced three
months ago. It’s doing well and I’m back at the gym and don’t even limp.

            

In the
meantime, we celebrated a riotous Christmas in the old house with all six of
our kids, ten in-laws, and four grandbabies. Our new

house is rising above
our pond in the hills of southern Indiana. It’s framed, roofed, and insulated, and
we hope to move in by the summer. I’ll be lecturing, preaching, and teaching in
several different locales in coming months. And I’m still writing–and will
post links to a few articles soon.

As our life turns to homesteading, I
hope to offer more about how much (and whether!) we manage to create a
zero-carbon life, new learnings, and mistakes we make along the way, in hopes to
inspire others to take the challenge as well.

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