2019 update

Hi there!

I think a few people are subscribed here, and now and then I hear of someone checking in. So I’d like to let you know where I am now and what I’m doing.

When I built my little yurpee, I hoped to be able to live there most of the year and earn an income through freelance work that I could do online – I’ve been a freelance copy editor and writer since around 1998. It seemed reasonable.

But things didn’t quite work out – often my Internet access didn’t work, and I had to drive into St. Johns to work at the library – over an hour’s drive. Then, in 2015, my major client was sold, and I lost that work.

At that point I decided to do what seemed necessary: live somewhere else for a while, so that I could work and get on my feet financially, and then return to the land when I could.

The summer of 2015, I drove all over New Mexico looking for a place I’d like to live, and a job, and I didn’t find anything. I was living in my truck and was what I’d call officially homeless. Eventually I stayed with a friend in Santa Fe for a few months and worked waiting tables, and then I moved in with my mother. I went back to the land to visit when I could.

By the end of 2016, the situation wasn’t improving. I hadn’t been able to secure new freelance work, and my options seemed to come down to waiting tables, managing a dollar store, or learning to drive trucks.

I know I had other options – I could have got an office job, or probably worked as a librarian in Apache County. But those things felt like dead ends, as did living with my mother with no end in sight.

So I scraped up the money I did have and bought a ticket to Bangkok.

Since October 2016 I’ve been a “nomad.” I’ve spent a total of about 19 months in Southeast Asia, and the rest of the time in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Australia, and the USA. I’m loving it.

The first six months in Asia were dicey; I had so little money. I was earning a little (between 50 cents and about $3 an hour) by working on Mechanical Turk and transcribing audio for an Internet service. Once I decided to stay in Asia long term, I sold my truck to Peter Bigfoot at Reevis Mountain School – he’d been storing it for me – and that gave me a bit of funds.

Then, in the spring of 2017, while I was in Thailand, I discovered a new type of work: writing abstracts (for a company out of Switzerland called getAbstract). I also found work copy editing academic papers through an online service. It was huge: for the first time in my life I was making a decent living on my own, making ends meet through my own work. Before, I’d always either been with a partner who provided for me or been on my own and broke. So becoming financially solvent and independent was a huge boost to my confidence and self-esteem.

I’m currently continuing to travel while I pursue a dance and writing project called The Year of Dancing. You can read about that here.

I’m also writing on Medium under the pen name SK Camille. I write about life lessons, love, healing, and my experiences at the farm and traveling.

Now that things are starting to take shape, I wanted to touch base with anyone who found me on this site, and bring you over to my new places, if those topics interest you. I’ll be sending out a weekly email just to let people know where I am and what I’ve been writing. I’ll put a form at the bottom of this post so you can sign up for that if you’d like to. It won’t be permaculture at this time – it will be about my writing, travel, and dance, for the time being. (NOTE: If you subscribe to THIS blog, you won’t get anything – I’m not going to post here anymore, unless someday I do return to Apache County! The only way you’ll get updates from me is if you subscribe via the little “Let’s connect” form below. Thanks.)

I still think often of my land in Apache County and I long to go back. I don’t own the land (I’d been making payments on it), but I stay in touch with the seller and he’s told me if I want to come back, the land isn’t going anywhere. At this point, I don’t know. If I had a million dollars (or even a lot less than that! 😉 ), I would certainly purchase the land and get there whenever I could.

As it is, I’m looking to settle down in 2020, and that will probably be in Portugal. I have my eye on a little stone cottage with enough ground that I could plant an orchard and garden and keep bees.

In the meantime, I’m writing a lot, continuing to work on my emotional healing and spiritual growth, and enjoying my travel and dance project.

Blessings to you, wherever you are. If we don’t connect again, it’s still great sharing the planet with you.


A visitor

My friend Nick Fox visited in September, and he’s written about it here.

I’ve known Nick about eight years, since we both attended writing school at Warren Wilson. Somehow, of the hundreds of memorable people I met at WW, Nick burrowed himself into a particular place in my heart. Meeting him again after, what, six years since we graduated (only that long?), I saw why.

Nick is the guy who would station himself next to the registration table during arrival day at Warren Wilson and personally see to it that every new student felt welcome and supported. He’s a true extravert, and he’s also truly humble — genuinely hail-fellow-well-met. You feel that he engages you because he wants to know you (not because he wants you to know him). He lives from the heart, and writes from it, too.
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This might not look particularly lush, but the photo doesn’t do it justice. For this land it’s astonishingly so. I actually became disoriented at one point when I was walking from one side to the other, because the grass has grown so high and it makes the contours appear different. It’s benefitted from the fact that the rancher has rotated his cattle off the land – which has been the case for around a year now.

And this is the site of the teensy strawbale – there’ll be a shady patio between the house and the juniper:



I’m planning a 9×15-foot (o.d., approx.) load-bearing structure, precompressed with straps, with a concreteless cinder-bag foundation, a sleeping loft, and a tiny greenhouse attached to the south side. Stay tuned.


I’m back on the land, and so happy to be. The weather is warm in the afternoons (mid 90s) – I lie down on the floor in the yurpee, the only place that’s comfortable – but it’s cool in the mornings, windless and peaceful. Some afternoons cloud up, and sometimes there’s rain. In fact, it took me three days to drive in last week, because an inch of rain had fallen in one storm. It rained three days in a row. This is El Nino, and it’s made the whole region greener than I’ve ever seen it.

After spending a day at the Canelo Project (Bill & Athena Steen) earlier this summer, I’m super excited to build a teensy straw house – just one small room, with a loft – a solid shelter where I can work (edit and write), and space to unpack some of my things that have been stored under tarps for the past year. Building it will also give me practice with the skills of building with straw.

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing. Dark Mountain 8, which is soon to appear, will include a little essay I wrote about building the yurpee, and I’ve written a short profile of Peter Bigfoot as “pioneer urban farmer” that I’m told will appear in Greg Peterson/Urban Farm‘s August newsletter.

I’m also writing online, and intend to do more so as my internet access allows. I’m going to focus this here blog on the natural building and permaculture work that I do at Somewhere. I’m posting items of another nature, such as little essays and book reviews, at tozeweaver.net – Toze Weaver being the name I’ve chosen to write under. (Weaver is my mother’s maiden name; Toze is a longer story.)

I’m having some tech trouble here at the St. Johns Public Library (I think they’ve blocked Dropbox!), but will post pictures, and further details, when I log on at the end of the week.

Update & 2015 plans

I haven’t posted since last summer – about time for an update, for the five or six people who follow this blog! Hello!

I’m writing from Texas, where I’m staying with my mother for the winter – sheltering while also helping her during recovery from her shoulder surgery last month. I need a place to be for the winter; she needs someone to cook, help her dress, and run errands. I’ll be here till mid-April, probably.

2014 recap: In the spring/summer I built my little yurpee and experimented with using an olla to create a fertility cell. After that, I had very little time at Somewhere. In late August I went to New Mexico for two months, then came back in October and again in November, briefly. I made some small improvements to the yurpee and, ever optimistic, sowed seeds in the orchard basin: buckwheat, pinto beans, yarrow, clover. Also, in a trench that runs from the road to the basin, wild roses (hips gathered in the Pecos). And a couple of peach pits!

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yurpee raising

I’m back on the land, with materials – and muscles, I hope – to raise my yurpee!

I was away the entire month of June, visiting family in Texas and building the yurpee’s parts down at Peter Bigfoot’s place.

The yurpee in embryo – back in November.

After transporting the panels to here, I finished sewing the canvas roof at another friend’s place, and then picked up additional materials on the trip up here.

Now all is in readiness, and if the weather cooperates sufficiently, I’ll have a roof over my head by this weekend.

The site.

I’ll post the story with pictures as it progresses.

But what is a yurpee, you ask?

Watch and see!

Sunchoke sprout

Picture worth a thousand words:

I’m back, after a month away. There’s been no rain, but the olla seems to be working! I left it on a drip from a barrel that had about 15 gallons in it.

(BTW, the black pipe there is just for show – nonfunctional. It was superseded by garden hose, which feeds into the olla.)

See the little visitor? (It’s a pinacate beetle.) And there is scat next to the mulch, as well (off screen), and some of the mulch looks like it’s been moved. If the olla is attracting wildlife, I like that, too.

However, as it looks as though something might be eating the shoots, I might decide to put a little fence around it.

I’m here for about a week this time, planning improvements to the watering system, rebuilding the shower (which toppled while I was away), and installing the experimental water harvester I’ve mentioned before. Perhaps also I’ll build a work table, a sturdy and well anchored one that won’t fly away in 60-mph winds.

Then back to Reevis to construct my yurpee. The wood’s all cut, and I started the carpentry last week, but because I’m learning carpentry in the process, it’s slow going. Hope to have it in place up here before the summer rains begin.


I’m away from the land now, taking care of town business and on my way to Reevis to help out there and build my yurpee (to be put up on the land). After that I’ll be visiting friends and family in New Mexico and Texas.

In all, I’ll be away for about three weeks. I will miss my friends – the larks and the horny toad and the white butterflies. And the olla. It feels like a living thing to me. I set up a hose to keep the olla full while I’m away, on a very slow drip – I hope it works. One of those little ground-level frustrations – I tried using black irrigation hose but could not get the connector clamps tight enough to be watertight. So had to resort to Plan B, garden hoses. They’re about ten times as expensive, and I’m concerned that – because they’re bright green – the cows might try to chew on them, as they tried to eat my bright green contouring flags. (I kept finding them pulled out of the ground and lying nearby, all wrinkled.) So please, if you are the praying type, say a prayer for my olla.

I will probably not post here while I’m away, but will be focusing on other writing – my novel, laying the foundations for magazine writing, and my blogs at One Year to a Writing Career and thebutterfly.

See you when I get back!



The astrologers are saying that this big event we’ve been experiencing, the Cardinal Grand Cross, which peaked yesterday, is for one thing about course corrections.


Leaving Reevis and moving here to Apacheland was a manifestation of that kinetic in my life, clearly. But I didn’t know, when I came here, that another course correction was hovering, waiting for my beckon – this one maybe just as momentous, although not quite so outwardly dramatic.

Here we go.

When I left Reevis, I went right back to the work I’d been doing before – freelance copy editing, in which I have about 25 years of experience. My best former client took me back immediately – awesome. But I knew this wasn’t going to be enough money, and how to deal with that fact … I felt that question would be answered here somehow, in time. A radiant woman named Valerie taught me to trust and to follow my heart. Wise words are spoken more often than believed, but she did and had reason to, so I did, too.

And I’ve been trusting … but the digits in my checking account have been dwindling, and God hasn’t made any direct deposits. And there are things I want to do, more than just cover bills.

Monday, the emotions about this came up, childhood messages (I call it kid stuff) about powerlessness with regard to money, futility (even if I work hard it won’t pay off so why try so hard), inadequacy (I’m not good enough to make more than a bare living), etc. etc. … and some things about love, too … and … I’m telling this story, which I realize is getting long and probably will get longer, because it has such a lovely ending. Bear with.

So. I woke on Tuesday feeling oddly like I didn’t know what to do. Not just what to do that moment or that day, but in the largest possible sense. In a good, peaceful way … released from the cords of other people’s expectations and needs. Even my own. I felt the space (of the rest of my life!) open for me to CHOOSE.

Knew that I could decide for myself, based on whatever facts or desires or criteria I wanted to use. I could even decide how to decide.

Wow, as they say.

I woke with this new knowing just as God gave the world another beautiful sunrise – that juicy apricot sun just peeking over the horizon like a magnificent child playing a game – and with the obvious question (as day follows morning):

What do you want to do? What do YOU want to do?

Good lord.

So, immediately, a walk, a good long walk to the railroad tracks that are three miles away – my first exploration of the neighborhood. Returned two hours later, thirsty and leg-sore, with hands full of treasures (rocks and such) and heart full of OF COURSE.

Of course I’m going to write, and I’m going to make a living at it. What I’ve wanted in my heart since the first afternoon I was allowed to wander, seven and gobsmacked, among the sacred aisles of the “adult” floor of the Rochester Public Library. To be one of Those Who Write Books.

For three days now I’ve been running around screaming with my hair on fire because I feel – I KNOW – I finally get to do this! Knowing I can.

And I’ve been writing like a wild woman.

Apologies for this long-winded post, but this is to explain why my attention will be divided from here on out, between this land that I loved the moment I breathed its air, and this work that I’ve loved forever.

Maybe it seems simple, but it wasn’t.