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!
When last I was there, at the beginning of November, the yurpee was holding up great. Whenever I go back after being away for a few months I’m on tenterhooks – practically peeking through my fingers – afraid the roof will be blown off or something. But it’s always just fine, door still shut even though there’s no latch (it sticks solidly). However, I’m not the only one who’s enjoying the shelter: the ground under the floor is thoroughly tunnelled, every inch of it from what I could tell. Probably ground squirrels had the time of their lives. There’s a little entry hole just to the right of my door. I don’t see this as a problem, currently, but sometimes I’m a tad too live-and-let-live – won’t be surprised if there do turn out to be unexpected issues. When I’m back in the spring I’ll level the ground and install hardware cloth from sill to sill, then a wooden (pallet wood) floor on top.
When I slept there in November, I had a roomie – a mouse. We drew a line down the middle of the room and got along fine. All my food and precious objects/clothing are in mouseproof (I hope) containers. I expect to find nests among my things, perhaps papers with eaten corners, old t-shirts with new holes. I figure if I’m not going to live there, it would be selfish not to let anyone else use the place.
I went to New Mexico in late August because it became clear, quickly, that I couldn’t meet my own needs on the land – it might have worked if my freelance work (copy editing) hadn’t dried up at that time and my solar panel hadn’t gone missing. I panicked a bit, and it seemed like I might need to rethink this whole plan. I’ve never lived in New Mexico and thought it might be time. For two months I drove all over N.M., from Zuni to Alamagordo to Carlsbad to New River, Santa Fe, Estancia, Ruidoso – looking for work and a place I’d want to be for a while. Many things happened – stories for another day. Suffice to say I met a lot of friends but found no personally acceptable work and no place I wanted to be, even for a while. Somewhere’s my home. It feels good to be certain of that. I see myself living and writing there half the year, scouting around the country and writing the other half.
Here’s where I stand:
1. I’ve learned, even more than I knew before, that I can do without a lot, and I have more fun that way. During the New Mexico adventure I had to pare down expenses radically and examined my money patterns and beliefs in the process. I’ve been reading Ran Prieur, Mark Boyle, and the like; reading about the rewilders and other off-grid folk; blowing my brain open to possibilities outside the Matrix.
2. In November I got my CDL permit. If I have to work at a regular job in the near future, it will most likely be OTR trucking. Make good money, not have to pay rent or live with my mother, find some adventures, be able to get back to Somewhere for a few days or a week at a time.
3. However, I’m working on an even better idea – finally (as I mentioned a while back) getting a writing career burning. In this “down time” I have in Texas – besides catching up on ten years of TV, eating avocados every day, and sleeping till noon – I’m writing a novel called Invisible. I’m also writing short fiction and planning essays (about leaving Reevis; about my views on “dropping out” and sustainability; etc.) – but mainly working to finish this novel by April. I’m reading my heart out, finally learning how to write, and actually writing daily. It’s a blast. I’ll keep you posted.
4. My mother’s 82-year-old next-door neighbor, who used to live in a van and drive all over Arizona, gave me his backpacking gear – an awesome vintage Kelty pack, one-man tent, and odds and ends. This is a SIGN! I have some wild ideas about hiking from Roosevelt Lake to Missoula to Seattle to L.A. and back to Phoenix – woohoo! The reality probably won’t be that extreme, but in 2015 I do want to hit the trail for a couple of months at least – for some combination of living a foot-powered life for a while (I put 20,000 miles on my truck in 2014!), visiting friends, exploring God’s magnificent Creation, and investigating people and lifeways outside cultural norms – possibly writing about it all in a structured way. (My brother said, “You know all these people who are living off the grid and herding goats and stuff – if you wrote about them, I would totally read that.” Maybe a blog with interviews/profiles and photos – wdyt?)
5. One way or another, I want to get started on building a “real house” at Somewhere this year. I’ll post separately, sometime, more about the plans – basically, a construction method called dhajji (in India; it exists elsewhere, as well) – post and beam with masonry infill (I would use adobe/cob). It will be a two-room, ~200 sf structure plus a 120 sf greenhouse for passive solar heat and a 200+ sf screened porch on the north side. I want to get at least the greenhouse and a rocket mass heater built by October. I’m excited and feel urgent to do more permaculture there, but it seems I need to get shelter, water harvesting, and livelihood/writing sorted out first.
6. The final piece, and most important in my heart: In this blog and in much of my conversations and correspondence with friends, I’ve left it out – because I don’t know how to integrate, yet, this: my relatively new and ever-developing attraction to God, Love, faith, prayer. In 2009, while at Reevis, I first encountered some teachings about God that were new to me and made much more sense than anything I’d heard before. This is not the God of any church, and it’s not just a New Age concept of energy or the “universal oversoul” or any such, nor is it a graybeard on a throne, etc. etc. In 2012/13 I began to pray every day – I’d never done this before, not even as a child. Today I feel I have real faith in the existence of a loving God who is my parent and creator of all – along with more and more trust in Love as a true and powerful force – and increasing desire to live according to both.
However – despite the fact that I think of God throughout the day, aim to allow Love to guide my actions, and pray every night and morning – for the most part I have been keeping all of this to myself (except for a handful of friends who are also on this path). And there is still a curtain (not quite a wall) between my everyday mundane activities/goals and this new faith. I haven’t figured out how (or just haven’t been brave enough) to make it an integrated part of my daily active life – part of my writing, part of my personal and economic relationships. It IS, already, and always has been integral to my intentions with Somewhere – but I have never told you about that! So, one of the things that I am certain will happen in the coming year(s) is that I will become more open about what I’m coming to believe – let that light shine over everything I do.
I feel I’m in a position I’ve never occupied before. Till now I was always in some sort of codependent situation with whacked power dynamics, mutual manipulation, suppression. Having left that pattern behind (I hope), and with the emotional liberation that is coming through this spiritual path, I’m for the first time fully able, consciously, to make a life that’s my own. This is the real work I’m doing now and will probably do for the rest of my existence: learning how to live, what’s important, what I care about, what work I’m really capable of and excited to do. How can I live according to what I believe? What do I believe? (How do I even decide or find out what I believe?) How do I live on Earth, among my brothers and sisters, with love for God and all Her creatures? Self-responsibility, compassion, free will, desire, trust, faith, humility, sincerity, transparency, nurturance, awareness, engagement, resilience, beauty, simplicity, frugality, curiosity, experimentation, exploration, creativity, play, openness, imagination, fearlessness, love for all creatures, respect for the wisdom of the Earth – I want to find out how to make my life from these values. And do that.
There’s so much to learn, to say – so much potential I feel for greater joy for humanity and myself individually. I’m outrageously optimistic and excited to dive into it all – the work, the play, the love – and meanwhile get dirt under my fingernails as I make a life, a self, and a place. Yay!