Sunday, June 28, 2009

Don’t make decisions in the dark

There are a few funny things about living in this Airstream. Although it is level and stabilized, we can still feel it wobble a little as we move around in it. Especially when Ed walks down the hall. Sometimes I think the Airstream is haunted, I often feel someone move behind me, out the window. I always turn to look just to see the great outdoors. It’s all just metaphor I suppose.
In the evenings, Ed and I will take Jackie out into the newly cut hay field and let him run to his heart’s content. We stroll back and forth and try to process all that has transpired the last six months. I keep going back to our original decision, that starting over at Ed’s parents place was the best option at the time. I realize now that that decision was made while we were in panic mode. When Ed’s partners booted him and we lost 75% of our income we started to panic. Panic is not a good frame of mind from which to be thinking about options. We felt that we had no other realistic options, and we didn’t give ourselves enough brainstorming time to see if we could come up with any. So we jumped.
What goes into making a decision? I started thinking about algebra, (algebra almost kept me from graduating college) and a basic equation where you plug in variables and solve the problem. If there are too many variables the equation is unsolvable. So one might replace one of the variables with an assumption, which might allow the equation to be solved. We all know what assuming does. I’ve already been made an ass of, so what does it matter now?
Assumptions are made everyday. To generalize, people go to college on the assumption that the degree will wield them higher earning potential. Houses are bought on the assumption that the equity will increase. Wars are begun on the assumption that people want to be liberated from dictatorships and will welcome us as liberators. However, nowhere is it written that one’s actions will produce the intended results. What then goes into decision making?
There is only so long one can hold off doing anything for lack of decision making abilities. I’ve heard that length of time is three days or 72 hours. But I think the length of time allowed is relative to the choice being made. In our case, the question of what we want to do with our lives will need more time to figure out.
Am I still here, stuck on the LIFE question? But as long as one is living, I think they are stuck on that question. It’s one that you have to re-answer every day. Every day you wake up you re-decide how to focus your energies for that day. It can be in the direction you have been moving, or it could be a 180° turn. The interesting thing about angles is that even a 2° shift can greatly alter the destination.
Which brings me back to algebra…

Friday, June 26, 2009

What’s growing in our garden

I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished. We went into this project as idealist young kids, without a clue, making it up as we went along. My original thoughts about how hard it might be to get plants to grow haven’t yet come to a conclusion. How hard is it? I don’t know, the broccoli and celery have yet to come up, and I’m wondering if some of the green leaves popping up are vegetables or weeds. If I’m not sure I don’t pull it up. Most weeds I’m sure about, but there a few things in the cucumber bed I’m not so sure of. I’m happiest about the sunflowers. My dad gave me a pack of sunflower seeds when we were down in Tucson, he said they were old and he wasn’t sure if they would grow, but they are getting taller and taller every day.
I think that we will keep a little vegetable garden wherever we go, but I don’t think we’ll have such a big one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Dirty Farmer

Ed and I watched a documentary called “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.” It was great. Farmer John was raised on a farm in Illinois, and inherited it when his father died young. He went to a nearby college, where he befriended artists and hippies, and invited them back to his farm to create a farming and artist commune. It all ended horribly wrong, with mounting debt and the local townspeople spreading rumors about violent drug induced orgies and murder. None of which were true. But farmer John threw up his hands, swore off farming, and went to Mexico. In agrarian Mexico he re-fell in love with farming, and the sacred relationship between farmer and soil. When he finally made it back to Illinois, to start all over, he decided that this time he would be an organic farmer. He found organic, done properly, required three times the amount of work, plus a LOT of knowledge he never had, and he was met by the town with the same skepticism and distrust that had met him previously. After a few years of breaking his back, getting nowhere, he once again swore off farming and returned to Mexico. When he came home the second time, he again started up his organic/artist farming community. With the help of his mom’s vegetable stand, and some restaurant owners in Chicago searching for local organic produce, he managed to sustain himself farming in a holistic manner.
It was a very good documentary and I recommend it. It illuminated a few things for Ed and I. First of all, here is this guy who was raised farming, all his family and neighbors farmed, who inherited a farm with all the equipment and animals, and he said organic was too much hard work! So how could Ed and I, without that background, really be expected to accomplish such a feat. Also, part of our dream for this place was to turn it into an artist retreat, where people could gather and garden and create in a relaxed environment. And we’ve been sad to have to let that dream go, but it was wonderful and cathartic to know that someone else out there had that same dream, and saw it come to fruition. Just knowing that there is an artist-friendly farming community out there really helps us to peacefully let that dream go for ourselves. And so we think we should drive to Illinois to shake hands with farmer John.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Drastic Actions

They are what drastic times call for. As such we have decided to sell the Airstream. Yep, it’s listed on e-bay. We think that it’s the thing to do now. We feel liked we tried, we gave it our best effort, but the signs were early and obvious that it just wasn’t going to work. For reasons stated in earlier blog posts… It is strange in a way, the way we imagined the outcome when we started, we would have been caring for little chickens by now. My blog posts would have been about building their coops, bailing hay, and our further involvement in the farming community. About bailing hay…within the last week, the nearly 3 1/2 acre hay field got cut down, raked up, made into bales and put into the hay barn. I watched all of this while weeding the garden. The garden is our favorite thing about this place, the sun has finally been coming out all day, and daily I look to see how the little plants have changed. We’ve been eating radishes nearly everyday now, and there are a few little green tomatoes on the vine. The corn stalks never cease to amaze me, and the potato plants are flowering. However, we pulled off all the potato flowers, so the plant sends more of its energy to its root system. We also have little asparagus and herbs coming up, although they will take a few years to mature. It’s enjoyable to spend the mornings watering and weeding.
Back to selling the Airstream. We have Ed’s daughter flying up from L.A. in two weeks, and once she is gone back to her mom’s, we think we’ll hit the road. We’ll drive around aimlessly, seeing what we can see. Across America, across Canada, maybe into Mexico, I mean, really it’s possible to drive down the Pacific Coast to the tip of Chili! I had a cousin who did it on a motorcycle. And then you could drive up the eastern seaboard, through Brazil, skirt around Venezuela, all the way up to Québec. Then hell, by that time you may as well cut across Canada to Alaska where you started from! That’s right, in our Prius with our dog. If we are going to be homeless, we may as well be traveling. In fact, I’m thinking about changing the name of this blog to ‘Vagabond U.S.A.’
The Airstream has been good to us. It’s been our cocoon, but it’s time to shed the shell and let our wings spread. A lot of good mental work has been done here; it’s forced us to sit with our thoughts and our discomfort. There has been no running away, only constant reminders.
On a completely different note, I’ve been sick lately. It is no fun. Ed and I had this lovely Father’s day trip out to the coast planned, we went anyway, but we had to pull over about five times on the way there so I could puke. I’m just starting to get my strength back. The one up-side to being sick: I lost a few pounds. Not that I need to, but what woman doesn’t like to loose a few pounds? Aside from the physical unease, aching all over, alternating chills and sweats, not sleeping well and having a headache, aside from all that I have felt mentally up-beat. I’m not really worried about this next step, and for whatever reason, I think good things will come our way.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Home, there is no place like it, and according to who you talk to it’s where the heart is, or wherever one lays their head. Not quite, and not any place can be one. Whether it be a castle, a shack or a 1974 Airstream Ambassador. It’s a person’s kingdom, their sanctuary. I’ve always prided myself on having a place where I can shut out the world, invite in whomever I choose, and relax and feel at peace. A place where I feel comfortable puking my brains out if I get sick, and a place where I like to walk around naked. What makes that homey feeling? It’s something that spans ages and cultures. Now I feel a little like Dorothy, all I want to do is to go home. But for as much as I click my heels, I’m not getting anywhere, and I’m definitely not in Kansas.
For the last decade, I have moved about once a year. Some places feel like home the very first night. Others take awhile. When I think of home, I also still think of my parents house. Although when I go there I don’t know where anything is anymore because I haven’t lived there in ten years.
I say that I have felt homeless for the past five months; Ed says he’s felt homeless for seven, ever since he lost his job and we knew we would have to move. L.A. didn’t feel quite the same after that. Not feeling like you have a home is a very unsettling feeling to have for any length of time.
I’ve got a Paul Simon song stuck in my head.
The Airstream is not home for us. It would be great for just one person who doesn’t cook very much. It would also be a great camping trailer, for a week or two at a time. But it is not home. It’s so small; Ed and I have to crawl over each other to move. I can’t stretch or put my shirt on without my elbows hitting a wall. I’m always hitting my head on the door jam stepping in and out of this place. It also amazes me, for how small this place is, how easy it is to loose and misplace things. I’m constantly tearing the trailer apart looking for my keys.
To end on a happier note, one of the good things about being homeless here: being able to eat from our garden. Our radishes are ready! It’s so exciting to see the little tops pushing out of the ground, so satisfying to pull it out of the dirt. They smell incredibly fresh and are so pretty. Ed can eat radishes whole, I normally can take a small bite before my eyes water.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Experiments in slowing down

This is what I tell myself: do a breathing exercise, breathe in all the good, positive energy; breathe out the bad negative energy. Focus on the breath: inhale warmth and relaxation, exhale out cold frustration. Sit up straight. Clear your mind.
Much easier to say than to practice.
Some of the activities of slowing down: baking bread, reading, having picnics, watching my dog breathe. It’s all very fun. The picnic was especially fun, there is a lovely riverfront park that we went to. We laid out our blanket, drank wine and had bread and cheese. Ed ran around with Jackie, who is learning not to bark at other dogs. It’s all very pleasant, and slightly boring. There is only so long one can really sit in the grass reading a book, no matter how good that book is.
I often wonder, because I am a student of history, and because I am a die-hard Pride and Prejudice fan, what do people do with all their time? And they had to wear those dresses and be all proper like. But there are 24 long hours in every day; 365 days in a year and how many years do we live? That’s a long time! I know Time is perception, however, I believe my mama said it best when she said, “the days are long, but the years are short!”
So while we are in the waiting mode, for the next shoe to drop, or the next stepping stone to be laid, we are having a series of very long days, with not a lot to fill them. We are trying not to be impatient throughout this waiting period. First, we don’t want to make the ‘next move’ out of a place of panic. Panic is never a good place to make a decision from. We would like to take our time and do it right.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Reinterpretation of the dream

When we first moved here, and once I stopped crying, we saw nothing but possibilities and trees, now we only see the trees and they are blocking our view of the forest. And I’ve started to cry again. Throughout daily life walking around the farm, tears well-up in the corner of my eyes. I am mourning the loss of a dream and possibly losing my dreamer’s quality. Maybe it’s just becoming more realistic, or refining my life goals.
One of the facts we have admitted to ourselves is that we have too much urbanite in us to live so far out in the country. We enjoy the hustle and bustle of a city. Being isolated on this farm for five months has slowed us down a little, so instead of speeding in the fast lane we’re cruising in the slow lane, but we still want to be on the freeway. I don’t want to go back to LA, but there are some things about LA that I miss. In the city we could get anything delivered at any time, here no one will even deliver a pizza. In the time it takes us to walk to the very small country store, which is about a mile, we could have walked to any number of stores, restaurants, cafés, boutiques, the post office and the police station. And country roads are scarier to walk on because there are no sidewalks, but on the other hand everyone waves to us as they pass in their vehicles. I don’t think I ever got waved to in Los Angeles. Flipped off, maybe.
What I’m saying is, we don’t need to be in an overwhelmingly large city, but we would like to be in a little more populated area. So we begin to ask ourselves, where to this time? There is another factor that we somehow failed to properly estimate. That is: we are still newlyweds. And we still want the ‘just us’ time, and adventure.
I’m not sure where I am going with this, so I’m going to go back to where I started. My dream. To live quite and comfortable with my husband and my dog, and I don’t think I’m asking too much. However, my idea of comfort has been scaled back after living in a 200 square foot Airstream for five months. To be continued…

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Impolite Conversation

Ed and I are always discussing whether or not I should be careful with my politics, and religious views, i.e. my philosophies. Because I am extreme? No. Well maybe. Heaven forbid I should offend anyone with my views, even though I am constantly offended by what is said around me. I feel I should speak up. Not that I expect to change anyone’s mind, that’s why it’s theirs, to make up for themselves.
Now to the story: We had a very nice guy from down the street deliver some firewood. A cord for $100, which I guess is a good price, having never bought firewood before, I really don’t know. But Ed has bought firewood and he said it was a good price. 10 minutes into unloading the truck, the man stops what he is doing, turns towards us and in all seriousness asks us, “Do you know the Lord?” (and I was wearing my Buddha shirt) to which I replied “Jesus”, (no, that’s just what I thought), I actually replied, “How much time do you have?”
Ed and I recently watched the movie Religulous, by Bill Maher. Well, according to him about 16% of the American population are ’non-believers’, people who do not affiliate themselves with any religion or belief system. 16%, that is a sizable portion of the population. And we non-believers can’t sit quietly while all the believers run rampant yelling about their beliefs. On that note, I would like to proclaim that I am a Questioner. I do not know if there is a God or gods, and I am OKAY not knowing. I do not think such questions are answerable. What I do believe is that the Universe will take care of you if you just let it. Whatever that means.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Random updates

#1- I’ve got a green thumb! There are lots of little green things coming up in the garden, and some big green things. Our poor little tomatoes that suffered so much have come alive in the ground! They are getting bigger everyday and spreading out leaves. Ed is really happy about them. I’m the happiest about the potatoes. I’ve never seen a potato plant and I think they are beautiful. The corn grows the fastest for sure; I mean you could stand there and watch it grow. Sometimes I do stand there and watch it grow, it’s a great way to slow down. We’ve built a new fence around the garden; well Ed did most of the labor, and it seems as sturdy as any of the other fences on the property. Not bad for novices. Finally, we have little tiny apples on the trees! Two of the three trees have apples and they are so little, I’m going to watch them grow, and then I’m going to eat them.

#2- Mini road trip in Oregon. We’ve been taking to the road lately, more for driving around than trying to get anywhere. But still we’ve made it out to the coast and up into the Cascades. Oregon is a beautiful state; the greenness and lushness are a match for any landscape. There is nothing like driving on a shaded winding road that follows beside a river. We love giving Jackie the new experiences; his favorite was probably running on the beach.

#3- Jackie is the best dog ever, but I might be biased. Around 9pm we have our routine where Jackie walks himself into his crate and lays down. He says ‘leave me alone mom and dad, I’m tired.’ He’ll wake us up between 3-5am to go to the bathroom. Ed and I take turns taking him out. I actually enjoy taking him out so early in the morning when the stars are either popping or the dawn is breaking, both times are peaceful and amazingly inspirational; it is a silence I enjoy. When we come back in, I tell Jackie to sit so I can take off his leash. His little tail wags in excitement as soon as I say ‘okay’, then he bolts up onto the bed and licks Ed good morning. They roll around together as I climb back in and Jackie curls up at our knees. It’s my favorite time of night. Jackie hangs out with us all day, wherever we go. He follows most commands, at least he knows what he is supposed to do, but sometimes he just doesn’t feel like doing it. On the other hand, sometimes he does what we want without us even having to say anything. We just look at him and he’ll sit. Ed just got him to lay down on command, he was resisting it at first. He is super-curious and always wants to investigate. When I was pulling up roots in the garden area, he was right there with me digging as fast as he could, and being the cutest little puppy ever! In my own humble opinion. While watching him dig with such enthusiasm, we decided that we would like to teach him to go underground after prey, which is part of what Jack Russell’s were bred for. We just love him! The Vet said that for those of us who don’t have children, our animals are our family. And as my mama always says “Every mama crow thinks her baby crow’s the blackest.”