Friday, February 27, 2009

Little Miss Muffet

Well, I’m starting to wonder if my mosquito bites are really spider bites. And how do I tell the difference? Although there still are some killer mosquitoes here, Ed has killed plenty of them. But I wonder about the spiders, because for the past few days Ed and I have been sitting on our pillows in the “living room”, and have sworn that we have felt little things falling on our heads. Well today Ed finally saw them, lots and lots of tiny spiders on fine little webs on the ceiling. I wonder about my bites because they are just not acting like mosquito bites, they are not going away, still itch like crazy, and the red welt circumference is larger than a silver dollar. I’ve never had a mosquito bite last this long. By the way, I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful advice on mosquitoes.
So we are fogging the Airstream, took everything out, and dropped the bomb. I’ve never done anything of the sort, although I can remember my grandparents spraying our house for bugs when I was little. I’m scared to go back into the trailer, but at least all the spiders will be dead. Die, spiders, die.

On a happier note, we officially named the Airstream yesterday, and again thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. The winner was: The Ellie Mae. There you have it folks. Have a good day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rainy day blues

There are some killer mosquitoes around here, and they seem to like the way I taste. I have bites up and down my arms and legs. I’m having a hard time refraining from scratching them. In fact, I haven’t been able to and they have turned into huge red itching welts. I hope they don’t scar my beautiful skin! But I suppose it’d be my own fault if they do, since I’m the one scratching them. Sometimes I think I scratch them in my sleep, when I have no conscious control over my hands and nails. But I’ve been scratching enough during the day when I am conscious.
Why do mosquitoes exist, anyway? I’m sure I’m not the first to ask this question. They don’t seam to serve any purpose that I can find. Most insects and worms are vital players when it comes to pollination and decomposition; they are needed in the cycle of life. Mosquitoes do nothing of the kind. I also found out during my research that it’s only female mosquitoes that bite us; they need our iron and protein for egg production. So the little bitches that bit me did it so they can lay eggs that will give life to more mosquitoes, who will also try to bite me.
Ed, in his Buddhist leanings is all for living and letting live when it comes to other creatures who inhabit this planet, except for mosquitoes, flies and sometimes spiders. If they are just going to bite us and make us itch like crazy, then we are going to kill as many as we can. Have you ever killed a mosquito that was in the middle of sucking your blood, and you swat it, and raise your hand to find a small smudge of blood on your arm? Was that your blood or the mosquito’s? At what point in their taking it from you does it cease to be yours and start to be theirs? When they fly off I suppose.

Ed and I are both horribly depressed lately. Two steps forward and three steps back. A few days filled with sunshine and good news followed by weeks and weeks of frustration. It’s frustrating. There is not a lot of economy or industry up here in the best of times, and these are not them. Most of the job postings are for health care, and I am not a RN. We briefly talked about me becoming one, which would require schooling, but I have to ask myself, do I really want to be poking people with needles, and cleaning scars and being coughed on? Ummm, I don’t think so. I mean, it is a valuable skill and god bless nurses; it’s just not for me.
What is for me? What do I want to do with my life? All I need to do is answer that question then go out and do it. How easy it all sounds. And how stupid I feel for not being able to answer it. My religious upbringing taught me that girls should dream of being a good housewife and mom. Those are noble endeavors, but I’m neither. Well, I am a step-mom, but Hannah is 16 and still in LA. And if I really think about it, I am a trailer-wife, whatever that is worth. Some people will argue that my religion (I was raised Mormon but no longer subscribe to the belief system) does not pigeonhole girls into that role, but those are the messages I received being raised in the church. I was never asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Whenever I came up with something I wanted to be, a ballerina or an actress, I was told that it wasn’t likely to happen, nobody liked me and I should read my scriptures. Like everyone, I see my past though my colored glasses and other’s might disagree, but they are my memories. Revisionist history.
So I sit here, on my hands, racking my brain. Maybe I know the answers, and maybe I’m scared to admit what I want, for fear that I’m not good enough. And demons are in my head, and under my bed and in my sock drawer. So I’m paralyzed, sitting in my boat floating down the river. Don’t go wherever the river flows. But why not let the river answer the questions for me? Beats having to do it myself. That would leave my life uncomplicated and unfulfilled. But I’ve never been one to take the answers given to me, thus the mental battle. Have I said that already?

So where do we go from here? Ed and I have now extended our job search to a national level. And if something gets offered, we’d leave the farm. Our financial stability is more immediately necessary and important than raising pigs. Without cash we would not be able to keep up the farm anyway. I’ve often pondered this: it’s impossible for nothing to happen, by the very nature of nature, something is going to happen. The sun will rise again; the plants and animals will grow. I will age, and get wrinkles, and my hair will turn grey, and Ed and I will move out of this trailer, build a house where we will sit by the fire laughing about the days we were cramped in the Airstream.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ed and I in front of the Airstream. Still looking for names for the trailer, people! It's been raining for the past couple days so we've been stuck inside, except for the few minutes that we were able to step outside and take this photo. The ground is saturated and there are puddles all over the place. I've been teaching Ed to play Gin Rummy and he and I have been battling it out. I was taught to play Gin by my Uncle Jim on a rainy day, just like this one.

Lots of plans in the works, e.g. we need to purchase our apple trees soon. I'm thinking Pink Lady, Fuji and Granny Smith. We need more than one apple variety for cross-pollination. At least for some types of apples. They take a few seasons to produce, 4-5 years. I'm still learning about all of this.

I have been corresponding with an old friend who is living off 200 acres in Idaho, 1800's style. Lots of good advice, but it is making us question how much of a commitment to the farm and the self-sustaining lifestyle we want to make. Once you get off the grid can you ever get back on it?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Getting Comfortable

Here is the tearing out the shower process. It's cleaned up now, but there is still some work to do on the kitchen and bathroom. I'll post pictures of the finished project soon.
The Grape vines that we dug up and replanted on the other side of the lawn. I had to prune them way down to get the vines untwined from the wire, so they look like sad little sticks in the ground now. 
Here are all the little critters. I like them better everyday, even though they're not of much use, being the spoiled pets that they are.  The sheep's wool might be good. Carol said it's almost time to shear them, and the sheep staring at the camera is black, although it's so dirty you can't tell, and Carol said black wool is more valuable. I'll see what I can do with it. 
Our fire pit, Ed is so happy to have one. We built it in our front yard.
Playing with fire. You can see the area behind me is where the grapes used to be.  
I'm think I'm starting to like it here. We have a little home, and a rad front yard, such as it is. 
Thanks for stopping by my blog, and have a nice day. LEAH

A beautiful winter’s night…

Ed and I worked our asses off the last couple days. But we accomplished many great things. First, we dug ourselves a fire pit in our little front yard. Went and bought some firewood, and built ourselves a little fire. It was so amazing sitting around our fire, poking it with a stick, and looking up at our first cloudless night. The starts just popped out of the sky, and we looked up in amazement, looking at the stars and poking our fire.
I often wonder about early man, and I’m always attempting to locate what exactly it is that sets us apart from other animals who inhabit this planet. Our ability to control fire is a major one in my books. The magical intense heat and light, and the flickering of the flames that is hypnotic. Think, 800,000 years ago, Hominin’s were sitting around a camp fire, poking it with a stick and looking up at the stars.
Second big task, we transplanted the six grape vines. They were on the other side of the cement slab that we are going to extend to build our studio/office/shower/sauna structure. They had to go. I was told, by the lady in the nursery, that grapes aren’t the best transplanters, but we should do it now, while they are dormant, and hope for the best. So that’s what we did, and it was a tiring and dirty (as in DIRT) job. But we got it done and we are so proud of ourselves. I hope all the plants survive, but I plan on planting more grapes anyway. I’m not sure what varieties they have now, and I’ll need particular kinds to make wine with.
Our handyman was over today, and he took out the shower. We weren’t ever planning to shower in there, it was way too small of a space to shower comfortably, and we were just using the area for storage. This entailed moving a wall back (so our bathroom is super small now, but who cares?) and extending the kitchen counter by 9 square feet, which is a major help when cooking dinner, and does wonders for our headspace. It really opens the Airstream up, and we feel like we have so much more room. It’s the happiest I’ve been with the Airstream since we bought it.
Lastly, I got a new gardening book! The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide, It was recommended by the producer of the Inside Edition piece who came out to our farm. It has a month by month break down of what to do and plant that month in this area. I read over it a little and started feeling totally behind. But I remind myself it is our first year, and I have to be patient with myself. Between that book and my Sunset Western Garden Book, I think I’ll do just fine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Girl in The Box

For as long as I can remember, I have had a little girl in a wooden box in the back of my head. The box was never quite big enough for her, she always had to be stoop over. And, for most of my life, she would pound her fist on the walls and scream at the top of her lungs 24 hours a day.
I have run very far to get away from myself, but everywhere I go, there I am, and here I am, at the end of the day, and the end of the road, and the end of my rope.
So I go into my mind, and open the lid of the box and ask the little girl, “if I bring you some milk and cookies will you stop crying?”
“maybe” says she.
“what do you want?” says I.
“the same thing you do.”
“I don’t know what I want”
When you have everything to gain, and everything to lose, when you don’t even know what that might entail in either direction. Enie, Meanei, Minie, Moe, doesn’t work like it used to. Why not, becomes just why.
“you’re not answering the question” says my little girl. “climb in here and scream with me”
I climb into the box, but instead of pounding fists, I only have streaming tears.
I’ve always said that I was fearless, or that my only fears were morbid obesity and spontaneous combustion. Roosevelt said we should only fear fear.
To not be afraid of the dark around me, I have to first not be afraid of the darkness in my mind. And to the depths it can go. I look around my box, laying there, in my dark thoughts. And I say to my little girl “I’ll try to get us out of this.”

Ed and I picked up this piece, Cubicle, from a good friend of ours, Hunter King, (, before our financial meltdown, and what a great piece for our collection! Now it makes an even more poignant statement, in relation to our current living situation and current state of mind. I wanted to share the thought, and perhaps ask what traps you?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Emotional upheaval abound a.k.a just another 19th nervous breakdown

I was cooking breakfast, a daily balancing act; I had just cracked my last egg into the frying pan, when I heard a smash behind me. I turned around and saw my whole 18-egg carton (minus the three I had just started cooking) upside down with whites and yokes oozing out from under it. I looked at it, took a deep breath, and started laughing. I just knew they were all broken. (That was Ed’s worst case scenario as well).
It’s hard to talk about all my anxieties when I’m feeling momentarily happy. As I am now, thanks to some sunshine and some scotch. But last night and the hours and days before then… here’s come the sun, little darling. And I have to believe that Ed and I will get through our current situation and it’ll be alright.
To start, and thank you for indulging me because it’ll be good to type about it, I’m lonely. I’m used to a city full of people, always movement around me, interaction with colleagues and clients. Now it’s just me, and Ed and Grant and Carol. The animals don’t count, that’s not human interaction. I’ve turned increasingly to the internet, but nothing goes on there either, so hit the refresh button and wait while the page reloads. I’m finding it difficult to focus my energies in any particular direction. I’ve had friends suggest knitting, or needlepoint, any type of handcraft. I walked around Michael's for an hour, looking at all the possibilities there. But nothing caught my eye. I left feeling more purposeless than before.
That’s what it is, I have no purpose here, at least I have not found it. And it’s been such a struggle just to survive, mentally, here in this cocoon. I told Ed once that I would live in a cave with him, but maybe I couldn’t live in a cave with myself. Not having a home when we first got here, and then living in the trailer now which is only marginally workable because of the limited space. And then having the handyman over everyday, with banging, clacking and tearing everything apart and then putting it back together again. It needed to be done and it needs to be done. But your home, such as it were, should be your sanctuary, and to have it invaded on a constant basis, just as you are trying to settle in and start to feel at home there. It’s hard not to have that place that feels like home. Cause there is no place like it. That’s what I don’t have here yet.
A little bird, or a wise owl, sat me down the other day and gave me some words of wisdom. I think we are related, if only in spirit. More on that later, but she said to me: what is it that men need in their relationships? They need to feel like they are taking care of their family. It’s biological, as much as I like to think that I, as the female am as equal in every sense of the word, we are not, we are two complimentary beings, we are the yin and the yang, and both are needed.
I thought about this, and two thoughts came to my head. One, through the biological and cultural evolution of the human species, it was the males, who for obvious physical reasons, were the primary provider. They went hunting and brought home food, they went to war, protecting their home, they took care of their group. (Due to the nature of hunting, men had to develop a quiet communication style with each other, which carries on to this day. While women, who generally stayed close to home tending the crop and the children, were able to sit and talk and work as long as the day. That’s why women are more talkative than men (this explanation is my anthropological generalization, to which there are, of course, deviations and contradictions). More on that later.
So Ed, who, god love him, just wants to take care of me, and provide for me, and as much as this might sometimes aggravate my independent side, I can’t blame him for his biological coding.
Though also, I can’t deny that I am a female with just as much biological and hormonal coding as men have. You know, I bleed once a month, as does every other adult female on this planet. And when I was younger I used to say, “PMS? HA!” Because I never experienced that many monthly symptoms. But this past year or two I’ve began to notice that some months I’m a little crampy, and very tired, and slightly more emotional than I used to be. Not that I become a raging bitch, and I don’t think it’s acceptable for any women to use bleeding as an excuse to become one. The point is, I can’t deny my “womeness” anymore than Ed can deny his “maness.”
So Ed is already feeling vulnerable and insecure due to his lost ability to provide for me, and every minute of my unhappiness is driving that nail deeper into his psyche. I’m not very happy here, yet. I think I could be, but I haven’t found it. I think that by nature I’m a fairly happy person. And I know Lincoln said “most folk are as happy as they make their minds up to be” or something like that, but how much power does the mind have over outside circumstances? Not that I’m comparing my situation with them, but how much could people in concentration camps, or refugee camps, or war-torn Sarajevo, say to themselves, “I’m going to be a happy person” regardless of the hardship around them? So I have to try to be happy, despite my suffering and anguish, even if that suffering is only in my mind, because that’s the worst place for it to be.
Other demons reside here now, I mentioned the noise of Los Angeles, here there is only silence. We are experiencing withdrawals. And the silence is loud, like the frogs and the crickets and my thoughts. My thoughts are really loud, and not always nice. Also it’s a culture shock, I’m used to things needing to be done yesterday, and fast-paced Beverly Hills. Here people move slow. Ed and I were walking around the grocery store the other day, and I looked around and said “We are walking four times as fast as anyone else in here.” Maybe I should slow down. Maybe I’m afraid if I slow down, I’ll just stop. Stop.

Friday, February 13, 2009

BH to HB: A Pictorial

Our old West Hollywood dining room. We don't have one anymore. 
Our bookcase, oddly enough, this is what I miss the most. Now all of our beautiful books are in boxes. 

Our old hallway. 
Our new Hallway in the Airstream (still haven't thought of a name for her).
Our old bedroom.
Our new bedroom, and there is only room for the bed. (My mom made the quilt for our us as a wedding gift).
Our old kitchen.
Our new kitchen. And yes, I know we are not supposed to use a Coleman stove inside, but we have good ventilation and Ed and I don't care if we die from carbon monoxide, it sounds like a painless exit. Also the stove that came in the Airstream doesn't work, we can't even figure out where to light the pilot, and we needed something.
The fridge that was in the Airstream, it didn't work and we pulled it out. We think it was the original, making it 34 years old.
The space left behind when we pulled out the fridge.
Our new-improved system of mini-fridge, mircowave and toaster. 
We'll post more when we finish the bathroom area. It's so hideous right now we can't even look at it really. Nuff said.

28 days in Oregon

We have been in Oregon for 28 days now, it feels like 28 weeks at least since we were pulling up to the farm with our u-haul. The funny thing with not working Monday thru Friday 9-5 is that I'm never quite sure what day or what time it is. What is time anyway? There are three natural measurements of time, a day - the earth's complete rotation on its axis, the month - the moon's journey around the earth, and the year - the earth's journey around the sun. Other than that, all measurements of time, hours and minutes, are arbitrary human constructs. For me the only time that matters now, is the time to take care of the animals. And I feel hungry, so I think I'll cook now, it must be dinner time.
28 Days. And how much we've done in that time. We've taken over care of the little critters, cleaned up the yard, the trees on the property had not been trimmed in 10 years. So Ed and I tackled that, it's hard work, two or three trees and we're shot. Then raking up the pine needles, which haven't been raked up in 10 years. We're going to rake them into a pile and burn them. You don't want to compost pine needles, they take too long to break down. We've started our compost piles, which I'm happy about, although in the cold weather we think it'll take awhile to break down. Hopefully that process will speed up with the warming spring weather. But we don't think it'll be broken down in time to start our garden this spring.
We went to a local nursery to get tips and advice on gardening, they told us to sit on our hands for 6-8 weeks. We can't start till late April/early May. The ground's still too muddy right now to till. I suppose this is all meant to teach me patience, which I thought I had, but maybe I lost.
And then there has been the constant work on the Airstream, and running into town to pick up nuts and bolts, and getting lost and then arguing about what size nut we need. Then coming back and seeing our little home, which we are trying to keep nice, torn up and with tools and mud strewn all over the place. It's stressful, and hard labor, and by the early afternoon we are exhausted and hurting and brain dead. So we eat dinner and veg out in front of the TV, we don't have cable hooked up yet, so we are limited to movies on our Netflix list. That's not so bad.
Building our home and our life here, for 28 days, and I can't even imagine what the next month will bring. I think my imagnation took a sabbatical, and I'll go on a snipe hunt to find it. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

That's a dead goose

A goose died. Not one of the mean African geese, the little orange-beaked nice one. I was told that if you're going to have livestock, that sometimes you'll have deadstock.
Death is a bizarre experience, so is life I guess, two sides of one coin. One day there is an animated goose squawking around, irritating everyone who can hear it, the next there is a stiff lifeless body covered in feathers. It died of natural causes, we're guessing. It's head wasn't missing and it's feathers weren't scattered around the pen. Old age and cold weather. I hope it was at peace, that is, if geese experience peace or panic. Who's to say they do, and who's to say they don't? I wonder what the other geese thought about losing a friend. Just one less squawk to accompany their own.
Ed and I noticed the goose while doing our morning chores and being filmed by Inside Edition (that story will follow, right now I'm talking about the dead goose). We thought, aww shit Carol and Grant are not going to like this. And they didn't. Grant walked into the pen and picked the dead goose up, with his bare hands, which I thought was a little gross, and shivered at the thought of having to pick up a dead goose. Ed dug a hole, right next to where all the other dead pets are buried. The goose was put into a plastic bag and thrown in. Don't you ever laugh when a hearse goes by.
I'm thinking it'd be better not to put it in the plastic bag, so that the earth could quickly decompose it's body, take that engery and molcules back from whence they came. The cold brown dirt. Or maybe just leave it out in the field to be eaten by scavengers and worms. But no, Carol wanted to pluck some of it's feathers, they are considered special by her tribe (Carol is half Pomo Indian), but said she couldn't pluck the feathers of such a good friend. Fair enough.
So goodbye to George the goose.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

living in an Airstream.

So we are living in the Airstream, and I wanted to show you what our new living room looks like. It's very small, and we are learning that every square inch matters. But it's comfortable enough. The rest of the Airstream is still being worked on.

Monday, February 9, 2009

in case you missed it

Here is the segment that CNN played, we come on about thirty seconds into the spot, after the commercial. Click on the link, or copy and paste into your browser. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I've been hearing it on the Radio

It's funny, Shirley the producer at CNN said this picture might be too humorous for the story, I said if Ed and I did not keep our sense of humor we would have jumped off a bridge. So CNN ended up using this picture in the clip.

So we drove up to Portland on Thursday to be interviewed by CNN (the clip aired Friday on Wolf Blitzer's, "The Situation Room"). CNN will post the clip online Monday, and I will link it to my blog for all of you who are not avid CNN watchers to view. (It was a fun experience, we were interviewed via telephone by Shirley, the producer, who was in New York. We had little earpieces and microphones hooked up to us, they interviewed us for about 45 minutes, and whittled it down to about 45 seconds for the show). We spent the rest of the day with my good friend Lauren. It was good to be in a city again. Friday we woke up and drove back home. When we arrived Grant told us CNN had aired the clip, and he had recorded it. So we all sat down and watched it a few times. Ed's beard looks red on TV, and I think we are both camera friendly. So Friday night, being thoroughly exhausted, we received a call from CNN Radio. They wanted an interview as well for the radio broadcast. We spoke to the radio producer for about twenty minutes, but I haven't been listening to CNN radio to hear if they have played the interview. Whirlwind. The producer told me (via email) that Ed and I MADE the segment, and that she would love to do a follow-up. Even if it goes nowhere, I'm glad it happened.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

as seen on CNN

So check it, I posted a little part of my blog on CNN i-Reports, and within 24 hours two different CNN producers had called me about broadcasting our story over the airwaves.

Now, they are asking Ed and I to drive up to Portland tomorrow for an interview.
There is a chance our story will be on national news.
Curiouser and curiouser.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

On the sunny side

Well it's been sunny for the past few days here. which is a nice change. I keep on thinking Vitamin D, Vitamin D, and I've had a song stuck in my head. "you will feel no pain as we drive you all insane." And the Airstream is moving right along, we are living in here now, we only lack a refrigerator and a stove and a shower, so I'm still having to cook and shower in the house. It's okay.
Our routine with the animals is good, but we still want to get rid of them and get some animals that would be more productive. We are thinking cows amd chickens, maybe bees.
But now that our living situation is a little more under control, my next thought is turning to gardening. none of our compost will be ready by this season, but I think the ground is probably rich enough on it's own, since it's never been used to produce anything. I think I have to start my tomato's seedlings soon.
More pics to come...