Putting the waves of 2018 in the Rearview

snow from horse mountain

 

To say 2018 was a trying year would be putting it mildly. We have had other stressful years, more than I care to count, but his one hit us hard.

I don’t want to go on and on while writing this blog, but I also need to be honest about how things really are here off the grid.

It’s not for everyone. It’s not that bad as far as modern conveniences go, we have electricity (we have to watch what we use on cloudy days). We have water, (we use about 60 gallons per week) and Dave has to haul it. We have a roof over our heads, a warm bed (the window still leaks, but we deal).

I minimize most of the inconvenient parts, but when the weather is extreme it gets hard. The summers are brutal, the winter is not quite so bad, but we have two old dogs living in close quarters that drag in mud and shed constantly. At least we stay warm. The house is always a mess, so if I don’t invite you in, that is the reason. Too small and too doghouse like.

There are days when I question our sanity, especially since we are now facing our third winter here in this small camper. We do get out and walk the dogs twice a day and I go to town several times a week, which helps a lot.

It’s just that…I have always loved Christmas. I love to decorate, I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving to be over, so I can drag out all of my decorations and the tree. I love cooking, baking and giving gifts. I love to think of things that will surprise people and hopefully they will remember who gave the gift and why I gave it to them. So…

This is very hard in here with all the dog hair, stuff and lack of space to be able to get in the spirit of Christmas. I know that isn’t the reason for Christmas, to decorate, or have lights on your house, but I also know how I feel when I see those ornaments that I’ve had almost all of my life on my Christmas tree. I feel nostalgic and the memories of past Christmas’ come rushing back. Times when I was a little girl or when my kids were small, it’s those things that cross my mind and make my heart sad.

I know I could decorate a tree outside, maybe that will be the solution this year, but I feel like there is something more missing. It’s not the stuff, it’s not the inability to bake, or cook a holiday meal, no there is something far bigger missing.

The chance to connect. I love to host and bring folks together, to share my home, food and fellowship with friends and family during the holidays. For now, I’m stuck up here on the mountain alone, waiting for everyone else to make decisions about where and when to have dinners and if we will be included.

My kids are great about having us be a part of their kids’ Christmas if they can, but I long to have the grandkids spend the night, bake cookies, walk in the snow and tell them the real meaning of Christmas. So, right now it’s not in the cards.

Yes, 2018 was difficult, we even thought our dream of the earthship may be crushed by those who don’t understand that all we really wanted to do out here was to live in peace and harmony with the land instead of taking from it.

We lost so many friends and loved ones, they moved onto the next life without us, and we are left here to pick up our lives. We are still reeling from all of that.

We have adjusted our sails on our ship once again. We need to remember that God’s timing is not always our timing. That lesson seems to be hard for us to learn in this time of instant gratification. Then there are those well-meaning folks that suggest we just scrap our plans and put in a doublewide and call it good. That’s sort of missing the whole point of this journey. So far, we haven’t given up completely.

A big help is all of you. Whenever I see someone or they message me and tell me they are keeping up with us and watching how we are, it gives me more courage. Is it hard? Yes, and no. Can we stick it out? I certainly hope so. Will the plans change? Absolutely, especially when God leads us a different way.

For now, we are here, trying to be patient with the slow process of this life. I am reminded of the settlers of the old west. They had to scrape and work for every bit they got. They build soddies, then eventually homes of wood.

Life for us isn’t bad, it’s just different.

Peace and Love to you all at this holiday season.

Luke 2:14

But the angel of the Lord said to them “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; his name is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

 

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The Post I’ve been avoiding

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I’ve been putting off writing this blog post. On one hand, we’ve made some progress on our earthship. On the other hand, we’ve had a very rough couple of months. With the many losses we’ve experienced, I lost another friend from high school since my last post. Cancer stinks and it doesn’t discriminate.

We fought hard against the proposed solar site, I wrote more letters, we had the whole neighborhood sign a letter to the owners of the land. We had our attorney send a letter. We worked very hard, all to lose in the end.

We sat in the commissioners hearing room barely tolerating the snake oil salesman’s pitch again. I watched him closely and he reminded me of a rat; pointy nose, shifty eyes, pale skinned as he spewed out garbage. Two of the three commissioners bought it hook, line, and sinker. We had previously talked to one of those two and he all but confirmed he was on board with us.

Then, at two minutes to noon, he turned on us. I’m guessing his stomach overrode his brain and he did a complete 180. We were devastated. This industrial complex will be built 20 feet from our property.

On the drive home it began to sink in, we may never be able to live in our earthship. The electro magnetic waves alone will probably keep me from being able to stay here. I’m very sensitive to atmospheric changes, or any kind of pressure, or heat. I have severe headaches and we would be safer leaving here, not taking the chance with our health.

The heat from the panels alone in the summer would be enough to drive us away. We were brokenhearted, at a loss for what to do. How could this happen? We never bothered them, we didn’t even complain when they had late night parties in their field with a DJ and flashing lights. We moved out here to be off the grid and be left alone.

Obviously, we didn’t move far enough. Now what? We prayed for God to help us. To reveal their lies and that they were only after revenge for us having tires stacked around and for having the nerve to take more that 3 months to build our home. Where was God? Why didn’t he intervene like I wanted?

It took me a long time to realize I had put my faith in people, not God. I trusted that the county commissioners would see thru this whole thing and see that they were treating us unfairly and would come through in the end and do the right thing. That’s where I went wrong.

Some people can no longer be trusted to do the right thing, especially it seems, in government capacities. I put my trust in the wrong place. I needed to trust that God would take care of us, whatever that meant. It may mean we have to move from here and start over. This may not be the place we originally thought it was. I would hate to have to leave now since we’ve made some really good friends that were only neighbors before.

We haven’t gotten together as a group since this all fell through, but I know those people would help me if I need anything at a moment’s notice. We’ve heard that things are happening to put a stop to all of this, but nothing is confirmed. At least the solar company has put off construction till next spring which will give us (And God) more time to regroup and possibly shut this down.

Even if it goes all the way through and we are forced to look at what we can do next, I know that our friends, and especially God, have our backs and now they have my heart.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

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Riding the Storm Out

sunset tractor

Riding the Storm Out

 

I am so sorry I’ve not been posting this summer. We have been on a tumultuous ride with wave after wave and it doesn’t look like we will have relief anytime soon.

It started at the end of May with the death of my great nephew who was just weeks away from his 19th birthday. While we were still reeling from that, my uncle passed away suddenly. He was my dad’s only living brother.

Not even two weeks after that my brother went to a hospice care facility and within three days he left us too. Two days later my hubby’s cousin passed away too. I was numb as I sat through her service.

I didn’t have time to grieve though, because we received a notice that the people who own the forty acres right to the west of us are planning to put in a “solar garden”. This is not a garden. It’s a proposed 13acre, 6300 panel industrial solar site. We all have agricultural zoning and this is not an allowable use. They are putting in for a conditional use permit to be able to do this. We also found out that the same people doing this are the ones who complained to the county compliance officer about our building site and that we are living in a camper. (Which is within county regulations).

This project will have an 8 foot vinyl fence around 3 sides. They are proposing to build it 100 feet from our side door. This fence would run 430 feet from the front to the back, completely blocking any kind of view on the west side of our home.

I had no idea when I waved and said a friendly hello on a snowy Sunday morning last spring that I was running straight into a complete mess of a vindictive trap.

We have had 2 meetings thus far and at every one, she and her husband mention us and our tires. These people live in the subdivision to the north of their parcel and look down their noses at anyone who thinks and lives outside the box. We have other neighbors who live in their campers as well, until they can get their homes built.

We have all tried to live within our means, paying cash for our homes as we go, so it takes a lot longer. We all live off the grid and it’s not easy, but we aren’t asking for any special treatment, just to be left alone. Apparently, that was too much to ask.

We were given a chance to send our concerns to the county planning department in protest of this project. The original date on the flier said we had till Aug. 16th, but the planner moved the date up to Aug. 8, cutting our time off by 7 days.

Then we went in front of the planning commission board. The county presented their case, then the company man presented his bedazzled case. We had 3 minutes each for comment after that. The board sat there in their elevated positions looking down on us, not even trying to veil the contempt from their faces. They voted to push the project through and even told us if we didn’t like the view, to look out another window.

We have one more chance in front of the board of county commissioners, but we aren’t too hopeful about them either. This project was on the fast track from the beginning.

I have to say, we aren’t against renewable energy. How could we be? We live off grid and have our own solar panels, but we have 6 not 6300. There are more appropriate places in this county for a project like this, one that isn’t right next to residential homes and in the middle of beautiful untouched land and viewscapes. Our poor neighbors live directly to the south of the whole project on the hill and would look down into that mass of panels every time they walk out their door.

My dad said it perfectly when he said it would be a tumor on the land and the neighborhood. We have a small deer herd that runs through here, coyotes, some folks have seen elk, and all sorts of small animals as well. This is a travesty. The hardest part is that our voices haven’t been heard.

We have a group of supporters from the owner’s own subdivision who have written letters, done interviews and stood with us at these meetings, all to fall onto deaf ears.

Where is the justice? Doing something which is ultimately good for the environment is frowned upon if you don’t follow the status quo. Their answer is to subscribe to a solar panel “farm” so you don’t have to put panels on your house, but you can still feel good about doing your part to save the environment.

We have some recourses if this goes through, but we would rather not have to go there. I really miss the days when being a neighbor meant something. I have to say, this has brought a lot of people together who might not have otherwise done so. We do have neighbors, good ones, good people with lots of guts and determination to stand up to bullies.

I am trying to stay positive and have faith that the county commissioners will do the right thing. So far we haven’t seen much that would give us hope.

I believe in a God who is bigger than all of this. He sends me promises.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

 

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The Balance Between Joy and Grief

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I had a post mostly written a few weeks ago, then scrapped it. Our family has been on a roller coaster of sorts for the past three months or so. I haven’t had much time alone to think, much less write.

My brother is terminally ill with cancer, and my parents have moved their camper up to our property to be closer to him. We’ve shared some great times together, savoring every moment we can with him. He’s growing tired; the pain, and disease are taking their toll.

I wrestle with my own selfish thoughts, wants and so-called needs. I want to spend more time with him, but there’s another part of me that only wants to remember my strong, funny big brother like he was before this horrible thief of life took that away from me. I want to stay away, I want to hide in my own selfish feelings, but I know that’s not fair to him.

My folks are older, and this is wearing on them as well. I try to be strong for them, but all of our nerves are starting to fray.

Two weeks ago my brother’s oldest grandson passed away. He was 18, his 19th birthday would’ve been this month. He had been in a horrific car accident last fall. He had worked hard and rehabbed back, learning to walk, talk and he even moved back home. We were so optimistic for him and his future. Then suddenly, his mom found him in the middle of the night at his desk…Gone.

In my other post, I had all sorts of rants about who to blame for things going wrong in this world. The shootings, kids in drunk driving accidents, the breakdown of the family, I had it all. I threw it out, because none of that can change anything. My heart is still broken, our family is still barely hanging on, and the world continues to spin out of control, it seems.

What I can change is how I handle each of these things in my own life. My family has a huge support system surrounding us and lifting us up in prayer constantly. Without that, we would be much less able to cope with these things that are piling up around us.

A couple of weeks ago, I brought my grandkids home with me to give their daddy some time to study for a test he’s going to take soon. As we were driving up our dirt road, they asked why I want to live out here.

I think about this a lot. Especially when things are hard. The constant wind is annoying. The heat of the summer is oppressive. The water leaking through the window in our bedroom is depressing. The lack of money to finish our house is discouraging, but….

What I told them is the quiet is one of the things I value the most. I love the animals, birds and even the critters that we live with in harmony.

To be able to look out and have an unobstructed view in any direction is priceless. I look out our window at night and I can see the stars, billions of them.  I try to find beauty and joy in all things, even the smallest blossom on a weed. We’ve been given such a wonderful opportunity to live here, for however long. I’m not talking about my property. I’m talking about all of us.

We need to connect with whatever love and beauty we’ve been given. Find joy in the everyday things. Love when you can, grieve when you need to, and live your life with as full a cup of joy as you can every single moment.

“…Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

 

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There’s Something Strange in the Neighborhood

Rainbow4-18

Things are changing around here

 

Let me point out a few of the changes to our normally peaceful neighborhood.

  1. For the past few weeks, I’ve been awakened to the sound of a helicopter going overhead most every weekday.
  2. Our newest neighbors fenced in their property with barbed wire fence. Yikes!
  3. Our other new neighbors moved into a 5th wheel on their property. (This is actually pretty cool.) My hubby has met the guy and I think we are going to have some good friends here.
  4. The people who own the forty acres directly west of us had a drilling company taking core samples on their property.
  5. The people who are directly north of us are building a road that I’m sure is big enough to land a 747 on.

I knew deep down this might happen, someday, it’s progress. I just figured there weren’t enough brave, (or crazy) people out there to do what we are doing…Living off the grid. Well, mostly off the grid. My son-in-law tells me I would have to give up my cell phone and internet to accomplish that. I lived for nine months without the internet and all that did was cost me an arm and a leg in gas money to have to run to the library every time I needed to work. Not worth it!

I’m slowly adjusting to the changes…

The helicopter is temporary; they are fixing power lines up on the mountain.

The newest neighbors haven’t made plans to move out here, so it’s still relatively quiet, except when he comes out to shoot his guns. But that’s okay, they seem nice too and are very friendly.

I’m going to like the new neighbors building on the hill, I can feel it.

The road building is done, and it doesn’t affect us, except now we have better access to our property on the other side of the ravine.

Change is inevitable I guess. I was remembering the first days and weeks we were here. I was feeling sorry for myself, sitting in a hot little camper with no electricity, no water, and barely any food (the fridge wasn’t working).

I dug out my old journal and Bible and sat on the bed and wrote. The quiet was overwhelming. The only sound was the wind blowing through the parched grasses. I had two dogs and a cat staring at me like I’d lost my mind, and at that point I thought the same thing. What had we done?

Once we got our new camper it was a little better, but still hard. The first shower I took in here was freezing cold. We hadn’t figured out how to light the hot water heater yet. Dave was over in the other camper with the dogs when he heard me scream from the shock of the icy water. He came over and asked what happened. When I told him, he laughed and went back to the other camper. I finished my shower, then when I tried to open the shower door, it was stuck. It wasn’t as much stuck as I couldn’t figure out how to open it. I stood there shivering wondering if I should try to get Dave back over here or figure it out myself. I tried everything I could think of…

Before I could start laughing or crying, Dave showed up to check on me. He told me how the door worked, and I was good to go. The next day I figured out the hot water heater.

We stayed in the old camper because we didn’t have bedding and any place for the animals yet. That night I laid awake listening to the coyotes sing. I thought I could see them in the moonlight, but now I know they were not in plain sight.

Since all the activity has been happening around here, we haven’t heard the coyotes for weeks. I miss them. I’m hoping they are whelping or just re-grouping and will come back soon.

Yes, things are changing, but I’m adjusting. Some things are good. We’ve had so many different birds here. Bluebirds, Hummingbirds, House finches, Quail. Even the rabbits are not as shy. I’ve always wanted to live close to nature and now I am.

I thank God for those first hard days. I’m thankful that now our lives seem so easy in comparison, but most of all I thank him for the beauty of being able to live here in the quiet beautiful place I call home.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

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Tangled in the Red Tape of Bureaucracy

do not cross

When you are a product of your own thinking, you find out how just how flawed those thoughts can be.

I’m not talking about being a bad person, I’m talking about instant gratification. I’m a child of the 70’s, the last of the baby boomer generation. We were taught that you can have and do anything you set your mind to.

While this isn’t wrong, I know we can become what we think we can, or what we think about we bring about. No, what I’m talking about is waiting, saving and working towards a goal that doesn’t come automatically.

We naively stepped into this project thinking we could get it done in a matter of months, now we are approaching our second year of living here in our camper. I had accepted things as they were, this will take time, money, and lots of patience.

A month ago we were thrown another curve ball. One bright sunny morning a pickup with a county logo drove up our driveway. I was curious because we hadn’t called for an inspection, and the county assessor had already visited in January.

I greeted the man, who was all business. He introduced himself as the compliance officer for the county. He started in by informing me that someone had complained about the tires on our property. He looked over at the building site with seeming contempt, asking me if the county had approved us using tires to build with. I assured him they had.

The conversation went this way back and forth for a while. He intimated that living in our camper and using our septic for black water disposal wasn’t allowed.

After a little while, he eased up and told me we could probably work something out. He said to expect a formal letter in the mail and we would have to respond within a month.

I was very upset and texted the hubby at work right away. He laughed it off and told me not to worry about it. Then when the letter arrived two days later, he got upset. We called our attorney, just to see what our rights were.
We met with her a few days later and she advised us to comply as best we can and make a plan for the rest.

We had let our building permit expire and when we called the county building department, they said to wait until we were closer to getting an inspection before we renewed it. Obviously, that wasn’t sound advice.

We have renewed our permit, and tried to contact the engineer about the septic, etc. I wrote a letter of explanation to the compliance officer yesterday.
All of this to say, just because you are off grid, doesn’t mean you are out of the tangle of red tape of bureaucracy, in fact you are under more scrutiny.

We are slow, but we do learn from our mistakes. I’m hoping that anyone following this and dreaming of an earthship of their own will learn as well. I had thought we were far enough out of town that no one would really care what we were up to. Apparently, I was wrong.

Until the time where people stay out of other people’s business, we will play nice. Dave always reminds me to let love be our guide. Sometimes I would like to show people that love right up close and personal.

I’m reminded constantly that words matter. I wanted to lash out. I wanted to retaliate to whomever “tattled” on us, but I am calmer now. I am excited that things are moving again. We have been forced to take positive action.

“A gentle answer turns way wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Peace and happy sailing. V

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Spring is a Fraud

 

wildflower17

 

Spring is definitely on its way

 

I’ve been dreading the coming of Spring. Yes, you read that right. It’s my least favorite season. Here, next to a mountain, its cold, windy and bitter. It’s my husband’s favorite time…he always tells me, “It’s the return of the light.” Maybe I like late Spring, like May. Yes, that’s the Springtime I like.

The early Spring is a fraud. There are a few warm days where you feel like you can leave your heavy coat at home, then BAM! Snow! That happened to me last weekend. I went to church with a light jacket and by the time I got out, there was a massive snow storm with huge snowflakes and blustery wind.

I’m not exactly bitter, I just want to reserve my delight for the warmer weather to where I can count on a sunburn from the cloudless day, not have to worry if I have my snow boots in the car just in case.

What’s really got me puzzled is the change in the weather patterns. It’s not Winter in December, sometimes not even January. This year we had no snow until January and the temperatures were in the 60’s until then. It’s weird, that’s for sure.

All that aside, living like we do, I am learning to appreciate every little gift that comes our way. The mountain blue birds came for a visit and one even perched on the hook outside the window. I can hang the clothes on the line, and after a couple of hours they might be dry. There is green peaking through the dirt (okay, so it’s weeds, but still.)

Our house is on hold for a little while till we can save a bit more money. I’ve been in touch with the plumber to let him know we haven’t forgotten him, and are re-grouping and will move forward as soon as we can. He seems like he’s still interested in our project, so that’s good.

As I said in a previous post, our building permit has expired, again, and when we called, the clerk advised us to wait to update till we have something for them to inspect. That takes a bit of pressure off for sure.

When we first started our house, we had an approximate completion of around six months. That deadline has come and gone, but I’m no longer anxious about it. I’ve relaxed, and I realize with the delays, I can now plan and get exactly the home I want.

I thought we would have to settle for some finishes that may not be what I would ultimately want. The last house we built was finished in approximately 90 days and the builder asked me question after question and I got tired of answering and caring, so I just quickly picked things. Not this time. I’ve had time to change my mind 10 times.

We will get this home built and it will be everything we dreamed of and more. We are grateful for what we have been given and for what’s to come. It will be worth the wait, no doubt.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

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Be careful what you pray for

jan18sundaysnow

 

 

In my last post I was worrying over the lack of moisture we’ve had this winter. Now suddenly it seems we are getting hit left and right with storms. This is both a blessing and a curse for me. We desperately need the water, but I’m affected by the weather changes in the form of migraine headaches. At times I can tell you exactly when the storm arrives to the minute from the pain in my head.

If the low (or high) pressure stays in place for a few days, my body gets used to it. But the fast-moving storms are the worst!

I am so very thankful though. I was wondering if there were a water shortage and rationing if we, as outside customers to the town’s water supply, would be excluded from purchasing water this summer. I’m not sure how that all works, but something to maybe plan for.

We have been trying to find a way to make some money quickly to fund the next phase of our build. Dave has started a new business and we are trying different marketing plans to sell my books, but both of those things take awhile to see the fruits of our labor. Dave’s work in the oilfield has slowed down considerably as well, so our money is not as abundant as we would like it to be.

After much thought and prayer, we decided to jump back into the real estate market again. We have bought and sold a few houses. We fixed them up and rented to friends and family, then when we needed money, we would sell them. We’ve learned a lot in the years since we started doing this, and now we feel like we can make more educated decisions. It’s a stressful business, but we actually like this, using our appraisal skills comes in handy as well.

Last week we went to look at a house in the town where we used to live. This house was definitely a fixer. We haven’t counted it out, but I’m not sure this was what I envisioned for us to tackle. Dave thought if we needed to, we would live in the house while we were rehabbing. I immediately had a sad feeling wash over me. I hate to leave our quiet solitude we have up here. Besides, this house isn’t livable yet anyway. No plumbing pipes, no bathroom, etc.

Sure, it’s not easy living in a camper fulltime, in fact, we woke up to wet pillows from water coming in through the wall last night. I got another big towel and I tried to clean up the wall as best I could at midnight.  When I woke up this morning, the wall was bulging and when I pushed on it, it cracked from the ice inside the wall. I’m not sure what we are going to do in the meantime, but we will have to eventually tear out that wall and fix it, along with the window where I suspect the water is coming in. My son and I did a quick fix on it last winter, but obviously it needs more.

     The night before I had to clean out everything under the bathroom sink, due to a leaky pipe. Our water pump sounds like it’s going out as well. I list all these things, not to complain, or have you feel sorry for me, but to let you know in spite of all of this, I’m more determined than ever to stick this out.

If we moved to town and fix up a house, we would have to get used to noise, neighbors and trying to fit into a neighborhood again. Here, I can enjoy my morning walk with my dogs without fear of other dogs rushing us and starting a fight. I can leave my door and car unlocked without fear of anyone taking anything. I don’t have to worry about utility bills, mortgage payments, or any of the other stressors we had to deal with before.

As I look out the window of my warm, imperfect little camper, I see not only the natural beauty of the snow and fog, but I see the simplistic beauty of the life we are creating. Is it easy? Are we close to moving into our dream home? Not even, but this is home. We are comfortable, happy, blessed, and we are here to stay.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4

 

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Living in the Moment

jan18snow2

 

I stare out the window of our little camper at the snow covered building site, I try to be thankful for how far we’ve come. Dave has spent hours and hours pounding tires and we are almost to the point of needing plumbers and electricians to come stub things in. We didn’t have enough done to get an inspection, so we’ll have to renew it once again, but this is a process. I like to compare it to the pioneers living on the prairie in sod houses. At least I don’t have a dirt floor. (Well I guess the earthship floor is dirt now.)

We purchased a small shed for our water tank and it has really been a lifesaver for the hubby. He doesn’t have to go to town on bad roads to get our water every week. We can make it last for almost three weeks if we’re careful. We open the doors with a southern exposure and warm the small shed and tank up. When it’s really cold Dave starts a small propane heater up for an hour or so and it keeps it warm enough so the water in the tank doesn’t freeze. We’ve had such a mild winter, this is the first snow that hasn’t melted after a few hours.

Everyday I walk my dogs down to either the place we call the point, or down the deer trail to the bottom of the ravine. I am constantly in a state of gratitude for being able to walk on our own land, looking for rabbits, or just enjoying the beauty I’m surrounded by. I thought I was really living in the moment, but once again, I’ve been schooled.

My husband and I recently attended the funeral of a dear friend. She was 83 and her name was Joy. I’ve never met a person so aptly named. She was so happy and laughed at everything. Her joy was muted when she lost her husband of 60+ years a few years ago, but she loved her family and she loved the Lord and eventually her joy returned.

We are very close to her daughter, in fact she worked for us for a time, that’s how we met Joy. If you’ve ever heard the term “fast friends” that would describe Terri and me. We worked together in a mortgage company first, then when we set up our appraisal business, she came to work for us. I love her like a sister.

I sat in the service with tears streaming down my face. Not because of the loss of this precious lady, I know she’s in a better place. I cried for my lost moments. I watched the slideshow of her life with tons of pictures with all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and she was always right in the middle of the shot. She certainly lived in the moment. She lived and recorded the moments with her in them. This family now has memories and pictures to invoke those memories any time they want.

I have been reluctant to be in pictures because of how I looked. Whether my hair wasn’t fixed just right, or I needed to shed those pounds, I stepped back and took the pictures instead.

One of my intentions for this year is to live in the moment. I thought I was already close to doing that, but sitting in that service, looking at pictures of someone’s else’s life, I realized I have my head in the moment, but I’m not all in. The pictures may bother me initially, but when it’s all said and done, does that really even matter? Will my grandkids care whether I was plump? Isn’t it more important that I came to their dance recitals and lacrosse games?

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The same holds true for this process of building an earthship. We need to plan and move forward, of course, but this isn’t going to happen overnight. We have to find ways to make enough money to fund this, do the work and move forward. I’m struggling with this concept because we live in a world of instant (or almost) gratification. Need a house built? Go get a loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars and it’s done. We aren’t doing that, but on the other hand, when it’s all said and done, we won’t have to make those big mortgage payments either.

Life can be simplified, but be prepared to work hard, be patient and thankful to get there.

Psalm 30:5  “…weeping may remain for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Peace, V

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Happy New Year from the ship builders

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Whew! What a fast year that was. I can’t believe we are in the New Year already. So many things have happened in the past 12 months, I thought I would give you a little readers digest version of them.

In January our son was laid off from his North Dakota oilfield job, so he headed back home, and he and the kids lived in their 5th wheel again. We celebrated our granddaughter’s birthday with a big bash at Chuckie Cheese’s and she had a ball. Well, up until she got home and had the flu all night. Poor babe.

February was cold and dry for the most part. Dave celebrated his birthday, and we plugged along trying to get used to life in the camper in the cold. We had a problem with humidity and found several of our important papers that were stored in the upper cupboards were soggy and ruined. Our bedroom was another place where we had lots of moisture. I guess we are heavy mouth breathers. I would wake up in the night and wipe down the walls with towels. We’ve since purchased a dehumidifier, but so far we haven’t had any rain or snow for months.

Speaking of that, we could be headed into a drought. That makes me a bit nervous since we have to purchase our water from the local town. If they don’t have enough, we may be out of luck. They will probably just charge us more per load, which is really reasonable right now. That is something to think about in the future.

The spring brought cold, harsh winds. I’ve always dreaded the spring winds, even in the town we lived in before. It would feel like the wind came straight down from Grand Mesa bringing the coldest, most bitter air it could. Now we live at the base of that mountain, so we are that much closer, and that much colder.

Our son got another job in late spring, so that was a big blessing. He worked long hours and since he had no vehicle at that time, I had to drive him to work. As long as he was working at the shop, it wasn’t too bad, but when he would have to meet his ride at the Interstate at 3 a.m. this old mama had a bit of a hard time.

We made it through and he got a place with one of his work buddies in July. This was a mixed blessing for me. Happy that he’s doing so well, but, I have to admit, I got very used to having him and his kids living so close.

I had to have emergency gall bladder surgery the Friday before Father’s Day. I had been feeling sick for quite a while, but I was afraid to admit that something may be wrong. There was no denying it then. I had the surgery and my folks came down, and helped out while I was recovering. I was better after a week or so, but there were certain things I couldn’t do, like start the generator for air conditioning by myself.

My sister and brother in law stopped by to help me most days, and a neighbor did it if they couldn’t make it. Eventually we got the automatic starter going, so that was even better. We did fine until the whole thing broke down. My son and his roommate took it to a little shop, but they were so busy they never got to it.

That was a mixed blessing, because as it turned out, it was still under warranty and if they had worked on it, we would’ve had to fit the bill. We found an authorized dealer to fix it and four long, hot weeks later we had it back.

In the meantime, we had a small portable swamp cooler, so I could at least tolerate the heat. A gift from my brother in law, and I’m so thankful for his generosity.

We were in need of a vacation from life and trying to build this house, so we planned to go to Taos, New Mexico and check out the earthship community there. We were going to time it so that we could drive down to Albuquerque and catch the annual balloon festival. I told our son about our plans and he told me in no uncertain terms that was no vacation. I laughed him off, but a few days later he called and told me to get a passport and pack warm because he was sending us on a real vacation.

He wanted to surprise us, but since I don’t have a passport and they need a destination to let you have one, he had to tell us. He sent us on an Alaskan cruise!

 

We left our dry, parched parcel of land and headed to Denver to catch a plane. From there we flew to Seattle to catch the boat! We were so excited and didn’t want to get left behind, so instead of exploring the city a little bit, we went straight to the dock and checked in. We ended up having plenty of time, having to wait in a huge room at least an hour before we could board the ship.

Dave gets so excited to explore new places. He had us up and down on every level of the ship within the first few hours we boarded. I think there was only one place we never got to, a chapel. We had wanted to check it out on the Sunday, but there was a group in there most of the time.

I thought we would start to relax as soon as we boarded, but it took Dave at least 24 hours to relax and when we did, we slept. I think I slept for 12 hours straight, then we ate (of course) then I napped again.

We had so much fun exploring the little villages and towns we docked at. We went to a logging show, and when we were in Juneau, we purchased a tour to the Mendenhall Glacier, and a whale watching tour.

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We were so excited for the whale watching and had to catch another bus, so instead of hiking around and checking the glacier all out, we took a few pictures then sat and waited for our next bus. We are such goofy travelers. I get all worried about the schedules and I don’t want to miss the bus, I end up missing what is right in front of me.

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The boat for the whale watching was small and since we were the last to purchase tickets, we ended up on the “honeymooner’s seats.” It was a little bench at the back of the boat, outside, but they gave us a blanket and gave us our own private talk about what to expect. We had a blast and saw quite a few whales. Magnificent! That alone was worth the trip. When we got back to shore, the tide had moved out, so we had to hike up a long dock to get to the bus. There were bald eagles perched on every pole, tree and on the buildings when we got there. They were all over the place, kind of how ravens are here.

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We had another day at sea then we got to Victoria, B.C. We visited the Buchard Gardens. Spectacular! I had been as a young adult, but I had forgotten how remarkable the whole place was.

We flew back from Seattle to Denver and had breakfast with my cousin and her hubby the next morning. When we got home, I was worried I would be dreading our dry climate and sage brush and redish dirt everywhere. But I was surprised to feel the sense of peace of coming home. Dusty, dry, dirty home.

The rest of the fall flew by. I wrote another book in my Xander James Mystery series in the November (NaNoWriMo) writing contest.

December was dry and warm. We only had light snow a couple of times, but that’s good for our solar system. Dave worked on Christmas, so I went to the kids’ houses and visited with them on Christmas morning. I stopped at my sister’s house and saw my folks, then came home and made us a nice little Christmas dinner.

My family got together after Christmas at a church for a potluck. It was so much fun. No stress, just food and visiting. I told Dave that day felt more like Christmas than ever.

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I’m at peace, feeling exited and energized for the first time in a long time.

I’ve given up resolutions, and now have intentions. My intentions for the new year are to be grateful for every blessing I have, and to live in the now.

God bless you all in this bright new do-over. V

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