A High Maintenance Woman

DSCF1072May 23, 2010
Nogal House
Indian Divide, NM

A High Maintenance Woman

For all practical purposes I am a low maintenance woman. For starters I am single and I have four grown children who are all dependant on themselves excepting a few voluntary contributions on my behalf. Two of them have partners, jobs and children; one has no children but a loyal girl and a good life. My daughter has a child but struggle to make ends meet and I wish better for her but she must make her own choices. I work several jobs, part time for NM Tech Bureau of Geology as a Field Technician, a good paying job with all the benefits, a vehicle and a wonderful office space in the great outdoors, along with flexible hours. I also run a small water system in a nearby rural town and do some ranch work for good pay with an open schedule. My dress is simple, jeans and leather shoes; I don’t smoke and rarely drink and don’t get out much. I drive a 1988 Ford Pickup and have a real nice little 1994 Nissan Pickup in the shop. Sure I have a few debts but I pay them on time, basically a very simple existence.

My lifestyle is simple as well. I am the caretaker for an old gas company house on two acres with a beautiful view and no utilities, my lights are propane gas and kerosene, my water is gravity fed from a storage tank that is filled by a windmill. My heat and cooking are done with wood. I pay the $165.00 property tax bill each year and a quarterly trash bill of $56.00 to the county and nothing else. The woodstove burns all winter in the living room offering heat, a cooking surface, hot water and some wonderful baked goods when the coals are just right. Now that summer is nearly here the outdoor hearth has taken the place of the wood stove and the steel plate I installed will boil water and fry eggs as well as any other stovetop. The aromatic wafts of wood smoke from the chunks of dry juniper are but an added touch of ambience. I cut my own wood from the ranch where I work and haul it home in my truck which allows for a few hours out in the sunshine when the mood strikes me. It takes some good physical effort to fill the bed of my truck with enough wood for weeks and even allows enough extra to sell an occasional load. The only power source I have is a small generator to charge my laptop and cell phone; soon to be enhanced by an inverter with a battery and solar panel. This is all low budget and self sustaining and the generator will be a backup system if I need it.

Yes, I am low maintenance. One would find few women these days, or nearly anyone else whose household costs average no more than $140.00/month year round including the cost of the wood getting, propane, gasoline, kerosene and some charcoal for the grill. The fruit wood that I add for flavor when I cook steaks and such is mine for the taking as well. Oh yes, perhaps add a little cost for routine upkeep of the windmill but that is minimal also, new leathers and some oil and it seems to hold its own. Still, in spite of all the amenities of this lifestyle it seems most people are quite taken aback by the simplicity and the lack of conveniences. Even I will admit that there is some ’labor intensity’ to be taken into account and before I could have my bacon and cheese omelet with corn meal grits and some hot tea there was some work involved. I had to build a fire instead of lighting the stove, and cooking out of doors required a few more steps, but the wafts of smoke made for a flavorful meal and I was able to water the garden in the interim. The fresh spinach, lettuce and turnip greens I gathered await me for dinner at little cost beyond some seeds and my time.

High maintenance; I spent the winter of 2008 in Tucumcari with a charming handsome man of fine character who had a lovely old adobe house in town complete with all of the modern conveniences. We had city utilities and a woodstove that we fed frugally but adequately, no waste of time or effort but enough wood so as to keep warm and we had a gas heater for backup. We grew a great truck garden and were the boon of the local Farmers Market, I worked full time and he made enough to pay his bills and live to a comfortable standard. When I decided to return here last spring he declined the offer to join me by simply stating, “I have lived like a coyote before and will not do it again.” Perhaps it was the water thing; my baths are still taken from a five gallon bucket of water I must heat on the stove. There is no luxury in that but it is not so heinous that I have made much effort to improve on it either! I looked in a catalog a few days ago and found some RV supplies that could easily better the bath scenario and may consider that after I buy the inverter, but there is no hurry for the moment.

Personally I am sure that his decision was based on more than the minor inconveniences though the degree of necessity in my life exceeds that of the average person. He had other interests and wasn’t willing to forfeit them for me, I left alone and was later glad I did. There is some added physical effort now but there is an exchange as well………it is Monday afternoon and although by all rights I should have gone ‘to work’ today I am writing instead. If I sell this piece I have fulfilled my dreams as well as my purpose for I shall be self sustained in many ways, all without having to get very far from the fire! Perhaps in some regard I am high maintenance and a hard act to follow for the average guy, but then again, there is not much about me that fits the average anyway. The cost of maintaining my sanity goes a long way to compensate for the lack of convenience………..and my house stays warm all winter! There is very little I would exchange for that, no matter the effort it required.

2 responses to “A High Maintenance Woman”

  1. texasflashdude says :

    Hi. We met recently in Santa Rosa. I’m the flute maker. Our backpack trip into Pecos Wilderness was marvelous…lots of snow still in the high country. Enjoyed seeing your phone cases. Do you have a website for them? I’ll be looking for your book when it comes out. Enjoyed your account of the simple, basic life. Enjoyed meeting you.

    • cathieeisen says :

      Dear Bob,

      A late reply from me after months of time and effort at the usual challenges of life. We met in Santa Rosa and I shared my blog, adventureasaconstant.com with you. I just now looked at yours!!! WOW! I may wander the mountains of Mescalero but my hat goes off to you and your companions. Such an adventure and challenge you have chosen and thank you so much for the wonderful pictures and narratives. The night sky is amazing and I thank you for that also, such a treasure.

      I also checked out your other sight. That’s you??? How neat, a bit before my time but most wonderful. Great life!

      I hope this finds you well and on yet another adventure! I am waiting to hear back from an agent on my book but in the meantime keeping my blog in action also.

      Thank you for your comments and for sharing your journies also,do stay in touch!


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