December 3, 2015
185 Nogal Canyon Road
Bent, New Mexico
It is a work in progress. I started off to build a woodshed as I had decided a dry stack of wood was of the greatest importance with the winter coming close. Not that my wood isn’t protected, because it is, with a tin covered stack by the door and the remainder tarp-ready but uncovered for the moment. It has been a dry winter thus far and I have been a bit complacent because of that, but I have a good store also. If I do one thing well in my life it is to address my creature comforts and I like to be well prepared. I have enough mixed wood, cedar, juniper and oak, to take me through the winter even if I still need to cut some to length and split it. Having a proper shed is almost a luxury at this point, and because of that it decided to wait.
The outhouse somehow became the first priority, after I cut the corner posts for the shed mind you. My dearest friend was watching me work and it was he who swayed my judgement, “We can build a porch for the doorway and put the wood there also.” I know better but I liked the thought and after some consideration agreed to alter my course, knowing full well I would never see the offer come to fruition. Still, it is the thought that counts and there is no opportunity to see it through if I negate it, even if three weeks later I am still working alone….on the outhouse. I set aside the tin for the woodshed today also and will make that my weekend project if the weather holds, but first things first today.
So it is I have a framed structure that has already created a creature comfort I had chosen to live without, at least when I am here in my bus. The Nogal House has a nice outhouse but I have lived with less luxury here, though there are others available instead. Quite honestly I have missed the quiet moments, at daybreak in particular, but I have sacrificed more in other ways and they too have taken their toll. That is as much the reason for the added effort as any. I need those few minutes, gazing out the door at the hillside, to gather my thoughts. Even on the coldest of mornings I would rather step outside and I find an equal pleasure in the dark of the night as the sparkle of the stars is yet another joy of my life.
So it is that I have now placed a roof on what I will dub one of the ugliest outhouses to be constructed, at least in these ‘modern’ times. First off I was using some scavenged 4 x 4 posts for the corners, as this was, initially, going to be a wood shed. The remainder of the materials have equal merit and aside from a few odd pieces all of the materials originated at the reservation dump, the new acronym for FORD (Found On Reservation Dump) LOL! Second of all, the height of the posts was for a low shed roof, not a doorway, but they were tall enough in the end, at least for me. Being that I am the primary resident, it will do. My other excuse is this. Even though my carpentry skills have evolved out of necessity and experience I am still not profess and my hurried efforts, in spite of the speed square and the skill saw, resulted in some less than straight, or even equal cuts. Consequentially , no corner is perfectly aligned, even if the building is still reasonably solid.
Given the character of the structure, as well as its purpose, I have accepted its failings and instead embraced the obvious. If the end result will be a far more dignified opportunity for anyone making use of the ‘facilities’ it will also be an object of humor, such as it was intended to be from the start. It will also afford each and every person who chooses to sit on the shiny oak seat with its polished brass hinges the opportunity to enjoy a pleasure I discovered many years ago and have never since forgotten. In our hurried and distracted lives we too often forget to ‘take pause’ to enjoy the simple beauty and wonder of the world which surrounds us. Even I, who lives in such a beautiful place and so very close to nature, does not always take the time to ponder on the same. The necessity of stepping outside for one of our most basic needs changes that and nobody can help but admire the view when they leave the outhouse door open for those few minutes of stillness. In the end it is one luxury we should not neglect, given the chance to do so.
My friend called me the other morning and offered his usual greeting, “What are you doing?” I told him I was sitting in the outhouse watching the sunrise, as I had yet to add either the walls or the roof. His reply, laced with some wonder and surprise, was, “Really?” It was a particularly lovely sunrise, full of gold and orange clouds and we agreed, without speaking, that I was the lucky one. Even now, with the roof and the beginnings of the walls in place, the view is still wonderful, but it just occurred to me that I should have added a skylight!