December 30, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
I sit to write and the raven calls me outdoors! I hurry outside to greet him, he who roosts on the power pole to the east. He continues his call, running through his repertoire while I sneak a picture, from a greater distance this time, hoping not to disturb him. He stays a moment longer and departs, hopefully stirred by some other desire than my distant audience. I apologize anyway, hoping it wasn’t my presence that sent him on his way. His call drifts back to me as he flies, and I wonder what he said…………
I am somewhat restored today though still weaker than my usual. I woke at daybreak and was torn between the last threads of a joyful dream and the desire to watch the first light. I was already awake so I pursued the light. As always I was rewarded fully for the effort. The dawn was so beautiful that I was dressed and out the door before I stopped yawning. Wrapped warmly in my jacket I watched the first light touch the mountain peaks and begin her downward descent. I then turned to the east to say my morning prayer, the thankfulness enveloping me with the caress of the cool morning breeze. In answer a plane crested the mountains and the suns light illuminated it as it rose into the sky, glistening with the perfect angle, as the prisms of a crystal will do with the same. I admired it for a long moment before I ran for my camera, ever eager to capture such moments for eternity.
I took pictures, yes, but just as I seek to record the wonders of this life, the perfect instance, the soaring emotions, the raven in song, so often they escape me. Even as I watched the plane pierce the clouds in the clear morning sky and bemoaned its presence so I selfishly wish for technology to suffice for my whims. Though I am so fortunate to live so close to the elements and to glory in the grace of life itself I am greedy for more. If I am satisfied with the wonders of this universe and find such complete happiness in its presence I want to carry them with me also. I want and need to surround myself with the absolute silence and wonder of the breaking day. I wish to wear it as a cloak through the rest of it so that the very air which surrounds me be illuminated, twinkling silently with the joy of life itself. I want for nothing else!
I dreamt this morning of five cats, though I am not essentially a ‘cat’ person. But these were special cats, as I was trying to explain, imported from back east and not your common house cat. I was approaching my friend who was surrounded by these cats, who were tumbling at his feet. I was laughing and smiling in complete happiness, tipped back on my heels in total exuberance with a grin spread wide across my face. Even in my dreaming I was marveling at the joyfulness and could see the light which illuminated my presence, clear and glistening with the wonders of the moment. A minute later we were studying on the smallest of the cats, he who wasn’t quite perfect, oddly shaped and with clubbed feet, and expounding on his flaws. He was sitting on a stump and in that moment, after turning to look me in the eye, leapt into the air and turned a perfect summersault before he tumbled to the ground. I commented that he was exhibiting to us his great worth and talent and had seemingly understood every word of our discussion…………..and then I awoke.
It is the laughter which stays with me, the pure light and happiness of the moment. I want to laugh like that again! I want such joyfulness to be as much a part of my life as the joy and wonder I find upon waking and watching the sun make her walk across the hills. Even as I wandered my yard this morning I told myself the same and reminded myself that this is a requirement. If I have never intentionally severed such ties in my life so often I have sacrificed them or simply forgotten the practice. When I am here I have no choice, I am surrounded by beauty and grace. I am drawn out the door each morning and night as much out of desire as by necessity. If I want to have wood I must go gather it, if I want light I must go start the generator, and then turn it off as well. Even in the deepest cold I am always grateful for the requirement, it takes me out the door.
I have a view where I am moving to. I have parked my bus with the windows to the mountains, and the valley where the Rio Grande River runs. It is a lovely spot, for the moment, though the bus is quite confined. I never intended to live in the camper, though it will suffice for the moment. Still yet, I need more space and I will look for alternatives once I settle in. If it will be a challenge to replicate this spot I will look for the like of it, peaceful and serene, that I may maintain my balance as best I can. I know now the cost of allowing for anything less, and can no longer afford the sacrifice. I had to return here to be reminded of that, and will seek the same again.
I have been restored in so many ways, now it is for me to preserve that! If such peace of mind is so attainable here so I need set forth again to preserve that. I am grateful for the tug I feel to go south and west, or it would be more difficult! Knowing I can find the same serenity there, and that it is so in reach, assures me I’ll be fine. I have found some of the greatest happiness in my life in those plains and canyons and they are all within my reach. Even as I write my mind wanders back to an old homestead, tucked down in a draw just off the crest of the escarpment overlooking La Placitas. I am inclined to go find it once again. If the structure is decrepit I recall there were rooms that were still useable, and that is all I really need. The remoteness would suit me well and nobody ever goes there, so I would feel safe. Surely there was a well there also? If not there then somewhere like it, where I would have the same as here. It is something worth looking for……….
December 26, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
‘Do not worry that I have become infatuated, I am too old for that. Rather, I am inspired, viewing familiar things, from an altered perspective. I am seeing the mountains, and my own personal creations, from the eye of an artist, so different from myself. If we learn new things on a daily basis, I have learned so much from you. I have trained my eye from a singular perspective. Now it is as if I turned back to look again on the view I just passed, and see it in a new and different light. It is good to have a friend who paints mountains. Thank you.’
I was sweeping
Out the doorway
When I chanced
At the mountains
I was admiring
Of the hillside
And the way
The morning light
Cast her shadows
On the slopes
As she makes
Her daily walk
It was then
I thought of you
On the same
I rushed back in
For my jacket
That I might capture
So we might share
Which I savor
I am here
And was rewarded
By some pictures
And a slipper
Full of thorns
It was so lucky
Though it still
Made a passable
It was worth it
As I was reminded
Of how wonderful
To have a friend
Who paints mountains.
Having made a new friend I was reminded of him as the sun rose slowly with the dawn. I have for years made a practice of rising at daybreak so as to watch the first light make her walk across the mountainside. I was here to greet it this morning, and wished to waste none of it. Although I am looking forward to my next adventure it is always difficult to leave here knowing I won’t be back for weeks or even months. I have found much completion in this place and the serenity is nearly as complete as my solitude. It is the latter which prompts me to leave. I am almost too content with that also. Knowing I have a friend, amongst several others, in the place where I am bound, makes the transition much easier.
I ask myself in this moment why I tend to recluse here. It isn’t that there are not places to go or people to see. It is that I am so content when I am here that I prefer to busy myself with the things I find to do. By the end of the day I have little desire for anything else, and have become quite good at that. Even now, in the silence of this room, there is the soft clank of the woodstove, the chirp of birdsong and the gentle hum of the wind, and I am content. There is a pile of artwork on the couch, and the keyboard beneath my fingers. I have the sweep of the mountainside, waiting to be climbed in the warmth of the suns light, the endless canyons I have yet to find, and others to revisit. I would be remiss not to mention the few boxes I have yet to sort through. They are there waiting also and there is more to do if I look for it.
If I have filled years of my life with these simple things, and a garden in the summer, so I could do so all over again if I chose to. I can also go to the ranch and cut wood, wander the fields and in the summer mow and water. It is not such a bad way to spend ones days, or a lifetime, and I have certainly done worse. I have also done better, and I have found the equal to this in the depths of the canyons and the sweep of the plains in the country I am retreating to. There are also things I haven’t done, soaking in the hot spring bathes, floating on the river and drifting on the lakes. I am looking forward to those, and any other adventures I have yet to find. I am also looking forward to friendships, and spending time with others who are something like myself.
It is good
To have a friend
I can share
As I hopefully inspire
For the same
As the sun
Is still wandering
Shedding her light
As she does
And every morning
If I have watched
The same thing
I have never
This same light
Things always change
When you have
To share them
For the new
It makes me
Want to paint
To my list
December 25, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
Even as I reread my thoughts from yesterday I consider the blessings of my being here and make myself a promise. I promise to return here as often as I can, even knowing that I will be content where I am going also. I have learned to make those adjustments over the years and my happiness is equally balanced between who I am as to where I am. If I am content with my life I will fill my time well, though I must say I am nearly always happy when I am here. The essentials of that, the sun and the sky, the mountains and the hills provide for so much of that. I have the equivalent of these where I am going and the lakes, the river and the portal to the wilderness are all within my reach. Still yet, there is an essential factor of myself which I am surrounded by here which I want to keep close to me. I am reminded of it now.
If I bemoan my solitude here so I treasure it also. I have grown and learned so much from this solitary perch, and rarely have I shared it. There has only been one man in residence in all the years I have lived here. His dominance cut it short, though he still has my blessings, wherever he may be. When I have otherwise shared my life it has been elsewhere and even then the years I’ve lived alone outweigh the partnerships. It is something I have come to recognize as a matter of choice, and I will return here as much for that as for the beauty and serenity it always has to offer. It is the same reason I have chosen to leave, at least for now, as I have become too familiar with that way of life. I am seeking the company of others as much as I am the financial gains the new job has to offer.
I promise to return here, so as to never forget the basic foundation of who and what I am and have aspired to be. This place reeks of me-ness, who I have always wanted to be, the mountain woman, the self-sufficient, creative, inspired and grounded person I have tried to be from the start. It is filled with singleness and ambition, my nest feathered with art and the efforts of so many years of life and living. There is the house, humble and cozy, the artwork on the walls, mine and others, the mementoes of my travels, stones, skulls and artifacts I have carried home to stay. There is the garden spot, ready for the next planting, the fruit trees still ready to blossom and bear fruit, and the woodpile, at ready to warm the house. And there are the mountains and trails, familiar to my feet and to feast my eyes upon each moment I am here.
All of this is an integral factor of my life and my person, the threads which comprise the fabric of my life, a part of me, even when I am absent. I can walk away knowing how easily I can return. I need but key the lock and I am home. It is good to remind myself of this as it makes it easier to leave, as I can always come back. I know this as I have done it before! How many times I have left here, only to return, again, and again. I have left and thought I never would come back to stay, and as of yet I have not. I have returned and been determined to stay, and left again anyway. I have lived here, for days, weeks, and months, but I always leave again, just as I am now. I was here for seven months this time, though even then I came and went.
If things go as I hope there will be no garden here, though I will fix the windmill. I will come home to water the trees, and perhaps to harvest peaches. I will not plan on the latter, there has been only one crop in fourteen years, but that was this year, and in plentitude. This coming year may offer the same? I pruned the trees hard so they might survive another dry winter, and if I am lucky they will also bear fruit. I need to water them so they will and that will be amongst the first order of business. I will grow a crop in T or C, though I have yet to be sure where I will be. I am settled in for the moment but still looking for alternatives and it would be nice to have a house, even if it is in town. The winter will be fine but I need shelter from the heat. The confines of my camper are good when it is cold but will be too cramped for the summer.
A promise. I have promised myself that no matter where I am or what I am doing that I will preserve the serenity I have come to find and the life I have lived when I am here. I promise to remain true to myself, to the universe and the path I have been led to, that I can best contribute all that I can to the greater good of mankind. I promise to live my life in a good way so as to remain in harmony with the workings of the earth and the sky, that I may do more good than harm. I promise to live in such a manner as to be an inspiration to my friends and family, that they will all be reminded of the simplicity of a life well lived, and the subsequent balance that can be attained by that practice. I promise to remain open to the guidance of the powers greater than myself that they may flow through me and into others, by my thoughts, my words and my actions. If I have lived a solitary existence everything I have said and done still affects others and I wish for that to come about in a good way. I will do my best to assure of it. I promise to do my best.
I feel like I just got here. I feel like I never left. It is the nature of this place I have called my home for nearly fifteen years. From the start I have kept my most precious belongings here, and it will remain so. I leave with only the things I require for my immediate needs, the comforts stay behind. Each time I return I sort through what I have left and lighten the load, and this time was no exception. As I ready myself to depart once again I have reduced the space I will live into one small quarters,(and have sold the bigger bus), thus I will travel light. I will bring more art supplies than anything else, at least for the moment. At some point I will either find a house, or a bigger bus (LOL) to live in. I will decide once I settle in.
My needs are few and I will carry most of them in my heart, and a few in my hands. It is what remains here which is most important, though I can live without most of it. It is the promise I am making to myself and the world around me which carries all of the essentials. As long as I remain true to myself and my greater purpose all will be well with me. I have work to do and I will do it well but I will never again allow myself to forget who I am when I am here or the reasons for that being so. I have surrounded myself with the greatest treasures of life and there is so little else I require. In the end it is that which makes it so easy to leave, knowing it is here whenever I need or want to access it. That will remain the one constant in a life so full of change.
Even as I ready myself to leave I am as close as I have ever been to being able to stay. That is less a contradiction than it is a certainty. A year ago I was starting a new adventure on the eastern plains of New Mexico. I am now poised to venture to the southwest instead, and ever closer to the fulfillment of my dreams. As with so many of the places I have landed, I have been considering this one for years. I am looking forward to the prospects. I might have gone there to stay even if I hadn’t been employed, but the job is a plus. If I have spent so much of the last many years trying to resolve my debts, I am now on track to doing so, having learned so many lessons! Coming to be so at peace with myself was worth the cost in the end, and it is all I have ever really wanted. I promise to remain true to that going forward.
December 23, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
I was greeted so graciously this morning, first by the blushing pink of the dawn, the cool air upon rising, the still hot coals in the fire, and the first burst of flame and smoke from the stove as it broke into a new flame. I extended the same greeting when I stepped out the door into the twenty degree morning, forgetting the cold as I raised my arms to say my morning prayer as the sun broke over the mountains. Minutes later I was greeted again when I went back out for an armful of wood to feed the fire. The raven called, as he so often does, this morning from a perch on a pole to the east, watching me as I walked out the door. I went inside to get my camera, zooming in so as not to crowd him, catching him with his wings puffed in the midst of his call. Selfishly unsatisfied I stepped closer, and captured his image as he flew, twice before he turned and disappeared to the east. I called after him with an apology, he being so gracious and myself crowding his space in return.
The raven, friend and messenger, and if I honor him in so many ways I also discredited him with my camera. I respect and appreciate him and am grateful for the greeting he so often offers me, yet I always hope to capture the moment, which he cannot understand from his singular perch. He lives here, I visit, and we share the common ground. I am, in the end, a trespasser. This is his domain, not mine; I come here for shelter, it is his territory. If neither of us has ownership it is I who has been granted the fleeting chance to rest. Still in all, I have pictures and a story, now preserved upon the page, and meant to be shared.
What of this haven I reside in? I will never tire of this place even if I am too often alone here. Even in considering that I am loath to share it and though my thoughts went out to my newest and dearest friend, I hesitated to bring him into that space. What would I do without the mornings silence and the time to search my thoughts? Would I have missed the ravens greeting? Would I, even if I hadn’t, have sat to search the joy and the serenity which allowed it in the first place? Would the clank of the fire in the stove be quite as poignant if there were another presence in this room, or this house? Or would we be sitting on the porch beneath a warm blanket, savoring the last dregs of the coffee pot and watching the new day take form, savoring the peacefulness, together. The thought warms my heart and I send it off to my dear friend who is miles distant from here. I will share the same with him one day, should he chance to visit.
For now I am alone and content to be so! Knowing I will be here for just a few days and then depart once again makes this all the more precious. If I herald the beauty and the peacefulness every moment I spend here, it is always even clearer in such instances. I burn whatever wood I wish to for that reason, grabbing the juniper joyfully, for its sweet smell and the rapid warmth offers. I break a sprig from the rosemary bush and place it on the stove to breathe its sweet, sage like aroma, and close my eyes to enjoy it more fully. I sprinkle a little of the sacred sage onto the stove and wash the smoke over my body, taking in the blessing of the same, stepping away dizzied by the smoke, and the heat of the stove. It is a little cooler where I sit, and I wrap my robe around my shoulders, taking comfort in its closeness. Every activity is as tender as a warm embrace and I am surrounded by emotion, and contentedness. I am, for the moment, truly at home, though I can find the same elsewhere as well. This place is, and always will be, my fallback. It is where I can return to at will, or in necessity, for so long as I am allowed to do so. It would be nice if it were my own but it is close enough, for now. It is all I require for the moment, and I am most satisfied with that!
It is this very sacredness and serenity that I live for. The call of the raven from the distance is a constant reminder of that, whether I am here or in some distant place. The smooth path of his flight, the sound of his voice from a distance, or the soft whoosh of his wings as he flies all carry those blessings. His image resounds from the page, a light pencil sketch, inspired by the artists’ hand I have watched in motion. It has the same fluid movement of the ravens’ flight, but with an added flourish. It is the same swirling motion I will occasion to observe when the raven pauses in midair to twist and turn for the pure joy of doing so. If the action reeks of spontaneity so it has the same study and discipline as the artists’ hand, steadied by vision and purposefully executed in a clear line of flight, through the air as on the canvas. The resulting poetry flows like the words onto the page, the imagery preserved in memory, vision, or thoughts, readily shared on reflection.
Such a greeting I received this morning, setting the theme for the day. I have already sang so much poetry and am surrounded by the same. I felt to coolness of the dawn on my skin when I rose. I was warmed by the fire, embraced by the dawn, greeted by the raven and put words and pencil to the page. Inspiration surrounds me and I will allow it to guide my day, painting my thoughts on the paper and the leather, honoring its presence to the fullest extent. Greetings, good morning, and thank you! Hanza, I hope that you can hear me.
December 22, 2017
Overlooking the San Mateo Mountains
Williamsburg, New Mexico
A Good Day For A Fire
It is a good day for a fire. If it is warmer here than it is up north it was still cold last night and I woke to pull an extra blanket onto my bed. After that I slept better, though not as well as I would have wished, and then sleeping past the sunrise. I woke to a slight chill in my small shelter but got up quickly to build a fire. Though I have a heater it is slow to heat and I had turned it down the night before, so as not to be too warm. One never knows here in the desert and the weather changes hourly. Yesterday’s winds brought the cool air and the clouds which linger this morning, enhancing the beauty of the mountains to the east.
I am now burning mesquite since my last wood gathering effort. I had thought to venture back to the mesa overlooking Monticello, as much for the vista as the greasewood roots which are so readily available and burn so well. Instead I was drawn to the side road off of Highway 51, closer to Elephant Butte, and stopped there. I found dead mesquite in plentitude and in easy reach, if full of thorns. I broke the fallen branches with my foot and gathered all I wished to in just a few minutes time. Aside from a few sharp prods to my hands I was content. A few handfuls will serve my needs for days and even now it burns hot. I spent the rest of the day in that very same place, doors and windows thrown open to the wind. I sat at my desk and did leatherwork, and was content.
I need but a small fire in the morning and a little bigger for the evening when I warm my water and then bathe before the stove. As in Nogal I am content with the simplicity and most grateful for the readiness of my comforts. I had to laugh at myself this morning as I had to be careful as I picked the branches for my morning fire, hurrying just a little because of the chill. The mesquite has thorns such as I had never seen on a tree before I came to New Mexico, and they are sharp and effective, a good defense in the arid desert where fodder is so often in short supply. It is also an aromatic hardwood and greatly treasured for barbeque and smoking, thus making good fire wood. As I am living in roughly ninety square foot, a few sticks of wood heats the space in minutes, and a pan of hot water soon follows.
It is a good day for a fire and even now I am savoring the heat and the incense from the smoke, some of which invariably fills the air when I damper back the stove. I must be thankful for the limits on that also, as it is windy and the stovepipe cap has served its purpose, dampering any backdraft that would otherwise fill my room with smoke. It seems I have now, at least for the moment, addressed those sort of issues. I am, as I am so fortunate to be, satisfied with my current circumstance and ready to go forward with my life. Though I will return to Nogal for a few days, and regret having to leave, I am now beginning to settle into a new and different living place, at least for the present.
The fire reminds me of my necessities, and I am grateful for the woodstove, and the wood which is so readily available. I have, for years, allowed the fire to be the center of my comforts rather than seeking easier fare. I might have rented a house rather than building my campers but I am pleased by the results of my efforts. It is not just the mobility, or the savings, thought I treasure them both. It is the simplicity, self-sufficiency, and immediate comforts I so treasure, in company with the practice. I am ready to find my knees each morning and there is a reverence in the fire making that escapes all other means. The turning of a thermostat, no matter the subsequent rewards, will never equal the glow of a crackling fire. Nor must one kneel to accomplish it, unless of course the pilot light has gone out for one reason or another. I need not worry about that either, so long as there is a lighter in reach, and some kindling to start the fire. In the absence of the latter I can always step outside…….
The green of the greasewood is bright in the morning sun today, refreshed perhaps by the recent rains and gathering all the energy it can from the light. I am calmed by the beauty of the vista and drawn to wander the not so distant hills. There will be plenty of time for me to do that, as I have been offered employment and have opted to stay here. Being graced also by the visit of a traveling friend I have begged a ride back to Nogal to get another vehicle. I will go home to put my affairs in order, and to share Christmas with my family. I will then return here in short order to begin settling in and getting ready to work. I hope to spend much of that time creating more art and wandering the hills of the wilderness. I want to fill my spirit with as much of that as possible, and keep it full as well.
If I have found a good campsite for the moment I have yet to return to Placitas or Monticello, and may yet relocate there. I have come here as much as for the wilderness as to return to earning a living, and would like a good balance between the two. If I have learned anything over these last six years, and the past six months, it is that I need to have my peace of mind and creature comforts at ready. If the building of the fire is a huge part of that, so is the serenity of the star filled sky and the utter silence of the not so distant canyons and plains. Both are familiar, and filled with precious memories! If I am comfortable enough to stay where I am there is a distinct absence of them both, in spite of the view out my window. I can adjust for now but my life must be in balance for me to be truly content. I will not settle for anything less. As I have already said, today is a good day for a fire.
December 17, 2017
Overlooking the San Mateo Mountains
Williamsburg, New Mexico
A New Dwelling Place
A year ago I was looking for a house in Fort Sumner and preparing to make my final move from Nogal to there. I had already quit Mescalero, traveled to California and back and was preparing to begin my new job. My serenity, though fragile, had been restored and optimism ran high. There was a place on the Clovis Highway I was hoping to inhabit, and even now the thought still appeals to me. It was a solitary place by the tracks and the old man who had lived there, though long past, had left a warm greeting at ready for each visitor and passerby. I had felt his presence when I stopped there and his son had affirmed that he had been friendly with everyone who chose to stop, and would stand by their door when they thought to leave. He had done the same with me, if only in spirit, and I had carried the warmth in my heart when I drove away. Sadly, I never got to live there, but the memory prevails.
Today I peruse my life from a new angle, perched on the hillside in Williamsburg overlooking the San Mateo Mountains which tower above my favorite retreat. They shadow the Monticello Box and create a barrier between here and the stretch of the Jornado Del Muerto (The Journey of the Dead) and the sweep of the San Augustin Plains as it rolls to the north towards Datil and Magdalena. I am therefore in close proximity to so much of what I love and the rich memories of one of my most favored adventures in my life. To observe this from the warm shelter of my camper, which has now seemingly become my residence until further notice, is some measure of accomplishment. If the past year has seen so much transition, I have also made good use of it, in spite of a seeming lack of effort to do so. In my inaction I have still moved forward and in allowing things to take their own course perhaps arrived at another good resting place. All this with no real certainty that I will even be employed!
Maybe I will stay anyway, even if I don’t get the job? If there is some reason to be comfortable with the assumption I will be hired, I have no way to know that I will. If they greeted me warmly a year and a half ago I also let them down. They have no reason to forget that and if I have returned with some promise to stay they could easily decide otherwise. If so I will be disappointed, especially since I have already secured a comfortable roost with some measure of comfort, electricity and a lovely view to the northeast. I have even made some friends and found some social outlets that have otherwise been lacking. If my previous visits left this place somewhat deficit of these qualities it has improved over time and in equal measures to my expectations. I am now well prepared to take up residence if they are willing to support that!
There is a green glow to the desert this morning. We have been blessed with rain since yesterday and even now the storm lingers overhead and fills the sky with moisture laden clouds. After months of drought it brings a true blessing, and perhaps snow to the higher peaks. I would guess there is the same in Nogal, one hundred and fifty miles to the north east from here. Instead I look at the rain soaked valley, facing the brush filled banks of the Rio Grande which is a slow and shallow river for the moment. The water is held and withdrawn up stream to feed the farms and the masses who depend on it and then much of it is captured in Elephant Butte Lake, just north of where I sit. The green glow is from the greasewood and other brushy plants which manage to survive in the arid sandy soils. Closer to the river are the salt cedars and cottonwoods who have found purchase in the shallow groundwater of the valley. All told it is a lovely view in the otherwise arid terrain. Even now my stove is warmed by the dead roots I have pulled from the desert, remains of the older greasewood which died in some long ago drought or cold snap. The best of both worlds is readily available here.
As I was just one year past, and nearing the end of this one, I have found some fragile sense of serenity. I have no guaranties, but neither are they required. I might be more concerned but for the moment I am secure in my small shelter, protected from the weather, a pile of wood in the box and electricity connected to my bus. I have some slight assurance of employment and will venture no further until I know otherwise. Even then I can as easily seek alternatives from here as I could from anywhere else. I have to say I am reasonably confident that I will find a reason to stay as my heart feels things are good. If I have then again there is another full circle in my life, returning now to a treasured retreat, secure in my comforts and the gateway to the wilderness in eyesight from my window. There is so little else to ask for.
December 16, 2017
Camped Out/Greasewood Drive
East of Monticello, New Mexico
Living Outside the Lines
I am living outside of the lines, camped in the desert and reluctant to return to town. The thought of any sort of civilization is unwarranted here, though I will eventually go back. If I am well prepared for the basics I have a few more improvements to make. Mostly it was poor planning on my part. If I had every intention to camp out and even spend a few days in the wilderness I neglected the most basic requirements. What that I have been spoiled at the Trading Post, sharing the kitchen and the shower, I might still have thought ahead. Instead I stopped in Nogal, off loaded all but my basic necessities, and hurried along my way. Now, having decided to camp for a day or two, I see what I have missed.
I might have brought another cooler and some food, so simple in the end! I also needed my solar phone battery, but again I forgot. Most of all I need a means to charge my laptop, which has now reached the top of the list. I can so easily slip off onto the wilderness but defeat my purpose if I cannot write. That and a gas stove, the basic wish list I have had from the start, now nearing necessity if I am to continue on my quest. If I am to truly live outside the lines I will do so on my terms, as I always have. I have yet to find a good reason to do otherwise and this place lends itself to that choice. That the dirt roads are familiar, even in the darkness, makes it a simple place to retreat to. I will return again tonight unless something better offers itself, which seems so unlikely at best.
Outside the lines, just where I am. I left Truth or Consequences last night and had dinner in Elephant Butte, with the old folks. There is a great buffet there which draws all of the locals, and I too have chosen to return there. The food is fresh and nourishing, and also well prepared. I ate my fill and departed, considering another evening on the town but opting for the solitude instead. There will be plenty of opportunity to mingle with the locals, and the night was already getting cold. There is a brewery which I visited on my last trip here and I had hoped to rub shoulders there again, but it will have to wait. The allure of solitude, the thought of a warm fire and a good night’s rest rose quickly to the fore.
Leaving town I drove west, watching the roadside for other dirt roads, but finding none to my liking. The road signs pointed to the airport and I25, familiar markers from the past many trips I have made here. Crossing under the highway Route 181 turned towards Cuchillo, just miles to the west. I considered it also but the place I might have gone was by a cemetery and the old house there seems haunted, so I passed. If I am in need of solitude and respite, such a place is not ideal. Even if it deserves further exploration that is best done in the daytime! Instead I swung north on the road to Monticello and then slipped back to the west on a dirt track that crosses to Highway 52. Finding a lesser road into the greasewood spotted desert I drove a ways before I pulled off and parked.
The first order when one camps anywhere is to close the curtains to block the light. In rapid succession is to build a fire, though the heater on the bus warms it well. I left the engine to idle to use the heat and the light and soon had water warming on the stove. Then I ventured back outside into the brilliant star lit night. As I so often find, once I have braved the cold for the moment, it becomes the least of my worries. Finding the ground scattered with the ancient roots of long dead greasewood bushes I quickly gathered some wood, and then went back for more. If I have carried a supply with me, what little I have is precious and best replenished when possible. That the roots burn hot and make good coals is also a plus. I kicked around a bit and then sat on the step of my bus to admire the evening. It was only then that the silence and the solitude became complete and surrounded me so quickly. I breathed in the stillness.
If I have always been a solitary person I have denied myself so much of the same! It is only in returning here, to the place where that solitude became perfected, that I recall the necessity of it! If I thought I would miss the camaraderie of Three Rivers, I do, but the solitude is just as welcome, and necessary also. It is only here that I can reach deep into my soul and find that which remains buried so much of the time. In this place she can arise and blossom, unfettered and unafraid! The freedom is in immediate reach here and never more than minutes away. I have thought to return for that very reason. I am here now, hoping I might stay.
I am in no hurry today and have no plans to meet. I discovered a part of myself that I have missed, standing alone in the starlight. I need to go visit with her today and rather than break camp I will walk from here, at least for a while. The canyons are close but the high mesa suits my needs. I need to see the mountains in the distance and feel the breeze as it caresses my face and lifts my hair. I have no need for anything else! If my list of things I’d like to have is short my own personal is shorter, and far simpler. I want only to replenish my peace of mind and serenity. It is in as easy reach as all the others, and in this instance, right outside my door. Just kicking the dried roots from the sand was almost enough, but I will wander further also.
It is the absence of boundaries here which appeals to me the most. The cattle wander unfettered and could walk for miles without fences. I feel much of the same, with the press of humanity miles away and no visual evidence of their presence, less the dirt two track and some tire tracks in the dust. The most recent are my own, and will likely remain that way unless someone checks the cows. I will likely follow those same tracks back off to the north just for safety, rather than walk across the sand. If my sense of direction is good I need not trouble myself with the effort of tracking it. Instead I will allow my thoughts to wander and give them the freedom to do so. I learned many years ago, in this very place, the joys and the comforts of that practice. Nothing of the present will change in my absence but my mind will fill with the joy of forgetfulness for as long as I allow it.
When I return it will begin where I left off. In considering that statement it becomes the definition of simplicity, all outside the lines. If I so often wander about the maze of my life, albeit less than most people, when I step away it becomes clear lines. Here, whether I walk out across the desert or follow a familiar track, there is nothing else to distract me. I have the endless sky above and the mountains in the distance, all of such comfort to a woman such as I. There is even little desire to share it, the solitude is too complete for even that. With a like-minded other perhaps, but they are few and far between and a human voice would break the silence. I am content to be alone. The weight of the stillness astounded me last night, having retreated fully to its realm in the darkness. If I take pause each evening, no matter where I am, to acknowledge the same, it is never so complete. One can only find it when they live outside the lines………..
December 9, 2017
Three Rivers Trading Post
Three Rivers, New Mexico
On Happiness and Humility
I woke happy today and was humbled by the notion of it. What that I have put some effort towards accomplishment as well as contributing to the household of others, I am still rather undeserving. It has been over six months since I have put in an honest days work, with few exceptions. Not that I haven’t been busy or productive, not that I haven’t worked, but there has been no genuine commitment or return. Neither do I really feel guilty, it has been a good time for me to pause and reflect and there has been much progress. It is simply that, now that I have arrived here, I feel there should be more productivity. Thankfully I am on track for the same.
Still yet, the question arises. How do I, within my own means and purpose, go forward and maintain the same. I have for the most part relinquished my efforts and allowed the forces of the universe to guide me. Thus far the path has been good and I am happy, in a greater sense of the word than I have been for many years. If this is not a constant, neither does any of us find it on a continual basis, but the balance is there all the same. Certainly happiness or misery are dominant in all of our lives and I have a received a fair measure of the first, lucky me! That mine is perched precariously on a stretch of inactivity in the conventional sense of the word is still of some concern. At the same time I have the material, tools and ability to see it to success, a humbling prospect.
My focus for this moment, as my readers well know, is to find the means to provide for my needs and meet my obligations while preserving this sense of balance. If it has been a lifelong pursuit it becomes more critical with the passage of the years. In this instance the passage of the days is even more critical! I might have titled this piece, ‘When The Free Ride Ends’ but it is not my nature to do so. Free ride perhaps, I have never rode the system out before and only one other time drew unemployment, ever. Last time I completed a book, this time I took the summer off and caught up on my life. The lack of funds kept it simple but my home and affairs are in better order than they have been in years, aside from my finances, which have stagnated. Surprisingly I am not too out of synch but it will get there rapidly if I don’t get moving!
Interestingly enough I have a pile of materials ready to be assembled. I handed a friend ten pieces of raw sawmill scrap, a few ovals of leather, and a twenty dollar bill two days ago. He returned yesterday with the boards sanded smooth and a pile of wire hoops, bent to my specifications, better work than I myself might have done. I handed him a precious ninety dollars more, seeing quickly the value of his work. He was pleased with the return, and I was thrilled by the prospect. I have been trying for months, years actually, to find someone to assist me and he was here waiting for my suggestions! Today I will take that stuff and begin to turn it into hundreds of dollars of finished product. I will then sell at least a part of it in rapid fashion and with any luck be on my way to recovery. Humbling to say the least!
It is amazing how heartening it is to awaken happy with good prospects laying at my feet. I see now how fortunate I am and the timing is impeccable. Coincidence? Doubtful. Divine intervention? Likely. If inaction can lead to lethargy and discouragement, patience and trust, coupled with a sincere effort towards the immediate opportunities, can lead to success. I have spent so much of my life striving towards results rather than being a simple part of the process, and demanded far too much of myself and my environment by doing so. Not that I am now adverse to hard work when such is demanded of me but that I will, from here on, be more willing to ‘go with the flow’ of the same rather than instigating it! So far that is working well, and I will let you know how it turns out! I just know that I am surrounded for the moment by happiness and humility and there is so little else I could ask for. All is well today!
December 8, 2017
Three Rivers Trading Post
Three Rivers, New Mexico
The Camper Test
Last night was the true camper test! I have been staying in my head start bus conversion as much out of convenience as necessity. Convenience as I have blended well with Trading Post activity and have been producing more art than I do at home, and enjoying the company. Necessity as in spite of having several reasonably functional vehicles, none of them are functional at the moment. Drivable yes, but not roadworthy, a side effect of a summer of leisure compared to my usual efforts. If my income had been more measurable each would have had the minor repairs required, but they didn’t. The inevitable domino effect got the best of me. That’s ok, by Monday they will all be working again, all three of them, ha ha.
But this is about my camper! Even the camper has suffered through the shortage of funds and what began as a well-planned project has instead evolved into a work in progress. It was most fortunate that I had already delved into the major construction before my dismissal in May and in short order had the walls paneled and all but a few corners trimmed. I lay vinyl on the floor and built the bed, though I later spun it cross ways for better utility and convenience. I strung a 2×2 across the front for a privacy curtain and installed the woodstove and until recently it was enough.
Two weeks ago I slept in the camper at my sons’ house and braved the first cold night. The oil filled electric heater I used to keep the chill off in the big bus served the purpose, but just barely. The next morning I hurriedly threw a few braces over the cab section, as much for the storage potential as for the added enclosure and heat retention. I covered it with cardboard that I had wisely scavenged from a dumpster, the box for a large appliance and too good to pass up. If I had not anticipated its immediate usefulness at the time, I had considered covering a window at the house. I am glad I had it!
Here at Three Rivers we are at a low enough elevation to avoid much of the cold. Until just days ago the tomato plants were still thriving, though the frost had bit their foliage. Even the roses were still blooming in Tularosa, just fifteen miles away, as it has been a mild winter. I have been boasting of having to turn my heater down at night and have at times even thrown off blankets, until now. If the night before last the heater still sufficed, last night got too cold. I finally lit a fire as I wanted to be cozy, being spoiled from the years of woodstoves, and was soon too warm. I played with the damper and stoked the fire before I went to bed, again pulling off blankets through the night.
I woke up this morning and stirred the ashes in the woodstove before I dressed, as it was comfy enough to do so. I had turned the electric heater down last night, but there were still glowing coals, and soon another fire. I heated my wash water on the stove, and it kept my tea warm also. I finally, as it was getting too warm, opened the curtain to the day. A rim of frost sat thick on the base of the window. The front door, outside the blanket that still divided the cab from the camper, had more. I took quick pictures and texted my son, “I am sure glad I had a woodstove!” He replied quickly, “Yea, me too!” He is so much like me and I am grateful for that! In fact, he is using the old parlor stove I had originally bought for the other bus but decided it was too cumbersome for that. Besides, it is a handsome stove with all the chrome fixtures attached and deserves to grace a living room, which is does in royal fashion.
The camper test. If there is still much to do to finish my project so much of it is aesthetic. What remains as necessity became quickly obvious when the temperature plummeted last night, though previous experience had taught me already. Having lived in the big bus for nearly six years I learned well, I just haven’t had the time or money to address things. Soon I will enclose the ends of the wheel wells that weren’t covered by the bed, and cover the platform to staunch a few drafts. I will likely use cardboard as it is cheap and light, and a good insulator also. And, I shall finish the platform in front above the cab, and enclose the opening as I had already planned to do. I will then have a near finished product, less a little shelving and a table. I will throw another rug on the floor also, it gets cold in the night as there is no skirting.
I slept well last night and I am plenty warm even now, with the fire smoldering lightly. I burned but a handful of wood and kept myself comfortable, and then some. This tells me what I needed to know, that I could escape to the wilderness and be fine, and even enjoy it. As money allows there will be more, a small gas stove, an inverter and batteries, and eventually a solar panel. I need to build a back porch for the propane and batteries, or enclose the latter in the front. There are a few things I need to learn and purchase but even now I am as self-sufficient as I need to be. If the project was intended more for luxury than a dwelling, it has proven its worth for both. It has passed the camper test!
December 3, 2017
Three Rivers Trading Post
Three Rivers, New Mexico
What About Me
There is always that question in my life, “What about me?” Here I sit at Three Rivers Trading Post with a most uncertain future, even if for the moment I revel in my freedom. I have no complaints as of this moment, I am sitting at my desk in my camper, well rested and comfortable. I have settled into the freedom quite well thank you, though I am finding a routine of ‘work’ to be appealing also. I have come to realize it is why I am here. There is company, structure and a place to do my art. There is also a steady flow of people, for the most part, each with their own story and a willing ear as well. I am enjoying it. For one such as I who so often opts for solitude this is an interesting prospect! I am paying mind to the same, it is something I need to maintain if I am to be content.
So, am I destined to a store front? Here it is ideal as the people who pass through are so often travelers to the Petroglyphs just up the road. This, along with Highway 54, an international highway, brings a wonderful variety of visitors. If I have little patience for mankind in general I love intellect and inspiration and find a fair measure of it here. In fact, it is the same appeal of the glimpse I have had of some of the people in T or C, who come there for the lake and the hot springs, as well as the history, which draws me there. It is also what makes me willing to leave the haven in Nogal, in spite of its peacefulness. I need a little more at times, even if I find much happiness there also.
That is, in the end, the contrast. I have learned to feather my own nest and find much happiness in my solitude, and always have. At the same time I am a social person to some measure, and enjoy ‘good’ company. Having rarely had enough of that, due to my own peculiarities, I have found some measure of comfort here. Pam and Cameron are good people, as are those who are drawn to them, and it is a nice place to be. Quite honestly, if I can find the means to make it work, I may well stick around! The kicker is finding a way to do that and still make some measure of income, as that too is an essential! It is also all about me, and how I will get myself to accomplish that.
If I have always been ambitious and motivated my execution of my ideas has been my shortfall. I have no deficit of ideas, talents or abilities but the ability to put them in motion and make them productive of my own volition has proved to be challenge. If it was not I would already be on my feet and I have had six months to do so! Sadly, the end product falls short! If I seem to operate my best under pressure I am nearing that situation at a rapid rate, but perhaps then it will pay off! I have all the means to make my artwork and it is selling well enough. Perhaps now I can bring it to fruition? It is either that or get a job, though if I am creative I might split my time between the two?
What about me? It is so easy to be critical of others and find their strengths and failings. It is far harder to convert that effort to introspection, even if it is a favorite habit of my own. My oldest son is quick to remind me of the need to get on with my life, my youngest is far more understanding. I love them both equally. My oldest has embraced everything I have tried to avoid, my youngest, hah, he is just like me. Somewhere in between there is a balance, and even if things are a little tough right now, I am living well! My camper draws sound testimony to this and there are no complaints from that quarter. What improvements I need to make to regain some sense of stability are all in the making at this moment, and it is all about me! If I want to purvey a lesson to my children and anyone else who cares to listen it would be that. No matter what we decide to do with our lives, even if we devote it to the service of others, it is still our choice to do so, failures included. Having chosen to pursue the route I have taken I take full ownership for the decision, there is nobody else to credit or to blame.
What about me? I’ve got this! I am warm and comfortable at my present perch and looking forward to the day. I have been told that there is a super moon tonight and that Mercury is in retrograde. It is supposed to bring a reckoning of sorts and is a powerful moment in the big scheme of things. I arrived here in reasonably good repair, even if my favorite truck went to pieces last night and my sons cat got run over……….At least we got my Jeep moved before things went to crap and everyone else is ok, though he was a cool cat. We are nearing the end of the year also, and as I reflect on that it has been an interesting one.
In so many ways I am a step closer to my ideal situation, and there are no regrets. I started the year in a new place after breaking free from a less than ideal situation. Mid-year I was set free and I have made good use of that freedom. That is so much of why I am here, and can excuse any failings by acknowledging that. I needed the freedom to decide how to approach the remainder of my life, and I am on the right path. If I had resumed any other routine I would have quickly settled into it, as is my nature to do so. Instead I have remained footloose to some great extent, and it has brought me to where I am. I like me here, as I do in Nogal, and have no complaints in the end. I am settled to some great extent, at least for the moment, and only my finances have suffered. There are worse things than that. I made a lot of money in the last six years but I suffered. In considering the contrast the results are clear. Now I need but find center, and I am on my way towards that.
Perhaps I travel on for a while? It is something I need to consider, and I am waiting for a counteroffer now. In the interim I am staying busy and if I step it up a notch it might even work! I have a stack of artwork on the table that I will complete today. When it is done I will photograph it and post it on Etsy, and see where it goes. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and it will sell one way or the other, I already know that. I have every reason to be creative right now and the time to apply it. There is so little more I could ask for, I have done myself proud in the end. What about me? I’m ok.