October 3, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
A Change Of Light
The light has changed. The sun has shifted its angle as the earth spins towards winter and now rises, and sets, further to the south. The transition reveals itself quickly, as now when I step out the door, I no longer look to the north but rather am blinded by the rising sun. It transitioned so quickly I was somewhat alarmed, as I pay attention to such things. It moved that far in just three days, when I was traveling. Too fast. The passage of time is almost frightening and even as the year comes closer to its end I am so aware of the transition.
The light inside has changed also. I covered windows yesterday, and opened another. If I have battled a draft in my sitting place for years so I discovered it yesterday. In fact, the entire process was humbling, to say the least. If I fixed windows when I first arrived here, some fourteen years ago, I have done so little since. I had caulked all the glass, or most of it, as the original seals had dried and gone. I also hung curtains and blinds and called it good, rarely moving the blankets as the blinds could all be opened. Only recently, on a walk around the house, did I note that the board in the window of the back room was warped and out of place. This explained the cold breeze which had led me to cover the doorway.
The recognition also led me to peruse the remaining windows and days later I covered the one in the bathroom. As I bathe from a bucket it is essential I block the drafts and it was an easy, and comforting fix. Yesterday, after a week of wind and rain, I addressed the others, starting with the back room. After I covered the outside with plywood I came inside and sealed it with plastic. Later I tacked a better blanket over it also, after I had removed it from another frame. Motivated, I approached the kitchen window which has lost half its glass. I see now how all the windows are failing, as they will with the passage of the years. If the wood framed glass was fragile when I arrived it is also beyond repair. I can only cover and patch from here and the issue will remain a problem.
So it was I perused the gaping hole of the top window pane and considered my solutions. I covered it with tin when I first came home, lacking any other materials, it now needs to be sealed. I opted for the styrofoam from the bus, the blue stuff, and cut a fitting piece. I secured this with nails and duct tape and then covered the whole of it with plastic before I replaced the blind. One more draft well stopped I might say. I thought to end there but the endeavor wasn’t done and the materials were close in hand. I moved to the living room and raised the blanket on the north wall window. Though the glass was all intact the bottom frame was a good inch above the sill, raised some many years ago and long forgotten, but for the steady draft come winter……I was embarrassed for myself, and quickly closed it. That draft has been incessant and if I am sure some part of it comes from the attic this was the major source!
In the end I resealed the glass and hung a blind, leaving the bottom portion open for the moment. Perhaps I will cover the window later in the year, if I must, but for the moment the light is exquisite. I have the same light and view as I do with the door open, less the draft and the flies! I then went to my room to fix the leak I know is there. The one window which opened easily is crumbling at the frame and some of the upper glass is gone or broken. If I have patched and covered it in the past, this one more frequently than the rest, it needs a good fix also. Having learned the value of the Styrofoam I cut another piece and repaired it for reals this time. I also hung another blind, making for a better perspective on the room itself, and a job well done.
I have two windows left to work on. I will finish caulking the glass today and cover the bathroom window from the inside. I may well do the same with the other one in my bedroom which I have yet to inspect. The effort has already been rewarded and the house was warm this morning, with but a few coal left in the stove. I feel more comfortable inside also, knowing I have contributed greatly to the comforts I require come the colder nights. If I had all but deserted my post some six years ago, so I have returned to stay. Given the freedom to do so I have spent more time here at home than I have in so many years, and made good use of it. The much needed cleaning and repairs has made me feel more comfortable with myself, an essential factor of it all.
I need to reflect on that for a moment because the transition is important. One of the first things I did, after the initial cleaning and organizing, was to delve into my possessions. I rearranged my storage first, out of necessity, and even there separated the things I no longer needed. Then I came inside and started the same, cumulating the effort with the sale in Capitan. I got rid of so much! What was once a full room of stuff is now a quarter of the space, and even that will be reduced by half before I am done, or even more. So much of it is just ‘stuff’ I no longer have the need for, visually or spiritually, as I am far more complete. I also have no desire to carry it any further and even if I chance to remain here there is no reason to keep it. I feel unburdened by the absence of the baggage I kept for so many years, and never even used.
All the repairs and the wood cutting have offered an equal return. Part of it is simply having the time to do the work, but there is more to it than that. I am looking closer at my life rather than just plunging forward. I am learning a stillness I have never perfected, even if I am so often in motion. Being unhurried is so much a part of that and I need not go anywhere if I do not want to. As with yesterday, I have not! I may do the same today though at some point I must exit the gate and take care of other things. The less distance I venture the better, at least for now. I also have so little cash, and spend none of it when I am here. As the wind begs to rise I am eager to finish the windows and cut some more wood.
Soon enough there will be the requirement to do other things and to bring in some semblance of an income. It is another reason I want to do these things now, before other necessities take the fore. It is why I have never had the time or the willingness to bring things in order as I am. I have always wanted to fix the windows, and to cut all the big wood into usable pieces. I am so inclined to have things in order, and yet too often left them otherwise. Now is my chance to change that, while not getting caught in the effort either. I want to do it all at my leisure, and am trying to take my time. I am also learning an extremely valuable practice. It is one I discovered on my own but days later had affirmed in writing. I am learning to be selective, and to do the things of the greatest importance first! I have always tried too hard to multitask and failed in the effort. My list has always been a page long, and it still is, even two, but there is a shorter one also. I am learning, in this time when I can, to prioritize and do one thing at a time instead of overwhelming myself with many. All the others can wait!
So it is I wake and write before anything else. I have a very simple routine when I rise and I follow it each day. I wake, start the fire and heat my water, and breakfast. I get dressed, make my bed and step outside to say my morning prayer, greeting the day as I should. I then wash up and pour my tea, and eat my breakfast as I reflect on previous words I have recorded, before I write those for the day. In the course of an hour thus I begin my day. I have also been editing my book, thirty pages at a time and I am nearly done. Once that time is free I will have more for other things, and I have considered that also. As each essential is completed, the cleaning, fixing, wood cutting, I will have time and energy for others. The sorting can wait for the moment, though I have taken to doing one box at a time to perpetuate it. Once it is done I will be relieved!
There is a lot to this also. Once I finish the current, essential efforts I will then finish my camper and studio, both which require some creative efforts. The camper is my release to freedom, and also an essential alternative for travel as I will save money and have my own space. I will truly enjoy it, as I already have. The studio will fulfill another dream and make my artwork a greater pleasure as I will be able to lay it out as I wish, and leave it there! It will be conducive to even greater creativity. Once that is completed it will free the time for the application of my efforts towards my greater good and with any luck lead to additional freedoms. I will also have more time to write and with any luck can make that pay.
I am not sure I have ever had a better plan, or one that in so many ways has perpetuated itself. The practicality of it is in keeping with my deepest nature, the one I have superseded for too long! In my never ending quest to meet the material demands of my life I have so overlooked the obvious, from my favorite place to be. I was so concerned with the resolution of my debts and the desire to purchase land that I became too obsessed with the effort to see the obvious! I have lived, and thrived here before, I have just never been able to get ahead. Now that I have the most essential things I need, trucks, the camper, tools and materials, it is time to come to roost! I have a pile of leather, kilns, am awesome sewing machine, and ample time and talent. It is time to put them to use, and I am looking forward to the practice.
I have created aversions to things as I have gone through my life. I have been afraid of being too alone, of losing my spontaneity and the joy of my writing and artwork. In order to avoid that I plunged myself into my work, even though I feared the sacrifice I had to make. I now know that was a mistake and if there is a greater aversion to that than anything else, so it is leading me to alternatives. I also have solutions, now that I have sat still long enough to see them. I am going about this in a methodical manner and seeing things clearly for perhaps the first time. If I went off to work frantically I was also amassing the tools to avoid that. I now have everything I need, including my time for the moment. If I knew I needed to be still I am now back in motion, but walking far slower than I was. I am taking the time to observe, think, and resolve, something I don’t believe I have ever done in quite the same fashion. If I was not asking questions, or looking for answers, it seems they found me on their own. I have grown wiser with the passage of the years, something I had yearned and hoped for in my youth. I so very grateful for the same.
The light has changed with the passage of the seasons and the earth is now tipped at a slightly different angle. As we again near the solstice of the winter the weather cools to cold. We are driven to prepare, to stock up for the longer nights and shorter days. It is as important as ever for me to do so as this could be a long, lean winter, or perhaps not. Never have I had more time to consider my options, nor the resources with which to decide. If I am unemployed I am also confident I can survive here and make it through the winter, even with scanty resources. I have plans I have yet to put into action, but they are there if I require them. I have artwork in the process, and a wealth of talent and materials to draw on. Most importantly, I have a new found focus which requires I tend to my own needs before anything else, which will lead me to far better choices.
There is no need or desire to rush off to another job, anywhere, even here. There were opportunities to do so and I waved them. I will not ignore my debts, or seek to be set free from them, but they will require patience. So far I am holding my own, even as I am getting behind, but it will all be ok. For today I am going to be still, once again. I will finish the windows and work on the wood pile. I will think about my camper, and pull out some wood. Maybe I will go to town for water and sand off a few boards, I need to do some router work. There are even a few in the process I could so easily complete. Most importantly, I am not going to get in a hurry or put any pressure on myself. The absence of that has been most inspiring! I have a short list I am working on, and intend to stay on task. There has been a change of light, and one of the heart as well.
September 30, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
Golden Morning Sun
I woke early this morning, before the alarm I had set to do so. My mental clock seems to still be in tune, even if I haven’t worked for months. I suppose I should be hurrying also, but it is still raining and the show doesn’t start until 10:00. It is seven thirty now and only a fifteen minute drive, but I will be brief.
I had no plan to write this morning but I couldn’t pass it by. It was twilight when I woke so I lit the lanterns. This would have been enough. The soft glow of the kerosene flame is so lovely and something I rarely see these days as the generator suffices. I was glad to have cleaned and filled them and lit them with pleasure. Still yet, dawn came quick and by the time the fire was crackling in the stove the sun began to rise. Its golden light outshone even the glow of my lanterns.
I was out the door as fast as that, my shirt half buttoned and camera in hand. Still yet, the essence if the light was something no camera could capture, even if I caught the essence of it. That the broom weed has that same golden cast was nearly its equal. That wasn’t it though! As soon as the sun crested the hill it caught the rain drenched clouds and cast a light rainbow in the sky. As it rose further so did the brilliance of the refracted light and rain soaked as I was, I remained spellbound, unable to break the spell.
It is this beauty that feeds my soul. If at times I am a bit too alone, a lot too broke, even if I take ownership for both, never am I in the absence of beauty. It is the essence of my morning prayer, the thanks I send forth for the wonders which surround me. If the lengthy presence of the clouds and moisture are a little worrisome, given that we live in the high desert, so they are glorious as well. If they bode for a long hard winter, all the more reason to rejoice for the moment. The grasses have greened again and the added nourishment will be a blessing for all that depend on it.
I woke to golden morning sun, the blessings of the universe. I watched a small rainbow turn into a double crescent across the valley, and rejoiced in the spectrum of its color. I look even now on the rain drenched sky and the soft green glow of the grasses, and I know it is good. I have said my words of thanks to the Great Spirit and the universe, and know that I am blessed. Life, after all, is very good today! Ixehe, thank you!
September 28, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
A Blessed Day
This is a blessed day. I woke to the cloak of clouds and rain that seem to have no desire to dissipate. This is the third such day and yesterday was so wet I had to wave my efforts at the woodpile, and all else for that matter. Instead I welcomed the opportunity to hunker down by the fire and nearly finishing my final review of my book in preparation for a genuine effort to publish it. Later I split a little wood, went for a glorious walk and cut some leather to round out the day. My time was well spent and devoted solely to my own efforts, something which has been so absent in my life these past few years. I have no desire to relinquish that!
It has taken every bit of the last few months for me to even begin the restorative process and even now I am still in recovery. In fact, the issue at the moment is how to avert my past failures and stay the course going forward. If my goals and ambitions remain the same so do the reasons I have not fulfilled them and I must change that. As my previous approach failed to render the desired results I must now regroup and find another path! To do anything less is to fail miserably and I have no desire, or willingness to do so.
How am I approaching that? Very gradually! Having stepped away for three day and then having no desire to return I had to have a very deep discussion with myself as to how to remedy that. The remedy for the moment is a passive one, to stay back away from the worries and explore my approach from a comfortable seat, and the rain and fog have made that even easier! Rather than plunging forward I have stalled the effort, reassessed, prioritized and focused for a moment on my immediate needs; the wood pile, my words, my artwork………..I will cover the windows today in preparation for the oncoming winter.
Of course none of this makes the realities beyond my gate any less than what they are, but so they will wait also. Inevitably I will crash and burn financially and that was not the plan, but it is the outcome. I will also recover, as I have before, and my mind, body and spirit must be well for me to approach that, bottom line! Having accepted the fact that I have every desire to maintain the very simplicity I have surrounded myself with as opposed to rejoining the workforce on a fulltime basis I am making the adjustments also. Interestingly enough, my creativity depends on this as much as all my future prospects relies on the same! If I have been here before my perspective is far clearer than it was and I must take it in hand or sink.
I have in the past supplemented my income with my art, and have done so for all the years since I began production, in 1995. That was twenty two years ago! I have been successful also and even now am in the process of creation, having sold all but my most recent inventory, and some that I created years ago, as I have been digging through my possessions. This bodes well for my future though, realistically, I need to retail as much as I wholesale to make it a viable effort. Having touched on that also I am heartened by the results having sold a fair share in a brief span of time. I am now making the gradual transition to that effort, but doing so with great care. The concern has always been that the focus would rob the joy and spontaneity from the process. The same has gone for my writing, which I also need to market! I am also concerned about isolating myself, though these past few days have been most fruitful. Ideally I would set up shop on the weekend and sell from there and then retreat for the rest to my solitude. Or not, as the weekdays are slow enough anyway, I just have no desire to commit my time without some ensuing freedom to support it. These past few months have proven the merit of that and I fill my days well by myself.
So it is that this day is so blessed. I have recovered the calm demeanor I so require and absolved the frantic rush I was captured in. It is so easy to become focused on the effort of survival and to overlook the simplest factors of the same. It is, again, why I choose to live as I do!!! The very act of cutting wood reinforces the foundation of my existence; I work and I shall be warm! I drove to town the other day and bought groceries and gas, filled my water jugs and returned here with the assurance I could hunker down as I have and not even drive out my gate. And I was happy to do so! I could stay here another week and be fine! I have so little need or desire for anything more that the serenity I am currently surrounded by and it has healed me so quickly as well.
For this reason I will take but a tentative step in any other direction. Necessity rules that I must have an income and meet my debts. I have a commitment to do so and I will honor that, while ceasing to create any additional ones! Even I, as frugal I as I profess to be, so easily became entangled in the material pursuits, and it nearly caused my demise. If I knew better so I forgot also, and if I did not waste the efforts of these past six years so I squandered much of it also! It is only my good fortune that I amassed a great pile of wood and art materials that I can now realign myself with the things which will nourish my spirit and allow me to find the path forward I require.
What if I hadn’t done that? What if I hadn’t had this place to return to and instead had to immediately seek other employment and a place to live? What if I had not recorded my progress and penned a book of the finest adventure of my life, or at least one of them, and not had that to reflect on? Or even had my camper and chanced to camp for three days and recall the simple joy of the freedom which defined my life for the first of many years I lived as a gypsy with so few needs or wants? I might have perished, or lost my way, but I did not. Instead I wake to a blessed day and with the knowledge I will survive, I will be warm and safe through this coming winter, and I will, most importantly, be well with all of that! I can ask for nothing more! As if in answer the sun has broken through the clouds! All is well today.
September 27, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
My Head Up In The Clouds
I stepped out the door this morning and found my head up in the clouds. I was surrounded by the heavy mist of a light morning rain, such as soaked the ground through the night. The mountains are cloaked with the clouds and if it seems clear from here to the hillside it is instead the fine sheet of moisture such as comprises the clouds. In the distance the fog tightens and obscures the distant views.
Today is a day to stay beside the fire, at least until it clears. I hope it does not. If I have learned anything in these last few days it is that I need the stillness today has to offer. Yes, I might find things to do, there are many, but so they can wait. If just a few days ago I woke to utter peacefulness, having stepped away for a moment and made a dry camp, so I need to repeat that now. If I can step back out into the world at a moment’s notice, so too I can remain here, behind my gate, in sanctuary. I require that for now.
My head is in the clouds this morning. I lay still upon waking to savor the stillness and found the same when I arose. Last night’s fire left a bed of coals and the fire woke in an instant. Even the water was still hot, and if I lit the gas stove to make tea so I bathed my face without the same effort. I opened the door and stood on the porch to say my morning prayer, and then returned to the warmth inside. If the cool mist caressed my face so the warm fire embraced me. I have no need for anything else. Today is the time to reflect on my blessings and leave the worldly worries for tomorrow. I live in the land of manana for that reason!
My woodpile waits for the sun to return. I have added a row to my store and there is at least its equal in ready to be cut. It is an effort I enjoy and when completed I will seek more of the same. Even it can wait, and I am grateful for the respite. If I had a garden it would be a day for canning, in its absence I will preserve my thoughts, and then move on with other creations. It is a day to put my hands to my artwork, and I look forward to that also. It is, in its own way, a self-preservation, for my creativity is the key to my freedom. If I wish to remain here I will have to harness that, while keeping the joy of it safe also. It is time to learn that lesson and I have put it off for long enough.
How many times I have come and gone from this place in search of such freedom! I have come and gone from the start, and I have always returned. I have ventured far away and I have been close, but never so content as when I am here. I can feel the pain of it now as the happiness returns and I pray I can preserve it. It has been a far greater struggle than I anticipated and I now see the damage I have done in the effort. If there were lessons to learn and adventures to be sought I am not sure it was the right choice. I can find my happiness wherever I am but here it is nearly a constant.
As I reaffirm my presence I am finding a heartfelt desire to stay, no matter what that effort requires. Never has my time been more precious, or the peacefulness here more poignant. Even as I added to the woodpile yesterday I asked myself if I would be here to use it all, and prayed that I would be. Whatever I choose there will be struggles but the ones here are a given, and I will always be warm and safe if I stay. I have used my debts as the excuse to seek my fortune, but find for more riches from here, even in the absence of much income. I can meet my obligations either way, and my time and happiness have a far greater value than any gains I seek elsewhere.
For today I will not concern myself anything further than that. I need not but push a button and the whole world opens up. With that at my fingertips I have all the more reason to remain still, the resources are available enough. For today I will remain apart and revel in the simplicity I have surrounded myself with. The woodpile is high, the fire cackles in the stove and the clouds have settled even lower on the mountains. It is raining to the south even though to my north and east the blue skies are breaking through. I step outside at the call of the jays to watch them leap from tree to tree. Yesterday they flew into the air and swirled for the pure joy of it, today they stay low in the cold, seeking shelter instead. I shivered in the cold breeze and retreated inside.
I will take another day for myself, I am healing my spirit. The way forward may be a challenge, or perhaps it will not, it is my choice. I have never wanted for more than I have at this moment, and there is a lesson in that statement. I have stepped away in search of what I thought was right, only to come back. I have retreated here for solace and comfort each and every time. Some of the happiest times of my life have been lived from this very place or others so like it. I have dreamed of the time when I could remain and make my way with my words and my art. If I don’t do it now, when will I? I will have to keep my head in the clouds to find out!
Footnote: The sky and the ground is full of birds, the jays scattered everywhere and others amongst them, as if for my sole entertainment. The jays harsh cries bring me a thrill and I watch them leap and fly, perhaps readying themselves for a longer flight? My gaze is so intent that I can see all the floaties in my eyes. It occurs to me that if I should ever go blind they will have to lead me out to the hillside and give me a chair. I will sit there and feel the wind on my face and listen for the jays. The image of their joyfulness shall never fade from my memory. My serenity returns after an extended absence!
September 26, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
The Cutting of the Wood
It is the time to cut wood. Summer seems to have ended abruptly and the cool winds, coupled with the clouds and even a light rain have moved in to fill the void. I gaze on the cloud shrouded mountains this morning, sitting beside the burning wood stove and consider the signs. If I have been so often in tune with the seasons and been able to speculate on the seasons to come I have yet to draw an opinion. I will have to consider this more closely today, though either way, I will cut wood.
The cutting of the wood is an instinctive response. I am not the only one who feels this need to fill my coffers and I know, without being there, that the same has occurred on the reservation, and all the surrounding area. If we spent all summer thinking it would be good to get started, now we are in motion. For my part, there is already a good pile and it has waited for years to be addressed. Some of the bigger stuff was here before I left, though I have added to it also. I ran two tanks of gas through my saw just yesterday, and barely touched it, though there is almost another row on the woodpile.
I will go back to it today, and every day after, until it is done, and then I will go to the ranch. If I am well stocked there are others who are not, and there is never enough wood for my wants. If I have enough for this year there is always another and the thrift of that shines through even now. I need not worry but instead work at my leisure. There will also, at some point, come a time I may not be able to add to the supply and will at least be secure for the moment. Even after a six year absence there is more than enough, and I have never gone without a fire.
I would have it that the wood were my only concern, but I am not so lucky as that. I set the day aside just yesterday for my most immediate desires, and today will be much the same. I am having to quell my desire to dive into any number of projects and am for the moment trying to focus instead on the things of the greatest importance. If the future is a concern also it is the present I wish to give the most attention and it is critical that I do so. It is not even the need to prepare for the winter but rather to center myself and regain my true happiness that I can go forward with the same. If it has evaded me for so long it is also time to rekindle it, and I am off to a good start. The cutting of the wood is just the sort of affirmation I require!
The transition of the stack of wood into the finished pile is also important. I have returned here to find that things are less in order than I wish for them to be, and much of it is superfluous. The wood is not in that category, though it is in a half hazard state for the moment, having been thrown into a pile for later attention. My sense of order wants it to be otherwise and I will be happier when it is done. I feel the same about the rest of my possessions and when that effort is complete I will have lightened my load significantly! There is so much here I have collected and so little I require and if I have already moved so much of that to the fore there is more to do, but the wood comes first.
I am not going to worry about the future right now, the present is enough. I quickly jot a list and it is already too long! If I gave all of yesterday to my own choices, writing, editing, weeding the garden and wood cutting so I wish to do the same today, though there are other things I will touch on also. I simply need to keep things in focus and the affirmation of my happiness is essential. I want my routine to be my own and to revolve around that. If my goal has always been to be self-sufficient and to center my efforts on the same, so I need to hone in on the practice. When I left here six years ago, so I left so much of that behind me.
Ahh, even the effort of centering myself works against me right now. I but opened the door to cool the room and my spirit lightens. The cool wind, the cloud filled sky and the chatter of some bird realigns my attention to things I need the most. That was the lesson of my latest journey, when I stepped away for three days and woke to such serenity as I have allowed to evade me. Sure, there are things I need to do, but I also need to live my life in its fullest fashion. Just as my new friend Priya spun for a moment to the rhythm of the music in such youthful abandon, so I wish to do the same. I need but step out my door to rekindle that! It is time for the cutting of the wood!
September 19, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
Having lived so close to the elements for so long sometimes I forget their proximity. It is the wind that reminds me this morning, and I had to capture the thought. The wind, cooling with the season and now colder than it was at daybreak. If I donned a warm shirt at dawn, so I shed it, only to find just a few minutes later I required the comfort of the same. If it was windy earlier, it is more so now, and the breeze finds its way through the house.
House you say? What that it is little more than a mean shack, but it is also my home. If it was never fully secure the years have been unkind to it, and now it is less so. What was once a solid home has suffered the wear of the years and the wind and storms have pried at all the weak places. Even in the writing I am reminded I need to recaulk the remaining windows before they too fall out. I repaired them when I first came here but the seal has cracked and broken. Even before I came home the big window in the kitchen fell and broke. The board that covers the one in the back bedroom has warped also and I can now feel the breeze.
If this was never a perfect shelter it has served me well all the same. I have found much comfort in this place and in so many ways kept it standing. If I had not been here the rats would still reign, and the windows would have gaped to the elements. I have patched and repaired them as they began to fail, even if I never replaced the glass. The house is not mine and of no value to anyone else, though they are proud of the land and care not to sell. It works well for me, I have paid the taxes and resided here for years, and feel blessed for the opportunity.
Still yet, like the elements I have become so familiar with, in the writing I am reminded of the fragility of my circumstance! What if I have to leave here someday? Can I expect another fourteen years of such comforts, or the absence of the same. Can I expect the remaining glass to remain firm, even as I patch the other spaces? Could I hope to be resilient enough to brave all those winters going forward as I age? These are the elements of living we so easily overlook, until that chill wind reminds us.
I will not ponder the latter just now, I am too close to the things of more immediate necessity. I am listening to the fall wind and perusing windows, challenging enough for one day. I realize how such things have kept me honest, and so close to the earth, and have no desire to alter that. I will patch the aging caulk when I return, and cover the gaping windows. Having built my bus over the last few years I have found the value in Styrofoam and will cover the broken frames with the same.
As I have done in years past I will batten the hatches in anticipation of winter, and ready myself for the onslaught. I will do so happily also. I enjoy the challenge of the elements as much as I do the warmth of my fires. There is a smug satisfaction in finding such comforts in such a borderline existence. If I have chosen my lifestyle quite deliberately at no time have I ever been so aware of that. I traded this life here for a leaky RV and then built a shelter in the confines of a bus. I have to say I am grateful to return here in the end, even if it has its failings. It is the proximity to the elements, so the same as in the bus, but different, that I treasure the most. The wind, in its return, has reminded me of the same! If the windows were more solid I might have missed that!
September 16, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
Break of Day
The day broke with perfection and if there was any concern as to the quality of the hours to come it was abolished. If some days seem born of struggle there are others which are blessed, as if the alignment of the stars has deemed them so and nothing can change that. I can only hope this holds true with this one!
Waking with the dawn has become a good practice over the years, as much out of necessity as desire. There is a calm beauty of that first few minutes of the day which seems to depart through the passage of time. There is so little reason to miss it and so many to justify the effort of getting to the door before the sun breaks over the mountains. If I have written of this one hundred times I have witnessed it by the thousands. Today was no exception.
This morning was filled with the usual beauty and in so many ways surpassed it. The seasons have changed and the first hint was the glow of the broom weed. The last few days have been warmer than usual and even as it bleached the green out of the summers’ ample grass so it coaxed the weeds to flower. Before the sun even brought its light the hills took on a golden cast and changed the nature of the view. In contrast, one spare cloud took pause above my house and greeted me with raindrops before it traveled on.
Not to be outdone a raven whooshed by and offered his greeting and in the back ground the elk sent up their song. They are coming into the rut and their high whistle reverberates from the canyons. It is the song of fall and one cannot avoid being captured by their exuberance. I had to stand quietly and listen before moving on with the day. It seems even my morning fire was caught in the spirit of the dawn and came to life quickly, the chunk of juniper crackling happily even after the rest was down to coals. My tea will be hot this morning and the oatmeal boiled quickly!
In the midst of this my eyes followed the solitary cloud as it drifted to the east, taking all promises of rain with it. After a good summer the earth has already dried and every bit of moisture is a blessing. The last of the rain drops touched my shoulders as I said my morning prayer. As if in answer the rising sun caught the topmost blades of the windmill. It is turned to the perfect angle as the wind still catches it even when the brake is set. The first light glowed off the blades and it was framed by the cloud.
So often the break of day is such that we can only bear witness but never capture to glory of its beginnings. It seems today I was able to do both, savoring the wonder of it and then finding not only the words but the perfect picture as well. If the mountains are already bathed in sunshine and the long shadows of the dawn washed away, the first light remains upon the page. If my morning prayer encompassed all of it I extend it further yet and hope that that first light, that soft glow of the sun on the windmill and the raindrops touch everyone today. There is, in the end, no greater beauty than the beginning of a new day, for all of us.
September 7, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
The Power Of A Dream
I was up late last night, captured by some sense of urgency to complete a couple of projects. I am going to work on my camper today and needed to stain some boards. I should have done that days ago to let the odors dissipate but at least they will be dry. So too, I oiled an old harness I had packed away years ago. It was in poor shape when I found it and even worse now but the oil will improve its appearance. It is a wall hanger in all respects but now it will find a new home. I am selling it, along with so many other old things I no longer see a use for. If they once gave me a comfort I required they are now more a burden than a pleasure. Perhaps this is a function of age, or maturity, or simple satisfaction with my chosen lot in life. It is now full enough of all the wonders of experience that I no longer need these ‘things’ to assuage me. The empty spaces they leave behind are even more liberating than the small financial return I will receive from their sale. What I cannot sell I will give away!
I will mention one other thing about this harness. As a horsewoman I have an affinity for leather and tack. Having ridden and driven horses and mules all of my life each piece of leather becomes a serviceable piece of equipment worthy of respect and good care. This practice is also practical, the equipment cannot perform without being in good condition and could be injurious to horse and user if it breaks. Picture the harness in particular, connecting the horse to a heavy load and its passenger as well. So it was, as I oiled and straightened the brittle leather, that I marveled at the repairs it had suffered before it was tossed in the crate I purchased it in. As I pulled the last bunches of some long dead horses hair from the creases, (it must have been spring time as it was in bunches) so I came to rivets and wire where the leather had been patched back together.
This harness must have belonged to a man of meager means. As old and dry as it is I would date it back to my youth, and I am fifty nine years old. I would imagine at that time it was an essential piece of equipment, not some pleasure horse and buggy of our modern days, though there were some pretty rivets on the carrying piece behind the collar. The reason I bought it was the collar braces were still in good repair, essential as they are. Still yet, whoever last used the equipment used it until it was no longer good enough to trust and they either retired themselves or simply never retrieved the useable pieces that remained. I imagine they must have just walked away from it for as frugal as they were it is surprising that the collar braces were abandoned also.
My reason for even mentioning this is more personal than the nostalgia. Whoever it was that so depended on this now defunct piece of equipment, it was his livelihood. A man of meager means who set to work with his horse each day to eak out whatever living he could find. Or perhaps he plowed a field each year to provide sustenance for his family. All told he made do with what he had and if I am romanticizing the possibilities, it is what I heard as I oiled the tangled remains of the harness. The thing is, if someone came here to this house after I had been gone for a few years and saw it, minus the creative efforts that grace every wall, they might think the same. It is what I saw when I first arrived. In fact, I live much the same way old Ernest Wright, the previous dweller here, lived. Or not, he used the gas lights and had no need for the generator, and he kept the windmill in good working order as he ran the water to the kitchen sink. I have done the same in years past but for the moment lack the funds for the repairs, or to fill the big propane tank, so I carry water instead and use either the generator or kerosene lanterns for light. I am sure I love the woodstove as much as he did, and I built the hearth for my summer needs, as I would rather burn wood than gas.
The point being is that he, as I, embraced the necessity as much as he created it. We too appear as people of meager means though in my case it is by choice to live so, as it may well have been his. He lived here for more years than I can imagine and stayed until he could no longer do so. I require the simplicity and embrace it whole heartedly, but I don’t have to live that way. I no more than have to pick up the phone and make a few calls and I could be employed, but I don’t want to, not yet! Even going forward I have every intention of keeping it simple, though I will improve on things where I wish, including the income to do so. If for now I am content to take a well-earned handout and savor some leisure time I am also laying the groundwork for the time when it will no longer come my way. By November I had better have a plan in place or things might not be good.
This leads to the power of a dream. If I worked late last night so I slept late this morning. I woke at dawn but dozed off again and in the ensuing hour dreamt a vivid and powerful dream. Forgive me, but I am a wastewater operator so for whatever reason it is what I dreamed of. Still in all it was out of context. I have spent my career learning and working in a basically rural environment, not the industrial size ones of the cities. In fact, I have seen very few systems that handled more than a hundred thousand gallons per day, yet I dreamed I was in Ohio at a much bigger facility. I dreamt I was at a training there and the processes were amazing and such as I had never seen performed. I am still marveling that my imagination, and some part of my education, allowed me to create and experience such detail! The insight will stay with me in more ways than one.
That was it, the insight. When I awoke I was able to recall every detail of the dream, and even the faces of the workers. The fascination remained with me also and in those waking moments I had a life altering epiphany. If I am absolutely content with the utter simplicity of my life at this moment I know from experience that I could either allow myself to settle into it and languish or I will find the need to venture forth once again. My desire to attain a few more goals will lead me forward and if I have already formulated a plan, so it is clearer yet. If I intend to teach now I see the lessons as they need to be shared. If my audience will be as rural as my own experience, so now I see the larger picture. If my purpose was already clear, so I see it fully.
As if in answer to that my phone rang before I even combed my hair. I was standing on my porch marveling at the stillness of the air. It was so still in fact that I could hear the whoosh of the ravens’ wings as three bird flew past above the hillside. I was nearly holding my breath so as the follow their passage for as long as I could hear them when I was interrupted. I stepped back inside to answer it. One of my previous coworkers has just moved into the lead position at a wastewater plant and his call could not have been more timely. He is now responsible for the things I was doing before I was dismissed, and far less qualified in experience for the task. He is qualified in his abilities, he simply lacks the education and experience. If I was directed through my environment and education to seek a viable means of supporting myself I never envisioned myself in a place of authority. Neither did he, but in the same way I was he is capable of the same, and willing to pursue it. If my intent has been to fill that need with my outreach and teaching, so I had the immediate chance to offer the same. Such an affirmation it was to my dream and first thoughts, and more than coincidental from any perspective.
So there is a lesson, as there is in all things. I have lived so much of my life in a deliberately slipshod manner. There are those who would argue that, and I would have to agree because I have also been focused and professional, but only insomuch as I have chosen to be. I might have achieved far more in the material sense if such was my intention, but it never has been. If I have cultivated my skills and applied that energy to so many efforts, so I have stepped back and lived as I am living now, riveting and wiring the proverbial harness in order to keep it in usable service. I will leave behind the remains of that effort in my passing also.
Who knows, that same harness may have graced the back of some fine well bred horse, the better equipment sacrificed for the ownership of the same. So too it may be with me. If I have lived a very simple and basic existence, content with the bare minimum of creature comforts, so I drive a really cool array of vehicles and live a glorious comfortable life by my own standards! I can continue to have both, while also filling my obligation to the broader realm of our existence, without sacrificing the simplicity and peacefulness I have defined my life with. I can venture out to those places I wish to explore and reach out to those like myself, who have embraced a life of community service by providing for others essential necessities. I can go back to those water and wastewater plants where I have spent so many of the last eighteen years and instead of working there I can help those who have taken my place. I can do this for two or three days at a time and then return to my roost and my fire. If this was already my plan, the dream and the phone call affirmed it.
When I sell that old harness I will point out the repairs that kept it in service for so long. If I have the chance I will also share some of the insight it evoked. That pile of dried out old leather and the treasures tangled within it have sat in my shed for more years than I can recall. If I have looked at it I never took it down until just a few days ago and only yesterday applied the oil it had begged for from the start. In doing so late in the day I also chanced to watch the moon rise over the hillside. I made appoint of savoring the peacefulness and the ritual of the care to the leather, as I have done so often in the past. It left me with a lasting insight, and somehow evoked the inspiration I discovered this morning. Such, is the power of a dream. What a fine way to begin this new day.
September 2, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
It is now the stillness which has become an essential. I noticed this first when I could not bring myself to start the generator in the mornings. It us not so much a necessity as it is a convenience. While I run it in the evening for light and to charge my devices, it is nice to begin the day with a full charge also. It is not loud enough to really be a distraction as I have housed it in the shed, but instead it breaks the stillness. This is key as I have discovered that the stillness reaches deep inside of me when it is present and I savor that feeling. I am learning to be still, even if I am so often in motion.
If I have spent so much of my life searching after outcomes I am now content with the present. So much so, in fact, that I am having to very carefully set goals for myself so as not to recreate the necessity which so often drives my efforts. For once, in all of these so many years, I can do this. It is that, coupled with my forays into the wilderness, which made my life such a pleasure when I worked for NM Tech in 2010 and 2011, and which has been so absent since then. I created the bulk of necessity then as I took the time off to so enjoy my life. I am doing something of the same now, though now that I have maxed my cards I will draw the line there.
I would rather pay as I go anyway and even now I have achieved that. Rather than run to town on a whim or purchase things I want but really don’t need, I have instead prioritized everything. If it is only 12 miles to town I still only go when I need food, ice and gas. I have little desire to go otherwise anyway, there is too much to do, or not do, right here. Of course I am doing, even as I am learning to be still. I rearranged my studio yesterday and am ready to return to my creative pursuits. I am also going through every piece of my possessions and will sell or give away the bulk of it. I will, as I was the last time I did this, be as happy to profit from the effort as to part company with those things I no longer require. And I require so little!
Having lived very comfortably on a 200 square foot dwelling for the last six years there is so little that I need! The bulk of what I have surrounded myself with is art and treasures I have amassed in my travels which enrich my spirit more than anything else. Aside from that there are the few other essentials, table, chairs, etc., and my books and tools. The rest is just baggage. I am blessed also in my solitude here, there is no shared attachment to things which would otherwise have little useful value! I wish to add to the stillness a degree of simplicity which allows for the separation from those things I no longer require. The ensuing freedom will be equally welcome.
And so it is I surround myself with a new level of stillness which I will defend with all my heart. By not thirsting after outcomes I can instead allow the universe to guide my course, while still actively participating. I will now set my mind and my hands to the things which bring me the most pleasure and live within my means on the returns. My long term goal has been to develop the ability to do so and I have succeeded in that effort. As always my old adage of, “If not now, when?” comes to mind and I have arrived at that juncture before. I can easily say I am now prepared to follow through, and that I am looking forward to doing so. I will keep it simple and straightforward and I know I will succeed, as I already have. What I will do differently is to make my choices carefully and not repeat the mistakes of the past. If I find myself wandering off my path I will right myself immediately and not allow any false pretenses to mislead me. What you see is what you get and no amount of wishing otherwise will change that. This applies to all things.
This is the beauty of what I have. I am surrounded by the efforts and accomplishments of the last many years since I established my presence here. If it is a bit unsettling to have so much stuff it has all served its purpose at a given moment. That I may profit from parting with it also brings its own reward. While any monetary returns will be most welcome the opportunity to share those items with someone who will put them to use will be an equal pleasure. Each piece will carry a lesson also, of how, as we complete ourselves, we require less and less to do so. By arriving at the level of stillness I have now acquired I can see this so clearly. I no longer require distractions or possessions to feel I am complete as it instead emanates from within my own self.
It has taken me many years to attain this level of stillness, even if I have sought it out from the start. I can still recall my forays into the ‘woods’ as a very young child. I would wander off into the trees or into the field just beyond our yard and sit down on the ground by myself. I might even lie back in the grass or the leaves and watch the clouds drifting by on the breeze. I would surround myself with that stillness and feel as content as I ever did anywhere else. In so many ways I was retreating from the noise and distraction of the rest of human kind, my family and the world which surrounded us. I found a solace there which has never been equaled by anything or anyone else.
It returns to me in its entirety now, and I have learned how to sustain it. I require so little else to survive. Another life lesson, well taken.
September 1, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
There Comes A Time
Such a year this has been! I have made so many of the changes I had hoped to make, not so much in the order I had envisioned, but changes all the same. If there was no intention to return here the transition was a good one and now that my feet are back on the ground I can see its full value. I have no desire to consider what the alternatives might have been. I came here out of necessity in more ways that I had known. If the restoration is not yet complete it is closer each day. If for the first few weeks I struggled terribly there was no desire to alter the facts. Now, after three months, I am assured that I have turned yet another corner in my life.
Out of necessity I have been contemplating future endeavors and even went so far as applying for potential employment. That option has been the least appealing of the choices, but also a viable one. For that same reason amongst others, I ventured forth to the ITCA Tribal Summit in Isleta this week. There again is another potential source of employment, as well as a chance to network with representatives from RCAC, the organization where I applied. There too were my peers, who are doing the same work as I have proposed, as contractors with ITCA as well as independently. They are all very successful and I admire their skill sets as much as I do their devotion. I also have some desire to emulate their skills, but not their lifestyles.
There comes a time and mine has arrived. I have battled these choices for my lifetime and spent so much of it moving between the two realms in search of the solutions. I have been the proverbial gypsy through it all, keeping my personal life simple and unfettered as while still working my way through as I must. I have been a devoted employee as well as living on the fringe. I have eked out a living with the bare essentials and I have made a plentitude of money and lived quite well, at least by my standards! I have cratered and I have excelled. I have never failed to recover from the worst times, or stayed the course through the best. I have always retuned here in the end, as I have done again now.
If there was ever a time to decide what I wanted most out of my life it is now. There are a few tears in wait all of a sudden, such is the weight of the emotion. The desires remains unchanged. Having stepped away for three days the return here is an assurance I am living as I wish, with very few exceptions. The exceptions are external, ownership and income being the greatest. If this place was my own the rest would be simple. I would pay my debts and necessities as I go and be done with the rest. I can do the same anyway and for the moment I shall. It is almost enough! I have set a goal professionally also. I need to make enough money to maintain myself and my commitments and I will do so accordingly. I will not make a full time commitment to anyone but instead apply my skills where and when they are required so as to meet my current needs. If I can make $500.00 a week I can hold my own…….
I had thought for a moment to take another job. The appeal of a steady check, benefits, and all the perks sounded appealing, and it is. I know I have the skills and ability to do it well, and even with some pleasure. I could even excel at it, and be well paid for my efforts. I would be paid to travel and to share my expertise. There would be airports and hotels, days on the road, restaurants and the endless cycle of that effort. Or I could stay here and build another fire, create my artwork and offer the same service as the need arose, which it will. If ITCA adds me to their list of ‘Subject Matter Experts’ there will be interim trainings for me to present to tribes across the states which I will gladly present. I can do the same under my own moniker also, when and where I chose. That, and a small water system or two, will be more than enough. And I can stay here.
There comes a time when all that matters is one’s own comfort and security. Never in my life have I had fewer needs or wants. I need to maintain my stability and to meet my obligations, which I will. I want to do the same. I also want a place where I know I will always be able to return to, as I have done here, with the assurance it will be there. I have ceased to consider the chance that I may have to leave here someday, but it is still a constant reality. It keeps me from applying the extra effort to better things also, and I would prefer to do that. I would like to find an alternative, but it can wait for now.
From this day forward I am going to dig a little deeper to find the means to stay and make it work as best as I can, without sacrificing my freedoms. I am not feeling too well so I will keep it simple for the moment. I will make a few plans and phone calls and then clean out my studio. If my energy prevails I will do some artwork, and my laundry. I will spend my day as simply and productively as I wish for each one going forward to be spent. I will make every effort to produce enough to perpetuate that effort, through outreach and creativity. I will think of today and not worry about tomorrow. I saw what I needed to see to make that decision, and the premise of it is sound. There is no reason for me to do it any differently, and it is time to make that work.
The raven greeted me this morning from his perch atop the windmill. I will watch for him tomorrow.