When Minimalism and the Simplicity Movement Meet Off Grid Homesteading you have Vitalism.

September 12, 2016 at 7:17 pm (Eating Nature, Freedom, Letting go, Life skills or hacks, organized simplicity, Relationships, simple frugality, Travel, Uncategorized)

Vitalism is the necessary, basic and crucial needs of day to day life.

 

20160217_145306My daughter and I moved from our urban family home in San Diego a year ago. We moved to a very rural part of Colorado. High in the mountains at almost 9000’ elevation in the wooded foothills of the Sangre de Cristo range. Our home is totally off grid as there are no power or water or trash services. We do have county maintained roads…sort of.

We bought a vacation home built in 2009 and finished… well, not quite yet. We have solar and wind for power and propane for our kitchen appliances. Our water was trucked in for the first ten months we were here and put into underground cisterns. We had to have deliveries once a month at a cost of approximately $250.00. In order to conserve water we joined the community center in town about twelve miles away. There we could take hot showers and wash our hair, visit the tiny library with dodgy internet and go for a swim in the Olympic size indoor pool or use the gym and full size basketball court. We have a shower in our bathroom so we can take short showers if needed.

We produce more power than we can store so sometimes we would run out at night when the horse trough heater went on in the winter. We now know to vacuum or use the blender in peak sunshine hours and not at the same time to err on the safe side.

I moved out here with a small sports car and all my sorted, sifted and downscaled belongings. In my second week I was heading to town on a sunny day after the previous night’s rain and got stuck in a deep mud pocket about a mile down the dirt road from home. It was time to trade in the eleven year old sports car for a truck with 4 wheel drive. I have always driven sports cars so this decision was not based on the same criteria as previous vehicles but rather my new found vitalism. This has been a very different driving experience.

In late October while I was on a road trip my daughter called to tell me our county’s finest had just left after she called them out because poachers were hunting on our land…er in our driveway. Yes Elk and Deer and their corresponding predators live in our area. We have “neighbors” here and some are a half mile away others several miles and not all live here year around. Hmmm perhaps a post and 4 strip barbed wired fence is in order or the dental implants I need to have done? Vitalism dictates the fence was the priority. No question.

I will leave you reader with one thought before I end today’s chapter…Why didn’t we move to an area which is on grid or move to a town or city? We wanted to be more responsible for our carbon footprint and not subject to every power price increase, blackout, brownout or other grid failures. We no longer wanted to board our horses and wanted a big garden and woods to call our own. We are conservationists at heart.

 

 

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Cadillac Ranch and Other Roadside Attractions

July 16, 2014 at 3:35 pm (Art, Freedom, Letting go, Travel) (, , , , )

As I roll across the Southwest with the cruise control on I see incredible vistas and postcard colors all unfurl before me like a movie about my life I am starring in.

My first day driving alone finds me heading east on the 40 towards Amarillo Texas across the New Mexico sands. Beautiful reds, pinks and oranges abound in the deserts and cliffs under the hot sun.

Passing signs for Indian fry bread, moccasins and other assorted native American offerings I see a cliff with an assortment of tepees spread over the edge looking down on the gift shops below…Tepees I think? They were on the plains, shouldn’t there be a wigwam or a pueblo like the ones some families still lived in when I crossed this desert as a child?  Maybe some still do but certainly not a tepee in this climate.

I speed on down the road and finally cross into Texas with a feeling of accomplishment. I am now further away from California and closer to Pennsylvania my destination on this journey. This sense of freedom, of being alone with my own thoughts is very intoxicating.

20140520_165525Entrance onto the “ranch”.

Meanwhile at the Cadillac Ranch…20140520_165534This art installation was commissioned by an oil heir and produced by the art group Ant Farm in the 1970’s. It has stood the test of time as people flock to see and unusual sculpture and write their own message or paint their colors on the many layers. When I was there most of the tourists were French and enjoyed getting their pictures taken with the oddity.20140520_170238My message. After this I head to my host’s home for some country music as his band rehearses in the living room before a supper of grass grown local beef and spaghetti.Cal Worthington has some Caddies It really is quite beautiful to behold and sparks some interesting conversations.

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The Southwest and Traveling Companions

July 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm (Freedom, Letting go, Life skills or hacks, Relationships, Travel) (, , , , , , )

As the time to head out on my epic journey through mountains and deserts looms I am still scrambling to complete my Couchsurfing stays. I had a last minute reschedule in Albuquerque and Lexington so I am flexible in the fact that I may be visiting a La Quinta Inn at some point or other.

I get a notice with an invite to stay in Albuquerque and breathe a sigh of relief. Early next morning I meet my rideshare companion at the Chevron station in my neighborhood for the trip to Phoenix. I offered a ride to Phoenix since I knew exactly when I was leaving and the whole car is going so at least I can assuage my fossil fuel guilt by bringing someone along. He is a nice young man who was visiting family here due to a death and needed a ride back to a Phoenix ‘burb nearby my cousin.

20140518_125758 I drop him at his home and head over to my cousin’s for some lunch before he heads off to work.

20140518_121133This is his glorious keychain collection…well a part of it anyhow.  Next morning after a lovely visit with more cousins I head of to Albuquerque and man is it warming up! I head over to another Couchsurfer’s house to pick him up for a rideshare to Albuquerque to pick up a car. He had offered me a place to stay and we even met for coffee the day before but I was staying at my cousin’s. He mentioned going to Albuqueque sharing a ride with a 90 year old man the next day so I offered to give him a lift. Sharing took a six hour drive and made it feel like three! We shared snacks and funny stories and I promised to visit on my return route. Again, half my gas paid and a delightful companion.

20140519_132636Welcome to New Mexico!

Next episode I start driving alone on to Texas the lone star state.

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Couchsurfing, the New American Dream

July 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm (Freedom, Letting go, Life skills or hacks, Relationships, Travel) (, , , )

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When I was in the planning stages of my trip east to check on the vacant (not) lot I was faced with many decisions. Do I fly and rent a car? Do I get an extended stay hotel? Do I get in my neighbor’s hot tub time machine and never bid on the property. Scratch the flying…about the hot tub? No no that’s ridiculous no one uses a hot tub in summer!

I run the numbers and decide that I would rather drive and enjoy all the hours with myself on the open highways and byways of America aka ‘Murika. Land of my people. Now hotels and motels are pricey and we’ve all had the Facebook friend post Oprah’s warnings on bed bugs and worse at even the finest establishment. This leaves one obvious option…couchsurfing.

I have been a member since 2008 and only started hosting mid 2013 and I loved the interesting people it brought right into our sitting room. I have never actually couchsurfed up to this time.

I start planning my trip and itinerary based on miles per day. I want to get across within a week but not become big rig wrangler. Capiche? So I decide 5 to 6 hours a day of driving is the range I’m looking at and choose cities I want to visit.

First stop out of California. Phoenix. I glom onto my thoughtful, fun, generous, and did I mention fun cousin Doug. Hey Doug I’m coming your way for the first night! He quickly reminds me the epic saga of Trail of Two Brothers is about to commence in Cleveland so I have only a very small window of days. Okay okay I can do this I tell myself. This is the same self who told me to buy the vacant lot.

On the Couchsurfing.org website I begin to plot out my trip by searching for hosts with an available couch, have high response rates, positive ratings and sound like my definition of cool people I’d want to hang with before retiring after my long day. I’m also hoping they have hot water for showers! Great profiles and interesting people on here I think as I scroll through the myriad choices in big cities,  and much smaller group of hosts to choose from in places like Albuquerque and Lexington. I begin by writing why I will be in that town and then another essay on why I want to stay with a particular host. I send off several for each town with a flexible date range. and wait for the responses to come in…

Next up… (cue music here) Heading out on the open road.

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My Mythic Journey

June 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm (Eating Nature, Freedom, Letting go, Relationships, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , )

What began as an attempt to find a future from my past, became a lesson in moving forward, literally.

1617144_543405139099630_39619861_o During the past few years I have cared for my elderly parents in our family home. A fulfilling time and one which often left me too exhausted to think of what I should be doing to keep my creativity unfolding.

Soooo here I was trolling the internet and auction websites when I spotted a vacant lot in the town next to where my favorite former boyfriend lives. My thought was, hey maybe I could plant a native apple orchard and set it up low maintenance and let a local permaculture group or food bank tend it and keep the produce. *Let me interject here it is clear across these here United States from where I live and my pony lives. So with a giggle the universe grants my ridiculous wish and I find myself the owner of a very cheap lot in a suburb of Pittsburgh. Brilliance or lunacy? We shall see.

Over the next months my folks are aging faster and the complications of life which come along with this keep me from thinking about the lot. The tax bill comes and frankly it is a bit high for I assume is a vacant lot in a rust belt town. I pay it and again forget about the property. Over the winter I convince two friends to drive down from Pittsburgh to check on said property and take some photos. Here is what they sent.

1618499_10152235863228081_73801170_nNOT pretty and clearly NOT VACANT!  Oh my said I! What have I gotten myself into?  So now I realize this idea falls under the heading of lunacy. I begin to think I need to go and settle this matter and make a decision about the future of this “investment”.

Meanwhile my folks are reaching the end of their lives and I put this on the back burner. Over seven weeks in the Spring I lose them both. After the memorials are over I realize I need a vacation to clear my head and I need to go handle the vacant lot (NOT) situation.

Obvious solution…roadtrip! I could easily have a booked a cheap ticket on SouthWest airlines and squeezed my horse riding booty self into a toddler sized seat in a flying tin can for a few hours with affable flight attendants bearing cookies and cocktails after a solid groping by the TSA’s finest, or…I could drive my trusty nine year old Acura RSX Type S car across this beautiful country, visit places, folks and meet new friends. I chose to take the longer route. Was it cheaper?…not by a long shot. Was it a fulfilling adventure I will cherish forever? Yes.

Sometimes life takes us down roads we can’t understand until we have driven over them. What I got in the long run from a late night auction mistake moved me forward and left the past on the road behind me.

Next episode…planning the trip and why I chose to use Couchsurfer.org as my hotel accommodations.

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Following Your Dream Without All the Baggage

April 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm (Art, Excellence in Business, Freedom, Local Made, organized simplicity, Relationships, Style, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A few years back when my then husband and I were doing trunk shows as vendors with Nordstrom we developed a philosophy of never checking our baggage. We needed to carry on the jewelry for obvious security reasons and being parents we never had an extra minute to spare in our 48 hour sales weekends. We would fly out of San Diego first flight on Friday, race to the rent a car location at our destination and find our way to the Nordstrom store in time to be set up and ready to sell when the doors opened. In this we were successful.

I had parents who, although somewhat supportive made it clear they did not want to be burdened with picking up our children and minding them while we were as they put it “gallivanting off somewhere”. My dad would drop us at the airport every other weekend and say “okay have fun on your vacation”. He was not being funny, I think he honestly thought we were flying out for fun and frolic.  Airport, rent-a-car, store, quick meal, hotel rinse and repeat then fly home. Not a whole lot of sightseeing going on unless you count how many rent-a-car kiosks or Nordstrom lunch rooms I have toured.

I had a leopard print chiffon over cotton sheath dress (remember the Debra McGuire style of the mid ninties)and heels (with a back up pair of Dr. Scholl’s sandals) and grey Anne Klein suit with golden blouse that were my uniform to show off my delicious jewels and maintain some sense of conservative decorum. One outfit on, one in the bag and my business partner cum husband just changed his skivvies, tie  and dress shirt. This time saving and aggravation saving philosophy saved us numerous hours and headaches. Many of our colleagues would travel as if they were heading to Europe for the season with steamer trunk size bags containing who knew what! I remember one occasion when one woman’s suitcase went to Chicago when we all went to Salt Lake City. She had nothing to change into and worse nothing to sell except her matrix, store owned merchandise. We cringed for her as she stood over her case of treasures pulling back stock to display up top and trying not to look like she came unprepared. She spent a small fortune on a new outfit to wear day two.

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Fast forward a few years and I had fired my partner (as sales rep and husband) and was preparing to leave for six months at a French business school. I brought my eighteen year old son along for the first couple of weeks for a vacation. He had a large backpack. I had a carry on bag and a backpack which contained my laptop, my zillion files and documents for the French government and my university. The carry on had all my clothes and shoes. I did not need to bring a lot since I was going to be in France the couture capital of the world (je suis desole NY c’est vraiment.)  I ended up shipping clothes home to avoid being a pack mule on my return that summer. Those early lessons in traveling light have always served me well.

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How does all this have anything to do with following your dream your ask? All of life is a journey…yes I know you know that…so with that in mind we need to carry on only…it just simplifies things allowing us to receive all the good things we deserve in life without being weighed down by the safe and known.

Happy travels.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Hera Hub Writer’s Lounge

April 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm (Art, organized simplicity, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last Monday due to the three ring circus which is my life I was not able to attend the Writer’s Lounge where I am able to carve out time to write blogs, rants, emails etc. The Lounge is hosted by professional writers many of whom specialize in web content, ghost writing and even technical writers. The offer their wisdom and perspective on an as needed basis.  So the funny thing was I got waylayed…

So because I was not able to clone myself and attend I missed out writing a blog and attending to several other writing needs which I have come to handle each Monday. It wasn’t until I missed it I realized how valuable this time has become for me.

I have been working on doing short videos for practice and I would gladly share one of my more ridiculous moments were it not for the fact I am still on a free WordPress account. That will change very shortly. Munchie the Olde English Bulldogge can hardly wait to stream to you!

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Which brings me to my next topic which is Videomasters another group I belong to which is full of anyone but a master videographer! We all share a desire to become more proficient at video blogs, interviews, You Tube posts etc. We have a private Facebook page and the requirements for membership include posting weekly in video. I can truly say I am getting reasonably good at off the cuff interviews and talks but scripted videos are not for me. I come across too staged and that lacks authenticity and the energy of a certain spontaneity for which I am known. I was thinking on my feet before I could walk!

5135001-R1-020-8AI am as likely to write my post from the road delivering leather and pearl bracelets as I am from my studio. This is the central California Coast and home of a surf shop where I retail my seaglass and pearl on leather designs. I know I can blog and take photos anywhere and as I am a huge fan of street style fashion I will be adding videos as an adjunct to my observations.

Avez vous un bon jour mes amies!

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L’Histoire de Ma Vie

February 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm (Freedom, Letting go, LoVe, Relationships, Travel, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

…or at least a very small piece of my story. Image

Once upon a time a divorcee went to University to get a degree as her children were grown (or nearly) and she decided one day that a study abroad was in order…not just any study abroad but one which involved living in a forest in the Calanques outside Marseille France.

ImageYes this is where I lived and is about a 30 minute walk from my dorm room. I did not have a car or bike and used only public transport, trains and my feet.

I think French towns and countrysides are best explored this way, but then I am probably prejudiced in this matter. I remember whining my way across twelve miles of Paris to the Louvre with a boyfriend who was hell bent on my enjoyment and exploration of Paris whether or not I was compliant. I had a map and was looking for the direct route from Morrison’s grave and he was was looking into 300 year old artist’s shop windows enjoying the journey. I obsessed on what I knew would be a heinous crowd on a beautiful Spring Saturday at the museum thus removing myself from the fact I was in the most romantic city in the world with my favorite man ever…FAIL on my part. 32wnBnyiJ7E3kTbPd-fexqU4XUS3KKjL0060

I found a patisserie with pecan tarts and grabbed (I believe it is my solemn duty to sample all things thus for all the world) one stuffing it into my bag for later.

We eventually made our way to what looked like the Tokyo railway and got in line. We squeezed down the escalator and decided to grab lunch. We were so enamored of all the choices and hungry after the French Foreign Legion training he had put me through we spent a small fortune on our feast. It was all pretty delicious and nice to sit and stop and enjoy. So I forgive him for tossing my map in the trash as I forgive myself for being so attached to it instead of just living in the moment knowing we would always find our way if we trusted and kept moving forward. C’est la Vie

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Dreaming with a Broken Heart

December 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm (Art, Letting go, LoVe, Relationships, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This song was written for me…I personally know what it is like to dream with a broken heart. John says the hardest part is giving up…I never have… I should probably back up a little.

I had the opportunity to meet the love of my life after my divorce from a marriage of 26 years beginning at age 17. I had only been divorced for a year when I met someone who changed everything. I had never known the type of generosity and love he provided me freely. When we met it was like two cross town buses at rush hour crashing into each other! no one saw it coming least of all he or I.

The events leading to why I was where I was that evening is a story best saved for another time…as it is a story all its own.

This story is about realizing after a long time that what we had was so beyond anything I could have imagined and I cannot imagine ever feeling that way about another man. I’m not saying it is impossible but highly unlikely in our fast paced linear thinking culture. An artist like myself he “got me” and in an unexpected turn I “got him” too. As unlikely a pairing as you could imagine it really worked. he taught me to be a better water colorist and he taught me how to draw human figures, a weak spot for me for many years. He made it seem so simple. he had a gift for understanding exactly how and what I needed to learn. For a year it worked until I left the country for 6 months for a business school in the south of France. As Usher sang “You Got it Bad” and I did.

He had told me his dream was to study painting in Holland or Belgium and was interested in an art school in Florence. So we decided he should come visit for a couple of weeks in the spring while I was at school and we could go to Amsterdam and visit the ancient art supply stores and museums. We had a shared love of Van Gogh. His employment situation changed so he was free to come visit…and he did. He ended up staying two months…two glorious, frustrating, awe filled, maddening, amazing WTF months. I fell much deeper in love with him during those days and weeks in France. Not without challenges in our relationship, but I developed a deeper understanding of his complexity as a person, a man and an artist.

He took our Eurail pass to discover the Angel Academy in Florence while I was in mid-terms back in Marseille. He loved it and wanted to enroll as soon as $$$ would allow.

He had ask me to marry him on more than one occasion back in California, but I was still damaged from the last years of my previous marriage and divorce. I could never conceive of  marrying again…not even someone as perfect for me and me for him. It was my Achilles heel. I was insensitive to him in my need to protect myself and I will always regret that.

The last time I saw him we were saying goodbye at the train station in Marseille as he was headed to the airport and home. He moved to another state to be with family and then another state. I returned home to California in June to family issues which required my immediate attention. I was not very good at communicating with him and being supportive while he was transitioning to life away where he needed to be for the time being. he cut all ties with me.

So even though it has been five years and four other relationships in between no one has captured my heart, mind and spirit like he did.Two of them also included proposals, but I could not even conceive of marrying anyone else if I ever would.

So now you know why I dream with a broken heart.

 

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Fuzzygram App on my Crapberry phone.

November 16, 2012 at 8:39 pm (Art, Letting go, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Yeah that’s right the lastest and greatest app for photos is Fuzzygram and it comes free with every CrapBerry phone sold…er em… Blackberry.

I give as examples

C'est moi

Example of the picture quality of the CrapBerry phone in Fuzzygram app

Fuzzygram

I took both of these photos using the new “Fuzzygram” app from CrapBerry er Blackberry. This app is installed as …well your only photo option. Are you always impressed with the quality of photos your ICult phone owning friends have? Well no worries here…you’ll get none of that pesky crisp quality they get when snapping off the cuff moments in there totally I-awesome lives. In fact with the Fuzzygram app your middle age friends will be amazed at the cheesecloth lens like obscuring of wrinkles, lines, features and more!  The one photo is the garden behind the Whaley house in Old Town. I’m sitting under the hanging staging area back when San Diego was a young and soon to be metropolis.

The other Fuzzygram is me inside my friend’s pool house studio. I was overseeing it’s minor remodel and wanted to show him I was hard at work…as if. Again you will notice that I belay my years in terms of soft edges and fuzzy complexion.  So maybe for portraits minus any recognition detail will make us all look good this winter in photos with loved ones and Facebook profiles.

I’d stay and chat some more but my green tea is nearly gone and it is time to get to the dock to get out sailing on this beautiful day.

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