Contemplation

blue lights hang in this space I call mine.

I have traversed the day foot following foot building nkt my home now, but my life. The path has bent and woven through rough terrain and smooth

and now I am back to the still pond looking at aged reflections of those I used to know some

I do not recognize. I wonder how wide swaths of my life were so easily forgotten but they say your brain can only hold so much and

files what you dont need away.

I feel as if I need all of it all of those memories that grew into me today

but of course they are so much chaff now more days behind than ahead and I can only move onwards into a construct as I go future.

I keep my love near me in white feathers pennies and dimes in odd places at odd times

I need no other.

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The bench is framed and done!!!

Ive been showing you for weeks the bench on the end and today I got the tools I needed and the wood screws to do it up right–the top photo is what it looks like finished and the bottom are the original cushions before I covered them. The cushions pull out into a full size bed.

Happy Labor Day weekend from America!

Im so happy! I did this myself!!

Big storm, sturdy camper

One of the facts of life living next to any huge body of water is that you’re going to have squalls, thunderstorms, downpours, and monsoons. Big winds certainly. Maybe not monsoons but it seems like it when the flood warnings come and the water rises in the riverbeds. I had shared previously that I have a leaky window on one end of the camper. So I went to my storage and got an old tarp and some bungee cords, and because it was going to rain two days ago, I rigged up the tarp on the leaky end and secured it with the brightly colored rainbow bungee cords. A big Band Aid in other words. It rained gently two days ago, no water leaked outside so I was satisfied. That was when Mother Nature shook her head and said

“Hold my beer.”

Last night the warnings started. Torrential rain. Hail. They said 70 mph winds were coming. Then an hour later they ramped it up to 90 mph winds. Heck. NOAA said they couldn’t rule out tornados. We don’t get tornadoes up here because the lake provides a shield. So that’s when I got nervous. I checked the tarp. I had visions of the 70 to 90 mph wind picking up my camper and slinging me to South Dakota. Or Oz. (See image for what I visualized. In color). Image credit

Shaking all such nonsense out of my head I added two more bungee cords to secure the tarp to the camper. Once the tarp was secure, the wind had picked up and the heat lightning was increasing and it was getting on towards evening and black clouds were rolling in deepening the effect of ominous darkness. It was silent too. No evening birds. I felt as early humans must have felt in a time of no TV or radio and no weather forecasting, when they felt intuitively they should seek shelter and soon. I felt an urgency to getting inside but I love watching a storm come in. I was amazed how fast the clouds were moving.

I got inside. I got out the emergency candles just in case the electric went out.

Right then, the wind smacked into the camper and the camper shook with the force of it. Big drops of rain hit the aluminum roof like thunder and it deluged! All I could do was lie on the bed and watch out the side window. I saw some awesome lightning strikes. Thankfully the dire warnings didn’t come to pass. No 90 mph winds. Maybe 40. No hail. No tornadoes.

The electric stayed on and the camper was sturdy.

Today, I stapled up the ceiling where it was bowing at the seam, and finished framing the bed on the end. The project I’ve been talking about for weeks. I finally got a drill and a big staple gun, just enough tools and just enough knowledge to be dangerous. I kept thinking about Theodore Roethke’s poem The Storm …and here it is for you. Nature is bigger than us and awesome in its power but somehow we are sturdy enough and adaptive enough to continue on. I hope the awe and respect for nature’s power never leaves us.

The Storm

Theodore Roethke, 1908 – 1963

1

Against the stone breakwater,

Only an ominous lapping,

While the wind whines overhead,

Coming down from the mountain,

Whistling between the arbors, the winding terraces;

A thin whine of wires, a rattling and flapping of leaves,

And the small street-lamp swinging and slamming against

the lamp pole.

Where have the people gone?

There is one light on the mountain.

2

Along the sea-wall, a steady sloshing of the swell,

The waves not yet high, but even,

Coming closer and closer upon each other;

A fine fume of rain driving in from the sea,

Riddling the sand, like a wide spray of buckshot,

The wind from the sea and the wind from the mountain contending,

Flicking the foam from the whitecaps straight upward into the darkness.

A time to go home!—

And a child’s dirty shift billows upward out of an alley,

A cat runs from the wind as we do,

Between the whitening trees, up Santa Lucia,

Where the heavy door unlocks,

And our breath comes more easy,—

Then a crack of thunder, and the black rain runs over us, over

The flat-roofed houses, coming down in gusts, beating

The walls, the slatted windows, driving

The last watcher indoors, moving the cardplayers closer

To their cards, their anisette.

3

We creep to our bed, and its straw mattress.

We wait; we listen.

The storm lulls off, then redoubles,

Bending the trees half-way down to the ground,

Shaking loose the last wizened oranges in the orchard,

Flattening the limber carnations.

A spider eases himself down from a swaying light-bulb,

Running over the coverlet, down under the iron bedstead.

The bulb goes on and off, weakly.

Water roars into the cistern.

We lie closer on the gritty pillow,

Breathing heavily, hoping—

For the great last leap of the wave over the breakwater,

The flat boom on the beach of the towering sea-swell,

The sudden shudder as the jutting sea-cliff collapses,

And the hurricane drives the dead straw into the living pine-tree.

Lola, a hot day up north, the lighthouse clock, and the contact paper that saved my world

I had a day off. I tried not to look at the bench bed that needs fixing. Instead I took a deep breath and went outside. I went out to a place with Wi-Fi and I did some of my contracted writing that I do for a blog a friend of mine has for his business. Four hours later, work completed, I went to my storage and put some items up for sale. When I was finished with that, I got some corn starch so I could thicken the chicken chili I had thrown together in the Crock Pot the night before. I got some contact paper for a dollar at the dollar store because the wall behind the stove in my tiny camper was old paneling and it had little screw holes in it and I didn’t feel like tearing it out from behind the hood and having to buy a whole new piece of paneling. I don’t have a lot of money. Getting back on my feet and all.

I then vacuumed out Lola. I named the camper Lola. Lola needs love. Not huge amounts. Just little loves as we all do. She was all clean and spic and span when I got done vacuuming and wiping down the cupboards. She seemed like she felt better. So did I. I had felt cluttered and flustered about that bench framing project and about not getting the big stuff accomplished like the skirting.

I was still looking at that big construction project in the corner and worried that I wasn’t getting anything done. As I’m cleaning.

Here’s the chicken chili.

So my mind was taken up by that bench bed I needed to frame most of the day. I went and got another curtain for the window that didn’t have a curtain.

I put the contact paper up on that plain white paneling behind the stove. Bought a battery for my lighthouse clock. Its Lake Superior. Lighthouses are a thing here. I love them. I drove to the cemetery to visit someone I love and cleaned off his headstone.

This is the after shot of the wall behind the stove after I put the contact paper up. Plain white wall before.

Then I realized how wrapped up I’d been on the big project I hadn’t noticed what a big difference the little things I’d done all day made. I got a lot done. I got work done. I got work done on my home….a few improvements that to me made a big difference. What do you think of what I’ve done?

The camper smelled good from my chicken chili bubbling in the pot. My floor was clean. My clock was ticking away in a homey fashion. My curtains made the place look more like the gypsy caravan I was going for, and I felt good being in my Lola camper. I felt at home. Home.

Soffits and channels and skirting, oh my!

Women of the world, you must look upon home repair and building as an adventure in which you enter a world smelling of particle board, freshly cut lumber, adhesives and all the screws you could ever imagine! (You’re making that dirty. I see the look on your face). I must make skirting my camper first priority. This is what it will look like (except much smaller since I have a tiny camper and not a full size mobile home :

I have to skirt before I improve the inside as the skirting is necessary before winter. One project at a time.

So after turning over the possibilities (treated plywood with foam insulation or treated chipboard with foam insulation?) for skirting for my little camper which I am required by the mobile home park to skirt for the winter, (it’s really best for me as it will keep the camper warmer by blocking cold air from blowing underneath and coming up into the floor)—I went to Menards on a mission to find someone who could be my Virgil on the journey to Paradise (a ha! You thought I’d say hell! No! Building should be fun! You should feel empowered and accomplished while you’re doing your home jobs!)

So I found a pleasant young man who calculated what I’d need. I have a 7 x 14′ camper. Here’s what he came up with:

Now, to be fair, I hadn’t even thought of vinyl skirting. I thought I’d use treated plywood (so it doesn’t rot in winter snows and thaws), but it turns out plywood was ten dollars more! Vinyl is easy to instal. You have your top rail which you can use locking screws to attach to the camper, which the skirt slides into which for me needs to be 3′ from ground to place on camper where I’ll attach it) . I only need 2′ 5″ to 3′ of skirt to cover the space from the ground to a foot up the wall of the camper. I need 13’5″ long of skirt for each side 2′ 5″ to 3′ foot high-and 7′ long for the ends. The bottom channel is for the bottom of the skirt to slide into so it sits on the ground evenly.

Now I can glue foam insulation to the back of the skirt to reinforce it which I will probably do. Here that is: (inch and three quarter thick)…

All I have to do is glue the skirt onto the foam board and cut the foam to an inch below where I’ll slide it into the channel after I cut it the three foot width I want–I was thinking originally of doing a width of two and a half feet of skirt but three feet sounds like a good number.

How much will it cost for the supplies that I need for my skirt?

Probably 175.00 with tax. I’m saving about 350.00 a month in rent and utilities remember, so even after deducting the skirt materials which I only have to buy and install once, I will come out ahead.

I can’t wait to get my first electric bill to see how much I’m saving living in my camper. I switch off the breaker when I go to work during the day. No sense having the electric on while I’m not there. So far I have used a small amount of kilowatt hours but since I’ve never lived in a camper before, I really don’t know how much it costs to plug one in. I will share the bill with you when I get it!

Dottie, the tattooed lady who has a saw, has offered to help me skirt my camper so I will not be a woman alone in doing this project! I will have a woman teaching me, which is even better!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions no matter how stupid you think they are, when you are learning to put in insulation or skirting or framing up a bed or whatever you want to repair. Guys are awfully glad to give you different ways of fixing things and there are a lot of women who know how to do these things too. As a teacher, I’m here to tell you the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. Don’t be afraid of looking inept. If you don’t ask for help you don’t learn!

I learned to use a caulking gun tonight too. I was posing like Charlie’s Angels with it

and the teenaged girl helping me load the tube of Liquid Nails was laughing so hard she couldn’t hardly stand.

I won’t get the Liquid Nails or the caulking gun till later because that’s for the inside.

Skirting first. Skirts are fun!! See?

Thoughts from the Red Mug coffee shop

As I sit here in the Red Mug Coffee shop having a latte with an extra shot I am going through jitters over what I have planned for today. I am tearing out the walls of my camper and throwing out the old rotten insulation and putting in new foam insulation so I don’t freeze to death this winter. Because the old insulation got wet due to a tree falling on the camper before I got it, there is mold inside the camper so I have been Lysoling the bare walls as I strip the old stuff out. The Lysol works by the way. Spray and wait then wipe down. Repeat till all the mold is gone. Make sure your windows are open so it can air out well.

Why have I got the jitters? I am still nervous that I can’t fix things myself. I am faced with the fact that women are not encouraged to fix things, that construction and remodeling and fixing are a man’s realm so it’s almost like we learn helplessness unless we have forward thinking fathers who teach us to fix stuff. As I said before, my dad was not forward thinking so I am virginal in this realm. If I die this winter it will be by my own ineptitude. I have sought advice over and over as to how to correctly install foam insulation and paneling and now all that remains is to actually do the thing.

In America women are told they can do anything but they are also restrained by lesser pay and opportunity as if to be reminded who is really in charge. A recent Pew Research study found that women in majority male workplaces report higher rates of gender discrimination.

This sense of “needing a man” for certain things is pervasive in a way to me that I did not realize about myself. I did not know how much I accepted or subscribed to the notions that there is “women’s work” and there is “men’s work,” and you don’t cross the lines unless you want to be perceived as unmarriageable. I grew up a Generation Xer and was taught girls should be quiet and agreeable and talk about his interests and wait to be asked to dance and wait for his phone call and basically be all about him. Thank God the world is evolving and relationships are coming to be seen as a shared responsibility with roles not so sharply defined. I can be feminine and fix things. I can be a voluptuous woman and sweat like a man.

This was a surprising thing to discover about myself, how conservative I’d held male and female roles even though I consider myself to be a progressive person. There is no black and white. Plenty of women do men’s work well. Just look at World War II.

These women are my inspiration as I begin the process of stripping the old and useless and rotten out of my camper and in the process strip the same old and useless ideas whose time has expired out of me. These points which I talked about in the previous entry are continuing to be a springboard for me to grow and expand. My camper and I are getting better together.

The night before camper day!

Ok. I’m still living in my car. After the initial shame and guilt and shock of it which I went into here, I find that there is no shame in sleeping in my car any longer. It is not a marker of failure. It is simply a different kind of shelter. I don’t know how that mind shift happened but my perceptions are different. I am no longer focused inwardly or selfishly. I am focused outwardly.

I’m so excited. It’s the night before I get my tiny home. I have been planning for two weeks how I’d fix it up and make it mine, but today I felt quiet, and peaceful and I went to the beach on Wisconsin Point. I was alone out there. I love being alone out there. There are just the gulls, the wind blowing off of the lake, and the sound of the waves breaking on the sand. There are lake-smooth round rocks of every color, black, red, white quartz, (and Lake Superior agates if you are really lucky), black and red rocks, all tossed and rolled by the world’s largest rock tumbler, my wonderful lake. I saw a bald eagle fly overhead yesterday. I sit on a driftwood log and let the wind play through my long hair; the sound of the wind and the waves breaking on the beach, and all of the kinks in my nerves get smoothed out; the anxiety breaks up and disappears, and all becomes right in my world.

I speak to The One Who is Greater Than Me who is known by many names and many religions. Wakan Tanka or Tunkashila to the Lakota people who I spent six years with teaching in the public school on the rez. I speak to Spirit often. I feel that there is something larger than me. I cherish that.

What a circuitous route I have taken coming home. I travelled the world and many states, and went through so much growth and expansion spiritually and mentally. Home is meant to be a rest for me, but it seems Whoever is In Charge thinks that I need to keep growing, hence living in the car the last little while. Hence being pushed into a different lifestyle with the tiny camper–but now I wonder when it went from being pushed into the camper to becoming a conscious choice to live this way and not bow down to the rents and landlords and feel as so many do that they have no choice but to conform and pay up.

Not everyone can buy a camper. Here I got blessed. There are tons of used campers for sale for any price really because in this country, everyone camps and fishes. I got lucky with mine being so inexpensive. It was a Gift.

It took losing a lot to uncover the important things and the real friends who are few but true. We know life isn’t about “who dies with the most toys.” We yearn for more and we seek more –hence explorers and pastors abound. Some of us travel to find ourselves. Like that book “Wild” about the woman who up and hiked the Pacific Coast Trail to come back to who she was, the woman her mother thought she was. Or the Eat Pray Love lady.

My journey was outward and now it is inward. It is in contemplation of the lake and birds and wind, and the space between extravagance and poverty.

This is what I am thinking as I spend the last night in my car. Tomorrow will be the start of a different and simpler kind of life.

I have more to unload. I still need to lighten up. More on that later.

Good night dear readers. Have you felt the call to simplify or have you been unceremoniously pushed into the worst that could happen only to discover that maybe the worst thing is turning out to be the best?

woman whole

I do not know what I have reconciled except

a sense of myself which separated from me long ago has come to me lost

in thick northern pines and birches

where we lodged those memories

drowned in wild waves and winds smashing beaches, cliffs and breakwalls.

Lostandfound now are that night I lay on the beach at the Point where the Northern Lights danced in colored shimmers weaving and undulating purples, yellows, pinks and greens across the ink black sky

The wind whispers that I have become one with who I was where I was when fear and rage and pain created who I was

turns out that the illusion was the monster who was really not one at all what is real is

Who I am

unapologetic

Unafraid

beautiful

wild woman walking on water weaving dreams stars trailing behind me

I wear rage and fear and overcoming stitched in my life-coat of many colors which I wear with defiance and pride and shyness

I dance while

the water sings

Roaring on the shore

Dear past me…

 I see you now.  You are young, and shy, and earnest, and you hide your shyness behind an outgoing personality that often comes across as brash and loud.   You are such an innocent.  You know well the power of people to hurt.  You’ve been watching people hurt each other at home most  of your life.    You’ve retreated to books and writing for safety, and you love school because you’re smart, and because there, you get positive affirmation for being who you are.

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I wish I could tell you all the amazing places you’re going to go, and the people around the world that you will meet.  I wish I could tell you that you travel because you love new places, yes, but also because you ran from love because it scared you, and you ran to get away from home.  You’re a runner.   When things get too hard in one place, you run to another.  You’ve started over more times than I can count, but the trick is, you can’t run away from yourself.   I wish I could tell you to be yourself sooner and not try to be what everyone else wants you to be, especially men.    I wish I could tell you not all men are bad, there are good ones out there, but until you think better of yourself, you won’t meet those good ones and be ready for them.   You’ll meet men who are emotionally unavailable like your dad was, but you won’t figure this out for thirty years.  You will believe that the failure of your relationships is all your fault.  But one day, you will understand that while yes, it does take two, you’ve been picking what you’re used to.  You’ve chosen what you believe you deserve and what you believe about yourself–that you are unlovable, invisible, and unimportant.  Your dad did a number on you.

You will meet a man who will turn a light on in a dark room for you.   He will be the light that shines on a whole new world for you.   He will be interested in what you think and who you are, and will like you for yourself.  He will give you Blake, and Dylan, and  Billie Holiday and Nanci Griffith, and you and he will spend hours talking about all the places he’s gone in the world and listening to this, and to all he knows of literature and poetry and culture will light a fire in your heart to see the places he speaks of, and  know more of the world he does, because you’d like to be able to keep up with him in conversation.  He will call you his girl with the gypsy feet.   He will be  the most confusing, wonderful , tenderhearted man you have ever known, and he will break your heart, not because he was callous, or heartless, or mean, but because he was good, and kind, and he taught you how a real man acts towards a smart woman he considers his equal. He will die, and you will want to, but you will live–first for him, then later, you will learn to live for yourself.

You will be broke most of your life.  You will  go to Ireland and write in your journal in Bewley’s Cafe. You will visit Shetland Islands and sit on the docks and write by the sea, with the sharp smell of fish, and the briny smell of sea water, next to battered old fishing boats that have stories of their own.   You will go to Belfast and look at the murals and wonder why people can’t get along. You will wonder why people can’t get along all of your life.   You will go to Russia, and see the Hermitage and the Bolshoi Ballet, and Moscow and ride a train across Russia with cockroaches for bedmates and cheap Georgian champagne while  listening to the life story of one of the coach matrons who tells you how her parents were collective farmers and she grew up wanting to go to college and become a teacher, but instead, works on the trains.  You will visit Moscow University. You will meet many Russian people who are emotional and passionate and good, and kind, and beaten down. You will wonder again, as this is the end of the Cold War, if Russia can learn to be a democracy.  You will find out they have trouble holding on to freedom.

You will become discouraged at the selfish, self centered nature of people.  Of the rich people who work the system to get what they want, while depriving others of what they need.  Greedy pepole who believe freedom is only for them while taking others’ freedoms away.  People who believe that violence is the only answer and power is everything.

But there will be moments, when the world reveals itself to be a miraculous, beautiful place. When you see deer.  When you see random acts of kindness by strangers.  When you see selflessness. When you see a tiny flower growing out of concrete, or see a sunset on a prairie in Nebraska, or the  Northern Lights in northern Minnesota. At those moments, you will believe in God.

Keep going, be strong, and have faith.  It gets better, girlie.   You will be much more yourself, more self-confident and you will know what you want when you are almost fifty, but….better late than never.   Your whole life will be a sacred pilgrimage to your sense of spirituality, God, and yourself. You get to help people, and love, and be loved.

You get to go home again, and be happy in the end.

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Diaries

I never think I am authentic when I write here although I probably am. I read the blogs of others and it seems others have more profound or more interesting things to say or impart and here I am…being who I am. I am not altogether certain who I am completely but perhaps that is true for everyone. I dream dreams of how life could be or should be and in my dreams there is beauty and visions of what life would be like if I took different paths or dared to do what I dream of doing. I have been so far in my imagination and not nearly far enough in reality. Perhaps reality is my dreams and this three dimensional existence a pale representation of reality.

What I dream of doing is making a living writing, so here I am, plying my skill, grateful for those who read. I am a woman who has travelled far geographically, spiritually and maturity-wise yet my growth is never finished. It is enough to embrace that knowledge and not become too full of oneself. I do not know as much as I think I do. I have quieted down and learned to listen more and talk less.

I have loved deeply and now I mend. I return at last from the long going out.

I feel as Bilbo Baggins did after returning home from his long journey where he had many adventures and sadnesses and joys and found everything forever changed, but yet the same. It was he who had changed of course, as have I. Another journey will begin at home with the life I lead there. I find comfort in not straying too far from home this time. I hope to find a love to call my own.

It is time to be still and to be seen. One is invisible if one is always in perpetual motion. I want to be caught. I want to make a home. In one place. With one person. I have waited 30 years. I am ready. It is time.