Sunday, September 13, 2009

Eyes that view Vardo For Two

When we began building the wheelie home called Vardo For Two a.k.a. Kolea Nani we had come to the end of our collective rope. Pete and I have learned the wide range of options or lack of options that come from living with multiple sensitivities to chemicals, fragrances and toxic attitude. All the seriousness of fleeing one more toxic pesticide and herbicide poisoning took us to the road, living in the Scout Subaru and camping in driveways, front lawns and beach parking lots. Living sick and tired from the Subaru we learned a lot about where and how the community of mortals without walled domicile (houses) are treated and viewed: it is not a kind world when you live without domicile or espouse having "sensitivities" to the smell of new clothes, new buildings, paint, roofing material, 'BOUNCE' and the family of fragrances...

So, the journey of living from the streets led us off our beloved Hawaii island home. We miss the everything about that place, yet we know the reality of chemical use and the goofy (not funny ha,ha, sort) choices that keep making that Island Nation a place we cannot be.

We found a place to build a dream, we called that place The Kitchenette and if you haven't been here long, you might like going to the 2008 archives to read the life from that small space. We built a dream called VardoForTwo and took everything we had learned about researching and testing safe-for-us materials and methods to built a single room mobile bedroom that would require attachment to electricity. A solar operational life would have been great ... and yet, at this time, we will need to remain hooked to the grid. It took us from July 08 to March 09 build a useable home.

Since then, we have been living with our friends S & M on their land near the Olympic Mountains in Washington state. Their walled domicile and their willing hearts have been our co-housing first step dream. We admitted we were powerless to do this life alone, we turned the solution over to Ke Akua ... and these friends have welcomed our morphing and difficult to understand livestyle.

Life on the Ledge in the Woods is an evolving proposition. The space we perch upon would fit in a double car garage in most suburban American plots of real estate. Our set-up and live facilities are simple and depend upon the grace of Nature and her outdoor whirl and to some who watch, the choices we make bring harsh criticism and phrases like "trailer trash." I have taken time to digest the comments that I read on The Tiny House Blog relating to our VardoForTwo lifestyle. I was defensive, hurt, angry and needed time to get this article to speak a truth that sounds like me. Pete's out doing some of his Pete things, so I write for me, and hope it speaks for him.

The link to that article written without our permission is on the blog, and includes comments we have never seen or read here on VFT. I hesitated linking our finished home VardoForTwo on the Tiny House Blog because I knew the tiny house movement is a version of a mobile life for people who live with MCS or EI. What fuels the tiny house movement may or may not be a subset to what fuels life for 'Canaries' with environmental illness. Clearly though, the reasons and the daily reality of a Canary in a Tiny Home are multiply complex and like living on the streets ... the judgements are harsh and insensitive ... because, to be honest you can't know until you have been there.

Our decision to build the VardoForTwo as a bedroom wired only for electrical heat and an air filter to keep the air freed from toxics and toxins means we depend on the 'mother ship' and a walled domicle to live in tandem. Our outside shelter is neither "Appalachia of the '30's" if that was meant to be a put-down, nor trashy. We live gently on the Ledge and make music with the critters, and trees for entertainment.

I hope our readers will go over to the Tiny House Blog and read that article and the comments. That article drew views of the VardoForTwo that we needed (i guess) to be conscious of. It reflects opinions. What it lacks is the perspective of those who live with the affects of a society that wants to look good at the cost of Earth's good. We're two old dears who are working at living with life as it has become. We don't have it all together ... we have it in small bits, and clean up as we go. We have a legacy to pass along and by the gods (who are always watching) we pray that this blog will serve as a great body of work.

Photo credit


Erik said...

I hadn't read that ... will check it out.

I'm sorry if you received hurtful comments there. said...

Hi Mokihana and Pete,
Try not to let those comments hurt you. They have no clue about our day-to-day reality; forgive them their ignorance. :-)

I just left this comment on the Tiny House blog in your defense:

It's clear that those who commented negatively about Mokihana's and Pete's lovely encampment have no clue about what it means to live with severe chemical sensitivities. One of the most critical needs we have is for outdoor space to "offgas" new items since we cannot breathe/think/function with most items indoors, and certainly in not a small space like a Vardo. It's just a harsh reality of our illness. We all would love the luxury of having aesthetic concerns but those went out the window along with hair dye, makeup, fashionable clothing, and new paint jobs. We just can't live with it anymore, plain and simple.

I can't speak for Mokihana and Pete, but I imagine that day to day they are concerned with issues of survival over issues of visual coherence. From their blog I can see they have been dealing with pesticide sprayings and finding a space to live for winter. Until you've walked a mile in their shoes, please cut them some slack. They are a subset of the Tiny House movement, one that adopted the lifestyle out of crude need; not to make a statement or to reduce their footprint (although I'm sure that is an appreciated benefit for them). Until you've become an environmental refugee and have to live with the daily symptoms that make just getting through the day a challenge, please don't point fingers and accuse them of giving the Tiny House movement a bad name.

They are doing their best. To the chemically sensitive community, they are a complete inspiration, to have accomplished what they have and to be living together in such a small space. It is so difficult to do that with this illness. And they are new at this; with time and more stability I'm sure they will grow their encampment into a beautiful community (in all the ways that count!) that will be a great example for others.

xx Julie and

Erik said...

Julie -- that was great, thank you for sharing.

Mokihana and Pete said...

Erik ... thanks for the support. Coming from you who has a multiple nature of silly and serious, this means a lot. The Tiny House Blog read will open your eyes to things that add to the ones you got in the "medical" chapter of your MCS life. Like the Canary Report slogan reads, "together we are stronger.'

Mokihana and Pete said...


Forgiving ignorance is a big one I've been challenged with for a long, long time.

It matters that those in the MCS Community be aware of the opinions about our housing and living experiences. Ignorance is only an reason until one knows differently.

It hurts because it's tough to keep battling entitlement and glib opinion.

Yes, we are so new at this economy of wee ... living small and chemically sensible. This blog, Planet Thrive, and the network of chemically injured bloggers who put their lives on record will make a difference. In time, that body of work will stand for something very big on this Planet, and the Universe will notice.

Thanks for your mana'o (feeling/expression). Mokihana

Erik said...

Anytime :)

I notice they haven't approved my comments yet. said...

Hi Erik! Long time no see. Hope you are well.

Mokihana, I usually don't say "forgive them their ignorance" but I felt in this case, these people were talking with no concept of your reality. Different than other people/blogs slamming us for who we are, calling us crazies, etc. They were not attacking MCS; they were making comments without awareness of the reality of MCS. For that, I can overlook their stupidity. Let's see their response, if they give one; this time ignorance cannot be an excuse, like you said. Ignorance is a reason until you know better....I just hope you won't let their comments seep into your heart, where they don't belong.

What you and Pete have done/are doing is pioneer work and of the most important kind. You are inspiring me and countless others, and letting us know that a better life, with more personal control, is possible, even with limited funds. Sending much love. xx Julie

Mokihana and Pete said...


"I just hope you won't let their comments seep into your heart, where they don't belong" ... posting this article and attracting the attention that your comment brings stirs the emotions that come. I don't know for sure, though suspect that pioneers spent many nights (like a night I spent last) crying through the reality.

I am encouraged to know our story inspires others, from that we can be fueled for another day. Seems dramatic ... whatever you call it, it tests us.

When I decided years ago not to teach from the classroom I never dreamed I had called up this assignment in the world classroom.

Thanks a million. Mokihana

Mokihana and Pete said...

Pete here, I see a close correlation between writing of some comments, blogs, books and such and the spraying of chemicals, residential and commercial. Some folks that write and spray do not give any consideration to the eventuality of DRIFT which I confuse with DAFT. Like. Ya! I got your DRIFT! The source is not conscience of the concept that such poison will spread with such abandonment that any form of excuses or apologies only adds another layer of confusion. The sprayer also receives the largest doze and continues to absorb the consequences forever. The volume of this action is DAFFY and I make an effort to avoid. Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Scorpio/Capricorn...I found you through the tiny house blog connect...When I read your blog I had a spiritual and personal connect that raised me from a struggle...I felt renewed by your words...I then left you comment to send grateful thanks...I too have invisible "disability"...not MCS...but sensitivities that keep me searching for a way to "opt out"...not drop out...your vardo story is an inspiration...I am sorry your sensitivities were intruded upon...we will recover...much love...Pisces/Capricorn

Mokihana and Pete said...

Welcome, Pisces/Capricorn,

Happy to learn you found us and the vardo story. It's not easy to do what we are trying, and it sounds as if you have your own path to walk. Speaking for myself, I don't know how it is I do it ... and know it's messy often.

Thanks for the comments and if you did comment on the Tiny House i'll check that out, too.


Mokihana and Pete said...

Erik! Did you leave a comment here that hasn't been published? Didn't see one that hasn't been moderated.

If so ... sorry. Try it again, please.


Rima said...

Hello Mokihana and Pete, I felt to comment here as I know how horrible it is when you read criticisms of what you are doing! Really, do not worry about it.. we often say to each other how it makes our hearts soar to see an "encampment" with all the goods and chattels that surround a wheeled house. We too are concerned about our visual impact in the land and tuck things away under the truck obsessively! But isn't there something lovely about evidence of folks living outside?
Beyond that, people should be less critical of others doing such creative things and let them get on with it.
Hugs to you both from us here in an approaching English autumn,
X Rima

Mokihana and Pete said...


Yours is the sort of supportive words and real living that fuels our journey. There IS something lovely about evidence that folks are LIVING with the outside. Yes. Thank you for your wheelie folk xx and don't you know that makes my old heart glad.

Aloha, Mokihana and Pete