The Pineapple Express continues to chug across the Pacific with its wet bounty. The rain drops onto the quonset and I have the kitchen to myself. JOTS is out doing kitty things and Pete and I have traded places between vardo and quonset. Outside I hear the birdsong of a Toehee hunting up breakfast.
Harvest is a long-term process. As this year draws to an end, and Christmas Eve dawns here in the forest I can see the lightening sky through the tall trees. It's like that with us this Christmas Eve we have many blessings to count.
Continuing where I left off yesterday there are 3 more things to recount and review from Julie Genser's interview.
7) openness to sharing resources
When we built VardoForTwo we did it knowing the tiny home was primarily a bedroom built to be a safe haven. We used all the resources we had at the time to build it stout, safe and road ready.
Home includes much more than a bedroom, but that was what we needed most. The leap of faith we took with creating VardoForTwo was to believe that we would find people, place and situation where we could share resources.
Stop 1-The Ledge
We arrived exhausted and fragile. Our old friends had also taken a leap of faith giving us the spot on their land to land. We found comfort in that act, made the ledge which had been till then a kind of salvage heap with a grand view of a fresh-water pond. We refreshed ourselves, our souls and began learning what it took to share resources.
We stayed 6 months and found that even with the best of intentions, friendship has its limit and boundary setting is not an easy practice. We arrived and lived from a near constant state of post-traumatic-stress and did the best we could to maintain our lives and health. Educating friends who are not MCS aware is a long-term commitment; change is not easy under the best of times. We are grateful we had a place to begin and I recognize the limits of old friendships.
Stop 2-The field in Bend
We had no place to go when we left The Ledge. A long shot of a possibility took us on a journey across the pass to Bend, Oregon. New friends, made over the internet, also living with MCS gave us hope for somewhere to be for our first winter. The risk was enormous: Bend was foreign land, the new friends were NEW, and winter in Bend meant deep winter.
What we learned in Bend is sharing resources with others even when you have an illness like MCS in common is not enough to build an intentional community, especially in winter. Friendship develops and doesn't grow strong over night or in a season. We planted seeds of friendship and learned some of the complexity of building community is multiplied when MCS and its myriad symptoms challenge decision making, and social intercourse.
We stayed in the field for a month, became a friendship with two young people with similar though different dreams for a safe community and then packed up before winter snowed us in.
Long time friends and supporters offered us a place to pull VardoForTwo. The mill town setting would really test the limits of friendship and community. Once again we were road y weary upon arrival, and yet we were stronger than we were when first we lived with these old friends.
Tucked into space in front of and then between the large old mill town houses we brought such out-of-the-boxness to Everett. We arrived in early November, 2009 and left on May Day, 2010. We had a place to sleep, electricity to warm us and a basement where we set up our kitchen, used a bathroom, and generally spread our chattel into our friends' life. They were accomodating, and loving. The limits to there ability to be fragrance and chemical free made contact and socialization difficult. Many deaths and losses happened during the winter of 2009 and that added to the process of sharing and caring. We contributed in ways we could and I reached a new bottom emotionally, broke an elbow and arm while out walking and our relationships were tested.
We left Everett when the neighbors next door building a new house were ready to paint the big new mansion. We'd stretched our welcome and tolerance for the city to a limit and had somewhere to go for a month. We packed up once again and made our shortest trek for a place to be since our life as Gypsies began three years prior.
Stop 4-Whidbey Island
For the first time in three years we had a house all to ourselves. We made arrangements with an MCS couple to work for rent in exchange for parking our VardoForTwo in their driveway and use their MCS-safe cottage in South Whidbey Island. It was a wonderful feeling to be in the woods, parked on flat land with an extension cord fort electricity pulled into a cottage where no one else lived. We felt an unfamiliar sense of freedom and relief. We let-down our guard and crashed into the luxury of amenities.
Resiliency comes with practice. We have had lots of practice and with the VardoForTwo as our kernel of safety our four weeks in the Whidbey cottage gave us time to seek out a more permanent place to stay. We learned to use timing in our favor: it was Spring and though the seasonal allergies were real for me (Scotch Broom !) we began searching for a place to be on the Island.
Having a place where we could tend to the basics: sleep, cook, bathe, wash and dry our clothes safely, breath fresh air and be in the quiet of the woods, we began feretting out this new place. We have known Whidbey Island, though never lived here. We posted a photo and a call for a place to park and hook-up. People were very interested in the tiny home and we received many calls, first for us. One of those folk also lives with MCS. We visited her home in the deep woods of the Maxwelton Valley area but I was reactive to the cedar siding and something else. We didn't move in there, but Pete has become her caregiver helping her with a sundry of different things every week.
Whidbey Island has its own "Craigslist" ... it's Drewslist and it works like a magnet for local needs, wants and goings-on. Through our MCS friend and DrewsList we met our friends who share their land, ducks, chickens and friendship with us. We rent a space that gives us many ways to share resources: Pete does all manner of fix-ems, I cook crockpots of food once a week and they have introduced us to the folk and groups who are of like mind and intentions.
8) laughter whenever possible, if not more
There's always room for a little more laughter. Like today when Pete locked me into the vardo until I settled the checkbook. Feeling like Rapunzel I made my way through weeks of reconciliation. Then I walked to the locked door and realized, "Hay, I have the dead bolt lock on my side of the door!" Pete laughed at me when I stood on the vardo porch, "Wondered how long it would take you to realize that."
We are often befuddled by the reality of our day, and forgetfull of where our keys, cellphone, mask, scarf etc. are. Still we get through it and make shift with the short-falls. It lightens the load so much.
9) fragrance- and chemical-free
We both maintain the fragrance and chemical - free world we inhabit as much as we can. We can do that much of the time. What we can't do is make others change, or be as f&c-free as we are. We educate and then try to be the example of what we ask of others. It works sometimes, and sometimes people do what they can and it falls short of what we need. So, we do what we can to change ourselves: a shift in attitude, a shift in position, a softening of expectation.
10) a spiritual connection with Earth and Ke Akua (Source, Higher Power) that is the foundation"
This is the the partnership of most value in my life. I try to see the Divine in the everyday. Pete and JOTS and I just returned from a nice long walk through the woods around the bottom half of the land upon which we live. The winter starkness is perfect for trimming out trails and reclaiming paths. Armed with my o'o and Pete with lopers we had a very pleasant time. The island woods are very thirsty and seem to absorb the drenching rains leaving very little on the surface. We hope there is space for us to bring family and friends to expand the community of this land. We spend time with Papa Honua (the land/Earth) and tend her carefully.
Intentional community grows with time. We count ourselves lucky to have time to grow, and thank Ke Akua for the life that grows slow and steady.