Cool evening

It’s quiet and loud at the same time, right now.

We moved our old pop-up camper over to the Farm last weekend. It’s a stop-gap move. It affords us more time out here, away from the house, away from the incessant projecting. Everywhere I turn at home I see work to be done, another step to be taken.

The road to sustainability, to true freedom, is turning out to be longer than even I thought, at first. Not a whole lot longer, mind you. I was pretty aware that it would take awhile. Awhile in the Southern sense; depending upon what you’re talking about, well, awhile can mean all sorts of things. In our particular case, it means at least a year.

Yes, a year. Our dream, of course, is our constant. A bright North Star shining effortlessly in the sky of our imagination. Yet reality has a way of dimming even the brightest stars. We’re working very hard to not let that happen.

In the meantime, here I sit. I’m in my favorite lawn chair with a cold beer at my side and a citronella candle burning  duty. To the east, just a handful of yards away, a sentry light sheds its cheerful yellow glow, revealing the quiet pasture before me. To the north, a few feet behind me, is our pop-up camper. A couple of outdoor tables, an awning, and the tools of living just outside the range of urbanity scattered among them. I’ve strung up a makeshift clothes-line on the awning. Swaying in the cool night breeze our towels and the shorts and such that we wore down to bathe in the river earlier.

And I do mean bathe, soap and all, of course. Why deal with icy-cold well water for your evening ablutions when you’ve a lovely, tepid, fast-flowing river a scant few yards away? Although we’re being greedy and inconsiderate of the environment to reach the river. It’s a steep trek down the hill from our little knoll to the Gasconade and walking is no longer one of the things I do well. So we drive. We clamber into my truck and head down the hill; a few minutes later the dogs arrive, clearly wondering why on earth we left them all alone in such a strange place and asking what the hell we think we’re doing leaving them up the hill all on their lonesome.

But now the sun has gone down. The tree frogs are busy trying to get laid and, every so often, I hear whippoorwill break into song. I’m certain it’s not the same one as back at the house, but I can’t be sure. I’m thankful that the tree frogs always seem to be in trees that are far away. Or else they are in the trees right near us but our presence silences them. Maibelle lays her head on my knee, begging for love. The two little dogs have camped out in the pop-up with their other Momma. Spoilt rotten little fur balls, they are…our 16 year old camper has working air conditioning. I turned it on when I arrived a few hours ago; it’s off now, no need to turn our canvas and aluminum haven into the arctic, but little dogs seem to be lovers of comfort. Only Maibelle is outside with me. I’m curious as to what she thinks of me, sitting outside in the dark with some strange contraption in my lap absorbing all my attention.

Hell, we even have a flush toilet in the pop-up. One of those whiz-bang wonders of modern ingenuity. Fill one tank with fresh water, pump the handle when you’re ready to do your business (this puts water into the bowl), pull another handle when you’re done and your waste is banished to the lower tank. I dread emptying it, which should be soon. We really don’t need our little modern marvel stinking up our temporary abode. And yes, it came with the pop-up when we bought it years ago. So did the refrigerator, one of those brown, college student jobs.

Yes, even out here in the boonies we are, currently, still on the grid. We’ve parked our cheerful little home next to the old farmhouse. It’s empty but wired in; amazing what giant extension cords and clever power adapters can accomplish. We have a lawnmower, coolers, propane, charcoal, all the comforts of home, sort of. I can’t believe all the shit we have in this tiny little box. By sub-urban home standards, well, it’s almost nothing…but for me it’s too much. And I’ve been making a list of other things that we need, too. A cutting board, a big kettle, a chef’s knife, sheets, more ice, and on, and on.

I wish a rucksack, a pocketknife, and a pot were all that I require, but we no longer live in that world and we’re far poorer for it. So many accoutrements! Yet I can’t complain, to be honest. It’s so lovely to sit out here in almost nothing, barefoot with my netbook in my lap, writing away to the tune of a cool breeze in the trees and critters for company. Though I could do without being mosquito fodder. I sometimes think that God came up with mosquitoes as a particular mechanism. For all the peaceful beauty we experience  when out in nature in this world, well, it ain’t quite paradise; that we must earn. We’re to appreciate how close we are in environs such as this, but they ain’t the real deal. This homely dream is but a taste of what is to come and mosquitoes the gentle reminders of where we are not. Strangely, I’m thankful for it. For all of it.

I’ve often said that if I died tomorrow, I’d die happy. I suppose I feel unusually blessed. I’ve lived and partied hard, met interesting people, had useful jobs, been academically and self-educated, seen this great country and parts of nations to our north and south, known love and anguish, joy and heartbreak. It’s strange that what most folks see as barriers in this world I’ve learned to see as nothing more than challenges to overcome, as problems to manipulate into workable issues. Everything has a solution or a compromise. My God, if I were to thank everyone I’ve ever met, from whom I’ve gained some form of wisdom, this blog would turn into a mind-numbing, endless tome.

So for now I shall finish my cold beer and enjoy the dressings of our modernity. They exist, and so it is pointless to not utilize them. Soon enough we will be free of these entrapments, soon enough we’ll be where we want to be, doing exactly what we dream of doing.

With these thoughts in mind I’ll go to bed. I’ll awake in the morning and get back to the schizophrenic grind that is my life at this point. I’ll take some great strides forward and achieve some miniscule accomplishments. And whether or not we reach our goal, it’ll all have been worth it. Every ounce of sweat and every dollar spent…yup. Worth it all.

In the meantime, well, I’m gonna enjoy the silence and the cacophony.

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Slow goings

Goings on around and about the HiTechRanch have been rather slow of late.

I managed to have a small crash at the MadToto Tornado R’Alley VI the other week and wrenched my ankle. The road rash is healing up rather nicely, in fact is almost completely healed. However, my ankle oft reminds me of what I can and cannot do right now. Someone was kinda enough to post my mishap on YouTube for the world to see.

The rally was, as always, an absolute blast. Scooter hooligans zipping about Kansas City in the dead of night or buzzing along, en masse, to some intriguing local dive. On Saturday night we had an “All Decades Prom” where folks danced the Time Warp and cat walked their way to a mighty fine time.

Since then, however, to allow my ankle some time to heal, I’ve been forced to take it easy. And cancel my scoot trip to North Carolina. Here we are almost a month later and the ankle is finally getting back to normal. I’ve been able to knock out a few things on The List and get some more prep work done for the big move.

The first project we knocked out was the portable potable water system. Yeah, it’s a bit of a mouthful. The idea is to be able to deliver water wherever it’s needed on the farm (i.e. the garden). There are several wells on-site, in addition to the river and several wet-weather creeks, but there’s nothing but rain to water the orchard and the garden. Hence our bright idea.

550 gallon potable water tank
Old truck bed trailer
Some plumbing skills
DC water pump
Solar panel and battery

Put all of these together and you have a pretty nifty system ready to be towed around via tractor or pick up.

The portable potable water project is almost completed. We just need to glue all the PVC connections together and mount the pump and battery. Diane has decided to build the solar panel from scratch; she found an online source for the cells and DIY instructions. Just kinda waiting on her to slap the panel together and then we’ll drag the whole shebang over to the Farm.

It’s also been a month of turning wrenches. The Big Ol’ Ford pickup we found on the cheap has been in dire need of some love. The usual suspects, oil & filter, fuel filter, and belts have all been replaced, leaving a moody clutch pedal and no brake lights to resolve before the truck is road worthy. The 5th wheel hitch has been installed, moving us that much closer to Phase 2 moving day.

I’m trying to aim for the second week of July for the big “move the RV” trip. We’ve settled upon a likely spot close to power and a well…I’ve just got to get the parking area set up. Keeping in mind that heavy things like to settle, soft things like to become brittle, and sunlight can be your enemy is a constant challenge. We’re not going to go so far as to pour a concrete pad, but creating a solid foundation for tires on axles and landing gear is a bit of a challenge. Not to mention the roof and porch we plan to add on to increase usable living space and to draw the outside in…

So the summer has thus far been crammed with challenges and projects. The more I look at what remains to be done the less likely it seems that I’ll have time for any sort of scooter trip. Which would really, really suck. I need my alone and on 2 wheels time. I like to refer to it as my John Muir time. Pick a destination, plot a round-about course, and camp along the route. I’ve a rather nice ride somewhat plotted, but more on that later.

In the meantime, happy projecting and travel safely.

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In the vein of Mr. Twain

People are oft puzzled when I refer to my personal heroes, Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. When questioned as to which WOMEN I idolize, I state simply, Queen Elizabeth the 1st. When queried as to why I’ve no “modern” women on my list I simply reply, “well, it took a couple of centuries for the ol’ boys to figure out how to be such smart asses as Miz Elizabeth. Unfortunately, no woman has figured it out since.”

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