Monday, November 25, 2013

Run Away!!!!

Just a dusting but...
Bye, bye hammock

Winter showed her first flurry which meant it was time for me to move on or get snow tires.  I moved on.  Back to Nashville to fix a couple of things on the Pork Chop and to get rid of a bunch of stuff.  Seeing my friends down South is wonderful but I miss the friends I made in NY already. (Sigh).  I started this journey in order to find some answers but all I seem to have gotten thus far are 500 more questions.

What do life and love mean when you're over 50?  I'm learning to break many of my "rules" and to practice "flow" both of which are quite easy on a mountain with a handsome man while playing mountain mama.  Oh, it felt good to hang out on a hammock for a few hours a day and just be, and for breakfast to take 3 hours from starting to heat the wood stove until rinsing the final dish.  It felt good to pretend to love without expectation.  It felt good to imagine life permanently out of the mainstream.  But was I just kidding myself?  Was I just living out a brief fantasy and believing it could somehow be my new reality?

Cut with a chainsaw and chisel
My 10 day stay in NY lasted nearly 3 months.  For as much as I tried to let things flow, just be there and enjoy playing music and the company of a nice man, I was constantly battling the need to stick to my "plan" to the timeline I'd set for my journey.  Sort of reminded me of how my dad would torture us kids by driving straight through to where we were going on our family "vacations".  I frigging had nowhere to be but where I was!  My concern over my "future" caused me to miss being fully present for what I was experiencing on the mountain.  Now don't get me wrong, I was more present than usual but my old pattern prevented me from living in the moment completely.

People in, bears out
Home sweet home!
Life on the mountain was straight forward and unencumbered by materialism.  Looking at these pictures, the way my friend made the frame for this door with the materials at hand and even the fact that I lived in a tent for 2 months, it was crazy!  It was so simple!  So real!  It was another world.

Love on the mountain was spacious.  I know that sounds like a strange word but that's how it felt.  Love felt big and carefree the way it should.  At least it felt that way when I was in the moment and wasn't worried about "where we were going".

On the mountain I lived a peaceful, beautiful and intense world and I miss it.  The intensity of the mountain was nothing like the intensity of returning to a busy city.  I was caught off guard by the sensory assault.  The cars, planes, lights and people rushing here and feels so unreal and yet it is our reality.  Strange.  I don't think people realize how quiet the world really is, though even the mountain wasn't immune to the hum of humanity.  I found the city quite abrasive initially and yet, it's amazing how easy it is to slip back into and accept the constant barrage of noise.

Michelle and Coco
Crow Design
Yet, reality does call me and I must begin to think of how I am going to support myself.  It just so happens that by going with the flow and staying in NY longer than I thought I "should" have, I may have found a new career.  During the last month I was there I met a fine artist named Kelli Bickman who is starting a fashion line.  Check it out at---

I'm traveling, she needed a sales rep and things just fell together quite organically like the cotton fabric she uses to print her designs on.  I've never been an outside sales rep but there are a lot of firsts these days and so why not?  If I had stuck to my plan I wouldn't have this opportunity.  The worse that happens is nothing and the best thing that happens is I've found a great job with a great person who makes some pretty damn cool clothes!

Thanks for the photos Kathleen :-)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

...moving on

November has sneaked up on me and I find myself in dereliction of my posting duties.  Again.  In some ways I've been busy and in other ways I'm still practicing the art of underachievement.  Though the Pork Chop and I still remain in upstate NY we aren't living here without continuing our adventures.

...caught a fishing pole
Several weeks ago we went fishing up in the Adirondacks.  Everyone in the fishing party caught something.  Most people caught fish I however...

Ski jump from the Lake Placid Olympics
Cool digs

an Adirondack lake

a very unhappy camper

I did get two bites but was unable to set the hook and so I saw a couple of nice bass get away.  Next time fishy, fishy, next time.

The trip was also quite interesting because I was able to meet an elder from the Mohawk tribe.  He was a wonderful man, quick with a laugh and bright eyed.  He reminded me of the Dalai Lama.  I was hoping to receive some insight about my life but that's not how it really works.  Besides, I probably wouldn't listen to him anyway.

Halloween was a few nights ago and at one of the local establishments here put on a fabulous carved pumpkin display.  Check it out.
"Text home"
The many faces of pumpkin pie

Now I don't know if you can see the details but the display had 230 pumpkins that took two pumpkin carvers over a week to carve.  Yes, there are professional pumpkin carvers here and you thought I was kidding about the Skinny Dipping profession.  The carvings included Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Darth Maul, Willie Nelson (at least it looked like Willie) and the dude from the Friday the 13th movies.

Happy Halloween

So here it is the first of November and I'm getting ready to move on.  No, really.  There are still some stunning fall colors left but winter is in the air and I packed summer dresses, not insulated pants.  Perhaps I've stayed too long but I've really gotten the flavor of the people and the town and I have to admit, if this weren't my first stop, it could very well have been my last for several reasons.

Yes, I have met a man.  I'm fairly sure that comes as no surprise.  The girlfriend I came here to visit introduced me to several of her single male friends but there wasn't much mutual interest until I met "boots".  When she  introduced us and said this is the guy who lives in the tepee I thought, "oh good".  The interest went both directions and we've had a great time together, so much so it's quite hard to leave, literally.  You saw the video where we got the Pork Chop up the mountain and getting her down from there is just as challenging.

The second reason I've been sticking around is because I've started to play guitar and write songs again.  I've even had the chance to play with some local cats.  What fun!  I can't tell you how wonderful it feels after nearly 5 years of playing very little and writing even less to be playing and writing nearly every day.  I haven't done that since I was a teenager.  All the other stuff, worrying about the bills, how I'm going to make a living and where I'm going to live, all that stuff just falls away during the moments I am wrapped in my music.

Something is beginning to happen to me up here.  I'm beginning to wonder what is real to me verses what I seem to have been programmed to believe in.  Work hard, save and retire when you're 65 so you can do what you want.  How many of those people either (a) never make it to 65 or (b) end up with some disease that makes it impossible for them to do the things they wanted.  Does playing by the rules really get us the safety and security we seek?  I wonder.

Being off the grid and having to take a bath with a bucket, learning that one meal is a three hour process that starts off with getting the wood stove up to cooking temp and ends up by having to manage the water to do the dishes.  Chopping wood and carrying water, cleaning out the ditches along the roadside up to the tepee, and stealing apples...yes, I have become an apple thief!  A friend of mine from Nashville said I needed to do something bad.  I wonder if apple abduction counts?
Anyway, life off grid and playing music feels so true and real compared to managing the modern world.  One day all I could think about was how unreal money was, how we all agree it is worth something, give a lot of our time and energy to be a distribution point between our employers and the bill holders we owe.  Yet in reality money is useless, it can't feed you but knowing how to catch, gut and cook a fish can.  It can't clothe you but knowing how to clean and tan a hide can.  Money can't make a shelter but knowing how to bend saplings into a structure you can cover with tarps can.

It must sound like I am truly slipping over the edge.  Honestly, I can't say for sure what is happening to me.  I'm away from the electro-magnetic frequencies and much of the background noise that permeates our lives.  I'm sleeping more than 8 hours on a regular basis and eating very well.  Life is slower, to do anything takes longer and...I don't know, I'm wondering if it is the life for me.  Can I really do it?  Without a doubt, I can not do an off grid life alone but one of the hardest facts to face is that I still have to make money.  Though I spent one day playing with the idea of money being unreal, the fact seems to be that no matter how far you are unplugged, a person still has bills.  I suppose I could forgo my phone or my car but I don't want to.  So, I don't actually know how off grid I could really be because it's not all hammocks and yummy dinners.

My truck in the ditch heading up the mountain
The off-grid life is very real and quite scary.  The other day I sliced some skin off my thumb with an ax.  If I had hit my hand differently I could very easily have cut my thumb off.  There was no one around and it's two miles down a road that reminds me of the Indiana Jones ride in Disney World to get off the mountain.  I probably would have gone into shock before I reached the bottom.  Thank goodness I didn't cut myself too severely.  A few nights ago a wind storm came through and peeled off one of the tarps on the tepee.  There are several layers on the tepee but still, a howling wind and a flapping tarp make for a restless night sleep.  At one point it seemed like the flapping tarp was God tapping on the tent saying, "Hi?  Hello?  Can you feel me?  I'm wild out here."  It was crazy.  Almost as crazy as the bear in the tepee.  Oh, I didn't mention the bear?  One morning I was awoken by, "Bear? What are you doing?"  I sat up just in time to see the hind quarters of a teenage bear running away.  So as you can see, tepee living is living on the edge.   Granted, having a cabin would be more secure but the isolation, the intimacy with nature and the creatures that surround the homestead are still all very real.
Hornets helping me with my kombucha

I am so fortunate to have had the chance to live off the grid with such an experienced man.  I have had the opportunity to live in quite a primitive way and to be honest, I have loved it.  I have loved it because every aspect of life from eating to pooping, wind storms to bears has been in my face, and real.  All in all my first stop with the Pork Chop has been quite successful and beyond anything I could have expected or planned.  I am sad to be leaving my new found friend and the life we've shared over the last couple of months.  I will miss the people I've met and those I've been playing music with.  Still, I look forward to learning more about myself as I continue on this journey.  Though honsestly, the next stop may only be as far as the New York state line where I turn around so I can head back up the mountain.