The Forest That Once Was Green

For the past two weeks, afternoon temperatures here have bordered, if not surpassed, 100°F. It’s toasty. Literally. All the beautiful green grass, that not long ago I couldn’t wait to see chopped down, has been reduced to a sad, crunchy brown. There are some people in town that are putting up a valiant fight against the inevitable yard death; sprinklers can be heard whirring as the sun dips below the hills behind our house. Still, large patches of toasted lawn have started to spread like an earthy rash.

Inside isn’t much better. We have one tiny air conditioner plunked into a kitchen window. It only has the power to cool a space the size of an average bathroom, so its efforts to chill the open floor-plan here are hugely unsuccessful. All it has managed to do is keep the house from getting hotter than outside. However, it never gets any cooler, and there isn’t even the bonus of a breeze.

The heatwave is supposed to be dying down at the end of this weekend. The weather app tells me it’s going to be in the high 80s-90s instead of hovering relentlessly at 100°F. It’s not a great drop, but it’s better than nothing. Perhaps now I can shower without sweating at the same time.

Title From:
Dirty Paws
by Of Monsters and Men

Do You Want to Live in a Pretty World

I know this isn’t the best picture. Sorry. It’s somewhere close to 145°F outside right now and I didn’t feel much like standing out in the sky oven to take a nice picture.

Anyway, this is Phyllis. I don’t know why I named her, or call her “her.” Never mind me, I have a lot of quirks.

She’s a poinsettia Brian surprised me with around Christmas last year. What are you supposed to do with a poinsettia after the holidays?

If I have something that’s alive, I feel it’s my duty to keep it alive, no matter what. I once purchased a cactus from the hardware store and found a mysterious new plant growing in the pot a few days later. Not wanting to kill it, I transplanted the possible weed into a pot of its own. It grew into a beautiful purple basil plant. So, look at that, a story that doesn’t really belong. Who’d a thunk?

Phyllis is thriving, sprouting new green bunches every time I look at her. I have to think it’s the encouraging way I talk to her every day, telling her how pretty she is. Some might argue that it’s the water I continue to provide for her but some aren’t telling this story.

Right now she’s still in her original plastic pot, set inside a Pyrex bowl. She’s sitting on our kitchen table, which is actually an old pianoforte, converted to a desk/table with a nice amount of storage inside. It’s not in the best condition, having traveled in the open bed of the truck from Iowa to Connecticut, as it rained, but I’d rather not make it worse by dumping water all over it every three days.

We’ve been searching all over for a new container for her, so we can once again store our leftovers, and she can grow to the size of a small bush. No one around here seems to have pots between the size she’s in now and the size of a small car. If I had any sort of reader base I’d let you pick the pot, but as I’m pretty sure I’m talking to myself here, it looks like it’s up to me.

Title From:
Do or Don’t
by All My Pretty Ones

You Keep Spinning on Your Compass Spoke

For most of my childhood we didn’t have a television. My mom would spend evenings reading poems and stories to my sister and I, as we sat, picking at the splintering wood, on our old front porch. She encouraged summer reading programs and the money she splurged on us was usually spent at Scholastic Book fairs. Later, when I hit my unfortunate rebellious phase and began skipping school, I would go to the library. I don’t think my mom even knows that. She undoubtedly thought I was hanging out with a Bad Crowd, smoking in alleyways, sketching my first tattoo. Nope. Library.

Thanks to an early exposure to the beauty of poetry and the adventures offered in books, I love reading. It doesn’t matter what it is. If someone is blogging about the power of their mage in World of Warcraft, or how they’ve just created the very best homemade auger sealant, I’ll read and enjoy what they have to say. However, I realize not everyone enjoys very specific topics that don’t relate to them, so here’s where I give you a warning: I’m about to write about geocaching.

Geocaching has been explained like this, “I use multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods.” That’s pretty accurate. You use your GPS to navigate to a hidden cache somewhere in the world. Actually, everywhere in the world, even Antarctica. Once you find the cache, you sign the log, re-hide the container, and log your find online. It’s a lot of fun! Not only does it take you to places you may otherwise never visit, it encourages activity. Whether you’re an urban ‘cacher’ or you prefer trudging through the wilds, you’re out and about.

This past weekend we started exploring Montana, geocaching, and looking for a place to hide one of our own.

We drove over to Bozeman, which reminded me a great deal of Boston, and which made me feel very uncomfortable. Bozeman is quite pretty but seems to be very shopping-oriented and designed to look like Montana without feeling like Montana. I would feel guilty walking down the Main Street sidewalks with muddy boots, is what I’m saying.

Then we traveled around Big Timber, which is an area we’ve camped near before, and love. We went up near Big Timber Peak, which still has snow covering its rocky top. It’s always impressive to see the mountains out here, after living for so long around the Appalachian mountains, which (not to be disrespectful) feel more like big hills now.

Grass Range was our next stop, a place we have also been before. Brian spent 86% of the drive there saying, “You cannot recognize a house you’ve never seen before and we’ve never been on this road!” Then five minutes before we rolled into town he said, “I recognize that house.”

Unfortunately, we didn’t find a place to hide our cache, but we did find quite a few existing caches that were inventive and placed in beautiful spots.

If you’ve never geocached before, give it a try. There’s a free app ($NO – iPhone | Android | Windows Phone), I recommend the one from Groundspeak, that will let you find a few without requiring the purchase of the full version ($10 – iPhone | Android) or a fancy GPS unit. Though they’re not as exciting as those found on the full version, it’s still a great way to get a taste for the game that’s going on all around you.

Title From:
Come What Come May
by Miner

It Makes No Difference If the Sky Is Blue

I started this post yesterday, the one year anniversary of the evening we drove away from our home in Connecticut, but then life got in the way, as it sometimes does. Anyway, here we go.

I was the one to suggest going homeless, “We have enough money to buy a cap for the truck. We could put everything in storage and just go.” I’ve always been one to “buck the tide,” as they say, but it was a wild idea, even for me. Brian didn’t hesitate before agreeing, but I don’t think he took the suggestion as entirely serious. However, over the next few days, as we started talking about our options more and more, homelessness stopped being a harebrained suggestion and became the plan.

The majority of my family lives in Pennsylvania while the majority of Brian’s family lives in Louisiana. Staying with either side would have relegated Brian’s job search to areas where we didn’t want to live. There are exceptions, of course, but most companies don’t entertain interviewees from across the country, especially in Brian’s line of work, with their penchant for multiple interviews before making a decision. Staying with family meant we’d have to settle.

I am not much for settling. I try to live in a way that when I look back on my life in five, ten, or fifteen years, I won’t see a pattern of shying away from tough choices, and I won’t hang my head in shame for not taking chances. I’ve watched people waste away in easy but unhappy situations, and while that might work for them, it doesn’t work for me.

When we told people we were going to voluntarily become homeless, we were met with a multitude of reactions; a few of them were kind offers of places to stay, others were shockingly unconcerned, some didn’t seem to grasp the idea at all. There were a lot of “Whys?”

Why?

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. – Henry David Thoreau

That is my favorite quote, and it’s one I wholeheartedly stand behind.

Together we made the decision to forge our own path rather than follow the one set in front of us by circumstance. We followed our dreams. Now here we are, in our new (and final) home state, in our jerry-built house, living exactly the life we set out to live. We are free from compromise and settling, reaping the great reward that came from great risk. It’s a feeling I wish everyone could experience.

Title From:
Dusty Road
by Dave Stamey

And I’ll Never Get Too Old to Get Around

Today we made the last payment on our truck, McGillicutty. Now we’ll have some extra money each month to spend on really important things like toilet paper and deodorant. I can’t even express in a sane way how much having deodorant and toilet paper makes me happy because it’s probably not very sane to get as excited as I do.

McGillicutty has been through a lot over the past five years. He’s driven us over 127,000 miles, travelling all over the country. He’s plowed through some roads that probably shouldn’t have been roads (and possibly weren’t roads), up the mountains of Montana, through the forests of Vermont, to the end of America at the Gulf of Mexico, across streams, bridges, and lands too many to list. He’s gotten stuck in the mud (multiple times), in pig poop, and in a blizzard. He’s been our sole mode of transportation and, for a few months last year, he was our home.

If I could love a truck it would be this one, because this is the only truck we have.

Title From:
Ramblin’ Fever
by Merle Haggard