Little white marbles – four hundred of them – lost.
Out into the trees, into the ditch, under layers of pine needles and behind clumps of dirt. Like gold, they quickly find their way to the deepest recesses where I can barely see them. When I run out, it’s time to forage.
One day while I was wandering around looking for the balls, the act of concentrating seemed to put me into a trance. I became contemplative and wondered if the universe communicates to us through symbols and if so, could I learn something from rambling around looking for marbles?
What if each ball represented a truth? Then the following might apply:
They are sometimes easier to find in the darkness rather than the light.
The harder you look for them the more they seem to elude you.
Sometimes they are right in front of you and you don’t see them.
Sometimes you walk right over them only to spot them when looking from a different perspective.
Some get buried in the dirt but they still remain visible if you look closely enough.
They are all around you but you don’t always see them.
They seem to appear magically in front of you with the right frame of mind.
Just when you think you’ve found them all there are always more.
Although they seem lost forever, they are there, somewhere. Or are they?
Are they there when observed and gone when not?
They are more visible with an open mind.
Some travel farther than others.
Picking them out of the pine needles can hurt.
You can drive yourself crazy looking for them in the snow or you can be patient and wait till Spring when they will reveal themselves.
Where the hell do the ones I never find go? Does some gopher have a living room full of them?
Trying to avoid drama but sometimes you just can’t.
Our neighbors are jackasses. I’m not mentioning any names but a jackass is a jackass is a jackass.
We were working with the help of a non-profit that wanted to build a home for a veteran with a child (I’m a veteran) but when we found out it would cost 22,000.00 to run utilities up our driveway, we were forced to call the project off as it had now become an unviable endeavor. The only work-around was an easement on the Jackasses property that would have been a fraction of the cost and the Jackasses knew it. It would have been located underground and well away from the part of their property they actively used.
When I told her the project was off, the Jackette told me “I have lots of friends who live in trailers and they do just fine”. She also told us to stop relying on handouts (we would pay off the home as part of the agreement with the non-nonprofit).
This actually happened. And it gets better: they started to build a monstrous shop and garage right within sight of our trailer as this was happening. We got to watch them build their behemoth from our 20′ abode on wheels.
We understand they’re not obligated to provide access for an easement but they’re still jackasses because it wouldn’t have affected them in the least.
BTW, these people had plans on putting a fence up and forcing us to pay for half. A phone call to an attorney clarified that we are under no legal obligation to pay for half a property line fence. So sorry Mr. and Mrs. Jackass. I let them know we’d be happy to pay for half a fence in exchange for the utility easement. Haven’t heard from them since.
An example of what to do even when you don’t get along: We accidentally got a neighbor’s paycheck in our mail box and rather than send it back to the post office, we immediately brought their mail to them because people depend on their paychecks arriving in a timely manner. We don’t get along with those neighbors either but that’s what you do. It’s a matter of honor in my opinion.
We don’t hate all of our neighbors. We just got the lucky role of the die. We have a full understanding that we have to live with these people for god knows how long. We’re not dumb, but if you knew about the dogs on one neighbors side, and the trucks revving at all hours of the day …..we’ve gone out of our way to just let it slide and get along. No drama. But some things you simply can’t ignore; like when they almost shoot you.
We hadn’t been here but a month or so when me and my husband were standing outside when someone from up on a hill began to shoot. That happens around here but then my husband heard a bullet ricochet off of one our trees. He said so and I hit the ground and yelled “there are people down here!” at the top of my lungs. The shots ceased and we heard a truck start up at the neighbor’s property and roar off. We didn’t call the sheriff as we believed they got the point.
Our basic philosophy is to let it slide if you can. Pick your battles. I make a point of realizing everyone has their side of the story. The neighbors with the dogs (all 100 of them it seems who bark at all hours of the day) and the other side (no easement).
I’m a little disappointed we don’t get along better. Generally we always have had good relationships with our neighbors in the past. We’ve had neighbors who are still very dear friends. I’ve considered maybe it’s somehow our fault but no, we really had to put up personal boundaries on both sides.
I just wish the nice older couple that lived on the hill when we moved here hadn’t sold. They were awesome and nice, and quiet.
We camped in the national forest near Snoqualmie Pass during the summer of 2017 while we looked for property to buy. It was a popular area and most of the spots were full at that time of year.
Every now and then, a bear will discover that food is readily available in these places and will take advantage of the smorgasbord. One had been seen going up and down the road so the Forest Service had posted warning signs.
My husband and I were driving back to camp one afternoon when we spotted a truck parked just off the road with the tailgate down. There, a bear was happily rummaging through the truck owner’s goods – his dinner, perhaps. We pulled over. The bear took off and I very carefully crept up to the truck hoping I wasn’t about to see a blood bath. I got close enough to peak into the back and into the shell.
There was a man asleep but very much alive in the back! His feet had been mere inches away from where the bear had been ransacking through his supplies.
I woke him up and told him what had happened. Can you imagine if he had woken up while the bear was at work? He would have had no where to go.
Our family has had our own bear encounters.
One year one kept coming into our campsite so we moved our food to the car with the exception of some canned goods. We learned that cans don’t stop bears when we woke up to find it with a can crushed in its mouth, enjoying the contents through the holes it had bitten.
It continued to cruise the campsites so we called Fish and Game. I don’t know what they did about it.
We now carry bear spray wherever we go.
Recently, two men who were mountain biking near North Bend, not far from where we used to camp, were attacked by a cougar. One of them ran, and was subsequently killed. . This was just months ago.
We now live in much closer proximity to predators.
A couple of years ago, a bear attacked a neighbor’s dog in her carport and she beat it away. There are wolf packs in the area that are being tracked for conservation efforts. They have been killing livestock which has lead to ongoing friction between the conservationists and the ranchers.
Be prepared if predators may be around: make noise so you don’t surprise an animal, be aware of your surroundings, store all food away from yourself, and carry a firearm or bear spray.
If you’re not careful, you may not be as lucky as the guy in the back of the truck.
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
― Louis L’Amour
Yeah, only in my case, you have to dig the damned well, install a water filter and about five-hundred feet of hose, put the hose in the trailer water inlet (it puts the water in the trailer or it doesn’t get the coffee), turn off the water pump that you realized has been on all night pumping air, make the coffee after you get enough water in the tank to make it, check on said status of water refill, run in and check on coffee making status, run up to the top of the property again to “turn off” the water (pull the hose out of the spring), run down again and turn the coffee to low for perking, turn on the generator sometime during all of this, and plug in the fridge because it was turned off when plugged into the solar.
It’s then and only then that you can sit down and have the freaking coffee.
We’re making headway on the list of repairs and improvements that promise to make our lives more comfortable.
Here’s what we accomplished over the last couple of days:
Pulled and repaired our fresh water tank.
Installed an on-demand hot water system.
Skirted the small trailer with foam board.
Insulated water pipes under small trailer.
Insulated inside small trailer.
Put foam board insulation on the outer bottom of the slide-out of fifth wheel.
Put bubble wrap on the windows of the pull-out on fifth wheel.
Put leftover insulation on the floor of the basement of the fifth wheel.
Picked up door insulating kits for both trailers. Will install today.
Came up with an idea to secure the solar panels and picked up half the parts; forgot half the parts.
Had a family skirmish about everyone taking this seriously.
Finally found hot pads for the household. Still looking for a butter dish.
This could be a full time job.
The daily trip to the Do-It Center (our local hardware store) for insulation, tools, parts, and candy makes me wonder if we should just put up a tent in front and save some gas.
I sometimes wonder if I’m too obsessed with preparing for winter but then I remember last year and all doubts fade. We had frost on the inside of our trailer and the cat’s water dish froze (inside the trailer) and we didn’t have running water for months.
I think I’m being reasonable.
Thank you to our friends at the hardware store for helping us to improve our lives, bolt by bolt, screw by screw and candy bar by candy bar.
I was outside last night near where we’ve located our fifth wheel. It was actually around 1:00 am. An unseasonably warm breeze was blowing and the chirps of the last critters of the summer drifted through the air. It was a nice feeling and I was brought back to the early days and nights of a year ago when we first arrived in Colville, WA.
It’s funny how nostalgia works. Fortunately, feelings associated with memories are usually good even though the feelings of the time might have been less than so. When we first arrived last September, we were excited as hell to be new land owners. For my husband, it was his first time living outside of King county.
We originally had our trailer on this spot but moved it to a different part of the property thinking it was more centralized. We soon realized there was a clear line of sight directly to the neighbors and we don’t like them. We kept the trailer there throughout the winter nevertheless but when we got our fifth wheel, we located it back to this original spot by a hillside where we could keep our “backs” to the wall. Being back on this side of our land brought back a lot of recent past memories, almost as if it happened much farther back in time.
Day 1 on the property, I explored every square inch. It’s 3.7 acres of a little bit of everything. It has two hillsides, a flatlands, forests, and the craggy windy highlands as I call them. I told my husband we should make a map of our place as a fictional land.
We bought our parcel out of a larger one that had been divided into four. Ours is #3 in the top left area. We wanted to buy the adjacent lots but someone beat us to #4.
We had seen “junk” piled up on an adjacent lot but I soon realized we had our own portion of the junkyard on our property. Only the last time the garbage was taken out was over 60 years ago. So their junk is now our treasure as they say.
We ordered a title search of the property at the courthouse. The land passed from the hands of the government into private in 1908. The last time it was actually occupied we figure was in the 1950’s. We had walked into a time capsule of sorts.
I think I found the original well. It’s at the top of the property in a little grove of trees in a sunken area. I found it when I was looking for a likely place for water. There was an interesting looking rock dead center in the depression that looked like it had been formed by hands other than nature. Maybe a marker? I dug a little and found the rock to be lose and ill fitting; like it had been moved there by machine to fill the well. We ended up locating elsewhere for water but I still dig up there now and then. I did yesterday and felt warmer water in the bottom as I did with our spring. Geothermal activity maybe?
The “marker” rock?
In my explorations and aspirations I saw a lot to write about and decided to start a blog but I neglected it for a year. I wanted to write about the adventure we’d just landed on. I now had the biggest back yard an overgrown child could ever want!
I love to dig. I grew up in a pile of dirt, in a tree, waiting outside the bar in a car for my mother…just kidding, kind of. Mom would shove us all into the station wagon with no seat belts, light up a cigarette, and make the trip to Grandma’s house several times a year. That was how it was back then.
Anyway, I grew up a kind of a tomboy so this piece of property is heaven to me. My husband told me repeatedly while we were still looking for a place, “don’t worry Babe, you’ll soon be able to dig all you want at any time of the day and no one will be able to stop you”. I have dug holes all over the place. Who does that? I have filled most of them back in for safety and aesthetic reasons.
Another example of the weird factor in myself was the night I found myself burying a salmon in my garden at 130am during a thunderstorm. I wanted to give it back to the land. I felt guilty I had let it go bad because it had been given to me fresh caught. The raccoons found it about 10 minutes later and the last time I saw it about 4 days later, it was hanging off a branch of a tree.
Nostalgia. It’s been a year. We’ve been through so much. Walking near the antiques hillside (the dump), brought it all back to me. That feeling of excitement and wonder. The pride of ownership. The explorability factor was high in this place and still is.
And now I’m finally taking up that blog I started a year ago.
I was outside around one this morning near a hillside filled with litter from decades ago, as an unseasonably warm breeze blew and the chirps of the last critters of the summer drifted through the air. It was a nice feeling and it brought me back to the early days and nights of a year ago when we first arrived at our new home.
It’s funny how nostalgia works. Even if times were rough, thinking back on them often leaves us feeling good. As I stood in the darkness, I thought back to those first weeks.
We were excited as hell to be new land owners and it was my husband’s first time living away from Western Washington.
On the morning we arrived, I explored every square inch of our land. It was like having huge back yard. It had two hillsides, a flat-lands, “forests”, and The Craggy Windy Highlands as I call them. I thought about how I could make a map of our place as a fictional land.
The parcel we bought was one of four that had been divided up from a larger piece of land. Ours was number three in the top left area of the “map” below. We wanted to buy the adjacent lots but someone beat us to them.
There was a farmer’s dump on the parcel next to us but we had our own portion of the junkyard on our property. The last time anyone took out the trash was over sixty years ago. Their garbage is now semi-valuable as antiques that we have sold.
Wanting to know more about the history of our new acquisition, we ordered a title search of the property from the county courthouse in town. The first owner in the line of succession bought it from Teddy Roosevelt (the government), in 1908. The last people who lived here left in the late 1950’s as near as I can tell. I wonder why?
This place has been quiet and still for over a half of a century. Now we are here to wake up the ghosts of days gone by.
It’s been a year since we first drove up our driveway pulling the trailer behind us. We’ve been through so much. Walking near the farmer’s dump this morning brought it all back to me. That feeling of excitement and wonder – the pride of ownership. The explorability factor was high then and it still is.
It was those early days of adventure and discovery that inspired me to write so I wouldn’t forget.
Besides, this is the biggest, bestest back yard I’ve ever had and I want to tell the whole world about it. 🙂
Try to find a Dorodango ball for sale on the internet. I dare you. Good luck.
Dorodango means mud dumpling in Japanese (I think). It’s literally dirt formed into a ball then dried and polished over a period of time (everyone has their own technique), to become something pretty impressive.
I’ve been trying to successfully make one for about a month now. It takes practice. They tend to crack and the outer shell tends to nick during polishing depending on how you do it.
I’ve tried and tried to finish one over the past weeks. I threw a few. I wrote a poem about them but deleted it because my son was silent after I read it to him. Maybe I’ll rewrite it from memory.
I finally successfully made one today. I want to sell them. Especially after I discovered I couldn’t find but one on the entire internet for sale. I couldn’t believe it. There’s a vacuum in that market. Maybe Etsy, maybe here.
This last year has been very difficult. Very. We’ve had some really hard times and one of the things that helped me through it was my various art projects. I had to use what we had on hand most of the time and dirt was readily available. This is a fun activity and I highly recommend it but it takes patience. Just hit youtube for some tutorials if you want to give it a try.
Onto a couple off the grid self described hacks.
I came up with an ingenious idea for keeping the hoses and water filter from freezing this winter. The spring and holding pit never freeze even in extended zero degree temps. We learned that last year.
Why not mount the filter under the water line and just keep the hoses in the water also when not in use? Theoretically it makes sense.
We hit some items on the monumental To Do list today also.
We pulled the RV’s water tank out today. Had to pull out a small part of the structure in the RV basement to get it out. We’ll replace it of course.
We put it on a couple of barrels so we could fill it up to see if the bottom really leaked and filled it with water. No leaks on the actual bottom but both inlet/outlet receptacles leak around the edges. I sprayed a coat of Flexseal on it and am letting it sit overnight. Will do again tomorrow then fill again to see if the leak is fixed.
If we can use that tank, we won’t have to wrestle with keeping an exterior water tank from freezing. Crossing fingers. One thing at a time.
We called the manufacturer of the dreaded and cherished gas hot water heater and asked them why the thing isn’t turning off. The water is getting super hot. Not safe. We’re just turning the gas off after about a half hour of heating for the time being.
They said it sounds like a thermostat. 10.00 on Amazon. It’s under warranty but why bother for such a small amount?
Incidentally, Atwood is now Dometic (maker of RV appliances and maybe other things).
One item at a time off of the check list.
But wait, there’s more. There’s always more. We believe the front right hydraulic jack sheer pin sheered. It is a sheer pin after all. The jack won’t move up or down. We’re trying to finish leveling the trailer still. Everything on the bathroom counter roles towards the rear of the trailer. Driving me nuts.
We added 2 more batteries to the solar power system this afternoon. We’re going to try the TV for a little while. I think it’s charging fine after all. Added 4 more 100 watt panels to the system yesterday. It was a challenge to figure out the wiring. It’s still really rough looking mounted on two sheets of plywood. We need to secure the panels better before a windstorm hits.
Now to reap the rewards of siphoning the water from the top of the property from the well we dug, installing a new hot water heater, removing and reinstalling the shower faucet approximately 6 times as a result of the overheated water, and installing a new water pump.
I think I deserve a hot bath.
Hack: You can use one little microfiber rag to dry off your entire body after a shower. Just keep wringing it out as you go. They work great. I’ve had to do it more than once upon realizing no towels were available.