Friday, September 30, 2011

How Do You Do It?

A few weeks ago, after a customer commented on my new tattoo, I realized that I am growing up to be the person I wanted to be when I envisioned growing up. I have tats and piercings. I go to college and frequent my favorite coffee shop. My pants haven't fit my waist since I was seven, and I have the body to pull off LOW rise jeans. There are a few things that still don't work with my 15-year-old version of my 34-year-old self, but I'm getting there.

One huge component is how I live and raise our kids. I live a very modest life. My rent is my biggest bill and I gladly pay it because I love the home I have made this house into. The kids go to a laid back "hippie" school, it's a Steiner school, for anyone who wants to know. They are versed in all forms of art, music, drama and get to play in the sunshine, rain, snow mud and anything in between. They play sports and Number 3 is joining the Earth Scouts this month. I work only three days a week and go to school five days a week. My loans pay for most of my expenses right now. I weighed the consequences of taking out so much money to the benefit of being able to concentrate on my school work and, most important to me, being able to be with the kids.

My friend emailed me today and asked for advice. She is thinking about quitting her job and working from home. She's scared to death and asked for tips on how to do it. Without too much thinking this is the advice I gave her:

Sheer will, perseverance and faith that you can do it. Honestly,  I'm not sure how I do anything anymore. I just believe that I can, take what comes and own it; good or bad. That doesn't mean I don't struggle, cry, scream, give up or complain, but at the end of one of those moments, I wipe my snot and remember that I have felt like giving up before and it's all worked out.

Most of the time, my plans are basic, not thought through. I'm not sure if that's good because I don't have expectations or bad because if I don't really have a plan, then I really don't have a back-up plan. Except I do have a back-up,  I suppose. It is faith in my convictions, faith that, once again, I will be okay, faith that I am supposed to be where I am right now, no matter where it is. This isn't based in religion or God, just belief in magic, I guess. The magic in me.

I guess what I am saying is super-cliche, but follow your heart. Do what's right for you. In my case that meant breaking apart my family, losing my home and my car, leaving my friends and living without running water for 7 months. And that doesn't include what I have done to keep my relationship with Tris thriving. I believed that leaving [the kids dad], so many years ago, was what my heart was telling me to do. I believe that doing everything in my power, without giving up myself, is what I have to do for my romantic relationship. I believed that moving to Flagstaff was the best choice I could make for my family.

On my hard days, and I do have them, I remember what I believe. I make a list of the things I am grateful for and do not pause to mourn the things I have lost in my journey. If working from home is what you want to do, I support you. You may have to make a list of the things you are willing to give up to make that dream come true, but if you are willing to put them on the list in the first place, then you are probably willing to part with them. Simplifying my life was the best thing I have ever done, but that is just me. I know you will take the next step in the direction your life will take, just be willing to accept whatever direction that is.

Oh. And I make my bed every day because there is subtle satisfaction in doing one little thing for myself, even if the rest of my day is devoted to everyone else. (I learned this from my friend, Katy. In fact, she practically made me make my bed every day. Now, it's a habit and I relish in the fact that I get to slide into tight sheets every night. )

I retyped this mostly for myself. This is what I tell people and what it probably true, but from my perspective, I am only doing what I have always done. Maybe it's ordinary, maybe extraordinary, maybe it's just mi vida loca. Anyway you see it, I make my life the way I want it because, to me, there is no other option. I hope you are realizing your dreams and not letting fear hold you back from the reality that could be yours if you just jump. So plug your nose, when you are ready, and be prepared for whatever temperature that water is when you hit.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

HillBilly Clothes Pin Hanger

My good friend, Michelle B, came to visit me. The first day she was here we were sewing maniacs! I taught her how to make wrap-n-mats and then I made this gem. I just used a baby shirt, sewed up the bottom and the sleeves. If you make the picture bigger, you can see that I blanket stitched the front of the shirt together and the collar open. It's very cute, I must say. My only complaint is that the hanger is too big. I am on the hunt for one that is the right size and wont get in the way. My friend, Terry, a local artist, says he can fashion something for me. I will update when I get a new hanger situation. Leave a comment if you have a suggestion. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mt. Elden Hike

Before Our Hike

Yesterday, the boys and I decided to have a look at Elden Pueblo. It's an old Hopi Pueblo that was unearthed in the 30's, I think. Since 1978, the public has been encouraged to participate in digging out of the pueblo. The pueblo was home to the Sinagua people from 1070-1275 AD. (The people's name, Sinagua, comes from the long ago name of the area, Sierra Sin Agua, Moutains Without Water.) The pueblo is on Highway 89 North, from Flagstaff to Page, AZ.

After we visited the pueblo, we decided to check out Mt. Elden to hike. From that trail head, there were three trails, each a bit longer than the other. The longest was two and a half miles long and ended at the top lookout of the mountain. Two and a half miles is a 30 minute breeze on flat land! Two and a half Mt. Elden miles are a bit different. Right away, it started to rain hard. We took shelter under an Alligator Juniper tree, which by the way can be up to a thousand years old in this area. A-Mazing! When that down pour ebbed, we trekked on, only to find ourselves drenched half-way up.

After shivering for  a few minutes, I made the executive decision to start our decent. It was a bitter sweet moment; we were only a half mile from the top, but I felt that I would be risking hypothermia if we continued. The wind was blowing on our soaked skin and clothes and we all had cold, stiff arms. We did take the long way down though, which was a blast! It was longer, but it was also less steep, so we ran most of the way down.

Drenched and Happy After Our Hike

If it's a little broke, fix it!

My soft white sheet has been slowly ripping for two weeks. That is until the other night. It just tore; a big fat T! I am strapped for money and didn't want cheap, crunchy sheets, so last night, I fixed it. I tried to just pin and sew, but that didn't work, so I had to add a strip of flannel to the back and sew her up.


I will get at least another 6 months out of her!!! Is there really a good reason to buy new sheets if the old one only has a tear? I think not. What is something that you will fix, instead of repurchase? Do you have any tips to share? Send them to us at I would love to publish your ideas and photos.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

home made (adult themed) wrap-n-mats

Are you sick of buying Ziplock sandwich bags? I was, so I bought Wrap-N-Mats. W-N-M are these awesome reusable sandwich wrappers that are lined with vinyl or plastic, they seal with velcro. They keep your sandwich moist and they are completely reusable. Over the years, only one W-N-M survived the boys, so last school year, I decided to take the bull by the horns and make my own. I traced a pattern from the existing W-N-M, then figured out how to sew them up. I buy all my supplies at Joanne's, so if you have any fabric store near you, you can do it too.

This year, I got sick of using kid themed wraps for my own sammys, so I got grown-up fabric. To be specific, I bought pin-up girls, skulls, day of the dead, and sugar skulls fabric. Here are some of my most recent creations! (Apparently, I don't have any pics of the pin-up girls, but I will get some up soon.)

I will see you one for $10 plus shipping. Let me know if you want one. :)

The last picture was my first attempt at a vinyl lined, velcro closed fruit bag. It gets so annoying having fruit drip out of bags or not being able to fit apple slices into the only small containers that fit into the lunchbox. This is really ingenious, if you ask me! Now I am going to add utensil holders to the set! I am super excited!! 


I just checked out a friends blog, Leaner Sews. It hasn't been updated in quite a while, but what I saw there has inspired me to sew some utensil holders for the kids lunches. I can even use matching fabric from the wrap-n-mats I made. Did I ever post pics of those? If anyone wants one, I am selling them for $10 each, plus shipping. I will get those up ASAP! At any rate, when I get a chance, probably next week, I am going to make a pattern and sew these beauties up! Can't wait to post what the look like!!!! Thank Helena for your inspiration, ALWAYS!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What You've Missed

2011 In Photos 
January Cold

February Frost

March Pile-Up

April Road Trip

May Snow Showers

June Pride <3

July Beauty

There is so much more to show you, but I will just have to post little by little. 

Finally Home

Last week we moved into our new home in town. It's a two bedroom with a large living area and dining room and kitchen. I have been a cooking fiend since we moved in. I have energy, I feel alive! I have neighbors and a walking/hiking/running trail just across the street. I have friends and renewed ambition. I start school in the fall. NAU, environmental biology. I am ready to be done and move onto paying back all my loans. I shower almost every day. Not because I need to, but because I can. I'm sure that will ebb in a few more days.

I learned a lot about myself in the back country. First and foremost, I can always find a way to survive. No water, haul it in. No shower, whore bathe (baby-wipe wipe down). No room to cook, campfire. Cold, layer. Sad and bored, cry and make myself go to town. Get lost, reinvent myself. Need friends, get a job. Want something, make it happen.

Some other things I learned are that my friends love me, but they love plumbing equally. The boys are resilient. I actually enjoy washing dishes and cleaning house when it's not so much of a chore. Summers rock up here. There are many things I can do to make money besides working for someone else. Sometimes one small job can save a life. Or four. The internet is free at the library, why should I pay for it at home? And, I want to do something for my community; I'm just not sure what yet.

Tris has big news, too. She has been promoted to mechanic at the Harley-Davidson Proving Grounds. This is big, not only for personal growth, but because she is the first female mechanic they have ever had at the Proving Grounds. Way to go, Babe! It's probably the gayest job I can think of for her. She is excelling at her job, like only she can, ROCKET FAST! If you see her on the street sometime, shake that woman's hand! She is paving the way for other women to break into this very sexist world.

As for now, I am going to sign off. I am going to eat the vegan, wheat free, apple crisp I just made and enjoy the afternoon monsoon. I will be back sooner than later, with pictures of the new digs.

Friday, April 1, 2011


(Last years early tomato bounty)

I'm in Kingman today. I came here last night to spend the weekend with Tris. Her roommate Michelle, who owns Shelly Jo's vintage shop here, moved a to Kingman, a few weeks after Tris, with her hubby who also works for Harley. Michelle missed Phoenix life so much that she decided to do something about it. She started Kingman's very own First Friday Art Walk, and tonight is the premier! Go Michelle!!! So that is why I am here.

As I am laying here, contemplating my second shower in 12 hours, I am thinking of Phoenix myself. I miss my friends. This weekend we don't have kids. And in Phoenix that meant going to the Cash Inn Country for line dancing and two stepping, friends and fun. Although tonight should be fun, I am missing my friends and wishing to have some familiar faces around me. Moving is not what I thought it would be. I really thought I would have a visitor by now or a job or would have been able to go down to Phoenix some more. I did not think it would be so lonely here.

I have attempted to go to the local nursery for some gardening tips. but it was closed both times I tried. I guess I will have to try again. I'm just feeling down. Sorry for the sad post. I miss my gardens and my trees, my chickens and playing in the hose. I miss my porch and the rain hitting the skylights. I miss family dinners. I miss my life. I seemed to have misplaced or left behind all that makes me happy. Oh and my period is coming.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Living Without Water and Other Life Lessons

(This is what I look like today.)

As I mentioned in my last post, we don’t have running water at the trailer. I hadn’t said anything before because I guess I was a little angry or perhaps felt a little slighted by the universe about this. Oh and it’s a little awkward to explain some things about living without running water. 
I can only guess the first thing on your mind, how/where to we go to the bathroom? Outside. We have all plotted out our spot, dug a hole and use that place always. That is unless we are in town. The boys don’t mind pooping in public restrooms, but I do. Lesson One, I would rather squat in a bush in -20 degree cold than poo in a public restroom. I hate it. I have to give myself a pep talk and usually have to call Tris for one as well, when I just can’t hold it long enough to get back to the land. “Laugh it up, ladies.” (An often used quote from Number 2.)
The second question, and shoot, maybe the first for some people, how do we shower? We don’t. Simple as that. Every couple of days I baby wipe myself, and reapply my essential oil smells, but that’s about it. Now, it has not been sweat season, so my habit may change. Perhaps the worst part about this is that my hair starts feeling yucky to me after two weeks or so. (Oh, and the longest I have gone without a shower is 21 days.) I like clean hair as much as the next girl, so this part has been a challenge and something that I have felt bad about at times. I’m also growing out my hair so I can wear it in dreads, so there’s been more than a few ponytails and I hate pulling my hair back into a pony. It takes me back to my married days when I was so miserable that all I did was pull my hair back and go. I did have my friend, Michelle, in Kingman, cut some bangs to I add some style, then I dyed them pink. That helped. 
Holy, hairy tangent, sorry. Back to the shower. We have a shower stall in the bathroom. I once heated up a kettle of water, not enough, by the way, and dumped it on me in the shower. The water was hot, the air water frigid and then the shower wouldn’t drain! Miserable experience. I was standing in dirty water and I got the willy’s! Mind you, I will bathe in a lake any day of the week, but standing in my own warm used shower water was just gross. I don’t know, don’t ask. I have showered some 10 times since I moved here. Lesson Two, if someone offers me a shower I take it, unless they are offering to take it with me, then I respectfully decline. (Hasn’t happened yet, just a good thing to remember.) The kids shower at their dad’s house more often than I would like, so them not showering here is fine by me. 
Question three, how do we wash the dishes? No, of course I don’t use disposable dishes. EVER. If you will recall, when we moved, we packed exactly five of everything, as far as dishes and silverware. My friend Carrie had some extra cast iron posts that she traded us for some other things, so when I use those, I just wipe them out with water and sometimes re-oil. The rest of the dishes, I wash and rinse in the sink. I heat up water on the stove in the kettle, very hot, add that to a little cold water and lavender castile soap and wash away. Lesson Three, a whole load, I’m talking a few days worth, (I don’t like doing dishes) can be done using less than a gallon of water. It’s true. Try it someday. 
Drinking water was purchased in gallon jugs from the Safeway until last week when my awesome sister, Kimmy, brought me a few items from our yellow house in Phoenix, including our water crock and two five gallon jugs to refill. Oh happy day! The other gallon jugs, after the drinking water is drunk, are used for our potable water collection. I have collected 16 jugs that take about two weeks to use, but I usually never let them get so low. The Texaco up the street, well 4 miles up the street, sells potable water for $.10 a gallon. They have taken a liking to us, or feel sorry for us, because sometimes we get it for free. Lesson Four, conserving water is easier when accessibility to water is harder. Welcome to the future people. I would start saving that water now, or twenty years from now, you will think back on this post and say, “Now what was it the Queer Hippies did for a shower?”
That’s probably enough about the water. Here are some other things that I have learned. *Slipping on ice sucks. Falling from 5’7” is much more painful than falling from 4’. At least it must be because when I fell, Number 1 laughed and Number 2 asked if it was fun. *I am strong and brave and quite capable of handling anything that comes my way. *Voice notes on my phone are handy when I need to jot something down while I am driving and since I drive a minimum of an hour and a half and a maximum of five hours a day. This is a tool I have used the crap out of. *The whole cast iron pan gets hot, the dish part that holds the food and the handle! I don’t know how many burns it will take me to really get this one, but maybe the last time with actually be the last time. *I can start and finish a novel in less than six hours when I have nothing else to do. *Cooking over burning pinon and juniper makes food taste so much better. *And finally being alone is sometimes the hardest, best thing that can happen to a girl. 
**Somehow I forgot laundry. I am fortunate enough to have been offered a washer and dryer at one of my employers homes. I wash a load every week, but it’s about time to do the sheets, so maybe two next week. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Honestly Living

(When the propane runs out, cook on the fire.)

It would be misleading to tell you that living so simply is easy. In fact, it's quite the opposite. And yet everyday I get up and greet the sun, even if I had to get up before it for several months.

Spring is coming. I say coming because I thought it was already here, but then 2 feet of snow dumped on us. It turns out I need the sunshine to keep a good mood. I have been very depressed the last few months, hence the not writing thing. In all honesty, there are several poo-y entries that I didn't post because they were reactionary downers.

Moving is hard anyway. Meeting new people has been difficult for me. What?!, you say. Yes, it's true. The further into myself I got, the less I was confident, the worse I would feel. Terrible cycle. I decided early this month that that had to stop. I have met some great people though.

Brenda is an RN in labor and delivery that I met a while before we moved and now babysit for. She and her husband are smart, funny and earth friendly. They have two wee boys that I love. She tells me sometimes that I am a saving grace, but I don't think she realizes what a savior she has been for me. You see when it's winter, there is no living, only surviving; something I am sure pioneer women before me knew from infancy. I don't want to just survive. I want to live. I want to be productive and useful and Brenda gave me that. I will be forever grateful.

Rebecca is another outstanding woman that I babysit for. She also has two little ones. One baby girl and one little boy. Rebecca lives apart from her partner too, so we have that in common. She has also welcomed me into her home and let me be useful. I love to cook for her and clean up. I love to hang the laundry out to dry and bring the wood in from the cart out back. Usefulness is uplifting.

Then there's Shelly and Laurie. They have a son in Number 3's class. I met Laurie first, on the sidewalk outside of the school. When the four of us (Tris and I and Shelly and Laurie) get together, the conversation doesn't stop. It's such a huge relief to hang out with another queer couple. It's like a little bit of Phoenix has caught up with us. Shelly and Laurie are really funny and very smart. We talk about queerness and running and parenting and love.

The trailer has a new name; The Tin Can. It's a very negative name for something so trustworthy as the roof over our heads. I guess I gave it that name in anger. Aside from plumbing problems, the first thaw revealed a leak in the roof. And we still do not have running water. A fact I have not revealed to my mother, so, please if you know her, don't mention this. It will only worry her. We get by without it. My next post will be a revelation of the many things I have learned about living out here.

This weekend, I am beginning month four and things are easing a bit for me. The sun is shining. Daytime temps are in the mid to high 50's. The kids are adjusting well and are more grateful for the little pleasure than ever before. I am writing again. Tris has been smiling and laughing, a sure sign the world is right. I am gearing up to get back to school and finish once and for all. I have jobs, however close to the edge I may be skimming. I have a few almost-friends in Williams also; several women I could call for a early dinner date or coffee. I am getting ready to plan my small container garden. I am learning to be grateful for what I do have and what I have had.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Wrote This on Tuesday

It’s sunny in my room today. Earlier, I was hanging out in the boys room/living room because that’s where the sun is in the morning. What a drastic change from this sun is from the morning. It was windy and snowing. All the snow has since melted, just like last week, but unlike last week, warm weather is predicted to follow in the next few days. Last week was cold cold cold! 
I can’t really give you a week by week rundown because all the days blend. It’s been a fun, challenging, lonely, lively and unpredictable six weeks. I can count on one hand the number of showers I have taken since the move. One of only a few challenges. The first weeks were spent trying to assimilate into this new and very quiet environment. Our small trailer is located 10 miles from Williams toward the Grand Canyon and another 2 miles off the highway. My neighbors are blue birds and coyote howls. 
Actually, I do have real people neighbors, but I think it’s like summer in Phoenix here; you don’t leave your house very often. I have taken a few walks, but have not seen any one else about. 
In the mornings, there are a few roosters that crow until well after sunrise and the cows reply. Number Three always yells for the animals to shut up if he is still trying to sleep after I have sounded the get up alarm. It’s a half hearted plea on his behalf. We all know that if they were our animals, he’d be the first to wake up with them, feed them and give them water. (We had to give our Phoenix chickens to our dear friends Jeanette and Mary because we are just not ready to have them here yet. When we do get more chickens, they will most likely be from up here so they will be already acclimated to the snow and cold. 
Since I don’t have a job yet, I have been knitting and reading a bunch. I finish one to three novels a week, depending on length, and I have been working on some original knitting designs to consign with my friends Phoenix co-op. I have come up with a few head bands, a scarf and some cuff designs. I did have an interview today at Safeway for a Starbucks position. I won’t find out anything until next weeks drug test, but I am sure I have the job. 
The lonely I feel is partly because of my distance from anyone, partly because I see Tris for only 48 ish hours a week and partly because I just don’t know very many people. Most of you know me, you know that I am not a shy person, but geez am I having a hard time finding a knitting group, a sewing bee, women who want to cook dinner while having a glass of wine or anything else! I have gone so far as asking people to be my friend, like the grocery store clerk and the lady I babysat for yesterday, who by the way, is a crafter and really cool girl. (I met her when I helped deliver a baby in Sedona. She is an labor and delivery RN. We reconnected through a mutual acquaintance.) The only thing I have yet to try is joining a church, and God help me if that’s my only viable option! I’m fairly sure there are no churches for the likes of me. Maybe I’ll look for a coven. 
Besides that boring and depressing stuff, life here is pretty rhythmic. Our alarm goes off before the sun rises and the rooster crows. We are up two hours and twenty minutes before we have to be at the boys school. It’s a full two hours too. When we get up, I put the boys clothes on the radiating heaters to warm them up. Each boy gets dressed, one at a time. Then it’s breakfast preparation time. Usually Number Three and One want a hot breakfast and Number Two wants cereal or fruit. At 7:05, my alarm goes off again to signal that it is time for me or Number Two to turn on the car. We leave it on for 15 minutes to warm up, otherwise it’s rough and cold going for the 40 mile drive to school. 
We leave the trailer with heavy jackets, snow boots (when appropriate), gloves, lunches, books and instruments in hand by 7:30, and that’s if we are running late. It takes about 40 minutes to drive to their school in Flagstaff. Unless it is snowing and the people of Northern Arizona forget how to drive, like this morning, then it takes a bit long and much more patience on my part. For the most part, on I-40, I drive 10 under the limit to save on gas. We are driving T’s truck and it takes a little over a tank to drive for a week. 
Every other Monday I stay in Flagstaff because I drop off and pick up the baby children from school. Those days I usually spend a good deal of time at the Flagstaff main library branch. I met a really cool lady there, but I don’t remember her name. She’s a knitter also. Sometimes I spend time at Macy’s Coffee, downtown by NAU. They have superb coffee and awesome vegan food. Here’s a tidbit about Flafstaff that astounds me; none of the bathrooms have coat hooks, either inside the stalls or outside. What the crap is that about? What are you supposed to do with your coat while you pee? 

I will leave you with that and a promise to update again very soon. This weeks readings include a book on making cheese and another by MaryJane Butters called For the Farmgirl in All of Us. I am also reading Living Artfully, by Sandra Magsamen, Water For Elephants, so I am ready for the movie, and the second book in the Dragon Girl series, The Girl Who Played With Fire. 
Just a few shot of the trailer. I have hung up a few pieces of art work since these were taken. The one at the very top is our sunny room. To the left is the boys room/living room. Middle is the kitchen and to the right is the fridge, the bathroom and the view to our room. Tight living, but organized. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ugh. I'm Sorry

I had this whole fucking post written out and it was gorgeous, but the universe apparently has other plans for me, so I guess I will try again later. Blah!