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.