Update: Late Spring 2019

Standard
Grey clouds are lit from behind over a vast expanse of New Mexico sage
Clouds to the west of our land on a Saturday afternoon in May of 2019.

It’s been a while since I shared an update on what’s happening in my life. It feels like a lot has happened, but not much has changed. Perhaps the problem is that all the things that have happened don’t seem exciting enough for a blog post.

We’ve been living on our land for nearly two months now. We look at mountains and sky every day. The view is amazing. I particularly like to watch the clouds.

Blue sky and puffy white clouds above a camper surrounded by New Mexico sage
This is not our land, but this is what our land looked like before The Man cleared it.

When The Man cleared our property, he removed all the sage plants so rattlesnakes would have fewer places to hide. We were mostly worried for Jerico the dog. A snake bite would be a big ordeal for someone weighing only 35 pounds. Now we wish we had left some vegetation on our property. The Man is trying to grow some grass. We bought a drought-resistant blend from the local hardware store, but so far we’re not having much luck with it. The Man is experimenting with different planting and watering techniques. I recently noticed little green plants volunteering all over our property, so maybe with the sage gone, native plants will make a comeback.

After weeks of struggle, The Man got our solar power system up and running. After watching numerous YouTube videos, he ended up consulting with a representative of a local company that sells and installs solar power setups. He finally got it all figured out, and from the moment everything was connected, it’s all be running fine. The sun rises before 6am these days, and our batteries begin charging immediately. We have enough energy to ignite the refrigerator pilot light (the fridge runs primarily on propane but has an electric starter—ditto the heater), run lights and television (!) at night, charge our electronics, and power The Man’s electric guitar and amplifier. All our needs are met, and I’m proud to get our power from the sun.

We joined the local water association, so we can haul our water from a location closer to our place and pay less for it than we’d been paying in town. We got a 55 gallon, BPA free barrel for hauling the water as well as a 195 gallon reservoir in which to store the water. I’ll be glad to have to haul water less frequently. Going to town every four or five days to buy water was getting to be a real drag.

We put up a prefab metal shed. We completed the project in about four days. First The Man (with a bit of help from me) built the floor from tongue and groove plywood and 4x4s. By the time the floor was complete, the wind had picked up, and we didn’t want to deal with sharp-edged metal panels. We called it a day.

The next day we (mostly he) got the side, back, and front walls built before the wind started. Our first step in wall building was sorting the components. There were probably 100 parts to the shed (mostly sheets of thin metal), and they were boxed together in no particular order. As we sorted according to five-digit numbers stamped on the components, we found many of the pieces had been bent during shipping and had to be finessed back into shape. Once we started the actual building of the walls, we discovered the instructions (mostly drawings with few words) were difficult to decipher. We were pretty sure the person who’d written (drawn) the directions had never actually constructed the shed in question.

Two small green plants growing in the dirt
Some of the plants volunteering on our land.,

On the third day, we put the walls up and attached them to each other and the floor. The process was not nearly as simple as the preceding sentence makes it sound. When The Man started putting up the second side wall, he realized the directions had told him to put a corner in the wrong place. He had to correct the mistake while I held the other two walls in place. When The Man started putting in screws to hold the walls together, he found the manufacturer of the shed had put holes for screws in one panel but not the other. He had to push hard to get the screws through the second piece of metal.

Once the walls were up, we had to construct the roof. Before we were done, we’d run out of the plastic washers that went with the screws to help keep water out of the shed. The kit had come with at least fifty extra screws but not a single extra washer. We had no idea why the manufacturer didn’t throw in a few extra of the kit’s cheapest part. Luckily we found a few washers to do the job in our stash of fasteners.

After about four hours of work, all that was missing was the door. The Man and I were both tired and hungry, and we needed to run some errands in town. We’ll finish this later, The Man grumbled.

The wind had come up strong by then, but the shed didn’t move, even without the door. We were away from home for at least four hours; when we returned, the shed was still standing. We were certainly grateful for this demonstration of the shed’s sturdiness.

While I cooked diner, The Man assembled the shed’s door.

Oh no! I messed it up! I heard him say. He’d used his intuition instead of the instructions, and things hadn’t turned out the way he’d hoped. So he took the door apart and followed the directions exactly. The door was still wrong! Following the directions hadn’t helped one bit!

White metal shed against an overcast sky
Our shed, complete.

Somehow he got the components of the door assembled, and I helped him hang it. Finally—success! After dinner, he dragged the shed where he wanted it on our property. (We built it close to the trailer and not where we actually wanted it to sit because we wanted the trailer to serve as a windbreak during construction.) While I washed the dishes, he loaded the shed with tools and plastic totes and water jugs. Later, I found a padlock and key in the junk drawer and brought it outside to lock the shed’s door. We stood in front of the shed for a few moments and admired our work.

I’m convinced that if our relationship survived us building that shed together, it can survive anything.

I took all the photos in this post.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

12 Responses »

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! Glad to know North Carolina is following me. Some of my favorite people are from that state.

  1. Ive been a contractor all my life – fixing things, building things, figuring things out – when I took on the task of assembling one of those sheds I said “omg! Never again!!” Props to you both

    • My guy is very handy…he’s worked on construction crews, framed houses, etc. I understand why the thing was hard for me, but if it was hard for him…well, it was a difficult task. I don’t know how people with no background in building even manage to complete such a project.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Well done! Is it possible to construct somewhat below ground? Are your young volunteers possibly “pigweed? (Although it doesn’t look like the plant I’m used to….Which is delicious, BTW) Maybe you can sow seeds of some very hardy edible ” weeds” that seem to thrive in very harsh conditions, ie parking lots, road medians, etc. They may be alien species but they’re still food…..

    • As far constructing below ground…the ground is pretty much pure clay that dries rock hard. Below the rock hard earth is…rock. Big rocks. Lots of big rocks. Several different projects The Man has undertaken involved digging. He had to alter his plans because the digging didn’t go so well.

      There is a guy not too far from us who seems to have some sort of underground bunker. We’re not sure if he hired a backhoe or what.

      Is pigweed the same as lamb’s quarters? Some of the plants I see growing remind me of lamb’s quarters (called quelites in these parts). I’ll know better when they get bigger. I know lamb’s quarters do grow in the area (although maybe not in our immediate area) and they are edible.

      Maybe dandelions would grow where we are…

      Good idea, btw, to sow hardy edible plants for eating.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Congrats on the shed! I must have missed a post, I thought you could not live on this property? I hate when I miss something. 🙂

    • The property we couldn’t live on that we got our money back on was in Southern New Mexico. We are now in Northern New Mexico.

      Thanks for reading and commenting and for your congrats on the shed.

  4. Ha! I love your conclusion. My parents used to say their relationship could survive anything but wallpapering.

    • Ha! Ha! I’ve never tried wallpapering, but with that sort of recommendation, I don’t think I ever will.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Coyote Sue. I always love to hear what you have to say.

Leave a Reply to Blaize Sun Cancel reply