Hey all! I was debating whether or not to start this thread, because I'm taking on a different sort of role here at Wheaton Labs, which is that of "Rental Manager & Event Coordinator", rather than full-time boot doing all of the fun build-y things. However, Dez and Nine are just making this BRK stuff look like too much fun. Plus I relish the idea of having a journal of all of my activities here at WL -- and thinking that some of you out there might enjoy seeing one more perspective is a fun thought too.
A little background and some pics from "before"... I joined permies back in 2016, when I was witnessing a different kind of human relationship with nature. I was part of the JET program in Japan at the time, in a prefecture called Shimane, which lies on the west coast/Sea of Japan side. Shimane is one of the least-populated prefectures and is home to stunning scenery. Some of my fondest memories were made in those two years, and one thing that made a deep impression on me was the way peoplethink of nature in Japan. Aside from Tokyo, one of the most densely-populated areas in the world, much of Japan is still very rural. Rice paddies as far as the eye can see. Shrine gates popping up out of nowhere, temples tucked away everywhere. Handcrafted things that melt into the scenery and become part of the landscape. I was amazed at the seamless way that these people folded themselves into the mountains; the way they learned to shape themselves around the trees, instead of the other way around. The way the creatures were revered, instead of made to seem lesser-than-human. Of course Japan, like many other places, is home to many atrocities against the natural world. But it seemed to me that there was a more widely accepted understanding of the way our prosperity is directly linked to the prosperity of our home; like they simply understood that this earth is alive. That it is not immortal, or something to be conquered. They accept their place as brief - just a moment in time - whereas the earth will go on... As long as we allow and encourage it to.
It seems wild to me that I'm now living here at WL, almost five years later. When I first visited back in September, I was taken in by the vision and the goals of the community. But really, it was (and is) the People. I am surrounded by good, kind people here, and this is a happy place. So I've come to stay for a while, and hopefully a long time. I hope to bring joy to my fellow members of our little oddball community. And I hope to help it grow!
I sat down and began to type about the cold rain today, which while standing in it made me remember how frozen my feet would get trudging through miles of snow on the pct, and how miserable that made me. But that would be something like admitting defeat so let's move on right away from that, into all of the beautiful things that happened today.
After another setback at the Shanndelier, Fred & Nine came to my rescue, assessing the situation and deciding what needs to be done. We ended up going for a cold-yet-lovely walk through the wet trees to the Abbey to gather supplies. Having Fred back in the community after his winter time away has been such a joy. We all stood on the front deck of Alllerton Abbey as he described the history of the place, how it was built, what is still to be done. Jen has only been here a few weeks but she Gets It, and several times in the story we caught each others' eyes to smile at the classic WL "ness" of this story. Jen has great forward momentum and I hope she sticks around for a long time to help keep that movement alive. I also hope she sticks around to walk in cold and wet from work, announce that she is eating pie for dinner, immediately split the rest of it in two, and present half of it to me on a plate. And then proceed to spear entire beets on her fork and munch them while we stand around consuming leftovers from days past.
In the midst of this splendid scene, who should walk in but CLAYTON (causing me to shriek embarrassingly) with that beautiful Clayton smile that is just so easy for him to summon. Clayton brings an excellent energy to the room, so unassuming, and he and Josiah are like brothers reunited after too long apart. Then, Dez vacated a rather large cubby, and offered it to me. And now it sports a label which says my name. I also burned some words into a piece of wood for the first time. So tonight has been merry, after a day of standing in clouds of creosote and the wet cold. I am happy to be surrounded by my friends, this little strange family of vagabonds we have collected.
Today was a great thaw after weeks of cold and the ground was squishy and soggy, but it seems there is more snow in the forecast for the week. So we are planning our seed meeting for Wednesday. More Love Shack progress. Finding the solution for the endless chain of Shanndelier Shenanigans. But now, Paul and Fred are chatting happily next to me, Clayton and Josiah are laughing through their Himalayan yoga on the floor, and all is great & good.
We had our seed meeting today. Jen created a spreadsheet to organize our inventory, some of the boots did some threshing, and then we sat and chatted for a long time (with the company of the duke) and discussed best ways to make the most of the base camp garden this year: how to make it productive, who will be responsible for which bits of it, how it will get planted, many considerations. At lunch we sang Beyonce and Alicia Keys. I started the week off with a really late night so I've been feeling a bit drained and that feeling sank into me this afternoon.
Clayton, Fred, and I went to the Shanndelier after lunch and affixed some new plastic to the roof, which we then covered with dirt and debris to protect it from degrading in the sun. We also removed the "retaining wall" which was not retaining anything, and which we'll have to replace sometime soon. I felt like a bird building a cold nest on that roof, covering wet cow-pie-consistency mud with evergreen needles and other debris, and willing it to stay put. After finishing the roof, we began to reassemble the stovepipe, which was challenging, as I had dismantled it to brush it out; the structure houses a tiny camp stove, designed (I learned today) for army tents, and the pipe needs to be cleaned out because it does not burn hot enough to burn very clean, like a rocket mass heater. I think I got that right. Still learning. Anyway we reassembled that pipe and found plenty of humor in the whole ordeal, especially after we took apart the stove itself and Fred attempted to hammer the walls straight. The final test was the fire... which we lit after it was all put back together. And it definitely got warmer in there. But of course, more shenanigans. More to figure out by Monday.
Post-work shower was glory because I was really cold today. And then it was almost time for taco tuesday! And we had delicious guacamole tonight, one of my favorites which always reminds me of my best friend, who makes the best guacamole, and also my cousin and her boyfriend, who also make the best guacamole. We sat and ate delicious burrito tacos and had community business. I cleaned out some cubbies, and then I cleaned out the fridge - the most annoying bit of the fridge - the door. The condiments. The jams. The obscure salad dressings. The anchovy paste with anchovy all around the outside of it. mmm. Satisfying organizational bits of the day really light my fire. And now I sit here, Dez plays guitar in the other room, we make plans to hang the new tipi canvas tomorrow, and everything is all good.
Today dawned beautiful and sunny, a truly 'big sky' kind of day. The blue stretched out above us. The morning was spent out there in the sunshine, hanging the new canvas for the tipi. The old one rotted badly, so this time, I take it upon myself, and call upon others to keep me accountable, to delegate and take responsibility for its care, and make sure that it lasts longer than the last time. The tipi will last longer and be happier if someone is in there, heating it, airing it out, enjoying it. Living it. And so it shall be.
I brought my dslr and my GoPro out with us this morning, and it was an exhilarating return to my love of photography and videography, which I've been neglecting for way too long. With one I filmed our process, and with the other I took a time-lapse. So fun. We had to: chip away at the ice binding the fabric of the structure to the frozen ground, take down the rotted canvas, lay out the new one on a flat-ish bit of land, lash it to the lifting pole, roll each side into the pole at the middle, and then carry it over to the tipi, where we lifted it into place and unfurled the beautiful new ivory spectacle. And dang we just had a really fun time with it all.
Starting the morning with eggy fried rice filled me up for the better part of the day, so for lunch I just had a pb&j and some yummy leftover potatoes. And chips. And then I had a meeting and office time, wherein I wrote emails and did research, while running laundry for rentals, and planning out the rest of the week. I filled the evening with nest labor and chores, and then the real fun began: Clayton cooked dahl for dinner and man, he nailed it. Dez put on Deadmau5, and I moved my feet to some of my favorite beats. And then I got to spend some real QT with Dez and Clayton and we had some quality chats (and tasty snacks). We talked about Love Languages, which has been a hot topic recently. And I'm just going to drop those right here, because we always seem to forget just one while listing them out in conversation (this has happened so many times it's comical):
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
So we discussed them and tried to name each others' languages. Mine are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. And this is always a great conversation because I learn so much about my friends that I may not have realized before, or may have perceived totally differently. Dez and Clayton are both so fun to talk to, so perceptive in ways I am not, and both so thoughtful and open. Each so wise in their own way. And each of us, we realized late in the conversation, is ten years apart from the other. How wild is that?
I'm left once again feeling so very grateful to be surrounded by these good people.
The vibe in the house is gentle right now, because Nine has instated Poetry Night on thursday nights, and we all shared poems and excerpts and songs in the dimly lit room. Clayton made curry which was creamy and delicious and he also just walked over and handed me a cup of Ashwagandha milk (thank you so much) which I am hoping will help strengthen me against this little bug we have going around. I spent the day alone which was rejuvenating and fun because I played music and sang to myself. But I'm feeling a little weak and looking forward to going to bed very early once I finish this post.
I cleaned the Shanndelier for most of the day, besides doing some office stuff and rental manager chores in the morning time. More shenanigans to figure out this weekend. But it actually looks like a habitable place now and it is very sweet. The to-do list for this weekend is getting expansive. But I'm hoping to find some time to get to know the library a bit better.
Sorry this is short but now I am sleepy. Enjoy this video of kittens playing!
Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal! And this tiny ad too!
Profitable Permaculture in the Far North with Richard Perkins - Gracie's backyard