The Night the Lights Went Out in Animas

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-11-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-veI was in the orchard brushing out our Great Pyrenees, Sydney, when the power went out. Covered in dog hair and in desperate need of a shower, the sun was setting, and I had yet to make dinner. I put down the brush and stood to shake off the hair. Normally I would have marveled at the sunset, but I was hungry and was in no mood to feel around in the dark for something to eat.

I peeled off my clothes in the greenhouse and found Ron at the dining room table changing the batteries in our flashlights. When he finished, he called a friend at the Columbus Electric Co-op. The news was bad. Power was out for miles and would be for hours. I grabbed a portable camping lantern and went to the kitchen.

Our kitchen stove is electric, so I piled chicken, veggies, and seasonings into a cast iron skillet, grabbed the lantern along with the comal and headed out to the greenhouse where I fired up the Camp Chef. While the fajitas sizzled, Ron made me a margarita. In the dark without music or the radio, I felt like I was back in Honduras where, years ago, I had managed to live quiet comfortably without electricity.

I sometimes complain about living so far out in the country. We must plan for everything including the unexpected. I keep a shopping list next to my computer, a month supply of toilet paper in the basement, and rely on my imagination when I run low on groceries. Ron has unwillingly become our electrician, mechanic, plumber, carpenter and all around handyman simply because there isn’t anyone to call within a hundred miles. But as I flipped tortillas, the pair of Great Horned owls who live in our pine trees called to each other, and I was reminded why I chose this lifestyle.

During dinner I admitted I had enjoyed cooking over an open flame and that it had brought back some wonderful memories. Ron said he didn’t mind the interruption either. Wrapped in a cocoon of quiet darkness, we talked about building a fire pit in the clearing out in the orchard.

Little Spaces in Big Places

2017-10-30 17.38.27I spent this week cleaning up after remodeling our bunkhouse. It’s a small one bedroom with a kitchen, bathroom, and a living room big enough for a sofa and chair. As I went about wiping down walls and scrubbing out the shower, I fantasized about moving in; how nice it would be to have a small house to clean. My animals would still have plenty of space to romp around outside. I would finally have a reason to get rid of the mountain of stuff I’ve collected over the years.

Across the orchard sits the house Ron and I live in. It’s a lovely log home set against the desert landscape where dust collects in every nook and cranny making cleaning a nightmare. The logs need Murphy’s Oil Soap and my nemeses, the stone fireplace, requires air blasting. My lower back screams for relief as I vacuum and sweep floors. My hands ache while wringing out rags. There are times I feel at war with this place. Papers, glasses, phone cords, napkins, coffee cups, etc. clutter counter tops and tables as though invisible hands are at work to disarm me. All this takes valuable time. Time I would rather spend reading or writing or visiting family and friends or hiking or bird-watching or napping.

The house feels heavy with all the stuff we have collected over the past year, and I’ve started filling trash bags headed for either the dump or Goodwill. But that’s only part of the problem. There is also the matter of our crazy schedule. Ron and I continually promise each other we are going to slow down, but to date, we haven’t done a thing to make that happen.

I don’t know how it has come to this: two trucks, three sets of dishes, plastic bins stuffed with extra pillows, blankets, table clothes, and a closet full of clothes I will never wear. My attire at the ranch consists of short skirts and t-shirts in the summer and yoga pants and sweatshirts in the winter. Sure I make an effort when I leave the house, but nowadays that happens so infrequently, I could get away with half the clothes I own.

There was a time in my life when I owned very little. I lived without electricity and an intermittent water supply among farmers in Honduras. Without a vehicle, I either hitch-hiked or took a bus and everything I owned fit into a hiker’s backpack. I didn’t worry about paying bills, making appointments, or juggling a hectic schedule. I got up with the chickens and went to bed when the sun went down. I had few worries and really didn’t appreciate my circumstances until years later, like now, when I reflect on the joys of a modest life.

Yesterday I got online and ordered a shower curtain, knobs for the kitchen cabinets, and curtains for the bunkhouse. I’m fully aware it adds more things to my already crowded life, but I want this new space to reflect what it is I aspire to—a small, comfortable home unencumbered by a never ending to-do list and the weighty feeling of being surrounded by an abundance of junk I don’t need or will never use.

I’m planning to invite Ron for date night over to the bunkhouse—the small simple space I yearn for. Maybe we’ll both be inspired to do things differently.