Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sky Bus Living

Life is taking on an entirely new set of rhythms, and it's been challenging to adjust to them, but also very rewarding.  This shifting from one kind of life to another is kind of like when you're listening to music on your headphones and you walk into a room where some other music is playing.  For a minute, it's chaotic, until the old music fades out.

To put it in perspective:  I went from living in an on-grid house on a busy street corner in town to living in a bus with no electricity other than what batteries provide, a 5-gallon bucket under the sink to catch water that comes out of the 7-gallon container on the counter which is filled by hand from the 55-gallon drum outside (which is in turn filled from the community well down the road), a bathroom with a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on it and a container full of sawdust nearby for scooping into it, a two-burner Coleman stove and a charcoal grill for cooking, and nothing around me but sky, sagebrush, and a few scattered dwellings.  Well, and a heck of a lot more birds than I would have imagined.  Twice, I've had hummingbirds fly into the Sky Bus, check things out for a sec, then fly back out.

The biggest part of the chaos has been adjusting my work schedule.  I have to say, I'm really grateful to be living a freelance life where I can actually do that.  My original thought was that I would come into town to work three days a week, but it's not turning out that way, for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it's too hot to work on the building site in the middle of the day.  So I've been coming into town almost every weekday, mostly in the afternoons.  That way I can work on the land in the cool mornings and early evenings. I'm definitely having less time for blogging though.  I've been keeping up with most of the earthbag and off-grid bloggers that I follow, but often don't have time to comment.

All in all, life is good at Serendipity.  I would love to know who took that old schoolbus and turned it into the wonderful little home that it is.  Someone put a lot of thought and love into the design, and care into the work of it.  The kitchen, though small, is very functional, and in fact has the best pantry I've ever had.  The cereal boxes actually fit standing up!

The bathroom is tiny, so I don't have room to build a housing for my sawdust toilet, but I've been completely blown away by how well this system works.  The sawdust completely covers any odor or grossness, and it's just as comfortable to use as a regular toilet - if not moreso.  I'm sold.  And it's pretty darn cool that I can pick up bags of sawdust for a buck each at the sawmill that's on the way into town.

As for the bucket under the sink, I was just telling someone today how satisfying it is to take water that you've used for cooking and cleaning, and carry it by hand out to a tree that you're watering with it.  In the midst of sagebrushland, I am blessed to have four baby pine trees growing in the immediate vicinity of the bus.  This morning I finally got around to mulching them, but I've been watering them regularly since we moved in almost a month ago.

The best thing about the Sky Bus is the bedroom I share with Eliana.  I have rarely enjoyed sleeping anywhere as much as I have this room.  It's cozy, and breezy (has a skylight I can wind open and closed), and comfy like a bedroom should be.  And, it's pretty.  I am a girl after all.

Incidentally, I'm having a buswarming party next weekend (July 2), so if you're in the area and would like to come, email me and I'll give you directions.  You can bring a tent and spend the night.

And now, for a little before-and-after:

Front of bus before


Kitchen before


Graeme chillin' at the table.  He calls the bus our "summer house."
Bedroom before.  That tire now sits in my yard awaiting soil and plants.
Bedroom after
The cats love it.  And let me tell you a little story about that calico, Roxie.  She was the whiniest, most annoying cat EVER until we moved to the mesa.  She's a completely different cat now - quiet, calm.  And a dang good mouser.  On the other hand, Higglebottom, the other cat, is and always will be the chillest cat in the universe.
Bedroom detail.  Another little story:  I grabbed that Into the Wild DVD insert when I was packing to move.  I always put DVDs in a sleeve binder, then don't know what to do with the cases.  Since I adore this movie, I kept this one, and for whatever reason, decided to put it up in the bus....without even thinking about the fact that the guy in the story lived and died in a bus.  Hmmm.  

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Breaking Ground

Eliana in the Sky Bus bedroom
So much has happened since I last posted, I hardly know where to start.  So instead of trying to go back and retrace all my steps, I'll start with the (relative) present:

Last Friday June 17 we broke ground.

Graeme and I went out to the building site that morning to hack at sagebrush in the wind and sun.  Graeme's actually been doing a lot of this already; he's cleared a path to the bus from the parking area, and another path that now leads from the bus to a wonderful little sitting area, complete with a firepit and solar footlights.

But Friday was my first time attempting to clear sagebrush.  From how quickly Graeme's been able to it, I was under the  impression that it would be easier than it actually turned out to be.  I started out with a garden rake, then moved to a pitchfork, then a shovel, before I realized I was going to have to narrow my scope.  I'm just not in good enough shape (yet) to wield those tools against sagebrush with any success.  I ended up sitting on the ground with a trowel and garden fork, working one square foot at a time - not of sage but of this strange, dry, curly grass-like stuff which proved to be extremely strongly rooted.  Tenacious is the word I kept thinking.  I left the sagebrush to Graeme, who has developed a whole system for it, including the use of a baseball bat.

I had to laugh because when I got up that morning, I had this grand idea that we would clear the whole site in a couple of hours, then move on to staking out the domes.  And maybe even start digging the plumbing!  As I sat there in the dirt, I realized yet again how manageable portions tend to be much smaller than I initially envision, and how everything takes longer than I think it will.  I could say a lot about that actually, giving many many examples of late, but it's not worth the time it would take.

Suffice it to say that I am beginning to relax into this totally new life, its rhythms and challenges, and things are getting done.  The serendipity has not left me, but sometimes I have to slow down enough to recognize it, to open the door when it comes quietly knocking.  The other day, for instance, I had this whole big list of things I was going to do, and due to an unforeseen minor crisis, I found myself stuck at the coffee shop where I've been doing my writing work lately.  But rather than get frustrated and anxious, I just rolled with it, and it turned out to be an extremely profitable day.  My plumber friend, who is a VERY busy guy, just happened to have some time to come and meet me to go over my plumbing plans, and then a guy I know but hadn't seen in a long time just happened to show up, and just happened to know where I can get 1200 free bags (!), plenty of free barbed wire, and cheap or possibly free scoria.

So yeah.  Plans are good, but life knows better.  And I'm in training to become as tenacious as that crazy grass.