Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dirt is Heavy

I have been thoroughly enjoying living on my land, but I have to say, July was a frustrating month of major obstacles.  Trying to get anything done in July was like trying to ride a bicycle backwards.  I knew going in that things could take longer than I was planning but had no idea just how incredibly slowly it all would move.  Part of it is because of things like computer problems and checks that came late - things unforeseen and not directly related to the building work.  But part of it is that I didn't have a clear idea just how long it takes, and what hard work it is, to clear and level a pad by hand.

We started, as I've mentioned here before, by hacking away the sagebrush.  In retrospect, that was the easy part, although it's probably good that I didn't know that at the time.  And that grass, oh my God, the grass.  That stuff has incredibly deep roots, and it's hard to even see where it all is.  I'd think I'd gotten most of it but then I'd notice  - oops, here's a spot, there's a spot.  And have to drag the mattock out again.

I got to a point with it where I just wanted to do something, anything to feel like I was making progress, so even though the site was still all lumpy and sloped, I put my center stakes in for the two main domes, and tied rope to them, which I had premeasured to the radius of each dome.  Then I drew out the circles and marked them with orange chalk powder.  Somehow seeing it laid out like that cheered me and gave me a new sense of momentum and energy to go back to dealing with the clearing/leveling process.

Doesn't look like much, but believe me, this represents hours and hours of hard work.
But then, wouldn't you know it, it started raining.  Which, as anyone who lives in a dry climate knows, one may NOT EVER complain about, so I won't.  I don't even want to; the rain has been glorious in many ways and for a variety of reasons which I'll go into some other time.  However, it washed my orange circles away as well as prevented work on the site for several days, during which time the grass GREW.  Aargh.  Well, at least it was more visible now.  And truth be told, it's nice grass and I'm sure I'll enjoy having it around my house, once it's built.  Just not IN my house, thank you very much.

Anyway, in the past few days I've managed, with Graeme's help, to churn up what was left of the grass (I think, I hope) in the circle of the main dome.  And since then, I've been shoveling and raking and shoveling and raking to redistribute the soil from the highest places in the circle to the lowest.  It's getting there, although I hesitate to say, "I'm almost done," as I've said that before and then been disappointed when I realized I wasn't anywhere near.

But out of all this - this long drawn out building process and readjusting my entire life to living in a bus and doing all my work at a cafe and hauling heavy things like water and dirt around and dealing with dead rodents my cat brings in and watching the enormous moon rise full over the little lights of Taos spread out and waking in the middle of the night to seven cows surrounding the bus and spectacular skyscapes daily and on and on - dare I say it - I've developed patience.  

I'm not in a hurry anymore.  The house will be done when it's done, and in the meantime, I have land to enjoy and a bus I'm in love with and a lifestyle that fits me like my favorite pair of jeans.

driving home in a rainy sunset
Graeme's the pot of gold
Sky.  Two Peaks.  Bus.  Oh yes.


  1. Oh yes!

    Wouldn't you know starts raining. I feel your pain. It gets windy whenever I want to light a cigar, without fail.

    Okay, maybe that's not quite the same thing. But you get the gist.

    Wow, you are putting blood, sweat and tears into this project! But patience is the most important lesson to learn, and it looks like you've already got that down pat. Reminds me of the Tao: "To get something done quickly, one must slow down."

    And you're in Taos, even more ironically...

  2. Don't you just love that bunch grass? About the time you think you have seen the last of it, there is another shoot.

  3. Yeah, Postie, don't even get me started on the wind! That has been, by far, a greater challenge than the rain, especially when it was coupled with extreme smoke from the largest fire in New Mexico history.

    I love your Tao quote. Reminds me of another quote I love, from A Course in Miracles: "Only infinite patience produces immediate results."

  4. Brad - Yes, that grass reminds me of the carnival game where you have to hit the gopher's heads with mallets as they pop up. I'm just wondering if it's even going to stop growing once I put down gravel.

  5. Put some 6 mil black plastic under your gravel. That should kill what ever grass is left. That dang stuff is stubborn.

  6. I pray for rain. Grass isn't the problem, but the soil here is primarily bentonite and we can't go anywhere if it rains hard. The heat has been the bane of our building. Will be much better in the Fall when I build mine, but we need to finish Frann's dome.

    Both those Tao quotes are very true. I've slowed down majorly since arriving in the desert a couple of months ago.

    Definitely put down some 6-7 mil plastic. The grass roots will die.

  7. Denese - I've actually thought about you guys out there in the heat when I've been tempted to feel sorry for myself. It reminds me to be grateful for the climate here. But then again, you guys can build year-round, which I envy.

  8. I had missed this post! Friends were around and I was away from my computer. A rare event. You dropped by and I checked.
    Glad to see that you're well. In fact, as if getting better and better. Your bus and your land seem to be leading you fast to a place of serenity and at-oneness with your environment. It seems to be a great place to be :-)

  9. When the temp is 105 at 9:30am there isn't much building going a lot of days. We bagged last night and this morning and almost finished a row. A neighbor stopped by this morning and we lost the last half hour of work time and didn't finish the last few bags on the row. We'll get those tonight.

  10. Claire - Yes. It's funny how the road to serenity gets rockier and rockier the closer you get. And you learn to love the rocks :)

    Denese - Yeah, building in 105 degree heat doesn't appeal to me at all. Stay hydrated!