I will start with Maine. We left there amidst tears, our neighbor's and our own. A hard thing to do, just pick up and haul ass, when you are in your golden years and long for the rocker and a tot of rum. Besides, our year and a half there had imbued us with a fine regard for 'vactionland'.
The first victims on our 'visit list' were Stephen Thomas and family - in all fairness I would be remiss in not naming said family; they are wife Peigi and their son Galen. Other company was already in place - did I mention that I hadn't really been explict as to our travel plans? Pat and I don't plan, we sort of drop in like grape shot. But these are people who know how to adapt, and I think everyone had a really great visit. My only comment would be, if you think smt is bright, you ought to meet wife and child.
Few days later we ended up south of Madison, Wisconsin, at my friend Stuie's house. Another evening of cold beer and very bright company. (I have to add here that I have known Stuie since high school, and while he was probably the only kid I knew that I figured was a surefire genius, he was a terrible influence. The lad just wouldn't stop stealing cars and hopping freights instead of going to class.)
We stayed over in the area an extra day to make the journey to Deerfield. Do you know what's in Deerfield? If you like Arts & Crafts, or subscribe to Amerian Bungalow, you do. It is theEphraim Faience Pottery Studio. Their stuff is truly fabulous, all limited runs, and quite pricey. The only place you can afford it is in Deerfield in their seconds attic. Pat dropped a bundle on 3 or 4 vases, and I could not pass up 6 tiles. Plans for the triptich frames swim in my head.
So, days and days limp by. We travel slowly. Pat hates to feel hurried; I, on the otherhand, will drive a thousand miles a day and clench my teeth when those highly caffeinated shivers hit my long bones.
We have been on the road a week. Wow! We are already in Wyoming... Passing a sign that says Hwy. 25 I realize that this is the one true road in a shamlessly meritricious world: it goes to Las Cruces - it goes home. I look over at Pat. The fact has not escaped her. She nods. I hang a left.
Now we are in Stitzel. We have been cleaning the house for 3 days, and it is only 700 ft. sq. Never in your worst thoughts have you ever imagined so much rat shit. Well, the place was their's for 18 months - and it is obvious they spent the entire time having bowel movements. But it is our space, and we are reclaiming it with vigor.
Tomorrow the D4 cat comes and will open the road down the mesa wall into the canyon, and we will be able to drive in to the house. The road is still there, it is just eroded into deep trenches. It runs 1200 ft. down the side of the mesa and drops 200 ft. in that span; when water comes off the mesa the road becomes a torrent.
It was so nice to get here. The larder was full, the power on, the moon full, and the high desert still a place to heal the heart - not that we have any broken ones.
I will add more here later, with film to follow. It is time for the evening movie. I have hundreds of 30's and 40's movies on tape and we are watching a couple each night.
This page was last updated on: April 13, 2010
I am overcome with a strange lassitude, as if a fog pressed down on the tops of buildings, expunging the desire of those within, any desire at all. The inhabitants look out the windows and see nothing. The world out there is a clean slate; where to begin, why? I am not depressed - didn't I mention, I don't get depressed anymore. But I am the slightest bit weary.
All week I have sat at the screen monitoring Mr. Market and his putative enemy, the pog, price of gold. It enervates. All your energy runs from your skin onto the glass with the fascinating print behind it. Now it is Friday eve. The market is closed, though gold never seems to close.
Before we went to Maine this is what I did, and with a vengeance, many hours a day. Made a fortune when 'everybody was a genius', got our butts kicked in the March double-aught meltdown, and made half of it back in the next year. A story not in the least uncommon.
When I got to Maine I had my buy-and-hold portfolio all set up; the talking heads on CNBC had convinced me, and I ignored it for the next 18 months. On our arrival in Stitzel I checked in with the gods of finance. You already know what had happened, don't you?
Yes, I had dropped almost $8K/month while sitting in my rustic-retreat shop derusting old arn. Now, I wasn't as upset at this as you might imagine. The roller coaster does get easier with repetition. We still had a decent nest egg, small, but decent, and being fairly frugal we had taken money out in the good times, paid off Stitzel, put half down on the house in Maine. So, all in all, still ahead. But I was drawn back to the screen. I got the vision, oh lordy, hallelujah! I saw the light!! Amen!! I am making money again, slowly, but of course strung out as hell on the what-ifs and maybes of it all. I had forgotten both the rush and the aftermath, the drained state. My investing this time is real simple. Everything is going to hell for the next 10 to 15 years. I have abandoned the dollar, gone into gold and eurobonds. End of story. We shall see what we shall see. I mean to offer no advice, really - didn't I just say I lost almost $8,000 a month for 1.5 years?... Learn to ignore obvious idiots early in life.
So, that is one thing which has kept me from publishing the Stitzel pics. The other was madcap escaping boxers. I spent weeks putting up an elaborate 3-string electric fence, adapted from old mule fencing from the days of Goose and Cinco. Worked great for about a week, and then Waldo the Magnificent began eating the yellow plastic inuslators off the T posts. If you touched the wire and got grounded out really good, like on a nearby steel post, you got yourself whacked plenty. But the sandy, dry soil isn't that great as a conductor, not on its own. Waldo figured out he wasn't getting shocked every time and just began to destroy the fence. A brain the size of a black walnut, and he figured this out.
To reiterate, I spent weeks putting up - this time, a four foot high light stock fence on steel pipe posts. It ain't going nowhere. My rocket-scientist neighbor, Don, who speaks Math, figured out that I fenced in a little less than 4 acres. It is Boxer Heaven. Doggy door is always open and they come and go with a passion, occasionally playing Boxer Thermopylae at the threshold; it is a very loud game, and sometimes the Persians win.
That pic way up above all the whining verbosity is Stitzel itself. We have 40 acres at the mouth of the canyon, which comes north off the Mimbres Valley, with the Stitzel wash feeding into the Rio Mimbres when it flash floods. A half mile below the canyon mouth is the village of San Lorenzo, dirt streets and adobes. This is high desert, 6000 feet, fairly arid, and sunny about 350 days a year. Most of the trees tend to be on the east slope, where the house is located; the red-roofed bunkhouse and my new bedroom and shop lie below the house. The forest here is called pygmy. Oaks go to maybe 30 feet tall, junipers a little taller, pinon pines about the same, and the Arizona Walnuts to maybe 40 feet. The Cottonwoods that grow down in the bottoms can get really big. Above us, about 400 feet and a few miles north, the next zone goes into much taller Ponderosa Pine forests.
Below is the reciprocal shot. I am standing in front of the house looking down at the new bedroom and the bunkhouse. The first shot was from up on the mesa in the background. (Tucked in between the buildings is the wood-fired hot tub; it is a Snorkel Brand, out of Seattle. Four hours assembly time took me 4 days; its is a gorgeous place to spend the night time.)
Front of the abobe. The house is about 20 years old. The adobes look grey and 'concretey'; they are not made with the traditional 1/3 clay and 2/3 sand, but with concrete to sand at about a 1:8 ratio. It is great stuff. You lose the reddish tan tint, but these bricks do not erode, hence the house has never needed to be stuccoed, or mudded over. These blocks are much stronger than the original receipe; still no flex, but massive compaction strength. This stuff would work in any climate, believe me. The patio, behind the wall, was a 2 to 3 foot deep hole. I put in the rocks, backfilled with Chuckles the Kubota, and poured a pad and a walkway and tiled. Stairs are r.r. ties.
If you are looking out the kitchen window, north, this is what you see - with the addtion of a few mullions and the stuff on the porch. The slope in front of Waldo was a steeper gradient covered with Apache Plume. It took weeks of hand-work to clear it off. It is now a terrace that drops off over 5 feet at the god-wall, on the left side ,which you can't quite make out here. Took me a week to backfill it with Chuckles. Soil is rock and sand and little else. Just out of sight up the canyon is an old homesteader's place that is soon to fall into the wash. I feel a kinship to the builder of this little house. Some of my own stone work is here.