safe havens

this morning i drank coffee with a rad lady while we quietly listened to crust and doom, so to not wake up the other inhabitants of 'faggle rock', a queer punk house in bloomington indiana.  

yesterday, after a super lovely visit with my family, i left findlay ohio.  knowing that the drive from findlay to evansville indiana, where my parents & brothers live and my next long(ish) stopover,  was too far for me to drive in a day, i began to look for a good place to stay for a night.  i knew 1.)  i didn't want to pay for a campsite, 2.) didn't want to park at a walmart, and 3.) needed a break from family matters/needed time with other radical queer folks.  i contacted a few punk houses i knew of in the bloomington area and ended up with the nicest people, who made me a pot pie and then we watched 'the crow' and stayed up until the wee hours talking.  

along with brilliant company, my hostess gave me awesome presents:

a wonderful (and sad) comic scout made about growing up misgendered and the struggle of trans identity.  

a wonderful (and sad) comic scout made about growing up misgendered and the struggle of trans identity.  

i can't thank my bloomington hostess(es) enough!  i will be sending y'all some really good things in the mail soon! 


despite the drive from bloomington to evansville being a mere few hours, i didn't arrive at my parents house until mid afternoon.  i spent some quality time with my ma, while we waited for my dad, my brothers, and nieces.  once everyone convened, we ate an awesome meal my mom prepared, i talked with my brother, dustin, and his kids, jasmine and jerriah, for a long time, we looked at photo albums, laughed, explored honey.  honey is parked down the street in a vacant area of my parents' housing development, they don't have room in their driveway/street (or maybe they don't want to bother the neighbors, in all likelihood).  since she's a lil ways away and in a neighborhood, i figured it best to not sleep in her while we are here, which i am a lil bummed about.  moon and poe and i are tucked inside the spare room of my parents' house.  when i moved poe from her perch on the loft bed, she was pissed and is now hiding under the bed.  moon's dreaming next to me, her little paws twitching, so i think she's happy.  

i'm really excited to spend time with these folks.  my nieces are really amazing, interesting, funny people.  my brother, dustin, is the best dad (plus, all those awesome things about my nieces definitely come from him).  my brother dan, is quiet but not without a good sense of humor and tenderness.  and my parents are loving and fun people.  this week will be packed with family time and planning the trek west.  i am looking forward to carving out a few days, once the journey picks back up, to hang out in some woods and make some paintings/write some letters.  

 

an upswing

this morning, i took honey into 'northside auto and truck' to get a new gas tank... since unfortunately there was a crack around the seam of her tank.  they gave me a ride back to my aunt's house and a few hours i received a call saying that it was all fixed. if you're stranded in findlay ohio, i highly recommend this mechanic, they were so nice and honest with me.  now there is no more smell of gasoline, no more drips in the driveway, and hopefully better gas milage.   

another good thing i forgot to mention in my last post is that the insurance company of the woman who hit me is taking liability for the accident, so hopefully i can restore honey to her full glory once i get settled in the desert.  

my mom went back to indiana this morning and i will make my way to indiana tomorrow morning, where i will stay for a week visiting my folks, my brothers, my nieces, and some friends.  then it'll be time for the long road to the southwest.  

a friend reminded me that mercury is in retrograde, which means things break and go wrong... but it'll get better.  i can't say it enough, this project is testing me but i'm ready for it... i can take it on.  

it's been so wonderful to be with family, but i am getting antsy to make some work... especially because i need to make some nice things for some nice people who have donated to the project.  

this is my favorite part about visiting my family, lots of card playing

this is my favorite part about visiting my family, lots of card playing

i can't wait to get to arizona where my bff awaits me and to work for her company, zenned out!

i can't wait to get to arizona where my bff awaits me and to work for her company, zenned out!

i've been receiving a lot of support in many different ways.  i want to share some things some friends have said to me:

nick z quoted mark twain in a text message: "twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the things you did.  so throw off the bowlines.  sail away from safe harbor.  catch the trade winds in your sails.  explore.  dream.  discover."

anne marie says in a text: "think of it really in terms of making art.  it is never easy to start, it never turns out exactly how you plan it, but the process strengthens your skills and teaches, and the result is usually an incredibly satisfying experience."  plus that she loves me.  

marietta posts wonderful links to horoscopes and mine for the week was right on beginning with "problems are sacred solutions in disguise".

then there is my family, who have got me contact with kind people to fix honey up and who have put up with me and distracted me during these moments of frustration. 

also, i want to thank lissa, beth, and jim for their donations.  i will be sending you (and the other folks who have donated) some presents once i am done visiting with my family. 

i'm meditating on your love and support.  

one thing after another

luckily, while everything is going wrong, i am in findlay ohio where i have family who have been so helpful.  my aunt took me to a wonderful body shop and they 'fixed' my headlight to make us legal.  but while i was there, they noticed something that had been worrying me as well... a smell of gas.  so, we looked underneath honey to discover a leak in the gas tank.  

my cousin, hooked me up with a mechanic and on monday honey will get a new gas tank.  this means though, that my initial plan of driving back to indiana with my mom will not be happening.  she'll fly back to indiana on monday and i will hopefully be on the road on tuesday.  

fixing honey
new headlight & blackeye

i feel as though i am being tested in every possible way.  yesterday, after learning about the unexpected expense of the gas tank, i lost it a little.  i went on a long walk with mom and we discussed the project, her worries, my worries, i cried a lot and confessed doubt.  my mom is worried that i am doing this 'on a song and a prayer' with my limited funds, which is true, but i have faith that it will come together and i will get to where i need to be.  maybe it's naive, maybe it's courageous, maybe it's stupid, maybe it's all those things.  

i am reminded though, at every obstacle why i am doing this.  when i got my light repaired, the guy fixing it was asking me a lot of questions about my travels so far and about my plans.  we talked for a long time.  he told me so much about his life and i listened and connected with him.  and i think about how important these interactions are.  people want to tell their stories, they want to be heard, but we as a culture rarely have time to listen.  listening and connecting is undervalued.  instead we bury ourselves in our phones, we are too hurried to connect.  but in these moments of crisis, i am finding laughter and tenderness with strangers.  living in honey forces me to connect, and people seem to find it easy to share things me perhaps because i am sharing something with them.  

a side note, the furry babies i live with are doing great:

poe
moon

i can't really tell how i am doing.  i feel lost and on track simultaneously.  the last few days, i have been worrying a lot about 'the future', probably because as wonderful as family is, they ask these questions which i don't have answers to.  living in the present is hard.  what about the future?  where will i be, what will do?  

because of all this unexpected mess and the time i am investing with my family i have not been making work.  don't worry though, i will be.  and i can't wait to send some lovely things to those of you who have supported me.

sending my love to y'all.  

an eventful 24 hours

after the accident, i found my way to a walmart where i parked for the night.  i connected with some friends and (a lil reluctantly) with some family.  i was bummed, felt a lil defeated, but slept soundly under parking lights.  

this morning, i woke up early ready to make the 150 miles to findley ohio to my aunt's house.  i have noticed that honey (much like me) does not get going very well in the morning, but so far she always starts after a few tries.  this morning: nothing.  so, i hitchhiked to a gas station and back with my 5 gallon can, thinking that maybe she was just thirsty.  she seems to only want to start after sitting for a night with at least a half tank of gas.  after i gave her a drink, still nothing. so, i called AAA and waited.  i got breakfast (a luxury i haven't really afforded myself) and got moon a new dog tag at the petsmart which was in the parking lot (her's was illegible).  after an hour, AAA still hadn't showed up and had called informing me that they were delayed, so i tried again and she started up.  so we went.  

i am now parked in front of my aunt's house.  she's picking my mom up from the airport in Detroit now, they should be back around dinner.  after a few days of visiting, my mom and i will drive back to indiana in the honey, where she lives with my dad and where i grew up.  it's odd to be in the driveway of this house.  my grandmother lived in michigan and we lived in indiana, this house was, many times, a meeting point for our family.  and i should note that my family on my mom's side (but really both) is matriarchal.  i don't remember men being around, just a lot of women playing cards until the wee hours.  they are nice memories.  so, i am happy to be here and be apart of our matriarchal clan as a grown woman.  

the new day brings new perspective.  its a real bummer about the accident.  but it wasn't my fault and i did everything i could to make it not happen (though even it was my fault, it's still an accident and not 'an on purpose' - like my mom would say), some things are unavoidable.  everyday i draw more parallels between me and honey.  things crash into us and we brace ourselves, we scarred and damaged but still running, we might not be beautiful from every angle on the outside but the inside is fucking beautiful and i made it that way (both in the honey and in my heart).

this journey is good, though bumpy.  i can feel myself mellowing out, that high strung nature that i fight all the time is dissipating with every set back.  i am kinder, i make jokes with strangers more often and watch them smile, i connect more, i have yet to make work - but i'm still figuring this thing out, the studio is there and will be used.  a former self, would be focusing on all that is fucked up.  but i am mostly thinking about what is wonderful: the honey runs and is comfortable - a wonderful lil home, i have support from friends and family, my furry babies are so funny and are the best companions, i catch myself smiling so hard it hurts while i drive, i sing really loud, i have yet to meet a rude or unengaged person (minus the cop from the accident).

i'll let you know what happens to honey after she sees a mechanic, hopefully it will be tomorrow or friday.  

this is me and inside honey.  moon is next to me, poe is above.  we are parked, safe and happy.

this is me and inside honey.  moon is next to me, poe is above.  we are parked, safe and happy.


First day

After a few set backs, which I did sort out (roof leaks, a minor meltdown, etc), I left Sherman drive. 

I thought I had internet and downloaded all these nice photographs of Sherman drive and most of the day then deleted them from my phone - yeah I'm writing this on my phone. I'll post them soon, cuz they are nice. I'll try not to do a lot of back tracking.  

After my last post, my best friend(s) came and sent me farewell, I received some wonderful and needed donations (I'm sending y'all sumthing good soon), I repaired some leaks, I moved outta Sherman drive, I said good bye, I cried a lot.  

Today was the first day on the road. So far so good. Poe, my cat, is great. She's loving the windows, she roams honey as I drive. Moon, my dog, is great when we are stopped - but when I turn on the honey, she tries to get under my legs so she's in a crate during travels (for now). 

I left late morning. I am In Cooperstown New York now. I thought about staying at a walmart tonight since there are no national forests where I am. But I decided the first night should hold comfort. I'm at a koa campground. There were horse and buggies on the road it's on. I told the guy my story, he only charged me 15 bucks. Not bad for showers and niceties in a remote but 'on the way' place. 

Here is what's happening during camping:

 

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There are more nice photos on my computer. I'll post em soon! 

Thanks for all your support. The love and goodness is overwhelming, it makes this less scary. Because this is scary, hence meltdown. But it's cool. I've got this. Though, keep that love coming and I'll be sure to send it back.  

Xo

 

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learning

well...

it's october first and in my vision, i'd be on the road.  but i am a few days off schedule.  it's been raining here since last night and that fabric ceiling tells no lies.  it has revealed four leaks.  luckily, it'll stop raining tomorrow, i will patch up the roof in those spots, and since the ceiling is fabric the wood and insulation will dry and it'll be right as rain soon enough.  already, this project is beautiful exercise of perseverance and learning to roll with the punches.  

good things:  i have music, until today the honey had no radio.  it's imperative that i have music lest i go crazy after a few hours of silent driving.  my tag sale was successful enough and put a little dough in my pocket.  i have had many wonderful moments with loved ones, sharing beers and stories in the honey.  i received my first donation on the blog!  thank you rachel!  i am picking my best friend up from the bus stop in a few hours, she'll be seeing honey for the first time.  i am nearly moved in and *almost* moved out of sherman drive. 

scary things:  i don't currently have enough money to get to arizona (where i'll be working in mid november through the christmas season for zenned out) ... maybe not enough to get to indiana.  i am hoping that things fall into place concerning my financial situation.  it will work out.  but this is an open call for help:  you can donate easily on the blog (see that button the right?), it would go to food and gas as i travel until i get on my feet in the desert where i have work and a support system.  please consider it.  also, if you donate i will send you a painting from the road.  

you can see those leaks on the ceiling :(

you can see those leaks on the ceiling :(

today i drove to get my stereo installed and tested how secure things were.  everything stayed in place.  

today i drove to get my stereo installed and tested how secure things were.  everything stayed in place.  

here i am in the autumn air on a rainy day, feeling it all; i've said 'goodbye for nows' to so many people i love dearly, that compounded with moving into a dwelling with leaky ceilings (for the moment) with no money is creating welling of moisture in my eyes.  my mantras are as followed: "it's going to be okay, you got this" and "self care/preservation is the most radical thing you can do". 

this project is about making art, connecting with loved ones, connecting with strangers, learning to be totally self reliant, also learning to ask for help, learning to be powerful and capable of all obstacles.  i must remind myself, i am already powerful.  

me

*** i am a little behind on my emails, i have been feeling a tad overwhelmed and i want to sit and really write while i am heartfelt and present to those of you who have send me notes.  you are on my mind and i will be in touch soon.  

so close

good news

  • the honey was looked by a mechanic, she'd okay.  it only cost me $40.
  • the honey was inspected ... and passed!  
  • there is a ceiling.
  • my amazing friend, emily, gave me a sweet memory foam mattress, i will sleep better than i ever have before.
  • the solar panels are wired and working.
  • i've moved in a couple of things.

things to be done still...

move in, clean up, figure out how to store things without them moving all around, get a lock for my front door, get a carbon monoxide detector.

oh yeah, and that mega yard sale i'm having tomorrow.  

feeeeeelings

things are hard and weird and wonderful.  i'm focusing on the positive: i had the opportunity to thank a hero (phil elvrum) and see them play the most wonderful music, i have spent tender moments with people i love, i have remembered lost friends and lit lanterns in the dark for their memory, i have made some money, i have made some love, i sold two paintings, i've received help from friends.  

it's happening... right now.  

new bed

new bed

self care area: bed, books, aloe

self care area: bed, books, aloe

looking like home

looking like home

needs pillowzzzz

needs pillowzzzz

despite not being at the farm, it follows me in the studio - barn door closure

despite not being at the farm, it follows me in the studio - barn door closure

wired and working

wired and working

batteries

leaving the farm

yesterday morning after a stressful beginning, the honey left the farm.  

here are the last few photographs taken on yeaw road:

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

last week i worked on cleaning the honey, gathering final material needed, reupholstered the couch, made a mechanic appointment, and hustled for work.  

yesterday morning i woke up early bought a battery, filled a gas can, and drove up to the farm.  the honey had an empty tank, a bunk battery, and had been sitting at the farm for months.  after filling her up and switching the battery, i turned the key to nothing.  i began to panic and asked judy what she thought, to which she had little advice.  then miraculously david franklin, who runs a dairy farm down the street, stopped by to pick some fencing up from judy and kindly helped me by moving some hoses around and getting it to spark while i turned over the engine.  the honey finally woke up from a deep slumber. 

i called the mechanic to tell them i would late for my 10 am appointment and began the 20 mile drive back down to franklin county.  when i made the appointment i told them i was driving across the country and wanted them to make sure she was road ready and to get her ready for inspection.

the mechanic called later in the day.  he basically said - it's a 30 year old vehicle, you could drive across country without any troubles or something could break, but for now there is nothing pressing.  i have never had a mechanic not give me a laundry list of items to fix/repair.  i felt relieved but also nervous... what about her not wanting to start this morning?  to which the best answer i can find is she's been sitting for a while. 

i asked him to fix the lights so we could pass inspection.  the honey is still there and i am sure he'll call me any minute to pick her up.  hopefully i can get her inspected today and then she is finally road ready and will be parked at my house.  once at my house, i'll wire the solar panels, put up the ceiling, install desktop, and begin the process of nesting.  

there are only a couple of weeks left before my intended departure date.  i feel it all.  and at moments, it feels like a movie i am watching, or something i am reading about someone else doing.  i am excited about all the work i will make, my new studio, the people i will meet, the beautiful places i will see, the friends and family i will spend time with, and the unknown.  i am terrified of breaking down, unexpected expenses, getting lost in a bad way, running out of money, sketchy situations, and the unknown.  the thing is: both will happen, exciting and terrifying things... but i know ultimately i will be okay, i will be better for it, i am ready for big things, i am ready for hard things because they beget worthwhile change. 

 

weekend at the farm

i spent the weekend at the farm caring after the few remaining animals, while judy was in maryland seeing her new house for the first time.  

between cleaning out the barn, running around in the rain after brunch on a hot day, moving fence and watering sheep, playing with kittens, watching idyllic sunrises and sunsets... i managed to get a few things done with honey.  

when i painted, i was careless and paint was everywhere.  so i sat on my hands and knees for several hours scrubbing the floor.  there are still some areas on the stove, hood fan, and around some windows.  i figure those can wait for awhile...

As you see from the photo below, i removed the fridge!  thanks so much nick z!  and today marlene, judy, and i loaded it up in the truck and sent it off to the dump.  since i took this photo, i have placed the batteries right next to that vent and built a battery box around them for the solar panel power unit.  i was so happy that vent revealed itself because it is crucial to have your batteries ventilated.  and today i put the first coat of paint on it.  

no fridge

i also bought an inverter!  it should arrive tomorrow, so i could be solar powered as soon as the weekend if things go flawlessly!  i went to the solar store, where i bought the panels and hardware, to get an inverter, but they didn't sell any.  and honestly they were not much help, telling me i would probably have to spend 900 bucks on one for my needs (a pure sine wave inverter 1000w -2000w peak- 12v).  but amazon sold me one for $170.  

tomorrow, i am going to buy a new battery and then call a mechanic to get it checked over and hopefully inspected.   this is going to be the next big stressful hurdle.  i wish it would have been taken care of months ago, but now is when its happening.  *** crossing my fingers this goes smoothly.***  please think about me and send vibes to make this process as simple as possible.  i would really appreciate some easiness right now.  plus, that stash is slowing being picked at and i need this mechanic/inspection visit to not deplete my funds more than necessary.   

here is a beautiful new addition to the honey that was totally free!!  old and gifted fabric! 

here is a beautiful new addition to the honey that was totally free!!  old and gifted fabric! 

and to ease that looming stress, there is always this sweet one lounging in the sun beams.  

and to ease that looming stress, there is always this sweet one lounging in the sun beams.  

having the honey at the farm has been really crucial to the narrative i am creating.  that land and that farm changed the way i wanted my life to look like, it made me question my priorities, the way i spent my time, they way i worked jobs.  that land shook me awake to see i had been living an unintentional life.  and it made me change.  so building the honey there has been the best gift.  and i know this land hasn't just changed me, it has changed judy who has lived on it and cared for it for many years and now in just 28 days, she'll be leaving it forever.  despite this heaviness of change hovering over the farm, we are confronted with wonder:

a puddle of kittens, so small but still romping 'round.

two chickens who hid during the herding into the trailer that was bound for the slaughterhouse.  

the duck who sat on her nest all summer long, to hatch one ducking a week before all the ducks were to be sent to slaughter.  

these are the remaining beasts in the barn.  

they remind me to be resilient, to have faith in my ability to will something into being, they remind me to be joyful.

they are up

panels are up.  install took an hour and half.  nothing went wrong.  

a weight has been lifted and now i can see things more clearly.  i've been focusing on all the bad (which is undoubtably real and hard) but all the while the bad has been brewing, the good has been growing and blooming.  so i want to shift my attention to some seriously positive things.  

to begin this pma post, i want to thank all the folks who have helped me so far because while loneliness can be palpable, i have not been alone.  so...

judy, roy, justin, rachael, travis, noel'le, lior, kasha, cea, emma, wally, will, sheryl, jd, marietta, my parents - thanks, y'all have been great friends, supporters, helpers, and have contributed in specific and invaluable ways.   i hope this list of gratitude continues to grow.  i look forward to making y'all some beautiful postcards/drawings/and mail during my travels and hopefully supporting your dreams in my own specific ways.  our community is built and expanded through us aiding each others desires, needs, and visions.

process of installation of panel hardware

assembling people has been hard for me.  luckily, monday my dear friends came together and we prepped the panel frame support in the dwelling of the honey.  then on wednesday travis and i committed to install the panels on the following day.  while i had confidence the two of us could do it, i knew if we had two other helpers getting those panels on top of the honey would be a breeze.  i have been using social media to causally ask for help as an open call.  some friends from turners, who recently arrived back in the area from traveling, offered aide.  it was great to get to spend time with nice folks doing a big project.  

we didn't all convene until after noon, which caused me a lil concern for how hot everything would be.  as soon as we got to the farm, travis assembled the hardware on the roof, i drilled the pilot from the inside, and emma and wally helped gather tools and such for travis.  travis took the reins and before i knew it the rails were installed.  the sun was high in the sky and the roof was hot.  but as wally and i brought the panels out of the honey, clouds began for form around the sun and lingered until we were done which gave us some relief.  wally stood on the roof, i was on the attached ladder, travis on a leaning ladder, and emma on the ground.  emma held one end of the panel as travis walked the other end up the ladder.  once travis and i were at the same spot halfway up, emma handed me her side of the panel, and then we lifted it up to wally.  it was seamless.  then we secured them tightly and it seems that they are not going anywhere (or wait, kinda everywhere, but they are staying on top of the honey). 

holes drilled and laying it out. 

holes drilled and laying it out. 

travis and i were on the roof assembling while emma and wally hung out on the ladders.  wally made a good joke about how it felt like a city job, two people working, two people watching.  

travis and i were on the roof assembling while emma and wally hung out on the ladders.  wally made a good joke about how it felt like a city job, two people working, two people watching.  

they are so beautiful!  the panels and those punks!

they are so beautiful!  the panels and those punks!

travis, seriously you made my life so much easier by taking charge.  xo

travis, seriously you made my life so much easier by taking charge.  xo

portrait of wally and emma.  thanks babes.  

portrait of wally and emma.  thanks babes.  

i am about to scoot up to the farm where i will be staying until monday.  judy is going seeing her new house for the first time, so i am going to stay at the farm, watch over the few remaining animals, clean out the barn, and work on the honey.  i am looking forward to a little retreat, away from all distraction.  though it will be bittersweet, this will be a goodbye to a piece of land i have fallen in love with, a landscape and a way of life that has inspired a change in what i want with my time on this planet to look like.

some thoughts on funding

rachael made this video of me.  it a joke, kind of. 

but jokes aside, i have been toiling over whether i want to use a crowd funding platform like kickstarter or indiegogo and i think i have come to a conclusion.  yes, i want your aide but don't want to use a crowd funding site, at least not right now.  if you want to contribute, great!  let's talk about how that can work out best for both of us.  i want to send you endless postcards and drawings, maybe you want to give me a few bucks, or help out in some kind of way.  this has already started to happen naturally with will making me that flat file, my cousin sheryl sewing me curtains, my wonderful friends helping me with repairs and honey chores, but you can help too by making it possible for me to get to the beautiful places i want to make art in, by aiding in gas money, helping me buy art supplies, etc. 

think about it.. also, support does not alway come in the form of currency, i'm interested in your creative supportive ideas!  send me an email.  

love 

s

c l o s e r

it's been a while since i wrote on the internet.  my notebooks are full of musing, maps, and webs.  its so strange how things can be simultaneously coming together and falling apart.  i no longer have a job at the restaurant, we are all replaceable and when we are replaced capitalism will no longer pretend to care about our humanity.  school started the other day and while i am confident that 'sabbaticals', dedication to art making, and adventure are paramount to healthy, happy lives, i am sad that i will not be teaching this semester (or for a while i would imagine).  

so that which is falling apart: jobs, some friendships it seems (or loosening the weave of that fabric), the stability of 5 sherman drive house, love and partnership.

that which is coming together:

photo by noel'le longhaul  solar panels!  are close but not done.  i swear it'll happen soon.  i'm always one tool short.  

photo by noel'le longhaul 

solar panels!  are close but not done.  i swear it'll happen soon.  i'm always one tool short.  

my genius friend, lior, suggested drilling the solar rails from the inside out rather than the outside in to insure correct pilot holes.  so we created more supports and began that process but we were missing a looooooong drill bit, which i now have.

my genius friend, lior, suggested drilling the solar rails from the inside out rather than the outside in to insure correct pilot holes.  so we created more supports and began that process but we were missing a looooooong drill bit, which i now have.

my hero

my hero

noel'le and cea 

noel'le and cea 

the most exciting new addition (and spirit booster)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is a flat file.  a wonderful human being who comes into the pint offered to make me a flat file a few months ago.  i sort of forgot about it and then i get this email saying it's done.  and it's beautiful.  it is full of all possibilities.  it holds my future.  it holds my hope.  it is the single nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.  and we are strangers.  one of the things i am curious about with this project is how quickly i will go from stranger to friend... this is not the last one i am sure but the first of many accounts of the goodness of people.   i am giving him a painting. 

the most exciting new addition (and spirit booster)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

this is a flat file.  a wonderful human being who comes into the pint offered to make me a flat file a few months ago.  i sort of forgot about it and then i get this email saying it's done.  and it's beautiful.  it is full of all possibilities.  it holds my future.  it holds my hope.  it is the single nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.  and we are strangers.  one of the things i am curious about with this project is how quickly i will go from stranger to friend... this is not the last one i am sure but the first of many accounts of the goodness of people.  

i am giving him a painting. 

i made some cushions!   and i am broke so i am left to choose fabrics laying around my house, which worked out better because now i will be lounging in the curtain from my first studio and fabric justin brought me back from asia.  

i made some cushions!   and i am broke so i am left to choose fabrics laying around my house, which worked out better because now i will be lounging in the curtain from my first studio and fabric justin brought me back from asia.  

we've been charting our course.

we've been charting our course.

the departure date is creeping up.  i am nervous i won't be done but i have to have faith that it will come together.  faith in my own abilities.  for some reason, no - for many specific reasons, i have not been able to sleep at night.  the last two nights i have wondered onto the porch in the early hours to stare into the woods and listen to crickets.  i have been wishing i would have dealt with all the mechanical and inspection issues months ago before i started the demo and rebuild of the inside.  the solar panels are the bane of my existence.  i've been thinking a lot about how dumb cismen and capitalism have really screwed me over.   i've been feeling alone in the whole process.  i have been listening to a lot of cheesy music.  i dread over money.  

when people ask me any question about this project, i usually can't answer.  i don't know past today right now.  but maybe soon tomorrow will come into light and we can start talking about that.  

 

deconstruction is over, it's time to build.

i'm still waiting on my friend travis to help me get those panels up, but i have been filling the waiting time with interior chores.  painting is done for the most part, minus some little areas (like that hole next to the newly build desk frame - sometimes you just want to see what's behind a wall and you have to tear through it).  it's getting so close to being together and i am starting to get so so so excited (and terrified).  the honey is looking sharp, but my bank account is dwindling, i am hoping to pick up some more shifts at the bar, beg folks to have me do chores around their houses, babysit, sell some paintings, something.  i have been kicking around the idea of doing a kickstarter (with awesome postcard subscriptions) but it feels strange asking for money, especially in this terrible cultural climate.  

almost a desk

judy hurt her knee a few weeks ago and there are numerous chores to be done around the farm that she is not capable of doing at the moment.  a pressing task has been cleaning out the barn, where sheep and chickens and ducks have been living for a long time.  there are areas over a foot tall of compacted shit and hay... totally compacted.  this task is impossible for her right now, and it has to be done by october, so i took it on.  after 5 hours i had completed a quarter of the east side of the barn, my hands blistered, my back sore, my clothes shit covered.  though it was not as miserable of a task as it sounds, something about clearing the shit, digging down to the foundation of barn, visible progress... felt cleansing, not just for our beloved barn but maybe cleansed my spirit some.   

one of three truck loads

one of three truck loads

it's time to put it all together. 

a step closer

solar panels:

i organized some folks, we met, we accomplished some.  as some of you may remember, i bought  solar panels a few weeks ago and between bad timing and bad weather, they have been leaning against a wall waiting for me.  when i bought them from the solar store, the man gave me a thorough rundown of how to install them and then handed me a box of hardware and helped me put the panels in the truck and sent me on my way.  the memory of those verbal directions were all we had to go from, as you can imagine it was much like putting together a massive puzzle. luckily, my crew consisted of rachael, who was with me when i bought the panels and has her own faint memory of those instructions, and then travis, who has done so much building work over the years.  both folks are also super intuitive, smart, and great problem solvers.  

"look confused" 

"look confused" 

uh... this piece goes like this???

uh... this piece goes like this???

travis on top of the honey / the world 

travis on top of the honey / the world 

after some time of piecing it together, we are quite sure we have figured it out.  but because this is such a structural project, we decide the best thing to do is to take the hardware to the solar store to get a second tutorial from the solar guru and then eat some burritos.  john, at the solar store, reassures us that we were putting it together properly, we fill our bellies, and return to the farm.  

the first thing we do is map out where the rails for the panels need to be installed.  travis is on the roof with a blue sharpie finds the middle of the roof and draws a line, finds where those sweet spots for support are and makes more marks.  we reinforce the internal frame with 2x4s where the rails will be.  

once things are mapped out and support is added we are ready to start drilling.  it's strange to think i just patched all the holes in the roof, just to add more.  well... this is where things get a lil hairy, we figured that since the roof is aluminum and the frame is wood, we could easily find the beams by simply knocking on  the roof.  the thing we didn't account for is that there are furring strips between the beams.  and so with two mis-drills, we decide that we cannot move forward until we get a stud finder.  once again, the project waits.  the success, though, is in the unveiling the mystery of the solar installation.   

outside the honey:

the past few weeks have been wrought with big feeeeeelings.  

the world is hard.  the world is sad.  the world is fucked.  i talk so much about my micro-world that i experience daily and that i have created, probably because it is easy to talk about.  but i can't stop thinking about large scale problems in our world that makes my little problems seem like mosquito bites.  are you paying attention to the climate we are in?  a place where our 'public defenders' murder our kids?  a world where territory is more important than people and children are just another causality?  

and all my lil woes eat at me still, and then i feel guilty for being so narrow sighted.  and then all the world's woes eat at me and i am consumed.  i don't know the solution.  i listen to a lot of daniel johnston, i pick flowers, i love my dog, i cry for my friends, i cry for the world, i occupy my time trying so hard to not go into that dark place even though i hear it calling and i am one foot in.  

besides the honey, here are some of my short-term woe remedies:

after swimming with friends and puppies and babies, i gather some flowers.  i don't keep them for myself but give them away.  

after swimming with friends and puppies and babies, i gather some flowers.  i don't keep them for myself but give them away.  

8/12/14 stick and poke lets stop being afraid of discussing mental health and depression.  letz get real: i have not been 'keeping it together' very well lately which mostly means withdrawing and lots of lone cry sessions... and maybe that is keeping it together, maybe i'm feeling it all and then can release it (for a while, because as we know it's cyclical and always returns).  either way, i am trying to forgive myself.  everyday.  

8/12/14 stick and poke

lets stop being afraid of discussing mental health and depression.  letz get real: i have not been 'keeping it together' very well lately which mostly means withdrawing and lots of lone cry sessions... and maybe that is keeping it together, maybe i'm feeling it all and then can release it (for a while, because as we know it's cyclical and always returns).  either way, i am trying to forgive myself.  everyday.  

tanning hides takes a daily routine.  that helps.  i am also committed to preserving and honoring these beautiful beasts that i have helped raise.  

tanning hides takes a daily routine.  that helps.  i am also committed to preserving and honoring these beautiful beasts that i have helped raise.  

baby kitties always helps... duh. 

baby kitties always helps... duh. 

evidence

now i have a lofted bed platform, i have painted the kitchen/bedroom.  near future plans include creating netting for the shelves above the table, getting a piece a nice wood and making a new table top, creating ball jar hanging devices for kitchen shelves, bedroom shelving and bed installation.  

now i have a lofted bed platform, i have painted the kitchen/bedroom.  near future plans include creating netting for the shelves above the table, getting a piece a nice wood and making a new table top, creating ball jar hanging devices for kitchen shelves, bedroom shelving and bed installation.  

i love that it's looking a livable space!  i will cook you dinner on this stove.

i love that it's looking a livable space!  i will cook you dinner on this stove.

looking from the cab towards the back.  behind me are the solar panels, to left will be a desk and studio space, to the right will be a couch, behind the panels is the bathroom and closet.

looking from the cab towards the back.  behind me are the solar panels, to left will be a desk and studio space, to the right will be a couch, behind the panels is the bathroom and closet.

creating new narratives

july has escaped me somehow.  these past few weeks have been a whirlwind.  progress on the honey is happening slow but steady.  a few weeks back i finally obtained solar panels, two 215 watt panels which ran me about 530 dollars for the pair and hardware which was nearly the same cost.   they have yet to be installed... instead they just lean up against the bathroom door reminding me to fix the (allegorical) leaks before the project can spring forth.  the thing about doing large projects, is that sometimes you really can't do it alone.  the installation of my freedom requires help.  i have lined up a few crews to help but to no avail, one was rained out, the other was unbearable due to heat and a heavy sadness which the river and friends eased.  

riverfriends

plans have changed, as they often do, and i am no longer spending the end of july and beginning of august in west virgina at clifftop.  because of this sudden shift in the cards, i have found myself without work and with weeks on my hands.  the first few days of this unintended time has been filled mostly with listlessness, but hasn't been without work.  my dear friend, noel'le, went with me to the farm and we painted a great deal of the the interior space.  it was nice to accomplish a chunk of such a menial but important transformative task.  we also picked herbs and visited newborn barn kittens, all are good remedies for ailing hearts.  

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

photo by noel'le longhaul

along with this unplanned time to reinvest in the honey, i plan on spending the next few weeks tanning some sheep hides i got from the farm.  i just ordered a new bridge and fifth string replacement peg for my banjo, and noel'le has offered to give me some lessons.  and an unnamed mid august adventure is in the works.  

i am seeing an emerging endpoint to the initial work on the honey, though she isn't wanting to turn on, but her battery is drained just like mine.  with some new energy she'll be fine. there is still no ceiling since i have to wire the solar panels before that work can be done.  the desk isn't built and half of it isn't painted.  she's still illegal to drive.  the composting toilet is yet to be installed and well as the solar shower.  but these tasks feel easy to accomplish as soon as the installation of the solar panels is completed.  

i am having a difficult time processing how i am feeling about the coming voyage.  i am so embedded in the moment and cannot see past today (or yesterday).  it makes working on the honey a strange endeavor.  preparing for the future when you can't see tomorrow is hard.  tomorrow is coming though, and i am building a nest, compulsively creating a new narrative, something that allows room to breathe.  

 

mold and rot and the unexpected savior

monday, i hit a serious wall with this project.  really, it had started a few days before when my car didn't start one morning and then on monday the honey wouldn't start either.  both were the same minor problem, dead batteries.  i must be vibrating on some strange frequency which is causing me to ground or drain things in life.    

the plan had been to take the honey to my friend's farm on monday and work for three days uninterrupted, but things never go as planned.  monday was a bust with the dead battery.  i tried to jump it with my car (and it's brand new battery) but my car overheated in the process so i had to call a friend.  my friend, roy, has been a good sounding board as far as mechanics go.  he came and jumped it, tested the battery along with the alternator, then we inspected the electrical system and made sure it all worked (which it did).  by the time all this was done, it was too late to head to the farm.  while i did get work done, it felt like a wasted day.  i started to feel demoralized and frustrated about the project, so i sat in the honey and cried.  after the tears stopped, i went inside my house and shaved half of my head.  it felt like regaining some control. 

the universe is a strange and complicated thing and in one beat everything turns around.  one of my dearest friends, justin, who is based in Taos NM but from western mass, and who builds houses - ecofriendly, off grid houses, and who is lovely and strange, and traveled the grand canyon with me... he appears at my door, with tools in hand and all his knowledge, positivity, and practicality.  he lends me tools for tuesdays work, and tells me he'll help me on wednesday.  i drive the honey up to the farm tuesday morning and begin tackling the total removal of the ceiling.  

let me brake for one moment to discuss the current home for the honey at my friend's farm.  my friend, judy, is amazing!  she rents land in gilford VT where she has numerous gardens, 4 pigs, 19 merino sheep, and a barn full of ducks and chickens.  she lives in the old milking house off the barn which has been converted into a tiny house with a wood stove for heat and a composting toilet.  she farms the land and takes care of the animals by herself.  she's well into her 60s.  we are great friends and have spent the last few years having lunch together once a week, sharing skills, discussing radical ideas and what's happening in the world, building things, and gardening.  she has offered me a place to park and work while i get the hard part of the project accomplished.  she is also furnishing me with insulation for the ceiling along with wood... oh yeah, and the most amazing farm to table food during my refueling breaks.  i am so grateful for her help with this project!

the honey lending this mama and her babies shade.

the honey lending this mama and her babies shade.

so, after i spent all day on tuesday taking down the ceiling, and discovering a decent amount of mold and wood rot, justin picked me up at the farm.  he accessed the work i had done.  he's quiet and thorough.  after a while, he tells me i accomplished a lot for the day, i am on the right track, and while there's work to be done, it's doable.  he somehow makes all the doubt i had concerning the project in its current state disappear and i am now just excited.

tuesday's work, removing ceiling and some of the panels containing mold.  it really feels like a house. 

tuesday's work, removing ceiling and some of the panels containing mold.  it really feels like a house. 

that tin does not hold tobacco but wrench sockets, be sure to check out those chickens roaming in the background. 

that tin does not hold tobacco but wrench sockets, be sure to check out those chickens roaming in the background. 

i received some criticism for wanting to redo the ceiling.  exposing all the mold, wood rot, and dead animals in the ceiling reassures me to always trust my gut.   RIP lil' friend.

i received some criticism for wanting to redo the ceiling.  exposing all the mold, wood rot, and dead animals in the ceiling reassures me to always trust my gut.  

RIP lil' friend.

the next day, we drive up to the farm together.  when we're nearing the farm, a bear suddenly crosses the road right in front of us with her three babies, each a second or so apart.  the last one, lagged behind and so we both squealed when it scurried across the road a few seconds behind the rest.  what an amazing way to start the work day. i spent most the day ripping out the panels under the rafters which have mold on them and on exposing all rotting wood in the frame.  justin works on the bed above the cab, removing the waterlogged shitty fake wood, he also removes the rotted wood in the frame supporting the bed above the cab.  he then teaches me how to replace and create support for rotted or missing pieces of the frame, he's a great teacher.  we worked well together, separate but together.  it's amazing how the rv felt large and we were never in each others way.  judy made us a quiche and greens from the garden for lunch, which we devoured.  

justin unscrewing the outside panel which was at one point attached to wood that is now rotted,  we replaced the wood and reattached the panel.  

justin unscrewing the outside panel which was at one point attached to wood that is now rotted,  we replaced the wood and reattached the panel.  

wood rot removed.

wood rot removed.

that daylight sneaking though was due to a totally rotted piece of wood.  the wood pictured is the replacement right before we screwed it back in. 

that daylight sneaking though was due to a totally rotted piece of wood.  the wood pictured is the replacement right before we screwed it back in. 

ceiling mold removal by me (right side only)

ceiling mold removal by me (right side only)

the day is done selfie.  

the day is done selfie.  

we pack up at 5, so justin could spend time with his family in his brief visit.  the ride home is beautiful and the company is a nice combination of laughter and quiet.  the sun is warm and the windows are down.  it seems surreal to be sitting unexpectedly in my far away friend's truck, riding through the lush greenery of southern vermont.  he drops me off at my house, we hug for a long time, and i express my amazement and gratitude for his presence.  

it's funny how low everything felt on monday and then despite being knee high in mold and rot on tuesday and wednesday i felt invigorated and totally positive.  part of the positivity has to be the beautiful place the honey is residing in, all the animals wandering around, the amazing humans who have been apart of the project the last few days, along with some real progress being made.  there is so much more to come so soon.  

some progress

it has been nearly two weeks since my last post.  as the project gets more in depth, i will post more often.  progress has been been a bit slow with the winding down of the semester and a momentary heavier work schedule at the bar.  the most important progress is that i have left my job at greenfield community college.  it was a difficult thing to do; i love teaching, i love my students, i love helping people realize their creative projects and challenging their ways of thinking while being nurturing.  as far as jobs go, that one rules.  but it drains a lot of my own creative energy and is not helping me find balance in my life.  my studio practice has dwindled to basically sad notebook doodles in the past few years.  a big part of this project is to fully recommit to my practice as an artist.  and a part of that means sort of not being committed to anything else.

wall notes in my studio

wall notes in my studio

RV UPDATES

the honey did not pass Massachusetts inspection due to some lights and other minor issues.  i have 60 days to bring it back to be reinspected without another fee.  at first this really stressed me out, but as the time has passed i have decided not to worry about it and just add it to other chores concerning the honey's makeover.  

i did, however, drive her for the first time.  i was alone, which i think was best.  it was pretty great!  she is huge and while i totally need to spend some serious hours in an empty parking lot learning how to maneuver her like a pro, i could get around town with little problems.  since i was out and about for the inspection, i drove her to my friend, nick's house.  his 3 year old son, locke, was pretty impressed.  

it's nice to share this experience with friends and get so much support.  everyone's response is excitement and reassurance that it is an awesome thing to do.  the few people who have seen the honey have agreed that it is an awesome rig.  it was a pretty joyful feeling when i was driving back to sherman drive, over the mountain, near poet's seat, when i heard someone yell my name.  and i have both friends and family from far away places confirming work and places to park when i need it.  

there is some fear on my part concerning this project and so this reassurance is really helpful.  

some demolition 

there was a serious couch in the honey that i wanted to remove so i can build a desk and a studio space. 

there was a serious couch in the honey that i wanted to remove so i can build a desk and a studio space. 

my old roommate, eric, left behind this amazing mask that has come in very helpful for ceiling demo.  i'll mail it to you when i am done, eric! xo

my old roommate, eric, left behind this amazing mask that has come in very helpful for ceiling demo.  i'll mail it to you when i am done, eric! xo

some notes on my future plans.  

some notes on my future plans.  

here are some remnants of unnecessary baggage. 

here are some remnants of unnecessary baggage. 

i found dice in the couch i demoed.  i am so excited about playing lots of cee-lo.

i found dice in the couch i demoed.  i am so excited about playing lots of cee-lo.

these are the curtains that once separated the bedroom from the rest of the living space.  the first of many temporary installations. 

these are the curtains that once separated the bedroom from the rest of the living space. 

the first of many temporary installations. 

some intimate thoughts 

now that everyone knows that i am planning on leaving Massachusetts in october, this project is real.  it's something that has been ruminating in my brain and in my heart for some time now, at least since i was went to the grand canyon last summer... and now it is becoming a realization.  

i spoke earlier about how part of the project, a large part, is about recommitment to my practice as an artist.  and this is true, but there are other factors about why i am doing this.  i grew up in indiana and lived there until i was 22.  i then moved to western Massachusetts where i have lived since, minus less than year in Brooklyn and several short traveling adventures.  recently i  have been thinking a lot about why i live in MA and it's all based on accidents and other people.  i first moved here because umass amherst gave me a teaching fellowship.  i then left brooklyn in panic, because the city wasn't for me to live in, and had a partner back in MA who i loved and wanted to be with.  shortly after moving back, we split.  and now it's been 3 years of me living this accidental life.

while i did end up in turners falls on accident, i have built a decent life for myself here.  i loved working at the college, my job at the bar was amazing in the beginning and has changed a lot as most restaurants flux but is still quite nice and stable, i have some good friends here and lot of nice people around me.  but there are things lacking for me, and while i am sure i could manifest those things if i really wanted to... i don't want to.  i want to wander, experience, and then make my own choice on where to plant myself.

between the loss of several friends, people moving, loves lost, bad reactions, serious depression, and the brutal winter... i'm over it (and it's over me in some ways, i am sure).  i live in a house of ghosts.  "i don't want to live in new england anymore".

the other day, moon and i went for a long walk.  behind my house is a bike path.  if you follow the bike path for about half a mile you reach the train yard, it seems so fitting.  if you take a dirt road by the train yard it will take you to these horseradish and rhubarb fields, strange i know.  and then it opens up to the forest and there are these forest clearings where many large mushrooms grow.  moon and i explored all of that.  as we were on our way home and we rounded the corner to our house, i see a friend approaching my front door.  my friend, field, stops by often and we sit and talk.  we have similar temperaments in some ways.  we talked about how hard it is to be a person.  we also talked of how hard it is to live in Massachusetts (field has spent much of his life in California).  but the thing that makes Massachusetts so wonderful is happening right now, the spring, and so we spoke of that.  the sensuality of the new england spring is over the top.  it slightly makes up for the horrible bleakness of winter.  

i've been spending lots of time outside.  and a lot of time alone.  i feel the isolation that happens when you are going to move.  i imagine i am doing a dress rehearsal for this project, spending heaps of time alone, working on the RV, working in the studio frantically trying to finish those large works which can't be made in the honey, walking in the woods with moon, and having momentary real connections with other humans.