Thursday, March 25, 2010

the scrounger

Do any of you remember the movie "The Great Escape"? I totally relate to the James Garner character, the scrounger. He could find and liberate almost anything. He could acquire some shoe laces, a crisps tin, a fountain pen cartridge and end up with a pinhole camera, forged papers and a shiny hat. I am inspired by this!! While this behavior is no longer culturally acceptable I want to be able to do that. But I have found that as I work on creating the little farm that people (okay, Mac) wants to push me into a different mold. There's the slap across the chops, " Wake up! and smell the half caf, two shots, tall, caramel latte with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg" While that might be a nice vacation.... that's not the girl I am every day. I just can't seem to be like everyone else and my lifestyle is starting to represent that.

Here's an example... It's like we are being presented with two possible realities, neither practical nor sustainable. One is the TV program "Survivor" and the other is "This Old House". In Survivor the one thing we don't see, oddly enough, is any attempt to survive. Instead, there is a lot of challenges that are suppose to somehow simulate surviving. Then whoever wins the challenge has everyone else trying to stab them in the back. This strikes me as being more like Cannibalism 101. What's missing are the Armani suits and whitened teeth that have also been sharpened. This is a very disturbed low end.

The other extreme emulated in This Old House is that anybody can take an old house and end up living the life styles of the rich and famous. What started out as an interesting show on architecture and restoration has become a show about grasping for opulence. It is the template for conspicuous consumption. Despite what we are told, neither of these programs reflect reality.

My reality is that I'm dangling somewhere in the middle. I want to live simply and sustainably. I want enough to survive on comfortably for myself and my children. I don't want anybody stabbing me in the back or undermining my effort, and if they leave me alone.... I promise to leave them alone. I've gone a long ways in building my own house. I designed and implemented the way the floor joists were installed. I drew the floor plans for our little house. I have been told at almost every step of the way that I have over built it. But then, I want it to survive.

On the luxury side, in our little 24x34 house, we have gotten in one full bath and a 3/4's bath, a great room, one enclosed bedroom downstairs, an open loft guest bedroom and seating area, a small kitchen with ample (for me) counter space. The counter is marble tile, not gargantuan slab o' rock. The cabinets are unfinished stock cabinets that I configured, sanded and stained myself. It's comfortable without becoming burdensome.

Then there is the scrounging... dare, I call it reality? I'll have to do a fair amount to get the farm working properly. I need more fence, and fencing is expensive. I need some fruit trees, so I will be learning to graft. I want an outdoor fireplace so I will be doing a little rock hound work in the ravines in the woods. The run in sheds for the horses will be built out of hedge trees cut on the property. When the garden is finished there will be a rainwater catchment for watering plants and for a solar outdoor shower. Then I won't be tracking in mud and I will have a place to wash vegetables. There will also be an outdoor sawdust toilet. Come on! I'm 52! I'm not even going to TRY to run into the house every time I've had too much coffee. And you can bet your sweet Aunt Fannie that it WON'T be half caf, two shots, tall, caramel latte with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg!


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