January 23, 2012

Last night I crawled in to bed warm.

The room thermometer read 70 degrees. It was so nice. I can’t even really describe how nice it was. And this morning I woke up and got out of bed warm. The room thermometer read 64 degrees. I cannot express how nice that was.

Whenever I tell people about living in this house, (I call it Dad’s engineering coup d’etat), I excitedly say that it’s working; it’s chilly but it’s working. I say it’s 55 to 60 degrees at night. Every single person, it seems, has replied with the same: that’s about what we keep our furnace at during the night too.


Wow. I just nod and smile. Right. Turning the furnace down to 60 degrees at night while you sleep and turning it back up when you wake really is not the same as stoking the fire as best as you can to keep the temperature from falling below 50 degrees before you wake to stoke the fires up again and to wake throughout the night adding wood on the really cold nights. It really just does not compare.

Nor does any other house compare to the magic of living in an engineering coup d’etat. We are off grid. Our refrigerator, stove, water heater and washer/dryer, (yay – we have a washer/dryer! I’ve been doing laundry at the Laundromat since last June. Finally, last Sunday January 15, I stayed home on laundry day – beautiful.), are all propane fueled. The electricity is…batteries.

At the moment, we do have a line running to the box at Henry’s cabin that is connected to Mom & Dad’s…so we’re not completely off grid but that’s just because there are some pieces of the plan that have either not yet arrived or not yet been installed.

When weather tells you to stop noodling – it’s time to move out of the camper/trailer and into the house- well, you really just have to listen. So we did. We moved out of the camper/trailer just after Thanksgiving and have been quite fortunate so far in being served a pretty mild winter.

We did not have a woodshed full of wood before the first snow could have covered all the wood that was lying on the forest floor. Instead, we were able to get a few good weekends gathering and chain sawing…an absolutely beautiful and wonderful thing for me as a mother to witness: our 14 year old son, Duncan driving the tractor to dump the wood at our house and return to the forest where my dad is teaching our 11 year old son, Connor to use the chainsaw.

Wow. I’m really excited about who they are – our boys. There is nothing in any book or classroom anywhere that could compare to living this – experiencing this. We watch a pack of coyotes across the pond as they watch us. We see the stars through the skylight, (unless a recent snow has covered them). We snuggle closer when it’s cold. We are living – living every single minute to its fullest potential. We are not treading water. Nope. We have jumped into the lake of life with our lungs full to capacity. Wow. Yes – it is a whole lot of work and comes with unexpected challenges and obstacles – but together we four are living, living, living. We laugh, we play, we dance, we sing. And then we stir the fires! And put band-aides on our nicks, bruises and burns.

plants inside

I have also taken this same challenge on with Charlotte’s Web. With a brand new board, in honor of the 40th Anniversary Season, we jumped into the lake of life – and filled our lungs. We are not treading water, keeping our heads barely above water. Nope – that’s not the path we chose. We plunged right in – a sink or swim kind of approach. I’ve written lots about this and put lots of words to it already. I have faith in the Web – and in the web that supports it too. If the community is unwilling or unable to offer financial support – to the tune of about $5000 per season – then I’d say that 40 years was a damn good run. The music will continue – of this I have no doubt. I cannot live without it. House concerts and more…the music will continue…

And then there’s Snapshotmusic…

Yep, I went and dove into the lake here too - plunged right in with my husband, my partner, (who is right beside me on all three of these dives). My faith is our floatation device at this point. We are not sinking nor are we treading water- nope: we are swimming the butterfly stroke – the most powerful and exhausting stroke there is. It’s a whole lot of work for not a whole lot of speed. I’m not sure how long we can keep it up.

To attack on all three of these fronts at the same time may not have been the wisest decision I’ve ever made but I certainly could not have a better team: my family.

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Bill Miller Folsom Prison Blues at Charlotte's Web