Friday, December 21, 2007

Using the right tool helps

Cool, drippy (40-ish)

Last spring, when I put up the Nature Trail signs, I had the crappiest day ever. When I tried to attach the two-by-four supports to the four-by-four posts, I stripped every single screw, and couldn’t get them to go in or out; I thus left most of the screws halfway, looking mighty sorry. Then I tried to put the signs on using Liquid Nails, and contrary to the directions on the can, it just didn’t work. I held them on for twenty minutes each, and finally they stayed, but I was disappointed. Disappointed? I was pissed. I didn’t have much time to make it work, and it was really frustrating. I couldn’t believe this Liquid Nails stuff was such crap. I had bought two tubes, and I used up the first tube of the junk on the first eleven signs. When I got to the twelfth sign, and opened up the new tube, I found a completely different substance inside. It turned out the tube had been mislabeled, and I had tried to join wood and plastic using caulk. Yeah. And I had been using deck screws, which had a square Phillips head top, and tried to attach them using a regular Phillips bit. Sigh.

So today, when I walked around to the signs with new screws and the correct drill bit, I felt acutely the usefulness of knowing what you’re doing. Drilling the new screws in took almost no time, and it was satisfying, too.

A lot of people, myself included, think it’s easy to learn how to build stuff—you just have to have the right “For dummies” book. But it’s not that easy. You have to know what a deck screw head looks like, and you have to know what Liquid Nails looks like, or you have an ugly set of circumstances.

That’s why I’m proud of this fence.

Woo hoo for vacation!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Cool, drippy (mid-30s)

Today I was given the very exciting task of walking around camp to inventory paper towel dispensers. I know, it’s a glamorous job. But all sarcasm aside, it’s the kind of thing I really enjoy: I made a list (I love lists), and I put it on a clipboard, and I just walked around camp, taking stock of things, paper towel and otherwise. It was a beautiful day, alternating tiny bits of sun with really dark about-to-rain skies, and I tramped through lots of puddles and muddy trails to get around.

One thing I noticed, as I strolled from building to building, was the smells. I swear the smells at this camp are stronger than anywhere else, and each building has its own unique set of nasal mysteries. I’m not going to sugar-coat this; these aren’t all good smells. In fact, most of them aren’t good. They’re just distinct, and that’s what I find so fascinating.
  • Slanty smells like bacon.
  • Guards, today, smelled like poop. It smelled so strong I could barely stand to be in there. The whole building was like a giant fart cloud. When I came back with Carlo a few hours later to check it out, it had ceased to smell. I blame sewer gas.
  • Cooks’ Cabin smells like this air freshener that’s been plugged into the bathroom wall for a few years. It smells nice, and clean, despite the fact that you don’t want to like those junky air freshener things.
  • HOH smells like stale plastic, guano, and antiseptic. Of all the building smells, I think this is my least favorite.
  • The walk-in cooler has an acrid, unpleasant smell, as if the chemicals are off and have been for twenty years.
  • The Stink Shack smells almost purely of rat pee and poo, mixed with a few hazardous chemicals.
  • A-Frame smells of human pee, and also of old plastic-y building materials that can’t be good for you.
  • Ginny’s has a strong smell of appliances.
And that’s today’s report. Sorry it’s not more fascinating; I’m coming down with a cold (ah, the irony of writing about smells) and my mind is full of mucus.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Cool, rainy (40-ish)

Evenings in Slanty are settling into a pattern. I putter around, talk to Marc, set up the space heater in the bathroom, check the shower for those bizarre green spiders, and then hop in to get clean. Showered, I start dinner, build a fire, work on little projects, and eat. I’ve been making little Douglas-fir sachets, and knitting Marc’s hat. It’s pretty clichéd, making sachets and knitting. Huh. Then I do some yoga, write (as in now), do dishes, floss and brush, call Marc, and go to bed. It’s that simple.

During the past few days I’ve been switching it up a little, and making Smores to keep myself in the camp spirit. They haven’t been too authentic; I don’t really care for graham crackers, so I’ve left them out, and I’m now just toasting the marshmallow, with the piece of chocolate wedged inside to make it nice and melty. This little combination tastes great, and is fun, except that I’ve been toasting the stupid things on a butter knife. Yes, a butter knife. I don’t have a roasting stick, and when night rolls around the last thing I want to do is walk outside into the darkness, under the pouring rain, to find a pretty roasting stick.

I’ve thus confirmed a nasty suspicion that roasting sticks were created for a reason: The end of a butter knife is too close to the fire.

Roasting sticks aside… I originally got the chocolate and marshmallows thinking it might be fun to have people over for Smores. That might still be true. And I have the feeling I do a lot of things for reasons like that: Maybe that will impress someone someday. Or maybe that will be fun for someone someday. And so, when I pulled out the Smore-makin’s two nights ago, it felt weird. Making Smores by yourself feels like watching a movie by yourself, or eating by yourself at a restaurant: Smores are a social food. When you make a Smore by yourself, it’s simultaneously bewildering and liberating. It’s bewildering because you realize you’re alone for another night in the woods, and in all likelihood, you’re never going to have people over for Smores. It’s liberating because you realize you’re alone for another night in the woods, and you can have this Smore moment all to yourself.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bird neighbors

Sometimes I stand at Slanty’s front door, to watch for traffic on the road or get reception on my phone. And some of these times, I happen upon a little bird party going on outside. They come in packs, ten or so tiny little birds hopping around just past my door. They must not be able to see me, because they don’t seem at all alarmed.

They’re little things, maybe two or three inches long, and mostly brown. Their heads are striped yellow and black, and they look both spirited and dignified for it.

At first I usually see just one or two, and then I notice they’re all over the place. One’s hopping the branches of the Western red-cedar. Another is poking at the bottom of a swordfern. A few are darting around the oxalis, which is their same height. All in all, they’re pretty cute, and they remind me how much I like being able to look out my front door and see wild little things.

No, I didn’t get to that toilet today. And that’s just fine with me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

One toilet remains

Cool, drippy (mid 30s)

Today I set out with a new mindset about this toilet ladling business: This was a new day, a new week—a chance to finish the stupid ladling and sponging of toilets, a chance to move on, if only I plugged through the remaining ones.

So plug through I did. I drilled, ladled, sponged, and poured like a pro. And then I drove up to the last unit in camp and tackled its three toilets. I finished two, and opened the last toilet—the very last toilet in camp—to find a dried-up, crusty clump of paper towels and poop.

At this point a moral argument kicked off in my head. And when you spend a lot of time alone in the woods, certain clichés, like that of the angel and devil on one’s shoulders, seem to become more relevant. Maybe it’s because it’s as if they’re actual people, and sometimes, when you find a toilet full of poop, you’d like to have someone to talk to. Anyway, the devil whispered, Just pour in some antifreeze. The toilet’s all dry; the water’s been soaked up by the poop and the paper; all you need to do is pour antifreeze and forget about it. The angel was appalled. And leave poop in the toilet all winter? Seriously, no way, it said, you’ve got to get in there and clean it all out. To be frank, I wasn’t a big fan of either option. I marched outside and got a stick, and started chipping away at it, but the stick was too soft inside, and it broke. So I found a leaky old bucket, and filled it with water, and started bucket-flushing. To my surprise, the toilet flushed just fine, but the clump persisted. I filled and flushed perhaps ten times, and then consulted the moral experts.

Let the water freeze, the devil grinned, the toilet will break, and then you’ll never have to clean up that clump. It was appealing.

No, no, no, the angel protested, pick up the toilet brush and start scrubbing.

What, and have to throw that toilet brush away?

No, wash the brush, then drain the toilet…

It was all too much. In the end, I left the water in the bowl, hoping it would eat away at the clump overnight. We’ll find out tomorrow, in our next installment of The Neverending Story of Toilet Winterization.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Toilets are off

Cool, overcast (low 30s)

Once all the water in camp is off, a tiny part of my job changes: I pee in the woods. I have Slanty to use while I’m not working, but when I’m well away from my little house, I do what anyone else would do, and choose a nice, scenic spot. Having done this for a few years, I know where the nice river views are, and so today, when nature called, I made a beeline for a nice spot behind an ugly building.

While I was peeing, I noticed a little carrot round lying in a pile of leaves a few feet away. It was kind of pretty, actually, this bright little circular root vegetable, contrasted with the decaying leaves. And then I noticed, between the carrot and me, a huge pile of human feces.

I was kind of dumbfounded. My first sense of indignation was at myself—how could you not notice a pile of poop almost right under your own feet? And my second twinge of indignation was toward the excreter, who, oh, I don’t know, maybe could have buried it? And my third indignation was toward the carrot, which somehow made the excrement even grosser.

And then what to do? Should I hop away in the middle of peeing? Should I stop peeing, and move, and start again? I’ve heard that’s bad for your bladder. And seriously, it’s not going to jump off the ground and bite, is it? So I sighed, looked at the river, and kept peeing.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The present

(Cool, overcast—mid 30s)

I spent a lot of time today thinking about the future, as contrasted with the life I’m leading here. Wow, that sounds like I’m talking about the afterlife or something—what I actually mean is, what I’m doing these few months, versus what I hope to do be doing next year. I guess it’s dawning on me that I’m not eager to be done with these sorts of jobs; I want nothing more than to be outside, and here I am! Since I was in high school I’ve dreamt of having a job that paid me to live and work in the woods. What more could I ask for? I walked down to the beach during my lunch break today, and the river had gone down, but the beach was largely quicksand, which made for an exciting visit. Every single day I have the chance to go down to the river and look for otters. Every day I can walk out of my house and be at work. Every night I go to sleep in a still, dark place, next to a dwindling fire. Why could I possibly want to move on?

Call me crazy, but I think it has to do with the fact that I spent the afternoon ladling toilets again. To do this effectively, you have to be on your knees, right in front of the porcelain, and you have to dip this stupid little ladle in there about five billion times, and despite this work—which is actually kind of hard on your back, believe it or not—there’s still a little puddle when you’re done.

And yet I think the ladling isn’t even the reason for moving on. Yeah, it’s tedious, and kind of miserable, but so are a lot of jobs. There’s even something satisfying about it, because it’s physical work, work that is done when it’s done. I’m not bringing my work home, and I’m not unendingly frustrated by it. What it is, more than the ladling, is a need for stability. I don’t mean that in the suburban sense; please don’t accuse me of wanting a minivan; I mean I want some sense of a sustainable future. I love love love this job, but can I do it for ten years? Ten years of getting a new job every three months, and just barely exceeding the minimum wage? Yeah, maybe I could. Do I want to? That’s what I don’t know. And what about twenty years? Thirty?

With the clarity provided by a new paragraph, I can say this: No. I don’t want to work ten years at minimum wage and have to move every three months.

What I don’t get is this: Why do we all have to give up the things we want, sometimes even the things we love most, when we grow up? Maybe we don’t. Maybe these things come in time, and you have to see your life’s possibilities as unpredictable. Maybe whatever career I end up with will allow me to live in the woods, and travel a lot, too. It seems like if you love something, you should stick with it—but, then, maybe you should quit before you stop loving it. Maybe that’s the difference between fond memories and bitterness. It’s all a lot to consider.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Toilet Ladler

Cool, damp (low 30s)

Goodness. You know, sometimes I feel incredibly lucky to work at camp. It’s a place beloved to so many people, and I know a ton of them would bite (literally, probably) at the chance to live at camp and do things to benefit camp all the time. And of course I love my job, and most of the time, it’s amazing and wonderful and even fulfilling.

Today, however, I spent a lot of time in one dark, damp bathroom, trying to drain toilets. Why did I spend so long in there? Well…

First thing this morning, I set about draining toilets. It was going just fine, with that new pumpy thing, until I hit this particular bathroom. Then the pumpy thing stopped. This device usually works like this: As the drill rotates, it rotates a little thing inside this pump. The pump is attached to an intake hose and an outtake (ha ha) hose, and when the thing rotates, water comes in through the intake (from the toilet) and goes out the other one (into a bucket). Needless to say, none of this was happening. I monkeyed with it for awhile, and didn’t get anywhere. I monkeyed some more. I took it apart. I dangled the hoses above my head. I changed the drill’s battery. In short, I tried really hard to fix it. Nothing doing. So I drove to the hardware store, consulted with Carlo on options, and ended up buying a new one of the same thing. I also bought a little siphon hose with a pump, just hoping.

When I brought it back, it worked a charm—EUREKA!—for the first toilet bowl, and then didn’t work again. I got out the siphon, had a good laugh about the complete ineffectiveness of that method, and then sighed. Only one method remained, and it looked like this:

For the next long while, I ladled water out of toilets. I crouched on the floor, getting better acquainted with nasty, damp, dark toilet bowls than anyone could ever want to be. There’s a surprising amount of ladle-fulls of water in a toilet, especially when you get down to the bottom and have to use miniature ladles. After you’ve ladled, you have to get the rest of the water with a sponge, which means dipping your hand into the freezing cold water of the toilet, and squeezing this freezing cold water out, until your hand screams in protest. Mind, this whole time you’re squeezing toilet water, which doesn’t make you feel any better.

All in all, I think I managed three toilets today. Out of… 42. Great! Yee-haw! Awesome. At this rate I’ll only be at this thirteen more days.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Frozen logic puzzle

Cold, dry, overcast (30-ish)

Work today was like a giant logic puzzle in subzero temperature. Carlo and I started shutting down the water in main camp, and just soon enough—it’s mighty cold out there. To shut down the water, you have to understand a complex, unwritten map of camp, the kind of map that’s only pretty to people who really like systems. This map includes hundreds of valves and drains, some metal pipes, some plastic ones, some broken and a little leaky, some stuck in their ways.

I set out with a hand warmer this morning, but I never got up to a satisfactory temperature. This was exacerbated by the amount of time I spent standing around waiting for something to happen. The most exciting part of the day was when we were blowing compressed air into the upper line, and the drinking fountain next to the Stink Shack suddenly spurted a twelve-foot geyser, straight in the air, of steam. It was pretty funny. I watched it go for a few minutes, and that was that. Most of the time I just turned things on and off, and steered as clear of the air compressor as possible, because those things always seem to me like they could explode at any moment.

Toward the end of the afternoon, I started draining water from toilets, using that handy-dandy drill attachment that pumps water out. That’s kind of a fun thing to do, for the first few toilets on which you use it; after that, you could probably do without the process, which requires a sponge and some weird-smelling antifreeze. But that’s okay.

Tonight I had some camp volunteer types over for tea, and we looked at the beautiful aerial photo above my fireplace, and discussed what year it might have been taken, based on camp’s features. The swimming pool isn’t on it, which makes it fairly old, but other than that, nobody’s really been able to say much, beyond just looking at it and thinking how cool it is.

I think I may have to sleep with both space heaters on tonight. Brr.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


(Cold and clear, 30-ish)

I was pulling up a wad of blackberry roots today when a high-school girl walked by, talking to her counselor type, and said, “Hannah? Have you ever heard of those paintball places where guys come and shoot paintball guns at naked ladies?”

It was a delicious moment between these two women. The older one said, “Um, no,” while the nearby boys picked up the subject. But the fact that this girl felt comfortable asking this twenty-something woman was really great. The kids I worked with today ruled the humor department. I came upon the group half an hour later, and one of the guys was saying to the other, “Dude, would you fire a paintball gun at a naked lady? I mean, one who wanted to be fired at?” All the while, they were standing in a mucky creekbed, shoveling silty water out and onto the ground nearby.

Today’s work project was a lot of fun. One group dug up the creek, while another skinned the rails and posts for the fence, and the last one cut down two more trees for fence materials. All of the fence wood is cut now; all it needs is to get completely ready, and then we can put it up. I think we should have it done by next week, with the last service project of the year. After working by myself or with just one other person, it’s awfully nice to have a crew of people, even on the off chance that they’re being a little frustrating.

After the service project, Marc and I walked down to the river. It had been clear all day, but a fog rolled in as the air cooled. The river was higher, and everywhere you stepped on the beach, it was nearly quicksand. I love when the Sandy is like that. We didn’t see any prints, but there were three ducks chilling when we approached.

Now we’re sitting by the fire. We just ate dinner, and it’s lovely to be out here in the calm evening, with the weekend ahead.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Stink Shack

(Cool, drippy—around 40)

Camp was built in many stages, starting in the 20s. I’m sure that in their first years, all of camp’s buildings were beautiful, well-thought-out, and utilitarian. The Stink Shack is no exception. It’s the original maintenance building, and it has gorgeous racks custom-built for axes, hatchets, shovels, cross-cut saws, and the like. It has the beautiful little windows characteristic of camp’s older buildings, and it’s a little, unassuming building, brimming with character.

Now, though, it’s kind of a sad place. You walk in, through a sliding door that doesn’t quite slide right, and the first thing you notice is the stink, a potent mix of chemicals and years' worth of rat urine. The first thing you see is insulation, falling off the ceiling and dangling from the rafters. This insulation is coated in rat turds. The place is piled high with molding, unused stuff, from ancient herbicide to copper toilet parts. This could be fun—all the relics of the past in one building—if it didn’t also feel kind of toxic, and if the building wasn’t intended for current use.

One of my ongoing projects is to clean this little shop. Today I tackled the plumbing corner, sorting sections of pipe, little fittings, and plumber’s putty. I also found a whole bunch of unidentifiable stuff, as usual, and just kind of hung it up wherever. One of the perennial problems with the Stink Shack is that its floor is constantly littered with junk, which may sit there for years, accumulating mold and leaching stuff into the floor. After I cleaned up one particular crate, a fine cream-colored powder was left all over the floor, and I had no idea what it was. It’s that sort of stuff that makes the Stink Shack simultaneously charming and worrisome.

I was sweeping up in this corner, picking up chunks of insulation, when I heard a distinct and awful crunch beneath my foot. I looked down, and saw a little pile of gray; when I picked it up, I discovered it was a dried-up mouse, pictured here. Now, I might have thought this was gross, or I might have thought I would get hanta virus, or I might have lamented the poor little guy’s fate, if this had been the first dessicated rodent I had found in the Stink Shack. But this fellow was not unique; last year, when I’d spend entire days in the Stink Shack, I’d find five or six pruney rodents a day, most of them considerably larger than mice.

And sometimes I’d find rotting ones, especially rats. So here’s my question: What makes some rats rot, whereas some just dry up? The rotting ones still have their beady little eyes, which makes them more forbidding. They all have whiskers, which creeps me out. Does rotting lead to dessication? Hmm.

On a brighter note, a mom and yearling deer were chilling by the Stink Shack while I worked in there; they kept sneaking glances my way, while munching on plants. It was pretty sweet. They cocked their gigantic ears whenever I made the slightest little noise. Hooray for charismatic megafauna! I can go for cute deer over dessicated mice any day.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


(Cool and damp, 45-ish)

I feel like I’m blogging piecemeal, giving these daily thoughts of life out here in the woods, and without any real context. What do I actually do here? Where do I actually live? What are these treehouses I mention? Yeah, there’s a lot to know, and I’m sorry.

But today I want to tell you about my house, Slanty. It has another, more boring name, but I call it Slanty because 1)Marc came up with the name, 2)It has a slanted roof, and 3)It’s not at all level, meaning if you placed a tennis ball on the floor, it would roll to the kitchen sink. I want to tell you about my house because I’ve been spending a lot of time in here. Carlo and I have been working on fixing the ceiling and putting up the walls somebody never finished. Since it gets dark around 4:30 these days, I’ve also been spending a whole lot of evening time in here. Therefore, dear blog, you should know about it.

Slanty is easy to describe, because it has four rooms: A kitchen, a living room, a hallway, and a bathroom. The kitchen and living room rest on stilts, and look out over a leafless, but mossy, big-leaf maple grove. Farther on, evergreen trees join in. The forest slopes down toward the river, which I could see from my windows if we cut down all the trees. One wall of Slanty is almost entirely windows, and the view is captivating: The fog creeps between the trees, and squirrels leap from branch to branch, and I’m pretty sure there’s a cougar living somewhere close by back there, so it’s a pretty exciting area.

I sleep in a corner of the living room, between two banks of windows. The back windows don’t have any curtains, which makes me nervous at night but gleeful during the day. The gray sunlight wakes me up in the mornings, and I prop myself up on my elbow to look outside. The focal point of the living room is a brick fireplace, with an ancient aerial photo of camp on the mantle. Right now I’ve got the mantle decorated with fir boughs, too. The bathroom is ridiculously large for a cabin this size, but that’s okay. It’s better than being too small.

All of that said, Slanty is kind of a wreck. It was built by someone with limited architectural skills, way back in the day, and some walls go five feet between studs. If you walk below the house, you’ll notice the stilts are resting on little concrete pyramids, some of which are being supported by the septic line. As for the septic, no one knows where it goes. The water line on the way in is leaky, seeping dirt into the line. (One has to hope the septic line is not right next to the water line, but around here, you never know.) The bathroom never got finished, so until today, there weren’t walls, and there’s still bare insulation for a ceiling. Icing that cake is the fact that the insulation was put up upside-down.

A space heater is the only source of heat, and it has a loud, high-pitched fan that goes whenever it’s on. Insulation is limited, and the back door has a big crack, so it never really gets warm unless it’s summer. I have another little space heater, which I use to heat the bathroom before I shower, and my bed during the night. The fireplace draws heat out from the house, but I would never begrudge it, because it’s so lovely.

The outside walls of Slanty are rough, dark, ugly wood, which is molding and cracking in many places. Carlo and I nailed up square patches of unmatched wood to keep out the squirrels. A tree fell on the gutter last year, and took out a corner of the building; we haven’t gotten around to fixing it. The front stoop is made of gravel and railroad ties, and gets dripped on constantly; it’s starting to fall in, and it—combined with the ripped front door—is deeply ugly.

But Slanty is beautiful inside, with her wood paneling and her windows, and since I’ve droned on about my house way too long, I’ll leave it there.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Different kinds of work

I was puttering around Slanty this morning when Carlo called, saying we’d been invited to a staff meeting in town. I changed into an outfit that didn’t feature a muddy hoody, and we climbed into the FMT for the long drive downtown. We sauntered into the office a few minutes late, to a group of people politely listening to some suited guy talk about retirement benefits. I don’t intend any offense by this, because I believe the people in that meeting were talented and kind, but meetings are boring. When we got back outside, it was like the weight of all the boredom in the world had been lifted from my shoulders. We walked back out to the FMT, which we had parked downtown with a sprig of Douglas-fir sticking out its tailgate, and a cement pillar dedicated to Samuel Cobb in its bed, and drove back to camp.

After sitting around for a few hours, sanding wood was amazing. We worked on Slanty for a little bit, and then Carlo left for a party. Stacy was still in town, and with Carlo and his family gone, I was alone in camp. I meandered over to the Nature House, where I stripped bark off those red alder poles. It was delightful. My back ached, and the knots were incredibly stubborn, but I worked them for two hours, past quitting time. I only worked on that one rail, because each knot requires a gentle time commitment, but it was delicious to see it turn from rough, knotty bark to pure, just-cut wood, to dark red alder, all with the rain pouring outside. It was so quiet, with everyone gone. With all the changes on the way at camp, and all the uncertainty, it was mighty nice to have two hours in an open-air building, alone with red alder, just working, nothing else, with the rain pouring outside.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wet wood, tangled yarn, and massive spiders

(Damp, warm—mid-50s)

So here’s something I don’t get: Fire, and where it likes to start. Western Oregon, for example, is a really wet place. The forest acts as a giant sponge, soaking up all possible moisture, and keeping it, even for drier seasons. This place drips for months after the major rains stop. Our forests are so many kinds of green you could make a set of 64 crayons of different greens.

Let’s contrast this with my fireplace here in Slanty: It’s always dry, is made of stone, and was designed to burn wood.

So now, here’s the question: Which of these two places is more likely to burn wood? Examples: A few years ago, a numbskull ranger wanted to burn some old love letters. She did so in a remote campfire pit, in what by all accounts is a giant sponge, and ignited half the state. She didn’t even mean to. In contrast, I’ve spent the past hour trying to ignite five pieces of seasoned wood in my fireplace, and have had little success.

Honestly, I’m not sure why this is. I’ve had a fire every night I’ve been here so far, and they’ve all been small, but roaring affairs, and this one—well, this one just sucks. I started it in hopes of feeling good about the evening, getting to bed early, and being restful. After I lit it, I thought I’d try knitting. I discovered the hat was twisted, and I’d have to start over. I was not pleased, but with a stoic sigh, I started pulling out stitches. A few stitches in, the fire went out, and I came over to tend it, and when I came back, there had been some sort of yarn mutiny, and it was all knotted up in a wad. While I was trying to pull it out, Marc called, but my speakerphone wouldn’t work, and I shouted to him for a few minutes, before realizing the fire was out again. So I came over to the fireplace, and while shouting into the phone, saw one of those hideously large dark spiders I’ve only seen here at camp, crawling around in the fireplace. Marc said he thought it would climb out the chimney, if only the fire was hot enough; this sparked a nerve (I cannot get this fire to light, much less get hot enough to drive out a spider), and the spider crawled toward me. I was navigating the cracks in the brickwork, trying to get a cup over its disgustingly large body, when the smoke detector went off, and Marc said, “What are you doing?” and I considered marching out to the car, in my jammies, and driving home.

Eventually we got off the phone, and I played with yarn for a few more minutes, and now, since I started writing, my fire seems to be cooperating a little.

Today in general was pretty good. We worked on Slanty’s bathroom a little this morning, and then I worked on stripping red alder for new fence materials, and then we started sanding and routing boards for Slanty’s walls. I’m a little sore from the stripping (ha! ha!) so I think I’ll do some yoga before bed. Yes, I think I’ll lie on the floor of this cabin, trying to achieve some sort of meditative state among the gargantuan spiders, wimpy flame, and ridiculous pile of yarn on my bed. Eh.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


My, my, what a worky day. It feels good to be at the end of it, having accomplished some stuff. It feels even better now that I’ve had a shower and I’m getting warm. Today I worked with the wilderness therapy kids, and we tackled the ugly area in front of the nature house (pictured above, in delightful snow!). One team dug post-holes, while another gathered rocks to line the paths, and the other cut down and skinned trees to make a fence. It’s always interesting to work with them, because a few will work really hard and be consistently cheerful, while others drag along, and you have to remind yourself that they’re just high-school kids who got in some sort of trouble—nothing more, nothing less. I guess the thing to remember is they’re not volunteers.

A cold rain, alternating with snow and hail, fell most of the day, but it was beautiful. Fog rolled behind my house and over the meadow, and although it was chilly, it was a perfect day to be outside. We all got caked in mud from carrying rocks, and that mud just got muddier with the rain. I acted sort of as the forewoman of the project, which meant I didn’t do as much hard work as I would normally have, but the project went better, and I was able to help people more. By the end of the afternoon, we had four post-holes dug, several rails, a few posts, and the entire pathway lined with rocks. It already looks a whole lot nicer. It was nice to see something at camp change because of some good solid work.

And now I’m home, lonely no more, eating hazelnuts, excited for the weekend. Woot!

Friday, November 30, 2007


Cold, rainy (low 30s)

During the fall, I can’t tell you how many times I thought, I can’t wait to eat by myself! I can’t wait to think, and write, and knit, and decide how I spend my time. And now that time is here. I ate three meals by myself today. I’ve thought a lot. I’m writing at this very moment. I knitted earlier, and I decided how to spend my time from 5:00 this afternoon until now, 9:00 at night. And it’s lovely, truly lovely, to have that freedom, to know that if I wanted to right now, I could drive home, or I could go to sleep, or I could knit another row, or I could call a friend. But there’s another side to solitude, and that’s loneliness. “Solitude” sounds all noble, as if the person experiencing it is doing something important, something stoic and good. “Solitary” is the word you would use to describe all the important hermits of history. Would you describe Thoreau, or John Muir, or any of those crazy Catholic saints, as “lonely?” Surely not.

But right now, looking out into the the black night, the line between the two seems kind of thin. I love these moments to myself, when I can sit by the fire and do whatever I want, without inane conversation, without anything to compete for my attention. But I also hoped that Marc, because he has a car at the moment, would come out to visit, and he’s not going to. Getting him to come out here at all is this big, stupid issue, because he can’t understand what it’s like to want so badly to be here, but to not want to be here alone. If I didn’t want to be here alone, why did I take the job? I clearly do; most nights I don’t feel so restless, and the quiet doesn’t seem difficult. But then there are times when I want company, and I want it so badly that I get irrational and angry, and the solitude (of which I am proud) turns very clearly into loneliness.

Someone told me yesterday that Rilke said something along the lines of, “The times when you don’t want solitude are the times when you need it the most.” I just looked it up, and the actual passage is:

"There is only one solitude, and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear, and almost everyone has hours when he would gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial or cheap, for the tiniest outward agreement with the first person who comes along, the most unworthy. . . . But perhaps these are the very hours during which solitude grows..."

And everyone who’s being honest about loneliness knows that. I can’t get out of my mind something that one of the wilderness therapy kids said last winter, which was in reference to the week they had spent totally alone in a little tent in the wilderness, without speaking or communicating in any way. What he said was, “It was really hard. It totally sucked at first. But what I learned was, if you can’t like yourself, why should anyone else like you?”

This was probably an idea they pursued a lot in their group, but it stuck with me. We all have those friends who hate to be alone for any reason, who seem so afraid of themselves that they wouldn’t dream of spending Friday night alone in a cabin in the woods. And that seems silly. Although I plan to always have people around me in my life, I know there’s only one who’s going to be there the whole time, and that’s me. So really, the only thing you can count on, from your birth to your death, is your own existence. The only company you’re going to have that whole time is yourself. It scares me to think that it’s possible to not be comfortable with that.

And then there’s right now. I’ve eaten half a box of imitation Cheez-its and I’m drinking tea, glancing up at the little fire in my fireplace, and it’s a beautiful moment, really. It’s supposed to snow here tonight, or maybe tomorrow, and there’s a chance I’ll end up stuck here. I’m not going to pretend that I’m excited at the prospect; I rather fancy going home to check my email and sleep soundly, but I suppose this is what I have right now, and it is what it is: The only company I can fully count on. Whew. In a weird way, that makes me feel better.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Cool, wet--snowy?

Portland is a pretty rainy place, right? We’re well-known for that dreary coffee-shop culture, where people hole up inside in the winter because it’s too wet to do anything else. Winter means months of gray: Sometimes high gray clouds, sometimes fog, always with gray sidewalks and gray buildings. Streets back up with water, sewage flows untreated into the river, mold grows on everyone’s walls. It’s a rainy place. Thirty-five inches of rain fall in Portland each year.

And then there’s camp, fewer than 25 miles away, where it rains 80 inches a year. It rains so much that there are perpetual puddles on the road in, ferns grow on the tops of buildings, trees drip long after storms pass, and most of camp turns into one big creek in the winter. Everything turns to mud, the in-camp road turns into a rushing stream, and the buildings act as giant sponges. In spring, when I get things ready for rental groups, I find pretty much every toilet seat covered with a thick layer of mold. For now, the rain means I spend a lot of time getting wet, I’m likely to get the truck stuck, and I feel even luckier to have an indoor home for the winter.

I drove out of camp tonight, to spend a night in town before a day tomorrow also in town, and the raindrops hit my windshield in huge splats, as if the clouds couldn’t pump out enough water with more moderately sized drops. It was ridiculous to see—the dollops of water hitting my windshield, the rivulets next to the road, the layers of fog that obscured my vision as my car navigated the hills—and it all reminded me that where we live is only sort of civilizable. It’s rainy and nasty sometimes, and that’s why moss drips off the trees, and the river runs fast and brown and beautiful in the winter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sound Sleep

Warmer, drizzly (40?)

That might be a deceiving title, because you know what? Here in the silent, beautiful woods, where I’m happy to live, and I curl up in my down comforter and my blankets next to a crackling fire, looking out over a forest and hearing a river in the distance, I do not sleep soundly. In the city, next to a busy street where buses, street-cleaning trucks, and garbage crews like to bang around at all hours, where streetlights come in every window, where people climb onto the roof next door, I sleep like a baby. There’s such a false sense of security in the city—I have neighbors! They’ll protect me! Marc and I are together! Nothing can happen while we’re together! But out here, in the silent, dark woods, I freak out when the moon casts a shadow through my cabin, and when I get up to investigate, I see my own shadow, and freak out. It's ridiculous.

When I do sleep, I do so fitfully, waking up frequently to assess whether anything wretched has happened yet, and I get up to pee, and get back into bed, and sleep a little, and wake up, and maybe just think for awhile. That’s the thing that really gets me: The thinking. When I was walking the Camino in Spain, I noticed that toward the end I would wake up every night, in the middle of the night, and just think. I’d lie there in some ancient unheated building, on some ancient unpadded bunk bed, in my long underwear, and think. It was around this time of year, and I remember at first I couldn’t figure out why I was waking up in the middle of the night. I wasn’t tired, and I didn’t need to pee. I’d lie there, and I don’t know if I thought about anything important. At first it weirded me out a lot, and I’d try to get back to sleep, but after awhile I got used to it, and I kind of liked it. It was a time that was just mine—no distractions, no one to talk to, nothing in particular to watch out for—just my time to listen to the night and think.

Here it’s not quite like that. My sleeplessness hasn’t turned into a peaceful thing, although I wouldn't mind if it did. It’s like I sleep differently out here, more watchfully; more like an animal on the lookout for stuff.

The last time I awoke this morning it was almost dawn. I meant to go back to sleep, because I still had plenty of time, but I saw movement in the bushes outside, and I put on my glasses to see if there were elk or something, and realized a few minutes later it was just rain pittering down onto the plants. It was pretty, though, watching all that rain in the still of the morning.

Today I moved mattresses, and we worked on Slanty, until we started to get stuff ready for the Camp Director party in Raker. Then I ate cookies and drank cider until I felt sick. Woot! Then I watched “Knocked Up” with Carlo and Jeanette and the kids, and now I’m in bed, and wow! It’s 11:00, and I am sleepy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

BEAR! And squirrels, and vomit

Cold (low 30s) and overcast; it started to rain as I got inside

As you may have intuited from the title, today was exciting. I spent most of the day getting buildings ready for two nights of habitation by camp directors. Sounds snoozy, until you picture this: I’m driving toward Pioneer to get mattresses, and as I round the corner by Wishing Rock, who should come bounding into my vision but a huge black bear. It was easily the biggest one I’ve seen, beautiful and almost like a huge dog. For a moment we both stopped, unsure, and then it shot me a look that plainly said, “Uh-oh,” before bounding toward the treehouses and the river. I sat awhile in the truck, stomach all a-flutter, before turning around to tell Carlo.

On less exciting days I need to remember that there are moments like this when you work in the woods. Toward the end of this fall session, Mayfly, Lambchop, and I waded down the Sandy a few hundred feet to where the salmon were spawning. Shivering in our boots, we saw them darting upstream, floating back down, fighting, leaping in the waves, and moving fast as toothed torpedoes around our feet. All session Lambchop had expressed a certain hesitance about salmon. He didn’t like Chinooks’ massive bodies and massive teeth—or maybe I should say he didn’t like to think of swimming with them in the river.

But that night, as we were all sharing something special about the week, Lambchop explained how fantastic it had been to watch the salmon (these were Coho, by the way), and said something along the lines of, “That’s what I live for. That’s what I always want to have in my life.” And somehow this stuck with me—this image of Lambchop standing around this circle putting into words what all of us feel when we see salmon spawning—and the thing with the bear today was the same.

Sometimes when you’re hauling mattresses, and checking to make sure there’s enough toilet paper for a bunch of camp directors, you can get a little bored. When it’s cold enough outside that your gloved fingers refuse to move, and you know your cabin will never warm up, things can seem kind of bleak, and Portland can seem kind of appealing. But then you see this bear, and it makes your heart skip. You’re afraid, but ecstatic, and you want to know where it’s going, where it sleeps, what it’s been eating, why it’s been hanging out by the lodge and the treehouses. Even when one of the mattresses you’re hauling has clearly been smeared with vomit, and it gets all over your shirt, you’ve got this secret weapon: I saw a bear today. Even when you discover that the squirrels have chewed through your insulation and new ceiling panel, you’ve got this inner gloating: I saw a bear today (which could chomp those little squirrels if it chose). Even though it’s freezing now, and the sound of rain on the roof means tomorrow will be lots of work, not much matters: I saw a bear today.

It’s not like I’m proud—seeing this bear took absolutely no skill or knowledge on my part—but I do feel lucky, and I do see it like otter tracks: A glimpse into the rightness of the way I’ve chosen to spend this winter. And I also feel lucky that I was in the trusty little truck.

P.S. Here's a picture of my olive oil as I found it in my chilly cabin this morning.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Cool, clear (mid 30s)

The kitchen ceiling is up, and I got to bumble around by the river! Carlo and I spent the morning in Slanty, cussing and jigsawing pieces of wood to create the ceiling we took down two days ago. And hoorah! It’s done. No more insulation dropping down into my dinner. Now it’ll just have to be satisfied to drop down into my shower.

I also messed with electricity today (always fun), and culminated a too-difficult replacement of a light fixture by breaking the globe part. So now I still have a bare bulb there, although I did learn about wiring.

But the most fun part of my day was when I walked around camp. I walked across the meadow and cut down through the treehouses toward the river. There, I scrambled over the big river-rocks toward the main beach, clinging onto branches and teetering over the chilly water. It was the kind of hike I like best, the kind where I’m not really exerting myself physically, but I do have to contort my body to avoid getting wet, and I have to use my brain to avoid peril. I hopped over stones, and admired raccoon prints in very wet sand, until I finally got to the main beach. The day was beautifully sunny again, and decidedly wintry. The water is its normal level for this season, which made me happy. It makes me even happier to think that the Sandy is now damless. It doesn’t change the river that much from my vantage point, but it does make it seem more capricious and more personifiable. And gee, it’s pretty either way.

But the highlight of the day was the OTTER TRACKS, which emerged in a set of three from the water. I know there are these otters that live across the river from the main beach, and I saw them cavorting in the waves once, but every time I see their little footprints it still makes me gleeful and glad to be where I am. Something about seeing otters, or evidence of them, makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing.

Where are you, geocache?

Sunday, November 28, 2007

Today we tried to find the last stage of our geocache through the cemeteries. We ended up walking along the Clackamas River during dusk, and coming to the horrid conclusion that the darn thing must be on the other side. We cheated and looked up the coordinates when we got home, and they indicated that the cache was on an island, right in the middle of the river. Bah. Better luck next weekend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Insulation hat

Clear and cold (low 30s)

Ah. The fire is going and I’m eating chocolate. I’ve got my knitting and a crossword puzzle, too. Whew. That said, today was kind of crazy, and I still haven’t really done any work for camp, besides work on my own house.

The craziness of today was a field trip to Home Depot, to get pieces of wood to finish the ceiling in here. I left as the fog was burning off of camp, driving down the road in a crisp autumn morning with no one around. I was nervous about driving the truck (also known as the FMT) on the big roads—roads on which I have to use gears above first—but I was excited to get out. “I’ll get a newspaper,” I told myself, “after I’ve got the materials to finally make this cabin into a place where insulation doesn’t fall on you while you’re brushing your teeth.”

Things started off well. I successfully manually shifted my way to the Home Depot, and found the wood section (I believe it’s actually called “lumber,” now that I think about it). There, I approached the most friendly-looking employee, and asked if they had the stuff, which I happened to be carrying a nice sheet of in my hand. “Uh, I don’t know,” he said, and walked away.

This was the first in a series of perplexing things that happened at the Home Depot. He didn’t know? Was he going to check? I loitered for a few minutes, but he didn’t come back. So I walked the aisles by myself for awhile, hoping someone else would happen by, but they didn’t. So I walked over to the “Pro Desk,” still holding my stupid piece of wood, to ask. I stood at the counter while the employee (the “Pro,” I’m assuming) stood around in his hoodie and surfed the internet. Finally I broke him out of his reverie and asked if they had any of this thing I was holding in my hand.

He glanced up, for about a millisecond, before saying, “I don’t know,” and getting back to his myspace. “Huh,” I said, “Where would it be if you did have some?” At this point he gestured generally back at the Lumber section. “Any particular area?” I asked, more than a little pissed. He shrugged.

So I walked back, and, after much searching, found 2X4 scrap pieces of my ceiling, and considered making a sort of ceiling quilt out of little bits before realizing it wasn’t going to work. So I marched back to the Pro Desk, now holding two samples, to ask if they had a bigger version.

“Dunno,” Pro Hoodie said helpfully when I returned, “Do you want me to send someone from Lumber to meet you there?”

“Someone from Lumber” turned out to be a completely useless lady who told me that my piece of wood was absolutely the same as this weird stuff with a different thickness and different grain, and I wanted to kick her in the head. This is all very boring, and for that I apologize; it's just what happened today.

After a few conversations with Carlo, it was determined that I would head to the Home Depot at 82nd and Johnson Creek and wish for better luck.

Of course, driving to Johnson Creek and 82nd involved (dum dum dum) The Freeway. The Freeway involved (gasp) Fifth Gear, which the FMT and I had never before experienced. But we did fine, and had a dandy old time at the other Home Depot, involving helpful employees and dozens of contractors in big trucks who all wanted to help me load my five pieces of light wood into the FMT. But I laid out the tarp, put in the wood, and tied it all down, and we made it back to Slanty in stunning sunlight.

So then I tried to put up insulation. Carlo had told me to staple the sides to the… joists? Was that the word? Anyway, I was to staple-gun the stuff up. So I found a staple-gun, and I found some staples, and then I tried to staple, which ended up requiring both hands. The next hour was spent in stapling the stuff up while holding up the rest with all my might, only to have it suddenly rip out and fall on my head. I started coughing from all the fiberglass in my lungs, and I started cursing mightily every time the stuff came crashing down on me. Finally I got a good section up, and Carlo came in, and then explained that you’re supposed to bend it up and staple on the inside of the rafter thing, and… oh well. I re-did it, and did a few more sections, and felt better. At least I didn’t put it in upside-down, unlike some people who have installed insulation in this particular building.

Last night I slept okay. I was a little scared, and stayed up late knitting. Then I awoke around 3:00 and couldn’t sleep, thinking of too many things. And it was cold last night. I should probably bring another sleeping bag, or another blankie, because it’s pretty chilly, and bound to get chillier.

My fire is in need of a poking. I’m going to stop rambling about Home Depot and insulation, and poke instead.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Day one!

Cold, rainy (low 30s)

Today was full as a day can be. I arrived here at Slanty at about 9:00 in the morning, and I haven’t sat down since—not to eat, not to drink… well, I guess I drove for a bit, and I sat to do that. But other than that, I’ve been on the move all day, and I’m tired.

Slanty was in pitiable shape when I got here. Chunks of insulation and rat turds littered the floor, along with gum wrappers and other assorted junk. The sink was full of dirty dishes, and the bathroom (pictured above) was strewn with empty shampoo bottles. Cobwebs covered every surface, and every spider known to man made an appearance. It was sort of intense. And then there was the camp gear. About ten large Rubbermaid containers had been stacked in the kitchen, right in the way of everything. The whole place reeks of rodent piss, so much so that you can smell it from about fifty feet outside the building. The porch was covered in trash—pop cans, cigarette butts, soaked newspaper, paper towels—and the place looked about as desolate as a person could imagine.

Twelve hours later, it looks a lot better. Carlo took out the nasty ceiling in the kitchen where the squirrels were residing, and while now it’s bare wood with the occasional sheet of insulation (installed upside-down), at least it’s going to get better. I did the dishes, cleaned the counters, scrubbed out the fridge, swept down the cobwebs, washed down the shower, de-molded the toilet, built a fire, and even ate dinner. Mainly, I swept. I swept and swept and swept. I also hand-mopped the bathroom. Apart from the complete lack of silverware (it’s fun to slurp lentil soup from a mug, right?) I’m doing pretty well.

I can hear one of the rodents stirring in the kitchen wall. It must be confused by the sudden removal of its home. Carlo stuffed an entire sheet of insulation down the wall it normally climbs up, and even if it did get to the top, it would peer out over a void where its nest used to be. My fear is that the stupid pretty-tailed rat is going to climb to the top and have free run of the house, munching on all my food on the way to mauling my face in the night. My other, more long-term fear, is that the family will just move to the walls now that the ceiling is no longer an option, and then I’ll have squirrels in all the walls. Yeah.

It’s cold out here. Even with two space heaters and a fire, I’m feeling a little chilled. I’ve burned through a ton of firewood this evening. Oh well.

I’m a little scared. I miss home, and I don’t know if I made the right decision in being here. I of course love this place, but my main tasks for the winter are going to consist of weed-whacking and Rounding-Up blackberry bushes at the ranch, and while I don’t mind that so much, I do want to see friends and family, and I love my little apartment and don’t particularly want to be gone so much. We shall see.

For now, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow will doubtless be another full day, and I might as well get ready for it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Where are you, geocache?

Today we tried to find the last stage of our geocache through the cemeteries. We ended up walking along the Clackamas River during dusk, and coming to the horrid conclusion that the darn thing must be on the other side. We cheated and looked up the coordinates when we got home, and they indicated that the cache was on an island, right in the middle of the river. Bah. Better luck next weekend.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I just got back from the beach, where last night, a bunch of us stumbled down the dunes and kicked sand to see the bioluminescent organisms sparkle. It's like there are hidden galaxies in the sand.

That is all.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rain & IKEA

Ah, the wonders of IKEA. Slanty is going to be a different place this year, and it’s all because of cheaply made Swedish stuff. After a few hours with Danette and Clara in the massive store, I emerged with rugs, a table lamp, a blanket, a shower curtain, and a light fixture (one bare bulb will be no more!). You have to start somewhere. I think I’ll blitz the place on Monday. After work, I’ll build a fire, and clean clean clean. Or maybe I’ll build a fire, and take down the kitchen ceiling to evict the squirrels. I wouldn’t mind getting them out of the way early on… I think that might be the best plan. We’ll see what actually happens.

I don’t think the rain has let up at all today. It’s awfully pretty, the sheet of gray, and I like days like this. Netters and Clara and I got to have a nice time at IKEA, and then a fancy lunch of macaroni and cheese with salad. Now I want to curl up with a blanket, some tea, and a movie, but instead, I’m going to the beach for a retreat with Outdoor School staff. I’m sure that’ll be fun too. It’s just hard to get excited about it when what I want most is to take a nap.

Okay, so this is Day 3 of the blog. When I get out to the cabin, I’ll have more things to say. For now, I’m just trying to get used to the idea. That’s right. It’ll be less awkward soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Halfhearted packing

Today I planned to start packing for the grand adventure in the woods. Instead, I cleaned the apartment, did some dishes, talked on the phone, started applying to grad school, listened to NPR, ate lunch… I haven’t even been outside today, and in a few days, I’ll be outside every day again. I love being outside every day. It makes me happy and it sparks my interest in new things. However, it’s also kind of cold. Right now, I’m sitting in my warm kitchen, sipping tea, wrapped in a blanket, and life seems pretty good. It’s hard to embrace the idea of being outside, a few days from now, freezing my tail off while trying not to lose any limbs to the wood-splitter.

So I’m not looking forward to wearing a bazillion layers, lining my pockets with hand-warmers, and still being freezing cold. But I am looking forward to my little cabin in the woods. I’m looking forward to evicting the squirrels, building a fire, reading books, knitting, cooking, and hanging out with camp’s full-time human residents.

The squirrels have taken a central place in my mind this week. I think that as Outdoor School ended, my mind became kind of a vacuous place, in need of some other major theme, and that theme has become these stupid squirrels. I’ve been gearing myself up to take down their little fortress, set the live trap, and engage in this epic battle with them. It all seems kind of silly. But then, when you’re in the woods by yourself, and there are a bunch of squirrels chilling in your house, vacating their bowels and their bladders all over your cooking space, it does begin to seem kind of serious.

None of this squirrel-thought is packing my stuff for me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Winter job begins soon

Starting a blog seems horribly awkward. It’s like that first sentence of anything you write, when you spit something out, cringe at how dumb it sounds, delete, and re-type something that sounds even stupider, only to decide not to write it in the end because you couldn’t come up with a decent beginning. But no, new blog! This fate is not for you. I’m going to get over the stupid beginning and keep going.

I want to blog this winter because last winter I lived in the woods, and when I came into contact with the real world, people would ask, “So what’s it like to live out there?” and I would be stumped for something interesting to say. Uh… It’s beautiful? It’s cold? It’s unspeakably frightening, yet wonderfully rewarding? One time there was a spider in the sink, and I tried to drown it, but it swam instead? Ho hum. So this winter, while I’m out in the woods, I’m going to write it all down, from the most dull to the least dull, and hope writing helps me explain.

Before I make this sound like some kind of Walden experiment, I should hasten to say that I’m not planning to live alone in the woods for a year or anything. I will be living and working in the woods for most of the winter, but I will also be coming into town for some weekends. This will allow me to buy food, see friends and family, and post blogs.

Now I’m going to shut up, pretend I don’t feel horribly awkward, and post this stupid entry already.