I drove up late, arriving after midnight, but was treated to a gorgeous orange half moon rising as I headed east on 62.
Next morning the guys arrived at 5:30am and by midmorning the trash bin was full.
And I did... nothing. The heat sapped my strength, my normal energy was zero. I considered abandoning ship, but instead sweat and slept the day away, and sat under the mister in the evening, after my ritual run to the grocery to cool off. My car said 115 at 6pm. That is hot.
Next day, though, I felt better. Went to yoga at the 29 Palms Inn (outside on the grass, I think we need grass somewhere on our property), and came back to paint a few walls.
And I began to appreciate our dirt, getting cleaner with each bin filled.
Oh the Highs, Damn the Lows
The desert is not a neutral place. I either feel intense happiness and wonder, or I'm pretty discouraged.
I'm learning to wake up early, in the 5am hour, both to see the sunrise, and to begin working when both the house and outside are relatively cool. Getting up so early makes for a very long day. I can get lots done in morning. (See cross-offs on lists below--I live by lists.)
Then around 11am, I begin to wander in circles and get overwhelmed. Because I'm heating up and don't think clearly when hot, it's time to crank up the AC in one of the rooms and rest. The afternoons are not usually good. I get crazy and feel like we'll never get the place in any kind of shape. The trash still on the property weighs on me. The large projects we can't seem to get started (electricity repair, for example) hit wall after wall. At least we have water.
Besides psychological highs and lows, there are the physical ones. Earlier this week we created a temporary outdoor shower, using a table top (found on property), garden house and sprayer. We set up some old metal doors (found on property) for a bit of privacy, but in reality, there's no need. We are totally alone, and could run around all day naked if we wanted to--not a pretty picture! It's so beautiful to shower under cool water and puffy clouds!
The day's true low... when do you install a window AC unit? At night when it's still 102 and you're sweating, and a biblical swarm of bugs flies in the open window, landing all over your bed, that's when.
Next day is a new day, though, and I'm high again, and looking forward to my midday shower under the tamarisk trees.
OK, I know this is trivial, but color is very important to us painters. So from the beginning we've been discussing what color to paint the inside of the house (exterior, currently a desaturated pink, will have to wait). Window trim is/will be white.
Kid.02 likes faded, sandy colors and suggested these (the brown is the color of the floors):
When you live in the city there are lots of colors everywhere you go, which we normally don't even notice. In the country, going outside in the desert means beige and blue in the daytime. I think that's why dusk and dawn are so amazing there. And night is inky dark. I've only experienced living in a minimal color palette a couple times before, in the redwoods of Northern California (green and purple, a combo I find depressing), and in Turkey where the desert colors are also stark.
Choosing a Place
We couldn't go out to the desert last weekend, so am anxious to get back this weekend--a nice Mother's Day for me! The electricity on the barn has finally been turned back on after much effort on Ted's part, so the well may be working soon. All our trees are stressed because of the lack of water in the sceptic tank, which was pumped. So much depends on water: basic cleaning, basic repair, flushing...
I'm in the final weeks of classes at my various colleges, and it's momentous to think that this is my last semester of crazed running around. Next fall I'll teach at ONE school a few days each week, and the rest of my time will be spent on the Dairy. We are setting goals to have some things running by fall: hosting one or two unofficial residents, and maybe starting some classes. At least I'll be using the studios (in the house or in the barn) to make my own work (can't wait to see what the desert does to it!). I will also start to know the art community, both by attending and applying to shows.
I've been thinking about choosing to live in the desert... I grew up in just one house (in Chula Vista, at the Border), a testament to my hardworking mom who was a kindergarten teacher. Then I went away to college, not for the place (LA) but for the school. After that I basically followed various men, which is sad, but true. They moved or stayed, and I moved or stayed. Then kids, and you can't really move them easily. Now, for the first time in my life, I've chosen a specific place, found a property, and am making a business there. It's sort of amazing. I don't know if I'll succeed, and I'll definitely need to make a community there, because I don't really know anyone yet. By friends are far flung now, and my kids are growing up, so it's time.
Fun Work vs. Work Work
The work here is brutal. I find the days are emotionally fraught. It starts well: make coffee, drive to the visitor’s center to fill up the water jugs, then get to work cleaning, sorting, and hauling trash. At a certain point I get very discouraged. Important is to do one fun thing each day. Above was the fun today: attaching all the metal rings we find to the fence (our friend Lynn suggested it).
Anna does most of the writing. Ted does most of the photos. But sometimes we switch. We are repairing a distressed property in 29 Palms, California, and eventually hope to run an artist residency there.