We are throwing our first big party--Thanksgiving on a Saturday--and friends and family are driving out to stay. It's a test to see how the property works with lots of people on it, and also a deadline to get projects done.
Here's the list of our major accomplishments over the seven months we've owned the property:
6 or so (lost count) large bigs of trash collected and removed
barn roof started (not finished yet)
well rebuilt, water restored to property
electric panel updated
front and side yards detrashed, enough to be raked
house roof patched
sunroom ceiling and insulation redone after leak
most rooms painted
bad RV removed, useful one set up
On Labor Day We Labored
I realize my last post was very bitchy. Sorry about that!
"Cooler" weather has continued in Socal, so we spent part of Labor Day weekend out here, painting walls and raking trash our of the sand. Our handy guy came out and fixed one of our incorrectly constructed graywater drains. This week he'll begin to remodel our bathroom shower, taking out the original cast iron tub (which is leaking). We can only shower outside for so long, because cold weather is coming.
Ted and I feel a bit conflicted investing in such a wreck when we don't have the skills or energy to do most of the work. We have to contract professionals. When we can get our hand dirty (and our bodies drenched with sweat), we are happy. Now that the bulk of the trash is removed, fine sifting will be a part of our lives for years. We rake through the sand, pulling up metal, wood, paper, and the dreaded plastic. Also tons of broken ceramic and glass. Bag and haul it out. We have decided out ruined cottage yard will be for sculptors, and are organizing the metal, wood and other interesting finds to be used in assemblage. It would be fun to have a game in which artists might create from what they find in a small area.
At the end of the day we got invited to a BBQ in Yucca Valley, to a lovely house with a pool. The other guests assured us that the heat is almost done, and we made a good decision to buy out here because the tourist hoards are about to arrive again, and everyone wants a piece of this beautiful, harsh land.
At dusk I saw dozens of giant vultures gliding south, bats flapping around, and an owl.
Trash Removal 2.0
Today another trash bin was delivered! A local crew will start to remove more of the remaining trash by hand (no tractors). Our San Diego contractor won't work in such hot weather, so we found some great guys who will start at 4am and work until temps get too high.
I know it's hard to imagine the extent of the trash, but the property was used as a dump FOR YEARS. Healing this place has become my #1 goal.
On a side note, the beach is definitely signally me that it doesn't want me. Last year the one time I went into the ocean I swam with a large shark, and today I stepped on a sting ray. Painful! I can't wait to get back to the desert.
Today I Raked Dirt
I spent the morning raking the sand for trash, first in rows, then pushing it into piles, then hand sifting. It’s going to take years to get all the plastic and metal out of this dirt. If we can ever get it done. It’s like some kind of bad dream where we are farming for human junk.
One Person's Trash....
This place we bought is trashed. Literally. At best it's a junk yard, and at worst it's a dump. There's actually a hole where they dumped trash. For years. Which we found out from locals is not that unusual. It goes along with the home-dug well and the home-dug sceptic system. And the jumper cables to the electric lines. Yup. Anyway, there has probably been no trash pickup at this property, in ages.
We spent the first two weekends out there sifting through it, picking out a few great things to keep (old milk crate from the dairy days! a few useable chairs and tables! sets of china!) Then we had metal pickers who thought they had gone to heaven, and spent four days loading up truckload after truckload. Finally a bulldozer and crew has arrived to clear it all away.
Did we mention this place was cheap? That's why, and now we're paying to clean it up.
But this land deserves it. It's wild and beautiful. I mean, it will be beautiful.
And now we can finally see the barn!
On our first weekend we cleared everything away from the front of the house. We can now see the sand!
On day two we moved stuff from the side entrance. All that junk on right of photo is waiting to be bulldozed.
Next was clearing out the patio. Believe it or not, this is a huge improvement. We are keeping this furniture for now, all of which we found on the property. There are probably 12 dead refrigerators in various spots. Ted jokes we can do a Desert Stonehenge with them.
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.