Occupied Territory, Passing of a Legend

Week Twenty Eight (11-17 August 2014)

As Civil Defense radio announcements and National Guard ice distribution continue for those most affected by the recent hurricane, I craft this post from within a screened camping gazebo, ensconced in citronella smoke and covered in essential oil bug repellents, with a belly full of beans and rice that were cooked over a Coleman camping stove. I am watching our Australian Shepherd puppy frolic in her new found, rustic, 10-acre home, a gentle breeze is passing through, coming from somewhere over the Pacific, and coqui frogs have begun their evening serenade. Like a modern-day Jeremiah Johnson, I sit reflective on our family’s newly occupied land, our homestead, even if it is only a glorified campsite for now.

That’s right. After many months, we have arrived. After much planning and sacrifice, we have possessed the land.

A Small Detour

But before I continue our tale, let me just say that this has been a week of significantly mixed emotion. Yes, we took a milestone step toward settling our property and fully launching this new phase in our lives. Meanwhile, another icon of my generation passed.

In my four-decades of life, there has not been a single individual who has caused me to laugh more than Robin Williams. From Mork to Mrs. Doubtfire and in all those voices in various animated films, he continually demonstrated his mastery of the entertainer’s craft.

He was also an individual whose work made me think. “What Dreams May Come”, “World’s Best Dad,” and some of his other serious material was just that…serious. Then there was his inspired-by-a-true-story biographic material that taught me things about real people of significance. I first learned about Adrian Cronauer and Hunter Doherty Adams through Mr. William’s portrayals of these iconic persons. I will miss him.

(As a side note to this side story, we lived a few streets down from Mr. Williams outside of San Francisco from 2008 to 2011 and it was always a thrill to see him come and go, even if we never really knew him personally. At Halloween, his house was always the most popular in the neighborhood because he gave out full sized candy bars.)

Man, this has been a rough couple of years for those of us born in the 70s. Michael Jackson…gone. Nelson Mandela….dead. Steve Jobs…moved on. It is feeling more and more vacant with all of these icons of my youth (and adult hood) no longer here. Who is next? Cosby? Stan Lee? Bono?

Oi vey!

Okay…now let’s get back on track…

Resettling and Building the Outpost

Have you ever had a goat empty a full bladder in the back of your new car or steal a bottled beverage out of your hand and chug it? Have any experience consoling a small child left distraught when the camping toilet collapsed while she was using it? Ever kept a family of six hygienically acceptable through cold water bucket showers enjoyed in the ambience of a solar powered LED lantern? No?

Frankly, I don’t know where to begin this week’s entry. I have more material to write about than can possibly be put into a single blog. So…let me just fire off some pictures to give you a sense of our recent ordeal–relocating to our property and setting up a base camp that will allow us to live with some modicum of comfort over the next few months.

Moving the Girls and Plants

Initial Set Up

I Told Him To Read the Instructions

Building our 10,000 Gallon Water Cistern

The Bathroom

Doing Dishes

The Pantry

My Nursery

Our Only Power

My Favorite Goatherd


Ferocious Guard Dog

Ferocious Guard Chameleon

Making Breakfast

Closet and Changing Area


So…it is a bit rough and, at times, we feel a bit haggard. That said, there are lots of smiles, laughter, and new experiences overshadowing the occasional strained nerves, raised voices, and short tempers. Day by day, we continue to tweak the camp set up to make it a tad more comfy and, overall, things are looking quite good. In the coming days, I’ll post photo and video updates to keep you all apprised of significant changes and I’ll carve out some time from all of my bamboo clearing and garden planting to capture our interactions with neighbors and other events.

Ciao for now…


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