nesting

(not so) little updates

Happy New (Gregorian) Year, everyone!
Full of joy, creativity, some mess, much magic and well, health!

I also hope 2019 will be the year I take my resolution of blogging more often seriously.
Well, I promise I’ll try. Truth is I cherish this small small space way more than I do Instagram and wouldn’t it be nice if we all gathered once more around blogs and became once again active in actually typeing addresses to read new posts? Instead of focusing so much on the “insta”, giving attention to the things that take time to accomplish and appear online, respecting each one’s individual time and, likewise, focusing on things that take actual minutes to read through, and on the poetic ways images, in the plural, can pair up with words.

Beautiful words these are, but I’m still far from it.

Anyway, while pondering in all of this, here are some of the things that have been going on recently, meaning, since I last posted (because 2 months and a half, in internet time, is probably the equivalent to 3 years).

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Reading The Lord of the Rings in the early hours of the day. Which I should have done, mmm, 15 years ago?
It’s funny because, as I grew up, the Harry Potter books were coming out. So I totally grew up with Harry (well, it was Hermione for me, my all time heroin). And maybe because The Lord of the Rings movies were released as Harry Potter’s were, I kind of associated the two. And I believed, goodness knows why, that there were two kinds of people in the world: Harry Potter fans and LoTR fans. Which don’t mix, so you’re either one or the other. Period. Cleary, I was on Harry’s side - believe me, back in my university times, I was part of a political/LGBTIQ activism group cleverly called Dumbledore’s Army.

Anyway, I just debunked the myth I made myself. And I’m glad I finally did it.

On another note, the house, my friends, the house!

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Many buckets of lime, sand and water later, the house is standing strong. The window is in (even though not in these pictures yet), and the next steps are the wooden floor (which we’re ordering tomorrow!) and building the door. And I don’t want to jinx myself, but I have this tingly feeling this may be the month we move in. This may be it.

Also woking with stone again, for more retention walls. Folks, I guess that caravan isn’t going anywhere now! But there’s a plan for it :)

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That’s it for today. The night is growing late, the air is growing cold, the fire on the stove has gone out for a while and the bed is calling me. Tomorrow shall be another frosty morning that turns in to a sunny afternoon.

Stay warm & bright!

Love,
Cat x

Clearing & creating

Happy May, y'all!

Everything is green, thanks to the unexpected recent rains, which were a real bless ~ our water mine is full to the brim, the rainwater tanks are replenished and the earth is moist and rich. It's hard to believe that we're in May and I didn't have to water the garden yet, which is such a surprise to me!

Everything being so happy and full of life, I thought this would be a good time to share with you all the clearings we've done on the land this past winter. Clearing bushes {mato, as we call it}, thinning the mimosa/eucalyptus forest, which is still far away from its end, a general sense of air being breathed in. Clearing also means more space for gardening and planting native and fruit trees - win win!

I've included some pictures you can swipe to compare before & afters. It gives us such a good feeling to look at how much we've done so far, but we're nowhere near finished yet.

Above is the view from our big boulder, below the house, a couple weeks ago and then in February last year, when we visited the land for the first time.

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This winter's clearing was only possible with the help of our neighbor down the hill, with whom we did a work swap. We worked a couple weeks at our place, and then passed down to his. He brought over his chipper, which is such an amazing tool. Most of the mimosas and bushes were instantly turned into rich mulch!

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And the larger trees, well, other neighbors came up with the horses to take them home to build fences with. Nothing gets lost!

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We also made a few burnings, on rainy days, when it all got a bit much.

Above you can see the view from next to our trailer down to the house {this is the most  forest-y part of the land}, two weeks ago and then last Autumn.

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Oh, I like this one. This the view of the house from the rock: on our first visit in February last year, then last summer and, finally, today.

Our small olive grove also got cleared and pruned, finally!

We've planted our first trees: one orange tree, two cherry trees from different varieties, one almond tree, one apple tree and one plum tree.

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To finish, the garden, last week and then one year ago!

And with this I say goodbye and go soak a bit in the sun before it all gets too hot.
A big hug from me to you. Thank you so much for following along as we turn this new land of ours into home.

The Polish influenza

Last month, we received a crazy volunteering form in our inbox, all the way from Poland. We somehow lost contact along the way {OK, not somehow. Our reception was worse than ever and my inbox never updated}. Then, one day, I receive a phone call from a friend living in a community not too far away from us.
"Cat, there's a bunch of people here asking for you."
Oh my goodness, they did it! The next day, this beautiful VW is parked in our land.

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It was a group of five, and it was the best group of five we could have asked for. Big smiles and a refined sense of humor, patchouli and beautiful dresses, and a dog that would drool every time she saw our cat - drool as in I like you so much I could eat you. 

It's hard to believe we did more work in a week than we would have done in a whole month {even though Sam was going out for work almost every day}! Here are some of the things we checked off the list:

  Clearing land - we did one of the most critical parts, which was the totally overgrown forest on the upper part of the land
 ☑ Clearing the inside of the house - debris and stones out, almost ready to start working on that floor!
 ☑ Taking down the walls of the old pigpen, to lay the foundations of the future bathroom
 ☑ Making new garden beds  

Yes, we were busy!

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That's the work on the old pigpen/ future bathroom, above.

And below... Well, we're one step closer to have this as view from our front door

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I really can't put my finger on what is my favorite part about having volunteers. There are so many things that warm our hearts about these helping visitors. The shared meals, the new kitchen flavors, the late night {sometimes deep} conversations, the different opinions on how to do something, the indelible touch people leave on the land and buildings... I love looking at something done with friends and thinking "oh, I remember how hard it was to place that stone there", or smiling upon the memory of the joke someone did while we worked together. These memories build up. And so does reality. And suddenly, our land and our building is no longer our land or our building. Embedded is the physical memory of the people who passed by, and in the air lingers the light breeze left behind those who moved around bringing something new, every time.

Like the remains of a cough our friends had upon arrival, that turned into cough for us that turned into fever that turned into a flu that put everyone here in the valley down for three weeks. We've called it the polish influenza but hey, now that is has passed I'm proud of it. It too tells a story.

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A land tour, within the limits of wildness

Feels like ages since I've last posted here. And a huge lot has happened, the most important of all being that we have finally signed the papers for the land we had already been living in. This official step took place earlier this week and was a quite emotional experience, both for us and for the previous owner, an elder woman who was raised on the very same land we walk over today. She knows stories. She knows so many stories and has deep knowledge inside her, which we are very excited about sharing.

For now, please join me in a walk - I will lead you amongst these trees and show you this land we now call home.

The trailer, our nest. Adapting to the small space took its time, but already coming from a 16m2 home has made the transition easier. We still have some of our things at our old hut, which we'll bring here as we figure out facilities. Do you remember how it was before?

Follow me as we walk down across the little forest. we're getting to the house!

There it is, in all its stone splendor and ruin. When the owner lived here, they were five siblings plus the parents! And before that, in the time of her grandparents, they were a family of nine! In this small house, with no anexes. It truly represented the sense of community that is being lost, as families today build and buy houses with dozens of bedrooms, living rooms and giant kitchens, alongside with private bathrooms for each. I do respect that, but have far greater respect for this model of co-living - doubtless due to economical reasons, I reckon.

That little corner, which we had been wondering if was a former window, turns out to be the place where fresh water was stored.

Let's leave the house. On the left, a big boulder imposes its magnetic presence.

Climbing it up is easy, for there is a narrow path.

And from up there the view is stunning, facing east and the sunrise. We can spot a few of our community friend's houses, hidden beneath the tall trees. The lady who grew up here used to sing and dance from this boulder, communicating with her friends further below - isn't that magical?

Down and further we go, carefully amongst the wild bushes. There's lavender, gum rockrose, gorse, amongst others. The boulder marks a change in landscape and flora. Now we have many oaks of different kinds and olive trees.

We soon arrive at the water mine, the only source of water of the land. It used to flow high and clean in the past, but is in need of a very good cleaning, in order to have it at a good level once again. This is where we get our water from with buckets to do the dishes, laundry and watering the plants.

Some meters away is a clearing we're slowly opening, where we are starting our provisory vegetable garden. There we find a few pumpkins and half a dozen tomato plants. The soil is much poorer than we had expected, which means almost no produce this growing season. Hopefully we'll make some garden beds soon, to rot away over the next months, to at least have some cabbage and mustards during winter.

The land continues further down. There are pear trees in need of a hand, more oaks and olive trees. There are dry bushes and living bushes. Yes, there is still a lot to clear, but also much energy and excitement to do so.

I do hope you'll follow along as we turn this piece of land into a living space for a family once again!

Slowly nesting

A steaming cup of lemon herbal tea by my side, a child sound asleep in the next room, the stove on while the rain patters through the night, Sam sitting next to me working on the computer and many checked on my to-do list. We are at the guest house enjoying the wi-fi, a rare treat these days! I can finally just breathe deeply for a moment before getting my fingers to dance over the keyboard - and how I have been aching to share with you the beginning of works at the new piece of land!

On my last post, I've wrote about the wild forest on the back part of the land. Wild is the right word: it is completely overgrown and the ground is a mixture of dead shrubs and fallen trees, which makes circulation almost impossible. But we love it! Nature has just been running its course here - however, fire risk. No doubt there's much work to do there.

Above you can see we have already completely cleared a small glade on top of a rock, where we will be parking the caravan. In order to do that, we had to hand open a wide road through the woods so the veicule can pass, that runs 300 m long, maybe. And, in order to do that, we had to clear different spaces inside the forest along the road, so we could stack up all the firewood we were collecting.

Work is faster and more pleasurable with friends! So happy for K and J, who hitchhiked all the way from the big city to visit us and the earthship and to give us a valuable hand (or four) finishing the road! Within two days, the road was done! Yay!

Then, when one arrives to this piece of land, leading to the new road we opened is a winding dirt track through the forest, which is in average condition (but the only veicules we've seen passing there are tractors and donkey carts - yes, donkey carts). We need to improve this access too, by leveling the ground in some spots and cutting mimosa branches that fall over most of the path.

After K and J left, Sam has almost finished clearing the branches on this one! There's only a small fraction left. And after this is ready, we want to call a machine to pass over this track and everything we've opened, in order to press and level the ground.

And because things do not always run according to plans, we will only have the caravan by the end of April. The friends whose house we're housesitting return tomorrow, so this leaves us with an unplanned month were we have no place to stay, since we had thought we would be in the caravan, in the woods, by the next week or so.

Yesterday we received a phone call - a friend's friend is looking for a housesitter for a whole month, an earth ship only an hour from our new "home". We can easily drive there to keep on working and have a warm house to return to by the end of the day. What a blessing!

And so we cleaned the house from top to bottom, baked cookies, spread tiny paper hearts over the fresh bed and wrote a note - because we had to leave and couldn't manage to be there to greet our friends back home.

Today we enjoy hot showers, clean laundry, blended foods and internet connection. Tomorrow we hop off back to the mountain to meet and already stay in the house that will shelter us over the next month.

It's been a funny feeling, these nomadic months.

TO-DO LIST

 Clear a glade for the caravan
Clear a path leading to the glade
Improve the road leading to the path leading to glade (work in process)
Having the machine passing over it all
Bring the caravan in
Plant sunflowers around it

Have a good week, friends! (Gosh, I just love blogging about processes!)