Our Big Ass Texas Adventure

During our 30-day self-imposed sequestration, we were daydreaming about how we’d cut loose at the end of the month. As it happened during one of our mindless web scrolling sessions, we lucked into finding tickets to see yet another exuberant performance of the incomparable Miss Margo Price on September 7th in Austin. Not just Austin, but Austin City Limits (or ACL Live)!!

Our 17th wedding anniversary was September 5th, and this heel-kickin’ country concert to benefit the Texas Hill Country Conservancy made our celebration plans a no-brainer. When else can we break out the Lucchese‘s? Carey had watched the American all-star lineup cross the ACL stage on PBS for decades as a little girl, and Ben was chomping at the bit for another exceptional live event with one of his favorites bands, not to mention the songwriting joy of Hayes Carll as the opener. Game on!

So, what’s the best way to get to Austin and back? Well, you make a big loop through Texas to include a quick a stop in Mexico.

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30 days at Sahalee

We are used to hearing people ask us, “Why?” by now…

“Why a yurt?” they asked us.

“Why New Mexico?” they asked us.

“Why thirty days?” is the most recent inquiry.

There are several reasons for our self-imposed sequestration:

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Off-grid kitchen and scullery

Most people couldn’t imagine doing dishes in the snow or cooking in the rain. Since we started with bare ground here, we’ve done both. Often. We’re thrilled to say that is no longer the case (for the most part). Two years in the making, we are now settled in to our more permanent arrangement with an efficient compact kitchen inside the yurt, and a full-featured utility sink and storage area within steps on the deck. Read on to see a review of our progress in photos!

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Our Sahalee is a different kind of country club

Every now and then we run a web search of ‘Sahalee’ to see what pops up. Since starting our blog a couple of years ago and promoting it more over the past year or so, we’ve noticed a much higher frequency of the posh Sahalee Golf Club in Washington. (We’re still not sure if they were feeling squeezed since we came on the web, or coincidentally hired a better marketing firm. haha) While our high desert Sahalee is worlds away from the lush greens of the Evergreen State country club, we admit the inspiration came from their neighborhood.

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Groovy Yurts Super Ger Review

I mentioned ‘tipi’ with an air of seriousness, and the discussion wobbled clumsily off of the Airstream. (You can read more about why a yurt.) From viewing the enticing collection of nomadic structures at Colorado Yurt Co., to drawing out a footprint 20′ in diameter in our Florida front yard, our plans for long-term temporary shelter at Sahalee came full circle with Groovy Yurts.

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The Firewood Meditation

The pile is dwindling. It’s probably only a third of the size it used to be. Every load taken away to burn begs the question, ‘will we have enough to make it through?’

I figured I touch each piece at least four times on its journey from its natural state to its final incantation. The tree it belonged to is a character. I want to properly recognize it for what it was, and what it is providing.

Warmth. Security. Connection.

I study the details of grain and bark. The different textures of solid and brittle, dark and light, grooved and smooth, old and older make each section a treasure not like the one before.

The weights, shapes, and features are varied. This directly affects the way the flames behave when they’re set ablaze. Each one hand-selected for a specific purpose stove side.

We aim to start cutting and hauling on July 4th when the breeze is warm and ground is soft. The dust flying from the saw fills our nostrils and lands on our lips. The sounds of cracking wood remind me of impermanence.

I cradle the forest’s gifts for the value they hold and imagine how they started as a mere fleck of green all that time ago. What has passed beside, below, and overhead I will never know. 

The work is quiet on the inside. Gathering and couriering across the rising and falling topography. There is assurance in the collection that results. A wide open space marked with chips is where the memories pass through and fade away.

Some split easily, and others twist and shred around hidden knots. You think you know what’s inside until the wood shows you something different. I save the ones that are too rare for civilian duty to remind us of what we can’t make ourselves.

Each season I think I’ll remember where the severed pieces came from when I put them in the hot iron hole. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Some embers glow brighter and fly farther than others. They all turn dark and gather in the low spots.

It is a cycle of cycles. Repeating but different. We change and age like the pine, oak, and juniper. Some will notice but we will all forget. The smoke lifts what was once underground and then itself fades to leave us all wishing for a flight as light and with a cause so noble.

Will we have enough to make it through?

Beautiful monsters

See more of featured image artist Sonia Orbin-Price at FineArtAmerica.com.

No, I am not talking about the Lady Gaga variety, albeit with MAD respect. We have inadvertently coached a hoard of hummingbirds to swarm the grounds with hangry Jetson car-like chirping in demand of more sugar water. They have been so keen on the new eatery that one brazen bird actually entered the open doors of the yurt to coax me into serving more!!

The little buggers are becoming more intrepid as they get to know us better, often hovering at eye level and sharing little chirps. One silly bird even flew into the outhouse and couldn’t find its way out, so I had to sneak in and put a soft hand around it to send it back outside. I feel like I am back teaching Pre-K with all the needy little critters!

According to HummingBirdWorld.com, the Aztecs came to believe that every warrior slain in battle rose to the sky and orbited the sun for four years. Then they became hummingbirds. Some of them seem oh-so familiar.

It’s been fun watching the R2D2-sounding antics around the handful of new feeders, and we look forward to plenty of cheap entertainment on the yurtdeck for years to come.

Here are seven of the “25 fun facts about hummingbirds” from The Spruce:

  • Hummingbirds are native species of the New World and are not found outside of the Western Hemisphere except in a few zoos or aviaries. There are no hummingbirds found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia or Antarctica.

  • Many hummingbird species, including Anna’s, black-chinned, Allen’s, Costa’s, rufous, calliope and broad-tailed hummingbirds, can breed together to create hybrid species. This is one factor that makes identifying hummingbirds very challenging.

  • Despite their small size, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive bird species. They will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that infringe on their territory. Backyard birders often have one dominant hummingbird that guards all the feeders, chasing intruders away.

  • The rufous hummingbird has the longest migration of any hummingbird species. These hummers fly more than 3,000 miles from their nesting grounds in Alaska and Canada to their winter habitat in Mexico.

  • A hummingbird must consume approximately 1/2 of its weight in sugar daily, and the average hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour. In addition to nectar, these birds also eat many small insects and spiders, and may also sip tree sap or juice from broken fruits.

  • A hummingbird’s maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour. These birds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive, and hummingbirds have many adaptations for unique flight.

  • A hummingbird’s brilliant throat color is not caused by feather pigmentation, but rather by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers. Light level, moisture, angle of viewing, wear and tear and other factors all influence just how bright and colorful the throat may appear.

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