During the early planning and dreaming and scheming phase of our building project, our little family of 3 lived in a gigantic sprawling 6-bedroom late-60's vintage ranch rambler in the suburbs near the bottom of our mountain. It had a big yard with cherries in the early summer and concord grapes in the late summer, good light, and a garage that housed the Heliocentric projects.
In June 2007, with all the enthusiasm and optimism of inexperience, we packed up our house in the suburbs, put lots of our things in storage, and moved to two roomy canvas tents on platforms on our property in the mountains. It was glorious that summer. The Boy Builder was just 3 (!) years old that summer and we had such a lovely time. The sounds of the rain on the tent roof, the coyotes yelping in the evenings, the birds in the morning. It really was a dreamy way to live.
Our idyllic interpretation of our living circumstances was not shared by all, however, and we spent a stressful month or so being harassed by over-involved neighbors and county agencies until we finally acquiesced and moved off our property and into a condo at a local ski resort in August of 2007. While the circumstances of our move were incredibly stressful, we were partly consoled by the fact that the condo had access to a beautiful pool!
Despite the huge interruption all the moving nonsense caused that summer, we did manage to get our septic system, water line, and electrical conduit installed that summer, as well as a bit of excavation.
The first snow came in September that year, reminding us that ski season was coming and our (relatively) affordable rent was coming to an end. We needed a new living situation. Papa Builder's parents kindly offered use of their condo in Tucson AZ for the winter and we began making plans to move out of state.
However, before we moved out of state, we needed a bridge location so we could tie up some loose ends locally. Some very generous and kind friends (who hardly knew us at the time!) graciously invited us to stay with them in their home for a few weeks in November 2007. Here's a picture the Boy Builder took of our room:
During those couple weeks, Heliocentric started to blossom in a new way making it clear Papa Builder would need to be in Utah for most of the winter and we were reticent to split our family across state lines. Our kind friends offered to let us stay on with them through the winter. In gratitude, I provided childcare for their adorable daughter and we shared meals and household responsibilities as equitably as we could work out. I really can't thank those friends enough for the home they provided us those 7 months. Here's Boy Builder and his surrogate sister watching a soccer game, which we did a lot of that winter:
In June 2008, feeling anxious to get back to building (and perhaps in danger of wearing our welcome thin!), we moved back to our mountain and back to the condo at the ski resort. We kicked off our arrival in the mountains with a party with lots of our young friends and their parents.
We spent the summer playing and working from the condo. We finally completed the permitting process, completely our excavation, poured our footings, and nearly finished building our foundation forms before the first big snowfall shut us down for the year.
Once again, the snow brought the ski season, which sent us packing from the resort life and into a tiny, ill-maintained concrete block cabin in November 2008.
Despite the cold and other challenges (like rodents! ewww!), we managed to make the little cabin cheery and homey. We worked and played from there, getting our home built to the point of nearly a whole roof on until, in December 2009, very cold temperatures and no snow cover conspired to freeze the water line. We lived for a couple of weeks with no running water until the sewer line also froze, making the little cabin home completely uninhabitable.
In a desperate situation, we were thrilled to find sanctuary in a store-turned-apartment with functional plumbing here in our canyon. Our new digs made it possible for us to continue working through the winter on our building project. Plus, there was a VW bus-truck built right into the kitchen!
As time went on, however, we outgrew the one-room store. Over-crowding, a wearying of one-room living, and a serious water/mold problem at the store culminated in a move last week back to the familiar condo at the ski resort.
We're still surrounded by stacks of boxes, which I'm trying to sort through in the in between moments while keeping the building project moving forward. If you weren't counting, last week was the 7th move we've made in the past 3 years. Whew!
In reference to the beleaguered, exiled, but ever optimistic Russian communist and founder of the Fourth International, Leon Trotsky, the narrator of the fabulous new Barbara Kingsolver novel I'm reading called The Lacuna observes: "For any homeless wanderer he is a miracle of instruction: now that he is exiled from every place on earth except a desert wilderness, he declares a passion for cactus."
In this period of homelessness, I'm doing my best to develop a passion for my metaphorical cacti. In occasional clear bright moments, I even succeed.
But, I will own up that I so look forward to having a homeplace again. Here's to a transition from transience to rootedness in the near future!