Friday, January 7, 2011

Our Cracker Box Home, Learning to Live Small

This post occured to me when I was observing how Roland and I've developed lil' systems that seem to have evoloved, out of necessity, for us to operate in this succinct space. We are exactly 8 feet by 28 feet and we need an artist's studio, a guy's "cave", a puppy's sanctuary, a kitchen with healthy food and room to store all the stuff that goes into those compartments.

I watched how my small, but personal art studio was established. With on the dining room table as an operations for food consumption, computer/Skype operations, and business/travel organization, I noticed early on, that my attempt to have my permanent studio set up there was a problem. I'd just get set up, start painting and - poof - I'd have to move it for dinner prep, or banking entrees. When we were driving down here, since I was usually the passenger, I'd set up an arrangement where I could at least write in my journal while Roland drove. And this became my permanent studio.

It was kind of a process. Roland dug in the garbage when we were having a new battery installed in Palm Springs, confiscating the perfect 6 x 10 x 11 inch sized cardboard box. It works as an ottoman sitting under my feet (see my bare feet under the plexi, top, left corner?) making the perfectly slanted "table" out of the 17.5 x 22.5 inch piece of plexiglass which I'd brought along. The remainder of my studio makings are a part of my "journal kit" (which I carry with me all the time in my backpack): the metal palette, brushes, pencils/sharpies/micron pens and my trusty kneaded eraser. The newest addition you can see here are the "jello&peach fruit cups" Roland brought along with us, originally filled with Jell-o tho. Up on the ample dashboard, I divided the stack of books we have into two, just the width where, inbetween, I could sit art supplies and where I could move the plexi from my lap and sit it like a shelf, level on the two stacks of books. There was a "drink holder" on the door to my right and that's now where my pens/pencils/erasure/mist-er now reside. I'd also brought along my favorite and best full spectrum light, which we've bungie-corded between a cupboard handle and another wooden cabinet (to bear the brunt of the weight). All in all, making a dandy studio ~ and no one makes me move my stuff :) !

Then, there's the need for the "man cave". Roland has always liked an escape into the great outdoors, at home in Oregon, it's the garage and work bench. Here, it's become the patio formed by our RV canopy and the two chairs and table we brought along. He's added decorator touches like a small basil plant we needed for the gourment kitchen (we got the plant at the Organic Farmers Market - on Wednesdays, incase you want to come). The bigness of his heart was evident when he rescued an aloe and jade plant a neighborhood resident had tossed in the street for garbage, and stuck it in a plastic bottle with water for the "table center piece". His tools are all stored in the under belly of the RV so he can access them easily when needed - or - if he wants to play. Often when I'm in at the studio, his "cave" is his resort where he has his afternoon beer or margarita.

Cody, here, has claimed the couch as his "penthouse". It gives him a view of all outside activity (here he is fixated at his first sighting of the rooster from next door - and - notice the fun armadillo we've added to the family!) and a great place to snooze with a cool breeze coming across his back. Also, he can leap to grab any food should we drop it. All his bases are covered from this spot.

Storage ... well, it happens in the strangest places!! Roland and I are pretty organized, thank goodness, but we found we were without a place to shore big, bulky food things. Scouring the entire kitchen area (I mean, we already put anything flat and long in the oven) and realized ~ tah-dah ~ the microwave was still empty! Not any more. Also, we've found a new use for the shower. At first, Roland was so pleased to have a shower. But since we are blessed to have our very own bathroom here where we are staying, the shower has become our second hanging closet and (in the floor of the shower - I'll skip photos of this) is our dirty clothes. Hey, it's efficiency not decor, right?

I wanted to share some of the blessings and curses of Mexican fresh food. We are adoring the ongoing availability of fresh berries here. Our favorite is the big juicy black berries (divine in protein drinks or on cereal), but there's raspberries and strawberries everywhere too. Often at the farmer's market we pick up organic kale and mustard greens (one of our favorites, sauteed with garlic and beans!!), green beans and beautiful tomatoes. You DO need to was them in a disinfectant wash before eating . . . but we've gotten used to that. It's 5 drops to a quart of water and then, spin dry in our "lettuce spinner" and it's ready to cook whenever you want!

So, we've remained "friends" and "happily married" in this lil' box. It's helped that we both are working on total acceptance of our partner (reading some inspiring Buddhist books and Thich Nhat Hanh's audiobooks). But it's shown me how frugally I can live and still feel comfortable. It's revealed how most of society focuses on collecting more and more and find less and less joy in just the moment. This adventure to Mexico had proved to also be a voyage into looking more deeply into my values and accessing how closely I live by them.

Who knew that a physical trip would transform into a spiritual one? . . . and you thought this blog post was about Mexico's veggies? :)

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