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On Being Hardy Stock

The time my husband and I spent building our cabin in the country and living off-grid was physically demanding, educational, emotionally challenging, and truly inspiring. During that time, I developed a deep admiration for our early American pioneers. Inside of me, grew a well of gratitude for what these people gave to our country physically and materially… not to mention spiritually. These people were seriously hardy stock. One has to be to carry on and make it living on the land and building everything from scratch. The women of this time period deserve the highest of praise.

My time without running water and an indoor bathroom was rough. Going through that time of the month without access to proper facilities is no fun at all. I cannot imagine having to be pregnant or having small children on top of all of that. It is hard to stay clean in general. Laundry is a major, major deal. Washing dishes is a major, major deal. Anything involving hot water requires at least double the time it would have taken you. Your day starts and ends with the light of the day rising or setting. The comfort and warmth of a simple fire can bring the greatest satisfaction and joy. There are certainly challenges at every turn… but the stars are oh, so beautiful!

I was lucky because my husband was a truly industrious and clever man. He immediately set up our solar panels and connected the inverter to the battery bank. He set up an ingenious gravity water system, which in one hundred years I never would have thought of. He was such a talented and meticulous carpenter. He built our front porch after leveling our cabin. He installed all of our doors. Hung all the sheetrock. Did all of the electricity. He put in all of the insulation… well, I did help with that. Mostly, I just handed him screws or nails and made sure his batteries were always charged. I did a lot of caulking. Well… and I fed him regularly but that is a given, of course.

When my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we did not have running water or an inside bathroom. It fell to me upon his death to complete the rest of the cabin with the now added on new bathroom and kitchen, alone… or it would rot and be all for naught. Obviously, I could not let all that work be in vain. So, ever since his death, I have been finishing our cabin. I think it will always be a work in progress. Most houses are but I have gotten it to a mostly civilized state. As a carpenter’s wife, I picked up many skills after many years of marriage. I put in my own floor. I framed the windows and installed the base moulding. I did some of the plumbing. It works. I’ve learned a lot of practical things.

I have learned how to operate lots of power tools… which I have to admit are really fun. I enjoy sanding. I enjoy painting… and to my complete surprise, I even enjoy working with metal. Who knew? These are certain skills I would never have accessed without knowing my husband. In any event, I do not think that I will be staying in my beloved cabin for much longer. My time here is coming to a close. I can feel it inside. I don’t know where but I am moving soon. This was a dream that my husband and I dreamed… but now, he is gone. Although this is a beautiful place, I cannot stay here. If I do so, I will get stuck emotionally and spiritually. I cannot allow that to happen. Great adventures await me but this off-grid country cabin dream must come to a close. It is one that I will always remember… but in my heart, I know it is over. Like the pioneers of the past, I must move ever onward into the unknown. I am not afraid. I am hardy stock.

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