In the beginning…

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This is Orwell as it stands now; one year after the first day and night that Fred and I moved in. When I arrived, it was not pretty and nearly inhabitable. It had not been stayed in for long trips and had sat unattended for most of the several years prior. It was mostly patched up with tarps, ropes, and a lick and a prayer. It leaked in several places for years causing rotten floor areas and major ceiling damage. It had a few unwanted occupants; mice in the ceilings, propane stove-top, broken air conditioners and in the main space of the trailer; wasps on the roof (though not quite awake in the middle of March in Wisconsin) and evidence that carpenter ants were trying to compost him. The shredded layers of tarps flapping against the metal sides and would make so much noise that it was impossible to sleep if it was windy; that is if the mice and water weren’t busy chewing or dripping. There was no (intentional) running water unless you filled an outdoor reservoir from the hand pumped water from the point well. It was still frozen, but also was needing repair. The doors had difficulty opening and shutting completely and had minimal security and holes in many of the window screens. No mailbox or deliveries available, but more than a bit of garbage.

I did have electricity, oil heaters, a decent bed, a panel heater, composting toilet, microwave, toaster, and small faux wood-grained dorm style fridge, first aid kits, my car, mobile phone, warm clothing, food and bottled water, books, cash, art supplies and my ten pound dog and defender, Fred. The first thing anyone must do when trying to survive is to take that inventory, notice any potential need, and address it. Basically, really basically I was good.

I was fortunately groomed and blessed by two tough brothers and oodles of loving, knowledgeable, patient, generous and talented family members who taught me countless skills in tool use, home repair and maintenance, outdoor skills, innovation, problem solving and had at least some practical sense. I hoped so at least. (lol) Mostly my desire to learn and willingness to fail made it possible.

I thought that this escape from the city was going to be temporary; maybe three or four weeks while this nasty virus blew through. With my compromised immune system and housemate that worked in the public schools, I was encouraged by my doctor to leave. I was determined to make this work. I had no idea that I was really about to embark on the biggest challenge (and perhaps rewards too) of my adult life. As an artist, a nature nut, innovator, eternal student, and (so far) a survivor, I had to believe that I could do this. There seemed little choice. I took all my past experiences with me as tools and comfort. I had nightmares for the two weeks prior; anxious to heed my doctor’s advice. I arrived generally lightly packed for what I was in for, but realized what I would chant to myself often: I have everything that I need.

I decided to make this an experiment in living small and humbly and above all, to be grateful for everything beautiful and right going for me. Every day is a gift. It was and is still, all about controlling my own thoughts and emotions and feeding only those that would and will get me through this. I decided also that it could be filled with things I love; the opportunity to learn new skills, to fail until I didn’t, to experience the abundance of flora and fauna on my little plot of land, to have time to write and create and to challenge myself and what I believed I was capable of doing and being. Most importantly, I will learn in this next year, what kind of stuff I Am made of and what I am not made of yet. I never want to get there or at least I am not ready to be done.

I will try to keep things in chronological order here generally, as that is how these Orwell Chronicles came to be and this experiment is still going; I am still here one year later. This year, however, I start it with abundance and more deep seated gratitude for life than I ever knew possible. Maybe these chronicles will help you or others on your own journeys, or simply offer some amusement or escape. I would love to know that if they did and hope you would leave a message.

If you enjoy my ramblings, I welcome you to subscribe via email for new posts or with me via social media when available exclusively for this blog or connect through my artwork profiles at http//www.jenntodd.com or @jcedarfox on Twitter and Instagram. Keep on keepin’ on the best way you know how friends; let’s reinvent this crazy world. Like Orwell, she has good bones. -Jenn


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