A blog about living outside, first in my car, then in tents.

Living Outdoors with Chiggers, Season Two

It started with ant bites swelling into red bumps on my foot and thigh. As if they sensed that a party had started, the chiggers joined in the next day. First my left arm, which I scratched raw a few times before buying Calamine lotion, which only helped a bit. Then something — a deer fly? Some other flying critter that specializes in sharp, fast stings or bites? — discovered the inside of my right ankle. I swatted it, it hurt, I swore, but thought nothing of it. Bug bites are so common as to not merit inspection. Until the next day, when my right ankle displayed a bruise — yes, a bruise —...
Read More »

The Finnish Word for Grit, Determination, Unending Patience

The Finnish Word for Grit, Determination, Unending Patience
I found the word reading Philip Caputo’s early novel, Indian Country. Sisu. The story is set in Upper Peninsula Michigan, whose longer term residents include Indians and Scandinavians. It’s the story of a Vietnam vet who begins reliving key moments of his war terrors a good 15 years after he returns home. As a woman who has experienced flashbacks, body memories, trauma-related vaginismus and other symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I appreciate Caputo’s portrayal of the main character’s psychological perspectives of life with PTSD. I’ve heard that Caputo lives locally part of the year. His uncanningly realistic novel Crossers is an outstanding, gripping and educational look at life within a few miles from...
Read More »

Tent Living: Spiders, Ants and Snakes – Oh My!

Tent Living: Spiders, Ants and Snakes – Oh My!
Psh psh psh. The dogs jump up and bark. At my command they sit and listen as I sit up from the cot and strain my ears. The soft but distinct noise was paced like footsteps, nearby. I zip open the tent window and look. Carlos looks. Dwyn peers through another screened window. Nothing. Then I see it: A two-inch in diameter spider poised just above (and inside) the window I opened. I sigh. A spider that big could make a ‘psh’ noise moving on a loose flap of nylon window cover. I let the dogs out and sit back down on the edge of the cot just in time to grab a tissue...
Read More »

Dating as a Homeless Woman

I’ve re-entered the world of Internet dating, something I did a bit of 12 years ago and really enjoyed. Living in a tent complicates those early communications, when you want to share honestly but without divulging too much. Here’s an excerpt today from my third phone conversation with an interesting prospect: “Are you an indoor person or an outdoor person?” he asked. “Well, I spend a lot of time outdoors,” I answered.
Read More »

January 2014: Mold Slows Me Down

It’s early August and I’m catching up blog entries by posting monthly summaries: * January: I’ve been here close to two months when I notice my health starts declining. As wonderful as this camp site is, it is close to a creek, full of dying mesquite trees covered in lichens, on top of fertile soil covered in two kinds of mushrooms — a giant type with dark ‘dust’ inside and a smaller button-sized species. Plus, the site used to be an animal corral, so every day I walk over old horse manure. A pig, chickens and other critters also lived here. An old stock pond at the edge of camp is dried out now...
Read More »

December 2013: I Move from my Car to a Tent

Next prev
It’s early August and I’m catching up blog entries by posting monthly summaries: *December: A landowner invited me to move onto about 15 acres of his land, at the base of a cliff below his house. It’s private: Only two neighbors drive by, plus guests and sightseers. I never thought a two-sided metal shack would seem like paradise, but I make this former feed-storage shelter into my kitchen. It has a leveled plywood floor. I have electric! The landowner generously improved his well pump’s electric hookup, located on ‘my’ driveway, into a higher powered set of plugs capable of supporting a few outdoor extension cords. He also loaned me an electric spaced heater, so...
Read More »

Research Links Mold with Cognitive Function Decline

I knew mold was bad for me. I knew it was responsible for a large part of my fatigue. I did not know it could explain all the cognitive problems I’ve developed in the last few years. I also did not know until recently that one of the country’s leading medical experts in mold and health has a practice right around the corner from me (well, “around the corner” in rural terms). While looking up the phone for Dr. Michael Gray in Benson, Arizona, I found a short YouTube video interview with him that has astounded me. I urge you to view it if you have a child in school, an interest in your...
Read More »

Dumpster Diving with Paddlewheel Alliance Friends

Thank you to my old hippie friends for helping me avoid hunger today. I went to college in Bloomington Indiana, which remained beloved in my memory and imagination for many years after finally graduating. Just like in my college prep high school, my friends were not the well-to-do BM&WOC (to modify the phrase “big man on campus” from my parent’s post-war college days). I made my friends in the various all-volunteer movement groups to which I devoted the majority of my time. The Paddlewheel Alliance fought to stop construction of a nuclear power plant on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River. Its construction was halted in 1984 in large part due to the plant’s...
Read More »

Poor Memory for Names AND Faces: Please Re-introduce Yourself

Declining memory is a function of middle age, but one of the features of my odd mix of health problems is what feels to me to be a severe decline in memory. I have always been bad with both names and faces, and now it is worse than ever. I’ll never forget, though, the time I was walking around the block and saw a neighbor I hadn’t seen for maybe a year. I didn’t recognize her. I greeted her as if she was new in the neighborhood. She lived next door. Talk about a faux pas. Sorry, Karen! The problem is health-related. The impact is social. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen...
Read More »
Scroll To Top