Rio Not So Grande

As has been well reported the southwest has been in an awful drought. Our monsoon season began just weeks ago giving us our first rain since September 2010. But the Rio Grande, which runs through town, is a thin pitiful mudslide. Truth or Consequences, NM is down river from a large damn, a WPA project that kept men working from 1911 to 1916. It holds back a 28,900 sq mile (2 million acre feet capacity) man made water reserve named Elephant Butte Lake that is visited by over 100,000 people on a good weekend. Right now that lake is under 4% it's capacity, some say it's at less than 1%. As a result they've shut the valve so to speak, they've turned off the river. What you see in this pic is what leaks through in spite of the damn being closed. I'd be surprised if any water was making it to Tx or Mexico. 

I'm happy to report that T or C has the clever habit of building it's own temporary damn for just these occasions. At the end of town a big heap of rocks will soon block the rivers flow and slow it's release beyond T or C. The river will appear full. Some say our hot mineral baths are affected by the river's height, they say it changes the water temps. The biggest bummer felt day to day is around playing in the river. Captain Bob, a river sports guy who provides inflatable toys (for a small fee) for floating down the river, is having a bum year. Before he arrived a couple of years ago there was virtually no way to play in the river. Thanks to him people are enjoying the river every day as they float down in tubes, inflatable kayaks, rafts and the like. We recently joined him for a full moon night tube. It was great! 


Update: Community Kitchen - FDA & USDA

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that created a bit of a stir locally and generated a lot of interest from folks in towns all over who are considering getting a community kitchen.  I promised to continue to blog on the development of our kitchen so here goes. . . 

Since my last post I've been scurrying to create products to sell in the community kitchen's store. I am one of many pitching in to make a bountiful store of locally made, grown and cooked goods. I put my lip balm, tincture, teas, seed and some gift baskets on the shelves.  

It did not take long (a week) for the FDA and USDA to appear at the store and peruse the goods. I have to imagine that the store is on their radar because it was built with state money. Some of my product was pulled from the shelf and returned to me. My topical spray needs a permit (they consider it medicine), my teas cant be mixed by me (the customer has to mix the mint, hibiscus, etc at home) unless I do it in a health certified kitchen. The USDA pulled my lip balm because it "might be ingested" because it's near the mouth. I can sell it but it can not say that it's for the lips and I have to rename it. 

A context surely exists in which regulations could be life saving. What I wonder about is their applicability. In a city where people are not likely to know the makers of their goods one might rely on regulations to assure their safety. In a small town one can knock on the front door of the home of the person who made their goods. A bad reputation = out of biz fast and you can bet that this prevents the production of crap being sold from one neighbor to another.  

Eventually the kitchen will be able to tell members of the community how to make their products qualify with the FDA and USDA's standards. They're going to put together a packet and have the staff trained. And while this is a nice gesture that will be helpful to those who wish to comply to the regs and sell in the store, what I see is our community members being used by the state as free labor. I don't want our citizens policing one another (for the state) even if it is done in a mild mannered way. It creates separation and small towns are often polarized already. 

I favor gestures like release forms (signed by willing customers) that allow kitchens such as these sell non qualifying goods (like raw milk). And I'd like to see the state send down their own people to train the community on how to comply. Perhaps these things will come to pass. We'll see. 

I checked with some other stores in town, stores that sell the same kinds of goods. They have never been visited by the FDA or USDA. And they don't expect that they ever will be. It looks like the difference is the taking of state money. When you do, you have invited a kind of mafia into your home or kitchen as it were. 

I will do all that was asked of me, squawk free: relabel, mix teas in the health approved kitchen (even though it's at a cost and will increase the product price) and I'll likely figure out something clever for the topical spray. I want to support the community kitchen's effort and see if and how it supports our community. I have always liked the idea of it. Now we're in the practice of it and that's always harder. Maybe the kitchen's benefits outweigh these nuisances. They might. Time will tell. 

To be continued. . . 

Lastly, I found an interesting writing on the history of FDA regulations (for herbs). 

Treasure Hunting in a World of Surplus


For decades I have been practicing the "have everything you want for free" game. It is remarkably simple and based the time in which we live. We are the people who live amongst the greatest surplus of man made goods the world has ever seen. The waste stream is so abundant that one need only know what they want and it will be found. If one of the wishers criteria is that the item come free or nearly than it will be free or nearly. I can recall wishing for metal shelves, then I thought "why don't I get specific?" so I elaborated and described a very certain kind, size, material etc. The next day I found it out in front of someone's home waiting for trash pick up. What is kind of funny is how brand and material specific you can be!

Last week I put on my wish list "enamel coffee pot." It's for candle making. One can store their cleaned wax in the pot. Then when it's time to make candles the pot is simply warmed in a water bath and poured into molds. I looked on ebay, $10 - $50 was the average. I decided to get more specific, the old blue one with the speckles. And I want a lid, for under $5. It's been three days. I just picked up this little ditty for $2 at a garage sale I walked by while walking Sesame. My only problem is it cleaned up so well that I might rather put flowers in it. I"m now adding to my list, "ratty enamel coffee pot for candle making." We'll see how long it takes.

Just one warning friends, "careful what you wish for!"


Burning Man or Bust?

Mikey and I met through the New York City Burning Man (BM) community. BM is an interesting umbrella under which a motley crew of extremes gather, each drawn to radical self expression and self reliance and a autonomous zone free of materialism, branding and money and of course many come for magic. Burning Man is 9 mile city of 50,000 (as of this year) running on a gift economy. It is evidence of something important.

How do a conceptual artist and wall street IT geek meet if not for something as odd as this? When we met Mikey was wearing a santa suit and I was dressed as Ms. Klaus. The next time we met I was in a broken heart costume and he was a giant band-aid. And yes he did say, "are you a broken heart? I am a band-aid!" As you can see this was meant to be.

This year marks a first, Burning Man is at full capacity - sold out. I wont get into what that could mean. We attended BM only once since our move to NM. It is hard to leave one desert where you build to go to another and build and call the shift a get away. This year, while many make the pilgrimage to the desert I'll be attending an intimate gathering to explore the possibilities offered up to our generation.

New Lebanon, NY -- For the first time ever, Burning Man, the annual arts event in the Nevada desert, is sold out, with more than 50,000 attendees. What is an alternative for those who do not have a Burning Man pass? In the Northeast it is Vanishing Art: An Intimate Festival of What May Be hosted by Seven Pillars House of Wisdom Aug. 24 – 28 in New Lebanon, NY.

The Vanishing Art Festival will explore what life could look like if we return to the deepest, most spiritual dimensions of art as practice and experience. Each day of the festival Peter will perform a work of "vanishing art", one for each of the four alchemical elements: earth, air, fire and water, involving all participants in a symbolic and artistic act.

There will also be performances, artist interviews and talks, meditations on art, social and music lounges, large group conversations and small group discussion salons. In contrast to Burning Man, this festival is intentionally being kept small, no more than 100 people in total, to allow deep connections between participants, between participants and art, and ultimately between all that exists and the natural world.

An eclectic group of artists plan to attend including Carolee Schneemann, the famous multidisciplinary artist who focuses on art as it relates to the body, sexuality and gender; Phong Bui, an installation artist and the influential editor of the Brooklyn Rail; Robert Kelly, the poet and professor at Bard College who has published over 50 books; Fred Johnson, an acclaimed jazz musician and performer; Syrian-born Bisan Toron, a vocal improviser; Dorothea Rockburne, an abstract painter inspired by mathematics and astronomy; Drew Dellinger, a poet who performs and speaks on themes of cosmology, ecology and compassion; and Wendy Tremayne, an activist, writer and performance artist who offers remedies for materialism.

Other participants include David Levi Strauss, Raymond Foye, Sterrett Smith, Charles Stein, Robin Becker, Yuval Ron, Yakov Rabinovich, Meryl Gross, Charlotte Mandell, George Quasha, Susan Quasha and Pir Zia Inayat-Khan.

Bios for all artists can be found at the Vanishing Art Site

The Vanishing Art Festival will be held at the magical and mysterious Abode of the Message, a Sufi retreat center and community located on the outskirts of the Berkshire Mountains, in Columbia County, NY

(picture Burning Man 2001)


Faces of Sage

Today I bottled newly dried sage from the garden making a bottle for myself and one for my mom. After snipping the dried leaves off the stems I realized that the stems could have yet one more use. I bundled them with string to use when lighting the fire pit. The scent is just one more luxurious quality of life lived near nature. I added the bundle to a growing collection of desert varieties of sage I have come across.

Independence: Cottage Industry

It has been 5 years since we left New York City to mine an uncommodified life. To make this change we quit every familiar safe ground we knew of. We gave up acculturated knowledge for an understanding of life hands on. We became makers instead of buyers and learned to provide for our own needs. Ultimately such a journey must arrive at independence to be considered really successful. Sovereignty is one destination (of many), a marker point on the path to genuine freedom.  

We pay taxes, have an internet connection and cell phones (to name a few) and so we have a toe in the world that runs on capital. 

Having reduced our need for money we have just a small financial burden to carry. We can meet that need doing exactly what we had denied ourselves access to when we worked full time in professional careers. Like most geeks Mikey loves nothing more than soldering and writing code in his yard based shipping container lab. I love writing, teaching yoga and wild crafting plants to turn into useful items for well being. The most significant change that we made in our lives is that we cleared space to do what we love most while reducing our cost of living so that a reasonable size commitment to what we love most provides financial stability for us. 

And so here we are now living a much more abundant life on welfare qualifying wages than the life we lived that required six figures to sustain. We do exactly what we most wish to do minute to minute and day after day and that is all that is required to meet our needs, financial and otherwise. 

We are still in the beginning of exploring what a cottage industry life looks like. For me there are many mine fields to navigate around. I started off with a marketing degree and worked in PR. I left those industries sour and upset by the deception they're often used for. I see it as an imperative that I transcend these negative views by bringing their context back into form in way that is true and genuine. My work is ahead of me. And so there will be many more posts on the subject. Oh and  while your sitting there at your computer, may I suggest that you buy some stuff from the Holy Scrap Store! : )  Ciao for now. 

Strawberry Mead Update : Bottled

I let this batch settle in it's carboy for a good 2 months after
fermentation. I wish I had known to add the strawberries at the end
instead of the beginning. The taste is mellowing out now, but the
strawberries are barely perceivable. This month we tried a three, five
and even twelve year old meads our friends made. Do you think we should wait 12 years to drink this?


Bee Wax Cleaning - Messy!

Having harvested honey 2X this year I've collected enough wax to give candle making a go. There are more than a few things one must know to get this right so I will share what I gathered in data and experience.
First, never melt wax with an open flame. The wax and it's vapor are super flammable. Second, use stuff that you 'donate' to wax cleaning/candle making and use for nothing else.  A double boiler is needed.
The main issue with wax cleaning is the stuff that's not wax that is in the wax. I can not imagine what the stuff is. As you can see from the pic it is an unidentifiable muck and you want it out.

So here's how. . .

In a glass or stainless pot (not a double boiler here) collect wax and fill with water. Turn non-flame heat on high until the two ingredients are indistinguishable from one another. Turn heat off and let cool completely. Pour off the water when cool and with a knife scrape off the non wax which is now stuck to the bottom of your wax disc that has hardened again.  Repeat a couple of times.

To get the remaining muck from the wax put wax only (and the muck stuck to it) in a double boiler. Heat until completely melted. Pour mix through cheese cloth. Muck will stick to the cloth, wax will move through it. This too may take a couple of passes.

It's messy, time consuming, and it can even be dangerous. But if you have a hive and want wax for cosmetics and candles one has to reckon with cleaning bee wax. The one candle I made was so awful I did not bother to post it's pic. I can see now that I needed one more pass, there was enough muck unfiltered to mess it up.


Mouthwash DIY

I put together a quick mouthwash to keep by my toothbrush on the bathroom sink. It contains creosote and water (1 to 10 ratio) plus about 1/8 oz of yerba mansa. Creosote kills bacteria and tastes not unlike Listerine. The yerba mansa is soft and healing to mucosa.

For anyone who has purchased Creosote from the Holy Scarp store, you can use this to make your own home-brew mouthwash just follow the ratio above. How's it taste? Well I already said it tastes like Listerine but really it is g-d awful! Actually it's a matter of taste. I like it, Mikey hates it. You will have to decide for yourself.

Product Review: Crazy Great Fiskar's Xacto Style Knife

It is rare that I review a product on the HS blog. I've done it less than a dozen times. Fiskar's just improved upon my favorite tool, the X Acto knife. I use them constantly and have since I was in art school. Once I could not find the knife and looked down to find my foot wearing a bloody sock. I'm happy to report that when I took the sock off there were no toes at the bottom of it. One does have to be careful when working with blades!

For five bucks Fiskar's Fingertip Detail Knife is a steal! What makes it so great is that it is designed to be worn. And when worn it is as though you are writing with a pencil but your cutting with a knive. The level of accuracy is way amped. They also make a swivel knife that I am dying to try. It is double the price and has a swivel tip for more intricate cutting. Oh la la!

Have fun and be careful!


Minimalist Folky Merchandising - waste free

Our community store, run by our local NGO The Bountiful Alliance, is wishing to fill the store with local goods. I've been stretching myself to come up with things and have so enjoyed playing with merchandising.  I had a wonderful carrot seed harvest, more than I can use, so I created this little ditty which has virtually zero waste or packaging. 

The seed clusters are tied together with a tiny piece of blue hemp. The label is made of kraft paper with a hand drawn image, it is tied with blue hemp to a mason jar. Everything is compostable but the mason jar, there is no packaging. 


Mesquite Mikey

Mikey is happy to be back in his summer stance picking mesquite pods. These will be debugged, solar dried and split into a batch to make flour and another for molasses.

Garden Pics: tulsi, sage, carrot seed, flowers, tomatoes

Nice picks today! Tomatoes are finally coming up!

Life Lab

I love this time of year. The whole house becomes like a lab. Things in various states of transformation: brewing, fermenting and drying etc.  I spent much of the day trying to moving through the collection of projects seen here cluttering the kitchen table. In the doing I tried out a new seed saving technique that entails using a rolling pin and cotton cloth. It worked wonders for radish seed which was bulky and hard to access.


The Growing Intentionally Unemployed - Congrats Ramshackle Solid!

Blog world friend Eric of Ramshackle Solid has made a big move, he quit his job. More interesting than the decision, are the reasons why. You can read them yourself on his blog.  Congratulations Eric!

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing by mikeysklar
Rock Climbing, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Wendy has been teaching class at the local dog park. Tonight's course
was "How to Climb Rocks". Lucy is on the ground and Piper Brown and
Sesame are on the rock. Wendy is flying.

IBC Water Tank Valve Addition

The standard valves on our 300 gallon IBC tanks tend to fail. They are 2" plastic handles that the sun destroys. Rather than wait for the valve to go I have re-plumbed all four of our rainwater IBCs with:

2" coupling --> 3/4" reducer --> 3/4" valve

It's only $4 in parts that gives us some assurance that we won't wake up one morning to find 300 gallons of our precious rain water on the ground.

IBC Water Tank Valve Addition #2

Nice Clouds - No Rain

Nice Clouds - No Rain by mikeysklar
Nice Clouds - No Rain, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

The radar looked awesome for rain today, but we didn't get a drop. The cumulus nimbus clouds over the mountain pass are still impressive.

A New Adult Beverage

A New Adult Beverage by mikeysklar
A New Adult Beverage, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Testing out 1 gallon of mesquite mead. I'm harvesting the mesquite pods locally and boiling them down in the sun oven to sweeten the mix.

The Joy of Making Circuit Boards

This is my first home made double sided circuit board. It is part of summer long paid project to monitor and control algae. I thought double sided would be incredibly difficult due to the alignment
issues. I made some reference holes and placed thick sewing pins in them and everything worked out. This board is a mix of through hole and surface mount. It took my little CNC over eight hours to mill and drill both sides as I chose to do multiple passes. It only took 30 minutes of my time to align the board and kick off each run.

Out of curiosity I checked in at barebonespcb which would offer a comparable circuit board except they do plated through vias. I calculated the price at it would have been $120 for a single board. I paid $4 for the blank copper board that was milled.


What I Never Thought I'd Do With Yogurt

Intentionally living with yeast and bacteria has been fun. They are useful in a surprising number of ways. We currently cohabitate with a kombucha mother, a thermophilic cultured whey (similar to kefir), a yogurt starter, tempeh cultures, mushroom spores, a mesophilic culture (for cheese making) a red wine kombucha mother and we regularly make bread and wine that use yeast for rising and the creation of alcohol.

One of the benefits to having these friends around is that they give us pro and antibiotics which add complexity to the flora in our guts and GI tract, balance bacteria and yeast counts, regulate ph, and at times predigest our food (as enzymes do for us when we consume raw dairy).

Women are more familiar with the symbiotic relationship we have with these little organisms because when vaginal flora is out of whack women suffer common nuisances like yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.

Eating foods made with live cultures wont likely produce an effect on vaginal flora, it's too far a journey. So what to do? Yogurt can bring balance by mixing a couple tablespoons of it with a quart of water in a hot water bottle douche and douching with it. Similarly probiotics in pill form can be inserted into the vagina before bed. I've heard of women soaking tampons in yogurt and then wearing them. The vagina (unlike other parts of the body) should have a PH of around 4.5, it needs acidity to keep away bad bacteria. If a home PH strip reveals too alkaline an environment a dose of probiotics is likely a good idea to maintain good heath. Yogurt happens to contain just the right microbes for vaginas!

A tip: if you suspect you may have bacterial vaginosis you can perform a whiff test, which is one of the ways Dr. 's test for it. When discharge from the vagina meets potassium hydroxide (found in soap made with lye) a strong fishy smell should be produced. If soap is producing a scent than use a PH strip to see if the flora is too alkaline. If it is you likely have bacterial vaginosis and need to start building up probiotics in the body.

Cheers to good health and good relationship's with microorganisms.


Creosote (aka Chaparral): Just Enough Rain to Bloom

Creosote lines the southern NM highways and fills the vast expanse of our desert region. The land it covers over was once blanketed with meadows of native grass. Over grazed, creosote is one of a few plants that cover the landscape to protect it from the harsh UV rays of the sun. Creosote is what we smell when we say we can smell the rain. 
During this drought we've looked out a miles of dry creosote bush and wondered. "Will it come back?" The little bit of rain that came with July brought it to bloom. Today we harvested bright colored and flowering plant lush with oil and scent and started up another batch of our topical spray. 

The creosote spray that we make at Holy Scrap is simple and potent. Unlike the complex chemical junk being sold in mass market stores, it has a simple 3 ingredients: creosote plant, alcohol, water. 

It's uses are as follows
* Anti fungal/microbial: relieves athlete's foot and aids in overcoming human papilloma virus, paronychia 
* Anti bacterial: cleans cuts, stings, bites, wounds 
* Diluted and swished around the mouth it makes a great bacteria killing mouthwash that tastes similar to Listerine


First Grapes

Oh la la!  We just pulled our first bunches of grapes. They are sweet and a bit tart. Some have speckles on them. I'm not sure what that's about. All in all yum!

Ears Up!

I've given in to the fact that I accidentally grew ornamental corn (what else can I do?) and I'm now drying it for a future wreath or something decorative as implied by the name. They are pretty!


One More Quart of Honey

We harvested our 2nd quart of honey of the summer. This one is slightly darker, just as sweet! We used Mikey's Temp Controller to separate wax from honey while not pasteurizing it, we like our honey raw.

Lip Amour: For Lips With a Lust for Life!

As promised we're making a little extra of all our goods and offering them up on the Holy Scrap Store. I just added our favorite home brew lip balm which we make annually.

Lip Amour for lips with a lust for life!, came into being after much trial and error and to meet specific needs created by our climate and lifestyle.

The result is a lip balm that will not turn to goo or oil in high heat; is very nourishing (creamy) for desert dry lips, in a hefty size (7X a chapstick) to last a long time, and with a reusable container.

Wala, Lip Amour! 

Mining a Wonder World - An Invitation, Vanishing Art

Friends and blog readers, this is an invitation to join me at a special event in August. It comes on the heels of my scratching my head and asking, "where has the wonder gone?" We have encountered (in one decade) 911, war, recession, natural disaster, changes to food, fuel, power and environment, and the sixth species extinction (to name a few).  It is a wonder there is a person alive able to emit joy. But there is! And this is the nature of human beings. We create. In spite of fear, sadness and entropy we put a stake in the ground for creativity, the new, laughter and joy. And so the world follows in form and takes our shape, we smile and laugh. Change comes. 

This event asks us to do this very thing, to mine a wonder world because the default world we've shared for so long is no longer enough. 

This intimate event takes place over 4 days and nights in the Berkshire mountains (NY) in old Shaker buildings on land now cared for by Sufis. One hundred and twenty five people (poets, curators, philosophers, artists, thinkers, musicians, mystics and futurists) will create together an artistic manifesto for our day. The re-poeticizing of life is the aim. We'll explore the idea through salons with topics that examine realism of the imagination, magical idealism, materialism, and art as ritual and practice and the like. We'll participate in four grand scale elemental performances in nature by Hakim Bay. In between there will be music, think tanks, ritual, poetry mixers, bon fires and more. 

The web site lists many who are set to attend (scroll to the bottom) and it points to the history of the expression that we are adding to which includes surrealism, romanticism, hermeticism and magic. Two creatives primary to the event's design are Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bay) and Christopher Bamford.

I hope that you can find a way to come along. It is truly a special occasion. 
- Wendy 


When Community Kitchens Hurt Communities

You'd think a community kitchen would be enabling for any community. After all couldnt we all use  access to equipment that is too expensive to own ourselves, a health approved kitchen to make products for resale in retail, a place for classes and demonstrations? You'd think!

Truth or Consequences' umbrella 501C org, The Bountiful Alliance, put great effort into raising funds, remodeling a building and setting in motion a community kitchen for these very purposes. The problem is that by taking state money the kitchen must follow state laws and the laws are impossible and they divide community.

To cook in the community kitchen one must bring in all the ingredients hermetically sealed.  If I were to bring kombucha to brew or a kimche culture, I would have to have the culture shipped to the community kitchen by a lab that could guarantee the sample's chemistry. Then it could only be opened on site, could never leave and for every moment of it's storage and fermentation I'd pay for space on a shelf. The same would be true for ingredients to make brownies, everything sealed until inside and then it can not leave. Meanwhile the kitchen can only afford to be open a couple days a week so if one were cooking something that required a couple of visits back to back, they'd likely get locked out. With all packaging required to be done on site (and while paying by the hour) the hope of profit on "homemade" goods quickly shrinks away.

Pasteurizing and other processes that are considered industrial practices are also required at the kitchen even though the equipment is not offered to carry out such tasks. Some buyers (like me) loose interest when products are over processed, I prefer active enzymes in my food even if they're illegal. But more offensive is the favoring of industry over mom n pop. 

Our local farmers market is suffering from the new kitchen too. Our market is run by the same NGO, The Bountiful Alliance. Since the state has mandated that all food (baked goods and prepared food) sold at the farmers market be cooked in the community kitchen, this year more than half our vendors split. They opened up their own alternative market, one that is not 'state approved,' and there they sell what they wish. In T or C you can know your farmer. For many it is an insult too large to bear to place the state between intimacy, friendship, history and common sense. 

The worst of it is that these rules require people within a single community to police one another. Our community has split along familiar lines: rural folks who've been here 'longer' set up a new market while the new folks from cities who've shown up in the past 10 years are trying to make the kitchen work out.  

The state ought to police their rules themselves. I would like to see our NGO post the state's rules in the community kitchen and then let people make their own decision; keep the market together and let the state come down and pluck out who's following the rules and who is not.

Are folks who create cottage industry going to be forced to sell the goods from their homes or from  hidden baskets under tables at the market? Will the alternative market get shut down or just starved of money for not being willing to play by outlandish rules. We're not dealing heroin, we're selling chicken eggs and brownies! Get real NM! 

Flat Tires in the Desert - The Thing About Tourists & Locals

I would not have believed it if I had not seen it over and over; the cliche about vehicles breaking down in small desert towns and holding people hostage until they give up and move in or figure out some karmic mystery that they are stubbornly ignoring.  Year round a parade of travelers break down in T or C. They have flat tires, wrecked transmissions or converted school buses that just lost their umph. Those always find their way to our house. I wonder what it is about this blog that makes people think they should live here for a while?

What I've Learned About Being a Local in a Tourist Town:

* Every tourist is on vacation. Locals are not. Tourists rarely understand this fact. 

* Tourists are seeking "experiences" to have, memories.  Locals are not interested in being experiences. 

* People have many more needs when they're traveling.

* Guests are announced in advance, they're anticipated. Tourists come at all times without warning. 

* There is a natural inequity to the tourist/local relationship. If a local sells something and tourists buy it an even ground is created. Otherwise the relationship will be one sided.  

* Tourists can not imagine that they are part of a large parade of tourists that color the world of locals with transient energy. 

* There is little to be gained by befriending tourists: they are leaving and will likely never be back. While they want to visit the homes of locals (to add to their experience), the local wont be invited to their home not ever. 

* Parking a mobile home (RV, bus or whatever) in someone else's yard IS painfully distracting. Especially when said yard is home to one person writing code and the other writing books. 

* We know that if your vehicle gets in our property's gate, it won't be leaving any time soon, even if you swear that it will. 

* Tourist towns are loaded with places designed for tourists to stay: hotels, motels and RV parks. Expecting locals to house you, even if you have a lot in common, is not fair. There are too many of you and not enough time between you and the next broken down bus, RV or flat tire for us to recover. 

For five years people have bobbed their heads over our fence, climbed it to look in, and waited at our gate to ask for a tour. We've had to sneak in our back ally to avoid what at times is a flood of tourists. We skip getting our mail afraid of who may be waiting outside the gate. 

We finally got the locals and store owners to stop telling tourists that they have to check out Wendy & Mikeys place. No they don't. We have nothing to sell. We did not make a life decision to work in tourism. 

So many great people come through our town. Many we'd love to have as neighbors or year round friends. If I did not live in a tourist town, the occasional drop in would be fun, a treat. 

Not long ago Mikey went out road tripping in our Beetle. Knowing how our own experiences as locals has shaped our view we precooked gumbo, packed home made wine and home made french bread. When we arrived at friend's homes we served dinner immediately then did the dishes. When we are guests we cook multiple meals, walk people's dog and leave them with freezers full of ice cream. Mostly we remember, even if invited, that we are on vacation - they're not. Space, silence, and self reliance is key when staying as a guest in someone's home. Hey we're all tourists sometime. It has taken living in a tourist town for me to understand what it is to be a local. 

Dude, Where's My Lake?

Dude, Where's My Lake? by mikeysklar
Dude, Where's My Lake?, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We went out to Elephant Butte Lake last night only to discover that a two year drought has really messed things up. My favorite skimboarding area has been drained down to a small puddle. There is still water to play in, but we need to search out a new area to hang.

Dude, Where's My Lake? #2Dude, Where's My Lake? #3Dude, Where's My Lake? #4

Too Much Cooking

Too Much Cooking by mikeysklar
Too Much Cooking, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Tuesday seems to be the our catchup on cooking day. This week we did the following:

- kombucha
- yogurt
- chihuahua cheese (a semi-hard like cheddar)
- mesquite molasses
- rack wine

Too Much Cooking #2Too Much Cooking #3Too Much Cooking #4

Lube Your Swamp Cooler

Lube Your Swamp Cooler by mikeysklar
Lube Your Swamp Cooler, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our swamp cooler started squeaking shortly after I had done some maintenance on it. I wasn't sure where to apply oil, but thanks to a neighbor and a internet photo I figured it out. There are two small
oil reservoirs over the bearings connected the swamp coolers blower. Any hardware store in the southwest will carry a special extending oil bottle to help with getting the oil into the reservoirs.

Welcome Back Rain

Welcome Back Rain by mikeysklar
Welcome Back Rain, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our summer rains have finally returned. We had one great storm this week followed by a little one giving us a total of 2" of rain. That is more than we have seen in nearly a year. We have three rain water tanks currently connected to our gutters. The most recently installed tank picked up over 200 gallons of water in less than three hours. Based on ocean temperatures in the equatorial pacific we should receive a typical monsoon rainfall of 5" this summer. We were in a La Nina pattern (dry weather for us) and now are shifting into a neutral pattern.

Welcome Back Rain #2


Porch Redo (Again!)

It takes some effort to keep a bunch of stuff from decaying out in the desert: fresh paint, new carpet, and revised fabric all aid in the cause of keeping an old wood deck going.

Here's the latest: a fresh coat of paint, a new rug (made of recycled coke bottles) and a shade sail (lovin' that shade!). The couches are a disaster of another variety. I had made them from foam I bought and upholstered with 10 year UV rated shade cloth. But a doggie friend of Sesame's gutted it. The doggie owner was kind enough to send me some fabric to redo the cushions. I finally reupholstered them on the day of the first rain we have had in a year. It became immediately evident (by the water stains) that this is not outdoor upholstery fabric! I will be redoing these couch cushions AGAIN making that 3X in 2 years. Sigh. Anyway, here's the final pic of the redo.