Getting Screwed

    The project is simple enough, putting up a thirteen foot shelf and using the shelf to secure a back privacy wall along a back porch wall. All that is needed is wood, deck screws, a drill, a tape measure, a handsaw, and patience. A local Home Depot isn’t far from the house and they cut a sixteen foot, 2×8, down to thirteen feet for me. Next, I look for a box of deck screws. The deck screws, incredibly, come to $9.94, for a box of fifty 3 and a half inch deck screws. These same screws, several months ago, were, for the same sized box, in the six to seven dollar range, including tax. Made in Taiwan,the box does include a little drill bit, which I need, because the screw heads have a star pattern and can’t be driven with a normal bit. The cost of building a house is going up at the same rate as this box of screws, around 30%. Even with an illegal immigration workforce in this state, that keeps costs down, it is going to cost a pretty penny now to put up a house. With supply chains broken and dollars everywhere,the total on my sales receipt is going to keep going up, up, up.  We are told there is no inflation, but, building this simple shelf is getting expensive. Inflation is sometimes defined as too much money chasing too few goods. Seeing a simple box of exterior screws, fifty to a box, costing almost ten bucks, hammers the point home. Most of the workforce in New Mexico don’t make ten dollars an hour. When an hour of your life gets you fifty screws, you really are getting screwed.

Ready to Go gassed up and ready to go

    Most RV’s spend most of their life in storage. Sometimes they are kept in their own garages like prized thoroughbreds. Most often they are parked in driveways, back yards, side lots – uncovered, unprotected, unloved. Scotttrek’s classic recreational vehicle is kept in storage at a local Airstream dealer, and, for sixty dollars a month is safe, unmolested, and underappreciated. Times are changing, though, and the Sunrader will be started up, loaded up, and prepared for a different future. It may be that the Sunrader becomes a more than recreational home away from home. In troubled times, it is nice to know that you have a bathroom,a  kitchen,a place to rest your head, a hot shower and refrigerated air. The temptation has always been to sell this RV and save the sixty dollars a month, but when push comes to shove, insurance is always worth what we have paid to have it, when the time comes that we need it.  

Tiny House Southfork, Colorado

    Colorado is one of the leading states in the tiny house movement in the United States.This state has over 20 builders who have built tiny houses, has an annual  Colorado Tiny House Festival in Brighton, and a Colorado Tiny House Association that advocates for the development of the tiny homes industry. The tiny house movement, whether in Colorado,or elsewhere, is driven by people looking to spend their money differently. Instead of sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a site built house that has expensive taxes, upkeep, and unused space, people can get into a tiny house for a fraction of the price and spend their saved money on activities and experiences they would rather be doing than mowing the lawn. This tiny house is parked on a lot in Southfork, Colorado, and, though locked, gives an idea of its roominess and livability by peeking through its windows.There are five different models to choose from and the builders of these models can custom make a tiny house to fit any budget and need. The best thing about tiny houses, after looking at these models, is – they don’t have an engine. Bigger the better, is a slogan that is reaching it’s limits in America. American’s are downsizing, looking small ,seeking control of their lives. These days you are more defined by what you do than what you own. Living in one of these homes means you have finally realized you don’t need stuff you thought did, you don’t need deep roots to feel rooted, and small is very big.  

Fort Union Photo essay

    There are artifacts to see at this national monument – wagon wheels and wagons, an empty jail, cannons, latrines, a visitor center, the only hospital for five hundred miles, ruts where wagons followed the Santa Fe Trail, pieces of adobe buildings that were once sheltering, a hundred foot tall flag pole where the stars and stripes flew, a white Army tent.  These photos, of what is left of this piece of the past, hint at what it was like to live out west in the late 1800’s. Watching John Wayne westerns on re-run channels doesn’t convey fully how it feels to be smack dab in the middle of a land that is hostile and wears you down with inclement weather and the daily challenges of feeding, sheltering yourself, and staying alive. Walking here, this morning, where soldiers walked, washed up, came back from patrols, recovered from illness, fixed wagons and stored supplies for the territories, walked patrols around the Fort in blizzards, it is easy to see how easy our lives have become. This country was not overcome without someone else’s struggle but this fort, to the men and women assigned here, was always home sweet home, even if it wasn’t always peaches and cream. This place was truly the middle of no where when people were still trying to figure out whether it was some place they could call home. It should be no surprise, even in this remote outpost in the old West, that where men were, women were close by.  

Charlie’s Birdhouse Back Yard ready

    I didn’t get a builder’s tour but this birdhouse comes with a sturdy shingle roof, spacious front porch, and a back door that can be opened to clean inside. The home’s front door is a round hole, big enough for a small sparrow to enter but small enough to keep out a coyote, hawk, or house cat. This is one of Charlie’s birdhouse masterpieces.. The last one he made was more complex, a bird mansion looking like a traditional New Mexico Pueblo, complete with ladders to the roof and a ceremonial Kiva. We all agreed it should be hanging in an art gallery but it is destined for Tennessee for grand kid’s and a lucky bluebird family, winner of the Greater South Birdhouse Raffle. Us Charlie supporters haven’t been on line yet to see what the going price is for “custom” birdhouses . Charlie makes his for free for family and friends so he has the best price in the world. Even a dirt poor rice farmer in Vietnam can’t sell his birdhouse for nothing.  If I were a bird, I would park my feathers inside this roomy mansion, turn on my Netflix and watch Hitchcock’s ” The Birds” ,or a documentary on Charlie “Bird” Parker with my favorite beverage by my recliner. I would move into this birdhouse now, in a second, if i could just squeeze through the small round front door. Living without a mortgage would be liberating.  

House for Sale Fountain Hill Park Area - Fountain Hills, Arizona

    Real estate has always been investment worthy. People want to own a home and homes are assets that, in America, have historically appreciated in value. In retirement communities like this, there are always For Sale signs in yards though. People die, move back home to be with the kids, decide they don’t need a second home, look to downsize, decide their second home experiment isn’t going to suit them anymore. This is typical Arizona suburbia with wide streets,cactus, stuccoed- patio homes with two car garages, covenants,property taxes, newspapers still thrown in driveways, mail delivered daily by mail women driving little white vehicles. There is a rock in a flower bed in this home’s entry way with the word ” Harmony ” engraved on it. Harmony, as used here, means no crime, living in a gated community, not having noisy neighbors after ten in the evening, good schools for your kids and grand kids. Marie shouldn’t have trouble selling this home. It is on the internet and her sign gives her phone number in large print. This house comes with a nesting bird and all the Harmony you bring with you on move in day. Houses don’t become homes till you move your coffeemaker and tooth brush in.  

Nesting Bird Arizona Home for Sale

    In the front courtyard of a vacant home for sale in Fountain Hills, Arizona, a bird has made her nest in a God’s flowing locks.. She, quietly, doesn’t move as I peek through the house windows into sad, empty rooms where someone used to live. By the time this house is sold, her eggs will be hatched, her babies will try their wings and fly away to start their own families,  build or find their own nests. God’s, some believe, write our scripts and they write them intentionally with miscues, forgotten lines, improbable entrances and exits, all at the Director’s discretion. Personally, I would prefer a long boring script instead of a short intense one, but God’s have a manner and method all their own. I’m sure I have been given what I need instead of what I want. If I could fly, I’d nest in this God’s gentle locks too and take my parenting as serious as this Mom.  

Roots Building a storage shed

    The things of man start with an idea. Either you are hungry, uncomfortable, scared, envious, or in love.  Sometimes you are just bored and want to change because you can. Chip and Lori want to live simple and live free as far from civilization as they can get.  ” It’s an experiment, ” Chip says, and, thankfully, his wife is going along with it. Moving in a different direction than your spouse is like trying to row a boat with oars going in opposite directions. Sitting around a campfire at night, under more stars than we can see, their new experiment oddly feels like home, even if the wind whips up and the cold sneaks in under my bedroll and makes me wake up in the middle of the night. Our roots are where we sink them..  

Nowhere, Arizona Not at the end of the dirt road, but almost

    Nowhere is a place too. Nowhere is often a remote, uninteresting, nondescript place, a place having no prospect of progress or success, obscure, miles from anything or anyone. Nowhere is often a place no one else wants to be, a place that offers no comfort, no wealth, no value. Nowhere, however, can also be a place to gain privacy, a place to begin new, a place to build what you now see that you didn’t see before. Pioneers struck out to find value in the nowhere reaches of the old west. Astronauts went into the nowhere of space looking for new worlds. Explorers in the sixteenth century ventured into nowhere to find profit.  Chip, wife Lori, son Bowen, and Scott are striking out today for our Nowhere, Arizona. There won’t be a town here, but, by the time we are done, this trip, there will be the start of a storage shed for Chip and Lori’s stuff. Their homestead is still further down time’s road. When you come to Nowhere, you don’t want to come with Nothing and you want to leave Something behind. This is how it must have felt to the pioneers on wagon trains headed west after the American Civil War, a shared tragedy, like slavery, that some Americans still haven’t worked their way through. The odd thing about nowhere is that someone was often there before you arrived.  
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