Monday

After Photos and Almost a year of living in the forest

 Our bedroom with bed extended by Jameson. LED rope light and bean bag chair
 Altar in the main living space
 View of bookshelf and front door leading to porch
 Art hung
 Our first dining area.  Later we moved it closer to the house to help control the bugs.
 Front porch. The Place of many hours of sitting and reading 
 The kitchen prep area at night. We used an old desk as the table and the mini fridge and storage was underneath. Cups and plates were on the shelf where the LED lights are attached.
 Not the most glamorous photo but here you can see how the kitchen sink functioned. 
The Buckets on the right were the trash and recycling.
 Spring at the cabin
 Our outdoor rocket stove where we made eggs in the morning

 we tried to process and eat these acorn in the fall, without much luck.

 outdoor science lab
Wildflowers and marigolds.

Working working working

We painted the ceilings white with dark brown trim to lighten it up inside.  Natural sunlight was lacking inside the cabin which kept it nice and cool in the summer. Cleaning the layers and layers of scum off the windows also helped to bring light in. We ran the entire cabin off of two outlets.  We bought only low voltage light bulbs and we had a mini fridge and little hot water heating kettle. It was comfortable to sleep in there from March till the end of November when the first frost came. 






Jameson built us this greywater sink. We would cart 5 gallon buckets down from the main house.  That white cooler acted as our sink and the water would drain into another 5 gallon bucket under the sink. We used all natural soaps and had a spot outside where we would toss the used water so it could filter through the earth. The system worked quite well. 

Saturday

The Cabin Adventure Begins!!!!


Hey Friends! So it all begins....

Jameson and I have been needing some sacred space for years now.  We love our life on the road playing music and traveling but we have been feeling the need to have a place to call our home and to share with others.  We need to start repaying the years of hospitality shared with us.  

Our dear friend Parker lives on a magical piece of land just a few miles East of downtown Richmond.  On that land there is a little cabin which has been abandoned for probably 40 years.  
Fortunately, last year, someone began the cleansing process.  They moved out all the old furniture and swept the floor however, the cabin still needs a ton of love.  



Jameson and I have been working on the inside for a couple days now.  I have wiped down all the walls and fixtures with a sponge and bleach water (6 parts water 1 part bleach) to get off the mold and dust.  We cleaned the windows which is letting a lot more light into the space.


In the right corner of the photo above you can see a wooden box.  That is a built in bed frame.  Jameson just extended the bed frame so it would be a double instead of a single.  He used a hand saw and salvaged wood.

Right now the house does not have any electricity of plumbing so we are using candles to give some extra light.  Eventually we will run an extension chord to the main house and have a few LED bulbs burning.  We are trying to stay as energy efficient as possible and to really be aware of our consumption.  One day I hope to be totally off the grid, this is our practice.

We plan to carry water down from the main house.  We have a few containers and a Brita water filter.  The house is on well water, which is really exciting for me.  I took a sip yesterday and it was wonderful to not be able to taste the chlorine.  I look at the land and I see so much richness, all the minerals in the soil and water, perfect ingredients to grow nutritious food. 


The previous inhabitants left all sorts of thoughtful forest themed decorations like this pine cone and candle chandelier and these very 1950's curtains.   Some we will keep and others we will use in other ways.  

I'm going to try to keep this blog as a log of our journey.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments.  Hopefully I will have the time and where-with-all to document this process well.
Mica & Graham's Wedding

We came home from tour to help our friends Mica and Graham with their wedding.

It was a very DIY wedding and fortunately M & G have very talented and capable friends, willing to take on the challenge. We all worked together to make it a really special heart filled event.


Here is Mica, her sister and her out of town college friends making braided rope streamers out of old fabric.  It was bonding to sit around together and get to know each other while we worked. 


Mica and Graham were married at the Quaker Meeting House in Richmond, Virginia.  Jameson officiated the wedding.  It was a different kind of wedding.  M & G sat in rocking chairs and we all sat around them.  Jameson invited everyone to sit in silence and when they felt moved by the spirit to give a blessing to the couple that they speak briefly from the heart.  We all enjoyed the silence together, that moment where all our bodies had come together inspired by the love of our friends. So many blessings flowed from us to our dear ones.  Mica's sister started it off praising the couple and giving us all a good example of how to send a blessing.  She was followed by many others; friends, parents, grandparents. Some people told funny stories about the couple, others sent prayers of safety for their coming journey, and some more experienced couples gave personal wisdom about marriage. It was beautiful.  After about an hour of silence and blessings Mica and Graham exchanged rings (in silence) and kissed, indicating that they had agreed that they were married.
We gave a big cheer which felt rebellious and extra joy filled after all being quite for so long.


Then we partied!!!!
Half the wedding party went to the reception via bicycle birgade.
Jameson and I went ahead to the reception space to finish setting up.
 

The party was at LoveBomb a radical new art space in South Side RVA.

All we brought were candles, the rope braids, and a few extra tables and chairs.  The vibrant space already had so much character with it's enormous moveable stage and All the saints theater company's giant puppets. 


Eight bands played during the receptions.  We all danced and sang along.  It was like a modern day hoe-down.  It added a lot to the wedding to have so much live music.  In many ways it felt like a tribute to Greenwood manor, the house where Mica and Graham used to live where they hosted many musical gatherings though out the years.
Here's the lineup!

Andrew Ali and Josh Small



 Everyone brought alcohol to share




Graham's family provided the food-  Pig roast and traditional southern sides like deviled eggs, coleslaw, and pasta salad.  Here is the bride and groom getting down on some ribs while sharing some Hardywood beer.




 As a final touch to an awesome day, some very talented friends of the couple made this face cut out inspired by Mica and Graham's the next adventure, a bicycle trip up to Maine! Have a wonderful pilgrimage you two.  Love you! Stay safe and come back to us.


Friday

Adventures in Indian Fruit: Singra
























This is a Singra

It looks like a dried skull or very wrinkly prune. You see them in the market, laying in large piles next to cauliflower and spinach. 

























It was pretty easy to crack open and pull the white "nut-like" fruit from the shell. 
It has a crisp bite and tastes a lot like raw corn on the cob. Corn on the cob with a dash of coconut or chestnut. It has a mildly bitter after taste, but is over all quite pleasant. It has that kind if flavor that reminds you of a family holiday, like they would be arranged in a bowl on the coffee table, accompanied by another empty bowl to hold the discarded shells. Only occasionally would everyone would eat a few. 


Wednesday

All for Indra (God of the sky)



Kartik Poornim (Dev Deepawali)  is a festival only celebrated in Varanasi and only celebrated on the full moon of each November. It is a time when the town is filled with lights. The long steps from the town to the Ganga rivers edge are filled with oil candles, while the houses are covered with long strands of electric lights. 



















Deepawali celebrates the sky. It offers lights to the mighty air above with a reflection of stars on the ground. 

That evening among the extra chaos of the streets we decided to take a boat to see all of the lights from afar. 
The scene was magnificent, lights covered everything and ceremonies were preformed at every ghat. 



















Deepawali is also a very auspicious time to be cremated, and so the burning ghats were filled with tall fires as numerous families gathered to witness the burial by flame. 
(No one is to take pictures of the burning ghats)

Our boat ride became exciting as the night passed and boat traffic increased. Giant motorboat  were making huge waves for our little rowboat. The moon pulled the waters of the Ganges and our boatman struggled against the current, sweating and stripping off layers or cloths. At one point Laney walked the length of the boat to pour some water in his mouth. Finally after a long battle with the tide and congestion we made it back to the dock. The rest of the night we spent perched on a step, high above the chaos, and watch the festival goers move through the ghats like a herd of salmon swimming upstream. 



Chat at the ghats



On the same day as Jameson's birthday the women of Varanasi fasted so their children would be blessed. They had been fasting for two days now, the festival know as Chat was to mark the end of their hunger. In the evening the Ganga river was crowded with families presenting food to the goddess of the waters. 


The mothers baptized themselves three times while the fathers held them steady. Baskets full of coconuts, fruits and sweets were carried into the river by the blessed mothers who spun in circles while the family poured water and milk upon the offerings. 


After the food was blessed and the sun had set the families prepared their camps along the ghats, the celebration wasn't over until sunrise the next day. All night children and adolescents lit fireworks while street musicians clapped their songs into the evening air. 















We watched the festival from a boat full of young men and a baby monkey who had adopted us as friends.
They knew it was Jameson's birthday and bought him a cake as a surprise. They sang happy birthday and smeared icing on his face, then lit fireworks on the edges of the boat. The panicked monkey climbed from head to head but really wanted nothing to do with anyone but her human father. 



















Small candles surrounded by flowers within floating tree leaves were offered to the Ganges. All around us small cups of light drifted with the rivers current. We added one to the group, as a birthday blessing, and to the journey of birth and life.