Busting out… and then busted!

June 9th The day dawns to a sleeping homestead. The roosters soon rouse the kids, who rouse the parents who have been up late the night before pulling pork, drinking wine and finishing last minute preparations.  The morning light reveals the work of 6 years preparation: a green terraced garden, blooming fruit trees, a still pond, and a yard decorated as though for a wedding: a large white tent, tables, chairs…and the house which is the object of celebration for the day.

It has been a long, long haul, and after finally moving into our beautiful house in February, we are ready to really celebrate with a large scale house-warming party in June. We have spent the spring going hyper-speed on the exterior land-scaping and have transformed large areas of the out-doors: the first old kitchen has come down to be replaced by a dry-lay patio/stage and arbor, the front entrance has new retaining walls and gardens, the house patio has dry-lay red bricks which open onto steps, new gardens and lawn areas.  All is decorated with gorgeous planters and flowers, twinkle lights, and candles for the party.

We started with an open house afternoon, with visiting, casual tours, and a jam around the not-yet-lit firepit.  Then, to kick off the Hearth-Lighting Ceremony, Zena recited a beautiful and eloquent poem she had written (read her poem in the post above). Daniel, Zena, Zylo, Oren, Asher, Joah and I dipped our candles into the outdoor fire and proceeded up to the waiting hearth inside. The house was filled with a humming, clapping crowd as we lit the fire and placed our candles into the waiting holders. Then the party really kicked off! After the feasting there was an open stage which included a magnificent and humorous poem by our friend David Minkow, songs by the Balkan Babes (including a surprise altered rendition of More Ti Ci Cezna for us), songs by my dad, a song by young Djuna Lou, and of course 3 original homesteading songs by the Twisted Vine Farm String Band! Then the Sweet Lowdown  (Amanda Blied, Shanti Bremer and Ali Romonov) played a marvelous set of old-timey originals and traditionals. After a short break I had the honor of playing some of my songs with the talented Sweet Lowdown which was so fun! Then Craig Marcuk and Zane called a couple dances which got nearly everyone whooping and dancing! We pulled out all the stops with some fireworks which went off right before Aboubacar’s lively African pop set. The dancing just kept going and Abou really knew how to get the crowd going. About 1am things slowed down- kids dropped off to sleep, many retreated to their tents but there was some beautiful mellow music with Chris Berton and Dean. Then the campfire jam started up. I crawled into bed around 4am, but my dad was among the few who stayed up to see the sunrise!  Phew!

We had a huge guest list, but didn’t expect everyone (of course) to come. That night we had between 230-250 people come to visit our home. There were tears. There was extreme gushing. And we had the time of our lives!

I loved the opportunity to have the mic to thank everyone who has helped us on the way, but I kicked myself the next day when I realized I had forgot to thank the two most important people in the whole journey: Daniel and Zena. They had relinquished the speeches to me but a friend pointed out that I should have dragged them on stage for a speech…and of course I should have!

Anyways, the entire night was so gratifying in so many ways and was everything I could have wished for….

Until….

A week and half later the Building Inspector showed up. Now, for those that don’t know, the secret is now out: we have no permits for anything. We had a few reasons for not going legitimately: the cost of installing the required septic system (which we didn’t want to use), the difficulty and expense of approving experimental building methods, and the fact that we are so far off the beaten track (it’s not unusual to find folks building without permits). The building inspector told us he had driven by and seen us building, but he doesn’t bother to stop by unless there is a complaint.

And I guess we had a disgruntled neighbour after the party.

Anyways, we are now facing a health order to stop “dumping” our sewage (it’s only grey water, and it’s pre-filtered and goes into swales that water fruit trees- but certainly not acceptable to Vancouver Island Health Authority). So that means we have to install a septic system. It’s a big thing to face, so suddenly and quickly, but we have to do it and thankfully we have some amazing support, so it’s not going to coast nearly as much as it could have. Then we need to get the electrical, gas and plumbing signed off (another expense and a bit of work). But as for the buildings, we don’t think there is any way we can afford to get them up to code. Thankfully there is an avenue we can go where we ask the CVRD to accept a “Non-Compliance” on the land title. It’s risky (it can go to court if they decide not to accept it) but we’re hoping for the best outcome. It’s all we can do really.

Instead of being beaten down by the bad news, we’re looking at this change of events in a positive light: it’ll be good to get it done and be “legitimate”, it has happened at actually a pretty good time (having already occupied the buildings, and just having done a big clean-up of the property) and hopefully down the road we’ll be motivated to try to help change policy (we never felt we could fight that battle previously, being illegitimate). And we are aware more than ever of the loving community of support that believes in what we’re doing. So we still feel gratitude, even towards the neighbour who complained (whoever that may be)!

 

Drum roll please…..

Well, folks, the glorious day we’ve been anticipating for 6 long years has arrived…. WE ARE IN!!!!! There were no fireworks or anything but the glow in my heart to be sleeping, eating AND cooking in our comparatively huge and warm home is bright indeed. I suppose the first real “ahhhhh!” moment was the first morning that we didn’t have to get bundled up to go into the cold and moldy kitchen to make breakfast. Traipsing downstairs in our pajamas feels like such a luxury!

It’s a strange thing though: while we are obviously pleased, it’s also somewhat anti-climactic. It was such a gradual transition in a way (and of course we’re still transitioning) and there is no let-up in the work to be done. We still have no hot water (though this just in: we might have hot water by the time you are reading this!), no bathroom sink and no bathtub set up, but there is running water in the kitchen sink at least, as well as our nice new-to-us range and fridge. The past week has seen us continuing to build the shelves and upper cabinets in the kitchen, and Dan has now started on the hot water hook-up, a monumental job as it turns out. I guess if we had held off moving in until we were COMPLETELY finished then it would have been a bit more “special”…but I doubt Zena and I would have lived to that day!

Every day since our official move-over I stand in the kitchen, or sit in our cozy living room and marvel: did we really design and build this whole house? It’s such a wonder to be able to sit at a table with a pencil and graph paper and then turn those sketches into a living, breathing home. I give all of the building credit to Dan who somehow has become a skilled framer, natural builder, finish carpenter, plumber, and electrician. He has worked sooo many hours to turn my and Zena’s plans into 3 dimensions, into a warm, dry, operational and beautiful building.

Speaking of fresh starts, I am turning over a new leaf in my parenting approach. More specifically,  I am turning over the last few pages of Honey, I Wrecked the Kids by Alyson Schafer. I’m finding it to really ring true for me and the few techniques I have started to employ seem to be making a difference. Zena and Dan are getting on board with it too and one of the main things we have started to implement is a weekly family meeting where we discuss rules, guidelines, problems, etc. with the kids full input. This seems to be something they appreciate (except perhaps Oren, who has found it a little tricky to sit through) and we’ve been able to clarify and establish boundaries and expectations.

I think collectively the adults in our household have previously taken an authoritative tone, which together with our general lack of consistency, has created some problems. But we’re out to change all that! And I am hopeful and excited about the new relationships we are going to have with our wondrous, growing, unique children. Happy house, happy household….what more could anyone want? (Oh, did I mention I found time to write a song this week???)

Six long years

Happy New Year everyone! I know you all must be waiting with baited breath to hear if we got in for the holidays so I won’t keep the suspense…….NO! Sadly, we did not. However, we did spend a lot of time in the house over the holidays (and not only building)! Having the floors and walls finished meant that we could essentially start to settle a bit. We had our tree and a quazzi-living room set up and the fire was cackling and the stockings were hung. We even had most of our meals over the whole holiday up in the house, shuttling dishes back and forth from the old kitchen. Overall, despite not actually moving into the house, we had a relaxing, delicious and fun holiday (well, as relaxing as can be with 4 boys strung out on presents, sugar and late nights!). New Years Eve marked 6 years of our move and every year we cook a huge Indian feast (in commemoration of the last meal we ate in Victoria the night we moved up into our trailers in the dark and rain…for more on our first year see “History”). This year was no exception, and joined by a few close friends we ate curried venison, reflected on our year, and were merry. Six years! Unbelievable!

So the final plaster layer we did in the beginning of November went on quite well, with Zena and I benefiting greatly from Wendi’s expertise. We spent  a good week and got most of it finished in that time. It was`great to have Lea and Solenne here to help with the many steps involved in the process. The mixing proved a little challenging, we ran out of some materials twice, and we had some major pigment calculation catastrophes, but all in all we loved the look of the smooth plaster and enjoyed the labour-intensive process. For more on earthen plaster check out Wendi’s blog at Inspirational Village.

After all the good times pretending we were moved into the house over the holidays, I admit to feeling a bit dejected to have to return to the freezing, moldy, critter-infested space that is our old kitchen. It makes cooking, which is normally something I enjoy, more of a chore. Being so close but yet still not yet in the expansive, warm, beautiful space of the house kitchen is getting to be almost torture. Dan is working steadily on the kitchen and it’s getting very close now.  We had a demo kitchen that we were able to adapt to fit our kitchen, but in many ways it was like building it from scratch: Dan built 17 drawers to put in the cabinets! We don’t imagine that we’ll be near finished before we move in. All we need are the stove, fridge, plumbed sink, and some counter space and the rest we can do as go.

Despite the delay in occupying the new kitchen space Dan and I and the kids finally started the slow move-over process to the bedrooms from the shack. Dan pretty much finished the kids bedroom, and ours is done except the ceiling trim and baseboard. (Now, will it EVER get done???) It feels great to finally be sleeping in our cozy new space, but a little discombobulating as we reconfigure our lives and try to create storage spaces, shelves, etc to put all our stuff. And there’s still no running water- I miss having the hot running water we had in our little shack.

The new year also found us welcoming my new niece, Claire and Matt’s daughter, into the world. Baby Flora Lake Campbell (named after our grandmother) was born January 10th, 8lbs 9oz. She’s a dark beauty, much like her mother, and I am thrilled to have some more female energy into the mix! I’m sorry I don’t have a photo yet to post…

Just this week the weather has finally turned really wintery with minus 7 temperatures and snow in the forecast. I had to pour boiling water over our propane lines twice today to thaw them enough to cook, and we’re careful to leave a trickle of water going at night to avoid frozen pipes. The kids got out the sled today and it was a revelation to Oren who obviously couldn’t remember doing it before (we had very little snow last year). He was so delighted to cruise down the little hill by the kitchen again and again.

Our Shabbat jam tradition continues but has moved from the fire pit of the summer to the kitchen, and now the house. Zane’s banjo playing is steadily improving (though I can’t say the same for my guitar playing) and Zena has joined us with the Ukulele, which she’s resigned herself to until she acquires a bass. Dan has even been known to croon a tune or two. Victor is almost always present and there’s a steady rotation of other friends who occasionally drop over. Now, maybe once the house is done I’ll actually have time to practice and write more songs! (or blog for that matter!)

There’s a Light!

Here we are in the depths of fall and there’s nothing like a little chill to get the body moving! In the past 8 weeks or so things have really amped up: we’ve an influx of wwoofers, Dan is working full-time on the house and my dad has been here more than part-time to frame and hang the windows and doors. We’re starting to see real progress! The insulation and drywall for the ceilings and a few walls is pretty much done, the cob bench in the dining room is done, and the first coat of plaster is done. We’ve actually started priming and painting!! My dad has only one window left to hang, only held up waiting for ordered hardware. We’ve been incredibly blessed with Wwoofers and HelpXer’s this fall: Paris, Sarah, Matieu, Matias, Emelia, Guylaine, Lea and Solenne so far. They have all been compatible, hard working, fun, interesting, great with kids etc, etc. And happily, Paris and Sarah, two woofers who contacted us somewhat last-minute back in August to come “for a week or two”, have stayed for over 2 months! They are awesome workers, now skilled with all the power tools and know where everything is. On top of that they’re great with the kids and dishes and helping cook! They will leave us for a couple months to travel south, and then return later in the spring for another month. Hopefully they will get to stay in the newly-vacated Shack!

I feel such incredible gratitude for all the extra help and energy to get the house to a move-in-able state. And I’m finally feeling a bit more optimistic about the chances of moving in for Christmas!

Besides all the house stuff, school has started again for Zylo (grade 1), and pre-school for Oren, so it’s a new world of driving hither and yon to accommodate everyone’s schedule. Every spare inch of time I have, when I’m not preparing lunch or supper for the 10 ++ people we are, or driving the kids to this or that, or dealing with the growing, teething baby, is spent working on the house in some capacity. Probably the biggest job I took on was refinishing the re-claimed windows and doors. This task was good for me because it allowed a certain amount of flexibility: I could come and go to it freely as my schedule allowed. But as I spent countless hours scraping 5 layers of paint off beautiful old 5-panel doors, I had to question the economy of re-using antique fenestration. For the time and elbow-grease we’ve spent beautifying old doors and windows, we could have bought new, with jambs, for less than half the “cost”.  The amount of time and energy my dad has spent putting into gorgeous custom frames for these re-claimed windows have made the “cost” all that much higher. But we do have, for all this expense and energy, totally unique, environmentally-friendly, and ultimately high-end windows and doors.

Starting tomorrow our friend Tom will come build us a rammed- earth hearth, which I am looking forward to seeing. And at the end of the week my friend Wendi (check out her blog Inspirational Village) will come over to guide us on starting our finish plaster layer! Neither Zena nor I have done finish plastering and from what I gather it’s a bit trickier than the under-layer. I feel lucky to have a good friend who’s just recently gained this experience finishing the plaster on their own beautiful home on Pender Island.

Reading back over this post I am struck by the use of exclamation marks…it’s apparent that I’m excited about the prospect of actually moving in. After 6 years of living on the land the tiny light at the end of this tunnel looks bigger and brighter indeed!

Summer, so short!

And without having had much warm weather at all we find ourselves in mid-august with a coolness to the nights that can only mean that the end of summer is just around the corner. And I wish I could say that my absence on the blog has meant that SOOO much has been going on with the house-building that I’ve just been too busy. Well, I have been busy but the house is still a woefully long time away from being move-in-able.  As these things go I suppose.  There has been progress though: the floor is done (not finished but laid, with the in-floor heating tubes under), the first coat of plaster is almost finished (more on that below), the bathroom wall has been framed and is being filled with light-clay, some of windows and doors have been re-finished. We had our first Shabbat inside the house in July, on the newly laid floors!!

Whether or not we’ll be able to move in this year is still yet to be seen. In order to stay motivated -and possibly realistic- we are setting the goal of moving in before Christmas, and oh, what a Christmas present that would be!  In order to expedite things a bit, we’ve decided to hire a few people to help with select tasks- a drywaller for the mudding and taping of the drywall (yes, there’s drywall in the ceiling and on a couple of walls) and my dad to build the window and door frames for all those reclaimed gems we’ve been refinishing.  I know we saved a lot of money not buying new windows and doors, but amount of work involved in stripping, sanding, oiling and repainting has been phenomenal! I just hope they perform ok and that we love the rustic, reclaimed beauty of them forever!

As I mentioned we are almost finished the first coat of earthen plaster, inside and out. It went swimmingly well on the cob wall, so well, that we began to feel very optimistic about our speed of completing the plastering. Then we hit the light-clay (chip-slip) walls and things started going wrong. Mostly what we were encountering was patches of wall where the woodchips were not packed hard enough and were flaking out by the handful when we went to apply the plaster. It was a big mess until we learned the procedure to deal with patches: pull out fluffy woodchips, spray with water, gob with clay-slip, repack with sticky woodchip/clay mixture, and let dry (again). Oy ve! That extra step, along with needing to coat all wood studs with clay soaked burlap before plastering (a step I’m not entirely sold upon) made the light-clay walls go MUCH slower.

And as the first coat of plaster wraps up, we are getting ready for the final coat of plaster, at least inside- we doubt we’ll be able to get the outside second coat done this year (we’ve been living in our first small buildings for almost 5 years with just one coat of plaster inside and out, and while the outside is holding up fine, the inside is so dusty, I don’t want to move into the house before the final coat is done). We have a recipe that Tracy from Cobworks swears by and we have ordered a Japanese trowel. We’ll see how it goes- neither Zena or I have done any final plastering before.

Besides all the constant house-related work and children supervision we’ve managed to get some good times in. Between birthdays, Shabbats, BBQ’s, house concerts, and gatherings with friends we’ve had many delicious meals, music-filled campfires and convivial conversations. Actually it’s a wonder Zena and I manage to get anything done on the house when we spend so much time creating culinary masterpieces, tending the garden, chasing kids, etc etc etc…

I guess if we weren’t capable of clowning around every once in a while we’d never have gotten this far.

June (!) update

So, it’s June. Hard to believe it, seeing as we’ve hardly had a spring. The season that has brought fire, massive flooding and tornadoes elsewhere on the continent has brought us just rain and cold. I’m sooo ready for some heat!

But I suppose in some ways it’s a blessing: we’ve been too busy with building to get the garden in but the cooler weather has meant a delay anyways. Since our latest wwoofer George left, Zena’s been working hard to get the beds ready and plant. This year we opted to purchase seedlings instead of start from seed. We don’t get the control of variety, and it’s a lot more expensive, but because we’re focusing on building it was worth the saved effort.

George (UK) was our second woofer this season and he was great. We have a week off before our next French guy arrives, and so have turned focus to the garden from the house. The house has come a ways, slowly but surely. The exterior walls are almost completely done, including the cob wall (hurray!). Our experimental process of covering the blocks with a thin “veneer” of light-clay proved to a more challenging endeavor than we thought. We ended up needing to put burlap over top of the 2” of light clay, and then chicken wire over that to hold it in until it dries. Hopefully it’ll be structurally good enough to hold up under the plaster.

One day Zena and I mortared the front entrance steps. We had collected a bunch of pebbles from the beach and used those to decorate the mortar. We were pleased with how they turned out and I’m excited to do more pebble and multi-stone work in the back patio. Also this spring we put in a lawn (see photos below). 8 yards of top soil were delivered, raked out and seeded. In just a few weeks we’ve got the beginnings of a lush lawn to replace the dust-bowl gravel we had there before. Another benefit of the rainy spring I guess.

Part of reason progress on the house is low these days is that Dan’s been working a lot. He’s moved from OUR Ecovillage to another natural building project across the river. He’s one of the first civilians to be able to cross the not-yet-finished trestle! He dons a hard hat and vest, and he and Abou (Zena’s partner, who’s recently moved in) bike over the trestle to the work site. The potentially 45 minute drive turned into a ten minute bike-ride!  Anyways, he’s supposed to be working part time, but of course it’s ended up being more than that. Supposedly he’ll have the next few weeks off as the timber-framers work on the frame.

Not having Dan around makes for a long day with the kids who seem to be more and more challenging, particularly Oren. I guess I thought that the terrible two’s would be over by 3 and a half, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier: he’s just as willful, aggressive, whiney, rough and uncooperative as he ever was. Don’t get me wrong- he’s also very passionate, enthusiastic, humorous and helpful, AT TIMES, but I just wish it was more often! I know it’s a phase that’ll I’ll probably even forget about later on when he matures into a strong and independent little guy but right now it’s all I can do not to commit hari-kari or pop pharmaceuticals. It doesn’t help that he and Zylo seem to fight ALL THE TIME. I can tolerate a certain level of fighting, and even think that some rough play is healthy, but the constant fighting indoors, and subsequent wailing of someone or other getting hurt is almost too much to bear. Any suggestions out there???

Anyways, I just checked the weather and it’s looking really promising for the next 5 days or so! Maybe the dose of Spring will do us some good….

Tastes of summer

About two months ago, in March, I went to the root cellar and discovered that we only had two jars of salsa left. This is a dire situation in our house. After we had polished off those two jars, I rooted through the freezer remembering that we had a frozen bag of pepper salsa. While hunting I happily discovered a bag of frozen tomatoes we had tossed in there in the fall when we were lazy or when the tomatoes were too prolific to process. With the tomatoes, the pepper salsa and an extra handful of frozen chilis, we had ourselves another batch of garden grown salsa, in late winter.

Around the same time we bottled the blackberry harvest that had been fermenting and aging all winter: a port and a wine. While the port tasted more like a wine, and the wine tasted more like a hard cider, both were still rich with the succulent taste of summer. Warming on a cool spring night.

Now that is it’s May the root cellar (where we’ve been keeping preserves and wine as well as root veggies) is the emptiest I think I’ve seen it since we built it. We’re running very low on zucchini relish (another staple in our house- great on sandwiches and with eggs), but still have jams (the kids took an expensive shine to honey this year) and chutneys. The freezer still has bags of blueberries which decorate our pancakes on weekend mornings, but the bags of rhubarb will have to be tossed as this year’s rhubarb is now big and ready to be picked.

But we’re starting to get a hankering for fresh tomatoes. We even let ourselves buy a few lately. Only two to three months before the first ones start rolling in….

Joah’s B-Earthday

April 22nd was Joah’s first birthday and what better way to spend Earth Day than getting your hands dirty building an earth-friendly home??  In preparation for the work party we had two big loads delivered: a huge pile of wood chips, and a dump truck full of sloppy clay- the skimmings from the ponds of a local gravel pit. Dan had rigged up a huge tarp and plywood-lined pit and apparently when it was dumped it was like a tidal wave of sludge which nearly overwhelmed the container. The kids had a hey-day getting into the clay bath and we had quite the cleanup that evening!

But getting the materials was just the first step; we also had to finish framing, strengthen the frames, and build forms not to mention organize the homestead, clean up, cook, and prepare ourselves. That week of preparation still didn’t prepare us for the masses that descended ON TIME at 10am…we were still running around setting up and getting the site ready to do light-clay.

Thankfully, many people who came were skilled carpenters and so jumped in helping build forms for the packing, while Pat started up the mixer. It was quite the scene! We had so many people, we even had folks cobbing- (the cob wall has sat unfinished all winter). What a thrill it was to see those light-clay walls packed so quickly: by the end of the day we had completed two-thirds of our total! Such a difference from cob, which plods along so slowly.

Everyone enjoyed a hearty chili lunch, carrot cake for Joah, and tea and coffee. The weather was also the nicest it had been all spring, although some clouds threatened briefly in the afternoon. The kids were happy jetting around on bikes, scrounging for nature’s beauties with a scavenger hunt and kicking around the soccer ball.

A BBQ potluck supper rounded off the day, with wieners and marshmallows roasted over the campfire for the kids.

As usual with such events, I feel such a huge sense of gratitude for the community of friends and family that comes out in droves to support us, celebrate with us and put their love and energy into our house. It is one of the things that is going to make this house truly special.

Willing Workers

There’s nothing like wwoofers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms: http://wwoof.ca) to breathe life into a project. Our first 2011 wwoofers arrived a couple weeks ago, so if I’ve not been writing, it’s because I’ve been working more, cooking more and playing more cards in the evening! Since Antoine and Domitille arrived they’ve finished our styro-foam block wall, built our front steps, helped Dan with the floor and done some framing, as well as cut down a ton of broom and ditch alders, frolicked with the kids, did a zillion loads of dishes and held Joah for extended periods. Sounds good eh? Good for us on many levels: besides all the work, and the fresh energy, the kids get to meet other adults and learn about other cultures and languages. In exchange for all this work, we provide them with delicious, plentiful meals, long coffee breaks and the occasional home-made beer or wine. Hopefully they feel it’s enough!

I don’t think everyone can tolerate their home being open to strangers, but our circumstances are already somewhat unusual, and after 4 years of hosting wwoofers we seem to be doing ok with it. Some wwoofers integrate better than others- it’s simply a lifestyle and personality thing. Not everyone can hack the bucket (or the bath!).

But while our French friends are energizing things around here, Dan has had to go back to work a few days a week. It’s really noticeable to me as even just having him around the work site, or here for lunch makes a big difference with the kids. But our finances required it, and the project he’s working on is interesting: helping build Freya’s house at OUR Ecovillage (http://ourecovillage.org).

Being back at work a few days a week makes the time he is here even more crucial, so there is very little time off for him these days, especially as we prep for Joah’s Birthday  Woodchip Light-Clay Party on the 22nd (see Coming Events).

And so life keeps trucking, the house keeps creeping up, and I think I hear some cards being shuffled…

Brave Boys

Tonight Oren decided to sleep outside. Nevermind that it is March and still prone to frosts, nevermind that he is 3 and a half, he did NOT want to be separated from the new-to-him light saber that we designated an Outside Toy today. He is wearing two sleepers and has a blanket and is curled up on the threshold of the Shack. I am not encouraging it exactly, but letting him go through the motions until he decides his bed is much more comfortable. 

I don’t know if it’s the fact that we live outside so much of the time, but our boys are quite fearless when it come to dark and night. Zylo won’t hesitate to take a flashlight and make his way 100 feet or so into the woods to poop by himself. I can barely do that! We teach them about cougar and bear safety, but they have yet to have any real reason to be afraid of the dark or the woods. Remarkably, media does not seem to have worked on them…yet. Even if they did not watch any TV (and they do see some occasionally), there are plenty of books that perpetuate the “monster-under-the-bed” or “fear of the dark” myth. But it seems no association is drawn between that “reality” and theirs. And that’s fine with me.

But it’s been a remarkably long time since Oren ventured out, perhaps 15 minutes or more.    Ah, it just started raining……and sure enough, Oren has decided to abandon the light saber for tonight. He opts for his own cozy bed, in our little wood-stove warmed shack, and dreams of bear-back battles in the stars.