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Life Off the Grid

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“Coming home” for us doesn’t mean driving up to an abode, opening the door, flipping on the light and unpacking our stuff before stepping into the shower to wash the travel off. It doesn’t mean peeking in the fridge before we make a list and head off to Safeway to get the ingredients for some spaghetti.

Nope. Because for starters, Safeway is 2 hours away.

Rather than more typical questions about what needs to be done around the house or last-minute details with work or school, the questions we ask are more like, “so are the solar panels hooked up and the wiring finished?” “What type of power is it?”, “Do we need to get a fridge that runs on propane?” “Is the satellite service for the phone happening?” “How bad are the mice? Are the beds wrecked?”

It’s just so different.

It’s life on the raw, life off the grid

Mikey’s been busy on the farm for the past week, helping my brother get the solar panels installed and running. I’m sure they also have gotten some farming started, but for the most part, I am hoping that Mikey’s been able to unpack some of our stuff that he brought back with him and have the power set up.

I have no idea at all as to the state of the outdoor shower or outhouse.

Or the washing machine, and how that will work with this new power system.

Or the lights.

Or the fridge, which ran off of another solar grid which isn’t going to be used anymore.

I’m Nervous

I’m so nervous you guys. Scared, is more like it. Or just total chicken shit. I’m facing the hill and solo parenting again for the next 6 or 7 months. The bears (and snakes and mountain lions) on the property seem pretty feasible compared to how hard those endless summer days were for me last year. Washing clothes by hand. The searing loneliness I felt and how crazy-making that can get. The half hour drive to school, each way, 4 times a day.

I’m trying to take those deep breaths and remember that the hard parts this time will NOT be like last year.

I know what I’m doing this time (sorta), I know what to stock up on from Costco (kinda). I know where the laundry mat in Eureka is and I can get there if our own machine won’t work because of the new power system. Right?

I can do this!

Right?

Yes, yes, yes. I can. I can bring the kids up the hill and we’ll settle in and make the yurt comfortable. The kids will go to school next week – SCHOOL! They’ll be so happy!!

I’ll have the outdoor shower cleaned out and the whole meadow cleaned and in great shape in a couple of weeks. The fact that my foot is still broken won’t matter AT ALL. In fact! The gorgeousness of the hill will take my mind off of the pain and help me strengthen it and it will be the absolute best thing that could happen.

When the hard parts hit, I’ll take the kids and travel, just the 4 of us. We are happy on the road.

It’s a plan I can love. I just need to remember to take lots of deep breaths now and remember that it’s all going to work out. I can do this. It’s going to be more than just ‘okay’; it’s going to be ‘awesome’.

 

I don’t even know what to say, you guys. So much has happened, you have given me so much and I’m really fricking overwhelmed right now with life, with questions, with gratitude, with love, and with more questions.

THANK YOU. For everyone who has contributed to our GoFundMe account, helping us get our stuff back, THANK YOU.

You are helping us get back on our feet much faster. We are still not on them yet – it’s still open! – but it’s in sight and we have you to thank for that.

One of the things that has been messing with me is the question of WHY we didn’t have renter’s insurance, which would have covered the theft. It’s been messing with me because it’s not like I didn’t think of it; I did.

We didn’t have it for a simple reason: I am the one who catches the ball on this stuff in our family and I dropped it. Every time I remembered we needed to get it, I ended up shutting down and off because I had to use the phone to figure it all out. Live chat was never an option in the policies I saw; the websites always ended with a “call for quote” or “call to get connected.”

We don’t have a landline at home and we can’t get one because we live so far off the grid. TTY phones (- where an operator will type what is being said for the deaf person on the line) is great, but like video phones, not an option if you don’t have a landline.

This is a huge deal, obviously.

I drove the hours required and waited in person to get things like health insurance arranged for the family. I’ve done the same for arranging doctor’s appointments. Every bit of “responsible” thing that I’ve done as a mother, I’ve done in person because I simply can’t do it over the phone.

This isn’t always easy, it’s often a hassle, but it’s do-able. There are just clear gaps with the pieces that I can’t do in person – like now, with renter’s insurance.

So what do I do?

The answer right now is… I don’t know.  I know that I need some type of access to communication. I don’t know what that will look like. Do I try a call service? Is that even an option? Do I get the G-marc, with the neckloop and Bluetooth that will connect with the t-coils in my hearing aids? I don’t know.

This has some added complexity by the fact that since we live off the grid and are dependent on things like boosters, solar power and satellite dishes. Maybe we should get a phone that connects directly to a satellite? Wait – our phone does connect directly with a satellite! So what to do when the electricity is out and there is no access to the satellite? Like I said, I just don’t know.

I need to visit the California Telephone Access Program to consult with them and figure out what the best options for me are. I need to be able to have the wherewithal to make these types of calls and make damn sure that, God forbid, anything like this should happen again, we won’t be out $7,000 or worse.

More questions

To be honest, I’ve had more questions floating around in my head, more than just the ones regarding hearing and communication access. I’ve questioned whether or not we should even be living off the grid if I can’t get a landline or access to communication. Should I even allow a space in which I can drop the ball?

I don’t have an easy answer for myself. I know that when we lived in the Bay Area, with plenty of access to communication, city living triggered my profound depression and PTSD and that made life horrible for all of us. Living off the grid keeps my noggin happy, and happy Mama = happy family. But I can’t deal with phone issues.

Right now I’m inspired and strengthened by all of your support – Jane, you in particular – to figure this all out, see what is available to me and implement it. I’m also inspired to share what I find and really try and help other deaf folk there who, for whatever reason, also face issues related to access to communication.

Mexico and Safety

The irony of having all of our stuff stolen immediately after writing posts about how safe and great Mexico is did not escape me. The timing was craptastically hilarious, hilariously awful.

But I have to say, I still think Mexico is a great place and overall, a safe place. A great barrel of gorgeous apples with a few bad ones thrown in.

I thought about this a lot on the drive home, miles and miles of missing my writing and missing the ability to take photos – and not just fancy DSLR ones, I mean any photos, with no cameras at all. It hurt in an almost visceral sense, or maybe it was visceral because my innards certainly clenched and I had vomiting issues. Through this, I was thinking about Mexico and my head grew crowded with memories.

Memories, like when I was struggling on my crutches and these truck drivers just jumped up from  where they had been eating and helped me to a table, drawing out a chair for me. Like the lady who reached for Mac-Q when he was screaming fit to kill, to hold and soothe him while the rest of us ate/had a breather. Like the people who we were staying with in Chiapas who fed us enormous, beautiful Mexican breakfasts with hand-made coffee (and I’m talking, coffee bushes in the back), who gave us their hearts as well as their food.

The deaf guy I met, so surly looking, and how he broke into an enormous smile when I started signing with him. The nurse at the community hospital in Palenque who was laughing and playing with Mac-Q and Moxie while I got my foot x-rayed. The school kids who followed us around El Fuerte, going nuts over my service dog, Kianna. The old couple who offered us their backyard to camp in. Those darling kids that my own kids were with playing with in the Cholula playground. Their parents who were so kind. The guy who shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “vaya con Dios”.

Go with God.

I can’t believe anything other than what feels true to me: Mexico is a good country with mostly wonderful people with a few bad apples.

I don’t think that means not to go there. I think that means to make damn sure you have theft insurance, always park where you can see your vehicle, have some serious car alarms going. Having a remote system in which you can wipe out your laptop remotely would be useful too.

I think that’s what it means. Not that the barrel is bad because of one apple (may that apple rot in hell though).

*****

The GoFundMe is still open – link is HERE – it would be awesome to meet our goal, but no pressure. I am trying to think of something to give back to show how much I appreciate your giving – I am pretty sure I am going to start selling some photos on the site soon, and I think I will be giving free passes to photos for those that are chipping in now.
If you have another idea, or something you’d like, please let me know in the comments.

THANK YOU!

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