During the month of April this year, I had the pleasure of temporarily living in an apartment that was previously occupied by drug dealers who had just gotten evicted. I did the clean up and renovation in exchange for the rent. It was horrible. How can someone live with themselves in such deplorable conditions? And what is up with drug addicts and their clothing?? Is it easier to buy new clothing than to wash a load of laundry? These people had no furniture, hardly any dishes or pans, and no other possessions of note. But they had CLOTHES. LOTS OF CLOTHES. And they left it all behind! Bags and bags and bags of clothing I had to stuff and haul out. I had this same experience 2 years ago, cleaning up after a drug addict. Hundreds of pounds of clothing that I dragged off to the local thrift store…
Anyway, I’m writing today about our current living arrangement. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever had to deal with. We arranged to stay with a man and he would provide housing and food in exchange for work around his place. He said there was plenty of space and good living accommodations. Well, “shell-shocked” was the first idea that came to mind when we arrived and were shown our options for living arrangements. I should first mention that one of the options was the coolest most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. But it is Rustic. Majorly rustic. Like, 10 minutes hike into the mountain forest and no power or water, Rustic. I would move in there in a second, but it was the man’s home for over 30 years, and it sits exactly how he left it 10 years ago, bedding, books, food, and all. Needless to say, it will need a bit of cleanup and laundering and such before it is fit to move into. But it is majorly Cool. I’ll have to get pictures and write about it later, probably after I camp out in it for a couple nights in the near future.
So, to the point of this writing. We were offered a single wide mobile home, circa early 1970’s vintage. Dark paneling, orange and yellow flooring, dark green and brown carpets, green ceramic fixtures… you get the idea. It seems to have not been lived in for many years. I ran the vacuum cleaner in the living room. Got almost 2 gallons of dirt out of the carpet!! And that was the cleanest room. The bedroom is a dark cave, and has the white powdery mold completely covering every surface. The ceiling panels in several rooms are sagging and stained from a leaky roof. The green sink and tub are half brown from rust stains resulting from years of dripping leaky faucets. After a couple hours of work, the bedroom is finally ready to be cleaned. We made a lot of progress today, and by the end of the day, it was finally not smelling like mildew. We are using a strong mix of vinegar and water, with a bit of tea tree oil for mold and mildew elimination. Vinegar is supposed to be a wide-spectrum mold killer, and can get deeper into surfaces than bleach. When we are not working on getting the garden ready, we are busy cleaning up the mobile home so we can get moved in. Meanwhile, we are living in an attic space where we have to lean sideways to get around because of the pitch of the roof that starts about 3 feet off the floor. And it gets really really hot up here when the sun is out.
The garden is a token little plot. We planted 6 tomato plants in the biggest of the planting beds… I should measure it to get an idea of how many square feet are enclosed. Half of the space was unusable because it had old fence material laying around that had gotten absorbed into the grass. I believe we pulled about 50 or more pounds of fencing out of the very aggressive and dense grass roots. The grass here is highly reluctant to release its prisoners. Speaking of grass, the entire property is covered with grass that has grown to three or more feet tall. No possible way that a lawn mower could ever handle it. We are pushing for getting sheep installed to deal with it. So meanwhile we walk back and forth between the house, the garden and the mobile home on trails of trodden down grass, tripping over old fences and logs and firewood that have long since been absorbed into the turf.
I hate to sound so negative. The reality is that the guy is a genius with alternative building techniques, has developed some incredible ideas, and has built some mind-blowing structures. While exploring the property, I have stumbled upon several of his building projects, and each one is mind-boggling and inspirational. It was worth coming here just to see what he has done, and I am truly excited about working with him on his next project. There is so much to learn from this guy. I just wish he had a clue about how unprepared he is for having people live here… But we are working diligently on cleaning it up and making livable accommodations for future visitors. First we need to get a place for ourselves to live, but it’s all part of the adventure. There’s a huge difference between “rustic” and “squalor”… Filthy, dirty, unkept, moldy, icky is so not cool. Rustic, off-grid, primitive is way cool. Once we get the place up to the level of “rustic”, I think it will be quite enjoyable. Maintenance and upkeep are not his strong points, so I consider it our role here at first to fill this gap and get the place in order so the coolness factor of what he has done can be seen and appreciated by all who visit.