We always knew we’d do it. More than once we’d wished we’d done it BEFORE the big move, BEFORE leaping off the grid into Home the Land Built. But we didn't. And last Wednesday that day came. Or perhaps it was Friday. On Wednesday, Olmsted Medical Center replaced Linda’s arthritic bone-on-bone hips with bionic implants. Both of them. Indeed a red letter day, frighteningly ripped with pain yet pregnant with the possibility of new life: to once again stride confidently over prairie gopher mounds, to feel the vibration of the chain saw as she slices through next year’s heat source. Friday brought another challenger, and we’re still trying to determine the color of that day.
On Friday, bionic Linda returned---gripping her ribbon-draped walker---to Home the Land Built. What would it mean to nurse Linda back to health, while at the same time keeping our off-grid electric, solar hot water, wood heated, composting toilet, rainwater harvest systems alive and healthy? Though I’d never nursed anyone, I believed I could learn. Silly me!!! Perhaps it was good not to know what I didn't know: managing medications, enabling Physical Therapy, changing dressing, keeping her comfortable, plus all the newly challenged activities of daily living: toilet, shower, sleep. And if this weren't enough I needed to maintain the systems: monitor the batteries, feed the masonry heater, haul buckets of pooh. And when I dashed out to fetch wood, my worries lingered inside, “Is she alright?” So here it was, the great stress test of our off-grid home. How would we hold up under the pressure? Could we heal AND keep the home healthy?
By end of day Saturday, I had my doubts. I’d progressed from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence. Aware now of what I didn't know about nursing, I longed for my old denial. And while I knew how to keep the home systems healthy, I struggled to find the time. Four full buckets waited in the garage to be emptied. The morning routine with Linda delayed the fire, letting a chill creep through the windows and into the home. But now, only days later, all that seems weeks ago.
We've hit our stride, managing Linda’s pain between 2 and 4 (10 is worst pain ever). Like new mothers, we sleep when we can. The home is toasty while two full buckets wait patiently in the garage. What made the difference?
Friends. Family. Neighbors. You. In the end, stuff is stuff, work is work. What feeds me, what sustains me, is love. We can feel it! Love---expressed in thought, prayer and deed---pulsing over the long miles to the Land, rooting into the prairie and rising like a healing fire into Home the Land Built. And at night, when sleep is hard to find, Orion leans over his dog and peaks through the great bank of window. We asked Locus Architect Paul for a home the enables our connection to the Land while welcoming family and friends. Well Paul, you did it. Not only in good times, but in these trying times, this off-grid stress test.
The test is far, far from over. We’re still one hour at a time. Yet rarely do I fear failure. How could we when surrounded by so much love? A chorus---a coyote roused chorus please--- for community reliance!
I’m a lucky man.