Blending Form

I’ve finally achieved the subtle color blending I’ve been seeking.

No. 1 The artist and the muse.
No. 2
No. 3 I enjoy painting what’s not there. Leaving the hidden for the viewers mind.

There’s always a Cheaper Place to Live part 2 and You Can Doodle Anywhere.

In 1997 even a simple lifestyle in California was becoming expensive. To remain there would require more time spent working for the basic conveniences than I was willing to sacrifice. I’ve never found conveniences all that convenient, the time spent working for them wasn’t worth it.

If you want to live cheaply you have to go where no one else wants to live and be open to an alternative lifestyle.

Aubry Valley and cliffs, they stretch 75 miles west.

The search requires staying away from conventional real estate listings. I discovered an ad in the back of a motorhome magazine, motorhome magazines not only have listings for camp spaces to rent but many are for sale. The ad read, “Beautiful acre plus parcels for sale in the high desert mountains of Arizona. $100 down $75 a month financing, no credit checks.” I called the listed number and talked to the land agent. The parcels were located in a defunct subdivision accessed only by dirt roads. There weren’t any public utilities or services, water had to be hauled in from the nearby small-town railroad well, 25 cents for 55 gallons. I sold everything I had except for some basic tools and bought a ’72 Dodge class-c motorhome and headed out. My monthly income from investments at the time was $600 a month and I had all the time in the world.

The trip took 13 hours and traveling through Arizona was a wonderment at every turn, from vast open spaces to rolling hills covered with huge rock formations it was a sight to behold. You don’t enter Arizona; you’re enveloped by it.

The small town I was directed to by the land agent had a KOA campground where I spent the night. The next morning I met with the agent and we headed for the hills.

Many of the parcels were barren and rocky with a few Indian Paintbrush bushes, some were too steep to walk on but in the middle of the subdivision was a section of heavily treed parcels. Juniper and pinion pines aren’t tall and majestic like California’s Redwoods, but they’re sturdy trees that can easily survive the high desert winds.

In the dry seasons.
During the summer monsoons and after winter snow melt.

This is a small section of the parcel I decided to purchase.

We drove back to the land office and filled out the purchase contract, I handed him $100, and the parcel was mine. The next day I left the KOA with a few supplies, 40 gallons of water and bounced up a series of rocky dirt roads for 12 miles and parked in front of the lot. The trees and bushes prevented parking on the lot, but I had arrived ‘Home’ in the solitude of nature; there wasn’t a soul for miles and I was elated.

Solitude is interesting because it affects people in a variety of ways. Many panic in its openness, there’s nobody to grasp, there’s a complete absence of reassurance with from the familiar. I seem to settle into it with a slight apprehension that’s soon replaced with an expansiveness that embraces me. The further out I go the longer I want to stay where there isn’t a human made sound, just the whispers of nature through the Junipers.

By the end of the next day I had cleared enough space to pull the motorhome in 10 feet off the road. I made some coffee, took a lawn chair out amongst the trees and sat there long into a night of vivid stars and what seemed liking roaring crickets.

The 40 gallons of water and supplies lasted a month so there was no place I had to go and spent the days clearing out rocks and bushes. Once a month I’d bounced down the roads for water and supplies and after three months I had enough space for a 21′ travel trailer and traded the motorhome for a 4-wheel drive pickup truck.

Over the years improvements were made in sanitation, water storage, solar equipment and heating. I added an 8’X12′ front room with large windows to the trailer giving me 230 square feet, plenty of room for the dog and me.

Gabbie, my fellow hermit.

Gabbie and I spent the next 15 years wandering the hills in solitude, excluding the once-a-month hour in town getting supplies.

In 2012 I met a wonderful woman who said I was living her dream; we were married a year later. She was and still is my dream.

“Life is hard at times but we find living it is easier.”

The Wood butchers Art of the 70’s and there’s always a cheap place to call to home.

The 70’s in Santa Cruz California was a magical time for those who protested the establishment by creating alternative dwellings and bohemian lifestyles rather than attend protest rally’s harassing the cops. We had better things to do.

I arrived in Santa Cruz in 1969 and needed a cheap place to call home. I was a painter and sculptor so a home would also be a studio. In my wanderings around I came across a guy who owned a ramshackle nursery on the outskirts of town. He sold plants and made redwood planter boxes. In the back of the nursery were several shacks that he rented out to artists and musician’s for very little money. He didn’t have anything available at the nursery but where he lived a few miles down the road was an old shack and a large rambling chicken coop in the back of the property. I fired up my old ’52 ford pick-up and went to take a look.

The shack was around 10’X12′, had a concrete floor and was fairly weathertight. The chicken coop was 20’X40′, with a completely open front but there were sides and a back wall. The front opening was 8′ high and an old tin roof sloped down to the 5′ high back wall. The worn concrete floor was serviceable and there was an electrical line that went from the guy’s house to the coop. There was even a working hose bib by the front opening. He would rent me the chicken coop for $30 a month, water and electricity included.

I had permission to remodel and live there hassle free. The rent for an average 800 square foot house in Santa Cruz back then was $350 a month, $30 a month for an old chicken coop was a good deal but for an artist studio with living quarters it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I worked one night a week at a small cafe as a janitor where I made $75 a month plus four free meals. I saw the cost of renovating the coop as doable, in the end I spent a total of $23.

The first thing I did was raise the rear roof up 2′ from the back wall using my trucks jack. This left a better ceiling height but also a 2’X40′ open section.

While pursuing my favorite pre-occupation of cruising the cities back alleys for anything thrown out that could be useful. I noticed that several glass shops in town threw out their empty glass packing crates, they were made of wood, and many were 6’X8′. Along with the crates were old wooden sash windows of varying sizes from 2’X2′ to 6’X7′ with the glass intact. It was a time when people had their old wooden sash windows replaced with modern aluminum sliding windows. When I asked about the windows and crates I was told I’d be doing them a service by hauling them away, an incredible resource. After hauling many truckloads of creates and windows back to the coop, I was ready to remodel. I carefully took the crates apart and used the wood along with the small windows to close in the narrow rear opening and the large 6’X7′ windows to close in the front opening which gave me an 8’X40′ glass wall with various colored wooded frames. In my alley wanderings I found an old steel frame bed with an almost new mattress (another perfectly good item thrown out to be replaced with a waterbed), a porcelain sink, a flowered carpet, an easy chair and love seat, a broken but repairable wooden dining table, two wooden chairs and an old wooden glass paned door. I traded a few of my paintings for an old Westinghouse electric refrigerator and small water heater. After a month’s work I had a front door, a walled off sleeping area with clothes closet, kitchen counter, shelves, kitchen sink with running water, a Coleman camp stove, a refrigerator and water heater. With the addition of an old parlor wood stove the place became a comfortable cheap home and studio for many years.

Here are some of the eclectic dwellings the artists were building at the time. This was long before the tiny house craze of today.

Many of these were so artistic people with a few acres would let you build and live rent free for a little artistic help around their place.
One of my favorites.
If you had a little money, the sky was the limit.
With some creative work this would be the perfect setting.
They had a similar idea with windows that I had at the coop.
Steep hillsides weren’t an issue.

“We must find the things that make our heart soar and when we do, go there and linger into the eternities.”

The Ghetto Frame of Mind- homeless expectations.

I could have been considered homeless in 1967 but I wasn’t. My home was an old 10’X14′ garage in the slums of Long Beach California, the rent was $6 a month. I’d scrounged my furnishings from trash strewn back alleys and in no time had a rather comfortable place to call home. While most people wouldn’t consider a slum garage home, I had a place to retreat to unnoticed and off the streets. I was poorer than most homeless panhandlers, but I wasn’t sleeping under an overpass and being harassed by the police. I grew up just as dis-advantaged as the shopping cart pushing homeless person so common on the streets today. What was the difference between them and me, the mindset of expectations. Somehow even though I was trapped in what I call the ghetto frame of mind, I expected to have a comfortable hassle-free home.

The ghetto frame of mind is when you were born on the under belly of the beast and figured that’s where you belonged and without higher expectations you stay there.

Societies and governments will never eliminate the homeless crises without understanding, it’s not caused by the lack of funding it’s caused by an individual’s mindset, and that’s a difficult thing to change.

In the past many countries allowed their poor to establish homes in shanty towns on the outskirts of big cities where they were left alone to pursue their individual mindsets on how to live, but now they’re bulldozing them down. Cities in the U.S. don’t want the blight of shanty towns, so we’ve forced the destitute into mainstream society then harass them whenever they attempt to settle somewhere. They raid homeless camps destroying everything, leaving the destitute with nothing. The link below shows images of the creative poor just trying to establish a home.

If we’re going to take heartless action against the homeless mindset, I say we should take a look at the privileged mindset. I find a 10,000 square foot coastal estate a blight on nature, overindulgence in extravagance a blight to my beliefs in simplicity. The rants of MAGA congress people are a blight on common sense, and yet we tolerate all of these. Let’s start acknowledging and tolerating the poor. Some cities are now establishing safe zones for the homeless which is a step in the right direction. Providing porta-potties is a cheap solution to open defecation. Establishing simple city and county codes requiring basic cleanliness is reasonable, but beyond that let them be.

Years ago, I met an old goldminer. He lived in the Serria Nevada mountains with a group of reclusive miners who minted their own coins. He gave me a silver dollar that had the inscription, “Rebellion against tyranny is obedience to God.” Perhaps some of the homeless are in fact modern day prophets exposing the fallacies that lie within our so called ‘Great Societies.’