Saturday, April 30, 2016
Nine Years in the Mud Hut
It was nine years ago today that I looked at this house. We put an offer in on it immediately. I slept on our deck that night in a sleeping bag, excited to be out in the "middle of nowhere".
Nine years is the longest I have ever lived anyplace since I left the nest at age 18. It takes the record by a longshot as, I think the longest I have lived in one house previous to this place was three years.
I like it here. Yes, the area has become much more settled with all the pot growers that have moved in. This is temporary and they will be gone when 1. it is legal everywhere and 2. Butte County continues to get strict about land use and ending the commercial cannabis business in decent wildlife habitat.
It has been quite an adventure. The girls hate it here. Joni doesn't enjoy it as much as I do. This place isn't convenient. And we haven't always had the budget, or the energy, to do the things we planned on doing.
I don't know how many years we went without hot water. Three? And I think it took us two years to get a heat source. For the first couple years, all four of us slept in the 350 square foot cabin (I slept in the incomplete addition as long as the temperature was above forty degrees).
Has life been hard here? Yes. Especially for Joni. I've experienced some judgment from her friends for living out here in the middle of nowhere without the normal implements of luxury you find in town. My defense? I am a poor man from a poor family.
Now that I am the top of the family pyramid, my inheritance from my father was one very rusty van that I plan on turning into a chicken coop when it dies; I also inherited a rocking chair. My father always said that you should spend less than you make. That's the way to get ahead. That's what this frugal, simple structure give us the capacity to do.
For the last two years I have worked taking care of the elderly, visiting them in their homes. This has been an eye opening experience as I have seen the extremes of comfortable retirement living and also those who are dirt poor, suffering. I've had to buy food for clients when they wouldn't have any food in the house for another week. Poverty does not appeal to me one bit. Poor people die younger; are less happy; have more health problems; and experience much less joy.
Getting old requires planning. When you don't have a job that provides a retirement (like a cushy government job), or if you come from hardscrabble Peasant stock, you have to be even smarter. Such is the story of wealth in America. As America has become incredibly unequal when it comes to wealth, the rules have changed in order to keep the wealthy, wealthy. It is called the "Born on Third Base" phenomena. Think of it this way: we currently can inherit 1.6 Million dollars tax free.
I inherited a rocking chair. Therefore, living in an inexpensive house in the middle of nowhere not only allows access to beauty and critters--- it also affords me an opportunity to save money. I have to earn money the old fashioned way: I have to earn it.
Left Wingers and Radicals often have an uncomfortable relationship with money. We generally have a bit of disgust for the rich. So many of us Lefties fall into two camps: The Trustfunders and the "Poverty is a Virtue" Crowd---otherwise known as "voluntary poverty". I am not a Trustfunder and I learned long ago that Voluntary Poverty has a nasty way of turning into mind numbing, plain ole' poverty. I have no interest in being poor. And no Left Winger should tolerate anyone having to live in poverty.
This house has made it so that we could raise a couple of kids in later middle age and save a decent amount of money with a very modest income. Perks of simplicity. Joni and I didn't have a lick of savings when we moved out here. Now, we are on track to living a bit more comfortably. That's what a Mud House has done for us.
So for my critics: those who think I have done damage to both spouse and children by living in the middle of nowhere in a Mud Hut. Tell me how I could have done it differently and still had a few shekels to rub together in retirement? I think this was the right decision. Hard as it is sometimes.