Life Nectar

It’s easy to walk into a kitchen, grab a glass from a cabinet, and fill it from the tap. Presto, thirst quenched in under a minute. What happens though when that option isn’t a viable avenue? What if on top of not having a kitchen you can’t purchase water either? How does one procure the life sustaining drink when the two most culturally accepted methods to obtain them are not pursuable?

I have found, through experience of trial and error, a couple things that helped resolve the above questions. The first being a water filter. I cannot begin to emphasize the value of this little contraption enough. It has the power to turn a brown, cloudy liquid into a clear, crisp revitalizing refreshment. It also removes giardia and a host of other contaminants. We opted for a four liter gravity system for our travels.

The system itself allows us to be hands free while it filters. No squeezing or pumping involved. I simply fill the “dirty” bag with water, hang it from a limb or lay it on a slope, and gravity does the rest. It’s a simple process, but does take time and a water source. Usually around ten to fifteen minutes per gallon. I pass the time by attempting to meditate or sitting quietly just being in my surroundings. E.g., today I filtered five gallons from a mountain stream in a national forest. the water is clear, no cloudiness like when you get it from a city source, and has a crispness that I cannot transcribe. As I listened to the stream I found my thoughts roaming ever more inward until my focus was blurred and time was no place to be found. It is most rewarding. It was in one of these states that I understood a second, helpful tool for the acquisition of clean drinking water. Perseverance!

Yes, I said perseverance. I didn’t associate this with the collection of water until I actually tried gathering it from alternative sources such as mountain streams or springs on numerous occasions. This new understanding arose from much personal experience. A couple contributing factors are unreliable water sources and people. Let me elaborate more on the first factor.

Water can be indicated on a map or atlas by a blue line. This blue line can be either broken or solid, both indicating water. The broken line usually refers to intermittent or seasonal water while the solid line, supposedly, represents a reliable, year round source. Unfortunately with the ever changing climate these solid lines are becoming less reliable. I know, from personal experience through years of travel, that some of these water sources have dried up and some are intermittent. I see this currently in California. Imagine having half a liter of water and driving through a particularly long dry stretch. In the middle of this dry stretch is a solid blue line on your map. However, when you arrive at said blue line you find a riverbed occupied by only loose gravel and dirt. The only option at this point is to drive, even if it’s out of the way, to the next reliable water source. Don’t be discouraged though; not all water sources are like this. I actually believe the second factor to be more irksome.

People, sometimes they’re the worst. They can pose problematic when you aren’t living the way they believe is appropriate or their rules and regulations tell them they are not permitted to accept what you are doing. We were in a National Forest recently when we ran into a rather annoying situation. We came in the back way to avoid the hordes of people and traffic. This has always been a solid way to circumnavigate the delays and avoid being in the way of others. On this trip it was considered the winter season in the forest so I knew not many people would be here. It’s late February and the temperature is swinging from a low in the forties to a high in the sixties. As we entered the park we could see the river about five hundred feet below us, but there was no possible way to descend the drop. Luckily there was a day use area to our right that had a trail leading down to the water. The only problem was a locked rail preventing anyone from entering the area by car. The sign read closed for winter. No worries. I can park off to the side, there are no “no parking signs”, walk around the gate, and down to the water source. We decided to do this and Monique would walk Lyla while I filtered. It took a whole five minutes before I was approached by a forest official saying I wasn’t allowed to be parked where I was, I wasn’t allowed to get water from the stream, and we must leave; safety reasons of course. He didn’t care we had no water and he didn’t seemed concerned if we got any. Our safety and health wasn’t his problem, but the safety of the closed area was his problem and he was to protect that safety at all cost. Perhaps he was concerned the toilet would spontaneously combust and needed to be sure the fire apparatus could make it through in a timely manner. I couldn’t say either way, but I did manage to fill up our four liter water bag. I returned to the van knowing I had at least managed to retrieve a gallon of water. I don’t think he noticed the bag I was holding had water in it. We then drove to the overflow parking near the campground to filter the water. Surely we would be out of the way and not bothersome to any. The campground was open and held around five campers on the forty plus lot. As I set up our water filter a second forest official came over and informed us we couldn’t be in the overflow parking area. Perhaps they were expecting a mass exodus of city dwellers to converge on the campground that evening and we were in great parrel by being parked there. I can’t say for sure though. I politely explained we were filtering some water and then would be on our way. He mumbled something about fifteen minutes and then left. We drove another fifty six miles after this and filled the rest of our water via a stream on the opposite side of the park; there were no officials in this area whatsoever.

I still have not figured out what I did in either situation that was problematic. Both officials seemed burdened by our presence and only wanted our removal as timely as possible. This I deduced through a correlation of words and actions. I must note that not all forest officials are like this. There are service members who commend us for reusing plastic instead of always purchasing new ones, thank us for practicing leave no trace, and express inspiration in what we are doing. These are the stars in the night that give me strength. Don’t be discouraged by naysayers, the opposites, the friendly, encouraging service members, are worth the brief discomfort.

“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules, but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages” ~Banksy

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A “Rusty” Memory

I was working for a rehabilitation and nursing home in Englewood CO., as a custodian, and received the universal gift, love. It was mid-day when I found myself in the room of Mr. Rusty, having a fun round of questioning as I cleaned. This was a reoccuring theme between me and many of the residents. Our conversation soon led to his past and the boxes of pictures residing in his bottom dresser drawer. I’ve always enjoyed looking through photos and enjoying the memory of another’s past experiences.

 

As curiosity tugged at my mind I thought of some things; I have an opportunity to help, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally, the well being of another. It is a life reward that will bear no financial acquisition, but if money isn’t a motivating factor the treasure is immeasurable. I recall thinking, if I go through these photos my list of “corporate chores” will not get done and there is usually a questioning of why from my superior. I am confident my, although valid and justified, reason will be dismissed and shunned. At this moment I laughed and smiled thinking “I get it”, promptly asking if we could go through the bottom drawer.

 

For the next two and a half hours I sat in a small room of a nursing home learning, laughing, and loving. Turns out Rusty was a fisherman who enjoyed travel. He had an old 1970 something full size truck that had a camper attached to the bed. I still remember the yellowish tone and white stripe down the side of the pickup. The top of his little camper rose up to provide more head room too. He would take this camper to alpine lakes mainly, fishing for trout. He had been doing this, on and off, since retiring from the Denver Dept. of Water. This portion of his life filled an entire photo album. I am still honored knowing he took time out of his day to share a portion of his life with me; however, like all good things, it ended.

 

I was found in Rustys room, sitting cross legged like an Indian with pictures and a photo album around me. The look of shock on the face of the nurse will forever be engraved in my memory. She very curiously asked what I was doing so I informed her. She had an odd, unknowing smile and then told me I was being sought for the last hour. Evidently some water had spilled in front of the nurses station and no other associate had the ability or competence to create a solution: at least one beyond putting a yellow caution sign over it and then looking for the janitor.

 

The smile and joy on Rustys face when I left his room was worth all my trouble, or lack thereof. My supervisor, Clark Kent, never questioned me about the incident either, but I believe that my choice was admired that day by more than just Rusty.  
“There is more to health than physical and more to life than money” ~Team Juice Box

Classy, Employable Homeless

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Securing work is an extensive and arduous undertaking. There are many hours of travel required, countless numbers of estimates wanted, a constant attempt at networking, job cancelations at the last minute, and maintaining a positive, never give up attitude all the while can be daunting. These are a just some of the obstacles we have faced throughout this venture. Nevertheless, we remain steadfast and determined to achieve our goal of procuring enough financial security to travel, via van, to Alaska.

 

Neither of us mind the travel aspect of our jobs. It’s a requirement actually. We are continuously driving thirty to seventy miles, in one direction, to find a suitable gig. We have had to do this for a week straight before finally landing a job. This is an expense, gas, that we must make; however, we have no guarantee we will regain the financial expenditure. It’s a fickle beast, economics. Spending the majority of our time traveling does allow us to see much of the countryside and get to meet many delightful individuals along the way. It also gives us a unique perspective of the climate, geology, and population density of the area while venturing to, sometimes, remote locations for an estimate.

 

One warm Friday morning Monique and I found ourselves in the middle of a Redwood forest looking for a potential clients home. It was a beautiful location, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life in and around San Francisco. As we drove up the quarter mile winding drive, discussing what the estimate was to entail, we checked our schedule to determine an appropriate start date if we were chosen for the work. When we arrived we were greeted, as usual, with smiling faces and welcoming gazes. We were then shown the rooms to be painted and then asked if we had any other areas of trade. I confessed I had drywall experience, but wasn’t up to any job in that area. I also informed them I had practiced roofing roughly 12 years ago and enjoyed it. (I must mention that many times we go to these estimates there is more than painting being wanted. Yes, they advertise as a paint only job, but then want someone who can paint, do drywall, and build a couple shelves all for one low cost. I guess they’re trying to bundle like a cable company to save money. Sometimes we get passed up because we aren’t skilled in multiple trades. I was hoping this estimate wouldn’t be the same as many prior ones.) After looking at the roof, taking measurements, and discussing the entire project we arrived at a conclusion: the roof needed replaced, there was drywall work that needed to be accomplished, some insulation needed replaced due to water damage, exterior and interior paint was required, and a general, overall cleaning was required. All this from a painting ad. Nonetheless, we gave our best attempt and are waiting to hear back.  

 

Along with these estimates we constantly network, talking to locals and people we meet along the way hoping to get a lead. E.g., today Monique met a gentleman at the dog park who is a plasterer. They talked for some time, his dog and our dog playing enthusiastically with each other like cosmic friends who haven’t seen each other in eons, discussing what each did for employment and enjoyment. He shared pictures as the discussion became more friendly and personal to better understand the character of the other. After some time, the gentleman who we shall call Emerald, asked for Moniques number and offered to send us some business if he heard of anyone who needed some painting done. This is our most favorable way to network, nonchalant conversation. Although we do, occasionally, get opportunities this way it also comes with cancellations.

 

On more than one occurrence we have arrived at a job site to only hear it has been canceled. I can recall one job where we finished three quarters of the home only to hear the financial backing had fallen through and the job was no more. We both, Monique and I, enjoy seeing things through to completion so it was disappointing not to be able to finish. We understand this was beyond our control and derived from nothing we had done, but we still felt awkward leaving the job uncomplete. Another time we showed up to the job site the morning of only to receive a call telling us they had chosen to go another route. This being after we made the 35 mile drive, one way, to the defined location. Still on another occasion we were informed, during our walkthrough and estimate, that multiple days would be required and the workload was sufficient enough to involve three complete days. Unfortunately when we arrived they changed plans and only had one day worth of work. This not only plays havoc on scheduling but also on the amount of work we do. These obstacles make it difficult to maintain an upbeat attitude.

 

I found myself, especially in these circumstances, feeling completely alone. Abandoned at the helm of a ship whos controls and understanding are foreign. I stood upon this deck, shirtless and battered by howling sleet as evolutions fury unfolded. Hopeless, everlasting privation gnawing at my insides, muttering words of vicious discouragement. It is in these times that I actually grew an understanding of myself and who I truly am; even if only in the slightest of degrees. As I sulked in my dismay a couple things occured to me. I realized I wasn’t alone. Monique was here, supporting me with encouraging words of optimal positivity and providing a different perspective. I also became aware that my thoughts were influencing me in a negative manner. These unwelcome circumstances are all a part of the life I am living. How I react and adjust to these situations will directly influence my well being and influence those around me. Having a bad attitude or resentment towards another will not provide propitious avenues.

 

Yes we are essentially homeless and do not have a permanent residence, but we are honest, good hearted people who are no less than employable. Our lifestyle is one of a counterculture nature and a path that we find rewarding. It may seem weird and inappropriate to the untrained mind, but in reality our business practices are much more rewarding psychologically, emotionally, and financially for all parties involved. It’s a success when no one feels the black hand, dripping with iniquity, giving a vice like hand shake at the conclusion of a partnership.

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“Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor” ~James Baldwin 

Equitable Barter

It’s a joy to see, in the actions of another, altruistic love. Especially when that love is directed toward you. It has a way of building upon itself, creating a foundation ever strengthening. If both parties are aware of the transaction it can amplify the reward too! I had this experience recently. Now that I think about it, it was multiple times in the same day.

 

Monique and I are making our way towards Santa Cruz, traveling south on the coastal highway towards a potential job. There’s a boat load of estimating that accompanies any form of construction or remodeling work and that’s what we are on are way to accomplish. We decided, since we had a couple days without work and couldn’t find anything small to fit into the availability slot, to go ahead and head towards the estimate a few days early. This would allow us to take our time and have a nice little weekend experience. Turned out to be a most rewarding choice.

 

As we traveled the coast we stopped at a couple beaches to allow Lyla some play time and us a little time to stretch our legs. We aren’t fans of “marathon driving” and find, for us, it’s rather taxing. Instead we chose to take a little longer and enjoy the surroundings we travel through. We stopped at a cliff side parking lot, i.e., a rut and pothole infested dirtch patch roughly two hundred feet long and fifty feet wide.

At first glance I couldn’t see the appeal. The view isn’t very nice and I don’t see any way down that doesn’t live on an angle less than forty five degrees. After about fifty feet of walking between waist high brush a wonderful view opens up and I see the way down. I’ve been here before. It’s a concoction of climbing rope intertwined around a large drainage pipe with hand holds every ten feet. I also notice that I could throw this cobra, it’s lylas frisbee, and have a chance it will stay out of the surf, but it also might go to far and be swallowed by the simple looking waves. I weigh the options and consider them worth it. With that I throw the frisbee and watch Monique look in disbelief. We are at an elevated position so it looks like it flys for a rather long distance. The disc itself flies in perfect form, standing up and then fading with a decent glide at the end, but landed at the surfs edge. I can’t let the ocean eat Lylas disc so I grab the top of the rope in my hand and take two steps down, quickly realizing that although fashionable, sandals aren’t the best footwear for climbing. I couldn’t go back and change shoes, but I must fulfill a quest. I push through the obstacle in egos fashion and run down the final twenty feet of pitch to the sands edge. I retrieve Lylas frisbee just in time too. For the next forty minutes we walk the beach throwing the frisbee for Lyla. Enjoying our time together with each stride. As we did this Monique suggested we stop and see a friend of hers in Pescadero.

 

After returning to the van and heading south again we find ourself arriving at Pescadero beach around five in the evening. It’ll be dark soon and we both agree, waiting until the following day would be a better time to make an introduction with Monique’s friend, Sapphire. We opt to make a zucchini and grilled strip steak salad as a main dish with an accompaniment of Lebanese lemon parsley bean salad. We work in unison, chopping vegetables, herbs, and beef to eliminate the prep work in a flash. As I cook up the steak Monique is mixing the salad and in no time we are enjoying the fruits of our labor. As I savor the unique flavors of a zucchini strip salad I notice the vibrancy of the sky. I’m witnessing a sunset that intensifies with every beat of the wind. I stare, meditatively at this magic, then glance over at the angel on my left. No, I’m not talking of Lyla either. My heart leaps with anticipated excitement at this opportunity. I am thankful to be sharing this moment with one who loves me for me; in all my fallible glory. I continue gazing until she looks at me with sparkling hues of sky. Smiling, she simply says I love you and pulls me within her wings. I relish in the warmth of a loves touch.

 

We wrap up dinner and work together to eliminate the dishes. As we are doing this I note to Monique that the sun is down and the park is now closed. For those of you who have not traveled I shall let you in on a secret. Park officers are some of the nicest people I have met; however, they do not allow you to stay past park hours or sleep overnight in their parking lots. They aren’t unfriendly about it and most the time provide alternate avenues to help solve your dilemma, e.g., providing information where you may park, overnight, without a fee or being woken by a uniformed officer. If you’re unsure or made a mistake regarding regulations they usually inform you of the error and explain how it was made. I have yet to meet a ranger of unfriendly character. Tonight was no different.

 

Shortly after sunset a white SUV parks behind us, turns on the flashing strobes, and asks how we are doing. We inform him we are aware the park has closed and will be removing ourselves as soon as we complete our dishes. I notice he glances at the pot I’m drying in my hand and then the skillet Monique is washing, politely replying “Have a nice evening”. He then moves to the vehicle beside us and wakes the occupant. They have a short conversation, and seeming satisfied, the officer leaves. Shortly thereafter, the individual he awoke leaves as well. Don’t fret, Monique and I were to follow his lead five minutes later. We drive one hundred feet away from the parking lot to the other side of the street, literally, and park for the night. Here we are allowed to overnight. I spend the rest of the evening listening to Monique play the banjo until I retire for the evening.

 

As I awake the following day I notice the sun hasn’t began it’s transitionary migration across the baby blue ceiling. There is light on the horizon, but the sky has yet to show it’s iridescent awakening. Monique and Lyla are both still dreaming of whatever they may be dreaming of so I decide a walk with seagulls sounds rewarding. I walk across the street and arrive at the coastline in two minutes. Maybe even less. I notice the tide is receding, but only recently. I decide to walk North as the route south is impassible. I absorb the salty sound of nature’s touch and chant a mantra: nam myoho renge kyo. This form of meditation lasts for around fifteen minutes before I have to regain control of my thoughts. Sometimes, even when meditating, I can’t always control my thoughts. It’s something I’m continuously working to improve. After a short time more I conclude my session and rest, peacefully gazing at the ocean and listening to its siren song. Before I realize the sun has shone itself and I can feel it kissing the back of my neck. I acknowledge the gentleness, ever thankful it lives. I should return to see if Monique is awake and I can start breakfast.

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When I return I find Lyla eager to make her exit of the van. Monique is still buried under the sleeping bag, but awakening. I kiss her good morning, thankful for having her to share such a beautiful journey with, and inform her I will go ahead and take Lyla for a jaunt. I grab Lylas frisbee and make my return to the beach. I provide a mixture of playful wrestling, frisbee throwing, and frisbee rolling. Yes, you can roll a frisbee. After almost an hour I return to the van to find Coffee and breakfast bagels. Woo Hoo! That’s a nice reward for enjoying the companionship of a K9 friend.

 

We each spend the remainder of the morning, and shortly into the afternoon, enjoying the our personal pleasures and the sea. I practice Irish Washerwoman on the ukulele, enjoying the distinct challenge to my coordination. I also practiced my photography skills. No, I don’t have a fancy DSLR, but I do have my cell phone. I am unable to change settings, but it does the job and allows me to focus on my rule of thirds and angles. Monique used this time to color in one of her drawings, a mandala she drew the previous days. She also listened to an audio book. If I recall correctly it was a recommendation I provided: Lewis and Clark: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. I found it rewarding and I hope Monique will too. When I next look at the time I notice it is one in the afternoon. I inquire if contact with Sapphire was still sought; being a yes we pack up and head that way.

 

We make the short drive of 5-10 Minutes to outskirts of Pescadero. We turn down a small, pothole covered road and drive roughly a quarter of mile before arriving at a small farm. We park the van along the road. The drive beyond the fence is littered with ruts and gouges that I don’t believe the van can handle. I notice there are two gentlemen in the field working as the sprinkler system provides a much needed drink to natures lunch box. Assuming one must be Sapphire I ask Monique if he is the one with the hat. She informs me it is difficult to discern from the distance we are at. We will simply have to let ourselves in and discover first hand. The logical idea sounded reasonable enough to pursue so, opening the gate and closing it behind us, we make our entry.

 

As we walk toward the hatted gentleman a white and black dog appears, wagging its tail with the speed that would impress an aircraft pilot. Lyla instantly shares in the excitement and displays her own drum beat. Within seconds they are acting like two lifelong friends who haven’t seen each other for years. They will spend the next few hours reconnecting and catching up. Monique lets me know the dogs name is Olive and belongs to Sapphire. We walk 100 feet further and Monique says hello, with a smile and sparkle, to her friend. He smiles with altruistic love, sharing his sparkle as she does, and welcomes her openly. I watch all this unfold while feeling fortunate. Fortunate I’m able to see the reality of what transpires within the unsaid, fortunate I am able to be a part of the experience, fortunate that Monique has such good friendship in her life, and fortunate I may build the same. After a quick introduction we ask if we may purchase some produce while we are here, or work for it; this is my prefered method as it will all me to become acquainted with Sapphire. A bonus being I can learn a good deal about organic farming, soil conditions, weather cycles, and insect prevention to give some examples. We’re in luck. Sapphire refuses our money, but does allow us to help him on the farm.

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Sapphire says he doesn’t have much to do, but we can help him unload his van and then pick out the produce we desire. Being from a farming community in rural ohio I know all to well a farmer hasn’t completed his day until the sun is no longer visible, unless it’s harvest or planting season when they work many hours after and before sunset. My mind refuses to accept the unloading of the van, consisting of few items, as equitable for both parties. I also know Monique isn’t going to find contentment in Sapphires current definition of sufficient. So we do what anyone with logical, common sense would do. We continued to negotiate until we reached an accord requiring us to unload the van, help harvest some produce for the market he is attending tomorrow, and enjoy the beauty that is altruism.

 

As the three of us walk towards the row of red cabbage we will be cutting I can’t help but feel nostalgic. I’m holding a sickle, cutting market ready cabbage with a hand held tool, and sharing sparkling conversation with two beautiful Beings; bargained and accepted by all parties. Sapphire, Monique, and I spend the next three hours sharing the tales of our memories, discovering the philosophy of another, and passing around knowledge and wisdom where we can. Sapphires enormous generosity, which he promotes through his actions, is inspirational and deserves no less than emulation. By the time we finish up it’s approaching evening. We need to get going and Sapphire has already been scheduled for the remainder of the night. Someone, in my opinion, was a lucky and fortunate recipient. With our pockets full, procured through barter, we bid our goodbye.

 

The following morning Monique and I awake within minutes of each other. I offer to cook Breakfast and provide coffee if she would like to give Lyla some attention. She has accepted before I finished the offer and was scampering across nature’s playground before I could retrieve the stove. With that settled I got to work and we enjoyed the fruits of our labors. It was getting close to lunch and we had an estimate to be at in about an hour so we decided to head that way. Before we departed Monique, ever worrying if I have eaten enough, asks what I have to snack on for the ride. I replied that I had just ate breakfast and would be fine. I just needed to use the facilities before we left.

 

When I returned from the bathroom break I got in the wagon and began the journey south. As I’m driving I notice something is making a crunching noise. I’m slightly confused as to what it could be because I had just rearranged the wagon and knew there was no trash or paper any place; upon further inspection I found the culprit. It was a bag of blue corn flour tortilla chips that Monique placed in the passenger seat while I was using the restroom. I smiled all the while eating them, knowing she loves me true. The reward of seeing, understanding, and receiving altruistic love is a welcomed reward. By the time I finish the bag we are moments away from arriving at our estimate. I wash down the chips with a swig of water as we pull in the driveway.

 

Wish us luck, friends!

 

“You have done something that will inspire the youth of our continent” Nelson Mandela, (Madiba)

Story Book Pages: A Dreams Life

What can one say about life? It has ups followed by downs and downs followed by ups in a perpetual cycle of growth. Sometimes the downs of life may leave one feeling restricted, starved through oppressive privation. Other times life has a way to lift the individual to a liberation that can only be defined as cloud walking. Experiencing the state of cloud walking creates positive thoughts rather easily; however, maintaining positive, encouraging optimism during the difficult situations can prove challenging. Life doesn’t exclude anyone, including team juice box, from its natural cycle.  

 

It’s a mild, spring like day. The sun permeates the skin providing a warmth of joyous excitement while the wind rustles imaginations creative sense. It is a splendid start to a stupendous day. Our main objectives: acquire an oil change at a reasonable price, replace a headlight bulb on the van, and travel 40 miles to the location of our next job. Not to taxing or demanding.

 

Monique, the tech guru, searches the vast resources of the web to procure a reasonably priced oil change. This task doesn’t take her long at all. Within the span of around, give or take a minute or two, 5 minutes she has a complete oil and filter change appointment booked that will cost the diminutive bank account twenty dollars. No complaints from me or the bank account on this one. It’s a two and a half mile drive to the location. We make this drive following a delicious breakfast of buckwheat with cinnamon and apples, coffee, and a stroll through the dog park to allow Lyla her own personal play time. She gets to make new friends this way and exercise in a manner that neither I or Monique can provide.

 

We arrive to the auto appointment fifteen minutes prior to our 12:30 scheduled time, drop off the keys, and are informed there are eight vehicles in front of us. it will be a couple hours before they can get to our van. Neither of us inquired the reasoning for the delay nor were we put off by it. Instead, we decided to walk the three and a half miles to Costco for some frozen yogurt. This is a treat I have never been a part of, but have heard of on numerous occasions through Monique. It is also something she has been wishing to share with me for some time. As a foodie, I am delighted for this opportunity. The walk goes uneventful and after only an hour and a fifteen minutes the phone rings with the auto shop on the other end. They have completed the job and we can pick up our vehicle at our convenience.

 

At this point in our walk we are roughly five minutes from arriving at Costco and have four hours before the auto shop closes. I notice as well that Lyla isn’t doing her best at listening. She’s a very intelligent K9 and, at times, chooses when to listen. She has a very strong alpha personality. As we approach Costco, navigating the maze of traffic and orange cones outlining the directional path of vehicles, I take Lyla from Monique and she ventures in to procure the ice cream. While waiting Lyla is anxious and obviously overstimulated. Not being a Cesar Milan I have no idea the best course of action to help calm her. I chose to do the only thing I could find constructive, remove her from the crowd and relocate to a quiet spot not so close to the high volume pedestrian area. It’s a good call as she then lays beside me soaking the suns kiss through her dark fur. It doesn’t take long before Monique returns.

 

As she exits I notice  that one of the large cups she is carrying looks rather odd. Apparently the yogurt machine decided to go helter skelter during the transition process to the cup. One looked rather normal. It was a swirl consisting of more chocolate than vanilla and the other looked like a vanilla slush. At first glance I thought, I can’t eat all this. We each taste them both. The slush one is way off on flavor and consistency so we decide to return it. No use in ingesting something one finds rather unsatisfactory to the taste buds. As Monique goes back in to return one I take a couple more spoonfuls of the one left behind. I notice immediately my thought has morphed from I can’t eat all this to there is a chance I may eat all of this. Monique returns and in her hand is a cup of yogurt with a healthy appearance. It seems the machines tantrum was short lived. We both now start to enjoy our treat. After several more bites my thoughts again morphed. Now  I thought there is no way this is lasting, and after finishing mine I look at Monique’s and think, I wonder if she would share.

With our yogurt now residing in our digestive system we depart and start the trek back to the van. As we circumnavigate the orange obstacles that are the Costco parking lot we are diverted right beside a Trader Joe’s. For those unfamiliar, Trader Joe’s is a grocery chain known for quality foods. Immediately Monique decides to swing in and pick up some coconut milk. I had made a delicious smoked salmon chowder the previous night and I am confident she is wanting more. While Monique is inside I take lyla to a grassy partition; here she may frolic for a moment. I sit on the cool grass and feel it’s gentle touch caress my fingers, the subtle dampness of it promoting a slight chill. I combat the chill by holding the sunlight in my hand and allowing it to slowly fall between the cracks. As I sit meditatively observing my immediate surroundings I feel a tranquil peace emanating from Lyla as she eats a few blades of grass. I glance to my right and take in the vivid green hillside blanketed in a yellow wildflower waterfall. Could this be the beginning of spring? It sure does feel like it. After twenty minutes I realize that Monique is either lost or shopping. Both very plausible avenues, but one more likely than the other. Intuition spoke to me with a warm hearted whisper and I knew all was well. I would soon have another snack. I am blessed to have such a love in my life. My gratitude and joy at this moment present in a liquid form on the side of my cheek and I feel the magic that is altruism. Within five minutes of this joyous occasion Monique returns carrying a triple bagged paper sack of edibles. Upon inspection, i.e., Monique showing me all the things she bought, I find four cans of coconut milk, six hard salames in three different varieties, six boxes of smoked oysters, three varieties of goat cheese, and a bag of avocados. The avocados and coconut milk are definitely enjoyed by Monique, she will have a few oysters as well, but the rest she specifically got for me. She is always trying to fatten me up, which isn’t a bad thing. I must confess I could use a few pounds.

 

My metabolism is stuck on rapid fire and never seems to shut off. Some may consider this a blessing, but I find it challenging as I am always hungry. If I miss a couple meals, e.g., one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, I actually lose weight. To have someone who can see, understand, accept, and help with this curse is a universal gift. The gluten free diet, medically induced, doesn’t promote weight gain. A blessing is having a partner who understands the dietary and health needs of the other. With the new found snacks, weighing about 20 pounds, securely within my hands we start to head back to the auto shop; discussing the supplies we need from home depot for work purposes and how we are going to tackle the blown headlight on the van.

 

We decide to change the light. We are both confident this little project can be overcome quickly so we pick up a bulb from the local auto parts store along the way. When we approach the auto repair shop we notice our vehicle is not how we left it. To our surprise the windows are all down and the doors are unlocked. I’m a little concerned, as well as Monique, because a majority of our personal belongings are tucked inside. I decided to do a quick inventory check while Monique went to inquire the reasoning of our concern. Once I assure everything is accounted for and Monique returns we are ready to leave. It turns out this is something, leaving the windows down and the car unlocked, GY does this when GY has to move a car frequently; I have yet to determine what GY define “frequently” as. Nonetheless we make our exit and move on to purchase our supplies from the hardware store and ingest some YouTube to figure out the changing of the headlight. According to NKY DIY, the YouTube channel we watched, it’s pretty simple and straightforward; however, we will need to purchase some tools (a 10mm socket and a ratchet). We purchase the supplies and head out to the parking lot to perform our vehicular operation. I grab my head torch, light it to bright, and get to work. It takes a short time to dismantle, remove the bad bulb, replace it, and return the components to their original position. We feel accomplished! A warm congratulation to us. Now it’s time to head back home for the night.

 

The sun is down and the cool air carries a slight chill on its breath. I can’t help but notice a growing energy within Monique. It’s the subtle beast of tension and stress. I know this feeling myself and the havoc it calls friend. I can ignore it, but that will solve nothing and one can only carry hardship so long before it bursts forth into the world. I know as well that I can address it and face the onslaught immediately. Either way, I love her enough to reach for solutions of conflict resolution. Truth be told I have been feeling this “building” for a couple days. I determine I will address it immediately; I’m not fearful of conflict and I will use the opportunity to hold and maintain my composure during an emotional conflict. I know I have said it before, but there is might in one’s thoughts and there, within, resides a tremendous strength. Knowing we still have a 40 mile drive to our next work location I decide to broach the subject softly.

 

This is accomplished through subtle questioning that can’t be construed. With each proceeding question the depth of the subject increases until the avenue of expression is the only outlet. Once this occured I held onto the bull with two hands. Eight seconds, eight seconds, eight seconds; that’s all it takes, eight seconds. Truly, in hindsight, it wasn’t so bad; however, she was visibly upset for the remainder of the evening, night, and into the morning. Don’t fret, I listened with all my love, accepting her words with an open embrace and using them to better understand her personal requirements. It may have taken all evening, night, and morning for her complete expression to present itself, but it did come out in entirety.   

 

Like all of us, when single or in a relationship, we need our personal space, i.e., me time. All to often when we fail to acknowledge this we start to feel constricted, oppressed even. It is this feeling that, when roused, permeates our thoughts and creates our reality of discord. Monique was experiencing this first hand. I, with all the benevolent energy I could generate, provided her space and freedom to do as she wished. I love her deeply and do not wish her to feel that she must be with me all the time. My primary objective is for her happiness. It matters not if it is with me or not. I know she loves me true and will be fine when she gets her “me” time. Something I am overly willing to accommodate.  

 

I wish I could say this was the only obstacle we had to deal with, but it wasn’t. Our painting gig cancelled that morning as well. I believe this had a hand in creating some emotional turmoil from Monique as it was just another stressor. There was nothing we could do but drive back to our home location and start networking for work. I am pretty optimistic so I wasn’t overly concerned. This is how work comes at times. It’ll be here for a month straight, dry up for a week, back for two weeks, and dry for a month. It is all part of economic mathematics.

 

When we arrive back at our home location, I believe I will share it with you as I see no reason to keep it hidden, of San Francisco. I unload some supplies from the van and place them into the wagon. I will be staying in here for a while. It’s not a bad place. Sure, I may look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame in the back, but I am dry, have a place to sleep, a place to cook, and a place to store my things. Sounds like a win to me. With belongings now transfered I decide I need to head over to Starbucks, not for their atrocious coffee, but for the super delux speed Wifi. I find it rewarding to work on this blog while having a spell check feature available.

 

As I’m sitting in the coffee house my phone gives a message beep. I know that beep. It’s the only contact in my phone that has a personalized greeting. I hesitate with uncertainty for the briefest of moments then my heart prevents avoidance. I glance at the text and note all the turmoil must have past. Monique is sharing an experience she just obtained. She was at the dog park when Lyla growled at another dog who was approaching the van. I, being the novice dog expert I am, thought the behavior was unacceptable, but after being around her and other dogs I have learned it’s normal. She was just saying, “Hey, this is my house and no you can’t come in, unless you’re nice”. Anyway, the lady evidently went on a vicious verbal attack accusing Monique of bringing a dangerous dog to the park. This is the same park Lyla visits daily so I’m not to concerned. I’m more relieved that Monique is in a better place emotionally and psychologically.

After she has finished describing her encounter she asks if I would like to go to the park and try to find another player for Catan. Catan, for those of you who do not know, is a board game of delightful splendor. I accept and she picks me up a little while later from the coffee shop. She greets me with the warmest of embraces, the softest of kisses, and a smile that would melt an angels heart. She offers up an apology for her actions as I accept and acknowledge her maturity. Periodically throughout the day she will, again and again, apologize. It’s no less than obvious she feels remorse.

 

We had intended to go to a local dog park called Fort Funston, but after arriving in the parking lot of infinite automobiles we decided to pursue an alternative route. We will backtrack half a mile and go to Lake Merced Park. I have offered to cook dinner while we wait for a taker to our Catan game. This will allow Monique personal time; she has expressed a desire to play her banjo. In reality I am the winner. I get a free folk/irish banjo concert as I prepare dinner. Who wouldn’t love that? Someone who hates banjo music of course.

 

We pull into Lake Merced and find a parking spot near an open picnic table. Monique puts Lyla on her lead, it’s 20’, to allow her some open romp room and grabs her banjo. Meanwhile I relocated the cooking equipment and supplies to the open picnic table and get to the prep work. We will be having salmon chowder again, but with a different coconut milk. As I start to prepare the vegetables a small, amiable dog approaches accompanied by an older gentleman. I only say older because he had some grey that would indicate wisdom through experience. As the little dog approaches I let the gentleman know that Lyla is all bark and only wants to sniff the new arrival. From his first words, muttered in an Irish accent, I felt as if I had met a lifelong friend from lifetimes previous. I can’t explain the intuitive cognition that presents, but I can feel it in every fiber of my porous being. Unfortunately I never inquired if I could use his credentials for this blog; therefore, I shall call him magic man. A name most appropriate.

 

As I prepare dinner the conversation drifts between me, Monique, Magic Man, and his neighbor, Rapunzel. Magic man has brought Rapunzel to the park to help her do a bit of recycling. My tongue may be both bold and loose, but the world needs more of this. As we converse the topic shifts between our pets, families, travels, lifestyle, and professions as an ever changing story. I continue cooking the majority of the time, listening to Monique play the banjo and Magic Man share tales of his home. He even offers up a local hiking spot he thinks we would appreciate. As dinner approaches the finish line I see Lyla, out of my horrible peripheral vision, start to run towards a little dog being walked about sixy feet away.

 

In my mind I quickly realize she’s running the length of her lead at open throttle. That’s a forty foot swath of land she’s now blurring across and I’m not sure her clip lock collar is going to suffice. WIthin seconds the snap of plastic reverberates the air and Lyla is on the little dog, sniffing away and wanting to play. Lyla isn’t a dangerous or vicious dog, but she does have an insatiable desire to play. This can, at times, prove slightly problematic. Case in hand. Monique, quick as a flash, coaxed our K9 companion back into her arms and is trying to engineer a quick solution for the broken collar. Our immediate solution was duct tape. Yup, that’s correct, the universal fix it all tape. Unfortunately this fix was a premature success. As we pondered on another avenue Magic Man came to the rescue. He had gone to his truck, fetched a piece of rope material, and hand wove a makeshift collar that Lyla can’t escape nor can she chew threw. How lucky are we? Extremely, because shortly after he says he has some rooms he would need painted and would be delighted if we would follow him home and check it out. Monique and I both accept with eager anticipation.

 

It’s not everyday that someone walks into your life and has, from the beginning, an energy that inspires spiritual evolution. To be invited into his personal residence and life is a reward that finds no measure of value. As we leave the park, following Magic Man, who also pulls off and waits for us when traffic is heavy or we get to far behind, I discuss my feelings of the situation with Monique. She is in agreement, Magic Man is one of a kind. The short fifteen minute car ride takes us to a very nice suburban neighborhood where we feel safe and welcomed. Within a few turns, and even fewer minutes, we are in front of where Mr. Magic resides. He invites us in with a warm smile and open door.

 

As we breach the entryway, a small sitting room comprised of two chairs, a loveseat, a small table, bookshelf, and a couple shelves, I notice the pictures. How could I miss them honestly. They are a mixture of family and friends. Each sharing from within smiles and a special uniqueness captured only in the moment. I also notice that behind the end tables there is a Tibetan singing bowl. It’s tucked away in the corner, resting. I fantasize, briefly, about hearing its heart song and then return my focus to my surroundings.

 

In front of us is a dining room and table that looks to accompany eight individuals with comfort. It almost winks a welcoming smile. We take a few steps forward, closing the entryway door behind us, and turning right we enter a dimly lit family room. It’s illumination coming from a movie being played on the television. Magic Man introduces us to his wife, Magic Women, and we exchange the customary pleasantries of civil  conversation. With the hello out of the way we make our way upstairs to inspect the rooms he is wishing to paint. As he opens the door I can’t help but notice the beautiful plastered walls.

 

Why is he wanting to paint over this masterpiece? The plastered walls have a swirling beauty of color and texture that move with the precision of fibonacci numbers. For a moment I tune out as I get lost in the walls. They’re unlike anything I have ever seen. When I regain my comprehension Monique and Magic Man are discussing the painting of a hallway. This entire house is a medley defining expressive artistry. I confess, I had difficulty paying attention during the potential client, rough job estimate. Once the rooms and hallway being discussed for remodel are over Mr. M. (I shall call him M from here on out) continued giving us a tour of his home.

 

As he opens the door to each room of his children, some sharing the same room, the innermost expression of the individual is revealed. There is an overall theme shared and expressed by all, yet there are differences in each. I can see the poetic prose of a musicians fingers and the delicate vision of a painters flower. The overwhelming recurring theme is love and transparent expression. I don’t know what I have done or why I am so fortunate to receive splendors such as this, but I am forever thankful the opportunity is presently pursued. As shut the door on our final room we return downstairs. Mr. M shows us the kitchen, a small room off the dining room and takes us into the garage.

 

The moment I step into the garage I am awestruck by what is going on. The walls are covered in individual expressions ranging from quotes, poetry, and paintings. There is a djembe drum, an electric guitar, and an acoustic guitar. The table in the center of the garage is covered with scraps of paper containing a mixture of pictures and words. There are paints ready to be opened and brushes standing at attention. Mr. M. politely explains the purpose of the garage and then takes us to the back patio. The first thing I notice is the large tented structure. I am told Mrs. M. bought it for the children. She truly loved them and I truly appreciated the story that accompanied. With the tour now secured under our belts we head back to the sitting room, the one directly to the left of the entryway into the home, for tea and sparkling conversation.

 

Monique and I both takes seats, express our gratitude, and welcome the delicious cup of tea. Monique will end up having around three cups; I actually thought of them more as miniature soup bowls myself. During this tea time parties would enter, periodically, the home and introductions would be given. We had soon met each of the children and even a few of their friends. As we continue talking Mr. M. shares some fables of his homeland, stories of his travels, and inspirations he found in life. I shall always remember the story of the Banshee, the music of his native land, and  the duet he shared with Monique. Yes, Monique sang, in foreign tongue, a beautiful jewel that Mr. M. started. I’m not sure who was more surprised at her jumping in, me or him. Either way, when the conclusion of the song arrived he and I both gave a round of applause. We continued in this fashion for a time; being introduced to instruments as we went. Remember the Tibetan Singing Bowl? Yup, you guessed it. Mr. M. also brought out a Banjo which is an instrument Monique has an intimate familiarity with.

 

As Monique picked away at the Banjo Mr. M and I continued to converse. Each never forgetting the appreciation of the moment. As we discussed ticky tacky issues and ideas of personal philosophy a couple things transpired. One was a baking project being undertaken by his daughter; we shall call her Turquoise. The other was a jam session being performed by his son, we shall call him Topaz, and Monique.

 

It turns out that Turquoise has a friend, Alexandrite, who is gluten free (GF). She is actually suffering from Celiac, the same abhorrent abomination I am afflicted with. I inquire Alexandrite if Turquoise is GF as well and she defined the answer as no. I noted the obvious, in question form; she’s making these cookies specifically for you then, correct? Questions are a polite way to gain understanding. Alexandrite smiles and proceeds to explain to me that this is no ordinary home. It’s unlike any other around. She calls it a “chill” place and returns to her attention to the rectangular device in her hand. As our conversation was closed Monique walked by with her banjo in hand, whispered “I’m going to play in the garage, come listen when you’re finished. I would like it if you did”, kissed me on the cheek, and then vanished into the garage.

 

I find myself doing the internal smile and being thankful Monique found others to jam with. I now return to the sitting room with Mr. M. and we continue conversing, getting to know each other through archaic fashion. I appreciated this individual time and found that talking with Mr. M. was enjoyable. This is how we continue the evening until I ask Mr. M if he would like to listen to the Jam session. I know Monique will be happy I stopped in to check it out too. BONUS: I will get to sit in on some live music, maybe dance my dance a little, and feel the energy of cohesion.

As we enter the inspiration playground, i.e., garage, Monique and  Topaz finish their fingers on fire technique and welcome us both. Mr. M. and I both take seats and enjoy the music. Topaz, wanting everyone to feel included, brought me a djembe drum and encouraged me. It’s the same, natural encouragement his father has been giving me all evening. *I’m slow to display my musical inadequacies; although, Mr. M. insists my insecurities are all in my head. I must agree with him too. Society… Sometimes it’s the worst. As I tap on the drum with the soft melody of the energy rhythm the atmosphere begins to change. Mr. M. starts to sing in a deep bass that exudes enormous strength, Monique is finger picking her banjo strings to exhaustion, Topaz is creating an EKG Chart with riffs and chords as he captures the electrical impulse, and I am softly tapping the drum in what could be defined as incomprehensible fashion. For a minute the room was swimming in the perpetual energy of cosmic union. I cannot convey, through any form of dialect or transcription, what I felt coursing through my being. I can say we continued to enjoy the company of each for the remainder of the evening.

 

It’s now 10:30 pm., Sunday evening, as we leave the residence of Mr. M.! Monique and I decide to walk Lyla for a bit and enjoy the joy we both feel. In under forty-eight hours we have experienced a low that shook the very fiber of our existence and a high that showed us we already know how to cloud walk. How beautiful life truly is. Even when a circumstance is shrouded in dismal, you can be sure a rainbow will appear. The weather will pass and the sun, again, will shine it’s rays upon your brow. Tonight I fall asleep thinking, “I’m grateful they live”.  

 

“I’m grateful they lived” ~Magic Man~

Non Millennial Destitution

Putting together this blog has been a goal of mine for around 3 years now. It took time, encouragement, and motivation to actually accomplish it; however, seeing it to fruition has been a reward beyond measure. It hasn’t arrived without numerous discouraging moments, tiresome obstacles, and more tech resolution than I would desire, but it arrived nonetheless. I have learned a few things about my own patience, or lack thereof, and about the constant flux of technology. I didn’t go into this venture completely blind.

I spent many hours researching platforms, cost, and overall customer review to help determine the avenue I wished to pursue. At first it was overwhelming and almost more than I wanted to deal with. I was ignorant of the many acronyms, the terminology itself was foreign, and deciphering what was being discussed, advised, and addressed to the point of coherent understanding was far removed from transpiring. This made the entire process seem daunting and insurmountable. Fortunately for me there is more than one form of Tech Support.

I am most fortunate to have a Monique, who is a Millennial, by my side to guide me through the cyber world. Without her help I would have been more lost than I was and I would have more than likely found frustrations as a companion. Thankfully those avenues were not in my line of pursuit. An example of her help: changing three DNS servers to communicate with WordPress to map my domain name, walking me through the steps to tag a post and explaining the purpose of doing such, and spending much time teaching me the dialogue of computers. It has been an educational reward that I will carry with me.

This very personal form of support proved to be a delightful experience. It was easy on the psyche and the emotions and I found it far more simplistic than the conversation robots that are prevalent in much of today’s technology. I also, once again, learned a valuable lesson about perseverance and goal achievement; each requiring a volition and perspective to find the neutral positive without alleviating the possibility of negative inclusions. A shout out and thank you to Billy Meier for the help with “thought” control.

“I regard a human being as simply a human being, whether he is from this world or another, or whether he is a beggar, or God in person, and whether he is ignorant or wise, they are all of equal right. No one has more right than any other, and nobody is more than any other.” ~Billy Meier~

Inadequate space: A prerequisite

One of the largest and most persistent burdens we have had to address is space availability. It often feels like we will always fall short in this area no matter how valiant our efforts. This can be both daunting and depressing. Trying to jigsaw everything two people would need to work independent of a corporation and have a luxurious sojourn simultaneously is no less than problematic. Yes, even with two vehicles, one for work and one for residence, we find our quarter cramped. How do we do it? I have asked myself this question an innumerable amount and have yet to find a solution other than perseverance

Each day we continually stack, unstack, restack, adjust, move, and tie down our different possessions. This has become somewhat of a science and we have been able to develop a system which allows optimal organization. We accomplish this by ensuring each possession, first and foremost, has a purpose. If we cannot define its purpose we let it go, usually in a donation bin, free library, or a public place. Recycle, Reduce, and Reuse is cliche, but effective. The next step in our revolutionary solution is categorizing.

We, in order to be as efficient as possible, categorize every article we own. An example of this is our bathroom category. This consists of our toiletries, e.g., toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, soap, razors, toilet paper, towel, washcloth, etc. etc. A second example is our kitchen category. This consists of our cookware/eating utensils, e.g., forks, spoons, knives, pots, pans, can opener, potato peeler, cutting board, tupperware, etc. etc. This allows us to retrieve everything we need in a most timely manner. No searching required. And now our third step, placement.

Where does one place an entire cookset, all your toiletries, and clothing in a minivan? The answer is….. Inside of milk crates. This ingenious invention has allowed us to free up space while consolidating most of our property. We have six total. They stack two wide and three high in the back of the van. This leaves, when we restack for bed, enough room for our 5’8” and 5’7” frames to lay supine. Unfortunately not everything fits with the category it is assigned, e.g., gas camp stove, ukulele, and mattress pad do not, in the slightest degree, fit into a milk crate. This is where our fourth and final step, stacking, comes into play.

We neatly do stack everything in front of the milk crates. This goes for our bedding, camp stove, extra food, painting supplies we bring, board games, art and craft supplies, etc. etc. This provides enough room for Lyla to lay and have a little romp room; however, at night we unstack our building and restack it all in the front seats. It’s a routine we have grown accustomed to and become most efficient at. In fact, most of the time we can keep the driver seat completely free of possessions. There is a large benefit to this as well. We can be considerate of the other if one wishes to retire for the night while the other would rather stay up. More often than not I am the one retiring around ten while Monique enjoys the quiet of the night. Works out well and I am completely happy with how it transpires.

All in all our system works for us. This doesn’t alleviate the troubles or confined feelings that one may and can experience when living in such close proximity. Those dealings are for a different post.

“Love with altruism and internal liberation becomes an eternal companion.” ~Team Juice Box~

Transparent Depiction

The previous posts have been icebreakers; a way for us to open, slowly, the door that is us and allow a few of our ideas to permeate the cyber world. Now, we would like to share, on a more intimate level, who we are, our current profession, how we achieve van life, and where we are going. I must confess there is nothing spectacular, over the top, or extraordinary about either of us. We are your average, everyday run of the mill folk.

I, the narrator, am Alan and the behind the scenes guru is Monique, my partner, love, and best friend. Together we bring the less than exciting “us” to you. I could describe our features in some sublime grandeur that elevates us to the status of greek mythology, but for simplicity sake I will attach a picture to the bottom of this post. Go ahead, scroll down if you’re anxious to meet us. We are just as eager to make your acquaintance. I will let you, the reader, make your own assessment on our characters. I’m usually over generous to myself and my loved ones in this area. Now that you know are physical features I shall delve into our occupation and the life of van living.

We are currently in the occupation of painting. No, not artistic painting, but house painting, exterior painting, and any other thing  an individual might consider needing a fresh coat of color. We are not however limited to painting We also do a wide variety of construction related and independent work, e.g., drywall, roofing, general labor, murals, playing banjo venues, creating postcards, and making prayer ropes. If you feel you could use our talents at any point feel free to contact us. We are always open to opportunity. The latter are for our personal enjoyment and we rarely make, financially, much on the projects. This allows us to work for ourselves and define our schedule as we choose, our compensation as we deem acceptable, and our gigs based on a mutual, respectful understanding of client and laborer needs. There is a joy and successful feeling which accompanies such negotiative practices. We both feel that with work, or any other aspect of life, one should have a feeling of worth and dignity. There is far more to health than the physical and we consider this fact with everything we do. It is part of the reason we live in a van.

Yes, you heard correctly. We live in a van. No, not a spectacular sprinter van or even a small camper van, but in a minivan. A Kia Sedona to be precise. It’s rather luxurious too. You may be wondering how we achieve this so I’m going to elaborate. We live frugally and have another vehicle. The second vehicle, a Mercury Sable wagon, doubles as living quarters when we are in separate areas working independently and as a storage/work space when we are working cooperatively. This tremendous advantage allows us to pursue many possible paths that may not be accessible any other way. We use both vehicles just as you would a house, i.e., we cook in it, sleep in it, eat in it, hang out in it, clean it, and care for it. A majority of our equipment is camping related which allows us to save space while still having modern luxuries, e.g., cooking on a gas stove. Another beautiful thing is our level of invisbility. We blend into any environment and surrounding as if we belong; exception being when we navigate 4X4 dirt roads to access a remote trail head. So the next time you see a Kia parked in your suburban neighborhood it might just be two free spirits sailing their ship on the waters of life. A wonderful addition to van life is we have an amiable friend named Lyla living with us.

Lyla came to us from the pound in Flagstaff Arizona where we found her smiling in good spirits despite her filthy appearance, less than adequate size, obvious neglect, and very noticeable abuse. There were some veterinarian bills and social introduction exercises that were needed for her recovery, but they were well worth the time and expense. Lyla herself is what we define as a mut. She seems to be a mix of a few different breeds and no one seems confident of her exact makeup. She isn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but she does have personality. You can see it through her almond gaze and her fun loving excitement of life. She is a joy and pleasure to have. Also, if you have any questions, concerns, or general inquiries feel open to express them.

“Success: the liberated internal state.” ~Team Juice Box~

Alan has blonde hair, Monique is the only lady, Chris is the far left, and Clayton is the photographer. 15194326_1174561172611913_8866175852890218835_o

Enjoying Liberation

In our current cultural construct there is a lack of emphasis on freedom and a strong pushing of debt related shackles that keep dreams in storage. I have never understood the value of putting a dream on hold until the “appropriate time” or until “the moment presents itself”. These concepts are counterproductive to the dream and only convince the dreamer that he or she is not yet ready. If you are dreaming it you are ready. Nothing is going to fall into our laps and give us all we desire without a struggle or hardship. That’s just not the way reality works. One has to put in the work and make the mistakes to grow an understanding and knowledge base that will allow success to follow. Failure is a word that only represents giving up. That is not a term we enjoy. With this tangent now fulfilled we shall move on.

Living the way we do has provided us an opportunity to experience a freedom that eludes most. The 9-5, Monday through Friday tedium is not something we enjoy. Yes, we understand work must be accomplished in order to create an income that will sustain us however, we do not see why we need to devote the majority of our time to such. Truth is, when one is compensated adequately and lives within a boundary of necessity,  there is no need to work to exhaustion. We have all we need with a fraction of the cost that is currently expected by the mainstream.

Here is a little food for thought. Water is free at most public parks, if you have a vehicle you have shelter, second hand clothing doesn’t devalue your worth, and food can be affordable when simple. The luxuries of comfort are what we choose and our thoughts are most influential on our perspective; they hold might. You can be happy with little and it does not matter what others have to say. If you are living righteously you are succeeding.

 

“A rainbows pleasure is true loves form; you can’t have beauty without a storm.” ~Team Juice Box~

 

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A living of worth comprised of goals

Today we will be sharing with you the goals of Team Juice Box, our method of accomplishment, and why we live the way we live. This isn’t a lifestyle for everyone nor do we expect to lead a revolution of change. Each individual has a construct, within thoughts, of a reality they live and create; that is a beautiful gift. Feel free to share with us as we share with you.

I must confess that this isn’t our (Team Juice Box) first experience at traveling and living a life far removed from current cultural norms. We have actively practiced much of what we are sharing for a couple years now. We have hitchhiked across this beautiful land, backpacked the natural wonders secluded far from society, and lived liberated from confinement. We currently have become mobile and are masters of our course. So where is this course going?

Alaska and all the places between is a good starting point. We aren’t much for itineraries and prefer to embrace the unknown adventure of spontaneous. There is a voluminous space between our current location and the destination of Grizzly country. We intend to explore and get to know all the areas leading up to the final destination. Occasionally we are provided advice from locals on interesting treats we should explore and we enjoy pursuing these. Some of our best adventures have come from the advice of others. It is why we like to keep the timeline open and find planning, strategically, step by step, difficult. We do plan financially of course.

Expenses when traveling, especially in a vehicle, can occur from many different avenues, e.g., vehicle malfunction, unexpected opportunities, illness/injury, equipment malfunction (tent/clothing/sleeping bag etc. etc.) Since neither of us are clairvoyant we are unable to know exactly what may come our way. For this reason we stockpile, what we consider adequate, money. We do this by living frugal and working for ourselves. Yes, it’s that simple. We have cut out the middleman to retain maximum profit and have established in a location currently experiencing a large economic boom. This is our method of success in a rather cut and dry explanation. This is our lifestyle and we enjoy it in all its unfolding glory.

Living and pursuing our goals in a manner that leaves us feeling appreciated, adequately compensated, and treated with equity is the main driving force propelling our lifestyle. It is a pleasantry on the psyche, the mind, and the spirit. Couple this with the adventure it allows us to participate in and you have a solid foundation of why we live this way. Morality and righteous, noble behavior are the building blocks of who we are. We intend to continuously build upon these.

 

“Does a star float or fly? Either way, it’s above the sky!” ~Team Juice Box~