Settling inside the circle – round 2

The move from little fabric yurt into big wooden yurt was far more of a transition than I expected.  I thought it’d be quite straightforward after 6 years of move planning, 4 years of living on the land, more than 2 years of watching that wooden yurt rise and imagining living within it.  But imagining isn’t living…

For one, it wasn’t a quick move from little yurt to big yurt, as close in proximity as they are.  For weeks there was the strange (too) expansiveness of living in both, with sleeping, cooking, eating, dressing dispersed along a slowly changing continuum between the two.  With a giant blank slate of a space in the wooden yurt, many of the items we moved in didn’t have a clear spot to go, and shifted around daily/hourly as we tried to figure out what felt right.  And many things didn’t have anywhere to go at all, waiting in semi-random clusters near the shelf or bench or cubby that would be built there later.

It was all a bit much for the littlest, the change, the unsettledness settling in her tummy for many long days.  One early morning we raced down the stairs, again.  I scooped her up in my arms to try to get us to the bathroom quicker, but too late.  We were suddenly suspended, skating along the newly appeared puddle of what she couldn’t stomach, both of us crashing to the wooden floor.  I thought of how the little yurt bathroom had been 3 steps from her bed and how this would never have happened in there, the only home she could remember.  I thought of our children’s friend who believed these slick wooden yurt floors were ideal for a skating rink…

Somewhere along the way things started to settle, we started to settle (bellies included), and that wooden yurt stopped feeling like an entity and started feeling like a home.

But let me go back to where I left off in November, to when a bit of electric was added, just in the first floor inner pantry ring.

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Still, we weren’t quite ready to move in, as the first floor walls and floor needed to be sanded/stained.  When Josh headed off on a long-planned weekend trip, friends came.  Amazing what quality time it can be, working alongside each other with expansive time to talk.  And how quickly those walls were done!

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Then there were vacation days taken for Josh and I to work on that very expansive floor.  Again, focused on carving out the time to get the work done, forgetting the bonus beauty of this kind of time together; quiet, meditative, space to talk and be.

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Then we were waiting for the floor to dry.  Until finally, finally, there was nothing more to wait for.

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We started with just beds on the second floor that first move in night.  Very quickly (that next morning even) a child construction crew set to work on “walls” to delineate room areas using bins and painting tape and blankets and such.

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Slowly things moved from little yurt to big yurt, so interesting to see what we all deemed worthy to trickle in with.  The garlic basket placed within the “pantry” looked quite tiny.

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The old soapstone sink was given a base, angling the usually front-facing slant to the back, fitting as if it were made to against those tapered walls.  Night dishes by headlamp.

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Bathroom walls went up.

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Ten new chickens were suddenly available to pick up and help settle in their new home here.

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A couch brought in, cushions left uncovered while covers received much needed mustiness cleaning after so many years of waiting.

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It was interesting how difficult it was for us to bring this couch in.  Not because of its size or weight, but because of the weight of what it exemplified without realizing until it sat there inside of this home we’d built, this home that built us.  That couch was originally bought to sit in front of a new very large flat screen TV in the newly finished basement of our previous life (oh, how tiny those children once were).

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Bringing it into the wooden yurt made us face that excess again, that time when we’d spent $4,000 on a couch without recognizing the trade-off we were making, unwittingly choosing more work, more passive living in exchange for less freedom, less of our own living.

The tiny fabric yurt kept things simple.   Perhaps some worry crept in that we would now start moving into another version of our previous half-asleep life, just rounded.  Would we forget what we’d learned these past few years?  But then again, how nice it was to have a couch to sit on together again.  And soon it was made into a fort more often than sat on.  And we remembered that it isn’t a couch, it isn’t a house, that ultimately shapes us.  It’s the intention we try to live with inside that home, daily, with or without an expensive comfy couch.

There will not be a television in front of that couch, just the windows to the forest, the sky, a growing cherry tree.  But very quickly behind it there was a much-anticipated (very, very heavy) free piano, a long ago hammock swing present finally hung, a sewing machine set up in a spot where it didn’t need to be put away each night to free up space.

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We’d spent a lot of time before moving in figuring out where the refrigerator might go. We thought we had it.  Until we moved in and it felt all wrong in that space.  After much deliberation it finally found a spot, right where we originally thought we’d access the pantry from the kitchen…  The pantry doorway was shuffled over one bay, and fridge was settled.

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Wood started moving in, waiting to become counters, shelves, benches, etc.

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There were delays getting the gas range transferred over, meaning the fabric yurt was the kitchen yurt for some time.  But also providing the opportunity to experiment (with some charred outcomes) with the wood cookstove that was already steadily working away heating the wooden yurt.  And heating it quite well (phew!), some days too well when the sun also shines down on this southern slope.

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I thought I’d feel settled when the kitchen table came over. But I think the day that finally made me start to feel at home was the day we stopped pushing to get set up, just for an afternoon, the day we just added beauty with no necessity.

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It was quickly clear that the piles in the pantry were the most in need of organizational help.  A set of shelves were made to go behind the piano.

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Phew.  Getting somewhere.

Then the gas range was in, adrift in the outer first floor ring.  It was finally time for the cherry that Josh milled so long ago with the intention of making kitchen counters.  The first one.

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Another pantry shelf was added to the right of the first, this one for resting spots for those piles of dishes.

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And we were feeling set up, enough.  Enough to pause for panoramic snowfall.  Enough to not feel too stressed that the “workshop” area was about to be out of commission to let winter set in (for a short spell anyway).

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Time to rest, to craft, to find letters and birds and faces in the wood knots and lines surrounding us.

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To celebrate the season, the solstice, darkness at its height, light about to flow more and more into each day again.

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This year there was a tree.  Not a sweet tiny tree in a garden pot that we’ve had the past few years.  But rather a trudge through our woods with a saw to find just the right slightly too tall one.

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Perhaps it is not surprising, given our previous living yule trees, that the youngest was not at all pleased when it was time to take the tree back out into the woods without replanting it.  Change.

The weather shifted, the sun defrosted the “workshop”, and soon it was on to the next project:  something to make these children’s rooms really start to feel their own.

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More to come when more wood is milled, but for now the outer “walls” are doubling nicely as banks and stores and DMVs and animal adoption centers.

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On to another project for behind the gas range.

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For cookbooks and herb books.  Or a doll nook, depending who you ask.

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Another yurtmate moved in.  One so loved by all that nobody questioned when he decide to take over the top yurt room.  But one who had us all yawning through our days while he trained us to his wild nocturnal ways, meowing through the night in this door-less, sound-carrying space.

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A bit more electricity was run last week, to bathroom and bedrooms.

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A desk, finished in time for a 40th birthday.  This age that is like bookends for us in this process, Josh’s happening during the first building workshop to start this wooden yurt rising, mine happening as we settle into it.

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This building that started with groups of people coming together seems to thrive and sing with any size gaggle gathered within.  I’m still trying to figure out the balance of having an extroverted home while being an introverted dweller here…  It seems meant to be filled with life and it usually fills me up to be in the midst of it all, introvert or not.

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Ten weeks now we’ve called this space home.  There is much to be done still, a lifetime worth of counters and benches and shelves and tables and light making and such.  They will come.  Or not.  For now there is the much needed beauty and rhythm of home, something to ground us in the ongoing ups and downs that is life with young children in an ever changing world.  There is enough for now.  More than enough.

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We’ve built gardens here on top of clay/rock, creating the soil layer by layer.  With soil still relatively shallow, I didn’t even attempt root vegetables until late last summer, on a whim, wanting carrots.  Seeds were sown and forgotten.  Then fluffy green tops where spied in the fall, roots quickly plucked and eaten by children, quick as bunnies.  How good it feels to finally, finally put roots in here.

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11 thoughts on “Settling inside the circle – round 2

  1. It looks absolutely beautiful Josh and Melanie. Perhaps I can talk grandma into a ride this year. I know it’s hard sitting cramped up for hours but let’s pray. I can imagine that he transition could be overwhelming after living in the little yurt for so long. I for one, can’t wait to see the big yurt finally and speak with Josh on the endeavors of building this.

  2. Mel, your words inspire my imagination like nothing else can. You paint such a beautifully graphic story of a beautiful life, told by a beautiful heart and mind. Thank you for sharing your life with us mere mortals.

  3. Oooooooh ❤ Their bedrooms – the love, pride and freedom in those spaces just for them and a C A T. My goodness… My heart is full with joy for all that you have created. Thank you for sharing the journey with us all ❤

  4. Thank you, Melanie. Your regular sharings fill me with admiration and appreciation for the example you set for raising a family, and building a dream. You have a book indeed ahead of you that will inspire so many others (and maybe give Mike lots of work J)

    JoAnna

    In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. Mother Teresa

  5. Mel and Josh what a beautiful picture you make! I love the words and the pictures. It is amazing how much a picture you can make with your words…just beautiful! Miss you!! Love you all!

  6. The yurt looks beautiful – and can’t believe you’ve been “in” 10 weeks or more already! Whew – what a long way you’ve come. Love, love, love all the stories and photos (and the cat of course!) I figured the actual move would be quite a process, and I’m sure it will continue as you find what you need, and where you need it, but already it looks like a joyful place to be! Much love, xooxox alison

  7. Your home is coming along. I love the wood burning stove. It’s beautiful. Everyone is fitting into the groove of home. Very nice. Great blog. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful time in the process of building your life’s journey.

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