a plan for the future

IMG_0600Should I have the privilege of living to a ripe old age, I anticipate having to work until 70 before tapping into retirement benefits that may or may not exist by 2040. If I continue making my living by writing, that means another 24 years spent sitting at a desk, staring at a lighted box and type-type-typing the day away.

This is assuming my mind stays sharp, and someone is willing to pay me for whatever it is I’m writing about.

As jobs go, I’m pretty lucky. I love words and have always been a writer. But sometimes I have the fantasy of freedom. Of selling everything, getting a rolling home and moving from one beautiful state or national park to another with James and the dogs, picking up odd jobs that keep gas in the tank and food on the table.

Even in this fantasy, I know I’d find myself craving a home rooted in the ground. A place with a bathtub. Something with a view and room to grow food and flowers. But I wouldn’t want to be saddled with a 30-year mortgage, so I’d need to take a non-traditional approach to finding a permanent place. Which I think I’ve figured out.

A commune.

But not just any commune.

A special one.

Here’s the appeal of the commune concept. A group of like-minded people pool their resources to buy a big piece of land upon which they each have their own small home. They share chores–like keeping the garden, tending to the chickens, feeding the livestock. If there are children (which there won’t be in this scenario because we’ll all be old), the adults share parenting responsibilities.

This all sounds idyllic and lovely to me except for one thing–all those people. Can’t you just hear the screen doors creaking and slamming all day as people come and go in each others’ homes? The chortles of laughter in the garden since it’s weed-pullin’ day and everyone participates? The good-natured ribbing about how Jeremy doesn’t know how to make good coffee from people standing around on his porch holding their mugs with both hands as little puffs of coffee steam rise in their faces?

It’s not that I don’t like people. I do. I just don’t want to be around them all the time. Which brings me to the way this commune will be different.

It’s a commune…for introverts. A non-communal commune.

Same deal as described above. Garden. Screen doors. Coffee. Porch. The difference is, no one really hangs out at each others’ houses or shows up unexpectedly. There’s one communal area where you can go when you want to be social or need to discuss who’s not pulling enough weeds, but other areas are treated like a typical urban neighborhood. A friendly, non-committal wave in the morning, maybe a comment about the weather, then go back inside.

Anyone interested? There will also be wifi.


we need to talk about a pressing issue


Gut punching, your butthole is Alcatraz and it wants to escape on a handmade raft, hurdy gurdy gas that puts you in a panic because you live in a small house with another human being. A person with whom you still hope to share a little mystery in life. Someone you don’t have an interest in subjecting to your private emanations.

An example. It’s bedtime. You’re tired. But there’s a bit of a rumble, and you’d like to settle things down before getting horizontal. Your significant other is in the bathroom brushing his teeth when you have a brilliant idea: a quick pop into the bedroom closet. It has a little window that’s always open, thanks to the high humidity of living near water, and neither of you ever goes in there right before bed. It’s foolproof.

Only it isn’t. Your peppermint-breath partner comes into the bedroom, pulls back the covers, then remembers something he needs to get out of the closet. If he senses a disturbance while in there, he doesn’t say anything, but you’re glad the light is off so he can’t see your flushed face.

You wonder how people who live in those tiny houses do it. Each story you read follows a similar format. A (usually white) couple gets tired of the citified rat race, cashes in their big fat 401(k)s and buys/builds a 150 sq ft home on wheels. They talk about simplifying, getting back to the land, rising and falling with the sun. But they never mention the gas.

You do a little medi-googling to see if perhaps there’s something you can do to address this issue, which wasn’t such a big deal when you lived in a bigger house. You find that gas is the natural byproduct of a healthy digestive system. In fact, the average person farts between 10 and 20 times a day. Then you read about a poor soul, a 32 year old with excessive gas.

The patient maintained a meticulous recording of each passage of rectal gas over a period of months, which showed a frequency that usually exceeded 50 times/day and occasionally reached values of 129 times/day (see Fig. 1).

Suddenly you don’t feel so bad about things. It could be worse. You could be recording every fart in a spreadsheet.

turning the camera around

As of yesterday, we’re a month away from the one-year anniversary of our arrival in Pacific Grove. Since I haven’t really shown much of the town we live in beyond the bit that lies along the coast, I’m going to share some snaps I’ve taken recently. Pardon the image quality–most of these shots were taken from a moving car or while on a walk (and also moving) or through a window. One of these days I’ll take my real camera along and stand still whilst pressing the button.

we'll start at the ocean and work our way inland - this is the beach at Lover's Point - the water is usually upper 50s, but there are always a few brave souls who go in without wet suits
this is the beach at Lover’s Point – the water is usually upper 50s, but there are always a few brave souls who go in without wet suits – the mound of rocks in the background is the point, which used to be called Lovers of Jesus Point because this town was originally a Methodist retreat camp
the beach from a slightly different angle
the beach from a slightly different angle – Monterey Bay Aquarium is just around that point in the background – the very large yellow house on the right is now a bed and breakfast called Seven Gables Inn – in the morning, the smell of bacon can be enjoyed up to a block away from this place – since change isn’t allowed much around here (with all the good and bad that entails), most huge homes like this have become places to spend the night
moving inland a bit
beyond the stately old homes, regular houses run the gamut here, from 800 square foot adobes
to 1,100 square foot bungalows (this one houses Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, a super cool organization that finds homes for senior dogs in shelters and dogs whose guardians can no longer take care of them)
to places with multiple stories – some have dolphins hanging around on the porch
others have dozens of teddy bears staring out the window…and their eyes appear to move with you when you pass by…either pleading for you to free them or calculating how big a leap they’d have to take to reach your throat with their teeth
the abundant deer are hell on your flowers, but they add a nice touch to your yard
there are cool, funky touches here and there – this place is currently for sale (see link below for more views of the property)
most lots are just a tiny bit bigger than the houses that sit on them – we’re lucky to have a triple lot–one lot for the house, one lot for the garage (rare around here) and one lot for the dog poop – my office is in the back, so I’m less than 20 feet from the house behind us – it’s some kind of Air B&B  situation, with different people renting it each weekend – when they stand on the upstairs deck to gaze at the ocean, they leave a nice creepy shadow on our garage, which is a good reminder that I should close the curtain or put some pants on
trees trees everywhere – also, even though this home is large and lovely, check out how tiny the lot is
this is the widest street in Pacific Grove – look at all that traffic
same shot, with fog rolling in –  it creeps up from the coast and circles you in a damp embrace – when it’s thick, it gives you an odd (and not entirely unwelcome) feeling of solitude – this is where the sidewalk ends
downtown is a five-minute walk from our house – lots of places to eat, a movie theater, antique shops – the usual small town downtown suspects – the speed limit is 15 mph through here, unlike the rest of town which is a brisk 25 mph
it’s shots like this that bring out the Amity Island aspect of this place – doesn’t that look like foreshadowing?
there’s only one barbecue joint – they don’t really “do” BBQ out here – or queso – or kolaches – which is why James and I should open a food truck that serves BBQ, queso and kolaches – get some Texas fusion up in this B
this is the Jacksons’ house – Mrs. Jackson has an eye disorder that is taking her ability to see everything but the brightest of colors, so Mr. Jackson went about decorating the house for her so she could always find her way home – we saw this place when we came out here on our scouting trip before we moved, and its existence made me think this town is alright – I’ll take some better pictures of this place soon and post them here (it’s much more vibrant than this photo would suggest)
the good thing about so much moisture in the air? rainbows - or, in this case, double rainbows
double rainbow, man

The house with amazing stonework that’s for sale
Peace of Mind Dog Rescue
Wiki history of Pacific Grove