(If you read a different blog earlier today you should ignore it. it was unedited and incomplete. This is a real piece of writing.)
Cabin life. I have been asked how that is going. It is a question I receive fairly frequently, and it deserves a sufficient answer.
To start, this blog has changed a bit in the direction it was going, a fact I can no longer ignore. I was traveling across the country on my motorcycle. That was the purpose of this blog when it was created. The sole purpose was to write it all down and keep readers updated on the trip.
I am no longer riding around the country on my motorcycle.
That is almost as big of a change for this blog as it has been for me. We are both going through radical changes, and if you are still reading this that means you want to hear about them, so let me tell you.
Cabin life, that is what life is now. Traveler life has shifted and given over to the pause of a stagnate lifestyle. Stagnate in the sense that I am stopped in one place, not moving from state to state on my motorcycle from day to day. In relation to the past eight months it is stagnate, but in relation to the life of travelling Diamond, it is not stagnate. And I love it.
First off, as I mentioned in a previous blog, I have a garden that I am taking care of. I am looking forward to the produce from it, but for now I find comfort in its loamy dark soil and spring smell. I am located on a large piece of land that is host to thistles and so when not working in the garden I am trying to cull the herd that those prickly weeds have produced. I also baked a cake for my landlord, a feat I am particularly proud of. It was his birthday and I knew he needed a cake, and I also needed him to like me, so I baked. I love a good excuse to mix up a batter.
Beyond that, all the household goodies, I am also creating art, probably my favorite part of cabin life. I have a whole cabin to call my studio, and that’s what I’m doing. I am getting used to this new freedom, and I am just getting my legs under me, so to speak. I’m starting to stretch out, reminding myself that I can put my easel and my paints wherever I like. I can paint, or draw, or wood-burn, I can do whatever I want, it is my space. I can turn up the radio and dance, and drink wine, and I have no worry that someone is going to knock on my door and tell me to tone it down. I didn’t know how much I needed this in my life.
Though life feels like all play right now it isn’t. There is a lot of work in the form of chores and also making art a full time gig. I have been sitting in front of a screen typing quite a bit. I also have been drawing up sketches, and pounding the pavement. Life as an independent artist is always a little more work than it seems it should be. Not that I’m complaining. The pounding of my feet is filled with gratitude. I have a mantra of “thank you, thank you,” filling my head at all times.
Even though I enjoy my job it is still a job and like they say, “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” I would amend that a bit for my case, but the sentiment is still the same. I have the work part down pat, and it seems the play is pretty good too. Being home means I’m surrounded by friends. It means I can wander into a CD release and meet up with my friend in charge and get invited to best seats in the house. It means that I am invited out to shows, not just listen to music, but do sound, and at that point I get to play and call it work. Being at home means I can go out to listen to live music and know the musicians on the stage. It means I know the bartenders, and they know me, and don’t have to card me. Being home means I get invited out to dinner and have a couch to crash on, and a hot shower waiting at the other end. I had friends, meals and hot showers all, across the country, but it is amazing how great it is to have a home to go back too, instead of just a tent pitched on ever changing landscapes.
I have found work at home. Here among the trees I have continued down the path of independent artist, and it seems to be working. I was hoping to do all this art stuff off the back of the motorcycle, but the weather has made that difficult, as well as cold. I have switched over to a freer structure in the way I plan things. For example, maybe I will strap the tent on the back of the bike, and maybe the rain will chase me home to get my truck, and the tent will get tossed on tOl’ Smokey when I pack up, while Little Wings sits bravely parked outside of the cabin.
I have begun to call the cabin The Woodshed, just as a side note. It fits right in next to the woodpile, it is built of wood, and it is in the woods, so The Woodshed is the perfect name for it. That is the name of the next blog (Not. One Blog is good enough, I barely keep up with this one).
Back to Little Wing being parked at The Woodshed, that is actually currently the case. I am parked in Grand Rapids, MN, on my old roommate’s couch, with Ol’ Smokey (the truck) parked outside, while Little Wing holds things down at The Woodshed. This is a switch I made on Saturday in the midst of a rainstorm, because here, in Minnesota, it has been raining like crazy. The last week and a half has been busy busy. Two Friday’s ago it was my landlords birthday. He turned a ripe old age of a number I’d rather not mention, and I made him a cake. I finished weeding the garden for his birthday, and I pulled up thistle. He came out to to the land on his birthday with a tiller and some beers and tilled up the garden. We shared some beers, planted some vegetables, and ate some cake. It was a great birthday party, if I do say so myself. At the time I knew I would be heading off to work for the next couple of weeks. I knew that after planting those new seeds I wouldn’t be around to water them for a a bit. That night, and the next one, though, I had bigger problems, because the frost came in. So after Landlord Larson went home I made sure to cover up plants. Fortunately, on the day I was to leave The Woodshed and the garden to go to work, the threat of frost had passed.
My first leg of this two week working stint started with a finishing up a grant proposal. I currently have a pretty awesome project in mind, but I am searching out funding (details after the chickens have hatched). I turned in the grant, hopped on Little Wing, and rode to the next leg of my two week adventure; a music Festival in Waubun, MN. I was to do live art at the festival, as well as help setup, since I wouldn’t be available to tear down. I showed up a couple nights before the actual festival and I was pleased to find work painting signs in preparation. When that got boring I switched over to helping put up fences and and other random chores. The best part about the volunteering to help set up wasn’t the work, per say, it was the people I met doing so. People who volunteer to help with music festivals are usually a different breed, and I felt as though I found at least a dozen, new, best-friends. The Music Festival actually started Thursday, and that’s when I got to put paintbrush to canvas, and the meeting of cool people had only just begun.
The weekend was fun, the music was a blast, and I was painting. The festival world was turning at a different pace than I, though. I had an awareness of the work I had the rest of the week. I had been commissioned to paint a street on Saturday morning in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I new I would be riding my motorcycle to the event, and I knew I would be leaving early. It was a two and half hour ride from Waubun to Grand Rapids.
The ride to Grand Rapids held an impending promise of rain. I could smell and taste the rain hanging thick above me. As I had rolled out of sleeping bag, 30 minutes before actual departure, the sky had actually let loose a little sprinkle. I put on my rain pants, bagged up anything that might get wet, and mounted Little Wing. At 7:00 am I was off with the knowledge that I had to be in Rapids by 10:00.
It was a gorgeous ride, and there was only a bit of rain here and there, not enough to get my socks wet. It was a winding ride, though, and required slowing down through some parts. I arrived only a couple of minutes late, and I was greeted by a box of chalk spray paint and an open invitation to graffiti the intersection that bordered the cop-shop. The streets were closed off for an event put on by a local organization, Get Fit Itasca. The event was called Open Streets and it was being put on to send a message out to the community that individuals don’t always have to be driving, and also that streets are for pedestrians and bikers too. I agreed with the message wholeheartedly, so I was glad to be a part of it. I also enjoyed the idea that the organization was going out of their way to promote and support local artists. Getting paid for an art gig is always a positive, as well.
The clouds had not dissipated and the promise if impending rain was only get louder. I could feel the wind pick up (not the best thing when spray painting). I knew that the rain would come before my three hours that were set aside for painting the street were up. People rode past on bicycles and commented on the painting. A few seven year old boy’s took it into there mind to yell “vandalism” at me whenever they rode past, which was often because they thought themselves clever. The streets were blocked off and the police officers were stationed around the barricades. It was a funny thing using a spray can to paint while cops stood near by, lights flashing to give heed to cars that didn’t notice the orange barricades. One cop stood near by and he kept coming over to take a look and smile. He made a joke about taking some of the spray chalk to the Fire Department building which stood right next to the police station. Like I said, it was a funny thing to be using a spray can in front of a cop.
The rain did come down before I was done. About the same time my paint supply began to run real low and the wind picked up I finished up and reported back to the woman who commissioned me. I hopped on Little Wing and rode towards home to pick up some more paint that I had forgotten for live painting. The rain was light at first, but by the time I rode the hour and half back to The Woodshed it had picked up. The storm felt torrential, and I was soaked. My waterproof jacket was starting to give in to the moisture and my socks were beyond wet. I rode into a muddy yard at my home and considered my options. I saw the truck, Ol’ Smokey, waiting patiently for nothing special. I went into the cabin and stripped of my motorcycle gear, tossed on some cute, non-riding garb, and grabbed my paint. I packed myself into Ol’ Smokey and waved goodbye to Little Wing.
It is a strange thing to have the option to trade vehicles. Had I been anywhere else, say across the country, I would have just had to buck up and ride until I got to a dry place to set up camp. Here, at home, I have the option to switch to my 92 Ford Ranger. Life, it is strange.
I arrived back at the music festival, and was welcomed by the friendly faces of my new friends, and a mud pit. I drove straight into the mud pit while looking for parking in my change of vehicle. It is a good thing to be friends with the owners of the festivals at times like those. I was pulled out of the muck hole by one of the owners of the property with the aid of his bobcat. I hadn’t yet met him, but I knew his brothers and his mom and I feel it was quite the bonding experience. I was tired from my adventure of the day, and the ride through the cool rain. I had painted the street and so my artistic intellect felt tapped. I made a conscious decision to not live paint, and instead chose to hang around, stay up late, and talk with friends, the way I usually do when I’m not working a music festival. I knew that more work welcomed me Monday.
It was a great night. I woke up late Sunday, and the rain had stopped. The clouds, however, never left. And the rain has been off and on since that torrential downpour on Saturday. All I can think is how good it is for my neglected garden since I’m not there to water it. Home, The Woodshed, remains unoccupied. Sunday I drove from Waubun, MN to The Woodshed where I picked up and dropped off clothes. I gave Little Wing a pat and hopped back in Ol’ Smokey to drive the hour and a half back to Grand Rapids where I am currently, sitting on my roommates couch,while teaching young children during the day.
While I was blogging on the road I may have failed to mention exactly how much of an Artist I am. I am a full time, self employed, contracting artist, and that is how I make my living. I have taught art in the past, and this week I continue that practice by teaching children, ages 5-10. We are doing wonderfully crazy and messy art, and they love it, as do I. Teaching children is magic because their brains are so extremely different, while their minds are so open to new things. They are much more interesting then adults in that respect. I feel that most people tend to think children need much more guidance than they do, but what I find is that if you give a child a paintbrush or bottle of glue combined with the right directions they will create pieces that are stronger than some of the pieces I create, or any trained artist for that matter. Step back and monitor, that’s about all I do. Then I walk away inspired.
My life is full of so many different dichotomies. A music festival one week, teaching kids the next. The only common thread between the odd choices and jobs I make in life is the art I complete from place to place.
Cabin life, how is it? Cabin life is grand. Cabin life feels like home. The Woodshed has captured my heart. I just put speakers in my truck, and after I finish typing this I am going online and ordering a new caliper for the front tire. I am going to go visit my Dad soon. I have been making plans to see all my friends. Tomorrow night, after teaching my 5-10 year old students, I will be going back home to catch live music. I will be checking out the garden at The Woodshed, and giving Little Wing another pat. I am an artist. I am traveling, even if it is shorter distances.. and in my truck.
What am I doing now? What am I up to?
I think that is a sufficient answer.