Monday, September 29, 2008


There were six of us at supper last night. We met at a neighbor's house about six miles away. Turn off the black top, go a few miles, turn left at the stock tank and drive a couple more miles to a secluded spot on the side of a cinder cone where the view of the Painted Desert is spectacular.

On the way Julie and I picked up a young lady in her mid-thirties. As we drove she repeated something I've heard her say before: "This year has been the worst year of my life. I don't think I could go through anything worse but I think the worst is over." The first anniversary of her husband's unexpected death is about three weeks away.

Another person arrived before us. He lives in our area and starts a new job next week. He's been unemployed for the last four months and has been feeling the stress of finding a job. He was laid off from his previous job without warning.

The couple who hosted supper live in a modest place. At one time back in the 90's he earned over 100K per year. That was before they became homeless. I've heard the wife say it more than once and the depth of her emotion always comes through strongly: "I'll never be homeless again."

None of us are natives of Arizona. We came here from Virgina, Kentucky, Texas, California, Colorado and Utah. We all live on solar, haul water and have learned to adapt to a simpler lifestyle.

Early conversation, at least the conversation I heard, revolved around water, firewood and generators. Since the local water station is in need of repair we discussed other stations, their locations and whether they accepted coins or cards. The discussion moved to firewood for the winter. Julie and I have a national forest permit to cut wood. The young widow was asking about who delivered wood and the cost.

Simple, important conversation about the necessities of life. Later the conversation included conspiracy theories, joking, philosophies about life, humorous experiences at clothing optional springs and beaches, life experiences and more philosophy.

We never really discussed the current financial crisis. Somehow it's not important. Water is important. Firewood is important. Friends are important. We kept the conversation on the things that matter.

I had a wonderful time.

This morning I reflected on the evening and the financial situation. Personally, I wonder if it might be a good thing to let the economy slow down and correct itself without federal intervention. Yes, it will be hard on some people. I may have to postpone retiring and work a few years more but I don't mind. Some people will struggle but some people might benefit in an unexpected way. They may learn the differences between needs and wants. It's possible that some people will re-learn or learn for the first time the satisfaction that comes not from things but from self-reliance, from pulling together as a family, from friends and good times at a potluck supper.


Blogger anonymous julie said...

Paul, it sounds wonderful. The whole thing. Living simpler (damn the city and dressing up for my stupid job) and letting my chief worries be heating the place and what to make for dinner.

A friend wants to buy some land in Arizona, for similar reasons.

My personal hope for the current crisis is that I'll make a little money for savings in the volatility.

9/30/2008 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


Maybe we all need to get closer to the plow and the anvil, reading the land and people, and cultivate hardy and hearty.

BTW, I wanted to mention re your reading list, that I recently read Doug Fine's book: Farewell, My Subaru. It's about how a journalistic wanderer greenhorn starts homesteading - easy reading and tongue in cheek. You'll appreciate his comments about water supply, and rattle snakes.


9/30/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Tim, thanks for the book recommendation. I checked it on Amazon and the reviews were good. I think I'll check the local library and used book stores.

9/30/2008 03:27:00 PM  

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