The time my husband and I spent building our cabin in the country and living off the grid was physically demanding, educational, emotionally challenging, and truly inspiring. During that time, I developed a deep admiration for our early American pioneers. A well of gratitude grew within me for what these people gave to our country physically and materially…not to mention spiritually. These people were very resistant. One has to be to go on and do it by living on the land and building everything from scratch. The women of this time period deserve the highest praise.

My time without running water and an indoor bathroom was difficult. Going through that time of the month without access to proper facilities is no fun at all. I can’t imagine having to be pregnant or have small children on top of all that. It’s hard to stay clean in general. Laundry is a big, big deal. Washing the dishes is an important, important matter. Anything that involves hot water requires at least twice the time it would have taken you. Your day begins and ends with daylight rising or setting. The comfort and warmth of a simple fire can bring the greatest satisfaction and joy. Certainly there are challenges at every turn… but the stars are oh so beautiful!

I was lucky because my husband was a really hardworking and smart man. He immediately installed our solar panels and connected the inverter to the battery bank. He installed an ingenious gravity water system, which in a hundred years I would never have thought of. He was such a talented and meticulous carpenter. He built our front porch after leveling our cabin. He installed all of our doors. He hung up all the plaster. He did all the electricity. He put in all the insulation…well, I helped with that. Mainly, I just handed him screws or nails and made sure his batteries were always charged. I did a lot of caulking. Well… and he fed it regularly, but that’s a fact of course.

When my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we had no running water and no indoor bathroom. After his death, it fell to me to complete the rest of the cabin with the bathroom and kitchen now added, alone…or it would rot and be all for naught. Obviously, he couldn’t let all that work go to waste. So since his death, I’ve been finishing up our cabin. I think it will always be a work in progress. Most houses are, but I’ve gotten it in a mostly civilized state. As the wife of a carpenter, I learned many skills after many years of marriage. I put my own flat. I framed the windows and installed the base molding. I did some of the piping. Works. I have learned many practical things.

I have learned to operate many power tools… which I have to admit are a lot of fun. I like to sand. I enjoy painting… and to my complete surprise, I even enjoy working with metal. Who knows? These are certain skills that I would never have accessed without knowing my husband. In any case, I don’t think I’ll be staying much longer in my beloved cabin. My time here is coming to an end. I can feel it inside. I don’t know where, but I’m moving soon. This was a dream that my husband and I dreamed of… but now, he is gone. Although this is a beautiful place, I cannot stay here. If I do, I will be stuck emotionally and spiritually. I can’t let that happen. Great adventures await me, but this dream of an isolated rural cabin must come to an end. He is one I will always remember…but in my heart, I know it’s over. Like the pioneers of the past, I must always move towards the unknown. I’m not afraid. I am stock heavy duty.

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