Friday, October 11, 2013

Wildcrafting Home

(Yep. It's official: we are moving. To this shack! It's surprisingly spacious and well-light on the inside!)

You know how sometimes you stand in the brink of something big, a change in jobs, relationships, moving a to another city, or a different country? When your old life is about to end, a new one hasn't quite begun yet and you feel nothing but the vertigo of knowing that you should be throwing yourself into it, but instead you hold on for dear life, stand on the edge of the known world, peering down into the darkness of the new...

It's often just then that something comes along and nudges you in the direction you're supposed to be going. Sometimes it's just a small sign, a bird above your head, a flower on the trail, a book fallen open on the right page, an event of synchronicity, or intuition on the part of a friend, or a stranger. At others it's a big blaring, obvious trumpet, a floodlight that goes on and illuminates everything.

Well that's kind of what this house seemed to be for us when it first appeared in the horizon.

I'm the kind of person who prefers to keep their cards close to their chest until things are certain, if not done. It's partly out of superstition,  and partly because it's easier to deal with possible set-backs if you don't have to keep explaining to folks why that thing you told them about isn't going to transpire. I hope  ya'll excuse my continued obtuseness.

So, for reasons untold, a while ago we started talking about moving away from our little house by the sea. Our initial plans did certainly not involve a giant house, but rather the opposite: buying a bus, renting a small cabin, even maybe moving in with some friends. That's always been our plan when we've broached the subject, because finding good housing here can be really difficult, there's not much of a spectrum of places that are affordable and even pretty crummy houses can go for a lot of money because of this. Renting a subpar house around the size of our old ramshackle, but rent free house, didn't seem like a doable thing.We planned to get rid of a bunch of stuff, rent a storage unit and figure out how to do the things we do a little closer to the bone still.  That was our plan. And then it all went gloriously and quite literally South.

Like any city, town or even another island, this Island too has different nooks and neighborhoods, all with their own, distinct character, indigenous species, small eco-systems, and even slightly different weather at times. When discussing geographic locations people mostly talk about the North End and the South End. These are about fifteen miles apart from each other at their furthest points.

For the last five years we've lived in the very far North End, close to the ferry landing and the village, but before that we both lived on the South End, and it's always been our hope and dream to eventually relocate.

To the casual observer there would probably appear to be very little difference between the two, but us islanders know that the South End is quieter, less populated and according to long term data, somewhat sunnier.

Most importantly, a lot of our really close friends live down here, and in the winter we've been trekking down pretty regularly to visit and work on stuff. Of course on the turnside, we're leaving a bunch of good friends to the other end of the island too. Hopefully we can make that grueling twenty-five minute drive often enough.

You know how you make plans and then something completely different ends up happening? Maybe it's fate, or dumb luck, or maybe things sometimes work out just how they should, but the opportunity came up for the perfect house for our changing situation.

Now, I try my hardest not be one of those new age hippies who believe (and like to preach) that you manifest your own good fortune. There's a outsize entitlement in believing that the Universe is just waiting to give you everything you want if you just demand it.  I find that kind of thinking annoying, and more importantly un-empathetic towards other people's hardships. If your financial and physical fortunes are totally up to your attitude, then the logical conclusion is that those without such luck are just a bunch of negative nay-sayers who don't have, in the new age parlance, "an abundance mentality".

Often the very same folks who believe their good fortunes are just well-deserved rewards, also seem to think that their hardships and bad luck have nothing to do with them, but are rather unfair. It's one of the many dichotomies, or outright cognitive dissonances that sometimes stand on the turn sides of female empowerment.

I actually totally believe in a lot of the power of positive thinking, but I believe that the measure of our positive thinking is how well it holds up in the face of adversity, making most of what you have and the humility to receive the lessons that tough times teach us.

In my humble opinion the Universe, Fate, God, or whomever is waiting alright, but rather than give you what you want, it might just give you what you need and sometimes it's a swift kick in the ass.

But as I said before, I do totally believe, based on nothing but my own experience that often things line up in a way that when you look back at it later seems fated, meant to be.

So here we are. In house so big, what you're seeing are just the two rooms we're currently inhabiting. There's two bedrooms, a huge kitchen, a laundry room,  odd closet and passage ways big enough for library space, and my favorite, a pantry. Oh and a giant room as big as most of our old house. Talk about a living room. It's a lot more room than we were looking for, yet already all these opportunities to do things with it have showed up at our doorstep.

I don't expect this kind of spaciousness to be a permanent part of our lives, but while we have it I feel obliged to enjoy it. When good things come to me, I implore myself to adhere to my wild-crafting rules: just as it's impolite to take, expect, or demand more than one's fair share, it is also not good manners to not receive that which is offered to you, be it mushrooms, luck, or love.

It follows then that right now I'm reveling in the possibilities of this place.

The other perks of the house include the fact that the landlords are our friends, good, kind folk, who as much as we'd like them to live in it themselves, needed to rent the house at this point in their lives.

The location is perfect for the other changes that are coming in the next few months.

There's room for both of us to have a workspace. There's a chicken coop to fix up. A wood cookstove. So much light it's easy to get up early in the morning, patter to the dark kitchen at six and watch the sun inch her way above the treeline.  There's an old homestead cabin that's the perfect backdrop for shop photos.

I mean, it would have been really hard to say no. Even if, as it turns out, keeping an old wood cookstove going is a lot of work.

After five years of living minimally (in terms of what we wanted/needed) with time to do the things we wanted to because we didn't have to pay rent, we were intimidated by the idea of having to come up with that amount of money each month. Yet we also figure, it's someone else's turn to get that perk. Our old house has been a starter home for a lot awesome Island folk. One of the things I've learned about money is that you can't spend a lot of time worrying about it. We'll figure out the rent piece somehow and the what we're paying is a great price for this sweet house.

Still I wondered: what about making sure we lived within our means? What about simplifying? Isn't a big place and a sizable chunk of money to come up with every month going to complicate our lives?

The thing is, if there's one lesson I've learned in this life, it's that you need to be firm on your principles but flexible about how you get to where you need to go. There's certain things that I don't think I could compromise on, but as things change, so does my view how we're going to get there. There, being the kind of life we're trying to make. Self-reliant, fun, meaningful, fulfilling, interesting, radical, communal...

Right now it seems like this giant house is where it's at. Where we make a fresh start for something completely different, yet oddly familiar. I can't wait 'till the moment I can unveil it all.

I'm loving setting things up, but even more I'm loving biking and walking in a new neighborhood, having a designated meditation corner, a big table to write on, a new landscape to look at.

We're all still figuring out what to make of it. Not just the change, but seriously, the sheer space of it. How to use it, how to heat it, how to be in it. The cats have got it figured out: when suddenly faced with a huge space find a contained island of softness to nap on.

The things that make a home are so small. Flowers from our friends and neighbors. Handmade art from Anne and Missa. Salt and bread according to an old scandinavian folk tradition.

Wherever my family is.

Big or small.

Most of all, home seems to be in the present. Not the dream homestead (hopestead) we'll cultivate someday, not the garden we hope to have, not the moment when all of our furniture arrives, or when it's organized into its carefully designated spot. Those things might never happen.

Home is here. Now.

We carry it with us when we're away. We feel grateful to return to it. It's our good luck, a reminder everyday that we're okay and better than okay.

So here we are, wildcrafting a home, a place in space, in the wilderness of you 


  1. Wow, that looks so beautiful. I am envious of your nature and your space.

    Thanks, also, for sharing your thoughts on positive thinking. I feel very similarly!

  2. welcome to your light filled, mossy roofed, beautifully spacious home!
    happy nesting.

    and yes, you're right about home being 'now'. it is less a geographical point on a map, less solid than we imagine and more of a feeling.

  3. I already thought you had the most beautiful home in the world and now this! What a fabulous house. Enjoy, enjoy!

  4. Such a lovely space. Enjoy. But I especially loved reading your thoughts on the belief that some have on letting the universe know your wants and receiving them, you know until something shitty happens and then it's someone else's fault. I completly agree with you, just never could put it into words. So thanks for that :)

  5. I am just so so so happy for you both. Thank you for your wonderful writings and your positivity. It was exactly what I needed to hear/read today. We just relocated from very near to you in the PNW all the way to south Texas and I'm feeling a little bit like a fish out of water. Missing the familiar and all that. So, thanks. I feel encouraged. Can't wait to see more of your new home!

    1. Where in south Texas are you? I'm in new braunfels (central Texas), trying to relocate up to the PNW...

    2. We are in the Houston area. Whereabouts are you hoping to moving within the PNW? You'll like it very much - we knew several people who were transplants from Texas and loved it. :)

  6. Milla, Milla... This makes me so deeply happy. Every word and image sends warm vibrations to my soul and yes! You are so right about it all. Keeping your cards close, accepting what the universe sends us so we know it's time to make that big leap of faith, and then discovering that we are flying.

    How can we be, all of a sudden, so grounded and yet so wonderfully, confidently floating into the present moment? We discover whole new perspectives - new and fresh, yet strangely familiar. Like this incredible, very plausible home of yours.

    With many, beautiful projects patiently waiting to be manifested in this wide, welcoming space :o)


  7. oh sweet goddess milla, it is GORGEOUS! i am thrilled beyond belief for you guys, all of you, kitties too :) I can see that you are making this a milla and charlie space in every possible way, handmade pot holders to plants and tarot cards and farm rugs, and oh my that beautiful old cookstove seems to fit you guys to a tee. i hope it stays warm enough in that big beautiful space, but also i am a huge believer in heavy quilts on the beds in the wintertime rather than super warm air all through the house. i love what you wrote about positive thinking. like pickle said, i totally agree but just couldn't have put it into words. and i like to think i approach both the gifts and the set-backs that the universe/god/goddess/nature/myself hands me with attention and acceptance. we are rather in financial dire straits at the moment, but i honestly feel rather blithely FINE about it. we love our life. we are busy and our bellies are full (some of us more than others, haha) and our baby is happy. in any case, congratulations and i am super in love with that moss covered cabin!

  8. I love this whole post very much, but this bit best of all:

    "I actually totally believe in a lot of the power of positive thinking, but I believe that the measure of our positive thinking is how well it holds up in the face of adversity, making most of what you have and the humility to receive the lessons that though times teach us.

    In my humble opinion the Universe, Fate, God, or whomever is waiting alright, but rather than give you what you want, it might just give you what you need and sometimes it's a swift kick in the ass."


  9. wow. so beautiful. you deserve the luxury and light, Milla, you really do.

  10. Oh, man. I left a giant comment earlier, when I was at work today (trying to be all stealth), but tragically, the whole thing corrupted, and it never posted. So..

    First of all, congratulations on your new space! I don't think it could be any dreamier. I love to envision hubs and I having our own island space, and so it is so amazing to have this glimpse into your wildcrafting.

    As far as manifestation, hubs has an aversion to the word. Honestly, I use it liberally in my life, but to be fair, like you, I agree that manifesting doesn't = entitlement. I think that in order to create, you need to invest the effort - it's part of demonstrating to the Universe that you're prepared to welcome what you desire. Sometimes the Universe is playful, and will grant me the saffron-coloured cardigan I pine for so badly during a random thrift shop, so long as I ask (because there's no harm in asking)...but I think the act of doing is so pivotal in the creating.

    I have the biggest crush on your island life, your mode of living, your unique perspective. I have visions of hubs and I relocating to our own island space at some point in time. We have a Gulf Island weekend booked for my 30th birthday in November, and I'm looking forward to it so much - I always find such visits so restorative.


  11. News so lovely and comforting that I feel compelled to post a comment :) Good luck to all of you!

  12. Löysin blogisi sattumalta googlettamalla "Russian scarf". Onpa järjettömän kaunista tekstiä, kiitos kiitos, aion lukea kaiken!!

  13. "It's just life. You can't beat life." (Alice Munro)

    Suolaa ja ruisleipää, näin vertauskuvallisesti, lähetän sinulle sinne.
    Ja tiedän mitä tarkoitat, kun kuvailet tuota uuden ja vanhan välissä rimpuilua. Tunnistan sen, muistan vielä kun oltiin "rakentamassa" kauppaa, olin vielä vanhassa työssä, mutten ollut vielä kertonut juuri kenellekään tulevasta suuresta askelesta. Moni ihmetteli varmasti miksi tahdoimme kolme vuotta sitten muuttaa 48 neliön kokoiseen asuntoon Kalliossa, kaksi aikuista, yksi teini, kaksi kissaa. Että "eikö se nyt ole ihan liian pieni teille." Ei ole, se on juuri sopiva, se on koti. Syyllisyyden ja jännityksen tunne, 138neliötä myymälätilaa, millä sen täytän? Voiko tällainen "hippi" olla yrittäjä? Mietinkö loppuelämäni vain myyntikatteita ja arvonlisäveroja ennen nukahtamista? Jos on tietynlainen arvomaailma, onko oikein tehdä sillä "bisnestä", mikä on sopivasti?.
    Mietin näitä asioita edelleen. Tunnen huonoa ommaatuntoa kaikesta mitä olen saanut, ja valtavaa ylpeyttä että uskalsin.
    Haluamisen ja tarvitsemisen ikuinen ristiriita. Ei auta kun elää vaan <3. Ei kohtalonuskosta, vaan juuri siten että kun katsoo taaksepäin, tapahtuneet asiat ovat kuin yksittäiset helmet nauhassa, juuri oikeassa järjestyksessä, erikokoisina, epäsuhtaisina, eri värisinä ja silti juuri oikeanlaisina.
    Odotan mitä kaikkea keksit.

    ("My head was like a magpie's nest lined with such bright scraps of information." A.M/Too much happiness).

  14. loving your new space milla. those windows! the sunlight! the stove!

  15. lovely, through and through. (Though that short loggy home looks like my kinda place; the one with a green living rooftop.) I love your blog and all the details. Thank You. Kerry

  16. What a beautiful space! You are so very fortunate :)

  17. Do I get a prize for guessing correctly? I totally sensed that you were moving. I kind of enjoy moving-- the change of scenery, the excitement of somewhere new. The physical movement not so much, but once there its just fun! Can't wait to hear and maybe see some more. I need to do a post soon on our new place too. Just planted Fall garden so we hopefully some bounty to report soon :)

  18. Was so worth the suspense. The moss covered roof! the wooden walls! the stove and all the window light! i'm in a dreamy, wistful place.

  19. Oh my goodness, Milla! How wonderful! I just realized that you have started blogging again (happy dance!) and have been reading up on your life. So many changes! What a beautiful space, beautiful words and a healthy optimistic look at life.
    I used to get all anxious and crazy at just the thought of moving, but after doing it so often, I realized that I would always be okay, always find a place to live, always find wonderful people and beautiful places. It's a comfort to set yourself free!

  20. What a beautiful cozy home, and what a neat opportunity! I love that you have a space to meditate. I've been wanting to incorporate more meditation into my life, but it seems my busy Southern Cali lifestyle is always holding me back. I find myself often yearning for the country, affordable housing, small town friendly folks and neighbors, yet I have so much to be grateful for in my present life, and I really need to mediate on that more because you are absolutely right: home is the present now.