last updated 5.27.24

May 19, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Bought my first bag of ice yesterday after work which means it's officially summer. Can't have milk going bad in the cooler. Even though technically the first day of the season is designated by the summer solstice which is when Earth tilts towards the sun the closest and this doesn't occur until around June 20th, summer usually begins for most people on Memorial Day which is next weekend. Ugh, another holiday that will come and go which I have no plans for. Memorial Day is not just another day to party. It's when we should recognize and remember our country's veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. This includes the soldiers who fought one another in our own Civil War and I believe that it should, also, include the thousands, if not millions, of Native Americans as well as African Americans (Buffalo Soldiers) who died in the long war between the United States and the original inhabitants of this land. I suspect when we die, we realize how pointless war is and that as human beings we all want the same thing, peace. If we could only evolve to this realization while living.

Ok nutjob, dial it back a little. You started off talking about a bag of ice. So ya, it's supposed to be in the 90's this week. Summer is here. I'm as psyched as I can be under the circumstances. I've got reliable work for the time being doing what I enjoy, puberty has hit once again and I've got bumps on my arms and shoulders where skin and bones used to be, my living situation is tremendously better than this time last year and my house will soon be 25% larger which means more room for one man dance parties and I need to start making hats and tshirts -I included this on the list in the hopes that it'll force me to finally do it.

I even got to do some dancing last night. MissLuna asked if I wanted to go with her to see her friend's band play at Deja Brew, the funky little place way out in the sticks that I checked out last summer, but have never actually been to. What an awesome event. There must have been 3 generations of party goers represented with plenty of age groups in between. MissLuna is definitely not a night person. She usually goes to bed very early so I joked that maybe we should take two vehicles so I didn't have to leave when I'd normally be arriving, but it was fine. I was happy to have something to do on a Saturday night, anything, other than embracing my daily dose of solitude which is true for her in a lot of ways as well. She confessed that she invited me so it would force her to go because she might not have gone alone. We've been cordial with one another, but even though I've been here almost a year there's still a little awkwardness to our interactions so I thought maybe this will be an opportunity to improve this. We got there around 7:30 so it was still light out, but there were cars already lined up and down the road on both sides. Good sign. There was a band set up and playing just inside the door when we walked in. No cover, no door person, how cool. I knew the place was small, but as we walked through the narrow room past the bar there was a back patio and through that a backyard with another stage set up and a larger band playing on it. Behind the stage was a 10ft. pyramid shaped burn pile of wood and pallets waiting to be set on fire. I love country people.

It turns out that the event was also a joint celebration for a few locals all having milestone birthdays. There was even free pizza. It's not always easy to get into a party mood when I don't know anyone and it's still broad daylight, but it was such a nice scene with kids running around playing games in one section of the yard, people hanging out on the patio, more people inside talking and listening to music and a few people (women) grooving in the grass in front of the stage out back that a person couldn't help, but have a good time. The band on stage even had a horn section and played classic covers like "Angel From Montgomery", but with a groovier danceable baseline along with a lot of originals. Other than the singer who was her friend, missLuna didn't know anyone either, but no biggie. It was a very welcoming vibe. The smaller band inside was good, too. It was crowded in there, but not so much that you couldn't move or had to wait forever for a beer which I got myself one and missLuna a margarita. You gotta love a place where it's just as acceptable to piss in the woods which is my preference as it is to use the restroom or the porta-potty outside. Sorry, I'm too undomesticated.

When it finally got dark enough, they set the big sculpture-like pile of wood ablaze and the scene was complete. I found a little spot off to the side of the stage so as to not draw too much attention to myself and eased into a very chill version of dancing and zoned out a little. A few others got the same idea so the group got bigger which allowed me to get lost in the mix and the music to take a break from life, the road, loneliness, everything. Then something surprised me. For a brief moment, I was almost thankful for the little drama I recently experienced, not for the drama itself. Still hate that, but to even have someone in my life for a short period of time is not something to be overlooked. For that, I felt lucky even if it wasn't under the best circumstances for either of us. Plenty of people don't have anyone. It made me smile especially seeing as the place was right down the road from her house and I wouldn't have been shocked if one of her children went running past me at any moment.

I wasn't sure where missLuna had gone off to. The last time I saw her she was talking to the singer when the band took a break. It was cool that they had the wherewithal to keep good music playing loud enough through the speakers in between sets so people could keep dancing. This isn't always the case in such a casual venue. In hindsight, I probably should have gone over and introduced myself, but I don't get out very often these days and I didn't know how much time I had so I wasn't obligating myself to do anything other than enjoy the night. I'm sure I would have gotten a chance to meet her friend if we were staying later than 9 o'clock, but that wasn't the case. I soon found missLuna inside when I went in to grab some water. I had a feeling our departure was approaching, but before it did I noticed someone who looked familiar standing by the bar.

It was missButterfly's mother. We both had big smiles on our faces when we recognized one another. As loud as it was in there, we had a nice talk. I listened as she filled me in on what was going on in her life. She's definitely not the typical grandmother. She wasn't staying at missButterfly's at the moment because the friend who was letting her use his tiny house parked on missButterfly's land was back for the weekend with his girlfriend so they were using it. I don't think she has an actual permanent residence until some type of matter is resolved concerning a piece of property in town. She grew up here, too. Eventually, to no surprise, the conversation made it's way around to missButterfly and myself and we had an antagonistic, but friendly little debate. She accused me of being one of those guys who's afraid to commit and if I'm not going to commit then the woman is allowed to do whatever she wants. Even though her third-party information wasn't exactly accurate, I entertained her point of view and rebutted with my own. MissLuna was almost beside herself with laughter watching us go back and forth. No progress was made and nothing resolved, but it was still pretty funny. Not exactly the positive ending I was imagining nor was it with the actual person I intend to have it with, but I'll figure out a way to make that happen before I leave here.

Maybe part of me is envious of those who can be so carefree regarding sex and dating because they have so many other people in their lives that it's not that big of a deal to them. I don't think I'd change my attitude towards any of it if this were the case for me, but I'm sure it would allow me to not take it all so seriously. On the flip side, I think the path I've taken makes me better at picking the right kind of person to be with as hard as she might be to find because I know myself a lot better than those with a million distractions in their lives. Granted, my recent track record doesn't exactly speak to this fact, but when I look at the circumstances of my life during the time when I allowed myself to get sucked into these situations against my better judgement, it wasn't very stable. Last fall when the mess I just got myself out of started, I was sleeping in a small enclosed trailer full of tools, boxes and bins, #MLR, I was in a new town where I didn't know anyone, the home I'd grown up in had just been sold and my father -the reason I'd come back here, and brother were now starting a new life on the other side of the country without me. I'm not making excuses. These facts don't justify my mistakes, but they do help me understand what contributed to me making them. I used to be very good at holding my ground when it came to matters of the heart. I've turned "it" down more times than I can count, but when you feel like a one-legged table it's easier for the wrong forces to lean you in the wrong direction. I've improved enough of these circumstances that it's time to be more myself, again, and put what I've learned to practice. I think the key is to not become judgemental when things don't go our way. We can't control the behavior of others and it's not wise to take anything they do personal, as difficult as this might be in the moment. If we're true to the type of person we want to be, that truth has a way of taking care of everything else.

Got a new hat with the name of the farm on it. Work boots, jeans, a clean white t-shirt and a new hat is a country boy's tuxedo. The dairy farm's not a huge place about 40 acres, but they run it solely themselves, a husband and wife duo. That's a lot of work for two people. They've got three small children, too. Took down a giant oak tree for them, yesterday. It was dead and too close to the barn for their comfort. They didn't want to try to take it down themselves because they were afraid it'd fall in the wrong direction, but I got it done safely for them. They've offered me plenty more work if I want it.

The walls for the addition to the tiny house are built, the rafters, roof and exterior sheathing are all prepped and ready to go on and I'm just waiting until I have two days off in a row to remove the door and front of the house to add on the new section then we'll see how things stand.

May 22, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
It's definitely summer, now. I was so filthy when I got out of work, today, that I pulled over at the bridge on my way home and jumped in the creek to rinse off. Twice.

May 24, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I love instincts. They're always right. They're not only my instincts. They're available to anyone and when you learn how to listen to them they become louder and easier to hear. It's like when a person loses their eyesight. Their hearing, sense of smell and touch all become much more powerful, far greater than a seeing person's. This is simply because someone who is blind has to rely on these faculties more than someone who can see. The same is true for listening to our instincts. All we have to do is stop relying on what we've always relied on, our erratic thoughts, and start listening to something much wiser. Your brain is just a computer. It can only work with the information that it's been given and only using the programs that have been installed on it. Our hearts, the faculty we use to sense our instincts, work much differently. They have non-linear intelligence and access to an infinite amount of information, more than we can even comprehend. Our instincts send us messages from the most vast data base that exists, the truth. The easiest way to start getting better at accessing this information is by being honest as much as possible, all the time if you can. Easier said than done in a world full of lies, I know, but the reward is far greater than you can imagine. This is Mother Nature's design. She is the database of truth and all truth is interconnected. Learn, accept and know the truth about yourself and you'll immediately possess your own key to unlock this door.

The problem with dishonest people is that they're not very bright. They actually think they're smart enough to deceive others or cheat the system and get away with it. They don't realize that there are lot more signs that only an honest person will notice that will reveal their behavior other than the lie they're trying to cover up. Yes, that old expression is true. "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." I think it was Mark Twain who said it. This is a very liberating perk to being honest, but the benefits are much greater.

Sadly, a recent example of dishonesty is my last interaction with missButterfly. She called on Tuesday afternoon and asked if we could meet up. She wanted to talk in person rather than on the phone which I can understand to some extent. I prefer talking in person as well, but she had more than talking in mind. She wanted to go for a hike and spend a few hours together. Yesterday when I arrived at the dirt parking lot in the woods at the base of the trails that led up to a scenic overlook not far from her house, I asked her what she wanted to talk about. She rode her bike there which I thought was cool. She told me that we could talk while we hiked. I just shook my head with a smirk at the nerve of this assumption. I told her, unfortunately, she hadn't said or done anything to make me want to go anywhere with her, but I still thought the right thing to do was give her an opportunity to talk so that's why I came. This was far enough. I knew her tricks by now even if she didn't.

A couple hours later, we actually made some progress and the overcast clouds broke up allowing the sun to shine through the trees a little. I even gave her a hug because I didn't have the heart not to. She'd been trying to get close to me since I got there. I calmly and without judgment explained that I was sorry, but I just didn't trust her. However eventually, I acquiesced because it was so clear that she really needed one. Then she tried to get me to come to her house to look at her tractor or take some extra roofing material she thought I might be able to use on my house that she had in her yard, but I didn't bite. All in all it was a positive experience even if she didn't get what she wanted. We, both, even smiled and laughed a little then unfortunately she let one of her lies slip and it all came crashing down. She built a house of cards using reasons, excuses and justifications which all "made sense", but my instincts were telling me something still didn't feel right as she was now trying to make plans for the future. All it took was one honest question from me to make it collapse. I wasn't even trying to do this. It was an innocent inadvertent question, but the look on her face said it all. She instantly realized all the progress she'd made in the last couple hours talking her way out of her most recent behavior was lost and she was going to have to start all over, again, but I didn't have any more time to give her.

It's really sad that a person can be so oblivious to their own schemes. At least, I think she's oblivious, but maybe I was wrong about this, too. I told her that I had to go. I even kissed her on the top of the head before I left as she stood by the edge of the woods facing away from me. Maybe she was unable to face the realization of what she had unknowingly done, again, or maybe she was unable to face me knowing that she'd gotten caught, again. I don't know which person she is. It's a shame. I was just as disappointed as she was. I desperately need more friends, but I can't allow someone who lies in my life. I don't think she's a bad person. Being honest takes practice. Most dishonest people don't consider themselves dishonest. They simply assert that they only lie about certain things. That's like saying most of a gallon jug is spring water and 10% of it is motor oil. Honesty doesn't work like that. I felt bad. I really did, but her lies hurt people, me included, and it's not my job to make her stop this behavior. She'll have to learn this on her own, if she chooses to. A world without consequences teaches us nothing. I even sent her an email when I got home because she had shared while we were talking that she thought about me all the time and felt awful since we'd last seen each other. I didn't want her feeling bad because of me. I told her that I wasn't mad at her. I just can't allow someone who behaves like that in my life and I wished her well with no hard feelings. No reply.

Honesty is not something you try once getting what you want a different way isn't working. It's not a strategy. Honesty is a way of life. It's something a person can dedicate themselves to at any age. It's a beautiful relationship that you can have with the infinite and all-knowing aspect of life. Call it God, Mother Nature, the universe, whatever you want. MissButterfly is a grown woman and has had her whole life to realize the value in this. She adamantly claimed that she never lied to me repeatedly which I thought was odd because I never accused her of lying, but it turns out she was lying to someone else about me. This is a perfect example of one of these obvious signs that I mentioned. It makes me cringe a little when someone admits to lying, but "Don't worry. I'm lying to someone else, not you," as if I'm dumb enough not to realize that I could be this someone next. If she believed in being honest on her own accord, none of our "misunderstandings" would have happened. I'm not even going to specify them. I'm humiliated enough for even allowing myself to get mixed up in her mess. Thank God for instincts or it would have been a lot worse.

Honesty truly is a labor of love. It's where love comes from. Desire is a whole other animal, but we can still tell the truth about this. Honesty is not one of many options that we can choose to adopt or not. It's our link to the truth which is already inside us. This is where we came from. It's how we were born. We're the only species that learns how to lie because we think we're sooo smart. It's never too late to realize we're not, but I guess you have to eventually get humble enough to accept this.

It would be easy to judge others for not being more honest and people definitely need to take responsibility for their behavior, but judgement is not the answer. We'll run out of people real quick if we start judging everyone. We're stuck with each other and ourselves. I've had to realize that some people simply don't know how to be honest. It takes a lot of practice starting when we become young adults after this world has already taught us how to lie as if it were a requirement to function within the system. The world certainly isn't going to teach us how to be honest so how will people learn? By living on the outskirts of mainstream life like I have? I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

May 27, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I get way too excited when I fix something for someone. The joystick (the lever that raises and lowers the bucket) on one of the tractor's at the farm broke off when mrs.Farmer was using it the other day and they asked me if I'd take a look at it. Apparently, this is not the first time it's happened and it cost them $1,200 to have it repaired because the tractor needs to be trailered to the dealership and the entire cab (the part where you sit inside) has to be removed in order to fix it. I looked at it on Saturday, took the remaining broken shaft of the joystick off temporarily to see how it is attached to the rest of the mechanism, picked up two 14mm bolts at the hardware store this afternoon and welded them together cap to cap in order to create a shaft with threads on both ends, screwed the joystick handle (which I brought with me) onto one end of it and tomorrow, I'll install it. Can't wait. Right now, they're using a pair of pliers clamped onto the broken shaft to operate the bucket which means they're not using that tractor very much which up until now was the tractor they used the most.

Tried visiting mr.Music in Fall River, Ma, which is over 2 hours from here, yesterday. It was his birthday and he had a gig with one of the bands he plays with near Battleship Cove so the plan was to surprise him. Bought him a funky new hat. He's a brother and is always rockin something stylish. I figured this would be a good thing to do for the holiday weekend, but I hit so much traffic before even getting halfway there that I bagged the idea after an hour of sitting on the expressway. We usually try to get together for all our b-days because he, mr.Model and myself all have them within a month of each other in the summer so that's the new plan.

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January 7, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I need a sled. We got our first real snow of the winter this week and the field my tiny house is parked in has a gradual slope which gets pretty steep at the top where I am. I'm not sure if I can make it all the way down to the road from here, but it'd be fun to try. I could probably use the lid off one of my big storage bins. I'm sure I'll have a few empty ones by the time I'm all packed up and ready to hit the road. It's great that I even want to go sledding. It's been a long journey back to the playful happy person I knew I could be. The unforgiveness of the road makes me cautious to celebrate how good I feel, but I can do both, respect the road and celebrate the joy of being alive, if I do it with discipline. I'm going to try and write more consistently, too. I've gone without it long enough which is fine, but if I look at it as a form of work by documenting the social experiment that has become my life, not a crutch for a vain ego, it seems like a worthwhile effort. Not sure if I'll post it in the blog, though.(uploaded 2.19.24)

January 11, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Eleven great days and counting. This must be some kind of record. At least, it is for me. I got some stuff done, today, enough to call it a productive one. I finished building 4 extra feet of deck space onto the back of the trailer to fit my 14.5' kayak so it's not sticking off the end. I like it when things look neat and organized, not cluttered. I loaded the kayak, generator, stock tank -that's a galvanized metal tub for feeding livestock or a bathtub for a redneck off-the-gridder like me, bike trailer and big deck box which I assembled this afternoon with most of my tools in it onto the flatbed section of the tiny house trailer and it all fits nicely and uncluttered with plenty of room for a motorcycle if I choose to get one. I'll build a rack for the kayak and my mountain bike next. Today, I just wanted to see if everything fit.

I'm still getting over a little cold that I got from my buddy, mr.Model, last week when I flew to Tennessee to look at some land with him. We spent three days driving around in a rental car together with him coughing the whole time. No biggie. I'll survive. He's back down there again, today, but I'm up here in western Mass sitting on my couch which I built just before Christmas in case I had any company, but I didn't. We had a couple sunny days earlier in the week and that's all I need to charge up my deep cycle battery in order to have the lights on in the house. It's a pretty simple life when being able to turn a light on at night is cause for celebration, but it is. Wouldn't have it any other way. It's a little after 5 so it's dark outside and the temperature is dropping. I just finished putting my tools away. It's nice and warm in the house so much that I just turned off the furnace which I, also, installed just before Christmas in case I had company, but I didn't. It has a built in thermostat so it will turn off once the temperature in the room reaches 70. I've still got layers of work clothes on so I don't need it that warm, right now. I keep it off to conserve propane. I'll install one of my mini-rocket-mass-mason stoves as a primary heat source once I design another one. For now, the furnace works great. It takes all of 3 minutes to make it nice and warm in here, one of the perks of living in a phonebooth.

I thought I was going to have company because when I drove to Maine earlier in December to register the trailer -I still have Maine plates and a Maine driver's license. If I got a new license and registration every time I moved, it would amount to thousands of dollars. Sorry, I'm not going to penalize myself for trying to live a simple and free life. Maine is where I've lived the most. Anyways, I realized that I'd be driving right past missFlowerchild's town which is about an hour and a half away from here so after a few minutes of contemplation I decided that I'd feel bad if I drove that close to where she lives and didn't say "Hi" so I texted her. It was a little too spur of the moment for her to have me stop by that evening, but she asked me to let her know when I'd be driving through on my way back so I did. I didn't realize until I was sitting at her kitchen table the next afternoon that I wanted to apologize to her for not being a better friend over the last few years. Now that I'm doing so well, I can see just how poorly I was doing when we met in 2020. It was a nice moment and I gave her a big hug as I went to leave. Before I arrived, she told me that she had stuff to do at 3pm so I knew it was going to be a quick visit. At that point, I was still sleeping on the floor of the tiny house at night which had no front door so I was eager to get back because I had plenty to do, too. Next thing I knew we were making out and she was stuffing her hand down the front of my pants. I've got to be careful who I hug in 2024. Those things are dangerous.

Before I left, the next day, she eagerly told me that she'd be in Montague the following week for the winter solstice which she celebrates with a group of women she meets with every year so I assumed I'd see her when she was in my town, but I didn't even hear from her. Not sure why. She's definitely still living the polyamorous lifestyle so maybe she had a different dude lined up already. It's a little odd that she was excited to tell me that she'd be just down the road from where I live and then crickets. Oh well, easy come easy go, I guess. I'm definitely not living the poly lifestyle and never will be. It hurt for a couple days that she drove all the way out here and didn't even say "Hi" while she was in town, but that was last year. All better now. The way I look at it is maybe it was a blessing in disguise. The possibility of having company motivated me to build the front door and buy a furnace. Now, if I ever do, it'll be cozy and warm in here.(uploaded 2.19.24)

January 12, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Before heading into Turners Falls to do laundry, I carried the deep cycle battery over to the spot in the field that slopes to the south and attached my little solar panel to it so it could charge while I was gone doing errands. It looks pretty funny sitting in the grass beside missLuna's giant array of panels that she has for her house. Picked up some paraffin lamp oil at the hardware store for the nights when I don't have electricity and a couple of 12 foot 2x4's at the lumber yard for a kayak rack. I've got to order a lift-spring for the small enclosed trailer's ramp door. It was missing one when I bought it this summer and a person can't lower the door to load stuff into it without one. The door would crush you. They're very heavy hence having a spring assist mechanism. I just used the front ramp door and the other side door all summer. Of course, I'm going to order one for the big door in the back and install it before I sell it. I'd like to find a little more work before I hit the road, too. I don't like spending money when I'm not making it, but finding short term work isn't always easy. Selling the enclosed trailer will help a little and it needs to happen before I leave anyways. I've already moved a lot of stuff out of it and into the tiny house, but I might have to part with a few things. We'll see. It's going to be close.

I've learned a lot from living as a happy person even if it's only been for a couple weeks. I'm sure I've been happy before at other times in my life. I just didn't realize or appreciate it like I do now. I remember an expression that I used to use when I was in my early 20's. "You won't recognize heaven unless you've been through hell." I thought it was something deep and cool to say. What did I know then about either heaven or hell, a middle-class white boy from suburbia? Anyone who's been through their own personal hell knows that it's got less to do with what's on the outside and more to do with what's going on in the inside. Everyone's rock bottom is different. For some, it could be lying in the gutter down a dark alley holding an empty bottle in a paper bag. For others, it could be losing it all in the stock market. For anyone, it's what drives a person to consider making the kind of fatal decision that you can't take back. However, let's be clear. A poor child starving in Somalia knows a little more about hell on the outside than a spoiled rich kid in America. We can't judge one another based on the lot in life we were born into. If these two children switched places, the Somalian child would grow up a spoiled American and the rich kid would know the trials of living in a third world country without even basic human necessities. A great deal of our lives is decided for us before we're even born despite how much emphasis is placed on freedom and individuality in this country. Who we are on the inside is based less on where we start our lives and more on how we finish them. The journey is about returning to who we are supposed to be if we at some point lost our way. I'm a long way from who this world tried to make me and much closer to who Mother Nature intended for me to be. This is the task at hand for each and everyone of us no matter where we were born or how we grew up. Our life becomes our own when we have no one to thank or blame for what we make of it. I didn't grow up rich, but some families in my town were. We were definitely rich compared to someone living in a third world country. It's all relative and I used to judge myself for where and how I grew up when I'd meet those who were less fortunate than me along the road I've taken, but the day finally arrived when I paid a toll that allows me to laugh and smile like I do, now. (uploaded 2.19.24)

January 19, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Three comforters, two sleeping bags and a heavy wool blanket. It's supposed to be in the single digits, tonight, but I'm as snug as a bug. I spend a good half hour every morning defrosting things and melting ice on the stove so I can wash my face and do the dishes after breakfast. #MLR. In the wintertime, the cooler isn't for keeping things from spoiling. It's to keep things from freezing, but even still the milk has been a little crunchy the last couple of mornings. I had to heat up a pot of water, yesterday afternoon, and float the eggs in them before I could crack them to make an omelette for lunch. The crazy thing is that I still couldn't be happier. I actually enjoy it all. Yes, it's definitely ridiculous, but it wasn't my plan to be here at this time of year so I have to make the most of it. I spend my days working on the trailer or the house. I'd love to get another job, but I know that I won't be here much longer so finding work for such a short period of time is tricky. I signed up with a temp agency last month and they found me something pretty quick, but that's when i found out that they don't have any temp work to offer. All their jobs were temp to hire for permanent positions. Lovely. I'm still going to look for some own my own once the trailer is ready before I hit the road. I'm just doing all the things that need to be done first. The part for the other trailer should arrive tomorrow. Once that's gone, there won't be much more left to do. I finished the rack for the kayak and mountain bike, yesterday. There's countless other things that I'd love to build or work on, but I'll wait until I have a job and money coming in before tackling them. I'm going to miss this little field and the big maple tree I'm parked beside. The moon has been so bright the last few nights that I don't even need a headlamp when I go outside. It's much more beautiful without one.

Misery loves company and happiness is meant to be shared. Which is it? Maybe both statements are true. I think the lesson is that we're social creatures. Above all else, regardless if we're happy or sad, life isn't life without each other. I guess this is the best reason to keep writing. I used to write to save my sanity and maybe even my life when it got that bad. Now, I'm content to work outside all day long in the cold winter rain still alone yet with a dumb smile on my face. I'm not always alone. Maybe once a week, missLuna's German shepherd will make an appearance with missLuna following not far behind. They'll stop for a couple minutes before continuing on their walk that runs the length of the field and into the woods at the far end. Not exactly a busy social life, but I'd be a fool to think it doesn't contribute to my present state even if just a little. I think I've only left the property twice in the last week and only for a few minutes each time. Today it was to bring my recycling to the recycle center in Turners and a few days ago it was to run to the grocery store and grab some milk and a few other things. That's it. The rest of the time I'm happy to spend the day working in the quietness of the winter. Ok, I've had an occasional dance party at night in the house by myself. Not ashamed to confess it. A little embarrassed maybe. Life's too short to not celebrate the simple things whenever you feel the urge.(uploaded 2.19.24)

January 21, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Walking up the hill this afternoon, it dawned on me why I haven't been working on the book lately. The irony is that the reason I haven't is a perfect example of my biggest purpose for writing it in the first place which is to get people to listen to their hearts more than their heads. I've written enough pages over the years to fill 10 books, yet I haven't forced myself to finish my first and I'm someone who's forced himself to do plenty of other things so why haven't I completed something that I actually want to do? With the passing of the new year, I've barely written at all in the last three weeks. More irony is that I've never been happier in my life than I am right now. 25 years of hell and back and I've finally arrived. Somebody pinch me. Most people would have given up a long time ago. Most people gave up on me years ago. Girlfriends that said they'd always love me, good friends who believed without a doubt that I'd "make it", family members who once admired me. They, all, eventually had to move on. Wah. As much as it hurt, I don't really blame them. From the outside, there wasn't much evidence that I was getting any closer to an inexplicable goal. All it looked like to them was stubborn idealism and a lot of pointless suffering year after year, but I was making progress. Unfortunately, no one else could see it. No one even understood why I'd taken this path in the first place, but as I held the course year after year I knew that I was learning what a mainstream life could never teach me while still waiting for something. I just didn't know exactly what that something was, but I could feel it and I was sure that I'd know when it arrived. I wasn't passively waiting like one does a bus on a street corner twiddling their thumbs doing nothing. I wasn't sitting on my ass waiting for the world to hand me something. I was waiting like one does shoveling out a barn stall that has layers of straw, hay, shavings and manure packed down so firmly that you'd think it was solid ground if it weren't for the top of the fence protruding out by your feet. Keep digging. You'll eventually hit real dirt a few feet down. That's the kind of waiting you learn by having someone else push you harder than you'd ever pushed yourself like a coach, a teacher, a boss, a competitor, etc. that is until that person walks away, too, and you learn how to push yourself even though you're still waiting for the moment when someone finally says, "Ok, that's enough" but there's no one there to say it so the years keep stacking up one on top of the other like hard packed layers of sh*t.

Looking up the snowy field towards my little house on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I realized what I was waiting for. My ego has always had plenty to say, but that's not who I want speaking for me. My ego is an idiot, and so is yours by the way. I realized that for as honest as I've tried to be in most of my writing, my ego was still doing far too much of the talking.

It was 8 degrees last night and my laptop wouldn't turn on this morning. I knew it had plenty of battery life so I tried to defrost it by placing it by the furnace, but even after it was warm and dry, nothing. I was hoping that if I walked down to the barn where my truck was parked, plugged it into the cigarette lighter and started up the truck, it would come back to life and it did. I was a little worried because I hadn't backed up the book recently so the risk of losing everything I'd written in the last 6 months definitely had my attention. As a matter of fact, I'm going to stop right now and save it. Be right back.

What I realized is that I needed to learn to write a different way, from the heart. This is what I was waiting for. I don't mean from the heart in the sappy way someone (including myself) writes a love letter or an apology. As sincere as it can be, writing like this only uses a small portion of your heart, the part most closely connected to your ego. That's no good. That's still far too much ego. The majority of the heart, yours and mine, has got nothing to do with emotions and everything to do with an intelligence that is far wiser than our crafty little brains. It is part of an all-encompassing knowledge that you and I cannot fathom, yet we can still tap into. I don't know exactly what makes the wind blow, but if I sail properly I can let it carry me to my destination. I didn't know what this place would look like. I only knew what it would feel like. You can't see the wind. You have to feel it. I will give my destination a name, but not yet. I suppose it helps if you're going through hell because anywhere is better than where you presently are and even though I've gone through my own personal moments, that's not why and how I started this journey. I was totally free when I left and full of ambition. I wasn't trying to escape someplace, or so I thought. As outwardly geographic as this path has taken me, I believed that I was trying to reach a destination within myself even if I didn't know exactly where or what that destination was. This is the definition of faith.

How can a hammer build a house? It can't, but a person who knows how to use a hammer can. Are you the hammer or the person? Are you your heart or your ego? We've created this world that we live in, our minds have, but this world didn't create us. It certainly shapes many of our opinions and beliefs, but it didn't create us. An invention can't build an inventor, but "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Human beings have invented many things, the wheel, the car, the computer, the smartphone and the hammer, but who invented us? The Earth did. Mother Nature did. God, if you're a religious person, did. You were created with a different type of intelligence than your mind or ego can fathom. If you don't know God, you're playing god. If you don't know Mother Nature, you're playing god with the Earth. We're playing god with the one thing that created us. The very thing that gave us life. How intelligent is this? It makes about as much sense as a hammer trying to build a person. We're just smart enough to be dangerous to one another and to every other living creature on the planet. This doesn't sound like the most highly evolved species to me. Yet, any neuroscientist will tell you that we're only using a very small portion of our brains. Where does this larger portion of intelligence come from? How can we access it? I'll give you one guess.

Manure mixed with the right amount of carbon found in straw, hay and shavings makes the best compost. Compost enriches the soil, one of the building blocks of healthy life. You can't rush this process and my mind, my ego, has been in too much of a hurry to say what it's wanted to say. This is because it was motivated by something other than the truth. Maybe it was pain, fear, desire or loneliness. Regardless of what it was, I could sense that it wasn't coming from an unconditional source and this is where I should be writing from. That unconditional source is my heart. The sun shines on everyone, good, bad, happy or sad. What we do with its warmth and power is up to us.(uploaded 2.19.24)

January 23, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I should change missFlowerchild's name to "the Temptress." She sent me a pic of her ass in panties, last night, and then another one of her topless, this morning. I haven't heard from her in a month then out of the blue she wants to hook up. I don't have any bad feelings towards her, but I think I'm going to pass. I'm monogamous and she's polyamorous. I don't know how many other guys she's sleeping with. If all I'm interested in is sex, one could say that it's none of my business. "What do you care? Get laid and don't worry about it," I can hear some of my buddies saying. I'll confess that I love sex and she has an amazing body, but I trust my instincts more than my desires and my gut tells me that it's a bad idea. I don't want to hurt her feelings, but if I truly care about her, I should try to be her friend rather than just another guy she's f*cking. If I was weak and wanted to get what I can from whomever I can then I guess I'd be stupid not to jump at the chance, but I'm not weak. I'm happy and this is what happy people do, the right thing. I can't allow a woman who's not doing great drive an hour and a half just to have sex with me and then send her packing the next day. How is that going to help her? She's smoking hot. She can get any guy she wants, but maybe always getting what she wants is the problem. Whatever, she's a grown woman and it's not my job to do her thinking for her, but I'm not going to do something that I don't feel good about. I won't lie. The risk of getting an std is another reason why I'm going to pass. I'm very careful with my body, not because I'm a goody-two-shoes, but because I like being healthy and clean and that's the type of woman I hope to find. I'm trying to decide whether I should even attempt to explain all this to her or just say "No, thanks."

Thank you for the offer. I would love to see you, but I don't know how well you're doing, right now, and I wouldn't feel good about taking advantage of the situation if you're not. I'm so happy and I want you to be happy, too. Giving into physical desires is not going to help this (as good as it would feel in the moment). I wasn't strong enough to resist these temptations when we first met, but after our last time together, I realized that I'm not helping things by just being another guy you're f*cking. You're a very attractive woman with an amazing body. I'm sure there's lots of guys who want to have sex with you. I just can't be one of them. You can always get my attention with your pics, but unfortunately I'm too strong to give in now. However, I will be your friend if you truly want one. I care a great deal about you. (sorry for the long text. I'd much rather talk. You know how to reach me:)(uploaded 2.19.24)

January 24, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
To my relief, missFlowerchild took my text very graciously. She even admitted that I was right, not about her doing poorly. She said she's doing fine, but in regards to her pattern of contacting me out of the blue for hook-ups. For the record, as much as the hopeless romantic in me has resisted arrangements like this for most of my life, there's nothing wrong with it between two single consenting adults. It's a messed up world and many people don't get enough healthy physical touch, which doesn't have to include sex, so if two people find themselves able to give this kind of affection to one another without any drama, God bless 'em. I had to learn this the hard way after years of punishing myself. She was the only person I was doing this with for the three years we saw each other off and on, but once she returned to the polyamorous lifestyle I wasn't going to risk getting an std by continuing anything physical with her. After I was with her last, I got myself checked out. They have home tests you can buy nowadays. They're not cheap, but a clear conscience and knowing I'm healthy is worth it. She still sent me more pics so I had to be more direct yet still gentle and put a stop to it. I'll wait a little while then call and check to see how she's doing. Saying you care about someone doesn't mean jack if you don't follow it up with action.

Today was drizzly and overcast, but mild and pleasant compared to the temperatures of the last week. My happiness is still amazingly maintaining itself and the novelty of its presence has not wore off. I monitor it like one would a cold, but for the opposite reason. I don't want it to leave. It's been a long road to get here so maybe it's a form of diligence to keep a close eye on any risk of losing it, but miraculously I haven't. In fact, it seems to be getting stronger and more enjoyable. Even melting ice on the stove in the morning to then use the warm water to defrost a bottle of olive oil in order to cook frozen eggs is a pleasure not a chore accompanied by laughter and poking fun at myself. I've contemplated how to proceed on my path with this new way of existing. My life isn't much different on the outside, but the inside is night and day. I hope I never take feeling like this for granted. (uploaded 2.19.24)

January 29, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
It's the 29th. The month is almost over and it's been the best month I've had for as long as I can remember. I feel so damn lucky. Nothing significant's happened. It's been outwardly uneventful actually. I've barely left the property and it's been bone-chilling cold plenty of the time, but nevertheless my happiness has remained a steady constant. It just bubbles out of me all day long. I decided to stop what I was doing this afternoon and do some writing. I don't need to write anymore. It's no longer the life line it was for so many years. I almost feel like, now, writing is a way of giving respect to what helped me for such a long time. Plus, I should continue with it regularly. It's good discipline and it will help me with the book. Writing can be a form of work and I like to work so I should stay in the habit of it until I find my tribe or at least my person.

We got some more snow last night so I spent the morning shoveling around the barn and clearing off the big solar panels in the field for missLuna then I left the property to do some grocery shopping and errands. I'm pretty much all done, now, but before I head back I figured it would be good to take advantage of being able to plug my laptop into the cigarette lighter of the yukon so I don't have to worry about the battery wearing down. This is another reason why I haven't written a lot lately. There's a lot less sunny days in the wintertime so my little portable solar system isn't as effective until I upgrade with another battery and some bigger panels, but that's an expense I'm waiting to make once I'm working steady again. As a result, I haven't had the electricity to power my laptop because I haven't been using my truck that much either. I've been writing with a pen in my journal instead. We had a break from the cold the last couple days so the ground is pretty muddy at the moment, but it's supposed to drop back down below freezing tonight so I'll move the small enclosed trailer out of the field and park it by the road to sell it when the ground is hard again. I don't want to move it until then to avoid making muddy ruts in missLuna's field. I installed a brand new spring assembly for the back ramp door last week and I'm almost done emptying it. There's only a few bins and some odds and ends left, but I need to build a loft in the tiny house for those items so I'm going to have to store them outside temporarily until after it sells and I have the money for materials. The bins are plastic with snapping lids so they should be fine.

Right now, I'm parked down the far end of an empty parking lot away from all the strip malls, box stores and cars going way too fast. I should call missButterfly. She called me two days ago out of the blue and left a voicemail, but I haven't called her back yet. I usually do immediately, but this time I stopped myself. The truth is I don't really want to talk to her. I haven't seen or spoken to her in months. I was pretty surprised to even hear from her. There's no hard feelings, but I figured she would have forgotten about me by now. I'm not sure what she wants. The last time I spoke to her was on the phone in early December and she told me repeatedly like she's done every time I've spoken to her that she's not looking for a relationship which is strange because I've never asked her for one. I've never asked her for anything. I've never even asked her out. She's the one who calls me so I don't know why she keeps saying that. The whole thing seems a little odd to me. Maybe she's looking for another hook-up, too, but doesn't want to come right out and say it. I think I'll pass on that as well if that's the case. That was a one time deal under extenuating circumstances. We met last summer, but I still don't feel like we know each other. We've never really hung out or spent any time together other than those two nights. If I wanted to get to know her, I would ask her out, but I unfortunately don't so I haven't. It's not that I don't have a lot of respect for her. I admire how she and her husband were living and raising their children, but she's never showed any interest in wanting to get to know me so I've just left it alone. Like I told myself when I first met her and learned of her situation, there's no way I'm going to be cavalier or irresponsible with someone who's been through what she's been through. I've told her that she can always call me if she ever needs a friend or someone to talk to, but she hasn't. She only calls to invite me to parties than keeps her distance the entire time. She has lots of friends and family so maybe she doesn't need another friend. Again, this is why I've left it alone. Anyways, I'm a little perplexed about hearing from her so rather than call, now, I think I'm going to wait until the enclosed trailer is sold which should be this week then I can use the money to make a few improvements to the tiny house like installing a bathroom in case of the rare possibility that I do have a guest. The finished house is going to have a big kitchen and a lavish bathroom by tiny house standards, but I needed a place to live this winter when it started getting cold so these extravagances didn't make the cut until spring when the temperatures are milder so I can open up the wall to make the house longer. For now, it's cowboy baths and a compost toilet which is fine for this vagabond, but I wouldn't feel comfortable having a female guest with such rustic amenities. (uploaded 2.19.24)

January 31, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I'm not sure what's going on. As December was coming to an end, I noticed a change. I was happier more often than usual. By New Year's Day, I was waking up with a "Whoohoo!" Literally. I actually said it out loud as I got out of bed on Jan.1st. I couldn't believe what was happening. Day after day all through the month of January, I became happier and happier. When you've been through hell and back and you experience this much prolonged happiness, it's a little surreal, but on the other hand, it feels right and natural. It's a crazy experience. For most people, no matter how difficult a person's life has been, they can recall at least a few happy memories, maybe from childhood. As we get older, many can remember being young and having older people tell us "You don't know how lucky you are." Hearing this all the time when we're young gets old, no pun intended, but they were right. I didn't know how lucky I was back then. I do now. I could barely stop smiling for practically the entire month. Then around the 30th, things began to slip. For the days that followed, it got worse and worse and I couldn't figure out why.

Today, I was working outside and went to move a plastic bin of miscellaneous tools and hardware that I keep stored on the ground under the tiny house trailer. I knew to be careful pulling it out because sometimes the bins will freeze to the ground so I have to be delicate when I break them free and give them a tug in order to pop off the lid and get whatever it is I'm looking for. I've done it a hundred times this winter. Today, I was hurrying for no reason whatsoever. I didn't need to be anywhere. It was beautiful and sunny and I was planning on spending the entire day up in the field working. It was cold, but I was dressed for it. There's no valid reason why I impatiently squatted down and kicked the bin to break it free before trying to pull it out. It smashed into pieces. In my anger, I slammed the cordless drill I was holding on top of the bin sitting beside the one I just kicked and cracked the lid on that one, too. F-bomb after f-bomb I yelled as I stormed around in the snow likean idiot trying to calm down furious with myself all the while cursing how cheaply the plastic is to break so easily, but I knew better. My own stupidity was the real source of my anger, but why? Where did my new found happiness go?

Making improvements to my living conditions definitely improved my mental well-being. The tiny house became weather tight and livable. That's huge. Then I had heat and a full size bed, a stove to cook on, a bath tub to wash up in and I was still surrounded by nature. I was in heaven. But with time ticking away, my finances are getting too low for comfort as I'm buying one thing or another to continue working on the house and I'm starting to feel trapped.(uploaded 2.19.24)

February 4, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I picked up a couple days work this week out of nowhere. A guy responding to one of my fliers that I posted in December texted me and he says that he's got plenty more work if I want it. When I was washing the tires and rims on the little trailer to make it more presentable, the valve stem broke on one of the tires when I barely touched it with a sponge probably because it was so cold out so I had to fix a flat tire before I could move it, but that's all done and it's down by the road beside the barn this afternoon so whoever buys it can back up and take it away. It's nice to be up here in the field with just one trailer even if it has a lot of stuff under and around it. I spent the rest of the day reorganizing everything.

Sitting in my truck on Friday after work in downtown Greenfield not wanting to go home yet, but not wanting to go out either, I finally figured out what happened. It makes perfect sense, but it took me a few days to see it. It's the exact same reason why I began to feel liberated and more myself last spring when I was cleaning out the house in Marshfield. Right now, I have too much stuff. Plain and simple. There's no big mysterious reason or something so deep that you'd have to be a monk to understand, just too much g'damn stuff.

Last weekend, I began cleaning out the remainder of what was in the small enclosed trailer beside my tiny house and by Monday I had finished emptying it. That was the 29th. I had bins and things everywhere, on the back of the trailer, under the kayak rack, under the trailer on the ground, in the tiny house, under my bed, on my bed and anywhere else I could stuff something. My simple existence had become a cluttered mess. I felt like I was living on a small island and the tide began coming in making my island even smaller until I had no place to even stand. Feeling trapped is the opposite of feeling free and this is what happened by losing my storage space. It's not the end of the world. Once the trailer sells, I'll have enough money to buy some lumber to build a loft inside the tiny house and a little shed on the back of the trailer. This will give me the space I need. Whatever else doesn't fit has got to go. (uploaded 2.19.24)

February 8, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I'm still in the thick of it right back to trying to survive everyday. I get temporary glimpses of how it felt not too long ago like when I walked up the hill this morning with the deep cycle battery and my backpack solar panel to set up my little charging system on a bright sunny day like today. We've had three in a row this week so I'm soaking it in, but unfortunately my patience is shot. I'm quick to anger and I'm waking up over the grand canyon every morning, again. The only consolation is that I've got the whole month of January to refer to so I can hang onto the hope that once I sell the enclosed trailer and get paid by the guy who I did some work for last week I'll be right back where I left off.

For the time being, I'm in a slight holding pattern so I'm trying to figure out which projects I can tackle, today, without spending any money. There's plenty to do, but I don't want to just kill time with something cosmetic like adding more small blocks of wood to the jigsaw design I built my front door with. That's a fun task that I can do in my leisure anytime anywhere. The door works the way it is.

I could mount a light switch to the wall inside the tiny house. Up til now, I've just been plugging in the one light I have to turn it on because it's mounted on the wall up high close to the ceiling, but a switch would be a little more civilized. Waiting to do little stuff like this until spring when I make the house bigger seems like a form of procrastination.(uploaded 2.19.24)

February 9, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Sold the enclosed trailer, yesterday. I bought and installed a new jack for it, first. The old one was a pain in the butt to crank. Then, I posted it for sale online that night, spent all morning answering emails and it was sold by the afternoon. The first guy who came and looked at it after walking around it and then inside after we opened both ramp doors handed me my asking price without even a conversation about the amount. I handed him a hundred dollars back for good karma, but he wouldn't take it. We both just laughed. I guess all the work I did over the last couple weeks paid off. I gave him the manuals to the new parts and we shot the breeze for a few minutes about other things, Maine, snow mobiling, work, then we thanked one another and said "Take care."

I'm still way too excited about the light switch I wired and mounted in the tiny house, yesterday, while I was waiting for him to get here. I feel so civilized. Watched a youtube video on how to darn socks then mended a few of my big wool ones that had holes in them this morning and now it's time to make a to-do list in order of importance for what I should work on next. I've been neglecting the book mostly because I've been preoccupied with necessities like keeping warm and finding work, but with the trailer sold the money takes off the pressure for a little while so I can take a breath. I've got to head to work in a few minutes, but only for a half day. I texted the guy about settling up because he still owes me for last week and he asked me if I had some time today so I'll go by the big industrial warehouse that he's renovating, grab my check and put in a few more hours.

No grand canyon this morning. Just like that. I still have storage space to build into the tiny house to get what's under the trailer onto the trailer, but all in due time and I've bought myself the time.

Called missFlowerchild when I got out of work to see how she's doing. She was surprised, but very happy to hear from me. She wants me to come visit next weekend and do some winter work on her and her sister's property cutting back the thistles along the edge of their field before everything starts growing in the spring and then go into Boston with her for the New Year's celebration in Chinatown (their new year is later because it correlates with the winter moon cycle so lots of hippies attend the festivities apparently). I'm not sure about all that. She was actually in Montague, today, visiting her "friend". I think it's an actual friend, an older woman who's not feeling well, but I'm not sure. The fact that she didn't say "Hi" again while she was here makes me think that me driving an hour and a half to where she lives to do a bunch of work for her seems a little much, but I'll think about it.(uploaded 2.19.24)

February, 13, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I'm still keeping my phone off most days, but I had plenty of slips in the beginning of the month. I gave in and resorted to distracting myself by watching youtube videos or researching possible places to live online when the grand canyon sucked me in every morning and followed me around all day. The monumental difference between now and all the previous years that I've moved from place to place hoping that it will be different "this time" is that now I know what it's like to conquer loneliness. For almost the entire month of January, I rode a continuous high that I've never experienced before. It wasn't a fleeting glimpse that departed as quickly as it arrived. It was constant. It was my default mood throughout the entire day including the mornings. Yes, including the morning. I honestly thought I had finally arrived and I was almost right, but not quite. That euphoric feeling slipped out of my hands and I was right back to white-knuckling it all day long and waking up every morning to a dark cloud of dread that I had to push through to get the ball rolling and be productive. Because it's an existence that I know all too well, it wasn't difficult for me to adjust to it even though for those 5 or 6 days I was perplexed as to why I had lost my new found serenity, but now I know exactly what to do in order to get it back. It's not going to happen over night, but I'm almost back to where I was earlier this year and I'm chipping away at the projects that'll make me self-contained and then we'll see what happens.(uploaded 2.19.24)

February 18, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
What a relief. For the past couple days, I've been dreading the conversation I just had, but it's over now. I just got off the phone with her. I feel so light and free. Thank God. On the other hand, I feel bad, too, because she may not be feeling as good, but, unfortunately, it's a situation that I can't get involved in. I'm not the one who created it. Way too complicated.

In the mornings, I turn my phone on for a few minutes to check for messages. I usually don't have any, but on Wednesday morning I got another voicemail from missButterfly. She called around 7:30am which seemed a little early and I felt bad about taking so long to call her back last month which was over a week and I only left a quick voicemail that this time I called her back that day. She invited me to a sauna/potluck she was having in the evening. I hesitated and stalled a little asking her what time she was planning on having it. Around 5. I told her that I might be working and we usually don't finish until 6 which was somewhat true, but honestly I didn't really want to go. I was tired of the guessing game with her. Plus, I had stuff to do which I didn't get to the previous day because the guy I've been helping out texted me that morning and asked if I could come in and work. I didn't feel like rearranging my schedule, again, on short notice. She told me that even if I can't make it over for the sauna I was welcome to join them for the potluck afterwards and we left it at that. I didn't really want to go, but while I worked all afternoon it dawned on me that it was Valentine's day. Even though it's a joke of a holiday, I eventually came to the conclusion that I'd be a dumbass if I didn't go. "When a pretty girl invites you to come take a sauna with her on Valentine's Day, you go, moron."

The evening was fairly uneventful. Like a ding-dong, I got there late and missed the sauna. By the time I was done working on my projects for the day, got cleaned up and ran to the store to grab some stuff to bring, it was around 6. They were already sitting down eating when I got there. It was all women. I felt like I was intruding actually because they all looked pretty surprised to see me when I walked in. For a second, I thought maybe I misunderstood what night she was having it, but she hugged me when she saw me and assured me that it was the right evening. She told me I could still take a steam if I wanted. The sauna was still going and her neighbor, an older gentlman, was using it. I haven't done a lot of saunas especially when they entail getting naked with perfect strangers and I've stepped out of my comfort zone plenty of times when it comes to attending things she's invited me to so I opted to just sit down and join them. Getting to be around people and have some dinner was good enough.

After everyone left, I lingered a little to help clean up then missButterfly showed me a book that reminded her of me. I'd never heard of it, but the image on the cover was the exact same photograph of a cabin on a lake in the mountains that I've kept in my phone and laptop for years sort of for inspiration of where I want to spend the rest of my life. Interesting. Dragonfly and Firefly were still up and we began goofing around in the kitchen and playing games. I could tell that my being there was only going to prolong the kids going to bed so I said "Good night" and headed home. Still have no idea what she wants from me.

Two days later I got another voicemail. This time she was inviting me to go ice skating with them. She learned I was a hockey player earlier this winter.

First of all, I'm not telling a story. I'm trying to process what happened and this is the only way I can seeing as I don't have anyone to talk to #orbitless , but if this is going to be of any use I need to back up and include what happened in late November the night after I had my little moment on the roof in the rain. I detest drama and this is why I've refused to write about it or maybe it's just my pride because I don't like being made a fool, but what happened that night is a major reason why I've decided to pass on anymore of her invitations. I know she's been through a lot and I've tried to be understanding and flexible, but I can't allow myself to be played even if she doesn't realize that's what she's doing. I've had a hard time believing she doesn't, but I've still been patient and open-minded with her.

I can't believe I'm going to waste my time writing about such nonsense, but I need to move forward with a clear head. That night on the roof when I, yet again, resolved to stop spending so much time alone, I decided to go out the following night after working on the house all day to grab a hot meal and be around people for a little while. I choose to be trusting and somewhat naive. It's a conscious choice, not a clueless mistake. I'd rather give people the benefit of the doubt than become cynical and jaded, that is until they make it clear that continuing to trust them would not be wise. It's not about judging others. It's simply about assessing what kind of situations I put myself in. Being able to take people for their word is the kind of world I want to live in so that's how I treat them. Maybe this is why I live the way I do because living deeper within the system makes it harder to trust what's going on in the world. The planet and the world are not the same thing. The planet is this big beautiful rock with an ecosystem thriving on it. The world is what we've created on top of this.

Anyways, I can barely get through a play by play, but the blunt version is that when I went out that night I ended up bumping into a guy who I recognized from the bonfire parties that missButterfly kept inviting me to last summer. He was one of the dudes hanging out in her driveway when she jumped my bones the night before I left for Costa Rica. He was now livng with her. I remembered his name and invited him to join me for dinner before learning this. Turns out he wasn't alone. She was on her way there, too. When he told me this, I tried to get out of it telling him that I didn't want to impose on their dinner together, but he wouldn't hear of it. This poor sap who I could tell really liked her had no idea about me. Sorry, I shouldn't call him that, but I'd call myself one if I was in his shoes. He had her son with him and she was around the corner at gymnastics class with her daughter and they'd be right over. I should have just left, but I chose to be naive. I didn't care that they were now in a relationship. More power to him. He put in the time and wanted to be with her. I had my doubts all along and never pursued that possibility. You snooze, you lose. No worries.

When she arrived, she gave me a big hug and sat on my side of the booth with her daughter because her son was on the other side with mr.Man-bun. He and I had a cool conversation before she got there. He even asked me for my contact info so we could keep in touch. By the end of the night, I'm pretty sure he'll never use it. I was polite and social all through dinner. We had fun with the kids and even played a board game right on the table that missButterfly broke out of her bag after we ate. The kids' grandmother was across the room having dinner with some friends so they ran back and forth visiting with her. It was a nice night, but I had to basically lie for missButterfly and not let on that there was anything between us. I'm not trying to sound self-righteous, but this is just not the kind of person I want to be. I didn't care that they were together, but I'm pretty sure he would've if he knew about me. The poor guy was starting to get flustered by the end of the night because we were all having a little too much fun. She would've hugged me, again, before I left, but I wished everyone a nice holiday and got the heck out of there as quickly as possible.

Hopping in my truck and heading back to my freezing ass field sucked, not because he got the girl and I didn't. He could have her, but having to be fake for 2 hours and then return to my lonely existence feeling worse than when I left was a kick in the gut. The grand canyon swallowed me whole as soon as I walked out of the restaurant and stepped onto the sidewalk. I could hear her saying something to me as I was falling into it, but she was behind me by the entrance and I didn't stop to listen. I just looked back, waved and said "Take care." I hate drama and I could've made a bunch of it that night. I could've made some last fall, too, when she invited me to another bonfire potluck after I got back from Costa Rica because no one knew about us so I played it cool to be considerate of her situation. Why did she keep calling me and telling me she wasn't looking for a relationship? I never asked her for one. I never even called her except to be polite when she called me. Anyways, going out that night definitely wasn't a cure for loneliness, but I got over it and focused on the things I needed to do.

Then she calls me, again, a week and a half later and invites me to go to a hockey game with her and her brother. I confessed that I played the sport for the better part of my life, but politely passed on joining them. I didn't even bring up the whole dinner thing. It's none of my business. She doesn't have to explain herself to me. I still barely knew her. She can get involved with whoever she wants. I just didn't want to get mixed up in it.

So that was last year, I came out on the other side doing awesome and I'm keeping it that way. Needless to say, this is why I wasn't eager to call her back in January when she called, again. At this point, I didn't know the details of her relationship with mr.Man-bun. I just knew that he was living there with them and naively left the possibility open that they were just friends, but I'm not stupid. Like I said, it's none of my business.

After I went skating with her and the kids, after she invited me to come in and have dinner with them, after dinner when we all watched a movie together, after the kids were in bed, after she asked me to join her downstairs on the couch and after we hooked up, she made it my business. This is when I found out everything. Man-bun was no where to be found, but it's interesting that she waited to tell me that they were more than just friends after all this. That they were sleeping together. Wtf. Time to go.

I didn't overreact. In fact, I barely reacted at all. I sat there and listened patiently. She was on top of me. What was I going to do, stand up and let her fall on the floor? She explained that it didn't work out between them because she's not looking for a relationship so he moved back to Pennsylvania, but he still calls and wants to come visit. I didn't bother stating the obvious that having someone live with you who you're sleeping with is a relationship or that sleeping with someone who was previously sleeping with one of your best friends while they were living on the property of one of your other best friends might create a little drama. I had no right to be upset. I'm a big boy. If it was that important to me, I should have made us talk before we did anything. We didn't go all the way, but came as close as possible. When I was convinced that she was done telling me everything that she wanted me to know, I politely said "Good night." She told me that the ball was in my court. Tonight, I called and we talked. I gently told her that it just wasn't a situation that I can get involved in. (uploaded 2.19.24)

February 19, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Well, all alone, again, and I'm actually relieved about this. I finished the porch on the outside of the tiny house this weekend which I had to complete before I can build the little shed. I love it. The fact that it's been super sunny the past few days certainly helps. I can set up some chairs and have little cook-outs out there. I could even turn the porch into a small greenhouse which would allow me to grow some veggies and this would passively warm up the house, too. We'll see. First, I need to get some rigid foam insulation so I can panel the interior walls in the section where I'm going to build the loft and small bathroom. The rest of the walls can wait til spring. Priority one is being organized and self-contained.

I, also, need to upload this year's blog. I can't believe it's almost the end of February. As good as things are, right now, I should be feeling even better and I think it's because I haven't been using this resource for the purpose I created it years ago. It's gotten me this far. I shouldn't abandon it now that I'm doing well and so close to my "destination." I thought maybe I was done needing it after having such an amazing January, but recent developments have required me to clear my head and this is the most effective way I know how under the circumstances. I went for a long jog on the trails in the woods, yesterday, and tried to run it out, but that didn't work so I guess I should write.

I realize now that I was approaching the problem of loneliness the wrong way, but a few months ago, on a cold night in November, I was still trying to fix it the old way. Surprisingly, finding people to be around isn't the answer. I still need to do this, but it's not going to fix me. Only I can do that, not that there's anything wrong with me or anyone else who battles loneliness. Some of us just didn't grow up in close families. Being around other positive, healthy people who want to live like I do is still my goal, but I need to approach it from a place of giving, not taking. A place of offering, not asking. If we don't know how to make ourselves happy as individuals, we'll only try to take from others when we have them at our disposal whether we're conscious of this or not. I want to be a giver, not a taker.

Giving is better. MissButterfly gave me a book to borrow the night I went to the sauna potluck last week, but she wanted to make sure that I'd return it so I bought her, Dragonfly and Firefly some books and I'm going to leave them along with the one she lent me by her mailbox. I'll do it in a fun way. Of course, I'll put them in a plastic bag to keep them dry, but I checked the weather and it's not supposed to rain or snow for the next couple days. I'll make a card and in it will be a little map so they'll have to find the books hidden among the trees not far from the row of mailboxes down the wooded dirt road near their driveway. It'll be like a scavenger hunt. I think the kids will really like it. I hope they will.

March 4, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
There are two ways to look at a situation.

As I was typing the previous entry, someone knocked on my door, the door on this tiny shed of a house built on a long flatbed trailer parked in the middle of a field completely out of sight from anyone. I was about to have my first guest. It was a bright sunny day so when I looked up I could see her face through the little window of the door. Would it be a cliche to say that "I got butterflies"? It felt like a dream, one that I didn't know was possible. MissButterfly was standing on my porch. The few minutes that followed were the best few minutes I've experience in a very long time. I don't remember exactly what came out of my mouth. It wasn't much. I just know that I had a giant smile on my face and laughed a little when I said "Come on in."

It was the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful day, but I had to get a lot of writing done so I was lying on my bed in work clothes with my boots off and the laptop on my belly. She opened the door and softly said "Hi" a she walked in, crossed the little room and climbed into bed with me. I wrapped my arms around her and just held her. It was the best feeling in the world. Again, I don't remember exactly what else was said. I know she gave me a hard time about being indoors on such a nice day which I agreed with and I gave her a hard time about being in my house before it was ready for visitors. We lay there and soaked in the feeling. As the moment started going in a different direction, I said that we should probably get up and take a walk or sit outside on the porch. I pulled out my beach chair for her to sit in, the chair on which a friendly little butterfly landed last summer which now had turned into the attractive woman sitting in front of me. The sun was bright, but there was a cool breeze so after a minute we decided to take a walk on the Robert Frost Trail that winds past the field to warm up stopping occasionally to hug.

I knew that I told her the situation I learned about two nights prior was one that I couldn't get involved in, but for right now I was letting us both enjoy this time together. There are definitely more than two ways to look at any situation especially when there's more than one person involved in it, but I can't speak for her. In my own way, I can choose to appreciate this unexpected gift, keep it, protect it and not let anything like a jaded reality suck the magic out of it. I failed at doing this a year ago, but I can do it now which is why I chose to write about it the way I just did. However, if I stop and think long enough, I can look at it another way, too, and accept that maybe she came to visit more to explain herself than to show me that she cares about me and possibly to have sex which we did have when we got back after talking and clearing the air some more. I haven't seen or heard from her since. She might not care about me. She might just want me occasionally and that's it. Wah. "Poor baby, an attractive woman wants to sleep with you." I shouldn't say that I haven't heard from her. Firefly, who is four, called and left a voicemail thanking me for his book. I'm pretty sure he didn't find my number and call me himself. Of course, I called them right back when I got the message, but she was busy and told me that she'd call me that evening, but I never heard from her. That was over a week ago.

All she has is a landline, no cell phone, which I admire and mine is always off. This somewhat limits our ability to communicate, but this is no obstacle for two people who want to talk and keep in touch. There's always a way for those who want to find one. My primary concern has always been the same from the beginning which is to not hurt her. She and the children have been through enough. On our walk I shared that I've done plenty of volunteering with kids and have been a "Big Brother" to three different boys. I wasn't dating any of their mothers or anything like that. I met each of them in different ways, one at a church I was attending for a little while and the other on a farm I was working on. The third boy was a little older and a ward of the state. I met him through a play I was acting in. He was only 15 and an extra, but a brilliant kid and I took him under my wing. I was 25. The 10 year difference gets a lot smaller as time goes by. He's married with a family of his own now. I told missButterfly how I shared my concern with these mothers about the fact that I travel so much and that this might effect or hurt their sons? I remember how one of the mothers explained it best. She told me that as long as I keep my word and do what I say I'm going to do, that's all that matters. He, her son, has to learn like we all do that people have their own lives, but this doesn't mean that we can't spend meaningful time together when we have the chance. This put me at ease and her son and I who was 8 when I met them spent lots of meaningful time together up through high school graduation and beyond.

After four days had passed, it hit me that missButterfly told me her email address during one of our conversations and I remembered it. I definitely chalk this up to not having my phone on all the time. Smartphones obliterate a person's short term memory. I thought an email would be the most unintrusive way to let her know that I was thinking about her and hoping she was doing ok. I can't sleep with someone and then not talk to them for over a week. It wasn't like I was all mixed up and needed to talk to her. I was fine. It just didn't feel right. If there's a chance that she could interpret the silence as me not caring about her, I was going to find a way to show her that I do so I emailed her around 9:30 on Thursday night. She responded at 1am that same night and thanked me. She told me that she was having a hard time and wasn't ready to talk, but would call me when she was. I woke up at 5 and replied "Ok", but told her not to feel obligated. Hearing that she's not doing good bothers me which I, also, told her, but I have no idea what she's having a hard time about. She didn't say. It could be about us or it could be about a million other things. I know she was having some difficulties with the state regarding home-schooling guidelines. She doesn't agree with their bureaucracy and told them so. Maybe that's what it was. I can't force her to tell me. Attempting this would only add yet another thing to everything else she has to deal with. I just had to let her know I was available and created another line of communication to use if she chooses to.

I know I could help her. Not to sound arrogant, but I know I could. However, this would require a conversation which both people have to want. I could, also, be a lot more proactive and take charge of the situation, but I should only do this if I want to be with her for the long haul. Otherwise, this would be selfish and only hurt her in the end and, unfortunately, I won't be here much longer. This situation isn't about me. Maybe it's using me in a way I don't understand. Or, maybe she just wanted sex. To be honest, it wasn't that good. We still don't know each other well enough. Without a real connection, I'd rather just jerk off. Less drama. She and I are intelligent people. We can't act dumb just to get some. At least, I can't. Plus, we only had a few minutes. I've got nothing against a quickie. They're hot, but they're for after a foundation is already laid down -no pun intended. That's why they're called a "quickie" because normally you take more time. You don't build a relationship on one. I know she's said countless times that she's not looking for a serious relationship, but even a friends-with-benefits requires a foundation. Otherwise, it's just casual sex which is empty to me. Even missFlowerchild and I hung out a few times just the two of us before we went all the way. There's plenty of men out there who will screw anything that moves. If that is all she wants, perhaps she'd be better off with one of them. It won't be that good with them either, but after a while maybe she'll be able to work through things to understand what she needs. I don't know.

March 7, 2024, Nashville, Tennessee
I'm hanging out in my hotel room waiting for mr.Model's flight to arrive from LA. It's always a trip being surrounded by so much comfort living the way I do.

I'm glad that I used writing to gain some perspective on how to handle things with missButterfly. Granted, I sounded like an idealistic jerk at times, but better here than in real life. In my interactions with her, I've been very understanding and supportive. I'd almost go so far as to say that I'm proud of myself. It feels amazing to be so calm and non-reactional. Compared to last year's Valentine's Day experience, I'm like a different person. Holding the course all these years is actually paying dividends. Who would've thought?

Never heard back from her, but she won't be getting any rocks in the mail from me. Mine is sitting on my desk and that's where it's staying. What a jack ass. Live, learn and become a better person. That's all I can do. I hope she's doing ok. The spot on my porch just outside my door seems a little sunnier now. I even had her pick out a block of wood and sign it so I could add it to my jigsaw puzzle of a front door when she was here. Obviously, I've had some serious issues when it comes to how women have affected me in the past. Getting a crush on a pretty bartender who smiled at me should have told me this. The fact that I was so moved by a woman stopping by to see me, a woman who hasn't exactly been considerate of me, speaks to how starved I've been all these years for female affection. MissButterfly gets a pass, however. Losing the love of her life in such a tragic way must have been absolutely devastating. Trying to figure out how to proceed with the rest of her life must be confusing. I wish I could do more for her, but my instincts tell me to keep a healthy distance. I'll say a prayer for her.

March 13, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Ahh, back in the field. It feels so good. Home sweet home. I know that's a corny expression, but I don't care. This is my little haven. I'm sure the fact that it's a perfect spring day is contributing to the feeling on top of the fact that I don't like flying and there are no more flights in my immediate future, on top of the fact that I had about 30 gallons of maple sap waiting for me and on top of the fact that someone drew a butterfly on my door while I was gone. No note, no voicemail, no email. Just a perfectly drawn butterfly on one of the wooden blocks attached to my door. She knows I call her this. It's been two weeks since I've heard from her. MissLuna told me that she was here earlier this afternoon. I'm not sure exactly what it means, but it's nice to know that she came by.

Inconveniently, I've got to turn around and head back to the coast because I told mr.Striper that I'd grab lunch with him. I've felt bad because he occasionally texts me asking when I'll be on the south shore again and I've kept telling him that I'll be sure to come back before leaving the area for good so when he happened to text me while I was at Logan waiting for my flight to Nashville, I promised that I'd let him know as soon as I got back and we'd make a plan. He took it hard when we lost our best friend almost 20 years ago. After it happened, he walked for charities, started a scholarship and organized an annual fishing tournament to raise money in memory of our friend so he occupies a soft spot in my heart, the big pain in the ass. He's got three kids and two jobs so he definitely can't be as spontaneous as me so when I texted him, yesterday, and he couldn't meet until Friday or Saturday, I told him that was fine. I didn't tell him that I'd be making the 2 and a half hour trip back to the coast just for him. I'll move the stove onto the porch before I leave and get that ball rolling, too.

I, also, need to go by the job site where I've been working because the guy has been dragging his feet about paying me. He threw a little temper tantrum when I told him I was heading to Tennessee and wouldn't be around last week. Our arrangement was that he'd text me to see if I was available to work and I'd tell him if I was. It's been fine. A day here, a couple days there. Some weeks I wouldn't even hear from him, but then he rented a piece of equipment without asking me first and got mad at me for not being available. Real smart. We only communicate by text, but he owes me a fair amount of money so I'm going there in person to look him in the eye.

March 18, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
The Bridgeway, the Voyage, Tinker's Son, the Hibernian Tavern and TK O'Malley's. I went out for lunch with mr.Striper. Ten hours and five Irish bars later, we finally called it a night. I hadn't planned on it being St.Patrick's Day this weekend and they say that Marshfield and Scituate have more Irish people per capita than Boston or Chicago. I don't know if this is true, but we've definitely got a boat load, no pun intended. I'm one of them. Luckily, I've out grown the whole drinking thing so I mixed in plenty of ice teas and waters over the course of our pub crawl. Had fun, made some new friends and most importantly mr.Striper had a good time.

Picked up another battery and a big solar panel on my way back. Now, I can type on this laptop without worrying about the power running out. I got my check before heading for the coast. He was all smiles and acted like nothing happened.

While I had my phone on making arrangements with the guy who I was buying the solar panel from, missButterfly called. I hadn't decided how I was going to proceed with her, but she beat me to it and asked if I'd come by and help her with her phone which I offered to do the last time we spoke. Ever since the lightening strike in the summer, her landline has been very staticky to the point that I can barely hear what she's saying when I'm talking to her. Now, her phone wasn't even ringing when someone calls and the answering machine wasn't picking up either so she said that she wasn't sure if I tried calling her. I'm not sure why she thought I would. The last I heard from her, she told me that she wasn't ready to talk. I told her I'd look at her phone for her when I got back. She called again this morning and left a message that she'd be home alone all day. Interesting.

When I first arrived, she and I talked on the couch for a few minutes before tackling the phone situation. It was nice. We held each other and kissed a little, but I didn't let it go any further. After about six trips down her long steep driveway to the telephone poll at the bottom and back, I got the phone to ring and the answering machine to work. We worked on it together which was fun. She actually held my hand as we were walking up the driveway at one point. Interesting. It took longer than we expected and she had to leave to pick up the kids so I stayed and finished working on it by myself. I had her call me before she left and I could hear her a little better, but the static was still there. Not many people have landlines anymore so when the phone company came out last summer to fix it, they did a pretty half-assed job. They pulled out the entire junction box at the poll and just spliced two wires together. She called them, today, and they gave her the run around so she's going to have to call, again, tomorrow to make them do their job.

She wanted me to come meet her and the kids, tonight, at Dragonfly's gymnastics class and then get pizza afterwards, but that felt a little too similar to a night last November when things were a lot different so I passed. This doesn't feel like someone who's not looking for a relationship. Plus, I need to write mr.Model a thorough email to follow up on the work we did in Tennessee.

March 19, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I've got all 4 burners going on the gas stove. One large roasting pan big enough to fit a whole turkey covers two of the burners at a time so I've got two roasting pans covering the whole stove top, but they don't have turkeys in them. They are full of maple sap. The first thing I did was move the stove outside onto the porch otherwise the walls of my tiny house would be brown and sticky when I was done. It smells so good that I'm not sure I'd mind, but it probably wouldn't look too attractive hence the invention of the sugar shack. The inside of those little buildings are pretty unsightly, but they smell delicious. Sweet steam is roaring off the pans, right now. It's a fun, but somewhat time consuming task so I figured I'd do some writing. I've got plenty to catch up on and a lot of sap to process. I had no idea I'd get so much from only one tree, but it's a healthy monstrous tree.

I got a long email from mr.Model in response to mine, but I haven't read it yet. I feel bad about this, but I explained in mine that I needed to take a break from his project. I was all talked out when I left Tennessee. Well, all listened out. He did most of the talking. When a person complains everyday about their phone being dead even though they have a car with a cigarette charger available to them 24/7, not to mention a simple solar charger that I set up for them, we're just not a good fit. I knew it was going to be a challenge so I approached it as if I was spending time with one of my "little brothers" and it turned out to be a productive five days, but five days that I have no desire to ever repeat, yet successful in his eyes nonetheless and I can live with that. Honestly, the whole venture has been a source of anxiety for me since he started calling two years ago pitching the idea, but after checking out Costa Rica and realizing that living down there wasn't something I was interested in I thought I should, at least, entertain his proposal before returning to my solitary path. It quickly became apparent that we wanted different things so I made it clear that I wasn't interested in being partners, but that I'd still try to help him in any way I could.

I arrived on Thurs and left on Tues. I had planned to stay for the entire week and leave after the following weekend, but he kept changing his mind. I'm not a big fan of flying and told him that I wasn't interested in coming down just for a weekend so he asked if I'd be open to staying for the whole week and work by myself while he was in LA for an acting gig. He'd pay me for the week then he'd fly back the following weekend and we could work together some more. Working on his land by myself felt a little weird, but I just looked at it like any other work gig so staying for the whole week made more sense and was the only reason I agreed to fly down then when I arrived the first day he asked if I'd be willing to fly back that weekend. I wasn't thrilled about this, but I was already there so I said "Ok" then before the weekend was over he wanted to talk about me staying the whole week again. My time is very valuable to me and I don't like being jerked around, but I never once lost my temper or even expressed a negative thought. I just decided to make the decision for him and told him that I'd be leaving when he left on Tues. I even looked at the greyhound bus schedule, but he insisted on buying me a plane ticket.

The first thing I told him when we started looking at land last fall was make sure that it has water on it. This is rule no.1, 2 and 3 when buying property to farm or homestead on. This land doesn't, but he was told that when the area gets a lot of rain, a creek forms in the bottom of the wooded ravines on the property. After we looked at it in January and found no water, just a dry creek bed, I told him that I wouldn't buy it if I was him, but he bought it anyway. I was still happy for him, but made it clear that I wasn't interested in living there.

We camped in tents some nights and stayed in motels on the others when he wanted a shower. I brought my tent with me and his cousin drove over from North Carolina to help for a couple days and gave mr.Model one of his tents along with lots of tools and a small, rugged, utility trailer. His cousin drove back to NC on Sunday morning and mr.Model and I finished up around 11pm Monday night. Then I drove us the hour and a half back to Nashville because he was too baked to get behind the wheel. Smoking pot throughout the day doesn't mix well with working when there are a lot of discussions necessary and decisions to be made and he knows I don't smoke, but I kept my mouth shut. This was his party not mine. Like I said, he was very happy with what we got accomplished. We cleared a lot of land to prepare for decks to be built which the geodesic domes he bought will be assembled on. He wants to use the property for an off the grid glamping sight. I'm not a glamper. I'm a farmer. The fact that he doesn't get why I don't want to spend the next 6 months building this for him just shows how different we are, but there's no hard feelings, at least not from me. It seems like he doesn't want to spring for having a well drilled, no pun intended, so I drew up a bunch of diagrams and emailed them to him last night showing how to set up the automated solar water pump system that he asked me to design which I collected all the components for while I was there. It's pretty slick actually and will only turn on when it rains enough to fill the creek setting off a float switch wired to a 12 volt pump. I'll still try to help him when I can, but I'm not going to do the work for him.

I've always had the same goal for as long as I can remember, decades, not a couple years, which is to buy a big piece of land and create a working model of a more sustainable life where other people can come live on it with me in an environment that doesn't revolve around money, but rather people and the ecosystem that gives us all life are the most important things. This has been my dream. Long before living off the grid, tiny houses, van life or intentional communities ever became the latest flavor of the month, this is what I've been working towards. I'm glad that living sustainably has become so popular and I hope to find others who believe in it as much as I do.

Just before I left for Tennessee, I asked missLuna if I could tap the giant maple that I share this field with and she thought it was a great idea. Before asking her, I researched weather tapping hurts the tree in any way and it doesn't. In late winter and early spring, sap naturally runs out of maple trees through cracks in its bark. All the taps do is allow a person to collect it and the woodpecker sized hole heals over within a year. Calling it sap is a little misleading because it's more like water with a hint of sweetness to it compared to the sticky substance you find on pine trees. A lot of people drink maple sap just the way it is. Many believe it has medicinal purposes. Even pure maple syrup is far less thick than honey or the syrups you buy in stores and more like an amber liquid which is how you know it's pure. Last summer, I was curious when I moved here and checked the leaves of the perfect tree beside me and it's a sugar maple. Their leaves look just like any other maple except the edges are smoother so when I saw a lot of farmers in the area tapping trees this winter I started to get jealous. There's a guy down the road who does it the old-fashioned way with metal buckets so the other day I peaked in one of them hanging from a tree near the barn where I park the yukon to see how much sap had accumulated over the course of a week and there was only an inch or so at the bottom so I figured I might get enough sap by the time I got back from Tennessee to make a small bottle of syrup if I'm lucky. I rounded up all the supplies I needed and tapped the big maple in the field the night before I left. The 5 gallon spring water jug I used was full the next morning. "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

Two 5 gallon spring water jugs, one 5 gallon bucket (which I cleaned first), and a 17 gallon water tub for the horses filled to the brim all from one tree in about a week's time. I've got my work cut out for me. MissLuna was nice enough to swap out the containers while I was gone. The mason jar of syrup that I got from last night's batch is all the enticement I need. Anyone who's ever tasted pure syrup knows how amazing it tastes. The amount of sap varies slightly from tree to tree, but you get about a 16oz jar full from one 5 gallon bucket (40:1). I'm going to have more than a few jars when I'm finished which I'll make presents of. Giving is better.

March 28, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
The grand canyon came back a few days ago and I've been in the trenches. I thought I was clear of this happening anymore. It's been so disappointing that I didn't even want to acknowledge it by writing about this setback, but I have to be honest. There's no point in any of this if I'm not. I guess it happened because I didn't immediately dive into my last couple of construction projects that I need to do before I can hit the road. I was planning on doing them. I even bought all the materials I needed, but then I stopped. I think this is the reason I found myself falling back into the void because those projects would have allowed me to become self-contained. I still have too many storage bins on the back of the trailer, but I'm not entirely sure that this is the reason and I won't be until I fix this problem.

After pulling the stove onto the porch to make maple syrup, I enjoyed having the extra room this created inside the house. Granted a full size oven range isn't exactly gigantic, but it's all relative when living in tight quarters. Regardless, I liked the additional space and didn't want to go back to how it was and this meant that instead of building a loft and small temporary bathroom, I should build the addition onto the house like I've been planning. The weather's getting warmer and I have a nice quiet place to work on projects. This seems like a smarter choice than building temporary solutions. I have a sh*t ton of energy and I haven't been getting enough exercise lately. Tackling these projects would have kept me occupied enough to hold back the flood gates until I lined up a new job in a different part of the country. Now that I'm going to stick around and start a bigger project, I need to find more work to pay for it.

I'm not going back to the guy who I was helping out. The last three days I worked for him, we were blowing insulation into the rafters of a giant industrial warehouse which consisted of me teetering on a 20ft. sissor lift fully extended standing on a step ladder on top of this holding a big blower hose as insulation blew back in my face all day while he stayed down on the ground where he was supposed to be keeping the machine full, but was often too busy looking at his phone so I'd have to yell down to get him to do his job. I even took the machine apart and fixed it one day when it stopped working without so much as a "Wow, thanks." He can barely bend over and pick something off the ground. I doubt he could even climb into the scissor lift. I had to buy a $40 respirator even though he said he was going to pick some up for us, but never did so when I checked with him the morning we were going to start blowing more insulation and he still hadn't, I bought myself one. I was getting bloody noses at night from breathing the stuff in all day. Not once did the words "please, thank you" or "good job" come out of his mouth, yet I use these words all the time when working with others not to be subservient; it's called being professional. I wanted to tell him off, but after I got paid it just wasn't worth it. He asked if I'd be around on Monday, but I just looked him in the eye and shook my head. He got a good deal while it lasted. I've sent out a couple emails to some farms in the area and I'm going to keep looking. Technically, I'm ok and could pay for all the materials I need to build the addition plus everything I already bought can be used, but I like having a safe buffer between living paycheck to paycheck so it doesn't seem smart to risk starting the project until I have some more money coming in.

Anyways, I think this is what has brought on my loneliness relapse. Haven't heard from missButterfly in a while, but sadly I think this might be a good thing. I called her on Sunday (today's Thurs.) only to make sure she was all set with her upcoming appointment with DCF regarding the homeschooling issue. This was the hard time she mentioned that she was having weeks ago. I didn't realize it was with the DCF (Department of Children and Families). From what I understand, they're not the most pleasant agency to deal with. MissButterfly told me that she learned that they receive a lot of money whenever they take children out of a home so there's a financial incentive for them to make this their primary goal which is very scary. I wanted to make sure she wasn't going to the appointment alone, but she said her brother and mother were going with her and told me she'd call and let me know how it went, but I haven't heard from her. Her children are surrounded by love and family. They have an amazing life and the only reason missButterfly got mixed up with the DCF is because she refused to fill out some bureaucratic form meaning she created the mess herself. Unfortunately in the world we live in, it's often not a matter of right or wrong even though it should be. It's a matter of keeping the awful parts of our system out of one's life. Part of me wants to call again to see how it went, but I don't think I should. I've shown her enough that I care. If I do more than this, she might get the wrong idea and I can't risk hurting her. If I had to guess, I'll probably hear from her eventually maybe in a few days or a few weeks. There's no guarantee and I have to be fine with this.

April 4, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Came in from shoveling around the barn and clearing off missLuna's solar panels about 2pm. The heavy wet stuff always takes longer, but I welcomed the exercise. Cooked up a burrito for a late lunch and dried off. Last night, I made a list of all the farms and nurseries in the area and planned on passing out more fliers and cover letters in order to find spring work, today, but I'll do it tomorrow. I've been leaning towards working for myself as a contract laborer, but I've, also, been tempted to take a regular farm job for another season. The only problem is that I don't want to be here in the fall. It's an election year and I'd rather be in a different, less crowded part of the country where I can create a quiet peaceful life for myself. The problems of the entire world in so much as humans are destroying the planet and one another are mental. They only manifest themselves physically. I don't want to be in the middle of this type of thinking for the rest of my life as things continue in the direction they're headed.

Preferring not to be here any longer than is absolutely necessary makes finding a job challenging. If I didn't care about disappointing people, I'd just take any decent paying farm gig, enjoy the fact that I have money coming in while I work on the necessary projects to the tiny house, trailer and truck in my free time and then quit when everything was done and I didn't need the job anymore. This would be great for me, but would leave whoever I was working for in a jam hence the approach of making fliers looking for short term work instead. I've, also, considered taking one of the mindless factory jobs that the "temp" agency I signed up for last winter keeps sending me. I wouldn't feel as bad about quitting a job like that because I'd just be a number to them, a cog in the machine, but I'd still be interacting with co-workers, supervisors, etc. and they're people, too. I don't know what I'll end up doing, but I figured I'd write about it this evening to gain some clarity.

The other matter I need to keep clear on is the situation I find myself in with missButterfly. She arrived at my door, again, unannounced yesterday morning. Living the solitary life, of course, I'm going to be elated when I have a visitor, any visitor, but especially one who wants to smother me in female affection. Wearing yoga pants and a tight halter top under a warm fuzzy sweater made her even harder to resist, not to mention the massage oil she brought with her intent on giving me a back rub. It didn't take her long to notice that I was feeling a little apprehensive about her visit, but as dumb as I am, I'm not an idiot. When a woman who looks like that is dressed like that and shows up at your door on a cold rainy morning, you let her in and give her what she wants although it took a little persuading. She never actually gave me a back rub. I gave her one.

Alright, this isn't a friggin' paperback novel. This is my life and I need to be firmer and set clearer boundaries. As usual, I hadn't heard from her in like a week then she called and asked me to look at her plow truck, last weekend, because the forecast was predicting the snow storm we just got so I went over there on Sunday, pulled the alternator out of her truck which is usually in easy job, but this one was buried at the bottom of the engine beside the flywheel and under a bunch of other components. Still got it out without too much trouble. It was actually sort of fun with her and Firefly buzzing around handing me tools when I asked for one. She ordered a new alternator, I picked it up Monday morning and put it in while her and the kids were gone all day. It started right up and ran well. On a side note, I think it's pretty bad ass that this petite little thing can drive a stick shift while simultaneously operating a plow up and down her steep and rocky driveway. I know plenty of guys who could never do this, not even close. I'm glad I fixed her truck, but I know I'm playing with fire. The sexual tension between us is pretty intense. I left before they got home. When she didn't call to thank me after a couple days, I thought maybe enough time would pass and I could continue on my solitary path without any more complications knowing that I helped her out one last time.

Not so much. She planned on thanking me a different way. Five hours later after back rubs and other activities, we still had plenty of energy, but she had to leave around 4pm. Before she left, she tried to make all kinds of plans for her and I and some that included the kids, too, but, of course, she's not looking for a relationship. She says that she's just trying to enjoy the time that's available before I eventually leave. I didn't have the heart to turn her away when she arrived at my door, but I know that allowing things to continue is irresponsible. I'm not some goody-two shoes prude. I'm just trying to do the right thing. I'm a grown man with plenty of life experience. I know full well when a person is over-rationalizing something in order to get what they want even though they probably know deep down inside that it's not a good idea. I've done it plenty of times myself and it's just easier for me to spot because I spend so much time alone. One ripple on a still pond is much easier to see than on a busy hectic one.

Firefly called me, again, this morning. That's the third time this little boy has done this. I know that it's his mother's doing and she knows how fond I am of him, but I'm not comfortable with her encouraging this. I've made it clear to her that my no.1 priority is making sure that I don't hurt her by allowing us to get too involved. Hurting the kids is unthinkable. They loved mr.Man-bun and whether she realizes it or not, it wasn't easy for them when he left earlier this winter. He didn't want to leave. It was her idea, but that's a whole other topic and none of my business. As I've traveled from place to place and met people along the way, I've gathered that most responsible single mothers keep the men that they date out of their children's lives. They protect their kids from going through the emotional roller-coaster of dating, getting attached to a father figure and then having him disappear overnight. If they ever dated a man who's not worthy of being a father figure that would be even worse. Every single mom makes her own choices regarding how she handles this aspect of adult life, but I've had enough friends who grew up in such a household tell me first hand what a negative effect being exposed to their mother's dating had on them. I don't need missButterfly to agree with me on this. My conscience is who I answer to and my instincts are never wrong.

I've been happy to help her out whenever and however I could and I certainly can't complain about the fact that there's a woman eager to spend as much time with me as possible, but this hasn't been a strategy of mine like reverse psychology playing hard to get until she reaches a point where she can't take it anymore and shows up at my door hungry and aroused. If I'm not careful, I'll be the next father figure to come and go in her children's lives and this is something that I will not allow. The only real time I've spent with them so far was a month and a half ago when we all went skating with a bunch of other people and at that point they could barely remember my name until I saw Firefly again Sunday when I was working on the truck. Right now, I'm just one of their mother's many friends. On that note, my belief that it takes a village supersedes this entire concern because missButterfly has a much bigger village than most people, certainly bigger than mine. I don't even have one, but I still have to be the one who makes the right decision. She's clearly not going to stop calling or showing up as sporadic as it's been unless I firmly tell her to which I haven't done because I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I can handle disappointing her, but I can't accept hurting her. Right now, we're still in the disappointment stage.

April 14, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Well, I got kicked in the gut, again. The circumstances of my life are what make it weigh heavier than it should. Just like last winter, I'll pull out of it if I focus on bettering my situation rather than dwelling on my mistake. Spring is here and there's plenty of work available. None of it is exactly what I'd prefer to be doing, working on a farm, but I can't commit to a whole season because I should leave here no later than July and it wouldn't be considerate to quit a farm job in the middle of the summer when they need people the most, toxic work environments like the place I worked at last summer not included. I actually bumped into the office manager from there while out doing errands last week. She called my name in the isles of a store and I almost didn't recognize her. She had such a big smile on her face that she looked like a different person. She had just quit, too, after over 4 years. She's working for a different farm now and so much happier. I congratulated her on making the decision to not be miserable at work any longer. I might have to grow a thick skin and take any kind of heavy physical work if it's only going to be for a couple of months. I'm eager to put some meat back on these bones. I'm very tempted to just start buying materials and build the addition onto the tiny house, right now, but I don't want to stress about money so I'm being patient.

I ordered another charge controller for my fancy new solar panel and that should arrive in a day or two then I can start using it. That'll be cool. Having two batteries has given me lots of extra electricity, but charging them with such a powerful panel will be butter. When I was hooking it up last week, I accidentally fried the charge controller I had. I was reminded the hard way that you should never hook up the panels first. The controller needs to be connected to the batteries beforehand so that way when you hook up the panel(s) the electricity coming from them has somewhere to go. This hasn't been an issue in the last couple years because I've only been using my small backpack panel which doesn't generate enough electricity to fry anything, but it was super sunny the other day and there was a lot of power coming out of the big new one when I connected it to the controller. Within a few seconds smoke was spilling out around the little buttons on the front of it. Wups. Lesson learned. It was only 12 bucks to replace it. I ordered it online. It'd be more like 50 at a store.

I'm not ready to write about my other mistake, yet. Still licking my wounds. Such an idiot.

April 27, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I need to catch up. It got so bad that I didn't see the point even in writing which is the wrong way to look at a situation. That's just the judge in my head talking. Weeks were going by and I was barely hanging on. I can't let my story pile up and bury me. That would be a form of giving up. My story doesn't matter, but I matter and there's a difference. It's not about ego. I don't need to tell it so I can feel special or important. I need to tell it so I can find myself somewhere in the mess. What good is a map if you don't know where you are? Writing is the only way I know how to get my bearings. Hopefully, it won't always be this way. Right now, I need to work through it all so I can come out free on the otherside.

The turning point finally came around 9 o'clock on Monday night when I got back from Greenfield. I think I left around 6:30pm. I had to get a part for my truck so I rode my bike the 20 miles to the closest auto parts store and back. My feet were freezing by the time I made it home. Wearing beat up old work sneakers probably didn't help, but I had been tuning up the truck all day and it's easier to climb around on the engine in them than in my big work boots and it was super nice out. The temperature dropped quickly once the sun went down. As I lay by the furnace in the tiny house warming up, the worse was hopefully over. The truck was running well, I could get to work in the morning and things would start improving.

The dust seems to have settled, now, but MissButterfly sucked me back into her world by asking me to do more things for her. She even admitted that this was the easiest way to get me over there. Her last attempt was asking me to look at her mother's ethernet cable. Her mother who lives on the property accidentally tripped over the cable and broke the jack that it plugs into. It took me a while. Those teenie wires break easily without a special tool to install them which I didn't have, but I got it rewired for her and she had the internet, again. Invites from missButterfly to dinner or to watch a movie insued along with stealing embraces or kisses when no one was looking. She even suggested how it would be nice if I parked down at the bottom of her driveway late at night so no one would see me and then walked up to the house and slipped into her bedroom. Are you f*cking serious? I'm not going to be someone's secret. I helped her with the things that she asked me to look at and politely turned down all the other offers and finally had to put a stop to everything. She was getting in the habit of just showing up here whenever she wanted. Not to be mean, but I never once invited her. I never once asked her for anything. I did find out that she got pregnant by some other guy before sleeping with me while visiting friends in Puerto Rico. I'm not judging her. It just sheds more light on the night she jumped into my truck. Then she tells me during her last unexpected pop-in that mr.Man-bun is coming up from Pennsylvania for a visit and will be staying with her, but she wanted to keep sleeping with me. People are effing crazy. Maybe she mistook my kindness as a sign of low self-respect. That would be a mistake. I don't know and I don't care. My ego is not that important. We're just different people. When I asked her to wait to hear from me before just showing up at my house, she actually refused. I just laughed. It's funny because if a guy said that to a woman, he'd be called a stalker or maybe even have a restraining order filed against him, but I wasn't worried. Our interactions have always been positive. Even our last. We talked for a little while, she didn't get what she wanted (sex) so she decided to leave then I walked her down to her car and gave her a big hug. That was the last I saw of her.

Maybe things worked out with her and mr.Man-bun or maybe she met someone new at her first potluck bonfire of the season which I told her that I wouldn't be attending. She didn't understand why I had to remove myself from the situation because wanting someone and caring about them are not the same thing. I'm sure she thinks that she cared about me, but I have no proof of this. Caring is an action, not a thought. I went out of my way to show her that I cared, but it may sound harsh, she never did. She just liked how I made her feel and was using me and I let her because I thought any social contact is better than none and because of the tragic circumstances of her situation. No hard feelings. I'm a big boy. Back to the solitary life.

The solar panel stand I built works great. I can set it up in any spot with good sunlight or fold up the legs and mount it on the roof of the tiny house when it's time to travel. I planted carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, celery and watermelon. The potatoes are almost ready to go in the ground, too. Well, in the dirt. I'm growing everything in containers so they can come with me when I leave. I've picked up a little work here and there from the fliers I put up in late winter, but rather than handing out more I took a warehouse job that I found in Millers Falls. It's only 6 miles away so I can ride my bike if I want to get more exercise.

It's Saturday night. I got home from work around 6:30. Technically, I didn't need to work, today, but I got a call in response to one of my fliers so I figured I'd take the extra work, make a few more bucks and get a little more exercise. The warehouse job is 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. I even punch a time clock. I take a manila card with my name on it, drop it in a slot and the machine punches the time. I've had a lot of jobs in my life, a lot, but I think this is the first time I've had one like this. It's a sh*t job for sh*t money, but overall I think it's going to work out well. I like having a set schedule and an 8 hour day is a cake walk. Like I already mentioned, I couldn't take a farm job only to quit in the middle of the season. That wouldn't be cool. For now, I'm running a forklift and packing orders from door latches in padded envelopes to loading stacks of toilet bowls on pallets. I'm definitely working for the system, specifically the consumer world. This might be the deepest I've ever been in it. Technically, growing organic vegetables or hauling lobsters is part of a consumer economy, too, but at least it's built on a relationship with the natural world. Working in a giant building supply warehouse all day is a lot different, but I'm viewing it as a social experiment. Lunch time in the break room is particularly enjoyable. I get to be around people for a change. The nice older lady who sits beside me keeps commenting on how I'm always smiling.

In a way, any social contact is better than none, at least for a little while. We're social creatures. We absolutely need it. The fact that I've gone so long without it is not good, but unfortunately if it's going to be truly beneficial for everyone involved it can't be just any type. It has to be built on honesty and trust. Otherwise, it becomes like a drug fueled by our natural needs, but founded on our avoidance of other less healthy issues and unfortunately that was the case in the situation with missButterfly. I thought I was getting a social need met even if it was only every couple of weeks or so, but I can't trust the "don't ask, don't tell" crowd so I knew it wasn't from a healthy source. And, if I had let things continue her children would have gotten attached to me and then gotten hurt when I left. I wasn't going to let that happen. Do I miss her? Yes. I actually loved her surprise visits. I loved being able to hold her and receive all that female attention. Even the sex got a little better. I'm only human, but I don't miss wondering what else she isn't telling me. The only reason it perpetuated itself as long as it did was because I never wanted a relationship with her and she claimed that she didn't want one either, repeatedly. She even told me not to fall in love with her. I tried not to laugh. I give her credit. She's used to getting what she wants. I admire her confidence and can relate to it, but she is surrounded by friends and family support. I'm the one on my own and have to be much more selective about who I let into my world.

It's been pretty quiet around here lately. Things are better now, but for a week or two it was touch and go. It's pretty bad when the only thing keeping me alive is the fact that I don't want to leave a mess behind for someone else to clean up. In this case, that would be my landlady. Dead to the world is not a fun way to live. It relies soley on a person's ability to persevere while telling themselves that things will get better, that life will not always be like this, that someday they will matter to someone. Wah. The more time that passes with no change, the harder it is to keep telling oneself these things. Part of the problem is that it's even possible for a person to live completely alone. This isn't natural. Unless I'm living off the land in the wilderness hunting and gathering, I'm going to need other people to live with. It's just not humanly healthy for a person to live completely alone. This is why the modern world is so unnatural and unhealthy because as inhumane as it is it's completely possible to live this way in today's society. One might even say this world is deliberately designed to keep us apart. Many people manage to hold a handful of close family and friends around them while everyone else are on their own telling themselves "That's just the way it is." Focusing my attention on how unnatural the world is won't improve things for me on a personal level. Getting busy and making improvements will so that's what I've done and I'm doing better, now, but it wasn't fun. It's useful to be aware of how external factors that shape the world we live in affect us, but I need to stay the course and address these factors and forces when I'm doing well not when I'm having a hard time otherwise it just sounds negative. Being negative cannot create positive change. Only being positive does. This doesn't mean we force ourselves to smile when we feel like sh*t. Being positive takes many forms. Taking action is positive. Action requires putting energy to use. It's an investment in positive change.

We all need to matter to someone. My first watermelon sprouted this afternoon.

May 4, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Well, it's been a week and I should write. I've got to keep my table clear. I was wrong about a lot of things. The building supply company that I took a job with turned out to be owned by a liar. I couldn't be surprised because all the nice people who worked there told me this within a few minutes of the very first day and continued to tell me repeatedly for the next week. They made no secret of it. I eventually found out for myself when I got my first paycheck and the hourly rate was $16.50/hr. Yikes. The ad online stated that the pay was between $18-20/hr. Before I left on Wednesday, I learned that some of the people who have worked there for 30 years still don't make this much. That's pretty messed up. How can anyone be expected to live on that? A social experiment is what I was calling it and I definitely got a glimpse into a different world. I liked the people who I shared lunchtime with so to prevent them wondering what happened to me when I didn't show up for work the next day I waited until it was just me and the nice older lady in the break room and told her "good-bye." I had no doubt that everyone else would get the news and know why. She was very chatty.

Heading back to my work area on the second floor of the warehouse, I thought that maybe I should've waited until later in the day to say anything because the information might travel before I had a chance to talk to the supervisor who hired me, but there was no guarantee that I'd see any of them, again. My co-workers were usually gone by the time I clocked out. Surprisingly, even though he was always the only one still in his office at 5pm, that day my supervisor just happen to leave early. Interesting. Maybe he thought not being there so I wouldn't have a chance to talk to him would prevent me from quitting. I don't know. I shouldn't speculate. I sent him a text at 5 instead. He had already texted me a bunch of times since I started working there so it wasn't out of the realm of our communication, but it's much more professional to part ways in person. It had to be done though. I wasn't giving them another day. You can't lie about how much a job pays. Pretty sure that's illegal. I even wrote $20/hr on my application, but was prepared to take 18 at least to start with, but whatever. I've got better things to do than waste my energy arguing with sketchy people.

My supervisor eventually texted me back the next day saying he was sad to hear that I was leaving and asked why I thought that I'd be starting at 18 so I sent him a screenshot of the ad (I always save the work ads I respond to). Never heard back from him, but there is a slight chance because of what everyone told me about the owner that the supervisor had no idea what the ad read. Well, I tried it, made a few hundred bucks and moved on. Ok, almost a few.

Let's see, what else was I wrong about? I thought I wouldn't receive anymore unexpected visits from the woman who I reluctantly got involved with earlier this year because I politely asked her to stop doing this, but that wasn't the case. She came to my house on Thursday afternoon. It was a bright sunny day and I was working outside and saw her walking up the field. I still welcomed her graciously though I had mixed feelings about her just showing up, again. I had tools everywhere so I grabbed her a chair, but she hopped on the porch instead with her feet hanging down so I set up the chair in the grass a few feet away. First, she asked for a hug so I gave her one then I sat down. She was hoping that I'd take a break and go swimming with her down at the creek and knowing her it would be clothing optional. I didn't bite so we talked about other things. She revisited a familiar topic of how she thought that she and I should spend more time together, alone and with the kids. I asked her how many people were living at her house, right now. She laughed a little and told me that it was just her and the children. I tried to explain, yet again, that I didn't think it was a good idea to involve them for all the reasons I already shared. She asked if she didn't have kids, would my answer be any different. I told her maybe, but the other reason, to be honest, is that I didn't really trust her. This flustered her a little. Since we'd gotten involved, I've lightly touched on this concern a couple times, but I've always been gentle about it. It was time to be more direct.

I completely acknowledged that because I've never expressed any interest or made any effort to date her, what right do I have to take issue with whatever she does in her private life, but despite me flat out telling her more than once that I just want to be left out of that area she still keeps coming to my house. I took full responsibility for not being firmer and giving into her advances, but I reiterated my previous thought that I hoped she hasn't mistaken my kindness for a lack of self-respect. I shared that I didn't understand how she thought it would be a good idea to sleep with me while another guy who she was recently sleeping with and who still wants to be with her was staying at her house. I said that I would never do that to anyone. I told her, to me, that's pretty inconsiderate of someone else's feelings, mine or his. Her face by now was red, not with anger, but from being put on the spot. Then I asked her if they had slept together while he was visiting and she said that they had. Had I gone to the potluck bonfire that weekend like she wanted, he would have been there. Maybe she got some kind of thrill from having both the guys she's sleeping with at the same party. It almost made me sick to my stomach. She tried to justify herself, but I'd heard enough and asked her to leave. She can have sex with whoever she wants. I wasn't upset that she slept with him. I was upset that I slept with her.

I still didn't have the heart to make her walk all the way down the field to the road by herself so I walked her to her car, but no hug this time. I told her that if I want to talk to her, I'll reach out, but otherwise to leave me alone and that was that. I'm done being naive. She's going to have to find someone else to use.

She sent me an email not long after she left, but, right or wrong, I deleted it. Four months ago when she tried to start a non-relationship relationship with me, I explained that I couldn't get involved with the type of situation that she described, but I still never turned her away. It was my fault. I knew better. Like last November when I got a taste of her behavior, I've dreaded writing about this for the last four days because I hate drama, but I have to put it behind me and not let it fester. There's plenty more I could dwell on, but it's just not worth it and my head's a mess, right now.

I've got to be up early for work in the morning. I found a farm a few towns away who's been looking for a guy like me. Their last worker moved to Alaska. The woman who owns the farm with her husband laughed when I told her that's where I was living before moving back east. They're a raw milk dairy with a vegetable csa (community supported agriculture) and they need someone to fill 60lb bags of compost all day by hand that they sell at their farm stand, markets and nurseries. They left a phone number with their ad, but instead of calling, I drove over there on Friday to drop off one of my fliers, see their operation and hopefully introduce myself if someone was around. They were and I went to work that day. There was a huge pile of finished compost which basically looks like dark loam the size of a medium-sized hill when I got there. 110 bags and a few hours later, it was gone. There's not much money in shoveling compost. They pay by the bag, 50 cents each, but it'll get me in shape and give all this energy spinning around inside me something to do. The woman gave me a little more money than what the ad stated and tried to give me two dozen eggs, as well, but I thanked her and said one dozen was fine. I got two dozen last weekend from the lady who I did some work for (I gave one dozen to missLuna) and she, also, gave me way more money than we agreed upon because she said I was charging way too little so I've got plenty of eggs to eat and plenty of more work until July and it's the physical type that I love so I'm very thankful I found these opportunities. Fingers crossed.

May 5, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
All cleaned up and ready for the work week. I usually just take a quick cowboy tub, but I took a long, hot, full bath today even with bubbles. It was cold and rainy outside so it seemed fitting. Plus, I thought it'd be helpful to do something enjoyable for myself because I'm still feeling down from getting side-swiped on Thursday. Next, I'll be watching An Affair to Remember while eating a pint of Ben 'n Jerry's. Wah. Overall, I've got plenty to be happy about. I'm surrounded by nature, I've built myself a funky, little, off the grid, mobile house to live in, I'm growing my own vegetables, it's springtime and I'm psyched to be getting back in shape for the season.

I cut the bottoms out of two 5 gallon buckets yesterday and screwed them together end to end to form a big tube. This will slide inside the plastic compost bag and keep it open. Then I built a short square wooden stand. It's basically a box with no top that I can drop the bag with the tube into. This will allow me to shovel big heavy heaps (I'm bringing my own extra large shovel) of compost without knocking the bags over which should increase my productivity to the point that I might actually make enough money to justify my time while getting an awesome work out. They said that it's not possible for me to fill too many bags. I hope they meant it.

May 9, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Life is subtle. Many aspects of life are more subtle than I give them the chance to be noticed for which is why I need to continually force myself to slow down. Happiness is like an off ramp on the highway. If you're driving too fast, you'll speed right past it. This world is flashy, loud and over the top. Life can be this way too on rare occasions, but most of the time it's like an acquired taste that a person has to put a little effort into in order to get the maximum enjoyment and appreciation out of. It's not always going to force itself down our throats like much of this world tries to. These are the things that I've been reminding myself of now that I have a few worthwhile components in my life. There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to appreciate the beauty around me more other than my own mind's refusal to be in the present moment.

I think I bagged too much compost. I worked on Monday, but haven't heard from the farm in a few days. I called and left a message, yesterday, so hopefully they'll call back soon. I think they will. They asked me if I was interested in doing other things on the farm and I said that I was so maybe it's just the couple of rainy days we got this week that's holding things up. It's not the end of the world if they don't. I've got plenty to do to the tiny house and I've made enough money recently to buy the materials I need to build the addition. I put the nice Euro-style window I bought last fall in, yesterday, and I love it. I framed the opening for the window when I built the walls, but I've been waiting for warmer weather to install it in case it took more than a few hours like a normal window usually does. Euro-windows have no convenient nail flange which acts as a waterproof barrier between the window and the house like American windows have and this one was going at the front of the tiny house where it gets the most wind and water when my homestead is rolling down the road so I wanted to make sure I did it right. I, also, wanted to incorporate shock absorption around the frame in the form of thick rubber suspension bushings I bought at an auto parts store to mitigate the impact of bouncing that it's going to experience so the glass doesn't crack.

Anywayzz, I love it. It lets in so much light that it feels like a different room and when I crank it open, it keeps the place nice and cool which will soon be necessary. A few times this spring when I've come home from work after a sunny day, it's been pretty warm in the house even in the evening. When I'm here during the day, I just leave the door open and that's been fine, but with the temperatures rising being able to open the window will make the difference. I'll build a screen door soon to keep the bugs out on the hot summer nights, too. Gotta love the sound of a screen door lightly banging shut to make a place feel like home.

May 12, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
Worked on the farm, yesterday. They said no one had ever done that many bags in one day. I apologized and explained that I didn't mean to take advantage of the situation. My intention was only to make sure that I made a minimum days wage by doing enough, but this is no longer a concern. They've been paying me way more than what the ad said. I'm not getting rich and I could certainly make a lot more building houses or running heavy equipment, but I'm psyched to have found work on a farm and they only need me part time for part of the summer. I can find more work using my fliers once the addition is built.

On Friday, I called the woman I was involved with and apologized for how things ended. From the beginning, I've been adamant about not wanting to do anything to hurt her and I honestly don't believe I have. I've been nothing, but thoughful and understanding. However, I did disappoint her and was curt with her, last week, but that was because she hasn't respected my wishes. Even so, something told me that I should still apologize. It was a very short conversation. I told her that I was sorry for how things ended the other day and that I knew what I was getting into regarding us and have no one to blame, but myself. I apologized for not being a better friend. She thanked me for calling and then there was silence so I said "Good-bye". Just before I hung up, she asked if maybe we could talk sometime. I told her that would be fine, but not to just show up at my house. She can call and I'll meet her somewhere. She called today (two days later) and left a voicemail, but only to ask if I'd fix her friend's freezer for her. I didn't call back.

I remember how relieved I felt this winter when I thought I had gotten myself out of the situation with her. Calling and apologizing got me that feeling back. Gotta be up early for work, tomorrow.

May 15, 2024, Montague, Massachusetts
I bought all the materials I need and have started construction on the addition to the tiny house. No grand canyon the last two mornings which has been a welcomed relief. It's been kicking my ass for the past couple months. Hopefully, it will last, but if it doesn't, I know the deal. It's just a matter of weathering the grueling times. Not a perfect solution, but it is what it is.

Got another voicemail, yesterday, from the woman I was seeing. She wanted to meet up today and go for a walk. It meant a lot that she called. For the record, I don't like referring to her as "the woman", but I'm starting to finally see that she might not be the kind of person I thought she was. Maybe I made her into a saint when I learned of her situation and what she'd been through or maybe it was because she lived in such a beautiful off the grid home and had communal get-togethers like I plan to have, again, someday. The old expression "If God didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him." can be applied to a lot of situations and relationships. If I'm not careful, the path I've taken can cause me to believe someone is more like me than they actually are simply because it makes me feel less alone. I think we all do this sometimes whether we realize it or not. Then when the person does something that we'd never do, we're completely shocked, hurt or even betrayed. Who's fault is this? The other day when she showed up here, again, and told me what she had done, but still wanted to be with me, it was like the rug had been yanked out from under my feet when I realized I'd let someone who is that different from me into my life. In a split second, I went from spending one on one time with a woman who I thought respected me to down into the grand canyon I fell. It's moments like this that can make people start blaming one another for how they feel. I could sense my own justified unhappiness kicking in so I had to put a stop to everything. That's not the kind of person I want to be.

When I called her back last night, she told me that Firefly wasn't feeling well so he might not be going to the homeschool group that he usually goes to on Wednesdays (today). She said she'll call me in the morning because she can still get her mother to watch him so we could go for a walk. I thanked her for the call, but told her that wasn't necessary. The truth is I didn't want to go for a walk with her. Well, part of me did, an unhealthy part, but a healthier part vetoed the idea. I told her if she wanted to talk, we could talk right then, but she didn't. She asked whether I even wanted to meet up and I said, "No, not really. I'm all set. I apologized the other day so I'm good." I think she was a little surprised by this, but I told her that she can always call me if she ever wanted to talk and she said "Ok, maybe I will" and that was it.

Like all my previous attempts, I am so relieved to be free of the whole situation, but part of me still feels bad. Because I took responsibility for my side of things, I have no hard feelings towards her. Before giving her the boot the other day while we were still talking, I told her that I could understand how hard it must be for her to figure out how to navigate through the rest of her life now that she has found herself in a situation that she never imagined she'd be in. During the visit before this one, I told her that I hope things work out between her and what's his name. He's the one who wants to be with her. I unfortunately don't. Weeks before that I told her that I couldn't keep doing what we were doing. Not to sound chauvinistic, but I couldn't look her family and friends in the eye, if I was sleeping with her, but not doing all the other things that a man should do for a woman. Her yard's kind of a mess, so is the basement, the vehicles need work, the list goes on. It really bothered me that I wasn't doing more, but when I told her this she said that she didn't want a man doing things for her. I don't know what the place looked like or what she was like before she lost her husband. Actually, they weren't married. They were life partners. They grew up together, built a home, started a family and were committed to one another. They just didn't believe that love and marriage were a business contract. I can respect that. Anyways, I don't know what she was like before he was tragically killed in a freak accident. It's only been about two years. Living off the grid is a lot different from living a traditional American lifestyle where a lot of things get done by flipping a switch or pushing a button. It takes a lot more work to live like she is and she's trying to raise two kids by herself on top of this. She might still be lost. What may look like selfishness could easily be the only way she knows how to function, right now. It's probably all she can manage. My heart goes out to her which I told her many times. I think because I never asked her for anything and let her come and go as she pleased without ever holding her accountable was why she liked me. By showing up here, she could take a break from it all and disappear for a few hours. I tried to do this for her and I succeeded for a little while, but I didn't see it as clearly as I do, now. There's a fine line between being unconditional and not caring at all and I couldn't not care -great grammar. Like I already shared, it would have been irresponsible of me to let it continue.

Thank God I didn't have stronger feelings for her. I could have gotten kicked in the gut a lot harder, but I knew from day one not to trust the situation. I'm a sap in a lot of ways. For example when I meet someone new, I enjoy putting their number in my phone. I'm a dork. I'll even put a picture of them with it if I really like them. I never even saved hers. I still haven't. Something told me to be careful. There's plenty of things that didn't add up or that I didn't relate to that I could elaborate on, but those are just facts. It was a gut feeling that I was basing my cautiousness on. Facts can be misinterpreted, manipulated, rationalized or even turn out to be false, but instincts are never wrong. For someone who's been a hopeless romantic all his life, physical relationships just don't work for me. I've always been afraid to even try one, but since giving them a shot over the last few years I know that they're a poor substitute for the real thing. I already knew this, but now I have the experience to back it up. Without trust, it's just an unhealthy quick fix. It might be a phase that she still needs to go through. I just can't be a part of it. If we don't look out for ourselves, we can easily get sucked into someone else's reality which can be very dangerous if they're not looking out for us, or not even capable of doing so.

A few weeks ago before her last visit when I thought things were over, I made and mailed her a card just to let her know that I was hoping she was doing well and that I appreciated the time we got to share. There was nothing in it to imply that I had any interest in getting involved with her, again, but maybe she still construed it that way. I don't know. Maybe she doesn't believe that a man could do all the things I did for her (I'm not saying that it was a lot) and not have a hidden agenda like wanting to sleep with her. The only way she can know this for sure is if I show her. Just like with missFlowerchild, I will let the dust settle for a little while and then reach out in some way to let her know that I still care. I just have to make sure I'm solid, first, and doing it for the right reasons.

I took missFlowerchild's son fishing in my kayak on a lake down the road the other day while she was here in Montague visiting her sick friend. The last time I called to check on her, I learned how poorly the older woman who lives here and who has been like a mentor to missFlowerchild was doing. Even though she never once let me know she was in town, during our conversation she shared how she'd like to visit her friend more, but sometimes it's hard to find a sitter for her son so I offered to take him for the day. He had a blast on the lake. We even found a baby turtle and kept it for a little while before setting it free. Her son is a handful with absolutely no discipline, but that's not his fault.

They ended up spending the night in her van parked down by the barn. After sitting by my fire pit puffing and drinking while her son and I added a couple new blocks to my jig-saw door that he decorated with bright colors and designs, I think she finally accepted that I wasn't going to join her and decided it was time for bed. She didn't have a flash light so I walked them down to her van. After her son was tucked in, she subtly mentioned how he wouldn't notice if there was a third person in the van with them, but I tactfully passed on that offer, gave her a big hug and said "Good night." He and I goofed around in the morning, skipped rocks down at the creek, rode around on my bike with him in the trailer, tended to my vegetables and she finally rolled out of the van around 11. Yikes. They headed to a party some friends of hers were having not far from here after we said our good-byes. It's surprising how different you can realize you are from someone who you started a relationship with for the wrong reasons once you've corrected that behavior.

As I walked back up the field, I thought I had purged myself on a positive note of these types of relationships, but I had one more unexpected visit to contend with. That's done with, now. Well, the relationship is. I still need to find a way to do something positive regarding this one. A while back when I confessed that I missed her, what I was really saying was that I missed a woman's presence. I didn't miss her. I didn't even trust her, but she has a woman's form and a woman's touch and these are things to be revered under the right circumstances. I can't imagine how good that would feel if this were the case. When I said stupid things like "When a woman who looks like that is dressed like that and shows up at your door..." I knew that it was bullsh*t, but because we were both single technically I wasn't doing anything wrong. Dumb statements like this stand out like a flashing warning sign after I write them, but sometimes it takes me a while to realize why. It wasn't a fun experience, but I guess I had to go through it to learn what I already knew. There's plenty of other statements like this that I could easily list off the top of my head that I could go back and address, but this isn't a work of literature. This is a tool that I'm using. I can't let loneliness or not wanting to disappoint others push me into doing something that doesn't feel right. When it comes to clear cut morality, I'm rock solid, but on social stuff like this I need to get back to how I used to be, but with a less self-righteous judgmental tone and a more positive one. This is what writing about it is helping me do. I have to be willing to tell people "No" knowing I'll be facing another day alone. I used to be a lot better at this, but that was a long time ago when I had more people in my life. Time moves on and we have to adapt and get comfortable with doing things outside of our comfort zone. I just picked the wrong thing to try and get comfortable with.

A young black bear strolled by just inside the tree line this afternoon while I was working on the house. I said "Hey!! Where do you think you're going?" I have a little compost pile, now, that I'm growing some fruits and vegetables and can't have him coming by to check it out whenever he wants. We have to keep a healthy boundary between ourselves and the things that can hurt us whether they mean to or not. He bolted like his life depended on it. He wasn't very big and this is probably his first year on his own so he's still learning where these boundaries are. Just to make sure, I walked down to missLuna's and there he was walking near the edge of the road and I yelled at him, again. Once more, he took off like a bat out of hell. As cool as it was to see him, unfortunately, that was his last warning.

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.