benefits of the grid

I'm in Houston, Texas, Y'all.

Staying with Mom for a week to celebrate the holidays. (I prefer to schedule my family time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, thus avoiding the insanity, the christmas tree decorations, the carols, the presents, the blatant consumerism in the name of jesus...) Being here, back on the grid is humbling. Every faucet and toilet opens up and dumps gallons and gallons of water by the second. It's so easy. (It's too easy.) My laptop stays plugged in, charging, all day. Mom's electric fridge has an ice maker, a water tap, and room for entire carcii. (is the plural of carcass, carcii?? it should be..) It stays fully stocked with tupperwares fulla leftovers, coca cola, yogurt .. it's awesome! Washer/Dryer, ceiling fans, central air, central heat, automatic garage door... The list goes on and on and on.

Staying here, I totally understand why such a high frequency of the world lives like this. It's so easy, yet so unbelievably spoiling. I think most people don't even realize how dependent they are on the goods and services provided by folks like city power, city water, gas companys, etc. I lived most of my life without giving it so much as a single thought. When i flew into Houston it took maybe 1 hour of mom's house until I was once again sucking on the teet without a fleeting thought. The grid is a wonderful (miraculous even) thing.

Where Shindagger sits, half of what Mom has isn't even a possibility. .. and I don't know why I chose to thrust off the few services that are available, but even being here in the womb of society I feel good about it. The city of El Paso could just go away, and Shindagger wouldn't change. I love that.

Sorry about all the parenthetical B.S.. I couldn't help myself.



Typing with gloves on .. cold in the trailer this morning.

The clawfoot bathtub I got is sitting upside down on some 2x6s. I've treated it twice with a citrus-type paint stripper, and peeled off layer upon layer of paint from the outside of the tub. The bottom layer of paint is really hard to get off even with a coarse wire wheel attachment for my drill, so maybe it's factory installed.. There's a little rust on the back where the fixtures sit, and on the bottom of all 4 of the feet. I'm gonna hit it one more time with a different eco-brand paint stripping gel today, paint the feet white, and call it done.

Getting the house ready for the tub. A friend and I are going to trowel a third coat of mud on the interior. After two coats of mud on the outside, and two coats inside, this is the first time using a trowel.

Walls, then plumbing, then floors, then water heating. I'll be taking a bubble bath this Christmas.

Anyone know what these numbers mean?


where i am today

I bought shindagger in March of 2006. Began living on it in october of '07. The first year i didn't do much. I made a lot of plans, built a compost bin, forged a trail to the top of my property, cleared some tent space, and dug a fire pit.

Last year I started building. It should be said that I live a little bit like a gypsy in a 1960's era canned ham travel trailer. It has a full kitchen, and ice box, and most of what i need. What it lacks is storage space, a shower and a toilet. For a toilet i've been using a Joseph Jenkins style humanure system since i moved onto the land. So what i needed was storage space and a place to take a shower.

A good (great) friend of mine, Robbie, is an architect in CO, and he offered to design a small strawbale building at no cost. He even drove down to El Paso, twice, to help me build it. Construction started in December, and I worked on it until March. You can see construction pictures here. The interior of the building is still bare earth, and the building still needs a few more layers of plaster, but by march of '09 the exterior of the building was almost totally finished, and i could lock it up and escape the desert for the summer.

I returned in September and focused my attention on water. I bought a water tank, and had a truck come out to fill it. Recently, I got a nice DC water pump and built a small solar powered pump house (pictured above), which brings me to today... In the back of my truck is a cast iron clawfoot tub i found on craigslist. To install it i need to floor and plum the inside of the house.

I hate digging.


hello world


Above are the approximate GPS coordinates to shin dagger, a 9 acre off-grid project in a sandy little subdivision overlooking Hueco Tanks State Historical Site in far east El Paso, TX.