Holiday Letter 2014
Greetings from Fort Collins, Colorado!
I started this 2014 “holiday letter” about a month and a half ago and things have been a real whirlwind since then! Let’s see…where was I?
After many months of working on an earthbag house in Kansas, Keith is back to work in on an official, paying job. He worked a total of less than 3 months in all of 2014!
We began 2014 in Blackwell, OK, greatly anticipating getting away from Keith’s worst job and our worst landlord ever. We had tickets to Ecuador and spent many an evening watching Ecuadorian YouTube videos and dreaming of our escape.
By mid-January we were loaded up and back on the road to our storage shed in Kansas. We entrusted Sprite into the care of Keith’s dear parents and boarded a plane for South America a few days later.
We loved living in Ecuador while everyone back in the U.S. froze their little behinds off in the Polar Vortex. We also made some new friends while we were there. I’ve written several stories on my blog about our experience (with plans to write some more soon). We can hardly wait to go back!
Reluctantly, we returned to the US in April and set out to build our most ambitious project ever: an earthbag house for Keith’s parents. A few weeks after arrival we realized we needed to build up our finances a bit more, so we briefly moved to Wyoming for a job, living in a tent to save as much as possible.
During the stint in Wyoming, my mom and I took a trip up to Washington and I had a great visit with my grandparents and several friends. There is never enough time to do all the catching up I’d like to do, but it was nice to see everyone even if only for a short visit!
By the fourth of July we were back in Kansas, rarin’ to go. Over the next several months we (particularly Keith) worked very hard on the house. We did take a one-week trip out to North Carolina in late July/early August for Keith to attend a natural building workshop and learn some techniques hands-on. We had a great time on the way home going through the Smoky Mountains and stopping for an early third anniversary celebration at Mammoth Cave National Park.
I’ve posted a number of updates about the earthbag house on my blog, so if you have any interest in alternative building then be sure to check out all the pictures and videos I posted. It’s quite the project!
We worked until the weather stopped us just before Thanksgiving. As with many projects of this scale, we underestimated the time and money required to pull it off, so we’ll need to go back and finish it next year!
We spent Thanksgiving down by Yuma, Arizona with my family, including a great aunt and uncle I haven’t seen since I was a small child. It’s rare to have my parents, uncle, and grandparents all together for a holiday, so it was a real treat for me! The warm Arizona weather was a welcome relief, too.
After Thanksgiving the job search began, and as usual after a couple of days Keith had something lined up. The job would be in Wyoming, which was a bit of a bummer as I had been hoping for a warmer winter destination, but we made a reservation at a pet friendly hotel and got ready to leave the next day.
That night Keith received a phone call with an even better job offer in Northern Colorado! So we canceled our Wyoming plans and headed to Fort Collins instead. And here we are!
We’ve decided that with our lifestyle we needed to live in an RV, so we went to pick up our new motorhome over Christmas vacation. And by “our new motorhome” I mean “my sister’s used motorhome.” Yes, she is very generous to let us use it! We are saving up for our own but what with the small income and large outgo last year we will need to wait a bit longer!
So we lumbered back to Colorado in the beast that we have affectionately named “The Giant Slothmobile.” It maxes out at about 55 MPH and slows to a crawl on the slightest incline. But it got us here, and we have settled into Fort Collins. We have had some very cold days, but I really like it here and have been getting involved in Toastmasters again and working out at the gym every morning. Life is good!
In other news, I have just published my very first children’s book called Stella the Starling! It’s the story of the starling I hand-raised, except I created a fictional character–a schoolgirl named Emma–to raise her. All the stories about the bird are true, though. I also put in a section with pictures of the real Stella, a vocabulary section, some discussion questions, and a section on what to do if you find a baby bird. I wrote the book for an elementary school audience but I think any bird lover would probably enjoy it. It was a fun project! The book is illustrated by my friend, John Kilmer, who was also a friend of Stella’s. Right now it is available on Kindle, but soon I will also publish a print version. I made a web page about it HERE if you want to learn more about it.
So there’s a little glimpse into our nomadic year 2014. How was yours? We wish you a full and joyous 2015! And how is it almost February already?!