This is the first entry in my Research Journal, a weekly post outlining my discoveries, impressions, opinions, and all other thoughts related to learning and my own independent research. Much of my inquiry is focused on personal passions, the objects of my curiosity. This often will manifest itself one way or another into book form, fiction, coming alive in my characters and scenes and worlds I inevitably create.
I hope this Journal will be a long running one – a treasure trove of impressions and experiments. This will not only formalize my private learning journal, but will also allow me to publish a portion of them.
My Continued Hermitic Testing
My testing thus far has been very fruitful. I have abandoned my previous tent and now stay on the covered deck. Soon I hope to construct a framed tent structure inside the tree line, under concealment of evergreen vegetation.
Shed has been reorganized for better utilization. Previous guest had left canned food (which has now expired) and even dirty dishes, which will be discarded. I would prefer no more guests in the future.
My $20 hammock has proved the best option thus far. It provides the best hang, and with the mosquito netting and the hoop frames at head and feet, I feel comfortable and safe from the insects that scurry around at night (I did not have the same experience in the dugout, waking up in the night several times to various critters hanging overhead or actually crawling on me).
My rain fly has also proved serviceable, even after it was molested out of its stuff sack by some unknown animal. The stuff sack did not make it, but the tarp has only one pin sized tooth hole on it at the edge. Still works great.
I learned this week that 50 degrees can be cold when you’re sitting still (reading) and under shade. Especially if there is a slight breeze blowing. Another 20-30 degrees lower and I’m hitting the bottom for my area.
Thankfully, we do not have full winters. It barely gets below freezing here. But, my property is located on a northern slope, tucked back into a cove, so it often will not see the sun for an entire day, sometimes an entire week if it’s cloudy. It has froze before and remained frozen, even though the south facing side of the cove is awash in sun.
This means I will not only have to adequately bundle up when sleeping, but I will also need to take advantage of the sunny areas in the field and out on the water during the winter. This may require a raft of some kind for hammocking in the sun if it never its the dock in it’s current location.
This could be easily done with quick release clasps to disconnect one section of dock and then float it out from behind the logs. I could pull it around anywhere I wanted with the skull or with the kayak and anchor anywhere on the lake.
I learned this week that I am not interested in actual astronomy. Or, at least, the physical aspect of actually sitting out under the stars and craning my neck ever upward…..no thanks. It’s cold, and quite frankly, it’s a little boring. I much prefer the theoretical aspects of astro-physics and astro-biology.
Needless to say, there will not be many future projects that entail such endeavors.
I do believe my comfort level at the property is increasing more and more with every visit. Soon, I believe it will be akin to living in a house. This is the aim.
I am convinced that true, genuine, and lasting satisfaction, fulfillment, happiness, serenity, will only come when I am no longer shackled to an external job, where I must go somewhere else and perform some diabolical task that serves only as a distraction from my main pursuits. Granted, I have not yet been able to produce a steady income from those avocations. Does that mean I should not pursue them, given the opportunity?
As Thoreau says, adjust the workweek from six days on and one day of rest to one day of work and six days of rest.
My Greatest Challenge
I have learned this week the major challenge before me is changing my eating habits, not only for the health benefits, but for the financial. I will not be able to retire early if I continue to eat as I do.
A Fan of Thoreau
I have become an instant fan of Thoreau in all aspects of the wild and nature. His politics I could care less about. But, I do like his theory on work, employment, and lifestyle design.
Cougars in the Pacific Northwest
I learned this week about the first ever human killed by a cougar in Oregon. It gives me a slight bit of trepidation, and I have coined the term “Fear Walks” when referring to going for a hike now in the neighboring woods and meadows. Just to get me back into the habit and not find myself terrified of the woods.
I am no more or less safe than I was yesterday or last week or last year. There are cougars in my area. My trail cameras have caught them at the foot of my deck (not when I was there, thankfully).
But, they’ve also caught elk, bear, bob cat (in the middle of the day), and yet, I have seen none of these creatures when wandering around in the woods mid afternoon. There was also another killing in Washington State.
It is possible I will die from a wild animal attack. But not at all likely. It is just as likely to be killed by tree fall, or injury from falling off the gang ramp, or slipping on the dock after a heavy rain, hitting my head and drowning in the lake. What has much more likelihood than any of these will be dying from diabetes (if I don’t change my lifestyle) or dying on the highway when commuting to and from work.
Work stress has also been known to be a killer.
On Nocturnal Critters & Sounds
I had several experiences this weekend while snuggled in my hammock, early in the morning, before the daylight spreads across the valley like warm tendrils anticipating the dawn of a new day. I noticed how silent it was there. Even when surrounded by towns and major highways and houses and cabins, even the smallest tracks of wilderness bring on a supreme hush that awakens in me a tranquility I can find nowhere else.
And then I heard it. Not certain at first, but then when the second one came, I knew. It was the sound of a bull elk bugling. He did it only twice, but it was truly magical.
Later that afternoon, I found my way over to the meadow, and sure enough, two elk had bed down right near the water’s edge, but the rest of the herd had camped out in the meadow proper. Apparently, when it was time to leave, the bull was calling the two stragglers back to the fold.
On my last night, I was visited by a few wild guests and not a few passers-by. First a boat passed just after dark, then a train lumbered by, heading east, then another boat early in the morning, moving slowly through the fog. Then the train returned after an all night round trip, heading back to the port from which it came.
Lastly, some critter was mulling around in the leaves near the deck. I would snap my fingers and it would skitter away, only to return again a little later.
As black turned to blue, then purple, then daylight rose inevitable in the east, the critter, whatever it was, returned no more.
I also noticed that I can hear the sound of the lighthouse in the distance at night. This truly is a magical place I hope to soon call home.
Roof Repairs & Low Flying Aircraft
I finished the roof repairs (or the major ones at least), and as I got down from the ladder, I suddenly heard something coming from the east.
There are no roads that direction, so I knew it couldn’t be a vehicle. And it was getting too loud for that anyway. But, it certainly couldn’t be a plane, it was way too low.
As I got to the end of the gang ramp, the machine cleared the tree tops and revealed a lumbering giant of a plane. It was all gray and had four engines. It passed by, then another one followed right behind, and then a third. All flying low, all incredibly silent for what they were.
And then, just like that, they were gone and the world was plunged once again into deafening silence.
I did cite in my private journal that I would like to do a sand filter project, filtering lake water. This is a fine objective in theory, but in reality it is less than desirable.
I have seen first hand over the years how the general public treats this lake, and I also know that the efforts of the local DEQ several years ago was a wash, and now people are again running sewers and gray water systems straight into the lake. With no oversight and the green film present that was never there when I was a kid, I think it best to stick strictly with rainwater collection, and, if needed, buying water at the store for drinking.
This means I need to shift my focus from water filtering to water collection, as I will need to collect enough water to use throughout the summer for cleaning, Though, I may still commit to a project experiment, to see how clean I can filter, treat, and purify the lake water. Maybe with a combination of sand filtration and chlorination I can render it good enough to at least wash with.
One major project would be my Study Plans. These are modeled after a major Masters Degree program in Theology and several graduate level certificates in other areas of interest. I might hear you say, “but why not get the actual degree?” To that I reply, “What practical purpose would that serve but to alleviate me of hard earned money and saddle me with an academic job?”
My first undertaking will be to identify and complete ten books and or courses in each subject area. From there, I will re-evaluate to see where my interests then lie.
Discovering the Sun
I discovered that the winter sun is a blessing here in this place. I can lay in my large hammock, clad with socks, sweats, with hood drawn over my head, and I can lay out all day, enjoying the mild, inviting warmth, the cool breeze, refreshing, as it steals enough heat from me to keep me from over heating. This way I don’t burn, and yet I can warm up from the less than comfortable coolness in the shade. I wonder what winter holds for me in this place?
What I Hope to Focus on Next Week
This next week I will not be venturing back out to the property, as I have family coming in for the day.
This I find rather disappointing, though it is beneficial, as it is motivation enough to get the house finally cleaned up and emptied of the extraneous material goods that have somehow found themselves collected on tables, in chairs, in piles on the floor.
I would like to empty the house out entirely except for what is absolutely necessary, and to align my civilized life with that of the life I hope to lead in future solitude.
Silver lining, though. I will be able to ride my trike somewhere this coming weekend. I’m thinking of tackling the hill to the north, and riding to a neighboring lake and it’s juxtaposed campground and day use area.
As for research proper, I would like to focus on finishing the two library books I have checked out: What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Getting Older, and Beyond Quantum.
They are both interesting enough, but I do think I will eventually abandon print reading in lieu of all digital. Between my laptop text-to-speech capabilities, and the ease in which I can read ebooks on my smart phone (always in large print, which is easy on the eyes), I am just more comfortable with digital.
Likewise, the only real appeal to print at the moment is the availability of titles not sourced in other places (which are the only books I’m checking out now).
The real challenge driving the digital focus is notetaking. With both netbook and smart phone, it is relatively easy to extract information via copy and paste and put snippets in my private learning notebook.
With print books, I am using small sticky tags as I read to mark some piece of information, then I have to go back and fumble between book and laptop to retype all the info. It is cumbersome to say the least.
If it proves more of a struggle than the value of information I am receiving, I may just forgo print books entirely.
My Current Reading/Resource List
Academic Article Review of Black Bear Behavior – 1%
Academic Article Review of Cougar Behavior – 0%
What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Getting Older – 30%
Beyond the Quantum – 5%
Desert Solitaire – 10%
Biocentrism – 5%
When we Die – 15%
Where I Lived and What I Lived For – 1%
In Six Days – 0%
Celibacy in Crisis – 25%
The Hour of Our Death – 20%
Astrophysics for Busy People – 100%
Hermits: Insights of Solitude – 100%
Through the Wormhole Episodes – 1%
Death Yale Lectures – 1%
Joe Rogan Experience Podcasts – 1%
Ninja by Lustbader – 30%
Fountain Creek Trilogy – 1%
John Updike Early Stories – 0%
Dexter by Design – 10%
Mammoth Hunters – 45%
Before the Fall – 100%
The Testament by Grisham – 100%
The Goldfinch – 0%
The Regime (Left Behind Series) – 2%
In the end, a profitable week. Less academic and more practical, of which I hope to remedy in the future.
I am nervous of the coming winter, as it feels as if it is coming quickly, and I am hopeful but hesitant of my worthiness to endure it.
Once the construction phase is finally over, I will be able to settle into a more contemplative mode of life, which will itself pose additional challenges (keeping warm for one).
We will see.
Also, please consider supporting my research and my hermitic lifestyle by buying one or more of my books on AMAZON. I guarantee the stories and characters you will not soon forget.
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