In this post I want to discuss my current vocational testing at the Eden Property, and provide a summary of what I was able to accomplish this last summer, what failures I suffered, and how I am planning to reorganize and try again.
I’ve read that monasticism in general and especially eremitic monasticism is really an arduous journey of successive failures with only brief punctuations of progress and success spread out along the way. I have to say, it really often does feel this way.
But, let’s jump in and work through these issues, and see where I came out after another season at Eden….
What I Wanted to Accomplish
I had a lofty plan starting out this last spring. In the mid of a pandemic, I was thrilled to have a remote place to go where I receive few if any visitors (really none at all) and get to enjoy the solitude and silence my heart so often craves.
I arrived at Eden in late March, with the winter weather waning somewhat earlier than the year before, and the warmth coming on, though it would prove quite mild despite all the fear mongering from the liberals in my State concerning how terrible global warming will prove to be (it did not). I pulled my recliner out of the temporary shelter (it had been stored as an experiment wrapped in plastic through the winter). It suffered from some strange mold, but this was easily brushed off and I sprayed it and let it sit out on the cat walk in the sun for a few hours. There was little to no smell lingering after a spray bottle of diluted bleach and then frebreze was liberally applied and allowed to dry.
I had decided early on that I would not desire to stay in the temp shelter this summer due to the bugs. I opted instead to buying another tent and erected it on the flat area where the future vegetable garden will go. This proved valuable and accidentally discovered that this location provided me with consistent and dependable internet access from my new phone. It allowed me to remain at the lake M-F for the duration of summer and returning to my house in town F-M for work. Because of the internet access, I could work on my dissertation throughout the summer and into the fall with little trouble.
My plan for the summer:
1. Get the shed torn down, and the tree that crushed it cut up.
2. Get the new workshop tarp roof put up.
3. Get the middle deck frame built.
4. Get the log cut away from the dock and the dock moved inside the pilings and the logs arranged the way I want.
5. Get the trail put in to the top of the ridge through the bowl.
I was able to remove the tree and shed from the deck. I was able to build the frame for the tarp roof that covered the entire deck. It was great except for the very front where the tarp hung lower than the plastic roof in the very front. This would serve as a doom when the first rains came which pulled down the tarp frame and ripped the tarp.
I was able to get the middle deck boxed in but the inside stringers have not be put in, nor the decking. Luckily, I did not get to tearing down the temp shelter as I plan on using that this summer while finishing the hole and putting in the deck for the permanent shelter above.
As for the dock, I was able to buy a grinder that works for about 10-15 minutes per charge and I was able to cut one brace. There are 10, so there are 9 more to go. I was not able to get the docks rearranged, since doing so would limit my access to the dock I’m taking apart out by the log. I was able to get out to the property this fall (about a month ago) and secure the bolts that hold the middle piece dock in place for winter storms.
This is where I left it by the end of summer.
What I was Able to Accomplish
I was also able to get the trail up the bowl about half way. My property sits at the base of the bowl and the terrain is incredibly steep in places. A few more trips out this winter could see me punching through to the skidded road at the top of the ridge, but I’m not certain I am up for it.
One development I noticed when on my last day trip out, they have begun logging at the top of the main ridge. While this is quite far from me (about a mile) and I highly doubt they will get too close to me (the trees down below are much, much smaller than the stands at the top of the ridge). It is a issue of caution since there is activity on the peninsula.
What Were My Failures and Why
Unfortunately, my failures were many. Beyond the failure of the workshop tarp roof, and the failure to get the trail in, and the failure to get the docks and logs rearranged, I also struggled with cooking and keeping clean.
I’m not certain if it is a psychological issue in my own head or the water from the lake, but I can’t seem to get as clear as I do with the use of the shower at home. It’s nothing in particular, but I have noticed a shower at the lake does not last. After the bucket shower, if I start sweating, it is as if the dirt and grime was just hiding and comes rushing back. The shower at home is probably 30 gallons worth. The one at the lake is 5 gallons. Plus, the lake water is untreated, which could be a concern especially in the dog days of summer when the water is way low.
I have also developed a rash on my arm. While it does get better and “goes away” with frequent showering in town, it comes back almost immediately if I skip a shower for a day or if I’m back showering at the lake (even every day). It is possible that I will need to implement a manual filtering system for the water I use at Eden in the future.
Food has proven also to be a difficult issue. The prospect of intermittent fasting (to help with my medical ailments) is great in theory. But, if I stick to the regiment I lose sight of any and all productivity and end up sleeping all day, experiencing lethargy, and cannot concentrate and am weak headed. Eating more regularly resolves this, but I noticed despite my nearly 4+ hours of manual activity each day and the hour and a half paddle in the kayak twice a week and the hour+ daily trail work up and down the mountain did nothing for my medical ailments and I have lost no weight. I’m afraid I’m cursed with my culture vices (though there are much more severe ones to have mind you) and I will never be able to shake them.
The end of the season spelled doom with the first storm that tore down the workshop roof. This was disappointing to find, but it is what it is.
What I’m Planning to Do Now
At the end of the season I am left with a great deal of potential, a great deal of hope, but also a great deal of regret, remorse, confusion, and disillusionment. I certainly have found myself burned out from the constant work for little reward. It even has felt, despite the constant labor 5 days a week that my body is no more conditioned that it was when I first started. It is as if I cannot get myself into shape.
I spent a few months looking at upgrading my kayak, but eventually this was abandoned. New kayaks cannot be purchased because of supply chain issues and used ones require travel into populated areas, which I have no interest in doing. My current boat works fine as it is and if the patch breaks I can always replace it with the materials I still have. I really don’t want a motor boat as I fear gas prices will continue to rise in the future. I will wait and see.
Right now I’m taking a beak from the vocational testing at the property. A rest. I’m working on the uThM project, doing independent research through a volunteer position I’ve secured at a Christian Institute. They have encouraged me to embrace my call and mission to conduct Christian Philosophical research, though I’m convicted to reframe this as Biblical Philosophy as to differentiate from what modern Christian Philosophers are doing out-of-bounds form the biblical text.
As for Eden, I would like to do several day trips in my kayak through winter, just to stay in some kind of shape, and to work on the trail if possible. I would like to punch through to the top by January so I can launch explorative day trips through Jan – March while waiting for the weather to improve (though the cold is taking its time this year).
This next summer I hope to spend in the temp shelter. I want to get it cleared out, cleaned, and set up my original hammock system without the use of the recliner, which, though was quite nice, proved unreasonable. I instead opted for a recliner hammock, but this cannot be set up in camp without a stand or trees. I intend to build the permanent shelter to house this hammock, which is a combination of a flat lay hammock and a recliner (it stores better in winter, drawing no dampness or mold as the chair does).
It appears whatever I set out to do I accomplish about 30% of it in any given year. I would like to find a way to simply work at my vocation each summer season, without the guilt when winter comes that I’m not further than I am, and just enjoy my time in what I’m doing. I am convinced if I just keep at it, one day I will look up and realize that I do not need to leave the Eden property but can stay indefinitely because of the hard work I’ve put in. I know that everything is within God’s plan and I trust in his will.
I will say the permenant shelter I foresee being completely hidden from view in the vegetation. I have planted several varieties of ivy around the property this summer and hope it will take off soon. Now that the tent if off the flat I would like this summer to plant some salad greens and some cherry tomatoes from seed (at both the Eden property and at the house).
Though I don’t think I should prioritize the moving of the dock and log, I think there might be room, while the water is high, to move the log and dock still tied together behind the pilings, then move the other log on the outside. I don’t particularly care what order the logs are in as long as they are in their final place and secure. Then I can still access the large dock to pull up the decking for use on the middle deck and the dugout decking floor, while working slowly to separate dock from log. It may take two or three seasons to finally get that dock dismantled and the floats shipped off (though I’ve been cautioned to not sell those too quickly as I might want them in the future – I personally don’t see why, they are not usable given the depth of water they take). I would agree (partially) with the styrofoam floats, as there may always be a need for these and they do not harm anything sitting up in the treelike – I may want to expand or replace the dock at some point in the future, though this is doubtful).
Of everything this summer I’ve determined that my greatest enemy is myself and my self-doubt and the guilt I inflict on my self for not achieving what I set out to achieve or for failing at things (like construction projects).
A lot of times I wonder what is the driving force behind the things I do, things like going to school and this vocational testing at Eden. Why am I different than those around me, who seem satisfied with a regular job, with conventional homes conventional lives, who find nothing more satisfying or fulfilling than watching the newest tv shows or being occupied with their favorite game or reading their favorite book.
There is an indescribable and unexplainable drive within me that pushes me to do things that others don’t tend to do. This is why I eventually finished my schooling, got my Master’s and my PhD. Not because I thought it would be likely that I would find employment. I half heartedly hoped a particular seminary job would have worked out. It seemed promising. But when I applied, yet again, I was passed over. But, the voice, the unsettled feeling within me finally abated once I finished. I don’t care about things like accreditation because I know in these times in which we find ourselves, even accreditation means nothing in a world gone mad. Whatever job accreditation would afford me is not a job I would aspire to embrace. The compromise is too great.
This is why the Eden property vocation is the perfect occupation for me, given my disposition, my call to the solitary life (for right or wrong), and also given my conviction that things in this world are about to get much worse. Finding a way off the system, out from under the control of those who work for the devil and the new world order can only be for good.
I, though, am soft. I grew up in a time and in a place where every comfort was afforded to me. Every thing I ever wanted, and even today, I have everything I could ever need. I do not go hungry (in fact I am overfed). I do not have pain. I do not have illness (well, self-inflicted maybe with my culture’s diet). I am sheltered from the weather from the world, from nature itself. I live in temperates that hover around 70 degrees and cannot stand being in a winter breeze. Uncomfortableness is instinctively viewed by my body as the enemy. This any my lifelong formed appetite for comfort and ease will need to be tempered and restrained, beating into submission, so that I can live “comfortably” at Eden in the last part of my life.
I don’t know what drives me to do this, or what drives me to the deserted places, away from people and away from the world. All I know is that driven am I still.….
Until my next update….
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Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – “
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – ”
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to er on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
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