[Email to Jer, sent to him long after the stated date, ’cause no electricity, no wi-fi, no contact except texts from the Experimental Living Cabin of AZ West in Wonder Valley, California.]
Good morning Luv,
It’s March 4 and I’ve now been at the Experimental Living Cabin since the afternoon of March 1. And I may or may not be getting the hang of the experiment. Yesterday I broke the globe from the tall oil lamp that sits on the elevated rectangle on the art pad.
I have two other small globed lamps for the counter area but this tall one is both the most elegant and most perfect for its space. Sigh. It’s a good esthetic design but a bad functional one — top-heavy. Thank heavens it fell in the kitchen space (shattering on the concrete into a thousand pieces) and not on the wood art platform itself. And only the globe, not the bottom with its oil, fell. Small comforts for a sorry loss.
The “art platform” is, perhaps, 6-8 feet by 12 feet, and two inches off the floor. As you can see, I tried to read on it. But the getting up and down, and then actually sitting on it, was a trial. It would make a grand yoga and meditation place, if only one were 35 rather than 75. The wooden pieces of which it’s composed (There are 12 pieces; you can see some of them if you look closely) are perfectly proportioned and balanced; it should be [it has been] a gallery exhibit, like a Bauhaus creation. And yet, and yet, it lacks comfort.
I imagine you sinking into a soft armchair, at exactly the right height for getting in and out of, reading away at Hilary Mantel, and maybe falling softly to sleep. One does very little sinking softly in these quarters. The bed is a futon, good and firm, with a wonderfully warm comforter, but it’s not what I would call “soft”. The two stools that fit the counter so well are just right in height and size, but as wooden stools — they are not soft. The big cushions on the art pad are foam, so alleviate the wood-on-bone effect a bit, but are awkward to move and, being on the sacred art work, awkward to use. I realize I have gotten soft, a knowledge gained from surrounds that are not.
This sounds all complaint, but I don’t mean it to be. The windows, on all sides of what is essentially one 400 square foot room, make me feel as if I’m fully in the desert without its discomforts. And the moon, full when I moved in, has continued to fill the place with light. I’ve discovered an unexpected delight in getting up at night. I remembered Pine Station PA outhouses in the winter and camping facilities in the Wyoming Tetons, so the thought of having to use the outdoor composting toilet here would be, I was sure, uncomfortable. I was concerned that no electricity would light the way. I knew I would freeze my tookus. But the moon, through the cabin’s all-encompassing windows, lit the way; southern California, it turns out, is decently warm at 4 AM, even in March. And going out into that star-shine bowl of the desert, with no trees to distract from the sky — well, a bit rapturous, in fact.
I’m also waking up at dawn, just as the eastern sky starts to lighten. The futon bed, behind the black room divider seen in the kitchen, is open to the eastern windows. There’s a short wall between the “bedroom” and the art platform room, and so the windows on the east wall are completely available to the sleeper. “Available” is an interesting term — what I mean is — sleeping in past 5 AM becomes difficult.
The photo above is dawn as it displayed itself on the western wall of the cabin. The sunrise reflection shows in both the windows and in the mirror between the door and the windows. Glory be for the mirror.
The mirror is decorative (Sunrise! Desert! Rounded form!) but also serves other functions. Aesthetically, it adds to the light and sense of being outside while being protected from the sun and wind (a comfort equal to sinking softly). More functionally, it allows me to braid my hair, not a small thing in the dry windy climate. As you know, I get desert hair quickly, and the only way to keep it from driving me screaming into the wind is to get it under control with a braid — and I never learned to braid without looking.
The mirror is the only decorative object on the walls, if you discount the total of five hooks. These hooks hold a broom, a dustpan, the desert hats, and, for my use, two clothes/towel hooks in the futon space. The hooks are functional, of course, but the hats and cleaning items are oddly esthetic, providing the vertical relief of the broom and the circular form of the hats.
As you can see from this photo, I have not only shattered the vertical punctuation of the high globe in the art platform space, but here I’ve added two boxes of tea, a candle, and my blue flute holder, mucking up the perfect arrangement of objects, aesthetically speaking. And so lesson one of experimental living might be: it’s only sometimes that one’s aesthetic needs can be matched completely with one’s functional needs. Alas. On the other hand, it’s seldom that one (or at any rate, this one) lives inside an art space.
See you for dinner tomorrow. Hope tuna will do. Bring your own eggs. — jou