Starting a Christmas tradition and making some bread. Tx

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.” – Margaret Young

sunset

Seems as I have come in a full circle these past 30 years or so. A circle which will never meet its end, yet anyhow, but some of its path is familiar. Many moons ago when I had started a wholesale bakery and totally struggling on all fronts, financially, physically and definitely mentally due to my inexperience in Life, Christmas suddenly was not too far, and married with a child at the time there were not many gifts on the shelves, if any, we could afford to convey. When young and when the material path is still important and precious for that sense of fake “happiness” it could we thought at the time provide, I felt, as the days went on, uneasy about the whole situation. And then I thought, why not invite everyone to a simple dinner we could afford, mainly a soup and home made bread. I even remember baking mini-loaves of banana breads, wrapped with clear cellophane paper with a red ribbon and bow!

adobe rd

Our now torn up road, adobe powder… and the Boss!

I was feeling so apologetic from the very start, so personally inept not having been able to provide, as everyone else had, with boxes of all sizes and wrapped with all different patterned wrapping paper and bows of all colors portraying this Christmas time. But there were no hostile looks, there were no innuendos in the conversations matching my mental frame for the time, instead there was laughter, there were second helpings, some thirds, and the bread was torn apart from hands sharing the moment that had brought all these hearts and souls together. My inner thoughts softened with time, how could I not when seeing the genuine smiles, the blending of the minds and realized that the gift of Christmas I had extended was not in the soup or the bread, it was in this creation of togetherness and well being for that one afternoon, on the cold day that I remember warmed by a roaring  fireplace.

path a

So every day I have been clearing an all weather natural accessible path on “The Oasis”!

This was a day I have never forgotten and a day that sparked my awareness and spirituality throughout this Life of mine. Worries went away, the years passed, the bank account grew and Christmas reverted  back to those familiar boxes of all sizes and tinsels. I think I lost myself a bit, took steps forward and slid steps backward, all at the same time. What I thought I could not personally overcome how wrongly I was assured that money would! There was not a lack of it, I end up being at the right time at the right place in Naples, Florida, were my bookings were inscribed years in advance and my fee was a fantasy of mine clients gladly paid. It was as jumping into that gold lined box where its layer was only getting thicker by the year and building this “I am invincible” motto a bit of wealth generally brings on into our souls.

path b

Perfect for the sidecar rig and street motorcycles. Hard packed a fun curvy path. No cars.

As nicely as fame, reputation and demand for my services build up over the years, I will never forget the indescribable punch received on the telephone when I heard the news from this normally strong voice of this child of mine, but suddenly frele and panicky, saying “Dad… I have liver cancer”. The gold lining not only melted but the walls of it’s box collapsed as of an earthquake of incredible magnitude. As myself today, the lack of Health Insurance was present, we fought the system, we lost on all fronts, totally lost as a couple years later I found myself not only back to square one all alone, but with a piece of my heart missing that will never heal. The zeros following the first number in this troth of artificial wealth that could not keep my Son alive dwindled, gladly given away, sadly inept to the cause.

cans a

Spirit and I left for the road, this sinuous ribbon of sometimes dirt, sometimes black top, a bit over two years ago. In a bold move we did, there was no wealth subsided, either material or mental. It was rock bottom throwing ourselves into the destiny that Karma would draw for us. When you have nothing left, there is nothing to loose. It becomes almost a comfortable situation as fear coming from fear itself, there was then no fear at all. There was no turning back, nothing from the past exists anymore except the moments filled with memories I dive into, as, painful or not, I like to relive, and, even if it is for just a moment, fool myself as being a fake past reality. Just for a moment I say as I know that regardless of it all my wealth since has increased so tremendously as we are now back to the time of another Christmas with soup and bread, with Friends that have become our Family, it has been a long long path on this circle of mine.

fire ring

How appropriate also that we will be sitting within the new circle we built last week from Carl’s wood. Since that day I have often gone daily and sat by myself, Spirit next to me on the ground, on one of the logs facing always the sun. The circle has taken a new meaning for me, it feels serene and peaceful siting there and soon Saturday we will be in company of others, sharing the day, the fire, the food and our Friendship. We are a long ways away from 30 years or so ago, it is bitter sweet, there is more today as also there is less today, maybe some day I will figure it all out. Feel free to join us… this year, next year… we are starting a Christmas Tradition.

cans c 

cans b  

NATO cans and their holders.

On another front, our fuel and water carrying situation on the rig has never been satisfactory. Till today. I have finally this one solved. The fuel was always in the sidecar nose, in front of Spirit, not such a good idea, and the water was in one 10 liter Jerry can, on the outside which came with the Russian Ural car and very quickly the mount needed to be welded just about every three months. The fuel is now outside in 2 NATO cans, incredibly well made Jerry cans with a paint finish surpassing anything I have ever seen before, including Wedco cans. We can now get on the road with 11G of fuel including the tank and the water storage is of 8G.

water cans

A 5G jug and the old Ural 2.5G can, just lucky as it is a perfect fit and will not vibrate or move on dirt roads. Camping in the near future will be much different than last summer as we will get more into the back country and the wilderness without much contact for days at the time. Not in the fashion of the best seller book which turned into a best seller movie, an unfortunate story, but just some remote areas where we can stay as long as there is food, fuel and water. We will then come back to civilization, spend a couple days uploading photos, the Blog or Blogs and get back into another area. I am now waiting for a new luggage rack as the present one has cracked and also a couple oil filler rubber rings as an oil leak has now made its presence. Those rings need to be changed every 100,000 miles… they just don’t make them like they use to!

water

And speaking about water, this is so far what we live with on “The Oasis”. When the average American uses 220G of water per day, this 50 gallons of drinking~washing water, plus about another 30 gallons in the RV, lasts us close to three weeks with a shower every other day. Eventually the other tool box also will be filled and we should be able to last one month on our water. Working on the propane situation also and other logistics needed for survival here, specially when icy cold as today.

Bread kit

So I made some whole wheat bread today and this is my kit that is always ready. The orange bowl is always oiled and used for mixing and rising, the pan is for baking, those two never need washing. The cups and spoons are for measuring. Right! I use one rubber glove on my left hand to do the mixing, it saves water and the bread turns out a dense strongly flavored country style bread with a nice thick crust. Much different from a bread machine… which I have never used. This is the real “way”, the old fashion way, it only takes a couple minutes of actual labor. My recipe calls for 4 cups of stone ground whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons of granules of yeast (much less expensive), 1.5C of water +/-, some oil spray and a bit of salt. The options are wide open such as adding honey, molasses, sunflower seeds, you name it.

cup water yeast

I heat up one cup of water right into the measuring cup. No need for thermometer. You want it warm, comfortable for a finger to rest in it without burning. Mix it with the yeast in a little bowl, and let it rest a bit so it dissolves thoroughly. 4 cups of flour in the big bowl, a dash of salt, add the liquid yeast and also another .5 cups of water and start mixing with the… glove. Keep the bowl greased. You want the dough firm but not dry and not sticky, you might adjust the water.

dough oven

I use the oven’s pilot after making the dough into a ball and covering it with a towel to let it rise for a couple hours, door closed. After risen, kneed it again a bit, into then the greased pan, a couple slits, let it rise again and bake at 400 for about close to an hour depending on your altitude. Making bread, baking bread is like a relationship you develop. It will take a couple tries maybe to find the right temperature and the right baking time, however that in itself will change as the seasons change. It will be delicious however from the first try.

oven ready baked bread

The dough on the left is ready to bake and like magic a baked loaf on the right! For some reason when it goes into storage there is always a quarter of it missing! I do keep an eye on Spirit, but I have not caught him yet… Mystery! Give it a try, it is a hearty bread, tasty, it will make you “feel good”.

cut bread

I never said this was going to be a “ride report”… it is merely just another Life in a few words…

Till next time!

Help us keep the site alive. Please contribute… I use to ask if reading this site was worth 1$ a month. I do again. This site has been far from being a free Journal for us as it was at one time!

Two years of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In “Your Favorites”, in “States”, some labeled “first year” and second year”, now also “Texas the third year”. Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun.

Merchandise is also available through SmugMug. If you like to order a print all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload on the Gallery.

Be well, always.   Ara & Spirit

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9 Responses to “Starting a Christmas tradition and making some bread. Tx”

  1. Rodolfo Says:

    Ara; I have been following your writings and adventures. I am happy to know that you are doing well and overcoming health issues. I could nearly smell the bread from my laptop. Take care of yourself and Merry Christmas

  2. Louise Says:

    You are more frugal with your water than we are, and that’s good. We use about 150G for the two of us for two weeks (well, 5 of us if you count the 2 cats and Opal). Showering every other day is the key, plus not flushing the toilet every time. I would imagine out in the Oasis all alone that you are “watering” a few of the bushes to save money instead of filling your black tank 🙂

    I’m curious how you are dealing with waste water? Grey on the ground; what about black?

  3. Patrick McKenna Says:

    Ara/Spirit,

    Merry Christmas! That bike of your’s is a bit clean! No? 🙂

    Looking forward to our paths crossing one day soon.

    Pat

  4. Carl Says:

    Ara, a very powerful and timely message. Merry Christmas!

  5. Phil Says:

    I’m simply amazed at your ability to capture, not only in pictures but in words as well, what to you must be a pretty routine day at the Oasis, but to me appears as that far off dream. Glad your doing okay and that your bread still rises.

  6. The Artful Adventurer Says:

    a good and timely message, Ara… thanks for your reminder and perspective.

  7. LISA O Says:

    Thanks for your post. Peace to you. It looks good out there….

  8. Picinisco Says:

    Your comment is so right. Comfort creeps up on us without a thought. When it goes away we panic but as you say when you have nothing left you have nothing to lose. However when we lose everything, in our minds, we still have our experiences and everything we have learned in life so far. So we never “lose everything” we start again from a solid base.

  9. Jer & Nel Says:

    In my opinion, the very best anyone can do, is extend to others those things in our lives from which we’ve benefitted the most. There is so much separation and loneliness in the world, extending a comfort zone, however small or large, whether local or digital, is a “good thing,” a worthwhile endeavor.

    Love the rotating header images!

    Later,

    Jer & Nel

    Btw, thanks for the forwarded message!

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