Friday, December 7, 2012

Plotting, Scheming





Pictures from various visits to what we affectionately called Dreamland, a twenty-acre parcel of pristine Mojave Desert wilderness P. and I (and Mac and Dolly) fell in love with back in 2009. And again in 2010. And 2011.

And would you know it's back on the market for one fifth of the original asking price. [Insert collective groan from entire immediate and extended family.] Let's discuss.





Flashback to 2009, Joshua Tree. Newlyweds. On more than one occasion I'd call P. as he was leaving work and invite him for dinner at Dreamland, table for two. He'd always say yes because he's a good-natured husband, so I'd put on some lipstick, shut up the studio for the night, load the doglets in the truck and swing by Sam's Pizza for Indian takeout. (Quick aside: Sam's Pizza was and still is a tiny no-frills pizza joint in a tiny strip mall across from the Joshua Tree Post Office run by a lovely Punjabi family. They make terrible pizza and -is it possible?- the best Indian food I've had outside the Subcontinent. If you ever go to Joshua Tree, you must get Indian food at Sam's Pizza.)

We'd  rendezvous at Dreamland and hike to our favorite spot to enjoy dinner in our laps while brainstorming about the off-the-grid cabin and studio we'd build there, the artist residency we'd start, the painting I'd do and the writing he'd do. The topography of the land is shaped like a donut, so that while not far from town it's situated in its own domain and seems completely remote once you're there; it owns its own view. You stand at the bottom of the bowl and a circumference of monzogranite ridges rise up on all sides, with two large mountain ranges flanking the north and south in the distance. At the risk of sounding new age, the energy there is OFF THE HOOK. The place is magic.




Our dates to Dreamland continued throughout the winter sunsets, a freak blizzard, the spring bloom when thousands of hedgehog cactus exploded into fuchsia spectacle and desert indigo, mormon tea, Spanish dagger yuccas, pink barrel cactus, desert broom, and my beloved orange mallow came to vivid life. And then into the punishing Mojave summer, when jackrabbits sought refuge in the cool overhangs of the massive boulders and a breeze kept the property a good ten degrees cooler than in town. Even when we moved to India, we kept our eye on the place as the listing popped up every so often when the price came down.

Let's revisit the facts. It's twenty motherfucking acres of sublimely beautiful, ecologically diverse, topographically unique, pristine desert land. As Pa Stockman likes to say, "Land: they're not making any more of it." And this land is so cheap now that two graduate students could cobble their savings together and DO IT. (And no, there's no catch; we've done all our homework on the place and no, MOTHER, there is no secret nuclear waste dump there or radon in the water table.)





I can't stop thinking about it.  P. can't stop thinking about it. We're having a Marriage Summit this weekend to plot, scheme.

While discussing it with my best friend over hot sake last night in our favorite subterranean hole in the wall behind my studio, she shrugged over a bowl of steaming udon and said, "Well it wouldn't be the craziest thing you guys have ever done. You can park the Scamp there for now until you can afford to build something." CHA-CHING.

You GUYS. 

80 comments:

  1. It does look dreamy. Don't you worry about the dogs getting bitten by a snake, though? I guess every place has its creepy critters, but the desert ones tend to scare me more (I think because I don't understand them). Somehow the big black bears by us seem way less scary than a snake or a hairy desert spider. :P

    But, potentially dangerous animals aside, I think you guys should go in on the land together with a few friends and start an intentional community/retreat center. And then I'll come visit every spring when the cactus flowers are blooming there but the ground is still frozen here. Deal?

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    1. Snakes are nbd as long as you are educated about them, where they sun, etc. Only a few weeks in the spring when they shed their eye skin (yup!) and they're blind that you have to worry about, and there's always rattlesnake aversion training with our pal Mike Smiley.

      AND YES, going in on it with friends is the idear, so yup, DEAL.

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    2. Ah, see! So true. The more you know, the less scary things are. That's why the bears don't bother me!

      I'm going to hold you to this wonderful idear! :) Sending positive thoughts your way...

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  2. Of course you should DO IT!! And you can build a little Air BnB cottage somewhere on the property if you are worried about future income streams :)

    Good Luck!!!

    DO IT!

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  3. Delicious. Please do it...and then we can all visit. xoxo

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    1. There will be a P. room all for you. With crisp clean linens and such. And Steve can come, too. Just when mid-February is especially bleak in NY and you need a little desert sun.

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  4. My first thought was also worrying about the pups getting bitten by a snake! hahah Captain anxiety here. Really though the question is how could you not do it?!

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  5. Hey, I did a workshop in http://calearth.org/ about 3 years ago and during the 2 weeks we've been helping to do some building work on a cob house exactly on joshua tree location. Check calearth out. I think these houses are pretty affordable. personally do hope to build one for myself one day :-)

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  6. YES. DO IT. I love all your pictures from then and think it looks so beautiful! And your posts from then make it seem like such a truly magical place. They actually inspired me to go on my first real desert-camping-trip... (This weekend, Anza Borrego. I'm psyched.)

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  7. I don't know you so i don't really have a right to offer advice but if this is something you have been looking at for as long as you say you've been looking at it and if someone or something has conspired to reduce the price time and time again to make it affordable for you and if this is the biggest and best dream you could ever have and it could come true well it would just be rude to say no now wouldn't it?
    Jane xx

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  8. Oh my goodness!!! Do it!!! I might be able to offer you temporary digs if you need it....

    Orange mallow is my favorite as well!!!

    Ann (also a lover of the desert.......)

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  9. Um, this is basically my exact dream, complete with the Scamp (though, in the woods, not the desert). Love everything about it. Do it, do it, do it and (pretty please)invite us along for the ride.

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  10. oh gosh, DO IT. you have to. you know you do.

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  11. You should TOTALLY DO IT. We're living in Joshua Tree until April and while we like it, we don't love the desert the way you & your hubby do. BUT we totally toyed with the idea of buying land for an artists' retreat here, just because the land is so cheap and the landscape so inspiring. This particular plot of land seems so special to you both, if you can swing it, go for it.

    Oh and we've wondered about the Indian place-- totally going there when I get back to JT from my visit to Florida!

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  12. i'm with (apparently) everyone else on this: do it!!!!! this is the perfect (THE perfect) place for you guys...especially since it holds such a dear place in your hearts. i'm so excited to see how this all pans out...!! :D

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  13. At the risk of sounding NEW AGE I say do it. And don't look back. Yup.

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  14. Without question: you should go for it! :)

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  15. you won't regret it. do it. i'll make you dinner for the next year to make up for it.

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  16. sounds good to me. well, good would be a silly lie. perfect, it sounds perfect!

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  17. Yes! THis is exciting :) you guys are awesome. do it!

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  18. How fantastic - sounds like it was meant to be. Do tell more for your international readers who are unfamiliar with the desert - how do you keep water? Tanks? And electricity? A generator? How far is it from the nearest town? Do you get phone coverage and internet access?

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  19. Oh HELLZ yes, cousine!!! No groaning from extended family up the street.

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  20. DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT!

    That is all.


    But also :
    DO IT.

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  21. Do. It. Now. You will never regret it. We're planning to do the same on a property by a lake. Park a trailer, then take your time building. And, by the way, Sam's has redecorated.

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  23. Absolutely do it. You're here for a good time not a long time, right?

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  24. DO IT!! I grew up in the middle of nowhereseville in the Mojave for a few years and I still can't get over it - it's THE BEST. You absolutely must do it no matter how hard it might seem; just make it happen!

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  25. All I was thinking to say is 'Do it'- and all I see as I scroll down to say 'Do it', is people saying 'Do it'....

    Looks/sounds dreamy.

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  26. i hope you take all of our YESES with you to marriage summit. . . oh, wait. we're not actually married. even so. . . may i please come and make prints in the desert?!

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  27. You guys have already put in an offer, right? I mean, how can you NOT, that's the question.

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  28. Do it. Do it. GO ON... All of us are planning to live there with you vicariously through your posts, so really, you doing it for US. Now go, put in that offer.

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  29. DO IT. DO IT. DO IT!!

    Sending love and warm wishes of DOOOOOO IT!!!!!!

    xo Annie

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  30. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will be putting some major good energy and intention into the universe for you guys!!! Will you let your blog friends come visit you and camp in Dreamland? ;)

    xo
    cortnie

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  32. I guess the NJ farm is way on the back burner now.
    Looking forward to the next post.

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    1. That farm.....sigh. Anon, you and my mother bring up the same point. Unless this IS my mother. (HI MOM.)

      I think P. and I have been so peripatetic for the past five years, New York -> Joshua Tree -> India -> Brooklyn <-> Boston (if you're a new reader my partner/husband lives in Boston) so part of all this is craving stability and a sense of HOME. That, and the farm in NJ isn't exactly even for SALE:) The happiest long stretch and most stable part of our young marriage was in Joshua Tree, so we always equate the desert with that blissful two year stretch (not that it wasn't fraught with hardship; P. deployed to Iraq twice during that period), on top of really truly loving the desert.

      But you busted me, because yes, clearly I am an unreliable real estate yearner, as I yearn for many a plots of real estate to call my own. xo

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    2. No judgement here. It's just funny to find someone else like me who is always looking at property and planning and scheming. If I ever win the lotto, I'll be a land baron. Having just been to JT in October, I understand your draw to the desert.
      I hope you go for it. Fingers crossed for you!

      Delete
  33. Of course it should be!
    You could start a desert farm and artist retreat and awesome place with room for many creatures and humans.its perfect.

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  34. I live so far away from there now and my heart aches for the high desert, J Tree specifically. There is a picture of our wedding site hanging in our living room, and I stare at it every day. I dream of owning something there one day, and of not living an ocean and a continent away from it. I hope that you can do it, if not now, someday.

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  35. I'm chiming in on the do it, do it! chorus. It's lovely, and perfect. And the energy of the place leaps out of your photos, so it's undeniably a magnificent place that should belong to people like you.

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  36. It would certainly solve the Scamp problem, now wouldn't it.

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  37. DO IT LILLY. Seriously. DO IT. Because ... if you don't, someone will! LIKE ME!
    Oh, please oh please oh please, buy it.

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  38. It's so beautiful! That's so exciting! DO IT!

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  39. It could be the next Chinati Foundation. Can I come and visit? :)

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  40. Further encouragement, in the form of DO IT. DO IT, so we can stop chanting this to you and can start plotting trips where we (ok, I) randomly stop by to see this plot of land we are all becoming hopelessly enchanted with.

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  41. i'm plotting and scheming with you!

    i will be a visitor, FOR SURE.

    fingers crossed for you, sweet lil!

    xoxo

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  42. I hope you and P find a home where you feel energized and content.

    My parents bought 90 acres and moved us all out onto unimproved property when I was in the 6th grade. I know a thing or two about dreams, land, and trailers.

    If you love it you will love it no matter what. It (the land) will become an extended member of your family, and it looks like you have already dated. Time to be engaged/married and move onto the honeymoon.

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  44. Sweet! Joshua Tree would just be one of many magic carpet rides in your life together...It's all an adventure. I am biased, as I love the Mojave with every fiber of my soul, and came to your blog because of your desert observations. Your lives will be enriched.

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  45. i loved you guys in the desert and sophie my dog just told me that your dogs telepathically said to her DO IT mama and papa:)

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  46. Do it!! (as long as you're asking for advice from your general readership!) I'll contribute if allowed a visit! (Or better yet, have greater incentive to buy lots of Block Textiles goodies.) It looks magical ... and Pa S. said it best: "they're not making any more."

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  47. I'm all about crazy awesome schemes like this! That's what makes life magical.

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  48. Excellent article. Keep posting such kind of info on your blog.

    Im really impressed by it.
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  49. I loved all your posts back when you were in the desert. Along with the Indians those where my favorite ones. Do you feel home there? Then do it. Buy that land. Go live in the Scamp (other favorite posts of mine). Crazy things and decisions took out of pure instinct and love are often the best. Imagine the excitement in knowing that you OWN a piece of the planet, and a piece you love. It's home.

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  50. DO IT.
    Start a Kickstarter. I'll give you fifteen dollars. We all will!
    This is a crystal and a cactus and a winter lizard talking to you.
    DO IT. DO IT. DO IT.

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  51. Lils, effing buy that property already! Missing you and P. :-)

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  52. Wowzers! I have to admit, I was all for the farm too but if this place makes you this happy? Ya gotta go for it!

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  53. Wowzers! I have to admit, I was all for the farm too but if this place makes you this happy? Ya gotta go for it!

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  54. Yes, do it. (A long time lerker.)

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  55. Lily.. do it! if the energy is magic, and the price is right...go with your gut!

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  56. it feels great to look at these :)

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