Window Shopping For the Soul

People Art

I’ve always had a tough time resisting buying little, cool, one-of-a-kind things that are full of grace and character, and are usually handmade.  It is a cheaper shopping habit than most, but it still owns a bit more of the consumer attitude than I’d like to think I’m victim to.

It took selling or giving away 90% of our possessions, short-selling our house and beautiful yard, and packing up for a year of travel, but I have experienced the most pleasant shift in my shopping habits.

I still drool over amazing items, but I don’t have to resist them anymore.  Because I have no way to get them and no where to put them, they have lost their irresistible control over me.
Not only am I physically free of the burdens of ownership, I appear to be emotionally free, as well.  I am content.  At peace.

So now when I see amazing examples of artistic functionality, I think excitedly, “When we have a house, I want to have something like that for the kitchen/by the door/in the hall . . .”

And that simple decision fills me with all the satisfaction I used to get from purchasing the things.  Turns out it was never the things themselves that made me happy, but the decision to love that item, to make it (spiritually) mine and claim it for the aesthetic chambers of my heart.

So now I gain incredible delight from beautifully crafted things whether I leave them in the bargain basket of the antique shop, whether I find them in other people’s homes, or whether they sit in a shop window with a four-digit price tag.

In letting go of all the stuff, I have allowed myself to own the whole world, if I want it.  My arms are opened wide!


What It’s All About…

We’re hitting the road again and this time we’ll be crossing the SouthWest with our quarter-dozen children ranging from 7 months to 7 years.  The trip is planned out: David has a tour booked all across our route and we know where we need to be each day to stay on track.  We’ll look for state and national parks to camp in, farms and wineries to stay at, and hope for plenty of boondocking opportunities.

I’m not half caught up reporting on our adventures from our trip earlier this year, and I hope to keep up better this time.  We learned a lot from our first trip and hope that we’ve managed to better organize time and possessions this go-round.

I hope my stories can shed some light on how it is possible to live unconventionally despite the peer pressure, and I hope you, too, are pursuing your dreams instead of your neighbor’s 🙂

Columbus Ohio

We went to Columbus to see people we love: Zach (and his new bride Bethany) and Michael. We were only there for two days. We sat together in parks, barbecued in Mike’s yard, withstood a power outage, played music in the Short North, and visited Bethany’s family farm.  It was short and sweet. It was a wonderful benefit to living the nomadic life, because its something we couldn’t do before and lifetime friends are more important to us than routine and stability.

Zach serenades Bethany in the park

David Rosenfield busking in Columbus.
Annabelle took it upon herself to sell Son of Ojito CDs on the street.

Son of Ojito CDs

Mike and Cassidy

Ada’s Birthday

Birthday girl with seven candles

Ada is seven years old and we had such an amazing time celebrating her birthday last night with family and this morning with friends!

This is what we love about being back and what we missed when we were away. It is what makes us continue to call Clearwater home even when we don’t mean to.

I Know Why the Gypsies Dance


This morning I stepped out of Benny to sunshine sparkling on the line of energetic automobiles motoring along the highway and behind them, the less energetic treeline of a Northern Forest. We played outside on the grass at the Saturday parking lot of the Warren County Municipal Center where the police let us overnight.

When Cassidy fell asleep, I brought out my washing: a small blue bucket of water, my equally blue rapid washer (which is the general size and shape of a plunger), and a small satchet of dried soapnut berries. Laundry was pleasant with all the sunshine and the air was neither warm nor cool, and the girls collected acorns and dandelions and fashioned acorn cap bowls and plates from wide leaves for their fairy picnic.

I washed every wet diaper we had, and then the three shirts in our laundry bag, laying the articles on the sunny grass and hanging some on our side mirrors to blow gently and effortlessly dry.

And as I enjoyed my morning activity, I realized that we are gypsies. Without contrivance, we have assumed the role. And I feel like I understand something about gypsies now. We are nomadic because we want to be. We have few possessions for the freedom of it. We don’t want your jobs or your storage units. We don’t want a place to call home because we have a family to call home and everywhere we go we set out our things and make that spot our home.

I hope we don’t look like a bigger version of every city’s shopping cart ladies, because we’re not down on our luck or homeless. We are so lucky that the whole world is our home. We’re not in a laundromat because we prefer it this way, where the sunshine sparkles and recent rains have left mushrooms. I’m enjoying washing diapers in the parking lot of the New York State Supreme Court. Everywhere we go, our dashboard is lined with drying diapers because it works perfectly, and if we change our minds, we’ll quick get a job and a mortgage and a high efficiency dryer.

Some might not want us stopping on the side of their road, hanging clothes to dry in front of God and everybody. They might think we’re dirty, or uneducated but I’ve memorized my formulae, my As, and Bs and Cs, but what I learned came long ago and not from such as these…(Buffy St Marie) and the Western habit of daily showering is slightly ridiculous anyway.

So if you stumble upon our camp in a living or paved forest, and peek at us doing our washing to the beat of our tambourines, you can tiptoe past for fear of being cursed, or you can come say hello and we’ll become temporary friends as we have with others who stop to admire our vintage rig and regale us with their own tales of travels, frugality, self-sufficiency, music, camping and searching through this country.

Cincinnati with Family


The beautiful home that Jeff and Reda have made in Alexandria Kentucky is an oasis of peace, lovliness, and blooming flowers, conveniently located real darn close to our destination of Cincinnati Ohio.

After a series of Walmart hotels over the prior week, then a couple of hours driving through the serene bluegrass hills, we reached their house where we were so glad to see family and spend a most pleasant couple of nights and mornings, interspersed with days in the more hectic world of Cincinnati.

The first night was the best, when Jeff brought out his gigantic homemade telescope and a little step ladder so Ada could climb up to see what she could see: the rings of Saturn, for one, as well as stars and maybe solar systems.


Ada peers into space.

The next day and even occasionally now, a month later, she was overheard singing a song she wrote about the relative heat of various stars and informed me matter-of-factly that if our sun was the size of Beetlejuice, the Earth would be inside the sun!  And a few days after the telescoping session she drew this picture in chalk on driveway:

Here she is learning how a telescope works:

Thanks for having us, and feeding us, and keeping such a pretty place to be a rest stop on our travels!

Jeff and grand-neph (that rhymes)

West Virginia – Grand View






We had the best time with Robby over several days.  The West Virginia woods were beautiful and astonishing, the company was jovial, the skies clear and the sun bright.  The girls were loving it, Cassidy was still too little to tell us what he thought about it, and the caves were amazing.  The grass was green, the forest shady and dappled, and there was almost no one else around.  Just thinking of it makes me sigh a peaceful sigh.


Peaceful Interlude


After a whirlwind of travel and transition, our first peaceful day hit us a couple of weeks ago in Ohio and reminded us to slow down once and a while:

We woke up in the parking lot of an AAMCO in a tiny town, got our transmission looked over, then drove to the nearest supermarket and on the way saw a sign for a free drive in movie at the rec center that evening.  We did some errands, then went to the rec center and parked in the area where the drive-in would be.  Walked to the lake and David and Ada worked on skipping stones and making whistles out of grass.  Ada and Annabelle climbed up one side of a big boulder and slid down the other…again and again.  Then to the rec center playground which was the nicest I’ve ever seen and where we played for a long time.  Then back to Benny in the parking lot to make noodles and yeast for dinner and sit down to watch Despicable Me on the big screen.  The local police gave us the go ahead to spend the night in the rec center parking lot so as each child nodded off, we laid them in bed and continued the movie, after which we tucked ourselves into bed.

And in the morning, back to the playground for David and the girls while Cassidy and I trotted down a hill to the library to print out some documents that had been emailed to us.  Perfect!

Rec Center Playground



North Carolina

Our family in the hills, on a farm, chickens and sometimes cattle or a little donkey.  Two girls (seven years), one up and coming gentleman in a dollar bow-tie and two long-haired parents with a sense of humor.  Shouts and grins and home cooking and a flowering garden in a Blue Ridge Mountain frame.  We had such a good time and miss you already and are so happy for the spot you found and the life you’re making and all the dancing, fun, and frolic–and thanks for lending us your hat:

Busking for our daily bread in daily Asheville, rippling with street performers and they invite you to join their guild for one evening only and families are out wandering and the streets are lined with shops.

Visiting with Dana and Eric and Jocelyn in their intentional village where they live like Ewoks in the trees and up the hillside in round huts using ancient Mongolian technology and intentional innovations.  Stone steps set in the hills, bunnies hopping, shaped clay and clay-clad feet, a creek leading the way to their front door, beautiful wooden patterns in lattice like a pie, and a kitchen decked out with functional art:

Back to Waynesville for an evening gig in comfortable Blue Ridge Books, while attendees dine and candles flicker:

And a Waynesville tradition, the four times a year clog and dance and everyone joins in:

Lake Junaluska and the geese and ducks and swans and Porters:

Rose lined walk with my beautiful blossom, scent of Summer wafting over the lake, enticing bees:

Swinging way up in the children’s weeping willow:

And just because Waynesville is small enough to find your family at the lake on the way home from errands, you can sneak onto the path ahead of them and hide on the hillside to surprise them:

Athens, Georgia

Outdoor Farmers Market, long skirts and necklaces made of holy seeds, playing in the sun, then a drizzle, paid in tips and the farmers’ bounty:

Athens Bounty

Back room in a hip bar, orange curtains and stuffed animals that used to be alive.  Cool college cats in overstuffed furniture that was loosing its stuffing, noisy kids (mine) in a carved wooden booth, David’s intense lyrics and chords and an atmosphere that seemed smoky but wasn’t.  Wish I had my camera to capture the music and the laughter…this is after:

Kids Crashed