Emily B. Art

Riverside Respite

Yelm is a strange place.

I grew up with the idea that it was small, tucked away, hidden, and relatively unknown. 

Anytime I’d mention my hometown to someone I’d meet, the typical response is “Where’s Yelm?”… and anytime someone seemed unphased by a place called “Yelm” was quickly interviewed in return “Where are YOU from??” because it had to be nearby.

This weekend, however, made Yelm seem BIG. Between the UFO Fest, Tenino Parade (and some music festival I just heard of, called 4 square mile music fest featuring christian rock music, I think?), general HOT WEATHER ADVISORIES, the pockets of insanely cool geology and hiking spots around Thurston County, and the quiet but omnipotent presence of some yet-to-be-explored (by me) occult history…. YELM WAS LIT! (as in, light, lightened, buzzing, popping, happening, etc. for those of you out of touch with this trash millennial linguistic game).

I got to spend some time with a man I’ve recently started seeing who lives in Seattle but came down for the weekend to experience Yelm life. We went to Mr. Doug’s for breakfast Saturday (the Yelm go-to diner in city proper… TRY THE HOBOS ASAP), picked up some stuff at Sunbird’s (it’s a garden/farm/hunting supply store… very fun, too easy to spend money, and they had a sidewalk sale this weekend, which is A BIG HECKIN DEAL AROUND THESE PARTS!), checked out ‘King Cronic’, Yelm’s recreational marijuana shop…. I think they’re too high to spell Chronic, but they make up for spelling errors with their fun and friendly customer service and fairly well priced pre-rolls, which set us up just right for our next stop: 2nd Annual UFO FEST in Yelm, WA! What a trip!

The event itself was somewhat underwhelming, the majority of the ‘space themed’ or ‘alien themed’ decor was kid-specific (bouncy houses, cool blow up slides and obstacle courses, etc.) but the turnout WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD, at least as far as my expectations went.. Yelm has a few events, Prairie Days, Jazz in the Park, and even farmer’s markets, now (which I have yet to explore) but I’ve never seen this many people in Yelm before! I haven’t lived in Yelm since 2010, and I’m realizing quickly that the entire time I’ve been away, it’s been growing! Yelm has become an economic and cultural center for Southeast Thurston county… what a wild vision happening before my eyes!

Eric and I also checked out Johnson Creek and Skookumchuck Reservoir, which seems to have some magical elements to it and majorly cool geology (agates, geodes, and quartz, oh my!!). We explored and floated in some insane hydrologic features deep in Bald Hills (Deschutes Falls is crowded but worth checking out). We even stopped by the Tenino Parade for the Washington Agate and Mineral Society Rock and Gem Show! Free entrance, I left without technically spending money but Eric bought me a $3 petrified wood slab that I couldn’t put down so I left happy! (and hot, again, because it’s still been hanging in the 90’s here! DID I MOVE TO ARIZONA?! ARE CLIMATE CHANGE DENY-ERS STILL UNCONVINCED?!?)

Needless to say, the weekend was full of fun, lots of sun, and a much needed break from the physical and emotional toils that last week and big changes bring alongside. I am headed to Florida to visit my very dear friend, Colin, later this week. Lot’s of work to do before I leave town, including roofing the tiny home, I hope!!

More news soon…

-Emily B.


Hard Work, Hot Days, and other Hold Ups

I’ve arrived in Yelm.

It’s hot. 

Really hot, like 94* FarenHOT. 

I’ve never done anything like this before. Building this tiny home is all new, and it’s entirely overwhelming. 

I’ve cried more times than I can count, I’ve been scared more times than I care to admit, turns out I’m still afraid of heights and I’m the only one who can technically be on a ladder on my property 7am-5pm most days. 

This is all good, and difficult, and I’m still learning so much about myself and my capabilities and my limitations. 

Yesterday my dad took down a Cypress Tree on our property with the help of one of our neighbors, and I helped move the logs and stumps to the wood pile. 

Today, my dad began to teach me how to split logs with an axe (wedger) and I broke down. I cried at first because I was scared of the axe, and my inability to swing without hesitation. I was too afraid to see if I was powerful enough to split the log, because all I could think about was cutting my leg or toes or foot and hurting myself. I was afraid that even if I overcame this hesitation and gained comfort with this axe, I would never be strong enough to sustain swings long enough to split this tree into quarter logs for my wood stove I spent 4 hours wire brushing the day prior, and countless hours planning and designing to work in the tiny home as a heat source. I stopped swinging. I looked at the broken tree and felt defeated. 

I told dad that I needed to eat breakfast, but I knew  of no meals that would cure my inability to chop wood instantly. 

I continued to cry, and I talked with my mom about my feelings, about how I realized that this lifestyle I am eager to begin, these changes I am hoping to make, are for the best, but not easy and that I can’t do it all, even with the help of my dad. 

I wanted so badly to help make up the difference between my father’s declining physical abilities and the ever-growing list of projects that need to get done in order to keep the homestead on schedule and stay moving forward on this tiny house I’m supposed to be living in. I realize that I might never be physically strong enough to match my father’s strength, even in his times of weakness and this, feels, like defeat. 

I am not tired of this motorhome, yet, but I know that time will creep in on me, soon..

I remember how behind on school I am, and how much I have to lose by not making that a priority in my life yet again..

I finish unloading the pavers we picked up yesterday with my father, blow my snotty nose and tears away, and come inside my parent’s house to finally log into my laptop, connect to wifi, email my professor to ask what steps I should take to get back on track, and update my website to try to ease the feeling of ‘playing catch up on computer stuff’ that I could never seem to escape in Seattle, and write my first blog post to help remind anyone paying attention, that this crazy life of mine isn’t as idealistic and simple as it may seem on the outside, (and that I clearly need to work on my run-on sentences! SORRY).

Bye for now,

-Emily B. 

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