Simple Living -
(videos of all the segments, plus transcript online below)

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Simple Living

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Simple Living - DVD $8.95

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Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live more simply, be more self-sufficient, and most of all, to have more time to do what you really want to do?

Come visit us at our home deep in a forest near Crater Lake in southern Oregon, far from paved roads and power lines where our only neighbors are wild animals, and the snow can get 4 feet deep in winter. There we built our own home, grew vegetables in a solar-heated greenhouse, did home school with our children, and slowly learned how to live more in tune with nature. But most of all we found the time we had always been looking for.

Using your Quicktime player
you can now see all the parts of the actual video below.
Just click on each picture:

Travel to our forest home

San Diego


Our house in the forest

The kids make their rooms


Liz's House

Building Tyra's hut, part 1

Building Tyra's hut, part 2

Building Tyra's hut, part 3

Our neighbors


The forest in winter


Doing our work

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Online Transcript:

Hi. I’m Jim Arraj, and we are on our way to see where I live. You are in Klamath County, Oregon, which is about the size of the state of Connecticut, but has only 60,000 people. It has Crater Lake on one end, Klamath Lake on the other, and it is bordered by the Cascade Mountains. It is also home to one of the world’s great ponderosa pine forests where I live with my wife, Tyra, the only people in 100 square miles. See that flash? That’s home. Let’s make another pass. How did we end up out here, with me being from New York City, and Tyra from Connecticut? I guess the story starts in San Diego. We had just had our first child, our daughter Elizabeth, and I had finally found a job working for the county welfare department. We looked at our future and got scared: the kids off at school, us working at jobs we didn’t like to pay for a house we wouldn’t have much time to be in anyway. It was the idea of time that hit us the hardest, or more exactly, the lack of time. We would be living a life we didn’t choose, someone else’s life, really, a life without the time to find out who we really were.

That desire for time was the beginning of many adventures. We began to dream of tropical islands where we would build our hut, the coconuts would fall from the trees, and we would have all the time in the world. Or cool tropical uplands where it would always be springtime and we would live on fruits and vegetables that cost only pennies a day. We had dreams of spending the winter on retreat up in the Sierra Nevada mountains with Elizabeth and baby John. Or starting our own business and making a living with our hands. Or going on a long retreat on the California coast, and then finding five acres in the country and building a house ourselves – only to find everything too expensive.

All these dreams were to lead us to the forest where the land was beautiful and cheap, but far from paved roads and power lines, and a mile high in the snow zone of the Cascade Mountains. It was here our schooling began in earnest about simple living, and how complicated it was. The first thing we needed was a house, and quickly, for winter was coming. Making handcrafts and a bookcase or two hadn’t really prepared us for this. But we muddled through by reading books, drawing plans on the backs of envelopes, and overcoming our biggest obstacle, which was the notion that had been pounded into our heads all our lives – that you bought houses made by . You didn’t just jump up and build your own.

Once we got the house up – and it didn’t immediately fall down – from then on we would simply build whatever we needed or wanted. When the kids decided they wanted their own rooms, we told them to build them themselves, and they did.

With a roof over our heads the days took on a rhythm of their own, and grew into weeks and months and years. We would make bread. For a long time that was the kids’ job. We would do home school with the kids, and all of us would sit around the lunch table and discuss everything from tigers to tattoos. We would make tofu. Our electricity came from a solar panel which was connected to a battery, and then to an inverter that converted it from DC to AC. We would cut and split wood, and feed it to our wood stove made out of an old hot water tank.

Slowly our eyes began to open so we could really see the forest around us.

We never had a well, and we would haul drinking water from town in the summer, and collect rain and snow in our little ponds for the garden. Growing a garden was a tough job when you are almost a mile high and can have a frost any month of the year, and if you do manage to grow something, the chipmunks are waiting to pounce on it.

And each year there would be something new to build. Our favorite style was to dig some holes in the ground, cut and treat some poles, and then just go on from there. Not very complicated, but tiring at times. One year Elizabeth decided she wanted to have a place of her own, and she just went out and built it.

Another year it was Tyra’s turn. She wanted a little meditation hut, complete with a stained glass window which we made from 1" thick slabs of glass.

And little by little the dwellers of the forest came to visit.

In winter it is as if we have moved to a completely different place. The snow can cover the ground 4’ deep or more, leaving us to get in and out by skis or snowmobile. Back when we used to have some neighbors Herb tried to keep the road open with his World War II 6-wheel drive Navy truck.

We had hoped that by living in the forest we would find what we valued most – time. And we did. I found time to write book after book about the things closest to our hearts: Christian mysticism and metaphysics, and their dialogue with Eastern religions and Jungian psychology.

And Tyra started making videos about these same subjects that have ranged from straight-forward interviews and conferences to complicated documentaries that took us far from home.

But we have always come back to the forest.


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