Drywall!

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Most tiny house blog posts I’m like TL;DR, get to the photos.

And I know I’m not alone in this, so I’ve generously peppered my words here with photos of MASSIVE progress, courtesy of my husband.

When I’m feeling discouraged, I hit up Instagram (my account is here!) and scroll through the tiny house hashtag. I see how far we’ve come when I see people just pulling an empty flatbed into their driveways, or people just scribbling ideas on paper. I mean, look at our house!

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This was but a twinkle in our eyes three years ago! Two years ago this week, this was a an empty flatbed in a generously borrowed driveway.

I also see a good amount of people on Instagram re-posting photos of other people’s tiny houses (like our friend Macy’s; her gorgeous, modern tiny house is a popular one) and writing “This is my dream! Oh I want one of these!”. This is my completely non-evidence-based opinion: 99% of the people posting that will never, ever build a tiny house. Because tiny house building is hard. fucking. work.

I get it. The houses are so twee looking on all the blogs, and much like a movie, you can skip ahead to the happy ending. The people talking about their insanely low living costs, photos of cats snuggling in a sunbeam in a cozy loft, the brags about 20-minutes of deep cleaning a diminutive space once a week – these are all things that intrigue people and inspire people to want a “simpler life.” What most people don’t choose to write about and even more people don’t choose to read are the “simple” 1000+ hours of building. Of teaching yourself every little step and then getting out in the 98 degree heat to go do that little step. Day after day after day. Of getting into the house and realizing you don’t have all the parts you need. The million trips to Lowe’s, the contractors who never call back, the orders that are cancelled. This is not to mention all of the hours worked to pay for those materials.

If I’m making it sound like hell: good. I want to balance out the people who post “TA-DA!!!!” reveal photos, the people who make it seem like electrical work for a complete newbie takes one brief weekend.

Someone on a financial forum told me that 18 months sounded like an excessively long time to be building a tiny house. I told him this seemed the average amount of time, at least for people blogging about their builds. The guy wrote back that he was estimating “three weekends” for his own build.  I typed: “Definitely blog about it! We all have a lot to learn from you!” all the while shaking my head and laughing from behind my keyboard.

But I’m not saying all this work isn’t worth it. So while I want to pop the hope bubbles of doe-eyed dreamers, I also don’t want other people looking at our life and thinking: “Wow, why are they doing this? What a terrible thing to put yourself through. Life should be easier.” All good things, all things worth having – wonderful marriages, financial security, being a great cook – take work. This is the burden of being human: if someone told you that they would hand you, tomorrow, your ideal life, with no effort required by you; you would be enamoured of it for a few weeks before the emptiness and boredom set in and you started setting new goals.

The good people over at Rebel Heart recently (and very publicly) lost what they’d worked so hard for: their sailboat home and a dream of sailing around the world with their young children. Eric wrote a beautiful post about that dream, the one they lived for two years. I completely resonated with his words, particularly this part:

“…what made those two years possible was the decade before it. It was acquiring a lot of sea time. Buying a boat. Paying down debt. Long hours in the office. Getting my commercial license. Many, many hours of physical labor. 

Those were not sexy years. They do not capture the eye with pictures of amazing sunsets or tropical paradises. But the reality for most of us is that if you want to achieve something you need to put some serious time in at the grindstone to get there.”

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Meredith Gersten posted a wonderful Vince Lombardi quote last week:

“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

He made it there one small decision, one small action at a time. Over and over and over again.

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Opinions Are Like Assholes.

alpaca-don't-careThis alpaca couldn’t give two fucks. Note to self: be more like alpaca. Texas Hill Country. November 2013. Nikon D90.

At any given moment, I either want to hug the Internet or tell it to fuck off.

It seems about equally filled with complete pricks and really nice people.

There was a guy yesterday on a forum I post to who was so clearly trolling, but he was SO GOOD at it that I failed to notice before I got really angry. This guy was so good at getting people riled up and turning them against one another. It was the master troll formula of post something somewhat plausible, don’t respond to anyone other than “Thanks for your input. You didn’t understand my post. Here is my ridiculous question that doesn’t make any sense.” Over and over and over again. Then when I called him out on trolling and someone else did, too, he called both of us trolls.

It was ridiculous. Thankfully I stopped after two posts.

Then there are the Grammar Pricks. Seriously, stop picking apart people’s grammar in comment threads. It’s almost always ad-hominem, adds nothing to the discussion, and comes off so prick-ish I just can’t stand it. Inevitably, the first Grammar Prick makes a grammar mistake of his own, thusly starting the “I know English more good than you do” trail of comments when all I want to know is if anyone else thinks The Voice has become the most boring talent show in all of television history. Seriously, not even Usher’s dimples and biceps make me want to tune in anymore and WHO ELSE IS WITH ME?

Then there’s every single time I read Pat’s Bumfuzzle blog. Pat is currently renovating an incredible Travco so his family can go be awesome on the road together. There are definitely nice people in the comments, but inevitably the prick comments go like this: “Nice job, but I could have done it better/faster/cheaper/bow down to my undocumented armchair expertise.” It’s a refrain I’m sensitive to because, well, the entire tiny house online community is filled with pricks like that.

Say prick again!

Prick.

Speaking of tiny house blogs, Macy Miller posted what can best be described as a completely overwhelming look at how women are treated on the Internet. Granted, many of the “better, faster, cheaper” comments would have still been directed at a male builder. The rest, the ones questioning her morals, her judgment, and her life choices? Were decidedly targeted, anti-female attacks. The misogynist pigs have been out in full force in the comments of all of the many articles featuring Macy’s gorgeous tiny house, and it makes me sick.

I really don’t know where I’m going with all of this but damn, are some people really that bored that all they want to do is troll and be angry?

Then again, I’m guilty of it too. I find that the more irritated I get by something else someone has done/is doing, the more I need to look at what *I* am doing or not doing with my life. I usually get extra critical when I am experiencing discomfort or discord with my own decisions.

I am once again re-examining my exposure to things that make me angry, because anger is a pretty useless emotion. This will, once again, limit the things I look at online. I’ve been really great in 2014 not looking at things that piss me off thus far, but I slipped over the weekend in the absence of good book reading material. I guess a better way of saying it is that I’ve been spending too much of the precious little energy I have becoming invested in someone else’s shit. It’s a powerful pull, and something I’ve worked hard on decreasing for the last six years or so. I’ve come a long way, and still have a ways to go.

For now, I’m increasing my awareness and changing my behavior because it makes me happier.

For anyone who made it this far down: that alpaca at the top of the post actually took a dump while he was eating. Like I said, that alpaca couldn’t give two fucks.

Long live the happy people and pooping-while-eating alpacas of the world! I will end this completely random post with an Internet hug.

*hug*

Posted in this is my life | 4 Comments

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I’ve been learning how to be idle. Mid-day epsom salt baths with my favorite candle, long rests, reading piles of books.

We went downtown and saw (and smelled) the first mountain laurel of the season. The next day we saw the first bluebonnets, thick and lush in the highway median. I love spring in Texas.

The tiny house is plowing along quite well. We went up to our land and peace settled over both of us. It’s just so quiet. Clean air and silence. Natural silence. It was lovely.

I hope you are doing well in whatever pursuits you are pursuing.

Happy spring, everyone in the northern hemisphere!

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Tiny House Floor Plan and a Metric Ton of Details.

Tiny-House-Floor-PlanJessica brought it to my attention that I’ve never posted a floor plan of our tiny house. This is exactly the type of thing that bothers me when I’m perusing other tiny house sites, so thanks for the reminder!

Above is a basic picture of our tiny house floor plan that I quickly drew up in Pages. Here is a Sketchup image, courtesy of Casey:

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Here’s all you (n)ever wanted to know about the house:

Living room: We have no plans as of yet for furniture in this room other than a stand up desk (a fold-down, wall-mounted Ikea table) for Casey. I read years ago on someone’s tiny house blog that he waited to see how he used the space before building a bunch of furniture. In space planning, this is called “desire lines.” Architects/landscape architects will wait to see the paths of least resistance carved into the grass before they pour sidewalks. In the meantime, we will have a bunch of floor pillows for lounging.

Entryway: This area is raised 8″ from the other two thirds of the house to accommodate the wheel wells of the trailer. The back wall will be covered in cabinets for storage. This is the wall where our mini-split ductless AC/heater will be. The fridge will be in the far right cabinet next to the kitchen.

Kitchen: Tankless water heater under the sink, a Camp Chef stove (affiliate link) because we could not find a correctly sized, well-priced oven, a stove vent, and a CO detector of course.

Bathroom: 36″ wide. Ofuro tub made of plywood and fiberglass by Casey so I have a place to soak when my endometriosis acts up (he’s the best!). Tiny Ikea sink underneath the window. Humanure bucket toilet, TP storage next to it, cabinets above the toilet for bathroom stuff like cases of deodorant, extra toothbrush heads, etc.

Loft: Two skylights in the ceiling, two awning windows for circulation. I think the loft is less than 3′ at the highest point. I can sit up inside the skylights and not hit my head (I’m 5’7″ tall). I am horribly claustrophobic, but all of the bright light makes this space incredibly open and cozy at the same time. I spend hours up here while Casey builds. We’ll have some type of foam sheeting up there for a “mattress.” I think we’re going to go all out and get enough pieces to cover the entire loft floor like one giant mattress. We’re both sprawlers so I’m looking forward to having an 8.5′ wide bed. The loft is open to the rest of the house:DSC_0005

Land: we have a piece of unrestricted (yay!) land (about 2/10 acre) with this view:landview

The land has a small cabin on it already that we will use for a studio. There is already high speed internet and electricity, and all of the mountain cedar has been cleared out, which is really a big freaking deal. We’ll be buying more rain barrels for water catchment (there is one on the property already), and I’ll be setting up a greywater garden of some kind.

Other info: the tiny house is on a trailer. It’s 13.5′ tall from the ground to the pitch of the roof. So far we’ve spent maybe $14k on it, and that includes the $3200 trailer, $1500 to have someone install the most gorgeous standing seam roof you’ve ever seen in your life, and brand new windows and doors. We’ve actually purchased everything new, mostly at Lowe’s. Scavenging for materials is admirable but doesn’t work for us. The land was less than $17k. When it’s all said and done, we will have a custom-built home and studio on a quiet piece of land for around $33k, or about the cost of three and a half years of apartment rent. That’s not keeping in mind what we save on utilities, furniture, and general “stuff.” We are a bit of a ways out of the city but we’re not far from a grocery store.

Let me know if you have any more questions!

Posted in our tiny house, tiny house floor plan, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Tiny House Update: Porch Progress!!!

There are approximately one million steps in the tiny house process. Some steps are small and some are large. Some take forrrrrever and are completely hidden and others take half a day and are a huge visual payoff. I prefer the latter, for obvious reasons. And there are some that take forever and are a huge visual payoff, and some that are completely hidden and take half a day or like five seconds. There are many combos of these. You get it. Moving on.

Casey has been wiring the house over the last few weeks, and while the thrill of being able to click a switch in the wall (no lights quite yet) is wonderful, it’s something we have to point out to people who drop by.

This is something that needs no explanation or introduction:

THISONETHATONENo more Tyvek on the porch!!! No more Tyvek on the porch!!! By the way, as simple as this looks, it took half the day and THREE trips to Lowe’s. Through the magic of the Internet, it appears in front of you now as a two-second process with no decisions or sawdust on your clothes.

We were planning on just sealing the with a clear coat, but I have now decided that we should stain it. Unbeknownst to Casey. ;-) I will convince him with the power of a thousand Houzz images. Marital miscommunication. OF COURSE WE WILL STAIN IT. Casey had the idea first. I thought he said “clear coat only” and I had the hope that the wood would not be yellow when we picked it up from the store. The “clear coat only” part is apparently not what happened. My ears. They don’t listen so good.

Casey also finally put the last two pieces of decking on the deck. We ran out of wood like, a year and a half ago? and never bought the final board. Until yesterday. Now we have a finished deck. I think the best part is coming around the corner up to the tiny house and seeing such a finished look. And stepping out onto the deck feels so cozy. Like you’re being blanketed in wood. Or something.

The next project area to be tackled is plumbing. I originally typed “the next step is plumbing” but that makes it sound like plumbing is one step, a single item to be checked off of the list. Nothing in a tiny house is a single item. Listing things out like that in the past slowed us way, way down. Now we have a verrrry general project outline and we take it one step at a time.

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That Time I Became a Published Author.

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Well, I’m in a magazine.

Do you like how I said that? Like I’m totally calm, cool, and collected about it?

Because in reality I gleefully tore open the envelope and actually squeaked, yes, squeaked, when I saw my name in print in the table of contents. Then I ran upstairs and used the magazine as a fake top hat as I danced across the floor in front of Casey while singing “Rose’s Turn.” Not making any that up.

I am completely honored to have had my first essay submission to any real live magazine be published.

I’ve been too excited to read the stories from fellow submissions, but I can’t wait to dive in and read of the brave souls who doubtless had a much more difficult journey out of faith than I did.

You can buy the issue Free Inquiry here! And if you’re feeling charitable, check out the Center for Inquiry’s Freethought Book Project, wherein they are sending scientific and rational-thought books to prisoners. Be sure to check out the testimony from one of the recipients of the books. It’s a charitable cause well worth your money.

Posted in secular humanism, this is my life | 2 Comments

How I’m Dealing with My Internet Problem.

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I’ve been in a bit of a January, gloomy, funk. It’s really cloudy in San Antonio in January, and in addition to that, it’s cedar season. If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself lucky. Cedar-Juniper is the most potent pollen on earth, or so says, well, science. It doesn’t fuck around, and cedar trees can release so much pollen at once that it looks like the trees are on fire. Welcome to Dante’s Pollen-ferno. Cedar season lasts about seven weeks (Christmas Day on the nose through mid-February) and I think this is week three, so we’ve nearly climbed the mountain at this point. February and March are typically the most beautiful weather months in South Texas, so there’s that to look forward to before the land and trees are literally on fire from drought, heat, and errant cigarette butts tossed onto highway medians.

So I’ve been feeling generally depressed but not unhappy, if that makes sense, and spending way too much time doing abso-fuck-all on the Internet as I am wont to do. Yesterday for funsies I challenged myself to not use the computer all afternoon. I made it from noon-6:30 PM (with copious help from a Neil deGrasse Tyson book, knitting, and a nap) mounted to physical pain when I told myself no. I started counting every time I felt the urge to surf, and it was, well. It was a lot. Like once every three minutes, a lot. But it tapered off radically after the first thirty minutes and I was able to push through getting some things done, like cleaning and working on a creative project. In the midst of sewing the edges of my spiral notebook cover prototype, I was pondering the root of my time spent on the Internet (about four hours a day on average) and realized that I go to the Internet for two reasons:

1) Boredom.

2) I’m sleepy and don’t want to calm my brain down enough to take a nap.

3) I’m hungry.

4) When there’s a decision that needs making and I don’t want to make it.

The last one is the most concerning to me. The decision can be big (“How do I start preparing my taxes?”), medium (“What size should I cut this piece of leather?”), small (“What’s for lunch?”), or embarrassingly minute (“Do I have the energy to pee right now?”). I’m presented with all four types of decisions, and my instinct and action are: “Computer time!!!” Taken over time, a lot of these snowball. Especially the medium ones, because they have to do with creative projects. “What color yarn should I use next?” or “How am I ever going to line up these stitch holes on this leather?” seem innocuous enough decisions to delay, but if I’m constantly avoiding them, the project never moves forward. Ever.

It’s been really helpful to me even in the last 24 hours to have this knowledge. I’ve realized over the last few years that if there is a behavior that I want to change, simply cutting the temptation out doesn’t work. I need the Internet to make my life easier. It’s easy to communicate, it’s easy to promote my business, I like blogging, I like gathering recipes. In the past I thought I needed to cut myself off from it entirely. But that isn’t the case. Because the Internet usage I just listed are not behaviors that need to be curtailed. It’s the mindless browsing for hours. It’s reading Instagram feeds that make me ragey. It’s engaging in fruitless discussion in online forums. It’s keeping up with other people’s lives, people I don’t even know. It’s sitting down “just to check my email” and then two hours later getting up and saying “What was it I’m supposed to be doing?” not knowing, and then going back to the computer again because it’s easy and it’s there.

I’m starting a part-time job next week (yay!), and I want my mornings to be productive creative times. For writing, for crafting, for resting. Instead of waiting for a routine to happen, I’m making it happen now. I’m instilling the behaviors I want to be instilling: reading a book instead of a website, cleaning up instead of commenting, knitting instead of surfing, meal-planning instead of browsing pictures of other people’s meal-planning, knocking projects off of the to-do list instead of reading about new ways to make to-do lists. I’m not banning myself from blogs this time, I’m not putting a timer on my computer, I’m not setting any rules or blocking anything that isn’t already blocked. I’m just making myself, for most of the time, do other things and confront my life head-on, especially when it makes me uncomfortable.

Posted in this is my life, under the weather | 2 Comments

Tiny House Update: First of the New Year.

Happy New Year, everyone! I rang it in with Kathy and Anderson on CNN as always (everyone else in the house was asleep already). Still upset to hear that John Zarella is leaving the network (thanks a bunch, Zucker) but it’s a sinking ship anyway, right? Even the violins have stopped playing.

Anyhoo.

I mentioned that we were taking a new tactic in regards to the tiny house: a little here, a little there. Just like I did with all that weaving last fall. In the last three weeks, so much progress has been made using that strategy.

Casey just did a detailed write up (with photos) on his blog. Check it out!

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Tiny House Update: A Little Here and There.

doorlightsOur new tiny house strategy is a little bit here. A little bit there.

I don’t know why it took us so long to do it this way, but I think it’s because Casey hammered out 10-hour days at the very beginning of the build (which is how we went from zero to tiny-house-framed-roofed-and-sided in two months) and anything less than that seemed like there was no point in even doing it. Anyway, enough of that line of thinking. A little here. A little there.

It’s adding up. We spent two hours at the house today under the darkening sky. I painted another coat on the door, putting warming lights on it (we have the BEST tiny house build location/landlords) to get the paint to dry in the dropping temperatures.

While I painted, Casey was in the shed working on our Japanese-style soaking tub.

It started with a big slab of hardwood plywood after 30-some hours of Casey redoing the plans that we bought that were wrong, wrong, WRONG:

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Many, many, many cuts:caseyhandsAnd then he was suddenly halfway finished with the beginnings of a custom soaking tub:

partsI made my way back into the tiny house for a better photo of the bathroom wall, in all of its glory:

bathwallAfter two hours, we went back home, content with several more steps checked off the ever-long tiny house completion list.

Tomorrow, we press onward again with just a little bit more progress.

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Rolling Right Along.

It’s Christmas Eve and I finally feel like writing again.

And even better for you, it’s a tiny house update post! (If you follow my Instagram you’ve already seen some of this.)

Here’s what our front door looked like a few days ago:

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And now (two coats of paint later and more to come):

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And in even more exciting news (drumroll please), it’s a BATHROOM WALL!IMG_0180The bathroom wall is directly under the loft, which has made the loft not creaky any more. Which is wonderful. Also notice the orange spaghetti in the bottom right hand corner. More wiring! And we made about ten decisions yesterday. Decisions are tiny house currency. If that makes sense. It’s the number one best thing ever when you are building a tiny house. Completed decisions.

I’m not drunk right now, I promise. High on life and two hours playing with dogs outside in the sunny, gorgeous (!!!) weather.

I’ve had a huge boost of creativity in the past few days and have been indulging it. I have an Annie’s seed catalog on the floor that I CANNOT order from until I have a better watering system set up. I stole my mom’s pyrographer and am making a spiral notebook cover. I even dusted off and oiled my floor loom. That’s right! Fancy weaving! Not just plain weave. It’s like something’s come unblocked in me. Maybe it’s just surviving another birthday. It usually is.

So it’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow will be spent with family. No gifts, just food. I have two lasagnas to make tonight. I may go back and steal those dogs we were playing with earlier. Because it’s Christmas, you know.

Happy Christmas, everyone. If I don’t see you around until 2014, it’s because I’m moving forward. So happy new year as well, just in case. If you’re looking for me on my very favorite holiday, I’ll be in front of the TV ringing in the new year with Kathy and Anderson, as always.

 

Posted in our tiny house, this is my life | 2 Comments