Stepping Off The Cliff

Stepping Off The Cliff

I stand at the edge of the cornice; the fog is thick so I am not entirely sure where the edge is.  My two friends are on either side of me and we are all tentatively waiting for one of us to jump off the fragile lip into the unknown steep, snowy terrain below.  Suddenly Jay, the most accomplished skier of the three of us leaps.  I see him make one great turn and he is swallowed by the thick white cloud.

My remaining friend and I  look at each other and I’m afraid.  I feel for where the ground ends and the air begins with my ski pole.  Andrea suddenly disappears over the precipice and I don’t hear any cries of distress so I’m sure she is riding the adrenaline that deep snow and perfect turns provides.

I am alone and now must make the decision to trust my abilities and my equipment and go for it, or take the safe route and meet up with them at the bottom.  I choose to risk what could be an unpleasant fall and jump the overhang.  As soon as I commit I have the thought that this kind of skiing is for people much younger than me. Suddenly I am airborne and must now focus and relax all at once.  My skiis connect with the ground and it is important to find my center of gravity quickly or I will end up exhausting myself digging out from what will be an epic fall.  I survive the first turn and now trusting in myself I relax and enjoy the feeling of flying downhill.

Life is often much like that steep, blind cornice.  Unknown terrain that requires a measurable amount of trust in order to jump in and fly.  I’ve had many falls and injuries over my decades of skiing and yet the cold air and the thrill continued to outweigh the risk and I would return year after year.  Sometimes I stand on the edge of my life, testing the safety factor for much longer than when I stood on top of that steep mountain. I forget that I can have that same courage in my personal life, I just have to be willing to take the risk, to trust my abilities, and jump into the unforeseen with abandon.

I am at the edge, about to leap into a new way of living, discarding much of what has been familiar for so long.  Just like that memorable day of skiing, this leap is mixed with excitement and fear, but I am ready.  When fear or doubt seeps in, I remind myself that I will have enough.  In 300 square feet I will have running water, heat, a place to store and prepare food.  There is a comfortable spot to read, write, create art or binge on Netflix.  I have a cozy loft to nap with the soon to come rain and snow.  I have enough work and money to take care of myself and also practice generosity.  I have enough.

20180729_095032_Film3_4
My Leap of Faith

Be well and live abundantly!

Hillary D.

 

Storage Wars

Storage Wars

My days have gone into hyper-drive and are pressing me to accomplish goals because long anticipated deadlines are in view.  The youngest graduated high school with high honors, family visited, there was a delightful home stay from my daughter who has been living in New Zealand and has now relocated to Colorado, and my house is up for sale.  All of this adds up to “Go” time!

The goal is to be living full-time in the tiny house by September, which means I want to have the interior as settled as possible.  I’ve lived in homes that were never quite finished (missing trim is always a common thread), and with the size of this house I am determined to completely finish it out.  Since the last blog post there has been good progress.

34429349_10213677974757644_5554824080298868736_o
LifeProof Vinyl Flooring is done.
35541627_10213778345226843_6832882957473021952_n
I built a little entry deck.
20180612_190000_Film3
A large tree that was threatening the main house came down.
20180525_172951_Film3
Tiny woodstove is ready to go!
20180520_170713_Film3
Sink is ready for the plumber.
20180630_114918_Film3
Happy with my window trim!

I’ve been taking full advantage of the cool weather (hoodies in July!) and working as much as my body will stand because I know once the heat hits I’ll want to kayak and hike in the high country. My latest puzzle piece has been the storage stairs to the loft, which I constructed out of 3/4″ birch plywood. They are proving to be sturdy and solid, and a handrail on the wall should up the safety factor. The last step is designed so that I can sit on the loft edge and my feet hit the stair tread.

20180630_170818_Film3
Working my way down…still need lots of trim and finish work.

There is a surprising amount of storage in the little house and I will have everything I need and want.  My current home is slowly but surely emptying out and I have been giving many items away in what I call the “Freebie Project”.  The project caught the eye of Sandpoint Magazine and I was invited to write an article, you can read it on the last page of  Sandpoint Magazine here.

20180518_215523_Film3

I am committed to stay true to the minimal amount of items I choose to keep as I hope to never go through this process again! Eventually someone has to make decisions about what we have chosen to buy, store, and fill our homes and garages with.  I’ve given away almost 200 items and made countless trips to the thrift store.   Dump trips bring the greatest awareness the impact our consumption has on the earth.

20180325_144754_Film3
The metal pile is two stories high.

Focus, determination and small attainable goals continue to propel me towards intentional living.  The kids and I are all learning lessons about letting go. Letting go of childhood and becoming young adults, learning to parent in new ways, selling the house that has great memories attached to it for an unknown “new normal”.  Letting go of job positions to focus on new work, it is definitely a season of transitions.

May your summer be filled with good books, good food, great company, adventure and a stellar nap or two.

Be Kind to yourself…

Hillary D.

20180621_173917_film3-e1530542442946.jpg

Tiny Spaces, Big Places

Tiny Spaces, Big Places

As my son so aptly stated, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” We came to the Olympic Penninsula prepared for any kind of weather but were surprised by the vast beauty that would surround us for the next week. I am slightly obsessed with small spaces so we would be exploring the area in a 1988 VW Vanagon, named Pilchuck, rented from the Seattle company Peace Vans.

IMG_20180407_153804_862
Pilchuck at Fort Flagler Campground

Since we live close to the Amtrak station that would take us to Seattle we decided to start our adventure by walking to the train, which arrived at 11:30 p.m. Trudging through dark downtown Sandpoint carrying backpacks, luggage and our pillows was funny, until we got to the tiny station, and discovered the train was running 3 hours late. We voted that Mason run back to the house, get the car and we’d sneak in a couple hours of sleep at home.

We did make it to Seattle and once again carrying luggage and pillows we boarded the Link and arrived at Peace Vans. The company is friendly, laid back and had our van ready and waiting. We received a tour of Pilchuck, the in’s and out’s of driving the vehicle and were handed the keys. As we headed to the ferry, I quickly discovered that these vehicles are a blast to drive and the other VW van drivers giving you the peace sign as you pass only adds to the fun.

If deserted beaches, empty campgrounds and sparsely populated trails are your thing, then spring in Olympic National Park is a good time to visit. With 9 feet of snow still on Hurricane Ridge and a vehicle that chugs up hills at a max speed of 45 we decided to stay in the coastal regions. It took us several days to settle into a routine in the van. Where did everything go while driving, and where do things go when camping? The van had lights, a heater, refrigerator, sink and stove and was fully stocked with everything needed to make a meal.

IMG_2725
Westfalia “Kitchen”

Cooking on the provided camp stove outdoors became my preferred method for meals, while the “kitchen” in the van was functional, moving about in that space was cumbersome. At night we would shift all our luggage to the front seats, unfold the upper bunk where the teenager slept, fold down the seats for the lower bed and settle in. It surprised me that the three of us in such close quarters all slept exceptionally well.

I’d flip on the heater to take off the morning chill, make coffee and we’d begin the routine of shifting everything back to travel mode. We loved exploring the beaches, the rainforest, waterfalls and big tree forests. The last day of the trip blessed us with the beauty of Crescent Beach and a pod of Orcas passing by.

IMG_20180405_194245_594
Crescent Beach Island

While we truly loved the experience of this vacation, a van conversion will not be in my future, I learned that I prefer my little travel trailer. Having a homebase for several days and exploring from there suits me, the van requires you pack up, so we’d be sure we were done with the vehicle before setting up camp.

Taking a step away from the tiny house and going on a roadtrip was a great idea. Sometimes a big deep breath away is the best medicine. I am back at it now, but, I am able to flip a switch … and viola … I have light!

Let There Be Light!

I also have a shower. The shower took some thought on how to raise it to accomodate water tanks. The resulting design is interesting, I’ll let you know how the bathroom all plays out.

Unconventional in every way…had to get creative.

The plumber is just waiting for me to give him the green light. I am working on kitchen countertops now and I envision myself moving around in the space, with the little wall mounted woodstove (one of my favorite purchases!) set on the wall high enough to see the fire crackling away.

Stove needs to be lowered but I look forward to a crackling little fire.
Making kitchen decisions.

Life is busy, and changing, and what was a vision is becoming a reality. I stood tired in the middle of the floor one night and had a powerful reality that you really can do anything if you want it bad enough. It may not be perfect and it won’t appeal to everyone, bit it truly is my little dream come true.

Continue to be kind, and don’t forget to spend some time thinking in the sun.

Be Well,

HillaryD.

The Darkness and the Light

The Darkness and the Light

It’s a beautiful world, one filled with wonder and inspiration.  And then there is the darkness, because there can never be light without the dark.

My small-town community is a profound juxtaposition of the dark and the light.  Every time I leave the house beauty surrounds me. Snow kissed mountains, deep fresh water lakes and rivers. Eagles and moose that surprise me on my daily walks, and people who love and do whatever it takes. Then the sun sets and darkness presides. Darkness has immense “make you wonder” beauty, but there is also darkness that creeps into the daily rythmn of the light.

Two recent suicides have left me digging deep with questions that have no answers.  I truly love my job. It’s not the easiest,  or best paying job I’ve ever resigned the hours of my life to.  If you think parenting is hard, commit your days to education. Commit to showing up and being the adult responsible for satisfying parents and the state that their kids are acquiring all the skills required for educational success. But also bear the weight of the emotional and behavioral turmoil of being human as a teenager. Whew.

The suicide of the father of my son’s friend, and then, a principal of a regional high school really shook the foundation on which I walk.  I don’t take lightly the influence I have on kids I spend approximately 170 days a year with. Almost 1/2 of a student’s life is spent with teachers and administration, meaning the influence is divided between work and home

To have a principal, a leader,  who has stood before their student body to encourage, discipline and mentor, and then take their own life is beyond devestating.  Not just one family is destroyed, but hundreds of families will remember their high school years defined by this one event.

The potential for violence in our schools, upon others or self inflicted, is no joke. Something has shifted in our culture and everyone has their favorite scapegoat. Video games, the NRA, social media, greed, smart phones, mental illness, conservatives, liberals,  illegal aliens, poverty, politics … the list is endless.  I don’t have an answer

This I know to be true, I love my kids, and I love your kids too.

So  stay connected, ask the questions, listen and be kind when you hear the answer.

Shine some light…

Hillary D.

Granny’s Glassware

Granny’s Glassware

Don’t let the cupboards overflowing with beautiful china and  glassware give the wrong impression, we are far from delicate here in North Idaho.  You have to love the four seasons to make this home. Especially the deep, white, wind-blown, freezing landscape that arrived this Presidents Day long weekend.

I was on a roll with the tiny house project. Excited because I discovered the house heats up quickly with a small propane heater. I think the little wood stove is going to keep me warmer than I need on some days, but barefoot yoga in a toasty tiny house on a frigid day sits ok with me. I love getting the place warmed up, find a playlist and fire up the tools. The installation of the interior tongue and groove wall boards has been highly gratifying and it’s beautiful!

20180203_152129_Film3
Priming boards while it snows.
20180211_133602_Film3
This is the fun stuff!

Since I have yet to shovel a pathway to the house and need to bring in another load of lumber,  and the highs are hovering in the high teens, I work on the downsizing … always working on the downsizing, it seems never-ending.  My grandmother’s glassware threw me for a bit of a loop. It’s pretty depression era glass and it’s been in a dark cupboard for years.  The 2018 Freebie Project is in full swing and I have plenty to offer up but sometimes I have to work through thoughts about some of the stuff.  I surprised myself how moving this process can be at times, you’ve got to purge both the item and the feelings attached to it.  In the end it is both a physical and an emotional cleansing, and it feels really good!  The depression era glass items are finding their way to the right people who love their new piece.

The loft structure is next and I am quite certain the pull to spend a night there will happen quite easily.  I’ll have to adult-proof it before I do that, no falling out of the loft!  Water tanks and other plumbing needs are on their way and I’ll be connecting the plumbing dots.  In the meantime I enjoy the process and live these last days with my children at home. Those three little kids were attached to my hip for what felt like forever and now they are off to live their young adult lives.

00378_p_16ap735ssc0378
These days are long gone.

 

The next adventure begins in March and looks like something I’m going to love, a little mobile home! Summer will be busy with graduation, finishing the tiny house and moving, so touring the Olympic Peninsula before the summer crowds descend will be sweet, even if it rains … it’s the Northwest, pack a raincoat.

552a780b825ef8070b8226d9e4c72d88
#vanlife

Our country is grieving and speaking out for gun law reformation. I don’t know the answer to all the complicated pieces, but I do know we all have the same moments every single day to Be Kind.  Start with yourself and spread it wide.

IMG_20180214_184529_353 (1)

Be well friends,

Hillary D.

Off Grid

Off Grid

Since closing the tiny house front door, I’ve gone off-grid for a bit.  It seemed as though every creative juice I possessed had been sucked through a straw with a crack in it.  I was elated to be closed in and suddenly really pretty tired.  Time for a rest.

This time of year for me is a dark, snowy opportunity to pull things in close, with lots of lovely time at home.  I did visit a truly off-grid family.  Mark and Krista Webber and their son are living in a home that they built and is completely self sustainable.  It was fun to head off  the beaten path, navigating downed trees to hear their stories and glean information. The home is cozy and comfortable tucked in along a maze of snowy dirt roads.  While my little house will initially be connected to the grid, fully self-sustainable is a good goal to work towards.  Next time you’re cruising YouTube check them out at Living A Sustainable Dream

A quick blast to Denver for Christmas was a milestone as I haven’t been back home for the holidays in almost 20 years.  My sister’s beautiful home was full of family, lights, music, rowdy games of Farkle and endless good food.

20171224_165756_Film1
Christmas Eve on E. 19th Street

We took Bill on a tour of downtown Denver in -8 degree temps that for me was a highlight.  It had been a long time since I’ve walked those city streets and it was fun to roam downtown ducking into the library and shops to warm up, stopping at the train station for beer and food, riding the 16th Street Mall trains and seeing the buildings my father designed still standing.  Watching the homeless brave the brutal temperatures and settle in for the night had me wishing I had a vat of hot soup to serve up.

train
Union Station at Christmas

A quiet house greeted me in Idaho as I had none of the kids here for the holidays, another first!  I soaked up the quiet house and read an entire book, I haven’t done that in ages.  Took naps, walked the little dog, hit some yoga classes, shoveled a lot of snow and planned next steps. I purchased lighting, a propane stove top, a propane tankless hot water heater, and a urine diverter … we can talk more about that down the road!  While the down time was much-needed and appreciated there was an undercurrent of anxious anticipation as I wait for the tiny house momentum and the climate to amp back up.

The next best option with the deep snow and cold was to continue the downsizing, it seems never-ending.  As the year came to a close my resolution for the new year was to learn to be more generous.  I’ve always been great giver of my time but I tend to have a tighter fist with my money and my things.  Looking around my home I could see how blessed I’ve been by the generosity of others and so I made a decision to start giving things away.  One item a day, posted on a local FB site and given to the first person that responds.  It quickly became apparent that this was way more fun than the dreaded garage sale and I was getting to meet all sorts of people.  I’ve managed to clear out dishes, games, piano books, china, artwork, houseplants, jewelry, etc…all given to whoever the item fills a need for. The 2018 Freebie Project had begun.

Stuff
The 2018 Freebie Project

It baffles me how my belongings have a grip on my psyche of well-being.  It truly is a battle sometimes to let go, but what I am learning is that once I’ve done it the battle is over and it gets easier and easier to do.  As the extraneous items leave my home it is becoming clearer as to what items I truly love and will appreciate in my 300 square feet I’ll call home.  Goliath keeps wandering into every shot of the items I am posting, I wonder if he’s wondering if he’s next.

20180112_085043_Film3
Goliath gets in on the action.

Many blessings to all of you for this coming year, may it bring you peace and clarity as you architect your own road through the maze of life.

Happy trekkin’ …

Hillary D.

Breathe

Breathe

As I shoveled the snow off my front walk, it seemed to me that I had just done this very task not so long ago.  Overnight the summer became a distant blur of sunshine,  long days, and smokey skies with power tools the constant soundtrack playing in the background.  Even though the trees still bear witness to the colors of fall, winter is officially here and with it brings a much needed pit stop on the trek to tiny.  It was just about this time last year that I began to seriously think about this project and the reasons why I should take this trek ,and I have had to circle back around those thoughts plenty of times this summer on those days that I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

My life these last few weeks has been driven by the weather and the noticeably shorter days.  I have enough money and energy invested into this little house that not getting dried in would be a financial disaster and the last scenario I wanted to play out would be having to tear down and redo because the North Idaho driven rain and snow had seeped into every corner of my little house on wheels. It wasn’t easy to blaze over to the job site after spending 8 hours in a hot, busy kitchen teaching teenagers how to knead bread or make gnocchi, but that’s what I did.  The three prominent men in my life continually showed up for me, being those extra hands that made the days work possible and safe.

The progress seemed slow, but we all look at what we accomplished with baby steps and are amazed.  If anyone is considering a project of this scope with the learning curve we had, here is a snapshot of what it takes.

November 2016 – design phase
Memorial Day – We pick up the trailer in Oregon

 

Late July 2017 I begin building the floor system.

 

The month of August I learn how to frame walls.

 

Mid-September we raise the walls.
Late September was spent sheathing.

 

Big blue tarp saves the project from days of hard rain.
October 2017 – Roof rafters go up.

At this point the weather is becoming a serious motivator.  There is still roof sheathing, ice and water shield, sub fascia and fascia, windows, a door, housewrap and the metal roof to go on.  I was thankful that I had purchased materials far in advance and had them ready to go. Late October to the first week of November…

Priming fascia boards in my garage.
Starting to feel like a little house with lots of light.
Feeling encouraged that I just might make it!
Many hands make light work, wrapping the best gift ever.

We made it! The next day we had 8″ of snow.

I’ve learned that I really don’t want to do rough framing again, that installing windows and the metal roof were relatively easy and highly rewarding.  I learned that hanging doors is tricky, especially when your out of square and that having friends who know how to fix that can save your day.  I learned that renting scaffolding is money well spent and that running power tools for days on end can create an annoying case of carpal tunnel.  But mostly I am grateful that outside of splinters and bruises, no one got hurt making my little dream happen.

I won’t be at the little house day after day for a while, but am already thinking about electrical and plumbing and have decided this not a phase I want to DIY.  I’ll do the layout and planning and bring in the professionals for the install. Spring will bring siding and I can begin the interior finish work with the hope that this time next year I am lighting a fire in my little wood stove and curling up with a book and a cup of tea.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time …

Hillary D.