Trailers and 1st Tattoos

Trailers and 1st Tattoos

I now own two trailers. You might remember my little travel trailer that was ripped down and rebuilt with a new back wall,  new floors, box cushions, curtains and paint.  The early project looked daunting.

Putting that little tin can back together taught me a lot, and when the end looked near heavy rains came through and there was STILL a leak!  Water is so tricky. A little more head scratching and some good advice from neighbors and she is water tight. It is going to be a great little vehicle to adventure in.

 

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The demolition days
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No more 1970 interior!

Over Memorial Day weekend I grabbed my trusty sidekick and we headed to Portland to pick up the tiny house foundation.  Coming down from Mount Hood we realized that the brakes on the truck might not be great, (the results of a fire tower trip last summer.)

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Soaking up sun at Timberline Lodge

A little seed of doubt grew into nerves when we rolled up to Iron Eagle Trailers and they brought out my 8’6″x 24′ double axle trailer.  I never would of thought a couple hundred square feet would feel SO BIG!  They threw the correct hitch on and gave us the low-down on towing an empty trailer.  My truck didn’t have the brake hookup for the trailer brakes so we were going to rely on the Ford’s questionable stopping power for over 800 miles.

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Glad I’m not alone in Portland!

Bill took the wheel to navigate us out of Portland and onto the straightest highway we can find.  With the vehicle we were well over 30′ long and in one block we learned that empty trailers bounce, lane changes require lots of space and tight corners make you sweat. We left Portland late enough in the day that the holiday traffic had subsided and the highways were blessedly empty.  Bill drove for 8 hours with one perfect stop to gas up, meaning no need to back up or turn around, and I did my best to stay awake.  We had a new awareness of the roadways, “Look at the size of the load that guy is hauling!” and made it back to Sandpoint safe and sound and it turns out the truck brakes are just fine.

Backing the trailer into the build spot was tricky and took a couple of “do-overs” but was ultimately successful and it is sitting there waiting for building supplies.  The school I work at has wrapped up another eventful year and in the next few weeks I will be tackling the installation of the sub-floor…the Trek to Tiny is real!

I turned 53 this month, and got my first tattoo.  My daughter has long wanted a mother/daughter tattoo and we both have two simple words, Be Kind, now permanently attached to our forearm.  My daughter effortlessly rolled with her new artwork, but I am a little startled every time I catch a glimpse of it and have been wearing long sleeves as I don’t exactly “boldly own it” quite yet but I am getting there.  I think getting a tattoo changes you a wee bit, it’s one of those things no one who has tattoos tells you, or maybe it’s my personal perception.  Just like I noticed every load being hauled down the road, I now am more aware of the art people have chosen to adorn themselves with.

Christian circles will tell you it’s wise to be mindful of what you pray for.  The only way to learn patience is to be faced with impatient situations, to practice forgiveness you must experience injustice and gratitude is born through loss.  Daily opportunities to “Be Kind” are also hard to ignore when your mantra is visibly tattooed to your arm.  The message to myself and others is sound, and I’m sure with time I will be less startled when I see the reflection in the yoga studio mirrors.  Bill thinks my “ink” may not be done yet and the message is really, Be Kindergarten … his humor is my sunshine.

I want to post some videos of the tiny house build as I would like my kids, friends and family to really see how this all plays out.  So far I’ve made a couple of really awkward, unwatchable clips so we’ll see how that goes.

Until next time,

Be Kind.

Hillary D.

 

“My Favorite Kitchen”

“My Favorite Kitchen”

The arrival of my 19 yr. old daughter has brought a new buzz to the household.  She only has a short 8 weeks to catch up with her gal pals, family,  and other locals before the next adventure begins through Thailand and on to a work visa approved year in New Zealand.  The addition of these lovely young adults on top of my son’s growing bevy of high school friends makes for a lively front room and kitchen.  I listen to the chatter, the stories,  the volume battles between the TV programs and the Echo streaming music, and the laughter and I feel very, very happy.

My current home is modest by US standards and comfortable.  Located on a busy thru street I see the neighborhood going by with traffic, people, bikers, dogs and the occasional moose from my bedroom window.

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Watching the morning come alive.

Two cooks can navigate my small U-shaped kitchen on a normal day.  Last night there were two of us cooking, dogs underfoot waiting for scraps, two girls on the floor leaning against the fridge and opposing dishwasher, and two more on the love seat in the hallway with still more kids around the corner hanging on the couch. Bill and I sang and chopped vegetables, had a glass of red wine and prepared a great vegan meal for everyone in the house and whoever else might come through the front door.  Preparing great food and feeding others has long been one of my passionate acts of generosity.  For years my grocery bill has been the highest cost of living I have and I am grateful to be able to share my cooking with the people in my life. I love to hear, “It smells so good in here!”

One of the girls was serving up a hot plate of veggie hash browns and said, “This is my favorite kitchen.  Not just because there is great food, but we get to do this”,  nodding to the cozy scene of everyone sharing an informal meal. What a great compliment for a woman who has spent a significant amount of time knee-deep in grocery shopping, recipes, ingredients, and dirty dishes.

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Alouette gets in on the action.

I thought about this scene as I was making design decisions with my tiny house. So many tiny homes have the kitchen tucked in at one end under a loft, great for one cook but not for the hub of activity my kitchen always seems to be.  I have placed my kitchen in the center of my design under the highest ceilings.  I can picture a couple of people able to cook while others sit on the couch, the stairs and at the convertible table that is still evolving in my head.

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Still making decisions, but the design is coming along!

I bought my first power tools, really … MY OWN tools.  Whenever I take a step in the right direction it feels big, even when it is simple. I charged them up and am now ready to sink some screws into boards!

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The start of greater things to come!

Everything is turning green and about to burst into bloom, even with the continued bouts of rain it is my signal to move from the indoors out.  It is going to be a busy, busy season first finishing the camper renovation and then picking up the house trailer in Oregon over Memorial Day weekend. Ready … Set … Go!

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Keeping my eyes on the goal,

Hillary D.

 

Coveting in a Tiny World

Coveting in a Tiny World

I recently visited a  certified tiny home builder who is 34 miles from my home, Portable Cedar Cabins in Spirit Lake, Idaho.   Google Maps lead me to the corner of the town park, twice.  Obviously needing directions I steered to the local hardware store which is where I always seem to have the most luck finding help.  The old guy had his dog sleeping on the counter, a conversation starter for sure.  He knew exactly who I was looking for and sent me a mile further down the road.  Rounding the steep bend of the highway. you really can’t miss the 18 or so tiny homes in various stages of completion.

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The site was busy with North Idaho hard-working men,  hammering to music like it was summer in the 53 degree spring weather.  From the size of the mud ruts, Portable Cabins build site had its share of winter with the rest of us.  We stepped into the yard and was greeted by Bob, who was more than happy to answer a couple of questions, give us a some instructions and turn us loose to wander around the homes.

I had my 16yr old son with me who is a tiny house skeptic, he looks at me with eyebrows raised, smiles and says “Okaaay”  whenever I pull him into my tiny house excitement.  When we stepped into the first little abode,  he raised his eyebrows and declared, “This is surprisingly nice!”  So we climbed into lofts, opened pocket doors, checked out tiny bathroom sinks and talked about what life would feel like in each of these different small spaces.  So much fun!

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One of the smaller houses.

Making our way back to the tiny house main office I sat down with the owner Dave and shared my Trek to Tiny with him.  I had noticed that ALL the homes had flush toilets and none of them had gray water tanks or holding tanks, everyone was tapping into water, power and sewer.  So, we talked about off-grid builds, N.Idaho frozen winters which equates to frozen water, and small wood stoves.  Dave is a big proponent of going with a 10′ wide build, and I had noticed the difference that extra 18″ provided.  Then the question everyone wants to know, “How much?”  He quoted me $28,000 for a 10×24 completed shell with roughed-in plumbing and electrical, and he would deliver it to me for FREE since I am local.

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10′ Wide

I started doubting the path I have put into motion, buying a trailer and attempting a DYI build with hiring local professionals as needed.  The mind followed a rabbit trail … my design would be better if it was bigger, I will save myself a lot of work, I’d be doing interior work this summer,  this looks easier.

After my tiny house high, a hot yoga class forced me to take a deep breath, move and sweat for an hour and gave me the clear head to think this over carefully.  I pulled out my materials list and crunched numbers, I had estimated they were receiving somewhere between 7,000-10,000 for their labor and that turned out to be pretty spot on.  I wrestled with the budget vs. time argument and thought about what 10,000 can buy.  My camper/tiny house journal revealed a whole bunch of reasons why staying  the original course means something to me, this whole thing is a trek after all.

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Early morning Trek to Tiny work.

The pull to go bigger & spend more almost got me, a little mindfulness goes a long way.  My oldest son who is a smart, hardworking, and really strong man has been excited about helping his mom this summer and building a small house shell.  What a learning curve we’re going to have together!

Ready to get moving.

Hillary D.

Downsized Parenting

Downsized Parenting

As I minimize on The Trek to Tiny, really strip everything back to the basics, I realize that I am also learning how to downsize my parenting.  Letting go of clothes, and furniture, dishes, and knick-knacks, as well as hundreds of photographs is easy in comparison of letting go of my kids.  It happens … they grow up.

There were years of  wiping tears and noses and bottoms, folding endless loads of laundry, reading “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” over and over and watching “The Land Before Time” enough that I had a solid affection for Littlefoot the Apatosaurus, and wondering if I would ever sleep again.

During the home school years we made a mess in the kitchen with art, science and cooking.  I made everyone cry teaching them math, and we got through it together. We explored the mountains and the ocean and loved our log home in the country with dogs, cats and gardens.  I spent what felt like forever skiing the bunny hill on Schweitzer teaching the three of them to make “french fries” and “pizza wedges” while sliding downhill.  We practiced Taekwondo, learning forms, and weapons and self-defense.  Sweating our way through the stress of belt tests the four of us discovered how to encourage and persevere.  Taking on an exchange student for a year added another culture and more love to the mix.

The summer before our family life unraveled with a divorce we sang and danced our way through “The Music Man” unable to erase the hours of rehearsals from our psyche.

“We can be cold
As our falling thermometers in December
If you ask about our weather in July.”

“Iowa Stubborn” and all the other catchy tunes brought us closer to our community and we had opening night jitters and closing night elation.  Other productions followed with same excitement and late night rehearsals.

The kids made it through high school, learning that “this too shall pass” when the stress and social challenges of being a teenager become overwhelming.  The youngest will be entering in to his senior year this fall, the empty nest is looming. I’m so grateful for the adventures we’ve shared, the slums of India, beautiful back-country scenery and impossibly long bike rides.

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Strolling the markets of India.
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We rode 80 miles in the rain!
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My back-country buddy.

And so, I am learning to downsize my parental worries and tasks, and telling myself everything is OK when what feels like long stretches of no communication become the norm as my kids build their young adult lives and independently discover the world in which they live.  The fact they are able to do those very things means the parenting wasn’t perfect but it was successful.

For now I enjoy it when the kids trickle in and out of the house for visits, and soak up this last remaining year with the baby of the family.  Truth be told, I am excited about the next chapter for my life!

Be Well,

Hillary D.

Thawing Out

Thawing Out

There is a hole in my shoe.  It’s probably been there all winter, but just became noticeable because everything is suddenly very wet.  I live in what is touted to be a pedestrian friendly town, but this winter has been a challenge.  Sidewalks were kinda, sorta shoveled and mostly covered in ice so the roads became the safer option when out walking.  Exercising the dog required focused attention … to traffic, what was underfoot, and more than once I was surprised by local wildlife also making their way around town.

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At least they use the crosswalks.

The earth’s axis has finally shifted and you can feel spring heading our way. I haven’t posted anything for awhile because the trek to the tiny house has been quiet as I have just been riding out the winter and waiting for the thaw.  Glad for all the snowy days that allowed me to plan, and research, and think and plan some more.  The dogs have gotten me out of the house and into the snowy landscape …

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Everyone had winter challenges.

The birds are going crazy with the warmer weather and my build site is rapidly returning to bare ground which has thrown me back into my Sketchup model to make some revisions before I start the framing plans.  I’ve made my first major tiny house purchase!  I love 4 season climates and will have two sources of heat, one being a wood stove and the Mini Grizzly stole my heart.

This little gem puts out 8,000-18,000 BTU’s and will heat up to 400 square feet.  I really liked the wall mount and made some modifications to the kitchen to accommodate this little heat source.  Isn’t it sweet?!  I also placed an order with Iron Eagle and my foundation is ready for pick up … eeek!  Owning a trailer has brought renewed energy to the project and the reality of this tiny dream is now tactile.

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Cheers to noisy birdsong and spring!

Hillary D.

Building Season

Building Season

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Serenity Prayer

With “Snowmageddon 2017” it seems as though the building season will never arrive and I am anxious to get moving.  Every drip, drip from the roof and sounds of running water in the street remind me that this too shall pass.  My building site currently looks like this …

It is painfully obvious that it will be awhile before a trailer can be pulled on to the site and the shop is operational. Not to mention the challenges that the tiny house will face with big winters!  I look at those pictures and think about how the snow will come off my roof, my front door and the need for a sturdy awning of some sort, and water…always thinking about water, particularly frozen water.

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Scenic 7B has been awfully frosty.

I have selected a trailer!  Iron Eagle Trailers in Oregon manufacture trailers specifically for tiny houses.  Little things like recessed crossmembers, axles positioned significantly forward to carry the load of a tiny house, stronger, lighter and they’ll make free tweaks to accommodate your house design.  The cost for this foundation of my future home comes in under $5000 and I can pick it up in Bend, Oregon which is an easy days drive.

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The Trek to Tiny begins here!

There is a Google SketchUp model of my trailer created by Tiny Nest Project that will allow me to start accurately placing my framing and I now know exactly where the wheel wells will fall in my design.  Thank you Kiva and Jake for making this model available!  If you’ve never used SketchUp, it is relatively easy to learn, is FREE, and fun to use.  I’ve got a cabinet I want to incorporate into my kitchen and this program allows me to accurately place this piece into the design and see in 3D how it will work.  When I was in design school we did most our work on a drafting table and changes were tedious, technology certainly has its wonderful moments.

I spend a considerable amount of time watching YouTube videos, another amazing resource of information.  In addition to Tiny Nest I’ve watched all of Derek Howlett’s videos on the Life Inside a Box channel.  This young kid documented his entire tiny house build and it really phenomenal.  He and his wife are homesteading on 40 acres in Arizona and have quite the gig going on out in the desert.  I also love Ana White, she and her husband build beautiful tiny houses and her creative furniture designs are downright awesome.  Not only is she a bad ass builder in Alaska, she makes her designs available for free … how sweet is that!

Now I patiently wait for dry ground and slip slide my way through our frozen landscape on my Trek to Tiny.

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Beautiful sunrise on Lake Pend Oreille

Hope you all feel loved on this Valentines Day and everyday …

Hillary D.

 

Freak Out!

Freak Out!

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.   Steve Jobs

I spend my days with teenagers, lots of teenagers. When sickness settles in the area I am sure to be exposed.  Sometimes you get lucky and avoid all the nastiness and other times it just can’t be avoided.  I’ve been home from work for a couple of days so that tells you where my luck ran out.  I’m a little stir crazy with time to think, and this project, the deconstruction of my life in order to reassemble it into something new has its moments.  Times of pure excitement and energy to move forward and other less enticing periods of panic and fear.  I’ve been here before, fearful of change,  because what if the outcome is worse than the current status?  I know there are people out there that think I’m crazy for wanting to live in a tiny house, and there are days that I believe them.  In those quiet spaces where I can hear myself think, the voice that resides in my comfort zone gets loud and sounds something like this…

“You’ll hate living in a small space.”

“This is a crazy idea.”

“What a stupid waste of time and money.”

“You’re not smart enough or strong enough to pull this off.”

“What if this is a giant disaster and mistake.”

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The sentry that has guarded my door for years gives me courage.

This grand step into a tiny house is not something being forced upon me. I could easily continue on with life as I know it, making safe, well-traveled adjustments as needed.  There are a lot of moving pieces designing this future lifestyle, the actual house sometimes seems the most straightforward.  When the voice of fear is taking over my head, I take a deep Ujjayi ocean breath and think about what is good.

  1. The number of discarded items is growing steadily, over 1200 items so far and I don’t miss any of them.
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My entire laundry room and garage is starting to look like this…   big “FREEcyle”  sale in the spring!

2.   I’m taking better care of myself striving for greater mental and physical stamina.

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YUM.

3.  My emotions are open to whatever they need to be.

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Happy Girl.
  1. I have moments of that “peace that passes all understanding” which indicates to me that I am spiritually on the right track.
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A higher power leads the way.

I think the fear is attached to the subtle hints of the spring that is coming soon…a little more light everyday, much friendlier winter temperatures and lots of birdsong.  Spring will also bring action.

1.The purchase of a trailer…I haven’t figured that one out yet, but have done my research and am narrowing it down.  Still have a couple of local options to explore.

2. Quotes on a material list … I sorta have one of those.

3.   Decisions on windows and front door so framing details can be worked out.

4.  Figuring out my “power budget” so I can price out a solar system.

4.  The organization of the build site …

AKKK … the list goes on and on,  opening the door wide for doubt. I haven’t invested much in the way of money yet.

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Plans and resources
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Love these!

The greatest investment has come in the countless hours going into research and design. I’ve taped an outline of the house inside my house and am feeling out the movement of 286 sqft … and loving the design challenges!  I doodled the featured photo while on a beach in Mexico years ago, I must have needed reminders back then as well.  Fear is a giant brick wall slowing down everything in my path. Time to climb over the fear as the Trek to Tiny gains altitude.

Remember friends … kindness begins at home!

Hillary D.