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.

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LifeProof Vinyl Flooring is done.
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I built a little entry deck.
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A large tree that was threatening the main house came down.
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Tiny woodstove is ready to go!
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Sink is ready for the plumber.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Priming boards while it snows.
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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.

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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.

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#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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

“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.

 

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.