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.

Unchurched Church

Unchurched Church

I worked at a church for 18 years … 18 years of Bible studies, services, ministry and leadership. It has now been over a year since I’ve attended a church service at the building I called home. Two decades ago when I went through a Celebrate Recovery Step Study, there was a woman who was in recovery from church. I thought that was an off-beat reason to enter into a recovery program, but it makes perfect sense to me now.

“Unchurched” was the Christian buzz word in the hallways of the church I worked at. We were trying to pull the “unchurched” into church, debated how to reach the “unchurched” , celebrated when an “unchurched” family showed up in church and prayed for those lost “unchurched” men, women and children.  I am now one of the “unchurched” and for now am perfectly OK with that status.

I stepped into the church after my mother’s death, which was profound on many levels. In those final moments when her heart was still beating and the lungs still drawing for breath it was physically obvious that her spirit, the entire essence of her being had already left her cancer battered body and that provoked questions … big questions.  Upon returning home I began seeking answers and the church seemed like the best place to get answers.

I don’t know that I got the answers I was looking for, what I did get was a head full of more questions.  So I asked, and I read, and I listened, and I practiced Christianity.  In the early years of my new and growing faith, my behavior resembled the behavior that used to scare me away from churches and the Bible.  I felt the need to slather everyone around me with my new enthusiasm for Jesus with expectations that they too would see the light and jump on board with me. How could my friends, family and strangers not see the truth?!  That brand of evangelism felt like an ill-fitting pair of shoes that you continue to wear even though they hurt your feet.

Eventually I took off those tight shoes and returned to the familiar and comfortable bare feet that allow me to feel everything I step on or into.  Jesus washed the bare feet of others and allowed others to wash and perfume his own bare feet, taking those sandals off was a radical act of humility and love.  The longer I spent inside the walls of the church, the more I felt like an impostor loudly proclaiming the truth while wearing shoes that were giving me blisters, when what I really longed for was the quiet barefoot Jesus.

Working in ministry for money is not for the faint of heart, it has the potential to really, really mess with your spiritual life.  The inner office wing was filled with regular people like me, some who tried to mask the pain of walking in shoes that no  longer fit. There were times it did not feel like a safe place to be unsure, to question or to disagree with what was being taught as concrete scriptural truth.  We all had real life problems going on and my impending separation and divorce after 20+ years of marriage was a big one for me.

My experience of going through a divorce as a very visible leader in a church was an eye opener.  I generally experienced one of two things, complete avoidance of the topic OR the need to quote every scripture related to marriage that could be found, meant to encourage me to stay in a place that was no longer working. Neither was very helpful.  I knew the biblical stance on marriage, I’d been wrestling with it for years. I actually had the pastor tell me my divorce was “awkward.”  Divorce isn’t awkward, it’s really quite tragic.  I did not take divorce lightly, and I now have great compassion for other families that are drowning in those deep waters.

I appreciate the lessons the mountaintops and valleys of leadership taught me.  And there are steadfast and inspiring individuals whose unwavering faith continue to be a lighthouse.  It is my time in the wilderness, barefoot in the sun. What an adventure it is to discover God, to practice love, kindness and tolerance outside the confines of organized religion.  I take deep breaths, choose my words carefully and think about God a lot.  I still believe in a higher power, I need something outside my finite body to cry out to and be grateful for in this lifetime.

I sometimes walk my dogs past the church on Sunday mornings as the congregation files through the newly landscaped entryway and I smile and say hello to familiar faces.  Some have asked if I am in “fellowship” anywhere and while I am in fellowship all the time I know the real question is, “Are you going to church?”  The answer is “No” and often the response is that they will pray for me, and I wonder what exactly their prayers will be. I don’t tell them that I can always use more grace, forgiveness, and gratitude.

To those that are happily embodied in the life of a church, I applaud you and will be slightly envious of the joy that it brings to your life.  Maybe there will be a day that organized religion brings that same solace to my life but today I am headed out into the world, barefoot on rocky ground.

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Keep Looking Upward,

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.

Downward Dog with Dogs

Downward Dog with Dogs

If you are reading this from outside of Northern Idaho, then there is something you should know about one of America’s “Top Ten Small Towns” …. we have WINTER.  Sometimes it looks like this …

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Winter Snow and Sunshine

 

And sometimes it looks like this …

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Fun to follow when this freezes over.

The winter rain that comes after large amounts of snowfall creates one big sloppy, frozen, snow berm bound, school cancelled landscape.  I actually don’t mind the shoveling.  When I lived on acreage in the country I would shovel paths into the woods. This winter I’ve dug out over and over my car, the truck, the deck, the walks and even shoveled  a racetrack for Vita to express her extroverted puppiness.

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Dog Track

It only took one wrong toss of water laden snow to send a message to the left lower back that all is not well.  Something tweaked, not serious but relentlessly annoying.  This recent twist has brought me to my yoga mat multiple times throughout the day as I did not quite feel ready for the hot yoga room.  I am learning be a better listener when my body speaks, I am learning how to gently unlock the tension in my life and I am learning how to downward dog with dogs.

Vita sees me hit the mat and assumes “floor time = playtime” and immediately pounces into the Sun Salutation.  She sits on my legs while I Cat/Cow and the restorative Child’s Pose is a clear signal to lick my face and nibble on my hair.  The pinnacle of fun is Downward Facing Dog where the two dogs immediately see a perfect tent for wrestling under.

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Post-yoga nap.

Today I will venture into a hot yoga class and work the muscles a little deeper and as always it will be an invigorating, peaceful experience and I will miss my furry yoga buddies when I Down Dog.

Namaste.

Hillary D.

Dishwater Tears

Dishwater Tears

This winter of snowdrifts and deep cold has been a blessing.  Like all big winter years I’ve had some challenges, my furnace became stingy with heat output and the hot water heater took note and is withholding hot water.   I even climbed up in to a very awkward attic space to look at the furnace (thank you yoga!) thinking there might be an obvious part lying on the attic insulation.  There wasn’t,  and if there was I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do next, but it was an adventure!  I have no idea how that furnace will someday be replaced with its given location.

These normal home owner issues always bring my head back to the tiny house, and the potential issues that water and heat might face.  The extra time indoors has allowed me to research and plan. It reminds me of pre-trip planning when I’m traveling somewhere new, it’s part of the journey and can save you many headaches before arriving to the destination.  If I had jumped right into building the plans I had purchased I wouldn’t have the redesign that better suits me.

I spent my Friday night tackling the craft cupboard, which holds many clues that we were a former home schooling family.  How wonderful that I work for a school that has two amazing art classrooms, a pottery room AND a Makerspace…I know exactly where all these cast-off art supplies can be put to good use.

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Piles of extra art supplies

Doing dishes over winter break started to get under my skin.  The dishwasher seemed to be endlessly full as well as the sink and the dish drainer … we have too many dishes. I emptied all the cupboards and started a new discard corner in my daughters empty room.  My kids will each receive a box of really pretty items when it comes time to set up their own living space.

I won’t have a dishwasher in the tiny house, so after bringing down the sheer number of dishes we use I decided to go on a dishwasher ban to see how washing dishes by hand day in and day out sits with me.   I ask Alexa to play some music, light a candle on the windowsill, and fill the sink with hot soapy water (when the hot water heater is feeling generous).  Turning this daily chore into an opportunity to think has turned doing dishes into therapeutic motion, there are days the dishwater mixes with tears.

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My therapy office.

I’ll be just fine without the modern dishwasher, both my dishes and my emotions will get a good scrubbing.  I will however need a good supply of this awesome product as my hands take the brunt of cold and hot.

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The best hand cream ever!

Thanks for all the great support and feedback as I share this trek, looking forward to posting my first construction photos in the summer sun.

Be Well Friends.

Hillary D.

Honor the Ending & the Beginning

Honor the Ending & the Beginning

Honor the Ending – The journey of a year is drawing to a close. Honor the lessons you’ve learned, and the people who helped you learn them. Honor the journey your soul mapped out for you.  Trust all the places you’ve been.

Honor the Beginning – Beginnings hold the promise of new lessons to be learned, new territory to be explored, and old lessons to be recalled, practiced, and appreciated. Beginnings  hold ambiguity, promise, fear, and hope.

Melody Beattie – Journey to the Heart

2016 has come to a close and 2017 has dawned with a full on blizzard. It feels good to be hunkered down with a cup of hot coffee in a quiet house with nowhere to be, the perfect opportunity to reflect and think, to honor the ending and the beginning.

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2016 Ending in Brilliant Sunlight

The 2016 journey has never been boring, it was full of insight and brought a focused energy to the new year.  Laughter, tears, hope and faith lived together in the perfect harmony they were meant to have.  My family, friends, coworkers, students, furry companions, community and our nation taught me infinite lessons.  Through the beauty of compassion, generosity, and forgiveness and through the uglier sides of anger, bitterness, and pride the lessons came and I am a better human for all of them.

I look forward to this up and coming year, the unfamiliar territory ahead contains both excitement and healthy fear.

Tiny House 2017

My tiny house model sits on a top bookshelf in direct view of my favorite seat. I look and look and look at that future life I wish to live and the model allows me to walk through the space whenever I desire.  I had an electric moment this week when I realized that the floor plan is WRONG, that is not how I move through my life.  I recognized this because I’ve been paying close attention to my rhythms and movement at home.  By taking a moment to acknowledge the fact that I really only use a couple of feet of counter space to prepare the meals I love to cook, or that I appreciate a cozy place to nap, read or watch people build tiny houses on YouTube.

My current plans are beautiful, and the house has the vibe I like, but it is not my house.  So I started all over, better prepared to incorporate design that is going to be perfect for me. I am breaking free of the “resale” mentality and embracing the process of creating the house that will truly house me.  This will be one of many lessons in resiliency in taking a step back to make better forward progress.

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2017 Bringing in the New Year with a shovel.

The snow continues and the wind is strong, creating new blizzards with each gust.  I am out in the storm, along with an old woman bundled and walking a dog and some kids squealing down the street.  You either deeply resent this cold season or you love it … I love it.  Many years ago I stood at the top of the Northwoods Express (elevation 11,500) on Vail Mountain. We had caught the last chair before  they shut down the lift due to the wind and heavy snow.  I happened to be perfectly dressed that day, my hands were warm, my feet were dry, my goggles were clear and my body felt good.  It allowed me to revel in the power of the storm while whooping and hollering as we had the ski hill to ourselves with fresh Colorado powder falling fast.

On this first day of 2017 as the Idaho snow envelops me I feel that same awe and excitement of being in the storm … honoring the beginning.

May you all rock your 2017!

Hillary D.