Stillness

Stillness

The blog has been quiet, but life has not.  The final push to rid my mind and my world of excess and get moved into the little house took great effort and exhausted my reserves last fall.  The “trek to tiny” also had a backstory that took center stage as I closed out 2018.

Idaho to Colorado and a roadside stop somewhere along the way.

There were many reasons that seeded this trip to living smaller, taking up less space. But nothing inspired me more than my sister’s journey walking day to day for over nine years with cancer .  She was a constant in my life, there are no memories before her.  Jen is always there; in the backseat, the tent, on the chairlift, the trails, the bike path, splashing in the pool.

Nothing can bring clarity to life like a terminal illness, not only for those that live with the reality, but for those who love them as well.  My heart was speaking that a vastly simplified life would be a blessing when her time was coming to a close.  Shortly after the move to the tiny house was complete, it was time to refocus and head several states over to help her transition to her next journey.

Little Sister 1967

I am home, tucked into the little house looking out over a snowy landscape. It is now, in this strange universe of normality and grief, that I am learning if my vision of a small space bringing contentment was a thought after an extra glass of wine, or a reality. There has been a learning curve.

I am happy to come home to my warm, light filled, cozy home, however Mr. G is having some adjustments. When the kids left, the bird died, and I gave away all my belongings he looked worried that he’d be next. I am confident that I can ease his anxiety and we are going to settle into a lovely life where we’re parked.

Mr G. looks pretty happy this morning as I write.

Having hot running water in the house was a must for me, but I am discovering how little water I can get by with, because dragging the hose out to fill the 30 gallon tank this time of year is a major pain. Having access to the main house has greatly simplified wintertime. Rather than deal with the gray and fresh water tanks, I am finding it easier to fill a gallon jug when I’m in the house and catch the gray water to dispose of. I run the pump and hot water heater sporadically, just to ensure everything is still working properly during winter.

Works for me.

Bill’s generosity of hosting the trek to tiny and access to his house for showers, ukulele sessions, meals, and movies is proving to be our perfect set-up and lots of fun! When gardening season begins and the hose is out all the time I will freely use the water systems in the house, including the shower. Until then this reminds me of camping, when I am often the happiest.

There are several key spaces that were intentionally left undone, I wanted to make those decisions after living in the house for awhile and I’m glad I did. I am now able to design the spaces to accommodate what I actually need, not what I think I need. A deep pantry shelf was not convenient for getting to the back, so I found a simple solution that is working great. It will be fun to watch the other unfinished spaces tell me what will work.

Pantry solutions.

I walk back and forth to the house frequently as I was not able to finish the toilet set-up before leaving. It isn’t the most convenient, but in making the trip to the house I’ve seen beautiful sunrises, starry cold nights and a big mama moose greeting me as I rounded the corner. Until the weather warms up and brings more motivation for home projects I’ll continue to shuffle to the main house in my slippers.

Warm on a cold night.

Thank you for reading, for those who are interested in the process of making changes and trying a new way of life, I will continue to share my trek.

Healing doesn’t have to be extravagant, expensive, or traditional.   Sometimes it just means going to the places that make us feel good.”   Melodee Beattie

She was a gift.

Be Well,

Hillary D.

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.

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My Leap of Faith

Be well and live abundantly!

Hillary D.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Splinters, Bees and Bruises

Splinters, Bees and Bruises

I just completed my first week of physical work on the tiny house. I think the house needs a name,  and just like a trail name arises for long distance hikers I’m sure the house’s personality will make itself known.  This week has taught me so much already. Things about myself, tools, materials, and the small little minutiae that can make or break you.

The plans I bought from ShelterWise included material lists and even though I have completely redesigned the interior,  the trailer and shape of the exterior are the same so I didn’t think I needed to recreate the wheel.  Bill’s shop had become a catchall for stuff (like most garages or shops are) so I spent a couple of days pulling everything out, organizing the tooling and creating a usable space.  I am grateful for the access to his tools and he has LOTS of them!

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Bill’s father was a craftsman and had some really cool tools.

After much research and many YouTube videos,  I felt pretty confident of the steps I needed to complete to get the sub-floor on the 24′ trailer.  My solo Home Depot shopping trip came next.  On my list; 2×6’s, 2×4’s, blocking, joist hangers, 3/4″ TG plywood, adhesive, 5/8″ bolts, washers, lock washers, #9 1/2″ screws, 2″ deck screws, rigid foam insulation and batt insulation.  I added gloves, protective eye-wear, sunscreen and a first aid kit.

Everything was going pretty well until I got to the “Fasteners” aisle … holy cow.  3 out 5 people all had their phones out talking to someone or Googling the fastener they were looking for so I was in good company with feeling slightly overwhelmed. Sure enough the bolts I bought were too long, then they were too short, so by the 3rd trip in I was able to make a bee line to what I needed. I’ll be a Home Depot aficionado by the time this is all over.  It isn’t every girls dream shopping trip, but by the time I had pulled everything and got it loaded into the truck I felt more accomplished than buying a new pair of jeans has ever left me feeling.

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Ready to roll.

The July heat is on and we’re creeping into those 90ish degree temps that make you really grateful for a good fan and the deep waters of Lake Pend Oreille.  I quickly learned that the galvanized pan on the bottom of the trailer once the sun hits is blinding and hot, making me sympathize with anything I put under the broiler.  I used to sew quite a bit, quilts, clothing, pillows, bags, cushions, curtains … anything that could be constructed with fabric I was willing to tackle.  I also kept the seam ripper close at hand because I inevitably would have to rip apart what was constructed to do it right.  Apparently this build will be no different.  YouTube can only take you so far, the rest of the learning curve happens the hard way and re-doing parts of the floor system taught me some valuable lessons:

  1. It’s better to have “too much” rather than “not enough”, running to Home Depot when things are really rolling because you ran out screws is maddening.
  2. Solo work days are a blessing and a curse when that second pair of hands would be handy, or another brain would be appreciated to help think through a process.  But you just rise up and figure it out.
  3. The right bra and hair ties will greatly mitigate frustration levels.
  4. Ukulele breaks are energizing.
  5. Splinters, bee stings and bruises will be part of the new normal

 

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This was from leaning over the trailer flange.   Looks awful, healed quick!

 

 

I’ve been wearing a necklace with a little turtle charm to remind me that slow and steady wins the race as the Trek to Tiny is a long haul.  Now off to Sandpoint Hot Yoga to keep my back in good shape!

Be Kind and Be Well,

Hillary D.