Cross-Pollination

 

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The world of blogging is like the world of Facebook: alliances are created; friendships blossom; shared links expand our world…. (Yes, I’m idealizing Facebook to make my point, but bear with me.)

Bloggers follow other bloggers, much the same way Facebook friends like each other’s posts. I follow a lifestyle blog or four, and one author invited other minimalists to submit stories for posting on her blog. So I sent her my two cents, and she graciously posted about the Tiny Dove! Now some of her followers are following me. I’m making internet friends. Talk about minimalism: my friends don’t even take up physical space!

tiny BIG Things

In less than 300 square feet, decorating becomes both challenge and true art form. Collections are pared to a few favorites. Memories are stored in the mind, rather than on shelves. Books are borrowed from the library – and read on a Kindle.

Through such culling, we determine our special totems. I use the term for any object that I’ve imbued with sacred properties; objects that, when I see or hold them, convey meaning far beyond their simple appearance.

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Dream catchers come from Native American culture; they catch the bad dreams but let good dreams slip through the center. My mother gave me my first dream catcher as a little girl, and I have had one ever since. My current red and turquoise version brings me safety, comfort, and my mother’s presence.

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My mother had a dream that I was a red rose in a silver vase. A few years later she gave me this milk bottle and metal flower, to remind me of my strength, beauty, and – via the unusual form she chose – uniqueness.

I have four laughing Buddhas. We should always remember to laugh. And be fat. Fat and happy.

My daughter gave me her Lego self, complete with jet pack. She is even letting me keep it! I’m sure the Buddha keeps her entertained when I’m not home.

In the 20 years since I left home for my first apartment, I’ve donated, tossed or sold thousands of books. All that remains are those written by family or friends or authors I’ve met, favorite childhood tomes, and go-to parenting books.

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The summer I was 18, my mother took me to a yoga center for a week. In the store were Angel Cards: you draw one each day, and that’s your theme for the day. I can’t tell you how frequently I turn over “play”! (When I was pregnant, I usually got “expectancy”…..)

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My mother made the leather book and the middle bear. She says she’s not artistic, but then she gives me these creative gems. They remind me that we are all more than we think we are.

The two other bears are from New Mexico, where my parents lived for ten years. Bears are protectors. So is my landlord, whose car you see in the distance by his front door. He’s my real bear.

 

Mommy likes it!

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My mother is visiting for the first time since the Little Dove has been completed. Last she saw, it was still open to the sky. But now she can sleep in my cozy loft (which she says is “divine”), dine at our tiny table (which, because it’s my daughter’s crib wood, she agrees is “adorable”), and lounge on the sofa (which she murmurs is “actually quite comfortable”). Her highest compliment? “It’s much classier than I had pictured it!”

Mommy likes it!

I’m not quite sure what she thought it would be like, since she has known me for over 40 years so should have an idea of my taste. But maybe just hearing that it’s only 8 and a half feet wide is enough to throw anyone into paroxysms of claustrophobia and skepticism – even friends and family simultaneously cheering us on. If the back door is my precious, and I’m the number one fan of composting toilets, then the Little Dove’s extra six inches of width are the cherry on my Tiny Home sundae.

Without it, my sofa would be like the below – which, while attractive, just doesn’t ring cozy.

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I like my sofa facing the below direction, in a nook, with glass on all three sides to make the house feel even wider. We even open it regularly for tickle fights and my daughter’s guitar lesson. (She looks like a 70’s rock band member, lolling at the back of her tour bus, jammin’.)

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Another thing Mom approves of: My landlord’s landscaping. Her mouth open in astonishment, she gasps, “Do you realize how lucky you are?” I do. Oh, I do.

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Or maybe it’s just being in sunny SoCal that makes life so grand. I mean, really, having my back door and windows wide open in February ain’t so bad! Mommy for sure likes it.

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Life cereal photo courtesy of http://urbanlegendsonline.com/mikey-likes-it/

Tiny home photo courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/baileyeschaff/tiny-houses

Want Not; Waste Not

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Do you know the depression-era adage, “Waste not, want not”? Those were bleak times; there was never enough. People made money any way they could, from physical labor to selling food. Everything was reused or recycled: flour sacks, presents, inner tubes, and even rabbits. (Another adage: “Necessity is the mother of invention!”)

These days, many Americans live in an era of bounty. I am blessed with having a plethora of choices for what show to watch, which calls to screen, what brand of food to buy, or how to spend my time.  I am grateful and humbled to be living in a time and in a place with such freedom.

Ironically, though, I would prefer fewer choices. I would like a simpler buffet of life from which to choose my few, favorite dishes. Even more acutely, I want to not even notice that selections have slimmed down. In the mall for an errand, I hope to sail obliviously past enticing shop windows. Looking over a dinner menu, I desire to desire the bowl of soup and side salad and feel nothing for the duck confit.  I want to want not.

Tiny House living wildly supports this goal. My kitchen suffices for – but does not surpass – my needs. My bathroom is rudimentary, rather than resplendent. Here’s a tour:

I swung into Bed, Bath and Beyond last week for that second bathroom curtain. I had nowhere to put anything new, aside from this necessity, so I felt no need to get anything new. I did pause for a moment in front of some whimsical wall clocks, but I then sallied on. I felt free and buoyant. I may even do a light version of this shopping ban, to shift further into “wanting not”. No frou-frou stuff for me!*

I also happily notice that wanting not makes it easier to waste not. More altruistic people than I have gotten into the Tiny Home movement specifically to lessen their carbon footprint and overall effect on the Earth. I am much more selfish and did it just because it felt good. Still, I find myself proud to be using a negligible amount of electricity. I feel surprisingly good about my few weekly laundry washes. I smile taking a single trash bag out each weekend. And, as my loyal readers know, I love not creating septic waste! I wish Nature’s Head would ask me to be their spokesperson; hey, I’d do it for free – or at least a pittance! Behold its majesty:

*Disclaimer: I did get myself three cozy winter sweaters in honor of spending winter breaks at my mother’s in clammy Pennsylvania. And of course I get my daughter little prezzies from time to time!

It’s alive!

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No, not like that, silly!

Although the Tiny House did have one monster infiltrate: Black Mold!

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This evil roommate showed up sporting a handsome grey mustache, aka growing mold spores and making itself toxic. In under 300 square feet, it was impossible to stay out of its way. So I bleached the heck out of it. The heck. Plus my builder, appalled by this and other photos, replaced the outer trim and caulking and will soon dig into the drywall and repaint, upon my request.

On other news (now that I’m not dead)… I’m finally repurposing the crib that my father built for my daughter. I feel his presence all around me; he would have been tinkering and sweating right by my side. I can almost hear him swearing mildly to himself while tramping off to Home Depot for that one random part that he always forgot. I can definitely hear him cheering on my friend and me, as we install the African redwood crib rail along my loft edge and fashion a silken-smooth oak leg into a banister. The oak end-panels of the crib create the top of our dining table and will be MacGyvered into a legit drop-leaf using a second leg. (The other two legs are still attached to the African redwood crib back, which my mother is using as a headboard. Lucky mom.)

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See the guitar? A present for my daughter. I will play my father’s guitar when we take lessons together. Thank you, Tiny Home, for connecting me so directly to Dad. He’s alive now, too.

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An Affirmation

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People in my daily life may be a bit surprised that I’m posting this week, given some things going on. But I wanted to share this life-affirming update with you all:

Living Tiny absolutely, completely, sans aucun doute suits me.

I sleep like a log in the cozy loft. Each morning, I just lift my head a few inches to look directly out over trees and sky. The steady rain tapping on the window this morning made it really tempting to stay under the quilt with my doggie. But I eventually do climb down the ladder, which is now natural and not freaky.

I get ready for work and then wake my daughter. She sleeps like a log living Tiny too, not stirring while I shower or bang around downstairs. Still, I use my hairdryer outside if she’s is asleep. I like to think this qualifies me as a proud (and very modern) frontier woman.

I’m getting the hang of a wee kitchen. I am deeply grateful of the two feet of counter between stove and sink. In a way, that’s the “actual” kitchen, as washing, cutting and prepping are most easily done in that kind of spot. I store pots and pans in the oven, which is fine for me as a non-baker (although my friend DM was repelled by such clear misuse!).

On the other side of the sink is a “bar” with a few bottles of dry red wine (hint to my local friends), five wine glasses (remember I broke one already), and the stuff that accrues in the space of a day. Shoes are stored in a pine bureau under the counter, and desk stuff clutters its surface.

Tiny Homes do get messy quickly! In regular homes I’ve lived in, areas stayed organized longer –  but they also lingered messy until I had a whole morning to clean. Now, after a month of this lifestyle, I’ve noticed that Tiny gets tornado-destroyed in about 10 minutes. But it also cleans in a heartbeat! The wave oscillation is faster. (Thanks to JB for that apt metaphor!)

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Another aspect of Living Tiny that totally works for me is the composting toilet. This past weekend, I had my first Poop Removal Experience (hereinafter referred to as PRE). I was not scared by the process, based on research and the handy “how to” booklet provided by Nature’s Head. But I also knew that it could be a steep (and icky) learning curve until I was adept.

I definitely need to get a huge, thick pair of rubber gloves. Gallon plastic baggies with rubber bands, while a creative use of household supplies, were overly… optimistic.

But the PRE itself was simple, straightforward, and not gross in any way (Ha Ha to you, cynical cousin GH!). I had apparently used too much water when crumbling the peat moss into the new toilet four weeks ago, so the resulting mixture was rather gloppy. But I actually sniffed it (from a foot away; I’m not a lunatic), and it. just. smelled. like. dirt. I hefted it all into a hefty, and then hefted the hefty into the trash. I rinsed off the toilet with plain water and vinegar, and now she’s ready for round 2.

It’s just dirt, people. It’s people dirt!


“Finished compost from a composting toilet ready
for application as soil improvement in Kiel-Hassee,
Germany.” 
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

 

 

A Real Home

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Thanksgiving Week.

Whew. I have to exhale. I have so much and so many people to be thankful for.

Yet I happily turned down two marvelous invitations. This was the first Thanksgiving in my life when I had no desire to be with others.  I was elated to stay in my pjs all day to unpack, organize, reorganize, tuck away (there’s a lot of that), and create order out of chaos in my ~300 square feet. For example, my clothing selection was whittled down and honed by following these simple Project 333 principles.

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Then, like the well-raised girl I am, I made my bed.

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Then, like the new DIY-addict I am, I spent 90 minutes assembling the IKEA sofa-bed peacefully and methodically (which is an adjective my friends would NOT normally ascribe to me). I decided to set it up so that the L faces the Eastern, more spacious view. If I move to a mountaintop and live off the grid, I’ll flip it back to face the French doors.

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Uh oh. How do I add the missing leg? Friends, friends, where are you?

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I got like 10 of these beauties:

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But it was worth it! By the end of Day 8, the Little Dove started to look like a real home.

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Which is a good thing! It rained and poured and blustered all weekend, and we battened down the hatches. One stormy afternoon, we even fit five adults and three seven-year old girls in the Little Dove. Here’s a Thanksgiving gratitude: the extra 6″ width of my custom trailer!

But I still need to head back to IKEA for more chairs – and cabinets and fixtures and curtains and and and….