A broken wrist, another “tiny house” cabin, and a threat.

It’s been a number of months since blogging about the progress of bitty dragon.  In larger part, because literally the day after the “actual” build began back in June (after spending months collecting materials and working on design), I fell off of a folding chair and broke my left wrist.  Since I’m the type who is into “reading into” things, and simply because it was too hard to hold a hammer while steadying a piece of wood, and because the chinese medicine doctor/nurse in the ER (yes, I live in Boulder) said, “sounds like the universe is telling you to slow down”.

I did.  And didn’t touch bitty dragon or any of her bones lying in my garage for the past 4 months.  That’s how long my complex break took to heal.

Last week, I began giving massages again, and today, we took the bones of bitty dragon and loaded them into a neighbor’s truck to be moved about 300 yards from where we live now to our’s and “her” new home— an old off grid miner’s cabin/goat barn that sits on the edge of a ravine.  With a nearly perfect spot for our build, which won’t officially begin again until next spring (winter is setting in here in Colorado).

Victor, my partner, who is now officially part of the project (he always was involved, but in the process of slowing down and re-considering the whole process and reason for this build, he came in as full creative and embodied collaborator in simplifying and re-thinking our lives together).  He threatened as we moved heavy doors and windows (the 2nd time I have moved each of these items), “if we don’t have a tiny house by the time we move from THIS tiny cabin, we don’t have a tiny house”… in other words, I don’t want to move this precious sh** again.

So, just as the sun went down, we re-stacked, re-organized, and re-catagogued all of our materials into an old half falling down shed that we roughly re-built just last weekend (a whole other blog is coming about our present process of simplifying and tiny-fying into this present tiny cabin which is still double the size of bitty dragon— in fact, likely, the next number of blogs will be about our present “tiny” house adventure).

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Let the building begin…

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Whoa.  My body is tired.  Breath.

We spent the day yesterday prepping for the 1st official day of building.  June 7th, 2013.  The wheel bearings were done last week, by Mike, who rocks.  Super Duper friendly Dude who knows a hell of a lot about trailers and brakes.  I probably talked to him 10 times on the phone last week, with various questions on what do now, what to do later.  It’s a homemade really cool trailer with two levels that I purchased from Paul, the landscaper, who purchased it from the mason so it’s been loaded with stones, dirt, trees, plants in it’s past lives.  And Paul has beautiful blue eyes…. diversion… but I couldn’t help notice.

So, the Thursday before Memorial Weekend, we drove to Fort Collins at 7 in the morning, meeting Paul from his red eye flight.  (he works in Dakota half the month, and the only opportunity to meet him was this morning since we would be gone while he was home).  So enroute to Moab to dance for the weekend, we drove the other direction to meet him at a truck mechanic to check out the brake work so I would know what I was getting into–(kinda, the guy who checked in out wasn’t as thorough as Mike. Still, it all came out in the wash).  And after getting enough information to go ahead,  and calling Mike in Boulder, Paul was KIND (super KIND) enough to haul the truck to Boulder to Mike, well we hit the road for Moab.

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So, showing up at the shoppe yesterday after really only seeing the trailer twice briefly, it was kinda like Christmas to really look it over AGAIN and just see a whole lot of new possibilities. It is living up to her name, the magical mythical dragon that doesn’t show you everything that is there at first glance.  She’s such an interesting trailer with two levels, and space underneath to play with–in floor storage, water tanks, solar batteries??  I’m thrilled.

I spent the first part of the day at the Resource Yard (I just walk around and talk to people.  Ask for ideas.  Suggestions.  Go up to people who look like they know something about something, and say, “hey…. what do you think about…. ?”  Probably helps being a woman.  People, especially men, love helping women.  (We watched a video on racial profiling yesterday, a mock up of different people stealing a bicycle.  The white man– ignored.  The black man– reprimanded.  The pretty white woman– well, the older men in the video helped her steal the bike… I’m not kidding).

Then I got an iced coffee (my latest vice), met up with Victor, drove around looking for a truck to do the hauling (carshare trucks aren’t really up for a double axle trailer) and picked up the trailer and brought her home.  Victor drove and I tracked the traffic— yes, we took the gender roles.  Today, up early, walking around the Mapleton Neighborhood yardsale.  Just to see what, if anything, might be there for Bitty Dragon.  And to have a little small taste of a relaxing Saturday morning before jumping in with two feet.  The essentials:  I found a bright yellow pot, which Victor said could be my indoor plumbing and a bright orange mailbox which a woman said, “if your house is on wheels. Where will your mail go?”

“Wherever I am”, I replied.

To the tool library (at Resource Yard) to pick up grinders for beginning to work with some rust on the trailer and to McGuckins (I LOVE McGuckins.  Another place to just hang out and ask questions of an ever eager staff.  I’ve never been in a store with a more helpful staff.  Really. ) Today, it was all about paint, primers, and rust.  Grinding wheels, rustolium, and something that is probably terribly toxic but effective to break down rust. It’s interesting to try to break down the substance that is doing the breaking down, BUT it is my foundation after all.

Then back home, to get to work.  Salvaged wood inevitably has a lot of nails and screws to remove.  Good music, conversation.  A tour of Carl, my neighbors’ woodshoppe.  “Just don’t get hurt, is all I ask, ” are the words he left us with and some photos of his son’s tiny chicken coupe on wheels. Checking out the trailer more with Braden, our guest helper designer extraordinaire of the day.  And beginning removing the screws on the decking (with a dwindling re-chargeable drill…) in order to get underneath and begin the work on the frame.  Then of course, DINNER.  Hot dogs, corn, and roasted veggies of the grill.  A perfect end to a perfect beginning.  I love the time of building.  It is just as I imagined it.  One foot falling in front of the other, and simply doing what’s the next things to attend to.  And tomorrow is another day, and we’re heading out to listen to music.

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A few videos about what we were up to today!

TAKING OUT NAILS AND SCREWS

The Trailer Before We Begin to Transform Her

A Few of my Favorite Things (that just might revolutionize sharing and community)

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Yesterday, I discovered (not that I didn’t know about it or that I hadn’t been there) the Resource Store.  But I really discover what an AWESOME “resource” this is.  I hope all of you (especially those of you building tiny house know about this).  I’ve been doing mostly Craigslisting and scavenging so far from construction sites (which is fun but involves a lot of driving which  is a bit out of alignment with my environmental ethos), but Resource is like a great consignment/second hand/salvation army of building materials, good ones coming in every day and everything all in one very big lot and warehouse.  The people who work there (at least the one in Boulder) totally ROCK, like super helpful, “hey do you have any….” walk around with you looking for that perfect thing.  Even Daniel who helped me find a pile of great 2×4’s that weren’t even on the sales floor (which is the parking lot) yet left some plastic for lining my insulation next to my pile of wood when I came to pick it up today.  And I think there are resource stores all over the place at least here in Colorado!!

Carsharing.  I joined the Boulder Carshare because I was driving up to Vail this winter to do massage in a fancy lodge.  And I didn’t have a car at the time.  Yes, I knew about this for a while too!  How great is it to just show up, pick up a car that is full of gas, have the insurance paid for, not have to worry about repairs, and know that the people benefitting are people in my community (including me!) instead of some mega company.  Why do we all need our own car anyway (I have one now… but not having one until I was 26 and most recently not having one for over 2 years… reminded me of creativity and sharing in not)  This morning, I just went online, booked one of the trucks in the fleet, went over to McGuckins’, our very local hardware store, and picked it up for the hour and a half that I needed to go to the Resource Store and pick up my wood.

Couchsurfing.  I joined CS in 2007 before it grew up into what it is now.  I’ve surfed all over the country, met so many interesting folks, and hosted as well.  CS is again, in my opinion, about personalizing the landscape of our world.  Instead of staying in a big hotel ala’ impersonal, CS simply matches folks up with the pay it forward mentality of “You help me out.  I help another brother or sister out… and on and on”.  Sometimes it’s providing a couch, sometimes it’s just a tea and conversation.  It is infinitely more interesting to connect with people locally, to understand a place from it’s inhabitants, and to keep the energy localized instead of some big hotel chain that is owned by some landless placeless entity.  Big business is dangerous in my opinion unless it includes and actively attends to the people, animals, air, plants that actually inhabit a place.   I put bitty dragon on CS, and asked if anyone wanted to come and help/play/learn with me.  And Wa La.  I have people from all over the world, writing me with well wishes, their own dreams and hopes, and many who will likely join me this summer in Boulder!!!

My tiny truck…

All Filled Up

That’s what Duane called it when I drove into his driveway in Parker already filled up in back with some gently used bamboo flooring that Dana was trying to get out of her garage.  I am the “cleaner-outer  of garages”.  My own becoming fuller by the day, I rid others of those things that they have had just a little too long or never needed in the first place.  The flooring that didn’t quite work.  Duane, an ex-contractor, was looking in every corner for what might help with my project.  His wife wants to downsize into a tiny house (I think their house now looks to be a few thousand square feet.  Duane didn’t seem to be jumping at the opportunity tho’ he certainly has a garage full of materials and a body that has built houses for 30 years).

My truck, as he called it so aptly, is a Toyota Yaris Hatchback.  On this particular Bitty Dragon Pick-Up day, I fit two windows, 50 square feet of bamboo flooring, a roll of very heavy (much heavier than it looks) metal flashing to keep out the rodents, some very aged wood (cedar) that I like– siding?  I drive into this neighborhood to pick up one window, and notice practically every house has some scrap wood, a mattress, old drawers, carpet… you name it, out on the lawn… getting wet in the unlikely Colorado rain.  Me, in my truck, driving about, stopping occasionally.  It’s the end of the day.  My truck is full.  I’m tired, but look at all the free stuff.  I cannot pass up the opportunity to “shop”.  The man with the wood I collect, says it is “put your junk on the street” week in this part of Arvada.  People have a lot of junk.  My little take away making a little more space in the landfill for something else, a little less in my truck, and perhaps saving a little something that might still have some life in it.  My car smelling of aged cedar, me full of the day, head home to get my man to help me unload it into a very full garage.

Half Way Through May

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about my tiny house.  Not that things haven’t been happening, but they are more the kinds of things that are happening under the surface, like the way seeds start to imagine their life while they are still deep in the ground.  I’ve been in a process of imagining my tiny house, of questioning, dreaming, designing and re-designing things in my head (usually late at night near the full moon it seems).  AND I haven’t had a lot to say.

But, it has been raining the last week ALOT which is wonderful in our climate that usually has a lot of drought, and the snow is finally all melted, and sure enough the tender green shoots are coming up.  We’ve even planted our garden finally after 3 weeks of late spring snow.  So, it is time, to put these visions “on the ground”, rather than let them linger in the air any longer.  Let the beauty happen, let the mistakes happen.

I just went out to the garage.  Our garage is full of things like any garage is full of things.  Reminding me of the huge longing to DOWN size, to let go of, especially now in the Spring.  I’ve always loved living simply, the times in my life when for whatever reason, I’ve had one room and all my belongings fit it that one room.  It’s kind of like having things out in the open “literally” instead to swept under a rug, pushed into a closet or the garage, to be dealt with LATER.  It makes me feel at ease.  I wonder if our cultural obsession with STUFF has a lot to do with all of the unseen psychic baggage that in much the same way gets pushed into a place deep enough in the closets of our consciousness that it needn’t ever be addressed–except of course when it shows up as an angry dragon or some child self stomping out of the room after a disagreement.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, back to the garage and the growing collection of tiny doors and not so tiny windows.  I do not buy into the idea that ascetically, a tiny house needs tiny windows (one of the many ideas gleaned at the recent Tumbleweed workshop I attended–plenty of other ideas that I loved).  I’d rather have light and air and a feeling that my tiny house really belongs to the outdoors more than it belongs to the indoors.

So, I’m standing in the garage, trying to make some order of things.  Do I really need to order things?  I ask myself.  Everything here that I have is unique.  I have a pile of things waiting for a place in my tiny house.  I have a design, half completed.  I have helpers coming to help.  I have a trailer half bought (I LOVE it!).  I have half my insulation.  I have half the participants I need to an upcoming carpentry workshop I’m hosting in said garage.  I have half figured out where to put my tiny house on the land that we live on.

It is half way through the month of May, and my vision is still to start building the last week of May.  But all I need to begin, is my trailer and my supplies for my decking (which I half have).  My half crazy philosophy is to take this all one day at a time, to accomplish each phase of this one phase at a time, to improvise, and to trust that the right supplies and right people with show up at precisely the right moment or at least within a day or two of the right moment. And to have FUN.

The glass is half full.

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About Professionals and Novices.

I am the latter, at least in this current pursuit that I am writing about in this blog (there are other areas in which I could be said to inhabit more of the role of the “pro”…. if I truly believed in this delineation…. one woman I know called me a “curandera” a healer, but she followed promptly and sternly with the statement, “but you CAN’T call yourself that”).  A professional calls them self one, a master is named by her community.  It is as much an attitude embodied in a skill as the skill itself.

What I believe in, or what I wish for, is a model of sharing knowledge in such a way that each and every person (not just special folks) yield a certain power just simply by the fact that they know how to do “stuff”.  “Stuff” meaning the things of life that make life work, the simple technologies, the simple tools, and things like making food and birthing babies.    (yes, I think birthing babies should be common knowledge or at the least, people shouldn’t be scared to death of it or think it is a crisis of major proportion if mama doesn’t make it to the Hospital with a capital “H” before baby pops out.  Duh!  I mean before about a hundred years ago, all babies were born at HOME….it’s actually NOT rocket science….there is my little birth rant for the evening….)  And then there is actual “rocket science” (does that exist or is it just a way of saying “way too complicated”?) The more complicated the world becomes, the crazier the technologies, the harder it is to live into this dream of knowing how to use, fix, and create our own”stuff”.

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But here I’m talking of building.  “Men’s work”.  Hah!  The opposite end of the natural skills of life spectrum, and yet so very intimately connected to the same fabric of life and community, that those missing skills would be and are equally lost in this modern world to that of the midwife.  (I actually know of a few builders, with midwives as partners.) And both skills, we all should know at least a little about, if we are living in houses and are human beings.

Very very simple.  Build houses.  Have babies.  (and a few other essential skills).  And Wa LA…a culture, a peopled world, needs met, gratitude, time to play….

So, in comes the expert (today I met an expert- a very kind and lovely expert who does beautiful work).  And skill becomes commodity and thus is born need, and capitalism and consumerism (yes…I’m way way oversimplifying here, but trying to globally contextualize my story of the day).  I’m not saying here there shouldn’t be masters, those who refine and work the edges of their craft and excel in certain ways that are a gift to everyone and to the unseen. (but according to Chellis Glendenning (who wrote, “Hello I’m Chellis and I’m recovering from Western Civilization”-LOVED it), one of the most striking things she found in studying earth based cultures, was that people actually knew how to do most EVERYTHING that was done in their tribe/village and that made them both unified and extremely self possessed).

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What am I trying to say?

I am a novice (no doubt), trying to simply become skilled enough to “do it for myself” with a little help and support.  I called out for support on CL (once again) to find someone to help me with my design.  A student perhaps?  (when I was in massage school, I gave hundreds of massages to learn my craft… practice through doing).  But again, not really looking for someone to “do it for me” but to do it with me, to show me enough specific skill to help fill out my vision which currently is some rough little drawings with a LOT of notes attached.

Two replies thus far.  Both promising.  One a man with years of experience building fancy eco-homes and using salvaged materials.  He is taking time off due to his health and looking for a fun project to fill his time. We met at the fancy tea cafe and I drank a spicy green tea chai.

Great photos.  Really nice dude–East Coast Brooklyn (?) accent.  Then, I started hearing words like, “this house I’m designing for you” and “what I create”, and I started to feel like I was sitting in the seat of client rather than collaborator.  “Someone else is trying to build MY house.  Ahhhh.  He’s missing my boat”.  I felt like I needed to grab my project back from him, even though nothing obvious had been taken away.  I interrupted.

“Um.  I just want to clarify.  That this is really my project and feeling empowered is really important to me.  I want to be fully involved in every step.  I’m not asking anyone to do it for me”

(“and I have a dragon tea shirt”) No, I didn’t say that, but damn, it was hard to find my tongue.  It’s f—in’ hard to speak up when you are novice trying to find your way, speaking to the expert who seems to know theirs and is all too happy to fit in the status quo model of doing business.

I’m not complaining (except a little) because the guy took time out of his afternoon to meet with me, and frankly the whole thing was quite clarifying for me.  “What do you want from me?” he asked at one point.

“Some mentorship.  A little guidance”.  I didn’t say “collaboration”, but I think that is a better word.  I don’t think a lot of the world works that way though.  But my house will, even if it takes me a hell of a long time to build.

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Any student designers out there willing to collaborate on a cool little project?  Any simple books anyone can recommend about design (like maybe one of those big yellow books for “dummys”?)

Still one more man from CL to call back.

The Lost Art of Going Slowly

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Yesterday, I finally DID it!!!   Shared this blog with a few friends (just a few, for now…you know who you are…).  You might say, isn’t the POINT of a blog to share it??

Well, I’ve been writing it more as my OWN online journal/journey so far.  You see, a part of this project for me is about going slow- taking each step in it’s own time, allowing myself to mature into this, focusing on letting rather than forcing.  And making sure that it is real in my heart, before talking about it with every other living being in my life (though my partner, being as excited as he is, is all too eager to share the news over dinner with friends, at our dance communities’ winter potluck, while bowling….it’s sweet, and I’ve gotten over trying to squash his enthusiasm).

My neighbor who is in India, whose little house and plants I am taking care of for the winter, said “this house has made me as much as I have made it”.

She moved into the house 13 years ago.  An old barn maybe, walls falling in, earth worms in one wall.  She doesn’t own it per say, except with her hands and her love (I think her landlord has a good deal going).  She has fixed in up little by little– earth plastered the walls and the floors, built an outhouse and an outdoor shower.  There is no electricity.  Just candles and little LED lights. It’s a work in progress, like her.  An opportunity to reflect on her own place on earth.  She has no urge to leave or go anywhere except to India in the winter when her migraines get bad.  It is hers. (and the rabbits and birds she feeds, the foxes that come in and sit on her bed….)

Of course, when I shared my blog yesterday, I witnessed myself shift from a similar mindset of ease and space, into something that felt more like, “ok, now people know what I’m up to so I have to be UP to something.  Really.  I have to make my lists and check them twice.  And I should have a timeline too.  And maybe my whole attitude is far too whimsical for building a house.  Someone is going to call me on my bluff.”

Eeek.  (that’s why I keep these secret projects close to my heart).  It’s so easy to let my neurosis or the ideas of “how things get done” come in and take over my organic, non rigidified, beautiful, creative heart of work.  Too many things happen too fast in the world, in my opinion.  My life happens far too fast most of the time, so in this project, I want to very consciously practice something different.  I want to be made by this experience, instead of perceiving I am the one in control of it.

And yet, I too, like most of us, grew up and live in a culture that is chronically “in a hurry”.  My dad (bless him) worked one of those jobs that never left his heart, and many years later after he had “divorced himself from formal employment” (as he puts it), his heart seized up and had to be manually opened to remove the leftover of that job that he couldn’t let go of (and a few other things lodged in there to be sure).

I am learning the lost art of going slow.  “I’m not in a hurry” should be my mantra, or for those positive thinking types…”I have plenty of time.  I have all I need. Each piece of this will show up just when it is needed”.  It may sound new agey, but how many of us need more of this attitude in our lives, and how much “rushing about” comes out of a fear of  running out of “something”—time, love, breath, food.

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The blunt truth of it.  When we rush, we just die faster.  Either because we literally “stress” ourselves to death, or because time flies for those of us who fill every moment.  Of course, as I write this, I realize this too is a privilege in our world right now.  A privilege of having a roof overhead and time to dream, connections to resources and community.  I’d like to live in a world where time and space weren’t a privilege, but essential to living a deep and soulful life.  And essential to sustainability since to be with empty space is to not try to fill it with our habits, addictions, and speed. It is to get in touch with what is essential. And no matter how you cut it, that is usually more sustainable.

My “Go Slow” commitment to myself and my little home:  to not add into or buy into the cultural and personal storied madness that there is not enough of the illusive thing we call time or the ever changing things of the material realm…. to be willing to engage in the creative unknown, be the student of the process of trusting, to take one simple step after another, and be ally to seredipity rather than slave to the usual ways of business and economics. (please call me on this commitment if you see me doing otherwise…)

After all, tiny houses are unusual enterprises and dragons are unpredictable creatures.

(my latest acquisition: a dragon t-shirt.  I was in Salvation Army and it was the first thing that caught my eye.  I didn’t have any cash, and the woman in front of me in line offered to buy it for me.  REALLY?!  So now, it is my lucky dragon building t-shirt….)