Random thoughts and updates

I’ve almost finished enough to move in and get my occupancy permit. I still need to insulate the floor by winter (skirting, somehow), and winter is predicted to be long and hard. I’m a bit nervous about the winter, even though the space is small and should be cozy.

I got my second utility bill-$42 for 32 days of electricity. Approximately 300 kW for the month. I could really go with solar if it weren’t for the fact that I want electricity mostly when the sun is down and am not eager to learn about batteries right at the moment.

I’ve checked into the cost of a foundation for a permanent structure. Less than $3000 for a slab with a 12″ wide footer under it. Since a square cut log cabin would be approximately $15,000, I could build for an outrageously small sum. Log cabins take a lot of maintenance, and I’m not sure that’s the direction I want to go, but it is a possibility. Actually I secretly would prefer a composite log-look. I know it isn’t as earth friendly on the outtake, but over time I think it would be much more earth friendly than years of stain and power washing.

It’s 10 miles to work. Someone recommended a piece of land that’s less than half the size of the one I own for almost twice what I paid per acre today. I’m still being told that I wouldn’t get that price, but the two pieces are very comparable, only mine’s closer to a road that would be cleared in winter and nearer to a town and fire station. It would seem I didn’t do badly on my purchase, considering that and what I’ve seen other land go for in this area.

The house is too white inside now. I’ll be glad when I get some quilts on the walls (both decoration and added insulation, book cases up (which also add insulation), rugs on the floor (which again add insulation) and decorations on the walls. I’m hoping to have some time to unpack some things tonight. And put up some of the trim, since there isn’t much to put up at this point. Maybe I can get the occupancy permit this week. Hopefully soon, at least. It makes me nervous, having someone inspect my little cabin. People in the area think it’s nice, at least until they learn I live there. But to camp in, to have as a weekend place, they think that would be great. But will the fire marshal think the same? Apparently they won’t nix it based on size, though, and I’ve met all their requirements, or will have soon, at least.

 

Once I get unpacked I’ll post some pictures. Right now it’s not very attractive, with tools scattered around on the floor. It’s time for a thorough cleaning and some decorating. Then I’ll see what I have. Wish me luck!

Frustrations

Just to update, one of the hardest things for me right now is that I don’t have any family or friends supporting me in the idea of living small. My dad is adamantly opposed, as well, and has been very clear on all the difficulties I will face living small and all the money I will, in his opinion, lose because I can’t sell it for much. Of course, he can’t sell his for what he thinks it’s worth either, and he’s stuck in something he can’t afford or maintain as a result. Still, it’s been wearing, hearing his discouragement, not having others who encourage me or work with me on it, and facing two months living here now when I haven’t even unpacked because I’m still working on getting the occupancy permit that will allow me to be legal. And now I’m concerned about this winter. It’s predicted to be a long, cold, wet winter. By the end of that season I will either have grown to love or hate living small, I suspect.

None of this is the fault of the little house. I’m happy in the little house. I do wish it were closer to town, but I like living in the country. Yet I feel I’m in a state of flux because I haven’t unpacked, am uncertain if I should sign up for internet, and am still remodeling-er, actually not “re”, since it was never a house before.

I get mixed messages from others about the small house. Eventually, I would prefer to build. Whether it will be on that land or not, I don’t know. Ten miles isn’t far to drive, but it does add up, and I would much prefer walking. However, the town I work in has high minimum square footage requirements, and the county has none. I could live in a cardboard box as long as it had a 911 address, smoke detector, and GFCIs near water sources, I guess. Hmmm… that might be an interesting experiment, if the inspection didn’t cost $75!

And so I’m nervous about the winter, a bit stressed by my Dad’s insistence on big, and yet I do enjoy my land. I enjoy hearing frogs at night and looking up to see stars instead of street lights. It’s nice to see the bats at night, to have cooler evenings in summer (cities are hotter), to be able to sit on the front porch, to have a big garden. There’s just a lot to do right now to prepare for winter and to be ‘legal’ with the occupancy permit, and it isn’t getting finished nearly as quickly as I’d hoped.

The appeal of tiny

I’ve quickly come to the conclusion since moving to my small house that one of the things that drew me to the small house movement is something I won’t attain: great decorating skills.

Face it. Those pictures of quaint cabins in the woods in all their natural beauty, the interior photos of open loft spaces, beautiful woodwork and wonderful paint selections are attractive. But not everyone has the skills necessary to achieve or maintain those ideals.

My tiny house doesn’t and will never look like one of those beautiful places. There are benefits to me of living smaller, but the aesthetics I love aren’t attainable in any space. I just don’t have that vision, talent or skill.

One of the reasons I needed to downsize and live smaller is that I can walk into a room and step right over a pile of laundry without noticing it, paying attention instead to the interesting light fixture or the family pet on the other side of the room. Putting that ability to work in 300 square feet intensifies it. Half my house is filled with OSB board and studs right now. I have to really concentrate to recognize that. Detail isn’t my strength.

Tiny house photographers are good at focusing on the strengths of a small house design and enhancing those strengths. But my ability to focus is completely different. They notice before taking the picture what they need to omit. I notice after the picture is taken. Sometimes long after.

I don’t really want to give up the aesthetic qualities. Sooner or later (probably sooner) I will move to town and buy a “small” house that’s around twice the size of the one I now live in. But being able to walk to work or the store, being around other people, having access to internet and cell service regularly, saving on gas and time all appeal to me too much for me to stay in the country.

Will I have a garden on the two acres instead? Almost definitely. And I would be more than happy to rent the small house to those curious about downsizing or smaller living.

I doubt I’ll ever see things the same as I did before downsizing and living smaller. Small has had a huge influence on me. I am not interested in buying what I don’t need. I love simplicity and minimalistic living. I don’t need or want a lot of space. But I’d rather do that in community, and for me that means city living in a larger space. Just with a smaller house mindset.

Reasons for Tiny House Communities

Since moving to the cabin, I’ve learned more about why I’d prefer a tiny house community. A community would potentially offer encouragement, information, and expertise.

There are certain parts of tiny house building that I am not good at. I dropped a 2×10 on my foot this past week trying to unload by myself. Plumbing is definitely not my forte, and by the looks of the pipe I nailed into, neither are certain types of carpentry. I can now admit that as much as I value independence, I also sometimes need others who share an interest who I can assist and who can assist me on jobs that take more than one person.

Living small is, for me, best done in community. As is any part of living, really. Especially if that community values independence, as well.

I got a job!

I’m moving back to MO, and it’s all because of my cabin. I had been camping there, and after I left the cabin I ran into someone who turned out to be HR. I had a job offer two weeks later.

And so now is the rush… to get the septic installed, to run plumbing, to get some electricity in and some cabinets and a toilet and… it’s going to be a busy few weeks. But hopefully the weeks will yield some great results, and some good pictures!

Trash

While visiting with my sister I mentioned my costs would be cut by living at the cabin because I wouldn’t have trash fees. She questioned, in a rather surprised way, how I planned to live without trash service. I explained that they charge $2/bag if I drive it to the dump myself, and that at one Walmart bag of trash (or less since I will be able to compost there) it hardly seemed wise to spend $30-40 on trash service. She told me her family fills a trash can and a neighbor lets them put their OVERFLOW trash in her receptacle. And went on to say she didn’t know what they would do when trash service went from twice to once a week.

If I understood her, she trows away more than two 30 gallon trash cans full of trash a week. I’m stunned.

I look at the 30 gallon can in my driveway and wonder how on earth anyone could fill one. Mine usually contains one Walmart sized bag of trash. And I cringe to be throwing even that much away. I thought that was too much for me. Most of it could be recycled with a little more effort or composted in another setting.

What types of things fill a 30 gallon trash can? My sister recycles, but doesn’t compost. Surely not that many food scraps? She doesn’t even use paper towels. I don’t understand. I mentioned that to my dad tonight, and he said he and Mom throw away about a 30 gallon trash can of trash a week between just the two of them. They don’t recycle. Still, I don’t get it. What does the average American throw away on a weekly basis?

Moving

I’ve moved a few car loads of stuff to the cabin now, and am excited. Not only by the move, but by the LACK of moving. I truly won’t need to move more than another 3-5 carloads, if that. Depending on exactly what I decide to keep, of course. A rocking chair, a book case, a table (maybe), a quilt rack (that’s very debatable), a Christmas tree (probably not), and the free closet organizer since it can be taken apart…

Three weeks ago I met someone who encouraged me to apply for a job. I did, and have already had a prescreening and an interview. There are other positions coming up as well. I’ll know in two weeks. And I’m excited-the staff seem friendly and professional, they work as a team, the office was clean and neat, and there would be someone available to train me. They reminded me in the interview that it was “entry level” and that I’m overqualified. I told them that frankly, I didn’t care. I’m not looking for status, just stability. And a way to move to my two acres and still have time for cats and maybe some chickens. The job would suit me very well, and if what I saw in my interview is any indication, I’d enjoy not only the cabin but the workplace as well. Now if I can just get utilities run and still save those tadpoles…

Tadpoles

I wouldn’t have thought the final delay on getting my cabin set on the land would be frogs, but it may be. The old foundation from the house that burned down filled nicely with enough water for some frogs to lay eggs there. Hundreds of tadpoles are now swimming where my house should be.

I talked to the guy who’s going to set the cabin and hook up utilities the other day. I asked him to please be careful of the tadpoles, and remarked that my request might be the oddest he’d receive this week. He said kind of aside “Ok, save the frogs. That might be the oddest question I’ve gotten in 55 years.” But he chuckled about it.

It might be an odd request. But frogs are some of the best and definitely the most natural ‘insecticide’ around.  So yes, please. Save the frogs.

Free stuff!

Went to yard sales this morning and as I was heading home saw a huge pile by the street-Got a closet organizer thing and cushions from a couch free-the only two things I really hoped to find at yard sales. 🙂 I’ll re-cover the cushions with denim and put them over a bench thing for a couch in the cabin. No moving a couch this time! And the closet organizer will go beside my bed and become the closet and outer wall of the bathroom (excluding studs and a bit of sound proofing). I won’t really have a bedroom but will be adding a little space somewhere for hanging clothes, but the organizer will help a lot both with space and the look of everything in the cabin. I like free a lot!

First weekend at the cabin

I spent Memorial Day weekend at the cabin. There’s no plumbing or electricity yet, but with a couple gallons of water and family not far away, I could camp fairly enjoyably… at least until the coolest part of the night. I had taken my Panamanian hammock-very comfortable to sleep in in Central America, but maybe not so much when it’s 50 degrees. The air got cooler and cooler and so did I. I woke up shaking I was so cold. But sleeping in the hammock helped me decide definitely to install hammock hooks. I shouldn’t need AC at night in the cabin even in the hottest part of summer if I have a fan and a hammock.

The grass was waist high on my two acres, but I found room to tuck 80 onions, some flower seeds, cherry seeds (not sure they’ll grow), paper whites, tulips, strawberries, blue berries and a raspberry in. I found out the roses on the land are wild roses, there are iris scattered here and there, gobs of honeysuckle, maybe a spirea, a bayberry, possibly gooseberries, and a mulberry tree, which was a very wonderful discovery. Mulberries were one of the things I’ve missed most about the big house I sold. Mom gave me some spurge and mint, too.

And there are tadpoles in the old foundation! I hope I can find a way to keep some frogs on the property. I don’t know of anything not beneficial about frogs-they’ll eat the mosquitoes and other bugs, don’t carry diseases that I’m aware of, and sound nice at night. What’s not to like about a frog?

The ground is wet, but it isn’t as wet as many places in the area right now, so apparently it drains well enough.

I taped out the floor plan in masking tape and rearranged it a bit in the process. Taping it out was very helpful because I could walk around and feel how it would be to live there. It feels  very comfortable, very cozy.

Next trip, I hope to be able to install interior plumbing and hook it up! Then it will truly feel like home.