Category Archives: more stories and reflections

November Update: Home Is Where the House Is

Where to even begin!

Our house is dry-in  (as far as we can tell)!  That means waterproof, that means the outside is pretty much done!

And the house moved to Oregon.  Wait…what?  You’re in Oregon now?  Yes, we’re in Oregon.  Our lease was up on the sheep ranch we were still building, so it was time to mosey on.   Good thing we’re building a house on wheels.  Now we’re living in a small community in southwestern Oregon near Ashland.  Trillium Farm is a stunningly beautiful place, and we are feeling very fortunate to living here alongside inspiring people, deep in the wilderness.

Here are some pictures of our little house, as we put the roof up and siding on.

 

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And here it she sits, at Trillium, in Oregon.

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If you blow up the picture below you can see small houses dotting the hillside, and if you look reeally close, you can spot Hoss, our big yellow truck.  If you don’t want to squint, just rest your eyes and know that we live just above that green valley down the middle.
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A baby bear print.

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Joseph is in New York now, planning another fun year of Christmas-tree-forest wonder on the  Lower East Side at St. Marks Church in the Bowery. #TreeRidersNYC 

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Here is a picture of the tiny house he builds every year on the sidewalk of Manhattan… more pics and upgrades to come!

Year one, very little building skills required mostly nailed together then scrapped 😦

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Year two, a little more skillful from year one.  We kept some of the pieces for re-use:

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Year Three: after working on tiny house.  This one was built in panels that bolt onto a base then bolt together… much like our house!  And the only thing I will be replacing is the floor (which got kind of snow/water-logged last year).

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Sarah has started a new job with SumOfUs.  SumOfUs is a worldwide movement for a better global economy, which fights for people over profits, and to limit corporate power.  Sarah serves as the Executive Program Coordinator where she… coordinates programs for the Executives 🙂  She works closely with the Executive Director and Chief of Staff, and also the Board and major donors.   The SumOfUs staff all works remotely so Sarah can carry out her duties while nestled in the mountains of Oregon… or cozied up in a Tree Shack in the East Village, NYC… or even while sipping coffee on a visit to sunny Petaluma!

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Here is a photo from a recent SumOfUs action in Australia, from a campaign to stop Doritos from using palm oil sourced from rainforest deforestation.  More on the Doritos campaign here.  And all of SumOfUs’ campaigns here.

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So, there the house rests in Oregon, and here we are, New York at the moment, and Oregon again soon.  Change swirling around us as we relax into movement as a way of being.  What the new year will bring?  Who knows.  All we know is that this linear time will keep coming and we’ll keep flexing and learning, board by board.

Next up:  Helpful practices we use to keep our heads straight while building.

 

Here’s Annie-Lamb-Boleyn just for good measure:wpid-20141015_161304.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Get What You Pay For

While I haven’t written here for a while, I feel an update is definitely due.  This is not that update. :-/

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I’m writing to extol the virtues of the Local Hardware Store which will heretofore be referred to by the acronym LHS.

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Big Box Stores (BBS) like Lowes, Home Depot, Friedmans, Amazon…They have everything a consumer could possibly need! It’s cheaper than going to that little store on the corner, right?  Plus, they present options beyond your wildest dreams, right? How could an LHS compete with the shear magnitude and inventory at one of these places? However, I’ve proven again and again that, in the long run, getting something at your LHS is a lot less expensive than the cheaper big-box store.
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To wit.
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We’ve been dealing with a tricky septic situation here on the ranch for the past month or so, and it finally looks like it might be resolved in the near future. I needed some pretty specialized items and went to Maselli’s, our beloved LHS.  Upon walking in, one of the owners (actually, I’m not sure if he is an owner, but he certainly takes ownership and knows everything) asked if I needed help.  It felt a little like if a major league ball player asked if I needed help with my curve ball.
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YES! I DO! I told him exactly what I needed, and he showed me to the PVC fittings.  I picked out what I thought I needed, asked a few more questions about possible hacks for a flotation ball that popped off the septic pump (I’m currently using a tennis ball…which everyone approved of) and went to check out.  The guy at check out noticed that I had grabbed two different pipe fittings, though they were both three inches in diameter.  He explained that one is for drains, and the other for pressurized systems, and pointed out that the drainage one was noticeably smaller.  Then I held up my pipe, and he asked if I had all purpose glue.  “Regular PVC glue won’t work?”  No, apparently my pipe isn’t the regular type of PVC, so I ran back and got the “290” glue like he said and came back to finish checking out.  He further mentioned that my pipe plug was 6”, just in case, and I told him it was for a different project completely.  He nodded and wished me a good luck.
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This visit to Maselli’sMead Clarke, or my childhood LHS, Smith and Strebels, would have been the same.  The professionals throughout the store offered their specialized help, and the checkout people knew what they were looking at and helped troubleshoot my problem before I had one!
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Based on previous experiences in the BBS’s, I can imagine I would have wandered around without any help, left with different size fittings (even though they’re both three inches), inappropriate glue, and the wrong size pipe-plug.  I’d get home, try all my fittings, glue the ones that did work with the wrong glue, spend time figuring out where I went wrong,  ask Google perhaps, call dad, go back to the store and, after about eight hours, maybe get it right the second time.  Instead, I solved it all the same day with the friendly, non-judgmental help from some real pro’s who love helping other people DIY.
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So yes, BBS’s are cheaper if you don’t count time and frustration.  The prices are lower and so is the quality.  We’ve decided, unequivocally that buying something at an LHS for a little more money, makes up for the time, gas, and soul-drainage spent frequenting BBS’s.
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For the sake of length I’ve refrained from enumerating my BBS follies, and LHS triumphs, but would love to hear about yours! Go LHS!

 

I used to be a pretty good caterpillar

by Sarah

I listened to this episode of Radiolab where they explored what actually goes on in a cocoon.  A caterpillar enters; a butterfly or moth emerges.  And in the meantime, the in between time, the being is neither a caterpillar nor a butterfly but a sort of goo.  Certain things last through the period of change–caterpillars that were taught to react to a loud noise grow into butterflies that also react. Certain baby-butterfly structures, like little wing-lets, grow in the caterpillar, and those don’t dissolve when the rest of the animal does.  But most things fall away, fall apart.  And the next things, the butterfly things, don’t grow in for awhile.

Sometimes I feel that I am this goo–neither caterpillar nor butterfly–but a shapeless being, an unsure being, not knowing of what form I’ll take next or how I’ll get there.  Our tiny house feels gooey to me sometimes.  So does my work. And where we’ll live.

I look back on times in my life when I think I had it more together, and I want that again.  I want to know who I am and what I do.  The thing about being a pretty good caterpillar, though, or even a very good one, is that you have to change.  And change is messy.

So what to do, when you’re goo?  Here are three things.

1.  Stay the Course
We said we were going to build this tiny house and we are going to build this tiny house!  Committed.  To the house.  And to doing the house now, and not doing the next thing until next time.

2.  Try some continuity from day to day, from week to week
For me, not having a schedule feels like freedom–oh!  I can do whatever I want! I’m free!  But I know that’s not so.  I know I end up mulling over what to do next, agonizing over if I’ve chosen the right thing.  I know that a schedule offers some bones, some structure.

3.  Be soft
I am soft, goo is soft, this is all very soft.  As often as I remember to, I remember to be soft, to be patient, to be accepting.  This is how I am right now.  This is how my life is right now.  I’m not that sturdy, robust, energetic little caterpillar that I was.  I don’t know what I’ll be next, or when.  But in the meantime, the in between time–which might be all time!–what about practicing softness, kindness, and not forcing?  It’s hard to be soft.  But I think it’s the thing to try towards.

Is anyone else goo-full (goo-ti-ful perhaps?) these days? Are you doing anything (or not doing anything?) that helps you withstand the transformation?