Wednesday, August 24, 2016

So, for anybody who may be interested, this is a build update.  I'm finally ready to start cutting 4 x 4s for my platform to sit on. I've got to figure out how to insulate the flooring before I start building the platform.  I guess I'll be making a stop at Youtube University tonight.

I put up some fencing, holding the fencing to T-posts with zip ties. The dogs have broken all the zip ties. I have two big dogs and since my mother and father have been living in the "big" house with their little dog, my boys have been banished. Anyway, I only intended the zip ties to be temporary, but I did expect that they would last a little bit longer. I bought some materials last night to fix the fence. I also need to mow today as it is supposed to rain tomorrow.

I would like to post some update photos but my camera is not working any longer. I'll post some photos as soon as I get another.

I have to find a regular job for a while to pay some bills, so I need to get work on the tiny done as quickly as possible. I won't have much time to work on the house.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

In the last job I worked-- a home improvement store-- one of the assistant store managers was a lady probably in her late 40's or early 50's. I recall her talking about her house. She mentioned getting new carpeting for this house.

No big deal.

 At another time she mentioned that it has three bedrooms that she doesn't even go into.


The revelations about the bedrooms came as part of a discussion of what it costs to heat and cool a home. And they bought this house not long ago.

On top of this, she mentioned that she would probably have to keep working until she is 80 to pay for this house. She was joking-- but not really.

So, while I don't want to stand in judgement of what anyone decides for themselves, I am curious why a person would make a decision that appears to have so little benefit. What exactly do you get from a big box that requires a regular mortgage payment, utilities for space you don't use-- not to mention the space that you don't use-- insurance and tax on such a princely estate, and let's not forget repairs and maintenance? The house alone sounds like a full time job.

Altogether, it's not just a question of what does it cost to run such a household? And not just in terms of money. How much time are you spending to earn the money to pay for a house that you barely use? And what else could you be doing with your time if you were not spending so much of it at work? People often say they enjoy their jobs, but do you really enjoy it that much?

Look, obviously I'm not the first person to ask these questions. I'm just one of the most recent. I would like to direct you to the book Your Money or Your Life.

Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin asked the same questions and offered a few ideas about figuring it out.

And just what would you do with your time if you didn't spend so much time at work?  You'd probably live your life. I work some, I have to. But I work so much less now. All the same, I'm busy from early in the morning until I finally crash at night. It's just that now, I'm doing things that are important to me-- things that make sense to me.  I'm working on my tiny. I look after my sister's kids. Once school is in session again and the tiny is built and I have more time, I have no doubt I will find more than enough ways to fill it, because much like my life when I was still working for "the man" I have this running list in my head of things I want to do when I have the time.  If all you do is sit around and watch TV when you don't have some regulated activity in front of you-- like going to work-- then you are in sad shape indeed.  I'm not saying that I don't watch TV. I may watch an hour long program to unwind before bed, but I don't spend the entire evening there, let alone the day time.

I recall working at a jewelry counter in the mall. I worked with a teacher for whom it was a little part-time after school job.  She was a single lady who didn't need the income. She just did it, she said, because she needed something to do after school.


I can think of hundreds of ways to spend my time if nobody is deciding that for me. If you can't then let me recommend Ernie J. Zelinski's excellent book The Joy of Not Working.

Alright, so that's my diatribe for today.  Stop working so hard for stuff you neither need nor use.  It's stupid. Decide what you really need and work for that, then you will have all you want to be really happy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Just wanted to send some inspiration to anybody out there thinking about this sort of insanity in the form of a book recommendation.

Working on my foundation thinking about a few things.

And for anybody interested in the process:
I am setting my tiny on foundation blocks. I think the longest and most difficult-- hopefully the most time consuming-- part of this process is getting the foundation right. Everything has to be even and square. I think I have the blocks in the right places. Now, I just have to make sure each individual block is level. Once that is done, I can begin calculations for just how tall each 4 x 4 should be when it sits in its foundation block so that the platform can be level. If the foundation block that the 4 x 4 sits in is not level, then the 4 x 4 will be tilted. It is amazing how one little thing can throw everything else out of whack.

Anyway, I'm also building a fence around the site so that I will have some place where my dogs can hang.  I would love to have the money to buy top quality materials and encompass a large area. Unfortunately, I have no money. Fortunately, I have lots of used fencing materials from previous projects like chicken and garden fences.  I have just enough of those materials to build a decent fence for the dogs-- at least until I can afford something better.  But, knowing how way leads upon way . . .

So, for the inspiration part . . .

In spring of 2015 when I began thinking that I might do this, I went to the library-- the poor man's book store-- and looked up tiny houses.  I found one of Jay Shafer's books. But I also found a book by Dee Williams which made me incredibly happy because it was like a bonuses that you don't expect. A happy little surprise.  If Jay Shafer is the Father of the modern tiny house movement, Dee is the God Mother-- or Fairy God Mother. Before I got her book home, I just knew building my own tiny was something I had to do. Despite the fact that I knew it then, I still hemmed and hawed a bit because it is an insane idea and how am I supposed to accomplish it anyway?  In the end though, I just didn't see another option. Right or wrong, I just had to do it.

So, here I am, trying to set my foundation. I'm figuring out the project a piece at a time. I would have liked to have the whole thing completely planned before starting, but that is not how this one has gone.  Studying up a little at a time seems to be working though. Hopefully, I'll get this thing done before next spring.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Over the last week my parents have been moving into my "big" house. I should say my mother has been moving into my house as my dad is out of town on business. My "big house" is smaller than the one they are leaving. Obviously, there is going to be some conflict with space.

My mother is a bit of a pack rat. I don't think we have gotten to hoarder proportions but there is a lot of redundancy and just unnecessary stuff. How many salt shakers do you need? How many insulated cups? She purchases solid plastic re-usable straws as opposed to the disposable variety (yea!) but she has approximately 1000 of them. She also needs to have a separate desk for every imaginable purpose. She has a fine, large desk with a hutch attached to it. She can keep books and knick knacks in the hutch, but I'm not really sure what the desk is for as she insists on a different desk for the computer and printer. If she wants to read a book or write in her journal she usually engages in those activities while sitting on her bed. And, really, the desk was pretty big in her last house. She has found a space for it in her/my house, but it is simply too big. She has cookware she swears she uses all the time, but can not possibly use that often as she prefers mostly finger foods and things that require little if any effort.

I don't want to slag my mother, though. Its a problem in the United States. We consume almost a quarter of the energy used on the planet every day but have only about 5% of the world's population. And that doesn't even begin to talk about other natural resources like water, wood, land, etc.

I worked-- not too long ago-- in a warehouse where I packaged merchandise for shipment. It was a company that dealt with merchandise for fans of major league sports. Anything and everything you could think of to stick some sort of team logo on, we had. I packed bobble heads of major league players, dishes, t-shirts, stuffed animals, elves-on-the-shelf made to look like your favorite player, hats, pens, lanyards, cups, shoes, baby clothes (because it's never to early to brand your baby)-- and I swear to you this is true-- screw caps. "What is a screw cap?" you may ask. A screw cap is just what it sounds like. It is a small cap to go on the end of a screw-- usually used for the screws that hold in your license plate-- that had a team logo on them. This item is so small that, not only is the car behind you not going to be able to see the logo, they are not going to be able to see the cap at all. Nor are they likely to care. But our need for self expression is so great-- at a time, I might add, when peak oil is a thing and global warming is no longer up for debate-- that we must use the world's precious and dwindling resources to let everyone know just how important the Packers are to us.  Or the Steelers, or the . . . well you get the idea.

Over the past year, even before I had decided for sure that I was going to build the tiny, I began getting rid of stuff. I got rid of my washer and dryer because both were broken and I wasn't sure when I would have the money to get them fixed. It was incredibly liberating. I just felt relief.  I would like to say I went on a binge of getting rid of stuff, but it all sort of trickled away over the next several months. My car. . . . let me tell you about my car. . .

I hadn't had a ticket in years. I had never been in an accident in which I was at fault. During the month of January I got three tickets. The last one came from a small fender bender that knocked something loose in the car sufficiently that it wouldn't start. Again, I didn't know when I would have the money to fix it and I really didn't care. Clearly, this was a sign from God.  I put it up on Craigslist and let it go for a song and a few sweet nothings. I've been without a car before. It was a relief to be without it again. At this moment I am still without one and have no immediate plans to get one. I live in an area that makes it possible to carry on the functions of life with out one.

Anyway, I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, but have a lot more to go. Mostly books. They are the hardest to part with. I know that with the advent of electronic devices, one can hold an entire library in the palm of a hand, but I keep thinking of the Zombie Apocolypse that on some level of consciousness we all know is coming and I think of not only what books would I want, but what books would I want to impart to future generations about the way we were.

So, there it is. My parent's are living in my house now. I am trying to get out and get the tiny to a place where I can move into it. And I still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Today I realized that I have become one of those people. You know, one of those people who is so kooky and fringy that no one really takes them seriously. 

Yeah, I've become one of those people.

A couple of nice young women from my church, looking for a service project, asked if they could help me with some yard work. I was happy to have the help. During a break, when I had brought them some lemonade, I showed them the foundation of the tiny house I was building. I was surprised that they had never heard of tiny houses or the tiny house movement. As I tried to explain the plan to them, they were positive in that way that people are when they are trying to be polite, and don't want to openly tell you that you are a loon.

This is a possible scenario I struggled to avoid for some time.

For a long time, I went over my options again and again. I wanted to leave my house. To be done with it. I felt that my whole life revolved around paying for and taking care of my house and I could not effectively do both. Earning money took far too much time to have any sort of a life. Any spare time was often spent just trying to catch up on chores and housework. There was never any time for anything. I was exhausted and in despair of my situation and my unkempt home.

Before I bought my house, I had seriously considered building a tiny house, but felt at the time that I did not have either the resources or the support system to make it happen. After I bought my house, I believed that once the dust settled from the purchase and the move, that I would be able to begin saving money again-- I had been very good at it up to that point. But the reality was that over the course of the next 7 years, not only was I not able to really begin saving money again, but every year I found myself farther and farther in the hole. My savings dwindled and dried. And every time I did begin to put money away again, something would happen to eat those few savings. 

 Over the last year, I came to a breaking point. I worked at sketchier jobs than I have ever worked in my life and I labored most especially under the weight of depression. I went round and round about the notion of the tiny house that I might build. The idea of a space that was debt-free, bill-free and in need of very little care and maintenance was a beautiful one; but at the same time, there were doubts. The house I had was a good one. I was fortunate to have found something in so ideal a location with so many benefits. People would think I was deranged if I gave it all up to live in-- essentially-- a garden shed. And where would I place it? Where would I find a piece of land as ideally situated? It especially seemed like a crazy idea when I went to visit a home that was tidy and well kept with conservative home owners. Such an idea as mine would not only look like insanity to people like this, but I feared that making the attempt would put me so far outside the realm of normal humans that nobody would ever take me seriously ever again.

I considered the possibility of renting out the house and putting the tiny in the back yard, but it seemed like too complicated an endeavor to undertake at a time when I was looking to simplify. What if the renters destroyed the house that I was still legally and financially responsible for? What if they stopped paying rent? The procedures for either scenario was too complicated to think about. I just needed to sell the house if I was going to get out from under the darkness I was in. I considered the possibility of staying in the house and trying to make the situation better, but I'd been there eight years already and things only got leaner with every passing year. No, selling it was all that was left.

It was one night, working at a home improvement store, that I realized the solution I kept coming back to was to get out. And the only way I could see to do that was to sell. So, I decided, however crazy it may end up being, however crazy it may look to anyone else, I just had to sell.

My dad came to pick me up from work that night. I told him my plan to sell my house, use the proceeds to buy a small piece of land out right and build a tiny house. Then I asked if he would help me get my house ready to sell. He said, “Okay,” like it wasn't the craziest thing he'd ever heard. On the contrary, he acknowledged that he could see that the house was killing me. That was a surprise to me since I didn't think that my parents were aware of much. But that was also the night the depression lifted and I got excited about my life again. Suddenly, I was excited about what the future might hold. I could see possibility again.

Since then the plan has changed slightly. My parents will be my tenants. I feel better having them as tenants because, I can still keep tabs on the house and help out when I see a problem. I will build my tiny in the back yard and we will split expenses. They can afford to retire. So can I. I can also stay in a neighborhood that I like.

I knew that being the crazy person and the odd-woman-out were probabilities, but my life has only gotten better since I made the decision. Everything just seems to be falling into place to make this happen. So, crazy or not, I simply can't afford to care anymore. My life is SOOO much better and I am SOOOO much happier.

I wish all y'all normal people out there the same relief.