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A Whirlwind Week

Phew! This week has felt like a whirlwind of a week.

Last Sunday my parents and I oiled all my floor boards with an all natural tung oil/linseed oil finish called Land Ark:

It was such a pleasure to have them come visit and leave their mark on my tiny house. These floor boards will be the first thing I have done thus far that will be visible in the finished home! This, and a suggestion from my grandma got me thinking that I want a mural that somehow shows all the hands that went into making this tiny house possible. I am thinking a wood burned tree in one of my gable ends with each person who contributed time or money having their name on a leaf…

On Tuesday John and I started nailing the first of these floor boards down!  This was cause for some celebration:

And some careful cutting:

Notice that I chose to lay them on a diagonal. Who says everything has to be square? (There are also some practical reason as to why I chose to do this that I will talk about in my tiny house workshop)

The weather turned a bit temperamental after Tuesday and so we weren’t able to finish laying the floor. But we did figure out a clever way to get a roof over our heads and protect my trailer from the weather while we work:

This afternoon we got my tarp all rigged up over this hoop house structure, just in time for my leaving tomorrow for a week long cabinet making course at Heartwood. I forgot to take a picture of the end result with the tarp, but it is pretty snazzy if you ask me!

As I move ahead with this dream it’s been fun to see many inspirational tiny house projects come out of the woodwork around me. One is a project call Second Wind that is building tiny homes for men, many of whom were homeless or in recovery and trying to get their lives back on track. This guy’s vision has some interesting similarities to the ecovillage I am currently living in: A cluster of these tiny homes with a central larger house that serves as a community center/common house. I have envisioned something very similar but, perhaps fittingly, have thought more about targeting a female population of women from battered homes or who are looking for a way out of prostitution or homelessness. And for me I see much of the healing coming not only from giving these women a home but from also empowering them to take part in the building of their own home and making it a home that reflects their personal identity and style.

Well, that is the update for this week! Stay tuned for more.

And if you haven’t yet checked it out please take a look at my indiegogo campaign page and consider donating and sharing it in your networks: igg.me/at/tinygogo

Thanks!

Hello family, friends, supporters, and followers. I have decided to run an indiegogo campaign for myself to help insure that I can put all the love and energy that I want to into this tiny home project. This is an edge for me. Heck, going for this dream is a huge edge for me! But with the continued encouragement of of all of you I know I can see this project through.

My dear friend Tara sent me this poem yesterday and it feels like a fitting one to share at the point:

knowing your power
is what creates
humility.
not knowing your power
is what creates
insecurity.
— ego, nayyirah waheed

I am SO humbled already by this project and all the lessons it is teaching me. As much as this project feels like me stepping into my power, literally and metaphorically building myself a solid foundation, it has also already humbled me time and again, showing me how much I need the support of each and every one of you. Truly, every little word of encouragement and shared enthusiasm helps to keep my own sails full, especially on those cold wet mornings, like yesterday, when I went out to my site to find my tarp had blown off and water had pooled in my now water sealed floor frame!

At my floor flipping party I looked around and was filled with gratitude, seeing how each person there had helped to make this first big moment possible: John, with his constant support, giving me building advice, acting as a sounding board, scooping me up in mornings for work and fun adventures, and allowing me to build on his land; Amy, for being a team mate in this whole project and sharing my commitment to this project and giving me moral support; David for lending me his car and his electric bike countless times and for showing up when I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough people, and for listening to my ideas and problem solving; Kim for his clever problem solving abilities and interest and support; Jim for so generously offering to film this whole journey; and Sarah for coming out and bringing her kids and showing me that I can inspire other’s through my actions!

Now I am asking for some monetary support to insure that I can make this home as beautiful as possible and stick to all my principles of using environmentally friendly materials. This home is just the seed of something much larger: It is part of a larger movement to live more simply and in harmony with the earth. And for me it is integrating all that I have learned and discovering my own artistic style and process as a builder so that I can then offer my skills to others and help them create their dream homes. Will you support me it realizing this dream to it’s fullest potential?

This is my indiegogo video

 And the link to go to the campaign and donate is http://igg.me/at/tinygogo

Last Thursday, October 2nd, I had my first work party. I called it the Floor Flipping Party because I literally needed a bunch of hands on deck to flip my floor! Why did my floor need to be flipped? Well I had it upside down in order to put put some insulation and flashing on the bottom side to critter proof my floor. And now I needed to turn it right side up again! And then I could bolt it to my trailer, another big moment.

The party was quite a success, complete with local cider from Little Tree Orchards, local apples from Amy’s orchard, and local honey from my friend Michael’s hives, which I helped extract last weekend! Some people said they had never dipped apples in honey before, but for me it was a natural combination given that this is one way the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah is often celebrated, which just passed on sept. 24th, and that Yom kippur, the day of atonement, was October 3rd.

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Floor upside, but ready to be flipped. Apples and honey out and ready to be eaten, waiting for the people to arrive!

And people did arrive! Thank you John, Amy, Sarah, Kim, David, and Jim for coming out and making it a party!

And people did arrive! Thank you John, Amy, Sarah, Kim, David, and Jim for coming out and making it a party!

There were a few moments of excitement but overall things went really smoothly.

There were a few moments of excitement but overall things went really smoothly.

And then I gave everyone a bolt and we got it all secured into place!

And then I gave everyone a bolt and we got it all secured into place!

Thank you everyone, especially the kids who came out to take part in this special moment!

Thank you everyone, especially the kids who came out to take part in this special moment!

For me, this was more then just a floor flipping Party. It was the first major opportunity for me to share some of this journey with others and express my gratitude for all the help and enthusiasm I have already received. It is these moments that I know I will look back on with fondness and gratitude. From here on, I will be building up and that is also a big moment to celebrate!

I began this morning by loading up my friend Dave’s little honda insight with two large tarps, some hand tools, lunch, and a fleece to keep the brisk fall air at bay. Did I mention that, at least for now, I am doing this whole project without owning a car? Well, I am. And for this reason and many more it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that this project is going to be just as much about leaning into and feeling the support of community as it is about building a tiny house.

Although some days have been filled with restless anxious energy as I worry about all the possible things that could go wrong, this morning, pulling into our building site, I felt calm and collected. It felt good to be out there alone, feeling the sun on my face on this perfect early fall day. John is gone for a short vacation and Amy wouldn’t be there until after lunch and she had the generator in her car, so that meant I had the whole morning to set up the site, plan, and bask in the fact that I am actually building my home! As I drove into the site this song was on my lips and felt like the perfect prayer for the day:

” I step into the flow and then I let it go. I open my mind, my heart, and my soul. 

I step into the flow and then I let it go. I open my mind, my heart, and my soul. 

I surrender. I surrender. I surrender. I open my mind, my heart, and my soul. “

- A song I know from Dances of Universal Peace

 Then these two little notes from John greeted me and just made me smile even more (don’t worry it is chalk “graffiti,” so will come off super easily):

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“Home is where the heart is”

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“Home sweet home”

After taking some time to set up the site I pulled out my trusty little notebook, my tape measurer and got to planning exactly how I was going to frame out my floor.

My plans, as they stand for now...

My plans, as they stand for now… Well, actually these are already out of date. I switched my north and south walls. What can I say, plans always change!

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The final plan for framing the floor that we will follow for cutting our pieces today.

Once I had measured and re-measured and was sure about what length things needed to be I decided I was going to start cutting with a hand saw.

After a few house in the sun working with no power tools I had the outside wood all cut to dimension!

After a few hours in the sun working with no power tools (such blissful peace and quiet) I had the outside wood all cut to dimension!

Then Amy arrived with the generator and my friend Dave came to help out and in another hour or so we had all the joists cut and the frame screwed and nailed together.

Goal for the day accomplished!

Goal for the day accomplished!

Time to tarp everything up and call it a day. Not bad for our first day of actual construction :)

Time to tarp everything up and call it a day. Not bad for our first day of actual construction!

And now back to the idea board to figure out next steps and make decisions, such as what kind of flashing to use, how to break the potential heat bridge between metal and wood, and what is enough insulation?

And now back to “The Idea Board” to figure out next steps and make decisions, such as what kind of flashing to use, how to break the potential heat bridge between metal and wood, and what is enough insulation?

As got on the bus to head towards the Denver, CO airport to end an almost two week vacation I got a text from my buddy Amy saying that our trailers were ready! After much anticipatory anxiety where I was convinced the trailers were going to be ready the day after I left town, the timing ended up being perfect. Two weeks away meant I got to take a break from tiny house planning (which was starting to feel a little like tiny house obsessing) and refresh myself before coming home and jumping back in.

So now that the trailers were finally ready we had to secure two trucks to go pick them up in Locke, NY, about a half hour away. Somehow I thought it would be as simple as finding two friends with pick up trucks with 2 5/16″ ball hitches. I didn’t realize that with a trailer this size things get a little more complicated. But only a little, thanks to some great friends who guided us along. So what do you need to tow an 8′ by 24′ trailer?

  1. A seven prong blade style electrical wiring adaptor. This allows the trailer to plug into the truck’s electrical system so that when you brake the trailer’s brakes are also activated. Thankfully these only cost about $10 at our local trux outfitters store.
  2. 2 5/16″ ball hitch. These can also be bought for about $12 at a tractor supply store
  3. Brake box. This little box gets wired into your truck up by the dashboard and turns out to be the most expensive part (a couple hundred dollars).

We almost decided to just pay Locke Enterprises to deliver them, but In the end we managed to borrow one truck that already had all the wiring and the brake box and we took two trips out to Locke Enterprises in one day to get Amy and my trailer.

Our brand new, custom trailers! Each of them cost $3722.75, hopefully the single most expensive item for our tiny houses, but well worth having a solid foundation

Our brand new, custom trailers! From Locke enterprises in Locke, NY. Each of them cost $3722.75, hopefully the single most expensive item for our tiny houses, but well worth having a solid foundation

Steve and our little friend make sure everything is hooked up correctly and securely.

Steve and our little friend make sure everything is hooked up correctly and securely.

As steve, the owner of Locke Enterprises, gave us the “tour” of our new trailers we learned a few more handy things. The little box in the picture above contains a back up battery that will kick in and engage the brakes if somehow the trailer were to become unhooked from the truck. Before driving its good to check that the battery is charged, which can be done with a “test light,” which can also be bought pretty cheaply from a tractor supply store. He also explained to us how to put a few squirts of grease in the axle by just taking off the cap at the center of the wheel and that this should probably be done each time we move our tiny houses since they will likely have been sitting for quite a while.

Ready to rock and roll!

Ready to rock and roll!

backing up a trailer this size is no easy task. A handy trick we learned is hold you hand at the bottom of your steering wheel because then which ever direction your hand goes will be the direction the trailer will go.

backing up a trailer this size is no easy task. A handy trick we learned is hold you hand at the bottom of your steering wheel because then which ever direction your hand goes will be the direction the trailer will go.

And we did it! Both trailers in place on our building site :)

And we did it! Both trailers safely in place on our building site!

Itching to build!

Itching to build!

Despite my fears that something would go wrong, in the end all went amazingly smoothly. I have to thank my friend Hank for doing a lot f the research on what our trucks would need to be able to haul these things, and Amy’s friend Steve, for being so generous with his truck, which happened to have all the right wiring, and Locke Enterprises for all their amazing work.

About This Blog

About This Blog

Welcome! And congratulations on finding my blog. Before you enter, please read on to find out a little about what this blog is (and what it is not). This blog is about my journey through this strange and beautiful world, and includes reflections on both my internal and external journey, which I see as inseparable from each other. Depending on how you found this blog you may have been expecting a tiny house blog with how to videos and budget breakdowns, or you may have been expecting reflections on a spiritual journey, or perhaps a travel blog. You will find a little of all these and more here.

For a while I considered trying to have two blogs: one that was perhaps more “practical” and “professional” in nature and the other for “all the rest” of the stuff. But for me it felt that to separate the two would be almost impossible and result in something much more one dimensional and inauthentic to who I am, what I am about, and why I enjoy keeping a blog.

For me this blog is like an evolving and dynamic autobiography of my life. So why do people write autobiographies? And why, for that matter, do people enjoy reading them? There are many answers to these questions, and the second I will leave for you to answer. But here are some of my answers to the first: I write because through the process of writing I often discover new meaning and coherence to my own life and the world. I write because it feels like one humble gift I can offer back to the world. And I write because I hope to inspire and connect to others while receiving affirmation that my own journey is valid and, although unique, also one part in a larger interconnected whole.

And what do I hope to inspire? I hope to inspire people to strive to live in right relationship with themselves, others, and the earth. To live in a way that is well with their mind, heart, body, and soul. And I hope to inspire this by sharing my own journey of striving to do just that in a real and authentic way. To me, this means showing how the journey is not linear and sometimes messy, and also showing how the building of those inner timber frames can be just as valid and important as the building of those outer ones.

If this journey resonates with you then you may find yourself digging back into the archives of this blog, perhaps reading chronologically from the beginning or deciding to follow my blog into the future. If you came to read about tiny houses or other building related things and still wish to primarily read just about that then I suggest you click on “the built environment” category from the menu above, but don’t be surprised if you find other parts of me peppered in there, including the raw, vulnerable, and perhaps provocative. In essence, nothing I do is separate from my spiritually journey and I think that will come through as you read.

Lastly, if you know me in the world beyond the internet you may find that you discover things about me through this blog that you didn’t know before. And perhaps you will feel you have a much more intimate connection with me then I feel I have with you. What this means for how you and I interact is something I am still exploring and discovering, and I imagine is something many must learn to navigate as they choose to step into a more public realm.  Anything I write about here I am consciously making public, and I am choosing to do so in a way that portrays both the shadow and the light of my journey, because to me that kind of skillful and authentic transparency is worth much more as an offering back to the world. Please don’t feel shy to bring up something that you have read here. If you are moved or inspired by something here please tell me, as such feedback nourishes and affirms my journey and my decision to share it. If something you read here creates a desire within you to know more please ask and I will likely be happy to share more, as perhaps one of the most gratifying experiences for me is to feel I have helped someone else along in their journey of self discovery.

And with that, I invite you to enter and hope that you find what you are looking for, even if it is not what you expected…

About Me (and the name Sculpting Earth)

My name is Miwa and this blog is about my journey through this world as someone who loves this world and believes in the power of the individual and community. I am a loyal and devoted friend, and the only child of a Japanese mother and a New York born Jew. I am a daughter and a granddaughter to elders I love and respect with all my heart. I am an outdoor enthusiast who feels a strong responsibility to steward this beautiful earth; This earth that has healed me in times of grief, brought me joy and empowerment  through awe inspiring experiences, and continues to teach and inspire curiosity, wonder, and innocence from within. I am a builder, artist, violinist, poet, and much more. I am a student of the world, a traveler, an inquirer, and a skeptic. I am a seeker, on a heart and soul centric journey. I am a sculptor, always refining my ability to sculpt my inner and outer worlds with grace.

Home

“Keep blossoming.” That is what a friend said to me the other day when we said good bye. With so much gratitude, I can indeed say that this summer has felt like a summer of personal blossoming. After one of the hardest and darkest winters of my life, where I fully surrendered to shadow work, it seems that I am now in a period of relative ease, where things are flowing and falling into place in such a way that I am humbled and can’t help but feel that there are forces bigger than me working in my favor. That is not to say that there aren’t still hard days and moments, and times when I doubt myself and feel scared or alone, but overall when people have asked how I am I can honestly say I am great. Possibly better then I have ever been.

It’s hard for me to capture in words the gratitude, joy and richness of being alive that I have felt this summer but I want to at least share some of the more tangible highlights. First of all, I moved back to Ithaca in April and I truly felt like I had returned to my spiritual and physical home. It felt so good to finally move to a place with the intention of putting down roots. To finally be someplace and not be tied to an academic calendar, a job, a relationship or really any external structure, perceived or real. I moved back purely because I wanted to and with my only intention being to create my life here. And to create it how I wanted, by my own rules, and on my own schedule. And, with the commitment to honor and listen to my highest self, whom I trust to be in accordance with the highest good of all, it seems that the world has opened its doors to me.

When I first arrived in Ithaca my intentions and goals were humble: They were simply to preserve spaciousness in my life and just stay present and centered in each moment in this place that I was so looking forward to returning to. I was grateful to be welcomed back into the ecovillage here, to a living situation I was familiar and comfortable with, and took back my old job as a substitute grocery stocker at the local food coop. Spring was just beginning and with it it seemed people, including myself, were  emerging from their winter nests. I was so happy to be back! And I welcomed the familiarity of the ecovillage and the amazing local food coop, greenstar, both of which I missed so much while I was away! But I wasn’t quite sure what to tell people when they asked what I had been up to the last year and what I was doing now, and so I found myself telling them what felt like a convoluted story about my timber framing apprenticeship and other past building adventures and then glossing over the dark winter months with most. But the truth was I felt like I was back at square one in terms of “what I was doing with my life.” I had no idea if I ever was going to build again, I had basically let go of my dream of building “our” home for me and some partner that I no longer had, and I had discovered the hard way that things rarely go according to plan anyway. But, I was okay with being back at square one. If anything I welcomed it, for after a year of deaths of relationships, dreams, and ideas of who I thought I was and could be, square one felt like a pretty good place to be. By accepting this I felt like I at least was not at square zero. It felt like I had already been thrown into the fires of hell, been stripped of any and all protective ware,  and had finally been spit out at the other end, raw and vulnerable, but grateful for the soothing waters of the womb of emptiness. I was in no rush to rebuild any false pretenses of “me” and was quite content to just live simply for a while.

So when a new friend John asked me soon after I arrived if I wanted to help him restore an old barn I responded with reserved curiosity. Did I want to give the building world another try? Was I ready for that? I honestly wasn’t sure. But John’s gentle, generous, and humble yet confident nature somehow reassured me enough to give it a go. The barn project was slow to get started and ended up not coming through, but in the meantime John invited me to help him just for a day at another project at Cayuga Pure Organics. One day sounded low risk enough and so I agreed. I was nervous and unsure of myself, but I guess I did ok as at the end of the day when I said, “I hope I didn’t slow you down too much,” he laughed and responded, “Are you kidding me?” I smiled and felt something open within me. I could see he was genuinely grateful for my help, and despite my feeling like I had fumbled my way through the day, he seemed to have complete confidence in my abilities. And so an amazing work partnership was born, and I will be forever grateful to this sweet and humble seasoned builder who has taken me under his wing. That day at cayuga pure organics became the first of many that I worked out there, helping them rebuild from a massive fire last spring that burned down their whole processing plant. And as John and I built together I felt my confidence in myself and gratitude for him growing. Not once did I ever feel like I had to prove myself to him, and he always welcomed questions and input. And it seemed like all our values and working styles aligned and complimented each other too!

As my work life transitioned from mostly working at greenstar to mostly building I also enjoyed a blossoming social life. As a single woman I enjoyed the autonomy of my weekends and evenings, going on spontaneous adventures that would start at the saturday farmers market, and nurturing sweet new friendships. I got to experience my first ever Grassroots music festival, which was a blast, and also finally went to my first Ithaca Dance Camp. The Ithaca Dances of universal peace circle, which hosts the ithaca dance camp, has always held a special place in my heart and to immerse myself for four days in these dances of love and peace was nothing short of blissful.

At a certain point I realized I was no longer just getting my feet on the ground here in Ithaca but had landed. I felt settled in my home, had planted two garden beds full of vegetables that were beginning to give back in their abundance, and felt surrounding by wonderful budding friendships and community, and had somehow found myself to be in a position where building had become my main source of income! And I was enjoying it all. Funny how it only happened when I finally stopped trying so hard. And of course, now that things were mostly in order I had the mental and emotional space to start to consider what were my long term plans? What did I want to actually do?

It was just as I was beginning to mull this question over when Maria had an open house for the  Hammerstone school,  her carpentry for women school that is on its way to building it’s second tiny house on wheels. The first tiny house was on display for the open house and as I sat inside chatting with the owner, Liz, and her friends and family a seed was planted. I had read about tiny houses and seen pictures of them but had never been inside one. Suddenly I realized, “this is within my reach and I could totally live like this!”

As many of you know, the dream of building my own home is one I have had for quite some time now. It has evolved in shape and form and even undergone its own deaths and rebirths. Because of this I was wary to share this new idea, and protected it as a little sacred seed whose roots were still fragile. Initially I just allowed myself to be intrigued, thinking perhaps next spring, after a year of working and living in Ithaca, this will be what I set out to do. Besides, I thought, I needed to save up more money if I were to do this. But the wheels began turning. A tiny house on wheels would solve the problem if me not owning land and not knowing who, in the long term, I would be happy sharing land with. A tiny house on wheels would allow me to build and be pretty much exempt from building codes and permits. John and I were now working on framing up a 20′ by 32′ house for a couple and I realized a tiny house on wheels was about a 3rd of the size of this house and that with the support and encouragement of someone like John I had the ability to do it. But money did still feel like the daunting factor. Materials costs for these tiny houses generally seems to be in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. For me that is a lot of money, more then I have ever personally had.

But then a few things happened that together convinced me I could do this and I could start now. So now I need to back track a little. Through the winter and continuing into the present I have been doing some deep inner work with the guidance of some very gifted healers who I am forever indebted and grateful to. Through this work I have developed a language and a framework that has become integral to by worldview. Core to this is the belief that we are all creators. That each and everyone one of us is fully responsible for our own experience in this world, down to the family and situation we choose to be born into, the life we choose to create, and even the pain, loss, and heartache we experience. This belief comes from a belief that everything, including what we experience as solid matter such as our bodies, the warm rock I am sitting on, the smoothie I am drinking, and even money, is really just energy. Vibrational energy. At this point, if you are starting to think I am crazy I guess I want to offer that even physics has shown that matter is really just made up of wave particles. I am not a physicist and will not pretend to be, but I just say this to say to those more science oriented people (which I am one of) that this is not totally out of the realm of logical explanation.  So given the belief that we are all creators, fully responsible for our own experience here are three questions I now continually ask myself  as I navigate my experience in this world: Why did I create this? Do I want to create differently? And how can I create differently?

To give some real life perspective to these questions, I want to say that these were not always easy questions for me to ask. For me on my journey, this meant asking the painful questions of, “Why did Stephen choose to die?” “Why did I need to experience loosing the first love of my life at age 21 to a heroine overdose?” and “Why, over three years after this traumatic life event, did I feel more lost, alone, and in despair than ever before?”

And yet, it was the surrendering to this utter despair that finally allowed me to take a really hard look at myself and ask these questions. And not to blame myself (I had done enough of that), but to understand and see with compassion and clarity why I had needed to create this and then to make peace with all that had come to be. And then to begin to shift things and ask how I do I want to create now.

With these questions guiding me as I continue to work to connect in more with my highest self I have witnessed my ability to create manifest outwardly as I begin within. And so when my car got hit on the side of the road and was declared a total loss my first question was why did I choose to create this way? Well, it turned out I was much happier living without a car. My car had become a headache of repairs and maintenance and I felt better not contributing so much to the fossil fuel economy. And biking, walking at hitch hiking my way through the glorious Ithaca summer turned out to be a beautiful exercise in slowing down, trusting, and asking for help when I needed it, leaning into the wonders of a community willing to share and support one another. And, I suddenly had $4000 of insurance money in my pocket.

Living simply I also found I was actually able to save additional money, despite only bringing in a modest income, and although I didn’t have anywhere near $20,000 upfront to pay for a tiny house I began to trust that the resources would  come to support the manifestation of this dream. I remembered learning in one of my building courses about the “time – money – quality” triangle and how it was best to choose two of these three that were most important to you when taking on a project. I realized I wanted to build my self a high quality home and that if I started now, even though I didn’t have the money up front I did have the time. My current living situation is wonderful and affordable and my current work situation is one where I basically create my own work schedule. So really, now was the perfect time to start.

And so the tiny house adventure began. Within a week of getting clear within and telling John that I wanted to do this I began to see things manifest outwardly. Our friend Amy approached John and said she really wanted us to build her a tiny home too and so we decided we would build both hers and mine on John’s land and that she may end up fronting some of the material costs in exchange for my labor. The first step and test of my decision to do this was buying our trailers.  I began to look and research and it seemed the general consensus was the trailer was not the place to skimp, and a new trailer was the way to go. The cost savings of used trailers were tempting ($300 vs. almost $4000) but as I sat with the decision I knew I wanted the new trailer, and the only reason I would go for the used trailer was fear of not having enough money. Fear of not having enough is no way to cultivate abundance and so I worked on releasing that fear, seeing this is a gift to myself and others, and trusting that the world would support me. Then in one whirlwind of a day Amy, John, and I drove out to Locke, New York where a guy named Steve Lamphier makes custom trailers, and we put half the money down for two trailers, designed specifically to support a tiny house, and will pay the rest when we go and pick them up in about two weeks. In the meantime we have now received 8 double pane, good condition windows, donated completely free of charge from friends and community members, one window in exchange for 4 hours garden work, and I took advantage of a Lowes sale to special order my four loft windows which needed to be a very specific size to fit the space limitations. I bought a beautiful front door at the Ithaca reuse center and we put in an order for kiln dried pine tongue and groove flooring from Collins Saw Mill, which will be ready in about a week. And Alternatives Bank is going to help finance some of this as a small business model with a $2000 grant.  In the meantime we continue to search for windows!

Indeed as I practice envisioning my dreams and trusting, I feel myself surrounded by love and and support. Some have asked “When will it be done?” and “Do you have a plan?” Well, yes, I have a rough plan. But I also know that it will change and evolve. And I have to say I have no idea when it will be done. I have chosen to focus on quality and need to keep costs reasonable, not to mention that taking the time to reuse and salvage materials feels good to me and in line with my values. The process by which this house is built feels just as important as the outcome and it is a process that I want to be organic and not restricted by time. As one person reflected back to me recently, I am approaching this project from the artist side me and see this as me creating my own sacred sanctuary. A place I can call my own. And just as when I start a painting I usually have an idea but no detailed plan, and as it is hard to predict how long a painting will take or when it is actually completed, this tiny home will be done when it feels done, and not before. And there is a vision for it but only a minimalist plan.

And so my dream has experienced another rebirth and I expect this blog to begin to also shift focus to document and support this tiny house project. I hope you can see that really this is much more then just a tiny house project for me. It is a continuation of my journey of coming into my own, setting up my life intentionally in a way that gives me freedom and autonomy, and living simply and in line with my values. It is a practice of trusting and manifesting dreams in a way that supports and inspires others to do the same.

So I end this lengthy post with gratitude and a prayer that I caught at the Ithaca Dance Camp. And the simple drawing I made as a vision board that is tacked above my desk in my current tiny bedroom.

“I Surrender all that does not serve me. I rise to meet my true self. I accept my humanity. And I greet my divinity”

"I surrender all that does not serve me. I rise to meet my true self. I accept my humanity. I greet my divinity."

“I surrender all that does not serve me. I rise to meet my true self. I accept my humanity. I greet my divinity.”

My simple vision

My simple vision

Red Sky

Four years ago today I found out that you left this world. With you I danced my first dance of love. And an epic dance it was. Last night I felt your presence as I danced under the full moon. That day four years ago, it seemed like such a final blow; Your fiery red light snuffed from this world at the tender age of 21. But little did I realize the journey had just begun. For you and I, we share a soul contract, its purpose still being fulfilled. Thank you for all you taught me and continue to teach me each day. Thank you even for the lessons hard learned, for there the deepest wisdom lies. Thank you for being the catalyst for much of whom I am today. Perhaps next time you’ll stay longer. But for now may your soul rest in that place of universal love and peace. You’ve been a guardian angel. And I know you always will be. I remember you today, as I do every day. But today I share it with the world because your light is one to be remembered. Stephen Noble Holland, through me and through others your spirit lives on. I love you and always will.

Tonight's sunset out on Cayuga S.H.A.R.E. farm, where I spent the day surrounded by good people and close to the land.

Tonight’s sunset out on Cayuga S.H.A.R.E. farm, where I spent the day surrounded by good people, close to the land.

Springtime Odes

photo (16)_2

 

Fingers tingle from nettles prickle

I look for my reflection

In the last light of dusk

And what do I see?

I see clouds, I see sky

I see flashes of light

And storms a brew.

The tick tock of the hand of a clock

Pointing towards?

 

Tadpoles,

Like sperm they swim

Determined to give birth to the next

Their movement is not random

Yet like birds they scatter

From one central point it seems they pulse

They come and they go

Beating to the rythm of the earth

 

I speak to them

And to the nettles whose sting cleanses me

And to the peas struggling to grow upwards in my garden

I speak to them in sing-song tones

Of my mother tongue.

 

Yes, my Mother’s tongue

The one from the far East

From the only people who have ever experienced

The destructive Might…

Of the Nuclear Bomb.

 

This is the language that comes

When I speak to the Earth.

Speculate, you may, on why that is

But it is.

 

From the warmth of my covers and the soft pillow of my bed

I watch.

I watch the Moon wax and wane as it makes its nightly traverse across the sky

I watch the mouselike critter

With fur that hides any ears to be seen

Plunge its nose blissfully

Into the sweet sunburst of a spring dandelion.

And I listen to the lullaby of a chorus of many.

And sometimes

When sleep fails to call

I sit up alert

For the flashes of spring thundershowers

Or for the sound of the midnight howl

Of the coyotes on an almost moonless night

 

Did you know that the blueberry flower tastes almost as good as the blueberry?

Well it does.

But don’t eat too many

Because remember;

Flowers are the goddesses of Spring

That birth our Fall Abundance

 

A day at Edible Acres

It is early spring, which at Edible Acres means Sean is getting ready for for his first plant sale tomorrow.

photo (13)

Plants getting potted up in Sean’s homemade potting mix in preparation for sale.

For me and some other volunteers this means we got to go and spend the day among his awesome demonstration gardens, getting out hands in the soil, and picking his brain about all his amazing plant knowledge while helping him pot things up and learning a bunch about the plants we are getting ready for sale.

And it was the perfect day for such a task, with the weather being cool (probably mid 50’s) and mostly overcast with a few light sprinkles of rain. This weather is great as it is still pleasant to work outside but the plants stay moist and experience less stress as the soil they are being taken out of and the air and the soil they are being put into all are around the same temperature.

Here is a little about five of the plants plants and one mushroom that we worked with today. Most of this knowledge is what I learned from sean over the course of the day and am now refining and adding to from a little bit of online research (linked to throughout). I took home a plant or two of each of these five so I will try and let you know what I think of them as I actually get to experience their wonders first hand.

Sea kale (Crambe maritima):

 

Sea kale is an ancient perennial plant that resembles kale and is making a comeback as a favorite of permaculture enthusiasts. Permaculturists always love perennials because they require less work and generally support more stable and resilient ecosystems. Although Sea kale looks like kale it is actually not even in the same family. But its roots, leaves, and flowers are edible and it grows really easily in just about any soil. And it propagates really easily too! So what we did today was dig up some of Sean’s sea kale plants which had significant tuber like roots underground. Then we just broke the tubers up into pieces and planted them into sean’s potting mix making sure to keep their orientation correct, meaning the more tapered end of the root points down in the soil.

Walking onion (Allium proliferum):

A walking onion bulb cluster

So onions are great. But usually you have to dig them up out of the ground to harvest them, which can be a fair amount of effort, and then you have to replant them the next year from seed, which usually means buying seed, which costs money. But what if you had an onion that behaved more like garlic? Where you break apart your 1 head of garlic and plant, lets say 5 cloves from that head, and then the next year you get 5 heads of garlic. Welcome to the walking onion. This onion does just that; it creates new onions in a cluster around itself, growing every year if you leave them, or allowing you to dig them up, harvest some, and split apart the others and replant them to get more clusters of onions! Amazing!

But, that is really just the beginning of the wonders of this onion. What I described is one way to harvest onions from this plant. But there is a second way that doesn’t even require any digging at all! These onions have a top set that are like mini onions or shallots. These topsets will begin to form in spring and can be harvested pretty much at any point from when they are small and probably pretty mild to when they reach maturity in late summer. If you get them at the right time I hear you don’t even have to peel them! The topsets are smaller then your typical onion, ranging from 1/4″ to about an 1″ but I at least am excited to try substituting them into my cooking where I woulf normally used a regular onion. When the top sets get heavy enough they will cause the stalk to bend over to the ground and if conditions are right they will root, forming another root cluster, hence the name walking onions!

Top sets: are like mini onions! You can harvest these and use them like onions or shallots and you don’t even have to dig up the plant!

I am excited to see the single walking onion I took home hopefully multiply into many for years to come.

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum):

 

A wonderfully smelling herb, anise hyssop is great to make tea out of or to sprinkle into salads or put on top of deserts. Medicinally, it is often used to soothe respiratory ailments such as a cough and as a digestive aid. It is in the mint family and so can be used in many of the same ways you would use mint. It also has wonderful purple flowers that the bees love!

Sorrel:

common sorrel (Rumex acetosa)

This sorrel is another delicious perennial that is super easy to grow. I have a red veined sorrel variety planted the garden at my parents which I love, especially when the leaves are young. I anticipate that this common sorrel will be a little more tender and perhaps less strong in taste, if also a little less striking in appearance. It has a tart leaves that are great sprinkled in salads and a quick google search brings up some yummy sounding sorrel soup recipes. I am excited to try that when I have enough of it!

June bearing Strawberry:

This nice mystery cultivar that bears fruit in June (hence the name) seems to be quite vigorous and have great flavor, according to Sean. Sean found these in Ithaca and rescued them after someone carelessly mowed right over them and they have been thriving in his garden ever since. I planted a whole bunch in a little contained stone terrace outside my home here and am excited to have a vigorous strawberry patch to nibble from in just a few months! 

Stropharia rugosoannulata (wine cap mushroom)

So, the last thing I got from Sean is not actually a plant. It was some mushroom inoculated cardboard. And as some of you know I have a soft spot for mushrooms. This one is what we call the wine cap mushroom- a mushroom I have never tasted and certainly never cultivated before, so I am super excited to see if I can!

Apparently the stropharia, wine cap mushroom, is an excellent companion in the garden as it likes complex environments and will not effect the plants in any negative way. In fact, it will help enrich the soil, speeding the composting process and helping break down any woody matter. It also feeds off of bacteria that may otherwise become undesirable runoff or contaminants, so some people have successfully used this mushroom as a bio filter to reduce numbers of such things as fecal coliform from cow manure runoff. Plus it is considered a choice edible by many!

Sean has a great video on his youtube channel showing how to take a little bit of incoulum and grow it into a lot. He also has a video showing how he has really scaled up his stropharium production and now includes this inoculum in his potting mix! So if you buy some plants from him you might just get luck and end up with a few wine caps popping up as well. I followed his video and took the maybe 4″x8″ piece of cardboard he gave me covered with white mycelium and sprinkled it through a large pot in which I layered cardboard, compost, some wood chips and straw. Hopefully in less than a month that garden pot will be full of mycelium and then I can make an even bigger batch and also try putting some directly into my garden so I can get flushes of wine caps around my sea kale and walking onions!

So there is some of what I learned from a day out at Edible Acres in Trumansberg, NY!

 

 

 

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