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Looking Out From In

This Saturday was an Absolutely Glorious day. I got to experience in the most visceral and real way thus far what my house will feel like when it is done. I finally got it completely sheathed with plywood and got all the windows cut out. And said Good Bye Tarp!! And woah, what a difference it made. Suddenly I could feel the light streaming in (and boy was it a lot of light! I am so glad I chose big full sized windows despite it being a tiny house) and I could see the sky and the field, buzzing with bees harvesting from the wildflowers…. I could imagine being curled up in the loft on a cold winter day looking out my octagon window and watching the snow fall. And to stand inside something I had creating with my own two hands… To know that it was me, from the dream, to the design, to learning sktechup, to raising the money, to working through the fear and the, “who am I to BE…..,” to pounding the nails, to bringing the people together to raise the walls… There is nothing quite like it that I have experienced. I truly feel my heart and soul expanding and opening as I soak in all in… What a glorious journey it has been!! And it isn’t over yet! Thank you to every single one of you who have help to create this; who have witnessed and affirmed me and my dream, who have pitched in with hands, money, encouragement, excitement… All of it. Today I am basking in all and truly feel like I might just explode with love and gratitude….

And now, since I have neglected to post anything on the tiny house since winter here is a little photographic journey to bring you up to speed!

The first days of spring... John knew what his priorities were, and first was a picnic table!

The first days of spring… John knew what his priorities were, and first was a picnic table!

And I got to work, in style :)

And I got to work, in style :)

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My first walls starts coming together!

And before I know it I have all four walls framed!

And before I know it I have all four walls framed! (its still early spring- can you tell by the still not fully green grass?)

In the meantime John stayed busy building a glorious little solar shed that now has a solar powered freezer and blender (smoothies!!!) and is precious shade during our work days :)

In the meantime John stayed busy building a glorious little solar shed that now has a solar powered freezer and blender (smoothies!!!) and is precious shade during our work days :)

And we prepped the site for raising day, building a fire pit, hanging a hammock, and making a place for food, pot luck style...

And we prepped the site for raising day, building a fire pit, hanging a hammock, and making a place for food, pot luck style…

Raising day!! My first wall goes up :) It was the weekend before memorial weekend. May 16th. And my dad drove up all the way from Boston to be a part of it!

Raising day!! My first wall goes up :) It was the weekend before memorial weekend. May 16th. And my dad drove up all the way from Boston to be a part of it!

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I was nervous as hell, but apparently for naught, as a great crew showed up and we had a blast!

Some of us ladies, two others in the middle of building their own tiny houses (one also on a trailer like mine, the other a tiny strawbale timber frame!), and another getting ready to make the leap!

Some of us ladies, two others in the middle of building their own tiny houses (one also on a trailer like mine, the other a tiny strawbale timber frame!), and another getting ready to make the leap!

Teamwork gets the job done :)

Teamwork gets the job done :)

And the AMAZIN crew after all four walls were up and the structured covered to protect it from rain!

And the AMAZING crew (a few missing who had to leave early…) after all four walls were up and the structure covered to protect it from rain!

Now it was tarp city until we got the roof framed and covered... This would be a bit of a project, but John worked carefully and diligently with me, getting the ridge pole in place so then I could set the rafters in.

Now it was tarp city until we got the roof framed and covered… This would be a bit of a project, but John worked carefully and diligently with me, getting the ridge pole in place so then I could set the rafters in mostly on my own.

Ah, sheathing starting to go on (which means soon no more tarp!) and blue sky through the rafters  :-)

Ah, sheathing starting to go on (which means soon no more tarp!) and blue sky through the rafters :-)

And there she is!! This past saturday, fully sheathed in, joints all taped (well this photo is actually taken before the wall joints got taped) and windows cut out!!

And there she is!! This past saturday, fully sheathed in, joints all taped (well this photo is actually taken before the wall joints got taped) and windows cut out!!

And me as Happy as can BE!!

And me as Happy as can BE!!

And now it is all wrapped up again in house wrap (we finished around 8:30pm on Sunday). It is what I call another awkward teenager stage, so I decided to have some compassion and spare it the embarrassment of photos :-P But I’ll let you imagine, and hopefully it won’t be over six months before I write my next tiny house post :-) But I have to say, it is kind of cool to see all the progress at once!

Prelude

Its been almost ten years since I have been to Japan with my mother. I was in high school last we were there together. Not even a legal adult. Since then we have gone separately, my mom almost every summer for at least a few weeks in June and me once with my freshman college year roommate, who had studied Japanese, and then again after graduating from college. But there is something different and special about going with your mom, sharing the experience together, being able to lean on her when certain words and phrases get lost in translation, seeing her in the culture she grew up in, feeling the thread that runs from me to her and through our ancestors back to this ancient and beautiful culture. My soul had been craving all of this for some time now, but life had seemed too busy to make it happen for at least another year.

Three generation of Oseki Women: Me, my Mom, and My Grandma (Miwa, Iku, and Takako)

Three generations of Oseki Women: Me, my mom, and my grandma (Miwa, Iku, and Takako)

But then my grandfather, Jiji, started to show signs of Alzheimers and Dementia. And reports coming through my grandmother and aunt started to sound distressed. He was sleeping through much of the days and losing interest in his food. And some days he was unsteady on his feet. They were finding some support through a day service that they would send Jiji to twice a week, where they would bathe him and do some simple activities with him, but things did not sound too good. Eventually my grandma said to my mom, “I think you should come” and so she moved up her annual trip, leaving before her school let out to go support her family.

Traveling an Ocean

As I listened from afar to what was happening I started to realize Jiji’s time of transition might be near. And even if his physical body held out for a while yet, he may soon no longer recognize me or be someone who I really recognized. I realized I wanted to go too. And I wanted to go soon. The time I had been hoping for, to spend with my mom in Japan with Jiji, Baba, and Hiroko (my grandpa, grandma, and aunt) might have to be now or never.

And so I made it happen. And I am so glad I did. My mom was hesitant at first, saying, understandably, that she wasn’t sure she could be a mom to me and a daughter possibly losing her father at the same time. She wanted me to wait until she arrived in Japan to see how things were once she was actually there, before I bought my plane ticket. I waited. But I knew I wanted to go. And once she got there and I got the ok, and went ahead with my plans.

As I made the more than 12 hour flight to Japan I felt memories rush back as I watched parents, many of whom were one Japanese and one American, like my own, speaking to their mixed race children. My soul recognized the Japanese phrases my mom used with me, and little girls and boys that looked like they could have been my siblings stirred something deep inside. My own reservoirs of Japanese language started to flood back.

This would be the beginning of a trip filled with many ordinary but precious moments; Moments that I will cherish forever.

Konnichiwa! 

Arriving at my grandparents I slipped my shoes off, as we do in all Japanese houses, and gave my grandma, aunt and Jiji a hug. Dinner was ready, of course, a wonderful Japanese style meal, with each person having at least four small plates; A bowl for rice, a bowl for Miso-shiru (miso soup), a plate for salad or vegetables, and another one for maybe some meat or fish and then maybe a fifth small plate for soy sauce or other sauces. Tonight we had some yaki-tori, which is skewers of small pieces of different kinds of meat and some vegetables. It was all delicious.

After dinner I pulled out the few small gifts I had brought them- My theme for gifts was all local and made in Ithaca. A little Ithaca made keychain for my aunt, and an Ithaca made acorn designs notebook for my grandma, and some local honeyed covered nuts for my grandpa as well as some pancake mix that I would turn into pancakes for my grandpa a few days later.

I was jet lagged and tired but glad to be there.

Kanpai! (Cheers!)

My third morning, mostly recovered from jet lag, I made some American style pancakes for Jiji, and my mom made us all some green smoothies. And we toasted. I was glad to be there.

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Some days we laughed. One day we started laughing so hard at dinner we could barely eat. It all started with a “tobi kyuuri,” or a flying cucumber and only got worse as Jiji earnestly asked if he had to pay for the meal or if it really was free. By the end who knows what we were really laughing at. I say it was the flying cucumber and my mom and grandma say it was Jiji and Hiroko says she was laughing at us. But we all laughed and it was good.

Cards

Bracko is a card game I have played since I was too small to hold all my cards in my little hands. They learned it in Brazil and brought it back with them to Japan. My mom made me a clever little card holder out of cardboard to help me hold the cards. And then when I got old enough to think I didn’t need that anymore I would lay some of my cards on the ground under the table when they got to be too many for me to hold. We always played at a low table and I would sit on the ground.

Now I hold the cards for Jiji as we play as one person. Some nights he would get frustrated that he doesn’t understand what is going on, saying that this was the last  time he would ever play. But the next day he would say, “Trampu yaro ka?” (Shall we play cards?). And most days he seemed happy to be at the table, occasionally having a particularly lucid moment where he would point to a card and show me where it went.

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With both our sets of hands we were quite an effective team!

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And cards always makes us laugh

Flowers

Japanese flower arrangements are famous. But I don’t think I have ever seen my grandfather do one, and I don’t know if he ever would have before. But when that was the activity at his day program he came home with a beautiful flower arrangement and we all admired it.

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Kirei na! (pretty, isn’t it?)

Smile for the camera! (mu heart lights up at that smile of his)

Smile for the camera! (my heart lights up at that smile of his)

Ancestors and Memories

Some days, when Jiji was at his day program, we would go into his room and clean and organize. Today we dusted off his buddhist shrine to his ancestors.

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I found a carefully folded piece of paper with the dates on which his ancestors passed was recorded, it looked like going back maybe three generations. My mom said on the anniversaries of those days he would light incense and candles and put fresh flowers on the shrine to honor them. I remember some days when I was young helping him with this. There were also little wooden placards for each of the ancestors buried in his family burial plot, with a few still blank. I know that one day one of these blank wooden placards will have his name on it when he goes to rest in his family plot.

My grandfather was a great Go player and I also found in his room many of his trophies won from Go tournaments. Until recently he would go to the local library where he would volunteer and teach the next generation of Go players.

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He also kept a daily diary for many many years and my mom found two boxes full of these precious writings! I can’t read or write Japanese now but seeing all those diaries gave me motivation to one day be able to. Although my mom says they mostly are probably just documenting what he ate for each meal, I can feel the love and care in them, all carefully kept and written in his careful writing. He was also quite good at calligraphy, and I have memories of doing that with him too as a child.

The women of the household

Being there was special, not just to spend time with my grandfather but also to spend time with my mom, aunt, and grandma. I could feel the strength of their bond and the steadiness of their presence. And I remembered deep in my soul that Japan is deep in me.

Hiroko is almost like a sister to me. We laugh and play together. I drag her to the local public pool to swim with me and makes fun of how I say things funny in Japanese.

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Baba always showers me with lots of delicious and nutritious food. And of course, the occasional no so nutritious, but still delicious treats

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Laughing as the three of us dig into a Matcha ice cream together

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This time with family was truly precious in ways that feel hard to capture in words. But maybe some of what I cannot say is captures in these photos filled with love

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I left with a heart expanded and full of gratitude. Who knows what the circumstances of my next visit will be, but I know I will cherish these memories forever. As my mom and Hiroko wished me well they left me with one last smile from the bus window:

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Apparently it is a joke from a childhood cartoon of theirs. To see these two grown woman doing this on the sidewalk of Japan as a bus full of airport bound people watched… You had to be there.

Back Stateside

As I settle back into life here in Ithaca I continue to process and cherish my trip. The first few days english felt strange in my mouth, as certain phrases in particular would come to me first in japanese. Already I feel some of the language leaving me, or going into hibernation until I need it next, but I feel myself holding on it, as this time in particular, I feet like I appreciated every sound of this beautiful language just a little more. The song-like open vowel sounds, the way it brings back memories of my childhood for me, and the nurturing energy of my mom and all the women who helped to make her who she is today.  I feel a renewed commitment within myself to not lose touch with my Japanese heritage. I desire to keep going back to that country, even when I may no longer have living family there. I feel like I am more aware than ever of the power of those ancestors that stand behind me and beside me and in front of me, as my life is a reflection of them.

Here in Ithaca, NY winter feels as though it has definitely arrived. We have snow on the ground and temperatures stayed below freezing sometimes dropping into the single digits for most of last week. With that being the case I have only gone out to check on my tiny house but have not done any work on the windy, exposed site. But my hoop house seems to be working well, sheltering my floor from the snow and keeping things protected until it warms up again.

Last weekend I did start drawing out to scale framing plans for the walls and hope to do a lot more planning through the winter months. Already some things have shifted, like the placement of my fridge, which changes the placement of my sink and my window… And it is making me think it might be worth taking the time to teach myself google sketch-up rather than drawing the plans by hand, where things are much harder to change without starting over.

I also completed my third week working as an employee of Hammerstone School, which is a lot of fun and is definitely keeping me busy! We had a basic carpentry class on November 14th and 15th with ten awesome women and each one built a pair of saw horses to take home with them. It was really cool to step into the role of teacher and share some of what I have learned. And to hear the students enthusiasm and appreciation for all the knowledge!

Beware, women at work

Beware, women at work.

Then this week a timber frame apprentice from Hawk Circle named Emma Appleton joined us and we just about finished cutting the frame for a small barn!

As you can see, we are working in an unheated barn so it is a bit chilly! Best to keep moving to stay warm! But at least we have some shelter from the wind and snow.

As you can see, we are working in an unheated barn so it is a bit chilly! Best to keep moving to stay warm! But at least we have some shelter from the wind and snow.

Emma hard at work. Must have been a bit warmer that day :-)

Emma hard at work. Must have been a bit warmer that day :-)

Emma was a lot of fun and taught us some brilliant new words (she is from England) my favorite of which was ear defenders!

We are hoping to have an all women’s timber frame raising sometime in the first half of December (date TBD). This could very well be a historical event as Maria, Emma, or myself have never been at a raising of only women! It is not that we are anti men but more that we want to give women the chance to fully participate. We are thinking men will be allowed to come and support by providing food and childcare, as truth be told this is often what the women end up getting sucked into, whether they want to or not!

So, not too much progress on the tiny house, other than drawing out some plans and having a fridge buying adventure at home depot (I bought a cute high efficiency 10 cubic foot fridge only to find out it required 5″ of clearance on both sides and in back for ventilation! So we returned it today and a different, slightly larger 14 cubic foot energy star fridge will be being delivered on december 8th), but definitely been keeping busy with other things building related!

Today I made it to my IndieGoGo goal AND I finished my floor! What a day.

I am so happy to be at this stage and feel like I can breathe a sight of relief. There are many days where I wish I was further along but yesterday I was looking through my earlier posts and realized I didn’t start construction until Sept. 18th, less than 2 months ago! So considering that, and also working, and taking a week to to go do my cabinet making course, I am quite pleased.

This feels like a day worth celebrating:

Me with a big smile after my grandma called to tell me I had reach my campaign goal! As you can tell, it was a bit chilly this morning, but hearing that news got me going!

Me with a big smile after my grandma called to tell me I had reached my campaign goal! As you can tell, it was a bit chilly this morning, but hearing that news got me going!

By the end of the day I had warmed up and my floor was finished!

By the end of the day I had warmed up and my floor was finished!

This was worth celebrating!

This was worth celebrating!

YAY!

YAY!

Now I can...

Now I can…

relax...

relax…

Good bye tiny house, until tomorrow, when we hope to turn on the solar array and say good bye to the generator!

Good bye tiny house, until tomorrow, when we hope to turn on the solar array for the first time and say good bye to the generator!

It is a rainy and cold early november day her in Ithaca, the perfect day for being inside and writing a post. I have 5 days left in my indiegogo campaign and am only $600 away from my $7,000 goal! SO close! And ironically, I am also SO close to finishing laying down my floor! I hope with one more warm work day (when I don’t already have other paid work lined up) will be enough to finish it:

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As you can see, we have set up a hoop house structure over my trailer now that we can pull a tarp over to protect it from the weather. It kind of feels like a big tent and and I am tempted to sleep out on it once my floor is done:

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But anyway, what I really want to share about in this post is all the unexpected gifts that have come from this journey. When I started building this tiny house I knew the purpose was bigger than just me but I couldn’t quite articulate in a clear and succinct manner how or why it was bigger than me. I still can’t put it into a neat and tidy sentence, but I have to say that almost every day I have had some wonderful interaction with someone sparked by my tiny house project.

One such beautiful interaction happened as myself and two other young women gathered around a fire near the last new moon and shared our journeys of creating homes for ourself. One woman has set up a yome and is settling into it for the winter with her partner. The other is at a similar stage to me with a tiny strawbale timberframe: she just finished her deck and has tarped it and is waiting until spring to keep building. As the three of us gathered around the warmth of the fire we shared how spirit had called us in different ways to make these homes for ourselves. And we shared about the vulnerability and emotional journey of growth and healing that comes with creating ones own space. As we share a sisterhood of mutual support develops and it is truly a powerful, healing, and often humbling experience.

From my now over 60 donors I have shared many touching and heartfelt e mail interactions. One woman wrote,

“Good luck. I can’t remember if we have met in person, where I know you from – but your goal touches my heart, as a fellow Builder and also someday I will also build my home. <3 Blessings to you for doing the work that calls your heart. For as you follow your heart, so too are others able to heal and follow theirs.”

Another shared her blog and I immediately resonated with her post that spoke of how terrifying it can be to make the first cuts for fear of messing up. But the truth is that is the only way to learn, and rarely is something beyond being able to be fixed- a lesson that applies to all of life. And others have told me about their plans to build a tiny house, purchase a house with friends and turn it into a cooperative, and other awesome and innovative dreams.

A couple weeks ago I returned to heartwood and had a blast taking a cabinetmaking course. After a full and satisfying week my teacher gave me this heartfelt endorsement that truly touched me:

“I met Miwa last year when she Apprenticed at Heartwood School, first as her Instructor during “Fundamentals of Woodworking” and then as a fellow student when we both took the Country Windsor Chairmaking course during another Heartwood School course offering.

The thing that has impressed me the most about Miwa is her quiet confidence in herself and her determination to pursue her passions. One such passion is her Tiny Home Dream.

I would like to help Miwa by introducing her to my friends who, hopefully will introduce her to others and perhaps we can all help her out in some way. I, in addition to a financial contribution, will be offering the use of my woodworking shop and expertise (as needed) when Miwa builds her kitchen cabinets. I imagine the use of my truck to deliver the cabinets will also be part of my contribution!

My feeling is that we are not donating money towards a project, but are donating money towards a future mentor to future generations.” – Kirk Fox

And it seems the universe is gently supporting me to step slowly from student to teacher (although we are all always learning) as when I returned from Heartwood I was contacted by Maria of Hammerstone school: Carpentry for women and just finished my first week working with her. Maria is a powerful woman with a passion for tackling the creation of a more gender neutral environment in the trades. For now she is “just” teaching carpentry for women classes, working on building an apprentice program and creating a women’s contracting crew, and teaching afterschool carpentry classes at some of the local school. I am already inspired and excited about what we can do together as we collaborate more. From learning about the documentary, Hard Hatted Women, to reading this woman’s story of a Hard Hat Life, I am realizing the importance of this issue and am excited by the many avenues for creating impact-full social change that are possible.

Sometimes I dream of creating a habitat for humanity like model of building tiny houses in community, specifically for women in need of such a refuge and support, whether they are on a journey of recovery, working to get out of prostitution, escaping a battered home, or trying to raise children as a single parent, through the process of building ones own home I think a sense of pride and identity can be rebuilt, but also, perhaps more importantly, communities can form and these communities have an immense power to heal.

Once again, although I may not have my path all planned out, I have trust and faith and feel supported and guided by spirit on a journey that continues to amaze me each day. For now I lay my foundation, but as I do so I plant many seeds for the future and wait eagerly to see which ones come to fruition.

 

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):

IMG_3657

“Home is where the heart is”

IMG_3658

“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!

photo (1)

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.

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