Archive for September, 2014


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My plans, as they stand for now… Well, actually these are already out of date.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.

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