Archive for November, 2014


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:

IMG_3790

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:

IMG_3770

 

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. ❤ 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.

 

Creative by Nature

Glimpses of a Creative Universe, by Christopher Chase...

aatinyhouse

Creating "new" from old has been a preoccupation of mine for a long time, but turned into a full-time adventure in building and living in a tiny "reclaimed" house. Beginning in 2012, I will live in this 120 square foot space for the length of my PhD studies in Literature and the Environment, and perhaps beyond. In this way, I hope to live a little smaller, leave a little lighter, and learn in what ways formal study can be acted in the every day.

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