Saturday, September 29, 2012

You gotta start somewhere.

You gotta start somewhere. Right? Somewhere along the line there is a first step. I want to build a Tiny House on wheels. Maybe you've seen them? Little homes built on flatbed trailers. Or car haulers. I've wanted one for some time. Years. I can't even remember when I first ran across Jay Shafer and his tiny houses. I do remember I was hooked. As in hook line and sinker. I was hooked at first glance. Something about the scale, simplicity, and artistry really spoke to me. Hooked is one thing. Committed is another.

My Tiny House dream took a back seat to raising my kids, getting an MA, starting my business, and that valiant single mother swim through the first great wave of the Great Recession. Guess what? I'm still here. But life has definitely scaled down. I still have my kids. I still have a business. I don't own a home. It's not that I mind, really. There is something to be said for renting. There's a certain amount of freedom and flexibility, if you choose to use it. There's an on-call maintenance guy. I don't have to pay property tax. Or worry about termites. Or the roof. Or paying for the bee infestation that happens every spring. There's not much certainty, though. Even a year long lease I would have to buy my way out of to break can be decimated pretty quickly by a landlord's foreclosure. Easy peasy.

And of course, it's not mine.

So far, I've been lucky. I like our place. It's one of those "light and airy" units. I have a garage. Everything works. The neighbors aren't running drugs or girls out of their unit. They do run a Korean home-made food delivery service, but in a real down low fashion. I respect the get up and go that makes that happen. So life is good, if not inherently-super-you-can-count-on-it-to-last-forever-stable. At least on my end. I can't account for the rest of the world, which appears to have gone off the deep end crazy.

So, okay, it's an uncertain world. I think most of us have grokked that by this time. I can kind of swim with that. In a way, I can actually flow with that. I'll tell you one thing, there is sure as hell no real sane reason to find oneself swimming upstream in full out struggle. We've landed in a chaotic, creative, transformative, shitfest of a moment. I have that certain kind of peace that comes with, ahem! age, and with simply being ready and willing to notice and be with what is. What is, as far as I can tell, is change. All kinds of change. Maybe not the change some of us lined up for and went and pulled the lever for a few years ago, but lots of change, nonetheless. Not just in the States, but everywhere.

So what emerges for me in the middle of all this craziness? An intense, remarkable, persistent desire to build my own little Tiny House on wheels. Oh, yeah. One hundred and twenty square feet of hardwood homestead on wheels with my name on it and no mortgage. That's right, 120 sq. ft. total living space. Tiny. House. I've had some radical thoughts in my life and acted on a few of them, but nothing likely tops a Tiny House for standing out like a sore thumb of absolute oddness and eccentricity. As much as I could manage, I've managed to keep most my oddness under wraps all these years. Or at least I like to think so. There's no hiding out with this one. It looks something like a gypsy caravan that made a wrong turn and ended up 100 years away from its targeted time space continuum landing spot. And there I'll be, standing right beside it.

And it's not like I really know how to do it. Oh, I know how to be odd. Enough. I just don't know how to build anything out of wood, let alone a house. Even a tiny one. Why doesn't that seem like a problem? I don't know! It isn't even that one fifteen-year-old boy has done it, and a handful of young women in their twenties, plus a whole bunch of other folk on top of it. It just seems if I'm careful enough, get enough advice, and don't cut off any digits with the table saw, I'll eventually get there as long as I keep at it. And keeping at it happens to be one thing I do know how to do.

So, I have no carpentry skills. No tools. No place to build. No money saved up to start the project. No mentor. No flatbed trailer. And, finally, no place to park it when it's done. In other words, there is lots and lots of space for Possibility to step in and fill up!

What I do have is a huge Pinterest board of Tiny House images, resources, videos, stories, and ideas. It started as a sort of private online dream board and has started to evolve into a cataloged resource of all things Tiny House. So, I have that.

I have research.

I even went and visited the local Habitat Restore and checked them out last week. Do you know you can actually buy a real solid wood house door for ten bucks? I didn't buy it, but I did see it and now I know it is possible to find one. Almost anyone could afford a $10 door. Even me. Every blog should have at least one photo, so although that door didn't ask to come home with me, I will put it to work here all the same and post a pic. It's a crazy uncertain world, but there are still such things as $10 solid wood doors. So. There is hope, after all.

Darn! Now I look at it again, I'm wondering if I shouldn't run back to Habitat Restore and grab that door tomorrow morning? Maybe a door is a good place to start. Sort of a build-it-and-they-will-come-open-the-door-of-possibilities-Door. A door for my Tiny Dream Catcher.

Oh! The other thing I have is a ticket to the next Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop in L.A. Now this really is something! Two full days of rubbing elbows with folks who are at least as obsessed as I am. Maybe more. Hopefully some of them will be local and we can form a kind of Tiny House Support Group. And if that doesn't work, we can at least form a recovery group. So, there's all the other Tiny House Hopefuls. And then there's the opportunity of picking Jay Shafer's brains. In person. And starting to put feet on what will likely be a long long process. I may not know enough about what I don't know to be able to make real good use of the information I get, but I take really great notes (another thing I actually know how to do). Sooner or later, those notes will start making sense to me.

I'm not sure whether it's kosher to blog about a Tiny House build before there is anything tangible to report or not, but you have to start somewhere. Right?


  1. Hi Victoria, this is Frieda writing to you after reading your blog. You are an artist with words and you paint a beautiful and wonderful picture, I hope you get to follow your dream somehow.

  2. Hi, Vic! I think you are an amazing writer! Blog about WHATEVER you want. Keep writing, keep dreaming. It will happen!

  3. I love this :-) You know I've been living in my tiny house for a year. It's your standard retro Shasta cab-over motorhome, but plans have been brewing about gutting it (even though everything inside is new) and making it into a sitting room with a loveseat that pulls into a bed. I've loved living this way, it's simple and be crystal clear about what I NEED versus all the crap I used to have when I had a "real" house. I'm going to follow your blog with excitement to see where you go!

    1. Wow, Corey! Has it been that long already? I'm glad to hear you are enjoying your ride. Most of these Tiny Houses on trailers can be hauled, but aren't hauled that often. They're a bit cumbersome for the amount of roaming you are doing and heavy on the gas. Although I am sure some folks are on the road a lot, most people stay put and enjoy the possibility of mobility as it comes up or is required. Freedom. We'll see where our journeys take us! I'm looking forward to watching how your motorhome evolves.