Saturday, November 29, 2008


Junk all around yesterday.

Drove the laptop up to the Computer Fix-It Man (who is also in our farming class) and he said the laptop is toast. He will try to get the data off the hard drive, which is my biggest concern.

Unsure what caused the meltdown. We bought it refurbished in Missoula, it went to Mexico with us (braving the salt water air), got a new hard drive in Grangeville, got a new operating system in Portland. So basically, we're done with this money pit.

We committed to saving our money up to buy a MacBook. I've had it with PCs. So, I am shopping, for prices only, to try to figure out how much we need to save. We probably can't afford a brand new one, but by the time we save up close to the amount we need we should be able to get a good deal.

The bad news is that will likely be months from now.

The good news is that, as I already told Keith, I have been mentally preparing myself to get weened off the internets since we're moving into the Tiny House soon and there is no wifi there. I need a couple of months to unplug and get my brain back. So that will be good for me.

Also, I will feel more compelled to save money on food so I can buy a MacBook, which hopefully will translate to my pants fitting better. We were talking last night about how exercise was just part of our day, something we took for granted, when we lived in the city. Here, not so much. I walked to the train, to work from the train station, with the dogs a couple of times a day, on errands, downtown to people watch, etc. = several miles every day. Here we're limited to very little walking and it's mostly a brain block because walking on the highway just isn't very appealing to me and the only other road near our house goes down to the river and I'm ashamed to say that gets old fast. Anyhow, saving money for a MacBook is my new diet. I'll be keeping track mentally, like this:
= one week's worth of superfluous food
Calories for a MacBook 2009!

Needless to say: if anyone out there in the internets has experience getting a good deal on a Mac, please let me know. It's all new to me. And Google is only so helpful in rooting out the best deals.

All of this means posts will be sporadic and probably limited to major Tiny House developments. [We have the trim painted (doors are primed, ready for paint) and we have to find someone to help us get the big windows in. Keith says each one weighs about half again as much as a whole wall (which Keith, Mom, and I were able to lift). Then the floor. Then the stove.]

Here are some photos from our other junk adventure yesterday--a trip to Dale's Salvage Yard in Grangeville to find a new alternator for the Whatchamacallit. We found one but when we got it home to test it, it was bad. So we ended up buying one from the parts store in town and it came in this morning. The trip was not wasted, however, because we got out of the house and I found some inspiration in the junkyard. Always nice to look at old rusty peeling things.

Bonus: There was an unopened Miller High Life (of indeterminable age) in this old bus. Keith said, Buy an alternator, get an old beer free!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In times like these...

be thankful.

That's not to say that I am not upset my laptop crashed (AGAIN) and salvaging the hard drive is not really how I want to spend part of my holiday weekend. Time that I could be spending working on the house or tromping through a salvage yard looking for a new alternator for the Whatchamacallit taking photos while Keith looks for a new alternator for the Whatchamacallit.

But see, I am thankful that I even have a computer in the first place.
And thankful that I can pay someone, even on my limited income, to get my valuables off the hard drive.

I'm thankful for such a loving and generous husband who puts up with me and even humors me most of the time. He's more than I could ask for in a partner and someone I am really actually glad to see when he wakes me up in the morning. (Also, I am thankful he lets the dogs out in the morning and sends Mia back to bed with me.)

And while working on some parts of the Tiny House is getting tedious and I wish it would just be done already, I am thankful that my husband and I are able to collaborate on a project of this magnitude without getting divorced or punching each other in the face. Building a house from scratch with nary a blueprint or professional anything in sight is no small task.

And I will be oh so thankful when we can actually move into the Tiny House and have our own (maybe claustrophobic) space.

Which reminds me to be thankful for my parents. Parents who would allow their adult children to come back and live in their home, rent-free, while building a permanent (although small) structure on their land. And all the while putting up with having their space invaded, literally and figuratively. Surely these people deserve an award.

I am thankful for my sister who makes me laugh and always has a funny story to tell-- usually she's the hapless victim of the stories (ask her about her recent concussion). And that we always have a good time when we're together--she's picking up some supplies so we can make crafty things when she's home this week!

I am thankful for my dogs, who provide an unending source of laughter and love (and warmth in bed). And that they've taught us how loving and affectionate pit bulls can be. Breaking down the stereotype one licky face at a time.

I am thankful for my job. It doesn't pay a lot, but it's steady work and I really enjoy it. With the local mill (where my mom has worked for over 20 years!) shutting down indefinitely and the town losing its largest employer, things aren't looking good for a lot of people in our little town right now. We're lucky that we have some food in our pantry and a fairly low cost of living, but that doesn't mean things won't be hard.

I am thankful for the Tofurky I found on sale last weekend because it will make delicious sandwiches for the weekend and I plan to eat with abandon and hope that the future economic hard times will be my circumstance-imposed diet plan (eating beans and rice all winter?). Either that or I'll have to scrape up a gym membership fee.

Being thankful doesn't mean ignoring injustice or forgetting hardships, but it does mean appreciating what you do have and realizing that so many people have so much less.

I am not fleeing my homeland under threat of rebels, like they are in Congo.
I am not homeless and hungry after a landslide, like 45,000 in Brazil.
I am not a journalist kidnapped in Somalia.

We all have our own struggles and if you can try to remember that in your daily dealings with people, it will make your interactions a little more rewarding. Give someone the benefit of the doubt and be thankful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Mia Pia!

Two years ago I found her on a website advertising dogs rescued from New Orleans and I talked Keith into going to meet her. There was a couple ahead of us who had just come out of the dog meeting room. They left without her, without making any committments with the staff about coming back for her or saying they were going to think it over, and we were so lucky they did. We took her home that day.

Two years ago we had no idea what kind of a dog she would be and very little idea of what kind of life she'd had (imagine being a puppy surviving a hurricane!), but we knew we could give her a ton of love and we thought the rest would work itself out.

Two years ago we lived in a tiny apartment in the city. We took her and Lazlo for multiple daily walks, to a triangle of grass under the freeway, to the courtyard and the football field of the neighborhood high school, to empty parking lots, to all corners of northwest Portland. As we watched how they would play together, we knew we had exponentially multiplied each dog's happiness with the existence of the other, and we promised them both that some day we'd live somewhere they could run free and be real dogs.

Two years ago we never imagined that this little spotted dog would add so much love to our family.
Two years ago we made a great impulsive decision and brought this girl home with us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

At least we got out of town

stinky Potlatch at sunset

Well, our trip to The City was not all that we had hoped, but I bought the last TWO Tofurkys @ Rosauers and they were on sale--half price, so I am declaring it a victory! One for Tgiving, one for Xmas. Honestly, a Tofurky sandwich is just as good as the bird kind. My favorite part of Thanksgiving---sammies. Like Stephen Colbert said, "I'm going to pardon my turkey...pard on my stomach and pard on my sandwich." Also, egg nog ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Mmmm.

Our trip to the Orange Megalomart was pretty fruitless. We bought some hangers for the still-in-the-planning-stage deck, some brass door hinges, and silicone, but not much else. Nearly everything on our list was cheaper at our local store, so we decided to shop there instead. Support the local economy, yo. Especially in light of recent news.

Tomorrow we're going to start priming the doors. We saw some really neat metallic Ralph Lauren paint that would be cool for the trim, but it was $18/quart and we're too cheap for that. Also, I checked out low-VOC paint, but they only sell it by the gallon and we don't need that much. Boooo.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tin & Insulation

The roof is done.

The insulation is in.

Saturday we're tagging along with my parents to The City to visit the hardware megalomart for things like Visqueen, door hinges, galvanized pipe, eye hooks, stovepipe cap, wire and eye hooks for the windows... and basically to scheme for the rest of what we need to finish for winter.

Tonight we went out and marked everywhere we're going to build something that will take up floor space and deducted that sq.ft'age from the total sq.ft'age of the house = about 144 sq. ft. of actual flooring needed. My dad's friend Dave has some laminate flooring he's going to sell to us on the cheap and although it's not exactly what I had in mind, it's sufficient and about half the price of what I was looking at on IKEA.

We're still thinking of some kind of IKEA countertop... and probably supported with galvanized pipe. I am really digging this corner sink from IKEA and we might be able to afford it by the time we're ready to install it (next year).
The good news is we could be sleeping out there as soon as next week. The wood stove will probably be the most time-consuming project to complete, but it's obviously essential.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's Left?

We didn't make as much progress as we wanted to today, but that's life.

Patia asked what our expected move-in date is. That, we don't know. We hope for the best and take it day by day.

We sat down after dinner and made a list of things we'd like to get done in order to live in it this winter. Most of them are mandatory, a few are optional (like most of the bathroom stuff since we won't have plumbing until next year). Some of these things will take a few minutes, some will take a day or more.
The List
Shim lookouts, insulation, plywood on roof, tin on roof, tar paper on roof, flashing on roof, woodstove/stovepipe, bed platform, doors/threshold/paint, clean brass door hardware, build steps, bolt for hanging chair, headboard, window wall (see below), floor (we're arguing: tile vs. IKEA laminate), big 4.5'x7' windows in bedroom and bathroom & trim, chicken wire to hold up insulation in floor (from underneath), silicone vinyl windows, bathroom walls, toilet shelf, bathroom shelf, shower basin, mirrors, keyholder.

The window wall: these will be a kind of room divider, separating the bed(room) from the main living space. Keith got these out a house in Missoula from one of his contractor friends (free!), saving us about $50 or more... We've wanted to do something like this for a couple years at least. And now we actually have the means and the space. Tonight we finished sanding them all (some have multiple layers of paint, which makes a cool effect) and then we laid them out in different formations until we found one we liked. As pictured below. Forgive the horrible garage lighting. They look a lot radder in real life, trust me. So they'll be hooked together vertically with eye-hooks (or something) and wire. And suspended from the ceiling between the bed and the woodstove.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rafters are on!

It wasn't as hard as I'd imagined, but that was probably because Keith had cut all the blocking ahead of time. And we cut the ends of the rafters last weekend in a drizzle. We decided to go for the pergola-style cut on the ends just for looks. We both imagined the rafters to have a longer overhang, but the lumber is only 16' long and the house is 12' wide, so you do the math.

It was nice to get back to working on the house again. Even though it was COLD out. We were just grateful it wasn't raining.

I did actually work, I didn't stand around taking pictures the whole time, even if that's what it looks like. I climbed up on rickety ladders and handed things to Keith. I was a gopher. I lifted rafters up.

Tomorrow the plywood goes on, which will definitely be more difficult. Mom and dad will help and we might have to employ the help of some neighbors to get the sheets up on the roof. Then the tin goes on for the winter. The green roof will replace and/or cover it in the spring, but we got some "previously owned" tin from my dad's friend Dave for a steal. That will get us through the winter.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We're getting a roof this weekend! Etc.

The weather is finally breaking (or is supposed to) and we're planning on putting the roof on the Tiny House this weekend! You can't even imagine how much Keith and I are chomping at the bit. CHOMP.

While very non-conducive to roof raising, the rain has been great for the volunteer mushroom crop.

Keith's been busy busy getting the doors ready. Today when I got home he had the hardware installed. My dad gave us an old brass handle/lock that his dad pulled off an old homestead in Montana maybe about 15 years ago. It's pretty sweet. Photos soon.

We picked out some paint samples for the doors and we're trying to decide what color(s) will work best with the barn wood we think we're going to use as siding. So I cut up the samples and taped them to a sample board today.

Click for a larger version.
First off we thought a nice red door would be great.
But now I'm leaning toward blue and Keith's leaning toward yellow.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holding Pattern

The rain. The rain.

The rain.

Feeling a bit like Portlanders again.

Only in Portland we worked the rain into our activities. We had no choice. We mostly complained about having to take the dogs out in it. Yes, it was depressing, but there were Things To Do. And we had our own space in which to do them.

Now it's preventing us from finishing the Tiny House. Which you can imagine is More Than Annoying.

I'm Complainy Complainerton.
That is all.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Students Again (Still)

How is it that when Keith picks me up at 5 p.m. it's already dark?

Last night was our first "Sustainable and Small-Acreage Farming" class. Held in probably the only conference room in town--at our only respectable motel.

About a dozen people showed up, which I thought was a pretty good turnout.
We have a huge (recycleable, non-toxic!) binder full of class materials and ACTUAL HOMEWORK. This is an actual class offered for credit through the UofI extension office, and normally costs, like, $300. Last night's class was basically just an overview, asking us to think about what we wanted to get out of the class and we're supposed to go back next week with some long-term and short-term goals.

Keith and I are thinking: Chickens!

Well, when they asked us initially to introduce ourselves and to tell what we were most interested in, Keith said he wants to learn how to grow enough food to feed our family (making it sound like we have 10 kids) and how to do that with nutritional balance and variety. I said I wanted to get the most out of our small area (less than 1.5 acres).

We were really jealous of the people who said they had 40 and 50 acres!

There's an older couple, really cute, who moved to the area about 3 years ago, and they want to find out what kind of farm they can have. Seriously, they're in their 60s.

We also got a bag to take a soil sample. You dig down 1' deep in several places where you're trying to grow things (a representative sample), mix it all up in a bucket, and fill this little bag to take back to class. For $35, they take it to the UofI and measure all of the nutrients, etc. in the soil and on the third week a guy with a Ph.D. in soils!! will tell us what the results mean. Very exciting!

There's also several guest speakers slated to come in and give presentations on various aspects. Basically, each week we cover a different topic for about 3 hours. It's definitely a crash course, but probably enough to get us started on some sort of plan.

Now we just have to decide what we want that plan to be.

The Tiny House is on hold for the time being. The next step is to put the roof on, but we need at least a solid 48 hours of no rain. And since the forecast says a high probability of rain for the next week, this is really bumming us out. Especially since the sun is out RIGHT NOW. Maybe I can go talk Keith into taking a chance (after our buckets of rain session last weekend, doubtful). But then that means I have to get out of my pajamas...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Future Farmers, For Real

Tonight is the first night Keith and I are attending a class called "Sustainable Small Acreage Farming and Ranching." It's 10 weeks, through Jan. 21, for 3 hours every Wednesday night with field tours scheduled for March and it's being offered through The University of Idaho's Lewis Co. Extension office. Keith's getting a scholarship and I'm hoping that since I only work about 22 hours a week, I will "qualify" for one, too. (Keith "qualified" by asking for one.)

It's too dark to be working on the Tiny House in the evenings and it will give us something fun to do together. Plus, if we're good students, and we are, we'll be able to apply this knowledge to next year's garden. And maybe even make some money from it? Lofty goals.

a poster for the same class
offered in southern Idaho

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Buckets of Rain


I've posted this song before, but here it is again.
Bob Dylan original. Neko Case covers it very well.

Life is sad Life is a bust All ya can do is do what you must. You do what you must do and ya do it well, I'll do it for you, honey baby, Can't you tell?

Before it started raining we got 2 of the 3 vinyl windows in.

~the view from our kitchen~

We've been expecting the rain. We finished wrapping the house yesterday, luckily, but the tarp we've been using was just barely long enough to cover the ends. We thought we had it locked down tight.

Apparently not.

As is started raining harder (and harder) we found many leaks on both ends and they were only getting worse. We tried to stop the bleeding with buckets, pans, bowls, bottles, towels, anything we could find to catch the drips.

Lazlo wonders what all the panic is about.

But it wasn't enough. After about 2 hours of the leaks getting worse, and the rain coming down harder, my parents offered to go buy us a bigger tarp.

So the Tiny House sits in limbo until we get a break in the weather and it looks like we might not get one until like mid-week or later.

But we have other house-related things to finish up: the doors, for one.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Family Affair

The weather's turning cold fast and so Mom and Dad helped us out a lot today by working on the Tiny House with us ALL DAY! About 10 hours total. They were so much help--I think we did 2 days' worth of work.

Keith nailing up the last piece of sheeting.

Keith covered in sawdust...we all were.

panorama of the inside of the Tiny House

back side of the Tiny House

starting to wrap the front
(front doors' hole on the right)

We wrapped the house and made it waterproof (it's supposed to rain tomorrow), but we didn't finish until after dark, so that photo will be posted later. It's a huge (tiny) white cube. Very art-installation looking.

Not only were my parents a lot of help, we also had a lot of fun. We're really lucky that they're buying into this plan we have and that they are so generous with their time and everything else they have. We can't tell them Thank You enough. But we try.