Saturday, December 17, 2011

Short days, long nights

We're hibernating. Cycling through the daylight pretty quickly, but soon it will be the shortest day of the year and then we'll start seeing more sun, incrementally and importantly. We're hanging on until then, watching more than our share of movies (including Ken Burns' series on WWII - fascinating and incredibly interesting), reading some great books (including 1Q84 thanks to our rad local library system) and finishing NYT crosswords (printed from here).

A couple of weeks ago we walked the dogs to the river and went the opposite direction from the island. Found a lot of mussel shells and some bones. Brought back some white rocks for my air plant garden. 

Finished one roll of slide film and started another at the beach, but who knows how long it will take to finish it. I have a cheap underwater camera to send to Yellowstone for developing (dogs in the river shots mostly) so I'll send the one roll off for slides along with it and be pleasantly surprised to see what's on it.

The condensation in the house is still an issue. We had a little petri dish-type situation on one of the large windows that catches a lot of dog breath. (Year-end bonus at work will probably fund the dehumidifier project. Yay.)

With the cold weather the dogs are content with short bursts of outdoor activities. They're hibernating, too. Mia's hibernation is a little more anxious than ours.

I have an itch to buy more film for my SX-70, especially since it looks like we'll be going to the hot springs before the end of the year. (As long as there's a cabin available.) Some b/w shots sure would look neat up there in the winter. I might be talking myself into it. 

This polaroid is from the first pack I shot with the SX-70 this summer and I was pretty upset when none of the first shots turned out like I wanted. I felt ripped off and frustrated. But I've had this sitting in a south-facing window watching it slowly change. It has a pocket of gold flaky parts in the purple-blue middle that are fascinating. 

Winter-time entertainment, watching polaroids get sunbleached.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have a lot to be thankful for: loving husband, loving dogs, loving family, food in the cupboard, a roof over my head, and transportation to get me to a job I really like. No room for complaining. 

Tiny house projects are on hold for financial reasons, but Keith decided to do something he's wanted to do for three years now and rotate the bed 90 degrees and put it under the window.

I had resisted this because I thought it would take up too much room that way, but it actually seems like there's more space now. He was right, I was wrong. Last night was the first sleep oriented North-South (he's also felt that our Feng Shui was off) and it did feel good. In all of our previous dwellings rearranging the furniture was a pastime/compulsion so there's no reason to think the tiny house won't be the same, just with fewer options.

We have a bookshelf/cabinet planned for the wall where the head of the bed used to be and probably some kind of padded headboard for the bed where it is now because a windowsill in the back of the brain while watching TV is just not that comfortable.

The humidity created by the propane heater is driving us crazy and while we're shopping around for and budgeting for a dehumidifer, Keith has created a DIY version that seems to be working quite well. 

Several of these cheesecloth + rock salt + Mason jar contraptions and a digital hydrometer/thermometer is helping us keep track. The weather prediction part of the thermometer predicted rain (inside the house) this weekend when the humidity reached 80%. Eek.

I'm traveling with my parents to southern Oregon (almost California, really) to celebrate my grandpa's 85th birthday with my mom's side of the family. The holidays are really not all that exciting/appealing to me, but I am going to try to keep on my social face and go with the flow. And it will be nice to see my grandpa, of course! Keith is staying home on dog duty and we're making the drive tomorrow morning, birthday dinner Friday night, and return drive Saturday. Fastest trip to almost-California ever. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to The Island

It's been about 10 months since our last visit to The Island. It was a cool windy day, any remaining leaves were blowing off the trees.

We're really lucky to be a short walk away from the river.

Everyone had a good time. Not much had changed, but there's still a lot of junk and trash out there. It was wonderful to get some exercise for us and the doggies.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

 That's Keith putting the last piece of cedar up for the ceiling. We high-fived.

The dogs entertain themselves wrestling whenever the sun comes out. Mia loves having a sweatshirt on this time of year (really, she does) and Lazlo thinks it's a handle for him to get a better grip on her.

The hazelnuts are all over the ground on the southeast corner of my parents' property. The dogs promptly stole all of these, cracked them and ate the nuts.

We have a temporary outdoor kitchen set up now with the camp stove. We have barn wood to put on the cabinet (once the barn wood dries out after sitting out in the weather) and probably some corrugated tin. Not sure what we're going to do for a counter - probably a salvaged door or some other salvaged material we find. Keith makes his breakfast out at the house now - coffee and oatmeal - and we can have tea or hot chocolate at night.

We scored an empty Culligan bottle and Keith's looking for bomba that we bought in Mexico. If we can't find it we can get another one easily and then we'll have water in the tiny house (though no drain to the outside - that didn't happen and the ground is getting hard).

Keith got one last harvest off the tomatoes before the first frost last week. We made a batch of salsa over the weekend (7 quarts) and he made another batch yesterday with some smoked jalapenos we had saved from 2 years ago (another 7 quarts) and it was the best batch yet using this recipe, modified.

After the first frost last week Keith cut the grapes and we made grape juice - the easy way - to enjoy over the winter. If we don't drink it all before the snow flies! It's so good.

We canned 21 quarts on Saturday before we switched over to salsa making and my mom and Keith finished off the grapes this week with at least that many quarts.

We didn't have an extensive garden this year, mostly just peppers and tomatoes, but we did a lot with what we did have and didn't get overwhelmed with it being all labor-intensive. Win-win.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We've shifted focus from the lav lately to finishing the ceiling in the house so we can get the propane hooked up to the heater. The house has been staying pretty warm without it - Keith love tracking the highs and lows - but the that won't last long with nighttime temps dropping a little each night.

 During the day, especially if the sun is out, we see our inside thermometer get up to about 70 and then it drops down to the mid-50s overnight. I have an electric blanket, but only use it for a while when I first get in bed and then again right before I get out of bed in the morning. It's a nice luxury I don't take for granted.

looking toward the front doors 

a somewhat messy house (though it's been messier,  Keith just cleaned this week)

We put the shelving unit Keith built a while back up over the door again before we finish the ceiling in that corner. Keith has a stack of old maps and sea charts he picked up somewhere, so instead of having to back the shelves with cedar or something, we decided to cut up one of the maps to back it. This one had water damage on the edge, but fit just right in two pieces.

It's upcycled and looks great! We're thinking these maps could be used other places inside. This one is a sea chart of the coast of California. And there was a scrap I saved to somehow incorporate into our zine (not yet started, but soon).

Keith's going to work on putting some trim up tomorrow while I'm at work and maybe some insulation in the lav then Saturday if the weather cooperates we'll be able to finish the ceiling and get the heater going again.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We've made a bit of progress in the last week or so. The lav is now sided, except the part by the outdoor kitchen, and the tin is on the roof.
Keith's built the cabinet for the outdoor kitchen and today we talked about siding the underside of the cabinet and some of the outdoor walls with barn wood and maybe some leftover tin.

We spent most a day last week putting more insulation in the ceiling of the house. We had rigid insulation in there, but Keith was an avid proponent of adding some more. It was tedious, time-consuming, and dirty, but we wrapped some plastic over the bed, moved everything mobile outside and then went to work.

At the end Keith's arms were getting very tired, holding the insulation overhead and then wacking it with his half-reliable hammer tacker. We've noticed a huge difference in the amount of heat that stays in the house. Hoping that will also translate to keeping it cooler in the summertime, too.

Mia enjoyed some sunshine on the porch the other morning. It's been raining lately, as it does this time of year, so we're thankful for the days where the sun actually burns through the fog and shows itself.

We have some new minimalist utensils for the tiny house. These German military surplus sets are from Cool Material and quite affordable at $12 each. Plus they lock together and would be super handy for camping. 

And they're resting on the gorgeous oak cutting board Keith made out of scraps someone donated to us. It's been sitting out in the pantry for a good year or so, all rugged, and he finally got the edges cut down and sanded and I love it!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fall in your face

This past week the fall weather came on hard. Suddenly everything is orange and yellow and the past couple days of rain have reminded me very much of Portland's fall. Temperatures and foliage are dropping.

Time to bring Mr. Aloe indoors. A friend mailed this little pup to us from Portland as a tiny housewarming present and it's been hanging on despite my natural inclination to kill most potted plants I come in contact with. I left it outside all summer hoping to perk it up and it has grown a little. Now heading into the dormant season, kind of like us humans.

To help keep us sane and occupied this winter, Keith and I are starting up a zine. It's called "A Brief and True Progressive Report" and the details can be read here. There are no restrictions on content, so if you need a creative outlet this fall/winter (and beyond), send an email to get on the list of contributors.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekend photo post

Keith's out of town on a guys-only fishing trip, so no progress on the tiny house lav this weekend. The dogs and I are holding down the fort. Maybe we'll pick and roast tomatoes tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

After finishing The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami this weekend, I am certainly adding it to my Top Five Books of All-Time. It's intensely psychological, dreams play a large part, it's about family and marriage and for 600 pages, it's extremely compelling all the way through. 

 It joins (in no particular order) Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. So far my Top Five only has Four, but I know there's at least one more book out there to round it out. Eventually it will have to be a Top Ten, I imagine.

After a discussion about which tiny house project takes precedence and Keith finally coming around to my point of view (hint: it's not adding more insulation to the ceiling of the house), we made a little progress on the lav this weekend.

Sunday night I asked Keith to haul our new used door we found in Moscow over to the lav so we could see what that would look like. The knob is rather low, so we're not sure--we might turn it end-for-end and have a high knob instead.

The ledger on the front of the lav is up and Keith finished sheathing this wall. We have to buy a couple more 2x8s to finish the rafters, a piece of clear poly roofing to bridge the part between the lav and existing porch (which will allow a lot of light to reach the outdoor cooking area), insulate the walls, etc. etc.

Since our house is in a constant state of construction, I like to make little "finished" areas that make me feel like we live in a house not a shack. I brought my airplants that have been living outside all summer back in since the nighttime temps are starting to drop. They have a lot of new growth on them, which is encouraging.

I'm still adding ideas and resources to my pinterest board for the house. I almost ordered reed blinds for our 3 small windows, but held off on that and ordered 2 sets of German Military Surplus Utensils instead. 'Cause we're practical like that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last Sunday we accomplished even more on the lav, standing two walls! That leaves only a partial wall (with room for a door) to complete because the 4th wall is the outside of the house. And the roof. And the interior. And the toilet. And the outdoor cooking space.

Okay, so there's a lot more work to do, but we're concentrating on just making progress.
Keith had a little panic attack when he was finished nailing the first (north) wall together because he forgot to allow for cripples in the window hole to support the header. The header is end-nailed in there and pretty sturdy as-is, but after we get the window placed he said he'll rip down a 2x6 (or maybe use a 2x4) to fit in there with the window since the window isn't the full thickness of the wall. Basically, it's all good.

Friday we made a trip to Moscow and Lewiston and came home with a door and some insulation and a copper pipe for the shower rod... a few things, but not everything on our list.

We currently have the last (third) wall up and rafters on, so I should post some new pics soon. We have a line on a local supplier of red worms for the composting toilet and a good friend gave me a P-style, which totally solves our urine diversion dilemma. The logistics are totally figured out, but theoretically it will be pretty easy.

At Costco we found their bamboo flooring was a great deal and much easier to install than tile, so we're planning on buying some on the next trip to The City. Still wondering what we're going to use on the walls in the corner where the shower's going. But the shower likely won't come to fruition until next year, so we have time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Never for money, Always for love

We planned on building some walls on the tiny house lav today, but as we know from experience, things take longer than you think. Also, we altered the plans AGAIN! Switched the ends where we're going to install the toilet and shower.

Any discussion of revision of plans takes a good half hour or so, but I am just glad we're to the point where we don't fight over logistics. That means, mostly, Keith goes along with what I say suggest. And here at Blankenship Tiny House Construction, our motto is, "Whatever's easiest!"

But we made progress this morning before it got too hot and we ran to the lumber store to buy enough 2x6x8s and 3/4" OSB to build all of the walls tomorrow.

The part with the sub-floor is the footprint of the bathroom, about 77" square.

Our existing porch is pretty crowded with the theater seats, drop leaf table, chairs that go with that table... (not counting two high-maintenance pit bulls that are always hanging around). We need some more outdoor living space.

So we decided while we were building this addition with the bathroom we'd bridge that area to the existing porch with an outdoor cooking area. Our coleman camping stove hooked up to propane, basically. A tea kettle and a frying pan, too. (The plan is to eventually install a camper propane oven inside, for baking needs.)

The foremost area of the outdoor kitchen area (on the right there) will be a storage space for the propane tank accessible by a door from the outside and the top of that will be where the stove sits with some storage space included, depending on what kind of salvaged materials we can find. I'd love to find a skylight or something we can alter to be a skylight (windshield?) to include in the roof between the existing porch roof and the bathroom roof.

It's been smoky here lately, with fires burning all over the northwest and us living in a valley where the smoke settles with no wind. Snapped this shot around 7 am, a couple days ago, before my run. I'm almost done with week 5 of C25K and tomorrow's run is a straight 20 minutes. Oy.

P.S. I like to listen to music when I write these posts, helps the ideas flow for me. Today's post was written while listening to a campfire mix from Giant Panther and included a Talking Heads song, "This Must Be the Place." I think David Byrne is a genius and I like this song so much I made it the ringtone for our cell so when I call Keith I can listen to it.

This video is a clip from the movie, Stop Making Sense. One of the best music documentaries I've seen, one that you can watch over and over or just leave on loop in the background (like The Last Waltz).

Great lyrics, too.

Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - born with a weak heart
(So I) guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong . . nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time

Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up say goodnight . . . say goodnight

Home - is where I want to be

But I guess I'm already there
I come home she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from the other
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time Before we were born
If someone asks, this where I'll be . . . where I'll be

Hi yo We drift in and out

Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head
Ah ooh

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day, laboring on the lav

After a lot of planning and procrastinating for various reasons (money being one of them, let's face it), we made more progress on the tiny house lav today.

This is the space we started with, to the left of the porch. Behind that wall where the siding is removed is the bed. (Our sun shower's been employed as a dog wash station lately.)

We hung some ledgers, got the corner posts set, and revised plans before we ran out of materials. But Friday is pay day and we should be able to get the rest of the flooring joists in this week and start on walls next weekend.

We decided our original plan of having a rain barrel under the toilet seat to catch solid waste was going to be a framing nightmare in such a small space (we'd need an outdoor access panel under the bathroom that was 4' tall to slide out a full barrel), so we chucked that plan and we're going with the simpler (though more hands on) sawdust toilet. We can get sawdust at the mill where my mom works and we'll be emptying it either in the RV dump near the fence on the edge of the property... or... somewhere else.

Urine can be handled easier (like this) and trees actually tolerate undiluted urine very well. We've been doing a low-tech version of that already, Keith peeing off the porch in any direction he chooses or me peeing a bucket and throwing it out in the morning. The perks of living in rural Idaho!

I'm about 100 pages into Hot, Flat, and Crowded and it's making me sad, depressed, and angry. Most of what I've read so far is about how the developing world (including China, India, etc.) is trying to live up to what they see as the American lifestyle and what the implications are for the rest of the world re: energy prices, food prices, and pollution. Makes me want to expand the garden and get some solar panels.

Labor Day is also Kamiah's annual celebration called Barbecue Days.  Everyone comes home for class reunions and to get their drink on (Keith and I have been there, done that and are now smarter). One of my friends brought her little girl over and my parents got to smell and hold a real live baby. Since it's looking like all of their grandkids will be of the canine variety, it was like a short-term baby timeshare. I think there could be a business in this...