As they left and crossed over to another pond, I saw the babies try to nurse. Mom let out a funny sound and didn't let them get much more than a drop of milk. I never would have guessed at their size that they would still be nursing!
This real world nature show makes the world chaos and corruption fade away for a few, needed moments. If only people could understand that the real value of money is not in what it can buy, but in all the ways it can help to preserve what no amount of money could ever buy.
This is looking up at my ceiling from the couch. The boards are rough cut pine and the beams are from trees I cut from the land.
I didn't have scaffolding on the other side to climb on and align them (or someone helping) so that they would be "perfect". I see the flaws, and like scars that show what we've pushed through and survived, I cherish them because it's what I could do in that moment; usually it was all I could do with every fiber of strength I had. What shines through to me is that combined together with all the uneven, 'unsquareness', imperfections, and mistakes, I have a place that is warm, dry (mostly), with the sun to give me power to connect to a satellite, and solitude abound with so much quiet from humans, and a place to sleep and fix some meals where nature flourishes.
If you scroll down a bit you'll see the trees as they were being cut and how I got them up to span my walls.
It's now 2016 and I'm finally able to get some work done on my place. Last summer I moved my then 91 year old mother in to live with me. She was recovering from a bad fall and I didn't want to leave her alone. She can't live at the elevation where my tiny cabin is due to the lower oxygen level, so we live about an hour away where it's two thousand feet lower. I was also battling some health issues of my own, and between the two of us, I wasn't able to get much done. The summer before that I was living at my cabin but I was low on materials and didn't have the resources to do much at all. This summer, we are both healed, and it's been a joy making headway both inside and outside with new construction.
I was replacing the window pane from the outside in this 1800's window yesterday while on the scaffolding. It's a window in the second story. The wind came up as I was caulking and gave me an intimidating push that on the ground I wouldn't have even noticed. Ten feet up, which doesn't seem that high, the wind made me feel like it was very easy to lose balance. I actually grabbed hold of a 2 x 4 in a section of wall that wasn't sealed yet.
I learned to rock climb at a gym and I've said before how much that climbing has helped me in this line of work. The same skills I learned climbing are what I use when I'm climbing scaffolding or climbing a ladder, or climbing around in general.
Here's an "after" photo.
If you are to read the whole story by scrolling down, you'll see more photos of the trees I cut and hauled to the cabin. Hoisting the logs up to the 10 feet high walls and getting the logs to span 12 feet was one of the largest challenges of this project. It's my version of a 25 mile race. I don't come in first, but I cross the finish line!
What you don't see from there is me lifting the tree after I'm standing on the scaffolding and trying to get it up to the 2 x 4 walls, which are at a 10 foot height. One time, I was no less than a 1/2 inch from getting the tree to the edge of the wall. I was trying to muster the last of my strength to reach a tiny edge of a 2x4 and the longer I tried, the more exhausted I was. Every second counted. I just needed to lift 1/2 inch!! Surely I could do that, but it turned out I was wrong. The trick at that point was how to let the log down without flipping the scaffolding and me with it, because I had no energy to let it down slowly and softly. I had no time to think. This log was going to fall because I couldn't hold onto it any longer. It's hard to explain, but I tried to swing the log away from me so that it would miss the scaffolding. I failed. I had no energy left to swing anything. As the log left my arms, it scraped and bounced off of the scaffolding's edge with a crash and shook my platform and me before hitting my deck hard and bouncing from there onto the ground some fifteen feet away. All this in an instant. I was beyond spent and it left me shaking. Fortunately, I had successfully already laid a couple of logs across, so I knew I could do it. I'm so glad it wasn't my first log. I knew this failure only meant that I would just have to start all over. I'd succeeded before, so I could do it again even if I had to try many times.
Living in a small space isn't about trying to see how small I can go. It also doesn't have anything to do with the tiny house movement that's been growing for a decade. For me, it's always been about money, as well as enjoying living a life closer to the earth and appreciating simplicity.
As time goes on, I would now choose smaller even if I had a lot of money. It just feels right. With extra space, it gets filled up with more and more stuff. I like what it feels like to downsize and live minimally.
This little cabin pictured here was my second tiny home living experience. That was 22 years ago. Part of the logs came from an old cabin that we took apart and reassembled in a different location, and then we added new logs for extra height and a loft. It was about 10 feet x 12 feet.
I lived in the original old cabin before we disassembled it that had an entrance door so short I had to bend over to go inside. Cabins from the 1800's often weren't very tall. I spent two summers living in it. It had a wood stove that doubled as something to cook on (it even had an oven) and two single beds that doubled as couches. It also had bean bag chair! The summer before my senior year in high school, I lived in it with my best friend. We had no electricity or running water, but we loved it. That was over 40 years ago.
[This blog from this point on covers from July 26th through October 2013, with photos going up to July 2015.]
I'm building a very small cabin that will be able to be put on a trailer down the road. I've worked with logs, but have never framed anything before. It's a whole new, unknown experience.
My camp is situated on a hilltop overlooking a mountain range. The tent has a wood stove, table and bed. My living room is set up outside with just a tarp strung over to keep everything dry. It’s so quiet up here. I wake to birds and little critters talking, but typically not a sound of civilization except for the occasional jetliner. I’m making new chipmunk and ground squirrel friends – have already hand fed some of them. Hummingbirds drop by daily. Steller's jays visit. Deer pass through the forest. I hear a bear has been sighted within a mile of me, but he’s not made an appearance at my camp yet. I got a satellite installed so I can telecommute for work. I dug a 30 inch hole for an 8 foot pipe and buried it in cement per the specs from the satellite company since I don’t have a structure on which to secure the satellite.
Here's some old barn wood salvaged from a place I spent my summers as a child. I'll be incorporating them into my new place. I've also got a variety of old doors and windows that I've collected over the years that will also become part of my new summer 'home'.
After lots of rain this week, I woke to blue skies and sunshine. What a welcome site!
Got up two more wall sections this morning. Then made two runs to the old barnish place where my recycled collection of doors and windows are stored. Filled my vehicle twice and unloaded everything on site to take a look at what kind of "collage" I can put together. Christ! Some of those doors were so friggin' heavy! Smart moving only goes so far and then it took everything I had to move and lift stuff. I need to be stronger!
I want lots of light, so I built the walls 10 feet tall in order to put high windows in throughout. I want to see the sky both during the day and for the wonderful star filled skies I get around here at night. My place is tiny: 12 x 16 with a second level where the view is even better. Pictured is a 12' foot section of the old barn doors and another old door from childhood taken from what was called the assay house or shop (something like that) where gold and other minerals were examined. Above these doors will be windows.The wall facing the view will be almost entirely windows.
Yesterday was a turning point. I can see my 'cabin' coming to life. It's amazing what the combination of no rain with motivation can do. The photo is of my first window installation. I'm not following any blue prints. I just build and then think, "Oh here's a good place for a window," or "I think I'll try this." The window ended up being very close (too close in conventional terms) to the wall, so I improvised on the outer frame around the window. It only has 3 sides. Not typical, but I like the placement for the view and it looks good against all the doors. The window is on my "wall of doors". I like that it opens and it's level! The other thing I did was finish the framing on the bottom level, which means all 4 walls are up! I also framed in the front door and am ready to attempt to hang the door today if I can find the other half of the hinges. Sure am tired of making the same mistakes twice. I put a 10' 2x4 in wrong two times. I measured and remeasured and remeasured to no good end. I also made the frame for my window three times! Once with wood I ended up not liking, so ripped it out. Then I built a nice frame but it didn't fit. Third time's a charm. What would my life be like if I didn't always learn the hard way?
I knew one day that left over cedar fencing would come in handy for something. I was looking through my stockpile of salvaged lumber and didn't want to do barn wood again. This is the second window I've framed. It's from from a sliding glass door.
Between the rain showers today, which were often and heavy, I worked to finish out the view wall above the front door using a 2nd batch of reclaimed pieces of cedar I located the other day in my storage barn. I am no carpenter, but I’m pleased with how it came out. A bonus is that one of my favorite welded art pieces found a new place to hang. The wood and metal work well together, although it’s hard to capture with a photo.
With the very last of the salvaged cedar, I finished out another section of wall.
I finished getting my ceiling logs today. (My chainsaw was in the shop, which delayed this project.) Now I have to scrape the bark, cut them exactly the right length, and hope that how I plan to use them works and that I can do it. I need an all day sunny day because I have to take off the tarps. This project leaves me with some dread, but if turns out right, it'll be very cool.
One of the trees I cut today fell just where I planned! That was a first. Another one did the screwiest thing. It popped off the stump and completely stood straight up right next to the stump. I had to push it over. Bizarre! Scary too when it happened. One tree I cut on a downward slope location and it took everything I had to drag it uphill to the road to load it in the van. Won't be doing that again. I almost gave up. I'm so out of cardio shape. And at 11,000 ft elevation, it really takes it out of me.
- I love the early mornings; waking to the sound of birds and other wild life around me.
It's 2014 now and I've been working over the summer to enclose the top (the loft) and get it more insulated. It's slow going and money is tight, but it's so cozy. Maybe by next summer, I can finish it.
Below is the pine floor I just installed and the stone platform I made for wood stove. The stone and tile were given to me by a local store. They were remnant pieces in a large bin. The owner of the store just asked that I post photos when I was done. It's called Morrison Tile & Stone. It's a very cool place.