Monthly Archives: July 2014

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At the local library


Categories: ordinary life | 1 Comment


So I want to build a tiny house. I’ve answered “Why a tiny house”, but another good question is “Why build?”

I could buy a finished house from Tumbleweed or Hornby Island Caravans.
I could buy and renovate an RV.
Why build?

A few reasons:
1) New RVs and pre-made tiny houses cost quite a pretty penny. Try around the range of $30,000–$50,000.
At my current rate of income and savings…that’s years of overtime. Or years of debt. Eh….not what I want. I want something soon and I want something fairly cheap. I’m not exactly planning on spending the rest of my life in a tiny house: this is a for-now solution while I save for something more permanent. A stop-gap or a stepping stone, if you would. Same as living at home, but with just a bit more…independence, I guess. My own roof. I guess at heart, I’m a symbolism kinda girl.
2) Renovated a used RV is a popular option for what I want…but if I’m going to spend that much time, effort and money on it, I think I’d rather just design my own. Build a space that is truly me, inside and out.
3) Building my own is a scary prospect. I’ve never done anything like it.
It’s absolutely terrifying…so why wouldn’t I do it? There’s a good kind of terror, a rush of life as you do something completely new. If I can build my own dwelling, no matter how small, what else can I do?

So, I’m building.

What kind of DIY tiny house?
If there’s one design I’ve kept coming back to in my years of haunting tiny house sites, it’s this. The vardo. Inspired by the wagons of itinerant Roma, or gypsies, the vardo is loft-less, really small and comparatively light-weight. This vardo, the Don Vardo by Portland Alternative Dwellings, is actually the one I’m planning to build. I’ll be buying the 12 foot plans
Unlike some tiny houses, it’s not meant to be used as a full-time structure such as we think of houses…at least, not by itself. It’s more of a guest-room/home office kind of deal. Committing to this design, instead of a more “traditional” tiny house, like a Tumbleweed house, means spending more time in the main house…hey, that’s rather what I need! Like I said, not planning on living out the rest of my days there. Stepping stone; personalized stepping stone.
Now, for some design ideas! More pictures of the basic Don Vardo. These are of the 8 foot vardo, not the 12 foot version.













Here are some inspirations from other sources:
The “Hobbit Hutch
While I’m not so fond if the blue exterior, I love the shutters and the interior layout and colors.
Paleotool’s vardo.
An instructables construction guide of Paleotool’s vardo.
A little more rustic than I personally like, but the details are exquisite! I’m looking for something with a little more insulation, though…
Kintala’s vardo. A very historically accurate vardo! Details galore!
Hornby Island Caravans. So many good ideas! I love how open these spaces seem, even though they are actually quite small, as opposed to the often cluttered and cramped tiny houses.
Baldwin Gypsy Caravan: I love how thoroughly he documents the construction process.
Daphne’s Caravans: a treasure-trove of vardo information. I love how expansive the vardo culture is. It makes sense, I suppose: vardos have a longer history than most tiny houses.
A video of vardo construction. Extremely helpful resource!

Other assorted ideas:
Love the bump-out window!

















Here’s an exterior color scheme I like. Just imagine these colors on the vardo:






Categories: Micro cottage | 2 Comments


I still live in my parents’ home.
That’s right: I’ve never moved out. Hear me out before you judge, please. It’s not quite what you might think. It’s not that I’m “a failure to launch” or that I’m lazy free-loader or am scared to get out on my own; I’ve made a conscious choice for very good and important adult reasons. Reasons I’m not going to go into right now, but they are good reasons, I promise. I didn’t just never move out; it was a conscious and deliberate choice. And I’m happy with my choices and my life and we’ve made it work. It’s rather less like living under my parent’s roof and more like I’m sharing a house with three other adults.
But I’m getting to the point where I need just a little more space. It’d be nice to have, for lack of a better term, my own roof. My own little space that’s just mine. What’s a girl to do?

Enter tiny houses.
For years, I’ve followed tiny house blogs and websites. I love the idea of living in a small space, but, for many reasons, I’ve never really made any steps towards realizing this idea. There’s always been something else going on, something else that I wanted. A tiny house of my own just kept getting pushed back into a corner of my mind. Well, that’s changing. I’m taking out my pipe dreams and dusting them off; they’ll be solid under the sun and not just mist in my mind. Yikes.

Why a tiny house?
As a child, I always thought it would be cool to live in a house on wheels…I love reading stories about wandering folk and gypsies. Mobile housing really fired my imagination.
As an adult, I have a deep-seated aversion to debt. And traditional housing is ridiculously expensive…almost impossible to achieve when you only make ten bucks an hour and don’t want to have a massive load of debt.
My imagination and bohemian tendencies and my limited sense of practicality are coming together in a project: I’m going to build myself a tiny house. I already have the perfect set-up for tiny house living: land to live on with, understanding and supportive landlords (hey Mom and Dad!). I’m single, don’t have kids, and have a few very good reasons for staying really close to home.

So, I’m going to building myself a tiny house. The expense is going to come exclusively out of bonuses and overtime and maybe tax refunds (I still have quite a bit left from last year’s return). I’m not going to use my core paychecks…that is, what I would make if I only work my scheduled shifts. That money is still going to be funneled into usual expenses and savings. This is a strictly extra-curricular, to mix my metaphors hopelessly. I might be the richest girl in the graveyard, but at least I’ll have something to show for it.
So, stay tuned for more crazy adventures! I’ll be document the whole experience here on this blog: how many hours I work, the total cost, the building process. It might take me a while because of this self-imposed financial limitation, but it’ll be interesting I’m sure!
It’s me, after all. Boring just isn’t an option.

Categories: Micro cottage | 5 Comments

Looking back

For various reasons, I’ve been thinking about my old nursing home lately. No, I’m not going back there.
I suppose it’s natural, working 50 hours a week for an extended time during the summer drags my thoughts back to two summers ago.

I think about it a lot. My memory is far from perfect and not even two years down the road, I can’t remember a lot of details about the building where I spent more time awake than I did in my own house. I remember the color of the hoyer slings, but the hoyer itself? Zilch. Can’t remember anything about it other than the general hoyer-lift shape of it. Layout of the care-guides? Um…they were black ink on white paper? They had grids?
Some coworkers and residents’ faces I remember clear as day; some I can’t even recall their names. Is that terrible? Is that just normal? Either way, it’s kind of sad.
If I focus, I can remember slightly more, details about the dining room layout, the dining utensils, the music that was played.

So why don’t I go back, for a visit? At first I couldn’t because I needed to look forward, not back. When I thought of “my residents”, I thought the old gang, not the current one.
And then one day, a shift happened. Work, job, nursing home, residents, boss, coworker, these all began to describe people and places in the present, not the past. I don’t know when exactly it happened, but from that moment on, there were no slips of tongue, no “Wait a minute” corrections either in my mind or in conversations.
It just happened, organically and smoothly. No drama. The old place slipped into memory; it no longer dominated the largest part of my mind. Then I finally got some forward momentum on my life and just plain didn’t have time or energy for going back. Also, I think I needed a clean break, a fresh start.

And I’ve done well, professionally and personally, since then. But I think I need a little reflection on the past right now. My biggest regrets stem from being passive and not proactive…that’s something I need to remember right now. Sometimes, making a choice, even if it’s a mistake, is better than remaining static. Two years ago, I told myself: “Stay or go. Just choose and stick with your decision.”
That decision to make a decision is something I’m proud of. And something I need to remember.

Categories: CNActivist, ordinary life | Leave a comment

Third time’s the charm

Dear God, please let it be so!
And yes, I just bought my third pair of slip resistant shoes of the week. This has gone beyond funny.
At least, that’s my opinion. Everyone else around me…has other thoughts about it.
So, let’s recap.
Shoe #1: hurt every time I knelt down, bent over or did anything with my foot besides stand and walk. Back for a refund!
Shoe #2: was perfectly comfortable for kneeling and bending. Walking, however, caused them to cut into my ankles. Back to the store for a refund.
(I wish to state, for the record, that I really did try these shoes on in the store. I walked, knelt, bent, ran, jumped and did everything I could possibly think of to test the wearability of these shoes. But there is a big difference between walking around making a spectacle of yourself in a shoe store and actually working in the shoes.)
Shoes #3: actual Nursing shoes. I was going to get Grey’s Anatomy shoes, but they didn’t have them in my size…so I got Nurse Mates Doves. Soft matter, comes over my ankle but doesn’t cut into me anywhere. The heel slips a little when I’m on my toes, but that’s small potatoes to what I was dealing with earlier.
I’d like to save up some money and maybe replace these with Clark slip resistant shoes….but seeing as how they are $126, it might be a while. Until then, I think I can live with these Nurse Mates. I just hope the feeling is mutual.

Hopefully, all foot-wear related drama shall now come to an end.
If it doesn’t, it’s official: slip-resistant shoe kind has declared war on me.
I think I’m losing.


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The (continuing) saga of new(er) shoes

The next time I leave a shoe store after just a half-an-hour, please remind me of these posts and send me back in for further deliberation; because apparently, a quick visit does not mean that my decision-making powers are growing sharper.
It means I forgot a step, like, say, making sure I liked the shoes or that they would be comfortable for the intended purpose. I can’t tell you how many times in the last two days that I’ve either A) readjusted my new shoes or B) declared that I hated said shoes.
So—out with the new and in with the newer! This time I spent 45 minutes in the store, paced the aisle comparing different shoes, squatted, bent over, rocked on my heels, wriggled my toes, sprinted…you get the picture.
These are my newest shoes. And hopefully, they shall survive to be the old shoes.


Categories: ordinary life | 1 Comment

The saga of new shoes

Some times, multiple things come together at once. I’m convinced that this is, at least partially, my own fault: I am, after all, a notorious procrastinator. Left to my own devices, I tend to shove things off until they just can’t be put off any more. Then I run about in a whirlwind of panic, trying to get everything done.
Yeah. I’m well aware that I usually take the hard way…what can I say, it’s interesting there.

I recently experienced such a convergence of things:
A) Thanks to a policy change at work, I had to get slip-resistant shoes; but this wasn’t so bad because B) I needed new shoes anyway.
See, the funny thing about wearing the same pair of shoes for 40-50 hours a week for two years: they eventually break down. Your once comfortable shoes become instruments of torture…well, more so than normal. (Anyone who knows me knows that I hate shoes. And I mean hate. As a child I often refused to wear them, but you can’t really do this as a semi-responsible adult in the working world. Especially in a nursing home!)
So, with three days to the deadline imposed by corporate and aching feet due to my holding-together-by-prayer-and-I-don’t-want-to-know-what-else old work shoes, I went shoe shopping.

You might have guessed my long-standing and deeply-rooted aversion to footwear, but I hate shoe shopping. Sandals aren’t so bad, as I hardly consider them shoes—but unfortunately, neither does anybody else. And this time I had a real challenge: find shoes I liked/could endure that also matched corporate standards. Oh, and that also fit my budget.
Yeah. Mom, who went with me, was amazed that we were only in the shoe-store for less than an hour. To be honest, I was too.
I bought some Sketchers wide-width work shoes that seemed okay. In two months, I daresay I won’t notice them during the work day. Right now…let’s just say that I’m enduring. And readjusting. And complaining.
I hate breaking in new shoes.
At least my feet are just uncomfortable, as opposed to in actual pain. I guess.

Categories: ordinary life | 5 Comments

Stream of consciousness

Or, perhaps more accurately, a collection of random thoughts.

So, here it is: my day off and I’m lounging around the house. Then it occurs to me that I haven’t posted here in a few days! I’m not sure I’m up to a coherent, concise post…so I’m going to capitalize on the chaos! I don’t usually do stream of consciousness, but what the hey!

I changed my “Every other day story update due to Mom” from a new story to the old one. In a good streak, I can keep up with multiple writing irons in the fire…but this isn’t a good streak. So, condensing.
It’s actually showing progress on the main story, so I’m not hollering and neither is Mom. I did miss yesterday, but this past weekend has been, shall we say, crazy. It happens every time I work a double (16 hours) one day and then have to go back in for a regular 8 shift the next day; I lose the second day to a fog of unfocused lethargy. If I’m not asleep, I’m in a daze.

People ask me all the time: “How do you even work 16 hours in a day?”
Well, it isn’t easy. The very first double I worked was 2nd shift to 3rd shift and not only was it my very first time staying awake all night, it was also my very first 3rd shift. And I was the only aide. 30+ residents, only a busy nurse to help me. Yikes!
That was my introduction to energy drinks.
The next time I had to work a double with that nurse, she tried coffee instead. The hope was that coffee would keep me awake and upright but not shaky and loopy. I’m honestly not sure why the coffee didn’t affect me like the 5-Hour Energy; it was about equal parts sugar and coffee.

But anyways, to get through a double, you just grit your teeth and do it. I tend to power through the last 8 hours at break-neck pace; I’m always afraid if I stop moving I won’t be able to start up again. It’s really having to work the next day that I dread. Having only about 5 hours of sleep, my body still aches, and my mind is still processing the day before. It’s…not fun. Doable, endurable, often necessary, but not fun.
Days like today, the first day off from a string of days with a double thrown somewhere in the mix, tend to be jumbled and unfocused. I’m sure it reflects in my writing. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get out of the house, go somewhere and do something to break the cycle of work-sleep-work-sleep.

So, when I get off here, I think I’m going to do a few chores around the house and then go out for a bit.
Even if I only have a meager amount of money to spend. I have to get cat food anyways, if I wish to avoid being eaten alive by my not-so-sweet-when-she’s-hungry kitty.


Categories: CNActivist, ordinary life, Writing | 1 Comment

A few thoughts

Work on my main story (the Laryn and Alyn story) has been creeping by at a frustratingly slow pace. Part of that is probably my fault, but a large part isn’t. See, I’ve been working 50 hour weeks for something like 5 weeks. Maybe 6, I’m not sure.
Amazingly, I’m exhausted but not burnt out like the summer of ’12 when a similar thing happened. Of course, I’m not recovering from a tornado now, I’ve been working first and second shifts and sleeping at night instead of working second and third shifts and trying to sleep between 7 am and noon. Also unlike the summer of ’12 is the fact that I’ve chosen to work most of these extra shifts, instead of having to work them because I was mandated. It’s a fine line distinction, but it’s a distinction nonetheless.
Nevertheless, it’s still sapped away my writing energy and I’ve felt off-kilter because of it. It’s good to be back at the keyboard again.

Laryn’s story is getting closer to being completed: I plan to have the first draft completely done by my 25th birthday…which gives me just slightly less than a year to get my butt in gear and GET IT DONE. I’m still wrestling with what to do with it once it’s done; whether to try my luck at traditional publishing or whether to self-publish. There’s many great arguments for both paths. Thing is, I’m not really expecting to have a New York Times best seller on my hands…and I’m not being modest, either. It’s quite hard to place genre-wise: it’s Sci-Fi for sure, but it’s not quite Star Trek level sci-Fi and it’s not as space opera either. It’s not quite literary fiction, not quite YA (Laryn is in her mid-20s).
So I’m conflicted and probably will be until I send it off, one way or another. I’d lean more towards self-publishing, except for this nagging voice that’s whispering: “most self-published books aren’t as well known as traditionally published books.” I can’t decide if this voice is pride, fear, caution or some kind of conglomeration of all of the above.
With self publishing, I’d have to do my own marketing…not something I do naturally or very well. And I want this story out there.
With traditional publishing, I’m running the risk that a company would buy the rights and then sit on it…something I rather dread. I want this story out there.
Thankfully, I’ve got a bit of time before I have to make a decision. A rapidly dwindling bit of time…

Meanwhile, I’m also doing a writing exercise for the next two weeks: roughly 500 words due every other day on a novella idea. Due to my mother, no less. I’m finding that having to send my work to someone else…someone who is waiting and expecting it, is quite shall we say motivating.
Just something to get me back into the flow, something that’s not my main story and so has Great Importance on the quality of the words. It’s helping get me back in the habit.

Categories: CNActivist, Writing | 1 Comment

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