I’ve been struggling lately. Really hard. My optimism has taken a beating, I feel overwhelmed often by financial worries, and yet…it’s silly, because we always manage to get by…somehow. Some days, it seems that this tin box has become as much the end of the line as a sardine’s can though, and it wasn’t meant as the end of the line. It’s supposed to be a new beginning!
We started out in here because it was cheap and it would give us a chance to regroup, figure out what we really needed, what we really wanted, and whether or not we could really do this. We have found out a whole lot about what we don’t want, don’t need, and what we can’t do. The cans and wills and wants might be a bit more elusive.
The ultimate goal was to find out whether or not we could live in a small space and what kind of features our small space would need. We intended to build ourselves a suitable home in the relatively near future, as in not a decade away kind of future!
Running out of optimism hasn’t helped at all. When a person runs out of that all important ingredient for life, you will start to see only the barriers, the obstacles, the dead ends, and the uphill climbs. It becomes difficult, if not impossible, to see the detours, turn arounds, side trails, alternative routes, and downhill rides. Your mind is stuck in the rut, failing to see that the rut itself can be a highway if you so choose.
Then, thanks to the Ladies of Fate or whatever force, something comes along and gives me a dose of optimism and a sprinkle of joy to make it grow into even more optimism. I’m not sure how it happens, but the slightest dribble of optimism can become a raging torrent of it with very little help! Now all I have to do is channel that optimism into my chosen routes, and before you know it…I’ll be taking the high road to happiness once again! (Poor GM, he’s always getting dragged along on various things, often with no warning or explanation either. It’s a good thing he has seasoned our relationship well with tolerance and a dash of long suffering sighs!)
So, I will share my evening inspiration with you. It’s a simple short video, courtesy of PBS. Just click here and sit back for a few minutes!
I’m not sure I would be much help on such a project, and I wish the concept had been known to me a couple of decades ago. (My kids might have discovered their latest adventure was living in just such a micro-sized space!) Once upon a time, I’m pretty sure that with a bit of help from family, we could have had the shell up in a weekend, leaving me to work on finishing bits and pieces until another weekend when I would have help roughing in the plumbing and wiring. I’d have needed two lofts–one for each kid, with some cubbies for their clothes and “stuff”. They would have loved it!
Now though, I’m not as agile, strong, and capable as I was then. I hope I’m wiser but sometimes that doesn’t make up for physical ability. Raising those walls would be very hard work! Banging a hammer all day is also very hard work, as is running a screw gun if screws are used instead of nails. Climbing onto the roof, laying out the roofing felt and then putting the roofing material into place would also be hard work. Putting the roof insulation into place, then covering it with the interior finishing material is no cake walk either.
We’re at a different point of time in our lives, and facing something that everyone over 40 should be thinking about. We are not going to remain agile enough for climbing up a ladder to a loft bed, let alone making that bed, every single night for the rest of our lives. To build a house, intending on making it your permanent home, and not considering reduced mobility is not a smart choice post 40, whether we want to admit it or not. It’s fine for storage, for guest space, for anything else…but not as the only sleeping space.
So for us, we’re going to say its going to be storage space. Therefore, we don’t need a large loft, just big enough for the off season bedding and clothing, holiday decorations, etc. We do need space for our normal clothing, so the equivalent of a chest of drawers, along with a small closet should suffice.
We do need two workstations/desk areas. We’ve discovered there is NO option for this. We both tend to spend a lot of time working, and usually at the same time, as we converse and collaborate. We don’t need them side by side, just need two distinct areas that each of us can personalize to our needs.
We also need an alternative sleeping area. Normally, we do sleep together, but on occasion, if one of us is having a bad night, it’s nice to have the ability to stretch out without worrying about bothering your partner. A day bed sort of arrangement would suffice, or any seating area that can double as sleeping space–a good idea anytime you are in a small space.
Our dining area needs to NOT double as working space, or it will become work space and we’ll end up eating out of our laps. The same is true of our leisure space, which most people regard as television or conversation time. It doesn’t need to be large, just big enough for a couple of friends in foul weather, or for the two of us to read or watch a movie together.
The kitchen needs to have a pantry. We’re both country folks in habit, and we believe in a stocked pantry. Without it, we end up storing stuff in weird locations, something we know all about right now! I don’t need four burners, but a full sized four burner stove is a much more economical choice than choosing a small apartment sized two or three burner stove with an oven, and I despise the “RV” type stoves. For the same economy reason, we’re much better off to buy a 16 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer than we are to go with smaller versions. We get more space inside, better energy efficiency, and a lower initial cost. Silly, but true. Our tiny 4 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer isn’t quite large enough, and we have trouble with issues such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, etc. not fitting. By lifetime habit, I prefer to do the bulk of my shopping once a week or every two weeks. We also know a standard sink is in order, no matter how we opt to get water to it. I would also like a dishwasher, but between initial expense and operating expense, I’m not sure that would really be included. I just hate washing dishes, and find it a back breaking, aggravating chore.
Then there is the clothing. It needs washed too, and the convenience of being able to do it at home, especially with high gasoline costs to get to a laundromat. This is an expense that can surely be justified, even if the expense of a dryer is still to be debated. Worst case scenario is that we spend a lot of time with our undies hanging on an indoor clothesline! Technically speaking, a washing machine does not have to be IN the house–it can be on a back porch, a shed, etc. with equal convenience.
The bathroom. Tricky prospect this…if its done wrong, it can be a nightmare forever. If its done right, we’ll be happy forever. We would like a composting toilet, but…we don’t want to smell the process, nor spend half of the total budget for the house on just the toilet. We would like a soaking tub/shower combination too. Aching bones find a hot bath a real luxury on occasion, but we don’t want something small and cramped like an RV tub/shower. We want efficiency! If we can’t have a composting toilet, we really need to go with an efficient RV style toilet and include a portable holding tank on our design in order to maintain off-the-grid ability.
Electricity and lighting–obviously, we want off-the-grid livability, but we also love the convenience of grid life. Since our location is unknown, and we’re still talking about portability anyhow…off the grid ability is important. That means that we couldn’t use our refrigerator, washing machine, etc. without generating power somehow. It also means being able to use our cell phones inside, as well as obtaining a signal for data transmission via cell signal. That eliminates the tin roof idea as well, unless we come up with a viable cell signal antenna solution.
We want high efficiency 12 volt LED lights, which means a battery system and a charger to power it when we’re running off the grid. It means looking at solar/wind generators for off-grid use too. We would have to comply with waste disposal by taking our portable tank to an approved dump station on a regular basis, or hiring a company to empty it for us. We would need to set up a supply system for portable water tanks too, as we’d also not have running water without it. We would need heating solutions that don’t require electricity, as well as a very efficient air conditioner to minimize our power needs. We would also need a generator to power things when wind and solar can’t, and that too is an efficiency consideration.
I’m all jazzed again, and feel like I can cope with the string of set backs we’re currently navigating through, all because I’ve found that focal point in the future again. Getting there won’t be easy, but it’s not an impossible thing. We’ll figure it out, we’re smart and capable and determined…all of which stand us in good stead.
Believe. Hope. Joy. Faith.