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Monthly Archives: November 2015

A lived-in tiny house: in pictures

To follow up my last post: here’s what a tiny house looks like once it’s been inhabited for a while. I lay no claims to tidiness, but it’s a happy little home.

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Living: in a tiny house

They’ll tell you it’s a love-it or hate-it lifestyle. That tiny houses are cheap. That tiny houses are expensive. That no-one can live in one without going crazy. That everyone will be living in them soon. That it’s the green way to go. That it’s a ridiculous concept and we should all build (and live in) McMansions. That tiny houses will save the world. That the world can’t be saved. That you’ll never find somewhere to build one. That you can build one anywhere. That they must be on wheels. That you can only have 52 possessions including your socks.

The truth is – my truth is – that living in a tiny house is just like living in any other dwelling. Yes, you get bored with the color of the walls. You get frustrated at how much cleaning there is to do. You wonder if a “real” house would have as many bugs, as much dust, as little storage space for those things you need but don’t use every day. You sometimes wonder if it’s feasible to start a project, because it’s going to take up your entire living space, and the dog might walk across it. You have those days when it’s been raining all day and the laundry won’t dry and there’s no space to hang it inside. You have a compost toilet that has to be emptied every week, and sometimes you don’t feel like doing so, but you have to or you can’t pee. And sometimes you hesitate to invite people over to your home, because you’re not sure what they’ll make of it, or because if it starts raining you know you’ll all be packed in like sardines in a can.

With all that, it’s “home”. It’s comfortable – except when the roof leaks. It’s unique. It’s a ceiling to stare up at in the middle of the night and think “I made this; this is mine; this is my place of peace, my place of creation, my place of belonging”. When it comes time to cook dinner, everything is within reach, and fresh greens and herbs are only 6 steps away, just outside the (always open) door. To sweep the floor takes under five minutes. Heating water on the stove on a chilly evening makes a bath seem luxurious, intentional, caring – in a way that turning a tap on does not. On the practical side of things, it’s impossible to lose anything in 200 square feet of space. It’s really easy to say “I don’t actually need that” when you consider that you’d have to find space for a new item. And it’s cheap – in my case. For under $3,000 of material costs (spread over a year) and 6 months of full-time building with continued part-time work (there are always more little details to play with – it’s part of the joy of building your own home), I’ve created a home in which I’ve now been living for just about a year. That’s only $250/month…and nothing going forwards apart from maintenance and minor improvements as needed/desired!

Now, I’m not saying it’s for everyone. I was fortunate to already have land available to build upon, with a supporting infrastructure (water and power from a nearby building, use of tools, etc). I started with a sound working knowledge of basic construction techniques, experience with tools of all kinds, and a clear vision of what I wanted to create. I learned a lot during the build, I made mistakes (some I must live with, like a 6’1″ doorway),and there are some things that I’d do very differently a second time (cement roof: not such a great idea). I live “off the beaten track”, and chose not to do a “documented” build. I chose to live with only as much electricity as a single light-duty line can supply. I chose to take a risk, to put all I had into living “tiny”, into following a notion that life this way might be “better”. Or at least different. And so it is. Very “different”, and yet…the same. Life is still the same, with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not changing the world. I’m not working wonders in all my supposed free time. I’m not special: I just choose to live in a very small, very oddly-shaped house.

But I chose this all. And I hear the birds every morning, and the frogs every night. Do you?

A Human Problem

Perhaps the following is not what you came to my blog to read, but in light of the past week’s global events I cannot bring myself to banter on light-heartedly about tasty food and trivial challenges. Entrenched in the weeks between Veterans Day – a recognition of those who have fought for the U.S. – and Thanksgiving – an immigrant’s celebration of prosperity in a new land – it seems only appropriate to wish, and hope, for a more peaceful global future.

The world seems a cruel place, and we humans a cruel species; driven by greed, power, and revenge – mindless of the tragedies procured. Are we [humans] innately incapable of peace and sharing? Or have too many people merely lost their grounding? Have people spent too long without awakening to birdsong, without standing, barefoot, in moist soil, truly feeling the earth below their feet, breathing in the gentle air around them, hearing the trees sigh? Have they forgotten that their breakfast started as tiny seedlings; fragile; so easily trampled by a soldier’s boot, yet instead nurtured to grow, nurtured by a gentle one: a farmer? Have they forgotten that they once looked up, mesmerized by the vast heavens, and felt so small, so insignificant in this vast universe?

It’s an insane state of affairs, that with so many tragedies in the world people fight over which one is getting more attention in the news. How does it end?

I have no answers, no way to help the millions of people affected by tragedy every day around the world. I can only propose finding a place of peace. That place is different for every person: for me, it’s my garden; fish drifting in the pond, plants clustered around, chickens resting in the morning sun, the very world breathing around me. Once you find that place, open your heart. To the people you know, and to the people you’ve never met: refugees, immigrants, people of different skin-tones, faiths, or customs. To people around the world who struggle to feed their children. People who’s lands and livelihoods have been taken from them. People who fear that they will never see their loved ones again. People who walk in fear each day, feeling that their country is not their own. Any one of those people could be you, so think deeply before declaring that they don’t deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that you would ask for yourself. Think deeply before saying that they shouldn’t receive whatever aid, assistance, or welcome that a country may be able to offer them. Think deeply before pointing fingers, before implying that these unfortunate souls might be the cause of tragic events in the place they have fled to, the place in which their only hope is to build a new and safer life.

May we all find ways to open our hearts, and to not look the other way when asked for help, for mercy, and for acceptance.

Marmalade Monday

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DSC_8721Sometimes, in my life, a Monday is a Sunday. That’s not to say I don’t do anything; just my time is my own, and that’s a really great feeling. After a morning rain prevented any potential roof-painting, I’ve settled into marmalade making. A handful of the half-grown chickens are wandering around “trimming” grass and de-bugging the yard, Juno has found a shady spot, and heavenly aromas of oranges and ginger are wafting from the stove. The trees, lush from a week of rain, barely stir in the light breeze, and the sky is a true Caribbean blue with light wisps of cloud drifting Northward.

DSC_8706Life is good.

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Over the weekend I had the company of two sweet foster puppies, who still need a forever home! Coco and Princess are sisters, about 12 weeks old; they are wormed, have had their first shots, and will soon be spayed. They’ve been great with cats, dogs, and even the chickens (poor Coco got pecked on the nose by my rooster, lesson learned) and would do great in a home with plenty of space to run around and/or lots of walks and playtime. Juno was very patient, and ever let them play with her favourite purple squeaky ball.

DSC_8566With some weather-related down time, I’ve been working on some new products: caraway rye bread is back! As I’m now buying rye flour in bulk (50lb bag), if you need rye flour let me know and we can work out a deal. Same goes for oats. Winter is here, so it’s time for some soups! My first “soup of the week” is a Spicy Ginger Carrot soup, available this Wednesday along with your bread. I’ll plan on doing a different soup every few weeks, so be sure to check the Nidulari Facebook page for weekly menu updates. I just got in some natural cotton drawstring bags, which may be used as bread bags or as gift bags! The paper bread bags will now be hand stamped rather than having a printed label – just one more way to be green!

DSC_8571If you aren’t able to get to the Wednesday market stands, don’t forget that I’ll be at Starving Artists day at the Whim Museum on November 29th so that you can do all your holiday shopping in one place. For those of you who live afar, I can ship via Priority Mail Flat-rate boxes – the most timely and economical shipping method from here to the mainland – at your expense. Please allow at least 1 week shipping time.

See y’all on Wednesday! Cheers!