Sunday, July 3, 2011

Trailers and stuff...

I talked to a trailer expert yesterday. He didn't seem very sympathetic to my cause. :-( When I asked him what he would NOT do, he said he would not go higher than 8 feet with only one axle. I think he meant 8 feet from the trailer bed, not the ground. But still, my tiniest designs need SOME storage, whether underneath or overhead. I wonder if I could design something that small? Probably. But would it be able to meet my traveling needs? I don't know. As it stands now, the smallest trailer I can probably go with is 6 x 12. That is still pretty small. With two axles it would be plenty sturdy and strong. I guess I could go back to the idea of a sleeping loft if I wanted to. My SD trailer had a sleeping loft, a gravity shower, a place for a guest to sleep. Maybe I could incorporate some of my ideas from the 5 x 8. Good thing I'm still in the planning stages. Sometimes I think it'll never happen. Well, I hope it will, but having just watched the end of the movie, 'click' I am reminded not to 'fast-forward' through the other parts of my life, either.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Longing to start building...

I feel like I'll never get to build my tiny house! I'll never have any money! Waa! Okay, I'm done whining now. My current design is on a 12' trailer. It's just like my SD House, except the trailer is 2' longer, so I put an extra 6" in the bathroom, and extra 6" on the front porch, and an extra foot in the great room/kitchen area. Some of the details:
Gravity fed water system. I plan to have a very small water heater (5 gallon) in the loft above the shower. This would be filled by hand, and then you would wait for the water to heat up before taking your shower. My first idea was to just use a bucket and have to lug hot water up there, but that seemed like it could be a little dangerous. And I do like hot water! I could also heat a pan of water on the stove and use it at floor level to wash with. But it would be nice to have a final rinse with a shower, since there wouldn't be room for a bathtub. I've given up the idea of trying to use a koi tub, and least in the traveling model, because I don't want to have to hook up to water, and I can't really carry that much. I really want to be entirely self-contained.

Yeti cooler instead of a fridge. I've done some research on these coolers. The insulation is twice as thick as your average cooler, and they can keep ice for up to 9 days. Again, I want to avoid having to hook up, and refrigerators use a LOT of energy. Ice is easy to get. You can get it anywhere you get gas or propane, two other things I will have to buy as I go.

Battery lighting. There is so much in the way of LED and flourescent bulbs these days, it is amazing. The energy you have to use is getting to be less and less, while the batteries are getting better. I may use some AC lighting, since I will want to be able to charge my phone and computer, so I will need a deep cycle battery and inverter. I guess I have to do more research on just how much energy all these things use, and how long a charge can last on a deep cycle battery.

Solar. I'd like to have solar, but when traveling during the day, it's hard to know which side of the roof to mount it on to get the best sun. Seems like it would vary. If I were staying put, I could keep it unmoungted and just set it up toward the sun. But I like driving during the day. I had considered one on each side of the roof. That way one would always be getting pretty good sun. I'm going to need input from an expert on this.

Sleeping arrangements. One of the things I felt was important was to be able to have a guest sleep over who doesn't sleep with me. So I want to furnish my living room with a couple of those flip-fold futon chairs. They are a little big, but they're comfy, and they fold out to a mattress. I've had to move my front door off-center to accommodate them, but I think they are worth it. That way, one of my daughters, or a platonic traveling companion can have a place to sleep. Also, if I get a little creaky in the bones, I may abandon the loft and sleep on them myself!

Kitchen People, I don't really cook. I can, if necessary, but I'd rather not. I heat things. I make sandwiches. I eat cold cereal or oatmeal. None of this requires a full kitchen. I need a sink, a burner or two, a cooler, and some counter space. My needs are minimal in this area. I could easily live off ceareal, canned soup, and sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Subway sandwiches. I am not a gourmand. So my kitchen will be part of the great room, like in Jay's Lusby. But my lower cupboards will have to start 18" off the floor, so my futons can spread out to sleep. And my counter will only be 18" wide. The sink will be one of the smallest I can find, and I may go with just one propane burner. My sink can drain directly into the shower area, so I only need one drain to the outside.

Bathroom. My toilet will be a portable composting toilet. They have one called the Luggable Loo that looks perfect. It can sit right in the shower area and be moved out of the way as necessary. Or it could just be used as a shower seat. I believe it snaps tightly shut, although I'll have to look at one to make sure. Accross from the toilet I have a set of shelves that double as a steep staircase to the loft. In those shelves is where I plan to keep a few towels and washcloths, my sawdust for the toilet, my few toiletries. Behind that is the closet, which opens to the great room. The closet only reaches up to 6', while my loft is 7'2". This is so I have a platform on top of the closet to set my water jugs on while I climb up to put water in the water heater. I thought long and hard about entering the loft through the bathroom. It seems kind of gross. But, I have decided, I'll just have to keep it really clean. My Loo can be curtained off in the corner when not in use, so the part you go through to get to the loft will not seem so much like a bathroom.

Gotta stop for now. More later!

Friday, May 6, 2011

more tiny house musings

I cannot believe how many hours I actually spend musing about tiny houses. Drawing them. Redesigning them. My newest design is about as small as I can go. The trailer would be 6' 4" x 10'. And it would have a tiny porch in front, a little less than two feet deep. The square footage of the house, not counting the loft, is 50. Since the loft is only 3' 6" high on it's center, it doesn't really count as square footage. But you can sleep in it. I decided (for now) on this tiny design for two reasons. One, it is the cheapest to build. Two, I would never be able to afford to travel lugging around a 6000 lb. house with me! As nice as it would be, it just doesn't seem practical. So I'm going with something about half that size. I've decided to make it as simple as possible. Then, after I've had my fill of traveling, and want to settle down, I can build a bigger one with more amenities and park it somewhere. It would still be able to be moved, if I wanted to move, but it wouldn't really be for traveling.
I really enjoy toying with all these ideas. I still like my 'Smallerton' (that's a play on words, parodying Jay Shafer's Tarleton) design, which is intermediate in size, on a 14' trailer. Who knows, maybe I'll get so good at this I'll start designing them for a living! Seems like a nice retirement business. Especially if you don't really need any money. Let's hope I can get to that point one day! Just do it to keep busy, and if something sells, great! I have a few years to go to get to that point, though. I'll be 53 in 9 days.
I wasn't able to find a way to put a link in here for my designs. YOu can find them if you go to Google Sketchup Design Warehouse and type in SD house. That stands for 'smallest design', meaning the smallest design I could come up with that would meet my individual needs. It isn't the first thing that comes up. It's a few down. I'm not worried about anyone stealing my designs if I publish them, because...nobody reads this blog! LOL!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

More about tiny houses

Yesterday I hit on the bright idea of entering through the kitchen. I'm amazed at how much more closet space I can get by only having one door in the great room. Coming in through the kitchen eliminates the need for any kind of hallway through the closet area. So it can stretch all the way across the back wall. That's about 7 feet, and it's a pretty big closet. I split it up into closet and shelves, since I don't hang very many of my clothes. Now I MIGHT change it back, since I did like the idea of coming in to a place to hang my coat and put my shoes. We'll see. I still have a lot of time, and this thing may go through more than one total makeover. I can't make up my mind whether I want all the amenities, or if I want to go as small as I can to make it easier and cheaper to travel. That's a hard one. I think I want it to be small for traveling, but then, if I'm not traveling, there's a whole lot I can do with an 18' trailer. Or 20'. 20' seems like a mansion. It's amazing how your perspective changes when you start thinking small. The newest version is only a 14' trailer. It has a small front porch, but half of it folds up over the other half when on the road, and the steps fold up, too. I decided to make it in three parts, so they won't be too heavy. I tried to upload a picture here of my google sketch, but it isn't the right format. Duh! It's 3D! I'll see if I can include a link to it, although it may be a little hard to see, since things start getting in the way of each other in a 3D drawing. I tried to leave out the walls, but still show where the closets and shelves will be. I'm a novice at google sketch-up, but it's fun. I'll go see if I can up load a link to it now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Habitat for Humanity

Tonight I went to the orientation to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. That was easy. Now I can sign up to volunteer at a construction site. I just have to be willing to spend the whole day in the hot sun working without pay, and bring my own water and lunch. No problem. It's a 'faith-based' organization, but they make it clear that you don't have to share their faith, or any faith. That's good, because I don't. I'm a firm believer that when you die, you die, and that's it. So what can I get from helping others, you may ask. A sense of accomplishment, and sense of pride in helping others and putting in a good days work. A nice farmer's tan. Maybe learn something about framing, roofing, plumbing, electrical, cabinetry. Maybe get a little experience working in those fields. Maybe meet some friends who might be willing to lend a hand on my tiny house project in the future. Maybe just burning some calories and building some muscle and guaranteeing myself a good night's sleep that night. Another benefit might be showing a good example to my children. Whatever benefit I expect to receive, I expect to receive it right here, during my own lifetime. If they want to start every day with a prayer, that's fine with me. I still thank god for my blessings every day, even though I doubt there is anyone listening. But that isn't the point. The point is having the attitude of gratitude. The point is knowing how lucky I am to have a home, a job, a family, enough to eat, etc. etc. etc.... The point is NOT to dwell on what I'm unhappy about in life, but to continually remind myself how wonderful life is, (and how short) and not waste a moment of it wishing it were different than it is. If it helps you to believe there's someone out there listening to you, then by all means, believe it! But in the end of my life, I want to be satisfied with the way I lived it, regardless of what anyone else thinks, regardless of whether or not there's actually anyone judging my performance. I'm judging my own performance, and I want to do a good job just because I can. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Got rid of the vanity yesterday. One more piece of clutter, gone! It is almost unfathomable to me, how I will manage to get rid of all my stuff and live small. My mother was a pack rat, and became what you might call a hoarder in her later years. She was actually brought to tears when Melissa cleaned her bathroom. Why? Because Melissa THREW AWAY dozens of empty bottles of shampoo. By 'empty' I mean that there was less than one shampoo left in it, and it would require rinsing to get it out. Apparently, my mom thought she was going to get around to using them someday. The same way with her newspapers. She used to always read the sports and obituaries. But then she got behind on it, so she saved the papers, for when she 'had time' to go through them. Before we knew it, half the garage was stacked up with newspapers, and she wouldn't allow them to be thrown out, because she hadn't read them yet. At one point, we convinced her to let us go through and save all the sports and local pages, while recycling the rest. There were several years worth, and some had mildew on them, but we did it. Later, when she got too sick to notice anymore, we threw them all in the recycle bin. We went through her closets, and we had to sneak out the threadbare clothes from the 1950's so she wouldn't be upset. We would buy her new outfits for her birthday and christmas, and she would wear them, but she was sure there was still some use left in her old things. We did give them away to charity, mostly. But some were so bad that the trash can was the only place for them.
I may have inherited this tendancy from my mom. I keep things because I'm sure as soon as I throw them out I'm going to want them. As soon as I throw away that single sock, the match will turn up. Sometimes it is good to save things, but it gets out of hand when you've saved so much that you can't find what you need when you need it. Then you end up buying another one anyway, and that gets saved, too. The house becomes like an archaeological dig, with each layer you encounter representing an earlier and earlier era. I want to get rid of all those layers! But when I begin, I find it easy to get bogged down. I come across things that remind me of an earlier time, and I begin to reminisce and set things aside, because I don't want to throw away memories.
I'm doing it, though. Slowly, I am pulling out things I don't use anymore and selling them, or giving them away. Or even throwing them away. Even memorabilia. I gave away years worth of Padre souvenirs that my mother had collected by going to every Padre home game. I kept them for a while after she died, because I couldn't bear to get rid of them, but as time passes, it gets easier. I still have a huge bag of Padre T-shirts in one of the kitchen cupboards. It's going to the Goodwill, I swear. Along with the bowling shoes that don't fit, and the torn bowling bag with a bowling ball that belongs to someone else. Who? I can't remember. I have huge box of recipes torn from the newspaper and off box labels that I swore I was going to copy into a notebook sometime. And honestly, I hate cooking. And I can find any recipe I want online, anyway. Every single year I make my succotash by googling 'baked succotash' because I cannot find the recipe in the recipe box. And every year I print out a new copy, and the next year I cannot find it! And yet I save the box. Writing this down makes me realize how dumb that is. It's going out!
And the piano! How will I ever get rid of the old upright grand piano taking up space in my living room? It's not in great shape. It's incredibly heavy, and out of tune. I've advertised it several times. It's on Craigslist right now. For $75. Truth is, I'd give it away, but it costs money to move it, and I'm afraid I may have to pay to get rid of it! It seems unthinkable to take it to the dump. It's a musical instrument! Please, someone, take my piano! I've had it since I was a little girl, and I want it to go to a good home where it will be loved! Is that too much to ask? I think that's how I'll word the next Craigslist ad.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tiny Houses

I haven't posted on my blog for a long, long time. Seems I lost interest in telling bus stories. Now I have a new interest. Tiny Houses. Specifically, I want to build a tiny house on a trailer, modeled after the ones made by The Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. You can look them up online.
My kids both think I'm crazy. Other people probably do, too. I don't care. This is my dream. I am turning 53 this year. April will be going off to college in a year and a half. Ramona is 25. I will not need a 4 bedroom house anymore!
The first problem is, I have accumulated a whole lot of stuff over the years, and I am loathe to get rid of anything. But I am starting. I sold the spa, which we never used. I took a load of junk to the dump. I have the piano and the vanity on Craigslist. I cleaned out the closets of extra jackets and other warm clothing and gave them to the homeless this winter. Next, I need to attack the books. I have WAY too many books. Books I've read, books I haven't read. Books I want to read, and books I'll never read. Fiction, non-fiction, schoolbooks, classics, trashy romances, science fiction, historical novels, encyclopedias. Total worth? Probably close to zero. It's HARD to get rid of books! I love them! And I will certainly save a few, expecially the ones in the category of 'books I want to read'. Maybe a few of the classics, too.
The next problem is, no money! This, I hope, will improve. When April goes away to college, I plan to move into the back house, and rent this front one. That will bring in a good amount. Plus, it will solve problem number three, which is, where to build it? I can use the big patio back there! It's perfect!
So, for now, since I can't start yet, the plan is to downsize, downsize, downsize! Also, I am designing. The house I have planned will be 16' x 7' on the inside. The trailer itself will be 8 and a half feet wide, including the wheels, and about 21 feet long, including the hitch. I've already spent at least 100 hours graphing out floorplans. I want a bathtub, albeit a small one, and I have discovered them online disguised as koi tubs. I want a gravity fed plumbing system. I want solar panels. I want to use a marine cooler instead of a refrigerator, and a propane stove and heater. In short, I want it totally self contained, but also able to draw power from the grid, and hook up to plumbing and sewer if I choose. I want an octagonal casement window in my loft. I found one online for $500 that I am drooling over. It has a stained glass rose in the middle.
When I'm ready to retire, the plan is to buy an older Suburban to pull it with, and travel North America. I want to visit my Aunt in Nipomo, April's Grandma and Uncles in Oregon, other famiy in Washington, Oregon, and Missouri. I want to go see Tatiana on her farm in Colorado. I want to go to Alaska via Canada (the only way you CAN get there by land...) I want to go back to Yellowstone and Thermopolis Wyoming, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. I want to see the Northeastern states, and go down South to New Orleans. I might even venture into Mexico, if it looks calm enough.
This is what I want to do. My dream was always to have a view from my front window. This will give me not just one view, but many, many views. A different one every day, if I want. As far as building it myself goes...well, I plan to attend a workshop this summer on the subject. I also plan to volunteer for Habitat For Humanity, as a way to learn what's involved in house building. That's another thing I can add to the list of 'Things I can do right now.' And it will help others at the same time.
So, from now on, this is what my blog will probably be about. I may still throw in a bus story now and then. It still can be pretty interesting out there.