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.