These are all kinda dark, because I’m only home in the evenings and it’s January so evening starts at 4 o’clock, but you’ll get the gist.
I know I skipped the whole last two months of building, and I’ll take some good pictures of how it turned out and explain what I did at some point, but I want to get the experience of moving in and getting used to the tiny house while it’s still fresh.
I moved in the bulk of my stuff and started sleeping in the tiny house on January 3rd. The first few nights were a dream; I’d only moved the stuff that was absolutely necessary so the house was clean and organized and it was all fresh and new. Washington was having unusually cold weather that week and my hose was frozen, but I was happy to hand haul water from the spigot on the main house and heat it on the woodstove or the Origo cookstove. We were in the Honeymoon Stage, Wild Rose and I, and it lasted about three days. The heating water thing was fun in the way it’s fun to go camping and cook on the propane stove and sleep on a sleeping pad. Because you know in the back of your mind that in a few days you’ll be back in a big warm house with hot running water, 4 burner oven and a comfy mattress. After three days it began to sink in that I’m not glamping here, this is my life now, and going from that big resource gobbling American middle-class house lifestyle to 15 amps of electricity, a 2 gallon hot water heater (Two. TWO), 18 gig of internet data per MONTH (it takes 1 gig to stream 1 hour of video. Do the math) is going to be a really harsh transition. I knew this, it’s not like I didn’t… I did design the house myself. But the reality of having a tiny homestead in the middle of a mud pit with 160 square feet is something a little different than the hippie off grid self sufficient dream life that I’ve been imagining for years. I know for an absolute fact that I am equipped mentally, emotionally and physically for that life and every day I learn the quirks and kinks of Wild Rose better and eventually, at some point, I will be living that hippie self sufficient dream life, but that life includes mud, setting off carbon monoxide alarms, a pissed off extremely large extremely hairy dog, mud, a smoky woodstove, a freezer that won’t stay closed and barely keeps things frozen, mud, and a sink/bathtub that barely drains AND leaks.
Here are some of my adventures the first week:
I have an Origo cookstove that burns denatured alcohol. I have a big 70 gallon (?) stock tank as a combo kitchen sink/bathtub. I have a 2.5 gallon hot water heater. In order to have enough water for a proper bath, I need to heat water up in a 3 gallon stock pot on the alcohol cookstove, as well as smaller amounts on the woodstove. It takes about an hour for 3 gallons to heat up on the Origo stove. The first night I had running water (after the temp came up and the hose thawed) I decided to try to take a bath and got the water going while I was doing other things. After 30 minutes I got the smaller pots and teakettle going on the woodstove and the second alcohol burner. 15 minutes later I was in the kitchen and noticed I was feeling a little light headed and headache-y. I’d read that alcohol stoves can put off a lot of carbon monoxide so I have a carbon monoxide alarm. I moved it into the kitchen area under the loft and within 10 minutes it went off. I had the ventilation fan going and the window directly over the stove open. I turned it off immediately, of course, and opened all the doors and windows.
After the house aired out a bit I poured all the hot water into the bathtub and ran water until it was cold. This gave me about 6 inches of hot water. I got in and it was actually quite pleasant, the woodstove was cranking just behind my head and the sides of the tub are so tall that it kept the heat in. I have a piece of wood that sits over half of my tub most of the time for dishes and things, and when I pulled that over the top of the tub it was a little bit like being in a sauna and was cozy and I sat for a bit reading and felt like it was all ok. I ran the hot water to wash my hair and this triggered the hot water heater and tripped the breaker and all my power went out… me, naked, wet hair, in a big stock tank in the middle of this weird little house that I built myself, in the dark. Luckily my landlords were still awake and they flipped the breaker and then moved my connection to a circuit of my own, so it hasn’t been a problem since.
I continued my bath and noticed the water slopping around a bit when I was sitting perfectly still and could hear the wood in the stove moving around… a small earthquake? Or an hallucination from carbon monoxide poisoning? I sat still, waiting for the house to either roll off the ravine behind us or to keel over from the poisoning. Honey Bear was acting really weird and restless too, anxious, and I didn’t know if she were poisoned or knew there was an earthquake coming or just hated me for making her live in this weird little house I built myself. It was all a bit much for me so I finished washing my hair and got out… noticed the tub was leaking on the bottom in two places… gave up for the evening and crawled up into the loft to sleep away my anxiety and doubts for one night.
There was a lot more stressful figuring out the last two weeks… I blew through 5 of my 18 gig of internet data in 4 nights and the tub not draining is an issue, it’s crazy how much clutter takes up space in 160 square feet including and especially trash, I overflowed my urine jar onto my own feet one morning, etc etc etc… but let’s fast forward to the good part.
I was dating someone the last month, someone I felt really good about, and he came over a few days ago and broke it off. I’d still been feeling really uncertain about my house up to the moment he left, but I turned off all the lights, turned up Father John Misty and crawled into my little reading nook to cry. It was dark inside with no noise but the music, and outside I could just barely see the trees rising placid and stalwart from the ravine and through their canopy the cloud shrouded moon and I cried and I could feel the house closing in around me with comfort and security and it clicked, finally, that feeling of Home. I stopped crying and just sort of looked around the house in wonder, not seeing anymore all the problems and stress but a frickin’ HOUSE, that I BUILT, that suits me and my needs exactly and I can’t believe it’s real and I love it even with… maybe even because of… all the quirks and problems and things I have to learn. I’m really truly inhabiting this house in a way I never have truly inhabited any place I’ve ever lived and by extension, truly inhabiting my life because I chose it and I worked hard for the freedom and choice that it gives me and I’m so fucking proud of myself and grateful for whatever strange force has been driving me to do this for so many years that I could just curl up in the reading nook and cry again but this time from joy.