Sunday, August 24, 2014

Out of my mind

There's a lot on my mind but not much I can shape into words. And even less I can say on the public platform of this blog. 

I've been wallowing in snot and self pity this weekend. The flu's onset happened swiftly on Friday afternoon. I went from scarfing down an entire box of sushi as a late lunch to sneezing and filling my trash can with Kleenex. I went home from work early and spent the next 36 hours in bed. 

Too much time in bed in my case is the fastest trigger of an emotional decline. I woke up this morning feeling sorry for myself. My head still felt like a watermelon, but the thought of another day in bed just about made me cry. And just like that, my friend Harum called. 

We talked about all the things that matter in the lives of single 20-somethings — the high- and lowlights of dates, the stresses of work, plans for future trips, riding bikes, being outside. And suddenly I was outside in the sunlight walking barefoot up and down the sidewalk in front of my house, still in my pajamas. The sun felt good. It felt good to laugh. 

I got off the phone and got in the shower. I dressed and went to the coffee shop around the corner to answer emails and write this blog. My head still feels heavy but my mind is a lot lighter. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Creative burst

I've got a head full of schemes and a blistered right hand — both the result of the weekend's tiny house building workshop.

In three days, I learned the basics of framing a tiny house from floor to roof.
The result of three days' work.
I got home late last night (from dinner with the people who hosted the workshop) totally inspired and also painfully aware of my lacking skill and the limitations of my strength. Hammering floor joists, wall studs and plywood was hard for me. It took me five swings of the hammer to everyone else's single swing.  But I stuck with it.

What I found inspiring was the process of turning drawings into an actual structure. I returned home each night of the workshop exhausted and still spent an hour looking at pictures and reading about what other people have done. The model that most appeals to me is that of Dee Williams (see video below).

I left the workshop with a half dozen phone numbers of people I could call to bounce ideas and perhaps to drive a few nails for me. 

Last week brought another creative highlight. I got to do some writing for the newspaper. Best of all, the topic was one I liked. I wrote about poet Galway Kinnell. For the reporting process, I attended a reading to celebrate Kinnell's contribution and life and spoke with his cohort of poet friends.
Galway Kinnell, 87, at the reading honoring his life work
at Vermont's Statehouse
The poetry and the conversations have stayed with me. They affirm that a life in pursuit of creativity is one well lived.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Living ‘The Little House’

Growing up, my mother read aloud to us every night. This continued well past the time that I could have easily read to myself. 

Mama warmed up with picture books chosen by the younger kids and then dove into the chapter books. The younger ones listened to those too. We covered considerable literary ground. We read “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Arabian Knights,” “Brother’s Grimm” and much more. We read “The Little House” series at least twice. 

Much of what I knew about the United States, as a child in Austria, was based on the lives of the Ingalls and Wilder families. My sisters and I were obsessed with hoop skirts and bonnets. We played at churning butter with buckets of mud in the backyard. 

Above all, the journey west in a covered wagon captured my imagination. We built covered wagons out of chairs and sheets and filled them with everything we could think of — a tea set, blankets, pillows, the chest of dress up clothes. My destination was always Montana, where my make-believe husband grew up. 

When we finally moved to the United States, I learned that no one actually lived and travelled in a covered wagon anymore. That life was limited to historical reenactment museums. But the idea of a small mobile dwelling has never left me. 

In my early 20s, I learned about eco-minded people living in tiny houses on wheels, and I have dreamed of building my own tiny house ever since. I like the idea of living in a home where each object is considered. A home that doesn’t tether me to a mortgage and promotes a lifestyle of limited environmental impact.

I feel ready to do more than just think about tiny houses. Next week, I’ll take my first concrete step. I’m registered for a tiny house building workshop. I hope to track my progress here.