One…two…three…go!

Number One

In preparation for our first official get together down at the cabin, we did some landscaping to spruce up the “yard” a bit.  It is so funny because we have one push mower at the city house and two on the country property, but not one of them would start, so to kick off our new car lease, we loaded a rented push mower for the day to get it done.  I planted some flowers that are probably dead right now since it hasn’t rained for a week and we pulled the tall grass that was growing around the base of the tipi. It looks really cool down there.

We hope to have some folks camp and maybe play some yard games around there so we had to make some space with the mower, which also helps in terms of bug control.  Surprisingly, we did not see one tick last weekend, which is either because we started using the bug spray finally or because it was even too hot for them. The transformation of that spot after we mowed, from when we first pitched a tent there three summers ago is astounding.  It looks like someone’s yard now. Oh yeah, its our yard!  

My vision for this party (oh yeah- I am totally putting this out there in the universe) is for people to come and relax.  I want them to take a deep breath and smile. I want them to snack, and laugh, and drink, and decompress. There is so much going on in the world right now and I want our spot to feel like a safe space in the chaos of it all.  A charging station, of sorts, to prep your mind to be able to get back out there and face it all again. Mercury is in retrograde right now, so this might be a tall order, but I am going for it.  Maybe a night hanging out with us can serve as a respite from the effects of it.  

Number Two

This will be a mostly off grid party, so we also spent some time prepping the new number two spot behind the Number 2 Room.  Our old poo deposit spot we set up turned out to be a little too close to things people use, namely my sister’s bedroom, so we haven’t dumped any buckets in preparation of getting the new place set up to compost the waste at. We can take it down in a year after the pile has rested for two years.  It will be rich compost.

The wonderful thing about the bucket system is the fact that they are sealed so well, that you can sort of let them hang out in a safe place until you are ready to clean them out. It is a pretty easy process to maintain sawdust potties. We connected four pallets into a square, dug a basin of dirt out of the center, lined it with straw and dumped the buckets we had into the center.  You then cover, cover, and cover it some more with straw, which will be peeled back to dump again in the future when new buckets need emptied (and them recovered again). Please check the official handbook  for more detailed information.  Personally, I would not do this in an urban environment, because it would be impossible to control any runoff, however small, which in the spot we have selected, will be both minimal and unobtrusive.   Of course, you can invest in the more official compost potties, such as the Nature’s Head composting toilet, which we will be considering for the cabin, but for now, sawdust (pine shaving) potty is absolutely enough.  

 

Number Three

On the city home front, we had a party for Independence Day with friends and family that was wonderful.  We had Airbnb guests staying that weekend, so it forced us to be extra cozy in our part of the house which consists of the first floor and half finished basement.  My favorite part was packing up our new mattress we have been sleeping on and moving it into the living room to use as extra seating and we were able to move our dining table into our “bedroom” for the day. This was our first go at doing this transformation since getting our new sleeping arrangements.  It was really exciting because basically, I realized we are already well on our way to tiny living and efficient living.  It was a good feeling to actually know we practice what we preach! 

 

Homework

Be mindful of the “things” in your life.  Try to have multiple purposes for some of your belongings so you can have fewer items to look after or find space for.  The less space that the material things take up in our lives, the more room we have for people who make us happy or moments to cherish.  The less you have to lose in life, material wise, the easier it is to take chances on things you really want to do.  

What is happening?

What is happening?  Why am I not overjoyed to have the most wonderful job?  I mean, I do like my job, a lot, but find myself thinking about alternative ways to make money, outside of an office.  How did people used to work for so many years, doing the same thing the entire time until retirement? Is it because they actually had hopes of retiring at a reasonable age?  Is it because they felt secure that they were going to have enough retirement funds to carry them through to the end of life? As Americans today, we don’t have that feeling of security that my grandparents (my dad’s parents, specifically) had.  

As I struggle with my feelings of dread about working continually in a job, away from my wife and immediate friends and family, the people I want to spend the most of my time with,until I am in my late 60’s,  I am noticing a lot of my friends worrying about this too. They also want a way out of the mainstream expectations to do the “9-5” until we are nearing our seventies. How though? How do we get out and spend the time we want with the people who matter most while maintaining the quality of living that keeps us fed, housed, sheltered, and happy?  

The ultimate end goals are to spend more time together and travel more. We work a lot now, and are not exploring the world, so why wait until we are too sick and old to at minimum spend more time together?  I don’t want to take the chance of waiting until i am 67 to see the world. That day might not even arrive for me and if it does, will I even be able to do those things then?

I have ideas on how to make the move, but I don’t know how to take the plunge and whether or not they will be viable enough to maintain our current state of living.  I’m not talking extravagant here… we are fairly basic as far as our level of living goes, feeling solidly middle class at the moment. Smack. Dab. In. The. Middle.  

Things we can do:

Go” fuller-time” Airbnb, including the tipi and expanding access in the house to include the kitchen (Labbato’s on the Knob, if you are interested).  This income will not replace what we have currently, but it could really help.

Turn into a professional blogger!  It’s ok to laugh, since this obviously is not currently drumming up the traffic to lead in that direction, but hey, you never know do you?  We just need to find our audience.

Become Instafamous with #lotsaflocka.  Our backyard has never looked better and maybe the city farming and cooking we will do this summer with their duck poo and eggs, respectively, of course,  will evolve into something extra inspiring for others. We hope to encourage our neighbors to use some more of their water and litter to help ferilize thier backyard projects.  That shit is good!

 

Vote.  If we can elect a candidate that can move Medicare for all and student loan forgiveness, our monthly budget would be reduced drastically!  Talk about life changing. This could effectively free us up to take a real chance at the American Dream and open up our awesome jobs to two other well deserving people.  

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Write kids books about the ducks.   They have had some amazing adventures in their short lives which we know would entertain and educate some little ones.  

 

Start a honeysuckle removal business.  How much would you pay to have someone remove the honeysuckle from your property without the use of chemicals?  This is literally something we really love doing.

So there it is, a short list of our crazy ideas to spend the quality time together that we deserve.  Have I said that life is short? Well, life is short. Do something with it.

Homework

Take a chance on one idea you have that you REALLY want to do.  Just one. Maybe I will put a Craigslist ad out for the honeysuckle thing so see if anyone bites.  Perriee thinks we should take a crack at the duck stories. That feels pretty good. What do we have to lose?  Something has to stick eventually, right?

 

 

Riding the wave of accomplishment…

We had about 24 hours at the homestead this week and it was great!  Dad drove in for the night and instead of cramming in as much work as possible in that time, we actually built a fire and relaxed around it.  The first thing we did upon arrival was check to see if the cabin was dry inside. It was. At that moment, the list I had composed in my head for what I wanted to accomplish that day flew right out of the holes that are going to have a window in them one day (soon).   We are fully aware that building walls and installing the windows and door are a priority, but we also feel like we can take our time a bit on the next steps and we have such a tight schedule sometimes, so it was wonderful to take a day to cook and just hang out. Those moments are precisely the reason we are doing this for so I am happy with myself for taking it in.

Dad, hiking back to the cabin.

Ok, so I did a little work.  I swept some of the nails and dust up in the cabin since the last time we were there it was more of a wet mud than dry dirt.  We laid out an indoor/outdoor mat and laid out the guest mattress for its inaugural sleep.

Perriee and I made a fire in the tipi, then we made some grilled cheese and tomato soup on the stove.  That took a while, so while lunch cooked, we made the outdoor fire. Once lunch was done, I started dinner, because you know, cast iron cooking can be slow.  I mixed meatloaf and cooked potatoes and sipped on beer while Perriee kept the fire going.

Dad and I fixed some Tyvek wrap on the front wall since it was flapping a little too much in the breeze.  That stuff is so loud! We were worried it would keep him up, but it took no time to tack it down with the stapler.  After dinner, we relaxed again. It eventually started to rain, so we took our chairs into the cabin and sat for a bit to listen to the rain.  It was a perfect moment. Perriee and I eventually went to the tipi and had a great night’s rest with a peaceful mind and body. We did not break our backs that day.  

We had breakfast in the morning and dad hit the road.  I shook out some zinnia seeds around the tipi and we packed up and left to spend Mother’s Day with Ms.Gwen.  My only critique about the weekend was that it went too fast. We will be back in a week or so to work on those walls.  In the meantime, it will have to do.

Homework: Give yourself a break.  

I am guilty of sticking to deadlines and working my hardest to get a job done.  Perriee and I have consistently worked on something almost every time we go to the farm, whether it be clearing out some honeysuckle or taking the next step in our homestead build.  I tend to have guilt if we go there without a plan. Perriee is so supportive in my restlessness. We have got a lot accomplished in the two years since we have been working on things but we have admittedly spent little time relaxing there.  

My feelings to move forward so hard and fast with the cabin are partly related to my drive to move into our “early retirement” stage of life.  We want to spend time together now, not in twenty years. When we move into this phase, it will not be to do nothing, but to do something meaningful and fulfilling all day, every day, together.  The things we are able to do accomplish in the time we have together now is amazing. I can’t wait to see what we will do when we have even more time together.

Give yourself a break.  We can all be our toughest boss and you can push yourself into endless overtime, whether it be from your full time job or your hobbies, or your long term goals.  Make sure you are fitting in the time to spend with those who mean the most. I can’t remember the last time dad and I had that much quiet time together. It was something I will remember forever.  I feel like a broken record saying this, but it is worth repeating: you only get one life. Spend it wisely. We did last weekend, hanging out with dad.

Smoke Flap Mouse Nest

And…she’s up!

I am writing this from the living room in our city house. This room is about the same size as our new cabin that we BUILT last week!  Perriee and I took the week off of work to get as much done as possible and let me tell you, we needed every day of it to get the frame up and cover it with a roof.  As it stands, it might already be drier than the tipi and the end walls aren’t even up yet.

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My dad, step-mom, brothers, sister, and brother’s girlfriend came in on Saturday (from Cleveland)  to kick everything off. My brother, Carm, and his girlfriend, Rachel, helped us with some amazing math skills to figure out how to make these beautiful angle cuts on the miter saw with the wood that goes on the end walls.  My sister, Crystal, picked up lunch on her way in and took three, hour long trips to Lowes to make sure that we had the correct fittings for our hose that connected to our nail gun and compressor (just when we thought we had all the pieces, we discovered that the compressor hose we bought months ago did not come with any fittings on it- who woulda thunk?).  

We got the end walls and the ridge beam up on Sunday with the help of Matt and my family.  My brother Mark helped us get up 10 of the 30 rafters before he headed back to the city.  Perriee and I worked on the rest of the rafters, including floating “cat ladders” on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, we put up the nailer boards for the roof and two roofing panels. Brother Mark came back Thursday to bring it home with putting up the rest of the roof and a temporary ridge cap.  It was then that you could see how happy that cabin was to be in her place. That spot beckoned for her. She is settled in there like she has been there forever and we can’t wait to spend the rest of our forever with her.

Friday, Perriee and I decided our bodies needed a couple of days rest, so we tossed up a bit of Tyvek wrap on the back wall and organized everything before we left for the week.  I must not neglect to mention one more pearl…that we moved one of our homemade sawdust toilets into the cabin before we left. Not only did we build the shell of our home, but we also started design on our bathroom.  It is glorious. No more long, muddy treks to either the house or the “Number 2 Room”. From now, until we start sleeping in the there with the potty, there will be only short muddy treks to the cabin. It is even complete with a hand washing station, thanks to Ms. Gwen, Perriee’s mom, who gifted us a water cooler to keep out at the farm a while back.

Before we go back, we will have another consultation with neighbor Mark to talk about how to fix the ridge cap and get some guidance about putting up some of the plywood on the exterior walls. We may need to run some extra wood around the eave ends to give the plywood a place to latch on to.   It seems we may be getting a ladder soon, one long enough to get back up to the top of the roof. We rented ladders for the week, which were picked up on Friday, so we will let our savings recoup a bit before we get one.

Homework:

Need to work on a relationship?  Build a cabin together! Ok, maybe not a cabin, but work on something as a team that neither of you know how to do already.  Change a light fixture, put up some drywall, build a cat house, tile a floor. It might not be cheaper than therapy, but you will get to reap both the benefits of the project as well as grow stronger together in the process.  Perriee and I already have a solid relationship, but i realized this week, that every project we embark on together is like a team building exercise. It is almost comical to think about, but it is true! I am going to miss her so much next week when we go back to our regular jobs.  This week doused a load of fuel on our fire to move towards our goal of being together full time. We had roller coasters of emotions this week, but we were able to problem solve amidst all of our frustrations, and when we were packing up yesterday, it was apparent that not only did we build a strong cabin, but we made our marriage stronger as well.

Winter Solstice 2018

Worry not friends, the days are once again getting longer. See how fast that was? The spring flowers will be peeking out of the cold soil before you know it. Celebrate! That’s what we did.  We had a beautiful solstice meal with our farm family and friends and celebrated by the fire under the full moon light.

Last year we spent the weekend happily sequestered in the tipi with the kitties.  Tux was getting medicine for his ear, so we took them with us.  Since there is no real door in the tipi, we were sort of tasked to keeping them inside for the weekend.  The last morning we were there, there was a swarm of birds circling the tipi taunting Mittens and Tux from outside.   It was beautiful.  I think this was the weekend we realized how much we needed a door.  Fast-forward to today.

Cabin Corner

A friend came out and graciously helped us finish digging our holes.  THANK YOU!  The gravel ended up being delivered directly to our area by the gravel guy.  I found out from him that we live in the middle of the hill, by the way.  This delivery was a bit of a Christmas miracle and saved us some heavy moving that we would have otherwise had to do to get the gravel down there from the metal barn.  Thank you sir! He happened to live in the neighborhood so it was nice to make that connection.  We saved his number in case we need another “Bobcat” kind of job done.

The order for the foundation materials has been submitted and is now scheduled to be delivered on New Years Eve.  I think it is safe to say that we are pretty excited about this.

Gadget Corner

The Biolite camp stove is going back.  A second opinion confirmed that the device, although smart in function (it charges a battery with heat), takes too much attention to keep it going.  We may instead save for something like the Yeti, Goal Zero.  It has a place to plug-in small electronics.  This will suit us better than charging a phone with a small fire.

Homework

Trust in the universe sometimes.  Every once in a while it will come through.  I almost called the gravel guy to cancel the delivery because I thought it would be too much trouble for him to get it to us.  With some patience, we ended up faring better than originally planned.  We will take every win we can get and you should too.