Saturday, April 28, 2012

Frontier House

I've been thinking a lot lately about a show that was aired on PBS several years ago called Frontier House.  Unlike a lot of commercial reality television, PBS didn't set up a situation where people competed against each other and no one was sent home at the end of each episode.  The general idea was to take modern families and see what happened when they lived like pioneers on the American prairie.  Experts rated their abilities to set up their homestead and determined if they would have survived the winter.  It was an incredible show. 

There was one segment that really affected me. One family had been raising a pig on their homestead. The kids had named the pig JoJo Pumpkin and he was smart and awesome.  He knew his name. But JoJo Pumpkin was not a pet and in one gut wrenching scene the father of the family walked out to the pig's pen and called his name. JoJo Pumpkin came running over to him and you just see the gun raised and aimed at the pig's head. They cut away at the sound of the gunshot and you know that JoJo Pumpkin is dead. Later, you see they have prepared the pig for a dinner celebration with the entire community.

And that is survival on the frontier. You raise a pig so can eat the pig. As a culture we have separated ourselves from the processes of living and eating that most of us don't think through the fact that the bacon in our pan was once living pig - one of the smartest animals who share the planet with us. I'll admit, watching JoJo Pumpkin get shot on public television was not enough to make me want to give up eating meat. But it was enough to make me think about how I connect to my food and to my life.  It may have been one of the things that got into my brain and made me think about changing everything about the way I live. 

I head read that one of the participants, Mark Glenn, had quit his job after Frontier House and moved to to the area in Montana where it had been filmed.  I don't find much about this on the Internet, but then I have to assume that was part of the point. I imagine that Glenn simply couldn't go back to living his old life. An experience like that can change you forever. 

I have no idea what is in store for us after we move to our mountain. Our lives will be simultaneously more simple and much more difficult and we've made this choice consciously. I'm ready to fundamentally change the way I live my life. 

In slightly related news, you can read an interview with me about simplifying our lives on Te-Erika Patterson's blog My Savvy Sisters. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Last Trip Before Moving In

I was sad to leave the tiny house this time, but also happy to know that the next time I will be there will be on the day I move in!

I don't have much to report, but I wanted to share a couple of photos.  We did just a few little projects. 

The first photo is actually something that Matt did last week when I was in Atlanta.  He built doors for the bathroom.  We decided on two half doors so they would take up very little space if they are open. I really like the way they turned out.  It is impossible to get a good photo of them, but here is what I got. 

Then we also got the Berkey set up.  This will be essentially our kitchen sink and we will use it for general washing up and dishes and things like that. I love it! 

And lastly, we built Piglet some shelves so she can get up to the loft!  I can't wait until she can see them.  We used the Flor on them so she'd have some traction and a place to scratch and a place to lay down if she wants to. I can see her lounging on the shelf by the window looking out side.  I hope she likes them.

Matt is up doing some more last minute projects this week.  Then we're in Atlanta for the next week do pack up and get ready to go.  I am so excited about this change that I could burst.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A brief Zulu Orphan Alliance Update

I was just looking back at old posts and realized that I haven't updated you all about the work we're doing in South Africa lately.  We are still working on raising the money to build the shelter in Adam's Mission.  Our fearless leaders have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to start with the first project - Food Security.  Please consider donating to this cause. I have been here and I have met these kids and the amazing people who work tirelessly to make sure they have food, clothes, education and a safe place to live. The group is run entirely by volunteers so every dime donated will go directly to the project to make sure the kids have a reliable food source.  You can read about our trip to South Africa back in November here

Here is an artist drawing of the community we will eventually build in Adam's Mission.
Image created for Zulu Orphan Alliance.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Adventures of Piglet the Mountain Sphynx

I am still up at the mountain just packing up to head back to Atlanta. I don't like to say "go home" any more because it is harder and harder to go back every time.  This little house is where I want to be.  Matt is currently building the bathroom door while I blog about Piglet's first time in the tiny house. 

The ride up to Asheville was great. Piglet is always so good in the car. She slept pretty much the whole ride.  Once we arrived, I took Piglet up to the house while Matt loaded all of our stuff onto the ATV trailer.  Piglet did not like the climb up to the house.  I was carrying her at first but she wiggled out of my hands and she walked on her leash up most of the path.  She was understandably confused when we got to the house.  She quickly discovered the windows and enjoyed looking out at the land. 

Once Matt got up to the house with our stuff, we unpacked a little and then hung out with Piglet before starting any work.  We learned that Piglet is terrified of the ladder up to the loft.  She won't try to climb it at all.  The good news is, we were planning to build her some shelves that she could use to get up to the loft.  We put her up in the loft by hand and she was fine, but didn't like to get too close to the edge. That actually made me feel better because I was afraid of her falling off. 

Non-Piglet things included some work on the bathroom.  Nothing exciting enough to post pictures of. I also did some more blogging for a client. We made some pasta for dinner and built a fire and hung outside for a while while Piglet slept more in the house.

The first night, Piglet slept downstairs on the couch while we slept in the loft.  We'll find a way to get her up there to cuddle with us at night. 

Today, Piglet has been much more comfortable. She woke us up this morning by trying to open the kitchen cabinets.  I got up and fed her and then took a shower and drove up to the local grocery store to get things to make breakfast. After breakfast, Piglet and Matt had a cuddle.

Piglet has been exploring up a storm the rest of today, though there isn't much to explore in such a tiny space.  As a special treat we went outside to explore.

And finally, we burned some extra energy by playing with the laser pointer. That will be the perfect toy in this small space. 

Soon, Piglet and I will head back down the mountain and make our way back to Atlanta for the week. Matt is staying until Thursday and then I think we might be going back to Asheville next weekend to take a load of things up in the Element while the seats are out of it.  Piglet won't be coming back again until we move in, but it won't be long now! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Postponing Piglet

Piglet is not actually a part of this post. That is because we postponed her first trip up.  We will be going back this weekend with Piglet.  I have promised photos of Piglet in the tiny house. Since I wasn't able to do that this week, hopefully this photo can tide you over. 
Kiss the your own risk!

So, on to the house. Matt spent almost a week up there to get some things done. He did all the trim in the bathroom and built storage built-ins for the closets and the kitchen cabinets. I'll get photos of those when they are 100% done. He also did all the trim in the bathroom, which he said was really difficult but it looks fantastic.

The other thing he did while he was there was make the futon work for us. The frame of the tiny futon (or FuTeeny) did not work for the space at all, but with the way it was constructed it would be easy to modify. So, he built a frame out of 2x4s instead.  The best part about this is we can use the space underneath it and behind it to store things.

And here is a view of more of the living space.

Also while we were up in Asheville we had a chance to hang out with some friends from college.  One of our friends still lives in Michigan and we've been in touch on and off since college.  The other friend we haven't seen since before we move to Georgia. It was at a friend's wedding - those friends now have 3 kids! She happens to live only an hour away from Asheville. We took them to Jack of the Wood, the most authentically Asheville place we could think of.  We spent hours talking and catching up and it was great fun. 

We will be taking Piglet up just for the weekend so she can get use to the space.  That way we can see what she needs as far as a way to get up to the loft.  

We'll be there permanently by mid-May. We have a lot of work to do still in Atlanta to get ready but we are so excited about this transition. Then, everything changes. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Starting our Life in 120 Square Feet!

Just a quick post to let everyone know - it is official!  Matt and I will be moving into the tiny house in May. 

We are beside ourselves with excitement over this change of lifestyle.  We've started getting things ready to move out of our apartment in Atlanta.  We have piles of things for donations and will be moving many of our things up to Asheville over the next month. 

I will be updating this blog regularly as we transition to living small.  In fact, expect a post sometime Sunday or Monday about our adventures this weekend. We are planning to take Piglet with us for the first time so we can see what she thinks about the place and figure out the best solution to getting her up into the loft.  I promise to get photos of the hairless beast in the tiny house for you. 

Photo by J. Andrew Flenniken