Trimming the brains; trim in the house.

Through the combined powers of psychiatry and positive thinking, I’m reporting my mood as “great.” Let me tell you more about it.

I quit taking Adderall (scatterball) for awhile to let my brain get back to its natural state. I want to make sure that I am a jackass all the time and it’s not just the pills. Confirmed. It’s my brain. I finally got a psychiatrist, since that’s what people ought to do if they feel like they are always spinning at a different pace than the Earth.

The act of finally jumping through the hoops to see a psychiatrist has pushed me toward better behavior in general. I’ve identified that there are definite changes that I want to make in my life. Simply identifying that these problems do exist and are fixable has led me to a higher awareness of what my brain is doing. Like they say, “awareness is the first step toward shutting the fuck up.

That’s what I need. I need a dose of STFU. I get frustrated over tiny inconveniences. I need a little shoe to come out and kick me in the balls when that happens. I need someone to point out that I’m being a baby.

We can ease up on the houses here. Before we build all these houses we need the capacity for continued work. I’m happy to report that I’m feeling smarter and more sane than I’ve felt for a year. That has led me to continue working on the house.

I’m putting up trim. I have wires running all over the place, and holes all up and down every wall surface. I’m leaping back into action by screwing strips of wood to everything.

I found the cheapest wood available at the Big Orange Store. It’s rough sawn fence boards; a half inch thick. I’m ripping them on my little table saw and screwing them into everything. I quit trying to be a professional cabinet maker, and started trying to make progress instead.

Every photo I’ve ever taken is a grainy sack of baloney, but I sure don’t mind clicking keys on a keyboard. That’s why this blog basically fell apart. Some day I will learn how to do more photos and less words. Some day I will get tired of sticking sticks into my brainhole.

Good Shit: the fridge is in. It’s working like a boss. We have food down here, and we’re working toward cooking and eating down here, since we finally can. 10 out of 10 for awesomeness.

More Good Shit: I built a little cover for the fuse box and charger, so it’s not so frogdamn ugly over there. It’s got bead board on the face of it. I’d give it a 7 out of 10 for quality, so at least it matches visually.

Triple Good Shit: We sold the little couch and got some Ikea “Poang” chairs. I’ve always loved these chairs. Super comfortable. They are also easy to move around, and they take less space. Great. ‘Cause this house is super-fukkin-small. Free chairs: at least 15 out of 10.

Good. Night.

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Systematically Destroying Minor Tasks feat. Reckless Abandon.

I have irons in the fire. I have so many irons in the fire, I’ve had to start new fires for some of the irons. In a way, that’s a good thing, as long as I can manage to chill the fuggout about it. Staying calm is the difficult part. If I could zen-out my brainhole, the irons would be dealt with in turn – like the small, systematically-destroyable minor tasks they are.

Here’s the situation today. Kristin has officially joined me in the online reselling business. We have an office in the large house – as a temporary necessity – and it’s a hellhole. I have a backlog of items that should probably be thrown away or burned, but since eBay is part of the business, we’re heaving crap around with shovels and trying to find the carpet.

Once that’s dealt with, we can go back to cherrypicking valuable books at a series of locations, aka living the dream. Meanwhile: mayhem.

I also have to work on the tiny house, so:

– We can spend more time in it, since it is awesome.
– We can “live” there instead of just sleeping there.

This plan entails more work. Lots more building, and to be honest, I’m running out of steam. I usually run out of steam when I’m around 7/8ths finished with a project, and that’s about where we are in the tiny house.

We desperately need storage to:

– Put our belongings where we live.
– SEVER ONCE AND FOR ALL our attachment to large houses.

What I’ve failed to do is realize the magnitude of this undertaking. In my brain, somehow, if it can be written in 2-3 sentences, then it should only take… say… a week at most. I can’t accomplish anything with this ADHD business, unless I take Adderall, which stokes the fire under my irons, but also tends to whip my perspective on life back and forth like a vigorously waving flag. It gets worse around 5pm when I begin to daydream about ostrich-ing my head in the dirt.

But it is Not All So Bad!!!

In a bid to improve her workspace, Kristin turned to Amazon, and seemed keen to purchase this apparatus:

desktop organizer

This thing is as boring as the day is long.

“Hold the fucking presses!” I thought. HERE is an opportunity to save $17. After a couple hours, I was able to counter with THIS apparatus:

sign-organizer1

I was once 16… now I have an angle grinder.

DON’T WORRY. This is definitely the most effective use of my time.

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Duck When You’re a Target.

It’s impossible to see your surroundings from every possible angle. It’s easy to miss a glaring light if you close your eyes and turn your head. If you’ve lived in the same area all your life – there’s a good chance that within a mile there’s a stretch of road you’ve never set foot on. Not many roads? Then a stand of trees that you’ve never seen behind.

I don’t have a cable TV package. I’m too smart for that. And by “smart” I mean “cheap,” but in this case the outcome by any means is relief. I live in a tiny house, and by “live” I mean “sleep.” For now, I spend a lot of time in the lumbering cacophonous home up the hill. The big house is a cable TV package. Between Cecily Tynan, Kathy Lee, and Brooke Baldwin: this house never shuts up.

After the morning and afternoon programming, then comes the shows about houses. How to buy them, how to fix them – and generally how to act like an asshole. I hope my brush strokes aren’t painting too wide a berth. I’m nowhere above. I know about these shows because I’ve watched each and every one.

The lie I tell myself is that I’m better. I don’t watch these shows; I sit in a room while they’re on. You can tell yourself anything. Watching Mike Holmes retrospectively pinpoint the folly of a job gone wrong makes you no better than those who watch anything else. If you’re on the couch when an ad squirts out for the series “Swamp Hicks” or “Fartin’ Babies,” they’re talking to you. They have you pegged, and you are the target audience. I am the target. It’s time to shut it down, lest we all get struck in the back.

I feel like I’m struggling to wake.

Furthermore;

My plans are a process. Until I am out on my own again, I will be subject to adjacent programming. Until potato chips are out of arm’s reach, I will have them with soda. It’s time to go, and I’m ready. Me and Kristin are going to take my little car to California. And Arizona. Colorado. Oregon. There and on the way, we’re going to continue our business as middle-men, and watch the sun rise and fall. I estimate October, but gosh himself writes the schedule. No more winters, and a short stint presently to get our shit together.

And we’re off.

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Four More Words.

“Hey! Congratulations! I hear congratulations are in order! Do you have a date set?”

Weddings are an enormous to-do. I knew I was getting married. I knew who I was going to marry: Kristin. There wasn’t any reasonable doubt. The only missing element was the official asking: four words.

People tend not to blurt the four words out. You don’t spill the question over oatmeal. Usually, you go skydiving, and somebody spells the words out with colorful flags back on Earth. Or you can make up a phony reason to get on tv and ask the question there. Much planning goes into preparation and venue.

What a to-do.

I built a tiny house, and by the end of last year, it was mostly complete. When I installed the final propane heater, there was no longer good cause to sleep in the giant house up the little hill. I moved the mattress to our loft, and though incomplete, our tiny home was quiet and cozy.

We had been in the house many times, but shuffling down the small hill in the dark was the first time we were going home. Our home; together. We sat on our little sofa. It was December 15th, and the air was brisk and silent. This was the test ride, but the product was sold. The home became ours the moment we crossed the threshold.

We sat close and watched the tiny flames in our scratch-n-dent direct vent wall mounted propane heater. The dim 12v light pointed up toward the peak of the roof; it cast romantic shadows. I began to recount the changes in my life over the past two years. I told Kristin how thankful I was that our paths had crossed; how grateful I was for her insight on being. As soon as I finished my thought, I added four more words.

She was startled, but her answer was immediately YES.

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The Complications of Simplification.

(This post is copied from my ‘real’ blog, but I think it’s appropriate here as well.)

Everything is great. I have a tiny house that I built, and a plan to simplify my life. Naturally, it is much easier to say “simplify” than it is to make it so. To actually perform the act, I will need to throw away, donate, and sell a ton of stuff. I’ve begun.

Two trailer loads so far have gone to the landfill. I don’t love hiding my mistakes and problems under a layer of earth, but it is an effective approach when it is not possible to travel through time and abstain from the initial acquisition. I have a tendency to hold onto items for later projects or other imagined uses. I’ve recently had to remind myself that I am full of shit. It is more important to be rid of this stuff. Some of it was big. Rotten siding and windows had to go; I’m not going to dismantle a desk to harvest the wood for anything. Got. To. Go.

I’m a collector – or at least I always have been one. I have half a closet full of Mad Magazines and ephemera. That was my first collection. Since then, I’ve started at least a dozen others. “Please Wash Hands” signs, from the time in my life where ripping signs off walls was funny. In that vein, I also have my collection of carpets with the logos of the businesses that I took them from. (This was a ballsy collection, but admittedly still a totally awesome one.) I also have about ten miniature guitars; none longer than 32″ overall. I don’t play guitar. Mini Band broke up in 2005. I have a world famous condiment packet collection. Most of them are preserved in plastic baseball card-style cases and sleeves. Thousands of packets didn’t make it to the site before I quit. I had four medium boxes of full packets, some of which were starting to stink. I had unopened correspondence from admirers, and unanswered letters from children who love the site. It was heartbreaking to let this go, but those boxes had to go.

That might not sound bad. But – as you might guess, someone with that list of belongings probably has a lot of other shit lurking around as well. You would be correct. I do.

My belongings have become a burden. I need to let go to be free. I have an unnatural sentimental attachment to bullshit. I am hacking at these ties like a bushwhacker with a machete. 

By way of explanation for the last grim update here, I’ll say that the ADD pills I’ve been taking might be partly to blame. I quit taking them when I suspected they might be making me angry-sad every time they start to wear off. The past few days have been better. My brain is still a muffin floating in cake batter, but at least I haven’t been taking the fact so hard.

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A Re-Focusing on Where to Begin Again…

My builder-blog friend, John, just contacted me. Talking to him reminded me that I stopped talking over here.

Hey! I’m alive. My house is standing, and my wristwatch confirms that time still passes at an even pace.

For personal reasons, I did not work on the house much during the winter months. I hibernated. It was an angry dissatisfied sort of hibernation – and from this, I’ve only just woken up.

Kristin and I have been sleeping in the tiny house for months, but I am ashamed to report that we are not yet full-time fort-dwellers. We lean heavily on the large cumbersome dwelling just up the hill. Our own house is nearly complete, and with a few hammer-strikes and twists of the wrench, I believe I will soon wear proudly the badge of owner-builder.

First, I have to install this fucking fridge.

I bought a fridge on Craigslist. It’s a propane fridge from an RV. It’s bigger than I expected from the photos, but I have it halfway installed, and I’ll be damned if I’m willing to change the plan now. On the second day of the installation, I spent several hours trying to frame around the fridge and run a copper line. After much delicate fussing… I kinked the pipe. That was weeks ago. The only change has been a slight accumulation of dust.

There are several tasks to complete before we are living full time in the new house. Taken separately, the work is in no way insurmountable. The half-full view would be an end in sight. I’m squinting and adjusting my vision accordingly:

1) Fridge. I have a great fridge. I need to run the copper through the floor and to the trunk line under the house. I have to run a couple wires to our fuse box to work the controls. I have to seal the insulated cabinet around the fridge, and I’m done. 1-2 days? Not bad.

2) Trim work. I have all kinds of cheap and handsome rough cut wood. I went to the Corporate Wood Store, and bought the cheapest materials they had. The wood is intended for use as fence boards, but should also be suitable for anything else that’s wooden. Trim? Great.

3) Bathroom. This small room is where we keep our trash, mops and spiders. I need to build a door for it. I need to make the shower drain go to a vessel of some sort. I need to get something like a dry-flush (you have to see this toilet.)  The shower is going to be something like a solar shower bag which drains into a big jug under the house, passing through the cast-iron sink that you stand in. Huh? Right. I don’t know how it’ll end up, but I need to begin the process of experimentation. Same with the kitchen sink.

4) I need some more outlets and lighting. USB outlets and 12v outlets need to be added. No big deal. Just a little tedious. Here is another area where I need to think less and strip wires more.

All-in-all, I’m exactly where I was before winter. I’m a nutty nut bag that needs to finish the projects which he starts. Time will pass, and several moons from now, we will see the result.

I’m pleased that so many people have signed up to ‘follow’ this blog. I feel a certain responsibility to create informative, or at least illustrative content, but at the same time I have to remember to wake up and put on my pants.

How are you? Do you want to build your own tiny house? Build it! You’ve got to be more qualified than me! And I’m almost done!

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Installing an inlet; wiring an oulet

What a difference a pill makes. In spite of a cold wet day, I managed to get some work done.

First up on the chopping block: an alternative to running an extension cord through an open window.

I bought a weatherproof “inlet” for the side of the house. An inlet is like an outlet, but it has three prongs instead of three holes. Since I don’t know the professional way to complete most tasks, I had to piece together a plan from Youtube videos and bits of forum threads. Mix that information with some common sense, and you’re ready for tools.

15mg of borrowed Adderall worked like a charm. Without it, I’d be muttering and cussing. A project like this might bring me close to tears. With it, I’m focused. I know my methods are cobbled together and inefficient, but isn’t that the nature of all self-directed learning?

I slipped a Sharpie out of my pocket, and traced a circle around the guts of the inlet. The circle was two inches in diameter, and I only had a 5/8″ bit. Not to be slowed down, I drilled several little holes instead. I retrieved my new Rotozip to clean it up. The Rotozip didn’t like my siding too much, so I walked back through the snow once more to retrieve a jigsaw. Better. I only had to hack away for another five minutes to get a good fit for the inlet’s guts.

Any person with skill or experience would be done by now. I was still getting started.

From the outside, I ran my 5/8″ bit up at a slight angle, and towards the general area where I wanted to install an outlet inside. The bit broke through the drywall pretty close to where I was aiming. Close enough, anyway – and I allowed myself a wide margin of error.

The next task was to install a plastic outlet receptacle on the inside wall. The Rotozip was right at home for this part. I Sharpie’d around the box, plunged the Rotozip’s bit through the drywall, and found almost immediately that I had traced the box over a stud. That’ll need to be touched up. I traced again, and cut out a rectangle the size of the box. The size was about right, but the depth was about a quarter inch shallow.

Here’s where I started getting fancy.

I used a big flathead screwdriver to slash a bunch of shallow grooves into the foam board insulation. I clawed the insulation out with my fingernails and the flathead blade until the box fit. I know there was a better way, but sometimes the best way ends up being any way that doesn’t stop the project. The box fit.

But I wasn’t done yet.

This type of receptacle – the blue plastic type – attaches to a stud with two pre-installed 3″ nails that are at an angle nearly perpendicular to the face of the box. Maybe a 15 degree angle. The box itself fit the hole, but the nails did not. Even if the nails did fit into the recess I’d carved out – how could I pound them in without cutting out way more drywall?

I cannot recommend this solution, but it worked:

I used the Rotozip to carve out two extended recessed lines where the nails could be nested. The receptacle and the nails were now recessed in the wall where I wanted them – but how could I pound in the nails? I walked through the snow again to retrieve a nail set. A nail set is used to push the head of a nail neatly flush with a surface without damaging the surrounding material. In my case, I eyeballed the angle of the nail and estimated where the nail set could go to line up with the head. Then I jammed the tip of the nail set through the drywall at an angle, and forced it to line up with the head of the nail. This took minor violence. I pounded the nails in using the nail set jammed through the surrounding drywall at a shallow angle. It worked.

I can probably fill the hack-job drywall damage with some spackle – much easier than patching. My drywall job is far from pro, but it looks alright with paint on it. You can see all the joints and a good percentage of the screw heads, but I’ve moved beyond caring about that. I can hang drywall, but it’s going to have some character.

I walked through the snow again, and took a fifteen minute break to review outlet wiring. Brass = hot; silver = neutral; green = ground. I got a clean scrap of Romex, stripped the three wires on one side, and with inefficient meticulousness, I attached the wires in a correct and respectable manner. I slipped the wires into the wall-hole from the outside, and attached the cover plate of the inlet making sure the waterproof gasket was evenly compressed against the siding. I moved inside, stripped the other end of the Romex, and attached the wires to their corresponding outlet screws.

A careful idiot could do this. A careless idiot might get injured, but a careful idiot will do just fine. Double check your work, and plug in something you don’t care about. I had no issues. Now I can plug an extension cord into the outside of my house, and the outlet on the inside will have power. The battery charger is always plugged in – so when you plug in the extension cord, you are “plugging in the house.” I love it.

Image

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