Friday, January 27, 2017

Adjusting To The Tiny Life

Moving into the tiny house required more than a little adjustment. It was part art installation, part moving trauma. To communicate the ups and downs I wrote a long post on my personal blog so all my family could feel my pain as I chronicled the physical and emotional adjustments I made to adapt myself to the tiny house systems I had chosen to inflict on myself. This included using a cooler instead of a fridge, boiling water in an electric kettle for hot water and using a waste water tank that would need to be emptied within a week. Many of my organizing colleagues were surprised that I had designed such a primitive way of life, but the simplicity of it had appealed to me.

The first week I mostly installed hooks so everything had a place to hang as it were. I also installed a nifty dumb waiter to bring my laundry crate down. I had seen one at the tiny house of Alexis and Christian when they came to town. A tiny pulley was all that was needed with some lengths of parachute cord. An S hook was attached to the end of the cord. This would hook to the harness I made for the laundry crate. The pulley would hang from a hook screwed into the ceiling. I made loops in the cord to make it easier to pull. And I installed a hook under the last stair of my loft ladder where I could hook the first loop to hold the crate in place while I unloaded it. When not in use I coiled up the pulley and cord and hung it on the wall. Using it was part of the fun of loft living.

Cooking was also fun with my stove in a drawer, but washing up was a chore I had to finesse in order to conserve water and adapt to the tight spacing. I also spent a lot of time figuring out how best to heat the tiny house given an excessively cold and wet winter. I now have three different space heaters. A tiny one under the desk of only 250 watt. A large dish style one in the kitchen area that I used on the low 750 watt setting and a propane one that would really crank out the heat. But my flower pot heaters were my favorite given the pleasant and silent ambient heat coming off the pots. At first I used tea lights as suggested in the youtube videos, but they didn't last through the night and I was left with a heap of little aluminum casings. I upgraded to votive lights and ordered a case of 288 candles from which should last me 10 weeks using two flower pot heaters. Once I had raised the temperature with my various space heaters, the flower pot heaters would maintain that heat and offer a warm glow into the bargain.

I've now been in the tiny house for three months and all in all I am happy to have such a sanctuary to return to at the end of the day. I count myself as a refugee of the housing crisis and feel lucky to have finessed such a solution. The brilliance of it is that I have absolutely everything I need close at hand.

A student journalist came by to interview me. English was not her native language so I'm a little stiff as I searched for words that would not be cultural references or colloquialisms. She made a little video that offers a tour of my tiny house along with interviews with all of us local tiny house dwellers. I offered a few words about how the tiny house movement has started a dialogue about excess and what is really necessary to live a comfortable life.