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Tiny House Mixer

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Sometimes I just really love Portland.

This evening we joined Tad & Darcy at a tiny house mixer put on by Portland Alternative Dwellings at an alternative learning center in a warehouse that teaches use of power tools and such for wood and metal shop type of projects.

As we drove through Portland on the way there, I happened to notice that easily 80% or more of the men I saw were sporting beards and "beanies" or those knit caps. This included my husband. ('Lumbersexual' and 'Metrojacks' is definitely a thing here.) Over half were also wearing plaid. I started looking into cars as we went on purpose, thinking, "No, it can't be that common...!" But unless they were too young to have a beard or too old to get the fashion memo, nearly every guy looked like he'd come in fresh from logging some timber! I started laughing. The other 3 men in the car were all, "What's up?" and it took me a minute to explain, because I kept seeing more and more examples. Gave me a fit of giggles, let me tell you!

Once there, we signed in and met with a room of about 40 people, all who were looking to buy, build or place their Tiny Home. One couple was there who had done it and were making themselves available to teach others about it. After meeting Dee Williams (big Tiny House advocate, and one of the very first to do it) and some basic "product placement" as James called it-- where the local builders of trailers, and the P.A.D. people (Portland Alternative Dwellings) and even a guy selling Tiny Home insurance (worked out with Lloyd's of London) -- let it be known they were available, the meeting broke up into just people mingling and talking about what they were doing, etc.

It was a very mixed group of people. All ages. Singles and couples. Child blessed and childless. Over a quarter were lesbian, so that was the only demographic that was disproportional. Otherwise? It was surprising overall how many single women were looking into getting their own Tiny Home-- with men and women split almost evenly.

We talked with an older woman who was doing what Gerick and I are doing: buying land and letting others with Tiny Houses live on it. However, in her case, she has 2 adult kids who want to live in their own Tiny House on acres of land out from town. We compared notes and told her what we'd found and what to watch out for.

We spoke to another older woman who lives alone and would like to sell her empty nester house and trade it in for a Tiny Home, but she was trying to figure out how to have space to do her quilting and knitting. We told her that we were going to have a Community Space building, divided into a Media Room (for books, TV, video games, music, etc-- in hardcopy to be shared) and a Crafting Room/Shop for arts, crafts, and home building projects. She was very intrigued by the idea, but brought up her concerns with co-housing (mainly she hated the politics of consensus!!) and I told her how we did it (I already know consensus is a great ideal that just doesn't work in real life.) Essentially, we're the owner of the land and we set up agreements with people coming in via written contract. Then, we meet briefly about 20 minutes once a month to address any concerns. If people don't like how it all works, the beauty of a Tiny Home is they can pack up and drive off to park it elsewhere! She said, "Your approach seems very sensible."

The only down note in it all was when the guys mentioned they were ordering a partially pre-built home from Tumbleweed, because those people are expensive-- they could get the same thing done in Portland locally for about 12,000. The problem is that Tumbleweed allows for financing and they can have it delivered in less than 3 weeks once they place an order. Doing it locally, we worked out, would take almost 4 to 6 months. Personally, I would have gone with the less expensive local options, but I'm not them-- so I don't really care. I think its funny how snobby people can get over how other people spend their money, you know? We were in a Do-It-Yourself mecca location, though, so maybe that makes sense.

The one thing the guys learned they were totally doing right was buying their special appliances first and planning the Tiny Home to the specifications of those, rather than trying to do it the other way around. Darcy was quite pleased with himself for his foresight.

Some links to what we saw presented can be found here--PAD:
That includes Tiny House plans, companies that supply builders and owners, books by people who've done it or interviewed those who have, etc.

It was overall a nice gathering. However, once we pulled into our area of far east rural Portland, back in the boonies, I remarked that I was glad we lived in the country. I loved visiting Portland, but I love my home out from the 'burbs even more!! Which is why we're doing our own thing far from the city, of course. James admitted he was surprised by how much he loved the rural lifestyle himself. He grew up in city-edge older suburbs and his entire adult life had been in cities, but now--? It was just so much more relaxing to come home to the country.


Couple (Self) Counseling Working

blue rose moon (hope/faith)
It appears my husband is determined to actually put some real effort into fixing our issues. Its now been over 3 weeks since our last big fight and we haven't gotten into any more. A couple of tense moments, but nothing we weren't able to work through reasonably. He's nearly finished his anxiety workbook, and we're on the last 3 weeks of our couple therapy workbook.

And its making a very obvious difference!

While I have a few things I could do better (and am working on diligently) the vast majority of unaddressed issues were coming from Gerick's side of the equation. Until and unless he addressed them, all I could do was choose to stay or leave. This time he took me seriously when he saw I was taking steps to leave and buckled under to put some effort into looking into that mirror honestly and then finding new ways to deal with his negative patterns.

He's been more affectionate and understanding, and he's not falling into those bad habit patterns of thought nearly as much. He's had a couple of slips, but I'm not expecting perfection overnight. The point is that he's stopped emotionally abusing me and he's started to address the fears he has that propel him to attack me in the first place.

I'm still cautious at this point. Its going to take some time to win back my trust. However, I'm beginning to feel hopeful that this can be worked out.

That may be obvious as I've resumed searching houses and properties for sale with him. I wasn't about to move further out from town with someone who treated me the way he did for the last 5 months or so. Now--? It appears he's sincerely shifting up his behavior and the underlying beliefs that compel that behavior.

Maybe we'll be okay after all.

Day Out Property Shopping

barebreast posies
What a day!!

Our realtor had several places lined up for us-- all at least an acre and a half of land plus a home (though we can look at just land to put a modular on later, if need be.) I'll call her "Viviene." We met at her office and went over several possible choices and narrowed the list down, then we came up with a plan on a map for how to hit all those on the list.

We went driving in the flatter areas first, closer in to the 'burbs, mostly farms with some residential mixed in. And-- wow! The only places we could afford were SO junky! My husband is very skilled in rehabilitating houses. Hell, he grew up doing that with his parents and we did it with the home that we called Dragonfly Ridge. However-! My heart sunk at every possibility we came across. I didn't really want to be that close in to town anyways... too many cars and people and lack of privacy and traffic and issues with having chickens in some places that were becoming gentrified (richer people move in and change the rules to keep their property values up...)

So then we drove through the back country and hit the hills to the east of the metro region-- and, oh my! How beautiful it was! There were some exclusive, gated communities closer in on some foothills to the Cascade Mountains, but if you went just a little further out than that--? Bingo! Actual places with 2 or more acres and decent housing that we could actually afford. They were not convenient to the city, taking at least 45 minutes to an hour commute time with the jobs that Gerick and Tad have now. But honestly? Those were our only real choices!

As we hit those back hills we came upon a dilemma. An early November (as in record-breakingly early!) snow and ice storm was only a couple days ago and there was still an inch or more of packed ice on some back roads still in shadows above 400 feet elevation! We were unable to get to 3 of the 4 mountain properties we wanted to see. And in fact, got in a pickle on one road.

Viviene's truck had 4 wheel drive and all-weather tires, but no chains, and it was impossible. We had to get out of the truck, Tad (from upper-state New York and so used to snow and ice) got in the driver's seat, and then 2 neighbors (farmers) came out and helped us back the truck up until it was back off the ice and turn around so we could leave. She was grateful we helped her out, and we ended up laughing about the crazy early inclement weather and the whole not-knowing-how-to-drive-on-ice thing. Several times we started to slide or spin out on several roads, but eventually, we actually managed to see a few houses and at least the basic neighborhoods or regions (some backed up to state park land!)

One we saw was a small house on top of a flat hill clearing tucked within an older growth fir forest, with views to the river and mountains to the east. The 2 acres was like a wedding cake in some ways, with slopes that went down to flat areas that could be used for gardens or groves, then slope again, then more flat areas. The area really needed to have most of the blackberry briars taken out and natives put back in, but it was perfectly do-able. It was a gorgeous spot, and the home was a rehabilitated modular that was very well done. Their asking price was totally reasonable.

I was shocked we could afford such a place, but the further out you go, the more you get for less. You have to be willing to take a killer commute though. Tad, luckily, has a nursing degree which can go anywhere, and he can shorten his commute time quite a bit by simply finding a new job. Gerick can set his own hours and work from home much of the time, so he could work something out-- but he's already prepared to move on to a new job himself if need be.

But-- some areas allow things like Tiny Houses and chickens, while others are dominated by yuppie scum who want exclusive, boring yards with the same yawn-worthy landscaping. We're definitely looking for a more friendly and less restrictive type of outer community that would welcome our quiet brand of revolution...

It was a very exciting day out, and now I have an even better idea of what is possible where. The search continues, and hopefully the roads clear out soon. I don't want to wait until the heart of winter to find something.

NaNoWriMo: Life Starts Getting In the Way


I'm days behind in my novel writing. But I have an excuse, I swear!

My husband and I have been doing intensive counseling sessions together (following the workbook protocols.) Several of those sessions were hours long and though some were smooth, others left one or both of us wrung out.

The weather has turned extraordinarily cold for early November, and we've had several snags with power outages and taking care of animals and the property, and then I'm too keyed up to settle down to write.

We're running around looking at property, meeting with real estate agents and brokers, and showing the White Gables townhouse apartments to the people who are apparently buying this place. This meant meetings, and phone calls, and extra house cleaning and property sprucing up. Time gets eaten up quickly.

By the time evening hits, I'm exhausted. I've been going to bed before 11 most nights lately, which for me is extraordinary.

November is very often too full for me. I'm hoping to catch up, but I need a few quieter days first! Don't know that I'll be getting that either soon enough or often enough to catch up to "win" NaNoWriMo.

~le sigh~

The Trevails of Tiny Home Financing

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Tiny houses are a thing. A major thing. A trending thing. I even found a reality show called Tiny House Nation where these guys go around helping people build and transition into their new tiny house! Fascinating.

Meanwhile, our own Tiny House fans, Tad & Darcy, have begun financing to buy that Tiny House shell from Tumbleweed Tiny Homes for quite a bit of money. They went all around exploring how to finance something that is like, but not like, an RV. We suggested they get a parent to co-sign, and the younger loan officer at the bank, who squeed and gushed when she saw what the guys wanted to do (she'd never come across Tiny House stuff before), suggested the same, but absolutely advocated for the guys to get a loan. (Most loan officers are not comfortable with such transactions because they don't get it.) The guys have to say its for a trailer RV type of thing, rather than as a home, even though they will be living in it full time.

Thank goodness for the loan officer, a 29 year old with a wider vision. I'm wondering if younger people in such positions will also be more likely to be sympathetic to the downsizing life thing... Perhaps it would be wise to seek out younger bank officers when trying to obtain such loans. Generational barriers tend to be obstacles to revolutionary approaches to a common dilemma: affordable housing and debt.

(Yes, I know I'm middle-aged, but I've always been imaginative and fluid in my thinking, more like a younger person-- so I can understand how this works with most people.)

So Darcy called his parents, who are more comfortable than Tad's mother, and asked if they would co-sign for such a loan. They're very close to their offspring and weren't exactly thrilled to have their son move across the continent from them. Yet, in the end, they respected their son's dream and agreed to help him get his tiny home.

Which means it won't be long now before the shell is built and delivered! I'm very excited about the prospect. Gerick will be helping them to finish the inside of the home, having building experience of his own. Its a big project, but a fun one, and I plan to take pics and share them. I know I have several Tiny House fans on my flist who will appreciate that. =^)


Autumn Outdoor Chores, New Firepit

Ah, early November. Its the time of year we wait for a couple of dry days in a row so we can rake up leaves, pick up wood falls from trees, and generally winterize.

That's what today was. We had dry day #2 arrive on a Saturday, and we spent several hours outside cleaning up, mowing, dumping piles of leaves on the garden (after harvesting the very LAST of the peppers!) and moving the firepit.

Our old firepit was a small 4 foot square of sand with bricks on top and a metal fire-cauldron on top of that. The new one-? Is where we dumped that huge pile of sand for the pool last spring. The pool is gone, but the 10 foot wide circle of deep sand is an excellent location for an improved and more permanent fire pit. Meanwhile, there were fallen limbs and twigs from recent storms everywhere, so those were all gathered up and brought to the sand area to be burned.

As Gerick and I worked in the nice 60+ degree temps, I felt a quiet sort of contentment. It was nice to have a useful day out again after so much time indoors recently with the start of the rainy season. Tad & Darcy came out and joined us, picking up piles of leaves in the wheelbarrow and dumping them over the garden as well, thus saving my back, which hates stooping and lifting. (Hey, they made $50 in one day helping out, so they didn't mind.)

When evening fell, we started a fire in the firepit. Chances are high its the last night time we'll have a fire this year, so we hung out there even as the chill came in. I finally bid adieu around 9ish, while the rest of the guys finally gave up and came in shivering an hour later.

I am trying to appreciate these times more. We are pretty intent upon securing property of our own. While this may take months, I'm pretty certain we won't be here for another autumn like this. White Gables has been good to us. We turned it around and it turned us around as well. Though I'm sure I'll visit friends who live here once we're gone, it won't be the same.

IFS Therapy, Enhancing Dreamwork

Fara gave me a most brilliant book to read, called Internal Family Systems Therapy, by Richard Schwartz. IFS therapy is really interesting, because it embraces the idea of multiplicity within everyone as a normal state of things. Its based upon the idea that everyone has 3 types of aspects or parts in their internal psychological system, often gleaned from powerful messages they received growing up.

Those parts are:

1. Exiles/Shadows/Rejected child selves -- the parts of us that are suppressed, oppressed, and the major cause of FEARS & ANXIETIES

2. Managers/Rays/Parental selves-- the parts of us that emulate our parents, teachers, and culture, judge us and others, causing DEPRESSION & RAGE.

3. Firefighters/Freakers/Extreme reactionaries-- the parts of us that flip out when shit goes wrong, causing ADDICTIONS & COMPULSIONS.

A fairly healthy child who grows into an adult without too much friction and plenty of functionality will have these parts in harmony who work together more as an internal team-- more like a singular unit. However, those who have been abused and traumatized will have these 3 categories of aspects polarize and become working enemies, causing much of the mental health illnesses today. So healing means opening up a dialog between the aspects or parts and helping them to start working together.

Naturally, I'm very much intrigued by the notion, because it so well matches my own deep dreaming work where I do exactly this! If you hit my tags on dreams, and especially my dreamquest mind or shadows or rays, you can see more specifically what I mean. In these dreams, I have been confronting these subconscious aspects and healing myself. I've been doing this steadily over the years, but the benefits have been stark.

Mainly, I've been focusing on healing and releasing the Shadows, or Exiles, or abused, traumatized and repressed Selves within me. I've also been confronting those Rays who are basically my internalized abusers from my past, especially my father and mother, and telling them that they are doing more harm than good and need to begin to actively advocate for ME and my current system of selves as a whole.

This book is giving me all sorts of ideas for further healing which I'll be sharing as I go along. For now, however, I just wanted to express how pleased I am that someone from the modern psychological era has stumbled upon this notion and used it successfully to help all sorts of people. It may seem counter-intuitive to treat ourselves as multiples when we don't have dissociative identity disorder, but if it works when nothing else does--? That's all the evidence we need to continue to explore this unique approach!
This will be the third year I've done NaNoWriMo. It really is a great way to kick yourself in the ass to get some fiction writing accomplished, even if you don't reach the 50,000 word count to be declared a "winner." Last year, I got about a third of the Fear In Forsaken collection of related short stories off the ground, and was very happy to do so. The year before that, I experimented with a modern chick lit type of story about bikers.

This year, I finally decided to do a story based upon something I know quite a bit about: alien abductions. I have used some of my own memories or stories I've heard from other abductees as inspiration for some scenes or ideas, but most of it is just extrapolated from the notion of creating and interbreeding late-stage human-gray hybrids. What happens when the ones that can pass for human start interacting more? And what about that whole 'alien love bite' thing where teens and young adults are matched up by the aliens?

I've turned the concept into fodder for a young adult sci-fi romance type of story.

And why not? Not to mention I think its a good way to process a lot of my emotions regarding the past. Its fiction, so no one can jazz me about how 'real' it is or not. (In fact, the characters in the story are hung up on how to tell what's real...) And it explores a lot of very interesting ideas.

Plus-? Its fun.

I can seriously use some damn fun these days!

On that note, I'm noticing that having people come out to support me with my latest issues has really helped to restore my ability to relax and even joke and play again. I'm barely beginning to feel my old self coming out, but it's return is so very welcome. I'm tired of being cranky and defensive and bitter. I think I've been betrayed or abandoned so often in my past that having new, better friends who absolutely mean to give me their assistance if I need it has had a powerful impact on my psyche. I can dare to believe that I am not alone in my life. Not if I don't want to be. I support others, and they support me, and its all fair and good and we're all better off.

And writing about traumatic incidents in my past (virgin pregnancies or fear of aliens) is one way to support my own process of purging negativity from my past. I have my basic plot and characters down, so all I have to do is write. Wish me luck!

Halloween 2014

Gerick wore a minotaur costume he made himself and won 1st place and a $100 gift card at work-- and his department, which he helped decorate, won everyone a 1st place $20 card! So-- that was cool. Creativity and artistry rewarded for once, eh?

Meanwhile, at home, the vestibule and our porches have carved and lit jack o'lanterns, and everything is looking the part, so there was some festive spirit in evidence. We just wanted to enjoy ourselves in a low-key way. Gerick and I dressed up like a 70s couple that was trying too hard (!!!!) and our neighbors dressed up as a ninja, dapper instagram photo, and crazy cat lady -- and I'll have to post photos at some point because we were all just so cute! We even knocked on each other's doors and yelled "Trick Or Treat!" because we get no kids where we live and that's just no fun at all! We also shared our candy in a big communal candy bowl left in the vestibule for everyone to nosh on.

This year, however, there were no parties beyond that-- either at our home or going out like we did last year. Neither of us felt up for it. We've had so much stress and the recent fights have dulled our enthusiastic playfulness. So we elected to stay home and just watch scary movies with our neighbors (after we dressed up and joked around by ringing one another's doorbells, that is.)

And it has been a good night. We watched The Conjuring and The Descent and I like the first one and was just 'meh' over the second one. It was easy and comfortable and no pressure and that worked just fine for us all.

Gerick does seem to have been shocked a little into trying more by my recent escape to stay with friends. He's caught up to me in the relationship workbook and read a full THIRD of his cognitive behavioral therapy book for anxiety. I'm stunned. He was very slowly and half-heartedly working on them before this week, but now he's really into it.

Interestingly, the anxiety workbook really freaked him out. He realized just how unreasonable and illogical he's been in his own thought habits, and he's starting to 'wake up' quite a bit. He's also being very courteous and affectionate towards me. We've had a couple of in-depth discussions about issues that did not deteriorate into fights already and so I'm hopeful that just maybe all of this shit will be turned around.

Time tells the tale, though. I am still very much prepared to continue to take steps to be in a less vulnerable position in the future, one way or the other. I think that's healthy regardless of how our marriage goes in the next few weeks to months.

3 Tarot Readings & Home Again

Blue Chakra (psychic)
Gerick showed up at 10 am this morning in Portland, several hours early. He apparently couldn't sleep, so he went to work extra early. I had no notice of the changed time, and couldn't get to the front door because the Mormon roomie of Tameka and Fara was in the bathroom that is used as a hallway most of the time. (Old house, weird arrangement of rooms...)  The doorbell rang for a second time, and I just knew it had to be Gerick. Sure enough, I checked messages on my laptop and he was telling me he was coming early. So I went out the back door and around the house to find him in his car waiting.

He ended up waiting another 45 minutes as I spoke to Tameka about some things and packed. I feel much closer to her after all the things we've discussed...

Last night we did 3 tarot readings for everyone. The advice to Fara was that she needed to continue trying new things, adventuring, daring her pride and reputation. Tameka's advice was that she needed to make space and time for herself to mourn her losses since she's setting boundaries with people and daring to live her own life.  She's been hurt pretty badly and needs to acknowledge that. And the advice for me was to be more assertive and less patient!

Really excellent readings that seemed to be spot on for all of us and advice that said in so many words not to chicken out of continuing to push ourselves to get more out of life. We all already know what we need to do, we just can't give up is all. An interesting run of themes for 3 women who all had terrible mothers and awful childhoods.

So this morning, I felt more assured that the universe was behind me. I felt bad leaving before Fara got back from an appointment, but wasn't about to put Tameka out when my ride was right there.

On the ride home, Gerick was more than civilized, he was perfectly amicable and reasonable and we talked all the way back in a very relaxed and friendly manner. He basically discussed how the cognitive behavior therapy was freaking him out because now he realized why he was acting so crazy and what it was I kept trying to tell him all this time.  He sounded sincere to me, so I'm feeling hopeful.

Once we got home, Gerick went right to sleep (didn't sleep well without me it seems) and I caught up on some personal things. I missed my home. When my husband isn't a dick, I really love my home. I love my life the same way. I think taking a few days off was a good idea for us both.


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Lucretia Heart

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November 2014


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