I have fallen down the Pinterest rabbit hole and may never see daylight again, lol! I have to consciously ignore the ‘suggestions’ when I Pin something from the ‘net that interests me, or I’ll be distracted by every shiny, interesting thing out there. But wow, what a wealth of ideas, color infusions, organizing tools – it is like Simple Living, Coastal Living and every other ‘living’ magazine, plus design sites, on crack. I have been toting around Cottage Living magazines for a few years since I found them on Ebay after the magazine itself went defunct. It is difficult to believe that such a thing could have happened, what with all the hoopla about smaller, simpler living spaces today. Back when I had my 1940’s farmhouse, I wanted to redo each room at a time and convert it to the cottage style. Alas, that never happened. It is probably a good thing, as if I’d have had to leave sweat labor and design lovin’ behind along with everything else, it might have broken me.
My biggest problem is _making a decision_ about what style I am going with for the exterior (shed conversion, tiny house flatbed build, yurt, Amish put-together) even before I get to the interior spaces. I have always had an affinity for architecture, particularly when it incorporates natural elements. I think my pulse actually increases, haha! It used to be a private joke between me and my husband when I’d ask him if he could go cut some wood – I love the smell of fresh-cut wood too, along with wood smoke. Rawr. Anyway, I digress. I have to determine at least the footprint of the house prior to my visit in the Spring in order to determine where to have the well drilled at year’s end, and the internal and external manual pumps installed. I’ve never gotten to do this, and my head is spinning. Since I am going small, I can only incorporate so many things that I like. But hey, there could be a guest cottage in the future to do something totally different too! The kids all look at my TH ideas and then ask “Where will WE stay when we come up to visit?” I’ll gladly give up my sleep space and pitch a tent or such so they can enjoy it. I’m pretty sure my oldest grandson will be shipped to my place for some summer fun about the first year I’m settled up there – which suits me just fine. I’ll need garden helpers!
Thankfully I have friends that have construction experience. My only construction experience is writing checks to contractors, and even that was ages ago during a remodel on my second house. One of my co-workers and buddies is quite the enabler; he is always sending me links to things – building materials on Craig’s List, flatbed trailers for sale, scrap wood there for free. I finally had to tell him that unless he and his wife were going to haul that stuff up to TN for me, he’d best stop. No use gathering up a bunch more stuff that I have to store while here at the micro-haus, which is already overflowing as it is. But my storage units arrive this weekend, and I’ll be glad to reclaim my interior space once more. I am also lucky that I already know a jam-up electrician in the area who sidelines in plumbing too. His work is quality (from what I know) and he is very, very fair on his pricing. He saved me after straight line winds tore the electric mast off of my house during my first spring at Sunflower Solace. I began my telephone conversation with “I am covered by insurance…” and he interrupted and said “NEVER, EVER tell someone you’re asking for a quote that stuff! People will bump up the price and jack you around.” See, I’m just blunt and honest, and I never thought of someone taking that as Cart Blanche to rip someone off. I’m thankful for people like him. That coddling business in my former marriages does me no good in this world, I can tell you that. I am a walking target many times, and my assumption that other people are honest is not always accurate. But I am slowly learning.
It is possible that with some guidance I could learn to do things like put up sheet rock, lay tile and do backsplash work, even mount cabinetry. I helped with a kitchen remodel in my third house, but, you know, I had a hubby and a buddy with experience there too, people who guided me and who had our best interest at heart. My co-worker and his wife have signed on to come up and help in exchange for some camping, hunting and fishing time, and me providing food and beverages. It is also possible that I could reach out to some of my forum acquaintances and get some help as well. If all else fails, I know people up there for hire as well. I’ll figure it out.
Materials costs I really hope to keep minimal by using Habitat’s Re-Store, Craig’s List, and other kinds of methods. I’ve done my share of dumpster diving and trash day scavenging in the past. But all of that is in the farthest future – first order of business is the well, and then the root cellar/tornado shelter. I’d love to have a full basement, but I don’t see the funds for that being available unless I win the Lottery – which I’d actually have to purchase a ticket for in order to even have a fair chance at that, yes?
So the Pinterest ideas are piling up, the Cottage Living magazines are out of their storage bin, and I am in serious imagination mode. I joined a ‘design your own cottage plans’ group during a special, in case for some reason I actually have to create my own plans. That’s probably not the best idea really, since I know nothing from nothing.
Here are some of the basics that I know that I want, and links to ideas and examples of interest if I have them:
Stairway storage – I know that I would like to have a loft if possible to extend my square footage. I also know that this may be a long-term living solution for me, and as such, hiking up a ladder, while quite doable today, may not be such a joy ten to twenty years from now.
Long term low-maintenance exterior – Tin and/or steel is expensive when compared to other exterior surface options. But it is durable and insect proof. When I was young, we vacationed often in a cabin deep within a National Forest, and that cabin had a tin roof. It was rustic inside and out. Wrought iron beds with feather mattresses. A big farm sink. Huge front porch with rockers. The sound of the rain coming down on that tin roof was awesome. I’ve longed for one since – and that’s not just a few years!
And just for beauty’s sake:
And now just some rambling thoughts and a few quotes, as there are some things that have floated to the surface of my consciousness lately – perhaps when digging through your life ephemera, the confetti of the mind also rises, swirls and comes to rest in a new pattern, exposing things that only your subconscious mind knew as truths.
This dream of the woods, of rustic living spaces, of green things growing, of shucking peas into buckets – it comes from childhood. It comes from that time when I was safe and young and untouched. Her name is Innocence. I have wondered why certain things move me so, have such a visceral impact on me. Why the pull to return to the natural world, its rhythms, that awareness of the progression of seasons in time and in life – is so strong in me. I have marveled at the blanket of peace that enfolds me, that seeps into tender places and protects them, when alone in the natural world, performing labor with my hands – be it planting seeds, challenging weeds to keep their boundaries outside of mine, or simply hand-sawing a fallen tree that was blocking my driveway after a storm. This life is not cushy or even safe. It is more at the whim of natural events, more fragile really in some ways – reliant on the strength and mental acuity that you retain within your body and mind, dependent on a mastery and understanding that only comes over time. And my life is litteredwith wasted time. I am also quite cognizant of the oft felt feeling of being seriously overwhelmed when I was treading this path alone for the first time in the aftermath of my mate’s death. I am aware that this picture in my head will, more often than not, be far prettier than the reality of living this life. It is the sole purview of mankind I believe, to create alternate realities in our minds, to dream and imagine, for the simple fact of encouraging us, showing us a different thing, that allows us to continue to move forward even when under fire. Thoreau said it best I think –
Self-pity is often the most egregious elevation of self – my pain is more important than the pain of others, self mutters. Self rails “Wrongs done to me are deeper, have more impact, and therefore others deserve less of me, and surely not my trust. All are suspect under my visor of pain.” This mindset is the greatest and most dangerous of delusions. If you but talk to others, you find that your burden pales beside that of another; often, beside many others. But you will not know, because you have locked yourself behind the brass bars of hurt and vindication, and you begin to lose feelings. Yes, feelings are dangerous things – they make us vulnerable, expose our soft underbellies. But oh, I shall trade heartache and breach of trust any day for cold indifference and aloofness. For at least under the burn of pain lives the heat of the heart, a soul of fire and life. Under the mantle of impermeable cold, everything is held only on the edge of life, never really bearing fruit, needing warmth and light by which to gain energy to grow.
Let me soar and float with the butterflies always, despite the fragility of my wings of hope and their susceptibility to damage simply by traveling through the winds of life. The time is always -now- to be different, to take chances, to believe. Yes, one must not always act willy-nilly on impulse (note to self!), as time is required in most all things. But at least handle it in your mind, be willing to roll it around on your tongue and speak of it, your dream or your desire. Become familiar with it, for it is a place upon which to rest your soul and your heart for a future time. Do not neglect pragmatism though – even feelings need a check and balance. That doesn’t mean to cut the strings and eliminate them altogether, or to retain only the basest ones. Just learn to know when it is right to clasp tightly and hold on versus when to open your hand and let it go on to someone else somewhere.
Joy. I feel it. Excitement. It burbles inside of me like a newly created freshet rushing over slag and slate, pebbles and sand, for the first time. Most of all what I feel is hope and delight. I am happy to be alive, this moment. For that, I am thankful.
And last but not least…
So go you, be good and don’t worry about perfect. Go live, and realize that fear is part of life. Live this moment, it is all you’ve really got.