Prompt: “It takes guts to tremble.” —Andrea Gibson
Time: 10 minutes

It takes guts to put the pen to the paper. It takes guts to press send. It takes guts to show up. It takes guts to walk out the door in the early morning, on the edge of the day’s unfolding. It takes guts to sit with the hard feelings—to really feel them. Not brush them off, stuff them down, pack them away. It takes guts to set boundaries and ask for what you need. It takes guts to smile at a stranger. It takes guts to try something, to explore, to see where things go. It takes guts to focus. It takes guts to say “I don’t know.” It takes guts to keep trying, to not let obstacles become endpoints. It takes guts to be awesome. And to be yourself. And to grow into new aspects of yourself. It takes guts to keep on keeping on. And to admit you just need a nap. Or a hug. Or a dance party. It takes guts to light up the world with your fire. It takes guts.

Shout-outs to Shira E for this inspiring post and to Gabe Radeka for the vital question and tangled important woods metaphor!

Prompt: “Consider me / As one who loved poetry / And persimmons.” —Shiki
Time: 15 minutes

And summits. And scuffed-up boots close to falling apart. And holding onto a dear hermana’s hand for dear life while I cry. And the question, “What if nothing is wrong with you?”

And clementines, with their tiny sweetness and easy rinds. And that moment my heart swells. And the contours of my inner life. And my future tiny house with its tiny wood stove and tiny reading nook and tiny tub. And blankets.

And my body, surprisingly. And the fire, in people and words and life and my skin. And music made with small blue keyboards and ukuleles and electronic things I don’t know the name of.

And when I’m in it, whatever it is. And when you—or you, or you, or you—are there with me.

And a stranger offering me her table at a crowded coffee shop. And sitting there with her in shared concentrated silence for 10 minutes before she departs and I thank her, wishing I had introduced myself.

And when I know exactly what I want. And your smile. And the spring wildflower garden on my walk to the bus. And the bus. And my shoulders. And the wine stain on my Book Mill bag from a music, art, and wine night. And the big, comfy couch.

And peering into the clearing from the woods, from the important tangle, unsure of emerging. And that deep breath.

TinyHomes.com

TinyHomes.com

Happy 2014 to all you folks reading this! One of the things that has me excited about the year ahead is, of course, tiny houses and all related phenomena. So much good stuff going on in the midst of planning for my summer 2015 build — from helping organize the Greater Boston Tiny House Enthusiasts meetups  (you can find us on Facebook, too) to connecting with other tiny housers like the amazing Vera Struck. I’ve hit a $5,000 milestone in my tiny house savings, and my parents just bought a house with some land upon which I can locate my build site!

One of my favorite new things related to tiny houses is TinyHomes.com, a totally awesome new website started by Lina Menard and Kenny Bavoso. It’s a treasure trove of tiny house community — you can connect with other folks in the tiny house movement, peruse tiny house musings, and feast your eyes on some tiny house inspiration. I may be biased in my excitement, since I’m going to be a monthly blog post contributor, but it’s already shaping up to be an awesome virtual community and resource.

If you’re interested in what I have to say about tiny houses over at TinyHomes.com, check it out on the 14th day of each month! (And be sure to check it out on all the other days, too, for tidbits from folks much wiser in the ways of tiny houses than me!) My first post was a playful list of how to build a tiny house, and I just finished a post for January entitled “Can’t Have It All.”

What would you be interested in reading about over at TinyHomes.com? (And here, for that matter, where I’d like to post more regularly in the coming year.)

I shall name her Rosie.

I shall name her Rosie.

Packing up for three days of tiny house learning (and sawing!) with Deek of relaxshacks.com

Prompt: Weather.
Time: 10 minutes.

A snowstorm. In Cotuit. We lost power for days. No electric heat. Only fire, fueled by the dismantled coffee table.

A thunderstorm. In Lenox. We sat in the window seat, watched the lightning, faces rapt, and listened to the rain.

A rain shower. In Clinton. We jumped in the puddles, smiling our we-have-all-the-time-in-the-world smiles.

A heat wave. In Arizona. We drove and drove and drove, and our boombox melted, and we smiled.

A cold snap. In Lenox. We cooked chicken soup and sat on the brown couch and cozied in.

A blue sky. We lounged in a cemetery on my birthday and read aloud.

Be a weatherperson.

 

Over the past couple months, I’ve developed a new mantra. When I’m stressed out, when I get daydreamy, when I feel antsy, this is what comes to me:

Tiny house. Tiny house. Tiny house.

I think the first time I learned about tiny houses—the kind that are less than 200 square feet, that are built on wheels—was this video:

I was enamored with this tiny house. Over the years, I’ve quietly explored tiny houses online in admiration, but it’s only this year that I’ve started doing so with a more serious purpose: I’m going to build one myself.

Why tiny?

Well, for one thing: why not tiny?

There are so many reasons that a tiny house appeals to me. I’ve always been drawn to cozy spaces. As a kid, I loved reading in my closet with a flashlight and building tiny forts. More than that, I loved the feeling of home. I moved a lot as a kid (not to mention as an adult), so that feeling was sometimes elusive, many times interrupted. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine being tied to one place permanently. A tiny house is an elegant solution: I may move, but my home comes with me.

And my home will contain just exactly what I need. Part of the process of planning and building a tiny house is figuring out just what that is. I know I have too much—and unnecessary—stuff. And it’s weighing me down. I want to have a lighter footprint. I want to get down to the essentials. Make room for other things in my physical and mental and emotional life.

Like community. The tiny house community (so many amazing, enthusiastic people!) and the community I will build around my tiny house. This was a big topic of conversation that Dee Williams brought to the table at a workshop I attended (more on that below). I’m not going to have every single thing I need in my tiny house. Which is actually a beautiful thing. It means reaching out to other people, developing practical and meaningful two-way relationships. I also don’t want to live in the middle of nowhere all by myself. As I think about where to build and where to park my tiny house, I’m thinking about people and connection.

I used to dream of a big house with a big library—a big desk surrounded by shelves upon shelves of books, a ladder to reach them all. Now I dream of a tiny reading nook with a small bookshelf and many fruitful trips to the library—and a ladder to reach my bed.

“Growth can mean simpler lives and more livable communities. It takes work and doesn’t just come by itself. It takes labor and development of a different kind. Part of what functioning, free communities like the Occupy communities can be working for and spreading to others is just a different way of living, which is not based on maximizing consumer goods, but on maximizing values that are important to life. That’s growth, too, just growth in a different direction.”
—Noam Chomsky

But how?

I started with an amazing workshop in Portland, Oregon, with Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD). They’re a tiny house company (check them out on Facebook, too)—owned and run by totally awesome women—that offers design and build workshops. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in tiny houses. Dee Williams, PAD founder and a leader of the tiny house movement, is one of my sheroes and a total inspiration. I learned so much at the PAD workshop, about building principles, tiny house ethos, zoning and code questions, and more. And it was really during that workshop—learning about all the details that go into building and living in a tiny house—that my thoughts went from “It would be so cool to live in a tiny house” to “It’s going to be so cool living in a tiny house.”

The hand-decorated tool belt my dear friend made for me that I shall use to build my tiny house!

Tool belt—hand-decorated by a dear friend—that I shall use to build my tiny house!

Next came:

  1. Started spreadsheets! I named my Google doc spreadsheet “Tiny House Scheming,” and it currently has nine worksheets, from “Heart-Swelling Inspiration” to “Budget”
  2. Began following all sorts of inspiring tiny house folks, like Lina Menard, who you can find over at thisisthelittlelife.com, and Chris and Malissa Tack of the Tiny Tack House, over at chrisandmalissa.com. They all presented at the PAD workshop I attended, and I can tell you that they (1) totally know their tiny house stuff, (2) are super friendly, and (3) are awesome people.
  3. Paid off my credit card debt, started a tiny house savings account (with no debit card to access it), and began direct depositing a bit from each paycheck into it.
  4. Registered and am currently taking a tiny house e-course with Tiny r[E]volution to explore even more of the details of building a tiny house, to keep the inspiration flowing, and connect with other folks who are into tiny houses.

It’s going to take me a few years to save up enough money to build my tiny house, but that really works out perfectly because it gives me ample time to design and plan.

In the meantime, here’s some of that heart-swelling inspiration I mentioned before:

How I shall welcome the new year:

  1. Clean dishes
  2. Fresh bedsheets
  3. Reflection
  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Once More, with Feeling”
  5. A new word
  6. Many words
  7. Intention
  8. Nourishing food
  9. Pristine, perfect calendars
  10. One achievable goal
  11. Several wild dreams
  12. A bit of dark chocolate
  13. A tiny bottle of prosecco
  14. A red dress
  15. Appreciation

Tell me yours!

I made this today. That is all. (For key to proofreading marks, visit the Chicago Manual of Style.)

 

I keep in touch with my grandparents mostly through writing letters, something I eminently enjoy and feel has fallen too much to the wayside in modern society’s hustle and bustle of a harried existence. In his latest letter—written in the most beautiful and meticulous penmanship that is his hallmark—my grandpa wrote a paragraph that was exactly what I needed to read:

Detail from Grandpa's painting

Detail from one of my
grandpa’s paintings

Glad to hear that you are finding time for personal writing. Keep it up—remember you have something to say to all of us and we need to hear. We write, we paint for different reasons at different times. Most of my painting is illustration, no big story, but I like boats and I want to paint them. Sometimes I try to tell a story—put some meaning into the picture. Sometimes I almost succeed.

That’s from Bill Atcheson, painter and my grandpa. I feel like there’s so much I want to tease out of this paragraph—about the importance of expression, about the ways that the things that are vital to us change but remain vital, about the need to try despite obstacles and challenges—but for right now, I am just going to dwell in his words and let them speak for themselves. And I’m gonna go write!

Inspired by my friends over at Queering Motherhood, here’s a snapshot of where I’m at:

Loving: the feeling of being home in many places. And clean laundry.

Reading: Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, by Chris Hayes, which is articulately and compellingly confirming my gut feelings about U.S. institutions and the pitfalls of meritocracy (read more over at Rolling Stone; definitely a post of its own to come upon completion). To balance out the wonkiness (uber readable wonkiness, but wonkiness nevertheless), I’ve also just taken My Antonia, by Willa Cather, off my shelf. Oh, and Labor Notes newsletter, Ms. Magazine, and Bitch.

Watching: political debates, the Rachel Maddow Show, If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (fascinating), Look Both Ways (heartbreakingly wonderful and moving), Winter’s Bone (intense and painful and good), Foyle’s War (British mystery! Sam and Foyle are my favorite characters).

Thinking about: how I am going to start eating healthier, the advances of modern medicine, the sorry state of health care, what I want my career to look like in the coming years, how cold my toes are, the word and the concept of weltschmerz, writing.

Stressing about: finding balance, the feeling I have right now that I am forgetting something, returning e-mails and phone calls, not having things done that should already be done, uncertainty (useless, I know).

Looking forward to: paying off my credit card debt, being part of a dear friend’s wedding at the end of the month, having three days off next weekend, movie night with my roommate, cozy knitting.

Making me happy: letters in the mail, end-of-dock conversations, homemade macaroni and cheese.

What’s Going On Here?

Partly It's the Boots is ever-evolving (just like me)—opinions, wonderings, projects, freewrites, fascinations, adventures, and the like. Not to mention current events, feminist perspectives, lefty politics, LGBTQ equality, and much more.

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