Christmas and the tiny house

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I do love christmas. Always have. But in recent years it has taken on a deeper meaning than simply my love for food, alcohol and a glam-rock fascination for everything that glitters.

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Mistletoe has always had a special place in my heart.

I live mostly in Norway, and from October on, it’s dark here. Cold and dark. The sun barely, if at all, rises and the more time you spend outside, either out of doors or out of society, you notice. And in a smaller house, where the walls are thinner both against the cold and against the things that lurk in the shadows of the world, you notice even more. And after the first horror, come to appreciate that there is still a time and space for the darker and stranger things in the world. It is a time for those things that are never given any space the rest of the year, chased away with light and noise, things that are needed and beautiful and necessary.  It is a time for secrets, for nature to rest, a time for freezing or starving to death either physically or mentally and while it’s a challenge to secure against the first, it’s even more difficult to secure against the latter, for you rarely see it.

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That merry tinsel on your tree? This is what it’s meant to be.

Therefore,we sing happy songs, and light candles, and decorate and make room for the deeper colours, read poetry and light fires and drink. As the line more or less goes; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you’re probably dead. It is a sacred time, even for us who are not christians, possibly even more. because while the christian idea is one of the quick fix, the permanent solution, we know that winter will come again next year also, and after that, a new spring.

Waste not…

Living in a very small house with no running water or other means of quickly disposing of your garbage brings awareness to one thing; humans are bloody disgusting creatures. I mean really. The sheer amount of waste and rubbish and filth and dust created by one (quite small) human is staggering.

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I will spare you the illustrations on this one and instead post a picture of some lovely and not at all symbolic waterlilies 

I spend now probably two to three hours each day just keeping things clean and that still leaves me with the question of what to do with such things as dishwater. Now you may think that when you live in a large house with plumbing all your waste is brought by fairies to a magical land of loveliness, but all sanitary stations rely on chemicals, creating on the whole more problems than they  solve.

I still use the ‘normal’ garbage system with local recycling opportunities for household rubbish, and my toilet remains is neatly disposed of in appropriate compost heaps (the toilet is actually my least problem, sanitarywise, I thought is would be te greatest)

The biggest problem is really the water, the water used for dished and laundry and me. Humans create a great deal of mud. I really believe that the greatest problem is the idea that we are meant to live all our lives indoors, so that even the largest house will be small compared to the amount of space needed to not overtax one space with our treading, our weight, our waste and water. All of this is not a problem when spread over a large area (and, of course, properly dealt with and not just left anywhere) but when clumped together on a small space by too many of us creates nothing but death and suffering, to put it dramatically. Living in a small space has really made me aware of how much space one human being takes up, and how little of that space needs be indoors.

The seven day itch

I have now lived in my house, full time, for a whole week. So far it’s perfectly fine, but there are several little daily things that makes up not exactly problems, but tiny itches. Such as, where do I place the coffee kettle after I’ve filled it and while I light the alcohol stove? Do I take my shoes of before I go in or indoors? Because keeping your shoes on is seriously not an option. Where do I place the last step on my ladder down from the alcove without blocking the window and also, how do I get the window to close fully while keeping the bookshelves intact, etc.

I don’t have water or electricity, so every daily activity, from washing in the morning to brushing my teeth and doing the dishes is a tiny little adventure (I suppose this is where the ‘tiny living’ tag comes from). In the morning, I light the fireplace and have a pot of water placed on it for warm water during the day. I take care to wash all the dishes directly after use, and if I’m boiling an egg for breakfast, I’ll use the hot water from that to wash my coffee cup. And such.

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Part of my kitchen in its orderly jumble

Considering this, I have chosen wood for my cutlery and dishes, both for their light weight, the fact that they won’t break during driving, that they’re antibacterial and easy to clean and with the added bonus of the sound. No more sharp clacking or scraping during those tender morning hours, but the warm whisper of larch.

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Every day there are new things to adjust and to adjust to, I’m still settling in. Probably, living like this will affect both my body and psyche in new and interesting ways yet to be seen.

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Me on the porch, photo by Even Tømte

Icharus revisited

Last friday I moved my house out of the building site. Or, I had it moved since I failed my drivers exam for the extension needed. A minor setback.

Winter is, indeed coming. Actually, it’s already here, and it was about time to get the little owl on her wings over the mountain. Bergen is pretty much cut off from the rest of the world, landwise, during winter. if I am to have any hope of spending winter under a warmer sun, or any sun at all,  I had to have it moved. So I hired a fellow from Bruvold service, a local company, to drive the house from Bergen to the east of Norway, where the climate is better and the roads lead southwards. Of course, I have not moved the hanger or house since I started building, and all the calculations were just that, calculations. I had no idea if they would actually work.

It was probably the most nerve wrecking thing I had ever done. I did not sleep at all the night before, with feverish horrors of houses gliding towards me and smashing into the front of my car. Also, there was a certain amount of sceptics among family and neighbours concerning the height and the light-framed construction of the creature. This, of course did not help. I’m not used to having anything to prove, but this time I felt a certain responsibility on behalf of weirdos everywhere.

And the morning came, dark and full of rain. And as we attached the house and pulled out of the driveway, we did so under a cover of autumn gloom. But she stayed on the road for the first turn, so I had a pretty good hope that she would last a while longer.

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At about an altitude of 6000 feet, the skies cleared, and the colours of autumn came forward to match those of the house. And she glided through the landscape as part of the green and gold.

 

But then, at the plateau, the wind started to pick up. Now, this is a fairly tall house in relation to the width and weight, and there were a few times when part of the roof-shingles flapped unsteadily. And just to make sure, I stopped the caravan and climbed up on the roof to fix the tiles, trailers and semi-trailers thundering by and together with the icy wind making the house shift and shake nervously. But we all stayed on our feet and on the road.

The rest of the drive I spent pretty much in a sort of tense disbelief that it had actually worked. And so here I am, at the edge of a forest near a lily pond,which is not only beautiful, but solved the question of how to cool the champagne.

 

I’ll be staying here for a little while, improving and adjusting the house, getting the details of daily living, the new routines of the new space and how I will move in it on a daily basis. And hope my health will last while I do so.

Tiny alienations

There’s a lot of really lovely people in the tiny house movement. There really is. I’m not one of them though. I’m not positive, mindful, cheerful, quirky, or whimsical. I’m not your manic-pixie-dream-outsider. I have an outlook on life and humanity slightly less bright than Peter Wessel Zapffe.  And while I do have a wide sense of humor, and I do laugh a lot, particularly when people fall over, I have a deep scepticism of people who smile All The Time and who always find something to be grateful about.

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Perhaps you do need to have an absurd amount of optimism to manage a project as all-consuming and impossible as building a small house is, especially in a world where individualism is widely encouraged provided you don’t really act on it.

Perhaps there is also a need to display a sort of harmless giddiness in order to seem less threatening, because there are still a lot of people deeply threatened by anyone who steps outside the order of things, and also to show these threatened ones full of schadenfreude that they are Doing alright with their unconventional choices and there’s Nothing To This Really and they’re certainly not on the verge of a financial, physical and mental breakdown.

Still, I find myself alienated by all this pointless joy, this manic serenity. There is something very excluding about all this friendliness.

Oh, and also the roof is still bloody leaking.

The curse of the angry inch

I’m doing practically all of the building by hand, because I’m quite, quite mad. Also because I think it’s important to have a multi-sensory understanding of your surroundings and of how you’re affecting the world by physically experiencing as much as possible of the process of changing it. Todays world is mostly visual, while all other senses has been more or less ignored. This is especially apparent in the shaping of our houses. I want my house to take all the senses into consideration, and for this I need to be as close to the process as possible, to the grain of the wood, to how the different materials feel, smell, how they change with the weather. I think. Possibly I’m just mad. Anyway, one phenomena anyone who has ever tried to build anything has encountered, is the curse of the angry inch. Or possibly the universal law of such.

This is something that I’ve encountered at every step of the process. It states that no matter how carefully you measure anything, it will always be slighty too big after it’s been cut. And when you alter it, it will be too small. It will make sure that nothing ever really fits and worst of all, that everything will very nearly fit. Oh so nearly. In the latest example it was this bit here

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that was preventing the skirtingboard in the ceiling from falling into place here

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Now, of course, it’s slightly too small. But at least it’s there. This, of course is a lot worse when we’re talking about a vital piece in the construction and not mainly a decorative one, but the principle remains the same. It is inherent in the bloody bloodiness of things and therefore closely related to basic thermodynamics. Ergo unavoidable. It’s certainly not happening because I’m not very good at carpentry. Nope. Laws of physics, this. Now you can tell yourself that too.

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I’m not the only one upset by this inherent problem