Otra vez en casa (traducido de ‘Home Sweet Home Again”)

 

La casita chiquita se ha ido del nido, por lo menos por el momento. Después de un viaje valioso por I-95, ha llegado segura y bien al Centro de Congresos, todo listo para aparecer en el Flower Show (una exposición de flores). ¡Nuestra bebita está creciendo!

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Yo, por otro lado, he vuelto al nido. En noviembre, mudé devuelta a la casa de mis padres, y en diciembre me cumplí 25. No es la primera vez que he vivido en casa después de que me gradué de la universidad; entre viajes como mochilera y trabajos diferentes, he pasado unos meses cada vez en casa, incluso el verano que hice mi primera huerta en el patio.

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En el camino, Pavones, Costa Rica

 

Siempre estoy muy agradecida por tener un lugar para quedarme, por tener padres que me quieren y que no están muy preocupados de mi y adonde voy. Pero cada vez que volvió a casa, siempre me pasaba lo mismo; me agarra una ansiedad, un sentimiento de que he fracasado o que no soy independiente.

 

Pero esta vez están cambiando las cosas. La voz en mi mente está bajando. Poco a poco, estoy empezando a relajar, a respirar un poco mas profundamente. Por primera vez, después de mucho tiempo, estoy empezando a disfrutar bien vivir en esta casa con mi mamá, papá, y hermano. Estamos haciendo proyectos juntos (mi mamá dice que vamos a recordar este año como ‘el año del tiny house’), compartiendo las tareas, planificando la huerta. Hasta tenemos una lista de turnos para cocinar la cena. Cuando hace frio, hacemos un fuego en la estufa. Los jueves, la banda de mi papá de ukuleles viene para practicar. Los domingos, tomamos turnos haciendo una cena grande con otra familia. Tenemos planes grandes para limpiar el sótano.

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Jim ahora está parte de la familia también (hemos tomado su patio). Foto por Kathye Petrie.

Habíamos nacidos en una cultura muy divisiva, una que valora la competición y el individual mas que todo, y que fuerza la comunidad hasta los márgenes. Eso no es una noticia nueva. Mi mamá dice que en un momento se la dio cuenta de que vivimos todos juntos en este pueblo, pero que al final, todos estamos haciendo la vida solos. Nuestra sociedad forzó la familia a una caja nuclear, y la rompió mas después. Vivir con tus padres después de graduarse de la universidad, mudarse devuelto a su pueblo de origen – esos son cosas que estadounidenses se ven como debilidad o fracasa.

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Y acá, nosotros cuatro. Foto por Kathye Petrie.

Pero no pienso que los seres humanos son para vivir vidas tan separadas y solas. Hay un momento que me encanta del libro The Ascent of Humanity (“El ascenso de la humanidad”) en que Charles Eisenstein habla sobre comunidad. Buscaría la cita, pero mi libro está en Rusia con un amigo. Pero lo esencial que dice es eso; que la comunidad verdadera significa interdependencia, depender de otros, y ser dependido de.

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En poco tiempo, me voy a mudar, pero yo sé que continuaré a trabajar con mi familia, a depender de ellos, y que ellos dependerán de mi. Tenemos las semillas de comunidad ya sembrado en el suelo, tomando aire y agua y nutrientes, creciendo, dando comida, sombra, respirando agua devuelta al suelo, devolviendo al suelo. Todo esto para el mundo mas hermoso que nuestros corazones saben que es posible.

 

-Lucia

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Home Sweet Home Again

The tiny house has left the nest, at least for the time being. After a daring journey down I-95, it has arrived safe and sound at the Convention Center, ready for its debut at the Flower Show. Our baby is growing up.

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I, on the other hand, have returned to the nest. In November, I moved back in with my parents, and in December I turned 25. It’s not the first time I’ve lived at home since graduating from college; between various backpacking trips and jobs I’ve been at home for a few months at a time, including the summer that I planted my first vegetable garden in the backyard.

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On the Road, in Pavones, Costa Rica

I’ve always been incredibly grateful to have a place to land, to have parents who love me and don’t seem too worried about where I’m headed. And yet, every time I’ve come home there’s always been this anxiety that bubbles up, a vague feeling of failure or lack of independence.

But lately, I’ve found, that voice has been subsiding. I can feel myself starting to relax, starting to breathe a little bit more deeply. For the first time in a long time, I’m starting to fully enjoying living in this house with my mom, dad, and brother. We’re working on projects together (my mother says we’ll always remember this time as the ‘Year of the Tiny House’), sharing household chores, planning the garden. We’ve even got a dinner roster up on the fridge (I cook Friday nights). When it’s cold, we make a fire. On Thursday nights, the Swarthmore Ukulele Orchestra comes over for rehearsal. On Sundays, we alternate making a big dinner with another family. We’ve got grand plans to clean out the basement.

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Jim is a part of our family now too (we’ve taken over his backyard). Photo credit to the wonderful Kathye Petrie. 

 

We were born into a divisive culture, one that values competition and the individual above all else, and that squeezes community into the margins. This is not news. My mother says she realized at some point, we all live in this town together, but really, when it comes down to it, we’re all going it alone. Conceptions of family squeezed into a nuclear box, and then broken down further. Living with your parents after college, moving back to your hometown – these are things that American culture tends to see as weakness or failure.

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And here’s the four of us (photo credit: Kathye Petrie)

But I don’t think we were meant to live such separate lives. There’s this great moment in The Ascent of Humanity where Charles Eisenstein talks about community. I’d find the quote, but my copy of the book is in Russia with a friend. Essentially, he says, true community means interdependence; relying on others and being relied upon.

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I’ll be moving out soon, but I know that I will continue to work with my family, to rely upon them and to be relied upon in healthy symbiosis. We’ve got the seeds of community tucked into the living soil, drawing air and water and nutrients, growing, giving food, shade, breathing water back into the soil, giving back. Here’s to the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

 

– Lucia

Tiny House Amidst the Pines

Last week, we cleared the tiny house out (it’s been full of tools, scrap wood, ladders, etc. since we started working on the interior), hitched it to Tad’s truck, and followed it into the city for its second trip on the road. During its last trip on the road, our tiny house was a green shell, but now it’s looking like an actual (tiny) house. But there was one thing that didn’t change; it got plenty of stares.

 

There are three days until the Flower Show opens on March 5, so this morning we headed in to see how things are going, and to clean up a little bit.

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Things are in full swing at the Convention Center! (I almost got hit by a speeding forklift). Michael Petrie had dozens of eager volunteers working on the exhibit, shoveling dirt, planting shrubs. And amidst it all, our tiny house. I’ve got to say, surrounded by pine trees, the tiny house looks right at home.IMG_0868.jpg

 

Though still without furniture, the inside is feeling nice and homey. Our counters, cooktop, and sink have all been installed, and all of the walls have been finished except for a tiny portion above the front door which, thankfully, is not visible from the outside.

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Hope to see you at the Flower Show!

-Lucia

Water is the Essence of Life and We’ve Got Plumbing

John Briddes the plumber came by yesterday to help us hook up our plumbing! This 42 gallon water tank is going to feed the shower and the kitchen sink.

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These are the propane gas valves; they’ll be connected to the hot water heater, the heater, and the stove, so we’ll only need one propane tank at a time:

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We’re going to fill the tank up from the outside via the white valve to the right. To the left is where the propane tank will hook up; a regulator will make sure that the pressure is evenly maintained as the tank empties.

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That’s where we’re at!

Until next time!

-Lucia

 

(y ahora, en castellano)

Aqua es la esencia de vida y tenemos plomería

¡Ayer, John Briddes el plumero vino a la casita para ayudarnos con la plomería! Ese tanque de 160 litros dará agua a la ducha y a la canilla de la cocina.

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Las válvulas son para el propano; van a conectar con el calentador de agua, el calentador, y la estufa, así que necesitaremos solo un tanque de propano para alimentar a todos.

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Vamos a llenar el tanque desde afuera por la válvula blanca a la derecha. A la izquierda va el tanque de propano; un regulador va a mantener la presión mientras que vacía el tanque.

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¡Así estamos!

¡Hasta la próxima!

-Lucia

 

 

Crunch Time is Upon Us – A Tiny House Update

After three weeks gallivanting around Argentina visiting family, my brother and I have returned, and work on the tiny house is in full swing. The tiny house has to be ready to head over to the Convention Center by the end of February in order to take part in Michael Petrie’s exhibit at the Flower Show, and there’s still plenty to be done.

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My brother and I at Villa Llanquin near Bariloche, Argentina

While we were gone, our intrepid parents got a good deal done, including most of the interior walls, ceilings, and window trims.

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(There’s no light from the skylight in this picture because the roof is covered with snow). 

They also acquired kitchen cabinets from ANC Cabinets, semi-donated (they were ordered for another project, but ended up being the wrong color). Luckily for us, these cabinets are 21′ deep, rather than the normal 24′, as they were originally meant for a bathroom.

 

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Our on-demand water heater has also arrived! It will be connected to our 42-gallon water tank (which will be residing under the sink) via a water pump. The benefit of the on-demand heater is that we won’t be wasting energy heating water all day long (which is the way that most house systems function currently).

Here’s a diagram from the blog Tiny House, Giant Journey that illustrates how our plumbing system is going to work more or less:

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We also bought a water hatch, so we’ll be able to fill our water tank from the outside (average water use per day per person in the U.S. is between 80-100 gallons. The majority of that water use comes from flushing the toilet, but although we have a dry toilet, we’ll still probably need to fill our water tank at least once a day).

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The Valterra A01-2004VP

 

Also, Joel Smith of Boedco made a porch for us! Now we don’t have to use a ladder to get in and out.

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And that’s where we’re at so far! Now to install all this stuff….and to find a stovetop….

Until next time!

-Lucia

The Composting Toilet Has Arrived! A Tiny House Update

After some deliberation, we decided to buy a composting toilet (the borough wasn’t too thrilled with our initial bucket plan, unsurprisingly). We went with this beauty from Nature’s Head; it’s good for about 90 uses before needing to be emptied, and diverts urine into a separate tank. We’ll keep you posted on how the installation goes.

 

In other news, it’s (sort of) winter, and we’re till plugging along on the tiny house! Sebastian and I finished the bathroom floor the other day using some bamboo flooring leftover from our house.

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I cut the boards, and Seb nailed them in. 

 

 

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(Early twenties existential crises channelled into flooring)

We give many thanks to Tommy Pinto and crew of Thomas Aquinas Painting who donated time and materials to paint our tiny house – it looks beautiful! Here’s to good community vibes 🙂

 

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Sebastian and Tim cut a rectangle out of the loft where we will be installing a skylight so that we can get some more natural light into the kitchen.

 

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All of that pesky wiring is almost done! Many thanks to Dave Augustine the electrician who mentored Claudia, and who will be finishing the job for us soon! (and making sure we don’t burn the house down).

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Lastly, we’ve begun the long process of putting the walls up. For the time being we’re using 1×6, tongue-in-groove pine boards, though we may switch to a different material partway up the wall. We shall see.

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The pine boards are on the left. You can also see the bamboo-covered wheel wells in this picture, a collaborative effort between me, Mike McGrory, and Jo Ramirez. 

Wishing everyone a beautiful solstice!

Until next time,

Lucia

 

Our Tiny House Manifesto

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In a world of interconnected crises, tiny houses present points of intersecting and interconnected solutions.

 

From the standpoint of sustainability, a tiny house is a structure well suited to not only diminishing carbon footprints, but to potentially eliminating or reversing carbon emission trends. Properly insulated, tiny houses require very little energy input, and provide creative opportunities for the production or capture of that energy. Broadening considerations to include the source of materials and their corresponding carbon footprints (locally harvested and milled wood, recycled materials, sheep-wool insulation), tiny houses can be seen as a part of an emerging, relocalization of economy with the potential to create jobs, lower emissions caused by the transport of materials, and stimulate the circulation of wealth within local communities. Considered within a system, tiny houses also lead us to consider their various outputs and potential uses; kitchen scraps can be composted and manure made from human waste, both to the benefit of soil health. Water can be captured in rain barrels, and gray water cleaned via constructed wetlands, also to the benefit of ecosystems and agricultural projects. Tiny houses represent a taking of personal responsibility for our place within local and global ecosystems and economies.

 

Tiny houses also challenge the general mindset of our Western society by asserting that less is more, leading to the reconsideration of what our human needs (physical, emotional, spiritual) really are. How much space do you really need? To what degree do typical housing arrangements lead to alienation in our modern communities? What does thriving interdependence look like? What are we capable of building ourselves?

 

The relative low-cost of constructing tiny houses also addresses various longstanding and arising issues. Young people, saddled with debt and narrowed job opportunities and pay, are much more likely to be able to afford a tiny house. Cities looking to house low-income and homeless individuals have built tiny houses in communities as a way of providing dignified homes for those with little resources. And, as mentioned before, once built, tiny houses cost little to nothing to power and maintain.

 

In a time in which it is becoming increasingly clear that we will have to radically rethink our society or suffer the consequences of climate change, tiny houses provide a platform for creative solutions and reconsidered values.