insuring delays.

Early in, a friend told me one thing he knew for certain: big projects always come in past due and over budget. The budget is okay, but past due is certain. The house is shaping up beautifully despite the tanks arriving three weeks later than expected, but…

insurance is another matter. I am frantically searching for transit insurance for the house – ANYTHING to protect it on the road. And it is proving (as many tiny blogs attest) far more complicated than a simple over-the-phone policy.  That, coupled with the fact that Saturday is the first home football game at Autzen and the majority of labor day weekend traffic … and …

…. we are postponing the move until Wednesday of next week. better safe than sadfacedsorry. sigh. (relief).

Here are some recent pictures, including bathroom and kitchen installation, shelves dry fit (installed later to save weight in transit) and the GORGEOUS ladder made from hundred+ yr. old 2x4s. so. cool.

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shutter speeds.

a tribute to the busy-ness of the week is also the epic failure of the same: I forgot to take photos.

This weekend I sold almost everything in my house, as well as stuffs I had been collecting over the past few months. Friends donated their goodwill items and between their amazing goods and my household, we had a HUGE sale. A full yard on Friday, which lay pretty bare by the end of that day, and then a full yard on saturday with a completely empty one by 9 that night. I not only made my monetary goal to pay for moving costs and registration, I met incredible characters from the neighborhood and beyond, and watched as the last fifteen years of my life disappeared piece by piece. From teenage candle holders to vintage suitcases, I felt lighter with every item taken smilingly away.

BUT… there are no photos! Shutter speed 0. In the rush of 5 am set up and the subsequent flood of people, I completely neglected to document the very thing this project is about: getting smaller. But imagine a yard literally covered in things. the things we keep and fill a house with. the things that make it feel full. but as i type this in an almost empty house, I feel my cup running over. All of those memories strewn across my lawn, they are still circling my house and my heart. But what a sight it was. Imagine! and snap a few photos for me 🙂

(Jason did take two photos with his phone: one at the end of the day Friday and one of the free pile at the end of the sale)


On looking into (a) Window’s wood

… Much have I (we) traveled in the realms of wood

And many generous heaps and dominions seen; …

But seriously: WOOD.  Every kind of it, it seems, has its place.  This tiny house is, quite literally, the tree house that wood could.  Just to list a few:


Barn wood: desk, bench, porch, loft space, skylights interior trim

TG wainscoting: sleeping loft, closet, cabinets and bench space floor


Blue beetle kill: Interior wall treatments


Shingles, planks used for window and door trim

Closet lining to smell pretty (and for three dollars!)

Raked board planed down for various uses (closet, window trim)


Bed frame found in my attic will serve as a shelf on each side of the main living space


Wood from attic: bench, desk, interior window trim

Old cabinet doors used for built-ins

Old sign for kitchen shelves

Old homemade jig for back of main space shelves

Old Quarter Round to trim out various spaces

Old door header

… and so many little fragments besides. Honestly, the most enjoyable part of the last week has been first knowing what needs to be built and then searching through scraps, piecing it together. Wonderful, quirky details happen. Example: We trimmed the small, long window with an old plank covered in 50 year old newspaper that I found a few months ago. We had no idea what to use the plank for until we didn’t have enough wood to finish the window trim. A little mod podge over the fragile paper, and I have myself the perfect reading window- framed by faded jello adverts and cedar closet lining. Odd and beautiful.

Every scrap and scrape of the tiny house is laden with stories. Where it has been, how it came to be in St. Johns, its transformation here and where it sits now. Stories layered like rings on wood, knots forgiving only the impatient. Rings are stories with wholeness. Wood with all its years, like stories, remind us of our impermanence and our strength. And at once, it becomes clear – our stories, aiming to capture the fleeting, are the very thing that sustain us beyond time.

At this moment, I am most excited to sit on my bench, quieted in stories, and turn out to look through that news-ed and pictured window. Silent, upon a tiny peak in Oregon.

and reflect on how truly awe-full this storied life is.

Here are some photos of the insides spaces… look for rings!

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… and, in case how poor my knock off was went unnoticed, the Real Deal:

On Looking into Chapman’s Homer, John Keats

Much have I traveled in the realms of gold

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;

Round many western islands have I been

Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;

Yet never did I breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

He stared at the Pacific—and all his men

Looked at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.


“We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.” – Winston Churchill

Circles: The home building is beginning to take shape, and with that revealing fullcircles… Like a knot-hole in the wood where we needed a handle, friends with skills arriving just in time, and  … at the moment when I couldn’t think of anything to trim the interior windows, this gorgeous wood lands in my front yard.

Literally. The wood was found in my very own attic, from an energy upgrade to my portland house. And it planed up beautifully! What could be more cyclical than framing the interior windows of the tiny house with old wood from one I’ll leave behind.  Mighty awe-full, cowboysandgirls 🙂

Squares: With hand building, some things are a little out of square. Anyone who knows me would most likely find this appropriate. squared.

Lines of all kinds… in the form of deadlines, finish lines, and starting positions. We are quickly nearing the deadline to complete the house and move to Duck country. I am starting to see lines of the house take shape, and the simultaneous nearing of a calendar date, as if the deadline were on conveyor belt quickly toward me. Between this and watching Olympic track every night, my a.m. wake-ups are now as if by starting pistol or jetlaggedjolt from conveyor belt carrying luggage too clunky. It’s at once urgent and a dizzying adrenaline rush. And that’s before coffee!

Perhaps a touch too dramatic, but the Olympics did get me thinking about last pushes. Some runners have it. Their bodies looks charged as they quicken- legs churning some exponential propulsion inside of them. Some are smiling. The fluidity speaks to the joy that is finding what you love. And, as my body has grown accustomed to new uses and an objective on the horizon, I want to pause on the absolute perfection of the last push.

Completion is always a world record. For all who have contributed, GOLD STARS!

That is not to say we are done, so, take a look – Recent photos including cute kiddos, cool friendos, and some radical built-ins below:

(ps. The AP picked up the Register Guard story, and it has since run in the Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle and many others. CRAZY! And cool that as a result, I get to get friendlier with tiny house communities and occupants!)

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village news.

The tiny house was featured in the Oregon Life section of the Register Guard yesterday! ! !  Check it out here: Living Little

Encouraging emails, invites to tiny house groups and cool stories from University of Oregon alum have already come my way from this story. How exciting! I do wish the article would have stressed the amount of people that have worked on this project. The tiny house is not my doing at all, but rather a product of the good in the human spirit. Seriously.

To give you an idea, here is a list of the hours and people that have gone into the beautiful space. In a span of two to three months.


Planning/drawing: 40 hours

Preparation/Prebuild: 40 hours

Building- total of all work, volunteers included: 592 hours

Total: 672 hours


–       Jason Reitz: Any credit or compliment I receive is doubly due to Jason. He is the brains of the project (while clearly I am the brawn 😉 ). His vision and skills have driven this project from idea to reality, with a hand in everything between.

–       Sarah Lewis Mitchem (academic friend): for introducing me to the tiny house movement! It clearly begat an obsession.

–       John Wenderoth (st. johns extraordinaire): initial building, use of property and tools.

–       Gabby and Finn: best pups ever!

–       James Druzdzel (friend): Tools that we couldn’t live without

–       Ellen Cusik (friend and design professional): advice, resource ideas.

–       Joel Herron (ex-husband): raising trusses for roof, use of vehicle for moving the start of the tiny house to my driveway

–       Izidor (neighbor): the tallest ladder known to man! As well as loads of encouragement.

–       Jason and Jennifer Brainard (neighbors): Ladder and advice. Also, a huge thanks for the ability to call them and have them shout across the street to get the attention of tiny house workers when at Lowe’s with a question.

–       Lee and Stevie Brainard, 4 and 2 yrs old: The cutest, most eager little workers you ever did see. On the first day of tiny house work, they sat diligently on their lawn across the street, waiting with bike helmets and toolboxes to help. Additionally, Lee is a professional electric kids jeep driver and has volunteered his services to move his dad’s ladder back across the street whenever we have need. We couldn’t do it without him.

–       David Gow (friend): Nailer, stapler, compressor, and encouragement.

–       Mark Thompson (high school friend): Flew all the way from Colorado, where he runs the recycle center in Durango. He donated his time, his positive and reflective energy, and his vast amount of skills for FIVE DAYS ! ! ! He was absolutely crucial to getting many, many things accomplished on the tiny house (not limited to: wiring, insulation, window installation, roofing, felting, and general ass kickin’).

–       Scott Howard and Karin Shipley (old friends): Barn wood from their basement ceiling, now the small loft floor, porch ceiling and deck, and will also be used for the inside bench.

–       Darren Faherty (roommate): Besides being the most ridiculously cool housemate a girl could ask for, Mr. Faherty also lent his metal roofing skills and painters touch. Not to mention his famous late afternoon cocktails and round the clock patience with the construction zone his living space has become.

–       Micah Brenner (friend): Bolted frame to trailer and supplied much witty repartee.

–       Ashley Roy (cousin): My beautiful 14 yr. old cousin came up for four days, allowing me to boss her around when she could have been spending her summer like most other teenagers on break. Instead, she painted, sanded, de-metaled old wood, and schooled me on the difference between finishing and framing nails. She is incredibly good at teaching me things.

–       Nick Carter (former student and friend): Nick got on a bus at 7 am to travel from Forest Grove into North Portland, worked aaaaalll day and then took the same long route home. He, and his amazingly positive presence, installed the large half moon window, the skylights, and shingled the porch ceiling!  He deserved his A’s in class, but he most certainly gets them in life too.

–       Jamie Bluhm (interior designer and friend): Advice and Ikea connection! – bed and chopping block for kitchen counter

–       Brian (“Best Neighbor Ever”): I met Brian after leaving a note on a property he was tearing down because I was interested in the wood. He came over to tell us personally that the wood was gone, but offered the use of his planer (an incredibly expensive tool), as well as help moving the 600 lb beautiful beast to our tiny “workshop”. Note: Brian enlisted his renter, who having had back surgery and unable to lift, called his neighbor who moonlights in professional weight lifting. The muscle man showed up five minutes later. What a great testament to how the tiny house, though small, has shown its long reaches: into the corners of neighbors’ sheds as well as their immense generosity.

–       Richard (next door neighbor): encouragement and daily jokes

–       Nameless (neighbor a few streets over): water filter

–       Jeff, Cathy, and Kaci Spoor (mother, stepdad and sister in-law): The best family workday I could have imagined.  Beginning at 8 am, we moved the entire contents of my attic, put the interior wall treatment on and lined the closet space with cedar. And, they brought lunch, water and ridiculously good attitudes that lasted  the entire 102 degree day.

–       Gidget Mikkelson (aunt): kitchen sink, tanks and stove torn out of a trailer destined for the dump.

–       Kenny and Angela Bennett (friend and sister/ex-student):  Besides tolerating all my tiny house talk for the last four months, a looong days work with a roller derby tough chick and her equally tough husband means a lot of stuff gets done!

–       Donations: Hava Tursky, Erin Piccolo, Janessa Datema, Eric Laukkanen, Cathy and Jeff Spoor

–       Everyone at the North Portland Tool Library: This resource survives off of volunteers and donations. And is an incredibly important model of true community- GIVE THEM MONEY. Here:

–       Green Star International:  Parent company, Viridian Wood. Beautifully responsible work:

With that said… check out the progress! ! !

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