a tiny home used to be a trailer


I love creative building.

I love the tiny home movement.  It frees up a way of affording a home that wasn’t really available before.

But most (or many) of these tiny homes used to be trailers.

They’re built on trailer frames, stripped of the old so the nice, new and…kind of trendy “tiny home” can be built on its remainder.

I don’t know if a trailer was ever really all that cool.  It was something you lived in out of necessity, not choice, and it was the cheap option for most of the folks needing affordable housing.

Now, like most new situations, there are a broad range of tiny homes being built.

There’s the really creative ones with lots of used materials built and lived in by their owners. Like most owner built houses, they are individual works of art.  They can be cheap depending on the skill and desire of the builder.

Then there’s the ones that appear to be just scaled down versions of the luxury homes found in any upscale area.  They are often built for the purchaser…and like any custom home can be expensive.

I guess that expensive is a relative term.  It still is a lot cheaper to build a 50,000 dollar tiny home than a million dollar California mansion…but it still seems kind of expensive.

(I looked up our old house in San Jose on Zillow the other day just for kicks…the house that my father bought in 1963 for 27,000 dollars last sold for 800,000…so maybe there’s a necessity to this small homes movement that someone living in the NC mountains doesn’t understand completely.)

Folks around here live in a lot of different kinds of houses.  Big mansions and tiny shacks.  The ones who live in the tiny shacks don’t do it because they’re trying to be trendy…they’d love a new house or even a nice new trailer.  It’s not a matter of what the latest trend is…it’s just living.

I remember when I lived in Atlanta that there was a group of renegade builders who were building housing for the homeless in many of the vacant areas downtown.  I think that they called themselves “madhousers” and were building small shelters for the homeless guys…I think they were 6×8 buildings… really small shelters.  I think the thought was to build something that was really fast to put up that would give the people a sense of personal space…ownership…that would protect them from the elements and provide a home.  They’d put them up in the middle of the night, under overpasses and in places that weren’t being used by the city for anything.

From what I remember, the city made them tear them all down.

(I just googled “madhousers”….they’re still around…check them out at www.madhousers.org )

Like I said before…I love creative building.  The tiny homes movement has some tremendous creativity…beautiful, funky homes built by some really great people.

But I’m seeing some of the other side of any movement that doesn’t seem to fit.  Maybe it’s kind of like the folks who went to Penney’s to buy their “hippy costume”…it doesn’t make a lot of sense when I see people buying the “boutique” tiny homes that builders have started to pump out.

You can shop at WholeFoods, ride a carbon fiber mountain bike, and live in a custom-made tiny home in your parent’s backyard…wear hemp clothing and drive a hybrid SUV…any of the other things that money can buy that makes you feel like you’re doing more to save the world than the Average Joe who lives in a travel trailer behind the SafeWay.

I guess that like I said before, there’s a broad range of situations out in the world.

You’re always going to have your Jackson Pollocks…..you’re always going to have the folks who are happy following along with Bob Ross.

It’s a good and cool movement…I just get tired of the politically correct, holier than thou folks acting like they’re the saviors of the planet because they build a “low impact”, expensive little house with new materials.

When something becomes a movement, I guess I just have to learn to take the good with the bad.

the wastebasket in the middle of the room

sunset runner

If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

My first year at camp I had a friend who asked me what I wanted out of life.

I didn’t think very long about it before answering, “happy…I want to be happy”.

His response was that “truth” was his answer…and made it seem like it was the more correct and nobler response.

I think that my response was probably the more honest of the two.

I was thinking about this exchange when I was driving home from work the other day.

Truth is a tremendous goal to shoot for.  I could sleep at night knowing that I’d found truth.

I do suspect though that I might not want to know some of the things I’d found.

I know from my own past that if happiness is far away, I can’t go looking for anything…much less invest the energy to find truth.  It’s just not going to happen.

I miss all the markers….road signs pass by in a blur, unread and misunderstood.  I can’t function very well when I’m profoundly unhappy.

That’s why I chose the title of this blog this morning. Sometimes we stumble over something for years.  Every morning, in the partial darkness of dawn, we trip over the wastebasket that has always been in that same location.  Why should it be any different?  It’s our habit…it’s what we’re used to…it’s what we curse to start the day out.

And then one day, we get some kind of wild hair inspiration and move the wastebasket.  Darn convention…darn tradition…I’m tired of tripping over this thing!

And we change.

Truth is a noble and necessary pursuit.

Happiness moves the wastebasket.

you better roll up your sleeve

I’m feeling a little bit under the weather this morning…and thinking about being required to take the flu shot.

How about that?  Required ….you read that right.

Earlier in the week, I saw a video report about health care workers who were terminated for not taking the flu shot.  It was made mandatory by the company they worked for, and when they refused the shot, the workers were let go.

I guess we should get used to being told what to do?  Maybe the “chip” with all its issues is just around the corner?

Oh yes you will take the MARK OF THE BEAST!!!!

I’ve talked about how you can’t live your life in a constant state of paranoia.

I still believe that’s true.

But it sure is interesting to watch anything unfold that raises a warning flag.

No snow on the ground this morning…mailman’s delight.


i need a new perspective


blizzardMy oldest son says, “I hope it’s going to snow”  when the forecast calls for a possibility of frozen precipitation.

I imagine skidding off the mountain, trying to stop for one of the funky “side of the hill” mailboxes that give me fits when the weather is dry.

Life is only about our perceptions.

My son sees a vacation from school…snowmen and sledding and snowball fights and everything else that makes snow so fun.

I imagine getting rear ended by some punk in a heavily financed monster truck who realizes too late that four-wheel drive doesn’t mean you can stop when the road is slick.

So it’s all perspective.

We didn’t have any big snows last year.

It was the first year I had the 4-wheel drive Cherokee.

I did get to use the four-wheel in some of the bad mud we had instead of snow.

The thing about it all is that I really love snow.  Maybe it’s the Norwegian in me…but I really respond well to snow.

It’s just that this whole thing about rain, or sleet or snow…and the mailman has to go…is a real drag.  They will send us out in the craziest blizzard so that we can stick mail in boxes that the customer can’t even get to.

It’s a strange feeling to deliver mail to a box with no tracks coming or going for a week at a time.

I imagine the decision makers with a hot cup of cocoa and a fresh doughnut, sitting in a warm office, saying, “Darn right, they better get out there…mail has got to go.”

If I don’t slide off into the abyss…driving in the snow is one of the most peaceful, beautiful things I do at work.  When I’m out by myself in a whiteout I can imagine that I’m the “Omega Man”…last man on earth, doing something so important that my safety doesn’t even get considered.

It could be the winning Publishers Clearing House entry that I’m delivering, after all.

Matthew 6:26

Two posts in one day isn’t usually something I have the “energy” for…but felt like I needed to counter the negative with some positive.

Here’s a snippet of a Joel Osteen sermon that addresses what the other video was talking about.

Check out the Bible verse, too…there are other ways to live than being constantly afraid.


my old morning ritual

I used to wake up everyday to this guy’s website.

Glory to the day…here’s a healthy helping of angst and paranoia.

There are things that happen…there are things we can do something about…but to live each day aware of all the bad has to be damaging.

So I stopped my obsession with survivalism.

I kept thinking that I wanted the interviewer to clear his throat.

I’d never heard an interview with James Wesley, Rawles before.  He’s good at what he does and may be dead on and have a legitimate point.  I suspect that he does, unfortunately.

I just can’t live like that…or subject my family to a pessimistic world view.

So….good morning.  Here’s a YouTube clip of the interview…it looks like there’s more like it if it “tickles your fancy”.



I’m reading a book called Record Store Days by Gary Calamar and Phil Gallo now and it’s bringing back a lot of memories.  I guess that’s a trend right now…see yesterday’s post if you don’t notice any continuity.  I’m not trapped in the past…but I must be appreciating it for some reason these days.

The subtitle of the book is “from vinyl to digital and back again”.

I remember one of the kids in my high school bought one of the first cd players that came out.  It must have been in the late 70’s, very early 80’s if my memory is even close to correct.

It was expensive.  I remember that I was amazed at how much he spent on it…I don’t think I spent that much on my first two cars combined !

I remember conversations about the whole deal that went something like, “CDs?  So…what are they?  What do they do?  They never scratch?  The sound is always perfect?”

That was how they were marketed…perfect sound even if they were scratched.

Now we know that the truth behind the marketing is something different.

Neil Young said that listening to digital music was like looking at the world through a screen door.  I think he meant that you got the general idea of the music…but because it was little digital bits instead of sound waves like on an analog album, you were missing something.

I miss albums.

Now I read that vinyl is making a comeback.  It’s hip to like vinyl again.

I have probably a ton (literally) of albums in our back room.  My daughter is pretty curious about them all…it helps that they’re all from the 70’s and that the 70’s are sort of a hip era musically.

It was a beautiful format…for a graphic designer having a foot square area to work with must have been pretty exciting.

To buy an album was a real event for me.  It felt like I was really getting something…to take a new album home and carefully place the needle down onto the fresh surface of the LP was a big deal.  For a music lover, I think it was almost a religious experience.

CD’s took away most of that experience…and digital downloads completely eroded it.

This book is a great introduction to how special these record stores were to music lovers.

I hope that my kid’s get the chance to experience that sense of community and shared excitement over something as great as checking out new music at the record store someday.

I love that music is so easy to discover and share these days.  Websites like Spotify.com and Grooveshark.com are a great place to check out a lot of new music…it just doesn’t have the value that buying an album had for me…or that talking with a clerk at the record store and learning something about a band I’d never heard of before had.

I guess we can do it all from the comfortable isolation of our own homes…and that’s a good thing…right?



everyone has a “back in the day”

Until you get old enough to have a “back in the day” moment, it doesn’t really hit you that everyone has a yesterday.

When I was in High School, I played bass and screwed around with playing in a couple of bands.

I remember once, during our big Halloween performance at a local “haunted house”, one of the fathers of the other band members got up and sang “Johnny Be Goode”.

I remember thinking, as we rocked out to contemporary stuff like Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd, that this old dude was trapped in the 50’s.  The old dude was probably like 40 or something…he was really old.

It was really kind of cool….an authentic throwback singing the songs of yesteryear.

It’s strange to think that he was singing a song that at the time was probably about 20 years old.

Our parallel would be if anyone got misty eyed if I got up and sang a Boy George tune.  I wonder if any one of us would say, “awwwww…that brings back some good, strong memories”? I kind of doubt it.

Thinking about it, I don’t think it’s profound or really all that interesting a “revelation”…but we all have our yesterdays and the memories that go with them.

When I was younger, I was so hyped up and in the moment that I didn’t give any of it a second thought.  Now I’m occasionally a little reflective and do think about things like “days gone by”.

The funny thing is…I think my young children do some thinking about earlier times, too.  They don’t have a lot of living under their belts yet….but they have things that they’re nostalgic about also.

When you hear a three-year old talking about a toy he had when he was a baby, it hits you that it’s something we all do.

It hasn’t hit the point yet where my favorite morning reading is the obituary section, though.


the old rock solid

There are performers who remain so rock solid, who’ve been around for so long, that it’s easy to take them and their gifts for granted.

I was and am a big Jesse Winchester fan.  There’s not a lot that’s flashy about Jesse Winchester.  The language that he uses in his songs is straight forward…there isn’t a lot of clever wordplay or strange situations…it’s just simple songs about simple things that he turns into art.

Jesse left for Canada during the Vietnam war.  He released his first album in 1970, three years after arriving in Canada, and had some chart success with a few of his songs, most notably “Yankee Lady”.  For a number of years, he wasn’t allowed to travel back into the States because of his “dodger status”.  He lived in Montreal during this time.  When Carter pardoned the draft dodgers in 1977 he was able to come back to the United States, eventually moving to Virginia in the early 2000’s.

In 2011, he was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, but after treatment he was able to resume touring.

Those of us who like music…those who listen enough for it to become like a soundtrack to whatever’s happening to us at the time…those of us who do that….have a catalog of sorts in our spirits.  All this music that we’ve soaked up becomes embedded somehow…deeper than a cellular level…as much a part of us as anything connected to us.

Listening to some of Jesse Winchester’s music on YouTube, it hits me hard that even though I haven’t actively listened to any of his music for a while (it’s all on vinyl…and I’m afraid to set up my turntable with a three-year old in the house) I know it like I’d heard it all yesterday.

We have the option of filling our lives with so much that has genuine value that it crowds out all the petty and coarse things that go on around us.

Jesse Winchester is a good element to add to our arsenals. This is music that’s good for the soul…simple and true.


easy writin’

08 Easy Livin’

If my life had an occasional soundtrack, this morning I’d be thinking about some frenetic Uriah Heep…jangling out a song that went, “THIS IS A THING I’VE NEVER KNOWN BEFORE….IT’S CALLED “EEEEEEEAAAAASSSSSSY WRITIN’ “.

I haven’t been doing this blog long enough to really have a handle on how everything works.

One thing I’ve learned is not to get too excited about a sudden bump in site statistics.  If it’s spiked at all it’s usually because I’m the one who looked at any of it…I get credit for all the clicking I do, too.

Another thing I’ve figured out is that there seems to be a couple of different styles of blog that I do if I’m trying to be heavy.

The first is the blog that is written to try and sound good.  Maybe I’m just in practice subconsciously for a future political career…”give the people what they want” and all that stuff.  I’ll try and hit a couple of the “politically correct” notes, say something obscure that I hope will come off as profound…generally just b.s. to fill up the page with something that might come off as worthwhile even if it doesn’t deserve to.

The second is a beauty.  It’s when a blog is written….and is good.  Heartfelt and sincere…the words pour out like breathing.  They say that the word inspiration means having a connection to the Divine….

So when someone says, “Go with God”…I guess it would be smart to say, “Thankyou!  I think I will!”
There was a great quote that I found a while back  that I enjoyed:

” I only write when I’m inspired…and I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9 a.m.” Peter Devries

It’s all about just doing the work…if the cap’s not off the bottle it can’t get filled.

When I’m writing the second style of blog, it seems to just pour out.  If it has any meat to it or not isn’t the issue…it’s just the joy of getting caught up in the process that moves it all along.  The eruption of happiness that results is a fine way to start off a morning.

Now…it could be that it is just two cups of coffee in rapid order that gets me feeling excited…but I’d like to believe that inspiration was the culprit and not just the caffeine.

One of the things that I loved about the visual arts when I was still a member of the “Order”…back when I was still doing some artwork…was that it seemed like every time I worked through a piece, it felt as if I could lose myself in it.  I’d work and work…and then look up, hands covered in paint and graphite, and realize that hours had passed and I had something to show for it that I could be satisfied with.

I guess it’s that joy that lets me see when something doesn’t give me the same feeling …so maybe it’s not always a good thing if it leads to comparison.

Inspiration is a gift…it’s not something that comes around everyday.  Maybe it is something to be courted, though…wined and dined and shown the town, with the hopeful expectation of getting that one “good night kiss” that leads to good work…that leads to the joy of a job well done.

Not every one of us recognizes that feeling…I say recognizes because I don’t believe that inspiration is some elitist monopoly.  We are all creative.  Each one of us has the chance to find something to express the gift of inspiration through…whether it’s the Sistine Chapel or baking a pie is up to us.

Like some people refuse the existence of God because it’s not something they can work their head around…some people can’t see the gifts around them.  Because people can’t see or refuse to recognize that gift doesn’t mean that it isn’t there…it’s just waiting on the bus…thinking, “I wonder why he doesn’t call anymore?”

Court the gift of inspiration…and be ready when you open the door to take its hand and run with it.