The last two weeks have been really crappy. (I will be so glad when 2014 is over.)

So I have doing nothing but pure escapism. I finished Goldman’s The Lady Queen (a review is in my Goodreads feed). I’ve been reading Sabatini (though there does not seem to be an electronic version of The Black Swan out there…very odd), catching up on TV shows (Blacklist, Arrow, Flash, Marvel: Agents of Shield, and of course Constantine and Doctor Who), and working on my tiny house design.

This leaves more room in the living area, shortens the length I have to run water pipes, and deals with the reality of the wheel wells.

Jenny's Tiny House Design2

I also got to see Big Hero 6 which was fantastic. A wonderful film with a lot of heart that hits all the tropes without being stale.

As far as TV goes:

The Blacklist. I will watch anything with James Spader. He knows how to effortlessly portray being the smartest one in the room with no modesty or shame about either affably or sinisterly lording it over you, sometimes at the same time.

The Arrow took a while to get good, but it has. Though I feel like I should be bothered that Steven Amell + twenty years looks like my ex. But I am totally on board with the Olicity ‘ship. Plus, John Barrowman’s playing affably evil.

The Flash is just fun.

Marvel: Agents of Shield has actually gotten good. It ties into the movie-verse tightly and the whole “Hydra sleeping in SHIELD” thing gave the show the direction it lacked.

Constantine is good. Not great, but good. It’s the first season, so it may take a while to find it’s feet. I did like last week’s play on the Robert Johnson myth.

Doctor Who. It took a while for Capaldi to settle in, but he has and very well. The stories also got fantastic. And Missy (Michelle Gomez) was a brilliant twist on the madness John Simm had set up. (Though just who will Charles Dance be playing?)



Since it’s been a few days, I thought I should at least do some quick updates.

Tiny Homes

First of all, a friend of Pretty Witty Nell found this article on how some cities are attempting to outlaw living off the grid.

“Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.”

Of course, that is after all the zoning laws that mandate a minimum size for lots and houses, which is why many Tiny Homes are built on trailers so they qualify as “mobile” homes to skirt around the zoning laws.

Here is the updated design for my tiny home, the fourth version:


I moved the couch to give me more continuous space for the kitchen for the dogs to move around in (they do love to play and thump about, I’ll walk them as per usual and hopefully have a yard as well, but they will still need space inside), but I could not get past that choke point into the study area. Once I actually measured that out between two pieces of furniture and tried walking through it, I realized it was impossible. It was passible, but not not to live with everyday. Also all the appliances under the counter in the kitchen took away under-counter space for pots and pans, plus a section for the trash, recycling and a small compost container. So I needed another place to put the compact washer. (I’d like a combo washer dryer unit, but damn those are expensive.)  So I gave up that block of stairs and a wall for a straight staircase. It also opens the entire space up. In this video, the person has set up a pull down projection screen and projector, so I will use those and my laptop for my viewing pleasure.

I was going with SIPs, but then I thought about moving it (which is a factor) so will use a board interior, painted white. It will have strength and flexibility. With SIPs I might have to worry about the joins between the panels being offset or coming apart.

I figure between the first floor + sleeping loft – staircase = 219.5 livable square feet. (And then there is the storage loft in the front.)

Kitten Update

The kitten is doing much better, cleared of her cold. Her sinus congestion was so horrible it took her about a week to clear it completely and stop snurgling. (Kinda nice to know cats can have horrible colds that make them look inelegant too.) With my next paycheck I will take her into the vet make sure she does not have feline leukemia, then start the adoption process.

One month, minimum.


Term paper, term paper, term paper. 15 pages on various lunar Goddess around the world. At least the ones I can find lots of citable information on.

Met with my Anthropology advisor to get things straightened out with my transfer credits to prep for graduation, which at one free class a semester (we get them as a benefit to staff) is still years away. *le sigh*

Anti-Human Trafficking

The new club is going well, getting organized, electing officers, getting recognized by the university, trying to figure out what we can do. I’m working on getting a speaker from the Polaris Project to come down in the Spring and liaising with other clubs (Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science and Geography) to let them know we are here. We’re also going to help out with an anti-trafficking conference in the ENC.

I’m glad I did this. My natural inclination is to lean toward environmental causes, and I still donate and spread the world about those. But with my anti-social nature, doing something with human beings is probably good for me and more importantly, hopefully, for them.

So there’s a lot on my plate

Congratulations to WhatCatyDidNext’s son, who completed his degree.

Well done!!

It’s the Little Things (Updated)

After discussing the Tiny House movement back in June, let me bore you with my tiny house design!

(This is copy has been adjusted to proper measurements, as well as being much cleaner.)

Jenny’s Tiny House Design

This designed for a 24 by 8 foot trailer, however, trailer can possibly be made to 8 feet, 6 inches wide depending on state laws. The total height can only be 13 feet, 6 inches, but I am assuming that includes the trailer. I fully acknowledge the traffic choke point between the couch and the stairs. That’s why I am hoping I can build on an 8′ 6″ trailer.

Stairs my dogs could climb and a big comfy couch to read and watch TV on were two necessities. The couch fits over the wheel-well of the trailer and so can be built right into wall and have drawers underneath it for extra storage. On the opposite side, the wheel-well can provide the basis of a shelf for my Blu-Ray player, iPod dock, etc. The couch and folding coffee table designs I am working on. I have built furniture before, and fortunately I like Shaker design (Mission is about as elaborate as I can go), so it’s relatively easy. My desk (in the back) is portrayed as fully “deployed,” but it’s an antique flip-top desk (and I will be using on a laptop) so will be a space saver in the long run. All the clothes will be kept downstairs in the sideboard and under-stair closet. With the low ceiling, there really isn’t any room to dress in the sleeping loft.

I’m trying to figure out the windows in the sleeping loft. The common wisdom is “dormer windows” which would go over the head of the bed, but I have had skylights in my studio bedroom and they are a pain in the ass when you want to sleep in mornings.  I think I would rather have a window in the back wall for airflow. Put LED sconce lighting in that wall at the head of the bed.

Everything is electric, and I would have solar panels separately mounted outside. There are some very safe and effective heating units, and compact A/C/ units as well. (A/C is a necessity in NC.) A tankless, on-demand, water heater would be housed outside at the “front” of the trailer (which is the end with the bathroom). In the kitchen, instead of a stove I would use portable induction burners which can be stored away (under the convection oven) when not in use.

Drawer refrigerators are hella expensive! But energy efficient.

My boss has a corner sink in her kitchen, it is an awesome space saver.

I don’t make much money beyond what I can subsist on, so this would be a very long term project. However, given how expensive it is becoming to live in some parts of the country, including Maine, having my own roof over my head is probably the wisest choice to make in the long run. Even if it is a tiny roof. So this is not only a good decision environmentally, but financially. I can’t keep spending 1/3 of my income on rent. I would have to take a second job to build it tho’, or move up the administrative chain (which I really do not want to move out of the department level). 😦

So that’s my “I swear, it’s not a pipe dream.”

P.S. Part of me feels like I’m 10 and dreaming of building a club house.

Small Living

So we’re all about the carbon footprint now, right? Well, the biggest step to take in reducing our carbon footprint is to reduce our physical footprint. Smaller living spaces take less energy. One thing I have known for some time that to become more efficient and in balance with our environment, Americans are going to have to give up their love affair with space. For 400 years we have had seemingly endless space to expand where and how we live. That’s quickly running out. Sure, there is still tons of open physical space out there, but what kind of resources are we drawing off to actually make that space livable? Too much. It’s already too much in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. You want to be sick? Fly over Phoenix/Scottsdale and look at all those massive houses with their lush green lawns in the middle of the desert. Where do you think that water comes from? Los Angeles, Las Vegas, all of them sucking up so much water they destroy not only natural environments, but human communities.

Yes, Chinatown is based on real events. Seriously, look at the struggles over water in California and Arizona and you have a glimpse into the what the future holds for nations as the drinkable water runs out. Some of it has been happening  for quite some time now. Yeah, that’s a factor in Middle East peace process they never seem to talk about in the news here. I remember there was one Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in the 1970’s that was rejected by the Palestinians. I can’t remember which one it was, but of course they were pilloried in the press here for rejecting such a “generous” plan.

A plan that left all the water wells in the hands of the Israelis. Yeah, like they were really going to go for that.

ANYway, here in the U.S. we have these massive homes that in many other countries would be considered palatial mansions.

2500 sq foot house

2500 square feet waving “Howdy!” to your neighbors, whether you want to or not.


3000 square feet of how many days does it take to clean this?

And not just in poor countries, in Japan these houses would be considered extravagant. (Parts of the country here too.)  And how much of that space does a person or family actually use? Someone pointed out to me in the 1990’s, the trend in Southern California construction of houses was to build right to the edge of the property lines, and then have this huge front “living room” (often two story/open ceiling) with big picture windows so people outside could see what a wonderful home you have. Of course, no one actually uses this room/area because there was no privacy. Like the huge windows in the first house there facing right out onto the street. It was just wasted space people are lighting, heating and cooling.

We really can’t afford to be that wasteful with space and resources anymore.

So for years I have been following the Tiny House movement.

Off-Grid-Tiny-House-Made-From-Reclaimed-Wood Off-Grid-Tiny-House-Made-From-Reclaimed-Wood-Interior

These are micro-homes of less than 400 square feet. Because building codes in many regions demand a certain minimum square footage for a house, the tiny house movement has circumvented that by building homes on trailers. The trailer may never move, but technically they are  a mobile home and can be built outside of the codes.

For instance: Lacy Miller’s Tiny House. Be sure to flip through the pics to take a look at the interior.

The leader in tiny house design is Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.

(And for those that find living in under 200 square feet to be claustrophobic, Tumbleweed also has cottage designs up to 850 square feet.)

There is also Redwood Tiny House. (Which is the design I am leaning towards simply for the stairs. I’m good with dogs, but I don’t think I can train them to climb up a ladder.)

Four Lights

Brevard Tiny House

And many other companies up and coming. The designs become more and more impressive each year as people find new ways to efficiently utilize such a small space.

Nor is this design movement limited to small houses. Many of us have lived in cramped studio apartments when he started out. Don’t you wish you had a set up like this 420 square foot Soho apartment?


If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and working up a  sweat. These homes cost between $12,000 to $30,000 to build yourself. It takes time, it takes work, but imagine a roof over your head with no rent and no mortgage and miniscule utility bills.

Because a lot of these homes are self sufficient. Many of these homes use solar panels to provide the majority (if not all) of their electricity, sometimes adding propane as an alternative fuel for cooking and heating. Though I think one can rely solely on electricity for all the space heating and cooking needs, especially where induction burners are so affordable now.  (Plus if you get portable ones, you can just stow them somewhere when they are not in use.) And a small convection/microwave oven and energy efficient drawer refrigerators will make a nice kitchen. The problem is heating water. Reviews are mixed on the energy efficiency and effectiveness of tankless water heaters.

Thing I discovered about the tiny (under 200 sq ft) homes is that ventilation/air cleaning is as important as heating because the moisture of living beings in an enclosed space can cause some odor and mildew problems, now to mention carbon monoxide issues if you are using fuel for heating.

Whether you want to use a composting toilet or not is your business. I guess if you tapped into your own well and had a septic tank, you would still be considered “off the grid.” But that really doesn’t lessen the environmental impact. (Unless you moved onto a property they were already set up.)

While this maybe extremely small for some (and again, there are plenty of nice cottage designs), a small home say, 1000 square feet or less, is the only way a house is ever going to be “off the grid.” You can’t generate enough power and have the other utilities to truly take those 2,000+ square foot homes off the grid.

And does a single person to four person family need any more than 1000 square feet? If you have kids, having space outside for them to run around in will help. Maybe the small space will encourage them to get out more. I live in a 730 square foot apartment now and it is more than sufficient for my needs. (I know I will never want to live in anything bigger than I can clean top to bottom in one day.) And I know I can downsize.

I’m working on that now by transferring my fiction collection to e-books. (Non fiction is harder to find in electronic versions, so I’m kind of stuck on that.) Between Project Gutenberg (all hail the Project Gutenberg editors!) and e-book sale sites like Bookbub, along with some judicious “e-retail” spending, I have been able to eliminate three bookcases. I am going through my stuff and if I have not used something in two years, it’s on Craigslist or off to the Salvation Army.

As pointed out to wisely by George Carlin, a house is just a place for your stuff.

The only problem is I have several pieces of heirloom furniture, antiques. Those I am not so ready to get rid off. So while the truly tiny home beckons, I may be looking more at a cottage. I would find an 850 square foot cottage positively luxurious.

That was not very organized, and I may update this post later. Maybe even post some of my design sketches. 🙂