“I’ve done this before,” I thought as I traced my pencil lines with the jigsaw, “I think I’ve done this a lot of times before.”
The blade jigged through the last bit of siding and I knelt to the ground to retrieve the tiny corner piece.
I carried the thin sliver of wood in my fist, hoping, praying, “Maybe this time.”
But when I ascended the ladder the truth was evident. The piece did not fit, and in an instant I was back at my sawhorse table, measuring, drawing, sawing.
Act Two: Time-Loop
For how long nobody but me and now all of you know (it was an hour and a half), I measured, drew, sawed, placed, and cussed at my siding before starting again.
I found I had a small influence over the time-loop I had been caught in. In one cycle a piece would be too large, in another too small. Sometimes I would go to the left side of the house, sometimes to the right.
But it always ended the same. Me, back at the sawhorse, measuring, drawing, sawing.
I thought if I could just do it one more time, I could escape the loop. If I got it right, it would all be over but no matter what I tried I just couldn’t.
I thought about jumping from the 160House roof but morbid means never worked for Phil and besides, I would probably just twist an ankle.
Then it occurred to me. At the heart of every awful time-loop plot is a simple trope. The loop allows a protagonist to hone skills to perfection but the skills are never the point. It’s not Phil’s piano lessons that free him.
No one escapes a time-loop without learning a good old fashioned life lesson.
Act Three: Fuck It
On my lucky 13th try I carried my tiny, precious corner piece to the back of the house to once more fit it into the last blank edge at the top of the hutch.
I stood frozen, defeated. I felt as if my entire self-worth were wrapped up in this minuscule piece of siding. Why couldn’t I do this? I had a shiny degree from a prestigious university, right? Haven’t I built this whole house? I’m so good at putting together IKEA furniture!
I stared the piece down, and it stared back at me, taunting me until I declared, “Fuck it!”
Here was my life lesson all scrunched up into a 4ish inch long triangle. I don’t have to do everything right. I don’t have to learn every skill. I just have to finish this fucking house before I lose my mind.
I glued that piece into place, resolved to caulk around it over the weekend, and went home to order pizza. Time-loop broken.
“Can your truck tow a tiny house?” I laughed. No one else did.
In horror, I realized that my off handed, half-brag joke had become an offering. “I mean, it’s really big and it doesn’t have any siding,” I tried to back track but the board was undeterred.
“The truck can tow it,” said the executive director, “and we fix homes so it makes sense that it’s unfinished.”
It was decided. I was out of non-lazy reasons to say no, and the 160House would be the Rebuilding Together float in the Petaluma Butter and Egg Days Parade.
Since my last post, I mostly spent my work days preparing the house, clearing debris from in and around it, scouring the floor for sharp objects, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning windows, and relocating spiders.
Look at it!!!
The day before the parade the Butter and Eggs committee (renamed the Beer, Butter, and Eggs committee because hey, I was on it) met to clear the last of the debris around the house and tow it downtown.
Because nothing can ever be simple with the 160House, this became a complicated three hour ordeal. In a single afternoon I became a regular at the local auto-parts store, returning three times to fetch the proper tow ball, electrical hookups, and flat tire repair equipment (I have no idea how my trailer got a flat when it wasn’t even resting on its tires). Finally, we did get the house hitched and ready.
Another board member towed the trailer downtown and I left slightly after the truck so it took me a moment to catch up. Every turn I made, I could see where the house had been. Under every tree was a murder scene of broken branches and fallen leaves, and I caught up just in time to see us take out a phone line (I feel no remorse. My house is street legal. Hang your lines higher PG&E!).
The whole way downtown, heads turned and fingers pointed. I was pretty impressed with myself. I had built that massive, tree destroying, phone line snapping, attention grabbing trailer.
It had been a lot of work but it was worth it to support an organization I care about.
Then the above picture was sent to our executive director. “It’s really big and it doesn’t have any siding,” she texted back, “I don’t think we should use it.”
In the morning I went downtown to retrieve my house and tried not to think about the many hours of progress I had lost that month. On the way back we managed not to take out anymore power lines, and we almost made it without incident but just as we made the final turn, a tree took its just revenge. A branch slapped into one of my top windows, shattering the glass and the last of my good humor. “$200,” I involuntarily muttered.
I gathered the broken pieces of custom window from the street, patted my gal and told her she was beautiful no matter what anybody said, and then we headed back to the parade. The rest of the day was great and was probably a lot less stressful than it would have been with the house in tow. We got the truck decorated, threw cute kids in the back, and handed out old t-shirts from wheel barrels. Afterwards I celebrated in true Butter and Egg Days fashion, by day drinking with people I went to high school with.
A couple days later, we got the tiny house back in her spot and leveled up, another all day ordeal, and a day later a neighbor hosting an open house begged us to move it. I didn’t have to be there for the second move. My dad towed it with a friend while I was at work. But still, more labor undone.
This whole post has felt very negative so here, a few positive things that came from the Butter and Eggs Debacle:
Planning for the parade motivated me to finish my roof.
The inside of my house will be much easier to work in now that it’s clean.
I learned new life skills for towing and tire maintenance.
I formed valuable relationships with the good people at O’Reilly Autoparts.
I know that my house won’t fall apart when I tow it (but trees and powerlines…)
I got a deep sense of pride and happiness watching people point and stare.
I can totally guilt the Rebuilding Together board of directors into helping me bust out my siding now.
Thank you to my dad for putting up with all this crap. Thank you to everyone who smiled and pointed when they saw my house. Thank you to the guys at the autoparts store for their humor and guidance. Thank you to all you cool kids who came back to town for our hometown holiday, caught me on my way back to my car, and talked me into drowning my tiny house sorrows in cheap bottles of PBR. It was great catching up after all these years! And thank you everyone at Rebuilding Together Petaluma for offering to fix my window for me, for helping me put up my siding (really so kind of you to offer with no pressure from me at all…), and for mobilizing over 600 volunteers to repair more than 50 homes and non-profit facilities in Petaluma every year! Seriously, you’re worth the hassle! And thank you Reader, for being excited enough about this project to follow my blog. I will try to have some real progress for you next month!
Last week my dad and I took a quick jaunt up to Portland, Oregon to drink beer… I mean pick up my trailer. My dad had graciously agreed to let me use his truck to haul my foundation back down to California and I had talked him into staying an extra night to have some time to spend in what is absolutely one of my favorite cities.
We began our quest up North early Tuesday morning, switching off every few hours. It was actually my first time driving anything larger than my sedan, which to be fair is kind of a boat. I did pretty well though. I think I only hit 5 cars and I don’t think I killed anyone but I was in such a hury to get to my trailer I didn’t stop to check on that one guy…
After a 9 hour drive we arrived at our Motel 6 in Tigard, Oregon, a few miles south of Portland. Hey, it was cheap. We drove into town a little after and kicked off our beer tour right with pizza and a 15 beer sampler from Hopworks.
We picked up my trailer at the Iron Eagle facilities in Fairview Wednesday morning so that we would have the afternoon for our beer tour. Rob was as nice and helpful in person as he had been over the phone. He took a few minutes to talk to me about the trailer’s many tiny house specific feautures, then ran a series of tests to make sure that both the trailer and the truck’s towing equipment was fully functional before bringing me to his office to finalize the purchase. And then it was mine!
Once we had the trailer parked back at the hotel, we immediately caught public transport into Portland. We had limited time and a serious plan. The first thing on our to-do list was a visit to one of our favorite places on Earth!
Then it was time to get to the really serious business. We had planned a walking tour of a few breweries in downtown Portland. There are 92 breweries and beer bars in Portland! That’s the most in any city in the United States (probably)! We had a lot of options but we ultimately decided to hit up Rogue, Fat Head, and Deschutes and were not disapointed.
We left Portland at sunrise on Thursday morning, knowing we had a long trip back in the slow lane.
I was a little nervous about towing for the first time but quickly became comfortable, maybe too comfortable. As I was passing another trailer at around 80 miles per hour, I glanced to my left and saw a police car. The officer pulled onto the freeway and I knew I was doomed. But then… A MIRACLE! The officer pulled up and flipped his lights on behind the poor trailer I had just passed!
Thankfully, the rest of the drive was uneventful, probably because I drove a lot slower after that.
In all the trip back down lasted a little over 10 hours but fortunately we were in good company. We made it back home just before dark.
The trip was only 3 days long and we spent as much time in the car as we did in Portland but I think we made the most of our time there. Not only did I retrieve my beautiful tiny house foundation from Iron Eagle Trailers, we were also able stop in at the glorious Powells City of Books, and sample nearly 40 Portland brews (38 if you’re counting… which I am of course)!
Thank you so much to my dad for taking this wonderful trip with me. Thank you to our bartender at Fat Head Brewing for sneaking us extra samples! Thank you to that other trailer for doing whatever it did to get pulled over! And thank you to Rob and everyone else at Iron Eagle Trailers for making at least one of my decisions easy and for making such high-quality, reasonably priced products. For anyone out there trying to decide on a trailer company, I give my highest recommendation to Iron Eagle Trailers in Oregon!
Note: I did not actually hit any cars or people, I swear.
Today is a monumental day for the 160House because it is the day I officially acquired my first building materials!
Yesterday morning one of my oldest friends called to tell me that her family had a barn full of building supplies left over from their remodel that they were willing to let me raid. I confirmed with her parents later that afternoon, and today I went to check everything out.
I ended the day with enough redwood to build my rooftop deck and all the wiring I need for my entire home!
I feel so grateful to the Thomas family for their extremely generous contribution to my project and to my amazing father for helping me pick and haul.
Cannot wait to head up to Oregon later this week to pick up my beautiful new trailer and grab some local brews with my dad! Stay tuned friends.