(If you’re just joining this series, you really should read this first and work your way forward.)
July 10, 1979: The day we move to the shed. Small as it is, the shed feels immense compared to the tent. And it’s still standing, so perhaps we really can build a whole house.
In retrospect, 2017: We didn’t know how much ahead of the times we were. We built one of the world’s tiniest tiny houses way before tiny-house-living was a thing.
An army cot across one end with another along one side for the children gives us just enough room to lay a double sleeping bag on the floor for us. Putting it out of the way each morning gives us room to dress, eat, play board games, and draw house plans—as long as we coordinate. The cots do double duty as daytime seating. Improvised single shelves along two walls keep some of our stash off the floor. We have no door, just a three-foot wide doorway.
In retrospect, 2017: I wonder why the possibility of intruders never occurred to us. We felt perfectly safe from the human type, but why weren’t we concerned about wildlife? In the years since, we’ve seen everything from snakes to bears. We must have been crazy!
With all outdoors for living, our little enclosure doesn’t feel cramped. Our “bathroom” in the woods boasts incredible scenery with its huge rhododendron walls for privacy—not that we need all that much privacy up here.
The shed’s plastic walls and roof provide plenty of natural light, but we discover the obvious—it’s either a steam room or a sauna, depending on the weather. No place to spend daylight hours, especially when it’s sunny. Yet, it’s the only suitable spot for drafting house plans.
July 11, 1979: The water inspector okays our septic tank, our first official approval of any kind. It feels like a huge accomplishment. But with one hurdle out of the way, we stumble onto another: the car won’t start. Fortunately, we find the problem and it’s an easy fix, but this experience magnifies our isolation. With only one car, no social support system, and no phone, our existence here is fragile and hinges on lots of things going right. We’ve already discovered they don’t always.
It’s only our second night in the shed and we have yet another heavy rainfall. The accompanying strong wind, which we’re coming to expect as normal, blows up under our plastic “roof” and tears holes where the plastic is strapped to the rafters. We get soaked. (It won’t be the last time.) A few repairs get us through the night.
July 12, 1979: We add a second layer of plastic, hoping it will be enough to protect us during the next big windstorm. We know there will be one.
While the Gnome works on the house plans we’ll have to submit to the county building inspector so we can actually start building, I chop down the few hundred black locust saplings covering our construction area. Everything’s happening a lot more slowly than we’ve anticipated. But it’s all progress.
(Tune in next week for more adventures in Early Days on the Diagonal.)