The above title is misleading. No, we didn’t get married. It’s my feeble attempt at irony. Our first two months on this hilltop have been no honeymoon and, please, this is no knock on Cristina. It’s about the inevitable disconnect between one’s idealized vision of a simpler life (pick one: downsizing, back to nature, reducing one’s carbon footprint, etc.) and the reality of it. Admittedly, this experiment has been undermined by Covid-19. The pandemic has eliminated so many diversions that would have made the past 60 days more agreeable. Can’t go to the gym. Can’t work. Can’t travel. Can’t go to the air-conditioned library. Can’t relax by the pool. OK, you get it. But there are many things about tiny house living that take some getting used to, pandemic or no. Let’s talk about a few for the benefit of anyone contemplating such a lifestyle change:
- Poop/pee – This composting toilet has been great. It works as advertized. What doesn’t are those perched upon it. I am having to empty this contraption twice as frequently as promised in the literature for a typical couple. Living proof that I, at least, am full of it.
- Waste – What!?! We should be producing less, not more refuse. Nope. Today I will be making my third dump-run since moving in. I am talking about filling up my SUV with bags of garbage, the aforementioned human effluent and cardboard (so much of the latter). It’s gotten so bad that I went to Home Depot and purchased mint-scented garbage bags (I had no idea) to make the 30 minute trip to the Petaluma dump more bearable. Now, granted, certain variables have changed – we’ve switched to compostable plates to reduce dishwashing chores, we’ve had many Amazon deliveries and the associated packing material to outfit our new home (and sheltering-in-place retail) and I thick pandemic-induced boredom has increased our food consumption. Also, it probably is due to the fact that incremental, weekly trips to the curb with one’s garbage cans pale in comparison to the monthly barge-load of trash.
- Heat – This should come as no surprise but this fucker gets hot! Duh. A metal box with thin foam insulation, single-paned windows and a hilltop setting with no shade. Nice work, Copernicus. It’s been made worse by the fact that I gave my portable A/C unit to my tenants as their central unit broke. Another happy problem that needs my attention. But I have attempted many fixes to deal with the heat – putting reflecting foam in the windows, running my ceiling vents full blast all day (imagine jet engine sound effect) and installing a nifty twin blade three-way window fan. It works best when running one blade out and one in. Push/pull is optimal. These fixes have helped a bit but I have come to realize that tin-can living is best attempted in the spring or fall.
- Vermin – I knew mice would be an issue. What I did not know was that Cristina carries some childhood trauma from Brazil involving rodents. I forgot she grew up in a third world country (she hates when I say that). But she is unusually frightened by the cutest little rodents – even gophers, moles and voles. Our troubles in that department have a new twist as we are being told that the rattlesnake hatch was especially prolific this spring. Mices and gophers and snakes, oh my! Never fear, the property comes with pest control.
Our friends have been very effective as we’ve yet to discern any evidence of rodent invasion inside Sparta.