Monday, April 27, 2009

Notes from an enthusiastic old lady caught up in the emotion of my build......a blog about a blog about a blog.

"Overzealous"? "Countess of Containers"? "Overcompensating"? "Attention Whore"?

Hmmmmmm. If my mother were alive today, she would say "Well, that's what you get...."

I'm referring to a blog that was forwarded to me in an email the other day. I started to copy the whole thing right here....right now..... but the original is way more colorful and italicized than I am smart enough to re-create and can be found at

See what you think. And I'll have a few words to say after you have read it.


So..........after reading what renaissanceronin has to say.....let me just say, to begin with, that it also turns MY stomach a bit to read that "Yessirree! Sign up NOW.....Jump up and down......." excerpt from one of my previous blogs.....and a few others, I'm sorry to say. What was I thinking? Was I THAT caught up in the moment? And he is absolutely right about my being "overcompensating" and "overzealous" and using circus antics. That's pretty much how I've gone through life....much to the annoyance of a whole lot of folks. Just ask 'em. But I do think I've improved in the "look at me....I'm so of the world" department, in my golden years. More often than not, in spite of what has gone on lately, I will go out of my way.....WAY out of my pursuit of anonymity. These days, it's more like "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it fall....."
Until the blllllllllloooogggggg, that is.

To be honest, I am extremely flattered, surprised and grateful that people have read about this project and think that any reaction, bad or good, serves the very purpose that initiated my "spreading the word". And I won't deny that I have gotten a lot of mileage from all of the feedback. Thanks for all of it. You, too, renaissanceronin.

Now, let's talk about DWELL magazine. I DO NOT EVER REMEMBER "COMPLAINING" ABOUT DWELL MAGAZINE, as I was accused. As a matter of fact, it is possible that I would not have a shipping container house-to-be if it weren't for DWELL magazine.

It all started with a house-sitting job for friends Betty and Carter in Sacramento, California. In that one memorable week, I had a blind date with a chiropractor, bought the premier issue of ReadyMade magazine, floated down the American River, found Ozomatli, and discovered and bought my first issue of DWELL (Volume 3, October 2003). That trip and those discoveries (with the exception of the chiropractor) may have been the catalyst I needed to realize that I really could build a house on my land....and the beginning of my search, in earnest, for the perfect modern, simple, efficient and affordable house plan. I don't think I have missed, or thrown away a single issue since then, and consider my basement collection of DWELL the best resource imaginable for most anything that has to do with how I plan to live. That plastic shoebox I carried into theworkshop 308 a couple of years ago (see blog archives) was full of DWELL clippings and websites and essays and details.....along with slim pickings from the Internet and library books. And what did I see when I walked through their door? (Besides Jason, Michael, Natalie, the big dog Mater and a space filled with some of the most incredible handmade modern design furniture ever seen in Springfield....) I saw some of those same DWELL magazines on their shelves and tables......which I interpreted as yet another sign that I was in the right place at the right time.

Talk about "spreading the word". DWELL has been the best ambassador for a conscientious, well-designed way of life that a person could ever ask for. And I'm talking any segment of the home owning population...not just the rich and famous. No, I would NEVER complain about DWELL. If, in any past blogs, I have mentioned the barefooted, serene and uncluttered inhabitants of those pages, believe me, it is with love and admiration in my heart. How's that for overzealous, eh? ".....with love and admiration in my heart." A magazine? Yes.

Renaissanceronin had a lot of good stuff to say. And good for him for saying it. It certainly separates him from a huge segment of the more silent population. As for my part, I plan to continue in my overcompensating, attention whoring ways and will love every single minute of this whole house building operation. "Well, that's what I get."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Meanwhile, back to the house........

Meanwhile, back to the house.......(I think I've become one of those lame people who come out on the stage during an all-school talent show to make small talk to the audience while the baton twirlers are getting in formation behind the curtain.....blah blah blah and everyone is thinking "let's get on with it so I can get home and watch the 10:00 news....."). This bllllogg is SUPPOSED to be about the HOUSE.

So, I'm excited to report that ALL of the windows are now installed....and that looks and feels really, really good. The electricity is all but hooked up in the house, I think.....but I'm not touching anything until I know for sure. The septic system is installed, complete with an alarm light that flashes when there is a problem.....and also complete with some words of wisdom from Chris when I started to whine about the leech (?) field. I saw a rendering that Jason made that shows how the ramp is going to tie in to the front porch and will lead to the carport/storage container. Very cool. And very practical. No stairs, just a ramp. Michael has been planing (not planning, but planing) the cedar boards that are going to "wrap" the porches and continue onto the ceiling in the kitchen and living area....and they look and smell really good. And I had a small session with Michael yesterday to talk about cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom and the three (count 'em) closets. Talk about winnowing. I am going to have to get rid of some real treasures before I move into this house. Minimalism is going to be my middle name. And I'm going to try to apply that practice not only to the closets and drawers, but to my daily life as well. Watch out. I will end up being very serene and knowing. My friend Sally led a Lunch Bunch tour to see the house yesterday in the rain, and told me that they left "a little something" for me in the living room. I bet it's either a Garden Gnome or a red shag rug. There goes serene.

And now, let's have a nice round of applause for the best little twirlers this side of Panther Creek.......(and I'll try to confine this space to my shipping container house). When possible.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It all started with red shag rug and tomato garden comments.......

It all started with red shag rug and tomato garden comments. I'm referring to the suggestions, thoughts, and notably, to some of the interesting ideas that people so graciously and enthusiastically have offered after reading about the house, or while visiting it.

"What you need on these concrete floors are some red shag rugs to add a little color." "You ought to put your carport/storage container right there so you'll have room for a nice little tomato garden." "How are you gonna get your kayak down that hill to put it in the river?" "If I were you, I'd use that crawl space down there for a storm shelter....but it's too late to put a trap door in your floor." "You'll have to get a dog." "You'd better get yourself an Audubon Society Bird Book....not just a bird book." "I'd cut that tree right there, for sure....and wire that other one so it leans the other way." "You could take some of those scrap container slabs, fill 'em up with concrete, scatter 'em down the slope like pods, and have a nice place for lawn chairs and such." "You're not tall enough to see out of that window." "If I were you, I'd just put some more containers on top of these and make yourself a whole lot more room." "Why not sink one of those containers in the ground and make it into a lap pool?" "You'll have to get a dog." "All you really need here is a zip line....that'll take you right down to the river." "You're probably going to see some critters out of those windows." "Why not make your deck a triangle instead of just a rectangle?" "If you welded a ladder to the side of that little container, you could sit up there and get a suntan or watch the stars." "Do you have a church home?" "You need a windmill out here." "You could make a miniature replica of a crane hooked onto a shipping container dangling in the air, like the one we saw in Mexico, and use that for your mailbox." "You're gonna want another door in this place." "With the river on one side, it seems like you would want a water feature of some kind....maybe a fountain.....on the other side." "You'll have to get a dog."

Could it be, here's a question for you......that it's not a matter of folks simply offering their ideas and suggestions as they visit and experience this project.........but could it be the shipping container house, ITSELF, which evokes some latent, inventive, imaginative impulse in ALL WHO WALK THROUGH THOSE DOORS (of which there are none yet) to manufacture....or to merely ruminate? A sort of Stephen King phenomenon? Or some mutant cerebral/vocal fallout from those reported UFO lights seen at the Northview Exit on I-44 a few years ago? You're standing there, surrounded by the brute force of corrugated metal.....a faint essence of salt water lingering at the seams....and you just can't help yourself. Lap pool...ladders....mailboxes...concrete...crawl spaces...water features. And when you think about it, it really does make sense.......not worthy of a Christine, no, no, no, no... nor an urban legend like the Joplin spook lights......but simply a collection of four shipping containers that have been who-knows-where, stowing who-knows-what, for who-knows-whom......a definite "Oh, if these walls could talk" attitude....and with both the innate and acquired characteristics that go with it. It's no wonder that the vibes are there. And......the vibes ARE there.

One innovative and imaginative project begets another....and another....and who knows where this will all end? A nice little tomato garden, perhaps. But NOT a red shag rug.