Four Years

 

Four years is a relatively long time.  It’s enough time to graduate from college, or give birth to two separate elephants (although I would only recommend this if you were an actual elephant).  It is also the length of time I’ve lived in the pink trailer.  And that is the longest I have lived in any home, other than the one in which I grew up.

There have been ups and downs in my little portable palace, but overall, it’s been a good time.  And it has been a great life lesson.  Here is what I’ve learned:

Less is more.  Living in a tiny space forces you to keep only essentials.  This means I have fewer clothes, shoes, keepsakes, mementos, and furniture.  But it also means that the things I do have, I love!  It is very satisfying to love all the things you see in your home.  And when you fall out of love with a certain item, or curtain, or whatever it may be, then you can replace it with a new love.

Don’t always feel like you deserve better.  I’m not taking about sociological or psychological behavior – of course nobody deserves to be abused or anything like that.  What I’m talking about is the way advertisers love to tell you, “You deserve the best!”  “You’re worth it!”  “Get the ____________ that you deserve.”  These slogans are out there, not to remind you that as a human you should hold your head up high and realize you are special, but to sell you crap you don’t need.  To make you believe your life will be better if you have newer things, a faster car, a bigger house.  But all these things often just lead to a larger debt.  So if piles of bills is your thing, then by all means, you deserve to go and max out your credit cards.  But if a happy life is your thing, realize that the size or grandiosity of your home is no reflection of what is in your heart.

Contentment is key.  I have an uncle who is an atheist, and we were at lunch together a few years ago when the host prayed before the meal.  One of the things he prayed for was to be content with what he had.  Although he is non-religious, my uncle was very impressed with that thought, and decided to remind himself of that idea regularly.  To be content.  The desire to keep up materially and economically with those around you will literally drive you crazy.  Learn to accept what you have, as well as your situation.  Reuse your things, fix stuff that breaks, and feel the beauty that comes with feeling satisfied with what you have.

Keep your eye simple.  This means don’t complicate your life with acquisitions.  Yes, sometimes it would be really fun to own a boat and a quad and a dirt bike and a snowmobile and a….  But all those things need maintenance and time, and honestly, how much would I use them?  It’s the same with a home – a guest bedroom would be great, and an extra room for a ping pong table, and a space for a big dining room table for large formal dinner parties, and a separate living room and family room which would be great for entertaining….  But, honestly, would the number of times a year I would have an out-of-town guest or a formal dinner party really be worth all the extra money I would have to pay for a place big enough to support those moments?  For some people it would be worth it, but not for me.

Swallowing your pride isn’t as bad as you’d think.  My neighbor, Natasha, and I were roommates long ago – back in the 20th century – and we often laugh about how our 20something selves would be horrified that our 30-40something selves are living in a trailer park.  We were too proud.  And we were too worried about what others may think.  Now?  We realize that choosing to live the way we do has nothing to do with being “trailer trash,” but how we want to spend our time and money.  And it has a lot to do with our own creativity.  It’s much easier (and takes way less time, money, and effort) to renovate and re-renovate a trailer than it would a stick-built home.

Success in life has nothing to do with stuff.  I work at an estate planning law firm, and regularly meet with clients who have more stuff than they can list or remember.  They are busy trying to decide who will get the stuff they’ve forgotten they have when they die.  Sometimes they like to micro-manage their assets from the grave.  Often they have a larger retirement account than they do a measure of happiness.  And that is sad.  Focus on your quality of life, rather than your quantity of stuff, and when you die those around you will be so sorry to see you go, rather than kinda excited at the prospect of inheriting your junk.

So that’s some of the stuff I’ve learned.  A lot of it I knew, but putting it in action is much more monumental.  And most of those points are generally related.  Basically, be happy with what you have, don’t long for what you don’t.  Live small.

Puffins are happy just hanging out.  I should be too.

Puffins are happy just hanging out. I should be too.

Rebecca Knabe

Wood Floors and Fuzzy Socks

When I was young my grandma lived in an old house with a couple of stories and the original hard wood flooring on the stairs.  If you ran too quickly down the stairs in stocking feet, to answer the phone or get a fresh piece of grandma’s kougan, you invariably lost your footing, landed on the wood with your tailbone, and bump-bump-bumped on your butt down the remaining stairs.  Everyone in the family had done it, and most of my friends had done it too.  It’s just what happened at her house.

Grandma's House

Grandma’s House

When I renovated my trailer, the first to go was the horrible flooring – ancient linoleum and well-used beige carpet.  I replaced it all with laminate beech wide-plank flooring, and I love it.  Clean, easy, bright.  Perfect.

My father refers to me as having “the worst balance in the world.”  I can (and have) fall over just standing there.  I fell over in my desk twice in elementary school.  I once fell onto a snowboard racecourse while standing at the starting line.  I got stitches in my hand from falling in the woods.  The wind blew me over twice in Iceland.  I was on crutches several times as a kid.  In Athens I couldn’t walk a block without wiping out on the marble sidewalks.  I have entered Safeway airborne, because of tripping on the door frame.  I’ve fallen down several flights of stairs, tripped up even more flights of stairs, and because of that, had recurring nightmares in high school about tumbling down those stairs, usually while naked ( 😦 ).

That's us strolling around Athens, Greece in 2000.

That’s me strolling around Athens, likely immediately prior to or preceding a nice fall.

So this last weekend, it should have come as no surprise when I found myself upside down in a corner of my trailer.  Here’s how it happened….  I was wearing my pajamas and fuzzy socks, and making breakfast.  Actually I was burning breakfast, and lunged to remove the pan from the heat, and in doing so flung my egg flipper thingy behind my infrared heater.  This heater is a large rolling wooden box; and as I leaned sideways over the box to retrieve my egg flipper it rolled, my feet slipped out from under me (you know, slippery floors and fuzzy socks, just like at grandma’s), and I teeter-tottered over the heater and onto my head.  I had wedged myself into the corner and bruised up my thigh, but all I could do was lay there laughing.

Ahhhhhh, if only someone else had been there to see it….  It would have been worth the humiliation.  It was pretty funny!  Funny enough to share.  I’m sure of it!

Rebecca Knabe

The Top 5 Things That Don’t Fit in My Trailer

1.  Secretariat.  Sure that Triple Crown Racehorse was only 5’6″, but he weighed nearly 1,200 lbs.  Sometimes during exceptionally vigorous P90X workouts, I worry that I will break through my floorboards.  And, thankfully, I weigh vastly less than that giant fella.  And horses smell bad.  And have freakishly large heads.  Terrifying.

Secretariat

2.  Shaquille O’Neal.  At 7’1″ he won’t fit.  An inch too tall for trailer living.  But it’s ok, because I don’t really know the rules of basketball, and I’m sure he doesn’t really know the rules of trailers, so it’s unlikely we have much in common.

(He's the tall guy in the back)

(He’s the tall guy in the back)

3.  Thailand’s Largest Reclining Buddha, Phra Buddhasaiyas, at Wat Pho.  Not only would it be impossible to get the 150 foot long, 45 foot high statue inside my home, I think the multiple plane tickets needed to get that thing a flight from Bangkok to Reno would be pretty cost prohibitive….

(He's the long guy in the back....)

(He’s the long guy in the back….)

Pretty hard to get a decent photo of this gigantor.

Pretty hard to get a decent photo of this gigantor.

4.  The Duggar Family – Jim Bob and Michelle, and their 19 reality-TV-darling offspring.  Technically, they could probably fit.  I’ve had parties with more than 21 in attendance.  But why would anyone want 19 children in a single-wide trailer.  That would just be stupid.

19-kids-and-counting

5.  The Z Gallerie Conversation Pit.  9 1/2 feet wide, and 6 1/4 feet long.  Granted, my trailer is 10 feet wide.  But that is the outside measurement.  So if you factor in a few inches of non-existent insulation, baseboards, and the weird thingies that jut out from my windows, there’s no way you could squeeze in that couch.  It also costs nearly as much as I paid for my house, so there’s that.  However, it’s one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever set my tush on, so perhaps I should just sell my place and live on the Conversation Pit.

Couch

Rebecca Knabe

Where Have I Been?

I don’t really have a good answer.  The best I can come up with is that I’ve been tired….  I know, that’s a terrible response.  But I’m back, and have a bunch of pictures of the stuff that’s been keeping me busy (and tired) for the last 2 months.

I helped this wonderful couple, and two of my favorite friends, celebrate their 10th anniversary:

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Then I watched the Sierra Nevada mountains go from this….

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…to this:

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I also had a myriad of visitors!  Some stayed with me in the pink trailer, and some did not.  Some were invited, and others, not so much….

Cassi's best friend, Bella.  Cassi and I, and Bella and her mama, Shawn, all lived together in Bend, Oregon in 2003/04.

Cassi’s best friend, Bella. Cassi and I, and Bella and her mama, Shawn, all lived together in Bend, Oregon in 2003/04.

A great night out with Shawn & Steve, visiting from Oregon.

A great night out with Shawn & Steve, visiting from Oregon.

Dannica (we have been best friends for nearly 40 - ugh! - years) visited from Kelowna, BC for our annual super-happy-fun-extra-long-weekend-and-Black-Friday-shopping-extravaganza.

Dannica (we have been best friends for nearly 40 – ugh! – years) visited from Kelowna, BC for our annual super-happy-fun-extra-long-weekend-and-Black-Friday-shopping-extravaganza.

Next, my sweet sister-in-law, Sierra, visited during the coldest few weeks of the year.

Next, my sweet sister-in-law, Sierra, visited during the coldest few weeks of the year.

My favorite fella, John, visited from upstate New York for a few weeks.

My favorite fella, John, visited from upstate New York for a few weeks.

And I can't forget Joey, my frequent uninvited guest, who loves to rub his hairy butt all over my bedding.  Good thing I'm allergic to cats....

And I can’t forget Joey, my frequent uninvited guest, who loves to rub his hairy butt all over my bedding. Good thing I’m allergic to cats….

With all the extra days off during the holidays, I had a few sleepovers at friends’ houses.  Conveniently also during some very cold days and nights.

Here, all are participating in a very riveting napping session.

Here, all are participating in a community napping session.

New Year's Eve was spent trading makeup and falling asleep before 11:00 with these two beauties.

New Year’s Eve was spent trading makeup and falling asleep before 11:00 with these two beauties.

I nearly froze to death, on a couple of occasions.  On nights like this, living in an un-insulated trailer feels like barely a step up from being homeless.  But I’ve managed to figure out a system with my space heaters that prevents my pipes and I from freezing solid in the night (even when the temps hit 0F/-18C), without blowing a fuse, and while keeping my electric bill under $200.

Even on bright sunny days, the pink trailer was home to many icicles.

Even on bright sunny days, the pink trailer was home to many icicles.

Beautiful icicles flanking the laundry room of a local trailer park.

Beautiful icicles flanking the laundry room of a local trailer park.

Then my friends let me babysit.  Although “let me” doesn’t sound quite right.  I wasn’t exactly begging to do it….  But remember the 10th anniversary friends up above?  As part of my anniversary gift to them, I bought them a movie date and offered to babysit.  It was my first babysitting in a couple of decades.  No one died, no one pooped, and we only had one crier, so all in all, a pretty successful evening….

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I have also been spending a little time at a great new local coffee shop, Coffee Bar….

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…where Marty McFly’s De Lorean was recently parked:

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And finally, I had a fantastic long weekend in Vegas (one of my favorite cities to visit), catching up with friends and family:

Wearing blue to Blue Man Group.

Wearing blue to Blue Man Group.

Enjoying The Strip at night.

Enjoying The Strip at night.

Watching the Bellagio fountains, Ocean's Eleven style.

Watching the Bellagio fountains, Ocean’s Eleven style.

Beautiful Red Rock Canyon.

Beautiful Red Rock Canyon.

The breathtaking Nevada desert.

The breathtaking Nevada desert.

So that’s a little of what I’ve been up to, while being the world’s most neglectful blogger.  I promise to be better.  I promise.  🙂

Rebecca Knabe

Supergirls

Do you have any friends that you feel like you’ve known forever?  I have a few.  They know me well, they’ve met my family,  they understand where I come from and where I want to go, they can read me like a book, we have history.

One of those friends is Natasha.  We met about a million years ago – ok maybe it was about 17 years ago – and we are still in each other’s lives.  We came to be roommates in Bend, Oregon in the late 90’s, and now, several years later, we’re trailer-park-mates.  She lives right next door to me.  It’s almost like living together, just without getting on each other’s nerves.  Perfect scenario.

That's me in the center, on the chair.  Natasha is on my right, holding the kid.  The 5 of us lived in a small 2 bedroom house.

That’s me in the center, on the chair. Natasha is on my right, holding the kid. The 5 of us lived in a small 2 bedroom house.

I'm the wench, Natasha is the gypsy.  Renaissance Fair 1997.

I’m the wench, Natasha is the gypsy. Renaissance Fair 1997.

That's us strolling around Athens, Greece in 2000.

That’s us strolling around Athens, Greece in 2000.

This past week, Natasha staked a claim in epic-friend status by helping me build a 242 square foot outdoor paver patio.  Neither of us have attempted this before, so I googled like mad, and with a ton of hard work and sweat, somehow we pulled it off.  I’m pretty sure I owe her a beer or two….

Patio1

Patio2

Patio4

I’m pretty sure we’re Supergirls.  You can almost see our capes under our dresses….

Patio3

Rebecca Knabe

Trailer Pick of the Day – Canadian Camper

The camping season in northern Canada is short, but if you have a cozy trailer to keep you warm at night, you can make it last a little longer.  This little 1965 Airstream Globetrotter recently took its family camping at Bakers Narrows in northern Manitoba.

GA

Thanks to my friend, Kristy, for letting me share.

Rebecca Knabe

Beat the Heat

A heat wave has been sweeping across the country.  Poorly insulated trailers are as uncomfortable during a sweltering summer as they are during a freezing winter.  So during the really hot days I keep my curtains closed, my swamp cooler on high, and my freezer stocked full of popsicles.  And whenever possible, I head to the water!

EM1

EM2

EM3

EM4

Rebecca Knabe