Summer of transitions: JULY

morning glories

Morning glories at Point Reyes, new blossoms replacing the old.

As I mentioned in the first part of this series (JUNE), the month of July was all about wrapping up my old life in California and making the big move back to Oregon. This post is more an album of memories for me and may or may not be of any interest to anyone else, though there are some connections to tiny houses scattered throughout. I’ve been having a hard time writing this since it is very bittersweet and emotionally complicated, so I’m just going to post it as is and get back to more of a focus on my tiny house with the next post.

An old-fashioned Fourth of July in Oregon

parade cycling

Nothing like a small town parade!

vintage truck

My building mentor, Steffen, brought his 1946 Dodge 2-ton flatbed truck over from the Hood River parade (where he’d had a band playing on the back) and offered to let us ride on it in the even tinier Odell parade that afternoon.

view from parade truck

Waving to the crowds from the back of Steffen’s truck.

ice cream making lesson

My uncle shows my nephews that ice cream doesn’t always come out of a carton.

tired celebrator

Tired (or zen?) celebrator.

asparagas berries

My uncle is growing asparagus. Who knew it had such delicate fern-like leaves and red berries?!

sunset fireworks

I skipped the fireworks in favor of nature’s own.

Wrapping up 25 years of work

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve “retired” from state service. I’ve worked at the Coastal Conservancy almost all of my adult life and it’s been like a family to me, taking me back when I’ve gone off on other adventures. I was involved in several very large, complex projects and it was no small task to transfer all that information to my replacement, not to mention cleaning out years of files. I went right down to the wire, even having to leave my first retirement party early to get everything done by the time I left. Though I don’t have any pictures from my Conservancy send-off, I was incredibly touched by everyone’s kindness and generosity.

While I worked in Oakland, most of my projects were centered in Santa Cruz County and the central coast of California. I was honored to get a proclamation from the board of supervisors, though I was just one of an incredibly stellar team that made these things happen.



We’re pretty casual here, but Karen, Donna and Jim are the great minds and hearts behind much of the habitat restoration and conservation in the central coast of California, along with an incredible array of federal, state and local resource staff. I was very lucky to get to work with all of them for the last 16 years and value our friendship more than anything.

Terrors of a long-distance hauler

I had planned to sell all my furniture, but since my parents have an unfurnished quasi-apartment in the barn that I am staying in while I finish my build, I decided to bring my stuff up rather than have to replace it all. This led to the tricky challenge of getting my couch on top of my car and making sure it was firmly attached. Jim was kind enough to help me with this but we were both a little concerned whether it would stay on.

couch move

I crept up I-5, stopping to check it constantly, but all stayed firmly attached.

I was just up for a couple nights, but one of the things I wanted to do was pick up my siding so I would have it for August. I’d been stressing about how to transport it on the hour and a half trip and decided to borrow my uncle’s truck and dad’s trailer. Still drained from the long drive the day before, I set off the next afternoon, the plan being to strap it horizontally across the top of the trailer. The cedar siding available at that time only came in 14′ lengths. This time I checked it more carefully to be sure it was dry. It was a big bundle on a forklift and they said they’d load it while I was inside paying. Each board is pretty light and for some reason I never really thought about how heavy 89 of them would be. When I came back out, the back rail on the gate was already bowing dangerously.

At that point I wasn’t sure what to do, so I strapped it on well and slowly drove off. Every little crack in the pavement I went over set the load lurching up and crashing down, further bowing the rail. As I got out on the highway, I had visions of the little pins and hinges on the trailer gate giving way and the entire load shooting off the back, causing massive pile ups and mayhem. Fortunately there was horrible traffic so I crept along, sweating bullets and feeling terrible about what I was doing to my dad’s trailer.

Quelling panic, I found myself behind a big, black pickup truck that had a bumper sticker that said “Cowboy up or stay home”. So I cowgirled up and put pedal to the metal. Made it back with no tragedies other than a busted trailer and adrenaline shakes (some cowgirl I am).

picking up siding

The load and the bashed in gate. Fortunately, Vince Schlosser, a local metal fabricator, was able to repair it easily.

Saying good-bye to California

My last week in the Bay Area was a flurry of visitors, celebrating, and final cleaning and packing. Here are a few highlights:

dr wilkinsons

I went to the mud baths in Calistoga when I first arrived in California in 1989, so it seemed fitting to come full circle when my sister came to visit.


We stayed in a yurt in a nearby state campground.

yurt interior

Very simple and clean interior.

yurt oculus at night

The oculus at night.

earthquake cottage

My aunt volunteered at the Presidio so when the rest of my family came down, she took us around. Being a tiny house geek, I was delighted to see this 1906 earthquake cottage that has been turned into a museum. People who were homeless after the earthquake paid $2 a month toward the $50 purchase price. It was then theirs if they hauled it away.

earthquake cottage interior

Inside the cottage.

goldsworthy bunker

Also at the Presidio, we got a private tour of the Andrew Goldsworthy art installation, “Tree Fall”, in the 1863 Old Powder Magazine.

goldsworthy interior

The interior walls were covered with a mixture of clay and human hair and a large eucalyptus trunk was attached and also covered in clay. Allowed to dry for two months, it formed a delicate network of cracks and fissures.

goldsworthy docent

Our docent leads us out into the light after our “subterranean” experience.

the barn loft

I had a few days getaway with family and old friends at my beloved Point Reyes. I stayed in the barn loft, which was a lot like a tiny house (see pics below). I loved this outdoor eating area – gave me ideas for a smaller version once my tiny house is complete.

view from barn loft

Looking out the window on the hills and estuary at Point Reyes.

barn loft kitchen

The tiny kitchen.

barn loft fireplace

I stayed here years ago and this gas fireplace had made a huge impression on me then, leading to a somewhat similar raised fireplace going in my tiny house.

pt reyes sunset

California’s entry into the sunset competition.



golden gate

Saying goodbye to local icons.

movin on out

One last carload full, a final cleaning of the apartment, handing in the keys and hitting the road for my new home, utterly exhausted. I camped at Castle Crags State Park, locked my food up in the bear boxes, and listened to the crickets and the lonely sounds of the night train through Dunsmuir that had carried my southern grandmother to her new husband and new life in Hood River over eighty years ago. I felt very connected to her.

And so closed the California chapter of my life and a new one began.

To be continued… (AUGUST)


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