Making Space: Living and making art in a tiny house, by Walker

Its Walker's turn to write for the Mv times!
 

    We had seen plenty of cute photos on Pinterest showcasing the adorable tiny houses of other couples around the country. I do feel Danielle has done a great job making our little home cozy and quaint. However, the real challenges of tiny living come down to hard numbers, tough choices, and unique problems with elusive solutions, and its these logistical issues that almost exclusively become my responsibility.

    We knew space was going to be tight moving into our trailer. At twenty five feet long and eight feet wide we have exactly two hundred square feet in which to squeeze our entire personal and professional lives. Clothing and living supplies have been easily managed, as we both have been preparing to downsize for over year, and I only really wear one pair of boots (they’re Blundstones like a typical boho Islander) so no problem there. Being the son of professional chef, this was leanest my kitchen gear has ever been.

Art supplies are an entirely different story however. I can go without that jacket I really like but hardly wear, but discarding that second tube of Prussian blue paint I have’t reached for in a year seems unthinkable. As a painter my supplies consist of paint, panels, and brushes. Since Danielle is a multi-media, mask making, costume designing, fiber-artist-film-maker-wizard every item at the local recycling center becomes a potential art material. As a result I have two cabinets for art supplies, she seven, plus half my closet. Had we only needed to pack out personal lives, space wouldn’t have been an issue. But with two full art studios of supplies every nook and cranny is packed, and tupperware of every shape and size has become our new best friend. 

    Not only is space limited but every pound is tallied with a scale by the door (and yes, I did use a second scale to weight the first scale). After doing some quick arithmetic accounting for the weight of full water tanks, propane, solar panels, batteries, and built-ins removed during our renovation, cargo capacity comes in at a tidy 1000lbs. Allowing an extra 250lbs of wiggle room for consumables like groceries and toiletries or anything we just plain forgot. We currently have 999lbs of stuff, so if either of us wants a new book some other possession must be jettisoned. We have to seriously avoid home decor stores, as Danielle is still in nesting mode and wants to make everything beautiful. I end up being the weight Nazi, the scale never lies.

The means of acquiring and consuming resources also radically changed with our new lives. Electricity hasn’t been much of a concern, as our solar panels produce plenty for our use. Water and propane for heating and cooking are very limited though. Our rig carries two 30lb propane bottles and 46 gallons of fresh water. With such limited capacity every ounce of each is used purposefully and deliberately; no more ten minute showers. A single propane tank lasts about 2-3 weeks depending on how cold its been and who is winning the fight over the thermostat. Water can last any where from 4-10 days typically depending on how indulgent we might feel. While in New Hampshire however, we were unable to fill our tanks for 3 weeks because of severe drought effecting most of the state. Our self-contained composting toilet has made us more aware of our waste then ever; and no, it doesn’t stink.

Each of these changes in lifestyle accumulate into some minor daily inconveniences, such as having to dig paints out of a cabinet, taking apart the dinette to access felting supplies or never being able to leave stuff lying around since there’s only one table. The upside to this however is the increased degree of intentionality we live with daily. Each task must be completely fully before another can be started, simply because there is no room to do two things at once. As a result, to-do lists have become shorter, and we have more free time.

    While tiny mobil living hasn’t magically made us into unmaterialistic minimalists, we’velearned a lot about ourselves, our priorities, and what using less looks like. 

Thoughts on Home: The extended juicy version by Danielle

We were so excited when the MV Times asked us to keep them updated on our journey. Walker and I decided we both would take turns writing for the column. I went first and started writing about my thoughts as we sunk into our first real week on the road living full time in the art wagon. It was really hard.. as I hadn't written down coherent thoughts since college. My grammar and spelling have always been awful. When I finally created a piece I somewhat liked I gave it to Walker to edit down as I had surpassed the column limit! It was hard to chop away at points and concepts I was meaning to share, but then I remembered I have this amazing thing called a website with a journal page! 

So heres the short and sweet version. Thank you MV Times!! 

Now heres the uncut juiced up version.

Oh.. and a song to add some atmosphere that I listened to while writing this. 

Islanders Danielle Mulcahy and Walker Roman, the artist duo hit the road at the beginning of October armed with a renovated fifth wheel trailer, all of their possessions and art making materials. The goal is to make art, sell art at different venues and pop ups, educate about art making, and of course live more simply, responsibly and in the present. 

      I looked back towards our trailer behind our tightly packed pick up truck. I kept thinking we forgot something, or everything. So much had been working up to this moment. The crazy idea, buying a truck and , a trailer and now finally pulling our mobile art studio and house onto a ferry. Going through a mental list containing all of my most valued possessions, I realized that they were all there in tow behind us. Our big, barn red adventure wagon. Our first home. 

      With no towing experience between the two of us, I was frantically checking all mirrors as we pulled off the boat. Walker was cool and collected, even while driving over the Bourne bridge. The plan was to drive inland to my dad's house in Rutland Mass where we could get ready for the next month of craft shows in New Hampshire following the leaf peeping season. When I say get ready I mean practice backing up, as neither of us had ever done that successfully yet.  Another interesting issue that arose was we weren’t completely prepared as our solar panels had yet to be  hooked up properly to our battery, which also meant the vent fan for our composting toilet was also out. Also we hadn’t time to clean our  water tanks before leaving, so no running water.

After a sleepless night we woke up early to practice backing up. My dad watched on from the window as Walker pulled back and forth over the lawn just missing the small saplings in the yard. The trailer seemed to have a mind of its own as it cranked the opposite way of where he intended, like a crazy puppy on a leash. Slowly the big 26ft long pup was trained and Walker seemed to be getting the hang of it. He looked at me sweating and exhausted. “Let me try.” I said. I felt a little more confident after observing him. He gave me some advice about watching the mirrors and turning the truck opposite of what you think. Once hitting reverse, the trailer went right back into bad puppy mode as it swung around to say hi on my passenger side window. I pulled forward and started very slow. The best advice we have gotten so far about driving with a big trailer is never do anything in a rush. Instead of looking at the mirrors when I knew there was no baby trees to hit, I watched the back of the truck. It was like two arms pushing a wheel burrow if that makes any sense. All of a sudden, for the first time in my life, my severe dyslexic learning disability was in my favor. I just made sense.

       We hit the road for New Hampshire with new roles, Walker the highway driver, Danielle the backer upper.  Our first stop where we would remain for a week or so, was my great aunt Ginny’s old farm house in Enfield. NH. Another soft place to land as we still had to figure out the solar panel dilemma. My backing up skills were put to the test with a much more narrow drive way and stone walls. After a 37 point turn and some minor lawn damage we landed safely among golden maples right in front of my cousin Jon's maple sugar house.  

 Finally parked, Walker calls everyone within a 20 mile radius who could potentially help install our solar panels. 

Finally parked, Walker calls everyone within a 20 mile radius who could potentially help install our solar panels. 

 Cousin Jon's sleeping sugar house. In the early spring it will be awakened to make more maple syrup. I love the process that goes into creating syrup and I plan to give you all a separate post and perhaps video about it at some point. 

Cousin Jon's sleeping sugar house. In the early spring it will be awakened to make more maple syrup. I love the process that goes into creating syrup and I plan to give you all a separate post and perhaps video about it at some point. 

         I grew up visiting this house every summer as did my mother and my grandpa when they were young, swimming in Crystal lake right down the street. I realized I never spent too much time learning about the past when it came the house and the ground it stood on. Probably because I was too busy being a crazy kid. I sat in the yard recalling all of  the barbeques, running up and down the warm open fields with my cousins, and devouring black berries when we were suppose to be collecting them for Aunt Ginny's pies. I also recalled standing on the edge of the yard looking through the gaps in the woods weary of black bears. Our Papa had plenty of scary bear stories for us that kept us in the yard. Going back to that spot in the yard, I looked into the forest again as young woman. Even as I write this, I have to remind myself that I am in fact a young woman now. Funny how our child stays within us. Turning around I looked back at the old farm house. I remember being scared to be alone in some of the rooms too. You know, I'll admit I still get nervous in some corners of that house. A "spook" I like to call these fleeting feelings. Walker described it as " like expecting someone else is always in the other room, but there never is."

 One of the rooms that gave me the "spooks" throughout my life. My great grandparents bedroom. The walls hold framed faces of past family members. 

One of the rooms that gave me the "spooks" throughout my life. My great grandparents bedroom. The walls hold framed faces of past family members. 

         That night we ate dinner with Aunt Ginny. She took out a photo album with pictures my great grandparents took when they bought the place and then renovated it. The oldest known record of the farm house was from 1796. We flipped through time, and watched all of the ups and downs that came with fixing up a very old house. 

 My Great Great Grandmother, my Grandfather in the middle next to my Great Grandmother. Aunt Ginny is one of these girls too, along with my Great Aunt Evelyn.

My Great Great Grandmother, my Grandfather in the middle next to my Great Grandmother. Aunt Ginny is one of these girls too, along with my Great Aunt Evelyn.

       The beauty of being a child is being present, living in a moment were age doesn't seem the exist. Your mom will always tuck you into bed, your grandparents will always be old, but not too old and Christmas seems lightyears away. I looked at those pictures as an adult, with the awareness of impermanence. In a few days I would be turning 27. Another year will sweep over not just myself but my mom, my grandparents, this house and the fading head stones on the hill. 

Danielle_Mulcahy_BarnYardSaints-13.jpg
Danielle_Mulcahy_BarnYardSaints-12.jpg
 In the barn attached to the house you can see a spot on the stairs where the layers of paint show the different shades of color that the house was at different points in time.

In the barn attached to the house you can see a spot on the stairs where the layers of paint show the different shades of color that the house was at different points in time.

       The next day I led Walker up the hay fields, just over a stone wall where my great grandparents are buried in an old graveyard. The grave for Ginny’s husband lays next to her parents. His stone also bears Ginny’s name with a blank space for a date. We stood quiet for a bit and watched the sun glow through the old sugar maples onto the quiet head stones that clung to the hill. Through the tree line I could see the mountains looking down and observing us.  I remember making a comment to Walker, something along the lines "Time moves much slower here." 

 My great Grandparents Godfrey, and Aunt Ginny's husband Bill Hartland.  

My great Grandparents Godfrey, and Aunt Ginny's husband Bill Hartland.  

      Before we left to our next location after our solar panels were fixed, I decided to walk through those gaps of trees that I had been so afraid of when I was young. Shadows danced over a labyrinth of evidence from times long gone. The air seemed different than ever before, or perhaps I am simply a young woman now, carrying the weight of days from my life so far. 

 The old car remains from the photo above. 

The old car remains from the photo above. 

The forests of New England are beautiful echoes of our past. When Ginny’s old photos fade, we will still find the rusted trackers sinking into the ground next to stone walls. Until eventually those too will dissolve. With time and each new location the light in our little adventure wagon is different, the sun sets on different sides, and colors outside change. Even thought the inside remains the same, it too feels different every time we unhitch and proudly look at our little house in its new parking spot.

“What is home?” Is it your belongings, a physical location, or a place in time?

The Saints Send Off Party- Success!

We and are so honored and pleased with the amount of individuals who showed up and gave us love, gifts, and well wishes as we shared our newly furnished adventure wagon and premiered the first Episode "BarnYard Saints Art, On the Road". We are forever grateful to Pathways Arts who helped make the even a reality!! We got some fantastic press! Check it out! 

Martha’s Vineyard sends off Barnyard Saints Art

By Stacy Rupolo

Barnyard Saints Art hits the road

A fantastic article written by Valerie Sonnenthal 

  Neil Howl  our guest preformer 

Neil Howl our guest preformer