In case you were wondering...

In case you were wondering...

This blog exists to encourage all those who have ever wanted--and needed!--a tiny getaway close to home. A workshop, playhouse, garden shed, sanctuary, mini-greenhouse, studio, home office; whatever it is you need, it IS doable, with some sacrifice, imagination, and compromise.

It helps if you're handy, too.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New project, new blog, new hideaway...

...I seem to get this bug. I guess I'm a builder--or a nester--at heart. I posted most of this to my original journal at
but a project of this sort seems to like the idea of a blog of its own...building an artist's studio shed, here we go!

20 years ago, I finally built my cabin in the woods, a lifelong dream--and wrote a book about the process, A Naturalist's Cabin , which came out in 1991... (yes, of course, it's out of print too, but you can still find it. Some mad optimist has one listed for $270+ on Amazon, but there are also quite a few affordable used copies out there--I even have some myself!)

I'm 20 years older now, and a LOT more arthritic--can't imagine lifting that south wall with the help of only one young carpenter and NO wall jack, or driving those thousands of nails with my Rocket hammer. (At the end of the day, I could barely move, THEN!)

We still go out there frequently, when the weather even comes close to cooperating, but even with 4WD, you're not getting out again when it's icy or snowy. 20 years ago, that wasn't a problem. I'd park at the top and walk in, occasionally falling flat but getting there and back. If it was TOO slick, I'd bushwhack through the woods and climb down the banks of the creek to get to it.

But--can't now, not since '99 when I messed up my knee. I spent a few years being really ticked about it, but eventually even a cranky old chick accepts the way things are. Some things I just can't do any more, so deal with it.

So we get there when we can drive in and out again...

This past few years have not been smooth ones for us. Oh, WE'RE all right, we're lovely--Joseph is all I could ever wish for in a husband, best friend, and mate--but family issues with his elderly parents and a hostile takeover attempt at his Dad's business resulted in half a dozen long, tense phone calls a day. Sometimes more. Sometimes more than tense. Always LONG.

Try writing a book with all that going on. Try maintaining your SANITY. J's mom had dementia the last two years before she died, as we've mentioned--she was angry, paranoid, demanding, and made his life and his adopted sister's incredibly difficult. They were both made trustees of the family estate and given powers of attorney; so after her last heart attack in 2008 they needed to deal with the practicalities of life to make sure she and Dad were well taken care of.

She undid almost everything they did, throwing monkey wrenches into anything she was able to, and trusting people she shouldn't (strangers. People involved with the business.), while not trusting them to do exactly what she and Dad had asked them too. We wonder if the break-in and burglary at their house might not have been a direct result of her telling the wrong people where their valuables were--which she did.

Needless to say the ringing of the phone became a nightmare for both of us. Seeing my poor sweetie that upset that often was not good for EITHER of us. I'm pretty protective.

Soooo...I began to dream of a little getaway shed, right next door in the vacant lot I bought 25 years ago, after my neighbor's house burned to the ground. Something I could get to, winter and summer, with NO phone. I could just lug the laptop over, no problem. There would be a table to work at, and I could have a few art supplies there or take them in my backpack.

There was certainly no place in the house to escape the endless, constant stress; my poor husband couldn't get away. Even when we went out of town the cell phone followed us with the crisis-du-jour, many times a day.

I don't need this kind of getaway quite as much now...things are much calmer in that part of the world, and so here as well. Getting the caregiver situation squared away for his dad is still a problem, but life is much, much more peaceful here as well. We count calls per week now, not per day--or hour.

However. I am still 20 years older, still arthritic, and still not able to get in and out of the cabin in bad weather (or at the drop of a hat!). I still need quiet to work.

And I'm still nesty. I love tiny sheds, cabins, can see my Flickr set of images here:

This morning J. checked the local zoning ordinances--we're fine. A shed, playhouse, workshop, etc., under a certain size doesn't even need a building permit! Our buddy Mark is willing to do the lion's share for an affordable amount, and we'll do what we can.

So tune in for the blow by blow...imagine, I may finally have an actual studio, after a lifetime of working wherever I am.


  1. Not nuts, Kate . . . a little zany, but not nuts, and never ever boring!! What fun this project will be . . . and I suspect you have a frustrated architect/nester/interior designer living within. How wonderful to give that creative urge "voice" in this way. I can't wait to watch the process unfold!!!

  2. Sounds like a great idea Kate. I'm sure some would tell you to just turn off the phones and stay home but sometimes we just like to be somewhere different! Where we live you can't go over 8x10 feet without a permit. How big are you planning to make this and will it have power or anything?

  3. Betty, you're right. I wanted to be an architect till I discovered you need to be good at math!

    It'll be 8 x 10, Timaree, though here they can be 12 x 12, I believe. And probably just a wire or extension cord, since it's virtually off the back steps here at home. I'll need light to work at night.*G*

  4. Oh, I love this idea... to have one's own retreat within an easy reach. My sister bought a ready build 8x10 wood siding house ... I think it was called "Tough Shed"... they painted it the same color as their home, added a mini front deck that is about 3' by 6' and put in a dutch door. It has a small window on either side. It is darling and did not cost tooooooooooo much. You might look into this idea.

    Good luck and I will keep following your blog.

  5. good for you!!! I look forward to following along as your project progresses!

  6. Thank you, it WILL be fun if we can pull it off!

  7. Grand fun and adventure! Just don't try to do too much yourself, girly!

  8. Thanks, sweetie, I do know my limitations these days...and only push past them a little way. *G* I AM sorry I can't actually hammer like I did 20 years ago, but eep. After messing up my arm cleaning a kitty litter pan(!!!), I'm not taking the chance. Some stuff I can do easily--paint windows or trim, putty drywall (if we go that way), that sort of thing, but digging or heavy impact? Nope...

  9. FINALLY I'm able to go back and read the story! I am thrilled and excited about this new place for you!@

  10. Thanks, sweetie! I'm excited too...with just a dash of OMG thrown in... ;-P

  11. Projects always need to have a hint of love in them to be trully rewarding, and rewarding it is when you come out with a big, (or small) smile on your face. It makes me want to please you even more and do the best job I can so you will trully have positive vibs about this place. May you find inspiration and serenity in this place. Thanks!

  12. Mark, I'm delighted you're the one who's building it. You PUT a lot of care and love into what you do, and that soaks into the project as well. THANK YOU.



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