As I mentioned in my 2021 Goal Setting post, my husband and I have moved to the big island of Hawaii. This change has been a long time coming. While it might seem on the outside like paradise (and I will admit, it is utterly green and verdant here), we have a lot of work ahead of us this year, and when we arrived we had to immediately face a lot of the realities of living in this tropical environment: pests (ants, cockroaches, and rats, to be specific), humidity control / mold, and a deep desire to learn as much about the local culture and be as culturally respectful as possible (knowing we are going to bungle up and learn as we go).
Not that we didn’t work hard in years past to get to this point. We downsized, and downsized again. We simplified our budget and counted pennies and saved and planned and cut our budget again. Our 5 month trip to the Arctic in 2019, when we lived (and I quilted!) in 75 square feet, reinforced to us that we don’t need much “stuff”. We downsized again. And in the end, when we felt financially ready, we committed to a lot of hard renovation work and took a big leap of faith. All of our household goods only filled about one third of the volume of a 20 foot sea container, and we are still evaluating everything we brought with us as we unbox and are donating some of the items that we honestly just don’t need.
Getting even that limited amount of items to fit, and be organized, in a 512 square foot cottage that needs a lot of renovation, is the challenge we are currently facing. When we first unloaded the sea container, a stack of boxes made a useable headboard for a few weeks.
While renovations are also occurring, we are also building out an interior floor plan to make the space work the most efficiently for our needs. The first order of business for us was to build what we are calling our “super closet”. It is a 67″ wide by 77″ deep by 8 foot tall closet that we have filled to the brim with our clothes, my quilts and bolts of fabric, and all of the items we want to store in a humidity controlled environment.
Trust me when I say that the closet uses the most of the volume; we even put a shelf over the door! When the closet was complete and ready for us to pack, it was an amazing feeling. After weeks of feeling like we were camping, it was fun and freeing to be able to unpack so many boxes and feel like we were really starting to move in.
My new sewing table was built at the same time as the closet because it is on the opposite side of the closet (you can see the table in the picture above hiding under the chairs and behind our folding bikes). It’s definitely a shell game going through this phase: move everything out of the way enough to work on the area we are focusing on, unpack a little, move things around again, and repeat.
At the same time, we have a current solution to having fresh, safe drinking water in the kitchen, are addressing our muddy driveway, tackling the overgrowth and fallen palm fronds in the yard, harvesting and learning about all the fruit growing on our property, and lots more that I can’t think of at the moment.
Exactly 2 weeks ago, we finally got internet established here, which enabled me to get back to plugging away behind the scenes technical editing and working on my personal backlog of quilt patterns as well.
At the very end of last week we were able to unbox my sewing space and I verified that my sewing machine survived the move and works well! I still need to go through all the bins of fabric and organize the space, but it feels great to have made so much progress already.
Another very big item that we will hopefully be able to address this week is a shop for my husband. While having his tools and machine shop in the house is helpful for now, as we continue to build out the interior floor plan, we will need to free up more space. Creating a shop space so we can move out most of the tools is key to moving forward.
So, that’s my “what I did over Christmas and start of 2021” report. I was offline for a pretty good period of time before we were able to establish internet, so I’m curious: how are you and how is the start of 2021 going for you?