Monday, January 31, 2011


I found Rick and Mercy Lauze in Machiasport...and saw my new trailer! Since I did not have a single drawing of my JayBee with me (see earlier Brain Dysfunction posting), I got up on the trailer and walked around, describing for Rick and Mercy just where I plan to locate each thing in the house. This trailer is strong, straight, and very stable! Take a look:

The only thing left to add to the trailer are the wheel wells. I took measurements, so I can refine my JayBee drawings.

Thank you, Rick and Mercy (Northlander Trailers, Machiasport)--builders of my trailer!

When the snow is gone this spring, my trailer will come home.

Also see:

Winter Downeast

My drive to Machias yesterday took far less time than I had thought it would: only three and a half hours. The driving wasn't all that fun, though. Until the last 40 or so miles, the roads were wet enough that I had to constantly use the windshield washer and wipers. The last 40 miles were more scary. The snow was accumulating in the road, and I passed a few cars off the road or crumpled.

Here is the view I had from my room in The Inn at Schoppee Farm after I arrived. Helen's Restaurant, where I ate dinner, is just across the bridge in the distance.

A note about blueberry pie: Helen's Restaurant has award-winning blueberry pie. I don't usually order dessert when I eat out so, while I was eating my dinner, I was thinking things like: "I've had blueberry pie. Just how different/special could award-winning blueberry pie be?" Well, I am glad I ordered a piece of pie! Real Maine blueberries, and lots of them. Just the right amount of sweet--less than I was expecting. Delicious. I highly recommend it.

Here's my room:

Very cute and comfortable. I even watched TV! While that was nice for an evening, I quickly reached the conclusion that I'm not missing much by not having TV at home.

I was woken by bright sun filling my room this morning. At first I thought I must have overslept. Not so. It was before 7:00. It's really true that the sun rises earlier downeast. I took these shots around the inn before I left.
I didn't capture any snowmobilers in these photos, but they were all over the place--especially during the weekend. During my short time in the area, I discovered that you can tell when a snowmobiler is walking near you: there is this tell-tale swish-swish sound of snowpant legs rubbing together--like walking into a lodge or warming hut at a ski area.

I left the inn a little early for my trip to see my JayBee trailer, so I drove around a bit. Here's some of what I saw on my way to Machiasport and in Bucks Harbor.

What really struck me about the above shot was the view straight through that boat shop/shed, so here's a closer look:

Next up: my JayBee trailer!

Brain Dysfunction

See this bag?

This bag that is fully packed, sitting near the door, and ready to go? That contains all my current information about my JayBee plans, including drawings and insulation sample? That I spent a whole day organizing and updating--including spending hours Saturday night carefully hand-drawing little shingles all over a drawing of the JayBee's southern exposure?

Yes, that bag. The one I LEFT AT HOME when I drove all the way to Machiasport to see the JayBee trailer. I realized the bag was missing after I had already driven a little more than an hour. I had with me: a bag of clothes (for staying overnight); a sleeping bag, a bag of extra warm clothes, and a bag of food (in case I ended up stuck in a snowbank somewhere); a bag of electronics (camera, iPod, etc.); and my waistpack with my wallet--but NOT the bag with the drawings I wanted to show Rick and Mercy. I decided it was not worth adding two hours of travel time to go back to get the stuff, but I did beat myself up about this for the rest of the ride.

It would be nice if I could claim that this is an aberration. But...a few weeks ago I left my waistpack in the seat of a shopping cart in the parking lot outside the grocery store, and drove home without it. This morning, after I thought I was all ready to leave the inn in Machias, I made myself go back through the space one more time--given yesterday's dramatic lapse. Sure enough, hanging there in the bathroom next to the towels was my nightie!

Do you know the carpenter's rule of thumb: "Measure twice, cut once." ? Well, given my recent brain dysfunction, my rule of thumb better be: "Check; double-check; walk away, come back and check again; assume something's wrong or missing and check a fourth time."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Trailer Under Construction

The trailer I will use as the foundation for my JayBee is being built by Northlander Trailers in Machiasport, Maine. The owner, Rick Lauze, sent me some photos today. This is so exciting! My trailer will be 26 feet long and just shy of 8.5 feet wide. It will have three axles--each of which is rated for 6,000 pounds. The frame is constructed of 8" channel steel, and the decking will be AdvanTech engineered wood. Soon, I will head to Machiasport (between snowstorms, if I plan well enough) to see my trailer while it's still in the shop--before it is stored outside for the rest of the winter. Can't wait!

Also see:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Habitat

There is nothing quite like huddling next to a space heater while the temperature is sub-zero outside to reinforce my determination to build my JayBee in a way that is warm, efficient, non-leaking, and easy to heat.

I heard today that the frame of my custom-built trailer is done already. Paint, axles, and wheels to go...

Since I have no construction photos yet...and clearly won't until the temperature rises 60 degrees or so...enjoy these winter wonderland photos...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Long Time Comin'

Given the poor condition of my home when I purchased it in 1991, my plan was to build a home next to it and tear it down within a few years. It's almost 20 years later. What happened? Life did. So many chapters, so many challenges took precedence. I never completely lost sight of the plan...but it did repeatedly go into hibernation.

When I purchased this property, my plan was to build the new house into the hillside, a touch further north and away from the drop to the road than the current house. After living here all this time, though, I'm determined to put the new house where the current house is situated for one key reason--it's closer to the river view. This decision has prevented me from moving forward with construction these last few years because I just could not figure out how to develop a cost-effective living arrangement that would allow me to live on the land while tearing down the current house and building a new one…AND would not require me to live in a wreck of a structure during the process.

Over the years, I have drawn up plans for garages, studios, and various combinations of workshops, garages, and apartments. Although each design had its attractiveness, I just couldn’t begin work on any of them. The combination of the cost and complexity of each structure gave me pause, as did this nagging worry that, combined with the future house, I would end up with too much structure in total.

The new plan is to build a small home on a travel trailer, live in it near the current house (to make utility hook-up easy) while tearing down the current house and building a new one and, then, either keep/move the trailer home or sell it. I developed a project timeline that gave me until the end of January to decide whether the project was a go or no-go. After spending a lot of time researching trailers, I happened upon someone who can custom-build exactly what I need for a very reasonable price. Everything felt so right, I decided weeks ago that it’s a GO! My travel trailer is under construction right now and will be delivered this spring when the snowbanks are gone.

I am calling my house design the “JayBee.” As I work to finalize the plans, I keep tweaking and re-drawing. I have a feeling this will go on for weeks. During this process, I am also researching building materials. While 20 years of reading and researching have contributed to my thinking and my house design, I especially want to thank these businesses for providing inspiration and invaluable information: I took a housebuilding course at the Shelter Institute ( during the winter weekends at the beginning of 1991. I use all that I learned during that course every time I work on any aspect of house design. Patsy Hennin, co-founder of Shelter, gave me advice and support when I participated in the real estate foreclosure auction through which I acquired my property. For the idea to use a travel trailer as the foundation of my JayBee, I credit the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company ( for the inspiration. I have scoured through that web site several times, purchased Jay Shafer’s “The Small House Book” and Popomo plans, and studied both the book and the plans extensively. I don’t know if my JayBee will qualify as a "tiny" house, since it will be 26 feet long, but it is definitely inspired by Jay’s work.

Here’s where the JayBee will sit on my land. (I apologize for the weird shadow and color lines; I knitted two photos together to make this one.) The basketball pole/net will come down. And the two trees identified with red arrows will be cut. By the way, this is the hillside I had initially planned to build a house into—so I will have an opportunity to see just how it feels to live in this spot with the JayBee.

Below is the view I will have from the JayBee. Until it is torn down, the current house will block much of the river view. (The car shouldn’t be there under normal circumstances; right now, it’s parked on what is normally lawn in order to be out of the way of the snow-plow guy.) The Kennebec is covered in snow in the distance. Come spring, it will be wide-open blue again.