Monday, August 25, 2014
My entire inside life takes place in 294 square feet of space, plus a small closet and bathroom. In the photo to the left, you can see the mirrors on the closet doors on the left beyond the ironing board. Just to the right of the closet is an alcove with my bathroom. I have a nice tile shower, but no tub.
This room houses the larger of my two studio tables (both of which are elevated several inches beyond normal table height). I can't simply replace this table with a slanted drafting table, because then I would lose all that storage space, those crate and plank shelves sitting atop the worktable. I also have storage tubs underneath. Drafting tables are great for folks who do the same thing all the time, like drafting or drawing or even writing. You simply can't do mixed media work on a slanted table -- it's not about doing the same thing consistently and all those different techniques require a horizontal surface. Plus the fact that anything put on a slanted table would simply roll off. And then there's the issue of my wrists, which are one of my many compromised body parts. Wrists consistently bent at an awkward angle, like working at a drafting table, would only add insult to injury. As it is, I already wear wrist braces at night, and have for over six years.
A few months ago, when I was painting and thought that was what I'd do forever (hah!), I bought a table easel from Dick Blick. I really like it, but I actually only used it for about 15 minutes. I had to keep moving the easel out of the way to get to my paints, and the easel kept hitting my studio lamps wherever I positioned it, even though my lamps are adjustable. There simply wasn't enough space on the work table for me to use it, and no other appropriate surface to set it on.
Just to the right of the photo is a nearly-floor to ceiling window with grid shelving in front. The shelving ends where the ironing board begins.
That's BeeGee there, looking out the window.
This is the hallway connecting my two rooms, from the north room with the big table into the south room, which serves as my main "living" area as well.
This is my smaller work table, which also has shelves built on top of it and storage underneath. The black shirt on the far right is hanging on the back of my front door.
This is the same room, looking the other direction, away from the front door. My kitchen. My living room. The refrigerator is to the right of the stove in this photo, and to the left of the work table in the photo above.
Also notice that just about every inch of space is being utilized. I have things tucked in nooks and crannies that you likely didn't even notice...like my folding futon (housed during the day to the right of the drafting chair, between the work table and the shelving unit, in the first photo at the top of the post), or my foam mattress topper rolled up and stowed in a spot in this photo, between the round end table and the cart my microwave sits on. Likewise the rest of my bedding is stashed in spots so it's out of the way during the day. Every night I move the ottoman over toward the sink, lay out the futon and topper on the floor in front of the sofa, and make up the rest of my bed for the night. And I put it all away every day or there's simply no space to do anything else.
My couch is smaller than a normal couch. Any other couch, including traditional style fold-out sleepers or those new, modern couch/bed things (the sleek but cold looking ones), would take up even more space in this room than my current couch does. So that is not an option to my sleeping situation. Actually, my futon is the most comfortable bed I've ever had, so even if I had a real bedroom, I'd likely just get a low frame to put the futon on.
So, this is Rose Cottage. Tight as a drum. You can see why I am constantly reorganizing supplies and getting rid of stuff -- I simply don't have room to spare.
When I first rented this space, it was as an art studio only. I was staying with a friend at the time and had the rest of my household goods in storage. When that living situation changed after 1-1/2 years, I basically had to move into my art studio because I couldn't afford a second rent. I also couldn't afford to keep all that stuff in storage so I sold or gave away everything that wouldn't fit in Rose Cottage. So this was a case of my art studio having to accommodate me living in it -- as opposed to my carving out space to make art in my already-established home.
I'm all for tiny-house living, but in order for me to live and work in the same space, then obviously I need a bigger place. Unfortunately, that's simply an impossibility for me at the moment. As it is, the rent I'm paying for Rose Cottage is more than half my monthly social security income (plus the rent has gone up 15 percent since I moved in in 2009 while social security has increased maybe 3 percent). I rarely sell any art (or used books or CDs or art supplies) anymore, and when I do, it's not enough to make a significant difference to me financially.
Any other available living space in Fortuna would cost more than I am currently paying -- and believe me, I check all the time. Plus, utilities are included in my rent...so even if I found another place, I'd have to fork out an additional $75 - $100 a month for utilities on top of higher rent. The ideal situation for me would be a detached one-bedroom mother-in-law unit behind someone's home, where they were more interested in having a solid, mature, clean, quiet, long-term renter in the space than with getting market-rate rent. Rents in California are out of sight, even in rural, largely low-income Humboldt County. The rent I pay now for under 300 square feet of space is 500 percent higher than my mortgage payment was for a "2-bedroom and office" home in Santa Cruz in the early 1970s.
We do have low income housing in Humboldt County, of course. I'm on the waiting list for a voucher, I'm like number 350 on the list. There are a lot of low income families here and very few vouchers to go around. Still, even if I was able to get a voucher, all the low income units in the county that take housing vouchers are in huge apartment complexes filled with noisy, ill-behaved kids and their clueless, often negligent parents, as well as a lot of druggie types. I simply couldn't live in one of those places.
We do have a private senior-only complex in Fortuna, where residents pay only 30 percent of their monthly income. You have to be at least 62, low income, and have a disability of some sort. I meet all the qualifications. I've been on the waiting list for two years. I keep getting booted out of first place by the next person who comes along who also meets all the qualifications but is older and/or more disabled than I am.
So there you have it. This is what's so in my little world. I'm stuck, until I can get into Mountain View Village (the place I just mentioned), or that perfect mother-in-law unit magically appears. I just have to make the best of it in Rose Cottage, and that's exactly what I've been doing. Despite the space limitations which make it nearly impossible for me to implement any significant changes in my setup that might be more body-friendly, I'm happy being here. It's really quiet, it's cozy, I have great neighbors, I have a fabulous view over the Eel River Valley only about 100 steps from my front door. But I'm also not psychically ready to move yet, either. I figure when the timing is right, the Universe's timing that is, then the appropriate next place to live will become available to me. I'm doing and have done everything I can. The situation is out of my hands at this point.