Good Intentions . . . In A Tiny Apartment

small kitchen sink piled with dirty dishes

I promised myself I wasn’t going to let this happen in the new apartment. Famous last words.

On the positive side, the sink is small — you might even say tiny, as kitchen sinks go — so it limits the number of dirty dishes that can pile up. Plus, I left most of the dishes at the old apartment. How many dishes does one bachelor need? Continue reading

Sue Dreamwalker is on a roll. Every one of her recent posts has been an inspiration to look at our lives and change. Simplicity, food, environmental awareness. — John

Dreamwalker's Sanctuary

The Planet is in our Hands

So, where do we go from here?

Quiet simply the world is in our hands.. Its all about our choices, not our neighbours or our governments, Its about the choices We make which make a difference.

My own thoughts are that we have to start and embrace a simpler way of living, we have to stop ‘Wanting’ all the time.. We Want what is ‘best for our children’, We want the ‘best Money can Buy’ We Want the ‘Best Education’ We Want the ‘Best Health Care’.. We Want ‘Peace’ We Want ‘Better Lifestyles’  We Want ‘our Freedom’! We want! Want! and Want! .And yet none of these are relevant if we haven’t the Planet on which to live and enjoy these Wants..  

I don’t propose we go back to primitive lifestyles, But we need to look at all the waste  products we create, What we buy, how…

View original post 1,063 more words

This post from Femme Vitale raises thoughtful issues about tiny houses and freedom to live as you wish, with links for folks seeking more information. Tiny houses offer a practical way for people to cope with limits created by debt, job shortages, and slow economic growth. Maybe tiny houses will change the size of the American Dream. Zoning laws need to be updated to provide places for tiny houses, preferably mixed in with housing of other sizes. Add major improvements in public transportation, and the future suddenly looks quite appealing. — John Hayden

Femme Vitale

Lately, I have been extremely discouraged by what I believe are very critical challenges facing my generation. One of the primary challenges I see is the crippling amount of debt accumulated by the average American college graduate in times of intense competition for work. In this climate in which individuals step out into the world with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, the dream of owning a home can seem impossible, even with a decent job. Furthermore, the prospect of taking on a huge mortgage, working for years just to pay off the interest, and paying off the home just in time for retirement  is not especially appealing. Because we live in a society that is becoming more and more nomadic, and because children rarely choose to live where they were raised, working an entire life just to pay off a mortgage does not, in essence, better the next…

View original post 564 more words

“The Water Is Being Stolen”


“We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.”

— from “Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change,” by Derrick Jensen in “Onion” Magazine. Profound and eye-opening! To read the full article, click here.

“You Can Buy Happiness” by Tammy Strobel

Tammy Strobel blogs at “Rowdy Kittens” about simplifying her life, riding bicycles, and living in tiny houses (or as she puts it, finding “fulfillment in less stuff, less debt and less wage-chasing”). Simplicity! I’m in favor of it.

She has a print book scheduled for release in September.  The title is: “You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap).”

If we had a Pulitzer Prize for book titles, that would be a winner. You can see the cover and read a little more about her book here.  It’s nonfiction, and already listed for preorder in paperback on and Barnes & Nobel. I can’t wait to read it. I think I’ll probably order some happiness as well, since it’s cheap. Maybe I’ll buy happiness in large quantities, enough to share.   Continue reading

AMERICAN VALUES — “That Used To Be Us”

From That Used To Be Us, by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum; Chapter 13, “Devaluation:”

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, Wikimedia Commons

“. . . something else that happened with the end of the Cold War and the passing of the baton from the Greatest Generation to the baby boom generation: an erosion of important, traditional American values that long underpinned our public and commercial life. . . .

“A well-functioning political system must be rooted in something deeper than itself:   Continue reading

“It’s the dogs that count”: a tale of the New Austerity (via Baroque in Hackney)

While I’m working myself into a lather, writing my next post about THE END of Civilization in America, you have time to enjoy this spirit-lifting essay by Ms. B, a gifted British blogger. She manages to cover many of the things that really matter — dogs, austerity, friendship. Ms. B makes her points deftly and moves on. She doesn’t beat you over the head, again and again, about the same boring issues, the way I do.

"Its the dogs that count": a tale of the New Austerity Well, I promised you dogs. The sad truth is that this picture was scanned in yesterday morning and has been sitting since then, waiting for a post. It has taken that long to find a few minutes. I have a friend whose mother was a doughty woman from Bristol, who knitted and sewed and made do and mended, and who recycled absolutely everything. A good, solid, practical, no-nonsense woman, in the old  mould. She died about ten years ago, if  not maybe … Read More

via Baroque in Hackney

Secrets of Living Large In A Small Apartment


I’m making some progress on downsizing and simplifying my lifestyle. Two years ago, I moved from a large apartment in a pricey suburban neighborhood to a small apartment in a rural/seasonal resort area three hours from the cities.

I gave away a lot of stuff, and moved what was left helter-skelter into a one-room apartment. It has two windows in front and a door and screened porch in back. Cross-ventilation!

Rent is reasonable and includes all utilities. Priceless amenities are a quiet street that ends at the marsh; a parking space; a small fenced yard, with nothing but woods beyond; cable TV and high-speed internet service.

One-Room Apartment “Before” Pictures




My neighborhood is an enclave of quiet affluence. Within sight, across the water, is a resort that can be rowdy in summer and a ghost town in winter. I might be the poorest church mouse on the block, but not the only one living on a tight budget. A few of the houses are little more than old beach cottages, but most are medium-size, modern homes with that suburban look. Some of the more spacious houses have million-dollar waterfront views. Within a short walk are two grand, waterfront homes that must be worth . . . I can’t even guess. One of them is a modern mansion.

No Extra Charge For Natural Beauty


But I digress. This post is not about living large in a mansion. Anyone could do that. And it’s not about living large in your car or a tent, which would be more of a challenge than I’m up to. We’re talking about a modest and attainable goal of living large in a small apartment. (If your apartment has a separate living room and bedroom, with a walk-in closet . . . well, that doesn’t qualify as small).

If It’s Big Enough For A Cat . . .


My challenges with living large in a one-room apartment are the same ones I would have in a big house. Fundamentally, I have no “nesting instinct.” Plus, I’m disorganized. The only kind of order that comes naturally to me is “Robert’s Rules of Order.” For everyday life, the nesting instinct is more useful than Robert’s Rules.

My Rules Of Order

Here are Hayden’s Rules of Order for one-room apartment living:

  • Pay the rent on time. Otherwise, you will be living in your car.
  • I’ve got to get organized, and it can’t be forever put off until tomorrow. Two years is long enough.
  • A place for everything. Everything in its place. Efficient use of what little storage space you have is essential if you live in one room and you own more than one “thing.” One-room apartments generally don’t have wine cellars, garages, or attics. Not even walk-in closets. Drawers, shelves and hooks are essential. (The easiest kind of hook is a nail in the wall, but some landlords frown on this method.)
  • Furniture. Less is better. Replace all large pieces of furniture with small. I’ve replaced the sofa with a chair, and the double bed with a single bed. (It helps if you have the lifestyle of a monk). A toaster is better than a toaster-oven; a good radio/CD player is better than a complicated stereo system; a laptop is better than a desktop.)
  • You can break the small-furniture rule once. I still have the same medium-sized dining room table as when I lived in more spacious apartments. The table is clunky and dominates my one-room apartment. But it’s an all-purpose table. It serves as dining room table, kitchen table, and desk. I need a certain amount of surface area to be organized, whether the task is paying the bills or making soup.
  • Experiment. Find a way to make the furniture fit. I’m on the third rearrangement of my furniture. After two years, you get tired of playing “furniture checkers.”  Furniture checkers is a game in which you have to move one chair and jump over at least one other “thing” in order to get to your goal. There must be a way to arrange this furniture efficiently! I will have to find it by trial and error, since I have no interior design skills.


Clutter Is My Enemy

I’ve saved the most important secret of living large for last. As you can plainly see from the photos, I need to reduce clutter.

People sometimes criticize me for having too much “stuff.” I’ve gotten rid of enormous amounts of stuff, but I still have too much. Other people have their stuff all over the basement, the garage, the attic, the walk-in closet, the guest room. And that’s not all. Homeowners often rent a storage space for their extra stuff. Why don’t they simply give it away or sell it on eBay?

Everything I own is inside my one-room apartment, or inside my car, which is parked in the driveway. And there’s a limit to how much clutter I can hide in the trunk of the car.

To sum up, I need to get organized and reduce clutter. That’s not too much to ask. I call this challenge “My Apartment Project.” Two years is long enough to put it off. What you see here are the “before” pictures. Coming soon will be the “after” pictures. Wish me luck and stay tuned.

If you have any helpful tips on one-room apartment living, they would be welcome under “comments” below.

— John Hayden

My Life Organized Into “Projects”

Social Security Poster: old man

Image via Wikipedia

So now I realize that my wayward life has become a series PROJECTS.

I use the word “project” in the baseball sense. Major League teams are eager to sign talented young players who are promising “prospects.” Note the difference between a prospect and a project.

A “prospect” has a real chance to make it in the Major Leagues, after a year or two in the minors. Baseball scouts have high expectations for a prospect. He probably gets a bonus simply for signing a contract. Hence, the term, “bonus baby.” Millions, sometimes, for raw talent.

A “project,” on the other hand, is a young player who appears to possibly have the makings of a Major Leaguer. But the wise old men of baseball understand that this player needs a lot of coaching, and maybe years of seasoning in the minors. Developing this rookie into a Major Leaguer is a project for the long term.  The outcome is by no means certain.

My projects are never going to the Major Leagues, but they will require perseverance to reach humble goals. I’ve already mentioned the first two projects:

  • My Austerity Project. The first part of this project is simply keeping a record of how much money I spend every day, with a goal of bringing my budget under control. The record keeping is easy enough, and I’m sticking with it every day. The frequency of unbudgeted expenses, however, is discouraging. The $328.33 for routine 50,000-mile maintenance on my car this past week, for example. This project is going to be like pushing a rock up a hill every day.
  • My Fitness Project. I mentioned that I got a good deal on a one-year gym membership. So far, I’ve been using the gym every third day, sometimes walking on one of the in-between days. I’d like to ratchet up the Fitness Project to every other day at the gym. Even better would be working out almost every day. Just showing up is clearly 80 percent of the Fitness Project. So far, so good.

In addition to Austerity and Fitness, the care and organization of my small and disorderly living space has achieved the status of full-fledged project. My Apartment Project. More on this to come soon, with “before” pictures.

And now I see that the Holiday Project is upon us again. This is primarily a Survival Project. The Holiday Project will make all the other projects more challenging. Normal life resumes on Jan. 2, 2011.

After the holidays looms My Job Project. Talk about a humble project! It’s weighing on my mind a little. But not too much, thanks to Social Security.

I feel a rant coming on soon about politicians who want to solve the national budget and debt crisis by killing Social Security. They want to throw aging workers under the bus. Or put us on an iceberg and let us drift out to sea.

Excuse me, but I’ve been paying taxes into Social Security since I went to work at McDonalds at age 16. Social Security is not like welfare, or even food stamps. My Social Security is b0ught and paid for. I own it. It belongs to me. Do I make myself clear?

As you can see, I’m dealing with a full load of projects here. And I haven’t even mentioned the Laundry Project, which has reached the top of the priority list for tomorrow, or the Blogging Project, the one that keeps me typing until the middle of the night.

If it weren’t for the Blogging Project, consisting of three different blogs (which is two blogs too many), I’d have more time to focus on the important projects.

— John Hayden

Austerity Project, Day 10

ITPB Health Club

Image via Wikipedia

It’s too soon to know whether the Austerity Project will be a success. I’m defining “success” to mean reducing my spending to match my income.

The total damage for Austerity Project, Week No. 1, was $189.13. Issues from Week No. 1: I ate pizza three times. That number has to come down. My biggest single expenditure was a fill-up at the gas station, with regular at $2.76 a gallon, for a total of $33.68. After rent, health insurance, and food, gas for the car is my next highest monthly expense. Soon I’m going to need an oil change and some regular maintenance, which is not included in the monthly budget. And looming in February is the $700 annual payment for car insurance, which is also off-budget.

The first day of Week No. 2 was my first day with no expenditures. Not a penny. Tuesday was $16.23 for miscellaneous household goods at Walmart.

Today, I signed up with a health club, aka “gym,” with a commitment of $19.95 a month for the next year! I did not make this decision lightly. There is no health club line in my monthly budget. I don’t know where the $19.95 a month is coming from. But you have to admit it’s a good price for a health club membership.

With a fancy new health club opening, there’s something of a price war going on among health clubs in my area. I found the $19.95 price at a so-called “bare bones” club. It doesn’t have a sauna or whirlpool or spa. The locker room is small. No towel service. But the place is bright and airy, and they’ve got more equipment than I’ll ever use.

I’m thinking that at age 62, with creakiness in the bones and weakness in the muscles, the health club membership comes close to qualifying as an essential.

It’s not as if I’ve been inactive in the past year. For much of that time, I worked as a security guard, which was mostly walking, walking, walking around a large building and grounds. In other words, my job was to be a moving, human scarecrow. Since August, I’ve spent a lot of time on political campaigning, which also involved lots of walking. I got a sunburn, and then a tan, on my face, but I can’t say I feel any healthier for all the walking. The campaigning resulted in two disappointing losses, first my own in the primary, and then the candidate I volunteered for in the general election.

Now, with the security guard job and the campaign over, and winter coming on, I feel like I’m facing rapid deterioration if I don’t keep these old bones moving. The health club is less than $1 a day, and it will give me another place (in addition to the library) where I can go to get out of the rain and snow.

I’m starting the health club adventure at near rock bottom (I always feel rock bottom this time of year, with the shortening daylight and the sun low in the sky). Job one is to get myself to the health club almost every day. It will be interesting to see if the exercise makes a difference. Any improvement in health of mind and/or body will be well worth the $19.95.

Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.

— John Hayden