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Hoo R U

My name is Hallie.  This is my blog.  I write mainly because I feel compelled to, which I think of as a mild and harmless form of chronic disease.  Lots of people tell me I should write, even though I already do.  I suspect they mean I should write for money, so if you want to make a donation, let me know – I’ll send you an address and you send me whatever you can in small bills.

Mostly I write about how to get away with living on as close to nothing as possible.  I think of life as a game, where you’re given these certain things to work with and the goal is to have as much fun with it as possible.  I like the idea that the more fun I have, the more I win.  Not many games are designed that way, I guess because most people don’t invent their own.

Getting riled about insignificant things for the sake of conversation is a popular hobby for me, something that has family tradition in it.  Not everyone enjoys this sport as much as I do, which is why I offer a round of beer to anyone who’ll put up with it.

never leave your beer unattended

My 20s were spent unlearning all I’d been taught in school.  I revolved around dead-end jobs and endless pontifications on social and political matters fueled in dark pubs by alarming amounts of alcohol.  I took ‘only the fun’ courses at the community college to amuse myself.  I moved among apartments and roommates for three years before I bought a camper to escape paying rent, then drove to the upscale neighborhood where my cousin was house-sitting.  We painted it purple there with the help of some friends.   I lived in the camper for three years, playing guitar very badly and slowly turning the interior into a collage of sparkling and colorful things until all that was missing was Michael Jackson’s glove and a disco ball.

I improved it over time


when you're drunk, you don't care if your playing sucks

As a nomad, I developed a taste for craft brew, vintage clothing, and slacking off as much as possible.  I met the woman who became my best girlfriend in a pub, and through a misunderstanding.  I worked a day job and drove my hulking purple gypsy wagon into the secured parking lot every morning, stepping out of the cab unsteadily in outfits as old as my mother.  I went home for lunch to my camper and invited co-workers to join me.  I lit for the night wherever I could get away with it.

I moved into a house I bought in Southeast Portland at a time when there were loads of first-time buyer programs for poor people like myself to exploit.  I lived there for seven years, passing the time by painting everything a different color until it looked like a kaleidoscope and a Grateful Dead concert had exploded in the living room.

peachy orange sun porch

bright green attic

pink living room, grampa in skychair

periwinkle trim - why did I call this 'the little white house' again?

Back when I’d bought the camper, it was the next best thing to owning a house.  By the time I sold my house, it was the next best thing to living in a camper.  Buying the house wasn’t a mistake, but for a while after selling it I felt like I emerged from the mortgage coffin blinking in daylight, wondering what to do with myself.

I sold the house mainly because I didn’t want to pay on it any more.  Keeping up the payments was draining my life energy at a rate far out of proportion to the amount of time I could spend there or the enjoyment I could get out of it.  I considered getting another camper, but decided non-toxic digs of my own design were more appealing.  I drew what I wanted and got to work.

clumsy elevation drawings

this is pretty close to what we built, actually

dreams, all of it

After framing up this little cabin with a lot of help in my sister’s driveway in Portland, I moved it to a friend’s barnyard in a rural area of the mid-Willamette valley, where I lived for two years.  Then I moved it back to Portland because I realized I’m not the back-to-the-land type of hippie, I’m more the I-want-t0-live-where-everything’s-a-walkable-distance-from-my-front-door sort of hippie.   For the two years previous to getting married, I lived in a neighborhood that behaves like a small town, trading work for a family with four kids who need help keeping the house on its foundation every day in exchange for taking up a small portion of their very large (for the city) lot.  Then I met the love of my life, moved to Scotland for a summer, tagged along with his family to New Zealand for the winter holidays, and got married and moved into an apartment.  You can say it’s been an eventful couple of years.

framing up in sister's driveway

hitching up to leave Portland

it looked so big in the middle of a barnyard

Peoria: two years of children and chickens

hitching up again, two years later. Look how well the siding finish held up! Doesn't look a day older, really.

OMFG my whole life savings is on a freeway onramp

back in Portland. Looks like a garden shed, doesn't it?

met my amazing Sweety, Capital-A

... almost immediately left for Scotland. (me, Scottish children)

more Sweety-less Scotland

British vocabulary textbook

Scottish-style holiday planning

Scotland + sweetheart = much better

Sweety + New Zealand = even better


the little house, in Sellwood - time to move again, two more years later. (Still! with the amazing finish! I'm telling you.)

cozy interior

honeymoon, six months later. we procrastinate on EVERYthing

little house, currently at another friend's farm

the little house now has a different red barn for company, a new front door, and the steps now make more sense in the back.

it's all sad and empty in there now that I've moved out. *sniffle*

For most of three and a half years, I lived in the little house, wrote in the little house, created whatever art I was capable of in the little house, and absolutely loved it.  I’d never been lonely either, because my friend’s four kids kept me all kinds of company for two years, and when I moved back to Portland, the family I’d parked with had another four kids who will also kept me company.  Having so little responsibility allowed me, for the first time in my life, to take advantage of opportunities for international travel, and that period in my life opened the doors for everything that came after – including my now-husband.

the portal by which amazing things came into my life, this is what it looked like

The little house is still not quite done, and it’s now parked out at a friend’s farm.  When I lived in it, and even more so now that all my stuff is moved out of it, the facilities make the space a lot like very fancy camping.  In all honesty, there wouldn’t be much more luxury when it was done, if we stuck to my original plans.  This is partly why my full-time-working husband and I have sent it out to pasture for now, until we have a clear idea upon living together what we need from it, and can maybe start the process of finishing the interior for good.  I’ve been tempted a few times to sell it as-is and start over, but I’m not quite to that point of giving up yet.

This spring, you think?  Maybe.  I always have hope.

December 2011

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