I spent the last week moving into a manufactured home.

With an office, a bedroom, a kitchen-living room area, 2 bathrooms, and a 1/2 acre fenced back yard, the place seems huge to me.  It is about twice the space that I was occupying.  It is also loaded with new electrical appliances, many of which I don’t want to associate with – a dishwasher, a dryer, an oven, a large fridge, a washer, and a microwave.  If I could, I would remove the dishwasher, the dryer, and the oven placing them in community elderly homes, replace the washer with the old 5 year-old one I was using, and replace the new microwave with the old microwave.  I am still using my old hot plate and toaster oven.  I could make do with the smaller fridge putting it where the dishwasher used to be, and setting up some recycling bins where the big fridge is currently.  I’d really rather not have that much food in the house.  Still, I have to admit, the big fridge is a little easier.  It also has a garbage disposal.  I kind of appreciate this.

I really just don’t want that much stuff.  After moving what I have, I’ve been setting things up, mowing the backyard with my little mower (the grass was shoulder high), fixing the light fixture over the desk, taking out all of the extra light bulbs on the light fixtures (that thankfully came fluorescent), hanging my big white board as the living room centerpiece (as opposed to a TV) and turning off the bedroom fan that automatically turns on with the lights (I’m leaving the living room fan connected to the light switch), closing the AC vents in the rooms that have fans.

The place has a 3-ton AC which is rather loud, but is rated as 100 on the energy efficiency scale of 0-100, as being the most efficient available.  I turn it off at night and when I am gone.  Unfortunately, in spite of the extra insulation that my family had put in on the house, it does tend to heat up pretty quickly without AC in the summer. It is still much cooler than a car, though, even without AC.

The office area is set up with my laptop, a printer, my 1-channel 9“-TV with no remote and low volume that I use for weather emergencies and company, the full-size bed that I made from a recycled door, bookshelves with used textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and religious texts, a little table with a microscope and breadboard.  The only thing that I think is missing for the office is a medicine cabinet to hang in the office over the microscope table.  I think it is a pretty multi-functional room: guest room or elder care room, office to write, read, or do a little scientific exploration, or engineering.  It’s the smallest room in the house, the one that I spend the most time in, the one that is comfortable for me.  I could live in that room alone.

The kitchen-living room area has my old 4×10 foot white board on the wall where most people would put a TV, and a used working treadmill facing the kitchen that I am trying to train the dogs to use.

I would like to build a 6-ft low-lying Japanese round table for the main centerpiece with a rotating 4 ft serving table on top of this, surround the table with 4-6 rainbow-colored “chairs that fold out into mattresses”, and set the whole table on a 5-ft square double bed futon that folds out if a visiting couple wants a bed.  The kitchen has a counter, which I think could accommodate 3 stools, and also space for a 4 or 6-inch round dining table.  I like round tables – no head of the table issues.  So, the living room could accommodate meetings seating 15 people in front of the white-board or projector, and ultimately the whole place could sleep 9 people in addition to whoever occupies the main bedroom which has my old queen-size mattress in it. I think my mattress has bed-bugs in it, but I am used to them, and with dogs, one is always going to have some bug issues.  I try not to be paranoid about the parasite eco-system.

The place could be used for a meeting place – to discuss ideas, religion, philosophy, culture, or mathematical proofs, for teaching or medical assistance, for dog rescue work, for poetry readings or talks, for people in need of temporary emergency attention (refugees or those needing a “safe place”).  For planning.

I’m obviously ambivalent about many aspects of this.  It is a big transition for me.  I remember staying in the East 1 month after the Iron Curtain came down.  I stayed in a home in a small village in East Germany with a wonderfully nice family who happened to run the local bar.  They would not accept any money for their hospitality, although I remember leaving them some anyway under the pillow.  I remember doing the dishes with the wife after dinner, and telling her that soon she would have a dishwasher, and life would be easier.  She looked at me and said, “We don’t want any of that.”  I completely understand what she meant now.  I have a feeling that they were run-over with the changes that came with opening up to the West.  Still, I was so glad that it happened, because of the families and friends that were split up by the wall, and the lack of mobility and ability to explore.  I had been astonished that the wall came down so fast.  Just 6 months before, I had wondered whether it ever would come down in my lifetime.  My soon-to-have-been German father-in-law had cried when it did, and I had been very touched by the fact that the west Germans had bitten the bullet to accommodate the economic changes that came with reunification.  They were at heart longing to be one people again, even if it meant economic hardship.

I feel like these people must have felt, and cling to the values that I have learned from having less, and doing more with what I have.  I love the environment more than I love “having things”.  I would rather see a bird than a new anything that has already been invented.

There is a lot of wildlife out here, and I think that there is still time to plant a garden for the next couple of months.  I will have to fence it though, from the deer.  Some new flowers,

berries, a caterpillar,

a grasshopper,

a cricket,

a snake and a hawk in the backyard ecosystem.  And scorpions.

I am very grateful for what has been given to me.  Still, I feel shamefully rich and pampered.

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