What space do we really need

My cabin in the woods

To begin with, everyone is different. Looking back, I see that my need for space change every decade. This is me, evaluating my lifestyle at the midpoint of my life… give and take, for I do not know if this really is the midpoint, but taking the average lifespan of modern people.

The bedroom…. is the empty storage

I am surprise that right now, I am happy and contented with living in my little cabin in the woods. A tiny 1 stove, never enuf counter space, fireplace instead of A/C. Maybe this is not truly minimalist living, its more like a retreat, becos I still own a very large apartment back in SG where I house all my life collectibles, and a rental apartment in NY where I furnished with all the creature comforts so common in every middle class home.

This bedroom is probably larger than my whole cabin.

Strangely, this line of thought struck me only recently, upon returning to my NY apartment after 2 weeks in my cabin, that I live in extreme conditions.

Turn my 1 bedroom lease into a studio.

My $1400 rent sure gives me a lot of room, so much that I don’t even know what to do with the bedroom, choosing instead to place the bed in the dining space with direct line of sight to the TV. A dining table that is more like a catch all, for I never eat at the table. Choosing to eat on my lap while working in front of the TV. Yep, multi tasking is my middle name. At the rate I am going, I am not sure why I even bought the bed or the desk or the dining table…. I spend almost all the time I am in the apartment on the couch.

So I am totally living like its a studio instead of a 1 bedroom. Even then, its still more space than I am used to. I mean its like my apartment in SG, but for the last few years I have gotten used to living in a really tiny space that this feels weird. Never thought I would feel there is too much space. Something in me is changed, I am just not excited about living the “good” life anymore.

My life centers around the couch.

In about 2 months, I am ending my lease and returning to my life in Port Townsend and Singapore. Realizing that all I need is the couch, I am starting to list bed, desk and table on craigslist. At the same time, I am devising a way to bring the couch with me in Scootz. Pretty sure I will pack Scootz up to the eyebrow for this 5 day driving adventure home….

Becos I need to shift the front passenger seat all the way forward to fit the length of the couch, Doug will not be with me on this adventure. With all that weight, plus the kayak on the roof, its probably for the better that I do this trip myself.

But really, where would I put that couch, TV and extra stuff once I am there in PT? Storage?


Working at home whenever I can

Do a little touristy thing….

Mostly I live and work in upstate NY, but whenever I get a chance, I head back and work my butt off on my cabin in the woods.  Each time I get only 2 weeks, and really have to check into the office 20hrs each week, so every moment I get is precious. Pre planning my projects and order my materials early is the key.

1 week before I head out, 28 tonnes of 3″ and 3/4″ basalt is delivered. Good thing I have Doug over there to direct the delivery to the spot where I want it.

Lots of work, everywhere

I didn’t get good flight time on my trip over, putting me there in the evening, I had to waste an evening in a airport motel, so that I could get 1/2 price Hertz rental from a off airport location. Such locations are open during normal hours only. $55 for the hotel, but I saved $300 from car rental. I am so proud of myself for saving some money, and that gave me the chance to take the lite rail down to Seattle and walk the waterfront. … and splurge on Ivar’s fish and chips that was not worth it… sigh.. touristy….

Plumbing in the watering points.

As soon as I arrive, I start some seeds going in old egg cartons, with Miracle Gro soil. 2 bags is not going to fill my planter box, just for starters. Pile of gravel in the background is 3/4″. 3″ is on the other side of the log pile.

Now its a lot of work moving the gravel from the piles into the garden perimeter. How long would it take little ol’ me to shovel gravel to fill 16′ x 24′ x 6″ garden base? In the meantime, Doug ran the pipes to the garden.

Graveling ramp and our neighbors watching us work.

A full day of back breaking work, but maybe only 10%. I need help, to get it done faster… and Doug is not one for mindless shoveling work. So, I got in touch with Jim who is needing work, but I only got 2hrs out of him. Then he stop showing up and I continue on my own for a few days. My arms, wrists and back killed me for 2 days before I got young James. Nothing like young backs fresh out of school.

X-large planter box coming up.

Doug and I start on building the 1st planter box as soon as half the base is filled. Anyway, it only took James 2 full days to complete the gravel work. Then we got him to level the ground for the workshop building. Getting started on that project is a bonus!

New tool on the job, laser leveler.

When that was done, James distributed the remaining gravel over the RV pad. We had a 12 yard garden compost soil delivery from Shold’s. The best in the area.

Levelled trenches read for 6×6 PT skids.

Meantime, Doug and I complete building the planter boxes. Then it was time for James to fill the boxes with soil, bucket by bucket. I continue to work after James is gone for the day. Its tough work.

Ta da! 2 X-large planter box!

Then we had delivery from Home Depot, materials for the new workshop building. We had to put up a tent over the OSB board and lumber. Keeping it dry is futile but we try. And check out the site prep and the RV pad next to it! Its coming together.

Kale starts and seeds going in.

Final tally for James, I got 4 days of 6hrs work. It really made all that difference for me. Really bang for my buck! And he was really happy with that exchange. Hope he will do something smart with that money. 🙂

Mint is not welcomed in the planter. It needs to grow in its own pot.

On the last 3 days of my “vacation”, I ran the irrigation, plant berries and cherries around the garden base. Was so thankful to have neighbor Dawn come over to help me put the seeds into the garden.

Unfortunately I did not get to see any sprouting before I had to go… But with all the help we got, it gave me and Doug a day to enjoy not working. So it was 1 vacation day in all of 15 days that I was away from NY.

Counting on Doug to watch over my seedlings, send me pictures of the birthing…. and Dawn to come over to check on them …. till I am back in August! then I get to enjoy the fruits 🙂



Watch this space

Big changes in 3 years. Signs of life in what used to be forest.

Amazing new technology that make it so easy to record the changes to my little plot of land. Who saw that coming? Not me.

But now that it is here and available…. 🙂

I kinda check Google maps every 6 months or so…. but 1 day I found that Jefferson county has a better and more frequently updated aerial. Seems to me like that it is a competition between satellite pictures versus drone pictures, and my vote goes to drone of course…

Which brings me to the point…. with technology like this we are monitored more closely than ever before… Looks like a great way to look for undeclared buildings or unauthorized improvements in outlaying regions.

So is all these advancement really great… hmm….. can we get away with anything anymore?


Home work

Who likes homework? Really, I do. Its what I look forward to for months before I get to do it.

Almost home, flying over the Cascades

Yup, my home work is not an assignment put onto me by anybody else. It literally mean going home and working on my property 🙂 … ya, some kind of vacation… Doug and I could have gone on a cruise, but Port Townsend WA is really where we want to be and improving the property is what we want to do.

Redid our fireplace

Time is short 2 weeks for me… have to back at my desk in NY after that, but Doug gets to stay on and indulge in life back home. Lucky him. Well, so we are zipping across in a plane this time… not train, not driving, not cruising… seeing the Cascades from up above. The Cascades is like the great East West divide to me.

Is that straight?

At the airport, we collected our 2 large checked in bags and 4 carry ons, walked over to the parking garage and took Lyft to a off airport rental car facility. Cost $35 for the ride, but I got a mini van from Hertz for a amazing price of $300 for 2 weeks, tax included. Getting it from the airport would have been $500 at least.

Made it to the cabin just before it got too dark. What a relief that everything is just fine, no break in, no fallen tree on the cabin… our 2 greatest fear for leaving the cabin to fend for itself… Its always good to know that this is a good neighborhood and I have great neighbors.

Not a moment to waste

Not a moment to lose, we head out to Poulsbro the very next day and ordered up my largest Home Depot purchase till date. Lots of 12ft timbers and metal roofing sheets, no way we can load those into the minivan… Since I am paying $79 for delivery, I went overboard and ordered lots of materials for future projects as well.

Garden perimeter

While waiting for the delivery, which unfortunately is 4 days away because that’s when they deliver to PT, we sort out this and that around the property, storage and checked on Calliste at the marina.

And I found this amazing fireplace online and felt that I absolutely need to drive out to Lowes at Port Orchard to get it right away. Finally the minivan paid off, the boxed up package just barely made it into the back. At 250lbs, the guys loaded it with a forklift… now its a challenge for us to get it out and shift into the cabin. Long story how we did it, but the picture tells it all… we did it!

The log condo!

This trip, my 3 projects are to build the garden perimeter, planter boxes and log condo. It is impossible to complete all 3 projects, but we got the perimeter ready for gravel and 1 log condo. Doug can build another 2 log condos in his free time later, all he needed was the sample 🙂 . Started on 1 corner of the planter box… sigh… not enuf for Doug to go on and finish, so it will be something that we have to complete in my next trip home… hopefully in time for the growing season.

Sadly I have to go back to my other life… sigh… I had a awesome vacation being home and working on these projects! Money better spent then my other plan of cruising the Carribean onboard Carnival Cruises.



Snowed in and super cold Christmas

Preparing to go out.

Deep freeze winter arrive early this year and hung around for the whole time between Christmas and New Years… and still here. To go out in these -ve ‘F temperature, we gotta dress for it…

Standing by the snowbank, ready for the walk.

Long thermal underwear, pull thick woolen socks over the top of them and then fully lined fleeced pants. For the top, I needed a fleece zip up jacket over long sleeve T and my heaviest wind and water proof jacket. Dont forgot fully lined waterproof mittens.

So here I am, fully wind chill and water proof, except for the face, going to walk 1/4 mile to the supermarket. Should have gotten the scarf, but I thought it would be okay for such a short walk. And yeah, I didnt miss it…

What else is there to do? Build a couple of snowman in the patio

1 thing tho, there are a lot of frozen walkway thats really slippery. Doug’s heavy boots worked well for him, my crocs dont quite have the bite… I had a few skids along the way and only once fell hard onto my butt and elbow. I was doing so well until the last 3 steps back to the apartment. Drats!

How does that look?

Okay, so its a long Christmas weekend and I am bored… so I went out to build a snowman. It was so cold that it was hard work to pack the fluffy snow. I had to push, press and blow on it a lot. It takes pressure and some heat to melt a few snow flakes and just enuf for it to fuse and freeze again into the shape.

… Finally I got the right shape for 1 snowman, I was so tired that I abandoned the 2nd one that was started. Went inside to warm up for a while….

Then I decided to really go at it, while inside the warm apartment… to make sunglasses and vest for the little guy… But it dont seem complete without a hat. And I found a key cover that I was crochetting, seems like the perfect size… 🙂

Well, I guess this little fella is gonna stay around for a long time … with the kind of cold that we have…


We’ve moved. Again.

Pre move in cleaning.

Seems not too long ago that we moved into a rented apartment in Malta, NY. Actually its been a year, and now that the lease is up, I chose not to renew.

Might have been a lot more convenient and cheaper to just stay put, but I had a run in with property management regarding maintenance and communication with new staff. Will not and dont have to put up with it. Thats me, and it will happen again in my next rental. I can see it coming… oh no… so what I am to do?

Me and the van at our new digs. Nope its not going to fit in the garage.

Hope for the best….

This time, I found a take over lease situation in Wilton, NY. This lease is until end April 18, then I can have the option of looking for a new place, or quit my job and move back to PT. Its my plan to leave my job in summer anyway, cos I miss my life in PT so much. So anyway, whatever, this short term rental arrangement suits me just fine.

Have enough setup to resume apartment living within 48hrs.

Well, but for takeover lease, the  apartment is in the state as the guy left it. Dirty and with some marks on the walls. We have to do a lot of cleaning, which we did a full Saturday worth.

Moving H/P Yeli and remaining stuff.

Sunday was a better day for renting a Uhual van anyway. I guess too many people try to move on Saturday too, and vans were not available for enough time to run 2 trips. So Sunday it is, and a Uhaul dealer that operates on Sunday is only 1 mile from our new apartment!

Snow season started as we moved the last load.

Its a good thing that our IKEA furniture is very easily portable in 2 Uhual van loads. Actually we could do just the long and bulky items in 1 van load and run 10 car loads with Scootz slowly over the next 3 weeks, if we really wanted to. Yes, we had a luxurious 3 weeks overlap. 🙂 Cost us a unfair bit, but it is what it is. I am not going to break the lease agreement and get into another spat.

Yay. Place for H/P Yelli in the garage.

We needed 2 weekends after moving to clean up the old digs nicely anyway. We didnt have to rush, so cleaning was actually quite therapeutic. Who would have thot.

The last thing we moved is the 12ft kayak. It was just too long for the van, and too difficult to lift it over the roof of a tall van, so Scootz it is. And Scootz will be the one to carry that H/P Yeli all of 3000miles back to PT in summer … We will have to tie down better in that trip… Things we learn… shouldnt have shipped Yeli over here to begin with…

Well, we made it and we are done before the bad pre Christmas snow storm. Phew!


Taking a bite out of the the apple

I have been so busy with work, finally having some time this Thanksgiving Weekend to fill in my blog. That’s something to be thankful for.

Subway selfie.

Not going to talk about the nail biting things that I do for a living, but more of my usual travel adventures, a recent trip to NYC… partly as a favor to a friend and neighbor, also that I had been wanting to go visit but nobody around me is interested in that trip. Friends and family back home will never understand if I work in NY state and never visited the Big Apple. I just needed to say been there done that and move on to things that interest me more.

Stepping out of the subway, into the 911 Memorial

Ok, so visiting NYC was never big on my mind, but I don’t mind going if the opportunity presents itself. Chai needs help driving a rental minivan to deliver her soon to be abandoned furniture to her siblings who are in NYC. So, I being the person who can drive anything, not many of my types among her circle 🙂 , was roped in for this job. My reward will be a 2 night stay in Queens and guided tour NYC. I like that deal.

I am trying to understand the architect…. no luck tho.

1st, get the van from Alamo at Albany airport. Chai drove me there and we returned in separate vehicles. She then begins the loading while I am stuck in 2 meetings. Good thing meetings don’t have to be in the office… so its just so convenient for me to pop out run a errand, back to join in a meeting call, then out to help Chai, then back to pack my bags.

We hit the roads 1645hrs on a Friday afternoon, hoping we wont have too much traffic going into the city at about 2100hrs. Driving this sluggish 2017 Dodge minivan is ….. boring. The fuel economy is surprisingly good, maybe that’s why the pick up is terribly slow. Interestingly, the sun was beating down on the windscreen and it was not hot. The glass felt cool to touch, and even the black lined fabric ceiling in a black van was cool to touch. Quite amazed at the insulation and technology… Impressive. I like the very black interior afterall.

My picture with Liberty says it all

2000hrs, we made it to the outskirts of the City and traffic is a little bad. 2100hrs we are parked at a H-mart close to her sis’s place and waited to meet her bro. Had dinner in Flushing. A Chinese foodcourt, almost like Singapore…. Not quite the same food, but close enough. Then we drove the van and parked at her bro’s and left it to him to unload the next day. He drove us back to the sis’s place. Sis is on vacation so it was just us. Watched a lot of TV before hitting the sack.

Food discovered.

0800hrs, we walked 15 mins or so to the town of Flushing. A Malaysian coffeeshop breakfast, Nasi Lemak is served here. Pretty good, but I am spoilt by the luxury flavored Singapore style of Nasi Lemak …. :p .. Next, a subway ride to 911 Memorial.

This is not a attraction for me … but I don’t mind being there.

Street food served…. not in a cheapie container. Impressed.

I like the remainder of the day very much tho. We walked from the Memorial in the direction of the water. Found my bearings once I see water. I guess that’s a sign that I need to be close to the water… probably conned Chai into a very long walk that she wasn’t prepared for, on a rather windy chilly day.

The greatest library I have been to.

I got my picture with the Lady out on the rocks… then we walked a mile on the waterfront broadwalk, heading north where I hope to eat lunch at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant… but nope we couldn’t walk 5 miles on this day. After 2 miles, we cut inwards looking for a subway entrance and then food in midtown…. but I spotted activity in a fenced off area with blue tents and found food before we found the subway 🙂

My lunch was great! Yakisoba and grilled squid for $15! Cooked by real Japanese and taste real authentic. Perhaps its was a much better deal than $50 at Morimoto’s… I love the outdoor ambience too.

Guess where I am.

We made it to 5th Avenue by about 3pm, and I got to cross another item off my “if I made it to NYC” list… eating a NY cheesecake and drinking coffee. We found Junior’s famous NY cheesecake by Yelping and I ate a slice all by myself. Yummy… it was rich and very heavy, way I like it… but no, not another 1 for a while. It will take a month to digest it thru my system before I crave it again…

Next on the list, Times Sq and 5th Ave. Ok, did that. And we were attracted to visit the grand NY library. I enjoyed that history and display very much. Its so fascinating to me that librarians are not just the people you see working in the library. There are those in the back working with records and filing away information for future generations. I never thought of it that way before. And at this library, I get to feel the work of generations of librarians, generosity of people who gave to education and the preservation of information, the history of it all.

Not really into tall great buildings, but this is a statement of where I have been.

By now, we’ve walked too many miles. More than 30,000 steps according to Chai. And I have my picture with the Empire State building, so I made my point, been there done that. Time to head back. Got a dinner at another Flushing foodcourt. Another foodcourt meal that I did not finish. Not my kind of taste….

Was past 9pm by the time we got back to her sis place. Another movie marathon and then conked.

9am Sunday morning breakfast with Bro and family at Tim Sum place. Classy restaurant. Much better food 🙂 11am got the van and drove out to unload remaining stuff at sister’s place. Follow by shopping at H-mart where I got $80 worth of frozen seafood. Brought my ice box just for that 🙂 . They have all the exotic seafood just like they have it in their Seattle stores.

Me and the Chirashi in Mitsuwa supermarket in New Jersey.

2pm, we made it to Mitsuwa on the NJ side of Hudson. Its a Japanese supermarket and food court that Norithito told me about. Chai doesn’t enjoy the Japanese culture as much as I do … so this one is all me 🙂 . My best Chirashi since Narita! But otherwise, they are not as well stocked in exotic frozen seafood as the H-mart.

Another 3 hrs of driving North on I87 and we got home before 7pm. Very pooped, as I did all that driving. It was intense in the city and just long on the highway in this sluggish van. But I got what I wanted. Was a fair trade…. I feel like I came out tops 🙂

Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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