Little things I’ve learned after living on a boat for a month…or Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

So about three weeks into living aboard, I turned to Gene with a pie server in my hand and asked, “Do we really need this? We have a spatula.” His answer was, “God no! Why did we bring THAT?” As I stood there, holding it, it seemed almost offensively large. Taking up so much space with its awkward shape and single use.

A pie server. Something that makes so much sense in a house, is just one of the myriad items that seems superfluous aboard a boat. Five fuel filters…yes — a pie server…god no!
Living in a small space, as so many of the tiny house movement have already noted, really helps you examine your priorities. I love pie, and plan to bake a lot of it, but I don’t need a specialized server. I’ll use what I have, a spatula. Or we’ll just scoop it out of the pan with our hands, like sailors in ye-old-e-tymes.
But seriously, tiny housers don’t need to carry five fuel filters either. Just sayin’.
I’ve also lost some weight this month. Not because I’ve stopped grabbing a cookie or a chai at the coffee shop, but because we are living without refrigeration and walking so much. When we have veggies, they must be eaten in a couple of days. “Pile more spinach on our stir fry tonight, honey!” The damp of Washington means breads and baked goods get soggy quickly, so we buy less. Butter, yogurt, eggs, sweet potatoes, apples, spinach (whole robust clumps, not the wimpy — though yummy — baby spinach in a bag), hard cheeses, pasta, carrots (again whole, not baby peeled ones), oatmeal, tortillas, mushrooms — all do well for a bit without refrigeration. And, as Autumn is here, squash will be our forever-fresh dinner staple.
And, of course, almost everywhere I go, I’m carrying a baby on my back. And 19lbs is no joke uphill — and everything is uphill from the water, duh.
IMG_6359But, it really has surprised me how much time we are spending outdoors. Our living room (the cockpit) is outdoors. And we are walking everywhere. We walk to the park every day, the grocery store, the other markets, the laundromat, Byron’s pre-school. It feels truly foreign to get in the car now. Part of it is that Seattle is amazing for this kind of walking lifestyle, especially in the city proper. And part of it is that these kinds of services are needed, nay expected near any self-respecting marina.
When we get out into Puget Sound, it will be a lot more hiking and biking with the trailer too. On lush islands. Not complaining here at all.
So, our house has become sardine-esque…but our yard has expanded so much that it feels a part of me — getting out into it is the only thing that feels natural. Home has shrunk to a comfy-chair size (for the things you do in a comfy-chair), but the rest of life has expanded. Sardines and comfy-chairs, that’s what I’ve got today folks. But it sums it up. One is cramped and uncomfortable (even smelly ;-)…one is cozy and snuggly and a wonderful place to hold a baby or read or eat a tasty meal.
IMG_6355For those of you who know me, you know that having home feel cluttered or or messy or disorganized really puts me on edge. So, we are living right at the edge of my comfort zone when two kids are fussing, the dishes aren’t washed, the laundry is piling up, there are crumbs and strange sticky spots — and it all must reside within my arm’s reach. I can’t escape to another room, or another life.
IMG_6326But, then there are times when they are both playing contentedly, we are cooking and bumping into each other with those “oops, I just bumped your bum so I guess I have to squeeze it” bumps, the lamp light is flickering…and all is well.
Then we step out into our living room and hear the waves (and sometimes feel the raindrops — this is Seattle after all) and see a sailboat floating past, and plan our day out and about. While one of us spends some time with our various projects to get the boat underway, the other walks the kids to the market or the park.
I am learning to live smaller, to breathe when it all feels too cramped. And remember that life and possibility have expanded. Even if I am still bumping my elbow or my knee on that same edge for the bizzillionth time.

One thought on “Little things I’ve learned after living on a boat for a month…or Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

  1. We’ve had the “do we really need this onboard?” conversation a thousand times, and we’ve yet to miss it when it’s gone.
    This summer I used to tease Sherlene that if she went out in public with all her bruises showing I would get arrested for abuse!

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