My daughter’s Tiny House

Or sometimes we call it our cabin. My daughter’s classes are all online due to the pandemic. So she had a choice. She could either stay in Vermont or go to Dalhausie where she’d have to stay in a dorm without the social benefits of of a college or university. She said she’d be more incline to stay if she could build a tiny house—something we had discussed before. Unfortunately, once the pandemic got underway, Tiny House trailers went the way of yeast. They were hard to find and new trailers weren’t expected until well into September or October. We decided to build a Tiny House on skids so that we could start in July. Building the Tiny House on skids has the added advantage that it can’t be taxed like a fixed structure and I didn’t need a building permit.

I prefer a shed roof to a gable roof mostly because it’s simpler to build, simpler to insulate, and has the advantage of only dumping water and snow on one side of a structure. The eve in back extends two vertical feet so that splash is minimized for example. There’s even room for a bicycle in back.

The pile of field stones comes from having buried electrical conduit out to the cabin—#2 gauge aluminum direct burial.

We tried to build the cabin as inexpensively as possible. The corrugated steel siding is probably one of the least expensive sidings possible while the clapboards were all left over from other jobs I had done. The cabin is insulated entirely with foam board. I had enough foam board cutoffs from other jobs to insulate the entirety of the framing. Two inches of expanded polystyrene literally encloses the framing so that there’s no thermal bridging.

The cabin has the best view of any window on our property and we set it in front of our wildflower garden, the patch of yard I let grow up in wildflowers in the summer. You can see a path I mow through the garden. Insects, butterflies, crickets, and grasshoppers are especially appreciate of the garden.

On the inside, at 77 square feet, there’s room for a desk, a mini-fridge, a wall of shelves, and a fold up bed. The fold up bed is my piece of resistance. Took me a while to figure out how I was going to build it. At first I thought I’d simply attach it via hinges to a board fastened to the wall. I was never in love with that. It’s inelegant and the hinges would have had to have been strong enough to hold at least 200 pounds. I briefly considered murphy bed kits but they all struck me as overpriced and too expensive. The hardware also seemed inelegant to me, usually requiring that the bed be folded into a box meant to hide the hardware. The only advantage was in the hardware being spring loaded so that the bed would be easier to lift. For a twin bed, that didn’t seem worth it. At the eleventh hour, it occurred to me to use iron pipe fittings to create both the bracket and hinge. You can see the results below. The iron pipe brackets are held in place with two timber lock screws that bolt through cherry blocks. Since the brackets are in sheer, there was really no need for more than that. Two timber locks screws in sheer can hold well over a ton of weight.

I fussed over all the ways I was going to keep it fastened upright, then settled on the simplest of all possible solutions—a wrought iron latch. I also sweat how the bed would sit against the wall, but the simple solution to that was to make sure the mattress was proud of the bed frame—that way when the bed is folded up, the mattress acts as a cushion. The rope is nautical rope I had left over from a log cabin I had built. What to tie the rope off to was another detail I briefly sweat, then bought some stainless steel nautical cleats. My daughter wanted to be able to look through windows while in bed, so we installed two windows length wise and one in the shelf system. The windows were from another job where the wall had rotted out but the windows were still intact.

The shelf system serves two purposes, one is in providing shelves and the other is to provide the depth necessary to install a Lunos eGo Air Exchange system (because the cabin is so tight). Look closely at the shelves and you will see that the switches are reachable from bed and the eGo is installed to the upper right. Unfortunately, I’m very disappointed in the Lunos eGo and wouldn’t recommend their product. It doesn’t bother my daughter, but the two “computer fans” whine, even on low settings, like they were in a Dell Desktop from 1992. Given the price of the unit and that it’s the year 2020—there is just no excuse for a unit like this without quiet fans. At some point, I may try to replace the fans with some easily obtainable quiet ones. Internet is provided by a Netgear Powerline Extender that carries the signal over nearly 300 feet of cable and two subpanels. That’s #2 gauge aluminum, so that’s a 12 lane highway as far as this unit is concerned, but I’m impressed and highly recommend it. Speeds are excellent and my daughter has had no trouble attending online courses. Lastly, you’ll notice the heaters in the lower middle of each end wall. They’re each 2000 Watt, 240 volt Stiebel Eltron heaters. The reality is that the cabin is so tight that only one heater will be needed except for those occasional nights when the temperatures dip to 20 or 30 below zero—which does happen a few nights every year.

The desk is some very knotty pine. My daughter liked the heavily figured wood. It folds down on the right had side when a larger desk isn’t needed or for access to the two corner windows. I had initially thought of buying a bracket, then simply made it out of fir 4×4. These are fastened to the wall with two timberlock screws. The windows, by the way, are all boneyard windows, meaning that they were windows other customers had returned to the dealer, for whatever reason. They usually sell for a steep discount. All these windows were “replacement” windows rather than “new construction”, which meant that I had to build a box for them. The box is made of treated 1x stock, trimmed on the inside so you can’t see the treated.

So. That’s what I was mostly doing in July and September. The cabin took us, part time, eight weeks to build. The only thing left to do is to stain the door. I enjoyed it so much I wouldn’t mind building another one, maybe to sell in front of our house.

Goings On

I had intended to read more Elizabethan Plays and to write more posts about them, but there have been goings on: namely, my novel and building a cabin with my daughter. We just started the cabin about a month ago and steadily work at it. The cabin is in our back yard, out in the back field. We buried electric (180 feet) so that it would be a four season cabin and are tightly wrapping it in insulation—two inches of EPS (an envelope over the  2×4 framing) with foam and Rocksul between the studs. Ironically, the cabin will need an air exchange system for all that tightness, but it should be very inexpensive to heat during the winter (with two 2000 watt forced hot air blowers).


The back story is twofold. First, for years I’ve wanted a little writing cabin out in the back field (among the wild flowers). The second is that I’ve always wanted to build a Tiny House and so did my daughter. She found out in the end of June that her Freshman year university courses would be online. Once we realized she would be stuck here, we began to take the idea of a Tiny House seriously. (We also call the cabin her “dorm room”). By that point, however, finding a dedicated Tiny House trailer to build on would have pushed back construction into September (at the earliest). Mainly, manufactures of trailers have been slowed by the Coronvirus and have fallen behind demand. We decided to build a cabin on skids instead—something we can sell at a later date. We also decided to forego a bathroom and kitchenette (for her first project). It’s strictly a cabin with a fold down bed and an outlet for a mini-fridge. It will also have WIFI connectivity thanks to a powerline adapter.


Above is the view from the cabin. Although the cabin is wider than 8’4″, the maximum for transport without a permit, the roof’s rear overhang would be relatively easy to cut off or, if the buyer chose, they could simply pay for the permit. We decided to opt for the overhang given the amount of snow we usually get during winters. The overhang additionally protects the cabin from splash.

Anyway, this little cabin, writing studio and dorm room has been keeping me busy. I hope to have it done by mid September or so. If we eventually sell it for a profit, we’ll put the money into a real Tiny House. Or maybe we’ll fall in love with it and keep it around.

August 15 2020 | upinVermont

International Women’s Writing Guild

  • I was contacted by The International Women’s Writing Guild, who asked if I would forward the following to any readers who might be interested. In return, they’ve kindly offered to put in a good word for my blog. A PDF is available here. If any of you attend, feel free to let me know how you liked the courses.


International Women's Banner


SUBJECT:      The International Women’s Writing Guild will host a Boston Area

                        Writing From Your Life Retreat in Medfield, MA on April 28, 2018

DATE OF RELEASE: March 6, 2018 through April 28. 2018

CONTACT:   Marj Hahne at or Jennifer Lauren at (646) 484-1982

MEDFIELD, MA On April 28, 2018, The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) will host its 3rd Annual day-long writing retreat. Entitled Writing From Your Life, this retreat invites writers of all stages to discover how to unlock the power of their own life story toward realizing their writing goals. Exploring how to weave the autobiographical into memoir, myth and monologue, the event also provides networking opportunities, a book fair, and a catered lunch to all attendees. The retreat will be held in the center of Medfield at The Montrose School, 29 North Street, Medfield, MA from 9:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Kelly DuMar, author, poet, playwright and Sherborn native-describes the day’s three workshops as distinctly ‘writer generative’- this is a chance to create original work in collaboration with a vibrant, creative community, guided by three outstanding facilitators that are accomplished writers in their own right. DuMar is joined by fellow workshop facilitators Susan Tiberghien, author of “The Zen of Writing: Clear Seeing, Clear Writing Toward Wholeness” and the newly published “Writing Toward Wholeness: Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung” and Maureen Murdock, author of “The Heroine’s Journey, Spinning Inward.”

Marisa Moks-Unger, Poet Laureate of Erie County, Pennsylvania attended the retreat last year and describes Writing From Your Life as “a fantastic opportunity for writers of all genres to deepen their craft. I found all three of the workshop leaders’ presentations to be valuable in developing literary images which I have applied to my poet laureate project, as well as a lecture I gave on the “The Power of Poetry; The Persistence of Prose,” at The Jefferson Education Society. Also, a number of my published poems were incubated at this workshop. I highly recommend attending the entire day to experience the brilliance of Susan Tiberghien, Maureen Murdock, and Kelly Du Mar.”

Finally, for many the retreat is an ideal introduction to the non-profit IWWG, which has served as a support system for women writers in over 60 countries. Members of the Guild have published over thousands of books, and the organization provides one of the longest running literary conferences in the country. Through the Guild, countless writers have gained publishing resources, received one-of-a-kind writing guidance, forged new friendships, found greater self-expression and developed their craft. 

IWWG welcomes and encourages writers of all levels and all genres to participate, and the workshop space is wheelchair accessible. An open mic for participants to read their writing will take place at the close of the day.

The cost of the retreat is $95 for IWWG Members; $120 for non-members; $45 for students with ID; and there is a new member special of $135 (includes $55 Annual IWWG membership dues). Registration fee includes lunch. To learn more about the workshops and to register online, go to You may also contact Marj Hahne at




Medieval Music

What follow are photographs of a medieval musical manuscript my grandmother bought while in Spain during Franco’s rule. If memory serves, she said that many institutions, specifically religious, were dissolved and/or often forced to sell what they could to survive. She recounted that the manuscripts below came from a chant book whose pages were being torn out and sold to tourists.

I doubt they’re worth anything but, on the off hand that these are the missing pages some musicologist has been searching for since the mid 20th century, I post them on my blog. I don’t speak Latin (I’m guessing it’s Latin rather than some early form of Spanish) but the text appears to be that of the Magnificat.

The daughter of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (eldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach) apparently moved to Oklahoma with a cache of her father and grandfather’s manuscripts. Apparently, at some point in Oklahoma, Bach’s manuscript’s were “inadvertently” destroyed. Even if the Oklahoma family didn’t care a wit for the manuscripts (by music’s greatest genius) the rest of us weep. My manuscripts aren’t worth a single note of Bach, but at least if they’re inadvertently  destroyed, someone my someday thank me for posting images of them.



From Snow to Snow

Last week I picked up a small book for my little Robert Frost collection:

The first photo is a little blurry. Sorry ’bout that. Found it at an antique store and couldn’t resist. Never even knew it existed. If you, like me, uselessly collect books (like this one) for no reason whatsoever, more copies at a (for now) reasonable price, can be had at Amazon. That old folding rule belonged to my grandfather. He was a Physician rather than a builder, but had a few, little, nice tools that I still use. Makes me think maybe I oughtta’ put together a little collection of my own poems like this.

T.S. Eliot’s Erotica

web-ts-eliot-valerieA new edition of T.S. Eliot’s poetry is going to be published and according to The Guardian it will include at least three heretofore unpublished erotic poems. The poems were written for Eliot’s second wife Valierie Fletcher. She was a tall girl. He was 68. She was 30. And her nipples were just the right height when sitting in his lap:

I love a tall girl. When she sits on my knee
She with nothing on, and I with nothing on
I can just take her nipple in my lips
And stroke it with my tongue. Because she is a tall girl…

The poem closes:

Her breasts are like ripe pears that dangle
Above my mouth
Which reaches up to take them.


In another poem, Eliot – who took a vow of chastity in 1928 after being confirmed into the Church of England – celebrates the “miracle of sleeping together” as he “touch[es] the delicate down beneath her navel”.

And that’s about all that I can squeak out of the Guardian. The various articles are all reporting the upcoming edition with a suitably detached air of scholarly inquisitiveness. Since the poet’s death, his sexuality seems to be a much discussed topic among the poet’s cognoscenti—call it “ivory tower tabloid-ism”. Valerie’s own statement on the matter is admirably direct:

“Valerie, who was 5ft 8in (1.7m) tall, kept control of his estate until her death three years ago when the notebooks came to light. She hinted publicly that their sex life was just fine, after an interviewer asked why his first marriage had failed. “There was nothing wrong with Tom, if that’s your implication,” she said.”

I’ll be buying that edition soon as it comes out.

What $200,000,000 gets you…


So, while I was writing the post immediately preceding this one, Sidney’s Sonnet 47, I visited the Poetry Foundation to see what information they had on the poem and a reliable text. Here’s what you will find (as of today, October 10th 2014):Sindey_Poetry_Foundation


So, there are all kinds of problems with this poem, but the most egregious is the typo. That’s okay. There are all kinds of typos in my own posts; although if someone were nice enough to bequeath $200,000,000 to me, I might hire — oh, I don’t know — an “archive editor” to correct my mistakes? So, I thought I’d “report a problem”:

Problem description:
 The mistakes: 
 "Though" should read "tho'" 
 "Let he go" should read "Let her go" 
Also, according to the best resource I've got, there are no 
exclamation points in the original poem. The poem should read: 
   What, have I thus betrayed my liberty? 
   Can those black beams such burning marks engrave 
   In my free side? or am I born a slave, 
   Whose neck becomes such yoke of tyranny? 
   Or want I sense to feel my misery? 
   Or sprite, disdain of such disdain to have? 
   Who for long faith, tho' daily help I crave, 
   May get no alms but scorn of beggary. 
   Virtue awake, Beauty but beauty is, 
   I may, I must, I can, I will, I do 
   Leave following that which it is gain to miss. 
   Let her go. Soft, but here she comes. Go to, 
   Unkind, I love you not: O me, that eye 
   Doth make my heart give to my tongue the lie. 

The response:

Dear Patrick Gillespie,

The differences in punctuation between our version and the one 
you found is the result of centuries of various editors 
silently altering such aspects. Our version is correct against 
our copy text.


James Sitar
Archive Editor
The Poetry Foundation

Seriously? And that would include the typo? Does it get any more incompetent or bureaucratic? So, the text of the poem is obviously wrong, but by God if that’s what “the copy text” says, then that’s what goes to print.

As to punctuation, the “one I found” is based on Richard Dutton’s edition which is, itself, based on the 1598 Folio of Sidney’s Works. But what matter? I mean, how can Mary, the Countess of Pembroke, Sidney’s sister (and editor of the Folio edition), compare to “centuries of various editors silently altering” Sindey’s original? Obviously, the Poetry Foundation’s loyalty is to all those “altering” editors (centuries of) rather than to the Sidneys. And there you have it. That’s what a $200,000,000 endowment gets you. The take away? Don’t go to the Poetry Foundation if you want a reliable text.

The Frost Place 2014 Summer Poetry Programs



  • The Frost place, an organization based at one of Frost’s New Hampshire houses, offers an annual series of courses and conferences on poetry.  The following are this years offerings with contact information below.

The Frost Place Poetry Programs

The Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching

Dates: June 22 – 26, 2014
Deadline: May 15, 2014

Tuition: $700, plus $120 for meals. Discounts are available.

Description: The Conference on Poetry and Teaching is a unique opportunity for teachers to work closely with both their peers and with a team of illustrious poets who have particular expertise in working with teachers at all levels: K–12, graduate and undergraduate, and nontraditional and community-based instructors. Over the course of 4½ days, faculty poets share specific, hands-on techniques for teaching poetry. The emphasis is on the reading-conversation-writing-revision cycle, and our teaching approach aligns with the Common Core anchor standards for reading and writing. Graduate-level credits are available through Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. Certificate of completion includes 33 hours of Continuing Education credit.


The Frost Place Teachers As Writers Workshop

Dates: June 26 – 27, 2014
Deadline: May 15, 2014

Tuition: $170.00, includes dinner and lunch, no lodging.

Description: The Frost Place Teachers As Writers Workshop is an intensive day-and-a-half session for classroom teachers who want to focus on their own writing and revision practices. The workshop is limited to participants who have already attended the Conference on Poetry and Teaching. Continuing education credits are available. See website for more details.


The Frost Place Conference on Poetry

Dates: Arrival July 13, Departure July 19, 2014
Deadline: June 10, 2014

Tuition: Full Tuition: $1,475, includes all meals and lodging; Commuter Rate: $1,000, includes lunch and dinner; Auditor Rate: $1,035, includes lunch and dinner, no access to the workshop, Day Rate: $145, conference attendance, lunch and dinner.

Discounts are available.

Description: Spend a week at “intensive poetry camp” with writers who are deeply committed to learning more about the craft of writing poetry. The Frost Place Conference on Poetry offers daily workshops, classes, lectures, writing and revising time in a supportive and dynamic environment.


The Frost Place Poetry Seminar

Dates:  August 3-9, 2014
Deadline: July 1, 2014

Tuition: Full Tuition: $1,475, includes all meals and lodging; Commuter Rate: $1,000, includes lunch and dinner; Auditor Rate: $1,035, includes lunch and dinner, no workshop; Day Rate: $145, conference attendance, lunch and dinner. Discounts are available.

Description: The Seminar is a unique opportunity for dedicated poets to delve intensely into the poetic process in a small group setting. Participants will have their poems-in-progress given generous and focused attention in workshops and one-on-one meetings with faculty, and will be invited to think in new ways about what can be accomplished in revision. For an additional fee, the Seminar will offer full-length manuscript review to a limited number of participants.

Sarah Audsley
PO Box 74
Franconia, NH  03580
Phone: 603-823-5510

Email:   •  Website: