After two years of our tiny-house journey, something finally made my optimism wobble. This thing, which I’ll soon describe, made me walk away from my beloved tiny house, thinking “I cannot stand it.”
In comparison to the challenges Tom and I have wrestled with (finance, land, power, water, downsizing etc etc), this thing was not a biggie. In fact, it is no bigger than your fingernail, if considerably more numerous.I’m talking about flies.
For the past 10 days, the Mustard Yellow House has been a meeting place for flies; a veritable village well of the Musca domestica fraternity.
The bigger ones blow in, buzz around hitting things, then leave. The smaller ones swing by and stay a while, i.e. the rest of their lives, crawling, conversing, and making out.
A yet more annoying type of fly doesn’t even land; it simply finds the centre of the room and then dances around with its like-minded companions, achieving nothing except for driving me mad.
These flies … they just got on top of me. Not literally, physically on top of me, though some did try to land — they just wore away my patience.
Sometimes I chased them with a tea towel, or a hat, or a shirt stolen from the laundry basket. More than a few flies found themselves towelled, hatted or shirted to oblivion. But the vast majority eluded me.
Let me put this into context. The Mustard Yellow House is not a stinky or even untidy place. Our rubbish is composted or wrapped.
1. The place we live is inherently a potential fly trap. Our paddock is 60 metres (200 feet) downwind of another in which six horses live. That paddock is therefore copiously garlanded with horse manure. As well, twice a day, volunteers bring barrowloads of silage for the horses to eat.
So things can get quite smelly, what with the poo and the pickled grass. But I’m truly not bothered about that — it’s part of the deal when living in the country, and I love those rescue horses and am happy they get to live safe lives close to where we live ours.
2. This is the middle of an especially hot summer. Possibly the hottest month New Zealand has experienced. Temperature records are being set all over the country, and here in Makahuri it’s been blistering, day after day.
I’m talking about 30 degrees Celsius or so, or the low to mid-80s in Fahrenheit. My friends and family in places like Saudi Arabia or Queensland will chuckle at the idea that 30C is much to whinge about, but to us Kiwis it’s a shock when the typical summer would bring us maybe two days of 25-plus degrees.
So Geography and Meteorology, hideous handmaidens of the cruel goddess Nature, have sent us a surfeit of flies while ensuring that we need to keep every door and window open.
One day last week, I stopped being able to rationalise and “deal” with the influx. I was hot, tired and behind in my chores (because it was too hot to work outside). And maybe I was also feeling a bit, or a lot, of the still-compressed strain of the past two years. So I filled a water bottle, grabbed my tablet and quietly walked away…
… all the way to the big tree where Tom has hung a hammock. There, I distracted myself for an hour by reading about Trump and playing Scrabble words. I’d walked away from a challenge, but not very far.
Me in the hammock, but not grumpy
Tom arrived home and coaxed me back to the house.
Next day, he came home with sticky fly traps, a plug-in insect-killing gadget and a chargeable fan. He told me he’d ordered an evaporative air cooler (it arrived a few days later).
Practical Tom — he’s a keeper.
Making Sense Of It
The flies are probably a short-lived and possibly a one-off problem. In a tiny house the problem is more visible because, well, there’s less possibility of excluding them and less space to avoid them. So we have to find solutions, just as we have to do with other solvable problems, or make our peace with this particular new reality, as we have with all the other ones.
A flock of flies was in itself an unworthy reason for “failing to adult”. So I reckon more was going on than just flies. The heat and a touch of cabin fever were factors too. But I think, for both of us, there’s still a lot of stress coiled up in us that we need to unspool. This is the stress from the two years of change and worry and sudden obstacles and uncertainties, and I reckon the flies just brought it to a kind of head.
I like the way we’ve faced up to challenges these past two years. I’ve prided myself on staying positive. But now I wonder if we’d both benefit from a little more hammock time, maybe even a little holiday from the years of problem-solving.
Meanwhile, I still hate flies, but I’m dealing with it.