I broke. Well, I just went a touch wild. Vile temptress, thy name is eBay.

While nothing *new-new* graced the House of Small Living, a few sweet eBay snags did: namely, this pair of electric blue flats. How can you blame me?

Plus: a vintage Mexican silver and turquoise cuff bracelet and a little, gold Sarah Coventry owl brooch. He has chartreuse rhinestone eyes, people. How could I not bid? How could I?

And, beyond the hours I spent junking out on eBay, I put in some serious Value Village time (spoils, ahoy!), as well as some antique mall mania (well, one vermillion enamel, flower-cluster pin).

This month, much more than any other, I’ve been feeling the shopping pull. The siren’s song of the thrift shops has attracted me like Odysseus to, well, a siren. Have I strayed from the path of ascetic righteousness? What’s the deal with all this wanting? Human nature?

Previously on the Year of No New Threads:

The Pledge1 Mo. Down2 Mos. Down3 Mos. Down4 Mos. Down5 Mos. Down6 Mos. Down

The results are in, everybody, and it looks like Americans are driving less, or so says the U.S. Department of Transportation. Gaze upon the visual, via the Daily Score:

Zounds. Looks like a mileage downturn to me. Of course, as a country, we’re still hogging loads of fossil fuels to power our vehicles. But, according to yesterday’s International Herald Tribune, we’re not the only ones vying for oil. Nations around the world, from Mexico to Indonesia, are jockeying for petrol position, too — and they’re offering government subsidies that don’t squelch demand.

The oil company BP, known for thorough statistical analysis of energy markets, estimates that countries with subsidies accounted for 96 percent of the world’s increase in oil use last year — growth that has helped drive prices to record levels.

In most countries that do not subsidize fuel, high prices have caused oil demand to stagnate or fall, as economic theory says they should. But in countries with subsidies, demand is still rising steeply, threatening to outstrip the growth in global supplies.

While I understand that oil subsidies aren’t wholly good — especially in global terms — they do make it feasible for residents of non-G8 countries keep on truckin’ (literally). If consumers in those economies have to pay the true cost of oil, rather than the reduced cost made possible through subsidies, whole swaths of those populations could very well snap under the financial strain.

Then again, if these subsidies are upheld and demand for cheap oil continues to rise, we might be in an even bigger environmental pickle, one fraught with oil wars (something this country knows nothing about as yet) and rusted-out SUV chassis and, most likely, Texas Tea Zombies or some other type of pre-apocalyptic menace.

Of course, this could be a sinister blame-game, as it were; if we can create Huns out of Indonesian freighter captains who use barrels of subsidized diesel at a go, maybe we’ll be able to mobilize against said freighter captains in a future conflict over the last remaining gobs of crude. Maybe we can even send the Texas Tea Zombies to the front. They don’t stop for anything, I’m told.

What’s the solution?

Yes, I live in a tiny house. And yes, I strive to create nice sightlines and weird vignettes. Therefore, I am proud to announce a new addition to the Living Small house, handmade by my dear friend, The Choir:

It’s a thermostat cover, or, “thermobox.” No more unsightly plastic thermostat for us. Just an arts-and-craftsy oak box, worked in wood by a Washington artisan.

Yes, I realize that this is unnecessary. But I contend that when you keep house in a teeny space, eye-pleasers matter. When my eye snagged on that icky thermostat and the mismatched patches of painted and unpainted wall around it — true fact: the thermostat had been replaced twice, and neither of its predecessors had taken up the same footprint, thereby creating silhouettes in previous paint colors on the wall — I got a little twitchy. Wouldn’t you? (Is this OCD?)

I’m willing to bet that everybody has a niggling eyesore in his or her home. What’s yours? Do you plan to change it? Leave it lie?

Thank you, The Choir, for making my little living space a little more aesthetically awesome.

Walk the Walk

July 25, 2008

The sages have spoken, and Seattle is the sixth most walkable city in the U.S., says The Daily Green. Big enviro-points, Emerald City, given that walking = the ultimate in fuel efficiency.

Now that we’ve all charted our homes’ respective Walk Scores, and now that Feet First — an organization set on building walkable communities — has mapped several Seattle neighborhoods and their landmarks (check out the brand-spanking-new map of my digs, the CD!), it’s time to hoof it. Of course, how may’st I hoof when I know not wher’st to set foot to pavement?

Enter Google Maps, with its fresh (read: beta) Seattle walking directions function! All you gotta do is plug in some directions under the Get Directions link — say, 10th & Thomas, the location of the Cap Hill Farmers Market, to 16th & Madison, the location of the food co-op. Once Google maps your route, click the “Walking” link in the left-hand sidebar, above the direction detail (you know, Turn left here, Go .3 miles there, etc.). Presto! Get from Point A to Point B, all afoot. Thank you, Google. You always know what I need before I know I need it.

Remember, kiddies: Muscles, not motors! Happy hoofing.

WHO: You

WHERE: Your city

WHAT: Your house

SIZE: Under 1,000

Calling all Living Smallers: It’s your time to shine.

ReadyMade magazine, a fatty DIY monthly, is searching for “drool-worthy environs” to showcase in its upcoming Small Spaces issue. It’s true: YOU could be the next ReadyMade coverhome (and, potentially, the next Tiny House Tuesday feature). So, if you live in a pint-sized place — under 1,000 square feet — send some pics and an appeal to shana@readymademag.com. Let me know if you submit, and I’ll watch for your win.

Godspeed, and may you have better luck than the Bantam Roost.