100 Days: What’s working, what’s not, what’s changing

Several months into our year in this room, it’s time for a check-in. There’s no probationary period for new residents at Beacon Hill Friends House (no cracks, please, about how lucky that is for us).  But the time seems right to ask how it’s going.

There’s nothing like returning from a trip to provide a snapshot of how you’re feeling about the place you’re returning to. And our return from Vienna earlier this week prompted at least a couple of feelings about life at BHFH.

Walking into the kitchen, I found Kevin and his girlfriend, Christina, cooking up a storm. Several housies were hanging out around the table with the Sunday papers spread out before them. I got hugged and welcomed in ways that made me feel like belting out the theme song from Cheers, “Where everybody knows your name.”

washerHeading for our room, I passed through the laundry room and was confronted with a clever but disturbing creation decorating the washer. The alert that this critical appliance was “eating quarters” instead of washing clothes was not the best news for someone with a week’s worth of dirty laundry.

Appliances broke when we lived on our own, of course. The good news about broken appliances at BHFH: Arranging the repair is someone else’s responsibility. The bad news? Arranging the repair is someone else’s responsibility. Continue reading

How travel opens windows on the ways we live

Living in a 16 by 18 foot room is easier if you have the means to travel.

Susan Ager reminded me of that with a comment to a Facebook update I posted last week about connecting in Vienna with a friend from Boston.

Susan’s right, of course, and not just about the fun and freedom attached to hightailin’ it out of the country now and then.

It’s also about getting a glimpse of how differently people relate to their stuff, their space and the people around them.

One of my first eye-openers on this front came more than 30 years ago. Continue reading

Resources for downsizing, intentional communities and the sharing economy

If you glance at the horizontal navigation just above the photo stretching across the top of the page, you’ll see a new addition: Resources.

Now that Carol & I have been at this for about a month, we’re beginning to accumulate books and links and other stuff we think you might be interested in.

We’ll update the Resources page regularly and invite you to help us make it useful, either via comments below or via email. I’ve pasted the first paragraph of the resources page here to give you an idea of what you’ll find there:

As we encounter useful resources along the paths of downsizing, living in an intentional community and exploring the sharing economy — among other things! — we’ll share them here. We’ll pass along resources we’ve used ourselves or are recommended by trusted friends. We get a small cut of any books you purchase from Amazon.com via the links below, but we have no financial stake in any of the other products or services listed.

There’s a baby in the kitchen

It wasn’t that unusual over the years to walk into our kitchen in the morning and find someone we didn’t recognize.

baby in the kitchen2We were lucky that our kids felt free to invite their friends for extended stays. And in Florida, the sphere of visitors expanded as Carol’s brother, Jim, and his wife, Karen, brought friends to help them sail the boat they kept at the end of our dock.

Still, I can’t remember walking into our kitchen and finding a baby we weren’t expecting!

That’s happened a couple of times at the Friends House, most recently this weekend with the appearance in the kitchen of 13-month-old Alice and her parents Brittany and Andrew. Continue reading

Learning to love the Avenger and the culture of sharing

If you’d asked me a few months ago what new skills and small pleasures I saw on my horizon, restaurant-style dishwashing wasn’t that high on the list.

That was before I met The Avenger.

avenger pantry and kitchenThe Avenger is the sanitizer used by Beacon Hill Friends House to ensure the cleanliness of the dishes, utensils, cups and glasses used by residents and guests. The drill in brief: We wash by hand anything people have used for eating or drinking. We stack everything in a rack and run it through the Avenger’s high-temperature rinse for two minutes. We remove the rack, empty it and stack everything on the shelves. It turns out that those things dry perfectly well, eventually, without the intervention of towels.

Unless you’re planning to stop by for dinner soon (which I hope you are), that’s an awfully fat paragraph about how clean we keep our dishes at the Friends House.

I burden you with it because the Avenger has become both my favorite chore and my handiest image of what I like about the sharing economy. Continue reading

Out of the house and doin’ nuthin’

By tomorrow, we will have spent six of the past seven days out of the house we now call home. All of this time away from Beacon Hill Friends House comes courtesy of, well, friends of another sort.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday we were in New Hampshire with Mystery & Dee, friends from college in Indiana.

There’s no road to their place, known in the local lingo as a “camp.” Mystery picked us up in their skiff, its 9.9 hp outboard skittering us across Lake Massasecum in no time. One of the Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 3.28.20 AMpleasures of life in these 60s is reconnecting with adults we knew as children of friends. Fun to hang out with Sarah and her friend, Jackie.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we’re with Jean and Fran and Corinne. Jean and Carol are friends from high school in Kentucky.  Continue reading

Shared bathroom down the hall

Telling friends about our move to Beacon Hill Friends House, we described our interest in community living and our enthusiasm for the lifestyle change awaiting us in Boston. But a few of those conversations snagged on issues that some of our friends and family regarded as show-stoppers:

  • Moving into a single room
  • Sharing a bathroom with others

Especially that second one.

Most of us have endured those circumstances at one or more points in our lives: Growing up at home, surviving dorm life, crowding into co-op housing as twenty-somethings.

But would it really work for a couple of sixty-somethings?

Continue reading