A Morning View
Photos: Michelle Hickok
Tammy and Logan Strobel Keeping it Simple
Mornings have become ritualized for Tammy Strobel, who lives in a tiny house outside of Montague. She’ll hand grind Northbound Roaster’s coffee beans and set them to steep in a KleenKanteen, perhaps leaning over to pet one of her curious cats in the process.
When the brew is ready, she’ll pour it into one of her few treasured mugs, grab her iPhone and head out for a walk. She’ll take a deep breath and absorb what the day brings her in terms of a view. Then she’ll pull out her iPhone, strategically place her coffee mug somewhere within the view finder, and document what she sees.
It’s an idyllic and unhurried way to start the day. These walks, however, started out as a journey through grief and an exploration in gratitude. They’ve culminated in a book, “My Morning View,” which shares photography tips, thoughts on gratitude and praise of quality coffee.
In 2005, Tammy and her husband, Logan, began simplifying their lives, a process documented in Tammy’s Book, “You Can Buy Happiness (And it’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too.” It was a process that brought freedom through debt-free finances and mobility through the flexibility of tiny-house living.
That freedom and flexibility were called upon in 2012, when Tammy received word that her stepfather, Mahlon, was in the hospital. “His stroke and the events that followed really shifted me,” she says.
The simplification of their lives allowed Tammy and Logan to lean into Mahlon’s end-of-life process in a way that let them be present for everyone involved. “I’m really glad we simplified our lives when we did, because we were really able to be available for my parents,” says Tammy.
It also lead to a unique form of healing and honoring his memory: the iPhone project that turned into “My Morning View.”
“He loved good coffee and he loved being outside,” Tammy says of the project she embarked upon on New Year’s Day in 2013. “It’s helped me heal from the grief I felt in losing Mahlon. The photography has been such a great tool for me to cope.”
There have been lessons in the project for Logan, too, who says, “It made me realize that we get really depressed when we focus inward.” He’s noticed that intentional walking with a focus on photography helps in “having gratitude, bringing down the blood pressure.”
Tammy and Logan brought their tiny house to Red Bluff last summer, where they were able to stay near Tammy’s mom. “In respect to family and value and heart, I’d be lost without Tammy and Logan,” says Tammy’s mom, Kathy Hettick of Red Bluff. “It’s heartwarming,” she says of their dedication to supporting her through her husband’s death.
While the book has been published and is available in print and digital formats, the walks continue and Tammy continues to share her images through Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram. She also writes a popular blog called Rowdy Kittens, which has the tagline “go small, think big & be happy.”
Rowdy Kittens is a vehicle for Tammy to share her experiences living in a tiny house, as well as a home base for her many micro-enterprises, such as online writing and photography courses, and work co-teaching the online course A Simple Year.
Tammy and Logan are proponents of the tiny-house movement and have eagerly shared the process of downsizing and moving into 128 square feet. The house was designed by their friend, Dee Williams, author of “The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir.”
They moved into their tiny house in 2011, while living in Portland. They eventually moved to Chico, where they originally met, and have been living in various places throughout Northern California ever since. “One thing that’s nice about having a house on wheels is that you can try out different communities,” says Logan.
They currently reside on the cattle ranch where Logan grew up. A one-car couple, they manage transportation to and from Logan’s work at Siskiyou Economic Development Council via their car, public transportation and a Brompton fold-up bike.
“The simple life has given us a lot of opportunities,” says Tammy. “We tried big city life and are now close to family.” She mentions an appreciation for the ability to “really engage in an experience and just have fun.”
“Time is the currency of life, not necessarily money,” says Logan. “If you put the emphasis on the right currency, things tend to work out.”
Tammy and Logan will participate in a book signing and Northbound Coffee Roasters tasting event on August 23 at Enjoy the Store Red Bluff.