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A Two Year Poem: (Subtitle: What do “Frozen”, the number 44, homosexuality, coffee, the common cold, Colorado and reproduction have to do with anything?)

April 26, 2014


Today, we celebrate.  (Buckle, up.  This one might get interesting).

Let me just start by saying…I got a lot going on right now.  To put it all in a post is gonna take a few words (something I’m never short of) so in case you don’t feel like reading much, here’s what’s going on in a short poem:

Twenty-Fourteen, shall forever go down
As a year in which we got some stuff.
We got our shop sold, then we hit the road
But for us, that wasn’t enough.
On this special day, 26 of month 4,
We celebrate two funky years
Of RV dwelling, but wait!  There is more…
It’s also my birthday! So CHEERS!
I also got sick, (a bad cold – I’ll be fine)
So took off from writing a bit.
But now, I am back!  And vengeance is mine!
And you’ve only just heard part of it!
My wife got promoted, my children got tall
And I got a new clean-shaved look.
My writing got better (take for instance, this letter)
And my shop got featured in Will’s book
But of all the sweet stuff, we got in this year

None could be as special to me.
As the last thing we’ll get right before this year ends
It’s tiny…Niemyer…number THREE!
UPDATE JULY 2014: After writing this we miscarried at 12 weeks.  If for some reason you are someone who should already know this and are finding out this information here, I am really sorry.  Thanks for understanding.
Caffeinated PDX by Will Hutchens.  Chapter 31 is about us and our shop, Speedboat Coffee!

Caffeinated PDX by Will Hutchens. Chapter 31 is about us and our shop, Speedboat Coffee!


And now, the longer version….

It was 2 years ago TODAY – TWO….YEARS – that my family of 4 moved into a 99 square foot Rialta RV.  We had started talking about relocating to Colorado, decided that we’d sell our 3 coffee shops, get an RV and take an extended relocation to Fort Collins, CO.  The shop had been on the market and we had found our perfect machine for the road trip:  a 2000 Volkswagen Rialta.  Once we had it, we loved it so much we decided to move into it and just live on the streets of Portland.  That way, we reasoned, when the shop sold – probably any minute now – we’d be ready to hit the road.  This idea sparked our ongoing flirtation with the idea of minimalism so in we moved.  April 26, 2012.

It also happened to be my 42nd birthday.

Well that was two years ago, and today as I turn 44 I can honestly say we’d all do the whole thing over again.  We have had a BALL.  My kids dig it.  My wife is crazy about it.  And me?  Well like my dad always said about my mom.  “If it makes her happy it tickles me plumb to death”.

Then the movie “Frozen” came out.  I only recently saw this when my kids nabbed it on Redbox.  It happened to be in a weird little season where I had come down with the nastiest cold I’ve had in years.  The thing just about took me out.  Would have too, except I was in the middle of training two new employees at my coffee shop which meant we were short staffed and I simply had to work.  Meanwhile, Carissa had come down with some discomfort (which I’ll get to in a minute), but which was making her ill as well, AND she was working a stretch of overnight jobs with her birth clients which meant she was trying to sleep during the day.  On top of all this, it was Spring Break so my kids were not in school and had to be taken care of all day every day.  All that to say, we watched that movie about a gazillion times.  And every time I dang near started crying at one point or the other.  I did NOT cry, but I DANG NEAR did.  Big difference.  Just need to be clear on that.  But obviously I wondered what was going on in that movie that was getting to me.  All I could figure it was about was some kid that had struggled with feelings of homosexuality their whole life and finally decided to come out and found that love was stronger than fear and lived happily….well, you know.  Now I’m not dumb enough to comment on a coffee and minimalism blog as to what I think about all that and I hope you don’t try to figure me out, ’cause that’s not the point here.  There’s plenty of other people that have written plenty of other things about that and you can just go read those.  I’m just saying, that’s what it seemed like the movie was about to me.

So imagine my surprise when I figured out that “Frozen” was getting to me because it was about….DUH…ME!!! (Isn’t it always?!?)  I realized that so much of my life has been lived hiding things (don’t get nervous I’m not about to over-share here).  All of them understandable, and none of them too awful.  But we tend to do that, don’t we?  Hide things?  Everything from how much we pick our nose when no one is around to what we believe politically or spiritually?  And it’s been said that confession is good for the soul, and I totally get that because when you go around hiding things it just feels good to finally acknowledge them and come sorta clean.  Even if it makes you look dumb, it still feels good to just get it out there. But for me, the one that relates to all this is that I’ve been hiding on the streets of Portland for two years.  Now, I like this about myself, and I think it’s why it’s worked.  I’m extremely conscious of where we park and who we might be bothering.  And I’m extremely careful about who we tell that we live in an RV because I don’t want people to make assumptions about why we live like we do without having the opportunity to unpack it for them.  So we just kind of hide large parts of our life just in case someone might not understand. We hide from the kids’ school friends.  From our customers at the shop.  From associations in our businesses.  And so on.  So when I saw that Ice Princess living in that Kingdom of Isolation, finally free from all her secrets and getting in touch with how amazing she was…well, I guess I just saw me.  For the first time in two years I feel like I can tell anyone what we’re up to without having to protect the situation to ensure it can continue.  The continuation is mobile, it’s transparent, and it is FREE.

And THAT leads me into a few other things. As we celebrate two years of living in our Rialta, can I just tell you there’s a whole lot going on in my life?  Yes, it’s true that after 3 years of saying we were doing it, we finally actually DID sell our remaining coffee shop, Speedboat Coffee.  The sale closes in 5 days, after which time we will be 100% debt free, AND we own our “home” outright.  We’ll have no rent, no mortgage, no car payment, no businesses t0 run (Carissa will keep working through June) and will finally be ready to take off on the full-length version of our travels, starting in early July.  It’s crazy! (I love crazy!)

Meanwhile, I had this life crisis over the past year where I realized all my work towards building anything – coffee, financial security, collecting stuff, even my precious experiences – was all kind of a big waste of time.  It all just goes in the coffin with you and then nobody cares.  The only thing that truly mattered, I felt, was the work of raising my children and enjoying them along the way.  And it just so happened that Carissa was totally on board with this so a few months ago we decided to take another crack at this baby thing, timing it so that she would be pregnant during our road trip, and then we could settle into our new life with a new baby!  Not long after that…. SHAZAM!  Baby Niemyer, due in early December!


Prego-C judging at the United States Barista Championship 2014

Prego-C judging at the United States Barista Championship 2014


FINALLY….after the whole Frozen thing and the whole shop sale and the whole writing break and the whole pregnancy bit, I just felt like I needed to match my outside with what was going on in my inside.  There’s a whole feeling of newness, birth, clean slate, fresh start…that kind of thing.  So I went to this local barber shop called The Modern Man and got me a hot towel shave for the beard I accidentally grew on a camping trip 4 years ago, got the first haircut I’ve had from someone not named Don Niemyer since I’ve been married, thrift-shopped some new duds (sweet jacket for $16.50!) and just new’d myself up a bit.  And while Carissa sits inside the Seattle Convention Center at this very moment judging the national coffee competition, my kids took these sweet pics of me (seriously – I helped set them up but they were the trigger-people!).  So there it is.  New life.  New baby.  New look.

What’ll we come up with next?!?


  1. Gwendolyn permalink

    I love that post. I love you. I love your wife. I love your kids – all three! I can’t wait for y’all to move and make a road trip up to see you. We will watch Frozen together, while Carissa and I make Tshirt yarn (best up cycling ever).
    Oh and btw, while I’m still rocking my 60hr week day job:
    *Im in my 3rd semester of UCLAS professional screenwriting program
    *I started and LLC and am in the process of forming a non-traditional non-profit
    *working on filming my first short
    *randomly decided I need to learn to paint
    And yeah, that hiding thing- learning it’s okay to come out more every day 🙂
    Happy Birthday Don!!

  2. Sherry Borders permalink

    i just love love love this post!

  3. Rich Hemphill permalink

    Love your blog. I’m thinking of getting a Rialta. There is a web
    site, Oodles, or something that has a bunch of Realtas for under 10 K. Sounds too good to be true. What do you think?

    • I don’t know Rich…I went to that site and they have a BUNCH of Rialtas, which is fishy because they are not that easy to find. And the prices, sheesh. WAY off base with what I would expect. I noticed that the photos are mostly of the same Rialta. So you’ll have one guy in Flordia next to a guy in California and it’s the same photo. Fishy. Another thing…the use of English language was somewhat – well, it just sounds like maybe the people writing the ads are not speaking English as their first language. Not huge, but just a flag. If you scroll on along then you get from “pristine condition” Rialtas selling for $5800 to ones selling for $40,000. The $40K is more what I would expect for something in the condition described. So I don’t know what’s up with it, but it SURE smells like a duck and quacks like a duck, if you know what I mean.

      • Rich Hemphill permalink

        Wow! Thanks for the quick response. Hey, which is more minimalist, clean shaven-less hair, or let it grow-less hassle? I can’t wait to read about your new adventures.

      • Ha! Well, that’s a personal decision. I’d go with whatever makes you look the best. Cheers!

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