Little White Cabin, LLC publishes original stories, songs, and other creative works.
It began as its literal namesake, a little white cabin built by hand in what once was a pasture, and before that, a cotton field in the red clay of eastern Alabama. It is now a workshop where stories become books, songs become records, where imagination becomes real. The Book of Cain is the Little White Cabin’s first published novel.
About the Little White Cabin
by Jeff Lowe
In early 2013 my wife and I decided to leave our home and careers in Maryland and move to Alabama to take care of my parents, both of whom had Alzheimer’s. Except for hired daytime help, they were living by themselves in a house they had built on the farm where my father grew up near the Georgia border in a little town called Woodland. We had been managing their steadily gathering dementia from afar since 2009, but it had reached a point where they needed full-time care.
It wasn’t an easy transition for any of us. I intend to detail the challenges in longer form soon, but for this account I’ll just say that it soon became clear that everybody would be happier if my wife and I had our own, separate abode on the property. They’d keep their privacy and we’d have ours, and we’d be close enough to provide 24x7 monitoring and care.
We gave some thought to buying an RV or mobile home, but I had always wanted to build something of, and on, my own—from the ground up and with my own hands—so I came up with the idea for a cabin. I got the basic design from a plan I found on the internet, but I used it more as a general guideline than a blueprint. The plan I crafted called for a structure 32 feet by 16 feet, set on posts, with a 45-degree pitched roof and a covered porch that ran across the front (long side). Inside, it would have a storage loft on one end over a library/study area, and a larger sleeping loft on the other end over a bathroom and kitchen. In the middle would be a general living/working area.
I had built small things before, and performed some substantial remodeling on our Maryland house before we sold it, but never anything of this scope from the ground up, so as you might guess the going was slow. My dad would get frustrated with the pace and offer to hire somebody to do it for me, but I insisted on making it a true DIY project.
“I’d like to see it before I die,” he said.
On the morning of July 29, 2013, my father was crushed by a county road grader working on our gravel road. He was airlifted to a hospital in Atlanta where he died later that day. I had gotten no further than setting the main floor on the posts.
By the time of my father’s death, my mother’s dementia, which was diagnosed after my dad’s, had become worse than his. On the drive home from Atlanta she had already forgotten that he had died. She couldn’t live by herself in that house; my wife and I would have to move in with her. We would not live in the cabin.
In the span of a day it seemed that everything had changed—except my determination to finish the cabin project. I could hear him say, “I’d like to see it before I die,” and I’d press on. My youngest daughter moved in with us and helped with the framing and painting. It took too long—my wife took on the lion’s share of my mother’s challenging dementia care in that time—but finally what once was just a hope and an idea became a real structure. I installed a septic system and plumbing, wired it to the main house for electricity, and made it so that, even if I couldn’t live in it, I could work in it.
Instead of a home, the cabin became a workshop. And in it I determined to build other things that I had long dreamed of. I wrote songs and stories. The first actual product of those labors, a novel called The Book of Cain, came out in autumn 2018. Another, a novella called The Relic, came out in the summer of 2019. Audiobooks for both titles, as well as the podcast, "A New York Yankee in the Heart of Dixie" were recorded in the cabin studio.
Someday I’ll write a proper account of the cabin-building project. There is something deeply satisfying about taking tools and materials in hand and tackling all the mental and physical challenges involved in turning an idea into something you can not only touch, but stand on, climb on, sleep in, and work in—something that compels you to take a step back every once in a while, wipe the sweat from your brow, and admire.
Back in my first career, which was working on ships as a watch-standing engineer, I once met an old-timer who spent a lot of his watch in the machine shop building tiny piston engines—charming little toys that ran on compressed air. I remarked to my oiler that the guy had an admirable skill, but he seemed more interested in his hobby than standing his watch. And my oiler squinted at me with a wise look and said, “What are you building in life, boilerman?” I’ve thought about that question for many a year. I can answer it now.
A Little White Cabin.