Category Archives: Family

Go Small!

I got two books for my birthday, both about the Tiny House movement. The concept of putting your stuff into your turtle-shell abode and wandering the countryside has fascinated me for years.

At least three times in my life, I have approached it. (Not counting a summer bedroom I loved that had barely room to turn around in it.)

When Steven and I left Omaha, we moved into a VW van with our cat and dog. The cat left us in Ames, Iowa, and in student housing at that. The dog stayed, and we did in fact travel around using the van as our base of operations while visiting family. It had a bed, a cooler, propane stove, shelf, and as I recall, a plant or two. We did not live in it except when we were between visits, fun but not taxing.

Lighted windows in the snow

“Our house is a very, very, very fine house..” -Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young

After we moved to the U.P. in 1976, our 16’ x 20’ cabin became our Tiny House. Cozy in winter, cool and huge in summer with the addition of outdoor living space – “the big room” I thought of it as then. We managed to live successfully there for years until additional members of our family spurred a change to larger quarters. (We did build a 10’ x 10’ storage shed as well.)

On tour with Caitlin in the ‘90s, we lived in our Dodge van for up to two months at a time. It was a great feeling to be so mobile, without the hassles and benefits of our real lives. On the other hand, I remember peeing in an alley byway because I was locked out of a bathroom at 3 a.m., and I again became conscious of the true value of a good shower.

So, my friends, I’ve been there. I was glad to move on. Why, then, this fascination?

First, it’s a puzzle. I love to draw house plans, garden plans, whatever. It’s the puzzle of fitting everything in that intrigues me.

Secondly, it looks so clean! I am the product of a “stuff” upbringing. This lent itself to many productive and pleasant pastimes, but it isn’t neat.

I found a YouTube video by Renee at Michigansnowpony (https://www.youtube.com/user/Michigansnowpony). She expounds in it on the Tiny House phenomenon, concluding in the end that (paraphrased by me) “You don’t have to live in a Tiny House to do the cool stuff they do with Tiny Houses.”

Eureka! Aha! Omigod!

Kind of amazing that you can not-see so much, so well, isn’t it?

So the message from Me to me is that it’s time to be more orderly and intentional in my “stuff” life. This year I began to re-organize and re-imagine our home, beginning in the kitchen. I’m currently stuck in the bedroom (but it’s garden season, too bad) while still able to enjoy the greater mobility in and through the parts of our home that are finished for now.

In each area (cupboard, closet, counter) I’ve pared down the number of items I keep, re-arranged the contents that remain, and come up with new ways to keep the things I have fresh, clean and happy. The task of visioning a new way to use spaces I’ve taken for granted for years is a fine one, and has led to such positives as a new bed pillow to replace the ones purchased in the late 1900s, being able to use the desk Steven’s parents had in Detroit, and finally letting go of some of the stuff I had to keep because “it belonged to ___”.

So I encourage you to think small this week. I know some of you (many of you!) are much more organized than I am, and much better housekeepers. (I have a tendency to not-notice in the middle of something that’s going on. ADD, I think they – hey, a bird!)

Thinking small can mean looking at the pairs of shoes on your closet floor and saying, “Imelda I’m not!” and ridding yourself of some; or saying “These are my bottom line, pairs I NEED!” and inventing yourself some of that Tiny House storage (under the stairs?) It can mean re-purposing tackle containers to organize your craft supplies. It can mean cleaning out your jewelry box and making a collage of the pieces you decide to keep.

It can mean whatever you want it to. And in a small way, it can make a very big difference.

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