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From My Window

Tiny House Movement

By Jane Thibodeau Martin


There is a fascinating show on TV that focuses on people choosing to buy and live in "tiny houses." I'm not sure there is a formal definition for what constitutes a tiny house, but in general they feature compact kitchens, a loft bedroom, and small bathroom, suitable for a single person or a very highly compatible couple. They have room for just the basics, and a person would have to live a minimalist lifestyle due to the restricted space of these homes.

There is at least one tiny house dealer in my area, and the little houses are quite charming to look at, with teeny porches, window boxes and bright color combinations. What has struck me about them, though, is that this lifestyle has been with us for a long time, and while it's trendy now, it really isn't new.

Lots of people in the Wisconsin northwoods retire and moved permanently to their cottage or camp after selling their house. Once the kids are gone and the time for a well-deserved rest arrives, they move into their small and simple vacation home, and live happily without three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a basement. My friend Mary is not yet retired, but she and her husband plan to sell their home, and travel the country in their travel trailer once their working days are done. They will take with them only what fits in the trailer, and I doubt they will miss mowing the yard, maintaining their house, and vacuuming rooms of carpet. When my husband and I camp we run into these "full timers," moving between areas as the weather changes; seeing the country at their own pace and never having to pack or unpack a suitcase. Their dogs happily accompany them, and we also encounter those who have a "camper cat" or two with them.

I even know people who have retired to live on their boats, and that's an extreme exercise in minimalism in anything less than 40 feet long. All the same, it's not "stuff" that makes us happy, and stripping down your lifestyle to the basics leaves space in your life for things that are probably more important.

A "tiny house" carries a price tag well north of $50,000, and you can get a really, really nice camping trailer for that price. And if the neighborhood changes, or you don't like the weather, hitch up and move along " not always an easy thing to do with a tiny house.

I used to look at the massive beach homes in the Florida Keys and the Galveston area, knowing that a hurricane would wipe them right off the face of the earth, and wonder why the people didn't buy themselves a top of the line motorhome for their beachfront property " so that when the hurricane comes, as it inevitably will, they could drive inland and wait it out somewhere safe, and save the massive homeowner's insurance bill for their "at risk" beachfront palace.

We all have too much stuff. All you have to do is look at the storage businesses sprouting everywhere to tell you that. When you have so much stuff you can't even keep it all in your residence, you just plain "got too much stuff."

Thought for the week; it is so sad to continue to see the senseless mass killings. Statistically, we live in one of the most violent countries in the world. We also have fewer and weaker gun rules than most other countries. Somehow we are missing the root cause of these events " and blaming Muslims is certainly not accurate. It was not Muslims that murdered Amish schoolgirls, or killed 20 elementary school children at Sandy Hook, or blew up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing 168. No, it was native U.S. citizens, at least one of them claiming to be an evangelical Christian. The common thread is angry, mentally ill men, and we have to figure out some way to identify and reach them before they commit another senseless act of violence against people they don't even know.


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