Bloom Where You Are Planted

The builder and I are amused to note that our “baby” will be delivered on Mothers Day.

All of the adventures from Full Haus to Empty Nest have been amusing.  I may have gotten here kicking and screaming, but whether looking forward or backward or right where I now sit, there has never been a dull moment.  Like the weeds that appear in the lawn without intentional sowing, each element of the journey has surprised and altered and enhanced the process.  This is growth; and never is it more apparent than the moment before the bloom opens to the sun.

Beginning with the summer of 2016, when I traveled to the New Hampshire mountains in search of an affordable life, sorting through web sites and television shows and builders’ magazines and zoning laws, agonizing over the clutter which sometimes left me drowning, I can finally see the flower that is my life.  The seed was planted when my youngest child was considering a college on the west coast.  My second and third sons choose not to drive, and I had not realized that it would affect my position as a mother to step entirely out of the role as Soccer Mom (not that any of my Three Wise Men is the least bit athletic.  Their father played street hockey and the boys played Nintendo.  I was a left fullback).  

My first thought was that my child would need someone to transport him to his classes, which made no sense to my usual self, but Empty Nesting is a complex thing.  In order to drive him around, I would need to live in Redmond, Washington near Digi-Pen.  The other two had followed my lead and gone to Drexel, which was right on the R5 SEPTA Regional Rail line.  As I contemplated what I’d have to bring with me to set up a homestead so far from the family “estate”, we discovered that my son didn’t even have the credentials to get on an airplane to visit the campus.  Of course I knew better than to actually uproot my own life and follow my baby to college, and if truth be told, I had spent a lot of my mothering time teaching them to succeed on their own, so this entire brief plan to live on the west coast in a tiny house in order to get my child to class belongs in that same place where I keep dreaming that I forgot to potty train him.  

On his own, he withdrew his acceptance to Digi-Pen and followed his brothers to Drexel…..which by no means suggests that any of them visit their mother regularly.  Perhaps they are wise enough to know I won’t do their laundry.  Once the seed was planted however, it found its way to the ground’s surface.  Despite all logic and realism, that plant would not die.  Nor could it grow in the soil of an impossible marriage.  All living things need food, and my husband was a really bad farmer. Over time, the idea of living on my own became my only nourishment, so I started packing to get off the farm.

I have been living in a hoarded house.  I don’t know if I am a hoarder, but I know the lifestyle paralyzed me.  I thought that if I ever got beyond the clutter, I would find the things I once loved and wanted in my daily life.  

Let us say the weeding never ends.    


Side by Side

Whenever I take a step forward, the other foot stays where I left it.

In April I finally visited my tiny house. At the time, the interior was a skeleton. We say “shell”. My imagination and creativity immediately filled the space with ideas.

And then I came back to the big house.

My Stuff is going to outlive me, that’s all there is to it. Right this minute the FUL HAUS Odyssey is packed with donations. I tried to drop them off on Good Friday but they told me they were closed. Stood there like soldiers and refused to take the donation because they were going to close in five minutes. I can never seem to get beyond the Gatekeeper… The TNY HAUS Pilot is packed with things that are going to the tiny house.

I have more kitchen gadgets and stationery than I’ll ever need, and if my son hadn’t stared me down all weekend I’d still be deciding what to do with 42 key rings. I haven’t come across the keys yet.

But here’s a startling discovery: it’s kind of fun to see these things I thought I really needed, now that I don’t need them afterall. I even found a tenth gray hoodie after donating eight of them in the last couple of years. This one was in such bad shape it went right in the trash can.

For better or worse, my move to the tiny house is possible because I’m leaving so much in the exact place it’s been sitting for 20 years or more. Maybe you can’t take it with you, but maybe you won’t want to.

Betwixt and Between

hotrod die cast model on board

I am poised to step into Old Mother Hubbard’s shoe after her kids have moved out.

There are few times in life when you can hold all options open, and this is happening right now. I owe nothing to anybody. All my choices are mine.  I still own my stuff and I also own my tiny house.  My kids still love me and I don’t need to make their lunches.  There’s gas in the car and cream in the fridge and a pair of shoes on my feet.  I can wear my bra or toss it on the kitchen table if I want.  (I won’t)  I can admire Marie Kondo or make fun of her.  I can sing off key.  I can check the mailbox three times a day.  I can skip recycling.  Anything is possible.  Well, except pregnancy.  

And it all started ten years ago today, when I finally became a non-smoker after 41 years.  Freedom isn’t free, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Ten years, 12 hours, 17 minutes and 53 seconds. 146100 cigarettes not smoked, saving $41,784.73. Life saved: 1 year, 20 weeks, 3 days, 7 hours, 0 minutes.


Head of Cabinet(te)

I never wanted to be in charge. It’s just that everyone else was doing it wrong.

I needed to be less than two hours from the ocean and the mountains and any potential grandchildren. I needed a table and a big refrigerator and a ground floor bed. I needed to keep my cast iron and my fairy costumes and my sewing machine. I needed 400 square feet that could go wherever I ended up, and I needed it soon.

While I love just about everything about the tiny house movement, I’m not too keen on the term. “Micro home” was probably my favorite, but that term is now reserved for something under 200 square feet, often way less. I couldn’t get as much space as I wanted in the location I found, so most of the month of February was spent on Facebook Messenger with the builder who is 400 miles away. There was a little bit of fantasy sprinkled on this choice, because sometimes it is hard to find the line between reality and the imaginary world I call Figment. [see] This builder and I have known each other since he was born, and our mothers played with dolls together. I try hard on occasion to avoid thinking of us as Kissing Cousins, but I have seen his work and have attempted to enchant him into the tiny house building world for a couple of years now.

He is finding ways to build exactly what I want. Instead of a loft I have a privacy deck for moondancing once every 29.5 days. It is not a pretty sight, the dancing. It’s a DeckHaus. For a moondancer. Who lives alone and wears fairy costumes and cooks with cast iron for self defense. Who grows teaberry for extracts nobody’s brave enough to swallow. Who has triangular fixtures to save space for looking in the mirror and reaching under that dreaded corner cabinet. Who needs neighbors to keep an eye on her so the panic attacks don’t get out of hand. Who might wear the same t-shirt three days in a row if no food spills on it. Who ventures back “home” to visit her doctors and her Things. Who can do anything she wants to do at any time of day or night. Who can gaze at the stars and be glad to be grounded.

All this. In 255 square feet on three axles.

Leaving Amish

Rumspringa is an Amish tradition in which the community rules are relaxed and Amish teenagers are allowed to experience worldly activities. It is believed that by doing so the youths will be able to “find themselves.” (from

Rumspringa is also the model that Liberation Tiny Homes calls, “Our most affordable home, with simple choices and a design that works for everyone.”  It is not their fault that I whacked my left butt cheek going down their stairs.   I had no business sleeping in the loft when there was a queen-sized sleeper sofa right underneath it.  I am a little old lady who sheds dental floss throughout every tiny house I have ever visit.  Rumspringa was tiny house number nine; not to be confused with Love Potion Number Nine, which belongs in the other blog (  

After practicing the tiny lifestyle for most of the year, I came within a week of selecting a custom build from Liberation, when the Fairies From Figment arranged for a new alternative. My builder will be a lifelong friend, a Younger Man and teacher who has visited my dreams off and on since high school. No worries – his wife knows.

I left Lancaster County with a signed contract for a spot at Tiny Estates. I returned with a new perspective regarding my Stuff in the house. If I ever get to the bottom of the piles to reveal my treasures, I will likely discover that they have been taken over by the mice and termites. An ex-husband makes a very poor landlord.  

This doesn’t mean the hoarder gene has been removed from my DNA.  I was born with it and will be buried with it.  What’s different in the last couple of years is the attachment to personal possessions that I will never use.  I will never be a minimalist, but a hoarder lives in very little space when you consider how much of a room is filled with possessions.  The “living” actually occurs in the center of a pile.  Mentally, these possessions are the adult children that won’t leave the nest on their own, forcing the mother to kick her own children to the curb….






Eenie Meenie Tiny Tow

If you can follow the story in this little picture book, I can get a degree in psychology. Here’s where the journey started:


No, actually. It started before the vernal equinox in Valley Forge, honoring the nomadic life of my father during his retirement with Mom. It started when I visited Mom and Dad’s motor home at the curb.


Actually, it was even before that, when we had a VW Camper while we were growing up.

green and white volkswagen combi
Photo by Skitterphoto on

You get the idea. Living on wheels is in my blood. That being said, I spent over thirty years raising three boys in my forever-nest, which my mother-in-law called “a fine starter home” when it was built. I thought it was huge.



Eventually it got too small to share with my now former husband. Financial considerations forced me to reconsider the itinerant life, which I had attempted in New Hampshire and it was fun. My first blog posts are about that. This newer journey has been more serious – and funny – than the earlier one.

The first and last tiny experiences for the year were hotel rooms with a micro-fridge. Somehow the freezer space in April was much larger than the one in December… Neither experience was anything to write home about. There were three additional hotel stays in 2018, all with microwaves and refrigerators. Again, nothing to write home about. There were a few options I avoided: The Yurt, The Cottage, The LEGO, a Relaxed Shack and Cinderella’s Coach. The yurt was so small that I ate it.

There were a total of eight Tiny Estate THOWs I stayed in, each for seven nights. In order, they are:

The Journey (April), The Eagle (May), The Low Country (June), The Chairman (July), The Vision (August), The Prairie Drifter (September), The Capital (October) and The Moonlight (November). Each had features I knew belonged in my own design, and at least one feature that I could not live with. On the whole, I learned that the lifestyle would work for me, provided I tweaked it a little in some places and a lot in others. One month I forgot to pack my clothes. Another month I had no patience for the induction burners. Once I couldn’t get water to run in the shower. Another time I couldn’t get to the loft. One place had trouble getting internet. Another month there was too much duck poop. But it was never so bad as the first visit, when it was just me and Cody and 14 acres of cold bright moon glow and no shades in the windows.


But that’s a story for the other blog,

Pracktical Magick

aerial photography of brown house on body of water beside powerboat
Photo by Ibrahim Asad on

No man is an island unto himself.

Even an empty nester needs a community; a tree or a branch or a rafter.  Sometimes even a gilded cage.

When last we met, I was in one of my quandaries. Was I willing to give up my Stuff on an accelerated timeline in order to ensure a spot in a particular location?

Spoiler alert: sort of.

The dilemmas crept up on me and despite analyzing them one by one, what it boiled down to was a question of size.  A tiny house, by most definitions, is under 400 square feet.  If you have your own plot of land it can be a 20 by 20 garage.  Generally speaking, with a wide load permit it might be 10 by 40.  That was my dream for my circumstances, allowing me to live within my means without giving away all my hidden treasures.

Most of my items are in fact hidden, in 2000 square feet, because the house is full of things that were functionally necessary for raising three children who have now fled the nest and become capable adult humanoids on their own.  They cannot be blamed for much of the clutter, since they brought most of it with them to their own nests.  I lent my vehicle to all three of them this year to move from one nest to another.

The Forever Home in my head – and on graph paper – contained a hundred square feet of hidden storage for items I wanted to use on occasion but not daily….costumes, crock pot, sewing machine, sleeping bag, spare stationery, toilet paper, jewelry, mittens, sandals, shovel….all organized for easy access and quick return.  If you love something, it needs a home, too.

When I was blindsided with the news that Tiny Estates could only handle a 28 foot unit, I was stumped.  Could I risk losing the spot by waiting for a larger lot, or should I get something too small for me, be assured of the larger spot when one opened up, and be stuck with an extra house in a few years?

The Stepping Stone is in the design stages right now.





Getting Lost


Because there is something magical about the prospect of starting over, there is also something very sobering about losing that magic to a series of realities.

So far this year, I have been to two Tiny House Expos and spent up to a week in eleven different tiny options, eight of which have been at Tiny Estates. Most of the education has been about me, not my dreams. Now it’s time prepare for the final exam, and I’m having that nightmare where I don’t remember ever going to class. It’s time to sh*t or get off the Luggable Loo.

What I know so far is that I’m still a work in progress. My dreams and my reality weave a story of slow progress. I do not “turn over a new leaf” so much as toss it back into the air to watch if it lands somewhere else in the yard. I try on several coats before deciding which one keeps me warm in the winter without making me sweat in the grocery store. I sit in a chair and wonder about a new walking route I’m not taking. I always know that in the back of my head there is a better answer to a harder question.

I live.

And that means trying things that need tweaking, don’t work out, distract, confuse, annoy and exasperate.  For this reason and a million others, I am re-evaluating the decision to go from a hoarded house to a tiny one.

Stay tuned.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

And you can’t sell it on eBay©.

All of the directions from my October Tiny Estates unit to the Tiny House Expo in Maryland took me directly through a town I had promised not to visit. More precisely, I had promised to try not to visit. So being a somewhat hip and modern woman, I took a poll on Facebook to get input from my friends, which resulted in a shocking number of morally conservative responses. None of them was interested in fuel conservation.

During my return trip – where I had 3% cell battery and no charging cord – Google Maps, in an apparent effort to conserve time and gas as well as cell phone battery, sent me directly through Heartbreaker’s hometown – on his wedding anniversary no less – to make a left onto … Memory Lane. I kid you not. I would have taken a screenshot right then and there, but my phone died.

By the time the week was over, I was back to business, catching an ordinary event on the odometer as I drove onto Route 283…. This is the highway that flooded last month, leaving me half convinced that a spy was attached to my tow hitch.

There is no room for clutter in my new life, and that includes the stuff in my head and on my devices. Coincidence is going to have to be nothing more than co↔incidence; two unrelated occurrences. Fate and Destiny are easily spotted in The Real World because they belong on the other side of the river with the witches and fairies. There are plenty of concrete issues with making a dream a reality without confusing the process with fantastical crossovers. There is little room for messing around with symbolic messages from nowhere.

Besides resolving the issue of which land I was parked in for October, another event happened for the first time. My sons visited. I suspect they were relieved to see that I was going to a real place every month, and that there was actually room for us all to sleep on real mattresses, eat real food and connect to real internet. Middle Son was even disappointed that there was no real tent. Sadly, between the four of us we couldn’t come up with a real lighter, and the s’mores were left for another occasion.

This unit was built by Spencer Sousa, and its delivery on September 1st made Tiny Estates the largest community of tiny houses on wheels in the world. It was the first unit available that was built with a metal frame. There were periodic glitches with the internet connection, but it otherwise shared the general features of the others. It’s called The Capital and named for Univest, one of many partners allowing this concept to come to fruition.

There have been so many surprises in my first year of converting my lifestyle. Heck, there have been surprises in all my years of living, period. You can plan for just a small percentage of them, but in the end you need to just go with the flow.

IF I had stayed on 83 beyond York after leaving the Expo, IF I had ignored the whispers, IF I had been traveling just a few days later, I might have been another fatality in an eleven vehicle pile-up, leaving all my worldly possessions strewn across the road, and not a shred of it would be useful to anybody.

Don’t make your dream a reality. Make your reality a reality. Dream your dreams.

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Bank


As I mentioned in my last entry on both blogs, I generally keep a clear division between my real life and my fantasy life, which is especially good because there is a complicated exchange rate between the two states. In Figment the currency is acorns. In Reality I have to use cash.

Now I acknowledge an increasingly fluid view of The Real World, but this part-time tiny house living is not exactly funded with acorns. I am waiting for my ship to come in, and it’s so late that I worry it’s at the bottom of the ocean somewhere, providing a sweet little home for a family of mermaids. Mermaids are water fairies, but they are rarely found in the middle of that river which separates the two worlds in which I live. And so I am currently living on Plastic, which is yet another example of a state which is both real and fantastical.

The practical basis for going tiny from hoarder/collector is financial. The dream home was a nightmare. The decisions and the duties were made by two very different people, and the children suffered for it, right along with the parents. Nobody knew much about autism then, so I kept trying and he kept yelling. His vision for the house reminded me of some relatives on my side of the family who wouldn’t allow anyone in the living room. Ever. That’s not a “living” room in my opinion, and nobody will ever convince me that you aren’t supposed to LIVE in your house, even on the days when nobody rings the doorbell. The Queen is not going to visit. The place I have lived half my life became a great big storage bin, where both of us were just waiting for the other to move out. Three attorneys told me I couldn’t leave because I would be destitute. I got divorced anyway.

I will never ever have enough money to stay in the house. He will never ever have the physical ability to leave. By the end of the year both of our ships should dock, and all my decisions will be mine. I don’t want to live tiny. I want to live within my means. I will live in the largest Tiny allowed by definition. I will have room for some storage, but only for things I really love. I will have a toilet seat that will never be lifted, walls with no holes, a real bed, a table to eat at, all my cast iron and Godiva boxes. I will never cover the sofa in plastic or keep my good china on the top shelf. Heck, I won’t even have good china. I might not have a sofa. Best of all, I won’t have to pay storage fees for junk in the attic or basement or garage.

All that I don’t want to live with will be left on the opposite side of the river, where you fish on your side, I’ll fish on mine, and nobody fishes in the middle.*
* Lake Webster, disputed translation.