Friday, August 10, 2012


There is a trend now toward tiny...tiny houses.  So many people are in foreclosure.  So many have outspent their retirement income...already!  I am just planning for my retirement years.  They may never truly come as our country's economic problems are escalating.  My dream is to move to Italy, give tours for tips at a local archaeological site, paint in oils and watercolor and come home once a year in the months of July, August and September, when you don't really want to be in Italy because of the throngs of tourists and the outrageous temperatures.  Good tips though, I suppose!

I would love to find a small, wooded piece of land in Maine, near my sister.  It would be great if it was near the water, but not essential.  It would be wonderful if I had a place with a stream.  I would dig a big pit, and line it with clay and huge pink and gray granite boulders and sand.  Then I would channel my stream through it and out again to it's original course.   I would plant ferns, rhododendrons and mountain laurel all around it.
Electricity would be wonderful, but like my sister, I could do quite well with a couple of solar panels.  Just enough to run a reading light and to charge my computer for a movie each night.  My sister and her husband spend all winter reading, snowed in twenty-five miles from town and five miles from the road...Sublime.
Those are not stones.  They are cordwood ends,
 just like the wood you would burn in your fireplace or woodstove.

They sit by the french doors and watch the moose and bear forage around the yard. They fill the bird feeders every day, and shoot the chipmunks that scare the birds off. Don't worry, there are dozens who mind their manners on their fifty acres on a boulder dotted lake. 

My sister's land in Maine.

I will discuss their house at some later date.  Just let me say that my sister and brother-in-law were both over 60 when they started this house.  They had help with a few of the things that were simply beyond their ability, but most of what they did, they did on a budget, using local materials, and their own hands. 
My sister had a disability that forced her retirement.  She had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Chronic Tendinitis in both hands.  My brother-in-law had Emphysema, and was several years older.  Neither are big, husky people, and in fact, my sister is not the type with a history of heavy work.  But they both grew stronger, and healthier as they worked.  I was shocked when she said that they were slowing down a bit now.  She just turned 72.
They still bring in the wood, have built a woodshed and workshop, and are always planning new jobs.  The fact that they were so remote meant that they had few people around to give them colds or the flu, and they are incredibly healthy for 72 and 76.
They burn wood that they harvest from their land, have gas delivered to a huge tank in the summer, when they are accessible, for the refrigerator and cooking.(I would prefer a wood cook stove or Italian fireplace and outdoor kitchen, but that is just me.)  Though many think they are NUTS, it is a wonderful life for them.
The solar panel in the front yard.
People lived simple lives, with much of their lifestyle supported by the land itself for century upon century.  Just because we are living in the 21st century, does not make that lifestyle invalid or impossible. 
I am not writing this as an escapist or an apocalyptic profit of doom.  Of course either of those mindsets are valid reasons for building something like this, but I am just not into that.  No concrete lined holes in the ground for me!
I am not a construction expert.  I have always been handy.  My father and brother have always been builders and worked easily with plumbing and electricity.  I guess that in restoring buildings as I have and loving to research, I have continued that legacy.  I currently work for banks as a preservationist.  I take a property that has been forclosed and bring it back to life...that is when the penny pinching banks will listen to me and spend the money.
I have worked on houses from virtually all periods of our history, and have worked in living history museums.  I have learned to blacksmith before a crowd of kids and parents, have taught museum employees to cook in the colonial manner on the open hearth, and know about house frames from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The house my father and mother built in the woods with their own four hands in 1937.

I will try to pass some of this information on to you, and I will help to inspire you to your own little project... A house just for you.


  1. I can imagine you living out your dream retirement, and it certainly seems very fulfilling! I think living in a small house would be great if you are comfortable and happy with it. However, retirement can be quite monotonous. So it is good that you’ve already planned what you will do on your retirement days. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading and just enjoying the little joys of simple living! After all, it’s the little things that make life richer, right?

    @Cara Larose

  2. Thank you Cara for your comment. It is strange that I get nothing at all for weeks at a time and sometimes never. Today I got two comments in one day, one to my email and one in this format. I am happy that I have someone who is interested. I get tons of hits, but few leave comments.
    My sister sits in her house in the woods reading all winter, but I do not think that is for me. I also volunteer at a Literacy Center when I have time, helping immigrants learn English.