Friday, June 7, 2013

The history behind how I ended up in this 600 sq. ft home

Let me begin first with the Park Model trailer
at Lake Seneca Resorts
near Seneca Lake here in Ohio.
It is a year-round campground.
We had bought a lot with an old trailer on it
that was just right for staying a night or two
here and there
throughout the year.
We did not want to stay with family
every time we visited from Cincinnati, 
especially when we were coming up a lot
because of Mike's Dad's cancer.

Then a job opening occurred and I got the position
at a small, rural school
near Seneca Lake
and my hometown.
We had three ill parents
and our first grandchild
all living up here,
while we remained four hours away in Cincinnati.
With me being the one responsible for my dad,
the distance was simply not working for dad or me.
Mike's parents needed him also.
And of course, we wanted to be closer to our darling granddaughter!

This trailer was for sale in the resorts.
We traded our old one in 
for this one (a company owned it).
Then we bought the lot next to us,
and had a barely used two-year-old trailer
that looked new,
facing the road on a double lot.
We moved me up here
and Mike stayed in Cincinnati
with the intention of moving up in two to three years.

{Our original plans got changed 
when both Mike's parents died within 14 months
after I got the job and we set up this trailer.
He no longer had a burning need to move up here,
and he was making three times in Cincinnati
what he would make here.}

As you can see, it is small, but cozy.
We still have it
and use it in summer.

There are two lofts and this one overlooks the dining and living area.
However, an adult cannot stand up in either loft.
This one is simply a sleeping loft and even the grandkids have to crawl into it.

The bathroom is a little bit bigger than our bathroom here.

The bedroom.
It is a queen size bed.

The second year I lived here, there were three floods in a row.
I had to literally drive through someone's farm
to a two lane dirt road that was more like one lane.
It had deep ruts on either side.
Then I went on New Gottengut Rd., 
where there was a small settlement of
Amish and Mennonites. 
That road was paved in places.
That led me to a somewhat main road
that led me to a definite main road
that led me to the road that wound me through even hillier
hills than my normal rt.,
and finally I arrived at school.
It put a whole new meaning to the expression:
"Going 'round Jack Robbin's barn!"
By the third flood, my car was taking a beating 
and I worried about ending up in one of those ditches.
I moved into town into my parents-in-law's home.
It had been sitting empty of humans since my mother-in-law's death
the previous Oct. (this was Feb.).
People knew the home and barn were filled with antiques.
It was a win-win situation for my husband's sisters
and for my husband and me
as now there was someone living on the premises.

Next, I got laid off and returned to Cincinnati
for a year.
When the time came that I was called back to school,
no one was sure they wanted me to return to the resorts.
Our lot was isolated, esp. in winter
when only six of the sixty-some trailers were occupied.
It was gated and thus not easily accessible.
That was both good and bad.

Our fantastic caretaker had died of throat cancer.
 The new guy was young with small children,
and Mike was worried that he wouldn't always be available
to help me.
My father was beside himself with worry.

But I would not ask Mike to buy a house in our hometown.
So I told God it was up to Him.
He had to lay it on Mike's heart.
Within two weeks this house came up for sale.
It was right next to close friends of Mike's.
He called me all excited
and said he really thought I should come look at it.
{I remember saying to God, "Wow, that was fast work!"}

My husband had been devastated by the death of his closest friend
and I believe to this day
that God saw this home as a means of healing for Mike,
which it turned out to be.
Mike and our next door neighbor
became much closer than they were before
we moved here.
Also, Denny and Becky looked after me
and helped fix broken stuff.
They came to my rescue a lot.

It was small, but Mike would only be there on weekends.
In two to three years 
(already three years past our original date), 
he would move up here and we would rent this one
and buy a bigger home.
Or so we thought.

Dad was thrilled.
I was safe.

Here is the place in November after we moved into it in August.
The curtains and blinds belonged to the previous owner.
She left them for us.

It was the only time my father was there.
Dad died less than a month later.

The next photos show the living and dining rooms
after I had the floors refinished.
We took up the carpet
and salvaged the original wood floors.
We painted the deer scene paneling and the awful wall color in the dining room
before we had the floors done.

These two pictures show the original back windows in the dining room.
We entered the back porch from the kitchen.

We had to completely gut the bathroom to the outside wall.
My sister-in-law and I installed the insulation,
then Mike built the new walls.
He eventually put the 1920 claw foot tub back in
and hooked up a shower set up.

A tub and sink does fit, but it is tight-fitting--definitely a one person
at a time bathroom.

The green colors are Craftsman house colors.
The wood baseboard and door trim had not been put back in yet
when I took this photo.

I found this photo.
It doesn't show the bathroom well. 
you can see how cramped it is
and get a bit of an idea of the tub and shower set up.

This is looking into the dining room from the living room
before Christmas festivities.
The table is not set yet.
You can see where we replaced the back window with French doors.
We now enter the back porch through these doors.
In the right-hand corner is my grading corner
with my comfy recliner.
In the left-hand corner is my computer armoire.
I have to be where I can't see the TV in the living room,
because my peripheral vision is always active---
thanks to mischievous teen-agers in the class room.

Here are two views of the kitchen
 before my kids and their families arrived.

Mike installed the cabinets.
He bought them off a friend who was upgrading his kitchen cabinets.
We did not want to spend much money 
since we were planning on renting 
and renters might 'destroy' nice stuff.
The door to the right leads down to the basement.

There was no dishwasher and just a small white metal cabinet and sink combination
where the present sink is.
I liked the old metal cabinet and white porcelain sink, 
but they were in bad shape,
and it was easier to replace them.
I still sort of regret that decision.

Here is looking into the kitchen from the dining room.
The refrigerator is where the door to the back porch was.
I showed this photo after Christmas to highlight how much
grandson Aaron loves cake.
As you can see, everyone was watching.
(He does not get sweets much.)

Here are the two adjoining rooms
after presents had been opened, the meal had been eaten,
and the food put away.
Furniture had to be crammed against the walls 
so there would be room for everyone to sit in the living room.

The floor to ceiling cabinet to the right in the tiny hallway
is one of my favorite features in this home.
They are in the kitchen also
across from the newer ones.

My very favorite features are the built-in cabinets with glass doors,
which are on either side of the opening
 between the living and dining rooms.
There is an exact copy on the other side in the dining room.

Here you can see into the tiny hallway.
The closed door is to the tiny bathroom.
To the right, just out of sight
is the door to our bedroom.
You can see how a young grandchild
would have trouble taking a nap
so close to the rest of the activities.
There is no other bedroom.

Here you can see the screened-in back porch 
to which we enter from the dining room.
The patio area has all been redone
and looks much nicer.
However, I will save that for another time.

It has now been seven years that I have lived in this house.
Mike moved up two and half years ago.
The company he worked for in Cincinnati
kept offering him raises to stay.
However, we were both tired of living apart,
so he refused the fourth offer, 
despite the nice chunk of money.
We put the Cinci house up for sale.
It sold in about six months.

So that's how we ended up here.
The house actually has 1200 square feet
when you count the full basement.
However, the basement is unfinished
and used mainly for storage and laundry,
although Mike does have his office
in a corner down there.

We have been looking for four years for a bigger home.
That story has been told before
in various posts.
We are still looking.
Meanwhile, I have realized how blessed we are 
to have this adorable home.

If we had a bedroom big enough for my recliner,
so I could shut myself away
after a particularly noisy and visually stimulating
school day,
and if we had a yard big enough for a big dog,
and if we were not on the busiest street in town,
where coal, gas, oil, and lumber trucks
rumble quickly by and could kill big dog in seconds---
well then---
I could be quite happy.
However, I am still happy as it is.
It's all in perspective.

I hope this post answers some of the questions
I have gotten about us living in this house.

Sorry, but I am not known for my brevity in writing. 


  1. I enjoyed seeing the pictures of your 2 places. Your home is really nice, even though it's small. Those floors are gorgeous!

  2. I took time and read every word, Beth.. Quite an interesting life you and Mike have had... Things "HAVE" worked out for you all, don't you think? The small house is cozy --and as I get older, I do want less room and more coziness.

    Hope you two do find that 'house you really want' sometime though. How many more years do you have before retirement? Is Mike still working?

    Our house here is small (about 1600 sq.ft) --and we do not have an extra bedroom for guests. One of my sons pointed that out to me --as a problem. BUT-- the house works for US --and we turned what was the 2nd bedroom into our office (where we share that room). Like it said, it 'works' for us...

    Thanks for your history.. Very interesting story you have. You should make a copy of this one --for your grandchildren to have. Since I work on Family History--I am constantly looking for more and more 'stories' about my family.


  3. I love small homes. I especially love them now that my nest is empty.

  4. all in perspective, too right. it strikes me how wonderful this place you live in is anyway. and i'm convinced it's just a matter of time (and okay, perhaps effort) before you'll either find the bigger place, or redo this one (has the basement room for improvement and /or integration, e.g. bigger bathroom?). i mean, you wouldn't say it's tiny, but i guess it is, by your words. lovely to witness though, where you do your stuff!
    cheers for this wonderful close up.

  5. amazing the beautiful floors that were hiding under it all.

  6. Thanks for sharing the story of your house moves, Beth. I can relate to the moving around and living in all sorts of housing conditions. I lived in England over a year and my husband lived in Italy (twice) because we had to do that. Once because we both had elderly parents to look after and once because my husband had to run the business in Italy and then broke his foot and couldn't travel and I was in England having and recovering from a major operation. Since we married we've moved thirteen times in various houses in both countries and travelled back and forth between Italy and England. I enjoy being with my husband in retirement taking each day as it comes with him now. I'm a home body and live for home and family life.

  7. I love the gorgeous wood floors and the built ins and the turquoise wainscoting in the bathroom. I love craftsman style homes, anyway. My home is small, too - whenever I start grumbling about that I try to remind myself that it's less to clean, haha!


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