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"Shorts, Outtakes and Rants"

Most weeks I write a column for my paper; occasionally my daughter writes one. Usually they're focused at local issues, but every now and then I come up with one that I think Spearfish Lake Tales readers would find interesting, so I post them on the Spearfish Lake Tales Message Board. Since I've been neglecting "Shorts, Outtakes and Rants" recently, I decided to repost a few of them here, like this one. I hope you enjoy it! -- Wes
Tiny house, bit problems

January 2017

My hand slipped on the TV hand controller one day last week. Even though it was a few minutes early I was looking to turn on the news, but I wound up watching the tail end of a piece on "tiny houses," on the DIY channel, I think.

It was right at the end of the show when the builders show the family their new house of 250 square feet for a family of five. There were three bedrooms, all of them lofts with nowhere a person over the age of five could stand up. Some of the things were, well, a little out of place, like a metal stock tank used for a bathtub. There was a trendy-looking blonde gal gushing about how wonderful their $125,000 new tiny house was, and how happy she was going to be to move out of their 2,000 square foot house.

The gal may have been good-looking, but her hair kept me from seeing the hole that had to be right straight through her head.

Come on! Five people, three of them teenagers, in a 250 square foot house with only lofts to sleep in?

I was reminded of the perhaps apocryphal story of the two Alaskan sourdoughs back in the gold rush days who had to winter over in a tiny cabin. One of the guys shot the other one because he kept whistling and humming the same song continually, over and over again, all day day after day, month after month. A jury of twelve other gold grubbers acquitted the guy: justifiable homicide, open and shut.

Let's be reasonable for a minute. A 250 square foot house is not that bad a deal in some circumstances. If you're so inclined it could make for a nice vacation cabin someplace. People have sailed around the world aboard boats that have perhaps half that amount of interior space. I have relatives who live in two travel trailers of about that size -- one in the California mountains in the summer, another in a warmer climate for the winter. They seem to get along just fine.

I'm sure there has to be a snowbird somewhere down south who is reading this and nodding, "He sure got that right."

Being a novelist I'm used to examining things I have no intent of carrying out, so I've thought that if I were by myself I could get along quite well in a place even smaller than that. There are advantages such as cutting down on the maintenance and cleaning and the low cost to heat it.

I can imagine having such a cabin overlooking some lake somewhere, peaceful and beautiful. Maybe I'd have things like wind generators and solar panels to be able to be "off the grid" and away from the hassles of civilization. Of course, I can visualize closing the place up when the skies turn gray and cold, and heading to some warmer place to await the sun coming back northward.

But honestly -- five people, three of them kids, living full time in a place that small? It would be a nuthouse, especially in times when the weather precludes going outside to get away from everyone else for a breather.

From the very little research I have done about the modern "tiny house" movement, it seems to me that most of these places are mounted on trailer frames. I presume the intent of this is to be able to classify it to the authorities as a travel trailer, which have different requirements than permanent housing almost anywhere you go -- but maybe it's to simplify hooking the house up to a pickup and towing the whole rig to someplace where sanity prevails.

Now, all that said, I'm not against tiny houses. In fact, in their place, I think they're cool. But they are not for everybody, and that's true of a lot of such things you can see on TV. Dreams are nice for dreamers, but the reality can bite.

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