The Tiny Home in Our Driveway

There are two kinds of people in the world. (there are more than that, but let’s not nitpick)

People who love to stay home and people who love to wander.

Home people nest and settle in for the long haul as nostalgia rules the day.

Wanderers are restless horizon watchers who understand that to be a stranger in a strange land is to be right at home.

What makes people long for home?

Why are others infected with wanderlust?

The neighbors believe we’ve spaced out with a symbol of wanderlust, a tiny home jacked up on a trailer in our driveway, partially obscuring the entry to our front door. 

We were driving to dinner last night and Karen said, “I thought wanderlust was spelled wonderlust and I didn’t know that it means a longing to travel.” I told her it was ok, that one doesn’t frequently hear wanderlust used in a sentence.  

Wanderlust is more true of my children than for me. They love to travel in this stage of their DINK lives (double-income-no-kids).

Wanderlust is perhaps the reason for the tiny home in our driveway. Brandon and Liz will move in soon…

So rather than accumulate mortgages and children and homes on fixed foundations, they are building mobility. Our children don’t own cars…they fly in jets and take buses, trains, and Uber. They’ve traded hamburger and fries for Meshana Skara from Bulgaria and Schnitzel from Germany.

This ticket to a simpler life is almost complete. Soon, Inola the dog will move in with our son Brandon and daughter-in-law, Elizabeth. In case you are wondering if they’ve lost their minds, here are 5 thoughtful reasons to build a tiny home: 



Simple Life    

Minimalism is back…if it ever really left, and it’s the idea that you have all this clutter in your life but does all the stuff make life better?  To downsize your living environment allows the pursuit of other passions and shared adventures.

Place becomes larger and the world smaller 

Living in a mansion can make you a citizen of nobility, but tiny living makes one a citizen of mobility. This desire to see the world reminds me of Maya Angelou’s comment, “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place.” You’ve broken the bonds of parochialism. In a sense, simple living makes your home larger because your footprints extend further into the world. You have more economic resources to move about, see the sights, and eat strange food. This movement isn’t just for the young. This reassessment of residential economics applies to empty nesters and retirees who find value in these same ideas.


Tiny home folks are tapping into a style of living that might be considered more adventurous than being one of 300 in an apartment project or a suburban development with lawn mowers buzzing all weekend.

Cool Factor 

I asked my son, Brandon, “Why don’t you just buy an Airstream trailer. Then you can be retro-hip and mobile?” He said that they didn’t want a trailer. It’s the hip factor. Well, tiny homes do have their own television shows…and they are kind of jazzy if you are into that sort of thing.


My son is a Meteorologist who specializes in wind studies. His graduate degree is from York University in Toronto, Canada, where they are more aware of climate change than in my cloistered prairie universe. So he asked if we could build one for him and I said sure. Crosby Stills and Nash sang a song with the lyric, “Teach your parents well.” It’s a song about generations listening to on another. And so I try to listen. I just spoke with a 35 year old friend who vacationed at Glacier National Park in Montana and I asked him what he thought of the glaciers. He told me that they are stunningly beautiful and then the sad part…they are half melted away…and so younger generations are serious about caring for this good earth. What can I do that is radically significant to impact the environment by walking softer and doing so daily in a way that doesn’t require a daily decision. You only have to do it once….build it that is. It seems palatable to me…other than the composting toilet!

Brandon works for the National Weather Service (NOAA) in Norman, OK where they will locate their tiny home sometime in September. Here is a sneak preview!

Shiplap interior walls



Le Temps

Certain languages, including French and Bulgarian, have one word for both“time” and “weather.” The French is rendered Le Temps.

One of my treasured moments as a Dad combined weather, time, and beauty. I was sitting on a peak in Arkansas with my son on a Sunday morning singing while watching a thunderstorm roll in not from above but from our flank as it wrapped itself around the mountain and we were, for just a moment, spun into a vortex of time and weather that made my heart skip a beat. The weather became time and time became weather and God seemed very near.

My son taught me to look at the sky. My daughter constantly reminds me of the beauty all around. Brandon is a meteorologist. Lauren, a budding artist and designer. I read some excerpts from this book and thought of them.

Maira Kalman and writer Daniel Handler celebrate in Weather, Weather —  the idea of what I saw on that mountain with my son. I only wish I had taken a picture.

There is a picture in Weather, Weather, taken by Carl T. Gosset Jr./ The New York Times: “This Photo Was Made Just before 4 P.M. at Broadway and 43rd Street, Looking East across Times Square.” July 24, 1959 


In this picture, time stands still for me even though it was 58 years ago. A man stands with a hand in his pocket looking down at the sidewalk oblivious to the torrent of rain as two women dressed vaguely like my mother dodge puddles and shrink against the elements as they run across a New York street.

I was born the day after this picture was taken. And yet it was only yesterday…

Here are some pictures from Weather, Weather by Maira Kalman and the writer Daniel Handler. Enjoy!


Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Hatsuo Ikeuchi’s Snowflakes, c. 1950


weatherweather 2

László Moholy-Nagy: The Diving Board, 1931



Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Man Diving, Esztergom by André Kertész, 1917



I was in my room wondering what it was like somewhere else.

What’s the weather like?

It’s like summer. It’s like doing nothing.


Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Alfred Stieglitz’s Apples and Gable, Lake George, 1922



The newspaper said it would be nice today.

What does the newspaper know.

International News Photo: “The Portent of Coming Disaster: A Tornado, Photographed as It Moved across the Sky toward White, S.D., by a Cameraman Who Was the Only Person Who Did Not Take Shelter in a Cyclone Cellar. None of the Buildings Shown in the Picture Was Damaged, as They Were Not in the Direct Path of the Tornado,” 1938 




 Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Barney Ingoglia’s photograph for the New York Times article “Rain Raises Fears of Flooding: Pedestrians in Times Square Wading through a Puddle as Heavy Rains Began Yesterday. The Rain Was Expected to Continue Today, Melting Much of the Snow and Causing Fears of Flooding,” January 25, 1978



Clarence H. White: Drops of Rain, 1903


weatherweather_kalmanhandler14Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Children Playing in Snow by John Vachon, 1940


weatherweather_kalmanhandler15Illustration by Maira Kalman, based on Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Alberto Giacometti Going Out for Breakfast, Paris, 1963

I can’t even say what it’s like. It’s perfect, the whole thing. Come with me, take me with you. Let’s go out together and have poached eggs.




Valery Shchekoldin: Uliyanovsk, 1978

A Good View of God

I’m a home builder by trade, but when I grow up, I want to be a writer. Since writers publish books, that’s the next step. Bankruptcy is the one thing common to both writers and builders. While the financial poverty of writing is constant, the financial woes of builders are violent, like a train derailing on a bridge over a canyon.

It’s a difficult choice. A dull ubiquitous poverty versus a sharp dive into the abyss. And that’s the appeal of writing, it’s predictable, there is a wealth of new material to write about with each new sunrise, and one can financially plan for a predictable threadbare existence.

I’m being facetious. The building business has been a blessing to me and my family. Although, the minimalist in me does love the idea of writing with pen and paper in an attic dormer converted into a crow’s nest wondering how I’m going to get paid for carving ideas from the alphabet.

But for me, writing is an avocation and I’m not giving up my day job.

With the editing skills of my daughter Lauren and brother Greg, I’ll have a new book ready to publish soon and will have it available in Kindle format and paperback format. It’s a book of essays and stories called, A Good View of God. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter called, “Kiss Me Like That.” It’s about the neighborhood in which I grew up, our longing to be loved and included, and well…kissing.

…My friends and I roamed the woods using mischief to paint graffiti on a neighborhood canvas that could have been mistaken for time or a billboard or grinding boredom. We built fortresses in the woods behinds our homes, in the event of an invasion by the Soviet Union. We also pondered the deeper questions of supple formative minds, like whether or not Neil Armstrong had a good view of God while walking on the moon July 20, 1969. This was after all the dawning of the age of Aquarius, and we wondered why we no longer felt revulsion around girls.

My first crush and heartbreak over a girl made as much sense as Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft in The Graduate. She was twice my age, sophisticated, blond, shapely and fifteen. Like a dog chasing a car, I had no idea what a boyfriend did with a girlfriend, but I was a smitten seven-year old, jealous because the fifteen-year old twirler in the high school band loved my neighbor, Randy. He was the first pretty boy I knew, an olive-skinned Romeo, dark, handsome and sixteen to my short, pale and seven. I was as hopelessly in love as a seven-year old boy could possibly be.

Jan, who lived across the street in a red brick Cape Cod house with white trim, fell madly in love with Randy. I hated him for that, as did my neighborhood buddies. I had fond memories of Jan babysitting. We would sit on the couch while I leaned against her arm and she’d run her fingers through my hair as we watched Gilligan’s Island. Or I would hang out at her house in the hip upstairs game room with the shag rug listening to “Oh, Sweet Pea,” by Tommy Roe or The Temptations “My Girl” and wishing it were so.

Randy’s sister, Christy, was the first girl I ever kissed. We found ourselves alone one day in the wood box in the backyard with the lid down. We were both five and hadn’t a clue but had seen it done, so why not? And in the sixth grade, under a persimmon tree I kissed a girl, not passionately, but rather the thin-lipped front porch mannequin kiss. Kissing under the persimmon tree felt like eating a persimmon: not romantic at all, puckered, organic, indifferent.

I wasn’t a participant in my first real kiss, only a spectator. I walked into the laundry room of Randy’s house on the day they were leaving for good, the Ross family packed and ready to drive west to Colorado. My nemesis, my romantic rival, was finally leaving, and I thought the door to everlasting love was opening. But the door I opened to the Ross laundry room revealed a surreal scene, boy saying goodbye to girl. Jan’s eyes were swollen and red, leaking emotion onto his shirt like rain skidding down a window pane, as she pulled away from a kiss and turned to look at me, an intruder to their farewell intimacy, their tangled goodbye. I discovered passion as a voyeur next to a washing machine, watching with envy, this weeping river of emotion dotted with red eyes and trembling lips, tightly hugged, wrapped in longing, hidden in shadows of whispered anguish.

That moment in the laundry room was my first lesson in kissing. Sure, I’d seen Julie Andrews kiss Christopher Plummer in the “could this be happening to me” kiss from the Sound of Music but this, this cloying evocative embrace framing the kiss was what made me want to kiss a girl. I wanted what those two had. A desperate longing to be held, loved, touched, cried over if I ever left town. It made me want to get a girl just so I could leave. Just once to have that feeling of someone wanting me desperately, tearing them to pieces. Yea, kiss me like that.