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Finding beauty in the small

July 22, 2015
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer , Estherville News

I finally found us a house here in Estherville. It's a smaller house than we've had in some time, but to me, it's a beauty. We were nearly buried trying to heat and light our huge expanse of home before. It was to the point I was ready to squeeze us into a tiny house. A tiny house is defined as a human dwelling less than 500 square feet. There is a movement the tiny house movement in which enthusiasts raise the question of what it is we really need in a home, and answer by creating mini-houses with very compact, clever designs.

The typical American home in 1955 was 950 square feet. Family homes have grown so that the average American home today is 2,600 square feet. With a bedroom and bathroom for each person, a living room and den and home theater, a sprawling kitchen that could feed dozens and entry ways scaled more for office buildings, the new American home imagines every possibility, but in my estimation it requires little of its inhabitants.

Disclosure: I grew up as an only child in a house I'd estimate to be about 3,000 square feet. There were five bedrooms and four bathrooms for three people. It was certainly great when we had friends over, and it rarely looked cluttered. I once dreamed of raising my own children there. Today, what I see as valuable in a home has changed dramatically.

I'm quite happy about the house we have, though: sun porch (never had one of those), patio in the back, fenced in back yard for the dog, bathroom that fits the washer and dryer (never had one of those either), freshly refurbished woodwork and a double garage with a basketball hoop. We probably can't entertain a crowd. It won't impress anyone. It's not a monument to any of my successes, nor will it win me favor. It's a roof. And after being displaced since April, I'm grateful for that.

Thursday night I will be out at the fair, and if you see me, I hope you'll say hi.

While I shoot photos of fashion show winners and queen candidates, I'll become a star in Boston. Not really. Two directors and 11 cast members are hosting a public reading of a play I wrote. We've been trying to get the production together for a year. It's not taking place in a big, fancy theater. It's not playing to a crowd of thousands, nor to a lot of big-player producers (unless, God willing, a few happen to walk in off the street). But it's a great night, because a whole team of theater people now has almost as much excitement and passion for what I wrote as I do, and they're bringing their creative interpretations to it. It's found a home the perfect home for now, and if the community likes and supports it at all, they will craft a full production in November. I won't be in Boston for the reading, because I have work to do here at home.



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