Category Archives: Downsizing

Little House in Blue Grass

Western Kentucky University

From our community house in Tucson, I traveled Interstate 40 from Arizona to Nashville, Tennessee. There I began a search for affordable housing with the purpose to be closer to family.

Nashville is undergoing an incredible transformation with as many as 80 people a day moving to the city. With the influx, landlords and homeowners are ramping up prices and winning at the game.

I literally drove 100 miles a day looking for housing from one side of Nashville to the other, later moving outward in concentric circles to find something in my price range and requirements for community spirit, health, and safety. A friend suggested I look at Bowling Green, Kentucky, about 50 minutes from downtown Nashville.

Old Towne Apartments

This weekend I moved into a beautiful apartment complex, and I am looking forward to learning more about my new hometown. I can walk on trails across the street and to the library around the corner. I added 235 square feet to have a small guest room. My Little House on Belmont furniture is just the right size, i.e. I need not add anything except an extra bed, someday.

Today, I began exploring at the Kentucky Museum on the campus of Western Kentucky University (WKU). There I was reminded that American communities are places of surprise, hidden gems, and histories of lesser and greater community character.

I learned that during the Civil War, Kentucky was a border state with both slave owners and abolitionists as well as those who advocated for gradual emancipation. The state was at war with itself. Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, both Kentucky-born, grew into their political and social perspectives on slavery.

Autobiography of Josiah Hensen

I was so impressed with the stories about Joshia Hensen, who escaped slavery to Canada then turned around and risked his life over and over again to bring 200  former slaves to Canada via the Underground Railroad.

The Kentucky Museum showcases an assortment of Bowling Green notables. Exhibits tell the story of ties to South Korea and to Liberia through educators at the university which has an international education focus. A loved the story about Induk Pahk, a Korean- American writer who worked for years to replicate the Kentucky Berea College program. Her campaign – “Berea in Korea” – spanned 30 years of development. While reading about her, I met the Museum’s director, Brent Bjorkman, who explained the museum will soon add an exhibit about the Bosnian refugee resettlement in Bowling Green. Six thousand immigrants were resettled making up 10% of the small city’s population, and conferring a high Muslim population. A 2016 report by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows the significant contribution resettled refugees confer to the state.

And, among Bowling Green notables, Duncan Hines’ rise to fame and fortune is an excellent exhibit that demonstrates an era of growing middle class wealth in America when families looked for yummy food, eating-out,  travel, and the invention of the living room in the out-of-doors (otherwise known as the backyard barbecue). Hines met these food and relaxation innovations with over 150 different products starting with guide books on great places to eat or stay, to producing everything from outdoor grills to great ice cream and his favored cake mixes! I am looking forward to attending Bowling Green’s next Duncan Hines Festival Day and getting my slice of the gigantic cake made each year in celebration of this hometown hero!


I finished the long morning’s exploration at Mariah’s with a bowl of hot chili and turkey club!  I think I am in love with Bowling Green and Kentucky already! And I haven’t even been to the Derby yet!



How to Live Your Life at Age 85

Jock Millenson on Electric Bike on way to Tennis Court
Jock Millenson on Electric Bike on way to Tennis Court

Today, in Tucson, it is a balmy 65 degrees, strong wind, and sunny. Jock is off to the tennis court. He reminds me of my tennis coach in California when I was just 14 years old. “Fred” resembled Jock in many ways, not only his age, but the fact that he swam, ran, and played tennis everyday of the week. Fred was an inspiring elder for me, and now Jock – who is about 15 years my senior – inspires me, too.  Jock reads books late into the night and is working on updating his business website. This is his “down time” before the summer programs he founded begin again in Greece.

Jock created and manages Kalikalos, a summer school like no other. Check it out. You may wish to schedule a summer break with Jock and his instructors, and the beauty of the location.

In another email, I will write about my other Roomy, who is an internationally known expert on alternative exchange economies.


Downsizing is Cool

Tiny House Hunters - HGTV Show
Tiny House Hunters – HGTV Show

Since moving to a tiny house, I’ve learned just how popular downsizing, tiny houses, and what feels like a new idea about living has seized the public imagination.

First it is now a fairly regular topic for AARP with this article in my mail box today: Downsizing? Ditch These 12 Items.  I am making an A on this list so far. The latest endeavor being to get rid of my storage area. Remember, when I started this new life in February, I said until I got rid of storage I cannot say that I truly have downsized.

Last weekend found me consolidating again, with lots of recycling multiple copies of items such as my dad’s death certificate,  etc. With digitization, who needs ANY copy?

A good friend who hosts the Gumbo Diaries Blog is an avid tiny house follower. She watches these TV shows: Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Builder, Tiny House, Big Living and Tiny House Hunters.

Not having a TV – part of downsizing and also saving me from my addiction to surfing the channels – I have not watched them. I am just living it. But, maybe I should. I might learn how to get rid of storage.

More on this later as I go through box after box of the hard stuff: out of 50 of the funniest birthday cards from my son, which do I keep? AARP suggests one or two  and digitize the rest. What do you think?

The Inventive Mind

Boyd's Sock SleeveBoyd Christensen, friend for life and accomplished artist,  reminded me that with attention, we can invent many practical solutions that are attractive, useful, and environmentally friendly.

Boyd’s solution to sweaty, iced drinks, and to old socks where heels wear out first, is to create the perfect glass sleeve. (Later I learned that they also make perfect sweat bands for athletics.)

Artist’s are attentive to their surroundings – they think about design and function. Boyd’s son, Scott Christensen, designed an amazing and beautiful Toro Tissue Ring. I have one in my bathroom.

Betty Christensen, my other lifelong friend joins Boyd in this pursuit for the ultimate solution to life’s little problems.

Her kitchen is a study in this practice. Take for instance how she solved her need to discard ends and tops of veggies off a cutting board as she moves through several kinds of vegetables. She elevated the cutting board and inserts two plastic vegetable containers from the grocery.

Chopping VeggiesWhen she is finished chopping, the remains of veggies go to the compost bin.



After a long hiatus…

No, I have not died or been run over by a four wheel vehicle while on my two-wheeler. I’ve been thinking, plotting, and in the process, becoming a tiny space genius. Sorry, I am bragging a little here, but if you have a bunch of objects that need to go into an impossibly small space, I’m the Girl to Call.

Example One: Instant Office

Instant Office 001Starts with 1) moving my business laptop from the end of the bed to the desk so that I am looking outside to green;


Instant Office 0032) rolling the file drawer with a Samsung wireless laser printer on top to the “office”;



Instant Office 002 3) hooking up a portable Brother DSMobile600 scanner;  4) setting up music to play on a micro amplifier (Jam), and Presto! Instant Office is here.


Stay tuned for the next amazing solution to space issues: Seat at the Table.


Bugs, Bikes, and Books!

pillbug-1252081Life delivers the unexpected though we go about our lives as if we have some control. But no! The permutations of living rise up to bite us on our behinds. Examples: while I thought slugs were marching away with my garden in their moonlight orgy, it was those ancient crustaceans we know as Roly Poly bugs  that lumbered over my garden snatching lunch and dinner right out of my mouth.

bike cartoonThen, as I flew into the oncoming traffic after crashing into the door of a parked car, toppling like Don Quixote in his most uncomely hour, the driver with the door and I learned a hard lesson. I sustained bruises and maybe a hairline fracture on a toe which wants to turn blue whenever I walk on it. My bike is fine. This is another of Susan’s WAKE-UP calls. GET A MIRROR! DUH. I was biking too close to the car not having time to turn my head to see if there was a car behind me. See this advice from the Bicycle Lawyer.

Garden and Trip to Silver Springs 137

Last weekend I visited the Marjorie Rawlings State Park in Cross Creek, FL. I resonated with the writer and her chosen residence. It is an old Florida house with porches, floor to ceiling windows for circulation, a lot of fans humming air to circulate: orange trees and tall oaks and pines of the Florida hummock habitat. Rawlings became a superb writer, with many publications focused on her Florida Cracker experience in Central Florida. But with publication of her classic story, The Yearling, Rawlings finally gained national notoriety and income sufficient to support herself in style.

Garden and Trip to Silver Springs 157

The Rawlings House Dining Room

Garden and Trip to Silver Springs 081I kayaked on Silver Springs in Ocala, FL.

Garden and Trip to Silver Springs 079

 Some of the beauty of the original springs.



The Gardening Bug Has Bit!

Two of my neighbors have put in gardens, with the cardboard layering method and their gardens look wonderful. After the rain, and the first real sun in days, I went for a bike ride. Here is action in the village houses downtown:

Skateboarding in historic village
Skateboarding in historic village

I biked home  meandering through the village and residential streets. Tried the St. Michael’s Cemetery but is was locked up. On the way home I stopped at Waterboyz, surfing, skateboarding, and lovely cafe, only to learn they just put in a garden to serve fresh vegetables and herbs to their customers.


20150419_162815My own garden is doing well with the exception of my pepper plants upon which every slug in Pensacola dines in the moonlight, or storms as it may. I removed them all with a tong and put them in soapy water two nights in a row and I am about to ring them with plastic bottle sections to prevent their brazen theft of my peppers!

20150414_121429Here is a shot of the new Single Fin cafe at Waterboyz. I ate lunch there. It was an excellent vegetarian sandwich on grilled Panini. Delicious! Tuesday I’ll try breakfast. I am meeting with Sean to talk about writing grants to support some ideas he has about supporting youth in the community. Small business rocks because it can respond to community needs in ways big box stores cannot.