Chapter 1 – Affordable Summer Housing
Recently I purchased a park model home in Seneca, Illinois. A park model home is a manufactured home that is slightly bigger than a “tiny house” Tiny houses are truly tiny. Approximately 200 square feet, young people with the supple bodies of Houdini can manage them. 65 year-old active seniors cannot. Park homes, on the other hand, are a more comfortable 400 square feet and are defined by the federal government as RVs. They usually have an open concept living room-kitchen in the front, and the bedroom and bathroom in the back. Many have loft areas where supple children and grandchildren can cavort or possibly sleep. Unsuspecting adult guests are also relegated to the loft. My park home has a screened 3 season room that adds about 150 square feet which provides me with about the same space as my first apartment. Not bad!
I’ve named my home Tir na Nog. Tir na Nog is the mythical land or parallel universe where the “good people” of Celtic lore reside. It means land of the eternal young. TNN appropriately sits in the middle of a campground loaded with Oak and Ash trees – all sacred to the Celtic good people. Ravines with streams run through the camp providing the required sacred water as well. Truly an appropriate setting. A druid with some holy water would probably be the appropriate individual for its official christening.
Why would a 65-year-old, smallish, not particularly athletic woman who has spent her entire life living in condo-land purchase a manufactured home in a campsite? Good question. I suppose it has a lot to do with my entire life being identified with Wisconsin lakes. My family rented lake-cottages when I was young. My entire extend family rented cottages collectively at one point. My aunt and uncle actually bought a cottage in 1959, and spent entire summers in a lake setting. Mom and her sibs were raised in a lake-resort environment. Mom dog-paddled Cedar Lake by the time she was 4. Lakes are part of my soul.
Sadly, I cannot afford a lake cottage unless I sell my current condo-townhouse, and move to Wisconsin. Tackling an entire house on my own at this stage of the game is not part of the picture. However, a small manufactured home in a gated campsite possesses a certain attraction. So, in spite of my well-meaning family and friends’ concerned admonitions, I purchased TNN kit, kat and caboodle at the end of October – also the end of the season.
Although well-maintained by its previous owners, TNN has a few issues. In the last week, I’ve raked leaves, cleaned gutters, installed gutter guards, pitched crap left by the former owners, and cleaned the shed. The leaves and the gutters were expected. The crap was not.
Phil, my long-suffering real estate dealer, warned me that there would be crap. I had no idea. I discovered underwear, socks, electric shavers, body lotion, pillows, and coffee inside TNN. The shed was something else again.
I like an organized garage. I can find things when the garage is organized. Fasteners in one spot, lubricants in another spot, tools in appropriately-labeled tool boxes. You get the picture. I want an organized shed.
Sadly the shed had more crap. Large primary-colored plastic objects for grandchildren, fasteners everywhere, lawn games, tools everywhere, chemicals everywhere, and mouse droppings….also everywhere. (yuck!) Hello, broom, garbage bags, zip lock bags, mouse traps and many trips to the dumpster. I discovered that an abundance of insect killer on shelves…Specifically ant-killer. Ant powder, spray thingies loaded with insecticide, ant traps, insect foggers…you name it…everything that kills insects that look like ants is in that shed. Should have been a clue. Sometimes I’m clueless.
After working all day in the shed, I thought a camp fire would be nice. Toted some logs from the woodpile, found some “starter chips” in the shed, ignited the fire. Ants – big black carpenter ants – crawled out of the starter chips and promptly died. No wonder there’s insecticide in the shed. Short of burning down the shed to rid it of ants and other crawly things, I’ve got to figure out how to use all those chemicals without poisoning myself and poisoning the dog.
Next step will involve propping the shed up on cement blocks and getting rid of the current wooden supports it sits on right now. That could be expensive. Not the concrete blocks…those are cheap. Hiring someone who has the equipment to lift the shed and prop it up on the concrete blocks will be the expensive part. I can’t picture myself doing that. House jacks and my puny biceps aren’t going to manage that feat. But then, maybe I can convince a few friends to help out with that job. A few of those friends who warned me about this purchase. Bribes might work. (Sigh.)
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