The Little House Part One

How about some house talk today with a few Autumn tree pictures?

And when I say talk, I mean talk, there isn't a bunch of DIY photos.

Just because I've been busy posting wedding stuff doesn't mean that there isn't the constant renovation of something going on in our world.... there is.

This post is going to start out with a story, and the next post will have some of the DIY.  So if you're not in the mood for a wordy post, you might want to skip this story and stop back in next time.

What you will get this time is the story of the little house, and why it's going through some changes.

Little Minnesota House,

In 1992 my dad had a stroke enjoying his retirement with a round at the golf course.  At that time my parents lived in California where they had been for the past fifty years.

It was difficult for me to help the two of them take care of business - particularly my mom with my dads situation - when I lived 2000 miles away, so my mom made the difficult decision to move back to the state where she was born so I could help manage her life and that of my dads.

Minnesota was the state, and she didn't wanna come back!

It's cold here for sure, and not only did she like the Southern California life style, mostly she liked the weather.  I get that, I mean I really get that!  Most people look at me like I have two heads when they find out I moved from California to Minnesota all of my own choosing.  Who chooses to live in a frozen tundra with sub zero temps?

Snow boots
As much as I wanted to believe that being closer to me, her own mom, her siblings and her grand kids would be worth living in the frigid winter, my mom remembered all too well the snow, windchill and what twenty below feels like.

She needed some convincing, but she moved here anyway. 

And she liked to remind me she didn't want too!

Unfortunately my dad would never get to leave the nursing home, but we had him transferred here from California where he was able to be only a two minute drive down the street from the little house my mom would buy.

Christmas Cactus Bliss-Ranch

My mom's name was June, so I'm going to refer to her that way.

Christmas Cactus

June knew what town she wanted to be in.  She tried living in my little town and hated it - the sidewalks rolled up at 5:00 pm and the library wasn't even open every day which was a huge deal breaker for her.  She had traded small town life in a looooong time ago at age 18 when she hitchhiked out of Minnesota to California.

She was a bit of a rebel.

Back to the little house.....

The one thing June DID like about being back in Minnesota was that two of her brothers were close by as well as her sister, and even her mom.  My gramma lived to be 104, she outlived June and one other son, maybe even two sons, I'd have to do math.

So June decided to buy a house in the same town as her family, which was the same town she was born in.  She would be only 25 minutes from me but only that two minute drive to the nursing home where her husband lived.  I agreed it was the right decision, not that she asked my opinion!

June and my uncle were driving by the little house that would eventually become mine, as a young guy was out hammering in a 'for sale by owner' sign.

The man and his wife had lived in the house not even 2 years and were getting a divorce before they could even implement most of their vision for the little house.

My mom and uncle pulled in the driveway as the guy was pounding the sign down, and asked for a tour.

She bought it on the spot, and paid cash once the paper work was done.

So much for needing my help managing things huh?  I think the guy hammering in his sign was as stunned as I was.

She called me the next day to tell me she bought a house, said the library is open every day then asked to talk to Brawn to make sure he could plumb the washer on the main level.

The attraction to the house was that it was small.  As a senior citizen June didn't want more than she could manage alone, and she didn't need space for more than herself.  That was fine with us as well, because lots of the duties of her home-ownership was going to become our duties and with our own home and a gaggle of kids, adding less work was fine by me.

She wasn't a collector nor attached to things in her life.  In fact she had sold all her furniture and just about everything else from her life in California.  Weird to me, but that's how she was, and the thought of moving what she saw as all her useless belongings 2000 miles away was a bit overwhelming for her with everything else she had going on.

Somewhere in California is a lady enjoying June's china that she sold for $50 bucks.  June didn't think I'd want "that old stuff" along with many other old items that were bits and pieces of my memories of my parents and my childhood - story for another time.

As far as the little house, the only things she wanted to change were some fresh interior paint, new carpet and window coverings.  She wanted to add a cement turn around so she could back out from the garage and drive safely out forward onto the street, and she wanted the washer and dryer on the main level.

All doable and all done in the first two weeks she moved in.  She didn't mind the dated trim and cabinets, wasn't planning to use the back yard that my uncle kept mowed for her, there were enough flowers and shrubs that she could pull a few weeds as she walked by, and the neighbors were great.

The biggest thing was a heated garage and a little breezeway between that and the house so she didn't have to walk out in that snow or warm up her car.

The house served June well for about 8 years.  She lived 4 years longer than her husband, and in 2001 before Christmas the little house became mine in the middle of a cold December.

I wasn't emotionally attached to the little house back then.  I hadn't grown up there, and honestly many of the memories of the place had more to do with watching June grieve the loss of my dad, and become witness to her own health decline.  But it didn't seem right to sell it and the thought of cleaning it out and getting it ready for sale were a bit overwhelming to me at that point.  Not only because my mom had just died, but it was in the middle of winter, and I had a houseful of life going on myself with six kids.

So the following spring we decided to become landlords.

Unlike many of the horror stories you hear, we have been fortunate over the last 17 years to have trustworthy renters for the little house.  At one point we decided to sell it, and replaced cabinets, floors, doors, and stuff like that, but the timing was not good.  It was during the bursting bubble of the housing crisis and houses just weren't moving for sellers.

So we dug up the Saint Joseph statue a family member gave us, pulled out the for sale sign and decided to again rent it out. 

Our last renter stayed there for 7 years and we were sorry to see him go. 

Indian Corn

This Fall he bought his own house, which forced us to once again contemplate where we wanted to go with the place.

Fall in Minnesota

So while we were enjoying the Fall colors around our place we were also thinking about what we wanted to do regarding the little house, and that's where we are now.

Fall in Minnesota

The thing about the little house is that the rent money has always been used toward college tuition for June's grand kids, something that would make both my parents extremely happy.  Their way of giving something to the grand kids who they wouldn't end up getting to be part of their lives, and having us use that money on education would have been what they preferred, particularly my dad.

Regardless of what we end up doing with the little house, any home where a person has lived for a length of time will have some wear and tear on it so the inside needed new paint.

Little Minnesota House,

My regular readers know I loath painting, ugh!  All the trim needed a couple fresh coats of white paint, and all the walls a new coat and color.  So we made a list of everything top to bottom that needed to be done and somewhere between September 30th and October 30th, we talked ourselves into selling it.

This meant not just getting it ready for a renter, but cleaning up everything so we could pound our own for sale by owner sign in. 

Guess I'll have to borrow Saint Joseph again.

To be continued......

Quick Links:
Read the story "A Little Bit Of June"
about June's Christmas Cactus, and see photos in bloom
before I froze it almost to death!

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  1. i really enjoyed reading this and learning about your mom and more about you! i love that she was a rebel, and i dream of selling everything and moving somewhere new! i totally get her. :) i can't wait to see where this story goes! oh and i teared up that the rent money has been used towards their grandkids' college education... what a great way to honor your parents.

    1. ME too Cassie.......teared up !! A grandparents' legacy - the grandkids college education. This whole post meant a lot to me <3

  2. Oh my goodness! I enjoyed reading the story about the little house! Funny, I still have a St Joseph buried in my backyard from years ago when we tried to sell our house too. I’ll probably never find it again.

  3. This was such a great post. It encompasses 3 generations, and a family of love. The little house is ADORABLE. We are empty-nesters, and if we lived in MN, we would buy it ! LOL St Joseph will get it sold for you. God bless! PS- Fall colors - beautiful :)

  4. Love learning more about your parents! Can't wait to see what you do with that cute little house! :)

  5. I loved reading this, Bliss. How wonderful the rent could be used for tuition. I think your parents would have been so happy. Looking forward to reading more!

  6. I loved this! What a sweet little house and what a legacy to be able to give so much to the grandkids.

  7. I'm glad you directed me back to this post! What a great house and story! I loved reading about your mom (surprise, surprise she was a rebel!). I can totally relate to wanting the library open 7 days a week where I live when I'm older. How sweet that it's helped pay the college tuition of the grandkids!!

  8. Loved reading this story. How cool that she had the breezeway and heated garage to keep warm and her family so close by for comfort.


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