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April 20, 2008


Ted Kooser wrote or spoke about bringing a refrigerator carton home and moving his desk into it so he would have his own little study in an otherwise crowded house. He said took off one side and turned the open side of the three-sided mini-room towards the wall with just enough room for access, and used the inner walls of the box as a large bulletin board on which to thumbtack poems etc.

I'm glad you wrote about tree house because a couple of months ago I googled tree house for grown up and found a link to an incredible tree house designs for grown ups. Every year moving from one army base to another when I was a kid, having my own tree house was one of my heart desire. I think I still have it and as you wrote, finding that place within........ Perhaps one day I will own one :))

I still possess Handmade Houses! I know exactly what you mean. My sister and I had a canvas teepee, but playing among tree roots, behind bushes, etc., was all that was necessary. Must go and look at that book again...

Oh, those little houses are fascinating!

Yes yes. I really think a room of one's own is essential, particularly for people who nurture others, and need to write. A retreat with a door, or a treehouse. : ) I love these tiny houses! My ideal life would be a small bit of land adjoining a national forest, with 2 or 3 of these tiny houses on it - one for me, one for a sweetie if I had one, and one for friends and writers where they could run away for a few weeks at a time. As things are, I just keep finding and making these sacred micro-spaces where I can, outside and in.

Oooooooh yes! Never had a tree-house as such but endless small and secret spaces to hide in, several involving trees. And of course there was the camper van... sigh. I think Therimorph's plan is absolutely brilliant. My pods will be by the sea and there will be one for visiting spawn too.

This is a cool thing to be thinking about. Perhaps treehouses are juvenile manifestations of evolutionary heritage, like pharyngeal gill slits in mammalian embryos, from back when we brachiated, "flying" trough the trees, the ground below a hell.

I recently placed an order for this book from the library. http://tinyurl.com/5x5aa2
There is a mention of Succot huts, which I think are pretty cool. Maybe tents and camping are not dissimilar. In Rykwert's "The Dancing Column", columns are living ancestors of tree trunks. Walls might be panes of tree boughs.

I wonder if the matter of Adam's house has long been a subject for contemplation.

Perhaps the fruit of the trees was varied enough to satisfy all the human, or at any rate Adamite, desire for variety; and perhaps fermentation was not among Adam's skills; if anything like wine was taken in the garden, however, this would suggest jars and cups, and these, in their turn, stores and sideboards, so on to rooms, larders, and all that: a house, in fact. A garden without a house is like a carriage without a horse. Joseph Rykwert

I think treehouses must way predate Adam's house.

Sorry, the book is On Adam's House in Paradise.

Next month we'll be moving into a camper - the kind that fits on the back of a pickup truck - so all these tiny homes are looking pretty familiar. I too feel more comfortable with a space of my own and I'm not sure where I'm going to find it once we move. Maybe a treehouse will be the answer!

I remember that book" Handmade Houses"! My wife and I always look for tiny houses when we are driving around. There is one near us that has a boat on a trailer parked beside. We always imagine that the house has a basement and several subbasements. A block from where we live is a small house behind a somewhat larger house. We think that the granmother or maybe the mother-in-law lives there. I think that I would enjoy living in a tiny house.

Finding the place within is the mature way... but, I am not at all sure that it is the USUAL adult way.
And yes... I know the calling, the necessity.

Vivian, what a funny story! Now that is SMALL.

Ana, I hope you get your tree house someday. Aren't those designs something? I looked at some tree house books while I was doing this yesterday; wow.

Nancy, yes, it's funny, when I was a kid I didn't want a "house" per se; the natural places were enough. I love hearing that you still have the book!

Dale, yes, I feel the same way. They are hobbit-like and also very sophisticated.

TH - I bet someday you'll live like that. The one for friends is a good idea too. I'm wondering how these are heated, for us northerners...?

RR - one of the books I saw yesterday was specifically about little houses by the sea. Will try to re-find.

Bill - good to hear from you, it's been a while! Rykwert's musings are a-musing, and I agree with you about treehouses pre-dating Adam. For sure!

Kat - trees are highly recommended. I get really antsy when in too-close proximity for too long, so finding an escape-place or refuge (within or without) is essential; I hope you find yours.

Fred - thanks for the stories of the tiny houses near you, and I too would suspect basement rooms and sub-rooms! I think I'd like it too; downsizing has been good for us and I like the idea of figuring out just how small one could go. The Japanese have made an art of it.

Pat - yes, the more usual craving may be for a small red sportscar, rather than the place within!! And I'm glad you know and share the calling.

I too lust after smaller spaces. I visited some friends' Arctic Fox camper last fall and fell in love with it. "But where would you put all your books?' my mother says. Oh. Right.

You should submit this to the Festival of the Trees.

You can rent a treehouse if you're traveling in southern Oregon. We stayed in a charmingly snug secluded treehouse 35' up and reached by suspension bridges. http://www.treehouses.com/treehouse/treesort/prclst.html for pictures.

Yes yes yes! Tiny houses forever. Actually, where I'm living is pretty much like that, though it could be tinier and in a wilder setting than a London street. In Paraguay we had that big long low house and though I had my own space there, it still didn't feel private or secret enough. So I built a one-room bamboo hut outside (but I've already mentioned this, haven't I?) and it was blown down in a storm.

What a wonderful discussion. I have been craving a room of my own for some time now. Even my handmade desk in the bedroom, made from a big old cabinet door, isn't cutting it. My husband says you can't just build a shed here in suburbia without a permit, and that they're expensive. Maybe it's high time I built my own hideaway in the woods behind out house...The kids would love it. And I always wanted a tree house.

I was so surprised to see how many people feel so passionately about tree houses and small houses. How refreshing. Where I live in upstate NY, near the capitol, everyone is all about big and bigger. It's awful.

Absolutely! Yes!
As a child I 'lived' under the table/under the stairs/in the shed/in a clump of bushes by a cricket field/in my head
A Space Of One's Own is SO important
Even if, at times, that space is simply in one's head
Long live cabins, tree houses and, for those of us who refuse to grow up, Wendy houses!

Wow, this has really struck a chord! I always wanted a tree house in the box elder tree; I got as far as the rope ladder, but a box elder isn't really the right kind of tree for a tree house, not enough crotch!

rr may remember the lean-to huts we made at the top of the grounds? At Steiner schools apparently, building huts and shelters is on the curriculum, particularly at certain ages and stages when children are considered to need it most. And many people love their sheds...

Yes, Dave, that would be a problem...but I think I crave a smaller space as a retreat, not as the main residence. Still, downsizing has been really good for us.

Natalie, I didn't remember about your bamboo hut, but can well imagine why you wanted it.

Jillypoet, nice to see you here, thanks for commenting! I hear you about "big and bigger" - it's a deplorable trend in the part of Vermont where I live too. In Montreal, no one we know really has a lot of room and it seems much more congenial, communitarian, greener, and WAY less egotistical.

Mouse, you just reminded me of a little coat closet under my grandmother's stairs where we spent many hours, and also a space between two doors that closed toward each other - there was a wall register in the middle and you could get in there and talk to a friend on the other side of the register - like you, what games we played and how drawn we were to those child-sized secret spaces! Wendy houses indeed! (I used to "sew" my shadow to the bottom of my tights!)

Lucy, how fascinating that Steiner schools recognize this need in children. From the length of this thread, it seems someone should expand the sensitivity to adults!

Oh, yes. Thinking of many spaces like the closet outfitted with a little lamp and chair for a reading nook... the Norwegian pines whose dark branches held secret spaces... the stairwell, behind a door, that started but didn't go anywhere. The pines were the closest I ever got to having a treehouse myself.

Do you know the treehouse book? Some nice photographs in it.

Isn't this a fascinating topic?
It has sent me off into the realms of fantasy and childhood and the Why The Heck Not possibilities of building a 'den' for myself somewhere now...
Maybe we should all make one and post pictures

I built houses
from overturned chairs and the diningroom table
with blankets and sheets and whatever large
piece of fabric my mother
would allow me to use
crept inside
and imagined the day away
my inside version of a treehouse
which i was never fortunate enought o have

however I had a Babylonion willow tree
under whose boughs
I had the most marvelous of
tree lairs
it is a major part of my mythos
as is the chicken coop
in whose interior
I also spent hours and hours

and now I have a large lair
full of space of my own
in these times though
I heat only the room I'm in
as heating the Whole
has become prohibitive
(and wasteful)

Suzanne, thanks for your comment and its embedded stories! How lovely to imagine being inside that willow tree on summer afternoons...and yes, I agree about the wastefulness and expense of heating large houses. Who can afford it anymore?

The house in which I live doesn't quite make it into this category — it's small rather than tiny — but it has some of those desirable characteristics (and a few less so). Perhaps most notably, it's positioned in the sort of place Theriomorph thinks ideal. She's right; I recommend it. Oh yes, I don't own it.

I have mixed feelings about needing a small/private place. I have to admit the idea appeals greatly, and when I travelled overseas a room too easily became a refuge, but I'm still mulling over the idea of becoming strongly attached to a place. However, access to solitude — to privacy — well, I need that. Unequivocally.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.