A is for Abode

Remember how I went on and on about those little A-frame houses and how quirky and neat we thought they were?

Be careful what you wish for.

We’re moving to downtown Saranac Lake. A small A-frame apartment has become available to us, and it’s a very generous, kind offer.

We adore the apartment, it’s in the village, walking distance to the library, grocery, shops, friends, restaurants. And even with all that, it’s still a bit hidden – off the main road, and overlooking trees. If you’re familiar with the backyards and alleys of downtown Saranac Lake, you might recognize it. (And no doubt, a few readers are very, very familiar with the steeple in the far distance of the photo.)

We will be keeping the Gabriels property. It will become our Summer putter project, much like our neighbor. Perhaps we’ll sell the RV next Spring. Maybe. However, the little cabin will be staying put, and our names will stay firmly printed at the top of our deed. (And tax bill!)

The thing is, the RV is hard. We like it, but it’s hard and it’s expensive. As you know, we take a well-cover off and fill a cistern every day, even when it’s twenty below zero. Every day. We heat an uninsulated RV with propane. It’s a gigantic bill, which takes the rest of the year to pay off.

The pipes freeze a few times a year and have to be thawed and/or repaired. The RV has to be insulated in the Winter, but the insulation can’t stay there for the Summer. We had to have an RV tech in to fix the furnace a month ago. Now the thermostat is now broken … again. I put in a new pump last year – hanging out of the hatch outside on a 20-below day. We carry around a blowdryer because the RV door freezes shut twice a day. I have to defrost the condensation off the windows and mop it up with a towel each day or we get a one-inch-thick window sill made of ice. And of course, we live in about 260 square feet. (Plus 130 sf in the cabin, if you’re willing to go out to start a fire in the stove.)

Compare that to, as I mentioned, a very generous offer.

Little A is four rooms – a bedroom in front, a living room 12×18′ in the middle, a small-but-not-too-small kitchen, and an oddly large bathroom (which I love). There’s a 10′ wide wall of deep closets, and most of the “corner” parts of the bottom of the A-as-in-A-frame have built-ins. The living room has a fireplace and mantel, and although we won’t be using the fireplace, it’s pretty nifty. I want me one of those fakey woodstove electric heater things for it. And our “stuff” will look terrific in there.

That’s right. No more storage unit bills. There will probably be overflow (remember we once had a 1700 sf house full of bric-a-brac, wall things, hundreds and hundreds of books, and general stuff, other than the furniture we got rid of), but the overflow can go into the cabin, because most of the cabin furniture and whatnots will come with us.

Further reason that I love it? It was once the home of Isabel Smith, a tuberculosis curing patient, who became rather famous when Eisenstadt photographed her in Saranac Lake for Life magazine. Isabel was also a memoirist, who wrote about her time in Saranac Lake. Elise Chapin, who ran The Pot Shop on Main Street in the 1950s (and who was also a cure patient and author) also made Little A her home.

Sweet place. There will be plenty of the outdoorsy work stuff I like so much, lots of opportunity for my obsessive snow shoveling habit, and plenty of chances to get in my messing around with plants and fanatical grass mowing.

In sadder news, we had a weasel (or something) attack earlier in the week. Three of the hens were killed (but not eaten). Another had no marks, but seemed very listless and strange. We ran to the store for some StressEez, gave her some extra feed and corn, and we warmed her up. She rallied a little, but she didn’t make it. My favorite yellow Gwen (my Orpington) is still alive and doing perfectly well. Although she seemed sick, she’s now fine. She will be adopted by one-or-another friends when we move.

Good news and bad news. But life is good, and that’s how it comes, right?

You all give me a holler when you see me hop-skip-and-a-jumping the to the library, or down to the Left Bank for a bite. But don’t bother coming up the hill for a visit and knocking on the door … when not playing my piano indoors, I plan to spend most of my time soaking in that big clawfoot tub.



Filed under adirondacks

22 responses to “A is for Abode

  1. No justification needed. Love to see how you fellas are adapting and even molding your environment.

    Enjoy your new digs and the awesomeness of Christmas.

  2. bren

    happy holidays and enjoy the new home—-have a question can you email me at rvbre9@aol.com my hubby noticed church steeple right away!

  3. JoAnne Haig DeFoe

    That is awesome! It looks so nice.

  4. I uderstand, but I sorta hate it. We live in an RV although we’ve not had the problems that you’ve had but yes, we have to pump water in everyday plus we have a washing machine. Good luck though. 🙂

  5. Kate

    I’m relieved! I worry about you guys during another hard winter. But imagine the lessons you’ve learned, and the book you’ll write about it one day. And it’s great to get a place with real history. I get it — I’m not a city girl, but I’m not a hard country girl either. It’s great to be within walking distance of things!

  6. I’d wondered how much insulation there could be in the walls of an RV, but if it takes you all year to pay off the heating bill for 260 SF, I guess that’s my answer. I certainly understand your decision, given the list of problems you deal with on a daily basis but I’m sorta sad too. I loved the “adventure” aspect of the RV.

    Do you still have plans to build a tiny house on the property?

    Bottom line though, you guys still get to live in the Adirondacks, lucky stiffs! (Do you detect a tiny bit of jealousy there? LOL!)

  7. Irish45

    So glad you are moving into Saranac. As you know already, it is my home town and I knew of the people you mentioned.Sounds absolutely perfect for you and no better place to be in winter than close to everything. Good Luck in the “A” and have a Merry Christmas. Irish45

  8. Judy

    hop skip and jump down to push a co-worker up the hill? maybe not with your “obsessive shoveling”

  9. hideawayhill

    It looks lovely from the outside! I will say that sometimes I really miss living near town and closer to the road as well. I get rather isolated in the winter partly because I’m a lousy nighttime driver and always worried about the driveway status. So I imagine being within walking distance to all that goes on in that lovely little town is going to be wonderful. I also know what it’s like to live the harder, country life. When I was young it was matter of fact, but when we get to be of a certain age it’s darn hard! You’ve got the perfect solution! Congratulations and enjoy!

  10. You know, that is something i just LOVE about you. You just seem to always adapt and go with the flow. Life is so much easier that way, going with the current. I am very happy for you! Now you can spend less time trying to make it work, and more time enjoying life in general…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you my dear! I send my love… mare

  11. Lynne on the Cape

    Yay for adaptation!! I too have had big changes, am selling the little Cape with the blue door, moved back to NY where I got a job in a hospital & am closer to family. Haven’t been blogging… Stopped because of all the stress in my life, so I admire you too for going with the flow.

    Life changes and things don’t always go as planned, but I love your enthusiasm for the charm and history! It will be fun to read about your new adventures.

    Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in Little A!!

  12. Cheryl

    I have been following your blog for a year or two ( found it courtesy of GrannieSue ) and I am excited for you and your mate . Can’t wait to read of your new adventures . I always enjoy your posts . Merry Christmas .

  13. Sandy

    Sounds liked a wonderful home, and so close to everything! So happy for you both. I hope you continue your blog from town, I sure enjoy reading about your endeavors. I’m moving too, 150 miles away, just bought a new little house in the Bend/Redmond area of Oregon. Big change from the much warmer Willamette Valley. But I’m eager for the mountain views, the beautiful forests, lakes, and rivers; more days of sunshine, much less rain. Going from fir and oak forest with thick undergrowth, to sage high desert and juniper trees. Yet very close to ponderosa pine forests. And just a two and a half hour drive back to the valley for visiting. Change is good. Happy holidays, you two!

  14. I had figured that RV would be extremely difficult to survive in during the winter … so I’m pleased that you found a wonderful winter home (flying south or north or east or west from your summer home?) … too bad about your chickens; I hate it when something kills them.

    Enjoy your new home. And Merry Christmas.

  15. I used to live in a similar apartment. If yours is built the same way, with the sloped ceilings, be sure not to stand up near the wall or you’ll crack your head on the ceiling. Ouch! I still have lumps!
    Stay warm!!!

  16. Marieadktricollie

    An interesting piece of TB history..

  17. Kate

    Here’s what my mom, who grew up in Saranac during the 30s, 40s and 50s (she lived on Riverside Drive, which I think may now be called Kiwassa Road) had to say about your A-frame:

    I went to SmallPines.com and saw the new “little A” house they are
    renting. I think I know right where that is. But they mentioned that the Chapin woman who used to make and sell pottery in Saranac, used to live there. If she is the one I remember, she first (with her husband) lived up at the end of Riverside Drive on top of the hill overlooking the river. At one time she gave Mom a vase that she had made (nothing special) and it has her name on it, and I still have it. We used to see her walking to town quite often and she’d stop and chat sometimes with Mom. I think her pottery shop was right next door to Charlie Green’s grocery, where I worked. Lord, that was soooooo long ago.

  18. A perfect solution. Your life is a constant adventure, and you’re always willing to find your way and to find it fascinating. Keep us posted on the new place.

    So sad about the chickens. I’d say definitely a weasel, or a houe cat. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if they’d been eaten, but otherwise their little lives were just wasted, and that probably makes you as furious as it does me when such things happen. The ones who acted sick were probably traumatized.

    Happy New Year, and best wishes for a good start in your new home.

  19. ctlogcabin

    Happy New Year !! Congratulations on
    your new digs ….. sounds like you found
    a Perfect solution for your Winter Living.
    I too love your attitude and ability to go
    with the flow ….. I think it makes for a Happy,
    Healthy Life !! Hugs ~ Connie xox

  20. Patricia

    I join everyone is being happy about your moving into a “real house” – you note I did not say a “real home” since no matter where you are living and loving is your “home”… be it RV, cabin, tent or AFrame…

    I look forward to your next post – the beginning of your new adventure in the little A abode…

  21. May you be happy and healthy in your new home in this new year!

    I had cause to drive through Gabriels 3x/week during Nov & Dec and the first time I buzzed through I nearly wrecked doing a double-take as I recognized your place! I don’t know why I didn’t know it was in Gabriels; just not paying attention, I guess. Anyway, I waved every time after that! =) Now I’ll wave the next time I go to Saranac Lake!

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