House Hunters

We’ve been looking at new homes for the last month. It would be nice to downsize a bit and have more funds for travel, paying bills, projects, decorating and generally enjoying life while we’re still alive.

We started out looking at existing homes, and have spent several Sundays as a family visiting open houses in the area. There are some really nice neighborhoods, with really cool old houses, many of these homes were built in the 1920’s. But out of everything we’ve seen so far, there was really only one house that stood out to us. It’s a pretty neat Georgian colonial built during the first quarter of the 20th century. It was the first house we visited. And after several weeks we even went back a second time. It spoke to us in a way, but the reality is it doesn’t save us any money and we’d be in the same spot we are in now. Additionally we wouldn’t have any money to decorate it (it’s a larger house) or to fix up anything. We like its little quirks and it was beautifully decorated currently. Real nice neighborhood too. Great back yard.

So with that house off the list, we switched gears and looked at a couple developments where new homes were being built. Ha! the family of course was universal in our love of new construction. What’s not to love, everything is fresh, smells good and contemporary floor plans have come a long way. Builders are beginning to design home interiors to be more in line with how humans really live: more office space, less focus on wasted space or vaulted ceilings. We actually found a development or two that would work for us, and found a few floor plans, one in particular, that would be perfect for us. One thing I’m noticing is that in smaller floor plans, builders are finally getting rid of formal dining rooms, separate dinettes (and living rooms). Replacing them with offices or omitting them altogether. This is exactly what we did when we built our current house. We use our fancy dining room table EVERY day! The old dinette set actually sits in the basement. Also builders are adding lofts to the second floor that are PERFECT as a game room for the kids. It basically negates the need to finish off the basement of a new home, thus saving money. Or we could use the basement for a home theater someday. Other great features include larger mud rooms and laundry rooms on the second floor. All good stuff.

The thing we hate about new builder homes is the exteriors are awful. The put a ton of value into the interior at the expense of homogenizing the exterior. Builders have turned all these homes into big boxes with a bunch of tacked on details that neither make sense nor add interest. In fact one great neighborhood we looked at, with good floor plans, isn’t even an option because the home exteriors are so grossly fake and boxy, it was too depressing to look past them all. It was like a bunch of building for people waiting for death to rescue them. Depressing as f*ck.

flat box house piceture

Example of box house design trend we’re seeing. It saves cost but the aesthetics are so forced they look fake.

I’m not picking on anyone, but builders need to do better than this. Throw some money at the foundation to get some setbacks within the facade. Don’t build the box over the garage. Have dormers and details that make sense. It’s to the point where maybe get rid of the old colonial facades and if you’re going to build a box, accentuate it all and maybe go modern. We can do better than this as a society.

So I’m going to start doodling at night while we watch tv. We have a floor plan we like. I might tweak it a bit or explore alternatives. And I’ll play with the exterior a bit.  Additionally I’m going to look at vacant lots for sale in our neck part of the state. All we need is a small lot, and a small house. Once we kind of have an idea we can reach out to a builder and get an idea if we can do what we want in our budget. We’ll keep looking at existing homes too just in case.

 

 

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Forcing the Universe’s Hand

That’s what I’m doing.

I’m calling it “forcing the universe’s hand“.

For decades I’ve planned and plodded along. Step by step, one thing after another. Playing by the book. Trying to put goodness out there hoping somehow it comes back to me ten-fold. Chasing some dream to the point that I don’t even know what I’m chasing anymore.  And all I’m finding is that this is doing nothing to make me happy, healthy or content with my life.

If I’m lucky I’m somewhere in the third quarter of my life, so there’s still time to rally and turn this thing around. I’ve burnt a lot of mental energy on things that don’t matter. That needs to change. My goal is to start pushing a lot of things out to the universe and force it to decide my path forward for me. I’m kind of over the concept of planning. I’m curating what it is that makes me happy and focusing on that.

I’m building up the courage to say “no” more often.

And working to start saying “yes” to the things that, through self reflection, are important to me from here on out. The only non-negotiable item is my children’s health and happiness, that is paramount. But beyond that…

I will aways work to leave this world better than I found it; to do good, be kind, do no harm, encourage love, oppose hate.

We overanalyze every god damn thing, for what purpose I don’t know. I’m working on not worrying about what other people think. I’m intrinsically flawed, but if I’m doing the best I can, in my heart of hearts to do good for myself (my children) and the world (all of our children), and someone has a problem with that, then that’s on them, not me.

We spend so much of our one life waiting around. Meanwhile we’re dropping dead at all ages and I just can’t reconcile in my mind that we have any time to wait for anything.

So I’m throwing out the old model.

This house and my work life the last few years are the catalyst. The house is my dream but the reality is it’s also a great burden that, like many aspects of my life, has me shackled in a glass prison where I can see out but can’t escape to the world around me. Do I hold on to the dream and try to make it work or do you move on?

I’ve been blessed, working from home has allowed me to spend the most formative years of my children’s lives at home with them. Ultimately they are the number one priority. I treasure every day I’ve been able to watch them growing up, first hand. But working for myself is also extremely stressful. I start every day not knowing if I’ll have work. Not knowing if I’ll be able to pay ANY of my bills that month. Living day to day, month to month. I’ve been fairly successful (most of the time), but the stress does wear me down. Add to that several volunteer activities and it’s a hamster wheel in front of a flame thrower.

It’s a path that leads no where.

What good is any of it if I’m stressed out about going out for pizza? What good is it if I’m so depressed I don’t want to do anything but crawl in a hole and die (or hang myself from the first floor joists in the basement storage room)?

Life has taught me, in a round about way, to focus on experiences. I wouldn’t trade any of it, and have few if any regrets. I’ve ALWAYS done it my way. I always will.

But I’m kinda worn out. Or maybe I’m just ready for a change. Something’s gotta give and I can’t just sit idle anymore. I need to start throwing some things out there. Otherwise I’m going to wither and die.


 

Now I’m actually excited for the first time in a long time. I don’t have a plan and that’s exactly the point. I’m going to start pushing some options out to the universe, cut and run from some other things, and going to let the universe dictate my path.

-C

P.S. You know, this blog has been about this house and projects but the funny thing is I haven’t had the time or money to do much with the house, thus the blog has been non-existant for the last couple years. Which is sad because I love writing but am rarely in the proper mindset to sit down and write (or work on a myriad of other projects I’d like to work on). I’m still on the fence as to close this blog down, keep it or maybe start a different blog to maintain my sanity during this next phase of my existence. Don’t know.

 

Butterfly Garden

Figured out a perk of being lazy and not keeping up with (even planting) a vegetable garden. Letting nature take over has produced a perfect rectangle of butterfly paradise in our yard. Thistle and queen anne’s lace have grown up about five feet tall where once grew tomatoes and peppers. This is the perfect height to immerse one’s self into a world of dancing butterflies. I swear it’s better than the butterfly encounters you see at the zoo or museums. And it didn’t cost me a dime.

I spotted over six species of butterflies including Black Swallowtail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Silver Spotted Skipper and Meadow Fritillary.

This place is pretty magical in the summer with all of the plants, insects and animals. Most people would have to go to a park or nature realm to experience what we can on any given day if we just take the time and open our eyes. Very blessed.

 

Summer Flowers

A few photos from a sunny summer day in the yard. Not as many cone flowers came up this year. I think they’re are being over grown by weeds. Daisies, sun flowers and black-eyed-susans are here and there.

Our day lilies finally started blooming after two years since planting them. Only three of them so far but they are beautiful.

 

 

 

Transplanting the Window Tree

I’ve been watching a tree grow up in our from bed for a year or two now. It started as a wild seed and is now 12′ tall. I figured I’d better move it now since there is no sense in it growing up where it started growing.

window-tree

The “window tree” growing up in front of the foyer windows. We didn’t plant it, rather it just started growing there.

I didn’t want to just chop it down, so I tried transplanting it yesterday to a spot along the nature trail, near where another old tree had died. I dug around the base of the tree and tried to preserve as much of the roots as I could. That being said, I didn’t go overboard in my care either.

transplanted-tree

The tree transplanted along the nature trail.

After planting it I checked on it later in the day and it was not doing well so I gave it some water. I’ll check on it this morning, give it more water. Hopefully it can figure out it has a happy new home and not die.

As best I can tell it is an ash tree, which means it’s probably doomed even if it survives since we have emerald ash borers, an invasive species of insect from overseas that destroys ash trees.

I’ve not had much much with transplanting trees this year. A nice little maple that was growing wild outside my studio got transplanted a couple weeks ago, but I forgot to water it. So it’s dead now.

 

Driveway Moss

driveway-moss.gif

After six years the driveway has turned into virtual cement infused with living moss and grasses. I’ve been watching it grow all this time. I know the moss. I know the trees. I know their stories. I’ve been watching them grow. Seeing what we’ve become.

Amityville Horror (but with mice)

Caught what I believe is baby mouse thirteen and fourteen tonight. Once again within like twenty minutes of each other. Around nine o’clock, the mousing hour in our home, the wife said “Did you set the trap because the cat is playing with it”.

“No I didn’t set the trap. Let me check and see if there’s anything in it”

Well I picked it up and about jumped out of my skin, for a mouse was concealed under the trap. In fact the whole family jumped and screamed. It was quite a site. The mouse darted from the hall into the bathroom with cat in tow. I closed the door so we could get the mouse box, yes we have a paper box that is the official mouse box.

I opened the door and this one was a jumper. I cornered it behind the toilet, and it was trying to jump up the corner of the wall. Quickly I got it in the paper…er, mouse box. The kids and I took the mouse out. There was still some daylight so we were able to take the mouse far down the driveway. Along the way we saw the milk snake sitting silently in the middle of the driveway. I so badly wanted to drop the mouse right in front of the snake and watch the snake kill it, but the kids begged me not too.

Darn.

A half hour later, as we were relaxing in the family room, my kid says “Dad I think I hear squeaking!”.

“Turn the tv down” and I jumped up to go find the cat. Not on the main floor, in my bedroom or foyer. But I could kind of hear squeaking too. Damn it.

Then my cat comes prancing up the stairs from the basement with a mouse in his mouth. The bastard brought the damn thing upstairs like it was his little stuffed animal or fuzzy ball. The cat dropped the mouse of in the bedroom. I’m scrambling for the mouse box. The cat has the damn thing under his paw against the baseboard. I make him let it go and the freaking mouse goes under the dresser. We get a yard stick, shove it under the dresser. I move a little chest at the end of the dresser on the floor and the mouse pops out and jumps into the mouse box.

We took the stupid mouse outside and let it go in the driveway.

This is so annoying. All I can think of is we have to totally go through the bedroom and storage room to exercise any nests and plug any holes we can find. I don’t know if the damn things live in here or they are coming back repeatedly. We have two cats for the love of god. These stupid mice should not want to be in our house.

I need more snakes.