Immediately after the diagnosis of an incurable blood cancer, everything slowed down for me. I started thinking more practically as I started to run the "what-if" scenarios over and over again. The first thing I decided was my dream home had to go. I could not fathom Cassie being stuck with two little babes and a mortgage that would put her more than six feet in the ground. So we listed our home and although we had a lot of interest, our home did not include a garage (yet) so buyers would not pull the trigger. Actually, right before the start of treatment we thought we came to terms with a buyer, but they eventually walked at the thought of having to build a two car garage.
So we remain in our home, but the dream has definitely changed since diagnosis. Although our house is situated in one of the most desirable locations in Ann Arbor; walking distance from Jefferson Market, Washtenaw Dairy, Downtown A2, the Big House and a stone's throw from one of my favorite parks, it still doesn't seem to completely fit our evolving dream. Even with the best porch on the Old West Side. Seriously, nothing compares to living six blocks from the Big House on a football Saturday, tailgating from the comfort of our home, watching the game from the cable jack on the porch. (My little stroke of design genius.)
One thing cancer has taught me and apparently my Cancer Kicker friend as well is that forming a team or what I would call community is critical in difficult and challenging times. But why just difficult times? Why does it take a cancer diagnosis in order for neighbors to feel comfortable enough to drop off desserts and friends the ability to drop in and say hi while providing dinner? I have my theory about where society has been and where it is and where it is going, but I am far from getting my PhD in Sociology (I haven't even had a college course in English, let alone Sociology), I was one of the four fools on the football team to spend my non-football practice time up on North Campus at Michigan.
To the left are the only football players stupid enough to study engineering. Yes, I was the only one in my class to graduate from the School of Dorks.
So our desire is for ongoing community; free of the busyness of American life which offers us black Friday, fast fried food and attached garages that close out the world and the neighbors upon entry. Since listing our house I was powerless to resist seeking out the next dream. So for the last year I have been searching for land like those who expanded the western frontier, although in my 1998 S10 and not on my horse.
Our recent trip to Calder Dairy farms confirmed our desire to be out West (of Ann Arbor). A group of our close friends ventured out last Sunday to a little family farm that was chock full of goats, cows, ducks and more. I took plenty of photos, all majestic, but what captured my eye was the ability for the adults to intermingle as the kids just played together and ran all about the farm. Freedom!
Needless to say, I have been out driving the country roads 3 times in the last 5 days. Two of the trips included stopping by to visit some dear friends who just started a Barn Wedding business and it is blowing up, so it's not like I am driving the S-10 aimlessly back and forth down random country roads... although that sounds fun. I have been pretty wordy (thanks, Dex!), but to bring the dream down to earth a little, I hope to acquire 50-100 acres where I can build 10 to 25 homes depending on what the township allows.
I have a passion for design that takes into account place, efficiency and environmentalism. Although I'll be the first to admit building a new home (or 25) can be seen as not environmentally friendly, I think as caretakers of creation we can bring restoration to the land and rejuvenate it after decades of industrial farming. I also would like to take to practice green design principles that push the envelope with the help of modern day technology: solar, wind-turbines, geo-thermal heating while including proven building principles that have been abandoned (e.g. timber framing, masonry heating, etc.). In the end, I want to build something that will last.
So if you either want to buy our house or live in the country with us, let me know. ;)
This post was written while dominating Velcade and Doxil, and was written moderately under the influence of Dex, but it didn't slow my domination as you can see below!