September 6, 2011 by Leah
All right, so maybe I’m not some random guy and I really didn’t break in. Maybe I’m actually Leah’s husband. Longtime readers know my name. Others shall be left to wonder, creepily rereading old blogs in their underwear while sifting for my name.
Who knows what’s inspired me to create this long awaited guest post. (The answer to that riddle doesn’t lie in old blogs, so don’t waste your time.) But that’s enough about me. On to houses.
Maybe Leah touched on her current house fixation last time and maybe she didn’t. Here it is in case you were wondering: http://wallawallaidx.com/listing.php?sid=68445&mls=108703&site_id=225&page_current=1
We checked it out, stomped around inside, kicked the tires you might say, and it really is a neat house. It’s our favorite so far, and Leah in particular is quite taken with it. To me, it’s the most practical of homes. The wide-open kitchen would keep the master chef happy and the square area of the house is largely dedicated toward living spaces such as said kitchen, dining area, and living room. The only eccentricity is the attic entrance located in the bathroom. But that detracts from my point so pretend you didn’t read that. Not that I’ve made a point yet or even that the making of one can be anticipated.
This house was built in 1900 (ed note: that was a long time ago). Motor cars were garage hobbies. Flour came in massive canvas sacks. Coffee and cocoa came in giant tins stamped with exotic locales. Men shaved with glistening straight razors sharp enough to split the proboscis of a mosquito. (disclaimer: some or all of these images may or may not be representative of the actual era) And homes took a lot of effort to build.
If you have to put a lot of effort into something and a comparatively large amount of your resources into that something, hopefully you value that something and were smart about somethinging your something else. Smart enough that you want that house to last for a long time and to actually enjoy living there. You use real wood because that’s what you have. You focus on where you will actually hang out with your eyes open, because who wants to ride a horse down to Milton-Freewater (okay, so that was actually two separate towns back then) in December? Who wants to walk two miles to the store for a single-serving packet of sugar?
And then “convenience” comes along. Motor cars proliferate. Since you have a car, you want a garage. Now that you can drive to the store, you don’t need to buy in bulk. Why would you buy 50 lbs of flour today, when you can buy 10 pounds in each of the next five weeks? Soon flour only comes in 10 pound sacks. You’re running out of everything every week and you have to go to the store, which you don’t mind because you have a car now. Which needs gas. Which needs insurance. Which needs repair. Which needs people to perform the repairs. And people to make the parts for the repair. And people to design the parts. And test the parts. And teach the repair guys. All so you can go buy stuff because now that Betty Crocker is out there with her helpful friend the hamburger oven mitt guy and you can’t stand eating bread day after day and eating food just so all that you harvested or slaughtered doesn’t have time to go bad, there are just so many new options. (Jut try to make sense of that sentence! Ha! Where is Bailey Editing when you need it?) Variety is the spice of life. All that food is cheap now, so you can toss it all away and buy something else if you want to. Suddenly all these new jobs and needs are out there. And everything takes less time. And less of your individual resources.
Now you can obsess over what your home should have. It should be massive. It should have a swimming pool. Now that you don’t have to grow crops, your house should have the bestest lawn in the county with the greenest, lushest grass. It should have an aquarium built around the bed (thanks for that, Chad Ochocinco). Who cares what it’s actually like to live in the house, as long as it looks impressive. But, whom are we trying to impress and why?
I want a dark, quiet bedroom, because I want to impress you with the quality of my sleep.
I want insulation and natural light, because I want to impress you with my low utility bills.
I want my dog to roam around outside (just because), loafing between the rows of corn that I’d grow in my yard because I don’t want me or my wife to drive to the store 84 times a week.
I want to ride a bicycle or walk to work, because a car is more hassle than convenience and I don’t care that if we all did the same it would put 6 million Americans (my figure based on no actual statistics) out of work.
All of which is to say that the actual features available in existing homes on existing properties don’t jive precisely with my dream home and dream lifestyle:
I want the last beer in the fridge and a shower. Later.