I'd have to clean it!

sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)July 9, 2006

I don't know how I got there but I just saw an article about a tour of landscapes done by Tom Manion. They were very impressive. Most were done in the DC burbs for people with beaucoup resources most of us can only dream of. Foxhall Road is a trip to another universe. My thoughts here are mostly about the houses. Gardeners like us would have no problem with the gardens but why in the world do people need houses that are that big!!

I see huge developments of huge houses occupied by people who don't even see some of the rooms on a weekly basis. I know many are occupied by only one or two people who seem lost in them. Many, no, most require outside help. The real estate turnover is huge too.

I am a space junky but that is space that I need to work in. I have often said I need to live in a barn. I grew up in a three story house with a basement (that was in constant use) and a 2 story garage. It took everyone in the family to keep it going and it could be a real job. That house is small compared to some of these behemouths.

How about your opinions on housing? Sandy

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Ohhh, Sandy, you might regret getting me started. LOL

We have a serious housing boom here in Cali, and every time I drive by these new "communities", I just want to scream. Besides the fact that they're packed in like sardines (bedrooms looking down on backyards all around), they really do seem HUGE. And at the housing prices we're experiencing here, they've estimated that only about 10% of people in CA can actually afford to buy now.

If we ever get the "pleasure" of driving through some of these newly-built communities, at least half of them seem to be empty most of the time. Square of (green, well-watered) grass, square shrubs under the windows....almost like the neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands, except nobody's ever home. To pay for these homes, most folks have to commute insane distances to insane jobs. Meanwhile, where are the chil'en?

I could definitely go on, but I'll take a breather for now. :D


    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 4:15PM
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sheepco(MN z4)


Everyone has both parents working and "meanwhile, where are the children"? Even here in the sticks it's evident.

And now the taxes are climbing 'cause people are buying ag land to build housing, and the new young 'wanna be' farmers can't afford to buy their parents land.

Oops, my answer probably falls under the politics and religion no-no's. Sorry!

"Starter Castles", "McMansions", "Estates", you can have 'em.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 12:59AM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

I just moved from CA to TX. With really high property tax it's almost as expensive to live here as it was there! In CA you just have to pay a lot up front. I'd rather have a smaller house and have a stay at home parent. The children of two parent income houses spend a great deal of time at lessons I've noticed. Karate on Monday,Tennis on Tuesday,Ballet on Wendsday,etc.... I can argue both sides of it myself. Student loans will keep people working also! Not going to touch the credit card thing. I don't have one and you'd think it was a crime. They send me offer after offer. PJ

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 1:59AM
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maryo_nh(z5 SouthernNH)

Same here. Our town hasn't been building low-medium income housing for years... the children that grow up here can't afford to get a house here anymore. The only new houses that are built are oversized on lots that are undersized. We have a one-acre-minimum for each housing lot, but the builders get around that by including the unusable wetlands in the calculation.

Hmmm... let me think... large house, small lot, backed up by swamp... no kids around in the afternoons and vacations for mine to play with... no moms around for play dates... wow, what an attractive scenario... (not)

So, when our kids are ready to by a home, they will have to get an old one in an old, established neighborhood. I guess DH and I will help rebuild/remodel...

:) Mary

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:47AM
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koijoyii(NE Ohio)

Hmmmmm, let's see! Large communities built on virgin land. Wonder why the deer, racoon, possum, rabbits, etc. keep getting killed on the highways. Don't get me started............


    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:47AM
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zinniachick(southwest Ohio)

I think it's going to come full-circle. We're going to realize the value of established neighborhoods close to well-tended public green spaces, with good, cheap, safe public transportation to work and shopping and airports and train stations. In Xenia ("Tornadoes 'n' Bikes R us!") a development based around the bike trails has done quite well.

As for those huge houses, I'm with Sandy. Heating, cooling, sweeping and dusting that enormous expanse... it just wouldn't get done. And who has time to check behind all those doors and in all those closets every time you return home alone after dark?? :) It would exhaust the dog. My friends who have such a large house -- and it is beautiful, a smart investment of their life's savings that will earn more appreciation than any stock purchase -- also have a motion detecting system, a maid service, etc. I am not judging them. They earned every penny of it with decades of hard work and sacrifice and smart choices, and it is honestly theirs in every way. It's way fun to visit, too. I just think it's incompatible with having a community and neighbors. It's a tradeoff, and one that our planet can't afford to the percentage of people who are choosing it.

This is a National Public Radio essay by a professor in New England. He gave permission to print the transcript with attribution.

Back From The Land

by Tim Brookes

Host: At the end of June, after 11 years of living in the Vermont countryside, essayist Tim Brookes is moving back into the city of Burlington. Hes not the only one.

Text: Friends are telling us, realtors are telling us: all kinds of people who moved out to the country to do the Vermont dream of getting Back To The Land, who spent years planting gardens and making solar homes, now theyÂre moving back to the city. ItÂs eerie: a Back From The Land movement.

Forty years ago, it seemed like the responsible thing to do--to leave the rat race and the polluted city, be a steward of the land. Now gas is $3 a gallon, heating oil has leaped in price and woodstoves have turned out to emit vast clouds of particulate matter, I wonder whether living on the land really is the environmentally friendly decision.

For a start, I canÂt claim to have been a good steward of the land. I didnÂt drain the swamp or leave a dozen junk cars rusting on the lawn, their batteries oozing into the groundwater, but I mostly squandered our natural resources. I planted apple trees but never really learned about ecologically sound spraying, so we got delicious but scabby, deformed apples. Every spring I planted more than I could tend or harvest, every summer I would go away two or three times on assignment and come back to find the weeds had overrun everything--the net result was waste.

Above all, what I tried to ignore, as most of us do, is that living out of town has a hidden cost: burning vast amounts of fossil fuels. IÂm not just talking about commuting ten miles each way every day, sometimes twice a day, or driving three miles each way to the school, the park, the library, the supermarket, or the video rental store. ThatÂs bad enough, but mowing the lawns took two hours of work with a gasoline mower, a notorious polluter. If IÂd wanted to bring the yard properly to heel IÂd have needed a lawn tractor--more gasoline--plus a weedwhacker and maybe a brush hog. To keep our driveway open took a neighbor with either a gasoline-driven snowblower or a pickup with a plow blade. Every year, more people have moved out here; every year it looks less like the land and more like landscaping.

IÂm going to miss the view, the clear night sky, the rabbits, deer and wild turkey in the yard. But by moving into town we can get rid of one car and walk or cycle to school and to work, and to the grocery store, all of which will save gas and keep me fit. Maybe living in rural America is too high a price to pay--not just for me, but for rural America. Maybe itÂs like what Edward Abbey used to say about the Western wilderness: welcome. Now go back to town.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 3:14PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Hi Sandy.

I agree. What a waste of space and resources. Either these people have TOO MUCH money or, as the commercial says, "I'm in debt up to my eye balls!" as they try to impress the neighbours.

I can't imagine the cost to heat and cool those huge houses! I go into near cardiac arrest when out heating or cooling bill comes and we have a modest sized home.

Plus, they make these grand housing developments and cut down mature woods and displace or eliminate the wildlife that has made there home there for decades or centuries! :-(


    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 7:50PM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)

Well, I live near Mary, so of course the situation is the same here. Nothing really being built for under $400,000, give or take. All big, mostly cookie-cutter "colonials" that the young folks will have to get much older to afford.

My in-laws retired (after doing VERY well in home trade-ups and business) to an antique farmhouse, just the two of them, gosh, I don't know how many rooms, and the place is totally, beautifully, tastefully renovated and uncluttered. Heck, who can clutter a house with all that storage space?! It's nice for hosting family dinners, but it sure is hard to imagine they need THAT much space, even while babysitting grandkids.

Meanwhile we (just us 2) live in a little, cluttered, 60's ranch with a chronic wet basement problem. Clutter is hard to clean so maybe my inlaws' house would be better. But after building my big pond with my own hands (and the help of kind friends and neighbors), in a weedy but established big back yard with great soil, I would have a really hard time "moving up". Better to work to improve what we have, and stay here where the dear neighbors and memories are.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:22AM
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Have any of you seen the article I read recently which said large numbers of kids are the new status symbol? It appears they are "foregoing" the large, multiple houses, and getting rid of the double income and having more kids (like 4 -6) to show that they CAN do this...Interesting....

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:10PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

As long as I'm not the one going into labor 6 times! Whoo wee! They can HAVE that trend all to themselves! Then there's 6 kids to keep up with emotionally.You can't get a sitter for that!I'm not sure if I could do it.PJ

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 12:25PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

I guess I am guilty of one who lives in the country and drives 12 miles to work everyday. But my previous home was 10 miles to work when I lived in the suburbs. And now I run all my errands on my way home from work, I rarely drive anywhere on the weekends or my days off. I took last week off and parked my car on Friday and other than a couple half mile trips to the park, I didn't drive again until I went back to work. It took some adjusting to get out of the habit of running to the store all the time but I actually put less miles on my car now than when I lived in town. I can't say I have been a great steward of the land, something I do hope to rectify but as usual it's always a matter of time and money. I am definitely more eco-conscience that I ever was when living in the city.

We are also guilty of "sizing up" after my son left home. We were a one income family living in a 1000 sq foot 50's ranch on a postage size lot. We lived in the suburbs and my husband attempted to run a small business out of the house so our son could come home after school and spend his summers playing with the neighborhood kids. Our current house is not big compared to todays standards but it is definitely more room than we "need". My biggest complaint is the cathedral ceilings, I think they are a bigger factor in energy consumption than the size of the house.

So there you have it, a confession of my sins.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 8:29PM
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zinniachick(southwest Ohio)

Oh, you fail to mention the BUTTOCKS baskets. That's where the real soul-drowning sin lies. I suppose if you agreed to accompany me again to Earthscapes to buy native grasses, and we go in my hybrid gas-sipping car and let the trees hang out the hatch like last time, Jesus will receive you just fine.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 9:27PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

OMG, I've been exposed! Yes I am a buttocks basket addict and refuse to seek treatment. They are stacked all the way to the cathedral ceiling :^)

I'll take you up on that ride offer to Earthscapes, do you think we can fit a couple of native cherry trees in there? How's your paw-paw tree doing, mine is doing good and it's so cute!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 11:14PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

A Paw-paw tree!! I've wanted one of those for years and didn't think they would make it this far north. What variety did you get? Sandy

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 8:00AM
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zinniachick(southwest Ohio)

WHAT pawpaw? It did not make it. Evidently I did not get enough of the root system. They say they are very difficult to transfer, but evidently not when you've met the devil at the crossroads and traded your soul for gardening, birding and photography skills. Not mentioning any names here. :)

Sandy, you probably can grow one there. Are there any in the woods around there? They grow in big groves, all connected.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 10:49AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Hummmm. Paw paw trees make me think of the house my great great grandfather built-a log cabin that was added to many times over the years. There was a Paw paw in the front yard. The banana scent of the fruit was almost overwhelming when it was ripe and the yellow jackets and hornets simply covered the whole tree. Strangely. I don't remember anyone eating the fruit and I don't remember ever seeing any recipes for them. There must be some.
Speaking of old houses, I really hate to see how people who can't afford it, pour fistfuls of of cash into old houses that have no plumbing, no decent wiring, etc. I guess they think they can DIY the whole thing in their spare time. Unless you are a millionaire that kind of thing can nickel and dime you to death. I have seen houses that are literally moneypits do in families that try their best to rescue these houses. If they didn't try so hard to restore them and simply modernized them it would be a different story. A single lady bought an old farmhouse near us and has put in twice the money a contemporary house would cost and it still isn't livable after 5 years. On the other hand a local lawyer gutted an old farmhouse, started from the basement up, added on and added on until it is a marvel. I understand he has put in well over a million $$. A local contractor wound up with an old school that he moved to a new location and he is using it as a front hall. The living areas he has added dwarf the original building. Once again, a million or two.
They can afford it, though. Other houses I've seen chew up 3 or 4 owners in just a few years and are still not close to being done. I can't help but wonder that there are so many people who can't do the math.
I am not a total philistine. I love old houses and love to poke around in them but I'll let some one else deal with the trauma involved. You have to make a choice between gutting an old house and rebuilding or making it a historical site. I don't see how you can do anything else. If the house was kept contemporary, with the upgrades needed to make it functional it is a different story.
I've probably offended a huge number of people so I'll shut up for now. Sandy

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 4:34PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Sandy, according to the distribution maps of Indiana the pawpaw is a native where you live so I would think you should be able to grow it there. I got mine from a grower here in Dayton - unfortunately I only have one and the closest wild pawpaws that I know of are a mile away - I doubt that is close enough for cross polination so I may have to get another one.

When we were house hunting we looked at several old houses - a dream house for me but my husband didn't have the interest. I knew it would be a constant source of frustration for me and a chore to him - not a good idea! To buy one that had already been renovated was way out of our price range. No matter how hard the builders try, you just can't replicate the look and feel of an old house.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 10:45PM
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