When the price per pound comes down

No longer the cheap, plentiful seafood it once was in New England, lobster is still a specialty. We usually wait till later in the season, when prices fall and fresh corn on the cob is available, before feasting. (Photo by Rachel Williams)

 

Here I am with my buddy Harlan for a repast in our Smoking Garden. He had rubbed their heads in a way to hypnotize them and stand them on their heads before they went into the boiling pot. Said it’s an old Maine tradition. (Photo by Rachel Williams)

 

 

Remembering Nosmo

I’ve never been a dog person, but we did have cats when I was growing up and again in my first marriage. These days, it’s been household rabbits, a whole different story.

But my all-time favorite cat was an all-black, marvelously sleek male tommy who was half-Siamese. He’s the inspiration for Gobi in my latest fiction. Our dog-loving neighbors even gave him the compliment of saying he was more like a dog than a cat, and their own German shepherd was one dog I came to enjoy.

The naming came about in one of my flights of imagination. I was sitting in a classroom looking at a NO SMOKING sign and wondered about shifting the space. That led to NOSMO KING, which was soon bestowed on our kitty.

I thought I was being pretty clever, but a few years later my in-laws sent us a newspaper clipping where a human named Nosmo King was mentioned. I don’t remember if he had a different last name or whether King was it. Drat!

Yes, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. And sometimes it just leads to some strange fiction.

As for that dream house itself?

We’re at a point of downsizing. On a limited budget, at that.

Here’s what’s on my list of considerations.

~*~

  1. A pleasing work area: In my case, that’s the writing studio. For my wife (the foodie), the kitchen and pantry plus utility space. And in both, abundant wiring.
  2. A good view: In our dream, we’re looking at the ocean, but a lake or mountain might do.
  3. Wood heat: At least as backup. We’ve been very happy with our efficient Jotul wood stove. Besides, it’s good backup during power outages.
  4. Adequate insulation and heating/cooling: We’re set on New England, after all. Cold drafts are expensive and annoying. And summer is really only six weeks.
  5. Easy maintenance: I’m not a hobby do-it-yourselfer, and I have other ways to spend my time than amateur house repair. Our budget needs to keep calls to construction-industry tradesmen minimal.
  6. Smart use of space for our needs: Think affordable IKEA. Bigger is not necessarily better.
  7. Sufficient and efficient storage: Closets are a recent addition to New England houses. Take it from there. In our case, this would also include expansive bookshelves and a large garden shed.
  8. A three-season porch: Elbow-room, if you want, especially for entertaining guests in all but deep winter or tackling special projects.
  9. Minimal snow plowing: Even a short driveway can be difficult to clear if there’s nowhere to pile the snow. A long driveway can be expensive to keep clear and, for that matter, decently paved. As for parking?
  10. Hot tub? Well, this is a dream list and there is that three-season porch.

~*~

What would be on your list?

What would your dream home have?

My, have things changed from the time I first proposed this as a Tendrils topic and the time I actually sat down to draft the text. I thought I’d be living in Dover for the rest of my life, but now we’re actually looking to relocate to somewhere, well, for us more dreamy. I’ll leave it at that for the time being, and besides, that prospect just may turn out to be a very pleasant pipe dream.

What I am sensing that much of the dream has to do with location, beyond the house itself. This week I’ll focus on the locale. Next week, the walls, floor, and roof.

~*~

  1. Walkability: Pedestrian-friendly, with suitable restaurants, stores, parks, medical facilities within an easy stroll. What we like to call civility.
  2. A Quaker Meeting: Kindred spirits and spiritual friendship.
  3. Natural wonder: At the moment, that includes a view of the ocean. Nearby trails a plus.
  4. Cultural amenities: Classical music, live theater, classic film series, that sort of thing. A good choir to join, poetry readings, especially. Plus a decent library.
  5. Medical facilities: At my age, having qualified doctors and a hospital or well-equipped clinic at hand has become an important consideration.
  6. Good neighbors: We’ve been quite lucky in Dover that way.
  7. Community spirit: A sense of common good makes a huge difference. I’ll include local and state taxes here, with an eye to what’s provided for the buck. (In Dover, for example, my indoor swimming pool activity would fit into the equation.)
  8. Public utilities: Hard to think that in our times, the reliability of the electrical system or broadband access has to be questioned. Water and sewage become considerations, too.
  9. Visual balance: This includes houses, gardens, and retail areas that are well maintained and have personal expression. That rules out most suburbs.
  10. Safe and secure: Low crime rate, as well as fast fire and ambulance response, are definite considerations.

~*~

What would be on your list?

 

How I’d love to have dormers in my attic studio

For whatever reasons, a writer’s workspace holds a fascination. Many readers envision a kind of magical chamber somewhere, and we writers often dream of the perfect setup, though Annie Dillard’s concrete block room with no outside distractions may be the better option. Mark Twain even had a billiard table in his, on the top floor, no less.

These days, mine’s under the slopping ceilings in the north end of our third floor. A single window, rattling in winter and letting bugs in through the edges of the screen through the summer, is the sole connection to the outside world, apart from rain or squirrels pounding on the roof above.

There are days, though, when I do wish it had dormers on each side, not just to open the headroom up, either, but to allow me to figure out what’s going on when I hear something. Did someone just pull up in the driveway, that sort of thing.

Not that I could justify the expense anytime soon.

What one touch would you like to add to your own living or work space?

 

When it’s time to downsize

Think of your “desert island list” applied to real life.

Gee, trying to cut it to even a thousand books or recordings seems impossible, at least in my case.

Would there even be sufficient room for all the survivors at the new destination?

And that’s before the clothing and kitchenware and …

What would be hardest for you to pare down?