In my novel What’s Left, the home life of Cassia’s extended close-knit family revolves around a large Victorian house they call Big Pink. It’s just a block away from their restaurant, and sometimes it’s hard to count just how many generations and their guests are living within it.
This passage, though, didn’t quite fit on their plates:
Baba tells us of a dorm buddy who once bandied about the idea of taking an old house and serving intimate dinners in the various rooms. Be like eating in somebody’s private home, he’d said.
Well, Dimitri says, we have this imposing but monstrous citadel in our project. (Meaning Big Pink.) We could move the restaurant right here, but I rather like it as the center of something better. He reaches for a piece of paper and hands it to Baba.
See, if we enclose the porch, like this, and put a grill in here … uh-huh, they grin as Baba pencils in this creation. An entryway here. Steps leading up to an enlarged dining room, which goes here. The kitchen, you see, builds into this area, and …
Oh, I’m so glad she stopped talking like this! In the final version, she’s pretty snippy and Big Pink remains filled with children.
As I’ve learned the hard way, old houses demand a lot of repair and maintenance. One like Big Pink could be a full-time job. Fortunately, Cassia’s great-grandfather Ilias left his imprint, and some of her cousins follow suit.
Traveling about, it’s always fun to look at different kinds of dwellings, especially where people have made their signature marks.
Tell me what you’d most want as your dream house.
Talk of pooling income and possessions thrived in the hippie era, though it rarely took form in practice – and, when it did, the results were often disastrous.
More common was the kind of shared rent arrangement like the farm I describe in my novel Pit-a-Pat High Jinks.
Here are ten from American history. Utopian socialism was a common theme.
- New Harmony, Indiana. Robert Owen, 1825-1829.
- Oberlin Colony. Ohio, 1833-1843.
- Fourier Society. Based on the ideas of French philosopher Charles Fourier, communes existed in New Jersey, 1841-1858; New York state, 1844-1846; Wisconsin, 1844-1850; Ohio, 1844-1845.
- The Transcendentalists. Brook Farm, George and Sophia Ripley, 1841-1846, and Fruitlands, Amos Alcott, 1843-1844, both in Massachusetts.
- Oneida Colony. John H. Noyes, New York state, 1848-1880. The first of a series of communes with radical ideas about free love and open marriage. (I love the name of one of those in Ohio, 1854-1858: Free Lovers at Davis House.)
- Icarians. Followers of French philosopher Etienne Cabet established communes in Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and California, 1848-1898.
- Home, Washington. 1895-1919, based on an anarchist philosophy.
- Twin Oaks. Virginia, 1967 to the present.
- The Farm. Stephen Gaskin, Lewis County, Tennessee, 1971 to the present.
- East Wind Community. Ozark County, Missouri, 1973 to the present.
Any you’d add to the list?
- Starts easily. Just push a button rather than trying to yank that cord.
- There’s no cord to break. (Ever had that happen?)
- I don’t have to buy gasoline.
- It’s far less polluting. Lawnmower emissions are notorious.
- It’s quiet. I won’t wake the neighbors.
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver.
- And it folds up easily, for storage or transportation.
- If it needs to go in the car, there’s no gasoline to spill.
- Never needs sharpening. The blades are designed with rounded edges. For that matter, there’s no annual tune-up.
- The rechargeable battery also fits my weed whacker and other yard gadgets I’ll likely be adding. I’ve heard some good things about the chainsaw.
Anyone else running on rechargeable batteries?