Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Outside looking in

Gratitude. That's the main feeling--to have the choice about where and how to live. The sheer opportunity to 'leverage' owning one house (or 2 in our cases) to get another.

And this week the newspaper series--front page--about the effects of gentrification in North Portland--the forced economic diaspora of the Black community, largely at the hands of White developers and the White folks who bought their developments and shifted the tone and texture of the neighborhoods. How not to be a further force in that?

We will get a key to the house this Friday after the deed is recorded with the county. And then the waiting. Mark, the seller, has the option to stay another month...will have to get seeds planted before a month is up.

From this end, some of the move is underway...have packed up the buffet (mostly) bookcases (mostly) emptied file cabinets (mostly) set up a give/go area in the basement for things with a future, just not with us. Emptied the basement bedroom and other area on the west end...no small task. That made it feel like we really can move. 20 years deep in every corner here...we have our work cut out for us.

Looking forward to seeing if we can move with no dumpster...want to give away and recycle what we can't use. Hope that's possible. Still don't know about whether or not the chickens can move with us.

Everyone we talk to wants to see the place and have a party. Ok! We will have a lot of parties!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Well, after a little more than an hour in the Title Company this afternoon, many, many signatures and plenty of initials, we're this close to becoming the owners of the Eco Shack!  Sue Ann and I usually report to each other when one or the other of us has given in to the temptation to go by and see the place.  It's all starting to feel very real and both exciting and daunting.  We may be taking possession as early as Memorial Day weekend.  There's talk of painting and deep cleaning.  I'm thinking, though, that MD weekend might be the perfect time to throw a little empty house/open house.  We'll have to see how that plays out.

It's been interesting for me to see how positively people in Portland react when I mention all the Eco features in the house.  It's also been interesting to follow how Sue Ann and I are dealing with the more socio and economic aspects of our entry into the neighborhood.  As if on cue, there was a big front-page two day spread in the Oregonian this week on Portland's disappearing Black neighborhoods and how poorly the city has handled gentrification.  We have lots to learn.  And we are very, very fortunate.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another View, Day 2

It's not your average place.

This thing sticks out in the neighborhood, ok, all 8 matching houses do, and say Euro-Centric Eco House!!  It veritibly shouts, "Why aren't you as green as we are?"  And pretty soon I'll adjust and stop feeling quite so self-conscious about that.  But let's just say, of all the houses in N. Portland, when I tell friends 'it's that unique eco-house a block from Jefferson HS', then know exactly the ones I am talking about...SAH

Opening the Door

I opened the front door today.  And the back door.  And every closet and cupboard door.  I joined the inspector as he rummaged around and looked at everything today, trying to discover concerns, problems, issues.

But really, he didn't.  But he was also deeply out-classed by the funky specialized systems in the home...in fact, Lori and I had to look for specialty vendors and engineers so we can really have all the systems reviewed.  So, the good news is, minor concerns, mostly related to exterior maintenance of plywood accent surfaces being weathered or a little peeling paint.  Fortunately, there's a 54 page Guide to Maintenance that comes with the home that listed all the vendors and maintenance required for each of the green systems.  We were amazed and SO pleased.  It was also great to discover in that book that the seller was the original buyer of the place by reading an article from the Oregonian's Home section.

Felt great to have over an hour to wander around, feel the place, see kids out on the playground at Humbolt, look at the planted beds and see strawberry plants.  Must ask if I can plant sunflower seeds and other stuff before we move in in June...

Started to feel dog allergy before leaving--a-CHOO--must get ducts cleaned and house and carpets professionally cleaned before moving in!   SAH

Day Two on the Way to the Shack

Well, even though it hasn't been long since we learned that our offer had been accepted and we were now on the long train to a real estate transaction, it was as if time had slowed down.  It seemed like every waking minute (and even some slumbering ones) was filled with thoughts and feelings and imaginings about inhabiting this new space, re-creating our lives in a very different part of Portland.  The more Sue Ann and I talked about what we had in mind, how we were imagining ourselves and our friends and loved ones into the space, the more exciting it became.

I think we have both mostly or exclusively inhabited older, traditional dwellings.  Lots of rounded edges, and comfortably overfilled spaces.  If we go into the EcoShack hoping to surround ourselves with all our "stuff" similar to the ways we've surrounded ourselves here on Ankeny St., we won't be happy.  One of the big components of the Shack is lots of natural light.  The main floor flows freely from the front of the house all the way to the back, unobstructed.  While we will want to warm up the seemingly cold modern spaces with the right furniture and rugs, we won't want to overfill the space.

The more we talked about this approach, the better it felt.  And it also seemed like making this move could serve as an opportunity not just to change where we live, but also how we live.  I'm sure there will be more on this later.  And it's quite possible that I'll be taking all my old habits with me.  But somehow this feels like a wonderful opportunity to create something new.  Stay tuned!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day One EcoShack

So, first thing Dave said to me this morniong was, "So, how do you feel about the estate sale?"

I said "What estate sale?"

He said, "The one we are going to have to have to get rid of all our old stuff if we buy this house."

This evening at about 7:10, our realtor, Lori, called to say, "They accepted your offer!  You got the house!"

Nuh uh.  Whoa.  Wow.  What were we thinking this morning when we made the offer?  Oh, boy.

This afternoon when I got home here at the old house, I thought it was just so cozy and adorable...what are we thinking?  What will we do in a spare, undivided modern space with gray concrete everywhere?

At dinner, out celebrating late, Dave asked me to narrate a typical work day in the new place.  Then he did the same.  And suddenly, it seems like this adventure in the EcoShack is ON.  I see myself wandering around the planters in the morning and checking in on and feeding the chickens...(will our 4 chicks get to join us on the adventure??)  Dave saw himself getting the paper, maybe stopping to sit and read it in the ground floor room office/bedroom and walking to the shuttle at PCC Cascade.

While we are thinking a lot about the house, in fact, we don't really even own a piece of furniture together as of now...and here we are buying a pricey EcoShack together....omg. SAH

Offer Made on EcoShack--and Accepted?

Well, after a couple of months of looking for a different set of domestic circumstances here in Portland, Sue Ann and I today made an almost-full price offer on a very contemporary (built 2006), very green house in North Portland (NoPo, for those in the know), not far from Jefferson High School in distance, but far removed in terms of building philosophy and earth friendliness.

Truth is, this house represents a huge change from anything Sue Ann and I have ever faced.  We have invited ourselves to totally re-imagine how and where we live.  More details on that to follow.  But for now, we look forward with excitement and trepidation.  Are we ready?  Time will tell.