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My name is Shawna and I'm a house-aholic.

2004-08-05 - 1:12 p.m.

Lately my husband and I have been looking at houses. Not in a we-need-to-buy-right-now kind of way, more in an idly-wondering-what-sort-and-where-our-next-house-should-be kind of a way.

Those who know us personally, or who have gone back to the earliest of the archives, know that I built the house we currently live in. Because of this, these same people wonder why the heck weíd even consider moving after all the work that went into the current house. It was a big project (I built a 2-unit semi-detached, severed and sold half, then moved into the remaining unit) and, while I didnít pick up a hammer, I did do the design, permits, severance and minor variances (for which I represented myself at the hearings), financing, etc., and hired a small raft of people like a surveyor, lawyers, consultants, engineers and the general contractor, plus put together a marketing package for the real estate agent.

The result? A sleek, cool, modern habitation right downtown, that makes great use of its small space, and customized to exactly what I wanted as first a single woman, then Ĺ of an urban couple. The thing is (and you know this if youíve been reading for awhile), weíre thinking of having kids sometime in the fairly near future and our current house just isnít suitable. Itís full of sharp angles and hard surfaces and places for kid to tumble from. Itís a two-bedroom so weíd lose our guest room. More importantly, itís a great area but not really a neighbourhood Ė most people on the street donít know each other. NOBODY has kids and the traffic moves pretty quickly not far from our door.

We both agree that weíre just not suburbanites. Neither of us minds, however, urban neighbourhoods, nor the idea of moving out to the country. On the one hand is the ability to plop a kid into a stroller and meander down to grab something from the local supermarket, or visit daddy at his business, or meet up with moms of other wee ones in the park. On the other is the tranquility, and space to spread out, and lack of traffic and bad influences in the country. I grew up in the country and I feel it really did allow me to develop my own views and personality more than I would have if influenced by the constant presence of a peer group. I know what poplars smell like in the spring and saw frogs eggs hatch into tadpoles in a pond rather than removed to a classroom setting. Mind you, I also know that the country can be isolating Ė J grew up with a pack of kids that could trike to each otherís houses. I donít like to drive much and the commute would kind of suck.

Anyway, Iím sure Iíll visit this topic again. For now I was just trying to give some background to explain the frustration Iíve been letting myself in for by finding houses online that seem perfect that are too far from areas weíre interested in. Not to mention, theyíre available now but when we actually are ready to move, theyíll be long gone. Today I ran across this great place well within our price range on 4 acres with a pool and a large cedar deck and grape arbour, with 4 bedrooms, a big workshop and a double attached garage, and cute as a button to boot. In looking at the map though, I see that itís just too far from the city and would mean over an hourís commute. Phooey.

What Iíd love, love, love to do is build again. I donít know how feasible it is at this point but I design house after house in my head to suit different locations. I probably waste too much energy regretting that I donít live in the south and thus cannot have my coveted flat roofs and huge expanses of glass. Some day...

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P.S. If you're emailing me, replace the [at] with @ in the "to" line. Oh, and if you put the word "journal" in the subject line it'll have a better chance of making it past my junk mail filters.

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