It seems a weird statement, as our lives are always in motion, with 4 separate residences scattered about. But for the past 10 years I’ve considered our orchard “Home” and the other 3 places as “Playhouses” that are attached to specific job locations. Now we’re ready to relocate our home. Our 3 acre grove here in La Feria, TX has been surrounded with suburbia, and the road in front of our house has more than doubled in size. Couple that with the fact we have so very little in common with the local community and very little time annually to begin making connections … and we get to our current place … dissatisfaction. Now, a certain amount of dissatisfaction is necessary in order to create any change for the better. I often struggle with “How can I strive to make my life better when it is so utterly awesome right now?”
My desire for a super-insulated house has percolated since high school, when I read an article by Hunter and Amory Lovins on future energy costs, and measuring true wealth, defining it as “the ease with which one meets his or her needs”. I never let go of the idea, although I’ve worked a few different angles on how I’d achieve it. Sometimes by simply focusing on work, so that I could afford any kind of house. As recently as a year ago, I’d designed plans for super-insulating this little bungalow in the orchard. It was built in the 40s, and is a lovely, funky little home with thick plaster interior walls and solid pecan floors. It was not specifically designed for efficiency, although the walls do a great job of holding onto cooler temps, which is important here on the TX-MX border. It would take a lot of input to shift the house into super-efficiency, and that still wouldn’t address the noise issues. It may never be as efficient as I want it to be. Still, I hold as a truth that I am going to retire in a super-insulated house. In fact it’s part of my monetary plan for a secure retirement. I’m now certain that my super-insulated house is not this house.
So ‘The Hubby’ and I started imagining our new perfect place. A minimum of 3 acres, although the changes that occurred around this 3 acres over the past 9 years has us agreeing we’d prefer more space. Our work has changed some too. We have creative and compelling work in the Houston area that draws us there more often than the 3 months of that festival run. We’d like to get close enough that we could easily make a day trip to our office there. We like the beach. We want to garden all winter. We want Live Oak trees that we don’t have to plant as tiny babies. We want to sleep without hearing neighbors. We want a retreat … someplace that rests us and warms us, and rejuvenates us before we have to get back on the road to experience our whirlwind work season.
It was May 7th 2010, and we were spending 2 days at the orchard as a mini-vacation. It was no longer relaxing to be at the orchard, as we looked at all of our unfinished and not-even-started projects. “Rockport” the hubby said … “Have you ever considered living in Rockport? We could stop there again as we drive to Houston tomorrow.” “Sure. Sounds like a plan. Let’s see if Craigslist has our dream home.” and with my first search, I found the home I’d sketched for myself for years. It was built of ICF (Insulating Concrete Forms) with a wrap-around porch. The porch is vital to energy efficiency in southern climates, as one wants to utilize daylight for light, but eliminate direct light into the structure. Also, it was on 3 acres, but the owner owns the 50 acres surrounding it, and would sell more. In addition, it was surrounded with Live Oak trees, and only a 2 mile bike ride to a quiet beach. A week later I called the owner and told him I was pretty sure I was going to buy his house, but I wasn’t buying a house in 2010. I’m sure he blew me off.
In December of 2010 we toured the place, and in January we started the paperwork part of the process. I suppose that is still where we are now. Here at my desk, I’m sitting next to a giant folder of paperwork from the bank, which is not worth anything until they finish looking at all of the financial documentation I provided for the underwriters there. *Today I got a call asking for yet another document. I think I’m going to call this process the “Mortgage Dance”; in that I seem to be learning the steps as I go along, so I’m sometimes worried about stumbling.
This bungalow with its’ organic citrus and avocado orchard is on the market, and I’ve begun the packing process. Oddly, while we’ve owned this house for about 10 years, we haven’t lived in it more than 4 months at any one time. I don’t feel emotionally attached to any of the furniture, and other than 3 filing cabinets of paperwork, I could probably complete the move in The Hubby’s Ford van. By the time the bank calls, I’ll have everything packed and ready to relocate. Hmmm, maybe that will be my motivation for finishing those last few boxes …