Cassidy and I went for our weekly visit to our home yesterday. We hadn’t explored the stoic trunks, housed under the canopy of green cellulose that covers our terra-firma, for a couple of weeks due to my work, so it was good to get back. We are finally on track to do something more out there, and so I am looking forward to a schedule that has more frequent, and longer, trips out to our forest home.
For the last couple weeks I have been non-stop working at my dream jobs, first with teaching in mid-June. I had a week straight teaching. The schedule had me at College for Kids in the morning, and then a group mural project in the afternoon. It made for a great week in Grand Rapids and a long week away from planning home. The next week I was back in Bemidji, but I used it to catch up on art classes at DAC, and then I went directly into Summer Games with Special Olympics Minnesota (my other place of employment when not contracting as an artist). The games were so much fun. I spent hours working on the field, played a role as head timer and met great folks. Then I enjoyed rush hour in Minneapolis, MN on the way back to deliver my rental car. Cassidy picked me up in our loaded down Ford Explorer. While I was working at my job, he was working at packing up the tools we needed for building that had been previously unneeded and stored at his dad’s home. We made the hour long trek to back to his dad’s house and I got to spend the last part of the weekend visiting Cassidy’s clan.
Now we have tools, we had a great visit at his dad’s, I have had two weeks of full employment, and life is good.
This week was my week off from long journeys and overnight trips. However, it is still summer, which seems to be defined by long drives, so Friday, the first Friday of July, found us in Grand Rapids again. I went to hang up the community mural from mid-June, and a mural that I have been painting by myself for months.
The murals were hung up in the Pop-Up Park, an annual park that gets set up on one side of an overly-large and boring parking lot that sits across the highway from the MacRostie Art Center. The park is surrounded by wooden frames, framing chain-link. The frames are 8’ x 4’ and have the potential to have anything hung on them. This year community artists were invited to hang pieces, and I was honored to be included.
I brought Cassidy with and employed him as my handy man. He helped me sew on the community mural, and bolt up my personal mural. At one point he told me that this is how working on our house would feel; “marking lines, drilling holes, and attaching one thing to another.”
“Easy enough,” I said.
This is how conversations have been going as of late. We discuss or do one thing and it leads back to talk of house plans. It is a lovely banter we have going that has led to many new ideas, and a lot of excitement.
Yesterday was the first day back on the land in a couple of weeks. Saturday. What a good Saturday.
For the last couple of weeks I have been taking the time to call around to figure out some of the logistics of building a place. I ended my last blog talking about how the first step was to get a driveway, and that goal has become a challenge. It began as printing the necessary paperwork, looking at plat maps, and talking. The next step was finding numbers and calling around. After many unanswered calls, my voice left on many answering machines, and few calls back, I finally got a response from Gladen Construction, a business about ten miles from our new home. I got forwarded onto the dude who gives quotes, Dave, and we scheduled a quick meeting two Wednesday’s ago.
It was sprinkling on and off all day. Cassidy had to work, but there was no way I was going to put off my chance to finally meet with someone. So I planned to meet with Dave at 3:00. I grabbed a sweatshirt, braved the sprinkles, and made my first solo trip to our unbuilt home.
I parked on the minimum maintenance trail just a little ways down from our land, and waited for Dave. When he arrived I walked him over to show him the place we had marked out for an approach.
Dave looked, did some measuring and gave a quote. It started to sprinkle and we both went back to our cars, and I shook Dave’s hand as we went our separate ways. Dave was very nice, and super professional, however his quote hurt my budget.
That evening I reported my findings to Cassidy over a couple of glasses of wine, and we debated the next step.
It seemed obvious that we needed to find another option. Originally we had debated the idea of an easement. Our neighbors approach is right next to our land and it had come up between Cassidy and I that it might save money to share. We decided to try all our other options before deciding what to do. However, with the unsatisfactory quote received it was time to move on.
Yesterday we knocked on our kind neighbor’s door. Our neighbors name is Jim. We had wandered over to meet him on one of our previous trips out. We had exchanged names and had pleasant conversation. It led Cassidy and I to a great deal of gratitude to learn our next door neighbor was so friendly.
We asked him about the approach. He said he knew of no easement. He told us the driveway had been there 30 some years ago when he bought his patch of terra-firma.
He had some advice for us as well. He offered us names, and told us about his brother who lived on the land behind us, and his daughter who would be the one to either permit or deny the sharing of the approach. We happened into a pleasant discussion about many things. He told us about our other neighbors, the local bear, and the lovebirds, who happen to take the form of a couple canaries.
After a good discussion we excused ourselves to take a walk on our land. He told us his daughter and brother would be over soon and that we should chat with them.
Not ten minutes later, we heard lots of honking coming from Jim’s way. I peered through the trees where I had been debating driveway placement, and saw a couple of bodies looking in. I told Cassidy that I believed they were looking for us, and made my way back to Jim’s house, through the ferns and young oaks.
“Covered with wood ticks yet?” asked the kind voice of Jim’s brother. It was the start to a conversation filled with endless ideas and solutions, including the one to our approach. We met Jim’s daughter, his brother, Russ, and Russ’ wife and daughter. They were all very kind.
We stood and spoke for many minutes, and during that time consent was given for the use of the approach. I felt my mind relax as the huge weight of our driveway found a bit of closure.
Yesterday was phenomenal. Cassidy and I marked out our redesigned driveway, one that will go at an angle from Jim’s approach to our parking spot, right near the spot chosen for the foundation.
An answer to the driveway means that we can put in application for our E911 number (“Fire” Number) and then get electricity. It means that after we get a driveway cleared we can bring the camper to the land, as well as building materials, and then the start of structure can get underway. A foundation, and then a roof, doors and walls – it is just a matter of marking lines, drilling holes, and attaching one thing to another.
We are busy bees as of late, and soon we will be busy building. It will be oh-so-fun. What an adventure. We love sitting out on the land, enjoying the wildlife. The birds sing beautiful melodies, the plants bloom impressive works of art, and the sweet fruits born by a happy ecosystem are oh-so-sweet.
As stewards of the land we hope to add to the beauty. In meeting our neighbors we are happy to learn that the people surrounding us feel the same way. We have found a beautiful home.
Life is good.
Much love and positive vibes.