One of the good things about being at RoseWind is the sense of space, and the open view of the sky. While several of us have anticipated missing tall trees, the benefit of the absence of trees is this sense of space. We have an open view of our commons, and are able to see the sky in all directions, though the horizon is higher to our North and East. We have a fine view of the sunsets, and we can watch hawks soaring overhead.
I am spending so much time outside on the RoseWind land; I am out anywhere from four to eight hours a day. This is so different from my previously "normal day". It feels wonderful, both to be outside and to be more physically active. The short walk before breakfast that I take daily with the Walker's dogs is invigorating, and I generally walk across or around the RoseWind commons at least twice a day. We have also been out for beach walks, or longer walks around town several times. While much of my outdoor work has been fairly sedentary (weed pulling, mowing, and using the dreaded weed wacker), it does entail some walking around, and is certainly more exercise than I get sitting at a desk. It is a bit rough on my back, but is probably building up my arm muscles.
Of course it is summer, and the long days, increased sunshine, etc. are part of the magic. Still I am delighting in the effect of spending time outside, and of talking to members of the RoseWind community every day. I do think that we have spoken to one or more RoseWind neighbors every day, and usually we see two or three, at least for brief "hello", and generally to exchange a few more meaningful thoughts! This is wonderful. There is a great sense of pleasure in being able to chat casually, or do RoseWind business, with no sense of pressure to cover every topic, or say everything that needs to be said. We are neighbors, and we will see each other tommorrow or the next day. There is plenty of time to talk about things, and we can defer some things in order to focus on one topic, or just to relax and enjoy ourselves.
I have really only been here for 2 1/2 weeks, and so am still on vacation. I am being largely self indulgent, and prefer spending time on the land to almost anything else. I suppose that is a bit of an exaggeration; I certainly find time to shop for food, and to cook some simple but delicious meals. As usual, Michael and I seem to eat very well, and are consuming wine and beer at a rather alarming rate, judging by bottles in the recycling container. We have eaten out more often than we will be able to afford in future, but less often than was normal in Seattle.
We had a visitor, a former neighbor from Seattle, for three days. This gave us a break from the work on the land. We went on a tour of "secret gardens of Port Townsend", took Judy on a tour of RoseWind, ate out twice, and celebrated the lowest tide of the year by wandering the beaches collecting loose barnacles for use in the Walker's fountain. Judy likes to talk, but also to listen, and she is comfortable with our relaxed rythyms and moods.
The cat has adjusted very well. Her deafness, like the lack of trees at RoseWind, has some benefits. She is not disturbed by the dogs barking, and only notices them when she can see them. She is certainly sufficiently aware of them to be very cautious about going outside, and does not realize that after about 7:30 p.m. they are confined to the dog run. She would probably like more opportunity to be outside in the sun during the warm part of the day, but the sunny day bed in the upstairs window seems to satisfy her. She generally prefers the upstairs, which stays warmer. She usually descends at about 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., meowing loudly to inform us that she is really quite hungry, however I rarely get up before 7:15 now that Michael has taped aluminum foil over the curtainless bedroom windows.
Along with all of this, we have been working with our architect, and think that we are very close to having "final" floor plans for the new house. Over the last two days we staked out the anticipated floor plan (a slight variation on the last one that Chris printed out for us) on the flat common house lot next door to the Walker's house. We marked out the walls and kitchen counters with blue construction tape, and can now walk around the first floor of the house. Michael complains that most people just keep walking through the walls, however.
The layout feels pretty good, since we insisted on another two feet on the North-South dimension; this gives another 66 sq. ft. on each floor, for about 1500 sq. ft. official living space. Our upstairs will have attic ceilings, and we expect to use another 100-150 sq. ft. of floor space where the ceiling is lower than the standard 7' 6" minimum. Our computer desks and other furniture will be in this area, providing plenty of work area for crafts, and space for an easy chair and guest bed (possibly a pullout or inflatable...). We will also have a West facing 8' x 16' porch downstairs, with an matching deck upstairs, which will extend the living space in good weather.
Oh, and on the excellent advice of my work mates, we do plan a partial basement. It will probably give us about 16' x 16' of partially finished unheated space. This will be our "root cellar", bicycle storage, and tool shed. It may be somewhat unusual, as the architect currently has visions of his Mother's old cellar, with no structural walls, but instead sloping walls, with only a thin coat of concrete over the dirt walls and floor to seal it. I am not quite sold on the concept, but open to the idea of saving money, and reducing the environmental impact (less concrete, etc.). I don't suppose that this is quite what the crew at work had in mind when they advocated a full basement, but c'est la vie!
Don't know if we can get the floorplan files into our home architect program. Chris has a Mac, and we have not yet investigated the file formats available or necessary. We may have to re-enter the data in order to use our 3-D walk through capability, since Chris is not yet ordered this upgrade to his software. I guess that we will post some form of our plans on the Web when available. Of course our software may not be able to show those 24" thick straw bale walls!
One more thought before bedtime. The Walker's don't get cable, and don't have a real TV antenna. Since I knocked over and broke their hokey inside antenna, there is NO TV reception at all. So we have not watched TV at all since I got here (though we did succumb to one movie at the fabulous Rose Theatre downtown Port Townsend). Of course summer is an excellent time to abstain from television, with reruns and the weather all in favor. Still I do think that the outdoors activities and the atmosphere are also conducive to this change of habit. I don't miss it at all, and am getting all the necessary escapism by reading a recently hoarded collection of fantasy and science fiction. After that runs out, I may go mad, of course. But who would know the difference?