Archive for December 19th, 2006

RAW WP – Build an open Prairie-style home somewhere out West. – 20 Minutes Go!

Building a Frank Lloyd Wrightish Prairie-style home was #2 on my 25 Things I Want To Do Before I Die list. The list is not in order. I chose to write on this topic because I realized, at this moment, I believe it’s the least likely to happen. It’s not a rational thought. It’s just a thought.

Liz and I went to FLW’s Falling Water in Pennsylvania on our way to Ocean City, Maryland to visit with my family in 2004. I loved the way the rocks, earth, and water were incorporated into the design of the house. I hated the low ceilinged, dark, cave-like bedrooms. Yeah, I think I’ll leave those out.

I recently read an article in Minnesota Monthly that talked about how families are going back to the smaller, wide open Prairie-style houses of our youth. Well, some of our youths. Photographs were posted of a few of these 50’s homes and I loved them. The kitchen opened up into the living room which had a small stone fireplace and large floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out on the grasslands and nearby lake.

The bedrooms and den were private, a place where you could take personal space. Paint color choices were used to make spaces appear to be larger and the lines of natural woods, cabinets, windows and tiles ran from one room into the next.

Ah — I can breathe easier just thinking about it. But why don’t I think this will happen?

The idea of architecting and building my own house has been a long time dream of mine. But I’ve never believed I’d be able to save enough money to afford it. I do believe I can find the right architect. I know a couple that fit the bill to a T. Model T? Or T-Shirt? Green. I want solar and to incorporate the earth and nature around me. That doesn’t seem like a hard sell.

Do I deserve it? Maybe that’s the deeper issue gnawing at my bones. Intellectually, I say, “YEESSS!” I want to live a big life. The smaller mind is doubtful. But I persevere. I have more confidence in my writing and the structure I’ve built around that part of my life than my long term goals around retiring and building a second home. This home would be a second.

I like the idea of Oregon, somewhere up, up, up like Sea Ranch. I’m not opposed to living in a community of like-minded people. I love western Montana but have lived there before for about 8 or 9 years. And I know the shortcomings. Mountains are grounding. Can I do without the ocean? I choose mountains over ocean. Water is harder to find in Montana. There are a few glacially carved lakes.

A few. I’m used to over 15,000.

Cool green Vermont marbles and I do like tough, clean stainless steel, though some find it cold. I warm up any environment with linens and the hues and values of color and art on the walls. I’m not worried about warmth. I carry it inside. I want clean lines and grand views. But simple.


New Mexico is beautiful. But it’s my spiritual haven. I don’t want to live there. It’s too dry. Second home there? Maybe. No, I think I’ll stick to the Pacific Northwest.

I went to an astrologer once that told me the crosshairs of astrogeology for me hit the bulls eye in a small town in western Washington state. I had once travelled through that town. And lived not far from it in Missoula, Montana. I wouldn’t live in Missoula again because of the 5 valley inversions. Though I love the town. It’s like the Austin of Texas or the Savannah of Georgia. It’s open and doesn’t judge. It leaves you room to breathe.

I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want to make this happen. Money is the least of it. But, yes, it’s a big factor. Then I’ve got the problem of living in Minnesota while I build out West somewhere. I do love the West. And I’ve always planned on retiring there. I spent the first 5 years I was in MN wishing I could move back out West. But now I love the Midwest, too. It’s very grounding. And what if I decide I want to build in North Dakota?

How is this going to happen? If God is in the details, the details are grounded in the small steps I take each day to reach my goals. The more I write about making this dream a reality, the more it will become one. Live into your dreams.


1) not enough money
2) my partner and I won’t agree on the same location
3) not enough money
4) i don’t deserve it
5) i’ll get ripped off if I’m not present during the building
6) it will take too long and I’ll die first
7) what if I never start?

Okay, where do I start? I’ve already started. I’ve set my intention. I’ve done a first writing. I’ve listed my fears. Next, make a list of how to make it happen.

Details. Things happen when rooted in details. And structure.

Make a list of how I’m going to make this happen. A, B, C. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3. I heard Michael Jackson singing Santa Claus Is Coming To Town in Sears last Saturday as I was trying on my Land’s End shoes and waiting for Liz’s new tires to be mounted in the auto center. It struck me that I probably bought the 45rpm when the Jackson 5 first released it in the late 60’s. Or was it early 70’s? I contributed to his millions. Minus the latest lawyer fees.

Okay, he might be a little messed up (gulp) but he’s reinvented himself a thousand times. And so has Madonna. They didn’t start out knowing they were going to make it.

One practice I’ve begun is to begin to emulate people I see as successful. I wouldn’t choose the two above as an overall success. They just popped into this raw practice. There are better names who live more whole and sane lives. But you get the picture.

I learned the same thing in a writing retreat a few weeks ago. If you hear someone read a piece of writing that knocks your socks off, don’t drop your head, wallow into self pity, or want what they have. Become the fierce warrior you are and buck up, “GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!.” Then steal a good line to start your next writing practice. You are just as good.

-posted on red Ravine December 19th, 2006

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – DO OR DIE TRIANGLE

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PRACTICAL LIST – How To Build An Open Prairie-Style Home Somewhere Out West

1. Write it down as a goal (DONE)
2. Repeat every day: “I’m building an open Prairie-style home out West”
3. Narrow down “Out West” (it could be ND which is technically “west” : -)
4. Decide what I’m willing & not willing to compromise on
5. Keep a journal specific to this dream to log information
6. Write down every time I do something toward this goal

7. Talk to my partner about my dream. See if she’s on board.
8. Talk about timing of project in overall mutual life goals
9. Compromise. Be willing to bend. Not break.
10. Keep my support communities in the loop. Solicit feedback.
11. Talk to people who have done this. Listen well.

12. Set up a new savings account for this dream
13. Name the account, Funds for Open Prairie-style Home Out West [State]
14. Add $$$ every paycheck, no matter how small the amount (even $1)

15. Brainstorm, treasure map, blog, do writing practices on the goal
16. Locate magazines with photos and articles on Prairie-style building
17. Visit other FLW homes. Like a Julia Cameron “artist date.”
18. Take vacations in states where I can look at possible sites (geocache)
19. Take into account rainfall, sunshine, seasonal changes, wind, ice, snow
20. Take photographs of homes I see in my travels that I love (don’t limit)
21. Get specific about what I love about these homes (details)
22. Check out current magazine articles on natural landscaping
23. Do some sketching of sites in a journal
24. Start researching furnishings

25. Do some long-term financial planning with a professional
26. Talk to good friends with good business acumen
27. Create a spending plan
28. Set goals of $$$ I need to bring in each quarter to make this happen
29. Break it down into $$$ I need to make each day
30. Work toward that amount of $$$ in my business ventures

31. Research green architecture & architects that know it
32. Start talking to architects I want to work with
33. Consider remodeling an existing house. Might be cheaper.
34. Choose a trusted architect to work with. Meet with them.
35. Talk about timeframe & estimates of the project
36. Don’t be afraid to say NO
37. Decide if buying/remodeling or building

38. Decide on the square foot size of the house & number of rooms
39. Talk over materials with the architect and price them. Be realistic.
40. Get specific about colors and styles of marbles, tiles, stone
41. Look at appliance color, style, durability
42. Check out roofing color, style, right for the climate
43. Consider porches, indoor, outdoor, patio
44. Choose window style, size, convenience, light

45. Revisit financial plan once a month (or as many times as it takes)
46. Keep meticulous $$$ records around the project
47. Compare records to spending plan once a week
48. Pay all invoices on time
49. Remember the pro’s I hire work for me. I don’t work for them.

50. Draw up final blueprints after critical decisions are made
51. Research contractors. Talk to my Uncle. Hire the best.
52. Find out what I need to learn about building processes to avoid pitfalls

53. Break ground
54. Celebrate
55. Keep a close eye on the details
56. Live nearby until building is complete (included in financial planning)
57. Work with inevitable frustration of late timeframes. It will pass.
58. Purchase furnishings during build phase

59. Inspect completed home
60. Add furnishings
61. Celebrate
62. Move into home with partner
63. Celebrate again with a housewarming

[Hmmm. 63. The year before my 64th Birthday Bash in Minnesota. That seems like a good year.]

-posted on red Ravine Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – DO OR DIE TRIANGLE

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