Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Inside Scoop

Well, you've been asking about it for a long time and we finally got to it. Here are pictures of our upper floor. From the photos you can see our bed nook and living room. You also get a glimpse of the balcony that overlooks our lane.

We've had a number of drive-bys lately with people creeping along the laneway and peering into our home. Our house has developed a reputation of its own and now its been booked for a weekend in October to be part of a heritage tour in the city. And tomorrow, we'll open our doors to a group of UBC students.

Whenever we're around we're happy to open our doors for a tour. But, its only fair to give you online followers the full tour as well. Brendon is working on the time lapse video that will take your from our crawl space, up to the garage, through our kitchen and over to our second floor loft. We'll have that up in the next few days.

For now though - check our our fence, finished just yesterday! For you viewing pleasure we've also included an awesome photo of Steven and a refresher on what our kitchen looks like.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Commune

When I was in my late twenties Brendon and I lived in Ottawa and shared a group of incredible friends. We all spent time with each other throughout the week. Many of us lived together, shared groceries, chores and leisure time. I remember when one of my closest friends Rebecca began dating her future husband he nicknamed us the Get-Along-Gang.

The group of friends is still incredibly close but now many of us live thousands of miles away from one another so the type of communal lifestyle we'd dabbled with faded away in concert with the distance that separated us. Something is afoot though and once again we are starting to witness a new version of communal living on our little plot of land.

Many of you know that while we were building the laneway house and for a few years leading up to it, Brendon and I rented Barb and Roger’s basement suite. The two bedroom apartment allowed us to test-drive living close to the parental units and helped us come to the quick decision that we liked sharing air space with such an amazing couple. When we moved out, Barb and Roger hadn't planned on renting out the apartment very quickly but life intervened and withing one week 3597 West 23rd got a new tenant.

I’ve known Allee Wells since I was 15 years old. We went to highschool together and then shared our first big adventure – cycling and hiking through the Yukon. Allee has lived in Vancouver for almost 12 years now and while we’ve stayed close, we haven’t seen as much of one another over the last few years as I would have liked. Well that all changed this July. Allee and her longtime partner split and she needed to start fresh. She moved into the basement suite just as we began taking out the last of our boxes.

Then, in September the two bedroom suite filled up completely as Jean Yves (JY), one of Brendon’s oldest friends, traveled from Yellowknife to Vancouver to complete a 3 month culinary program. Call it "pre-tirement".  Pretirees are folks mid-way through their careers that choose to change course and seek out new work options that allow them to create the life they've always wanted to lead. Many are heading back to school for additional training or striking out on their own as consultants or independent contractors. JY who has worked as a teacher up North for the last 10 years decided to use his pretirement to travel, learn new skills and take a break.

What this has meant is that we have a new Get-Along-Gang – Barb, Roger, Allee, JY, Brendon and Akua. We share meals together in the evening, help with the landscaping during the day and support one another through the hard times and the good vibes. ;-)

If there is one thing that the experience of building a home has taught Brendon and I, it’s how important community is. For all the green building focus and urban planning experiment, the part that stands out the most for me is the fact that our choices have allowed us to be surrounded by family and friends, something that I've come to appreciate more and more the older I get.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Summer's Over

“Summer is like the ultimate one-night stand…hot as hell, totally thrilling, and gone before you know it.”
John Lubbock

Well, it’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two months since my last post. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve felt really guilty about it. Truth is, we willingly threw ourselves into summer activities and frankly, needed the break from publicly writing about our lives.

But we’re back, and despite disappearing into a black hole this summer, lot’s and lot’s has happened to our beautiful little home.

First off, we got blinds. Yes, we liked sharing with all of you but we quickly realized that with 20 windows the goldfish syndrome was too much to handle. But OMG, I cannot believe how much window coverings cost! And after months of hemorrhaging money there was no way we could pay full price. Once again Craigslist came to the rescue and we connected with the Shutter Factory. Their price was unbeatable – 80% off regular retail prices. Amazing faux wood blinds with the same kind of mechanisms as you find on Hunter Douglas blinds. We were in heaven.

Then we were off to the Yukon for a couple of weeks where we left all thoughts of our home behind. Instead we filled them with grizzlies and mountain biking.  Yes, those really are grizzlies!

When we returned, Brendon took charge of the backyard. With some hired help he dug out all of the hard packed earth.  Kevin and his team laid out three beautiful patios and set the stage for all the greenery to come.

Then my father arrived. Now, I know I’ve been a little harsh on Mr. Schatz in previous posts mostly. There many sides to my dad, and this time around he really gave up some long, long summer days to help us get through what sometimes feels like an endless list of ‘to do’s’.  As Brendon found himself drowning in photography work and I disappeared out East for weddings, Ron took charge and built us a beautiful fence, dug a location and built a bamboo planting box, sorted out getting the wallpaper hung and cleaned ever single one of our windows! We are eternally grateful and can’t wait for your next visit. ;-)  (Oh, he did have some fun too...renting a motorcycle and touring around the province.)

With school and work all starting up again, expect to see a more committed blogger.

We’re back!