Access-A-Hut's Blog

August 23, 2009

What are you two #$%THINKING@#$%?

Filed under: Housing needs — by accessahut @ 5:17 pm

So why are two medically challenged, completely exhausted, artists (not scientists, not carpenters, not engineers) building the house of our dreams: accessible, sustainable, off-gridable, livable, movable, flexible, art workable, 176 foot square house?!?

Well, here is a bit of our thinking:

  • We can’t keep up our place forever. We now rent, from probably one of the most brilliant people in Denver. We love our landlady–a great friend of ours. We love our magic, healing garden–it has probably kept both of us alive. But we are too weak to take care of this “huge” 800 square foot house. So far, we’ve relied on the kindness of friends. But what if we had only a few feet to sweep or wash? We may still need help, but…let’s build the most sustainable place for us, with the least amount of work needed from us—or our helpers. And we will have to continue to do that. Deena is not going to regain much use of her legs, though she can walk some now and stand, which is MUCH better than when she first collapsed 5 years ago this month. But this house has stairs and Deena can’t manage to even get into bed without help on her worst days. MaJe is not going to regain her full lung capacity. Nor is she likely to recover much more strength. And she gets exhausted just walking out to the living room. So be it.

  • For our worst future: What if one of us–or both of us–needs a lot more care than just some stop ins? Given our medical histories, that is very possible. But neither of us can bear the thought of living in an institution. Or living apart from each other. But what if we could just *be* on the premises of a caregiver or an assisted living facility–and still have the privacy and beauty of our own home?

  • For our best future:We are 20 years out from retirement, that time when silver haired couples tour the RV places in search of travel, freedom, and adventure. And in fact, this will be the first home that we own together (and the first time Deena will be a homeowner instead of a renter). What if we were healthy enough to travel? We really can’t do much by air as we have to lug oxygen, wheelchairs, canes, etc. wherever we go. But why not make our first home the epitome of travel, freedom, and adventure right now and carry exactly what we need from place to place?!?!

  • To express ourselves: We are both artists–MaJe with canvases and sketches and Deena with words. But we never seem to enjoy our art now We are too exhausted to do more than just live through each day. Electronic literature is a wonderful, happy field that Deena has enjoyed for over two decades. But it is a demanding field and you have to keep up with a lot of variables–and it is best done in spurts of energy. Which Deena does not have. MaJe is a wonderful artist but does not have the physical strength to paint or draw right now. Neither of us is really happy without a project that we can think about, dream about, be creative about. So, why not a fun, creative space where we can dream–in stages–as our strength allows? This is a project we can do in bits and pieces for a very long time, and it does not demand a full on, sustained effort every day!

  • For financial security. If we both end up on disability—a distinct possibility, we need to economize. Our medical bills are truly horrendous, and will probably continue to be a huge chunk of our expenses. So why not have a house that we can pay for now, and then rent out about 200 square feet of land for? And have solar energy so that we won’t have huge utility bills?

What can we do about that to make the best of our lives? How can we live while we live? We can build the house of our dreams: accessible, sustainable, off-gridable, livable, movable, flexible, art workable, 155 foot square house.


  1. This is only a proofreader’s nit, but then that’s what I do. At the very end you mention a 155 foot square home, and a bit higher you call it a 176 foot square home. Besides the inconsistency, neither is correct with your micro goal. A 155 foot square house would be 155 feet on each of the four sides. That would be 24,025 square feet total. It would not be a micro home at all. You intended to say the dwelling would be a 155 square foot home or a 176 square foot home. That would be, for example, 12.25 feet square, or 12.25 feet per side, which totals 150.06 square feet — close enough for government work. As a good carpenter knows, you always check your numbers three times before making the first saw cut. 😉

    Comment by Ray Dangel — August 24, 2009 @ 4:18 pm |Reply

    • ooops. We meant at first to do 8 by 20 and then thought an 8 by 22 would be better. We better check all our numbers! Thanks!
      But we think we want:
      8 foot by 22 foot interior space, so really 8.5 and 22.5 exterior space…

      Comment by accessahut — August 24, 2009 @ 5:54 pm |Reply

  2. Our daughter Sue snapped a photo of alley graffiti in New York long ago. It was wondrous. It said “Free your mind” and that was it. I kept a copy of it in my puter for years and would revisit when I got hung up on some project. It always worked, as art and as an energizer. And as you say, graffiti is free.

    Comment by Ray Dangel — August 24, 2009 @ 4:21 pm |Reply

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