Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spare Change

In my tarot reading this morning (yes, major woo alert!), I pulled the Five of Cups.

The Five of Cups is about loss. On this card, we see a figure draped in black and covered in grief. He so dominates the card that it is hard to look beyond him. The Five of Cups refers to that time when the pain of a loss is most acute. This man is looking only at the overturned cups in front of him. For now, he cannot acknowledge the two cups that are still standing. Later, when he has healed somewhat, he will be able to see all that remains.

In readings, the Five of Cups can alert you to the possibility of a loss and its associated emotions - sorrow, regret, denial. The loss could be great or small. It could be tangible (money, possession, relationship, work), or intangible (dream, opportunity, prospect, reputation).

Well, woo or not (I actually think of the tarot as a free association Rorschach inkblot test rather than predictive woo), this is certainly trumpeting the obvious. But the reading goes on to say:

You may feel discouraged by this card, but it does have a positive side. Every loss opens new possibilities for growth because every loss initiates change.

Yes, loss does initiate change. And sometimes that change, although accompanied by deep pain and grief, can end up being for the better.

So I'm going to have to sell my beloved house. Major loss; big grief. But on the bright side, I'm actually happier than I'd ever have expected about the prospect of building my tiny dream cottage on the lot next door to Mr. Designated Driver. In fact, happy dreams of this simple, sunny, cozy, uncluttered, low maintenance, well-insulated, tiny cottage have often been the only thing that could pull me out of the Big Ick, the main source of motivation to keep me slogging onward through this hideous hellish nightmare.

Let me show you a little bit about what I'm planning and dreaming.

Here are some photos I took last summer of my designated driver in his double-lot yard. At the time I was more intent on photographing the beautiful man than his property, but you can see a bit of the lot next to his house where I'm planning to build.

My cottage will be nestled among the trees on the land visible behind the swing. By the way, my designated driver built this swing, and the shed in the background. And every deck, fence, and other structure in these photos. The man can swing a tool!

He built this deck, and the studio behind it.

Mr. DD's house and his adjacent lot are located about 90 miles from where I'm living now. They are in a rural area on the edge of a small town not far from the state's capital and major university, and just a little over an hour from what used to be one of the most magnificent cities on earth. And will be again some day.

Ok, so now you've got an idea of the setting, the vegetation, the deliciously handsome and talented neighbor. Next, imagine a tiny cottage, much like this rendering, nestled among those trees:

This little starter cottage is only 14' x 24' and can be built for under $20K. It's based on these plans:

We'll probably start with something basic like this, which should be easy to pass through the permit process and quick to get into move-in condition. Then, as time and money allow, we can add on various nooks and crannies and porches and decks and so forth.

Here are some photos of actual cottages other people have built using this plan:

And here is the web site of a remarkable young woman named Heather who built one of these cottages for herself at the age of 17:

Heather's house

Heather building her floor joists

So this is my dream, the thing that fans my spark just a little faster than the chemo can extinguish it.

You know it's funny, I remember back when I was a naive and dreamy-eyed youth, I thought it was just about the sickest thing on earth that my parents, in their dotage, had decided to have separate bedrooms. I saw this as a sign that their marriage was a failure and a sham, and that they were dour and dried up, tragically devoid of passion and romance. But now I think it was one of the sanest things they ever did. In my own dotage, I not only can't imagine not having a room of my own, I can't bear the thought of not having a separate place of my own. And a tiny cottage of my very own, right next door to Mr. Man, seems like the perfect solution.

Oh, don't worry, once the damn chemo is over, the tiny cottage and its genesis will have a brand new blog of its very own. Real soon. Stay tuned.


Blogger quixoticmantis said...

What a lovely little place! Makes me want one - if it was big enough for 3 people. :)

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cute cottage! I saw micro-cottages like these featured in a magazine recently---can't remember which one. I enjoyed reading through Heather's journal too.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw leroy, it looks lovely. I live in a 16 x 20 cabin with added on bath and back porch remodelled into a kitchen. The kitchen is very tiny. I call it my strap-on kitchen. We sleep in a loft, too. It's snug and easy to heat and clean. Well maybe not that easy to clean. My partner and I are two confirmed bachelors, and are a little bit messy. But I think you have a good idea and I hope you can get through the permit process and bureaucracy and over to the other side to a sweet little nest.

- hex -

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait!! :)

As always, lots of good wishes and prayers are headed your way.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Carny Asada said...

Adorable! Gorgeous! Oh, and the cottages are attractive, too. :-)

Although we just finished expanding our house, I have such a case of tiny cottage lust I can barely stand it. I think when we get older, I'm going to have to put a shed in the back yard.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Alto2 said...

I love the cottage. Not long ago, I read an interview in the local rag (um, paper) with Olga Hirschhorn, widown of the man who endowed the museum in DC. She sold a mansion up north and retired down here to a tiny cottage. She has only a few collectibles after living a lifetime with masterpieces. She is very happy with her little home and her life now.

You will be, too. How fortunate you and Mr. DD are. But, I think that planning the cottage's garden will be the most fun. Hope is contagious.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Interesting, I met Olga Hirshhorn and the late Joseph Hirshhorn in 1975 at their home in Greenwich. I recall she was a very tiny diminutive woman, strikingly out of scale with monstrous mansion there. I would love to find that interview.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it is sad to have to sell your beloved house, but I am so excited for you about this new home! It looks amazing, and cozy, and I am sure you will make it wonderful. I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've gotta love a man who knows how to handle his tools. And what a rearview to oogle or hang on to, as the case may be.

Thanks for sharing your journey.


5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the cottage blog!

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those cottages are incredibly appealing (as are the views of the DD ;-) ). Just thinking of the creative energy you can put into a space purpose built for you is exciting - can't wait to see what you do!

blogger ate my long comment yesterday so we'll see if this one makes it. I'm glad you're past this round of the big ick and hope you're feeling better each day.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Ya Looblue said...

it looks like a dream home. i can't wait 'till your move in day. you'll have to give us an address to send house warming gifts to!! *HUGS*

8:21 PM  
Blogger Christopher C. NC said...

I want my cozy little cottage!

They even sell them as kits, minus the foundation. I wanted to build one to live in until my simple, dual studio, shared common area, 1450ft2 house could be built a few years down the road.

My father turned my cozy little cottage into a used FEMA trailer and my “wife” turned my house into a 2200ft2 motel.

I think there is going to be a change of plans.

The Designated Driver looks to have a gardener’s fine form and good taste. I would love to have one of those too.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Call me slow on the uptake, but I just re-found your blog! So happy to be reading you again. I missed it!!!!

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I particularly like the part about you being right next door to Mr. Designated Driver!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Trasi said...

That's actually quite exciting, and something worth getting all excited about! I love my life with my husband, but that's one thing that I miss about being single, the complete autonomy in designing my own space. While I do all the decorating in my little house, I do it with the knowledge that I do share space with my daughter and husband. If I were in a different place in life such as where you are, I should think such a solution would feel absolutely perfect. The man and the surroundings are both quite fine.
I'm so anxious for you to be past all this garbage you're going through and on to the WEE COTTAGE IN THE WOODS PHASE!

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this would suit the setting.....Val in Oz

5:09 AM  
Blogger rzecka said...

Random, I know, but I had to leave some sort of message as I've just read your entire blog. Guess I just want to say thanks for sharing your life, thanks for making me laugh, and thanks for taking my mind off my PET scan tomorrow.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Lymphopo said...

Good luck tomorrow, rzecka. Here's to dancing with NED!

5:54 PM  
Blogger istanbulwitch said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:04 PM  
Blogger istanbulwitch said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May God help you realize all your dreams, big and small.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Sid Schwab said...

I'm a surgeon/medblogger who just found your blog via a series of links I couldn't reconstruct with a gun to my head. Your blog is beautifully written, with gusto. Your attitude is the truest arrow in your quiver.

3:49 PM  
Blogger BunnyBubblette said...

I love the cottage, Liz! And the view is GREAT!

6:02 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


I hope I am not being too forward here. If I am, I apologize and will understand if you choose to delete this comment.

I see Istanbulwitch's comments on your blog and have had put some remarks on hers, that is if she actually exists as a true person and not some fictional art experiment. Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I flagged her blog for questionable content and I would ask that your readers here do the same.

Yours is not the only blog on which she's made negative comments. Everywhere I've seen that she's posted, she completely judges and demoralizes people's choices and lifestyles.

I know you have said in the past to ignore her and that you will just keep deleting her comments -- which is why I hope I'm not being too forward. But I think everyone who comes here to read your wonderful prose and outlook on life and death -- aka your fans -- want to help!

She's a cancer on your blog and if we all can go over and flag her, maybe Blogger will unlist her. And in some weird, cyberspacey way, we're symbolically helping you lick this thing. Anyway...

Follows is the info from Blogger on flagging:

Here's How It Works

When a person visiting a blog clicks the "Flag?" button in the Blogger Navbar, it means they believe the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal. We track the number of times a blog has been flagged as objectionable and use this information to determine what action is needed. This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content they deem objectionable. Have you read The Wisdom of Crowds? It's sort of like that.

Special Case for Hate Speech

When the community has voted and hate speech is identified on Blog*Spot, Google may exercise its right to place a Content Warning page in front of the blog and set it to "unlisted."

6:09 PM  
Blogger Leila M. said...

OOO that cottage is COOL!!!!!! I love it!

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one flag flagged...thanks for the heads up. another susan

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now for a comment..I appreciate well planned spaces as I am a designer of kitchens, built ins, etc. by trade. This is really well planned. How about a big cushy chair with an ottoman in the open corner near the door at an angle? I don't know if you're a tv person, but, the flat screen goes over the desk. Watch out for the extended wall next to the refrig, so you can open it widely enough to pull out the crispers. Get a shallow, built in refrig if you can, oh, there's a brand called liebherr or something close to that...good city kitchen refrigs. Tile the wall to the left of the cooktop for obvious reasons. Consider putting in a corner loses some space but gives you great counter space. And, consider a 24" range. A small studio in NY we rented for one ungrateful kid came only with a two burner cooktop and a MW/convection conventional oven. Freed up massive storage/counter space. Oh, I could get all over this...another thing...the stove looks proportionately too big, I would see if there is something smaller. Efficiency is a good/smart thing. I could be lazy in many different ways on that porch. I do lazy real good.

It's cute, it's highly functional, the location is perfection, and what about a climbing rose?

another susan

3:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi E,

Found a post on the garden web from Regans, directing me here. I wish this blog was not of the cancer subject, dang it all anyway. But I STILL LOVE your whit and spark.
The attire? HMMMMMMM very good of you to share photos and thoughts with those who have been touched by your life, both in the past and now.
I wanted to say Hi,and thanks for the help you gave me one year when I began my year as a rose grower in No CA.
I will follow your progress and send prayers every day for you. I LOVE the DD photos..who in thier right mind can't appreciate beauty in the garden? The Cottage is lovely, a wonderful idea.

Cheers, Debinca

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first post, but I have been reading your blog (and rooting for you!) for a while. I JUST LOVE THE COTTAGE! I have a fantasy of living in a small space some day and you just gave me a real blue print for it.


3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. She must be digging the foundation. Post made on Jan 10. Today Jan 14. ???

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was me. Sigh. Long day.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I used to read your old blog and arrived here via Flea; glad to hear you're still alive. The cottage looks darling, and the thing about separate space? Totally. I love my husband, but so help me, some days I want to go live in a shed.

On other notes: I adore Gray's Anatomy. It's so amazingly trashy! And also, having cared for a friend with a nasty little cancer (well, me and everyone else we know), I would be the last person on earth to insist anyone be a trouper about illness. It seems more like a 'Sucking, Followed By More Sucking' kind of experience; not ennobling, not helpful, not educational in a good way, just icky.

All the things you say about hospitals- yeah. Seen that. Why must it be so dreadful? Who knows. I've met a lot of residents and/or attendings with no incentive to be human, and seen a lot of just the kind of disconnected and sometimes inaccurate treatment you describe. It also sucks.

On salad: one of my aunts soaks it in a tablespoon of bleach per gallon water, for about 10 minutes, then three or four rinses. Don't know if it's up to chemo-sterility standards though.


2:51 PM  
Blogger El said...

Hey Grannyvibe (sorry but I can't help but think of you that way, and always will)

When I was a grad student in architecture, we studied a house in London that was the home of a couple. It was two completely separate houses that joined only in the top floor: their bedroom. Your folks were on to something, and so, m'dear, are you.

Something else to chew on, I guess. Glad tidings!!

7:23 PM  

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