Feb. 15th, 2011

the_plan: (Bliss)
One of the really wonderous parts of this journey we've been on is the fact it really does constantly evolve. We start out with one plan, and it grows and changes and tweaks and before you know it it doesn't really look like what we started out with in the first place at all.

And yet, it is.

In order for the 'new plan' to fit into 'The Plan®' it must contain certain critical elements, answer deep needs for both James and myself. As you're building the life you've always dreamed of it must contain the critical elements of the dream. That's the thing of it, we've always known the dream - we've not always been sure what the dream LOOKS like when it's all built. So we've added pieces, and taken away pieces and tinkered and tailored it.

Recently 'The Plan®' took another left turn.

I think we're going to leave Newfoundland. It even feels a bit odd saying it. I worked and planned and wanted for years to end up here. Largely at the time it was because Newfoundland was somewhere I could work, that would take me back to my own roots on ocean and specifically the North Atlantic, and James needed to be close to water as well. Newfoundland made sense. And the house we bought in Seal Cove made a lot of sense at the time as well - we needed the privacy, the quiet, the serenity that living deep in the forest gave us, and kept me close enough to work. Then I quit working, relations with the neighbours reminded us that we weren't as enclaved as all that, the kids began to move on, in other words - life changed.

We still want the things we were looking for in this property - just more of it. Room for animals (dogs, cats, horses, alpacas, pigs, lambs, - NO CHICKENS!), the quiet and privacy that the forest and large plots of land provide, we still need the ocean, I need water - ocean, stream, pond, something - for me and for the dogs, I need room the dogs can run without harassing the neighbours.

However, there was still the question of what would our lives look like? What would we do with ourselves day in day out, and how would we afford it?

One of the things that became clear after a while, was that what we came to Newfoundland looking for didn't exist here for us. The dream job turned out not to be such a dream, and our visions of private acres of field and forest by the ocean couldn't be ours. Yes! Those sorts of properties, the ones you see in the tourism ads, the quaint life everyone wants to come and see - that IS here. However, anyone who owns an old farmstead or saltbox with more than a few acres by the sea, they're not selling it. They're holding on to those properties for 'when the kids come home', and the kids will come home.

So one day I'm perusing the real estate listings on the internet, as I am oft likely to do and I come across a commercial listing in Sydney Cape Breton for a 23 acre motor speedway 1/4 mile track, all concessions, stands and out buildings. Now I know this is a joke, we can't really afford it, and all of that, but ONE of the great loves James and I have always had is race cars. Could be fun. So we spend a day looking at it joking about it, considering it, turning it over and seeing if it could work. Including property prices in the area for where we might live. Well owning a racetrack isn't really the sort of retirement business we'd enjoy doing all day every day, so the Island Speedway idea fell to the wayside. However, the property search led us to finding that there was a good possibility we could afford a large piece of property (25+ acres) with a livable smaller home, and the possibility of outbuildings (sheds and barns) and still leave us a sizeable chunk of cash to live on while James builds up the laser business.

We started looking further afield. Cape Breton, Guysborough County, Antigonish. As I was looking I came across this:

It's being sold off in 4 or 5 chunks of various prices - but the whole thing together is about a $1,000,000. We can't afford a million dollars. But I knew - just knew then and there on the spot that THIS was the life we've been looking for.

We don't want a B&B, we're too intensely private to have people in our home, but we love having company. We want self sufficiency and sustainability a la River Cottage, but we're no hair shirt people - we like our creature comforts and our technology. We want hospitality and tourism, but without the tourists.

So here's the dream - the latest evolution of 'The Plan®'. A Writer's and Artist's retreat. All along we've both needed our artistic outlets - that's why James bought the LASER, he needs to be creating, he wants to teach and lead again, I want to play, with colour, with fabric, with metal and wood and paint and clay and.... but I have zero talent for any of those things, and I want space, physically and mentally, to write and cook and sew, and I want to organize it all. And we want to share these things, with all of those people we've always connected with so well on the internet - the artists and writers and cartoonists, and creative people. We won't make a fortune. We don't really want to. We'll start with one of two small cottages, hopefully make enough to justify building more and bigger art studios, add another cabin or two, maybe host some weekend workshops, invite established artists to lead a workshop or two, maybe even eventually build a small professional music studio.

So yeah we're gonna need that forested acreage by the sea after all. We can't find it in Newfoundland, but maybe we can find it in Nova Scotia. I don't have a $1,000,000 to buy it already built. But maybe, just maybe, we can find something, somewhere in Nova Scotia - Fox Harbour Advocate Harbour, Digby, Annapolis Royal, Kentville, Parrsbaro, Cape Negro. I think maybe we can. Maybe even this one. It might take us a while yet to get there, and there might be a detour or two along the way - depending on how things turn out, but then 'The Plan®' is an evolving thing, but I think we're on the right track.


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