Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pooh Bear Planning

So, still packing, but I have a really cool article for anyone interested about what would happen if (Italian, no less) children were creating cities. This makes me think of Pooh Bear because in architecture school I had an ass of a prof who took notice of me reading The Te of Piglet & thought it would be fun to analyse our class into Pooh characters. He was so fricken pompous. I know, "Isn't that a prerequisite for becoming an architect?" No, I actually know many that are fairly relatable, but onto the story. 

"Once upon a time, there was a construction cooperative in the small north Italian town of Correggio, not far from the larger cities of Modena and Parma. It specialised in building houses. One day, back in 1990, its members made a decision that would radically change the way they worked. 
Coriandoline was winner of the Peggy Guggenheim Prize for the most innovative project in 2001 and the World Habitat Awards in 2002

Coriandoline: winner of the Peggy Guggenheim Prize for the most innovative project in 2001 and the World Habitat Awards in 2002

Taking on the new name, Andria - inspired by an ideal city in Italo Calvino's novel, Invisible Cities - they transformed it from a cooperative for abitazioni (habitations) into a cooperative for abitanti (inhabitants). One of Andria's founding architects, Luciano Pantaleoni, says this was something of a revolution, "We had to learn to listen to the service-users, in other words, families". 

Taking their logic one step further, Andria decided that, since families comprise both adults and children, to be a true cooperative for inhabitants, they would have to listen to children as well as adults. And that's how the idea to build Coriandoline was born."

If I've peaked your interest enough to read the story, it is here:  

Oh, & the ass-prof? Yeah, he completely pegged me as Rabbit. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009


E gads. In South Detroit, I mean Toledo, no less. 

Don't stop believing, 
Just hold on to the feelin'...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Letter to a Home

Between the years of 1993 & 1998 I moved 14 times. Yes, three of those times were to dorm rooms, but I still count them because they did require a major analysis of my belongings, paring them down to only the bare necessities, to fit into a very small space. When I think of those moves now, one thing is very noticeable to me regarding then in comparison to now. The majority of those moves were expected, except for somewhere around number 8, where I had a literal crackhead steal most of everything I owned, which to her credit did make things pretty simple. I did not fret much then about how I was going to pack, how things would be relocated, what would get broken. I occasionally made the decision of the next place within days if not hours before the actual move. Like I've said before, I was a leaf that went where the wind blew me.

We have made a decision on the next place we will be living, signed the lease, paid our money. It was stressful for all of us. No, it doesn't meet any of the qualities that MiniMe had requested & it is far out from most of the places we like to go. Regardless, MiniMe told us she likes it. She includes, "I want to go to the new house!" in her daily list of laments. We are happy with our decision & it is truly a nice house. I'm still not okay. It's not the new houses' fault. 

It's not the loss of our current house that is bothering me. It's not the bankruptcy. The decision to file for bankruptcy is unquestionably the most right decision we have made in the past year. There are things about our current home that I will be glad to be relieved of. It is the loss of our home that I am mourning. 

A sense of place, experiences tied to the context of the environment, is a very essential part of my personality. It is why I studied architecture & became a planner. The concept of place is something that preoccupies most of my thoughts. Very many important things have happened to me, to us, in this place. This home. 

This is the place where I sat & nursed MiniMe for hour upon hour. I painted this room "Blue Collar" the second week we lived in the house, when MiniMe was just 3 months old, & we had no power because of Hurricane Wilma. Biggie put the beautiful crown molding up, using the compound mitre saw I got him our first Christmas in this house. Where I sang Audra, Nick Drake, Innocence Mission to her. The very last time, when I sang Into the Mystic, into her ear, while my father listened over the phone. Just this past Christmas she realized that as I was singing Barbara Streisand's The Best Gift, I was telling her that she is The Best Gift I've ever received, in this very spot. We still sit here to read bedtime stories together every night before bed. The majority of the most profound conversations she & I have had have been in this place. We have discovered each other, more than any other place, in this place.

This is the place where she took her very first steps, the Wednesday before Mother's Day, in 2006. She was so nonchalant about it all. I couldn't comment for what seemed like forever because it looked so strange to see this little 15 pound person actually upright & independently mobile. I was mesmerized.

This is the place that I was the very last time I spoke to my Dad. I was stripping the wallpaper off of the wall. My mom was there helping me. He was talking about things he had seen on his route the past week, driving through the Upper Peninsula. He told me he was so glad he had a daughter that understood him; that understood why he preferred driving on little State Routes where there was little traffic, simple people, simple food. When I told him my mom was there with me, he asked me to tell her that he thought of her every Monday, when he crossed over the Laughing Whitefish River, as they had made that trip when they were married, on his little Triumph. I marked the sense of nostalgia in my heart. It is the place where I was the last time I got to hear him tell me he loved me.

This is the place I was standing when my step-mother told me my father was dead. She had called, hung up after 3 rings, before I could make it to the phone, & then called back not 2 minutes later. I had sensed something was wrong when I went to answer the phone. I had dreaded that moment for years. I paced in this doorway, not crying, just nodding, listening to the flood of sorrow my step-mother poured over me. I stayed in that spot to call my husband to tell him. My mother, too. I remember thinking that maybe if I stayed in that spot I would be able to continue to not cry. 

This is the place that Biggie was sitting when we healed our marriage. He said awful things to me & I let him. I let him say them, meaning I actually listened, because I knew he didn't mean it. I knew, finally, that it wasn't about me. It was about everything before me. He saw that I let it go. He knew that I had every right to be justified, self-righteous, hurt. He saw that I let it go because We Are More Important. Whatever it is, We Are More Important. He acknowledged the sacrifice of my spirit to do this. That acknowledgement brought us back & gave us hope.

Although we lived in another house when we were married, when MiniMe was born, it is in this house that I became a mother & the mother of my husband's children. This place is inextricably tied to the history of our lives, of our family. I am sad that we have to leave it under these circumstances. It has served us well. I have been proud of it. 

I wish we could know the next occupants. There are so many places, houses, homes that are losing their stories & context. It's messing up so many families. In the telling of stories, you have the who, the what, to what extent, & the where. For so many, the where is being forcibly & traumatically changed.

post script- I could have developed the concept of place & its' meaning more fully, more eloquently, but I'm too weepy. I wanted to get this out there & done. Maybe after we are closer to the light at the end of this particular tunnel I will come back to this, but for now, it is what it is. & yeah, I might be a little busy for the next month, but I'm around. I'm sure I'll have some funnier, more uplifting stories of moving antics.