Most dinner parties are interesting but some, of course, are more interesting than others. We attended a lovely dinner the other night and it was very, very interesting. To be fair, the hostess had an edge on the hospitality challenge. No one had been to a dinner party in over a year. Isolation can lubricate comradery.

This event got ‘interest’ points right from the start because we had all forgotten how to have polite-but-fun discourse with others. One has to exercise their inner Oscar Wilde to stay hip, you know? This dinner-party experience felt kinda new. I was rusty*. He and she got extra points for good food that we didn’t have to cook, too. And, for me, super bonus points were immediately earned because I did not have to do the dishes. Add in good wine and great company and it was a fabulous evening.

(*Rust seems to be forming in my ears. My hearing is 50% what it used to be.)

But all that, as interesting as it was, paled against the beautiful presence of their new home on the island. It was just perfect. I would estimate that the square footage was around 2000-2200 sft. Two stories. Fabulous views through huge windows. Perfect location. Lovely setting. And all brand, spanking new.

The construction style was also perfect. Local ‘look’, exposed beams from wood milled on site, funky touches here and there and an artsy-crafty eccentric kitchen ‘decor’. R&B not only did a great job they also manifested great taste and personal style. It really is a huge success.

But I am not here to write an article for Better Homes and Cottages (theirs definitely qualifies). I am here to write about deeper issues. And this issue is about timing, undertakings, personal commitment and effort. This blog is about, learning, growing, stretching yourself. This topic is about change, transition, retirement, community and taking a risk. They did all that, too. And they started in their 50’s.

As we stood there surveying their ’empire’ (a mix of new, beautiful buildings, with saved and reinforced ‘heritage’ buildings from the past), B said, “You were right. Building is hard work. I do not think I could do that again.”

B was an accountant. R was an engineer. They knew how to work. They knew physical, being avid skiers. They were in good nick, healthy, strong, capable. Three or four years in the doing and maybe one year living in the completed home, B said, “I still feel stiff and sore getting out of bed.”

Sal said that same sort of thing 14 years ago, “It has been over eighteen months since we completed the house and my hands still hurt!”

R&B are now nudging 60. They did their ‘building thing’ in their fifties. Like Sal and I. And like Sal and I, they went from being ‘softer’ to working physically much, much harder than they imagined. They went from urban comforts and conveniences to learning how to make it all work even if that meant jerry-rigging up water systems to get a shower. They reminisced about lifting heavy beams, pouring cement, clearing away garbage, finishing the interior and, of course, milling their own lumber. These two did the OTG thing and they did it very well.

Of course we traded a few old saws about, “I do not think I could ever go back to living in the city.” “Our urban friends don’t really understand this move.” “Don’t ya just hate town day!” We shared marveling at the natural beauty every day. We laughed about the eccentric community that we had all joined. And we shared plans for more improvements to the empire. Their project definitely isn’t over.

Our project isn’t over yet, either. We still have things to do. And we have things that need fixing, maintaining and replacing. First you get the empire and then you have to keep the empire. OTG work is never done.

So, what is the point, Dave? R&B are NOT the generation behind us. We are just at the older end of the same generation. But, still, it felt a bit like watching renewal to me. Kindred spirits. It felt a bit like seeing the next generation even if they are technically NOT next gen. There was a lot of empathy for each other despite being relatively recent friends. I had walked in their boots. They had walked in mine. And all of our feet still ached.

13 thoughts on “Interesting

  1. Ahhh yes.
    The snobbery of Concrete.
    I will call it cement until the day I’m placed in cement shoes and tossed overboard.
    I dont point at a large truck and say,” Lookout for that Concrete truck!”
    It sounds absurd.

    The British invented Portland CEMENT not concrete.
    The bags for sale at Home Depo say “Fast drying CEMENT”
    If I refer to “cementing posts in the ground” …everyone knows what I am talking about.

    But thats just me.
    An obstinate, cement loving, curmudgeon.


    • Well, JA is right, of course. Cement is an ingredient like corn starch in a stew. Concrete is the hardened stew. Concrete is compromised of cement, sand, aggregate and water. And I did KNOW that but reverted to my inner urban dummy and fell back on my previous (current) habitual and errant ways. But your cognitive semantics notwithstanding are fine by me. I get it. What I do NOT get is ‘cement-loving’. Of all the jobs we did, we hated cement-makes-concrete the most. How in hell does a 55 pound bag of Reddi-mix coupled with less than 45 pounds of water (4.5 gallons) turn into a 200 pound lump?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Now you are making me jealous again 🙂 . I am up to my ears in cement/concrete as well these days. Bought me a piece of land of about 3.5 acres to start an apple orchard for my cider. But first I have to fence the lot (700 m fence + 4 gates with oak beams that have to be “cemented” in. Yesterday I took a half day off of work to continue to work on the fence. Gut up at 6 and started around 7….beautiful sunny day….I really felt alive and o so happy over there….it’s my own little OTG place (OTG as in no water and electricity, and just far enough from houses so I can enjoy the peace and quiet). Then at noon had to go back to my day job….man I hated that! So I can fully understand (as JD knows very well), why we, in our fifties want to get out. And we don’t mind the hard work (my whole body has been aching these last week from the hatd manual labour), love every minute of it. Must be quite a big house at 2000 sqft! As to cement or concrete, we call the premixed stuff (where you just have to add water” “turbo concrete”. But I don’t want to be in the middle of the discussion between JA and noncon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, first off, good for you! 3.5 acres is good enough to get your head in the right place. There can be plenty of good, natural, immediate-results work done there. And then, on top of that – an apple orchard! Do you have to clear it? Pull stumps? That kinda thing? That will keep you busy – altho I doubt that you will have to fend off any bears when the apples come – will you? Would Belgium still have wild bears? Wild anything? By the way, 2000 sft is approximately 20 sqmtrs. Not big at all by current Mcmansion standards. Some fools build 5000 sft or even more – for two people! If I had to do it all over again, I might add 300 sft to our current 1200 but 2000/2200 is really perfect.


      • now I feel stupid, should have checked before I replied. I thought 2000sft was a huge mansion 🙂 . Fortunately, the land has been cleared by the previous owner, so I don’t have to pull stumps. We don’t have wild bears, but we have (again) some deer. And in the Ardennes region, there are wild boars (even an occasional wolf has showed up). At full production, the orchard should provide enough apples to make about 30.000 bottles of cider (within 5 years or so). In the meantime, my first batch is ready for sale, end of this year I will produce a second batch of about 2000 bottles….this is a bit my get out plan!


      • It sounds like a plan, alright. A good one. Just remember, people need less money to retire than the ‘experts’ suggest they must have. That is especially true if you intend to live simple, DIY and keep active. If you intend to live on your yacht in Monaco then disregard that advice.


  3. Ah, but you are “cementing posts in the ground”, with CONCRETE.
    And instead of looking out for the concrete truck, be aware of the ready-mix truck.
    And for those that refer to ‘Cement trucks’ they might be referring to those large conical rigs that transport Portland Cement to the ready-mix plants.


  4. Excellent, one of you best articles ever. Thanks Dave. . Steve

    On Mon, Jun 7, 2021 at 10:47 AM Our Off the Grid Home wrote:

    > jdavidcox posted: ” Most dinner parties are interesting but some, of > course, are more interesting than others. We attended a lovely dinner the > other night and it was very, very interesting. To be fair, the hostess had > an edge on the hospitality challenge. No one had been” >


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.