Sunday, October 4, 2009

How much? Too much!

Going to the storage locker yesterday to extract some of our stashed treasures - Ms. Sparrow taking her daughter out to get a bookshelf and bed - the piles of paper that still surround us - having dinner with a friend who, despite having financial difficulties, won't part with any of her possessions - it makes me wonder whether we are men or magpies.

I appreciate beauty. I love beauty, if truth be known. The idea of a beautiful house, with a beautiful garden (well I've already left that), etc., it draws me, haunts me in some ways. Oh, yes, I have been thinking about making houses more environmentally neutral: choosing renewable building materials, refitting instead of rebuilding, considerations of multi family residences, neighbourhood structures that encourage, well... neighbourliness. These criss-cross my architectural noodlings. But the trump is always beauty. Super-green brutalism is not sustainable for me. Uber-hippie, organic blob houses do nothing for me aesthetically either, sorry. And I consider suburban mini-mansion developments as egg repositories designed by subterranean, telepathic, alien insects, who's young feed off banality and boredom. Obviously.

But am I so shallow that I have to have the perfect place to live? Worse, am I so infected with green-guilt that I am considering the hair shirt? Or is it just the money that I am worrying about? How much am I willing to pay for this beautiful life? Too much.

Sometimes we talk about not having a house at all.

As a more immediate example, Ms. Sparrow is looking for a new vehicle. The funky VW bus she has driven into the ground with our renovations is to be retired. She suffers from practical/beautiful vacillation, "A station wagon has more room," "I want a car that helps me envision a better life." She means this environmentally as well, of course. She also doesn't want to pay too much. The newest, cleaner diesel-hybrids (Toyota can see the writing on the wall) better one's odds in a world with contested resources. Especially in a place with ample hydro-electric power, plus bio-diesel fanatics. But she is not willing to buy one new, just to loose half its value as it's driven off the lot. And besides she says, the new cars are all unappealing. "How much would it cost to retrofit an old diesel to be a hybrid?"

Sometimes she talks about not having a car at all.

Mr. Kingfisher

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