43 thoughts on “Sunday Question Post: City Mouse, Country Mouse

  1. Both. Small condo in center city Philly, walking distance to work, plus a 19th century Victorian farmhouse in rural central New Jersey, about an hour from Philly, where we spend every minute we possibly can. Both places are small — barely big enough for two adults and a 10-year old — but perfect for us. Typing this from a rocking chair on my front porch in Jersey as we speak, sipping coffee, watching the deer and looking out for the wild turkeys and foxes that sometimes mosey across our driveway (generally not together).
    Most of our colleages at work have McMansions in the Philly suburbs and commute 45 mins to over an hour.

  2. 1830s stone farmhouse north of Philly. Barn. Sheep meadow. A little low on closet space, but that’s what barns are for.

  3. Condo complex downtown Montreal. About a minute walking to the metro station. 6 minute biking to work.
    Could have bought something twice as big for a third of the price in the burbs, but I didn’t want a garden, live to live in a high rise and getting up at 07:15 to start work at 08:00 and being home at 16:10 when the work day finishes at 16:00 is priceless.
    When a car is absolutely necessary Montreal has this :Communauto

  4. It’s called the ‘burbs, but the city (Mesa, AZ) has 400,000+ people in it. I live in a townhouse, it was what I could afford when I went house shopping a couple of years ago. It’s six miles away from my parents’ house.

  5. The city is New Orleans; storm-battered but resilient. Actually it’s ideally suited for the age of expensive or scarce gasoline. Not too big, so not a lot of driving necessary. It’s a port city, the value of which we will rediscovery when we figure out that moving stuff by water is fuel-efficient.
    The neighborhood is walkable urban — a mix of residential and commercial. Most of what I need is within walking distance. If I had to, I could get by without a car. Audubon Park is 1½ blocks from the front door.
    The house is a Victorian camelback single shotgun, side hall. It’s around 110 years old, give or take 10. I’ve actually lived under this roof longer than any other roof in my life. The rooms are big, the windows are drafty. There’s always something that needs to be fixed. I love it.

  6. Condo in Portland, OR, just a few minutes away from my son, daughter-in-law and grandson, who live in a wonderful old neighborhood that’s really a neighborhood. Their house was built in the 30’s, I think. One of the things about Portland that is so totally cool is that there are neighborhoods like that all over the place. It is a rare occasion for us to go to a “mall” for shopping. Most can be done in the neighborhoods!

  7. Ray Ward:
    I lived 1 and a half blocks downtown from Audubon Park back in the mid-70s. On Magazine St. Are you close to that? It’s a camel back too.
    It’s so cool to have my memories jogged by comments like yours. Lived in NO from birth to age 33, when I left for Tennessee (sob!) and am now retired in Portland, OR.
    So thanks, for the blast from the past.

  8. city mouse. want to be forest mouse. but in a 1926 tardis. looks small, til ya get inside. was 15 min from work when i worked downtown(able to start after rushhours). azrhey is right. the burbs is for suckers. unless you work in the burbs.

  9. 100 year-old two story Queen Anne built by my great-grandparents when they retired from farming in 1908 and moved into what used to be a small town 40 miles west of Chicago. They moved the original house on the property a bit to the south and turned it into a town barn with stalls for their driving horse and a cow, and a place for chickens, too.
    Because of its steep tall roof, the house looks quite a bit bigger than it actually is. We’ve got one giant linden tree, a black walnut and two butternut trees planted by the great-grandparents and a blue spruce, a Carpathian walnut and magnolia planted by my folks that shade the yard. Coupled with a nice view across the street to the Fox River, it’s a nice pleasant place to live. Which is good, since I’ve lived here, off but mostly on, since I was eight years-old, when my parents quit farming and moved to town. My wife, who attended three kindergartens as her family moved around, says I don’t get out much.

  10. In a very Early-Victorian school, converted into flats and in the grounds of the abbey where the the Magna Carta was drafted and written. But just about to come home and hit the road to see what’s become of my homeland since 1963 . . . should be “interesting”.

  11. Not quite 100 year old kinda, sorta bungalow in one of the old neighborhoods of Baton Rouge, a block or so up the street from the former Governor’s Mansion that Huey Long built, and not quite a five minute walk to the levee/Mississippi River/”downtown” district.
    There are projects I need to do and projects I want to do, but it’s livable and pleasant: small lot, plank and bead board ceilings (10 foot), modern kitchen and somewhat open floor plan that one day might even be MORE open if/when I can finance…am also thinking of one day adding a camelback addition. The three fireplaces have been plugged, but it might not be difficult to open at least two of them.
    For several decades downtown’s been ignored, but maybe the latest attempt to revive it will be successful. We’ll see.
    It’s a very short drive to work, and like azrhey says, that’s priceless (though BR is no Montreal, which is one of my absolute favorite cities–sigh.)

  12. I live in a late 50s/early 60s house, which is in a constant state of work-in-progress (if only our governor could exorcise the ’70s from our house, we’d be finished by now) in Lake Charles, Louisiana–30 minutes from Texas, 20 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico (but only a couple of really bad hurricane seasons from being coastal!) We escaped Rita with a mere oak tree branch puncturing our roof and ceiling in only one room (had to get a new roof and flooring, but we fixed the ceiling in 10 minutes. We were the worst hit on the block, but damn lucky.)
    I was born and grew up here, and I vowed to leave as soon as I graduated high school..then college…and then I met my husband; and 17 years later I’m still here.
    It’s really a sweet little city that is trying very hard (to be like Lafayette.) If you’re taking I-10 through Louisiana, detour down I-210 at Lake Charles. There you’ll see the the town itself, and not just the neglected North Lake Charles that you see from I-10. Marvel at our mall that contains a movie theater, a Mason Blanche, *and* a Sears! See our (non-Super) Target shopping center! Enjoy a meal at one of our fine chain restaurants! Gamble at our “riverboat” casino (it’s actually a non-moving barge..that’s how they get around the land-based casino ban.) Enjoy the view of the Calcasieu River as you cross the bridge to Sulphur, where you’ll also see several of the remaining oil refineries in the US (they’re lovely at night…they look like a real city skyline!)
    I kid because I love. It really is a sweet town–not too big, not too small. I live in one of the best school districts, and I understand that this is a GREAT place to raise a family. I guess it’s too bad I don’t want any children. And things are improving. Downtown is being revitalized with some lovely, unique (to here)locally owned restaurants and music venues, and thanks to the Poor Pony group, our local artist and bands now have public venues in which to be seen/heard. Our local government is clueless (Hey! Let’s build a waterpark, like Blue Bayou! That’ll be a GREAT use of public funds!!) and desperately trying to find a collective city culture to promote (there isn’t one.) But it’s attractive, it’s comfy, and it’s home. (Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I do adore it here.)

  13. hey, dancinfool: I’m in Vancouver WA and lived in NOLA in the mid-90s (Tulane).
    Our house was built in 1947 and it sits in the “uptown” (old, grid) part of the city in a neighborhood of mostly modest houses from the 30s and 40s on 40’x100′ lots. It’s nice to be close enough to Portland to get to concerts, museums, etc., but out of the general hubub in a smaller city. Every neighborhood here in Vancouver has its own park, and the biking and walking are great.

  14. A 1946 house in Palolo valley in Honolulu.Originally 860 sq ft,now up to 2,000.Large deck
    with views of Diamondhead and the Pacific Ocean. 27′ of window in the living room,also looking
    at Diamondhead and the ocean.Music room downstairs with 5 guitars,4 amps,full-sized keyboard and full drum set. Still rockin at 58!!

  15. i’m in southeastern mass., fall river, totally through happenstance, in a 1928 bungalow (but not one that managed to keep ANY original anything, sadly) within walking distance of two chain grocery stores, a post office, a fish store, a bakery, a dozen fast food joints, a walmart (i try to stay out of it but the target is 20 minutes away by car).
    i lived car-less in boston for 25 years but finally left because i had not bought a condo when they were affordable ($60,000 for 700 sq ft one-bedroom in 1993; $300,000 in 2001). i work at home and after getting squeezed down into a 300 sq ft studio (me and two cocker spaniels) and the city becoming more and more difficult to live in without said car, i decided to strike out for more affordable housing.
    as i was looking at houses “in the country,” i realized there were no sidewalks on which to walk the dogs, no post offices, no stores, so i settled here, one hour by car to boston for twice monthly client visits and to pick up take-out from several of my favorite fenway (peterborough street) restaurants.
    i really enjoyed reading about where you all live. thanks for asking, athenae, and thanks to you all for taking the time to respond!

  16. We live on 40 acres 16 miles south of Lake Superior. It’s a wooded forty with a small year around stream flowing through the center. Sandy loam to heavy loam soil, we’re up on the old shoreline of glacial Lake Superior so luckily we don’t have the red clay. Popple, hemlock, hard & soft maple, yellow & white birch, balsam, pin cherry. We built our home & every other outbuilding, except for the pole barn, I’m getting too old for some things. I like it well enough, the only down sides are the lack of live music & really good food.

  17. Echoing Karen Marie — I’m mostly a lurker these days but am fascinated to learn about where and how this whole community lives.
    Athenae, your writing just gets better and better, and the team you have here at First Draft is just stellar. I love this place. You, Holden, Scout and Jude are a terrific combination.

  18. wow, so many beautiful images!
    I lived in NOLA as well, Tulane, 70’s though…
    I live in a loft in downtown Atlanta…walk to everything. I do have to drive to work (currently) which is in the burbs, but I take the rail system as far out as it goes and then drive…I love my place. It’s very austere. my books, the cat (of course) some threads…but not much else.
    I love this site. I read it outloud at work sometimes (they ALL have W stickers on their cars, so ti’s truly wicked)…

  19. Damn, I leave you guys alone for a day and look what a cool thread happens! Thanks for all the stories so far!
    A.

  20. I’m in the New York City area known as Woodside (Borough of Queens). I live in a moderate income not-for-profit co-operative development built circa 1958. We have 7 buildings on 13.5 acres. I live on the 17th floor, 3.5 rooms with a terrace off the living/dining room. I’ve lived here since 1999 and really like it. I like the trees, grass and the view from my terrace (south/southwest means lots of light). I’ve never sensed the change in seasons quite the way I experience them now, especially the change in light at sundown. The development put in a commercial building sometime in the 1970s so there is a grocery store, Chinese take-out, and pizza-pasta restaurant really close by. We also have our own power plant; heat is co-generation from the electricity. (We budgeted X for fuel oil for the year… we’ve already spent it all and will be going into deficit to buy fuel the rest of the year… Thank you shrub.) I use buses to get around the city because the subways have too many staircases (back problems). I’ve had friends move to Baltimore and southern Florida and I’ve visited them… I still like NYC, always did.

  21. In a 30 year old home (ancient by local standards) in the township of Paradise, County of Clark, Nevada, better known as Las Vegas. We’re about two-and-a-half miles from the east end of McCarran, four miles from UNLV, my employer, and five miles from the Las Vegas Strip. By contemporary standards in southern Nevada we’re on a huge lot, but in reality it’s only 1/5th of an acre, which is postage stamp sized compared to the properties I had in Kansas. But we’ll be heading out of Nevada (the driest state in the union) soon and heading for southern Louisiana (the wettest state in the continental U.S.) where we can pick up five acres outside of Lafayette and have room for our two bouncing Mastiff’s and bring a couple of horses into our life while we start the final phase of our careers and begin moseying down the road toward retirement.
    Saw 117 degrees on the home weather station today.

  22. Small town (60,000) 50 miles north of Denver – before I took an early retirement last year, my commute was 3 miles one-way. House is quite small, 900 sq. ft., with a large yard we are trying to xeriscape or put into food. I ride my bike just about everywhere – it’s a neat red townie and even the kids make nice comments on it.
    I’m a lurker, too, but I love Athenae, etal and come here often to see what’s happening in the world. I can’t stomach watching tv news anymore!

  23. 1961 house somewhere in rural central Iowa. It’s not _our_ house, but a parsonage that’s our home as my spouse is the pastor of the United Methodist Church in our town. The church is right next door – I doubt anyone has as convenient a commute. Both are built out of the same red brick, although the church is a much older structure, it was expanded and given a new facade after the house was built using the same masonry. The house is not gorgeous, but it certainly suits my family.
    We live – for all intents and purposes – in Mayberry.
    We live on a street named for the lost American Elm – all the Elms are long since gone – but the town in many ways is a throwback to 1950-60’s America. The wealth in town hasn’t disappeared, the mainstreet is still thriving, and the community is coherent. My barber is 300 feet from my door, my bank 150 feet, a movie theater 2 blocks away, doctor’s office 2 blocks away, pharmacy one block, the high school 3 blocks away with the public pool across the street, and a large park that still has one of those hand-driven merry-go-rounds and other insurance unfriendly pieces of equipment. People ride bikes to get around all summer.
    I drive 12 miles highway through endless corn fields to my job at a public land grant university.

  24. Another lurker… love reading everyone here.
    I live in shingled cape built c. 1792, on about 4 acres. 20 miles inland from Camden, Maine. House has no furnace, never has in its 215 years, see no reason to add one now. Wonderfully rich soil on a south facing piece of land. 10 old apple trees, grow lots of vegetables too, and keep bees. In many ways it’s the perfect place. But have to figure out if I can afford to stay here, we’re in the process of separating, so it might get hard. Have to raise my rates!

  25. Slim in Vancouver…
    I’m quite familiar with old uptown New Orleans. I went to high school on Broadway and St Charles, so those are old stomping grounds for me. As much as I still identify as a New Orleanian, I’m so happy here in Portland. It’s really my first blue state! 😉

  26. Moscow, Idaho, right on the border of Washington and about 175 miles from Canada. I just moved out here last August for grad school. I am originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, one of our favorite flood-ravaged towns, and lived there 30 years before packing the important stuff into the back of a truck and moving here to the wild west. For one of the “reddest” states out there, there really are a lot of really great people out here. It’s not at all like I expected. Anyway, it was good reading all your stories. Peace!

  27. NOLA, Marigny, ‘The Compound’. Two 110 + year old single shot guns with one kick ass porch.
    I ain’t ever leaving – God willing.

  28. Yet another long-time lurker (A’s writing quite simply knocks me down…and, of course, the ferrets).
    In my 14th year of living off the grid in the foothills of the Ozarks. Solar panels, well water and trying not to take an “I’m just waiting for the end” attitude (although I do have my lawn chair and El Tosoro at the ready.

  29. Love seeing all you lurkers! I’m late to the party, but what the heck:
    I live in a big town/small city (just under 100,000) about 50 miles north of Denver, CO. We have a stucco bungalow built in 1937, and the bathroom has the original linoleum flooring (meaning it’s disintegrating below our wet feet). Someday we’ll actually do some maintenance on the place. The interior is very cool–lots of 30’s era yumminess that we could do lots with if we had the time.
    We’re close enough to a big lake with direct mountain access via the river that we get all sorts of interesting wildlife smack in the middle of town. I mentioned my battle with the raccoon last week. We’ve had as many as three ‘coons on our deck at once (boy, did our cats freak out over that–1/4 inch of plate glass separating them from our cats!), as well as the occasional skunk. I’ve also seen foxes in the neighborhood, tho they’ve stayed out of our yard so far.
    We have the worst kept yard in the neighborhood, much to my chagrin. (Though not enough chagrin that I find time to do anything about it). We’re hiring a lesbian couple who call themselves the Gutter Girls to clean the yard for us this week. We’ll see what they can do about the bindweed.
    Thanks for the cool thread, A!

  30. I now live in Northeastern VT on an acre or so with a nice little house. Town Population about 1500. I used to live in lots of other places including NOLA. I was thrown out of Eleanor McMain for smoking dope. I lived off of Florida ave near the lake. I lived in Chicago, near northside for a while as well. I’m a country mouse now, and not likely to change.

  31. oops. My house is FOUR years old. It was two years old when I moved in and I’ve lived there two years.
    2+2=4. duh

  32. I live in a little white and black rental bungalow built around 1910 in the old “West London” streetcar suburb of London, Ontario. It’s built in a “California Cottage” style that was imported to Southwestern Ontario in the early 20th C. from Southern California, primarily because it copes with the climate relatively well. It has deep eaves, lots of shade (perhaps too much — I can’t grow sun-loving flowers to save my life), and the nicest front porch of anyplace I’ve ever lived. My street is narrow, quiet, built on a human scale, and ends just down the block, within easy walking distance of the world’s oldest continually-used baseball park. On a summer night with the sounds coming from the baseball game, it’s easy to lose track of your place in time — are you in 1928 or 2008? (If only the streetcars were still around!) The only year I can be pretty sure itisn’t is 1937, when the house was up to its eaves in water from a catastrophic flood of the Thames River, which is within 1km of the house.
    As much as I hate some things about the house (dysfunctional kitchen — architects used to be all men, and men never cooked, tiny 8’x8′ bedrooms, weird-ass floor plan, lack of outlets, mould in the winter, batshit crazy landlady who doesn’t seem to grok the idea that she doesn’t actually live here and shows up all the time unannounced), I love that downtown is within easy walking distance, I am on four bus routes, I can get to at least three grocery stores without transferring, there are lots of walking trails in and around the river, two Vietnamese restaurants within walking distance, a 7-11 at the end of the block, and a 12-minute by foot or bus commute to work.
    I really don’t think I’ve lived anywhere better. I have dreams of one day buying the house from my batshit crazy landlady, knocking a few walls out, kicking my roommate out, and living there as long as I can.

  33. p.s. Hey, PaperMaker, I just caught your post–we must be neighbors, or nearly. I live in Loveland, work in Greeley. Good to see you post!

  34. My wife and I live in Sacramento, alongside the levee on the American River, in a condo, build in the 1970’s. Not quite in downtown, but not quite in the suburbs either. The river is our daily walking location, with a long narrow parkway that runs for miles inside the levees and on top of them.
    Unfortunately, inflation, the dropping stock market, rising health care costs, etc. make this only a temporary home. We have already moved once, from a large 4 bedroom house I extensively remodeled and enlarged, when the COL caught up with us. Now, we are again looking at downsizing opportunities. But, I wouldn’t trade my retirement for anything.

  35. I’m on the edge of a small city in SE Wisconsin (pop 10K) just outside the limits on a narrow 1/2 acre lot that abutts a small river in the backyard. Small house was originally built in the late 40’s, I put on a major addition and garage, new roof, and gutted and rebuilt the entire place changing the floor plan considerably. It’s not big, but plenty for me.
    But change is in the works, I recently bought 68 acres in southern Missouri (far away from Branson, thank you) with a cottage, pole barn, shed and 5 acre lake. Middle of Nowhere, where I hope to retire to grow grapes, fruit, and make wine.

  36. hey idio, i have at least 3 weed elms in the back yard that planted themselves. one looks more like a bush, but have been watching the little ones take a few years to become towering poles.

  37. BuggyQ: yes, we must be nearly neighbors! We live near TVHS – I’m guessing you’ll know the approximate neighborhood.
    FeralLiberal: We lived in Willow Springs, MO for 7 years before moving back to Colorado. Is your acreage close to that? We loved the solitude, but hated the ice storms, ticks, chiggers, and weeds! But we had a wonderful garden (300′ of red raspberries, yum) and wild grapes that made the absolutely best grape jelly. Now that I’m into making paper, I wish I had access to all the vegetation growing on our little 40 acres. Best of luck on your move!

  38. Kewl! I do know the neighborhood. If you happen to be in the downtown area any time soon, stop in at Studio 121 at 5th and Cleveland. Tell the proprietor that BuggyQ sent you–he’ll LOL.
    We must get a Drinking Liberally started in our little burg. 🙂

  39. PaperMaker,
    It’s about an hour straight east of Willow Springs, in Wayne Co. Yeah, ticks are plentiful, but I’ve been pleasantly suprised by the relative lack of mosquitos.

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