It's not really much to speak of, but I'll share one of my hobbies with you guys, something that passes the time very agreeably for me out here on the prairie.
The first software I bought after I finally acquired a computer was a home design program. I have no training in architecture, but I've been drawing and redrawing my dream house - or should I say houses? - for more than thirty years now. I've drawn dozens of designs, depending on whether my imagination at a given moment leads me to think of a modest cottage or a grand manor, a townhouse or a ranch, an apartment or a suburban home. Or just a new and improved version of somewhere I once lived.
I paid only ten bucks for that first program, which came on a floppy disk; but that was the best ten bucks I ever spent, because it gave me many hundred hours of creative play, and allowed me to go far beyond what I had been doing with pencil, paper, and ruler (I have no training in art, either, sad to say). The challenge for me, and a great deal of fun, is to set myself a limit such as one might encounter in the real world: a certain number of square feet, a certain shape, a certain architectural style. Anybody can draw a big, rambling house that bulges out here and there; the satisfaction, though, comes from coloring inside the lines, so to speak - creating a lovely, liveable space within realistic limits.
Which, I imagine, is what real architects do, most of the time.
Now, modern architecture is not your Head Trucker's cup of tea, but I do dearly love traditional old homes like Colonial Revival - the sort of house I would have liked to grow up in. Here's my latest attempt, based on an actual architect's design from about 1925, which I've elaborated a bit and, I think, improved upon.
Of course, I have a much better program now than what I started out with, which generates these wonderful three-dimensional views of the outside of the house. No doubt some or all of you are faintly smiling and saying, So what? But I look at these renderings and imagine not only the house but a life lived there.
I wander sometimes through my houses like a ghost, drifting on the evening breeze that wafts the scent of magnolias and fresh-mown grass through the windows. I watch the shades of a summer twilight lengthen, hear the distant crickets begin to chirp. I watch the family as they finish up their supper at the big mahogany table in the dining room - is it someone's birthday, or the Fourth of July, or just a summer visit with the kinfolks from out of town? There has been much talk and laughter; now the women, without missing a word of gossip, are carrying the dishes into the kitchen and filling the sink, while the men with their jokes and stories drift towards the den, or the back porch. The girls giggle their way upstairs to the pink-and-white bedroom where there are new records to play, and hair curlers, and talk of boys. The older boys head out to the garage and discuss fireworks and cars and girls. The younger boys run across the porches and all around the yard, shrieking happily, playing hide-and-seek in the shadows of the big oaks, with the dogs excitedly joining in the game. A train whistle blows for the crossing at the bottom of the hill, and is swallowed up in the muffled rumble of the cars. Somewhere a church bell tolls the hour. Nobody wants the evening to end anytime soon, not even the grandparents, who are already a little tired, but full of good cheer.
Life is sweet, and safe, and steady. I am in their midst, gliding among them, the silent wraith who sees and hears it all. They have no idea I am here, watching, listening . . . ordaining their private joy. They will never know me, though I know them well.
It is not my house. It is not my life. But a life that might have been. Could have been. Should have been.
Update: Below the jump, the floor plans.