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Dave Moves to Cactus Flats

(March 2003)

Culminating years of planning, preparation, and pure dumb luck, I took about 18 months off from the work-a-day world to write my first novel.

The front of the house, as seen from about four feet away

Symbolizing my dedication to the creative process, I've moved to a place I call Cactus Flats, a remote ten-acre compound deep in the Pennsylvania tundra. There don't seem to be any actual cactus here, but there is a small flat spot down at the bottom of the hill.

The house is what is euphemistically known as a "fixer-upper". After nearly three months of cleaning, painting, repairing, rewiring, reflooring, and remodeling, there are now far fewer areas of the house I'm afraid to venture into. The phone wiring had so many shorts and bad splices that I had to cut most of it out just to get one phone to work. There's no TV cable out here, so the fact that the coax cabling (from the previous owners' satellite system) throughout the house is all bad isn't a problem. I'll have to run all new coax before I put in a satellite dish, but I can take care of that while I'm running new phone lines and Cat5e computer network cables. Modular outlets rule.

The side of the house. The round emblem barely visible near the roof is one of those Amish-type rustic homey signs that says "Love." I'm not sure if that's meant to be a noun or a verb. I was rather surprised to learn those signs are not available in a wider range of emotions; the only ones I've seen are "Love" or "Welcome" or the German word, "Wilkomen," which I think means "Don't eat my waffles." I was hoping to find a sign with some more emotional variety, like "Despair" or maybe "Ambivalence."

The house has lots of space though, with a large living room, dining room, eat-in kitchen, master bedroom, library, two guest bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a lot more closet space than I thought possible for a single house. My favourite part of the house is the 240-square-foot office.

Before and After. The house had been abandoned and left unoccupied for several years when I bought it. On the left is what the inside of the house looked like the first time I saw it, on the right is what it looks like now.
This room would normally be considered the master bedroom of the house, with a room-width-wide closet on one end, an attached full bathroom, and a larger walk-in closet to the right of the window. It's the only room in the house big enough to fit my desk, so I use it as my office. Note the multiple doggie beds and blankets on the floor, original Shipbase III paintings on the wall, and magnetic sheeting on the sides of the filing cabinets used for mounting wargame miniatures.

More Before and After. This room is probably intended as a foyer, although the abandoned furniture suggested that the previous occupants had used it as a den and playroom. I've set it up as a library, because my bookshelves fit in there nicely and I couldn't think of anything else to use the room for. The doorway on the right shows a corner of the dining room and part of the living room beyond.

There is an above-ground swimming pool next to the house but it has not been maintained for several years by the looks of it. At this point it's probably better described as a pond. The full basement includes a two-car garage, laundry area, utility closet, and two large workbench areas. There is room to park two more cars by pulling them forward carefully but that would take up a lot of the central area I am setting up as a game room. There are also two decks, a fenced-in dog kennel, a shed, and a huge pole barn that will eventually be set up for large wargames. I haven't decided where to put the shooting range yet.

This is one of my new neighbours. He showed up recently about twenty yards from the front door of my house. Doesn't seem to say much, but he's a real outdoorsy type of guy.

I found these growing in my garden. I thought I had planted tomatoes!

Irvania.com webmaster: Dave Ferris
The content on this page was written: June 2003
Last updated: June 9, 2016