Building Our Upland Dream Home
(Part 9)

Dateline: 14 February 2017 a.d.

In November of 1990, with winter coming, and a second baby on the way, we were cramming to get a much-needed addition on our 868 square foot house. I hired my business partner and our one employee to get the addition weathertight. I would take it from there myself.

Take note of all the stuff crammed under the roof of the 10' x 10' section of our original house. It was kind of like an attic. Our Dream Home was seriously short on storage space (still is).


The picture below shows our house three years after getting the addition on (1993). There was still bare plywood on the outside. Not very attractive. 

I was still in the midst of my Hard Years, working at my business, trying to keep the bills paid. I lacked the time and money to put much effort into making the outside of the house look good.


Marlene thinks the picture below is from around 1995. Five years after the addition was put on, and it's still bare plywood. Our third child was born in October of 1994. Those years are a blur. 


Our dog, Pilgrim, was 10 years old in the picture above. She would live two more years.

In 1998 I went through a personal low—a time of depression, inactivity and financial crisis. Nothing got done on the house. The inside was not completely finished, while the outside looked like you see in the above two pictures. It was like that for around 15 years. 

My wife is the most sweet and patient person I know, but I can tell you that there were times when she was profoundly disappointed with the unfinished condition of our house. It was an embarrassment. It was shameful. That's all I'll say about that.

I think it was around 2005 that I finally had the time and the money to start making the house look better. I had been working in the NY State prison system since 2000. The job paid well. I also had vacation days, personal days, sick days—all kinds of days that I got paid for not working. That was something I never experienced as a self employed remodeling contractor. 

Besides that, my Planet Whizbang mail-order business was taking off. After nearly 20 stressful years, the Hard Days were behind me. Making enough money to keep the bills paid was much less of a concern.

I put another small addition on the back of the house when I was working at the prison (you can see it below). It gave us some much-needed breathing room in the downstairs, and I finally got to the siding over that bare plywood. 

The next three pictures show the house now, in February of 2017. The two sides visible from the road currently need repainting, but at least they are done!

As you can see, I still have a lot of work to do on the back of the house. These days my biggest problem is time and energy. Since around 2010 the mail-order business has provided for our financial needs like working in the building trades never did, but the business does require a lot of my time. And my physical capacity for getting things done is diminishing with every passing year.

Nevertheless, there is a period of time, in the early spring, when the weather gets nice, and the mail-order volume is seasonally low, that I have time to focus on the house. Last year, I finished a much-needed re-roofing. This year I will endeavor to finish the cedar siding.

The plan now is to get that house ready to sell. The plan is to continue to save as much money as we can. Our objective is to build a retirement home in two to three years (I will be 62 years old in three years). 

A simple ranch-style home with an attached garage, will do. And a small barn for the mail-order business (our Dream Home is now part warehouse).

Another option we're seriously considering is to purchase a house in the nearby small rural village of Moravia, NY (6 miles away). That would be a big adjustment but we're trying to make wise forward-thinking decisions, and there are some definite plusses to living in a small village when you get up in years.

We love our Upland Dream Home, but it has served its purpose, and we are now ready to leave. 

I don't know if we ever actually will leave. A lot of things have to fall into place for that to happen. But we are ready. 

If we do leave, we will still have an Upland presence, as we own a separate section of 16 acres of land up here. There are personal and strategic reasons to hold on to rural land, and I've discussed them numerous times in my writings over the years.

We'll see what develops. Stay tuned.


This concludes my series on Building Our Upland Dream Home. If you have not yet read the whole series, CLICK HERE to go back to the beginning.


  1. Thumbs up!!!! Delayed gratification takes lots of self control!

  2. I want to say: Don't leave! Don't go! Nothing will ever replace your life and memories in this amazing place. But you must choose where you want to be and where you want to exit this world. Personally, I would rather die face-planting in my garden soil or sprawled on the floor of my kitchen. I know where my soul is going and I'm so blessed to be in my spot right here and now. (Thank you God!) Everyone needs a in your spot.

  3. We are about to sell two pieces of property. One is the house where my husband raised his son. He's been living here more than 20 years. There was a fire in 2006 and he really put a lot of himself into rebuilding it and choosing how it should look. But it really is time to move on. And we are also looking for a place to retire. I want to garden, even if it's a small place. He wants to be by the ocean. We'll see how it works out.

    1. Teri—
      I wish you and your husband the best as you try to figure out what to do.

  4. Hi Herrick, I can empathize with you about the bare plywood for long periods of time! Been there done that so they say. I can understand why you are looking at a smaller ranch style home at the age of 62. But the thought of leaving your blood, sweat, and tears, built home would be, and is much more than I could ever contemplate! I was born in this house, lived here for all of my life except the 20 years of military service, and this is where I will croak. Two of my grandmothers, two g-fathers, my Mom and Dad all passed on from under this roof, and I have every intention of carrying on the tradition! This house is on three levels,Up, Down, and cellar, stair accessed and might be a problem getting from one to the other later on in my life, but all those previous folks managed to do it without benefit of operations on knees and hearts, and fancy drugs like I have had access too, so it just will be 'suck it up and get it done'!

    Anonymous above stated my personal feelings to a tee as to where I wish to return to the earth, Sprawled face down in the onion patch!

    But in the mean time, onward and upward! Waiting for a calm day to open up the bunker cover, cut it in half and get in into the High Tunnel, edges tucked under and the mini squares placed and staked. Am in the process of adding a root cellar on the north side of my barn, It will be cement block construction on a footing, 4" concrete floor and about 12 foot square and the 6' shed roof top about 2' below the present turf level. I have about ten sheets of 5'x 10' galvanized that I can use for a "roofing" cover and then the dirt back on top of that. A kind of "soddie" if you will!

    Would you be able to continue with your gardens and farm activities in the new location if in fact you did move? I cannot conceive of not having some sort of garden to putz about in!

    Take care my friend and don't do anything rash!!LOL

    1. Hi Everett—
      You have a unique history in your place, and it's a great story. I'm not leaving the community where I have put down roots—just seriously considering a different housing arrangement around here that is more comfortable and better situated for us and my home business.I'm also thinking of my wife after I'm dead and gone. She wouldn't be comfortable in this place alone. Whatever the case, I'll be seriously gardening for as long as I am mobile, which I hope will be a few more decades. Many of the village homes in Moravia have substantial backyards. People in "town" used to have horses in a stable behind their homes, and many of the barns are still there. We aren't rash people here. :-) Decisions are made slowly, and usually after a long period of waiting for things to fall into place. Your root cellar sounds great!

  5. I imagine that the Biblical patriarchs learned much, even after a couple hundred years of life. Ah, for the luxury of a redo button.

    You present a good story - told simply, humbly & honestly.


    1. Thanks, mc.

      If I had it to redo, I would get more land back in the beginning, so I could situate my house further from the road, and have room for a barn. Things are pretty tight here.

  6. Sounds like you got an itch yer havin' trouble scratching, my friend.

  7. Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
    At 60-years-old, my hubby and I still have big dreams for our acreage. I have no desire to slow down; even though I am because of age and physical condition. Things are more refined around here, so less to do; but less than a whole lot is still a lot! We have to keep our dreams for this place, it keeps one younger. As they say, "A body in motion, tends to stay in motion". I won't give up on our dreams the Lord has given us here.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      You shouldn't give up on any dreams. My dreams are just changing to accommodate the realities of age, family, and finances. You have two years on me. We're still young, but I'm realizing my limitations and trying to make wise choices in light of them. Everyone's situation is different. Thanks for the commnet.