Sunday, May 13, 2012


Remodeling your house in anticipation of selling, is a curious thing. Most homeowners fix what needs fixing, maybe paint, clean the place. Some refinish a room, or pay to have it done, or they would, if they still had savings, or they can access credit. Selling a house is always, I suppose, tinged with a bit of sadness; except among those perhaps who have taken the “home” out of house and replaced it with “investment.” I never imagined this house as any kind of investment, except perhaps in me, having a place to call my own, and land to grow food on, to expand and mature my skill set, and to sing as loud as I want, and dance as wildly as I feel like. This house and garden has been a kind of cradle, in which a profound transformation has taken place in me, the last six years. In which I have come to a considerably greater understanding of what and who I am, and the world in which I live. I love the place.

My intention, is to spend less than $3500 dollars, to transform the house in such a way that I would like to live in it, reflecting as much as possible who I am. I am doing all that work, using materials that are provided by others, or that I scavenge. There are three primary areas of transformation, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the sun room, which will receive full to nearly full make-overs. Keep in mind, this is primarily an aesthetic shift. I won't be adding cisterns, or stone bread ovens, or attached greenhouses. I won't be rebuilding the frame to accommodate larger and more south facing windows, or adding passive solar water panels, for hot water and radiant heating, or even insulating more efficiently. There's nothing particularly “peak” conscious about this remodel, but the house will look nice. That's important too, actually. I'll get into more about that in later posts, as the rooms progress.

My old kitchen, gutted. The sink was in front of the tar paper wall, with the stove in front of the pink insulation, in front of the sink. I don't think I ever took a picture of it, it was so ugly. The toilet happens to be there because the bathroom is gutted too.
My new under $500 kitchen, in progress

There has been more joy than sadness, as I've gone about the work of remodeling. Not that I don't want to stay here; I do. But I can't read a piece like this one by Ilargi over at The Automatic Earth, without acknowledging that credit markets are on the verge of epic failure, and mortgage debt starts to look a lot more like potential bondage, in an increasingly literal sense. I don't mind so much, the idea of being free and clear. Camping in the Minnesota Wildlife Refuge this summer and finishing Progress Interrupted doesn't sound like a bad idea at all.

Of course there is the impossible dream of actually living in this house that I am remodeling, and proceeding with all the transformations I envision, and am capable of. But I've been dreaming about that for four years, living in the shame of living on my father's dime, and I'm damn tired of that too. But those of my readers who are at all familiar with what I write about, what I have written about, what I have available free for anyone to read, may imagine that those words have isolated me somewhat, in this culture of epic denial. You think Jill Schmo in human resources at Z industries is not accustomed to googling the name of every potential hire? I did, when I was managing Monster Halloween. Found some astonishing information, on at least one person I didn't end up hiring, when I would have otherwise. What are they going to find when they google William Hunter Duncan? In service to the Goddess, what?

Perhaps it's best, if I just get rid of my cell phone and disappear into the wilderness for awhile. Not that I wouldn't continue blogging. Writing. Dispatches from the end of civilization.

I mean, it's 2012. Lets revisit that again, briefly. I don't believe Mayans ever predicted the end of the world, to come this year. I do think they fixed the winter solstice of 2012 as the end/beginning of their 5,126 year, long count calendar. The global economy appears to be teetering at the edge of collapse, the climate also seems to be spiraling out of control, or at least out of what anyone considers normal, perhaps irrevocably, and we are clearly at a plateau of oil production, and water consumption, which means no more growth, contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy. So you tell me if those Mayans weren't on to something? It also happens that 5,126 years correlates roughly, to the rise of patriarchal, command and control domination as a defining paradigm. What will define the paradigm of the next 5,126 year cycle?

Meanwhile, America is going mad, and about to go batshit insane. Look into this man's eyes. What do you see? I see a ferret's eyes. Now, the ferret is an impressive, noble animal. A fierce fighter. But you wouldn't be wise to put one in charge of the hen house. Indiana has seen fit to make this man their state treasurer, and they are poised to make him one of their Senators. If you think the will to violence to protect ones territory was bred out of Americans with high fructose corn syrup, corn fed beef and 24 hour media, you'd be mistaken. You can be sure, no ferret can have any intention but to loot nest eggs. Men aren't ferrets, of course, but we all model certain kinds of behavior. This man's rhetoric at least, is about eating the poor.

Looting the treasury of the nation, and nature, seems to be the name of the game, just lately. Top to bottom, both sides. Here in Minneapolis, we are in fact about to build a football stadium, with expanded gambling and about 350 million more added to the debt of the city and state. Meanwhile, the baseball team across downtown, with their hundred million dollar payroll, billion dollar owners and their fancy new public-financed grounds, are the worst team in baseball. I predict, Minnesota won't even finish building this new stadium, especially not if the financing falls apart, an unfinished relic to pick apart for scrap, while we're still somehow on the hook for the debt.

Where was I? Oh yes, remodeling. I presume if you read this blog, you are aware the home of Homo sapien sapien is in desperate need of remodeling. You can do the $30,000 kitchen version, with the super fancy appliances and copper this and new stone that, or you can salvage what has already been, and transform, with a close attention to detail, and a care for beauty.

But remodeling doesn't really work if you don't dismantle the existing order. And you have to have skills, to do the job right.


Luciddreams said...

kitchen job looks good man.

It funny, I'm also a bit jealous of your possible escape into the wild. Chris McCandless has always had a very large place in my heart. I've always wanted to do that but never did. I married and reproduced so now that is what life is about first.

You should go into the wild, just remember that Alexander Supertramp wanted to come back to society in the end. I imagine that kind of loneliness would get old pretty damn quick. Unless you wanted to find a tree to sit under until you found the way out.

William Hunter Duncan said...


I have no intention of escaping, or leaving society. The Minnesota wildlife refuge is in the midst of a three million metro. I'm just preparing for a time-out of sorts, if it should come to that. Renegade camping doesn't cost much. Write in the morning, hunt and gather in the afternoon, sleep at night. Enough money to supplement the food, with ample coffee, whiskey and weed, and all is well. Until winter.

trees-are-the-answer said...


William Hunter Duncan said...


Send me an email. I won't publish it. I asked the same, from an earlier comment, but I don't think you saw it.

John D. Wheeler said...

I agree with lucid, the kitchen looks really nice, especially for $500.

Going into the wilderness has been my plan X for a long time. (Don't ask me about plans Y and Z, you don't want to know, and I don't want to tell you.) It is my antepenultimate fall back plan, but I definitely don't want to do it if I have other options. Now, going into the wilderness with a Global Village Construction Set and a hundred good friends, that's a different matter....

William Hunter Duncan said...


If I had a few million dollars, I'd buy some land and start a village. That was plan A. Plan X is camping for the summer on the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers - but only if I lose my house.

You should blog about plans X,Y and Z.