Friday, September 28, 2012


On September 27, 2012 Old Wire Road sold to lovely creative couple. They seem to genuinely appreciate the unique beauty of the place.  We wish them luck with the next adventure on OWR. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Farewell Old Wire Road

First, a brief history of Old Wire Road, the Blog:
When Cymande and I began this blog (in 2006 and 2 years after moving here) our intention was to share our experiences in the rural South with our family and friends. The National Health Service Corp directed us toward North Central Florida and it was a strange place to live to after Cape Ann, Massachusetts. When we looked at homes around Lake City we felt ambivalent until we drove down Old Wire Road.  The name, length, dirt, and canopy of  live oaks was intruiging and romantic. The drive south down OWR seemed to bring you back several decades. The old farm house needed plenty of work, but it also had a southern-ramshackle-gothic appeal to it.

We quickly realized that adaptation was going to be a challenge.  We had moved far from our comfort zone.  The ocean, that we could see from our apartment in Gloucester, was now an hour away. The Florida heat was unbearable and the cold, surprising. The food was barbeque or a chain or a barbeque chain. The culture: frankly, we were horrified by this place and planned on moving the moment our three year contract with the NHSC was up. It seemed no one shared our beliefs and the level of social conservatism was actually threatening (Dick Cheney was enthusiastically received at the Lake City Rodeo grounds and we had to remove our Obama stickers due to hostilities directed at us). People are fundamentalist with their religion (in a humorless 'you-are-going-to-burn-in-hell-for-eternity' way). People causually litter (excuse me, littering?). People drive around with offensive bumper stickers and occasionally monsterous confederate flags. I've heard all manner of racial slurs in and out of the pediatric office (I actually recieved a short essay from one of my teenage patients that apologized for his use of the n-word and how the confrontation changed him). Until someone lives in the rural South they just have no idea what it's like (both the good and bad).

We've also met many amazing, open-minded, intelligent, independent and lovely people here. We've met hunters that have a profound relationship with the land; they care about the stewardship of the remaining forests as much as we do. Four Rivers Audubon is a great group of people and we never spent enough time with those folks.

The natural environment was the protagonist and antagonist at OWR. There have been natural disasters: hurricanes (4 our first year, a week without power without a generator, showering in the roof runoff), prolonged droughts, huge forest fires, several tornadoes and we even had a small earthquake. Aside from the extreme weather, the Southern landscape with its spanish moss, huge live oaks, longleaf pines and numerous springs has been a joy to explore and discover. Ichetucknee Springs is amazing (without the often obnoxious Summertime tubers). The fields and forests around OWR are full of life that we rediscovered every season.

We work/worked with a great group of people that are devoted to the health care of underserved children and families.  There are countless stories to relate here, but I would be breaking federal law if I went into detail. I can say that over the years I have attempted to save a patient's flea/mange infested dog at 11pm (I'm not qualified, the dog died and I was bitten), pulled large parasitic worms out of diapers, and advised patients after they paged me that the best option would be be to "leave the smokey bar with their infant," and that "No, I don't know what humidifier you should buy"(at midnight while they call from Walmart). There are countless stories like these.

Then, there was the self-discovery (or self-distraction) via the remodeling an entire cracker farmhouse and creating a home to raise children in. Of course, conceiving children seemed easy enough in theory, but it turned out to be an unplanned adventure that Cymande beautifully and humorously documented on her infertility blog. Then, raising children seemed easy enough in theory, especially since we had been practicing general pediatrics for 6 years. Moss and Giles have presented us with tears of joy, temporary insantity and every derangement of the psyche in between. 

The people of OWR helped us survive and created the place.  Thanks to Charles for providing art, music (we jammed), labor (constant scolding) and serving as manny (male nanny).  We had a good run (nihil est sanctum).  Allison was/is (forever) OWR's biggest fan and if we ever felt depressed over our isolation she made us feel lucky to be there. Ross visited regularly and finally brought his family along and stayed during the brief 'Airstream Casita-phase'. Gio commandeered OWR periodically and left a trail of empty wine bottles. To Chantal, Jenn, David, Soleil, Ron, Robin, Lara and so many others that have come through, we thank you for being part of OWR. Thanks to all our friends that visited via the blog; we felt like you were here too.  To our family: Connie, Lee, Anthony, Faye, Shannon, Tobias, Kira, Lucas, Chris and anyone else I'm forgetting: thank you, you made us feel loved and provided support when we most needed it. We were so lucky to have all of you plan vacations at our home in the middle of nowhere.

When I began this blog I challenged myself to post at least monthly with something interesting to read or look at. Now, we are at 120 posts and well over 13,000 views (I know, some sites get that in an hour).  I'm proud of the views because they are mostly from friends and families that are genuinely interested in what we were doing out here. Though we also have a sizeable number of people that end up here looking for a photo and information on (in descending order of hits): 1. Giant Intestinal Roundworm.  I'm glad I could gross people out over the entire world (many of the hits coming from SE Asia) 2. Sam Rivers. Sadly, Sam passed away this year, but I'm so happy that Cymande got to see him and that Giles and Moss got to attend their first concert in utero. 3. Hyphema in the Infant. Our personal experience with Giles' hyphema has helped many healthcare providers and parents that have gone through a similar strange experience (He's completely recovered by the way). I never enabled commenting on the OWR blog due to my inability to keep up with comments and my avoidance to engage in political/ethical commentary about minutae. I wanted OWR to be a combination of humorous anticdotes coupled with a little pastoral beauty. It worked sometimes. Sometimes, I got a bit political (out of horror and frustration), and other times I got absurd, and finally, there were gratuitious baby photos (but I aware of this and that makes it OK, and besides, they are cute as hell and I love them so much, right? the answer is 'yes').

What's Next?
We moved to the Duckpond in Gainesville. Things are different. Over the past 8 years on OWR we literally had one neighbor introduce themselves. People driving down OWR strangely defied the 'friendly Southerner' stereotype by refusing to wave.  Our last week even included an episode where our neighbor of 8 years yelled at Giles, Moss and myself for looking (yes, looking) at her cows.  I suppose people isolate themselves in the country for a reason. Now, we have neighbors coming to our new house, stopping us in the street, introducing themselves and generally being very friendly and accepting. There are childeren everywhere.  There are men with long flowing beards riding skateboards. We saw a man on a recumbent bicylcle being towed by two harnessed dogs chariot style. There's all manner of quirky authentic weirdness. Downtown Gainesville, two parks, the Thomas Center and a pond with ducks and geese are outside our front door. There are even chickens (we tried to bring two of ours but they were too obnoxious, we are looking into a quieter breed). The boys are starting in a new Waldorf-esque school.

Recently, we were at the park and talking to a new mother about living in the Duckpond. We told her our story about OWR and how we wanted a community, less isolation and more access to cultural activities. She told us it was her dream to move her family out of the city and have a small farm in the country.  To this common dream of urban dwellers we say this completely without irony "been there, done that...".  Who knows, we may do it again someday.

But for now, here we are: Duckpondia.    

However, before we post we must unpack.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sunday, March 04, 2012

How To Buy a Home in the Duckpond

We are leaving Old Wire Road. It has had its highs and lows and everything in between. We re-imagined, rewired and re-plumbed our old cracker house and in the process made an unforgettable home.  We made friends, we lost friends, we lost chickens, dogs found us, we took care of the natural flora and fauna on our 13 acres, and most importantly, we had Moss and Giles. As our boys grow we look to their future. We have carefully considered the beauty and peace of OWR on the one hand versus the academic and cultural opportunities of Gainesville on the other. We briefly flirted with a home in downtown Haile Plantation, a planned community, but quickly reestablished our values after deciding it felt too "Oryx & Crake-y". Since then, we have only looked in the historic Duckpond neighborhood.  

1930's Spanish Colonial #1
The hunt for a new home began in November with some ambivalence and foot dragging on our part.  We looked at this home a couple of times. It was really nice, but it had some problems: the roof leaked in places and there was a crack clear through one of the walls. Someone bought it before we really were motivated to make an offer. It sort of slipped by without much effort or emotion.

1920's Cracker Home
This was an interesting overpriced option that we made an offer on. The offer was reasonable, but we're not sure it was ever considered. The gatekeeper was a architect that seemed to fashion himself after Dirty Harry. He spoke in whispers and peered out from behind his glasses with a disconnect that you might expect from a medium-level drug dealer. He didn't effectively make eye contact. Let's remember that he was trying to sell a termite-eaten home that needed to be entirely rewired, re-plumbed and needed a new heating/AC system (probably 100k of restoration work). The Dirty Harry of realtors whispered, "No, your offer was not accepted." O. K. dude...

1930's Spanish Colonial #2
This was a sweet home with a guest suite out back that seemed like a real possibility. It was overpriced, but we made a reasonable offer. The owner was excited. She was ready to deal and was motivated. Then, she uttered the fateful words,"Let me talk to my accountant" and then "let me talk to my parents." Within the week, the house was taken off of the market.  It seemed like it might happen and then it didn't. It made us a little sad and frustrated.

We'll call this the "Batshit-Insane-Tenants-Control-the-Homeowners" House
We weren't even interested in this house, but it was next to the Spanish Colonial above and so we decided to take a look. Except that the tenants don't allow the house to be shown and refuse to answer the phone. We were told that "we could walk around the outside of the house." This house was taken off the market within a week of our inquiry due to the uncooperative tenants. Can anyone say eviction? 

 1930's Georgian, Ready for Wallpapering
So, this is the nicest house we have looked at. It has been kept in immaculate condition. It's right on the Duckpond and a short walk to the Hippodrome. We made an offer. It has been accepted. We have started to imagine a life here. Now, we are just waiting for the closing date. Lastly, embedded in the concrete slab at the end of the driveway you might be able to see three little numbers: 666. Obviously, this is our house. Is it legal to keep a live jackal within Gainesville city limits?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

February Burn

We finally conducted a controlled burn of the field. It went well, but unfortunately I couldn't be there to watch the Forestry Service do their work. The large longleaf pine must have burned spectacularly since the bark is blackened nearly to the top.

Moss in the swing. Daddy on the drums.

The live oaks survived the burn nicely with only the lower branches being affected.

Giles wearing his mother's vest in the pre-burned field.

Moss and Giles survey the aftermath from the comfort of their new 'wagon.' Gone are the days of a simple red Radio Flyer wagon. Now, there are about 10 different wagons with several options each. I tried to just buy a metal red wagon, but the marketing experts are pursuasive and the twins have weakened my defenses. Here, Moss and Giles ride in all the luxury that makes the 'Radio Flyer Comfort Wagon' worth every extra dollar. Sort of.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Liquidation Via Ebay

Manu Katche Drum Kit
As we continue to simplify and streamline our life we are letting go of things we don't use, don't need or can't bring with us on our new adventure. Some things are easier to let go than others. Easy to go was the drum kit. Though fun, it was neglected and well, I have not the time nor natural ability to be the next Stewart Copeland. Or Keith Moon. Or Clyde Stubblefield. So, off to Minnesota it flew.

Cutmaster Acetylene Torch and Regulators
These were easy to let go of. 15 years ago I spent my days off welding in a Cape Canaveral garage. As strange as that may seem, it pales in comparison to the widespread interest and bids placed upon this torch and regulators. They now reside in Colorado.

Selle Italia Flite Trans Am Saddle
It always seemed masochistic to sit on this seat for more than 2 minutes. I know all the cyclists of the world will resoundingly inform me that I'm not in proper physical condition to accomodate its needs. No. Kidding. I probably will never be in the type of condition that this saddle requires. I've stripped my old bike down to it's parts and each piece is being auctioned off.  This is still active with 13 watchers and 40+ views. 

This holga meets polaroid camera had a pleasant life with me but, I never fully adapted to its finicky needs. The toxic fixative that you need to apply to your developed photos must be the stuff that caught the Cuyahoga River on fire. A woman in San Diego was quite excited by this beast. I wish her luck.

1966 Airstream Caravel
I thought I would be sad to see her go, but the Caravel's departure had the opposite effect on me. After six years of home restoration on OWR and a year of sleep-deprived fatherhood I decided to take on the restoration of a beautiful 66 Airstream. Clearly, I had completely lost my mind. We went on two trips and the Airstream performed wonderfully; I did not. It was supposed to be a way for Cymande, Moss, Giles and myself to go on family trips. It was the perfect size for the four of us. It turns out the two trips we went on were frought with domestic peril and drama. It brought out the stress and insanity of twin parenting. It was the object that most represented my inability to relax, to be present and to enjoy life's simplicity. One recent Sunday it drove away to northern Georgia. It looked beautiful driving down Old Wire Road and into my past. I see a family-sized tent in our future.

Tiffany & Co Elsa Peretti Silver Bean Necklace 
It was a graduation present (grad school) that I purchased for Cymande in Boston. This and the matching earrings set off a bidding war that brought it almost to the price you would pay at Tiffany. There are many other items for sale as we continue to liquidate our possessions. This is in preparation for a move to Gainesville. I know that is big news and I delivered it as the fourth sentence under a picture of a necklace. What will happen to Old Wire Road? That is a perfectly good question that we may answer in the near future. Doors are opening. I have a new job with Pediatric Cardiology at UF. The adventure continues. We'll keep everyone posted. I've been thinking  though: will the blog need a new name?    

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011: Roses and Simulated Snow, Not Stinkhorns.

Moss and our 2/3rd ornamented Christmas Tree.

A few days before Christmas the morning sky turned our field pink.

We started a new family tradition this year: Christmas Eve at Stephen Foster State Park.

The bell tower.  When you heard a Christmas tune via the largest set of tubular bells in America it could only mean one thing...simulated snow.

Simulated snow seemed to be comprised of one part water, one part air and one part dishwashing detergent. This didn't stop countless children from gathering around the faucets while they were covered in a sudsy simulated snow flurry.

The boys were content spending Christmas morning in the bed of their grandparents pick-up truck.

Our chickens are looking plump and healthy.

A new pile of sticks in the field.  This reminds me of the hay bales found in the salt marshes along the North Shore of Massachusetts.  

Moss and Giles at Alligator Lake.

On Christmas morning I went searching for the traditional Christmas Stinkhorn (see previous Christmas posts), but I found none. So this year the Christmas rose will replace the Stinkhorn.

Santa  brought the boys a cardboard box house which arrived in a large cardboard box.

We had our traditional bagels and lox Christmas breakfast. 

Grandpa, Moss and Giles read Ferdinand (their favorite right now).

Candies from Brockton, MA and bread from OWR.

Moss examines a beetle. You can probably hear him say 'Bug!"

Giles exploring the field.

Moss under a live oak. Get it? Moss under a live oak...ok, it wasn't that clever. Merry Christmas to all our friends and family. It was the best ever...

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