House Lust

My name is Margaret Dilloway, and I have a problem.

I want to buy a house.

Not just any old cookie-cutter house. A grand house, like this one for sale in Minnesota:




Yes, it’s in Minnesota. It snows there, I hear. But look at the newel posts! The original doorknobs! THE TURRET! I’ve always wanted to live in a house with a turret. It has 5 bedrooms, too.

Its list price is $189 K for 4,872 square feet. The average list price around here (no matter what the San Diego averages tell you) is more like around $450 K for less than half the square footage.

The town looks cute, I think. There is a Japanese grill and a coffeehouse down the street. How bad can it be? We can build snowmen. We can go caroling with the neighbors, who would surely all be uber-friendly ’cause it’s the Midwest. (I bet they are, too).

Besides, with all the money we’d save on the mortgage, we could afford to travel to warmer climes!

Oh, that pesky matter of jobs and relocation. Who cares? It would be like living in a dollhouse.

But realistically, we are not moving to Minnesota.

Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved imagining I live in one of these beautiful old houses. I love the stately homes of places like Savannah, Georgia. One of my favorite aspects of visiting Jefferson, Texas for Pulpwood Queens was admiring all the old homes. There’s even a book about them.

I also like to fantasize about living out in the country. Best cast scenario: a dollhouse with a lot of land. I love the blog Chickens in the Road. The author, Suzanne McMinn, brought her children to live in an old farmhouse in West Virginia. She describes the tightness of the small community, how her children are doing things outside in the natural world.

My kids eat sandwiches sitting in apple trees. They jump fully clothed in the river if they want to. They skate on frozen creeks and they know how to pick a hoe out of the shed. They know what a low-water bridge is, and how to set a turtle trap. We don’t worry about burglars at night but raccoons.

It just seems like it would be a healthier sort of lifestyle, to raise animals and some food. I imagine my children being forced away from screens to the outdoors, to take care of animals and help with the gardening.

It would probably be a better lifestyle for me, too. Often, I have trouble sleeping. I know I rest better when I have a lot of physical activity and less screen time. It seems to me that humans were meant to live in a way different than how we live now. We sit too much. I wonder what it would be like to not be able to hear your neighbor sneeze or yell at their kids. To have some breathing space. Quiet, except for nature.

I know I tend to romanticize such plots, but I can’t help it. The pictures are lovely and romantic and there is an awful lot of delicious baking going on. So I force myself to think of what the pictures aren’t showing. Picking up all the animal doo-doo. Flies and mosquitoes. Utility bills. Then I chide myself for being a wimp. Then I chide myself for not being realistic.


I should have my next character live on a farm, which means I should try living on one, which means…oh, I’m getting ahead of myself again.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

5 thoughts on “House Lust

  1. Loved this! I always wanted to live in a cute quaint house or on a farm but that hasn’t happened yet. I grew up in a city and these past few years I have wanted a more simple life for my family,wanted to be closer to nature so we moved from a very big city on the eastcoast to a much smaller town in Tennesse and I couldn’t be happier to be surrounded by lakes.farms and the beautiful mountains and rolling hills.

      1. We wanted to give our son a better quality of life and we have always wanted to move somewhere in the South(because we have heard how people are more friendly and life is lived at a slower pace)!My hubby has a friend who lived in Nashville so we visited in January and fell in love with the surrounding areas of Nashville and Tennesse so we decided that we would just start our life over here,so that’s what we did!!I did a ton of reasearch before we located here and we visited twice before deciding that we wanted to call this place home…
        It’s funny though because when I read your book it made me want to visit Japan and I could so see myself living in the places you described…I am that with so many places that I read about or see pictures of(like the picture of the house you posted)..

  2. You know, Oregon is a lot like Minnesota, minus the snow, though it is available there. Cheaper by far, lots of lakes, fishing, trees, beautiful coast, desert, mountains with snow, on and on. Check it out – houses like that picture and small, very cool communities. I had an enormous garden. Great cities like Portland and Eugene.

  3. This makes my heart ache. I lived in rural WI for 10 years as a child. The house was a Victorian and better built than any I’ve seen since. I now live in the desert in Tucson AZ and am so unhappy. Snowmen and snow forts are a must in any child’s life.

Thoughts? Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: