A home with trunk space
May 14, 2013
When world traveler Jacque Bromm decided to downsize, she was faced with a humorous challenge: How would her collection of 24 elephants fit in a more compact home?
With their raised trunks, elephants are reputed to be bearers of good fortune. While she was willing to compromise on the size of her living space, she was not willing to limit the power of the herd.
Retirement marks one of life's big crossroads and poses the question, "What next?"
Former Placer County Office of Education teacher Jacque Bromm answered that same question with flair and practicality. She opted to sell her larger home in Colfax and purchase a 1,025-square-foot cohousing unit at Wolf Creek Lodge in Grass Valley.
Its two-bedroom, one-bathroom floor plan has proved an excellent choice.
"I treasure the social interaction here," she told me.
"I can be as private or gregarious as I choose. Although I've only lived here for several months, I feel safe, supported and connected. Each element plays a vital role in our senior years."
Jacque's energetic lifestyle, however, would put many a 25- year-old to shame. An avid kayaker, hiker and runner, she's active in the extreme. She's also traveled to six of the seven continents.
Her adventures include kayaking in Antarctica, dog sledding in Alaska and many more — the kind many of us only dream about.
Sri Lanka is a destination she recalled with great fondness. In fact, that's where many of her 24 elephants come from.
Her future trips include exploring continent no. 7.
"While cruises may be a lovely way to travel, for me, they can wait!" she laughed.
What lured her to retire in Grass Valley?
"I enjoy the cultural diversity. With music, art, and tons of volunteer opportunities, I don't feel retired, I feel inspired and involved."
As an Empire Mine Park Association member, Jacque's looking forward to taking the docent training she'll need to lead the many school tours that visit Empire Mine State Historic Park.
Ticket to personal freedom
Living at Wolf Creek Lodge has given Jacque more time to explore new possibilities.
"My living space is just what I need. The kitchen, dining and living area is open, with a private balcony and a separate garage. I enjoy the layout, as well as the generous storage. Yes, I had to let go of some belongings, but I've kept the ones I love and use," she said.
Although there are 30 terraced-style units, there's a feeling of both privacy and relaxed energy.
"It's a good balance for me," Jacque confirmed. "I also was amazed when my January PG&E bill amounted to just $2.07."
Solar water heating, radiant barrier heating and extra-large windows for plenty of light are designed for efficiency and reduced bills.
Perhaps "exotic" is the best way to describe Jacque's style.
Besides the elephant theme in the living area, the master bedroom has a zebra/jungle theme — complete with a decorative mosquito net above the bed. The kitchen is bright and contemporary.
When I asked about the unusual quilt above her sofa, she explained that it is a compilation of T-shirts from events she's run in all over the world. While each unit is crafted for simplicity and ample day-to-day living space, there are plenty of guest rooms in the communal area.
"You can invite friends and family without extra work and worry," Jacque explained. "It's such an easy, flexible arrangement."
The communal area includes a large gourmet kitchen, where meals are created and shared several times a week. Much of the produce used is grown in the communal garden. There are plenty of activities, as well, such as bread-making, line-dancing, yoga and bridge. Outside there's a large barbecue for patio dining.
"It's impossible to live here and not be actively involved — both by agreement and by choice," Jacque added. "The 7.9 acres that surround us are beautiful. In fact, a quiet joy is to open my windows and hear the music of the creek."
Meeting Jacque and learning about her new lifestyle was upbeat and encouraging. It's good to know that we can keep our independence, our creativity (and our elephants) throughout our lives!
Courtney Ferguson has written home and lifestyle articles for many years, both in Nevada County and in England. Contact her at email@example.com.