Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving; My House

One of the other students at school asked me how things were going a couple of weeks ago. It was three days after I had popped myself in the lip with a pry bar, putting a hole through and through (does it count as iron intake if you're swallowing your own blood?), trying to get a piece of molding down in the kitchen. My lip was still swollen and hurt, and I was a little embarrassed by the glaring scab on my face. So I made some mention of being busy with kitchen renovations in my new house. He commented disparagingly about owning a house and settling down not being his "bag" so he really couldn't understand what I was talking about. Even though I know he thinks I'm off my rocker, I felt a little sorry for him. Home is a special place.

I'm settling into my new house. Nick-knacks are up on the shelves, and while I haven't hung any pictures yet, I know where they're going to go (need to get more anchors). The china cabinets are finally out of the dining room. Though now I've got unfinished spots on the floor that need to be sanded down and polyurethaned and gaping holes in the baseboards. But I'm slowly filling in the holes in the wall...slowly because it takes some willingness to get dirty to mix up the plaster of paris for patching said holes.

And the kitchen, whoa the kitchen! The kitchen used to have about eight square feet of poorly designed counter space. But with the exceedingly generous help of my uncle, I have a brand new kitchen with just a few more touch ups needed. This weekend we got all but the last cabinet installed...including a microwave!  Gotta move a gas line for the stove to get the very last cabinet in (yes, I'll be calling a plumber for that job), granite countertops need to be installed, and a tile backsplash and a coat of paint will finish the job. I'll have more than 30 square feet of counter space!! Whooo hooo! For right now, I don't even *care* that I've got contact paper-covered plywood for counters.

I should also have a working fireplace soon. I don't really want to go into the details of the ordeal that it's been to get it working again, but the chimney company has already sent out three crews, on four different occasions, and I've got at least one more visit from the owner of the company to look forward to before I can enjoy a crackling blaze behind the glass doors of the fireplace.

Every room needs to be painted, the drains for the shower and kitchen sink are slow to the point of frustration, the grass needs mowing (and has for the last two months), I've got at least one outlet that blows a circuit breaker if I use it, about half the windows need some sort of work and probably leak heat like they're open, and I still haven't seen into the crawl space because I can't get the access door open.

But I am thankful for my little house. It's comfortable. I won't say it's home yet, but I think it will be in another couple of months.

I've whined before about how much I've moved around in recent years. I know I'll be here for about four or five years, which is long enough to take my time with the needed improvements. So I'm not really stressed about the totality of the project before me, even if I get frustrated and overwhelmed sometimes by the details of any one portion of the overall task.

I can separate my satisfaction with my current situation into two parts, really. The first is just that I get to be in one place long enough to see more than one turn of the seasons here. I'm a big believer in a Wendell Berry-esque outlook that knowledge of a place is a good thing; knowing when the first leaves bud out on the trees in the yard, or when that particular window starts getting sun exposure, is important. It helps ground us, locate us on the planet, guide us when we're lost and give us perspective on things greater and lesser than our own individual outlook.

The second part is that I just really like the house. It's nothing very special, built in the 1930s and still standing. But with hardwood floors that finished up beautifully; a fireplace painted red; roses and peonies and a grape vine in the yard; radiators in each room; and a sun room that reminds me (very vaguely) of my grandparents' house. I don't know much about the last family that lived here, just that it was an elderly woman that must have passed away because her son was the executor that handled the sale. I've found random school pictures of relatives, maybe, tucked away forgotten in the back corners of closet shelves, and they left the coolest box-full of odds and ends, screws, nails, washers, hooks, pins, cords, just stuff, that have come in super-handy in the midst of so many projects. All the things they left for me was like a generous welcome into their home.

I've got grand plans for a garden and other yard projects, including lining the front walk with blueberry bushes, using the stump out back for growing culinary mushrooms, and pruning the grape vine to increase its productivity. I've already got pansies in the planter under the old Japanese maple in the front yard, rain barrels under each gutter, and a small herb garden outside the back door. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get an outdoor shower put in next summer. And my uncle just brought back my granddad's old push mower (thanks, Jan, for being willing to give it up). So when I do get around to mowing the yard, it'll be with a piece of equipment that's been around for a while and doesn't use anything but my own energy to make it work. I like that. And I'm thankful for it.


Victoria said...

We just got the keys to our new castle today! Went over and had a standing-up champagne party. It turns out that people we know well are only a few houses down.

I've never moved into a place that is so *clean*. It needs to have the popcorn scraped off the ceilings and the old carpet scraped off the hardwood floors, but if we'd wanted to, we could've moved in today and eaten off the floor. They left it immaculate.

Speaking of Wendell Berry and his thing I would like to do in the near future is to fling California poppy seeds all over so that in March, we will have carpets of liquid fire instead of the grass.

Congratulations to you, though! I'm so looking forward to seeing your house some time hopefully next summer.

Mom said...

I find it fascinating that we must make changes to the places we move into before they are "ours." That was true with the house in B'burg and the one here in Hawaii. Some of the changes here were what Charlotte would have had done if she'd stayed longer, but others, like painting, were because that's what I wanted to make it my home.

Enjoy your home, it is slowly becoming more that a house. Yes, something to be thankful for.