Hat’s Off to a House
I tip my hat to this wonderful house that I live in right now. It just feels like home and as though it reflects my values and virtues and it has a wonderful history to boot!
I am attempting to include my gratitude for this house in my daily reflections and meditations, for I truly feel very much myself here and I enjoy taking care of it and how it supports my goals.
It had another life in another location, but was moved to the orchard of the farm house next door and set upon a foundation right on top of a bluff of rock. The owners moved in every summer after a day trip by wagon to bring all their supplies and children around the bay, across the river and up the hill in order to get away from the smell and heat of the mudflats; enjoy the balmy breezes that the bluff afforded. The owner’s business was running the Olympia Oyster Company, which is named after the very small and succulent gourmet oyster called the Olympia. That was in 1913.
A doctor and his 6 children were the second owners and they put in a shower in the basement and resided here until their lovely new house was completed on the other side of the bluff and near the Capital building. 650 square feet of space must have provided quite a challenge for so many people. The children tacked magazine pictures to the walls and showed off their hopes for lipstick and cars in the future. It also formed a record of what was popular at the time.
The doctor gave the house to a 5th grade teacher at the local elementary school, after her husband was killed at Pearl Harbor and she was left to raise 2 boys on her own. She added a back porch and jutted out the living room to add a fireplace and nook, and eventually took out the wood cook stove and added an electric range. The house had an old washing porch with a boiler. The latest gadget in the house was the telephone installed in the bathroom which in turn was the hallway from the kitchen to the two bedrooms.
We really enjoyed the nasturtium wallpaper on the ceiling of the kitchen.
My honey discovered the house at our engagement party which was held at the lovely farmhouse next door. It was nearly buried in blackberry bushes and over grown fruit trees and well hidden by a massive, unkempt hedge. It was truly love at first sight for my guy.
Now too, there was the Capital Building across on the furthest bluff, a beautiful lake and on a clear day Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Mountain range in view from the house. He wanted to encompass that view into the house and its future.
The School Teacher owner was now living in an assisted living center and she happily put our name on her long list of people to call if she decided to sell the house.
Almost 10 years later she called and told us that if we could muster a set amount of money in one month’s time we could have her house. We could have the house because our youngest child shared her birthday and she thought my honey had enough vision to make the house over into a wish she had always held for it. She wanted us to know that her father, mother and brother had all lived their final days in the house while she had taken care of them and it was a place for people to feel good.
Without hesitation we sold a contemporary passive solar house that was extremely sustainable and energy efficient; had a huge amount of space for children and our family to grow and on a very rainy 4th of July weekend we moved into our home.
One of the things I love about this house is that the whole family has done lots and lots of the work on the house – contracting out for some of the bigger items, such as the removal of the lathe and plaster walls which held asbestos, the addition of the new heating systems and plumbing. We all lived in the living room – bunk beds, twin bed, double bed, refrigerator, MW oven, claw foot bathtub and a port- a – potty out by the street. It was a tough several years that were crazy and fun at the same time. The greatest high light was after the windows replaced the east facing wall we were all awakened by the sun rising right out of the top of Mt. Rainier in a blaze of beauty.
We did not need a TV as building your own bedroom from the ground up was so much more entertaining.
That old washing porch is now my office and is full of windows and light. One entire wall holds my precious book collection and my desk is an old door transformed into a new life purpose.
The house keeps giving in so many ways. As I wrote in a previous post, cleft palate repair and the sometimes special tests that are needed are not covered by any insurance in the United States. Every time that our child needed another surgery or educational testing, we took out another mortgage on the house to pay for what was needed.
The breezes off the bay and the lake are channeled through the house and the window system to keep us lovely and cool on the hot days of summer. The orchard that is left provides us more than enough apples so that we can share our bounty.
The yard is full of flowers and we grow our salads and green beans. This year most of the green beans and pumpkins went to the deer, raccoons, possums, and other critters that abound. And oh my! We are truly blessed by the lovely birds that visit us and enjoy the trees.
And when the world is just too much with me, I can look out and be thankful for the lovely paintings of the natural world right outside.
This old house is filled with loving healing energy and I am so grateful to be able to spend time in this home and have a turn enjoying the beauty of its design and recall the stories of its transformation.
What makes your house a home? And what are you grateful for in your living arrangements? I would love to know your story.