Wednesday, December 12, 2012


My house is old. It is not Victorian old, or 1920’s old, which may have lent it some class, it is just old. Built in 1978 it clings valiantly to a steep hill, facing upwards as if looking where it had been and hanging on by sheer will power.

I love so much about it. It is surrounded by tall trees. Oaks, poplars and maples surround the property creating a cozy green hued nest. Flowering bushes have been strategically placed over the years to try to create some kind of permanent screen between me and the closest neighbors under the canopy. In the spring a riot of fuchsia and violet ring the back while white dogwoods and stunning pink Japanese magnolia blossoms adorn the front. In the summer hundreds of lilies and iris and Asiatics flower along the borders inviting hummingbirds and butterflies to stop and stay awhile. 

The ivy and honeysuckle wage war against my trees and I fight them every year. Ripping out their tenacious vines, pulling them off of my trees and away from my house, cursing them at the same time I breathe deeply of their scents and marvel at their beauty.  The fall is heady with roses and gardenias, the Indian summer days of a Georgian autumn making their aromas heavy and permeating. Birds and squirrels fight for the best nesting spots, both of them crowded in due to the disappearing forest in this now busy corridor. I have an overabundance of both, the racket they make is ridiculous sometimes, the squirrels pelting my house with acorns and the birds singing on the porch rails.

The house has huge windows in every room, a lovely fireplace and is cozy and welcoming…to a point…
My kitchen is hideous, smaller than the walk in closet of most new houses being built. Counter top and cabinets seem to have been forgotten entirely during the design and construction and just tossed into a dark corner as an afterthought. When I first moved in it had the original green and gold linoleum and blue and gold wallpaper. I shudder at the thought. When I move an appliance now and see the linoleum I stifle a scream at the reminder of what it once was.

The bathrooms are ridiculously small and all three bedrooms are the same size. The closets are tiny, 2x6, and had lost their doors long before I claimed them as my own. The living and dining room combo (how easily being here allows me to slip into the 70’s vernacular!) does not have a single wall without doors or windows or fireplace and so arranging furniture is always will it fit, not will it look nice.

All of these things worked for me for years because it was close enough to walk to stores and banks and bus stops. My children walked to school which allowed them to participate in activities that this car-less mother could never say yes to before moving here. They hated the walk, hated the schools, hated the neighborhoods because they were contrary children who did not realize that while far from perfect this house allowed us to live a much more normal life. As they grew up and out and made their own way the house did not become too big and empty, it became Mom’s House. I babysat when I could, I entertained in my beautiful backyard, I joined a gym I could walk to and visited the newly built library and settled into a lovely existence. I laughed when I heard the term empty-nester, wondering what in the world did we do all of this for if it isn't to see the children fly away?