June 2013

Monthly Archive

Thirteen years…

Posted by on 20 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: environment, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, housefire, parenting, social justice, Uncategorized

Almost fourteen years ago now, the house was placed in the yard (September 1999). I planted trees in front and on the sides the following Spring. Flower beds in front the year after that, if I remember correctly. And gradually the yard and the home took shape. A few years into the process, I started recording the changes here, in the A Garden View page under the About tab.

Now, the house is being removed. Where there was a home, there is now only memory.

Memory, and hope. Monday morning, bright and sunny, the house still stood, but not for long.

Just before it all started...

Just before it all started…

And in the middle of the day… the roof gone, the interior exposed, the bulk of our lives in tatters.

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

And toward the end, the excavator in what was Matthew’s room. The remains of our lives together were piled high in dump trucks.

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

In a few weeks, with luck, we will have begun the process of rebuilding for real. We will have approval from the county, and from the bank, for a home that has more than enough space. We will have space to gather, to linger, to grow old.

the house elevations, as planned

the house elevations, as planned

I have a garden still, and that will have to do for now. Do the children understand how important it is that we have space for them? Do they understand how hard it has been, to work for so long, only to start again?

They are about to begin their own lives, and in the beginning when everything is incremental and one is responsible only for oneself, it feels much simpler. The idea that beginning now means we will be well past middle age when all this is resolved seems horrible to them.

It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We have lived through difficult times, and even now, thinking about a new thirty year mortgage it’s daunting. But we have made it this far.

The anchor of “home” will give us what we need to go a little farther.

my garden, and my darling Tom -- all that I need to be happy

my garden, and my darling Tom — all that I need to be happy

What I am “up” to

Posted by on 12 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, housefire, Uncategorized

Here is the post I made on facebook this morning:

Today is my first official day of “vacation” — the last almost three months have been hard; I didn’t work so many days that I would have (and might have), but they weren’t restful. It wasn’t even close to a “vacation” for me. It was hard work. I expect to still have many days like those… it’s not over and I am not where I want to be, but I am getting there. And the reduced stress over whether I could/should/must/can work will help. Now I can focus on my kids and the house. Now I can work in my garden and know that I don’t have to think about being able to walk the next day. Now I can make progress, and help my family make progress. Plan for today: laundry, sort through one box or item; repack a few textiles I managed to clean so I can put them in storage; pick up Matthew from the airport; spend some time with Grant. Yes, vacation will be good to have.

Almost three months to the day (this coming Monday), our old house will be demolished. It will make a huge hole in the landscape, not unlike the hole the fire left in our hearts.

And then, we will start rebuilding.

We have chosen a house plan, it will work “well enough” for our purposes, though I am sure there are other plans out there that would make more sense design-wise and energy-wise and cost-wise. But I didn’t have the luxury of taking my time and thinking clearly about things like this. The most thinking along these lines had been how to remodel our existing home… but the plan I have chosen is one that I am certain will allow me to “age in place” and while it doesn’t have the separate “game room” I wanted, or the privacy of a separate space for the other bedrooms (which is nice for visitors), it does have several things I felt important.

  • accessibility
  • radiant floors – had to fight a little bit for that, but it will be worth it in the middle of winter
  • an office for Tom, an extra room for me that I will let Grant have while he is at home I think
  • a big kitchen, planned for some expansion later with space for a wall oven and plumbed for a sink in a kitchen island later on
  • plenty of storage – will buy customizable wardrobes to put along the walls in the non-master bedrooms/offices, and there will be a garage, too; and the kitchen is so big… we will get some pull-out pantry units that are more space efficient than a walk-in and easier to use if mobility impairments happen
  • skylights – solar tube types in several locations, and two real skylights in the main living space that will open for venting heat in the summer; and a ceiling fan…
  • the living room looks out on the front yard and the lovely chestnut tree… and the kitchen looks out over the back yard and my cedar grove and the meadow
  • I can paint the walls — solid colors, patterns, murals… and there will be lots of light in the house from the windows, but not so much that we can’t still keep the house cool in the summer

There are more advantages, the single-car garage that we are hoping to be able to fit in will allow for some larger projects (like refinishing the damaged heirlooms with scorched wood) and then be a space for Grant and his friends to hang out. We’ll put an electric heater in there, and get some used comfy furniture so they can gather and be loud and have fun away from the main living space.

It will be MUCH closer to ground level, so I won’t even need to create an official “ramp” to the front porch. That will make it easier to get in and out when I am using assistive devices; and maybe some of my friends who haven’t been able to get inside will come visit!

It will look externally more like the houses in the neighborhood, which will, I think help the neighbors feel better about our place. I loved my yellow walls and deep burgundy trim, but in a world of brown, green and gray it was a little different… Still since we don’t have an HOA I might end up putting in some bright caribbean-inspired garden pieces!

And as the house takes shape and I get back into the garden and pull it into shape too (three months of inattention has resulted in huge swaths of waist-high grasses and weeds as tall as Tom), I should be able to start thinking about other things. Applying for jobs. Taking a couple of workshops (really excited about those, actually — the 2 Sisters have been recommended to me for years). Going through the storage locker to find little things I can use. Painting silk scarves (Mother and I still have to order paints, but I have scarves clean and ready to go!). Visiting with friends. Making jams/jellies/pies/cookies/juice/sorbet…

Many things to look forward to. Many things to arrange and do and be present for.

Today beckons. Matthew’s flight is near Philadelphia, Grant will be done with school in a couple hours, and I have plans for progress in the apartment. It’s going to be a good summer.