Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Houses [Edited -- Again and Again]

[I realize this post has nothing at all to do with politics, and that's the way it goes these days. I was yakking with  some friends at a get together yesterday, and while they were eager to see Trump and his Trumpistas go down in flames, they were by no means enthused by Mrs Clinton's re-arrival to the Oval Office. It's just a dismal choice this year. Not the first time, nor will it be the last, but it is what it is. Of course what We, the Rabble think about all this hoo-hah is essentially irrelevant.

This post is about memories. In part, it's a memory exercise for me. As I get older, I feel as if my short-term memory is vanishing, and my mid- and long-term memories are turning to mush. It hasn't become a major problem yet, but unless I do something, it could be. So this post is an effort at clearing up some of my own confusions about a place and a time long ago and far away, yet formative to who/what I am now.

The real estate listing photos I've included have actually helped a great deal. I wonder how I might have proceeded without them....]

[Noting further: for the most part, I did the memory exercises to recall various aspects of this house and living here before I found pictures to illustrate these memories. The pictures helped trigger some additional memories, and then I would search for other pictures to illustrate those. In addition, sometimes the pictures (like that of the brown house below) would startle me with how closely they resembled my memory.]

From the Google Street View c. winter 2015

This house is where I lived during my adolescence and early adulthood.

It was built in 1957 and my mother bought it in 1962. As I recall, the price was $17,000.  She paid $500 cash down and financed the rest with a VA loan* at 4% [possibly 5%].  Payments were about $120 a month. Houses in this area currently sell for about $250,000 +/- $30,000. By no means high-end in this part of California. Closer to low-end.

[* Now that I think about it, it may not have been a VA loan, because she bought a house in suburban Los Angeles in 1954 on a VA loan -- and essentially walked away from it in 1959 on the advice of her real estate broker who said he couldn't sell it for what was still owed -- well under $10,000 at the time. I seem to recall that she couldn't qualify for a VA loan again after that, and she may have bought this house in 1962 on an FHA loan. But my memories of the transaction details were always spotty and incomplete, so this may have to be an unrecovered memory for the foreseeable future as it's something I was never all that clear about.]

I lived there until 1968 and returned to live there when my mother moved to another city to work in 1972. When she returned in 1974, I moved elsewhere. During the time I lived there in the '70s, I did some substantial repairs and renovations. My mother sold this house in 1984 and moved to a mobile home near my sister's place in Susanville. Her health was failing, and ultimately one of her granddaughters became her caregiver, staying with my mother until her death in 1987.

As far as I know, the same family has lived in this house since they bought it more than 30 years ago. Its appearance hasn't changed since they moved in. They painted it white, in contrast to the dark brown original paint job it had when my mother bought it and the (avocado) green I painted it later.

Below is a picture of another house in the neighborhood that has the same floor plan only reversed. I reversed the picture to match the layout of the house I lived in. Of interest to me is that this house is the same dark brown as our house was when my mother bought it. The owners of this house have painted the garage door white, but it is the original garage door. You can just make out the rectangular trim on the door. Similar trim is found between the windows on the front of the house.
A different house but the same floor plan -- reversed. The image has been reversed to match the layout of the house I lived in
In fact, I was quite startled when I reversed the photo, because the picture is now the spitting image of the house I lived in when we first moved in -- with the exception of the huge tree in front, the wider driveway, the white garage door,* and the modified window of the hall bathroom visible to the left of the front door.

[*Now that I think about it, it could be that our garage door was painted white (off-white) as well. The difference might have been that the trim on our garage door was painted brown. At any rate, when I look at the picture of the brown house, memory triggers are very strong. That is (almost) what our house looked like until I painted it green...]

The people who bought my mother's house made a few visible changes to the exterior besides painting it white. They put on a new garage door and replaced the windows and roof. I think they installed a different front door.  It appears from an overhead view that they remodeled part of the house by extending the living room into the back yard, much as I once thought of remodeling the house myself.

It's not a large house, only 1250 square feet. There are three bedrooms and two baths. There is a large living room with room for dining at one end. The living-dining room features a wall of glass anchored by a floor to ceiling used brick fireplace with a raised brick hearth. The ceilings in the entry hall and bedroom hall are dropped about a foot in order to allow space to run HVAC ductwork. This dropped ceiling effect is used as a feature at one end of the living room by the fireplace where there is what could be a lighting cove. In our house, there were no lighting fixtures in the cove, but in others of the same model there are. [Also in our house, the end wall of the living room by the fireplace wasn't paneled as it is in the picture below.]

Another house with the same floor plan

Showing the wall of glass and the dining area at one end of the room

Furniture in our house was arranged similarly -- at least at various periods. Change was fairly frequent during my residence.

This room is about 13x24.

There is another dining area off the kitchen. It was advertised as a "family room" but at only 10x10 or so, it was too small for much in the way of family gathering. Thus it was mostly used to host a table and chairs for breakfasts. In our house, the furniture in this eating area was Early American. There was a round table and four rush-seat ladder back chairs and a hutch which my mother painted and antiqued green. 

This is a different house of the same floor plan, and it shows the kitchen and the eating area pretty much as they were in our house:

This picture is interesting to me because it shows the kitchen with its original cabinetry -- refinished in this case to a light yellow from the natural oak veneer,  but still the original drawers and cabinets and hammered copper hardware. It also appears to be the original laminate countertops, the same pattern Formica as in our house. It's called "Skylark" though similar patterns today are called "Boomerang."

I have the feeling that the owners here tried to match the colors of the kitchen to the colors in the Formica countertops!

Another view of this kitchen:

And another:

When we moved in, our 1957 9 cu ft Coldspot refrigerator seemed tiny in the space provided. My mother bought a new Coldspot 18 16 cu ft freezer on the bottom frost free refrigerator but it still didn't fill the space. This owner filled it with a stainless steel side-by-side.

We had the same globe light fixtures once I changed the shades from the angular '50s models. The pseudo beams were also in our house -- they're in nearly all the houses in the development no matter the floorplan or style. The light fixture in the eating area was copper and brass "early American." The built in range and oven were the same in all the houses in this development too. General Electric pushbutton range-tops and single ovens with clock-timer. Ours were yellow, and I remember that other colors were in other houses: Turquoise, White, and Pink. Similar to this:

Difference (besides color) being that the pushbuttons were on the range top, not below it.

In every kitchen I've seen pictures of in this development, the range and oven were changed out mostly in the '70s or '80s when the appliances gave up the ghost and it was too expensive to repair them. I think ours gave out after 15 years, about 1972. The electric water heater in the garage also failed at about that time. 

If I recall correctly, the central heating failed at about 20 years, ie: around 1977.

To the left, high up on the wall, is an outlet. That would have been a telephone jack, and many houses of this same floor plan still show the Western Electric wall phone in that position. It was leased from the phone company. We had a beige one. 

There was no built in dishwasher at any time that my mother or I lived in this house. There was a space for one, but the appliance didn't come standard with  the house, and my mother had purchased a portable dishwasher shortly before she bought this place. So a built in was not a necessity. There was no garbage disposer, either, though she bought one and it sat in its box under the sink for years, uninstalled. I'm not certain, but I think it was finally installed when the sink was changed out in the '70s. But maybe not.

The original kitchen floor was stone patterned linoleum. I took it up and replaced it with vinyl-asbestos tile sometime in the mid-sixties (probably 1965 or so.) None of the kitchens I've seen recent pictures of have the original linoleum, and given the fact that ours wasn't even ten years old when I replaced it, it's likely it didn't last very long in any house in this development. The bathrooms had linoleum floors as well, sort of a grayish random speckled pattern. I guess it lasted better because I don't remember replacing it until well into the '70s.

The end of the garage nearest the kitchen had space for a washer and dryer, but there was no laundry tub, nor was there an exterior vent for a dryer. Exactly where to put one was a question. The closest outside location was directly into the house entrance area. We never really solved that dilemma successfully, nor, so far as I can tell, has anyone else with the same floorplan.

The floors in the other rooms of the house were oak, the standard hardwood flooring of the era. Now oak hardwood floors are considered very desirable and valuable, but at the time, they were definitely ordinary. When we moved in, we didn't have a lot of rugs and draperies and such to absorb sound and cut the glare from the windows, and I remember the house echoed with every footstep and sometimes the sun would literally blast the house with glare and heat. Eventually my mother got some cotton shag rugs for the living room and bedrooms, but there was nothing on the hall floor for a long time. Later, the cotton shag would be replaced with old oriental rugs which in turn would be replaced with nylon or polyester wall-to-wall shag -- a different color for each room. I remember the carpeting was green in the living room, long hall and one bedroom at the end of the hall. It was orange in the smallest bedroom and it was yellow in the master bedroom.

Curtains and drapes were added piecemeal and rather often changed out. I don't remember what was put over the windows to begin with, but I do recall one period when there were claret red velvet drapes on the living room wall of glass and cheery muslin plain or print café curtains on most of the rest of the windows.

The bathrooms were minimalist to say the least, and I have not seen any pictures of houses with the same floor plan that have preserved the original appearance of the bathrooms. Most have been "upgraded" similarly with cabinet lavatories and fancier mirrors and such. That's basically what I did to our bathrooms.

From another house with the same floorplan
Another view of the smaller bathroom in another house of the same floor plan, and this is closer to what the bathroom looked like in our house:
This photo has been reversed because the house it's taken from had a reversed floorplan

Very plain, as you see.

Initially, each bathroom had only a wall-mounted sink, a toilet, a plain mirrored medicine cabinet above the sink, a bent glass light fixture over the mirror, and a towel cabinet in the wall. There was a bathtub in the hall bathroom, but no shower. There was a tile shower in the master-bedroom bath, but no tub. All of the fixtures were white. The tile around the tub in the hall bath was blue. The tile in the shower was yellow.

Many owners, perhaps most, added a shower in the tub to the hall bath, but in doing so, they had to make some substantial alterations because of the size and placement of the window over the tub. Some blocked off the lower portion of the window, leaving just a high strip window. Others left the window as is (as you see in the illustration above) and did their best to waterproof it and the areas around it. Tile was run up from the tub (initially, the tub tile was only one row) to the area above the new shower, sometimes all the way to the ceiling. Though we thought about it, we never added a shower to the hall bath as the work involved seemed hardly worth the effort at the time. The curiosity was that the builder didn't put showers above the hall bathtubs. It would have been so simple and relatively inexpensive to do as the houses were being built. These houses weren't exactly cheap. But builders made choices, I guess...

A picture of the entrance hall and bedroom hall with oak flooring from another house of the same floorplan:

Another entry-bedroom hall pic from a different house with the same floor plan for comparison:

The hall bath is the first door on the right in the long hall. The next door is to a coat closet. The door next to that one is linen closet.* Next to that one is the door to the master bedroom. I had a picture that showed the doors on the opposite wall but now I can't find it, so I'll describe it.

First on the right was a door to the smallest bedroom, next to it was a door to the furnace**, then there was a door to the third bedroom. Needless to say, this hall was jam-packed with doors (7)! All the interior doors in the house were the same slab doors you see in the first picture above. That picture also shows the original hardware which was a sort of brushed copper.

[* ** Memory exercise again: As I was thinking about it and remembering this house, it came to me that I probably got two of the hall doors wrong. The third door on the left side of the long hall was actually the door to the furnace, and the middle door opposite was the door to the linen closet. The truth is that as I do the memory exercises, what is behind each of these two doors shifts back and forth. Sometimes I open the door and find a furnace, sometimes I find a linen closet. I think I will eventually settle on one or the other, but that time hasn't quite arrived yet. It's intriguing that I can't quite remember the sequence of spaces behind these doors, and that as I try to, the space changes between them. Hm.]

The front door was as you see in the pictures. Every house in this development had the same front door, a nine-light, cross-braced "country" door, no matter the exterior style of the house. There were three basic exterior styles: "country," "contemporary," and "Japanese." Our house was "Japanese" though it is hard to tell from the picture at the top of the post. The new owners didn't change the style at all, they just painted it white to obscure it.

The only difference in the front doors was that some had amber glass, some had vari-colored glass, and some had relatively colorless glass. Other than that, they were all identical. Ours had amber glass.

All the operable windows were single pane, aluminum frame casements, and were a problem from the beginning. The frames sweated in cold weather which led to moisture build up on the sills and that could lead to rot very quickly. The handles and cranks for the casements were made of pot metal which routinely broke at the most inopportune time. Replacing the broken mechanisms was sometimes more difficult than it should have been because the breakage itself could damage the frames. Therefore nearly every house in the development has had new windows put in, sometimes every 20 years or so. It is my understanding that when the new owners bought the house from my mother in 1984, one of their first objectives was to replace the windows, as most of them by then had broken cranks and/or handles. Some had broken glass as well.

The sliding glass door in the living room was also a problem. It ran on white plastic wheels, and sure enough, they would break at the most inopportune time. Ours did, and repairs were attempted. New wheels were put in, but they, too broke after a few years. Consequently it was difficult to operate the sliding glass door, and ultimately the whole thing had to be replaced.

Maintenance of these houses, in other words, could be a chore and could be quite expensive, too. Nothing seemed to last more than 20 years, and many of the appliances, hardware and equipment had to be replaced long before that.

The roof of my mother's house was originally cedar shingles. Some houses had cedar shakes which lasted a bit longer. Hers however started leaking after about 15 years, around 1972. Repairs kept it more or less functional until it was replaced with asphalt shingles in 1977. As far as I know every house in the development has replaced the cedar roofing with asphalt or composition shingles or shakes. A few replaced the roof with concrete tile. Makes sense for fire safety if nothing else. I'm sure that this house has had yet another new roof put on since 1977.

The three bedrooms were sized "small," "medium" and "large."

The master bedroom was approximately 12x16, not huge by any means, but big enough for comfort. This is quite a jolly version of that room:

When my mother lived here, this was her room. She furnished it with different pieces, but the arrangement was similar. She had an antique brass bed which was quite handsome, and she had painted and antiqued an unfinished dresser where the crib is in the photo. She had done the same with two nightstands on either side of the bed. I remember them with drawers, but cannot recall their size. I know the nightstand on the right side of the bed had an extension phone on it. At first it was a beige desk model leased from the phone company. Later it was replaced with a Princess phone. At the foot of the bed she had a cedar chest that had been her mother's so it probably dated to the 1920s or possibly before. In it she kept keepsakes of her youth, including silk dresses, jewelry, high school yearbooks and so on. Like the dresser and the mirror above it and the nightstands, she painted and antiqued the cedar chest to (more or less) match. There were tall brass lamps on the nightstands. A smaller milk glass lamp on the dresser was controlled by the wall switch by the door. None of the bedrooms had overhead lights. The closet, not shown in the picture, was on the right side of the bed and had sliding doors. Inside the closet was a hatch to the attic that I don't recall was ever opened or used.

This is a view of the closet side of the room from another listing for a house with the same floor plan (reversed). The room isn't in the best of shape but it gives you an idea of what that side of the unfurnished master bedroom looked like in our house back in the day:

The "medium size" bedroom was about 10x12. This version is in the same house as the first master bedroom picture above:

This was my room when I lived here. I had a double bed in the corner where there is a futon/bunk bed in the picture. There was a dresser next to the bed on which I had a series of lamps, one of which got knocked off the dresser and fell on the bed one day when I was headed to school. I didn't know it had happened until I got back from school, and the smell of charring mattress was strong. It didn't appear to have caught fire, but it must have come close. I don't know how it happened, but I suspect a cat did it. At the time, we had two indoor cats, a white one and an orange one. (Oedipus and Taffy) and both liked to get into mischief. My mother had left for work before I headed to school, and she got back before me, so she discovered the smoldering bed in my room. I had a desk and chair in the corner beside the closet (not shown in the picture). There were pictures and posters on the walls at various times, and I would change them fairly frequently. As I recall, the curtains were pinch-pleated corduroy. Beige? I remember blue ones, but I'm pretty sure they weren't in this house. Hm. Have to work on that memory and see if I can recall the curtains on this bedroom window.

The smallest bedroom was approximately 10x10, and we used it for a study during one period and a guest room during another. This version is also in the same house depicted above:

Because the use of and the furnishings in this room changed fairly frequently, I won't describe them in full. When the room was used as a guest room, however, it was arranged like this with a twin bed in the corner and shelves on two walls. There was also a low shelf-unit beside the bed serving as a nighstand. I remember there were lots of books in this room at all times, no matter its use.

I chose these pictures for illustration because even though the colors are quite different than in our house, the furniture arrangement (not the furniture itself) is essentially identical to that in our house.

Also, the way the sun comes in the windows is very evocative. That's the sunlight I remember coming into the windows of the two smaller bedrooms in our house. So I imagine the house has the same orientation as our house: northern front exposure (master bedroom, baths, kitchen); rear southern exposure (living room, two smaller bedrooms); hot-hot western exposure: breakfast/family room.

The houses in the illustrations have obviously been staged for sale (except for the one with the unfurnished master bedroom), but when our house was lived in, it sometimes had the look of a staged house, other times not so much. When it was cleaned up and spruced, it looked very nice, but just as often, it wasn't particularly clean or spruced.

My mother hated housework. Cleaning up seemed to make her angry more than anything else, so she put it off as much and as long as possible. And then when she did clean up, it was as little as possible. She told me that her mother had been "forced" to work as a house servant, but that didn't really mean much to me at the time because I didn't have any idea what a house servant was. There weren't any in my world, not until my sister hired a German woman, Helga, to help her take care of her large Spanish-style house in town and look after her kids. I hardly thought of Helga as a servant, however. She was more like a member of the family who helped with the chores just like any other family member would.

So it didn't occur to me until many years later that my mother might have suffered a kind of trauma over housework based at least in part on her mother's experience as a domestic servant. Until I saw my 'mother's birth certificate recently, I wasn't sure that she was correct about her mother, but there it was in black and white: her mother's employment is listed as "domestic." If that was true when my mother was born, and I suppose it was, the trauma might have been greater than I thought. Through research, I've found out about a whole lot of things that were going on at the time and for some time afterwards that my mother may not have known anything of, but which may well have affected her point of view not only about housework but other things as well.

My mother had a good eye for design and color and when the place was looking nice, which it sometimes did, it really looked nice. Like a modest show house.

When purchased, the house was five years old, though it seemed in some sense new. It was in near-new condition, and the lot was still pretty raw. The backyard wasn't landscaped at all, and there was no patio or deck in back, just a step off the sliding door into a muddy/dusty back yard. The only elements of landscaping initially in back were two scraggly fruitless mulberry trees -- trees that would eventually grow to be enormous. I laid a brick patio but when that proved inadequate, I built a deck that extended off the living room.

The front had a patchy lawn, box hedges along the front of the house and the side of the garage, an unnamed shrub near the sidewalk and a crepe myrtle in the front side yard. I did a lot of planting and landscaping when I lived there, and note with surprise and interest that the Japanese maples I planted in front are still there.

There was initially no shade at all. In the summer, the lack of shade caused the house to heat up on its west and south exposure, and in the winter the lack of anything to cut the wind and rain would cause almost as much discomfort.

Priorities included installing air conditioning and getting frames for shade materials put up over the window wall in the living room and the west-facing window of the dining area of the kitchen.

Central air conditioning was considered too expensive and luxurious at the time, so my mother had a handyman cut a hole in the west wall of the living room and install a heavy duty room air conditioner. With the use of floor fans it did a good job of cooling the living room and kitchen. Sometimes too good! For the rest of the house, a window air conditioner in the master bedroom had to suffice. It only worked beyond the master bedroom when the door was open, of course, so the other rooms tended to get stuffy and hot when the master bedroom door was closed. Fans and outdoor plantings helped, though.

I lived in this house only a total of 8 years if that, far less time than I lived in the little house in town that we moved into in 1988 and left in 2012 to move to New Mexico.

Every house I've lived in, however, has had a greater or lesser influence on my life. I can remember at least some aspects of almost all of them, even the ones I only lived in for a few months, even the very many places I lived in as an infant and young child. I've focused on this house where I lived as an adolescent because a lot of formative things seemed to take place there. And it was the place where I experienced "Coming of Age," as they say.

A big part of this post has been a memory exercise. As I get older, my short term memory has been vanishing, and much of my longer term memory has been turning to mush. By focusing on this house and my memories of it and of living there, I'm much better able to clarify time and events. Moving in in 1962 when I was 13, moving out in 1968 when I was 19, then moving back from age 24 to 26, finally to leave permanently after I'd done significant renovations to the place while my mother was living elsewhere gives me a much better sense of how I was and the world was -- if not an understanding -- than just going about my life might otherwise provide.

As I say, it wasn't a large or fancy house at all. It was a modest-modern home in a subdivision of similar modest-moderns, some of them a good deal larger, but all of them relatively simple in design and construction, with varied facades, but very similar interiors. One of the characteristic things about the homes in this section of the subdivision (there were three or four different sections built at various times from about 1956 to 1958) was the exterior variations in design, and it's clear that these houses were designed as opposed to just erected. They have character. Even though they are mostly around 60 years old now, they seem reasonably up-to-date. Most don't have an "open concept" nor granite and stainless and pendant lights in the kitchens, nor do they have many of the other features that are considered essential in 21st century housing design, especially on HGTV and its variants, yet they seem to my eye to be more than adequate for comfortable living.

Comfort. Yes, that's one of the characteristics of the house I lived in, though it took a while to achieve. Once achieved, it was not necessarily easy to sustain because maintenance became a major undertaking and frequent headache. As appliances and other things deteriorated or broke down, it was sometimes difficult or impossible to repair or replace things, and it was always expensive. My mother was by no means poor, but she bridled at having to spend so much so often to take care of this house. In fact, when I did somewhat substantial work on the place, she liked the results but she was appalled at the cost.

The repairs and renovations that I did in the '70s while she was living elsewhere cost a few thousand dollars, a considerable but hardly outrageous sum at the time, and to my estimation, they should have held the place together for at least another decade or more. But that was not to be. When my mother sold the house in 1984, its condition had deteriorated to such a point that it was basically uninhabitable. The heating didn't work, the plumbing was shot, the windows were mostly inoperable, there'd been at least one electrical fire, and on and on. By then, my mother's health was so bad, she could not take care of herself, let alone the house, and it was time for her to live where she could be looked after.

The people who bought the house, however, were undaunted by its condition and renovated it successfully. Basically, they rebuilt it -- at least that's how I look at it. They replaced the plumbing and heating, added central air conditioning (what a relief!), replaced or re-did the floors, replaced the windows, repaired the fire damage, re-roofed again (my mother had a new roof put on, but it was a cheap one and it leaked after only a few years. The new owners replaced it with a much heavier and more durable asphalt roof.)

They also did something that really surprised me: they expanded the living room into the backyard, essentially absorbing the deck I'd built and reorienting the room from long and narrow into a more large and square space. This was one of the renovations I had thought about and drawn while the much more modest renovations were under way in the '70s. It was remarkable that the new owners had actually done what I had only thought about and suggested.

I haven't been in the house since the mid-'70s, but my sister and her kids visited it after the new owners completed their renovations and they were very impressed.

You can see from the listing photos of other houses with the same floor plan that I've posted here that the house has a lot of positive features and potential, at least I think so.

And even though my adolescence was kind of rough, I've discovered that I have very positive feelings about this house and reminiscing about living there. When I see the pictures I've posted here, I get a very warm feeling about the time and the house, and it seems to be welcoming me again after all these years.

There were good times and bad, as I guess would have been the case no matter where I lived during that period -- as well as prior and later periods of my life -- but this house had a special spirit I think.

Interestingly, or maybe not, the place where I lived prior to moving to this house in my adolescence, a larger pre-war house in a fancy neighborhood, never felt like home to me. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, it just never seemed warm or welcoming.

The house where I lived the longest -- 23 years, for heaven's sake! -- was much smaller, and yes, built pre-war, but it was very homey, comfortable and welcoming. Obviously, I liked it because I lived there so long, and it is now the home of someone who seems to enjoy it just as much as Ms Ché and I did.

The house we live in now is not only pre-war, it's almost pre-20th Century. The woman we bought it from said it was built in 1900, though I think it might have been started a few years after that and construction continued until the 1950s. I long imagined living in an adobe house, and sure enough, here we are. It was partially self built, and so it has many curiosities and quirks. It's much larger than any house we've lived in previously, but it seems intimate and protecting -- despite the fact that it's not particularly weather tight, and when the wind blows in the winter, the drafts can cause quite a chill inside the house. But even that is not really objectionable. It's just something to deal with -- others who lived here had to deal with drafts and many other issues as well. And maybe one day the problem of drafts will be corrected -- I'm pretty sure how to do it -- but not today. We have corrected some of the plumbing... anomalies. Heh.

One thing that Ms Ché and I noticed when we bought this place was that there were "past-present entities" but no bad spirits here at all. I don't want to call these entities "ghosts" because that's not what they are. A more accurate term would be "little people" -- but they're not quite that, either. They seem most like animals or pets from previous eras, and both of us see them out of the corners of our eyes pretty much every day, and they're comforting, not at all hostile or threatening.

We have lots of animals at this place, a whole colony of feral cats outdoors, many many other creatures, including resident skunks that are mostly very well-behaved, as well. I think of it as a kind of refuge for the creatures and for us.

So St. Francis figures prominently in our devotions, if you want to call them devotions. He is patron saint of the creatures after all, and we have them in abundance. They seem to know they are welcome here. Some of our visitors understand the St. Francis statues and images outside and inside the house as representative of who we are -- and the welcome the creatures and people receive here.

I've been working on this post for a week or more, and I still haven't completed the memory exercises -- there's much more to remember about this house and living here, but it can wait.

For now, this will have to do.

[Editing continues as memories come back, however.][Further noting that I generally add or correct something in this post every day since the original posting. Memory exercises seem to release more and more information stored who knows where in my Swiss cheese of  a brain. It's as if no matter how difficult it may be to recover memories, they are there somewhere. They don't actually go away...]

1 comment:

  1. Memories can be such a wonderful thing. It is a lovely home that you have pictures of and your description makes me picture the home exactly how it was when you were growing up in it with your mother. I can picture the appliances from the '50's and how different it must have been before any renovations were done. Thanks for sharing!

    Earl Mark @ Eastway Lock