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Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Quaint, Quirky House

Credit: author
a rambling house

Welcome to our house. We love kids, animals and plants but watch out! Don't trip over the dog laying in the hallway.

The kindest description for the house where we raised our nine children, would be quaint. Picture a sprawling, two-storey house built in 1886, with all sorts of quirks. Three sets of steps converge on the upstairs landing as the result of creative home renovations. A window became a doorway to a hundred-year old addition which then needed its own set of three steps before anyone could get through this new doorway. Someone with an odd sense of humour cut a 4 ft 10 inch high doorway to the babyroom, squeezing it under the slanted roof. (When I walked into this room in the pitch dark, I banged my forehead against that door frame every night for the first month after we moved in). That doorway needs another set of three steps off the landing to reach the threshold of the bedroom. Logically, the two shortest people in the family shared this bedroom.The most absurd design feature, though, is the fact that there are six doorways leading out of the formal dining room and another six to the outdoors.

The bathroom, added in 1949 when a local farmer installed electricity, is so tiny that the tub is not even 4 ft. long. I must have a sadistic streak because the times I have laughed the hardest concern my husband and this bathtub. Once I stumbled upon him wedged in the tub with his knees drawn up, trying to keep water off the floor as he rinsed his hair with a princess shower head. I laughed so hard that I ended up on the floor. My husband did not even smile.

Laughter is usually my weapon of choice against the irritations life throws at me but is difficult to laugh at our shallow well which dries up continuously, forcing us to get a truck load of water from the neighbouring farmer. The toilet water pump is in the barn, surrounded by hay bales but still manages to freeze in the winter. We employ ingenious methods to thaw that pump but when it doesn't work we pail in water from an old fashioned pump ourside.

I simply must whine about one more irritation. If you plug two appliances in at the same time in the kitchen, the power shuts off and I resort to sending a kid running down to the cellar to turn the power back on. (I do mean a cellar, with huge oak beams and 2 ft, thick stone walls). That cellar is home to three freezers stocked with our home raised meat and vegetables are kept in the cold storage room. The kitchen pantry is tucked in under the stairs with shelves and old-fashioned hooks to hang aprons and cloth bags of flour, rice and sugar.

The decorating theme of this unusual house is Early Childhood Art and it is everywhere, on the fridge, on cupboards and walls. Too many plants add to the sense of colour the eclectic combination of furniture is at least comfortable. Generations of former owner, who were all full-time farmers, believed in 4 inch spikes for building barns as well as hanging pictures, So those 4 inch spikes dictate where mirrors and pictures hang because they refused to come out of the old plaster.

The list of quirks is even longer long but it all adds up either to frustration or comedy and we choose to laugh. Yet we also love this quirky house with its thick, pine plank floors, wide wood wainscotting, original door knobs and engraved hinges and stained-glass window.

Now into this absurd house, picture eleven people living in five bedrooms with bunk beds, 13 dressers and huge trunks because half the bedrooms have old-fashioned hooks on the wall but no closets and there is no linen closet. Organizing the clothes and belongings of eleven people is not an easy task without proper storage. I should not have to explain further except to remark that I once lost a grade one reading book for three months in a dress-up bin. You can surely picture the chaos as I madly flung socks about in a 3 foot high wicker basket full of unpaired socks, trying to find a pair or two to throw over the banister to a child rushing to pull a coat and backpack on before running down our long lane to catch the schoolbus.

This is the scene for all sorts of mix-ups, and mayhem, many of them cause by the house itself. I reacted the only way possible,I laughed. Our laughing transformed that house into a very, very fine house with two cats in the most comfortable chair, a dog that tripped visitors by the door, goldfish on the counter and a guinea pig that squeaked for food every time the fridge opened.



About the Writer

My husband and I raised 9 children on a hobby farm and discovered fulfilment and joy.The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. My writing is humourous and heart warming/ thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it.
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4 comments on A Quaint, Quirky House

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By riginal on November 04, 2013 at 04:27 am

how many houses you got girl? Mother your house sounds wonderful! It will never fall down due to the foundational structure composed of love and cemented memories entwined to create a HOME not a house. Sounds like the best home for rearing respect and responsibility.Away from the maddening crowd? The diminished height doorway was installed so that burglars would knock themselves out if they ventured to pinch one of your happy kids.Not one of your kids disappeared now did they? I rest my short doorway supposition. My brother and me lived in a mud hut, dad's beekeeping equipment attracted mice but hey they liked playing scrabble. Eleven kids,two died, were reared in a house built of concrete by my dad,he used to work all day then pour when he got home. Had to downsize recently due to various people, now they don't like the other house although it's got a panoramic view of the mountains 4 mins to town. May be moving into a granny flat.But if i do i'll lay there hunched shoulders and dream of your house as it sounds like the stuff they're made of. You mansion living celebs eat your heart out. Oh, and think of the exercise the kids got tearing down into the cellar to re-ignite the electricity and the intermittent power you saved. Yep mother the stuff dreams are made of. And i bet the seasons can't wait to visit and share your stories. Cheers girl. ps: has that chookhouse got air con yet? Nah...spoil the ambience methinks. The patina you have described speaks for itself.:>)

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By riginal on November 04, 2013 at 04:43 am

I forgot to say, i downsized...You know some people shift a lot, using the excuse "too small,too big, didn't like the neighbours.If YOU don't like them or rampant animals you can shout at them or try to through 2' walls. They won't hear you and thus it gives you time to reflect on your words. Not many of us can afford that luxury...cheers.

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By melanie jean juneau on November 04, 2013 at 05:41 pm

I just might have to quote a couple of your phrases like "It will never fall down due to the foundational structure composed of love and cemented memories entwined to create a HOME not a house." love your comments and your unique sense of humour

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By riginal on November 04, 2013 at 08:59 pm

one day mother when my ship comes in i'm going to buy you 20 years of 24/7 pre-paid electricity.This may come as a shock,but there is a trade off. You'll all get obese through lack of cellar exercise. That good looking uni daughter of yours. What on earth do they teach them? Tell her i said to bring home the enormous unused 'electricity' between her and her boyfriend as a sign mum and dad comes first,power to the parents. Honestly, uni students these days seem to get a kick out of leaving their parents broke and in the dark! Maybe it has always been that way and we didn't see the light? Been watching those two 'picker' guys tramping/driving across Canada picking across the picturesque countryside on tele. So much like Austlalia. Listen mother, if those two pickers knock on your door in search of old rusty relics tell them you can't be bothered selling your hubby as he's been trained to run back and forth to the cellar. cheers.

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