It’s been eleven years since I moved into my little house. It has changed so much, and that’s a good thing. I liked the location but not the house. It was vacant. I saw it three Sundays in a row. The third time I looked at it, I decided I could live there.
It was the valley oak tree out the kitchen window that did it, the tree that belongs to the neighbors behind me.
The house was small, just 240 square feet bigger than a third of the size of the one I was leaving. But what did I need a big house for? It was just me and my youngest, and the miniature Dachshund. Daughter would be off to college the following year.
The house was such a fixer upper that I closed my antique shop to concentrate on the umpteen issues I had inherited with it – broken freezer, broken stove vent, temperamental oven, hole in the hallway closet where the water heater had been, rotten cabinet under the kitchen sink, crappy dishwasher, crappy kitchen sink, etc. It took a year to get it all fixed.
The youngest left for her sophomore year of college, and her brother moved in. He had failed to launch from his dad’s. His sisters thought he needed a change of scenery. It lasted five months and then he was gone to a studio apartment. Somewhere in there, I babysat an incontinent Chihuahua while his older sister went to Israel for three weeks and left her dog in his care.
I sold pioneer outfits out of that house for five years, both to local kids and also to families across the country. I got a puppy in that house, right after I added 300 square feet – a big new laundry room, a third bathroom, and a sewing room, plus a new door out to the new hot tub.
My plan was to sew pioneer clothes forever. But then life happened. My sister needed me. I went to the Midwest to get her and bring her here to live with me. After a year, she had to go to a home where she would have 24/7 care, but I was glad I could get her health issues dealt with and to help her make the transition.
When I found out the local contractor was only two years from retirement, I recruited him to redo my kitchen and knock down a wall. The house was transformed into something way better than what I’d seen those three Sundays in a row back in 2011.
Now it’s the eleventh anniversary of move-in day. The old dog is in doggie heaven, the puppy is almost seven, and she has a roommate, a smaller crazy rescue dog with a big attitude.
The yard and house have been transformed, front and back, and it is now my house, through and through.
It takes years to make a house a home. It’s a work in progress with potential upgrade ideas still rolling around in my head.
And it’s still in a great location with wonderful neighbors who take in my newspapers when I’m not here and pick up avocados for me at Costco.
And my son has come back, and his little dog, too.