Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Hick, a House, a River, a Pug, a Family, a Really Nasty Old Pickup Truck… life in Smallburg...

I would like to share the view from my front porch, in the first week of September, shortly after we moved into our new home:

Yes, if I sit on the steps of my front porch, I see a hay field.

I live in town.  That is a fact.  Am I okay with this?  Y'know what, I am!  I can see a field and trees.  There's a river close to my house, and it's surrounded by crop fields because it's flood plain, and there can't be any buildings.  To get to our house, you'd have to cross one of two bridges, because of the river on one side and the train track on the other.  It's like an island.  The other end of our street eventually ends up at a dirt road.  This is as country as you can get and still have fast internet.

Best part of all?  My husband shares this home with me.  And our two younguns, one working for a living and getting her business going, the other here on weekends while he's in college.  And the Pug of course.  And a lot of music gear.

It's been a loooong time with him working in the city while we lived on the farm.  We're out of the city.  We are no longer commercial property owners in Toronto and couldn't be happier about that.  He still has to drive in to do recording quite a bit but generally he's working from home.  We have just unloaded a huge amount of stress.

Technically, we live in town.  I have less wide open space - unless I focus on that flood plain field across the road.  But even though the neighbours are closer, this place feels very private.  Our backyard is surrounded by evergreen trees and lilac bushes, but there's enough space that I don't feel crowded.  Well, honestly, even at the farm I could feel a little crowded.  It's a busy farm area and I could see like, nine other barns from the farmyard.  I'm just kinda weird in the way that I don't want my neighbours too close.  It's okay, though.  I see trees when I look out the window.

But the house… wow.  May I brag?  I have to.  I waited six years to get my own house.  I love this house.  Oh my gosh.  I love the high ceilings and the 105-year-old woodwork.  I love all the old-house mysteries.  I am more amused than annoyed at the slant of the kitchen floor.  I love the front porch!  And the back porch!  And the flowerbeds!  I love the cellar with ceilings high enough for my men to stand up straight!  I love the four bedrooms!  I love the little yellow bathroom!  I love the pocket doors downstairs!  I love the super creepy attic with the prohibitively steep narrow stairwell!  I love the front room with the landing and dark stained bannister on the stairwell!  I love the side entrance with the cute 70s panelling with little foxes and deer on it, where I keep my barn clothes.

I just realized that my house has three staircases.  Geez.

It turns out this 1910 house and the much older farmhouse have a few things in common.

The farmhouse has this quirky stairwell and landing combo, where you can walk up a few steps to the landing, then either turn left to go upstairs, or go down the steps on the other side, and you're in the bathroom.  This house has a quirky stairwell and landing combo, where you can walk up a few steps to the landing, then either turn left to go upstairs, or go down the steps on the other side, and you're in the kitchen.

Another commonality would be old plaster walls held together by wallpaper.  The farmhouse has some uniquely bumpy walls.  My house has some obvious lath board under the plaster but I like it.  Half my house has been drywalled.  Which is fine.  There might even be insulation in those rooms.  That would be different.

Here's one more: Neither of these houses were built with heating ducts going to the second floor.  The farmhouse, which is probably older by several decades, gets abused by the north wind all winter and to keep from seeing our breath at night, my parents had baseboard heaters installed in the 70s.  Our new house only has one, in the bathroom.  Luckily, I had 20 years of growing up cold and the kids have survived six years so I think we'll be okay.

Oh, one more thing that the two houses share, which I love: ripply glass windows.  I will not replace them.  I'll get new storm windows on the outside but nobody is going to take away my old windows.

So as you can see, we moved to a different house but it's like it was just waiting for us.  It has so many things that I am familiar and comfortable with.  It has very quickly felt like home!!!

Obviously, moving to a place with streetlights instead of a solitary yard light has been a difficult adjustment.  Not gonna lie.  I used to have a bedroom that faced 20 acres of field.  I loved living at the farm.  I love the farm.  I mean, you've seen the pictures.  It's fantastic.

This was my view from the bedroom window at the farm.  I could see my garden and the field and the road and the other neighbour's field and the other road and then the other field and then the forest and some more field.  That was AWESOME.  

Want to see the view from my windows now?  I'm so lucky.  So, extremely lucky.  

Here I am going down my beautiful staircase to the window...

Oh look.  TREES!!!

Looking out the bathroom window, over the little shed (which will eventually become a legit studio to work in) and what do we see?  MORE TREES!!!

I walk out my back porch, and here's what I see: LOTS OF TREES!  And my extremely run down old Honeybadger of a pickup truck.  

(that is a whole other story by the way.  We'll talk later.  I looooove my truck irrationally and unreasonably, but I'm facing some harsh realities and I think you can guess where this is going.)

So basically, I can forget that I'm in town.  This road is way quieter than the highway in front of the farm.  I only see houses if I look out the front windows.

The biggest difficulty is the fact that my new home is on a town lot and I can't keep my horses in my backyard.  That really sucks.  I'm okay with it because I've decided to be okay with it.  I love my husband more than I love my horses (Don't laugh! It's true!) So I live with him in "town" and go out to the farm every day.  I've had a few days when I haven't been up to it, but I have everything set up so my ol man can zip out to the barn and take care of things.  I love going out to the farm.  And the drive to get there from my house is GORGEOUS.

Here I am, too dizzy and weak to ride, so I'm playing silly little games with my horses.  Copper is so bored, eh?  

Here's a picture of my pony parade.  It's so convenient; I can exercise all three of them at the same time!

Moe is always up for some quality time.  

I seem to need a lot of breaks, sitting on the barn wall, relaxing with my furry friends.  

Dice is always waiting for me.  Every morning.  

I drive to the farm twice a day.  It's a six minute drive.  Seven, if I get the red light at the highway.  There have been a few days when I'm not up to it… I'm feeling much better but I still wear out way too quickly and my balance is wonky.  The thing is, I like being there enough to get in a vehicle and go.  I don't really get that much horse time and I haven't had the energy to saddle up since the move.  It doesn't matter though; I get to see them and talk to them and give them some good pets and hugs and forehead scratches.  They always seem happy to see me.  They are kind of overweight, and Phoenix looks kind of bored, but Copper is way more relaxed and Parker is just his regular adorable cuddly self.  They are my equine therapists.  They do my heart and soul good.

As do the barn cats.  They are always waiting for me to show up -- at the grass beside the lane now, instead of the door of the house -- and I can't get anywhere without carrying a cat.  I have to.  I walk with a purring cat under one arm.

And, believe it or not, my parents are happy to see me!  I often go in after cleaning up the barnyard to chat with my mom.  My ol man acts like I never left - I'll be in the garden and he'll stroll up and start a conversation where we left off the day before.

So what about my dog?  Dobby is happy!  Within a day he'd figured out the difference between "home" and "the farm" and Grandma is really happy to see her "grand-dog".  Yep.  My bigger problem with taking this little country dog into a home in town is that he barks at everything.  Every leaf, every bug, every pedestrian.  I'm not sure if he's hyper vigilant and serious about guarding us, or if this is part of the adjustment process, or maybe he just has some extra barks in him that need to come out???

He got the hang of the smaller property well enough, but after the first week sort of tested his boundaries.  After I chased across two back yards and yelled at him to GIT HOME he has not tested his boundaries.  Poor guy.  He used to have pretty much free run of close the three acres.  Now he's got 50' x 115'.  No wonder he has to check and see how far he can go.  There isn't any fence budget so for the time being he'll have to just behave himself.

We sort of have a recording studio in our house instead of a living room/ dining room.  It's temporary.  Please stop snickering, yes I do know that temporary usually means years but I like having the work right inside the house.  He was gone so much for so long.  Ask me in eight months how I like it and I probably will be very ready to move the studio into a nice little tin shack in the backyard, but right now, this is good.  He's got a 10-step commute from where he makes his coffee to where he works.  It's nice.

So, generally, life is good.  Not perfect, but if life was perfect I'd be very nervously waiting for something terrible to happen and balance it out.  For the last month, I've been puttering around my house, unpacking things, moving things, cleaning things.  Reading and resting. Going out to the farm and taking a minute to soak up the view.  I haven't been writing much, but it'll come around.  It's in me and it'll come out.

Next… Well, I'm truck shopping.  I'm accepting it but I'm not happy about it yet.    This will be like parting with an old friend and we'll discuss it when getting excited about the project.

Know what else is coming up?  MY TENTH BLOGIVERSARY.  Should we have a party?


jules said...

I love your outlook on your new Home! I love old houses, and the quirks of yours just thrill me.

PAAAAR-TAAY! Heck yeah, a housewarming party seems to be in order. You throw such good parties Heidi.

I'm glad you're feeling better. Purring cats in your arms is always a good thing, as is several horses to snort over you. You've got the best of both worlds.

I'm proud of you. Keep it up.

Paul Tee said...

Heidi: I’m very glad to read you are settling in. The characterization of your new place is intriguing, and got me to compare my “heritage” farmhouse with what you describe. Actually the only thing heritage in my place is its age, built about the same times as yours. Nothing fancy, just a working farm house, without any extras.
I like the woodwork, the bumpy walls held together by wallpaper. Did you know that the old plaster was often mixed with horsehair to give it fiber strength? I love the fact that you have a porch front and back and that you have trees around you. But I’m sad about you old warhorse, looks very beat-up and forlorn.
I’m sure that given time, the annex will be transformed into a viable studio for Jethro to work in and you’ll get the living room back. I think a celebration is in order.

Ellen Ross | Ask Away said...

Omg look at the horses! Looks so awesome!
XO Ellen from Ask Away

Anonymous said...

can't wait to see the place real and up close like! so happy for you. you deserve this!
Biddie xx

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