Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Favorite House

The other day I decided to "Google Earth" my favorite house on Vancouver Island, et voila! there it was. This is the house where I have my happiest memories. It was quite a large house, but fairly modest, in a modest neighborhood. I believe houses can have spirits, and our house had a good spirit. I could feel it. Somehow, that house felt like summer all the time, and my memories of it are of the sun shining through the windows. It had a big cozy kitchen, a wonderful living room with a fireplace, and four bedrooms -- two on the main floor and two upstairs. My two older brothers had the rooms upstairs, and I was not allowed -- under any circumstances -- to go up there. My brothers kept me away by telling me there were spiders the size of dinner plates up there. It worked -- I stayed away.

My mother, who was a wizard at interior decorating, made the house into a beautiful home. We had a formal dining room, but no dining room table. So my father felled a pine tree, had the wood planed, and built a beautiful pine dining room table -- all with dowels, no nails. My mother painted the dining room forest green and on the walls she put botanical paintings of flowering cacti, framed in the same pine wood as the table. The sideboard and hutch had belonged to my grandparents, and my mother painted them off-white and then painted ivy growing across them. It was all done free-hand, and it was beautiful. I remember family dinners at that table, and they were always sort of raucous, with my two brothers regaling us with stories of their high school teachers. Their stories of Miss Ormrod the librarian were my favorites.

All of my friends lived in the neighborhood -- Barbara, Naida, Larry, Sonia, Billy, Joyce, Harry, Bonnie ... and so many more. We were free to roam the countryside, and we spent all our time outdoors, swimming, riding our bikes, exploring the forest. The boys taught the girls how to whistle through our teeth, how to do arm farts, how to climb trees, and all the other wonderful things that boys know how to do. Unfortunately, as we got older and realized we were different from each other, we grew apart. But for the time being it was an age of innocence, and a wonderful place in which to grow up.

The back yard was on a slope, so my mother built a rock garden out there, and it was filled with nasturtiums and all sorts of colorful flowers. The unusual thing about the rock garden is that it was built with petrified dinosaur bones my father had collected in the Alberta Badlands. I wonder if the rock garden is still there, and if the current owners of the house have any idea what those rocks are. Probably not.

For some reason, I have been thinking about that house lately -- I suppose because it was such a carefree time in my life. As I said before, the world of possibilities was still open to us, and we had no idea what life held in store. Life is such a mosaic of wonderful things -- and some not so wonderful -- I guess it is fortunate that we don't have the ability of prescience. Sometimes it is when we are at our happiest that the most calamitous things are just around the corner. That's when the gift of memory can take us back to a sunny afternoon.

I hope you are out there, making some wonderful memories.


jackc50 said...

my favorite house in the world is in southville,massachusetts where i lived from october of 1959 to spring of 1967. it was where my earliest memories came from. four bedrooms and one full bath upstairs and kitchen, dining room, living room and den downstairs. plus a half bath, a porch and a stone cellar that leaked water. it was heaven to me and the last time i lived in a real house. someday......jc

Linda S. Socha said...

What a beautiful post Jo. I understand those wonderful memories. Some of mine are centered around family with extended as both my Mothere and my Father came from large families

Jo said...

Jackc50, your house sounds wonderful too. I love a house with a porch. I'm glad you have good memories of it.

Linda, yes, I remember my grandparents visiting us in that house, and it was wonderful. That's what makes a house a home, isn't it?

Marcella said...

All sounds very familiar except I didn't have brothers, just a sister 8 years older. Love the cactus flower painting.

Canarybird said...

It was lovely and carefree living there wasn't it Jo. I also had Miss Ormrod in that school as our librarian! Goodness I had forgotten that name until you mentioned it. So your brothers and I went to the same school, although perhaps not in the same years. Cheers, Sharon.

Alissa said...

Thanks so much for sharing your memories of this home. I too have lived in a few different places over the years, and I found myself remembering each one after reading your post, but I think my grandmother's house (which we lived in briefly between houses) is my favorite. It wasn't very big, but warm and inviting, and it had a perfect yard with a large patio outback. Many a summer day was spent out there. With a child's imagination it became many wonderful places.

Leslie: said...

From what you've told me, you had a great childhood, like others I know. Unfortunately, for me I prefer to live in the moment and keep childhood memories locked in the closet of my mind. Life is good right now and I am relishing the moment. But you are very lucky to be able to go back in time and relive those wonderful moments. And I love to hear/read about them.

Deb said...

Your memories from your childhood home sound so lovely and peaceful and safe. My fondest memories were time spent at my grandmother's home in the city.

Marguerite said...

Such a lovely post, Jo.

Your childhood home and neighborhood sound a lot like mine, except we did not have a fireplace and our house was on the bayou. My Dad still lives in the house, so it is still a big part of my life.

Sounds like you may have gotten your creativity from your mother.

Miss_Nobody said...

Sounds like a lovely place to live,the garden sounds great!!

lovelyprism said...

Wow Jo, that sounds just lovely. It's nice that you have such fond memories of your childhood and your home. I would try to describe our house to you, but you'd never believe it. To this day, when I go to visit, I get depressed and cranky.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

Wonderful Post, very warm and thoughtful. You are right, houses have spirits.

Anonymous said...

Great sentiment.

Mary Ellen said...

I have visited the house I grew up in a few times since my parents moved out of State. There's something about going back to your roots to re-visit the past. I grew up in a large house, the biggest on the block--but for some reason, now it doesn't look all that big anymore. I loved it there, and often dream that I bought the house and moved back in. I guess that could be interpreted many ways by dream specialists...maybe I wish to return to "the good old days" when I hadn't a care in the world.

Thanks for the great post and jogging my memory back to days I never wish to forget. ;-)

Owen said...

Was wondering Jo, on the Google image are those train tracks running by the house, crossing the road ? If so, were they there when you were growing up ? What sort of trains use(d) them ? I would have never thought of trains on an island like Vancouver, but that's just my ignorance showing. Were there any trains at night going by ? Here in France we finally moved away from a house near train tracks to the lovely quiet little place where we are now... the freight trains at night got to be too much, the longer ones would rumble by for minutes on end...

~Brittainy said...

I feel that way about the house my grandparents lived in when I was growing up. I miss it so much

Brenda said...

Just curious if the house is still there, if you could go back to visit it? I know of several people who have done that. It always surprises me a little when the new owners allow them to, but I think it is really nice when they do. The house I lived in when I was small, was torn down right after we moved.
Occasionally I wonder how accurate our memories are. I wonder if you walked around in a house you grew up in, would it bring back memories more accurately.
I love the pictures you chose to go with your story.
I have been having a little trouble getting your blog to takes longer than some. Just curious if it is just my computer or if anyone else has trouble.

ivan said...

The house still stands, seventy years later, Standard one-storey, square, nearly windowless Ruthenian structure of plastered white adobe and a roof that had been thatch, but now in rot.
Nobody lives there anymore. but the house stands by the creek that used to flood and had often threatened the very edifice itself.
It had taken so long for my young father to build. A near stripling of a lad, he would show 'em...And he did. There it stood on its slight rise over the creek. It did not have tile or a tin roof, the very model of wealth in Ukraine; a peasant house, but not bad for just- turned- twenty and newly married.
"Marry Dmytro, for he has golden hands." Well, didn't he?
But a great war came and the machine gun and cannon shells would whoosh into the house. But the walls were thick. Though the roof burned, the house would not crumble or burn. It was made of very thick clay brick.

We had to abandon the house for the real fear of Communism.

My uncle went back recently to roport that the house still stood, empty "for they all had gone to Canada."
Nobody lives there save for an old hobo lady who begged she not be reported.
Would I dare to go back?

PhilipH said...

I've had over 20 different houses since I got married in 1958. Each of them has some memories of course but nothing outstanding.

In fact, my most memorable house was Mayday Road Homes for Children where I oft times stayed whilst Mother was in hospital. This was way back in the 1940s but I have vivid memories of living there, especially the big garden with its cedar-wood summer house.

My present home is, in fact, the place I've spent the longest time in. Some 16 years thus far!

Land of shimp said...

I didn't have a happy childhood, but I have a wonderful life now, filled with happiness. I always love reading about other people's though. I may not have anything of my own to add, but I'm always struck by how magical good memories of childhood are for both the people that have them, and the people that get to share in them.

When I first started reading your blog, I read quite a ways back, and was struck over and over by how much you loved your childhood, and your parents.

Thank you for sharing such nice stories. It really gives a lovely lift to the day.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

My dad was in the Navy and it seems like each year brought a new location. We lived in Norfolk, Va the longest, but every time my dad went to sea we went back to Georgia and then would rent a new dwelling upon his return. We lived with my maternal grandparents while he was away with plenty of friction between the two women of the house. Sadly, I don't really have fond childhood memories. I only hope that my children do, because some of my happiest memories are tied to being their mother. Not a homestead, though.

Dr.John said...

I'm both making and remembering.
The end of the story of James will be up tomorrow.
It sounds like you had a great childhood.

TC said...

I see my favorite house every day, it's the one I grew up in. My cousin lives in it, we used to live in it. My husband doesn't like it and my brother wanted me to have the "new" house when mom and dad passed away.

It's nothing special, it has no proper front door, well it does but no one goes into it, the porch where you enter used to be a screen porch so the floor slants, the bathroom floor used to slant too because it was part of the porch before. It is an old victorian farm house with a veranda, LOL, a curved porch around on the side no one ever uses, hardwood floors, chandeliers and funny windows and french doors from one of my aunts house remodels, an attic named after my brother (Bobs attic) which was above the room we called the nursery because they built it on right before I was born. Nothing special, it's impossible to heat, not easy to cool, the water is so hard it practically walks and it has a tin roof but I love it.

Jo said...

Marcella, I wish I could take credit for the painting -- but I can't. :-)

Sharon, oh, goodness, I heard about Miss Ormrod every night. She sounded like quite a character!

Alissa, there is something special about a grandparent's house, isn't there? I remember mine too!

Leslie, yes, you have definitely landed on your feet, and I'm so happy for you. And yes, my childhood was fun. :-)

Deb, I try to make some memories for my grandchildren too. I think it's important, isn't it?

Marguerite, the bayou sounds absolutely fascinating. I can almost hear the music when you say the word "bayou".

Miss No_body, yes, it was really lovely, for a modest home.

Lovelyprism, you get depressed and cranky when you go home? Omigosh, no! That's too bad.

Zillionbig, oh, yes, houses definitely have spirits, and sometimes they are not always good, either.

Book Pusher, thank you. :-)

Mary Ellen, I often dream that I am back in that house too. Maybe it is because life was relatively carefree then. Mom and Dad were looking after us.

Owen, yes, those are railroad tracks, but the train only went by a couple of times a day. I could tell some funny stories about those trains... :-)

Brittainy, yes, there is something special about grandparents houses, isn't there?

Brenda, I have been told my blog takes longer to upload. I should see if I can fix that. And yes, I think I will visit that house someday. Of course, it would not be the same.

Ivan, what a lovely story! I almost felt as if I were there when I read that. Dare go back? Maybe your memories of it are best.

Philip, wow! I had many different homes too, after my husband died and my daughter was small. Need and necessity, you know... I think it bothered her having to move a lot. I have been in my current place for 11 years.

Land of Shimp, I am so happy you have a good life now. I always hope that people who didn't have the happiest of childhoods will grow up to have wonderful lives. I was lucky in my childhood, and maybe not quite so fortunate in my adult life.

Kathy, yes, I think children who, for one reason or another, have had to move a lot feel sort of uprooted. It sounds as if you live in a beautiful place now!

Dr. John, I can hardly wait to read the end of the story of James!

TC, Omigosh, that house sounds wonderful! I can almost see it, just from how you have described it. I can't believe no one ever uses the porch. I would be out there all the time! :-)

Paula Slade said...

Lovely post Jo! I recently Googled my childhood home and had very similar memories! We also had a dark forest green dining room, and on the walls were oil paintings that were gifted to my parents from a physician friend who was an art collector. It is a point in life that I draw upon even today, which was sheltering, loving and peaceful - filled with beautiful memories; endless summers, and winters that were never cold but filled with the warmth of playfulness and innocence.

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