Here you’ll find a memorial to our house and garden. I know the word ‘memorial’ makes it sound like there’s a eulogy involved and burial in the works and in a way I guess that’s true. When we walk away from this home, it will be the end of part of our lives that has been truly enjoyable. We finished raising our kids here. It’s our family home right now. So there is intense sadness that comes with the idea of parting with it, no matter how excited I get about being on a boat in some remote area with fewer people. I hope that when the time comes I will be ready to leave my house and garden. Some days I feel ready, sometimes I just want to sit and cry and run my hands gently over the concrete counter tops. But leave them I must if we’re to have our adventure at sea.
I do tend to get attached to houses, believing as I do that they have consciousness of a kind and that we do more than simply live in them. We become a part of them, and they are a part of us. They offer shelter and keep us safe and comfortable, not unlike our boat, Moonrise. Our house is a 1964 rambler on almost 3/4 of an acre. I drove past this house for years thinking ‘That would be such a pretty house if someone bought it and fixed it up.’, never dreaming that someone would be us. This house is solid, built at a time when good wood was plentiful and houses were built to last. When the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually earthquake hit in 2001, with the epicenter about 1/2 mile from our house as the crow flies, this house didn’t budge. The only evidence that there had been an earthquake was a fallen picture in the kitchen. It had been leaning against the wall, not secured and it just slid down. Everything else was completely unharmed. Unlike so much in our world, this house feels like it’s here to stay.
When I say this house was a fixer, I’m not kidding. The only thing that didn’t need to be changed inside the house was the hardwood floor in the living room/dining room area. It was beautiful because the real estate agent knew that as soon as a ripe buyer saw that freshly gleaming hardwood floor, it would sell the house. Well, he was wrong, but it didn’t hurt. What sold this house was the way it felt. I walked into the house and it felt solid and ‘right’. This feeling was in spite of the poisonous fumes coming from the furnace, the cat urea piled up against the bedroom walls, the nicotine running down the wall in the bathroom, the hideous excuse of a greenhouse room built onto the outside wall to the master bedroom, the home owner’s special they called a family room extension, the lack of insulation or moisture barrier, etc. This was a house that needed a family to care for it. I had visions of a cottage-like gingerbready exterior surrounded by gardens and an interior with warm yellows, creams, and robin’s egg blue. Oh, the visions I had. I was practically psychotic looking at this house.
I do have a tendency to overlook the amount of work that has to be done to bring a house up to its potential. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. I completely, totally DENY the amount of time, energy, labor and money it’s going to take to bring a house up to my vision. (This bears thinking about as we move toward buying yet another old boat. What is WRONG with us? ) This is especially true since we do almost all of the work ourselves. I hate to admit this, but when we bought this house we had just finished an extensive remodel of our previous house; a project that involved adding a second story to the home. That remodel lasted approximately 7 years. We had a baby the day the roof came off to add the second floor. When we decided to move, our children had been living in a finished home for approximately 3 months. But that’s another story. We’ve lived in this house 12 years this July. We should be finished with the remodel right about the time we’re ready to move onto a boat and sail away.
This house definitely needed extensive remodeling, but the yard was almost raw. There was no landscaping to speak of. There were big, old Douglas Fir trees, the most beautiful yellow rhododendrons I’ve ever seen, and a large yellow tree peony. And not much else that was good. No division of space, no hard scaping, and miles and miles of hideous invasive English Ivy. In other words I COULD DO ANYTHING I WANTED TO DO WITH IT! So I created garden rooms; places for special plants and vibrant views; spaces with color and texture and form and fragrance. I created a garden for touching and sniffing, where birds gather to bathe and visit and I see fleeting images of fairies now and again. I built undulating garden walls and played with cement to make garden art and adornment. I built a pond and waterfall and raised koi, living pieces of art and color. Mike built me a glasshouse and helped me build paths to connect the spaces. If we have a part of our Creator inside of us, then this garden is a reflection of that divine inspiration.
You’ll find many photos and some memories on the following pages. We welcome your questions, comments, and concerns about our mental stability, or the plants you see in the photos.