Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Good and the Bad About Living in A Big Old House
We've lived in our home here in the foothills for 29 years. The house was old when we moved in. It was in the days before disclosure and there were many things wrong that we found out after the papers were all signed and we were settled in.
Along with the house we took over a residential care business which meant we lived in and cared for six women with developmental disabilities. This was a job my husband and I loved and we did it for 23 years--until we felt we were too old to do the job the way it needed to be done and life became complicated. Hubby and a son got sick at the same time and our focus needed to change.
A few feet away from the main house is a guest house which has been home to many over the years. First to live there were my mom and dad. My dad passed away and my mom decided to move with my sister to Las Vegas.
For a short while, my middle daughter and her husband lived there.
Next to move in that house were my granddaughter, husband, and three kids.
Now the little house is occupied by my son, his wife, and another granddaughter.
Before they lived there, when that granddaughter was in grammar school she lived in the big house with us during the week so she could go to our little neighborhood school.
We had two grandsons living with us during the time we had our care home. One went back to be with his mom, the other we had from the time he was 11 until he was 20 and went off on his own.
And, guess what, we have another adult grandson--different family--living with us again.
Most of the time everyone eats with us, probably a good thing because I have no idea how to cook for 2 since I've cooked for eight or more for years. Daughter-in-law helps and she always cleans up after dinner. Because the dining area is big and we have a round table that seats 12, we host most of the holiday dinners too.
Whether having all these family members under our roof is a plus or a minus depends upon the day. (I'm kidding.) Actually, now that hubby and I are getting older it's kind of nice to have younger, stronger folks around to help out.
Over the years we've done a lot of remodeling: added car ports, extended the living room and built a bedroom and bath upstairs, did over the kitchen, and once our ladies had moved on to other homes, we changed a little sitting room into my office and did over two of the bedrooms the women used into one bedroom for us and modernized the bathroom. And of course we've had to fix all sorts of things from the water well to bringing in natural gas instead of using a wood stove to heat the house. (Yes, we did and what a chore that was.) We also have solar to cut down on the electric bill which has always been huge with so many people living here.
Besides the relatives who've resided with us over the years, we also have a resident ghost. Everyone who has shared our house has said so, some little ones insisted on sleeping with us rather than one of the many empty bedrooms we've had from time to time.
Doors open and close on their own, cupboard doors pop open, I hear someone come into the house and call out, but no one is there. Does this scare me? No. I don't think ghosts can hurt--only frighten if you're so inclined.
This has been a great house to write in. When we took care of the women, I had a small office in what used to be a sun porch. When the gals went off to their day program I wrote all morning while doing the laundry--something that had to be done every day. Now I have a larger office with lots of storage.
The first year we lived here, I received my first acceptance letter. I've belonged to the same critique group since my first year here. I'm known as Springville's author--a plus of being in a small town.
I love the area where we live--we're surrounded by hills and can see huge mountains which are still snow covered and will be for awhile. The Tule River flows right by us and we have a great swimming hole which all the family uses in the summer time.
My Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries are set in a place like Springville though I've renamed it Bear Creek and moved it up in the mountains another 1000 feet. People who live here recognize places I write about and love it. We're near an Indian reservation and I include it in the books too--though again changed the name to the Bear Creek Indian Reservation. Ever so often a Native American will come up to me when I'm at craft festival and say, "You're the lady who writes about us."
Yes, I love where I live--the house and the area--both have been an inspiration for many of my books.