Leveled ~ by Sam


5/2/19

The Little Blue House (before sod)

The Little Blue House is gone.

Shane told me this evening, while we were sitting in the parlour, of our bigger blue house ~ the one that we own, and that we had painted blue, with white trim, exactly the way we wanted (even if the wall out front still hasn’t been painted to match, and the ironwork is rusting because some of it should probably be replaced).  He said it like it was just a casual remark, something you might say about any old place.

“So, the Blue House has been torn down.”

I think I asked him to repeat it.

The Blue House.  Our Blue House?  The Little Blue House?  Yes, he told me, he drove by, and there was just an empty lot there.  It’s been completely leveled. 

The Blue House.  The Little Blue House.  Our Little Blue House. 

Not ours, really, but…

It was the first house we ever lived in.  I will never forget the day Justice and I first saw it.  We were coming home from school one day when we happened to drive by and see a “For Rent” sign out front, so we decided to stop in and check it out.  We always loved visiting open houses, but we always knew we wouldn’t buy a house.  Not anytime soon, anyway.  But this house was for rent.  It wasn’t far from our little apartment, and there were three large trees out front, and a nice front porch, just like I’d always wanted.  The owner happened to be there cleaning up a bit, and he let us come in and look around.  Two bedrooms and one bath, just like our little apartment, but with a large playroom, and a paved backyard with a covered patio area, a basketball hoop, a fenced in-ground swimming pool ~ and a poolhouse that was divided into two separate areas: one for storage, and another that would make a nice office space.  It was too perfect.  Some of the rooms had built-in storage.  There was a fireplace, and a pantry, and the dining room was tiny, but charming.  I absolutely loved it.  We convinced Shane to take a look, and he loved it, too. 

At about this time, I was expecting our third child, so we needed a little more space, and, while the house didn’t give us any more bedrooms or bathrooms, it did give us much more space, and a yard (albeit a paved one).  It was beautiful.  The Little Blue House, ‘though it was a rental, was our home.  Our landlords were so kind, and we adored them. This is the place where Shane put down sod while I was in the early stages of labour with Kaia, while our friend Lauren helped me with the kids, until it was time to go to the hospital. We had a beautiful lawn and a beautiful baby ~ it made perfect sense.  It was the house we brought Kaia home to when she was born, ‘though I don’t think she remembers it at all.  It’s where I held her in my arms in the swimming pool, where she took her first steps, threw her first birthday cake on the pavement ~ sorry, honey, I didn’t know yet that you didn’t like fruit on your cake.  It’s where I used to sit and rock her on the porch and sing to her.  It’s where Justice planted her apple seed, and Hallie used to run in a loop through the living room, dining room, kitchen and playroom.  It’s where the kids hosted the very first ever Island Day with their cousins, the year Kaia was born.  It’s where my sister-in-law, Amy, saved Kaia’s life when she was a tiny baby. 

This is the house where the kids arranged the two loft beds at different heights and Kaia’s little toddler bed to all interconnect, so their bedroom was almost like a tree fort.  It’s where the enormous…what even was that thing?  Was it a mosquito??  Some huge flying bug got into the house, and I whisked all of the kids, including our friend Makenzie, into our bedroom with a pizza; and we all piled onto the bed and watched a movie until someone braver than us arrived to help with the giant bug situation.  It’s the house where our friend Geoff lived with us for a while, staying in the poolhouse ~ one of my favourite memories of which is overhearing what I think was a jumping contest with little Hallie in the kitchen one evening.  It’s the house that was just so incredibly full of crickets, but I loved it, anyway.  They say crickets in your house are good luck, right?

It was great for hosting parties, because of that big playroom, even through it wasn’t a very big house, and it had that nice outdoor area in the back that was fenced separately from the pool.  It was good for shooting hoops with grandparents (or parents, if grandparents weren’t around), and making chalk drawings, and lots of messy arts and craft projects, and rollerskating, and setting off 3-2-1 Blast-Offs, and swinging on the little wooden IKEA swing ~ careful of the wooden patio edge!  Where camellias grew out front, and almost nothing grew out back, because of all of the pavement (I’m exaggerating. There were plants along the fence by the pool) ~ but there was that amazing swimming pool.  It hosted birthday parties, pool parties, tea parties, and sleepovers.  It’s where grandparents met their youngest grandchild.

It was the first place our kids got to hang their stockings “by the chimney with care…”  You know, actually by the chimney.

Our little fireplace

Just yesterday, we were driving on the cross street at the end of that block, and I was telling Justice about how, when she was young, I remember giving her cash and careful instructions, and then walking out and standing on the sidewalk to watch her cross the street to the market there so she could pick up an item or two that I needed for dinner. 

It was just a rental, and so, it wasn’t really ours, but, in so many ways, it was our first house.  Even in just a few short years, so much of our life happened there.

It was our Little Blue House, and we were very happy there.

I am heartbroken to hear it is gone.  Like a memory has been erased.  I used to like to drive by it, sometimes, just to see it, and remember those sweet, happy days. 

Our Little Blue House is gone. 

If I had known it was going, I might have bid it farewell. 

The House With No Name ~ by Sam

Our House needs a name.

We have been debating this since we moved in to the new house.  We can’t keep calling it the new house indefinitely.  Eventually, it is bound to not be so new.  I would rather not call it something like, “The Money Pit,” because that’s rather depressing, but “The House on Willard Street” is so bland, and “The Blue House,” is okay, but…we already lived in “The Little Blue House,” many years ago.  We have sort of waffled between “the Blue House,” “The House on Willard Street,” and “The Homestead,” which sort of made sense when I had a thriving garden, and was canning, making jams and jellies, and baking all of the time, but now I am not doing as much of that, and it feels a little bit like a slap in the face, sometimes.  Maybe I just need to get over that.  Or get my butt in gear, and get back to doing some of that stuff.

In the past, we have named our homes.  I like that.  We like to add the tagline to invitations, greeting cards,  videos, etc.  So videos might be “A Little Blue House production,” or “coming to you live from Little House in the Big Yard!” and parties might be held at “The Homestead.” We have toyed with calling the new house something silly like “The Loud House,” because “We’re not yelling ~ we’re Italian!”*  But then, that show, “The Loud House” came out, and it kind of made me wonder if someone overheard one of our conversations in public about the whole “we’re not yelling” thing.  Also, of course, sometimes, we are yelling, which I guess everyone does, so then it seems like a lousy name for a house altogether ~ but we would mean it in the jovial way, of course.   We figured we should translate in to Italian, for maximum effect.  Or perhaps German, just because…I don’t know.  Why not?  At that point, you know, the kids once learned, from a craft kit they received as a gift, how to say the phrase “sparkling unicorn” in German, and ran around barking it at people, just because they liked the sound of it, and how it startled people when you yelled it at them.  So…we could go with “Sparkling Unicorn House,” in German.  But I don’t think we will.

I remember, when I was a little girl, as we were driving to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania, we would pass a house along the way that was called “Gittings Ha-Ha.”  I always wondered what it meant.  Did someone get the last laugh?  Was their house a big joke?  Maybe it wasn’t really a big, fancy house, and it just looked like one from the street.  Perhaps, the joke was on us, all the time.  I guess I may never know.

Hopefully, however, we will be able to decide what to call our own home.  We could call it “Frank.”  It’s a good name.  I mean, it was my Papa’s name, and two of my Uncle’s, as well.  No?

Fine.

We’ll keep working on it, I guess.

For now, I will just sit here, watching the rain fall.

Inside the house.

I guess we won’t be calling it, “Impenetrable.” bluehouse2

*EDIT: It occurs to me, now, we were probably also yelling because I’m hard of hearing, and now I have a hearing aid, so I’m not sure how this changes things, in this regard:  “Of course we’re yelling ~ our mom’s hard of hearing!” LOL  This ~ and the fact that I am sitting here with a foot that still doesn’t want to work, watching rain fall inside my house, as well as a number of other things that I won’t mention, because, frankly, they don’t bear mentioning  ~ brings to mind one of all-time favourite Carrie Fisher quotes:“If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”  Indeed.  And so, we laugh.  Perhaps, Gittings Ha-Ha is beginning to make sense, after all.

In Brief ~ by Sam

No, I am not wearing briefs in this post.  Well, I might be, but there won’t be any pictures.

I didn’t wear shorts over the weekend.  We went to a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, and The Griffith Park Shakespeare Festival on Sunday, so shorts weren’t really going to cut it.  My plan was to go back to the shorts thing today, but then the day got away from me.

I started out by rearranging the furniture.  Then, there was a lot of running around, grocery shopping and kid pick-up.  By the time I got home from picking up Hallie, the groceries had been in the car for a while; but that was okay, because I had planned for that, with an insulated bag and an ice pack.  Or so I thought.  Somehow, a can of crescent rolls had missed being put in the chilled bag.  So, when I opened the trunk ~ pop!  The can just popped opened, and the dough came oozing out one end.  It still felt cold to the touch, so I decided to bake them.  Luckily, we had some Smart Dogs and cheese; so I wrapped up “pigs in blankets” for Justice and Hallie and rolled up the rest of the crescent rolls. and baked ’em.

Then, I got back to organizing the room.  And putting the stuff back on the shelves I had moved.  And realizing that I had moved one piece of furniture into a place where it wouldn’t work.  And leaving it there, anyway.  For now.  Then, I remembered that needed to balance the books and pay bills…but I didn’t do it, because, just then, there was a knock at the door.  Two gentlemen had arrived to do a termite inspection.  We’d noticed what we thought were signs of termites a few days ago, and called to have it checked out.  I wasn’t expecting them today, but what do I know?  I told them to go ahead and inspect.

We were right.  We have termites.  We can have a spot treatment, or we can have the house tented.  Tenting will mean moving out for 3 days, boarding the cats, leaving the fish with friends, and then cleaning up after.  It also means the company will guarantee that the house will be termite-free.

*sigh*

So, today, I never put on my shorts.  Or made dinner.  (It’s okay ~ we had plenty of leftovers.)  Or finished organizing the bedroom.

Being first-time homeowners (we bought in December of 2012), we have very little experience with…well…home ownership.

So, we have a big decision to make tonight.  I will probably be wearing jammies.

On the up side, while rearranging and organizing the bedroom, I found the portrait of me Kaia drew for Mother’s Day.  I think it’s pretty awesome.

MeByKaia'15