Here's the second letter I wrote from the new old house - as I post this, the yellow crop duster is doing its aerobatics over our fields.........and after four years, the novelty still hasn't worn off.....after I hit publish, I'll be running from window to window and floor to floor......by myself this time cuz Hunter's at school.................
These photos were all taken during the first year in the old farmhouse....you can see the changes slowly taking place making it more our home and less the previous owners (February 2004 - Feb 2005)
April 14 2004
We've been in the house for just over two months now and it is feeling more like Our Place than Someone Else's everyday now...the hot tub arrived two weeks ago, the new aluminum sided shed that will have to do in lieu of a garage arrives in just a little more than a week; the living room, dining room and kitchen are all painted in beautiful shades of yellow with the 90 plus year old wood trimmed in a soft white; the front door is now a wonderful shade of red AND we had our entertaining debut on Easter Sunday!
The family all arrived Sunday afternoon for an Easter Cookout. Mom, Amy and her husband Darrin and Dad and Jan had all been to visit (in fact, Mom helped set up the kitchen and Jan helped me with the living and dining room painting jobs!) but Kirk and his family had only seen it in video at Christmas time. Since he was in concert with the Jax Symphony the weekend we moved in, he had only heard about our adventures over the phone. We were very excited for him and his family to see our new home....and Hunter could hardly wait to introduce his cousins to his baby rabbit....called appropriately....Easter!
It was wonderful to have room for the children to run and play and be as loud as they wanted, with no fear of disturbing the neighbors. We all played croquet, flew kites and threw horseshoes and Darrin, Josh and the kids had a water gun fight (waterguns and kites courtesy of Nana). David and I were a bit embarrassed at our lack of organization; dinner was about two hours late. One of the things we will have to adjust to here is the very different layout of an old home versus a new home...our last house had a very open floor plan with the kitchen and dining rooms flowing on and out into a screened patio which had a huge brick barbeque built by David. On it we could cook all the meat at once and begin serving as soon the first guests arrived and we had plenty of room for an easy flow around tables filled to the brim with side dishes.....Not So Here! We had forgotten to adjust for the tiny kettle grill borrowed at the last minute from Mom. The meat took ages to cook and most of Jan's delicious deviled eggs were eaten by the time we served the meal. The kitchen left little room for guests to fill their plates. Not to alarm anyone though, I sat down on Monday and made some plans for the next party we'll throw...probably a combination house warming/graduation party for Dallas in May!
I've mentioned the changes to the house itself, so here's an update on the yard. The azalea bushes, whose ages we can only guess, bloomed beautifully all through March. It was so lovely to see them in all their colors. They've finished now and have been pruned for what would appear to be the first time in many years. We've cleared out the trees that had spontaneously grown up in the middle and all around them. The bank in front of the house is now adorned only by two huge pecan trees with an aok in the middle and the azaleas. It looks more like a gentile southern home read of in books and seen in movies now. In the evenings we try to hurry through dinner to watch the sunset from the front porch. we can see it through the spanish moss which hangs from the massive oak tree.
A majority of the plants we have brought from the old place are now in the ground. The rose bushes that have followed David since he was a child are now safely in the ground alongside the sidewalk that I uncovered on what used to be the front of the house. And the rose bushes that have been separated out from a tiny little stem Dad gave me years ago are also in the ground, one on each side of a little bridge that covers the ditch separating the driveway from the front yard. All of these rose bushes carry sentimental value for us; David's roses because he had the chore of caring for them as a child; we had these bushes at our very first home in 1982, moved them to our second home in 1990 and here they are with us at our new old home in 2004. My little rose bushes carry historic value for me as well as the little stem they came from were a cutting from a rose bush planted by my great grandparents at Whites Mill in Sumter South Carolina.
There remain some plants to be planted - among them three sago palms that are the great grandchildren (huh?) of one that was planted in my family's first home in Florida (1975). Dad took cuttings of it when he left that home and he had made sure that we all had at least one of its offspring. We can't quite decide where to plant them as of yet since they grow so big so quickly and we don't want to have to transplant the monsters in the future.
As to the original landscaping here, the previous owners warned us that it would take our breath away. The corner of one ditch is filled with beautiful amarylis bulbs that are presently in full bloom. The farmer's wife across the street says that at one time, about 40 years ago, the entire ditch was filled with them. When they have finished their blooming, we plan to transplant a few all down the ditches to bring back that former glory. Many of the other bulbs that abound in the ditches have yet to bloom and we don't yet know what they are. I can hardly wait to see.
The pecan trees are finally beginning to bud and get their dressing for the summer. We were told that once we saw that begin, we would know that warm weather was here at last. But, we had a cold front come in last night with winds that sounded as if they would blow in the front door and today it is only in the middle fifties, so we can only hope this is the last of the cold weather.
We are still finding old bricks and paving stones buried in all the gardens. We have quite a wall of brick around the pump house now are planning to use them for a courtyard affect in the back yard. We have weeded and feeded and are surprised at the amount of grass that is actually still alive. In a few years, the croquet games will be a little better served with a much smoother yard.
Each week, there is a pile of tree limbs and branches that line the front near the road awaiting pick-up by the yard waste men. We wonder if they bear us any ill will yet....the tree line beside the driveway had been allowed to spontaneously grow for years, obscuring the view of the house from the street. We have spent hours with a chain saw and clippers and wheel barrow clearing out vines that wer choking the trees and cutting away the hundreds of little trees and bushes that were growing all around. There is still a lot of work to be done there but when we are finished, it will be a lovely driveway lined with stately cypress and pecans instead of a little forest!
This is a newer photo..in fact, taken on Easter Sunday 2008 - but you can see the potato crop in the background and the white flowers covering them!
Did you know that potato plants bloom? We didn't until we woke up one morning to lovely fields of green and white. We are told that soon they will harvet the crop and we will have to pray for windless days and rain or we will be housbound because of the dirt that will fly through the air. Even so, we will only have to deal with the dirt for a week or two before the cover crop is planted. When it is in, it will be a matter of a few weeks and we will be surrounded with 6 - 7 feet tall plantings that will afford us an even greater privacy than we experience now.
We had planned on building a garage here, but after hearing the story of the almost 100 year old barn that stands just alonside the place we were to build it, we changed our mind. It seems that when hurricane Dora came through this area, the house was hardly damaged at all but the barn was blown down. The farm and his sons jumped on three tractors which had ropes tied from them to the barn's frame and just pulled that old barn right back up! With a couple of hammers and some old boards, the "sort of" replaced the support beams damaged in the fall. From that time to this, that old barn has remained just that way - propped up by nothing more than its original good workmanship and the ingenuity of an old farmer and his sons.
With this mind, we decided that to put up a new garage of wood beside that interesting but vulnerable barn just might be a bit foolish.....the stength of the winds around here, the termites that even now feast upon the ancient wood of that structure made us think our little garage might be in danger from a falling barn at some point in the future...at the very least, termites might just like having another wooden structure to munch on.....hence the ordering of a steel framed aluminum sided shed!
For those of you wondering just what that old barn might be hiding, well, let me just say this, although Dave and I long to explore inside due to the barely visible treasures peaking and down from its loft, we have decided that prudence demands we leave it along....the antique lanterns and steel works we catch glmpses of may intrique us, but common sense makes us wary of any real exploration inside.
Inside the house, there remains a lot of work to be done....the kitchen floor and the sun room floor (formerly the back porch of the house) desparately need to be replaced. No amount of scrubbing can get them clean and the lack of a real yard off the back door (the weeding and feeding killed the weeds and left mostly dirt) means lots more dirt is carried in on the feet of the family guests and two dogs and two cates.....and the little rabbit that runs around from time to time.
The laundry room (formerly the first bathroom added to the home in the 1930's) is filled with David's toys....RC cars which he races every chance he gets, and the card tables he takes with him when he does and all the overflow items that would normally be stored in a garage......leaving little room for what is supposed to go on in there...laundry!
When the shed finally arrives, I will be able to do said laundry without a table falling over and htting me in the backside every two minutes....I will have shelves to to hold the laundry detergents and spot removers and a place to hang closet items instead of folding them to carry them upstairs and then having them wrinkled beyound belief....what joy that will be!
Although almost every window in the house (26 of them!) was replaced by the former owners, the downstairs bathroom ones were not (this bathroom was the "modern" one added on about 30 years ago (1960's) and the wind whistles through the two windows in this room; they're covered with paint drippings....these will be replaced with new windows that we found in the old shed on the property when we moved in...we wondy why they were never placed...hopefully, this is one of our summer projevcts - to put in those windows (and burn the termite ridden shed they were residing in prior to being re-discovered!).
Upstairs, well let's just say that we have done almosts nothing up there to date...most days, we can hardly wait to get outside to work in the yard and since are only up there to sleep, it has taken a back seat to the yard and downstairs. Only two of the four bedrooms have actual closets, Nikki and Dallas' rooms....Hunter's room and the master bedroom have none so one wall in each room is lined with free standing hanging racks. I will eventually buy two armoirs; oh the hardship of actually having to shop for a beautiful antique armoire for each of those rooms (smiling sheepishly!)....
It is beautifully sunny upstairs and some days I do regret not having the time to just sit on the blanket and pillow covered hope chest that sits just under the landing window....I can just see myself sitting there, gazing out over the potato fields..~ that too will come in time - after we paint the walls and clean the windows properly and hang curtains over the blinds and finally arrange the furniture and hang the photos and mirrors that now line the floor......
With all the work that has been done and that which is still left to do, I did finally take a day of rest yesterday. The children were all at school and David at work and Isimply sat and read for most of the day. I even spent some time on the genealogy research that has been so neglected for the past several months....mostly though, I just moved from room to room downstairs with my book (a lovely find in the Dollar General, it is about a couple moving into an old home and finding outs its mysteries....are you surpised that I chose that book? :) ....I spent as much time gazing out the windows as I did reading.....
Things are returning to normal in our family; we are no longer feeling the pressures of moving and are beginning to truly enjoy our life here. As the house is feeling more and more like it belongs to us, and as it takes on some our personalities, David and I feel are feeling more inclined to relax and less pressure to work on something every minute of each day. We still find ourselves walking about the yard and looking at each other saying "can you believe THIS is ours?"....now, we see the changes we are making bringing it all back to life and with our plants outside and our colors and possessions inside and our first family gathering under our belts, it is truly our home, truly a dream come true for us.
Thank you all for letting me share this with you in writing.....here's hoping that all of you find a dream that comes true for you as well...
Love to you all, Lori