Well we bought a house! It is not a farm, so I’m tucking away that dream, for the moment. But it’s wonderful. It’s old. I feel so at home. The view. I don’t have my own land but open land is all around me. I’ve realized over the years that I have a constant, almost subconscious feeling of unease when I look out my window and can’t see out into the distance. Conversely, now that I can look out across the valley to where field meets mountain and mountain meets the sky, I feel peaceful.The studio. It needs some plaster work first, but the old summer kitchen, upstairs and down, will be for me and my business. More peace. And for now, there is a downstairs office where I can set up all my things. And the living spaces… I am so happy. It is cozy and comfortable and there’s enough room for all of us to spread out. It’s hard for 6 introverts to live together in a modern house with an open floor plan. We need a closed floor plan. Separate spaces where we can retreat and be ourselves, not feel assaulted by whatever noise the others are making, but still with gathering places where we can come together. It’s perfect.
At the beginning of this year, I had one of those moments. A moment which, though you don’t know it at the time, is going to change everything that comes after. I was having a little new-years introspection and I realized that this year I turn 37, our oldest child turns 12, and we’re still not living life as I imagined it. I felt like my life so far has been just a giant holding pattern, we are circling, circling, waiting for something to happen. But what, exactly?
“Welcome to the club,” some might say, but I wanted to do something about it. This is not at all about having the money to do whatever, and all about the choices we have been making. It’s been 7 years since I graduated and since then we’ve been renting a variety of places, moving here and there, never wanting to commit to anything. We’ve been in our current house for 3 years, mostly just because it was easier to stay than to make any more choices. I shared my feelings with my spouse, and we decided that we would commit to looking for a permanent home.
SO. We were looking for something to buy. I want land, privacy, space. Well guess what? So do a whole bunch of people in the greater DC/Baltimore region. Places with any land in our price range were an hour or more from Garrett’s job. He was willing to commute, and in the past has done so up to 1.5 hours each way, but was that the lifestyle we wanted to commit to?
We discussed very seriously getting a country place for the family and having Garrett live in a hotel 3-4 nights a week for work. I think that was the solution we had settled on when on a lark, he applied for a job in our hometown. We were rather astounded with the speed at which the whole apply-interview-offer process went, and he got the job.
Oh my god, we could move back home! Really? Family, the ease of small town life, the mountains… All those things I’ve been pining for, could be mine! Never mind the massive pay cut. It doesn’t matter; we don’t care. Now we can build a life!
We have found a tiny house to rent, well within our means, while we look for a home, a true home, where our kids can spend the rest of their formative years and hopefully remember it fondly as they grow into themselves and away from us. Where I can plant those fruit trees and be there when they begin to bear, and have piggies and chickens and just be able to go for a walk without being assaulted by the relentless traffic….
So, here’s what’s happening. We move home to Central Pennsylvania in 3 weeks. Just enough time here for one more DCMQG meetup.
Our tiny new place won’t support a home studio, so Faraway Road is going big-time and moving to its own address!
Husband will have a truly “new” job for the first time in 15 years! What else? Just a complete lifestyle shift is all…
In very big denial of how much work I have to do in the next 3 weeks.
But happy. So happy!
I’ve got nothing but computer work lined up today, but I am comforted by the basket of freshly washed fabric acquisitions at me feet. (and a plate of Cranberry-Quinoa Scones from Aran Goyoaga’s beautiful cookbook)
I feel like a squirrel, putting things by for the long winter… we canned over 100 quarts of applesauce, some veggie soup too, I stocked up on water and pantry items (because I dream of stormy days when we are all cozily house-bound), there is talk of getting a chest freezer and a pig to put in it, and now a lovely collection of fabric for the cozy crafting months ahead.
Some of the fabrics in my basket mimic the view from my window. The children wore themselves out already today, playing with dad in the leaves, and I want to make a quilt to remember these golden days.
These are the best kind of days. It’s wet and windy outside and we are warm and dry inside. We have gingerbread-chocolate cookies and apple cider and enough apples in the house to make 80 quarts of applesauce. Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons concerts streaming in the kitchen. There’s a pile of basted hexies beckoning me to settle in and stitch them together, some precious new fabric to run through the washer and dryer, and more apples, apples everywhere. The children have concocted some sort of dinosaurs-at-school game and they even remember to include Eva in the fun. Just when I began to worry that I was not doing enough for the children with our homeschooling, I heard Gus drilling Violet and the dinosaurs in Latin roots and I was reassured that everything is OK. Eva desperately wanted to go outside and so all 3 suited up in their rain gear and went out on an adventure. Everything is different in the rain. I watched through the window with hot spiced cider. I’m sitting now in my room looking out at the treetops and I love how the rain makes the bark on the Sycamore look even prettier.
I want to make some pretty stitched things to hang above the mantle. Just simple embroideries. Probably some English Paper Piecing, too.
And yet, there is no where it really belongs.
I keep my sewing machine in the dining room:
Fabric ready to piece in the dining room:
New fabric on the kitchen counter:
Second hand fabric in the office:
Quilt frame in the play room:
taking pics of blocks upstairs in my son’s room:
Fabric is taking over my house, people. And this is not even showing my basement fabric storage area. I need to get all this quilty-ness contained, and short of taking over the master bedroom (which I have not yet brought up with the Husband… ) I think my best option is to scoop it all into this officey-kind of room that we have at the front of the house. We’ve tried using that room for a couple of different things and it’s just weird, no one ever goes in there except when I remind my son to go practice the piano. So 20 minutes a day, tops. I’ve been craving a space of my own; one that I can decorate with pretty fabric stacks and bowls of perle cotton, a little place where I can go to get lost…The only problem is that the room does not have a door, and it is open to pretty much the rest of the house. We could put up a big curtain, but a big new curtain is going to be very attractive to little people, and certainly won’t keep the smallest one from going in there and wreaking havoc as she tends to do. What to do?
Exchanging a 100 year old house full of character and charm for one where water doesn’t drip from the ceilings at random intervals. Giving up twelve glorious acres, but giving Garrett back two of the hours he spends commuting every day. And packing up my studio, which had a wall of windows overlooking the creek (but practically no heat), for a corner of the basement.
If I sound melancholy I suppose I am; I really wanted this place to work out and even had little fantasies about buying it someday, even if my practical self knew that it was a terrible idea. In the end our landlord made the decision for us, by dragging his feet so long on the necessary repairs that we felt like we couldn’t continue to raise our family here.
But if we can ignore its mechanical failures, this place has a presence, a patina, that only time can create. There is an air of fading grandeur which I quite enjoy. The old landscaping is overgrown and mysterious. Perfect for hide and seek. Perfect for prowling about with my camera. Luckily I took thousands of pictures here, enough artistic inspiration for the next decade is cached away on my hard drive.
Our new home is in a charming little town. It is brand-spanking new, so what it lacks in patina, it should make up for in functionality. We’ll be minutes from coffee shops, restaurants, and the quilt shop that has supported my creativity for the past 4 years. It’s going to be awesome. And as soon as we get there I intend to begin enjoying all those perks.
But for now, for our last days here, let me dwell a bit in the beauty and grace of this lovely old place. We’ve made a lot of memories in our short time here.
So I offer up some of my favorite photos from this place, closing the book on this little chapter of our family’s history. Goodbye, house! I won’t forget you!
I posted more of my favorite photos from this place here.
What to do when a hurricane knocks out the power:
Play Monopoly with the whole family
Finish knitting project
Finish hand sewing project
Take a walk and rejoice in the crisp, cool weather that blows in after a hurricane blows out
And, after eating mostly crackers and Lebanon bologna all day and wondering aloud how far we’d have to drive to find an open Cracker Barrel, (nursing mamas get hungry!) rejoice again when the power comes back on after only 14 hours!
Although I’m sure being without power would rapidly have lost its idyllic charm had it been much longer than a day, (especially because we have an electric well pump) this day made me feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by the family we have created and grateful that we were able to enjoy being unplugged, together.
Nope. It’s my in-laws’. Our house was not quite ready to be occupied on moving day- just lacking a few things like water and heat… so while our things might be at the new place, we ourselves are currently enjoying a cozy fire, conversation, and hot and cold running water courtesy of our gracious family. I was able to bring one sewing project with me: sewing down the binding on my Pinwheel Love Story quilt ( I will share the story behind the name when the pattern is ready). I tend to get twitchy when I don’t have anything to work on, so for everyone’s sake, I hope the house is ready soon! I am super excited about the next quilt pattern I have planned and I just can’t wait to get into my new studio and get cutting!
I do love sewing on binding though. It’s steady, mindless work so your thoughts tend to wander, dreaming up your next project or just admiring the one you are finishing up. This one is backed with one of my favorite Kaffe Fassett prints which made it that much more fun to work on the binding. Thanks Kaffe!