Wednesday, March 17, 2010

These are a few of MY favorite things. . .

I pulled out my camera and decided to take pictures of a few of my favorite things around the house. I went from room to room and took snapshots of the things that make me happy. Like while I’m doing the dishes, I have my little tea cups lined up (that are decorative but that I do in fact use every day for my hot cocoa).


As I walked through my family room, I stopped at the niche above my desk and took a picture of the photo frames housing my Hugh Thomson illustrations (my favorite illustrator) I pulled out of a water-damaged book. Right below my off-center Quigley & Co. clock I made in Relief Society a couple years back.


Next, I went through my living room where I sit every night in front of the fire and read to my daughter. The chair is positioned the perfect distance from the fireplace so that my toes stay toasty but I don’t get too warm.


In my daughter Miranda’s room, I paused at the shelf with the Eiffel Tower teapot & cups, all sitting before another Thomson illustration of some ladies having tea.


In my room, I went to the Ganesha statue Eric brought home from India that’s poised over a small stack of books I’ve read that just haven’t made their way back up to the library upstairs.


As I went through all my photos, I realized every little spot that I love in my house is to do with books, has books in them, or the illustrations out of books. I love books, that’s no secret. It reminds me of this quote I have on my goodreads profile that states (or so Cicero says): A room without books is like a body without a soul. I like to think the things that make me happy have given the rooms in my house a soul. Maybe have given my lazy mornings washing dishes a little more thought. Maybe have infused ideas and old books I loved reading into the walls of my house.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I thought I found my house. I couldn’t sleep just dreaming about beautiful moldings, a kitchen with a double oven and TWO pantries, fancy tile work in the master bathroom, a separate study and a formal living room and dining room, a huge closet (in fact, two closets) in the master bedroom, a half bath. A half bath sounds like peanuts, really, but when you don’t have one, it's not. I’ve been desperate for a half bath so that my book club and writing group friends won’t have to remove the Elmo potty seat from the toilet when they need to use it.

I’ve been so excited, waiting patiently all week until I could take Eric there to see our “new house.” I’d already moved our family in, in my head. I knew exactly where I’d put my library. My piano was moved in and ready to play. I placed my couches and little end tables. I’d even called the school district to get Bianca into their equivalent of the accelerated program she’s in—one last testing, but we’d have to do it the next afternoon. And it all seemed so perfect.

But Eric was Eric—it wasn’t perfect to him. Where was the drain in the laundry room? The house next door was an eye sore. Really? I hadn’t noticed; I was too busy looking at the house in front of me. I was deflated. I was hoping he’d walk in and say, yes, this is it. Just like we had ten years ago when we walked into the model home of the house we built and have lived in since then. That something just felt right. Maybe some kind of premonition that this was the house in which we were going to be breakfasting, reading together, and growing older. I sat back in the car and lost the energy to drive down to Orem to have Bianca take the test. We told our realtor we needed a couple days to think about it.

I mentioned to Eric on our way home that the used-clothing pick up was on Tuesday. We’ve been bursting out of our little closet for a couple years now. I had this great idea that I’d be happy—and our little closet would seem bigger—if we each donated 25-30 items. So Eric went through his stuff and so did I and we both bagged up at least 50 things. And as I stood in my closet, I realized this hadn’t even put a dent in the problem. I collapsed onto the closet floor and looked up at the stuffed-in clothes and cried. I couldn’t move. I just sat in the closet and wept for a house that wasn’t going to be mine. I’d have to move my family back out in my head, my clothes moved out of that huge closet. Take back all the memories I’d imagined having there. Finally, I picked myself off the floor and finished the job I’d started. Then got Bianca ready for tonight. She was chosen to play her In the Hall of the Mountain King on piano at Herriman city’s talent show.

I sat in the audience and watched as my little girl bravely walked into the spotlight and performed her piece (see video below). Her piano teacher was sitting right in front of us (a piano teacher who encourages creativity and always dutifully prints up Bianca’s little compositions for her, and has incorporated a little viola/violin instruction into her weekly lesson). In the program was the announcement for Herriman’s children’s theatre production that's being done this summer, a musical for which I’m writing the script. And I wondered if I’m really supposed to be here in Herriman, where I’ve been for so long. When the audience applauded for my daughter, I felt like they were begging to keep us here. How do you extricate yourself from a community that you’ve been entrenched in for nine years? I went to bed last night, knowing that the right decision is to stay here in Herriman.

But here I am, up early the next morning, not sleeping because I can't get that house out of my head. Of being in a school district that isn’t being pilfered of all its extra programs by a east-west split. In that house surrounded by beauty (Did I mention the amazing view out the back?). And I’m still unsure.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I was considering built-in bookshelves upstairs. It's no secret that I have books piling up there and every time I get a new bookshelf, it barely puts a dent in my overflowing stacks of books. But then I had a thought: Before I put more money into this house, am I sure we're going to be here for forever? After all, I heard about the new tax break and there are so many foreclosures. Would it not make sense (financially) to get into a bigger house now?

So we've been looking. There are a lot of beauties out there, and I've fallen in love at least five times already. We put an offer on a house in South Jordan (one that hasn't officially been denied but looks like we're not going to get). Still, I'm looking and falling in love with other houses. But the truth is, I still love my house. I've lived here almost 10 years and I still look around me and love this very house I've lived in forever. It's not as grand as the houses we've been looking at, but it's ours and I love it. I walk into each room and think, Do I really want to leave?

Especially when I walk into Miranda's room. It's here I feel I can be near her anytime. In this room, she slept and cried and laughed and played. I remember lovingly planning this room for months (and then taking another several months painting it) and then the months it took to find the teapot chandelier. Now we use it as a reading room or for "quiet" play. There's this silly Strawberry Shortcake doll in the closet that just blurts outs "Bye, bye, sweet friend" every once in a while. She's only supposed to do it when touched, but she's been on the top shelf in the closet and says it when I'm alone in there. I could be wrong, but I like to believe it's Miranda telling me she's there with me.

When I think about moving from my house, I worry that I'd be abandoning her and moving away from my baby in the one house where she lived. I feel guilty just thinking about moving.


This morning, while Portia and I were drinking our hot cocoa in the kitchen that I still love, I pulled out a book of poetry and started reading her some of my favorite poems and started on this one:

The Home With Nobody In It by Joyce Kilmer

WHENEVER I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

Maybe this is my answer; maybe I should just give up the idea of moving. I'd be heartbroken to abandon my house. I'd be heartbroken to abandon Miranda. I'm still overflowing with books whether it's in this house or that. I hate making decisions!