Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bless This House

When we left Waseca for the bright lights of City of Lakes, we sold our house there. Since we had no actual jobs at first, we house-sat over the summer for a family friend in Home of the Coen Brothers. The most exciting occurrences of that summer were SonShineIn’s first steps and Bunter’s six-week vacation. The man we were house-sitting for didn’t want the cat in the house so she was living in the attached garage. She wandered off one day and after six weeks of worry and fruitless searching, she wandered back, a thinner and wiser feline. We think she probably got lost in the nearby golf course.

After the summer, we rented the bottom half of a duplex in a nice neighborhood to which we would return some years later. Our upstairs neighbor was briefly famous in City of Lakes for painting the Weatherball blue. The old Northwestern National Bank building downtown had a large ball mounted on top, which changed color with the weather forecast. (Natives will recall the jingle, the rest of you will have to go here and click the link under the picture. The colors were normally red, white, or green, but Phil, in an excess of post-breakup bravado, somehow climbed up and painted it blue. Someday when the Strib’s complete archives are digitized you could look that up, but for now you’ll have to take my word for it.

In those days, if you sold your house and made a profit, you had eighteen months to buy a more expensive house or you’d have to pay capital gains tax on the profit. So after 9 months or so in the apartment, we began looking for a house we could afford. We saw a lot of not-so-great houses, and then we found Tiny House.

4044 43rd Ave So

This photo was taken some years later; the house used to be grey, the stair rails were black metal, and the front garden was not as nice when we lived there. In all fairness to Tiny House, it was in good condition, having been owned by a carpenter who’d done a lot of fixing up. It was in a nice neighborhood near the river, with convenient bus service to both Capital City where OHP was working, and Da U, where SonShineIn and I were going to school – he Montessori, I library. But it was very small – the first floor, not including the three-season porch, was 400 sq. ft., and the second floor even smaller. On the other hand, there was a nice back yard with a garden space which the former owners had enriched with free manure from the Ag School, and where OHP grew some beautiful roses. Here’s a picture of SonShineIn and the roses:

1978 07 Niels and the roses

Some of my best memories of this house are reading to SonShineIn. When we moved in, he was just over 2 years old. Before we left that house we had read all the Little House books (I’d started with Little House in the Big Woods, which is written at a level most 3 or 4 year olds could understand, but since I had a whole set of the books he would not rest until he heard all of them.) Not only that, I read him Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. However, we did not neglect the more age-appropriate picture books; here’s a photo of us enjoying Robert McCloskey’s Maine story, Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man.

1978 11 Nikki reading Burt Dow Deep Water Man to Niels with a Down East accent

We lived in Tiny House happily for two years, but when Cordeliaknits was on the way we had to look for more spacious quarters.

One of the nice things about Tiny House was that it was only about a mile and a half from OHP’s parents’ house. So for tonight’s song, I’ve chosen a song that was sung at their wedding in 1946, Bless This House. I’d always associated this song with the 1950s as I heard Perry Como sing it so many times on Christmas specials back then, but in fact it was published in 1927. Englishwoman Helen Taylor wrote the words and her friend, Australian May Brahe, the music. The first recording was by John McCormack (and you can find that on YouTube), but, in the absence of a video of Bryn Terfel’s rendition, I’ve chosen another Welshman, David Keith Jones. I especially like the variety of houses the videographer highlights in this piece.

1 comment:

Mompriest said...

I'll have to listen to the video another time, my husband has the tv on...but sometimes tiny houses are the best.