Have You Properly Introduced Yourself to Your House?

Photographer: nuttakit, www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

Who knew that being assigned to jury duty would  give me the time to be properly introduced to my home.

Years ago I was watching Diane Lane in “Under the Tuscan Sun,” continually work on her newly-purchased house in order to turn it into her home. Here was a woman who went on a vacation to get over her troubles in life and instead ended up buying a home in Italy and finding herself in a new life–one that involved an old house that needed an abundance of work.

Although there are many things I enjoy throughout this movie, one moment in particular stands out in my memory. It was right after she had purchased the home and began to go through it and clean it up. She narrates saying, “Pick one room and make it yours. Go slowly through the house. Be polite, introduce yourself, so it can introduce itself to you.” From the moment I heard those words spoken,  I took them to heart. There is something about taking your time with cleaning and making sure you treat your home with the respect and manners it deserves. It personifies your home and makes the whole experience so much more meaningful. It creates a relationship and gives more value to your tedious work. It allows for the time needed to truly get to know your home.

Maybe I am just coming up with ways to justify my OCD with cleaning and keeping things nice. But then again, maybe there is something to it.

My husband and I have two homes–one in the city where our children reside and one in our hometown. We would dearly love to be in our hometown house full-time but for now, because of our children we continue to maintain a home in the city with them. However that does not mean that we don’t take the time to make our house in our hometown truly our home. In fact we put just as much time and energy into both of our houses but in different ways.

Our city home is just that, a city home. We have completely redone it and made it much more homey and we continue to better it each day.

Our hometown home is perfect. Not because it does not need work–let me tell you it needs lots of work, it is just shy of 90 years old. But it is perfect because that age gives it the character that we both love and we are continually working with the solid foundation and creating a home that is everything we could ever want.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I received a notice in the mail informing me that I had been assigned to jury duty in my hometown.  I am not sure how they do it in other parts of the country but here you are assigned a block of days and with that you have to call in each evening to see if you need to report to jury in the morning. Great–right? It is unless you have two homes and you need to be in the home farthest from the courthouse the week you are assigned. Also it would be no big deal if these two homes were an hour or two apart–but they are four and half hours apart. Again not too big of a problem in the summer when it is warm. But apparently the west coast has not clued into the fact that today is June 1st and it should be getting warm–it is snowing in my little city and cold and rainy in my sweet town.

So what do you do when given this predicament? Make the best of it.

Doing just that, my family made the trip north for Memorial day weekend and then when they left to return to normal life, I stayed to assume my role as a juror. Though lucky for me or unlucky for me (depending on how you view it), I ended up with several days of checking in just to be told, “no need for your service today, see you tomorrow.”

With time on my hands and cold and rain in the air, I decided it was time for me to take the time to “introduce” myself to our home. Normally I would do this when first moving in as I did with our other home which has gone through its own forms of plastic surgery thus making it necessary to reintroduce myself to it multiple times. But when we first bought this house a little over a year ago, we initially knew we would not be living here right away. In fact we moved my father-in-law into it first in an effort to help him out while keeping a warm body in our house. Knowing that someone else would be living here, I cleaned everything quickly and not the way I would have had we been moving in. While I made things nice for him, there was no reason to do things the way I like until I was going to be here. I would just end up doing it all over after we moved him out.

Shortly after, my father-in-law passed away and many facets of our lives became overly-complicated. To say the least, we got up here when we could but when we were here, if the weather was nice we would be constantly outside working in the yard or we were busy remodeling, updating, redoing, and making this house our home. You see we did not buy an old home in Italy but we did buy an old home in Oregon. And while this old home is beautiful, it still needed a lot of work done to it. So between painting, redoing floors, fixing plumbing and electrical, growing a garden, re-landscaping and not living here full-time , I have found many things are still on my to-do list.

Sadly with all of these distractions I never took the time to do the number one thing on my list–go slowly from room to room, and introduce myself. But this week, this week when I had to be here away from my family–this week when the weather was cold and rainy–this was the week that I spent the time meeting my glorious home.

I started at the top and worked my way down. Room by room I took my time (days actually) cleaning, polishing, familiarizing myself with every nook and cranny. It may not seem like it should take that long but this home has four stories and every piece of molding needed to be wiped down (which meant the crown molding as well as the molding around the floor), every fixture cleaned, every detail in every room needed attention.

Interestingly with a home this old, there are often quirky things that you don’t see in todays modern homes. For example there is an access door to the plumbing in the wall–sure makes it easier to fix a leak. I was fascinated by the fact that apparently it is also a great place to record who lived here and when. Written inside the door are names of people and families who lived here over the years. As each family moved in they recorded their names and the date they arrived–starting over a half-century ago. After finding that treasure I am surprised I did not find markings on the wall to mark the growth of each child. But then again the only reason all of these names still remain is they are written on the inside of the access door, an area that does not get usually get painted.

If I had not been assigned to jury duty and then taken the extra time to properly introduce myself, I may have never known about the prior families and the years they spent here. Would I be worse off for not knowing that information? No–but does it add character and history to my home? Absolutely.

The point is, if you take your time to get to know your home and properly introduce yourself, it will introduce itself to you as well–that is one introduction you won’t want to miss.

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