back on the home hunt, i am reminded of our peculiar set of non-negotiables in a house we might buy.
i claim that he has more criteria than i do, including high ceilings, a garage and/or a basement he can use as a workshop, and generally, more space. i have some yard requirements, though, so it’s good if someone is prioritizing the inside of the house. it’s probably wise to buy a spacious house for tall people, since we are both of taller than average stature, and quinn could very likely exceed us both in height in a few short years, and at the rate he’s going, will likely have a sizeable pack of friends. not to mention that we’re hoping to lure our pancakes back to this part of the country before too long as well, so space is good. if you know me, you know i crave something more like bag-end than the boxes we americans call houses, but i will do my best to make all the rooms in whatever box we buy feel round and womb-like, suggestive of a hobbit home. but without that claustrophobic feeling gandalf has when he visits bilbo and bumps his head at every turn.
at the rate we’re going, it might be faster to have quinn build dragon house 2.0 out of legos.
i have enjoyed our lovely stay in the vacation house, and there are days we think of approaching the owner about buying it, but it lacks criteria number one on rich’s list. no woodstove, which would mean a remodel right away to install one, putting the house essentially back to how it was before they took one out and enclosed the middle of the house as a laundry room. we would reverse that decision, put laundry back in the basement, and restore the hearth to the center of the house, where we feel it belongs. which is all fine to say, but is logistically challenging and expensive to do.
meanwhile, 2 of the 4 houses we liked when we started looking again now have sales pending. but we’re keeping hope alive.
i should admit that lack of a woodstove is really a deal-breaker for me as well, even though i keep attributing it to “his” list. i am very much looking forward to having a home heated with wood once again. one thing that has been different about living here in vacation land, is that rich doesn’t have any man jobs to do around this house. it’s not ours, and not even our rental (we are sub-letting, technically), and it doesn’t require anything of him, other than an occasional lightbulb change or shower drain plunge. there is electric heat, which requires no hauling, sawing, or splitting of logs, and definitely no lighting of fires. it’s not that i want him to have a bunch more chores to do, the guy already works hard all day doing backbreaking labor beside which my own work day pales in comparison, but i can see that the lack of purpose in his own home is existentially uncomfortable for him (he will say i am overthinking this, whereas i’m just thankful he still has litter boxes to keep him out of trouble). he’s a lot like my dad (and his own dad), who finds tasks for himself when he comes to visit me on “vacation,” lest he fade away into oblivion. only, this isn’t a one week vacation, and there were a finite number of tasks. for me, it’s an active mindfulness practice to steer clear of resentment when we both come home from a full day of work, and i proceed to stand up for hours more, making and cleaning up from dinner, while my partner is sitting and reading or petting cats or relaxing. it is much easier to keep that perilous brain chatter at a minimum when one’s partner is also busy, in his case, at the task of making the home we share warm and toasty, chopping wood while i am chopping veggies, bringing forth a crackling fire on a chilly evening while i am scrubbing all the dishes.
back when i was doing woodstove salutations, trying to distract myself from preparing my ask-rich-out speech in the mirror, i could be found wielding my own chainsaw, because around here one can get a forest service permit to cut firewood for a small fraction of the price that can be paid for a cord of firewood that is already cut. it was a matter of pride to me that as a woman, i not only could, but made a point to, operate my chainsaw and splitting maul as the sole means of heating my house in the winter, by which i saved money during a time when money was more scarce, and empowered myself to be independent after too long living codependently.
when rich and i began our long conversation in the laundromat, one of the things i remember him telling me was about how he had been up early the previous sunday morning, and had watched the sun rising as he had set out to fill his forest service firewood quota. he had me at hello, but lumberjacking at sunrise? head over heels. sweet nothings involving manual labor surrounded by beautiful natural phenomena: there is really nothing that can top this.
i have rambled before about how i have sold out as a feminist and given myself completely over to the very traditional division of labor roles that at one point i strongly rejected. i’m still a feminist, just like i am still an unschooler, though i fit neatly into neither of those boxes. i am glad to have trained myself (and pestered my dad to teach me) to be able to do the typically male jobs, but i am overjoyed that i no longer have to do them unless i want to, that a big strong man is more than happy to swing an axe for me, and i am more than happy to fix his meals for him, and i think we embrace this crazy tradeoff more than i would ever have imagined possible. there is such a world of wonderful difference between codependency and healthy interdependence, and i have been granted the lucky gift of being able to appreciate the one i’ve got in my life now, thanks to the perspective i gained from years in the trenches of the other one.
(dear grammy and grampy – quinn loves his treasure island legos from you, and found a perfect “habitat” for them on the grammy quilt from several christmases ago!)
and let’s face it. wood heat is just so much warmer (it’s not just about over-analyzed relationship dynamics, it is about actual heat as well). for those of us who have thermoregulation challenges, a woodstove is a must. i can’t get these cold bones to any semblance of warmth with electricity. maybe it is the aries in me, but i require fire. or to be submerged in scalding liquid, which is impractical outside of one hour per day.
and so, i would like to send a special prayer out about that woodstove we will one day soon be filling up with firewood (and when i say we, i mean he). because we are looking for you, woodstove, and we are hoping to find you very soon. we hope you won’t mind us (me) cooking beans and boiling the teakettle on your surface, because we tend to maximize the functions of our woodstove, and we hope you are up for the task. we are eager to meet you and get to know your idiosyncrasies, to learn to fine tune your flue damper and your air intake, to let our home life revolve around you through the winter months, and bask in your glow. you will be central to our household, in more ways than we can describe. to us, no other appliance, and not even the bathtub, is more central to what we think of as home – there’s a reason for the phrase “hearth and home.” while we are looking for the latter, we are just as fervently searching for the former.