Remembering . . . the seeds of grass


In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.              William Blake


When we moved into Simplicity, she was empty. Not a thing in her, not a thing around her.  Perhaps that was why we were able to see her strong bones so well.  As we worked on the inside, her outside equally demanded attention.  She was a yellow island in a sea of brown dirt.  She needed grass and shrubs and flowers and trees.  A lawn service was hired to give her green grass.  They grated the dirt and then sprinkled seeds.  It was our job to water twice a day.  That became my first task of loving this old house.  To encourage her grass to grow.


Faithfully I moved hoses and water to give her a good drink twice a day.  My rainboots would be donned at the back door and off I would go.  Day by day, week by week, I did this.  Tender loving care, faithful watering, and soon little blades of grass were confidently emerging.


When it came time for plants, I remember telling a friend that I could not dig up or use any kind of killer on those precious blades of grass.  I had nurtured their becoming. Their early development was my responsibility. They needed more time to grow. Plantings had to wait an entire year.


Recently our current lawn service burned sections of our grass.  They reseeded and the request of us was to water faithfully.  Once again, I was moving hoses and water.  As I did, I remembered those early days sixteen years ago when we first tended the needs of this old house.  The cycle of life goes around and around. We plant seeds, water, and bask in the abundance.  Our time here has grown us – our relationship, our creativity, and our sense of place.  Simplicity has given us a green and abundant life.

A Love Letter to Simplicity


I had walked into a room where I knew at once that much had been thought and felt, a room where books had souls, where life was lived at great intensity in the silence.    May Sarton


I have not had a moment to reflect on this fast moving change in my life.  The ball is rolling ever so quickly as we prepare to leave Simplicity and anticipate our new life on the bend of Rumley Run.  Tasks and projects dominate these days.  Overwhelm easily sits beside us.  As we sign legal documents, schedule appointments, handle phone calls, the pace is rapid and immediate.  There is an intense timeliness to this buy and sell process.  I can feel out of breath without doing anything physical.  My mind spins and loops around for another quote, question, task.   I know a different urgency will also happen once we are in our new home. It feel endless.


That is why a personal letter arriving in the mail brings a moment to pull back from all the busyness, providing the opportunity for a much needed breath.  Last week Simplicity received a love letter.  A young woman and her family had visited during the open house and fell into the magical spell of this old house.  Her finances did not afford the possibility to purchase, but that did not stop her from sharing her feelings.


On our family’s journey to find our perfect first home, we came across Simplicity online.  Looking at pictures, we loved the simple beauty of your home.  Knowing it was over our price range, I had to convince my boyfriend to ‘just look’ at the open house.  As my boyfriend, daughter and I walked up to the porch and through your home, we fell in love with every creaky step, as Simplicity told us her love story. 

My best girlfriend said, “When you see the one, you will feel it.” 

I didn’t understand what she meant until we experienced it.  We were overwhelmed by the perfection of Simplicity.  Simple understated elegance. 

I understand I am breaking the rules by sending this, but I thought I’d extend our love for your home.  Whoever takes on the life of Simplicity couldn’t be luckier.


Simplicity is loved.  Her new owners indicate great appreciation for her wise old structure and I have no doubt they will love her well.  I have received requests from friends who wish to come say a last good bye to her, offering gratitude for times shared in her rooms.   She deserves a proper farewell. And now I wonder, how do you say good bye to a faithful and dear friend?  How does one recall all the stories of living here that fill countless chapters of our lives?  How do we say thank you?






Home with a heart Sign


Don’t dismiss the synchronicity of what is happening right now finding its way to your life at just this moment.  There are no coincidences in the universe, only convergences of Will, Intent, and Experience.  Neale Donald Walsch

Simplicity is sold.

I need to let that reality soak in.

Simplicity has been sold.


That means she will have new owners.  That means we are moving out.  That means our relationship with this old house is soon to end.


Within eleven days we saw our perfect home, submitted an offer, put Simplicity on the market, had an open house and showings, and she sold.  That’s one packed stretch of time.  Our hearts, thoughts, and stomachs have had one wild ride.


These eleven days have squeezed every possible emotion from our bodies.  Fear, anxiety, excitement, relief, sadness, joy, anticipation, worry and more.  The nights, where the heart and soul have time to ponder, have been sleepless.  The days, where the body and mind are overly active, have been managing the million details in these transactions.  Exhaustion has been the result. Nothing has felt simple, light, playful.  Not yet.


In the midst of this sense of overwhelm, is deep gratitude.  Simplicity’s new owners sound like they were hand-picked.   Their realtor shared with ours . . .


“My couple fell in love with the character of the home, as well as its story! It reminded them of the houses they grew up in, and they love what your Seller has done with it. They hope to build on it for their time there, as their family grows!”


Sitting in Simplicity, I hear her confidence that all is just as it should be.  It is time for us to leave.  It is time for a family to move in.  Once again, Simplicity will offer herself to be molded and shaped by the lives of her new owners.  This is part of her DNA, her personality.  This is her gifted nature.


Don and I are ever so thankful for the professionals who have guided us, answered the questions that have muddled our brains, and given us courage to carry on.  Our realtor, Monika, not only found our new home but believed in the value of Simplicity. We asked her how long have we been searching for our next home.  Her reply, “My notes go back as far as five years.” What I know is that the undocumented is much longer. This journey to find home, the perfect home for us, has been lengthy.  We have been intentional in our search, our demands of a house, and the kind of lifestyle we desire to live.  Our mantra became, we will know it when we see it.   Well, we saw it less than two weeks ago.


It has taken a village of well-informed specialists to calm our nerves, hear our stories, and earn our trust.  Each day another check mark or two or three is made beside a looming task.  Each day the overwhelm finds some release and the wiggle of playful delight is seen through the crack.  The immediate days ahead will find us asking questions of ourselves and each other about what goes, what stays.  Boxes of every shape and size will be our constant companions.  Order will turn into chaos.  We will live in the temporary state of in-between.


Today I made a reference to ‘our house’.  When asked for clarification as what house I was meaning, Simplicity or the one we are buying, I realized that it was the new house.  Somewhere between last night and this morning, the house that sits on the bend of Rumley Run has become home, the house in which I live forward.  That brings a deep peace.

Simplicity is For Sale

2015 Simplicity side

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. Walt Disney


Simplicity goes on the market tomorrow!


Rewind the story. Begin again.

Simplicity goes on the market tomorrow.


A few weeks ago, we met with a realtor friend to ask about the housing market.  Seemed like now would be a wise time to sell if we could find our dream home.  Last Friday, she sent an email about an open house of a new build in our village.  That evening we rode our bikes over and looked in the windows.  Nothing impressed us. We considered not even going to the open house and then said to ourselves, “Everything is helpful information.”


Saturday afternoon was cold, gray, and rainy.  Once again, seeing the front of the house said nothing exceptional to us.  Then we walked in.  Magic happened.  The open floor plan, the volume of light coming into each room, the spirit of this modest looking home started speaking to us.


The new home had details we appreciated.  A separate ‘wing’ for guests, cathedral ceilings in the great room, deep window sills, white woodwork, a walk-in shower, a soaking tub, recessed ceiling in the master suite, kitchen cabinets with pull out shelves, a fireplace, nine and a half foot ceilings in the unfinished basement.  Excitement began building.  We felt ourselves becoming more alive.


Trying to put our over eager emotions in check, we saw the practical gifts presented by this home and the ease of living it offered.  Family, friends, and strangers had open space to gather. Don and I could grow old here, extending our independent living. Guest accommodations tucked away from the living space felt respectful and convenient for live-in or Airbnb use. Living on one level was practical.


Then there was the unfinished wide open basement ready to offer substantial studio space.  Two large egress windows were in place to offer kind and supportive natural light.  Already we could see the gallery walls surrounding our art-filled work space.  A center room in the basement could be a fun area to set up an indoor tent and hammock for adventuresome overnights with the grandchildren.  Our creative souls were in a land of bliss.


But before that story can unfold, dear sweet Simplicity must find a new owner.  Today was her photo shoot for the official listing. Her presence was confident. Her dignity strong and vital. Well loved, well maintained, and given creative license in these sixteen years, Simplicity is at her peak. She has trained for this very marathon.  She, too, is ready for her next calling.


Our prayer for these days of overwhelm is this:

            May our decision to leave Simplicity be clear and respectful.

            May our decision to purchase a new home be wise and adventuresome.

            May we be at peace.

Within the breath of each word spoken, we still need to clean out another drawer, sign yet another document, mop the floors, pack away a few memories, and toss out a pair of old shoes.  A new story has begun.

Simplicity goes on the market tomorrow!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the sign in the front yard could say, “House with a Heart for Sale”?


Simplicity’s Timeline and the Letter R

Simplicity in masking

An incident is an event that happens in real time.  A story is what you make out of it later.     Elizabeth Gilbert


Timelines are helpful tools in seeing the whole of something. Simplicity’s story can be playfully written using the letter R.  Here we go.


Mr. Fred Schuman built a REASONABLE house in 1905, nothing fancy or pretentious.  When the construction finished, the family was READY to move in. The Schuman’s were the first RESIDENTS.


In time, a RELATIVE, granddaughter Irene Schuman, RETURNED to this house she REMEMBERED as the family home. An elementary teacher in the village, she developed a stern REPUTATION.  People who knew her REFER to this house as Ms Schuman’s.


The house was RE-PURPOSED by Karen who set up a hair salon and tailor’s shop on the first floor and a RENTAL apartment upstairs.  Now it was no longer a single-family dwelling, but a RESOURCEFUL stream of income.


When the village square was REDEVELOPED in the late 1990’s, Simplicity’s future was in jeopardy.  Scheduled to be RAZED, Jim and Mike RESCUSED and RELOCATED her.  In the following year, they REMODELED and RESTORED her as a single-family dwelling.  She was put up for sale by a REALTOR. There she RESTED for twelve months, without an owner or occupant.


In our search for a home, we RECOGNIZED that this simple dwelling RECONNECTED us with our values and provided an opportunity for a RESTORATIVE way of living.  By RECLAIMING her as a family home, we RENEWED her life as well as our own.  In the seventeen years lived in this RECEPTIVE space, we have no REGRETS, only REWARDS. Our RELATIONSHIP with Simplicity  has always been RESPECTFUL.


Cheers to this American four-square!  There is good REASON to RECALL your long life. We RATE you as REMARKABLE!  To be on RECORD as your current owners is a RICH privilege.

Time to Leave Simplicity?

van gogh simplicity

Leaving home, in a sense, involves a kind of second birth in which we give birth to ourselves.           

Robert Neelly Bellah


The question comes up every so often.  Is it time to leave Simplicity?  Recently the question arose once again.  Not for the reasons why many at our age are downsizing and moving into smaller places. Not because we don’t love living here.  Not because this old house takes work.  None of these are the reasons this question keeps revisiting. The nudge to leave is whether a change in our living conditions would refresh our creativity.


I have personally experienced how a change in one’s environment changes perspective.  A new setting often leads to a new life, new opportunities, new learnings.  This has been true for many artists over the centuries.  Two come to mind. Picasso moved around. In each place he lived, he picked up a different method or color sense or change of interest.  Each place helped him develop his artistic voice. Georgia O’Keeffe found her new self and totally different subject matter in New Mexico.  New York had drained her creative energy.  Don says, “We are too comfortable, too content, living in Simplicity. Our patterns are too familiar.” I understand.  Is this contentment lulling us to sleep while we desire to wake up?


We are not thinking far or wide in this possible move.  Just a different residence in this same geographical area that gives us more flexibility in how we engage and create in our space, live our lives.  Simplicity is a house of many small rooms which has its own charm.  Now there is a readiness for openness, undefined space, and lots of light.


While I say that this change of residence is not related to our age, we want to be wise and responsible.  One floor.  One story.  We have talked that when one of us dies, the other has no intention of staying in Simplicity.  This has been a house of togetherness.  A house filled with the stories of integrating our lives and finding a common path.  Death of one would bring a difficult story for the other to live. Neither of us wishes to leave Simplicity in a shroud of sorrow.


Over the seventeen years we have lived in Simplicity, this question has been given serious discussion five times.  Our realtor has been patient as we try to proactively navigate the what next, where next.  We have spent weekends visiting open houses, toured apartments, condos, new construction.  Each burst of this search has resulted in coming back home to Simplicity, feeling loved and supported by this old house. On the financial side, we want to be prudent.  This is not when we will take out a mortgage or put our life savings into a house.  We have looked, yearned, imagined, written our list of desired features for our new living working space.  Simplicity is up to speed if a quick sale is in her near future.  She is of sound structure and looks great.


So, we wait.  We are open.  We continue to prepare by minimizing our load, letting go.  We have clarity of what is important to go with us and what to leave behind. What has suited our lives in Simplicity, will likely not fit our new ones. When we find our next home, we will be ready.  Perhaps part of this urgent desire for something different, is the desperate need of a long vacation.  This has been a year of intense house projects and demanding art commitments.


Each place we have lived has given us energy, invited the creative spirit, and nurtured our love for the other.  Our next home will do the same. Simplicity, an understanding partner in this process, is a wise old house.  Perhaps she is the one kicking us out, pushing us into what will be another chapter of life.  I wouldn’t put it past her.

Garden Learnings

We don’t make mistakes.  We just have ‘learnings’.       Anne Wilson Schaef

garden woes

Looking at the garden now, I remember its humble and hopeful beginning.  Just home from the Garden Expo, I had plans and I had seeds.  The long delay in planting due to rain meant the seeds made their way into the ground later than suggested on the backs of the seed packets.  Nevertheless, I was optimistic.  No hurry, little seeds.  Take your time.


My eagerness to squeeze in as much produce as possible into this 8 X 4 space was exaggerated and against wise gardening.  Why did I ever think cucumbers would be a great idea?  I knew better.  They were like the squash family, taking over more than their share of the turf.  I blame my exuberance, fed by the Garden Expo.


What I cannot blame on anyone but myself, is why I planted everything so close together.  I knew carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach and kale needed space to grow.  Instead, I threw whole packets of seeds into thin four foot lines.

It was the kale that surprised me.

If I had read the instructions on the packets . . .

I probably would have ignored them anyway, but WOW.  No clue that kale could grow so large.  Its leaves hid the struggling carrot and radish greens gasping for light. “Me first,” the dominant kale seemed to say.


We managed to have just enough lettuce, spinach, and kale for a few salads.  Oh, did I mention the peas?  Did they grow that tall last year?  They were winning the competition of space with the tomato plants.  The poor peppers never made a showing.  And then those cucumbers, crowding everything with their tendrils of flowering potential.


Are you beginning to see this garden of mine?  I have supported a war zone in my backyard.  Recently, I took responsibility and mercy on the struggling little plants.  I intervened. Out came the kale and peas that had had their time in the limelight. By now, the cucumbers were doing so incredibly well, I said to myself, “Let’s run with this and see where they go.”


Today I look at my little raised bed garden in the backyard and sigh.   The garden is a disaster and I have thrown in the towel on 2017 . Looking ahead to next year, I have two promises to self. No cucumbers and to each little seed I plant, room to grow.  Until then, the tomatoes are looking rather optimistic.  I pray that I have at least one BLT in my future.