Installment One - The Purchase

Installment One - The Purchase
On a trip to Spokane in April 1980, my husband bought the farm. . . literally! "What's it like?" I asked on his return to Anchorage, Alaska. . . "Well," he replied, "the road to it is impassable, the land is overworked, and the house is so bad we'll probably have to tear it down." And that was the good news.

So in May after quitting our jobs and selling our house, we are driving to the farm and, because I'm a clever girl and an eternal optimist, I'm thinking I can probably salvage the house and I'll have a fabulous garden with lush perennials beds, tons of hybrid roses and a verdant lawn (gardening in Alaska wasn't the most exciting.)

Then he casually mentions there's a little problem with the well. "Whatta ya mean...a problem??" I ask with a fair amount of tension in my voice. He hesitantly admits there's only about a gallon-a-minute. If you've ever lived on a well you know that is barely adequate for a house let alone a garden.

Besides Spokane only gets 14" of moisture a year and that is in the wintertime....hardly boding well for the garden of my dreams. The house was indeed dismal and everything around it was dead... everything that wasn't buried in broken-down equipment and junk. Well there was one old apple tree living, but not a songbird to be seen. There was a pheasant and a killdeer. But as it turns out, being ground nesters, their habitat was under constant assault with chemicals...fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. In fact so many chemicals had been poured on the land over the years that it had seeped down to the water level of aforementioned well.

After I finished weeping and wailing, I began pulling at the duct tape which was holding up the peeling wallpaper in this dismal house built in 1906. I resolved I would have a garden by damn and there would be birds to sing for my bird-loving husband and never again would there be a single drop of chemicals on this land in my lifetime.

Photo taken in May 1980

Photo taken in May 2009 standing in the same spot -
There is a very small pond on the right where you can barely see the little bridge. It provides water for the larger wildlife.
Addendum for scrapbook: The Dismal House
The house (built in 1906) definitely lived down to my husband's expectations. As you can see there were real problems with the foundation.. I should say what foundation as only half the house had a foundation... the rest was sitting on rocks... not a rock foundation... just rocks. The lovely stuff you see on the outside of the house was asphalt material with a brick pattern. It was peeling and rotting. I'm sorry I don't have early pictures of the inside but the outside was grand by comparison.. My husband was right...we should have torn it down. The tree on the right was dead and the tree on the left was dying.
p.s. I am still working with the assemblage of this piece. I adored all Robin's little openings in her work. I started with felt and didn't like it so will go to town to get ultrasuede. It's also hard to condense the text to fit so there will be expanded text in the scrapbook which I am doing at the same time since I have all the photos out....


Carol said...

Thank you. This is so interesting. You tell your story beautifully.

That asphalt siding..well my FIL retired from a company in South Bend Indiana that made that kind of siding and you still see a lot of houses around here sided with it.

I had no idea you have such little rain. I always thought it was pretty wet. That's one of the cool things about blogging. You find out how people in other states and countries live.

Thanks for the post, Gerry. I enjoy your blog so much.

Robin said...

I will not sleep for want of reading the next chapter, Gerry! This is most fascinating. May I come vist you this summer sometime?

Robin A.

Marty S said...

A lovely page and a very interesting story. I went back to other entries in your blog to read more.
Marty S
Crackpot Beader

The Beaded Life said...

I can't wait to read more. I love the story behind this piece.

RoseLady said...

Gerry- I am looking forward to the next installment in this story.
Thank you for sharing this with all of us.


Terri said...

Wow! What a wonderful standard you are for the rest of us! I love your story! And your birds! Next to crows I love the nutheads! I have a delightful photo of one I will post shortly for you! I am excited to hear the rest of the story!

Magpie Sue said...

WHAT a project! Not the scrapbook, the house AND yard/garden. You are the very epitome of determination and perseverance. Most women would have turned around and gone back to Alaska!

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