New House Files, Part 1: What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

Why so quiet Jenni dear? You must be wondering...ok, I have an inflated sense of self but I'll tell you what's been happening in my neck of the woods the past few weeks.

I've been recovering from gall bladder surgery, which occurred two weeks ago. The procedure went smoothly and I'm starting to feel like I've got some energy and pep again! Woohoo!

At the same time, we've begun the work on remodeling the old house we plan to call home this coming July. I'll admit to not wanting to share pictures of this old place in it's current state because I'm embarrassed of how poorly it looks. Logically, I know we'll change all that and bring this home back to life, but the process will be long and I struggle with the lack of aesthetics the place currently has to offer.

My pride often gets in my way. I blame my Dutch grandparents who, after immigrating from Holland post WWII, carved a new life for themselves and their young family, purely through grit and hard work. They had no formal education past the 8th grade because the Nazi's closed the schools. My grandfather (Opa) worked in concrete/construction and my grandmother (Oma) cleaned homes for the wealthier Dutch families they knew. They were humble, but proud people. They always kept themselves and their residence in good condition.  These values were passed along to me. I know they would have rolled up their sleeves and dug into the work of rehab-ing this old house as I will also do, but dear friends, I admit to having been spoiled by our modern times. I've never taken on a project quite this big and it feels overwhelming.

So, I hope you'll be my cheering squad.

The Old House
We've begun the work of moving my father in law out, as this was his home prior. With the interior clear,  we are beginning the work inside. I'll be detailing that in later posts.

This home was built by my husbands great-grandfather, Pete. He was an immigrant from Canada. He built this home during the late 1920's to the early 1930's. Prior to the home, the land was a holly farm. 90+ years later..random bit's of holly can still be found growing in the yard.

Old Pete worked at the nearby lumber mill along the Willamette River in what is now Oregon City. Plywood was the new 'wonder' material in those days. Pete used a lot of it. For example, the interior walls are plywood. I admit that those walls have held up well ;)

Pete and his wife, Nellie had beautiful gardens. Lot's of flowers and a great big Victory Garden that kept them fed during the lean years of the depression.

A view to the back yard
The yard has been unloved and fairly unused. I have grand plans to build raised vegetable garden beds next month and to bring some food production back to this property.


I am excited about the large yard space I will have to work with. It's the thing that has made me agree to make this move and take on all the work. In the above picture, there is a concord grape that was planted by Pete. It still produces a substantial quantity of grapes every year. To the back left of the picture, you can see I'll be battling the neighbor's rogue black berries, as they spill over the back fence. That home is for sale and my husband and I are hopeful the new owners will tidy up down the road.


My father in law did plant something during his tenure in the home.  He brought raspberries from his prior home in California. They are good producers and I plan to dig up canes from the raspberries I've been growing in my current home to add another row and some variety.

There is so much to be done. I look around and know that between myself and my husband, we'll be touching every square inch of the home and yard to bring it back to life.


I hope that in a few years, my family will be able to pull into the driveway of the old house and feel joy at being 'home'. For now, it's time to roll up our sleeves and work.

Cheers, Jenni

Comments

  1. Jenni, You can definitely count me in on your cheering squad! A home with character & family history, a large yard...so much potential! Looks like it will be a labor of love!

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  2. Oh, look at that sweet porch and those wonderful windows! Your new house has so much potential! And that big yard that you can turn into the most beautiful garden. You know I will be cheering you on. I love that it has family history, and I am also so glad that you are feeling better. Looking forward to seeing what you accomplish.

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    1. Thank you Alison :) My father in law put in new windows, which is wonderful! I love the porch too, but there is a rather 'hard smoking' neighbor next door that likes to sit on her front porch and puff away. I'm afraid I'll be looking to transform a bit of the back yard into a nice patio for outdoor sitting ;)

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  3. Jenni ~ What a wonderful story about your new/old home. Do take plenty of before pictures, and plenty as you work on the place, inside and out. You will be amazed at how things will be changing and it will be nice having the record of those changes.

    Enjoy this new chapter in your lives.

    FlowerLady

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  4. I have been wondering what you've been doing at your new house. I think it is a very nice house and has a lot of charm and potential! It's really neat that is has a family history to it!
    I am jealous of all that garden space! You will have fun making it your own.

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    1. I know, it's weird when I'm quiet. lol. I imagine I'll have lot's of plant questions for you in the future :)

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  5. That place has POTENTIAL! And lots of space by the look of it. Just imagine how many veggies you will be able to grow.

    BTW: Sympathy on the gall bladder op. I had this four years ago, and it wasn't much fun. I was hospitalised for a lengthy period before they diagnosed what was wrong and then later I went in again to have the offending organ removed. I thought I was going to miss my daughter's wedding - eventually I came of hospital only the day before it. Whew.

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    1. Mark...you've paralleled my thoughts on the back yard..How edible of a place can I make it?!! :)

      The Dr's old me I fell into a 5% category of patients not needing to be hospitalized prior to surgery. I'm thankful for my good luck in that regard. Glad you made the wedding, although I suspect you would have escaped for it anyway :)

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  6. I'll be a member of the cheering squad! I love the house. It has so much character and such a rich history. That back yard is awesome! You're going to have so much fun back there. Will you be allotting the kids their own little gardens? I did this for mine. They loved it.

    Sorry about your surgery. (I already knew about it because of Facebook.) I'm glad you're feeling better and I hope you continue to improve. Keep us posted on the renovations. No need to be ashamed. We're all friends here. :)

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    1. Thanks Grace :) Oh..a garden for each kid..what a wonderful idea!!! Now that would be fun.

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  7. Glad to have you back and happy you are feeling better. That back yard is outstanding! Look at all of that room. What fun! It will be hard to focus on the inside of the house when the outside will be so much more fun.

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    1. Bonnie Dear, You nailed it! I am chomping at the bit to work in the yard. I am having to practice a lot of patience.

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  8. There really is so much potential. It's almost a clean slate out in that garden and I know you'll have so much fun making it your own. Having been in a similar position a long time ago, I know how it can sometimes feel like an overwhelming job. But I can say that at the end of it all, you will all feel so proud of what you will have achieved.

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    1. Bernie, you always know just what to say! Thank you for your kind words. I so admire your gardens, they are an inspiration!

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  9. It's always great to look back on the 'before' photos Jenni so don't shy away from taking them. I'm really envious of all that space - I wish we had all our space in our garden rather than having to rent an allotments plot!

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    1. Hey Sue, I have great appreciation for the size of yard. That size of a lot is rare, especially in the city.

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  10. What a beautiful little house and how lovely to know it was built by your husbands great grandfather, keeping it in the family and knowing its history is marvelous. Can't wait to see what it looks like after you put your own stamp on it.

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    1. Thank you Liz! I'll be reporting more soon :)

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  11. What a fun project! And you will have plenty to blog about. We are nearby--just on the Willamette on the WL side. : )

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    1. That's where we are too. 2 blocks from the Elementary :)

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  12. I'm glad to hear you're healing nicely! You new place is gorgeous and so full of potential!!! I can't wait to see what you do with it!!! Happy healing :-)

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  13. What a great house! It really is a charmer (bad realtor speak but in this case true). Thank you so much for your generous offer of the Yuccas, as it just so happens I've got several like that, dug from my brothers house in Spokane, so I probably don't need more. He and his wife hated them so I dug them out. The think is I missed little chunks of root and they came screaming back! (this is a cautionary tale).

    As the others have said I look forward to seeing your progress on the house and the huge garden!

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  14. Glad you're on the mend! It's a lovely house and so glad it will get some TLC. It's so admirable that you're putting time and energy into this older home. I really hate to see homes demolished and that has been what has happened in much of Ireland; many of our quaint cottages have been flattened and modern homes built (sad to see). You have great space in the garden / yard and I can imagine it evolving over the years. It'll be great! Take your time!

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    1. The name Wilamette rang a bell as I read this post, and I realised it was form a recent post by my American/Scottish blogging friend Christine in Aberdeen. See her post for news of another Wilamette house:

      http://christinelaennec.co.uk/2012/03/08/some-good-news-from-portland/

      What a VERY small blogging world!

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    2. And best wishes for recovery from your surgery and for work on the new house!

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    3. It is a small blogging world indeed! I visited the blog you linked to. Wow. Thanks for the best wishes Linda, I'll be posting more from Willamette in the future :)

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  15. What a wonderful project! I'm so excited to see it all unfold. I know you'll make great-granny Nellie proud when you re-do the gardens, as well!

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