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A Yurt is just a dwelling without a good book

August 19, 2014 - Paul Giannamore
During the past weekend, The Boss and I were among what seemed like about 50 of The Drummer’s (soon to be) new family in his house. His house.

Those words are just amazing to me. My little boy, who was just playing Little League ball up the street a couple of weeks ago, has a house. Two stories. Stone exterior. Central air. Bath and a half or something like that. High-tech wiring all around. Finished rec room. Garage that’s bigger than mine. Beautiful little house preserved lovingly by its previous, meticulous owners. God bless them.

His house.

Back when The Boss and I were looking for that first dwelling in the mid-1980s, there was no thought of a house. There were a zillion decent apartments from which to choose and the drilling industry was decades away from driving up rents. We picked a good one, (which inexplicably had an open kitchen-dining room floorplan that was way bigger than the living room) and away we went.

The whole house purchase thing came an apartment later, when The Drummer was about to be born and it seemed we probably couldn’t live forever with his bassinet in our bedroom, nor would it be wise to let little boy share bedroom with little girl, who was already three.

We spent what seemed like a year. There were two houses that we kept coming back to, and the one we ended up in, our “starter house” just had that mental feeling of being home from the moment we walked into it. We looked around for months more, but no house had that “Hi, honey, I’m home!” feeling to it.

Starter house.

Sept. 19, it will be 23 years since we moved into what my mother thought of as some kind of yurt (or maybe that I had no business buying a house at all). But doggone it, The Yurt in Toronto is mine. In about 65 more payments.

Starter house.

My dad’s sole unwanted modification was to rip out the ramshackle and perfectly serviceable workbench in the basement to replace it with one that’s barely mid-thigh high for me and is a woodworker’s bench, complete with holes for wood-holding dogs on top. I work no wood. It’s virtually worthless as a workbench. Virtually stuck with it for 22 of the past 23 years. I vow never to rip out anything The Drummer likes. I will do only what I’m told. He’s The Boss at his house. Well, he and the future Mrs. G. (Who will henceforth be referred to as The Child Whisperer, for her career as an educator and the way I’ve seen children light up to her merely walking into a room.)

Starter house.

The Boss and I replaced the garage roof. Waterproofed the basement. Hard-wooded the main floor and recarpeted the upstairs. Partially remodeled the bathroom (into what The Boss loves. That’s a blog for another time). Painted the interior with new colors. Twice. Repainted the porches every three years. Shoved window air conditioners all over the place. Made 23 Thanksgiving dinners, 23 Christmas dinners and baked thousands of cookies for the holidays. Decorated 23 Christmas trees. Upgraded from rack stereos to all-in-one mini-stereos to no stereos at all, thanks to smartphones. Gone through three lawn mowers and 63 weed cutters. Still need a kitchen remodel. Had child 1 grow up and leave. Had four cats. Still have one that’s going with The Drummer, leaving us with no kids and one goofy little dog and a positively awful kitchen with no counter space and crappy cabinetry.

He and The Child Whisperer are looking around their new house and talking about replacing the brass light switch and plug plates. What a first world problem. Back at The Yurt, I’d settle for plumbing that actually works and one more good winter on an ancient roof. And a kitchen remodel. Did I mention I’ve hated my kitchen since 1991?

I’m very proud of him and the future Mrs. G. I wish them happiness on the grand adventure of home ownership, better plumbing than The Yurt, a bit of envy at their central air and bright hope their house feels as at home to them as what The Boss and I felt when walking into The Yurt in Toronto that first time and every time since. Because hardwoods and ugly kitchens and weak plumbing aside, a home is about that feeling, and it imparts that as much as the people in it give.

My mom said all houses have “a book” that is the spirit imparted by the previous owners. She may have hated The Yurt, but the book was a good one, I figure. I get that good feeling in the new Home of the Drummer and The Child Whisperer.

May they add many happy chapters to their home’s book.


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