Several weeks ago, headed out with Jim on errands, I hurriedly chose the above book to take along.
[I've learned that its best to have something to read as there is often a stop along the way with no need for me to be involved in the errand.]
I've owned the book for a number of years--one of those that is easy to enjoy, full of interesting photos and text. I gather that Emma-Louise O'Reilly may be more familiar in the UK as a contributor to decorating and craft magazines than she is in the US.
Her comments are rather pithy, her observations a bit dictatorial.
A phrase caught my eye, 'substantial, but not grand.'
Emma-Louise was describing a modest vintage farmhouse originally built by German settlers in the Texas hill country.
The two Amish farmhouses which we have acquired are also substantial, plainly built, of simple layout--nothing remotely 'grand' about them.
Raising a new house or barn for an Amish family is often a neighborhood affair.
While a 'builder' may be hired [usually another Amish] much of the labor is contributed by relatives, in-laws and other Amish neighbors.
Some of those working on a house may not have the skill level of finish carpenters.
As Jim has labored to install plumbing and electrical wiring in these houses he has discovered an interior wall slightly out of plumb--which has interfered with properly hanging a door, stairs in the lower house that are not evenly spaced, slight discrepancies in the spacing of wall studs.
None of these things affect the stability or integrity of the buildings, but they do make
for frustrating moments.
By far the most annoying to me is the quite unprofessional finish of the sheetrock on the walls.
This resulted in visible joins in the sheetrock and 'mud' that wasn't smoothly sanded prior to painting.
I have learned that interior painting is handed over to the women of an Amish household--and I suspect that any female capable of wielding a paintbrush or roller was handed one and told to have at it. Jim has patched and smoothed some areas, but the complete reworking which would make for a professional appearance isn't feasible in terms of time or budget.
I sternly tell myself that I must relinquish a perfectionist stance and enjoy the transformation of carefully chosen paint colors.
We have continued to plod along through the weeks of heat and humidity, and great progress has been made.
I painted the ceiling in the downstairs guest room last winter. When the spell of frigid weather arrived I closed the door and abandoned the job.
Knowing that our son and daughter-in-law would be arriving for a visit at the end of July inspired me to again pick up my brush and roller.
The actual paint color, Canyon Peach, is less pink than it appears in the above photo.
The room as it looked the day I finished painting.
The room ready for company.
The furniture belongs to our son who is dis-inclined to move it to Florida.
I made the pale sage grey/green curtains for one of our houses in Wyoming.
The vintage trunk at the foot of the bed came from my grandfather's attic.
Making a bed is a task beloved of cats.
Teasel knows that she enhances the quilt.
The following photos demonstrate the simple sturdiness of the buildings.
This is the back door which leads into the Amish 'washroom.'
This room contained a wood-fired boiler, a primitive shower stall, a sink with cold water.
The family laundry was done in a gas-powered wringer washing machine.
The enclosed space to the left of the door is the outhouse--NOT in use at present.
Eventually the pit will be filled in and the space can be utilized for garden tools or such.
We still refer to this area as the ''washroom.'
The freezer resides there as well as receptacles for recycling. During the winter we stored kindling and some firewood in the space.
Eventually it will become a garage with an overhead door.
The workshop was built a few months before we acquired the property.
We planted a garden in the area below it. Topsoil had been hauled in and perhaps in a less rainy summer a garden could flourish.
The season-long mess of mud and rapidly growing weeds has been disheartening.
The ground falls away rather steeply from the south end of the house,
The guest bedroom is in the extension. Below it, in the finished basement is a well insulated space for storing canned goods.
South-facing side porch.
The cement steps leading to the ground floor entry are rather crudely made and a bit uneven.
My feet are learning the varying intervals.
The lower farmhouse has a larger compartmented barn, as well as a shed which sheltered buggies and a wood store.
We have the small stable built to accommodate one horse and a buggy.
Renovations continue, although I haven't documented the progress with photos.
Over the past month I have painted the sunroom which adjoins the downstairs guest room.
Upstairs, Jim paints ceilings, I paint walls.
He has been installing electricity, creating the space for the shower in the master suite, constructing trim for around windows, bedroom doors and baseboards.
[In all the Amish homes we have seen, upstairs bedrooms are not finished in terms of trim work.]
The large upstairs guest room has been painted and finished, small guest room painted and trim being installed. Furniture and oddments are shoved from one space to another to make room to work.
I do what I can to help.
I have to confess that painting rooms is not as easy a project for me as it was several years ago.
I clamber clumsily up and down my step ladder.
I sometimes want to sit down on the floor and wail with weariness even as I tick off
another job finished.
Soon, the major renovations will be complete.
Soon I can unpack pictures and small treasures, consider how furniture should be arranged.
Soon we can look around with satisfaction and know that we have created a home--not at all 'grand' but comfortable and welcoming.