Tuesday, March 2, 2010

House Hunting Day # 2

I wish that I could say we had been successfull today, had walked into a house that shouted "home" to us.
Unfortunately not so. We viewed a charming tiny house which had been nicely remodeled, but the kitchen was miniscule, there was a space-saving spiral staircase to the bedroom and bath on the second floor.  I could too easily imagine several cats entangled around my ankles and a plunge to the bottom.  Kitchens are important to me as I love to cook and bake, and I have played my role in styling and fitting out each one in the houses we have built and sold.
I am realizing more each day that we have been spoiled these past dozen years living in new houses which J. has designed and built. We can't, in any location or any economy, afford to live in a similar one which we would have to purchase outright.
The sun did nearly peek out for a few minutes this afternoon after a gloomy morning which was chilly under skies which spat wet snowflakes.  Even a laggardly sun did much to lighten my spirits and help me  to envision the landscape as it will surely look when spring arrives in a few weeks.
We were at the realty office for awhile this forenoon with our printouts of remaining possibilities spread out on a desk, while the young man broker who is seeing us about made phone calls, asked questions, set up viewing appointments for later in the week.  Several houses which we had considered are either under contract or have just sold.  I have to conclude they were not meant to be ours.
Robby, the broker, had to make arrangements with a young Amish family for a showing of their home this weekend.  He has done a lot of work with the Amish in the area and there is apparently mutual respect and cooperation.  Since the Amish do not have phones or other "modern" devices in their homes, one of the realtors must drive to their residence to make showing arrangements.  Robbie located the young woman of the house next door at her parents' home, a lavish appearing farm in a small settlement that is mostly Amish people.  She came out on the front steps to talk with him.  I would have liked to use my camera's zoom to take a photo of her, but the Amish forbid personal photos or likenesses and I hadn't the heart to violate that preference.
She was young, perhaps 20 or less, slender, pretty.  She was dressed in an ankle length dress of golden brown material.  I was surprised that it wasn't black.  The dress was made with a high round neckline, a button front bodice and a full skirt of unpressed box pleats. The woman's hair, typically, was parted in the middle and tightly pulled back, either braided and pinned up or simply twisted and secured under a sheer little white cap.  I wasn't close enough to determine the exact style of hair do.
Since we were there, Robbie asked if we would care to view the house.
We went in through a "washroom" which contained a gasoline powered wringer washing machine and a large wood fired "boiler" which produces the hot water for laundry day.  Just off the wash room was a privy--a "two seater."  The room was unheated and chilly.
In the kitchen a large wood cookstove ruled over the space, with a three burner oil stove sitting to one side.  I've not seen the like of the oil-fired range since I was a small child visiting the homes of older relatives. 
I was surprised to see that the kitchen cabinetry was made of stained plywood, as the Amish are known for their fine skills as cabinet makers.
There was one downstairs bedroom with a double bed and two childrens' cribs also in the room.  In the adjacent living room were some upholstered chairs and another wood-burning stove.  Laundry was draped over a rack to dry in front of the stove. A closed stairway lead to two connecting bedrooms upstairs.  Robby explained that the bedroom for an Amish couple is always on the main floor.  An upper story is usually left, at least initially, as an open loft.  As children outgrow the need to sleep in the parent's bedroom [or are displaced by a younger baby] they are moved upstairs.  Eventually, separate spaces for boys and girls will be partitioned off.
There are differences in the beliefs that govern the degree of "worldliness" which is tolerated in any Amish community.  Some are allowed the use of basic indoor plumbing.  A few daring ones have minimal electric installed in a workshop.  The Amish feel rather critical of their progressive Mennonite brethren who may have electric in their homes. The Mennonites may also own automobiles, although Robby explained that most are labeled as "black bumper Mennonites." The chrome trim or "bumpers" on the autos must be painted black or removed and replaced with an improvised black bumper.
Those Amish who defy the stringent rulings of their local bishop regarding lifestyle may feel compelled to move to a more lenient community. To break away completely from the Old Order Amish lifestyle is to be "shunned" by family and friends alike.
We will be looking at one or two other Amish farms.  J. is quite enamored of one which we will view tomorrow if all goes to plan. I am skittish--I know he can wire a house with the best of them, but I like my creature comforts.  The thought of purchasing a home "without amenities" no matter how well built, or how lovely the lay of the land, fills me with weariness.  I doubt I would enjoy the weeks without internet, lights, my sewing machine.  I am not, when all is said, a true pioneering woman.
I wasn't naive enough to think we would find our new home on the first day of viewing properties.  I do hope it won't take weeks, or, heaven forbid, months!
I'm missing my cats, I'm missing the small, almost absent-minded little routines that make up a usual day in one's own home.
How casually we wander to our own kitchen to brew a cup of tea, to rummage amongst the left-overs in the fridge.  How often we glance out at a  well known view from a familiar window, go to sleep hearing the small half-acknowledged sounds of a house as it settles for the night.
I daresay some pre-conceived ideas may have to be shifted, some priorities rearranged, but I'm in hopes that the search for a home will soon be successful.


  1. What a great wee post. It takes me with you on the search.

    I thought your description of the Amish girl was beautifully restrained, doing her justice while the sparse prose reflected the personality as well as the person. I'm glad too that you didn't take the photograph.

    I enjoyed the austerity of the house while feeling like you, that I might not relish that potentially I was about to live in a museum piece, even if J was bringing it up to date.

    Interesting that the realtor {we call them 'estate agents' here} was respectful enough of their ways to gain their trust - and their business.

    Good luck for tommorrow.


  2. We lived in a Mennonite Community in Southern Ontario in the sixties. They were more modern than the Amish but they still painted chrome bumpers black and separated men and women in church.

    Happy hunting. I hope you find somewhere you like soon.

  3. You sound as though you could do with spending a day just resting! I think you have probably overdone things over the last few weeks and it's catching up with you. I hope you find a lovely home soon.

  4. A fascinating description of the Amish House MM, and of their way of life.

    I hope that you will find a home that suits you both over the next days. It must be very unsettling. I`m sure that you must be missing the cats and the freedom to make choices.

    Is Pebbles still in Wyoming?

  5. Mmmm - difficult one isn't it - you may find theright place, but if it's Amish it will have NO modern conveniences until you put them in. Perhaps you have to go for the "long view" in this one. Perhaps a month or so's discomfort will be worth it if all around is enchanting and the house basically good? I don't know - it's your decision, but having "managed" (that's as much as I'll admit) without internet last year, I can say it was hard. Without electricity totally for weeks on end, or a bath, or indoor plumbing, hmmm, another matter and it would take much mulling over. Good luck anyway. You are in my thoughts every day.

    Would you believe the word verification today is "soutabl"!!!

  6. Yes, I'm like you. I love to stay in my caravan, which does have electric, but I would miss my sewing machine and laptop. What a fascinating tour of an Amish home. I do hope you find just the right home and are soon settled.

  7. The is a sence of normality when one has a routine ...no matter how simple and being so far from your beautiful cats cant help. I really feel for you and hope it is only a few more days before you walk into the house you know will be your home.

    When you a moment do pop by as there is something for you on my blog.xx

  8. Very interesting post (as usual). I am surprised that an Amish family would sell their farm to an "English" family...thought their communities tend to be extremely close knit and prolfic as well, so that there is usually a shortage of land and houses. I do hope that the place you find won't be quite so primitive from the point of view of creature comforts...it's a fun adventure when camping but gets tiresome mighty fast as a way of life to those of us who like a hot shower and a spin on the internet!