The cat’s name is Winchester, and the house doesn’t have a name which is strange because it was built in an era when everyone named their house.
I like the idea of houses having names.
It’s personal, cosy, maybe a little old-fashioned but that’s OK because I’m a bit that way myself.
I’ve thought about giving her a name, but it didn’t seem right. She should have gotten her name when she was built, and it feels like bad luck to do it now, so she’ll have to remain anonymous.
If I live long enough the house will become known as ‘the strange old lady’s house’, and that will be fine by me.
I’ve had my eye on this house since I was a teenager.
It has passed through a few hands over those years, and luckily, each new owner has lavished her with care and attention. She’s only tiny, about ten squares in the old language, that’s about a thousand square feet. Most houses are three times that size, and that’s only the average ones.
When I have friends staying we have to go outside if we want to change our minds and there isn’t enough room to swing a Winchester, not that I would, she’s a good cat. More like a dog really. As often happens, she adopted me, or to be accurate, she adopted this house.
The house might be tiny but it sits on a large block of land, and it even has it’s own creek, or at least a bit of one. The creek runs through the corner of my block, and the water attracts all sorts of birds and animals, especially in the summer.
I keep Winchester inside as much as possible because, if I don’t, her instincts take a heavy toll on the local wildlife.
As you can see, the light is amazing, and it changes character depending on the time of the year.
This little abode is cool in Summer but can be very cold in winter, so the brick fireplace that you can just see behind me gets a lot of work. Winchester wakes me up in the Winter and drives me crazy until I get the fire going, then she sleeps in front of it for the rest of the day. Sometimes she sits on my lap when I’m working, but mostly she sits in front of the fire, or curls up on the couch.
It’s the small touches that make this house special. Tasteful leadlight in most of the windows, timber panelling in the main rooms, polished floorboards, brass door handles, and delicate plaster ceilings.
I believe that books, dogs and houses find you, not the other way around.
Considering how long I had to wait for this house I think that is true.
I did some work for the previous owner and asked him to let me know if he ever wanted to sell. He told me that he loved the place and was unlikely to ever want to leave. It took ten long years, but I eventually received the call. His wife was homesick and needed to move back to the West. He didn’t want to leave but he loved her very much, and he was prepared to make the sacrifice.
He needed a quick sale, and I didn’t have the money. Also, I had an iceberg’s chance in Hell of convincing the bank to loan me the money. I won’t bore you with the details, but to my amazement, all of the insurmountable obstacles fell away, one by one, and within 90 days I was sleeping in my dream home.
The former owner came back for a visit about a year later; he was in town on business. I could tell that being here was breaking his heart. That was several years ago, and he has not been back. I admire his love for his wife, and I give thanks for it because it enabled me to live the life I wanted in the house I needed to be in.
Painting by Steve Hanks