This is the house I’ve lived in and loved for 20 years. I’ve owned it outright almost 8 years. I first noticed it when I was renting across the street. Instead of grading my student papers, I would find myself staring out the window wondering about it. When I couldn’t sleep at night, unsure if I should stay in the relationship I was in, I’d get up and go sit in the chair at the window and stare at it through the trees. One day during one of these reveries, I heard myself saying out loud, “That’s such a cute little house. I wish that house was for sale.” I had no plans to buy a house, or money saved to do so. But I had said this out loud, involuntarily, as naturally as if it were a breath.
Three days later, there was a “for sale” sign on the lawn of the house. I knew I had to buy it. I bluffed my way through a conversation with the listing agent for an appointment the following Monday. Over the weekend, I got my income tax return. The minute I walked into the house, I just knew. I used my income tax return for earnest money, and asked my parents to co-sign with me. Before I knew it, the little blue house was mine.
Evidently there were others who wanted it for a rental, or office space, but somehow I was the one who got it. Michael had always asked me when we could have our own house, and now I was giving that to him. Not long after we moved in one summer evening, he was gone to the movies with a friend and his family, and I sat down in a lawn chair at the back of my long yard to look at the house. And I saw a big checkmark go off in some ethereal list of things I was meant to accomplish in this life, right after “buy an old two story house.”
When I was nine, the same age as Mike was that summer, I used to be in the car with my Mom when she would go looking at other houses. I got into the habit of saying “how about that one?” when we’d drive by one that appealed to me with a for sale sign in front of it. They were always older, and they were often two-story, and sometimes they were blue. But she always dismissed these. I still remember one in particular very clearly that I loved. “Why don’t you want a two story house?” I asked, perplexed that we had such different taste. “Too hard to vacuum,” she said. And that was that.
Even though it IS hard to haul the vacuum up and down the stairs (I certainly can’t do it anymore, and haven’t been able to for a long time), this blue house has been good to me and my boy. I raised him here. We raised a dog and a cat and a newt here, and helped to get a skate park built in our town. I learned to garden. I had the masonry stove built. I learned how to accept that my life had changed with the diagnosis of MS and this house became my healing center when I couldn’t teach anymore. It’s sheltered friends after a fire, and hosted many a meeting, consultation and celebration. So it’s been very good to me, and I wondered if I’d ever be able to leave it.
But I am. I’ve actually found another house here in town, every bit as magical in its own way, but smaller, all on one level, less to take care of–and–with a little artist studio out in back. Like this one I now own, the opportunity to see it came out of the blue. And before I knew it I was making an offer. And the offer was accepted. Some day I’ll tell that whole story but for now I’ll say that one day the activity of wondering if I’d ever stumble onto something else that would work was only an intermittent daydream, something I often dismissed out of hand. The next it became a real possibility that was practically being handed to me. All I had to do was say yes to the invitation. So I did.
Change always has layers to it that are invisible, or hard to recognize. They can be wound around something invisible that produces the green shoot of something new, wrapped in mystery. When I was trying to think of a way to describe the process of how this change dawned on me, I thought of a scene in one of my favorite movies, Life As A House. It’s a pretty intense scene between father and son, but what Kevin Klein’s character says at the end of it is exactly the way I think change works in my life. So I hope you’ll take a minute to watch it here.
Or maybe it’s as simple as one of my favorite children’s books, The Carrot Seed. As I listened to this being read out loud again in this little video after all the years I read it to Mike when he was small, it made me smile to think of the last 3 years when nothing seemed to “come up” from the seed of wondering what the best next step might be for me and my home. And now, the carrot has come up.
To celebrate, I’d like to share with you a healthy burger made with sprouted seeds and carrots. Tasty, easy to digest, and full of the promise of new beginnings. It makes me want to keep seeds sprouting on my counter all the time.
Sprouted Buckwheat Sunshine Burgers
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup of fresh basil, torn
3/4 cup of sprouted buckwheat
3/4 cup of brown rice and red quinoa
1 tbs of sunflower seeds
1 tbs of golden flax seeds
1 tbs of salt-free seasoning
optional: garlic or garlic granules, a little tumeric or poultry seasoning or fennel or As You Wish seasoning
1 tbs of water or broth
Chop up the carrot and the celery and tear up the basil. Add to food processor and chop more until smaller. Add the rest of the ingredients. Chop and process until it’s ground up enough to hold together. The flax seed and the sunflower meal and the gooey moisture of the sprouted seed make it pretty easy to form into patties, but you can use extra water or broth if it seems too dry. Bake on a sheet lined with baking parchment at 350 for about 35 minutes, turning them over once about half-way through. Serve on bread or rolls of your choice or wrapped in a large romaine leaf with mustard, tomato or even a slice of sweet potato.
I learned how to sprout buckwheat groats from Gena at Choosing Raw. If you go to her buckwheaties post (those are good, too, and very easy to digest) you’ll see where to go to learn how. This recipe is a low fat version of her version of baked sunshine burgers. It was my inspiration to include sprouted buckwheat groats in them. To sprout the buckwheat groats, I followed instructions in her Sprouted Wheatberry Salad post, and applied them to the gluten free buckwheat groats. She is a wealth of good information and it worked great. They’re very easy for me to digest too. They keep well, hold together well, and travel well. All good in times of flux.
If all goes as scheduled, I’ll close on my new house in early June. In the meantime, I am on a unique kind of adventure in the process of selling my own lovely blue house. I discovered that although 20 years ago I received a residential loan for it, the world has changed since then. I recently learned it’s been zoned motor business since 1956, the year I was born, and now banks won’t grant residential loans for a home in a motor business district. The grand irony is it’s the only home on the whole block zoned motor business–and it’s the most charming and best preserved home of all. It will be 117 this summer. It’s survived and avoided fire and flood for over a century, arbitrarily being drawn into and then back out of the flood plain, and sloppily mis-zoned as motor business, which means it could not be rebuilt as a residence if it should burn down. My going-away present to it will be to rezone it back to its rightful designation–Multiple Family Residential. And understanding what I understand now, even if I wasn’t going, I’d still do it. I don’t expect that to be controversial. I believe it’s charming staying power adds to the vibrancy of the Legacy Crossing Urban Renewal District it’s now a part of, but you never know. So hold a good thought and prayer.
And if all this were not enough to make the month of June jump, I just found out that a hypothetical conversation I had with the head librarian at Latah County Library District, Moscow Branch about me being the artist for their very first hosting of Art Walk, is not hypothetical at all. So I will be the first featured artist ever at the library this year, including the grand festivities on the Friday evening of June 13, where the whole downtown is open and full of art, music, food and fun. The library has both of my books, so I think I’ll include the original art for the covers and we can do something like “from art to book cover” as part of it. I couldn’t be more honored and pleased.
And just for good measure, my rezoning request should go before the zoning and planning commission sometime in mid-June too. So this year June is definitely way more than it’s lovely designation as the month of the barefoot moon.
I’ve long been active to make sure green spaces and what’s left of historical neighborhood in the Legacy Crossing Urban Renewal District are preserved. I’ve stood nearly alone against the commercial rezoning of the east side of the next block. I’ve waxed eloquent at public hearings about the need for trees and real plants to landscape what has now become a series of parking lots. I’ve campaigned with a neighbor to get a small pocket park designated and a tiny creek next to it daylighted–and we won the day–and I wrote and commented to both opposing parties when the school district wanted to purchase the one grand old park in the district from the city. I donated two trees to it in honor of my parents after old ones were lost to lightning. Rezoning my house will be the culmination of that activism perhaps.
So wish me luck. And understand what I’m up to if I don’t post as often. I’ll be back, I promise. Maybe even sooner than later.