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29 September 2010

Your home - know it, share it and make it productive

I didn't blog about this when we were in the thick of it because I didn't understand fully what had just happened. I thought it was just one of those things that you think about, it doesn't happen, and you go on as before. Many of you know that in those wee small hours when I lay awake, I think about what is happening in my life, if improvements are needed or if we need to completely stop certain things and get on with something else. Well, a couple of months ago, I wanted to leave here and buy another house. Yep, I did just write that. Me, who when we bought this land in 1992, swore this was the place I would die. Way back then, the thought that I felt so strongly about this place and that I wanted to live my life out here, just astounded me, and made me comfortable at the same time.

I love change. I love the challenges it brings, the news ways of viewing our lives, the heightened awareness and how new perceptions turn into a hundred different things. But just as our lives were very settled and a new grand baby was on the horizon, along came a gnawing doubt that we should be somewhere else. Where? I have no idea. I just knew I wanted to be surrounded by family and history and if we could find an old cottage in good condition in a country town, possibly in New South Wales, then I was ready to go.

Hanno was horrified. Nevertheless, he sat with me on many occasions while I talked about moving and why I wanted to go, he looked at a hundred cottages I found on and even though he didn't want to leave our home, he assured me he would help me find that elusive place. We even travelled to an old coal mining town at the back of Brisbane, looking for miners cottages. We found many of them, but not in a town I could call mine. It all looked foreign to me. I was very happy when we turned the car around and headed for home.

Then I started thinking about our history and what we'd done in this house. I was still in my forties when we came here. We settled here when our boys were still teenagers; Shane and Sarndra married in our garden; I had my fiftieth and sixtieth birthday parties here; Hanno had had his sixtieth and seventieth birthday parties here. Both our sons celebrated their twenty-first birthdays right in that same backyard. We planted the garden, installed water tanks, skylights, solar hotwater and whirlybirds. We erected fences and built a shed. We have chooks and worms that help us live well from what we produce in the backyard. Bananas, lemons, oranges and blueberries are producing; the avocados we planted are still to feed us. I have been lost a couple of times and found myself again on our front verandah. I taught myself to love housework here. I rediscovered old skills that had laid dormant for many years. I discovered myself here, this house and this land helped make me who I am.

How could we leave! I realised the history I was seeking was not only all around me it was inside me too. If we moved we'd be walking away from our history. If we moved all the work and effort we'd put into this place would be left behind for others, while we would be starting again. I stopped thinking of moving, fell in love with my home all over again and thanked my lucky stars for the insight to know when I had it so good.

Our connection to the place we live starts the moment we stop moving but too few of us are staying long enough to reap the rewards of really knowing where we live. It's not just the house and every micro-climate in the backyard we need to be familiar with, it's the community we live in as well. Without our communities and the collective wisdom contained within them, we will struggle no matter where we live. Hanno and I hooked into our local community and we have been rewarded with a fine group of friends and networks that help us live well and within our means.

My feeling is that most people are looking for the ideal house that will help them live in the way they have chosen. The problem is that few houses are ideal. If the house is excellent, the land isn't, or the location is wrong or the soil is not right. We have changed our house over the years to fit us and that works really well. It's far better than constantly being on the lookout for a better place to move to, then realise is not better after all. Instead of wasting all that energy like I did, put down roots, discover your place, know it, share it and make it productive. When you have the time, do exactly the same with your neighbourhood and your wider community. I am finding all sorts of interesting things in my community that weren't evident at first glance. Now that I've stopped looking for something better I have the time and energy to make the most of our social investment here. And best of all, now I know I'm not going anywhere, I'm free to develop a place fit for a grandchild or two. Now, that's what I call history!


  1. It never ceases to amaze me how I can find friends on the other side of the world. I stumbled upon your blog in my quest for more reading on homesteading and gardening. I to get the bug to move.. we are now on a half an acre - smallest I've ever lived on. Nearly perfect, but the house is big and chickens not allowed. All but one of our 11 children have flown the coop. We have a small guest house my dad lives in. As I contemplate finding a small homestead here in Loveland, CO. I've looked at the 5 years of effort we've put in here. It IS history. Something few of us Americans care about any more, sad to say. So I go on house hunting ventures and come home, mostly satisfied, yet the question still haunts at times.

  2. MMMMMMMMMMM me thiks there are going to be many readers out there saying that was me at some point,it is the same with us, so many people look for a seachange or tree change only to be dissolusioned to find that what they sought was at "home" all the time.Great post as usual.Carole

  3. This is a good reminder! No place will be a 'perfect fit' automatically, but any place called Home is worthy of our industry and ingenuity to bring it ever closer to that ideal.

  4. This post struck a chord with me too, Rhonda. I've only lived in this house, this area, for 2 years, and felt drawn to live here over 10 years ago whn I visited friends. The house isn't ideal, it was built before planning permission was needed, so my next door neighbour is about a metre away....luckily he's a good neighbour, and for him, I am too:)

    About a year ago I felt restless and like you, looked at other places, where I could maybe have some land, no near neighbours, but then I took stock of what I have here. My house is great, a little workman's cottage like you were looking for:) I have open land front and back, and views to Mt Warning, so looking out front or back, it's as if it's just me, and enough yard for my chooks and veg, but not too much for me to take care of.

    I'm about to start renovations to make this home more the home I need, instead of moving and maybe finding somewhere that's still not quite right.

    And it would be without the friends and community I have here, I think it takes longer as we get older to meet and make new friends, but good ones, and I volunteer at the local Women's Service, so I'm slowly gaining a foothold in this small community.

    I've been slowly coming to realise...all I need is here, and your post clarified all that for me again. It was timely.
    ps.....was that during your house hunting phase that you asked about Muwillumbah a while back, I did wonder why, and I did some looking, but didn't find very much written down, I'm sorry I never got back to you....

  5. My most urgent desires to move always seem to end up being a desire to get away from myself! But, as Buckaroo Banzai said, 'Wherever you go, there you are'.... so best to want what I have and where I've planted myself.

  6. Hm. I'm cursed with itchy feet - my husband thinks it's because I moved around as a child. I think it's because I like change AND a challenge. I'm still house hunting because we have absolutely no property and I'd like a proper garden one day, but I'm trying to be content with the now.

    And Sharon's blog is great. I've been reading it for about a year now and remember the house hunt.

  7. Hey Rhonda,

    Funny that you should post about this now,and it is very interesting reading this blog and that you suddenly had a notion to move.
    I too have lived in many places and you will recall that we recently moved from Dubai to Cyprus,( The veggie box is built but no fruit from the tommies yet)we had been many times to one area of Cyprus which I loved and after many years of global searching I thought I had found a pocket of the world that I could live and stay in until I died. Unfortunately my husbands work (though we are very grateful in this day and age that he has a job)lead us to a different side of the island.It is not so pretty and it is not where I can call home but it is where we are fortunate enough to rent a wonderful villa,with stunning views etc, however, it is not mine and it is not where I wanted to be, after being a nomad for 30 years, I wanted to lay my roots and build a home, to make my history.

    I continue the search, with many pros and cons to buying here, where to buy, what to buy. I do not look for anything fancey just a place,and a space I can call my own. It is a life long battle, not knowing where I belong, what history I have and who there will be to leave it to.

    In the mean time, I so want my roots to grab the soil and and nutre the being.

    Congrats to you that you have built and nutured your home, where you will enjoy your grandchildren and finally have settled down.

    Big hug from Cyprus,


  8. I love it Rhonda
    Feeling so much like you. When we concidered leaving this estate. We had it all packed in the garage and for sale on the market. My heart just could not ever buy into the idea. This is home and for all I am worth shall be for many many years to come. Children need a home to return too. A home. A place of memory roots and treasures hidden in the walls.
    Enjoy a quiet moment. so glad that peace has wrapped you up right where you are.

  9. I sometimes think about moving, bigger house, more land etc. But then I think about all the time and effort we have spent on this place and all the things I still want to do. We have been here 10 years and have achieved so much, if we moved we would be back at square one and I don't think I want to do it all again. Sometimes we just need to learn to be happy where we are and not look elsewhere for it because nowhere is perfect or ever will be.

  10. I do so very much know what you mean. In fact we've been going through some hard times, hubby lost his job and over here in USA it means you loose your health ins. So did think very much about going back to UK where I come from and have family. But now could never afford to buy a house there, so even ran thoughts of buying a cottage in France, so much cheaper. But after all this time here, no family, but good close friends, son brought up here, a big change. So it's still on hold on the back burner.

    I thought about you this morning, because we were cleaning up old email addresses and in my old email account there was a message from you to resend the kitchen photos, from eons ago. So much all happened at once I never checked it. Sorry

    Lil Bit Brit

  11. I feel the same at times Rhonda. I search real estate sites looking at beautiful little homes... I think it's probably natural to do that a bit. I found that being connected to our neighbours and knowing people you see in the street have helped make us feel like this is 'home'.

  12. Oh what a timely post! My grandmother calls me a gypsy because I am always talking about moving. I always feel like I have a good excuse though, we are in America and live in Arizona near the Mexico border, the border issues and the horrible economy here are always my first reasons for wanting to leave. I'm different though, I LOVE my home! And my I joke that my husband married our home, the first mistake in home ownership "they" say. I think I will basically always be on the look out for that all elusive "perfect" place. We'll see but you speak about having is what I want too, but in a safer more stable area of our country :) Thanks are an inspriration and I am so happy you're back!

  13. Rhonda,
    I think as women we love to feather our nests and fluff them up. It sounds as though you have your home just perfect and there is no more fluffing up to do! Maybe re-decorate or re-design an area in your home? That used to make my hubby very uncomfortable, but now he just rolls his eyes. I would tell him that at least we are not moving home! this gives me just the little bit of change I need.

  14. All I can say about this post is hang on to Hanno. He's a keeper!

  15. I love Sharon's blog. She just re-ran the piece on staying put and it is so well written. I get the urge to move on every now and again as well, it really helps to get me to think about what I'm looking for.

  16. Dearest Rhonda,

    I have not read any of the comments yet about your writings today but I do know that my parents never really stayed in the one house more than a couple of years and whilst it was all very exciting for us kids at the time it was really unsettling and now when as a woman of nearly 60 I can not rrealy think of ever having what I call a family home. We moved into our present home last December when we retired. We are putting a lot of effort into simplifying our lives and we are making nice friends and becoming part of this community. My 88 year old Dad lives with us in his self contained end of the house and we have my husband's mother who has dementia for 2 weeks out of every 6 so life is hectic at times, but we are building memories here already. To be comfortable in my home is so very important to me. I need my own space where I can just get away from the older folk when things get too stressful. My little sewing room is a real sanctuary in those times.
    It is so good that you were able to work through your feelings of discontent with your present home and that Hanno was able to give you the space and
    support you needed. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us. There will be many who read your blog today and think; gee, that's just how I feel or felt. Life would be pretty bland it we didn't give ourselves the gift of dreaming of change and better things. Like you I am settling for comfort now, less clutter, but keeping the things that I really love and that mean a lot to me. I don't need to go out much and I'm enjoying my cooking and stitching more now than ever before.
    Your life will take on a whole new meaning when that littly arrives. I have seen my best friend just bloom now that she has her little grandson and each new skill this little one learns is utter joy to to them all.
    So here's to the next season in your life Rhonda. We'll all be watching with great anticipation.
    Blessings Gail

  17. The world shifted on its axis when I read your opening paragraph Rhonda. Wow. I don't have the moving bug in the least, this is home and I want to stay forever even though it's far from our ideal. I'm glad that you have been through the process and come out the other side.

  18. I have lived in the same valley (a couple of different houses, but in the same watershed) for nearly 28 years now, since I was in my early 20's. We've had a couple of years away on adventures, and no doubt will again, but this has been home for all that time.

    A relationship with a place, like relationships with people I guess, change when they are long term and committed. There is the falling in love stage at the beginning, but then there is the long, slow, getting to know you in all your moods and circumstances, that leads to a deeper kind of love I think. I am slowly beginning to understand what it means to be indigenous. The place doesn't belong to you, you belong to it. And then you have to protect and defend it - you can't imagine just moving on if a place gets trashed.

  19. Hi Rhonda...beautiful post :) :) While I was reading this article, I've thought about how I want to move...and I still do...but I'm learning contentment where I'm at....and my home is the people that inhabit it, not the building itself :) :) I'm also content with what I have NOW...and that's great...

    Oh, I can totally see you making your home grandchild friendlY :) :) :) There's history in my home....almost every object has a story to tell...about someone or something :) :) Your post was lovely!!! Thank you!!! Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  20. As the wife of a soldier this is something we always miss - staying in one place long enough to actually build connections to the place, and other people. No sooner do we work out the best place to buy so and so, and establish friendships than it is time to move again.

  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this! Every time my husband talks about buying a home we get into an heated discussion, because I want our first home to be our last (well, actually I want to return to the home I grew up in, but that's a whole other issue), and he anticipates buying a bigger, nicer home after we outgrow our first home.

    Interestingly, we both grew up in one place, but I watched my father put years and years of work into our home, and to abandon one's work simply for something that seems "better"... I could never do it. I'd rather wait longer to save more money to buy a home than buy twice.

    My parents were married at their home, and 27 years later, I was married there too. It honestly gives me nightmares to think about a new family living in our home and on our land, after all the work my father put into it, intending for his own family to reap the rewards.

    But it seems the way people do things these days is to buy multiple times, "upgrading" as they go along, rather than setting down roots and truly caring for a place.

  22. I'm happy for you, Rhonda. What a lovely homecoming.

  23. "There and back again, a hobbit's tale" - I think sometimes we need to go away to appreciate coming back. Of course, sometimes we really DO need to find a new space, but many times, home is where you hang your hat and can be made to be as perfect as possible. Enjoy your little spot of paradise :)

  24. Wow, i thought it was just me that went through this! Obviously a lot of us do and I agree,I like the challenge of change but after having moved from a great house/ acreage late last year I always think of Joni Mitchell's words...' You don't know what you've got til it's gone'

    Having said that I am not regretting our decision but I have accepted that nowhere is perfect. Our last house was pretty close but the land was hard to work with and I now like being closer to town and community. We are still renting and I'm looking forward to making my next home a home.

    Rhonda, if anything maybe you need a brief change of scenery - even a week or weekend away. I always love 'coming home' after a holiday- the time away always seems to give me new ideas and motivation.

    Wonderful to read your blog again every morning with my cup of tea.

  25. I love this article! I am trying to find the place we have been for the last 7 years(the first home we bought) home. But we were to naive to know what we truly needed at the time. And this house is 3 stories- main floor with 2 bedrooms, a bath room and the living area and kitchen, upstairs has two bedrooms 2 walk in closets, a bathroom and basement which has a laundry room, work room, Tv room, and sewing room. We have a fenced in yard that is moderate size not big but not too small. This all sounds great right? well add to that horrible neighbors, a tiny kitchen, small family room(3kids), a bar two doors away that we thought was harmless and isn't!, a not so great neighbor hood right down the street from ours, and on street parking. Doesn't sound so great now does it? I'm trying to keep the pluses in mind, everyone has own bedroom, it's our house we are buying not renting, I can hide laundry in basement! I want to be able to have chickens, and a good size garden neither of which I can do here. I do have a small raised bed I'm growing things like green peppers tomatoes, watermelon but that's all. I know it is going to be a couple years at best before we can even think of moving there is so much more to do here. When we first moved here we thought we could overlook the negatives because of the positives but it has not been the case. But your article is helping me to make the best of our time left here wheither it's 3 years or 10. Thanks

  26. Rhonda,
    So pleased you managed to work through your itchy feet. Knowing you have history and that you made it with your family friends and the animals that help you enhance your life is truly manna from heaven.
    I quietly envy you in a good positive way. All that you share either at home the centre or here on line is so life enhancing. I never realised that I had created history here in my own home. Thing is others don’t see it as we do. They force you to sell and flatten the land to build a new Eden. Move I will fro move I must,however you have taught me I take my history with me I can still walk the streets where my loved ones were in my mind.
    Thank you for being such a welcoming site each morning in my in box
    Have a very happy day

  27. We could not afford to move even if we wanted to. We own our little cottage outright and, by the luck of various situations, have never needed a mortgage. Sometimes I dream about having more room (not masses) because our house truely is tiny and we had no control over that, but I would not want the house to be lived in by someone else either. I don't know how I'd feel if we could afford to move.
    Teresa x

  28. There was a point (job-related) when we really should have moved. In the long run, it would probably have benefited us a great deal financially, but hubby didn't want to move - I call him sessile. In retrospect, it was a serious mistake. We have friends here, but few very close ones, and no family.

    At this point, we will stay where we are until we see where daughter winds up after college. As we get older, I consider moving into town, which wouldn't change location hugely, and would be to a 1-story house on less land (we have 8 acres). On the other hand, she may be a 'mover' in her after-college life, so following her might not be an option either.

    I think the important part is to consider the move carefully, and be aware of the changes. I don't quite understand folks that move somewhere else here in the US after they retire, to someplace where they know no one, but if they are looking for some new adventure, after children and career, and that is what they want, that is their choice.

    Rhonda, there may yet be a point where a particular move just seems like the absolutely right thing to do, so don't rule it out entirely. Perhaps you need to consider exactly what it is that you are seeking in a move, and see if you can create it where you are.

  29. I've had a few moves, now when I get the urge I stop and think about what it is I'm really running from. Then I tell myself that 'where ever I go there I am!' Once the excitment of the moves wears off it will still be the same me with all my same likes and dislikes.

    cheers Kate

  30. Thank you so much for this post! I won't bore you with details, but just.... Thank you.

    Gentle hugs...

  31. Sometimes you have to look at other options that you THINK you want in order to find out that you already have it :-)

  32. Oh my goodness. My family came from Denmark, from rented apartments there. We continued to rent all through my growing up years; we never seemed to stay put for more than 2-3 years. After I married, my little family still seemed to be moving and moving and moving. I did start to stay in places longer and longer, but they were still rented places.

    I finally left the BIG city (L.A.) to move closer to my daughter. I wasn't sure how long I would live near her, but I bought my very first house! At age 48. I lived there until my daughter moved to be closer to her ill Mother-in-Law. I was not going to follow - I returned to my mountains on the West coast. I had purchased a home, basically sight unseen (in person), with the help of a friend. I have now owned this house for 11 years and love it.

    I still get thoughts of wanting to live somewhere else, but with the cost of everything rising, I will happily stay put on my little -1 1/2 acres- piece
    of forested land. At my age now (63), I don't think I could muster up the energy to look for a place, pack and move ever again. I've learned to love where I'm planted.

  33. What a timely post Rhonda! I can understand about the moving bug- I'm one of those impatient people that wants my home the way it should be- now. All at once...but it doesn't happen that way. We are saving for a farm because that was our plan all along, but I get that rushed feeling, and just want to "move it". Thank you for the great reminder to appreciate what I have.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  34. I have been reading your blog for some time and you inspired me to make butter! It is so easy that I can't believe it and am thankful that I have now discovered it. I blogged about it on my little blog and I thought you would enjoy knowing how your blog touches lives...thank you!

  35. How very timely a post indeed!

    I can certainly understand the "moving bug". I feel it regularly, having moved regularly for most of my life.

    I'm facing a slightly different challenge at the moment. We're feeling really settled and at home in the place we are. We're just getting it to the way we want it, and we're surrounded by good people. But there's a good chance we're going to have to up sticks and move a very long way away, to have our chance to improve our lives.

    Life. It's never boring, and rarely what you expect. It's recognising which parts of it will make you happiest that count.

  36. Nice to visit you again and relive vicariously a lifestyle I sometimes regret having changed. Who was it said; 'happiness is a butterfly. You chase it in vain, but if you sit quietly, it might come to rest on your shoulder'?

  37. thanks for this rhonda. i often find that i get itchy feet when there's something i need, emotionally. sometimes i can't tell what it is for a long time. my own work, usually, some kind of meaningful pursuit.

    however, we have come to a decision to move, something we have been considering for a long time now, and as much as it scares me, i'm willing. we will just rent, and see how we feel, living in the countryside for the first time.


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