Notes from Three of Earth Farm

Putting the “Modern” Back in “Mid-century,” and other tales.

With my sisters’ blessing and my oversight (and work), changes are coming to the house we grew up in from its construction in 1960. My parents took out a $50,000 loan from my father’s brother to build the house. Presumably there was money from the sale of the house we lived in on the south bay of Puget Sound in Olympia, but the loan is all I know for sure. We called it “the house that Donald’s jack built,” and he came from Michigan for the celebration when the loan was paid off not too many years later. The times they have changed.

The house has gotten tired in the almost six decades since then. My mom wasn’t crazy about change, and she couldn’t see—or didn’t notice—the dinge, so nothing much happened after my dad died in 1995. The kitchen got an update a few years ago when the pipe under the sink burst and Rebecca was in charge of repairs. Somehow she talked our mom into new counter tops and color on the yellow walls, along with the floor that had to be replaced.

I repainted the master bedroom some months ago, but over the past several weeks, some major work has been happening in the ceiling. The four skylights in the kitchen and hall have been opened up from the drop ceiling to reveal the sky, removing the cracked and stained opaque plexiglass panels that have covered them for 58 years (some having been replaced by even cheaper material in the “they don’t make it like they used to” vein). Matching cracked and duct-taped panels also covered florescent lights in the kitchen where there was no skylight and have been closed in and recessed lighting installed.

Ceiling before, sans the one cracked and warped panel that shattered during yellow jacket nest removal.
Opening the sky.
Rebuilding the newly exposed orifices. Plaster and plaster dust everywhere.

And the florescent lights in the bathroom are gone, gone, gone. A new and smaller glass panel now filters the natural light there, where a support beam bisects the skylight making opening it up untenable. I found my dad’s notes up there, penciled onto a “tubafore” when he changed the bulbs so he could monitor their promised guarantee, dating from 1966. I’ve painted the bathroom (no more lavender) to go with the new bathroom floor (an earlier project) and replaced hardware on the bathroom cabinets. Next up is major work on the outdated leaky tub and shower fixtures. Alas, I think the pink tile will have to go.

The bathroom skylight was completed today! And dimmers put on the eleven recessed lights; cuz you know, I don’t like overhead lights. And new under-counter lights in the kitchen too. Battery operated. No more cords and florescent bulbs. Yehaw!

As soon as the messy part of the project was complete, I was there with my paint roller covering the dirty beige walls in the hall, additionally dinged by my mother’s walker the last few months she lived in the house. The floors and trim are next! Huge thanks to H&S Custom Interiors, who are the absolute best, always willingly (or they fake it well) doing additional little tasks for me. You know, as long as they’re here. I love this small town family of independent business owners I have fallen into.


In other news, the garden has been put to bed, leaving the mole-destroyed brick walk and gate and fence repairs for spring. I picked (and ate) the last of the chard last night. Or maybe not, that stuff has staying power.


I wish she and her family (five of the them) would eat the spent daisies and black-eyed Susans so I wouldn’t have to get out there and chop them down, which I should be doing right now. I caught her dining on a large fungus.

In the occasional serendipity of operating an Airbnb (Three of Earth Farm, Centralia, Washington) last week my guest came to my door to meet me and asked if I knew who he was. No. He hadn’t known who I was either when he made the reservation—Airbnb doesn’t reveal the last names of hosts. He lives in California, but grew up in Centralia, his family and mine attending the same church. He was in town for the memorial service of his brother-in-law; whom, it turns out, was the retired owner of the mechanic shop (Ernie’s Rapid Lube) I take my car to. A beautiful person who created a great business; one that made my transition back to my hometown with an elderly car a bit easier, I was planning to (and did) attend the service as well. I was unaware of the connection between the two families. Small world.

The Women’s Writing Circle series I facilitated this autumn—in the midst of the renovations, which are being completed today as I write this—met for the final session yesterday. As my 60-year-childhood home was exploring new life, we nine women explored some of the themes of our past lives and looked to whatever is still to come. Writing, reading, laughing, crying. They all want to come back for another series. I am bursting with gratitude for these beautiful women and our extraordinary stories.

And this morning the sky danced.


And now I’ve got to either get back to the garden or make muffins for tonight’s guests. Or both.

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