Moving, house

In 1997, which my fingers tell me was 15 years ago, I moved house.  I was then part of a family with two adults and a pair of high-school aged kids, and part of the reason we came here was the room.

There’s now me.  And the family center has shifted to the northern end of a county that gets longer with every highway renovation and tourist season.  So after fifteen years here, preceded by fifteen years with small children on a farm in Watsonville, I am gearing up to move again.

The place I’m looking to buy is not only closer to the next generation, but it’s in a perfectly beautiful place.  It’s a little smaller, and better, I like the layout and some of the nice touches.  But there are things I will miss about this place, and because most of those things have a story about them, I thought I’d do a few posts, and talk about this house I have loved for a decade and a half.

Dick Francis had a novel called Decider where his architect protagonist mused on the reasons people fell for the houses they did.  In his case, the character’s deciding factor was a tree, one broad and sturdy, that he could picture his sons climbing.

In my case, the decider of this house was the texture of the walls.

Most walls these days are of dry wall (also known as sheetrock) with a thin cover of plaster that serves mostly to hide the seams of the panels.  It’s quick and cheap and in any event, it’s the paint that people see, right?

Except for people like me.  This place has sheetrock, yes, but over it is a heavy layer of texture that resembles what you get when you try to spread too-cool butter frosting on a cake: you can see the pass of the trowel, the direction of the arm laying it, the effort it took to spread that stuff up there, all the way up to the apex of the ceiling.


It invites the hand, to feel it.  And I know it was work, because whenever I’ve tried to have someone duplicate it in small patches, I heard about the difficulty.  Oh, the grumbles and low-voiced cursing that plaster has evoked.

And more: downstairs, where the ceilings are flat and would normally meet the walls in a simple right angle, here it is curved.  A job that entails a whole lot of fiddly work, and no doubt cursing and self-doubt, but makes the rooms sing.

The man who laid that plaster on the walls—and this is a big house, with high ceilings—did so as a labor of love.  He knew that the effort made all the difference between walls that hold paint, and walls that hold a family.

I’ll miss the walls.

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  1. Susan on June 25, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Last year I moved from the NYC area to NC after 41 years in the same home. The old house was like a member of the family – you knew its quirks, the good traits and the bad. I still miss it, but the new home puts us closer to the next two generations of our family. Good luck with the move.

  2. Elyn Walker on June 25, 2012 at 7:34 am

    “Decider” has always been my favorite Dick Francis novel.

    And I understand the decision to now make a new home. Life changes as you live it and the phrase “moving on” becomes a liberating, anticipated and literal choice.

    What a lovely tribute to your house and home. Seeing the flowing curves on those corners, the word that comes to mind is “enfold.” I’m looking forward to reading your stories and posts as you move from old to new.

  3. Teresa on June 25, 2012 at 7:44 am

    and will you write your name on one of those walls as you leave?

  4. Melody Kitchens on June 25, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I miss my home too. I had to give it up when my husband passed away in 05. I moved back to my childhood home with my mother. No it isn’t the same yet in many ways it is. It is still her house, not mine, but I try hard to remember that when one chapter ends another begins. I wish you love and good memories for your new chapter in life.

  5. Dianna on June 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I just bought a house because of the walls. The ceilings are curved, the living room heavy with a similar plastering effect. I didn’t like it at first, but it is original to the house and is called “jazz plaster.” I liked that. When I walk through the front door I see the warmth of the people who created the room and the generations of families that have lived here. Good luck with your move. I’m sure the walls will miss you too.

  6. Ingrid Gadpaille on June 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    What a neat feature to miss, and probably not one that too many others notice or appreciate. My husband and I will be moving to Michigan in 3 years (from Alaska) to be within reach of our grand children. I am not attached to our house here though we!’ve been in it 15 years too… I AM attached to Alaska and am already sad to know we’ll be leaving permanently. However, babies trump state easily! I hope you transition easily, Laurie!

  7. Heather Wright on June 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    The first house I lived in had textured walls. They were bumpier and rougher than yours, but I can still remember the way they bounced back light in the afternoons when I was supposed to be having a nap in my room. Of course, shiny oil-based paint was a must for a child’s room, so I think that helped with all the sparkles of light I imagined I saw. Thanks for reminding my of my walls. I hope you find every happiness in your new house.

  8. Annah on June 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Oh, Laurie, I know exactly what you mean about the textured walls. Our old house has lath and plaster walls, and they absorb sound in a totally different way than sheetrock. Plus, they do look better – good after 115 years, even.

    Might be worth finding a really good plaster guy and getting your new house re-done before moving! (Like that will happen! I was going to re-do the floors before I moved in, and ran out of time and money. 17 years later, the floors are still the same.)


    Happy moving!

  9. Rebecca on June 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Decider is my favorite Dick Francis book. I love Dick Francis novels because they are about horses; I love that one for totally different reasons (and I remember the title!). Thank you for the reminders.

  10. Susan Morrison on June 26, 2012 at 10:10 am

    The house I grew up in was cemet block with interior plaster walls and a barrel tile roof. Really built to last. I was shocked when I moved into my first apartment and found out how fragile sheetrock is. Bump it with the edge of a table and you can get a hole in the wall. Bump my childhood home and you got a hole in the table!

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