A wonderful week in Ann’s old German farmhouse. Sifting through my pictures I find I still have none of the length of the house, so here is a Google image to explain. I used this one before; it is her house sans front porch and the farm help quarters. My old guest room was behind the two upper front brick windows. Ann’s house has a “mirror” addition at the back that housed the farm hands, with a separate entrance, and accessible from the main house.
Ann’s house has been a work in process for twenty years, waiting for her husband, Pat, to put his hammer where his mouth is and start a restoration project. I've known and loved Pat for longer than I've known Ann. If she can put up with him, so can I.
When I visited, maybe three years ago, Ann met me at the door. There no longer was a downstairs washroom; Pat had torn it out to replace the toilet. Six months previously. When I left I mentioned to Pat I would see him again when there were no longer fifteen steps between me and a midmorning pee.
Toward Thanksgiving that year Ann said she was expecting twelve guests for Thanksgiving and still had one bathroom available. “What will you do?” I heard the smile in her voice. “I've found Joe.” She and Joe listen to Pat, and then go ahead. When I visited two years ago the downstairs washroom door opened to a country cottage loo; the window looking out on a meadow (the new septic—the new standards are a marvel to behold!). The guest quarters in the hired hands area was framed in.
This year I occupied the guest suite. Yes, my own bathroom. Beyond a doubt, I love Joe, too. He builds houses, goes hunting most of the winter, and is working his way though Ann’s house a section at a time. He has restored the balustrades up the back staircase, plastered the hall down to “the master’s room,” a large sitting area upstairs in the brick house. Oh, yes, and built the guest suite. Ann has worked behind him, painting, painting, painting.
I took two of my sister’s quilts to Ann. They never go amiss in her house. She immediately threw the yellow quilt over the bed in “my” old room. Its ante room, that she formerly used for guest overflow, has become “the library.” Two walls of books, a reading table between the windows, an old rocker, one of Linda’s rugs on the floor Ann painted last fall. When I looked in again, to return one book and select another, she had the other quilt on the reading table. Cozier and cozier.
Back in the new suite, the bathroom is behind this hall wall. The room beyond has windows on three walls, but the bath has no exterior light. Ann saved this leaded window from the front room. She watched the window shift and begin to fall two years ago. Pat wanted to wait and restore it. That’s when Ann found Joe, who installed a new window and quietly set the leaded panel aside.
Somehow I gained only two pounds (“there is little that is not improved by butter or cheese.” Or, butter and cheese.). I read The Mystery of Grace, a YA that another guest left for Ann to read. A trifle heavier than a bit of fluff.