Saturday, November 12, 2022

One Lumberjack Home

Stillwater, Minnesota, 1860 photo from Wikipedia

For nearly forty years, I lived in Stillwater, Minnesota. By the time I settled there the town had grown from a small village nestled in the bend of the St. Croix River to a welcoming site for tourists. Along the way, it had been the homebase for countless lumberjacks who spent months of each year in the North Woods. The logs they cut floated downriver to Stillwater and its mills. 

All that took place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the time I bought a house on the South Hill, the lumberjacks were long gone but their memories and their myths of the folk hero Paul Bunyan and Babe, his Blue Ox, remained.

A Stillwater Sawmill of the 19th Century 

Becomes a 21st century Antique Shopping Center

 What also remained were the “lumberjack” homes, built of lumber harvested by them. 

The lumberjack house I bought was built in 1870. It became the home of my heart. Toward the end of our sojourn together, I hired a contractor who changed the attached back porch into a four-season one for me and then remodeled the kitchen and bathroom, which had been added to the original house in 1910. That section of the house also had a pantry in which sat the washer and dryer.

The unfinished basement of the house had old, old, old windows that let in rain.  The crawlspace beneath the 1910 addition became a  hidey-hole for all the cats who ended up inhabiting the house with me. The basement steps, as well as those that led to the second floor, were narrow and steep. 

They were part of the reason I ultimately sold the house and moved back to Missouri.

Meniere’s entered my life in 2006, and the acute rotational vertigo episodes it brought with it made falling a daily—sometimes hourly—occurrence. In fact, I tumbled down the steps several times, but was always fortunate enough not to break any bones or suffer a concussion. However, the number of falls helped me realize that I had to live in a one-story home with no basement. Steps had become too hazardous. Also, both my friends and I were aging, and I needed more help with daily living. 

So, I left Stillwater and

moved back home to where I had younger family members on whom I have come to rely as this life-journey continues. 

A young couple bought the home and were delighted with it. They felt that it had “good vibes.” They wanted to start their family in it.

The inspector I’d hired to examine the house before I put it on the market had been impressed with all that I’d had done to it, especially between 2001 and 2009: totally new electrical wiring throughout the 139-year-old house; four-star double-glazed windows throughout and on the new four-season porch; a new furnace and AC,; all new appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator, hot-water heater, and range) during those years; a new roof; new steps, railing, and sidewalk leading to the back porch; new front, porch, and back doors; and the remodeled kitchen and bathroom.

Unwittingly, the young couple hired the same well-respected inspector. On the day we signed the papers, they told me he’d encouraged them to buy, saying the house was “a heck of a deal!” He found only one thing needing attention: one branch of the tree at the side of the house had leafy twigs touching the outside electrical wiring. 

 All I had to do was to hire a tree trimmer who took care of that offending limb—although a quite graceful one—in a matter of minutes at a minimum cost.

All this came to mind in the last week, as I purchased a new washer and dryer. I suspect that my next posting will be about that experience and the “vibes” of my home here in Independence. I tell you, with contentment in my heart, that life is good—when I keep things in perspective.