Posted by: Jane Valencia | June 30, 2009

In The House Of Grace

This past year I dabbled with a few blogs, playing with directions. I’ve decided to “fold” several of these blogs, and just focus on Jane’s Medicine Tree, The Village Welcomes You! (which is more of a project than a blog) and A Harper’s Garden. Three is plenty! This post is an entry from one of those retired blogs.
backofcasita In 1936 mis abuelitos–my grandparents–designed this house and had it built. They lived in the house until they neared the end of their lives. At a certain point my husband and I moved into the house and eventually bought it from my mother. We lived in it for six years, then moved away to explore our lives elsewhere, and now we are back–at least for a time.

Sweetness and beauty and simplicity permeate the place. The house itself has changed little in the eight decades of its life. In the neighborhood many of the other homes have added rooms and massive square-footage, or have been extensively remodeled. Not so with this house. The minimal storage space (back in the late 30s my grandfather designed the house deliberately with few closets so their small family wouldn’t attract clutter!), the air-cooled pantry, the pull-down ironing board in the mud room, and the essential design of the garden with its pond and concrete flower circle (and former Victory Garden) remain.

We live there without a dishwasher or television service (though we do have internet). Although we have a washer and dryer, I follow in my grandmother’s gentle footsteps and take advantage of the mild climate by hanging our clothes outside to dry most of the year, and in the heater-warmed basement during the winter. Unlike my grandmother, I don’t (yet?) iron all or even some of our clothes!

In our family’s forays into sustainable living practices I turn to my grandparent’s lifestyle and this home still reflective of the era in which it was built. The house was well-constructed, with attention to beautiful and serviceable materials, with hardwood floors in most rooms, linoleum in others (replaced over time), and a sweet breakfast nook from which we can gaze at the roses in the garden or the pink bloom of the hawthorn as we eat our everyday meals. Having lived for six months in a 24 foot diameter yurt with no running water, and nine months in a 800 square foot 40s built home, all within the past two years, I appreciate the abundance that this simple house provides. One and a half bathrooms! Running water! Still only two bedrooms, yes, but also extra space for living and working. That dining room, for instance. And the breakfast nook. A one-car garage (which is used as storage for us. We’ve winnowed plenty of items in the past few years, but our interests remain plentiful!).

Living the abundance of enough, discovering for oneself what is ‘sufficient’ for a joyful, practical life is the challenge and opportunity of our times. I have much to learn from my own grandparents in their simple-and-sweetly-prosperous lifestyle. They may be gone, but their stories and my memories remain. And this house reminds me every day about what they valued: their faith, their family, their neighborhood, friends, and extended family, their work, their garden–in other words, the essential joys of a mindfully tended home and life.

Lord Firestar and Lady Sandstorm in the garden

Lord Firestar and Lady Sandstorm in the garden



  1. Sending you loooooooooots of miracles and peace for your stay at the house there — for all the memories and learnings embedded in the walls and growing in the garden. :) On another note, I saw a septic sign posted up the road :) Amy mentioned seeing it, too, and she and I giggled with glee in the grocery the other day knowing you’ll be back soon!!

  2. “Living the abundance of enough”—-I like the way you phrase this, Jane. For many years, I asked anyone, everyone, myself: When is enough, ENOUGH? It appears that this is an answer we must all decide for ourselves, just as we discover who we really are, in time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: