After the Fact: There’s no place like home

Jami, my younger sister, just e-mailed a photo of a chair she’d purchased through an on-line “yard sale.” Her daughters thought it didn’t “fit in” with her décor (not quite the “early Army surplus” mom used to describe her own accumulation of chairs, tables and sofa) and I commented that, while I loved the chair, I knew they weren’t terribly comfortable. 

The chair frame gives the appearance of tree branches warped to shape and the “upholstery” is leather laced into the lattice work. Mom’s friend, Dorothy Park, had several in the adobe house in Santa Fe and several around the table in the kitchen. I loved the chairs because I loved the house and I loved the house because I loved Dorothy. Jami knew she was familiar with the chair style, but couldn’t remember why but the memory sure came back in a hurry.

The house is still there. None of the Parks live there but Chris and his wife Kip live next door in a home they built that’s more elegant, more spacious. His brother Tom (Tommy to me) is in Las Vegas, NV and likes to think he’s a native there. He puts on airs. If, in my wildest dreams, I could have come up with the price, I’d have moved into Dorothy’s house when it was sold. It sits right on the Aceqia Madre, about a block away from the Capitol building.

I’m reminded every year when Chris and Kip come up for Early Iron that the Parks are the only people left on the planet who still call me “Patches.”

Everyone has a different idea of “the perfect house.” I like Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Waters” but only from the outside. I’ve seen the “floor plan” and it would be a nightmare to fill with furniture. And, of course, it’s not in the San Luis Valley. Or can you imagine living in Buckingham Palace? Not even the queen likes it much. 

The practicality of the “earth houses” is appealing, but I’d rather mow a lawn in front of the house instead of on top of the house. Occasionally, they’ll show photos on TV taken from a helicopter, or a satellite, or a hot air balloon of estates belonging to movie stars or professional athletes. Lots of gardens, lots of grass, the prerequisite swimming pool littered with bodies of other stars or athletes and hangers-on. And you’d want that? The more space you have, the more relatives come to visit. And they stay longer.

There are things I’d change about my house but one day it’s this and the next day it’s that. I bought it because I have a spectacular view of mountains from all sides. You could get the same effect living in a tent in the front yard but they’re really hard to heat. My grandson thought having a hot tub inside was the best thing EVER. I’ve been in it exactly three times in 20+ years. But the deck is a great place to put plants. The only advantage to having a larger house would be having space to put up more Christmas trees but I think I’m pushing the envelope insofar as asking Chris to help with even one more.

One of the most delightful homes I’ve enjoyed visiting was shared by Jim Gilmore and Vinaya Wall. Unfortunately, some of it was damaged by a fire but I think they’ve about finished restoring most of it. The adjacent art studio can be replaced, but Jim’s work that was inside cannot. Jim is one of the Valley’s incredible treasures and we should be really thrilled that he chooses to stay here instead of starting over somewhere else! 

It all comes down to being less the house that’s exciting as it is the people who live in the house and the way you feel when you’re invited in. If I have to curtsy, I’m not going!