Monday, December 27, 2010

Dump Sweet Dump

Dave and Sam in front of our "dump" the other day.

How easily the knife turns.
It's Christmas morning and we're all full of presents and cookies and we're laughing and talking, full of holiday cheer and love. Dave is in the kitchen, cooking breakfast and we're admiring him with greatly exaggerated and giggly compliments.
"Not only does he cook, he's good-looking," someone says.
"Oh, better than Colin Firth."
"Better than Brad Pitt."
"Almost as good as Angelina."
"And he's handy," someone else says.
"Handier than Red Green."
"Handier than a double roll of duct tape."
"Handier than a two-peckered rooster in a henhouse."
"And he's got money, too," someone says.
"That's why I call him Moneybags Webster," I say.
That's when Sam, my 10-year-old, says, "If you guys are so rich, how come you live in this dump?"
Oh, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Our house isn't like other people's houses and, as our children get older, they're starting to notice the difference.
Their friends, for the most part, live in three-bedroom bungalows, the kind you see in subdivisions everywhere. They have big living rooms as well as family rooms, a couple of big bathrooms, a rec room, a laundry room. They may not be Martha Stewart-pretty but they're functional and clean and well-designed for young families.
We live in a four-room log cabin.
One of those rooms is the bathroom and it's so small that I have to walk into it sideways. The bathtub is the smallest tub I've ever seen.
The living room and kitchen is an open area. Only six people can sit in the living room at a time.
Our bedroom is the size of the smallest bedroom in most people's houses.
The boys' room is an all-purpose room that contains bunk beds, laundry, a china cabinet, a dresser and the kitty litter. Since we don't have the boys all the time, this actually works better than it sounds.
The floor is painted and peeling in spots. We want to put hardwood flooring on it some day but can't afford to at this moment. One thing at a time!
We also have a detached garage plus workshop with a full-sized apartment on top - lots of room for guests, especially in the summertime. The boys, however, won't go up there alone because there are zombies who want to eat their faces off.
Personally, I love our cabin in the woods. It was built in 1880 and the logs are still sturdy. The panelling inside has a gorgeous aged patina. It is warm and cosy in the winter and cool and comfortable in the summer. All this, and it overlooks the Muskoka River. What more could I ask?

For youngsters, though, I guess it doesn't stack up against three bedroom bungalows.
Dave's feelings were hurt by Sam's comments. He doesn't appreciate being told our house is a dump. I tried to explain that I don't think that's what Sam was saying. I think he meant to say, "If you have so much money, why don't you live in a big mansion?" Or something like that.
Or maybe he does think we live in a dump.
Right now, it's increasingly important for them to fit in, to be like other kids. When they get older, though, I believe they will appreciate that a home doesn't have to be big or fancy to keep the rain and snow off our heads, or keep love inside.
Some day they will appreciate their lives on the Muskoka River.
Maybe not until they're grown up and I'm dead and gone.
But it will happen.


  1. Kids don't get it. For what it's worth, that cabin looks like heaven on earth to me.

    I was fortunate in that as a kid I saw wealth and then poverty. When you grow up you don't care about the material things of your youth. All you remember is the love you got or did not get. You're gonna be around to enjoy that, count on it.

  2. We raised our two daughters, first in a barn, literally with hay and dirt on the floor (we lived in the loft), then in a used trailer, then in a shell of a house with only part of a roof and a dirt floor (until my wife poured concrete and finished it and installed a wood stove). I don't remember them ever complaining. Guess we were lucky, but partly because our neighbors lived in places that were similarly odd. Now they remember it all with great fondness, so I'm told.

  3. I think your house is positively charming. As a matter of fact, if you ever think of selling it, I'll be the first to put in an offer.
    I can understand your son's comment though. It's the 'drywall interior' syndrome he suffers from. But if you ever want Muskoka Martha to wield her decorating magic, well, I'm an e-mail away.
    I can see their room now .... antler pendant lamp...HBC blankets...snowshoes hung on the wall...oh and black and red flannel duvets. And my secret to discount decorating - from the dump of course!!

  4. When I said where you live looks like the perfect place for Christmas, your beautiful little log cabin was a big part of that! What do kids know?

  5. Kids are hypersensitive at a certain age, but they grow out of it. My bet is he will look back on his log cabin home with great fondness when the time comes.

  6. A log cabin in the woods, an apartment in the city, or a boring old bungalow in the 'burbs - it doesn't matter one bit unless there is lots of life and love inside. That's what counts.

    But I wish I had a log cabin. :)

  7. You guys have it all! When you bought it I had my doubts but all your hard work & elbow grease has made it a beautiful place & a warm & cozy home. Mom

  8. Sweetie, this post is beautiful. As for the kids? They have no concept of what's beautiful...can't possibly appreciate the simple pleasures. I'll never forget throwing away an old desk when I lived in my first apartment that my grandmother had given to me. It was an antique and she was very upset. To me, it was just old. I never forgot that.

    Stuff is just stuff. It's not what matters...but it takes maturity to learn this. I'm with you.

  9. A log cabin on a mighty river. Sounds like heaven on earth to me. And those kids will have much richer memories than if they lived in the burbs. You're right. Right now, it's all about fitting in. But before you know it, they'll be happy and proud to call that log cabin home.

  10. Ah, children. Especially at 10 or so, they start to see that the gleaming sports cars and big houses and fancy-shiny-titanium-whatever are what "everyone" wants. However, they still have no real understanding of money, possessions and deeper values.

    Hang in there, Cathy. Better yet, put the kid to work on those floors. 10 is old enough to run a pad sander; make him strip and re-paint the floors. He'll never think ill of the place again. Nothing makes someone appreciate what they have like a little personal investment and ownership.


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