Would the original owner of my home ever have guessed that this place would still be so loved eighty-seven years later?
Life in my 1929 Spanish Style Cottage is bittersweet.
I walk through the rooms and I imagine the other lives that have lived here. I think about the meals cooked in the kitchen (my first meal cooked here was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, although you cannot call it cooking. Ahem).
I think about the rockers on the porch and the people in them perhaps drinking lemonade and sharing a plate of sugar cookies as they visited. I think about the fire in the fireplace and the decorations that must have hung from it.
The original ironing board is still in the cabinet in the kitchen. I think about the families that have come through the doors. Those of us with old homes are merely caretakers until it's the next persons turn to add to the story.
Sounds romantic, eh? It is. However, there are never ending challenges that come with living in a vintage home. The plumbing, the wiring, the pipes; they are all vintage too and there is a pretty good chance at some point they will give you a nasty surprise. Last year my surprise occurred when my pipes disintegrated into the ground. My newest surprise is a gas leak. A gas leak the gas company couldn’t find which meant poking holes in the walls. So my place is in the process of having a face life for the gas leak and the electrical.
If you love perfect don't buy an old home. It's never going to be perfect. And that's OK with me. My kitchen cabinets are the original from 1929. If I had $100 for every single time someone told me that I need to redo the kitchen, I'd be on a vacation to England—maybe Paris too. I don't have a dishwasher. I wash the dishes by hand and look out of the kitchen window and think about the children that may have played in that backyard. Was there once a swing set?
If I could live in any era it would be the 1920's and 30's. I've always been fascinated with the homes, the cars, the jewelry, and the movies. Every last bit of it. One of my brothers friends in Los Angeles and had a 1929 Roadster. I would ride in the rumble seat and eat cracker jacks. I remember our neighbor Hazel had a vanity from 1930. She would let me sit there and spray perfume on. While she told me stories of her dates and boyfriends and I use to love how they gave her boxes of chocolates. I was born in the wrong era.
I don't carry the theme with what I wear. I'm usually found in converse sneakers, jeans and a gingham blouse. But I do love vintage purses.
I spend a lot of time working in my garden. It calms me and feeds my soul. I love digging in the earth and reading through garden books. Some days I drive through the country and dig up a roadside plant, or two, to bring home (Sssh. Our secret).
In my vast collections, one of my favorite objects is an autograph photo and guitar pick of Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles. My brother Garey and I were 20 years apart. When he came home from Vietnam he bought my very first album for me. When Garey died in 2005 I sent Timothy an email and just told him what the music meant to my brother and me. About a week later a package came and there was an autograph with a message and a guitar pick taped to it. It's meant the world to me. If you walked into the antique store where my booth was located, you would know where my booth is because it looks a lot like my home...but cleaner. And more organized. And no dust bunny condos. The stuff you see here is what you would find there.
The piece that speaks to me most is the old plumbing sign in the dining room. I found it at an antique store. I bought it after begging for a really good deal because my Dad was a plumber. I trace my hands over the letters and think about the stories they could tell.
In 1997 I entered a design contest on a shopping channel and won. I designed a bracelet. I was on for several segments by phone. They showed pictures. My sketches. The making process of the piece. I don't think I told many people. Now you know.
Like this home, I am imperfect. I too have a vulnerability. Its people who are ignorant and have preconceived notions about mental disorders. What makes me vulnerable is ignorance. People and their preconceived notions.
Several times a week, I receive messages asking if I ever had a problem in my life—probably because my pictures are so light, and I act like a goof ball.
Don’t be fooled. A lot is hidden behind a smile.
I'm an incest survivor from a very young age. We all have our issues. We all have our problems. I'm not a victim. I'm a survivor. Each day offers a new wall to climb over, and there are times I land on my butt, but eventually I climb back up. It's the best I can do. It's all I can do.
As I work on this house, I am also working on me.
One never knows what or who is tucked behind that wall, or in that lovely garden.
In this case, it’s me, Geneen.