Good Morning from The Little White House.
It is a rather overcast slightly chilly day here. However I see the overnight rain has quenched the thirst of the palm trees and flowers in my garden and the grass has managed to grow another inch or more, so it resembles a lush green mattress.
I remember the first day that I stood on that lawn of green lushness and my eyes were greeted with gardens overflowing with neglect, overgrowth and weeds. The patio that was once used for entertaining was now fully laden with old bits of wood, rusty poles, piles of dirt and items thrown away for the rubbish tip.
My mind was still reeling from the various shades of pink, purple, lime green, emerald green and brown that had been painted throughout the house. I could see immediately that the transformation from neglect to a beautiful decorated, fresh painted family home with bountiful gardens filled with a bounty of colour would be a challenge. But since my name is Lois, I had finally found a house I could truly call “Home”… I accepted the challenge and set about making up a time frame of things to be achieved.
I can see that I will have to explain why this house was so special and why the other houses we had lived in had never given me a sense of peace. So sit back, relax and read on….
|Mt Ruapehu, North Island, New Zealand.|
From an early age, I had moved every two years due to my Father’s career in the Army. We had always lived on the Army Base wherever we had been posted. My brothers and I had become used to the drive around the base with my Father being told and shown where the Military Police were stationed. Guards to the Base, Our school, the Army Chapel we attended service every Sunday and the all important perimeter of the base, so we knew exactly our confinement. That at all costs we would not possibly meet any “civvies” or “civilians” unless our parents took us out to the big wide world on a Friday night into town.
I was 11 years old when I discovered my Father had accepted a posting that had no accommodation for families, that I would not see my father every day but only on weekends. Somehow they (being my parents) had forgotten to tell my Brothers and I that we were not only moving to our own house my parents had built before I was born but now we were in “civvies world”.
This meant no parameters, no Military Police and no security from the outside world.
I can honestly tell you, my Brothers and I were scared, unprepared and found the 1.5 mile walk to school unchaperoned, no barriers between us and the outside world…very daunting.
That same year I discovered at my new school after being laughed at when asked what my Daddy did for a job and I said “He carries a Gun and marches everywhere”. None of the other children had Daddies who were Soldiers and had jobs like “Office Worker, Accountant, Store Owner”. I never knew that Fathers had actual jobs, I thought everyone’s Father was a Soldier. Boy did I have to grow up and learn fast the hard way.
For 12 years we actually lived in our own home, watched the seasons go by and us kids grew up with the same friends now, with the knowledge we had finally come home. I walked out of high school at 17 and took up a job as a Receptionist for a Law Firm and I discovered there was a world outside of the world I lived in New Zealand.
I had reading my Grandfather’s diary of his adventures as a sailor.
My Grandfather Ralph was the only surviving son of Emily and Henry. My Great Grandfather Henry owned and ran a huge company that made the wet weather clothing for Sailors. He had learnt the trade and been given the Company from his Father, William. As the male Heir, it was expected my Grandfather would take over the company. However Granddad had been down at the docks too much and decided his destiny lay beyond the company books, housing for the employees and at the age of 14 literally jumped ship and took off.
|Te Awhina, Granddad’s tug boat…|
He traveled the entire world working on Cruise Liners, Merchant Ships, Tug Boats and finally came to settle in France, where his mate Raoul and himself made quite a name for themselves amongst the French Ladies. Until the age of 30, He received a telegram from His Father, telling him his Beloved Mother Emily was seriously ill. Granddad arrived home in New Zealand two hours after she had passed away.
Now he was back, he was expected to take over the business. My Granddad didn’t have a business bone in his body, only the smell of the salty air and the hugely flourishing company along with its hundreds of employees were sold off for a fraction of its true cost.
He never left New Zealand again, settled down with my Grandmother Nell, had two children and settled working as Tug Boat Hand for the Auckland Harbour Board till he retired. At his funeral, all the Harbour Board Employees formed a Guard Of Honour that stretched down the entire Quay and all the Tug Boats blew their horns in honour of a true Gentleman of the Sea.
He was a truly wonderfully kind man, always had that hint of salty air about him and a heart full of deep love for his grandchildren. It was he who gave me the idea that there was more to Life than I knew and it was within my grasp to find it….I just had to be brave enough to jump ship and do it.
The first time I jumped onto the plane, I was 18 and went to Singapore and Malaysia. Six glorious weeks of exotic foods, cultural influences, fish head soup, chilli eating contests, being asked by a Malaysian taxi driver to give up my virginity for $5000 American. While the whole time I wondered if he was going to take me into the jungle and rape me before he decided to actually drop me off at my friends house! An inexhaustible supply of young Soldiers on deployment at the bars and a intoxicating wild ride on the back of a motorbike through the streets of Singapore holding onto the firm muscled waist of a gorgeous hunk called Allan. Endless drinking, partying and never coming home until the wee hours of the morning….sated with bliss.
I came home with a whole new plan…..
I changed jobs, worked for the Government in various departments and for the next few years, I traveled overseas at every opportunity I could get. I continued my thirst for new discoveries by traveling to every single town, city and village in New Zealand. Greatly encouraged and helped with my father’s equally incredible thirst for travelling. After Dad left the Services, he found a job that took him all over the Country… I must admit I loved jumping on a plane at a moments notice to meet up with Dad in the South Island and merrily drive back up the Island to hop on the plane back to Auckland, even though I was suppose to be very sick in bed.
Anyway, what has this to do with “Home”? A lot.
When I met my Husband, Red in Australia, after I decided I needed to get away for a short break because I was bored and thought a quick trip to grab some more Italian handmade shoes and stock up my wardrobe might cheer me up. I decided to pop in for a BBQ at my friends house and met my Destiny….a long legged green eyed Redhead who literally took my breath away and unknowingly walked out the door with my heart in his hand also.
That incredible four hours spent with him….made me come home with a whole new plan.
I packed up my things, sold my beloved car, said goodbye to family and friends and grabbed my Destiny by the hand and ran like the wind in the sails.
I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. A new country of residence, two friends to keep me company and a man I was hoping would keep me safe. Not wondering if I had made a huge mistake….that four hours had a lot to live up too!
I literally jumped ship and hoped like hell the wind didnt die or blow me ashore without a hope of survival. All I could do was hold onto my belief that this was right and I would eventually stop bobbing around at sea.
That initial two weeks of living here in Australia was spent getting myself a new job, finding a place to live and hopping into Red’s little Ford Escort van. To drive 15 hours all the way from Sydney to the small town amongst the trees to meet my Out-laws for the first time. Also being introduced to the rather large Italian family, I was about to marry into knowing I was NOT their choice of wife for their youngest son.
I will never forget that first day, watching my future husband bound out of the car to be greeted with hugs and leaving me in the car. Wondering if I could remember how to drive a Manual car out of the driveway and rescue myself from the death stare my future Mother-Out law was throwing at me!
I sat there for those few moments as she walked down the side of the house and all I thought to myself was…”Bitch, I have just survived being sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally being abused all my life….whatever you throw at me, I will fight you till the day i die if need be”.
I throw on my Armour, tightened my heart strings and stepped out of the car and met her head on, with…”Hello, I am Lois, I AM GOING TO BE your Daughter In Law, nice to meet you!
Battle swords had been drawn. It took her 10 years before she gave in and accepted this pint sized outspoken girl from another country was not going anywhere.
Life just got better and better….not only battling the Out Laws, my own parents who were still convinced I would come to my sense and come “home” to New Zealand to be the obedient daughter they had tried ever so hard to bash me into being, now my Redhead was telling me we were leaving our beloved adorable seaside Unit, that overlooked Botany Bay, to move back to his parent’s small town. W.T.F.
I screamed, ranted, raved and gave in….and followed my husband. For the first time since I was 17, I had no job, no money of my own, nowhere to wear my lovely Italian handmade shoes let alone my barely there skirts and evening clothes. I was stuck in hicksville with the Out Laws living right across the road from us.
It was then the itchy feet syndrome began. I had no sense of belonging, at odds with Red over where “Home” was. I wanted to live in the city, he loved the country way of life to which he had been raised. All I could see was I was lost and floundering out to sea. So began the search for “home”.
By this stage, my New Zealand family had all moved to Australia and even they were like a noose around my neck. Offering anything but help and causing many problems that would finally resolve themselves many many years later by me removing myself and my family from their devilish grip of insanity,corruption and evilness.
The time we had been married 17 years, we had moved over 20 times. Most of the time, we stayed within the same area for the four kids who just wanted to have a “home” where they could have friends, go to the same school and be settled. Meanwhile, their Mother couldn’t get rid of her ‘itchy feet to move syndrome’.
I knew there was a place that would offer me a sense of belonging, peace in my heart and all elements of my past would no longer be a constant torture. I just had to find it. Then one day, I was riding on the back of the Motorbike with Red on a five day trip northwards, leaving the kids with family so we could celebrate our Anniversary and we came across the perfect little town that offered that ‘country feel” that I had grown to love and crave. It had all the trappings of a modern town, plenty of schools, shops and entertainment close to the beautiful beach. We feel in love instantly. Both of us had no idea that it would take us 15 years to finally rock up in this little town and say those words…We are finally home!
As I stood in that backyard overgrown with weeds and the horrendous painting on the walls that awaited a fresh coat of white paint…..
I called Red, who was in our home 5 hours away watching the kangaroos jumping over our fences, the chickens clucking profusely as they herded their baby chicks around and where Billy, our beloved Humog lay snoozing. I found myself saying those fateful words I had always dreamed of….”Honey, I found us a home…pack up the house, we are moving for the last time!”
From the first step into the front door, I got an image of Red’s country themed prints being placed on the wall, perched above the gorgeous silky wood dresser highlighting my vast collection of tea cups from my travels, lacy cloth over my large wooden kitchen table, plush cushions on the couches and lush bedding, lace curtains in the breeze and sitting out on that patio with my plants in bloom, sipping on a ice cold corona listening to the chatter and laughter of my family all around me.
I had finally found my Home, my sense of belonging, my peace, the end to itchy feet….I felt bliss.
This Little White House is filled with our travels and the image of my front door decorated with the imprint of Frodo’s face. When he decided painting the front room with the white paint was boring and instead painted his face, pressed it against the glass and left it there for all to see…his happy big smile!!
If I could be asked what The Little White House represents to me as someone who has finally found her ‘home’ after all these years, our Little White House represents: our memories both past, present and the soon to be exciting future, the laughter that trickles out of the batcave, Frodo’s room and many of the other rooms throughout the house. The smell of roast chicken and vegetables baking floating in the air, tantalizing our noses as each child comes out and asks, “when is dinner going to be ready? I’m hungry!’
|The Little White House…|
The Little White House also represents the many hand prints of our children as they flutter in through the door, seeking space and quietness. Our love for each and every one of children, friends and also for our partner. Plus, we are always ready to make some even more amazing memories that when the time comes, we can sit there with a cold corona after a busy day of work and say, “Do you remember….?”
Also our home will change when the little steps of our grandchildren are brought to experience the wonderful cooking of Nelly, the loving care and tender moments with Red. All the while, their parents have collapsed and are sound asleep with that, more embarrassing photo opportunities for us!
Finally after all of these years of seeking a house that no longer is a house with four walls and a roof. But rather, I have found a home that gives me all of the things I have secretly craved and never told anyone. I can say with contentment in my heart, I am finally Home.
BEFORE I GO……THANK YOU to everyone who read my Blog, I Am So Ovarian It. I just wanted to let you all know that on the 20th July, those little fuckers are being removed. And I will never ever have to worry about hearing the words…”Don’t panic, but we think you have Ovarian Cancer!”
Love Lois xxx