A Sawmill Creek neighbour

I lived in 11 homes in my first 18 years. Perhaps this is why, despite five people living in the cramped quarters of a 3-story townhouse, we have stayed put for 25 years. There are many flaws in our house, not the least of which is a lack of light in the winter and inadequate storage space in the front hall, the latter a constant source of irritation as I daily kick my way through mounds of boots and shoes to get inside.

Every time we moved, mom would make old furniture work in new rooms. Old pictures were hung on the walls making everything new and unfamiliar become familiar. Except for one move.


Our home

Mom and dad bought new furniture when we sold our big old house on top of a hill and moved into an apartment. The colour scheme was brassy gold and green – very mid-1960’s. My tall brother was used as the measuring stick to buy a new Chesterfield that would allow him to stretch out without his feet dangling over the end. It arrived just before Christmas, and just before Mom surprised us with a silver tree. Festooned in gold balls, it glittered in the living room like the Northern Lights.

The silver tree and the new furniture came with us to all subsequent homes. I don’t remember how many more times the tree was put up but eventually mom recycled its branches  into other Christmas decor. Their sparkle carried a silvery memory when everything we had was new and unfamiliar.

I don’t know if it was the influence of the silver tree, but I am fond of tacky, Dollar Store Christmas decorations. In addition to fresh branches of cedar and pine cones collected from the walking trail on nearby Sawmill Creek laid on the dining room table, I liberally swag the house with shiny green and gold garland, fake silver poinsettias, and sparkly pin lights. The tree is decorated with a combination of homemade ornaments from the childrens’ elementary school days, gifts from family and friends, and a smattering of old ornaments given to us by my mother.


Sawmill Creek birdfeeders

The tree is real, although every year my husband battles with the stand and the tree topples at least twice over the holidays. The star lists to the left, or the back, or forward. Last year we delayed picking a tree and ended up with a miniature thing that didn’t require a chair to place the star on top.

And so, this is home – a mish-mash of memory and clutter, some sparkle, some real, some fake. We make it work – most of the time – and if it doesn’t we cover it with something silver.



29 thoughts on “Home

  1. Beautiful tree guardians. ❤ And well… there's… snow! 😮 Not even five years in Tuscany and yet I cringe at the thought of having snow at home. 😀 Happy boot tripping in the new year!


  2. As a child, I moved a lot too, and vowed not to be so mobile as an adult. BUT destiny had other things in mind. About 10 moves later, here I sit talking about yet another. Ah well…at least it keeps down the clutter. Love your piece! Have a Happy New Year, Susanne…peace and health be with you!

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    • Ten moves? I can’t even…. Living in a small house requires regular decluttering and a determination not to acquire a lot of excess baggage but tell that to the 2 people in our house who are collectors.

      Good luck with your next move and peace and health to you too, DGLW.

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  3. I love your stories. They are so relatable, even if my childhood couldn’t be more different. I was anchored in one place until I was 19. Is it any wonder that I have a lust for change?

    But there is just something about Christmas and the holidays that brings all the memories and nostalgia from our childhood to the surface. For those of us growing up in the 60s, it means that all those memories are all wrapped in silver tinsel. You’ve made them a reality 🙂

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    • I envy your anchored childhood. Please tell me there were shade of avocado and harvest gold in your house?

      My kids don’t remember tinsel. I think the city of Ottawa must have banned it. I haven’t seen it in years. I have to say I liked a well tinseled tree.


      • omg yes!! To this day I shudder at the thought of either colour!!

        And you’re right about the tinsel. I haven’t seen it since the 80s. Give it time – it will eventually be resurrected in a some modified form 😉

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  4. Love this post, in so many ways.
    I lived in 13 primary homes in 18 years, 12 schools in 8 years — this doesn’t include the homes of whichever parent didn’t have custody at the time. I believe my total is 28 in 44, so I’ve tried to settle, I really have.
    I also loved the part about the new home and “the brassy gold and green” for when my parents downsized the first time, they went brass and glass and white and green. I was never at home there, after whatever homes always had brown and wood an tan and cream, the new house always seemed stark and cold to me. Bit too fancy and foreign. I realize I was the unbelonging factor, as I was 19 and on the verge of flight.
    And oh how I love the theory of covering what ails us in silver. Such a sweet sentiment. As are the remaining silver branches.
    We love our home still, only four years in. She’s almost 100, and for everything we don’t like (coat closet for one?) lol there are at least three things we love (southern exposure, gas heat, old growth wood). We don’t cover it in silver, but in gratitude, which is sparkly, too. ❤
    Wishing you all the best and brightest of tacky decor and sweet sentiment this weekend, Susanne.

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    • Oh my gosh, Joey, that’s a lot of shifting about house to house. How did we survive 60’s and 70’s decor without being permanently scarred and scared of all things avocado and harvest gold?

      Your new old home sounds wonderful, especially the southern exposure. At this time of year our living room window gets a sliver of light just at the top before the sun drops below the roofs of the houses across the street. But that sliver sure makes the shiny garland glitter!

      Cheers to you and your clan, Joey.

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  5. Ah, beautiful Susanne, my new motto may become something along the lines of ‘if it doesn’t work, cover it in silver,’ Wishing you a festively cool Chrissy. The snow looks gorgeous. (A tad hard to comprehend when our temperatures have soared again today.)


    • There are definitely worse things than hiding things with silver! We’re in for a wicked cold Christmas week and while I like a good x-country ski I’m not sure I have the gear to cope with what’s coming. Might be a good time to cuddle under the duvet and read a good book. Stay in the shade, Lisa and wear your sunblock! Merry Christmas.

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  6. You write in such a wonderfully relaxing way and before I know it, I’m there -peeping through the windows of many places as your mum dances the dance of making it home and you curse as you trip over the pile of discarded outerwear in the place that you have planted your roots. Lovely.


      • Thank you – I just say what I feel and mean. Much as I do in life (which can be less than wise 😉). I wish you and your family so much happiness this Christmas and a New Year full of good surprises and dreams coming true. I recall that you had a baby bird fly the nest this year so Christmas …. enjoy the temporary delight of being squished in your rooted home again and rejoice in being the mamma 😊


  7. This post makes me nostalgic for the home we had before we downsized and sold it to go traveling. I’m grateful to be out here living in our trailer full-time, but I do miss home, that place of mismatched chairs, my brother’s paintings on the walls, photographs of the family, and an odd assortment of everything else comfortable. You painted the perfect picture.

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  8. Sounds like my kind of home Susanne! In my case it’s a mish-mash of acquired objects – mostly ‘on the cheap’ living in rooms they weren’t originally purchased for, a result of 9 moves in 5 years…… Sigh!! I’m settled now though, having lived in this tiny house for almost 8 years. I don’t have a tree this year, but when I do it is colour coordinated to my decor with Dollar Store finds and suits me very well. It looks very cold at your place right now, I hope your Christmas is filled with warmth and fun. We’ll see you on the other side!!

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    • 9 moves in five years?! Holy smokes. That’s a lot of packing and unpacking, Pauline. We went for a walk this morning with the pooch, all of us bundled up with only our eyes peeking out from under woolies. It was -23. Pretty, though.


      • Minus 23!! Is that F or C? In C it’s -30 which I cannot begin to comprehend. Down here we tut-tut and I tend to end upside down in -5. You do live an exciting life. And it is very pretty!! As to the moving around – I hated it! I started off with a huge amount of stuff having come from a large family sized house and due to all that packing and unpacking whittled it down to more than enough for the tiny apartment sized house I live in now…. that was the upside of it all I guess.

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          • Even in celsius I can’t imagine that depth of cold! But just like your husband and the Finns, my friends who live in really cold places all say the same thing…… Two distinct wardrobes! Here we put on a jumper and a pair of woolly socks and call it done!! 🙂

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