Paint Your Wagon – After The Wheels are Off.

“I want to be able to sit outside in the sun in the nude and have complete privacy to do so,”  I said to my realtor.  She had asked my number one priority in finding a house to purchase.  

Henri said, “Guess what.  That’s exactly what I wanted!” 

“Have you got it?” I asked her.

“Sure do!”

“Good!  I’ll buy your house!”  Henri and I have shared many laughs over the years, but I knew she had designed a house that included great features for a single woman.  Her easy-to-keep home was built on low maintenance property and contained a booty of beauty and privacy.

Henri said, “I’ll just keep giving you information sheets on listings and you check them out.  One will grab you.  You’ll hit the driveway and it’ll hit you.  I know you.”

I spent weeks driving all over the island oogling houses from various angles.  One after the other gave me a sense of foreboding.  Then one day in mid July, she called, “You have 10 minutes to get over to this house.  It’s going to sell quickly.  I’ll meet you there because I know you’ll love it.”

She was right.  I knew the house and had always appreciated it.  We went over its many features.  They suited my lifestyle more than I had not even mentioned to Henri.  One of the highlights was the spacious office at the front of the house.

Could I sit outside in the nude?  Not unless I wanted to be arrested.  I had to give up my secret thrill.  All the other features made up for it.

That was eight years ago.  This year, I hired a young man to repaint the outside. 

I discovered feelings I never anticipated.  Suddenly the house is more mine.  It was difficult defining the feeling.   Joy?  Serenity?  Fulfillment?  Peace?  Over a painted house?  Am I really that shallow that the outside of my house fills my life with contentment?

It’s been all those feelings.  They arise from a sense of fulfilment over this being the first home that I have lived in long enough that it needs painting.  I’m no longer a gypsy.  I belong in a neighbourhood.  I stop and chat with people about things that concern us.  I know their habits and they know mine.  When something is not usual, we check with that person.  When strangers are around, we all notice and are unobtrusively alert. 

Painting my house gives a message that says to my neighbours: I care about us.  I care that we like to live in peaceful surroundings with our lives as private or as open as we wish.  I care that we look after our neighbourhood and the assets that most of us rely upon to provide us security and pleasure.  When I look after mine, I contribute to the value of yours.

Who knew a paint job would bring out a deeper sense of belonging? 

Who knew the delight in receiving neighbours’ appreciation?

The wheels are truly off my wagon.


My house is not easy to photograph because  it’s built on a hill covered with foliage.  I don’t mind – Google Map cannot get a decent shot of my house and I’m glad.  Here’s a peek:

The front of my home - standing on the path that the deer use as they find munchies and refreshment on my property.

This side of the house is the most sun drenched. Lawns dry out for many islanders because we do not believe in using chemicals like fertilizers and we do not waste water by watering lawns. P.S. The trim will be done this week.

The Yew tree safeguards flowers somewhat from the deer.

Speaking of painting wagons –

Lee Marvin painted one many years ago and won my affections.

I identified just a little.

48 thoughts on “Paint Your Wagon – After The Wheels are Off.

    • So you’ve had a bit of experience with this, Chris. I never knew, you wise thing! I miss my nude baths! But I hide behind one set of bushes with enough on to cover the embarrassing spots (those are growing!) in case I have to jump up.

  1. Funny…this is the first time in my life that I feel like I’m not a gypsy either…went so far as to build a shed to store my yard and garden supplies in…guess my wheels are gone too…loved the post

  2. My house is being painted at the moment, I will post about it sometime. Thanks for sharing, Amy, it’s nice to have a picture of where you live 🙂

  3. “we do not believe in using chemicals like fertilizers and we do not waste water by watering lawns.” Hear Hear!

    It’s a beautiful house. I can see, Amy.

    I’ve lived in government/employer provided houses all of my life, and recently, rented homes — and never for more than 2 years. This feeling you’ve experienced of repainting the house because you’ve lived in it for a long time — the feeling of not being a ‘nomad’ anymore — is what I’d like to experience too. It must be indescribably wholesome. Is that right?
    Congratulations! Sitting-in-the-nude can climb the yew tree, or take a walk up that un-Googled hill.

    • Yes, Priya, it is wholesome. I resisted buying my own home because I felt so unable to fix things or repair minor events. Sounds silly, but homeowner friends talked of the expense of hiring repairmen. Finally, I was so tired of being under the roof, timetable, rules.. of other people that I decided to go for it. Having my own home has taught me to ask for help, it has given me a chance to “take the wheels off my wagon” and most importantly, it gives me the experience of joy and peace. Home has always been my sanctuary, but now my house is as well because my efforts have made it my home.

      I’ve taken great delight in doing many things I didn’t think I would know how to do. The internet is a wonderful tool.

      Just as I need to remember the joy in every breath I am given, I am finding joy in every gesture that contributes toward my contentment. Who would have guessed?

      I loved your comment about the Yew tree or the hill. There’s a challenge – my neighbours would definitely decide I’m eccentric!

  4. Hi souldipper,
    What a lovely house and beautiful natural surrounds. I can see why you are so content there. The sense of belonging is wonderful isn’t it, it gives you a nice warm feeling. My house is due for a paint job soon, possible early next year, I think the neighbors also appreciate it when people look after their property, a freshly painted house does make the area look that much nicer.

    • Thank you, Mags – it’s not big or fancy, but it’s proven to be a good house. I hope you will have the luxury of having someone paint it for you. By hiring a painter, I’m able to help a young man get his Masters in Economics. I like that.

  5. It’s probably different for everyone – what suddenly makes a house seem more like a home, more permanent. I haven’t gotten that feeling yet from my relatively recent purchase of this home. I’m not sure what the tipping point will be – but I’ve got many improvements left to go! Wonderful post, souldipper!

    • You talented woman, SD – to be taking on such improvements. I think I remember you have some good advisers in your family. That counts for a lot. Hope that tipping point isn’t too far along the improvement road.

  6. You have such a lovely,lovely home Amy. I can understand your growing attachment to it. The surroundings are so beautiful too. Here , I live in a rented flat , surrounded by similar flats on all sides and there is nothing that can be called a view. But then , I take time off every year to go off to my hometown and spend a few weeks at my parental home. I feel then, just as you are feeling, calm, rooted and connected. Loved the white walls , offset by that particular shade of green. Not so long ago, home in Kerala, mostly used to have whit walls with red tiled roofs. It used to look so aesthetic amidst the coconut trees . Now it’s all terraced and tiled and painted with gaudy dark colours. breaks my heart to see the changing landscape.

    • I love the red tiled roofs with white walls, too. Over here, those tiles are very expensive – they come in a variety of colours. But I love the red – the look of a small place as you describe. I’m glad you can vacation in Kerala. I have two Face Book friends from Kerala who keep us supplied with photos. It looks lush and beautiful. I see exquisite food that is served. It would really suit my palate. Thank goodness for Google – there is much to learn!

      I appreciate your hikes, stories and poems so very much. So glad you blog!

    • Such as the glimpse is – I’m delighted to share it with you. I remember being so thrilled with the unique character that Lee Marvin played. Not much conformity about him.

  7. It takes me a long time to feel like where I live is “home”, Amy. I have been here 11 years and just last year this house became my home. I suppose, when it comes down to it, it has to do with the memories this place has built up over the years, the good and the bad. It has provided me with a place to do all those things mundane as well as enjoyable. I have a bad habit of thinking of my home and my car as living things. I thank the car for getting me from one place to the next and thank the house for the shelter. Nutty. I know….but they both have served me well. This was a beautiful post and I very much enjoyed the video. Thank you. What a lovely spot you reside in.

    • Gratitude goes a long way. It doesn’t matter what or who we thank, the key is that we feel gratitude. Besides, Leslie, I’m convinced that attitude goes a long way toward things going well in life in all corners!

  8. Sorry it took so long to come see your adorable house but we have spent the past 24 hours with our living spaces TORN APART to do some re-decorating and rearranging.

    It all started on my birthday when we had some time to kill before my birthday lunch. We decided to window shop at the furniture store . . .

    Since then we’ve straightened up our closet and the linen closet, and emptied out the center unit of the entertainment center and the armoire in our bedroom (to donate to Habitat for Humanity, along with a TV). Those two pieces are HUGE and had tons of STUFF in them.

    The good news ~ we’ve only spent $10 for a few hooks. It’s just been our time being eaten up.

    Anyway, this post resonated with me since we’ve been sprucing up our place too! Here’s to knocking the weeks off our wagons! 😀

    • Oh boy – doesn’t a clean-up feel good, Nancy?! Great that H4H will put your extras to good use. I once read how many families have storage units and how many of them are abandoned. During my contract/traveling days, I had my household in storage for over five years. Crazy. When I emptied the unit, I had a garage sale for the items that close friends and family did not want to take.

      When I saw that renting or house-sitting didn’t work any more, the thought of having to furnish a house again gave me palpitations. Turned out I live with lots less and most of the furnishings are from people I knew who downsized. Lots of “city folk” come here loaded and downsize like mad.

      And your response was right on time. There’s no fast or slow with this blog.

  9. Top of my bucket list is a house surrounded by trees…you beat me to it.
    My dream is not going to come true but I can live with that.
    I will just make a new list.
    Having moved so many times in my life(26 times in thirteen years with first husband)I have to learned to nest very easily!
    Lovely post and beautiful home.

  10. The post’s title excellently spoofs how to get a job done in the right way. And LOL you exactly have my ideal dream house Amy! Talk about vibes.

  11. I love the photos of your house, it reminds me of New England and Maine, places I love to visit and walk in! Painting the outside of your house is about colouring your environment. When we painted ours, it suddenly felt like ours. It is strange how the external face of a property is so personal and so changes the way one feels about it. Nice post.

    • Thanks for visiting, Karin. Funny…I don’t recall hearing anyone comment about this. I know my readers are special, but are they really unique as well? Or, is this so basic to most people that they never discuss it? Paint companies are missing out on some great ad material!

      • I hope paint companies don’t start to market in this way….it could trivialise it turning it into superficial packaging. I think it is probably one of those things that exists for most people in their subconscious and they wouldn’t want to reflect on it…maybe I’m wrong.

  12. Paint Your Wagon is a wonderful movie — thanks for reminding me of it, Amy.
    Your home looks gorgeous — I envy you the lush surroundings and closeness to nature. Nice, too, that you live in such a warm, friendly community. I ‘get’ what you mean about the painting — the first time we stained our home here in Bon Accord it was the same — we felt such pride and a strong sense of belonging. 21 years later. . . .

    • Thanks, Kath. I admire you for all the gardening you do around your home. My time is spent keeping growth down – quite an amazing thing for a Prairie kid! I’ve put up a couple of hanging plants knowing that the deer will manage to gobble those, too, but I’ll enjoy them while I can. Yes, I am curious about how many years this will last.

  13. Congratulations, Amy. I completely related to this. My wheels are off and that’s the way I wanted it from the beginning. Who know it would take so very long. This is a lovely post.

    Love the house and lots of trees looks like. How wonderful you all don’t water your lawns. Would that others would follow suit. Here a lot of people are putting in fake lawns though. Not as tacky as you might think. Works!

    Thanks for sharing the photographs. Now we can imagine where you sit to write your posts. Nice!

    Happy days …

    Jamie Dedes

    • I love being able to picture the surroundings of people who are in my life, too, in whatever way, shape or form. It’s one of those special features of “imagination” that lives on without diminishing.

  14. Amy – thank you for sharing photos of your home … I like envisioning people in their peaceful surroundings … I think, painting a home is another extension/expression of self – especially if one enjoys time outdoors. I feel like I have wiped the slate clean with a paint job … a couple of years ago, we painted our lady – trim and all … even though “she” is an elder (built in 1903) she looked like she was given a new dress … “she” looked happy and proud of it too! 😀

    • Yes, it’s a pleasure pulling in to my driveway each day, Becca. Even after a walk today, a friend and I stood out on the road oohing and aahing. I think it truly is a way to express appreciation for oneself!

  15. Oh, what a darling peek at your beautiful home, Amy! I just adore those Canadian houses…fell completely in love with them when we were there 🙂 Looking at all the foliage, though, surely you can sneak in a spot for that sunbathe!

  16. Wonderful, Amy!

    Only recently have I begun to allow my more “shallow” feelings to be acknowledged, just like the deep ones. Things like the color of a house, how things look, all those surface things that we think “should” not be important, can actually be rooted deeply in our souls. When I recognize that is the case, then the soul needs seem less shallow. Clearly you discovered this too, with such depth and meaning.

    • Ruth, your comment means a great deal – you’ve been salve to my soul this morning. Growing gracefully with life seems to need a rejuvenated and healthy dose of acceptance. It confirms that resilience is alive and well.

  17. We must visit sometime soon. While miles away at the moment, I think we must come in pretty close contact a couple of times a year. I have some people that I would love for you to meet.

    • That would be quite an event, Tammy! Since I traveled a great deal in my working days, I love staying put on my little island. Let me know if you are coming close by…

  18. Oh, your home reminds me of the home I grew up in, up on a hill, surrounded by trees. It still has mythic qualities in my mind. Whenever I participate in guided imagery, I go to that special place in “my” pepper tree. And life moves on and so do we, but we take our memories with us. Very comforting post.

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