Wednesday, April 30, 2008

In The Beginning

The first time Tall Husband and I saw our bungalow, there were toads everywhere we looked; not genuine, live toads, but artistic (here I use artistic quite carelessly) likenesses, images made from every material imaginable. Toads greeted us on the front porch and in every room. They sat atop sink stoppers and peeked from behind doors. We inquired as to the toads. The real estate agent mistook our puzzled curiosity for interest in the collection and immediately whipped out her cell phone. When she concluded her conversation, she turned back to us and said, "I'm so terribly sorry but the toads do not stay with the house." "Thank God!" Tall Husband blurted. Upon leaving the bungalow, we noticed a house plaque that announced the place to be "Toad Hall."

The next day, Tall Husband telephoned to inform me that per his Google search, there was a play, "Toad of Toad Hall," written by A.A. Milne. It was an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows."

"Why didn't you know that right off," I asked. "Your Grandmother was British and read to you all the time."

"She only read Peter Rabbit books to me. You claim to be a fan of A.A. Milne's; you even have a Pooh costume." (True: I wear the furry Pooh outfit, drive around in my red convertible, waving at everyone.)

"I only know about Pooh and Peter Rabbit," I said, feeling like a literary lightweight.

We were eating breakfast at the old pharmacy a couple of blocks from the Bungalow a day after we had closed on the house. "You know, with all the Toads gone, we have to come up with our own house theme," I teasingly said. I have learned that when a woman reaches a certain age, there two things she can do that she did when she was six: she can wear pink and she can be silly. I think Tall Husband was the one who came up with "Bunny Bungalow" and I do remember he found the first pair of antique bunnies that now guard the old church pew in our living room. Even third-generation Brits retain that wonderful British sense of whimsy.

The bunnies have multiplied. Our granddaughters, the twins, delight in hunting down recent additions to the collection, taking photos of each with their digital cameras and informing us when the number of bunnies is a "prime number."

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Magic Bungalow

It's an addiction. I fall in love with houses. Not usually castles or mansions but small, interesting places that tempt me with their history, with a promise to reveal secrets held within their walls. If such a place needs repair, the attraction is exponential. If I suspect it is haunted, I'm hopelessly under its spell. We find each other through a fortuitous glimpse of a photograph in a magazine at the dentist's office, my being lost in the car or a friend's innocent mention of a house they chanced upon. Tall Husband, indulges me in this illness. On weekends he will drive me to see my latest infatuation. He has gone with me to appointments with real estate agents and has comforted me as I sobbed after a lost bid. He even accompanied me on an adventure to Paris in search of a three-storied glass and concrete house designed by a favorite French designer, Philippe Starck.

I am vintage, verging on antique so I am saddened to report that I had never lived in a house I loved, until recently.

Two years ago, we were looking to purchase a place for an allegedly needy uncle who had been long-lost (we now wish he had remained long lost but that is another story.) To continue with
this story: It was December, not a great month to be house hunting and our agent had just left for holiday. However, a co-worker whom our agent had asked to assist us in her absence, e-mailed a photo of a charming bungalow. The blurb stated that this was an updated 1920's craftsman bungalow in the Historic Heights. An hour later, Tall Husband and I followed an agent up the generous front porch. With no breeze to propel it, the porch swing was swaying back and forth. When we stepped through the front door, I could feel the magic and I have always believed in magic. The house cat greeted us with a purr as she brushed against our legs. We immediately offered the asking price.

After a miserable year of a resident relative who was abusive to the Bungalow and to us, we asked him to please get lost again. We moved in and now call The Bunny Bungalow home. And the magic is still here.

Drop by later to find out how this house became known as The Bunny Bungalow.