PHANEROO \fan-er-o-oo\Greek: to manifest in word or deed.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nana's Cabin

Back in early September, BJ's mom (whom the kids called Nana) passed away after a five-year courageous fight against cancer. She was only 60 years old. She was truly inspirational the way she faced her terminal illness, how she pushed herself onward every day despite horrible side effects of endless chemo therapies. She refused pain relief drugs because she didn't like taking medications. Although many of us would have sought any form of relief that we could get, she dealt with the discomforts and pains of her illness and treatments without complaint. She would never allow any focus to be upon her, nor would she allow any pity. She was one tough lady who fought until the last moment of her life here on earth. We are sad to be missing her, especially during the holidays, but we are relieved knowing that she is resting, completely free of disease and pain, with Jesus. It makes losing her to cancer a little easier to bear knowing that she is no longer suffering.

Nana has left us with a lot of great memories and a home full of very special treasures that reflect her personality, her appreciation for simplicity, and her pleasure for being surrounded by the familiar, the unique, and the memorable. Her home is a combination of a late-1800s log cabin combined with a more modern log cabin designed to blend the old and the new. She had a great eye for how to meld the two concepts while retaining special features of the antique architecture of the historic cabin. Her home sits on approximately 3 acres in a small cove surrounded by trees, a creek, fruit trees, and sunny garden spots. The kids have always enjoyed our visits to Nana's house. It's a special place.

I was recently told about how Nana drafted a layout of the old cabin and her ideas for the new additions on the back of a brown paper bag. And that's the draft she took to city hall to request a building permit. From that draft, she began work and basically she was the general contractor over the entire building project. She asked friends and family, folks whom she loved and trusted, to do the work that she was unable to do. Every cabinet in the kitchen and bathrooms were custom built by a friend who created the cabinets from a pile of lumber. In this day-and-age, when most get their cabinets from big box retailers (Lowe's and Home Depot), she wanted to be surrounded by craftsmanship by people she knew and cared about. Many elements of the home reflect that love and care for detail. She also took great pains to salvage as much as possible. She was recycling building materials before it was the cool thing to do. She also appreciated the local arts and crafts that the area offers. Her home is full of those types of treasures. For instance, she has 4 cane-bottomed chairs which were hand-caned by the Walker sisters. In addition, she has many handmade pottery pieces, wooden bowl and utensil sets, handwoven baskets, and original pieces of art. In some aspects you feel like you've stepped back in time, but then again you get the incredible comforts of modernity when you fix a meal in the family-size, gourmet kitchen or relax on the over-sized, plush sofa beside the 8-foot-wide stack stone fireplace.

Another favorite tidbit that I enjoyed hearing was how Nana selected the three screened doors that are on her back porch. She had become aware of an old home nearby that was dilapidated and was in line to be demolished. Nana visited the home at one time and remembered how the screened doors there had that perfect squeak from years of use, which also reminded her of the sound of her grandmother's screened doors. So before the old house was demo'd, she retrieved the three doors, hardware included, and incorporated them into her own screened-in back porch. The squeak is still in tact. There are many antique pieces of furniture scattered throughout her house with similar stories - rescued from old homes, salvaged from renovated inns, or acquired from closed-down businesses.

Nana was a creative and industrious woman. Her handmade quilts are treasures. Her canned goods from her own garden are still being enjoyed by our family. Her ideas for how to create a special, warm and welcoming home is a wonderful legacy that she leaves behind. We are blessed to be able to enjoy the labors of her love when we spend time at her home. Here are some photos, most of which do not do any justice to how special this place is, but it's fun to share so others might see and appreciate.

Front view of cabin. The section of cabin with the stone chimney is the two-story historic 1800's cabin. The section on the front with the blue arched window and the section on the left with the shed roof porch are the newer additions. 
Back view of cabin.

View of the screened porch with one of the salvaged "squeaky" doors. Large river rocks serve as steps to the porch.
Old corn crib that houses gardening supplies, and a little fenced garden spot to deter deer, rabbits, and black bears.
The spring house which now serves as the pump house for the well.
View of the small cabin which is used mainly for tool storage and extra building supplies.
Back view of the small cabin and a creek that runs along the property.
Inside the newer addition looking toward the historic cabin with the exposed hand-hewn timbers.
Just a portion of the lovely modern dine-in kitchen.
View of the original stack-stone fireplace in the historic cabin.