A Popcorn Ceiling

For five years we’ve seen and heard them almost daily.  Hansel is now 9, Gretel is 7, and Batman, who wasn’t yet born when they moved in, just turned 5.  They have a fort on the property line, gather the eggs for us some days, and love Ruby and Garfield.  We’ve had many good-byes this week.  We’ve exchanged gifts and made many promises to visit, but the fact remains — they’re moving and after today, I won’t hear them playing anymore.


So I transplant young cabbages, being very careful with the delicate roots, listen to distant moving van sounds, and think on the farmlet.  The change.  A part of the farmlet is leaving.  Can life here ever be as rich?


It’s late afternoon when Gretel and Batman come over to return one last egg carton, and have one last jump on the trampoline.  “I’ll come back when I’m nine!” says Gretel to the Bearded One and me.  “And I’m TEN!”  Batman pounces on the number and smiles wide as he jumps with his sister.


“Noooo, I will always be older than you,” says Gretel.

“You can come back when you’re 100,” says the Bearded One to Batman.

“A HUNDRED!” Batman shouts with glee.

“If we live that long,” Gretel says.

“You’ll be 103,” says the Bearded One, but Gretel is wicked smart.  “102!” she says.

“Oh, yeah,” says the Bearded One, as she bounces high above his head.

Time and space operate differently for the very young.  They transplant easier.  I am more traumatized by this move than either of these children.  The parents have promised to bring the kids by occasionally, for eggs and trampoline time.  Still, it’s their regular presence I’m already missing — the pleasant, entertaining kid sounds coming through the woods.  They’re like grandkids.


“We better get home,” says Gretel, and just like that Batman obeys and the two children scramble to the stump stairs the Bearded One made for them.  It’s time to say good-bye.

The Bearded One asks Gretel about the new house.  They call it the Harbor House.  Has she been there?  What does she think of it?

At first she appears at a loss, and I’m not sure if she’s been there or not.  What does she actually know about the new house?

The answer eludes her for the time it takes Batman to say good-bye to Ruby the dog.  “Bye bye Woobie,” he says, and I’m so charmed and moved that all I can do is examine my dirty fingernails.

Gretel has thought of something.  “The new house,” she says while looking distinctly baffled, “has a popcorn ceiling.”


What strange new world is this?

They race down the driveway and are gone.  Less than an hour later, their last car leaves and we wave to the entire family from the deck.

And then it’s quiet.  Their home is empty and is suddenly just a house.  I can feel the hole.

“What makes a house a home?” I ask the Bearded One, who stands at the kitchen sink eating a muffin.

“It’s the ‘OME’,” he says, with his best British accent, then pauses for dramatic effect as he paraphrases the answer — “Oh…ME.”

“Yes,” I smile all the way to my roots, “You.”


15 responses to “A Popcorn Ceiling

  1. That was a nice start to my morning. Sad that your ‘adopted’ grandkids have moved away — I do hope they return to visit. It really is the little things that make life important. And I do love Gretel’s mention of the popcorn ceiling. 😉 Enjoy your day!

    • Thanks, my new friend. 🙂 It’s pretty quiet around here today. The sun is shining, though, and there are lots of little things, as you say, that are making this day lovely. Hope you are enjoying yours, as well.

  2. Really sad but really sweet story. 🙂
    Wawawr xx

    • Thanks. 🙂 It’s kind of impossible to be completely devastated when they, the kids, are so resilient, if allowed to be! xxoo

      • I’ve moved house about 13 times, and moved countries once, and I’m 18 now, but I still wish I felt a solid connection to one house. However, I’d say I’m very resilient anyway!

  3. I can’t believe that a couple of sticks drawn close together can make me smile like a crazed loon 🙂 you gave sticks emotion and you have the stick touch :). Maybe Gretel is saying that the roof has that bubbly texture to it or maybe their mum made popcorn and like you say, decorated the roof for posterity ;). I did the very same thing with a couple of glass bottles of mum’s best gingerbeer after joggling it around in the car all the way back in 40C heat to where we lived from her place (about 400km away). The gingerbeer had the decency to behave till we put it on the countertop where it promptly exploded and left shards of glass in the roof and all over the kitchen. I am SO lucky it didn’t leave shards of glass in me (who was standing there stupified at the time…) Gretel and Batman have left shards in you. Like little exploding bottles of child-like glee. They won’t ever forget you. They will tell their children about their neighbours who let them play in their woods and make forts and who made their childhood a much richer place. You two are the stuff that legends are made of…still can’t get over how lovely that last drawing is :). Kudos B.O….you are truly the stick maestro 🙂

    • I know what you mean about the B.O.’s stick drawings, Fran! He’s really good at it. 🙂 I’ve watched him do it, and he makes a sketchy drawing first, usually on his breakfast napkin, then does the actual drawing on the approved-sized paper in about 5 minutes per drawing. We do this on Tuesday mornings. I get up in the 4s and write the first miserable draft, he gets up in the 8s and edits it, I go back to revise. And then, if I don’t have to revise AGAIN, he starts drawing. Which is the part I love, and I’m really happy also because my hard part is done. I have to say, having your writing illustrated is really quite a thrill. lol I’ll tell him you liked it. p.s. I can’t believe you didn’t get hurt in that gingerbeer explosion! Your angel was awake.

      • Steve says if he is The B.O’s twin, he should be able to draw like him…he might have a go this weekend… 😉

  4. Awww – I got all misty eyed over my morning coffee………… what a great writer you are, I know so well that feeling of loss that is temepered by love and happiness and appreciation of what you still have! Beautiful!

  5. Christine Widman

    Christi, our connections over the miles and years. The ESP of it.
    Our youngest iPhone texted me this very question a few months ago – having landed in Seattle for a visit after a year in NYC…”Just touched down in grey & foggy Seattle. Feels like home. Sigh. Where is home?”
    You and I exchanged emails about this, especially since I have lived all over the Continent and in Europe.
    And now…today…before I read this blog…I just sent you an email about a possible vagabond life with Dennis after we retire from our Azure Gate B&B.
    Living where our 4 adult “kids” have their “homes” all over the Continent.
    4 months in Flagstaff…4 months in Honolulu…4 months in NYC…4 months in Seattle.
    And how strange it is that this really appeals to me!
    No possessions. Living in interesting vacation rentals.
    And yes…definitely “stick emotion/stick touch” yes…”all the way to my roots” yes…after celebrating our 47th year anniversary YESterday…”Home” is where we – he and me – WE are.
    Love to you for all the tenderness in your blog today.

    • Our whole generation is so itinerant, Christine. The longest I’ve ever lived anywhere is 9 years. We have at least 4 family members moving this summer! And I can totally see you and Den doing the continental circuit, taking your home in your hearts to your children’s and grandchildren’s homes. And into their hearts. Sounds perfectly grand. Love to you and Den, and may his ear surgery tomorrow be 100% successful! 🙂

  6. Great blog and tender goodbye Seestor….you’ve brought them all into our hearts 🙂 And, I trust those kiddos will keep the farmlet in their hearts…woobie!…very cute….I’m not fond of goodbyes alas change is inevitable, the constant…so glad you have “oh me” to hug and hold 🙂 Muchos love your way….

    • Thanks, Seestor. We haven’t met the new neighbors yet, but plan to take some goodies over this weekend. Trying to embrace change… 🙂 Love you.

  7. Pingback: Watch what you wish for | Face Painting for World Peace

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