What’s In A House?

House Blueprints

I’m remembering a trip I took to Stratford to say goodbye to a house.  I drove there, thinking I would be visiting it all by myself, but my brother and sister-in-law were there too, taking their own “last look around.”

It looked so different!  A few days before, most of the furniture was still there, marked for an estate sale auction.  A lot of the “things” that make a house a home, were going to someone else’s home.  Some had already made their way into the homes of the family, mostly items that were cherished for their sentiment and beauty.

When I stepped inside, all the rooms were empty, except for the drapes on the windows.  Everything was gone. It gave my heart such a pang, it literally took my breath away.  I walked from room to room, listening to the hollow sounds of my footsteps.  There were tears in my brother’s and sister-in-law’s eyes, and I saw I was looking at them through a blur as well.

Then I realized this must have been the way my mother and dad saw the house when they first took possession of it.  They had the house built for them to their specifications and plans.  They knew exactly what they wanted and where they wanted it.  Mom must have looked at these empty rooms and visualized them with the furniture and possessions she had planned to put in them, adding treasures through the years.

I took a deep breath and remembered:  there were Beanie Babies and teddy bears and funny stuffed creatures over there and in there and there….. many of them sitting in pretty pieces of doll-sized furniture, or in colourful baskets … all for the joy of the grandchildren and any visiting little ones.

There was a grandfather clock over there which steadfastly chimed the quarter hours all through the day and night with such beautiful tones. (My young brother now enjoys those melodious chimes.)

There were soft, comfortable swivel easy chairs grouped so that we would all be facing each other while still being able to turn and look out the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling picture window to the back yard and the wonderful gardens mom and dad had created.

The refrigerator was covered with pictures of the family, mounted with magnets mom carefully attached so that she would have the pleasure of looking at all her children….and grandchildren…. and great-grandchildren.

Built by my dad along an entire wall was a glass and wood china cabinet, filled with treasures they had brought home from Europe and Mexico, the States and all parts of Canada.  Hummels and De Grazias and Royal Crown Derby and Minto and Lladro and Lefton and Lalique and Precious Moments … bells and owls and eagles and bluebirds and penguins, children, and delicate dancing ladies, and sweet little angels, and beautiful china pieces….


A curio cabinet was added to take the overflow from the full wall china cabinet, with more treasures. This saucy angel was my favourite.  (The cabinet happily resides with me now, along with my little angel…)

How many incredibly abundant and delicious holiday meals had been enjoyed around the beautiful teak dining room table.  (And card games, and late night cups of tea.)

On the walls were paintings, some by my brother, some by a cousin, one by my son-in-law, a couple commissioned, some from the Stratford Art in the Park, promoting local artists… and an entire wall filled with a magnificent plate collection, mostly of faces, beautiful, colourful, alive.

On a table over there was a little waterfall with frogs and pixies sitting on the ledges… and outside below the deck there was a little pond with a double waterfall, and more frogs and dwarves and little creatures and fish in the summertime….

There were stunning gardens, sculpted and brilliant in their beauty, with gracious trees – all planted by my dad – over forty different species…. How well I remember my daughter’s beautiful wedding held on that lush, manicured lawn, framed by luxurious blooms. arbour covered with roses, where the wedding papers were signed.  The other weddings that followed…. and the people on horticultural bus tours from around the province who came to visit the beauty of the gardens.

And then there was the cool, shady laneway that crossed the back of the property, between the lawn, a stand of trees, and a huge vegetable garden behind the trees, where my Dad also planted trees from many different seedlings, and gave thousands and thousands of them away to new homeowners over the years.

Also outside in the garden, a recent project of my mother’s was a delightful display of dozens of bird houses on poles, all shapes and sizes and colours, making a marvelous garden display of their own. The collection started with a few, and grew by leaps and bounds once my mother, the ultimate collector, got started.  Inside the house were more birdhouses, dozens of them, made for her by members of her family, decorated with birds and painted bright colours, hanging in windows, sitting on windowsills, on walls and tables. Expressions of love.

My daughter and I contributed a single bird house each, and had the double pleasure of creating them together for “Nana”, and then seeing her face light up when we presented them to her as our “donation”.

Thousands of Christmas decorations, scenes, and exotic ornaments, because she and Dad so loved the season.  I remember an enormous wreath created by my mother, hanging on the wall of the verandah, containing over 1,000 brilliant little lights, so marvelous that many evenings at Christmastime, strangers would stop and knock on the door, asking her where she bought it.. and offering large sums for its purchase…. (my cousins now have that wreath).  The house held all kinds of kraft paper and designs and art supplies for a mother – grandmother – woman who was creative and unique… someone children loved to be with.  (And in that house, we were ALL children….)

An elegant bathroom, with its own photo gallery of framed family greeting card artwork….

Bookshelves filled with her treasures – eagles, and owls, and figurines, and over thirty photo albums filled to the brim with the history of the family, neatly and lovingly catalogued, with each picture carefully labeled , noting who was who, and where, and when and why…..  lifetimes of memories.

A new family was due to move in the next day – an executive and his wife and two daughters transferred from the U.S. to Stratford.  They had fallen in love with the house and the beautiful, spacious grounds.  We left some gifts for the children, from the children who had loved this place and the memories it holds.  A table and chair set built by my husband, an almost full-size pram, with an almost full-size little girl doll that both belonged to my daughter, and games we had all treasured.

My mother and dad would have approved of a young family moving in, and I’m sure they will be hovering around, making sure that lost things get found, and little children are happy.

I left Stratford that day realizing that I would never remember an empty house.  The rooms, as I looked around for the last time, were filled with memories of a house – that was a home.



This is a jewel of a house
Nestled in Nature’s arms
Keep the loving ones within
Safe from evil’s harms.

This is a house that’s set apart,
From the restless world alone,
For here lies the warm and beating heart
Of a house that is a home.

© E J Finn (Collie)

Basic Necessities

One thing I need, a mate
To be mine alone;
One Place I need, a house,
Which will be our home;
One sound I need, a laugh
To fill up every space,
And shining through it all
The light of love on every face.

© E J Finn (Collie)


A house without love is just a house
where things are only things,
But where love rules majestically
is an abode for kings.

© E J Finn (Collie)



(Quotes this time are about “Home”.)

A house is made of walls and beams;  a home is built with love and dreams. (unknown)
Charity begins at home … (Charles Dickens)
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.  (Matsuo Basho)
He hath eaten me out of house and home.  (Shakespeare)
He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.  (Goethe)
Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.  (Ann Douglas)
Home is home, be it ever so humble.  (Proverb)
Home is home, though it be homely.  (English proverb)
Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.  (Christian Morganstern)
Home is one’s birthplace, ratified by memory.  (Henry A. Grunwald)
Home is the girl’s prison and the woman’s workhouse.  (George Bernard Shaw)
Home is the place where it feels right to walk around without shoes.  (unknown)
Home is where one starts from.  (T. S. Eliot)
Home is where the house is.  (unknown)
Home is where you can scratch where it itches.  (unknown)
Home is where you hang your head.  (Groucho Marx)
There’s nothing half so pleasant as coming home again. (Margaret E. Sangster)
To feel at home, stay at home.  (Cliff Fadiman)
We’re a long, long way from home.  Home’s a long, long way from us.  (Bruce Springsteen)



09/10/2008 NEWS: Crowded House

What’s not to love when a musical group whose lead-vocalist and primary songwriter is someone with the last name of “Finn”?  New Zealand-born Neil Finn formed Crowded House in 1985 in Melbourne, Australia.  His brother Tim Finn, who was in another famous New Zealand band Split Enz with Neil, was a member from 1990-1991.  They are a crowd-friendly group, and I can’t help but sing along with them when I’m playing any of their wonderful pieces. They took their name from the fact they were living in a small apartment in Los Angeles where they recorded their debut album “Crowded House”.  Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on both Neil and Tim in 1993 for their contribution to the music of New Zealand.

Current members of the band are Neil Finn (vocals, guitars, keyboards) Nick Seymour (bass) Mark Hart (keyboards) and Matt Sherrod (drums).  Neil’s son Liam (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals) toured with Crowded House for their “Time on Earth” tour in 2007, and has appeared with the band occasionally on later tours.  What makes Crowded House special to me is the excellent quality of the songs, which not only have melodies that stick with you for days on end, but which also have finely-crafted lyrics.  There are so many wonderful songs; here is a list of a few you can listen from YouTube (starting with some “house/home” themed songs)

Silent House – (upl.FanofPope Benedict) –

Nails In My Feet – (upl. schattenjager86) –

Don’t Dream It’s Over – (upl. by emimusic) –

Better Be Home Soon – (upl. by emimusic) –

…if you want more Crowded House music click the links below…

Weather With You – (upl. TheForgottenGiants) – Weather With You

Fall At Your Feet – (upl. mrugh) – Fall At Your Feet

(Just like any of the musicians I feature in this blog, I hope you will enjoy the music enough to support the artists through your purchases either on-line or at your local music store.  Check out the iTunes connection, or Amazon.com where all of the above are available)

Visit Crowded House’s website:   Crowded House

This has been a really fun post for me today, I hope you enjoy it too.  (Let me know….)

Signing off…. ej

Not Everyone Has Email…


When I purchased my first computer, it became a very useful writing tool for me. I could type stories and letters and correct them onscreen, instead of using an eraser or a redo. The computer thus eliminated a lot of that under-my-breath cussing that previously helped me through the process. My friends and family still received printed mail from me on a regular basis, as did newspaper and magazine editors, manufacturers and utility companies ….. etc.  The only difference from “B.C”. to “A.C.” was that “before” I used a typewriter and “after” I used the computer with a printer to compose my missives.  I still had to purchase stamps and mail the letters.


Then I discovered the joys of the internet, and fell in love with Mr. Email, thus eliminating the need for stamps and trips to the post office. Updates and bulletins, new products and improved products came directly to me by Email.  Instructions and helpful hints.  Special deals. How wonderful to be able to sound off to those same newspaper and magazine editors, manufacturers, and utility companies with a speedy Email I had just composed to show my praise, my query, or my indignation.  Email became my closest friend, almost overnight, and to this day I still love it.


I quickly took advantage of this time-saver, by making a list of my family, friends, clients, and business acquaintances who had computers too.  I started sending and receiving Emails on a daily basis, enjoying every minute of it.  I began to feel some pity, then annoyance, increasing impatience ultimately frustration with those who said they weren’t “connected”, as I was.  After all, I reasoned, if I could move forward with a computer and join the internet world, why couldn’t they?

My family and friends who weren’t on my list began to whine about never hearing from me, and my brutal reply was “Get a computer!  Get on the internet!  Who needs to waste time with “snail mail”, when we can connect instantly with Mr. Email?”  In any case, by now I had a whole new family of people like me – Connected People!  People on the Web!  New friends!  Those who had computers, but were not internet-connected, were just some anachronistic strangers.  “I’ll write to you by Email, if you ever get connected!”  I paid no attention to their plaintive pleas of “I love to get your letters!  I read them over and over!”.

Gradually I noticed that my paper mail had dwindled to mostly unwanted junk and bills. (also unwanted).  Only at Christmas did I receive correspondence from family and long-time friends.  However, now they just dropped a line or two, hoping I was fine, maybe enclosing a picture of the kids….. I wondered – “Where have all the letters gone?  I don’t know what’s happening with anyone anymore.”  How are my nephews and nieces getting along in school, in hockey, in art, in music?  Where did everyone spend their vacations, and did they have a good time?  who was moving where?  who got married?  who got divorced?  what are my childhood chums doing?  Even the quantity of my Christmas card receipts were dwindling, because i had discovered the joy of sending E-cards online to my connected family and friends….. soon I would be getting no mail at all. No news at all.  Then I thought “Hey! Maybe friends and family will phone me instead!”. Unfortunately, by then I had signed up for that modern miracle of telephone convenience “Voice Mail”.  I should have guessed…most people didn’t feel like leaving long newsy messages, if they left any message at all!

So I’ve made a mid-year resolution. I will send at least ONE letter a month to someone, somewhere and sometimes even in my own handwriting.  That guarantees that at least once a month I will have to go out into the real world and post a letter to help keep the Pony Express Spirit alive.  Revenue will still be going to the federal government and the paper and pen companies.  I will be able to test my handwriting to see if I can still do it.

It also guarantees that at least once a month I will again plug into my past and keep it in my present, and who knows?  Maybe one by one those reply letters I receive will say – “Oh, by the way – we just got high-speed internet, and here’s my Email addy — it’s so much easier and faster to keep in touch, isn’t it?”  And I can cross them off the snail mail list, and turn them over to Mr. Email’s loving care.

One thing I have noticed, though – now that I have Skype – I have to put on my makeup more often, and dress up a little for the camera.  Does that mean that Email is on its way out?


You keep me here
You say I cannot communicate.

But I can.

The day you hurt me
   to the core
Was the day I stopped
Speaking your language.
I cannot hear it:
So I cannot speak it.
You cannot hurt me anymore.

I have created a language of my own.

You can’t learn it.
Because I won’t teach it.

Let your lips move,
Gesture all you want!

I keep on smiling,
And talking to myself.

© E Joyce Finn/Collie

(This poem won some kind of a poetry award last year.)

Amelia Curran

Referencing Wikipedia, Amelia is a Canadian singer-songwriter, born in St. John’s, NL, currently living in Halifax NS.  The National Post describes her music as a bit like Leonard Cohen being channeled in a dusty saloon by Patsy Cline.” Her genre is categorized as Indie Rock, Folk Rock, Alternative Country. She began her career in 2000, and released her first album then, with four more following.  Her 2006 release “War Brides” was nominated for two East Coast Music Awards, for Folk Recording of the Year and Female Solo Recording Of The Year.  Her 2009 album “Hunter, Hunter” earned her four nominations at the 2010 East Coast Music Awards for Female Solo Recording Of The Year, FACTOR Recording Of The Year, SOCAN Songwriter Of The Year and Folk Recording Of The Year.  In 2010 she also won a Juno Award in Roots and Traditional Album Of The Year: Solo, and the first prize in the Folk category of the prestigious 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition.  If you’d like to visit her site: Amelia Curran Website

Her albums:  “Barricade” (2000) – “Trip Down Little Road” (2001) – “Lullabies For Barflies” (2002) – “War Brides” (2006) – “Hunter, Hunter” (2009) – “Spectators” (2012)

Her are some of Amelia’s creations on YouTube:

The Mistress (Hunter, Hunter) (live) (upl.jonesandcompany)

Hands On A Grain Of Sand (Hunter, Hunter) (live recorded aboard the Music Fog bus in Memphis during Folk Alliance 2010) (upl MusicFog)

Scattered And Small (War Brides) (upl. Roomtone Productions)

The Dozens (Hunter, Hunter) (upl.victttttory)




Action is Character. –  (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Adventure is just bad planning. –  (Roald Amundsen)
Beware the hobby that eats. –  (Benjamin Franklin)
Dogs are my favorite people.  – (Richard Dean Anderson)
Don’t fix what’s not broken. (Dr. Robert Atkins)
Everyone is beautiful to someone. (Kevyn Aucoin)
Failure is impossible. (Susan B Anthony)
God does not play dice. – (Albert Einstein)
Hasten slowly.(Caesar Augustus)
His ignorance is encyclopedic. – (Abba Eban)
I am two with nature. – (Woody Allen)
I can hypnotize rabbits.(Elena Anaya)
I think therefore I am.(Rene Descartes)
I was adored once too.(William Shakespeare)
I’m happily single.(Paula Abdul)
Information is not knowledge.(Albert Einstein)
Live long and prosper.(Deverout)
Love is a great beautifier. (Louisa May Alcott)
Man proposes, woman forecloses. – (Minna Antrim)
Men must know their limitations.(Clint Eastwood)
Mine is better than ours. (Benjamin Franklin)
Nobody ever died of laughter.(Max Beerbohm)
Time wounds all heels.(Jane Sherwood Ace)
Trust, but verify.(President Ronald Reagan)
Vote early and vote often.(Al Capone)
When in doubt, don’t.(Benjamin Franklin)

Paws for Awhile

When it’s sleepytime……

cats can sleep anywhere, anytime, anyhow, anyway – maybe that’s why they have nine lives?  Relaxation is everything.

Dreaming of Catnip Upside-down-cake…

I just need a blanket, please…

Maid service will put fresh towels in the bathrooms in a little while….

Thanksgiving dinner was just too much!

I like a bed with lots of leg room…

Will I watch one more movie, or get under the covers?

Pull up a stool and join me…

Chesterfield?  Oh… I thought you said it was a Resterfield….

Feeling just a little hung over…

Don’t ask.  I just got stuck.

I’ll finish that letter after my break….

Nobody gets my stuff…..

Signing off….. ej