My son was fourteen when we moved into this house. He was a shy and awkward fourteen year old, tall and skinny … not thin … skinny. And he wore braces. I had just married a man who was the complete opposite of his father. Husband Number One wore tailored suits and monogrammed shirts and if he needed to hang a picture, he hired someone to do it for him. The only time Joel ever wore a suit and tie was to give his daughters away and that’s only because they insisted. And he owns about every sort of power tool you can buy.
We’d only been in the house for a year when I suggested that a semi-secluded flat patch in our backyard would make an excellent spot for a tea garden. I pictured a small, perhaps prefab, writing shed and a Koi pond. Nothing special; just a place to escape to. And then my father got involved. He had just retired from teaching mechanical engineering and needed a project. I suspect he also wanted to get to know my husband a bit better.
My son had been having a hard time finding a job for that summer and so Joel put him to work. First, he cleared the existing patch of weeds and bushes and then he rebuilt a crumbling retaining wall. Meanwhile my father began visiting with his sketches in hand.
First came the foundation. I tried to help by dragging concrete bags down the hill … but my primary responsibility was to keep my shopaholic step-mom busy. My father absolutely despised shopping.
By the end of that first summer Cameron was still a skinny lad but he had started to buff up. He entered the next year of school with curly, sun-bleached hair and a surfer’s tan. Needless to say, he actually began to have fun at school.
Because we were both still working, the tea house took over three years to finish. The framework and roof took perhaps the longest time.
We finally finished the summer that my son left for college. By then he knew enough about construction to get a job at a hardware store. There he quickly became the go-to expert on Simpson Strong Ties which made him very proud. He also starting spending his summers working for Habitat for Humanity.
The other day I found my father’s original sketches and sent them out to Cameron. He and his wife both work in downtown Manhattan but they’ve bought a piece of property two hours north of the city where they hope to build a house. Like the tea house, I imagine theirs will be a long labor of love. At least, I hope so.
41 thoughts on “#ThursdayDoors: A long labor of love”
I was gonna say, after the Big One, living in the tea house would be an option. It’s not going anywhere. (long as you don’t play with fire)
So, do you feverishly pen away in your zen space?
Generally I go down there and just listen to the birds. It’s very soothing – sort of like plugging in and recharging. Sometimes I paint.
Oh…. GREAT post! Love the pictures! Love the story! The wonderful memories!!!!!
Thanks Mary Alice. Cameron was very happy to get those drawings.
Hi Jan, it is lovely to learn a little more about you and your family. Isn’t it awful how fast time passes? One moment I had two babies and now Greg will be 20 next year!!! A most beautiful tea room.
Thanks Robbie! Yes, it does – I wish I had those years back again although there were some that were quite difficult.
Hi Jan, yes, the difficulties get forgotten in the good memories. My kids both had chronic health problems but these were still be best years of my life and work wasn’t such a drag back then. I think being senior and in charge leaves a lot to be desired – smile!
I love the Tea House and the story and the details. I can imagine building that; hard work and good times. The lessons your son learned will serve him well the rest of his life. Thanks for sharing this, Jan.
Thanks Dan. I was very happy to find the original drawings. My father built three houses and none of his architecture plans or drawings survived.
That’s sad, but it’s still quite an accomplishment.
Good story. Yours is a talented, hard-working family.
Thanks … it was a good bonding experience for all of us.
A true labor of love. I’m sure it’s a memory your son will not forget.
I don’t think anything builds confidence for young lads more than knowing a bit about construction.
Wow, Jan, what a story. I looove that roof. Seems like a perfect getaway, you little tea house.
The roof that will last forever!
Wonderful, all around wonderful.
Wish I had an engineer in the family….
Oh golly, I have several in my family but my father was probably the most visionary.
What a great post and story, Jan! It must be wonderful to write in the tea house and think back on its history.
Thanks Mary. It’s bittersweet because Cam lives so far away and my father has passed but it is very peaceful down there.
A lovely story Jan 🙂
Thanks Bushboy! It’s lovely to meet you!
What a wonderful story! Your son’s turned into an impressive young man. Of course I love the tea house but the only way I’d get one is if we paid someone to build it. My husband has many talents but building something like that is not one of them. 🙂
My side of the family the males mostly are manually incompetent so I’m in awe of the fabulous construction of your tea house.
And I’m with you and Robbie on how the Growing Years soon pass leaving a blur of memories.
Thanks Geoff. Yes, in a flash they’re grown.
I like this story and the photos to go with. Your teahouse is glorious and I’m sure that Cameron’s house, when they get around to building it, will be created with love– and sturdy timber. Thanks for sharing this.
It will be interesting to see what he comes up with. So far, I believe they’re staying at an old camper van they dragged up there! Ah to be young, hey?
Wow, this is inspiring! 😀 Kudos to you and your family.
Thanks Damyanti! Hope you’re doing well!
A story and photos worthy of being put in a time capsule with your tea house.
What a lovely story and a beautiful tea house, Jan! A nice family affair. 🙂 I like the koi pond. I know it will be fun to watch and see what your son and his wife build.
In the end the Koi Pond didn’t work out – we have too many raccoons!
It must have been a great experience watching the tea house come together. Glad it’s still standing and still in use. Loved the story of your son coming into his own. Thanks for sharing with us. Such a lovely post😊
My father had trouble bonding with children so I was happy that my son got that opportunity.
A very good thing😊. Hapoy Monday!
I loved reading this!
Thanks Kate! Hope you’re doing well.
A great story, JT!
I love it; 3 generations of men working together.
The tea house looks amazing. Do use use it a lot?
Thanks Resa. I don’t go down there nearly as much as I used to. It’s a steep hill and I’m getting old!
Can it be moved up the hill?