#ThursdayDoors: A long labor of love

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.

Joel’s workshop

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.

No backing down now!

Because we were both still working, the tea house took over three years to finish. The framework and roof took perhaps the longest time.

My father liked to joke that in an earthquake the tea house would hold up better than our house!
Almost done

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

  1. 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?

      1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Hi Jan,
    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😊


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