Ever since he’d moved in Brian Ottomas had been fascinated as he watched Meadow paint so she finally began giving him some lessons. He was doing quite well and said he found it relaxing.
“Brian, you’re so laid back that if you get any more relaxed you’ll slip into a coma.”
When Meadow had her late afternoon nap Brian would take Heath up with him to the third floor. Heath usually finished his after lunch nap just as Meadow was starting hers. Brian moved a play-station and a couple other toys into his old music studio and Heath would play in there, within sight of his daddy.
One evening Meadow woke up early and didn’t see Brian so she went upstairs to see how the painting was going; assuming Heath was in his bedroom. Ordinarily she would have looked in on him but she thought she’d just be upstairs for a moment.
She was much surprised to see the two of them up there—she hadn’t tried climbing these stairs in weeks.
“Brian, where is all your stuff? Where are the drum set and your guitar?”
“Hello, gorgeous. I’m finally getting more paint on the canvas than on myself,” he greeted her with a quick kiss; then answered her question, “Yeah, I packed those all up a while ago and took them to our storage unit.”
He began cleaning up his paints.
“But you need your music,” she insisted with a tiny frown puckering her forehead.
“I play guitar at the club all the time. Really, I’d rather play the piano when I’m at home anyway, makes a nice break.”
She was still worried. Brian looked at her,
“You have to face the fact that if we can’t find a place soon we will have to convert this third floor. If you won’t agree to take out the hot tub and use that room, it will have to be the studios. There is no perfect house that will have everything we want.”
Heath was gleefully knocking his blocks all over. They clunked as they skittered across the wood floor and that made him laugh.
Meadow followed Brian to the bathroom where he cleaned his brushes.
“I know; I should reconsider the institutional house,” Meadow sighed, "It was priced the lowest."
“No, there really was too much wrong with it and from the outside it just looked…grim. It’s not really a house for a family with young children.”
Meadow was curious,
“What would you do with it if we had no children?”
“I’d make one of the upstairs rooms into the master bedroom; then turn the master bedroom downstairs into a public room where the huge windows wouldn’t matter so much, maybe a den or game room. Then take the 2nd upstairs bedroom and make it into either a guest room or a studio. It needs a lot of landscaping, too. Anyway, it won’t work for us at all.”
He put the brushes away in the studio and began picking up the blocks. So far Heath had been resistant to the idea of cleaning up his toys. He’d put one thing away and then sit down like he was on strike. He reached up to Meadow and she leaned over and hauled him up over her belly. Brian glanced over.
“I’d rather you wouldn’t,” he told her, “Not down two flights of stairs. I’ll take him in a second.”
He hated her being on the stairs during her pregnancies. Especially the kind of open steps they had in this house. So he went down the two flights of stairs carrying Heath and made her come down behind him instead of in front.
“You’d wrap me in cotton, if you could, wouldn’t you,” she teased when they got downstairs.
The time was getting near for the baby to come, but Meadow wanted to go see one more house before then. She knew it would be really hard for her to get away for several weeks after that. She thought with one more house viewing they could start to seriously compare. So off they went to meet Bill.
Beautiful rock siding was on the bottom part of the exterior. Above that was barn wood siding in a slate blue similar to the second house they’d seen. The rock had a subtle mix of colors; gray, a sort of taupe brown and slate blue. The front door and windows were redwood. There were five bedrooms and four bathrooms, with a large studio upstairs and a pool in the side yard. The price, again, was nearly over their budget.
“It looks almost like a cabin in Three Lakes with that rock exterior,” Brian said as they stood on the walk, “I guess, since it’s so large, that would be more accurately described as a LODGE in Three Lakes, not a cabin. I’d want to do something to the entrance to make it more interesting, though and I’d probably change the landscaping, but that’s not a problem.”
“Yes, as I said it’s quite rustic. Really an unusual house in many ways for this area,” Bill agreed. Although she had traveled quite a bit, Meadow had never been to Three Lakes so she had to take Brian's word on it.
They entered the front door and were in the living room. The walls were a sort of distressed brick.
“I like it!” Meadow was instantly enthusiastic, “It’s so organic—the rock and the wood siding outside and the brick in here. And I LOVE the floor!”
“Yes, there are hardwood floors throughout except for the master bedroom, which is carpeted, and two of the bathrooms; they’re tiled.” Bill said.
They went through an archway into the kitchen and stood there,
“Man,” Brian said in awe, “It’s really….orange.”
“Pumpkin, honey,” Meadow corrected and then made a closer inspection of the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. Brian walked over and nudged her,
“What do you think?”
“Well, I hate the paint. The counter space is about the same as ours, so that’s okay. I’d want to change the counters, though, and maybe the cupboards and I’m not that pro on the appliances. I like the earthy natural look of this house but the cupboards and even the stove are just too cutesy-farmhouse for me. However; I wouldn’t want to modernize the kitchen too much either. Anyway, I could live with it this way for a while. We wouldn’t have to change it before we moved in.”
Brian shook his head no,
“It would be much easier to renovate it before we live there than after.”
The master bedroom was large. Brian liked the wood paneling a lot, it was almost the same as the paneling he’d had in his bedroom when he lived with his sister several years ago. Meadow approved of the carpet, too. They checked out what looked to be the master bath.
“Okay, here’s a problem,” Meadow said, “I want a modern shower and separate bathtub.”
Brian looked it over and said, “We can change that; there’s room enough. But I thought you didn’t want modern stuff messing up the theme of the house.”
“I know, and mostly I don’t, but I’m not climbing in and out of a claw-foot tub—that’s fine for the other bathrooms, but not ours. No one will see it but us, anyway.”
“It’s not really a master bathroom, though, because there’s a door on each side, let’s see the room that would share it,” he told her opening the door. It was a bedroom that they both knew would be perfect for a nursery.
“Okay, we can share the bath with our baby,” Meadow laughed.
She considered, “But Heath will need this room, he’s not ready to be away from us. What will we do about the baby?”
“That master bedroom is big enough to put in a crib and changing table,” Brian decided, “In fact, if we don’t decide on a house soon we’ll have to do the same in our bedroom at home. We’ll just have to live with it until Heath has his birthday.”
Hearing how they were talking as though they could already see themselves in the house; the agent was practically salivating. It was true, the more they saw of the place the better they liked it. The upstairs had four large rooms and two bathrooms. That would give them an art studio, possibly a music studio and two bedrooms.
“Do we really need four bathrooms?” Meadow worried.
“If you continue to want more children; we just might,” Brian joked. Meadow just shook her head and smiled.
Outside they were disappointed to discover there was practically no backyard, so no room for a patio there. One side yard was fairly large but it was the one that bordered the street. The house was situated on a corner so there was a street on the side as well as the front.
“Where would the kids play?” Meadow asked Brian.
“We’d have to fence in this yard. These extra expenses like a fence, reworking the bathroom and probably the kitchen are adding up, though, and the house is priced pretty high for us already.”
“I don’t much like to put everything for entertaining and the kids, like a patio and a swing set, on this side when the view is only of the street,” Meadow mourned, “We’d have to tuck a very small greenhouse at the very back corner; if it would even fit.”
Brian shook his head again,
“If you want a really large yard and a great view we need to look outside Pleasantview to the edges of the county near the mountains. That doesn’t bother me; I’ve lived in the country before and really liked it. But you’re a city girl, kiddo, how would you feel about that? Mostly likely we’d have well water, certainly no city garbage pickup, and a longer drive to the stores. Probably our heat would be propane gas. I could even find an old car to put up on blocks and buy a tractor and a pickup,” he cracked.
She said wryly,
She said wryly,
“Oh, gee, sounds wonderful, all right.”
“Actually it CAN be really wonderful. It would be great for our kids to have a lot of room to play with no traffic nearby. If we got acreage I could build a really big and elaborate play-set and put in a real garden. It would be quiet and peaceful. Everything’s a trade-off.”
“If only we could move this house to the country, I’d do it. It would be perfect then,” Meadow sighed.
“Remember what I told you? There are no perfect houses.”
The other side yard had an beautiful but unusual pool that was quite close to the house. Instead of cement it had a redwood surround and the sides and bottom of the pool were stone.
“Beautiful!” Meadow exclaimed, “If it was free-form it would look like a beautiful lagoon."
Brian looked worried, “Beautiful, yes, kind of impractical, isn’t it? It must be hard to keep this pool clean. I would think it would take special care so that you didn’t get moldy stuff in between the stones. And you’d have to specially treat the redwood every year, maybe more with it being next to the pool,” he looked at Bill.
“I’ll find out from the owners how they cleaned it or if they had a pool service,” Bill assured him, “But as you can see, it’s pristine right now. Also I know the house is a little bit above what you wanted to pay, but these owners are getting desperate to sell so we should be able to get them to come down a little.”
“Well, we need to go home and think over all the houses you’ve shown us,” Brian said. Meadow looked at him.
“Except for the institutional house,” he amended, “We’ll call you soon with our decision, Bill. And thanks. Hopefully, the place we decide on won’t get sold out from under us.”
She looked stricken when Brian said that.
He put his arm around her as they walked across the lawn to the car. Suddenly the immenseness of deciding on a new home and moving all their things was daunting to Meadow. When she’d moved into her current house from a small apartment she’d hardly had any furniture. She’d added most of it after moving in. Now they had a large house cram-jammed with furniture and all the mementos she’d picked up on her various trips and vacations plus a storage unit that was nearly full. And Brian wanted to make a decision tonight!
After supper they went over all their options, but Brian knew Meadow’s heart was set on the last house they’d seen. He loved it too and they finally decided the pros outweighed the cons. They made an offer through their agent and waited anxiously to see what would happen. The owners did, indeed, come down quite a lot on the price so that would be easier on their budget and even help take care of the renovations to the kitchen and bathroom and a fence. But it would take a while. They would not be able to live there before the baby came. Meadow had really hoped to move before she had a newborn, but she was so pleased that they had the house and it was so far along in her pregnancy that she shrugged it off and concentrated on trying to feel comfortable these last couple of days.
Brian was sure that he was an old pro at dealing with the birth of a baby and that he would remain calm and assured. Not so much. Heath was in bed and Brian was playing jazz on the piano for Meadow when she went into labor. It scared the heck out of him all over again.
“Actually you looked jolted, but not panic-stricken,” Meadow assured him later and then giggled, “Tosha Long told me that Benjamin passed out completely when Melisande was born. She had to put the baby down on the floor right then and pour water on Ben’s face.”
They now had a beautiful baby girl with blue eyes and eyebrows that were so light they were almost invisible. She had a gentle expression and her skin was just a little darker than Brian’s. He said,
“She looks like you, Sweetheart! She’s going to be a blond!”
Meadow laughed, “Now how can you tell that? She’s a little Baldy Sours.”
“Her eyebrows, look at them—Heath’s were dark.”
Meadow nodded. It was true that they had both assumed the baby would have black hair like Brian, but they would just have to wait and see.
They decided to name her Brook in keeping with Meadow and Heath’s nature-based names.
In the weeks following, Brian and Meadow were very busy packing up things for the move. They worked at giving plenty of love and time to both children. The love was easy. Time was sometimes tricky but so worth it. They often took turns at who was taking care of which child. It was fortunate that Brian worked nights so he was able to help during part of the day. However; he went every day to see what progress had been made and keep tabs on what the contractors were doing.
Meanwhile they did, in fact, have to put a crib and changing table in their bedroom, but it turned out not to be a big deal. They would need to do the same at the new house if they were able to move in when promised. The contractor and his crew were working hard. Meadow began buying furniture and decorations, much of it from thrift and antique shops and flea-markets, so that it would fit right in with the natural and older look of the house. This saved them money, too.
Meadow had asked Brian why couldn’t they replace the “pumpkin” colored walls by bringing in the brick from the living room all the way into the kitchen. He liked the idea. They were able to match the bricks almost seamlessly. As for the pool Bill got them the name of the pool cleaning company the sellers had used. They specialized in cleaning unique pools like theirs, but it would definitely be a little more expensive than the usual price. Brian had the redwood surround replaced by paver’s stone in the same rust color and used that on the patio which he did himself to save a little money. The swing set and greenhouse were squeezed into the same side yard. A wood fence went up around the yard with a separate fence between the pool and the rest of the yard for safety sake until the children were older.
Brian had hoped to change the landscaping much more than he did. He ran into a Pleasantview city ordinance that said no free-form gardens or pools were allowed within the city limits. He’d never heard of such a stupid law and for a minute he wished they had moved out to the country after all, where you could do what you wanted with your own property, but Meadow convinced him they would survive.
The "move in" date the contractor had given them was looming. All the changes to the bathroom and upstairs were done while the kitchen hadn't even been started because the bricklayer was waiting for the specially-ordered bricks to arrive. Finally Brian and Meadow decided they would move in and deal with the mess of the demolition and rebuilding of the kitchen after they lived in there. Otherwise it might possibly be a week or two more and meanwhile their existing house had gone on sale. Unless they moved out now they had to be prepared for prospective buyers to walk through at a moment's notice. That would be difficult with a toddler underfoot and a newborn, both of whom needed frequent naps. In the end it wasn't so bad, all the new large appliances had been purchased from the same place and the store managed to get them all delivered and installed on the same day. They could eat cereal for breakfast using paper plates and bowls and plastic silverware they could discard. Brian bought a small refrigerator that he placed in the bedroom so the kids would have their bottles whenever needed. The family would eat the rest of their meals at his parents' house, it would just be for a day.
At last their things had all been moved in and they said goodbye to the “white monstrosity” as Meadow had always called her former home.
At last their things had all been moved in and they said goodbye to the “white monstrosity” as Meadow had always called her former home.
The very first day they were there in the new house, around lunch time, Meadow was in the bathroom trying to give Heath a haircut of sorts when she heard Brian call to her,
“I think we’ve got visitors. Guess they’re our neighbors.”
There were three of them and Brian, always gregarious, went out to welcome them.
The redheaded young man said his name was Mick O’Casey. The second man was older than Brian and his name was Julian Cooke. The last neighbor was also young, in his early to mid twenties, Brian estimated. As he came forward he was carrying a foil wrapped 9 x 13 dish; his smile was easy as he spoke,
“My wife sent this chicken and stuffing casserole--don’t worry she’s a great cook. I’m Harvey Ferguson.”
Funny, the name seemed familiar to Brian but he couldn’t think from where. He took the casserole from him saying, “Man, that sounds delicious. Thanks a lot.”
“Lori would have come along, too, but she had to work today.”
Luckily Brian did not drop the dish. Harvey Ferguson. Now he remembered where and when he’d heard the name; it was that day a few years ago when he’d seen Lori at Goth’s Apparel. She’d said she was nearly engaged to someone and that was the name she mentioned. Brian quickly recovered.
“I’m Brian Ottomas,” he said, “Please come on into the house, all of you; I'd like you to meet my wife and kids.”
He had turned back to lead them through the front door so he never saw what reaction his words had on Harvey; if any.
They sat down in the living room while Brian put the casserole in the fridge; Meadow was still with Heath; after the haircut she would be putting him down for his nap. She had already been cooking chili on the stove and the aroma was delicious. When she came out of the nursery the men's eyes couldn’t help but light up a little as she shook hands and told them to call her Meadow.
“So you have two kids?” Harvey asked her.
“Yes,” she smiled “But they’re both sleeping now. Heath’s three and Brook is six weeks.”
“I’ve got a grown married daughter,” Julian said, “And an eight year old boy, Christopher.”
Brian knew who Julian was—he was married to the former Bobbi Jo Broke. Brian was related to Bobbi Jo in an odd way that he rarely spoke about. Anyway, she was a longtime resident of Pleasantview and almost everyone knew her; but Brian had never met her husband until today. Julian told them that he was the owner and head chef at “La Comtesse” which was a pricey restaurant that Brian had never used in Three Lakes . Then with a smile Julian handed Brian a card that was for a free dinner for two.
“Anything on the menu,” Julian told them, “Mention my name and I’ll be sure to come out and say hello.”
“All right!” Brian grinned.
Mick said he had only lived here a couple months and was still looking for a job after leaving the military for civilian life. He was originally from Ohio and he was single and looking.
They moved to the kitchen table where Meadow served the chili and Harvey told them about himself. He said that he and Lori were practically newlyweds; they lived one block over and both of them had extensive family in Pleasantview. They were a working couple and hoped to have children in a couple of years. Harvey had a wry sense of humor that Brian liked. It sounded like he and Lori were very happy and Brian was glad. He hoped they’d be as happy as he and Meadow were.
Soon after their guests left Brian and Meadow took their baths. They were both so exhausted that right after that they eagerly climbed into their new bed. The kids were sleeping like angels. The house made small unfamiliar noises then seemed to settle into sleep, too. Brian and Meadow dreamed. The next phase of their lives together had begun.
Next update: Harvey and Lori Ferguson Ch. 2 Island Honeymoon