Julie Nordquist, Artist – My Favorite Houses

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The first house I can remember was at 1823 Berkeley Way, Berkeley California. I was born at home in a house on 23rd Ave, in Oakland and have no idea how many times my parents moved. The Berkeley house was big , old , comfortable and happy. We lived there when I started Kindergarten at Whittier Elementary school. A lot of kids lived in this neighborhood and we walked to school together. My best friend , Amy Ruth Walker lived just down the street.

This house had no central heating system, after all we did live in California! There was a small cast iron stove in what I guess we would now call the family room. There was also a front parlor, which could be closed off by sliding  doors. That is where the Christmas tree stood in all it’s glory. Then the landlord raised the rent! “ We are not going to pay twenty five dollars a month , ”my mama declared.

We moved to 1912 Hearst Ave. I thought I would loose all my old friends. What a miracle! We were still in the same neighborhood. Still at the same school. Same friends. A new kid came to school once in and while, and usually moved soon somewhere else. I was sure they were gypsies. They often had pierced ears- something evil ! About 50 years later I had my own ears pierced and nothing sinister occured.

This is also where we lived when my parents bought a piano. They believed every home should contain a piano. It was an old upright, What fun. I could take off part of the front under the keyboard and watch the hammers hit the strings..  But, I had to take piano lessons. The teacher., a neighbor  and a refugee from some European country. She occasionally treated me to some wonderful pancakes (crepes really ) filled with strawberries, whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar. 

 I have listed most of the places I have lived. I did not move from Berkeley until Eric and I were married. Where was a favorite home for me? The place I called home at the moment. I learned it was possible to change almost anywhere into home. Unpack a few of my favorite things, and make a cup of coffee.  

The cup of coffee symbolizes ongoing traditions of family and friends. The smell of freshly brewed coffee surrounds me with happy memories. The ritual of grinding  the beans is important to the start of each day. I never mastered the old Swedish tradition of boiling the grounds and water then throwing in an egg shell to settle the grounds before the coffee  is poured.  

When Eric retired we moved to  Heritage Ranch, thirteen miles northwest Of  Paso Robles. Eric assumed the duties of making coffee. He ground the beans the night before, put them in the automatic coffee maker and coffee was ready when we woke the next morning. 

 What do I like  about this home? I am out of the wet cold coastal fog. The house is small but has a guest room and bath. I have a small studio that houses my etching  press and lots of drawing and painting supplies, I used to have to store them at the back of the closet or under the bed.

Eric  had  his own space too, we called it The Shop.  The house has lots of windows and my favorite view is of  a big old Oak tree, probably more than 200 years old. It’s branches hang over the deck, a favorite place to eat along with a futon for sleeping under the stars. 

The kitchen is an important room and large enough for more than one cook. Everyone in my family likes to cook.   I live there with a fourteen year old black lab mix named Sarah.  She bosses me around a lot. The yard is fenced and still pretty much in its native state- good for a dog. She must weigh about 75 pounds and my press weighs about a ton. Two reasons I am not ready to move again. My weight is unimportant here.  

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