This was my retirement house the house I dreamed of and finally got to build. I designed this house as a house you could live in without having to do much maintenance. I told my wife that this was a house I designed for her, but really it was designed for me. I started building this house when I got to 48 years old. I had purchased the property when I was 47. I bought 128 acres just far enough from town to give the illusion of being alone but still close enough to be able to drive to town in five minutes. I built the house on the top of a hill surrounded by tall pine trees; you could stand on the balcony outside my bedroom and just see over the trees. It seemed you could see forever without seeing another living soul. It was an illusion though as town was just over the next hill.
The house was an octagonal shape 40' wide by 40' deep. It had a full basement with 10' walls two bedrooms, an office, full bathroom, laundry room and a set of open stairs that wound around the west wall. The main floor had the kitchen, dining room, living room and another two bedrooms with a set of open stairs that wound around the east wall up to the top floor. The top floor was more like a loft then a full floor; it was slightly more than half of the house deep with a wooden railing that overlooked the living room and the front door. Every direction you looked you could see through windows to the outside. The master bedroom took up most of the floor space with the only inside walls surrounding a walk through closet to a full bathroom with a shower room built in. from the bedroom you could open the patio doors and walk out to a patio that went all around the entire house.
From the kitchen you walk out through a pair of patio doors and straight onto a large deck with a barbeque area in the center with a hot tub off to the side. The lawn area covered in sod stretched about 200 yards to the edge of the tree line. The large four door garage work shop was about 50' feet away from the house. Along the roof line of the garage you could see all of the solar panels that help to provide power for the house. The two wind turbines that supplied the rest of the power were just on the other side of the trees, far enough away so you could not see them or hear them.
I walked around the house looking at all the walls, unpainted walls. The floors still without any real coverings. In the kitchen there stood the pedestal counter with the sink and stove built into it that my wife and I had argued over for weeks, she got her way of course and it looked good there. The huge double door stainless steel fridge with a double door stainless steel freezer standing right beside it. This was the only room in the house that was fully finished because she had gone into excruciating detail about the kitchen and dining room. The dining room wasn't finished yet as she wanted hardwood flooring in there "not laminated I want the real thing" she said. I was waiting to get all of the flooring done at the same time as soon as I figured out the right type of flooring and the right colours. See my wife died of cancer about eight months ago and I am hopeless when it comes to decorating. My wife had always picked out my clothes for me whenever she didn't want me to wear blue jeans with a blue jean shirt.
I had gotten drunk for a couple of months after she died but after that I had thrown myself into finishing this house. I had been living in it for over a month now and was just wandering around wondering how to get it finished and trying to decide if I really wanted to live like this. I am a typical male and had my stuff all over the place. I needed a maid; yes a maid is what I needed.
I spent about an hour cleaning up the house daydreaming about the type of maid I should get. My version was really more of a hooker than a maid I will admit. When I had the house looking decent, not clean but no garbage on the floor or clothes piled in any corners I drove to town thinking I should do some grocery shopping before doing anything else. I must be the worst grocery shopper ever; my idea of food didn't include anything in the vegetable department. I bypassed that whole area went straight to the meat counter picking up steaks and hamburger meat. I could make lots of things with hamburger, I then picked up lots of frozen TV dinners as they were easy to prepare and even I knew how to work the microwave. I picked up lots of bread and buns, thinking it would be easy to make a sandwich if I got lazy and didn't want to cook.
I was leaving the grocery store when I noticed the bulletin board in the foyer, thinking that I might find someone looking for maid work there I stopped and started to read the board. I didn't really see anything there that was going to work for me when a young mother with a small daughter came up to stand beside me.
"Any jobs listed?" She asked.
"I am not sure; I wasn't looking for a job. Just the opposite in fact" I replied.
"I am looking for a job" she said "What kind of position do you have available. I can do almost anything"
"I really need a maid, preferably a live in maid" I replied.
"Well I can definitely clean" she smiled.
"Ok why don't I give you my address and you can come out and see what it all involves" I suggested.
"Ok you live in town right, I don't have a car" she replied.
"No I live in the country, not far from here but too far to walk" I explained.
She looked crestfallen at that news.
"Why don't you let me buy you a coffee and explain what I am looking for then if you think it might work I can drive you out to look around and see if it will work?" I asked.
She looked doubtful but said "ok"
I held the door for her as I watched her pick up two bags of groceries in one arm while balancing her daughter in the other.
"I'll grab those bags for you" I said as I reached for them. I only had two bags myself.
"Thank you" she replied as she passed them over.
I took a closer look at her as she walked past me through the door. She had blonde almost to the point of being white shoulder length hair which framed a well tanned face with a cute little button nose. She wore a windbreaker jacket that came down to her mid thighs, if the bumps in the front of it were any indication she had breasts which were slightly larger than her frame should have but not overly big, probably a large c cup. She was tall maybe 5'10" and slightly pudgy, maybe still carrying some of the weight she would have put on while pregnant. She had on a tight pair of jeans as far as I could tell as her windbreaker covered her ass.
"I'll just put your groceries in my truck with mine so we don't have to carry them around" I said.
She looked at me like she was going to object so I added "I will give you a drive home after coffee even if you don't want to look at the house."
That seemed to satisfy her as she nodded looking around maybe wondering if anyone would notice her and remember who she was with.
I unlocked the back seat of the truck and put her groceries in with mine then locked it back up turning to lead her to a restaurant across the street.
I had been to this restaurant before and had always wondered why they didn't decorate it better. It had been sold several times over the past few years and it seemed as if each owner had just added their own décor to the already dreadful interior. The food was always good though.
I once again held the door as she went through indicating to her to choose a place to eat.
Once we had been seated I extended my hand and introduced myself. "I am Rick by the way"
"Hi Rick, My name is Cheryl and this is my daughter Cindy" she said nodding to the little girl as she was fixing her in the high chair.
"How old is she?" I asked.
"She will be two next month" Cheryl replied.
"Ahh the terrible twos I remember those" I said. "Mine are all grown up, my daughter is 23 and my son is 22."
"Ohh do they live around here?" she asked.
"Not too far, Michele my daughter lives in Fox Creek about an hour away and David my son lives in Edmonton about an hour and a half away" I explained.
She seemed to be relaxing a little knowing I had kids.
"Have you had lunch yet, I am starved?" I asked as I looked over the menu.
"No not yet, lunch is in the back seat of your truck waiting to be cooked" she said with a smile.
"Well order something to eat I am buying" I stated.
I ordered a clubhouse sandwich and fries; she ordered a bowl of soup with extra crackers.
"You need to eat more than that "I said with a frown.
"No I am trying to watch my figure." She stated.
"Ok then it's up to you but don't starve yourself to save me a few dollars." I said.
She just smiled and folded the menu shut handing it to the waitress.
"So tell me about this job you have" she said.
"Well here's the thing, I basically moved out of my parents house straight into an apartment with my girlfriend and lived with her through marriage and children until she passed away just less than a year ago. I have never really had to cook for myself or clean the house."
"Oh I am so sorry" she whispered sympathetically.
"It's ok still a little hard to believe but I am over it for the most part. Anyway I started building a house about a year and a half ago. It is pretty much finished now just needs to have the right colours painted on the walls and the flooring put down and it is done. I have been living in it for about a month now and I realize I have no idea what goes with what so I am at a standstill until I find someone with some fashion sense." I explained.
"Well don't get anyone from this place to help you" she whispered as she leaned forward looking around at the gaudy décor.
"No I think even I could do better than this" I laughed.
She gave a cute giggle as she sat back into her chair.
"So what I am looking for is someone to help me decorate, cook simple meals and keep the house clean. I do all of the barbequing and yard work, unless you want to plant some flowers or something." I stated.
"So this is a live in position?" she asked.
"Well I thought it should be as I get up to go to work at 5:00 am when I am working." I said. "But it doesn't have to be, I mean if you already have a good place, I don't think I would want to have your husband move in so we could try it without moving in."
"Oh I am not married. Cindy is the result of a foolish night and I have never seen her dad since nor do I even know where he is" she exclaimed.
"I am sorry I just assumed" I said sheepishly.
"Make no mistake I love Cindy and wouldn't change that for anything" she explained.
Our food came then so we just made small talk as we ate. Mostly me pointing out some of the travesties of fashion in the restaurant.
"Yes I think maybe a Buddha like that one in the living room" I said with a small laugh.
"Well that would be one way to decorate it" she said doubtfully.
She had been feeding Cindy crackers and soup all through the meal but I could see she was getting fussy as she sat in the high chair.
"I am going to have to take Cindy home and feed her" she said.
"Is there nothing on the menu for her" I queried.
"No I breast feed" she stated with a blush.
"Oh ok I will give you a drive home then" I told her.
I gave her a drive to her apartment building, I handed her one of my cards and let her know I was going to be in town for another two hours if she was interested in coming out to the house. After I let her out I drove out to the house and dug out the car seat I had in the garage for when my daughter came to visit with her two babies. I had bought it for her first one but her in-laws had bought her one as well so I just kept it and when she came to visit I would put it in my truck and steal one of her kids at a time and take them with me as I went to do whatever I needed to do in town. It was kind of my time with them and Michele seemed to appreciate it.
I went back to town and wandered around the hardware store looking at different flooring and paints. They were pretty used to me just browsing around so no one even came to ask if they could help as they already knew I had no idea what I wanted. As I was just about to buy enough white paint to do the whole house my phone rang.
"Hello" I answered.
"Hi this is Cheryl, I think I am interested in the job, that is if you still think I could do it" she stammered.
"Yes, I still need someone. Why don't I come and get you and bring you to the house and we can figure out what you think you will need, and if you still want to do it." I said.
"Ok I will be out front when you get here" she said with relief in her voice.
I left the hardware store with a wave to the clerk and drove over to her apartment building. She wasn't out front so I went to the door I had watched her go into and looked down the hall to see her trying to get out of her door with Cindy in her arms and a stroller which seemed to hanging up on the doorway. I rushed over to help her.
"I'll get that I said as I came up behind her" I said.
She gave a little start as if I had scared her then smiled and backed out of the way for me. As I was freeing the stroller from the door jamb I couldn't help but see the eviction notice stapled to her door. I didn't say anything about the notice and folded up the stroller as she locked up and off we went to the truck.
She was surprised and pleased to see the car seat in the back seat of the truck; I think she was relieved to see it was used.
"I had this for my grand kids" I told her.
She smiled and nodded.
"Thank you I really hate to have Cindy in a car without one but I can't afford one and as I don't own a car it wouldn't really be a top priority to have one." She explained.
"No problem, I didn't really feel comfortable driving you home without one even though it was only a couple of blocks. So anyway tell me a little about your work history if you don't mind."
"Sure no problem, I started working as a secretary for the vet clinic here in town as soon as I got out of high school. I was kind of working my way towards becoming a vet when Cindy came along and kind of put my plans on hold. I worked there until three months ago when I got laid off because of the recession, I thought it would only be a month or so but now they are talking about closing down." She explained.
"Yeah there seems to be a lot of that going around. I am really sorry to hear they are closing, I don't use their services myself but I do have three guard dogs and I am sure at some point they are going to need to see a vet." I said.
"Oh have they had all of their shots?" she asked.
"Yes I bought them trained and as part of the package they come out and inspected the dogs every six months for the first year, they gave the dogs all of their shots when they were out last. They should be coming out one more time to reinforce some of their training here in a couple of months." I said.
We were driving out of town by this time and just coming up to the turn into my property.
"I have lived here my whole life and I didn't realize anyone lived out here at all" she stated as I turned into my driveway.
"Well this area is not really good for farming the landscape is too rough compared to the surrounding area. The land I purchased goes all the way down across the river and up the bank on the other side" I said as I hit the remote to open the gates. As the gates started to open two German Sheppard's and a chocolate lab came running up, then with tails wagging they turned and raced us down the driveway.
"It would seem someone found out I was building in here and the first load of lumber I had delivered was stolen so I had this gate put in and got the dogs to keep people out." I explained as the gate opened for us.
The driveway kind of made an S turn through the trees and you could not see the house until you made the last turn. I loved the sight as it came into view, you kind of made the last turn and all of a sudden the house sat there, 35' tall octagonal house with so much glass it was breathtaking. The effect of all that glass surrounded by cedar siding was just what I was looking for when I designed it. I heard an intake of breath from Cheryl as she saw the house for the first time. I slowed so she could take in all of the details, the widows watch on the top of the house looked like it was all glass with a small roof, the railing surrounding the deck on the second floor with all the windows on that story. The large glass double front doors bordered with white oak was just enough to set off the cedar siding and cedar steps up to the deck in front of the house. I turned left in front of the house which brought the garage/ shop into view. That in itself was impressive with its four doors and the shear depth of the building. It was 65' deep by 70' wide. I kept my motor home in there so it had to be tall.
"Wow" she exclaimed "I would have had no idea this was here if I had not seen it myself"
"That was what I was going for. I am not really in the market for having anyone just dropping by uninvited and I don't want anyone to think I am rich or anything. This is the house I have been dreaming of my entire adult life I wanted to build it while I could afford it so I can retire here at some point." I said.
I parked in front of one of the doors to the garage and got the stroller out of the back of the truck for Cindy. With Cindy in the stroller and Cheryl pushing it, the dogs and I followed them down the path through the barbeque area to the double glass patio doors which led into the kitchen, I listened to the gasp as Cheryl walked into the kitchen and looked around trailing her hand across the countertop as she looked around in wonder.
"Wow, this is the nicest kitchen I have ever seen" She gushed as she strolled over to the fridge and freezer tentatively opening the stainless steel doors one after another.
"Yes this is one of the only rooms my wife designed, she wanted it to be perfect and I tried to have it exactly the way she wanted it" I said.
She walked into the dining room and glanced around at the walls which were painted a kind of mauve the same colour as my wife asked for to compliment her china cabinet and dining room table. As she glanced at the unfinished floor I said.
"She wants hardwood flooring in here and as well as the dining room furniture is in the garage, I am just waiting so I can have all of the flooring installed at the same time. I kind of got ahead of myself with the kitchen and realized then if I got the floor guys in to do one room at a time it was going to cost a fortune." I explained.
We were going around the house in a counter clockwise direction so the next room was the living room with it huge vaulted ceiling. As she walked into the room she turned and looked up to the master bedroom loft area, then glanced down the stairs to the basement. I directed her down the stairs which was a bit of a pain with the stroller but we were able to get down without any major hassles. Once your head was below the main floor level you could look out into the family room and see the doors to the other rooms in the basement. I followed her as she opened door after door looking into the rooms. She would step into the room and if it was a bedroom she would go to the closet and open it to see how big it was. In my office she went over to the desk, and ran her hand along the top of it almost caressing the oak top. This was the only piece of furniture in the entire house. She opened and looked into the washer and dryer in the laundry room and turned on the taps in the bathroom. I was getting the idea she was imagining what it would look like fully decorated and furnished.
She wondered over to the last door in the room the only one that was actually against the outside wall and noticed the deadbolt on it.
"Does this go to the outside?" she asked.
"No that goes to a bit of a tunnel to the garage. I installed two shipping containers end to end and used this area as a tunnel as well as utility area. The power comes into there as well as the heating system with the two hot water heaters, phone lines and all of that sort of stuff. "I explained.
She just nodded and moved on heading back upstairs to the main floor. I grabbed the stroller from the bottom and helped lift it on the way up which seemed to help quite a bit on our journey up. In the living room she walked up to the three lawn chairs set up in the middle of the room and commented.
"Caveman modern, nice"
"Yes well we needed someplace to sit while we were building so they were cheap and worked well" I explained.
She meandered through the rest of the main floor basically doing the same as she did in the basement with the exception of looking through the windows checking the view in each room.
"I never noticed when we were down there but there are no windows in the basement. How is it so well lit down there?" She asked.
"I installed fibre optic lighting all though the basement to let some light in" I said.
She just nodded and continued on until she had seen every room then went to the base of the stairs to the loft. She stooped down and checked on Cindy seeing her asleep she parked the stroller and started up stairs. The top of the stairs just seemed to empty into the loft area without any kind of a hallway you could walk along the railing looking into the living room or you could as she did just walk up to my unmade bed which was just a blow up mattress in the middle of the floor. She kind of stood at the foot of the bed and looked around the room; from here she had two choices, walk through the open door into the walk in closet or through the patio doors out onto the deck. She chose to walk into the walk-in closet looking at all of the empty shelves and clothes hangers. The door at the other end of the closet was calling out to her so she went through it into the bathroom with the glass enclosed shower room and a cluttered countertop with twin sinks and mirrors. This was obviously the most used looking room in the house as what guy would ever clean a bathroom.
I stepped out of her way as she turned and headed to the patio doors to see what was out there. As you stepped out the doors you could see my lounger where I usually sit and have a cup of coffee in the morning then you could look out and see the back yard as you where above the hot tub at this point, the deck was eight feet wide and went all the way around the house I followed as she walked the entire way around. I could tell she was enjoying the view as she would look back into the house at every window then stand at the railing for a second looking out away from the house. Once she got back to the patio doors she walked back into the bedroom and crossed to the railing overlooking the living room, I watched her as she looked around the room looking out through the windows finally stopping and looking up to the widows watch almost twenty feet above her.
"I can tell you one thing for sure I am not going to clean those windows" she stated.
I laughed at that "I guess you didn't notice the ladder outside that goes up to the roof. All of those windows open and you can lean in and clean the inside."
"I don't care I am still not going to be cleaning those windows" she said with a smile.