03 May 2008

A Wee Bit o' Bracknell

We have refinanced the house, and we're in the middle of some pretty big changes at the Ole Dittes Manse. We have all new windows now, and the family room will soon have four fewer doors and one new floor.

This is in advance of Jenny and me finally moving into my grandparents' bedroom and giving the big bedroom to Owen and Jo-Jo (who are currently crammed into the study at night).

I'll post pictures once the family room is finished--this should be within the next three weeks. We still need paint, and floors, and some electrical, and siding...do you understand how crazy things seem right now?

Meanwhile, I'm still doing the transplanting work outside that I detailed in an earlier blog. I found three pine seedlings (barely two inches tall), which I dug up and moved into some gaps in the row of pines at the end of the orchard. I also found two apple seedlings under the old apple tree, and I hope to transplant those this weekend.

Better yet, some of the planting I did last fall has come up! Last May, my mom got Jenny and me 20 bluebell bulbs for our anniversary. The Newboldians who read this blog have fond memories of the Bluebell Forest that grew near the college. It was a 12-acre wood, and in late May and early June it was carpeted with thousands of bluebells.

Now the Bracknell Wood had a 100-year head start, but we're catching up. Last fall, Jo-Jo and I planted the bulbs in the woods next to our wedding site. This year about 12 flowers have come up.

(Admittedly the photo looks awkward, but if you look carefully, you can see the platform of our wedding chapel in the background of the pictured bluebell.)

In many ways this restoration will cost us well over $30,000. Yet in many more ways, it will be priceless. This place is a timeless place for Ditteses (and now Georges, too). Every tree I plant, every bulb I push into the ground is something I know that I will see in ten years and more--something that will probably outlive me and pass on as a gift to generations to come.

We cleaned out the attic (ahead of adding a new layer of insulation), and I found an old steamer trunk. It was empty of any artifacts, save for a bag full of very, very old women's shoes.

At first I was disappointed. Then I looked at the bottom. A torn sticker there had the words "G. Dittes." The sticker bears the name, not of my Grandpa, but of my great grandfather, Gotthold Dittes. Images appeared in my mind of his flight from Germany at age 18, the long trip across the Atlantic from Hamburg to New York; a photo of him at Niagara Falls, where he stopped on his way to see family in Minnesota (eventually he returned to New York to work and raise a family).

Did this steamer trunk make the trip? It's probably impossible to figure that out. All I know is that it won't be going back into the attic. Once the bedroom is finished (and I have restored the trunk), it will be my night stand: a great reminder of grandfathers, my love for travel and adventure, and the timelessness that makes me love this place so very, very much.


garnet said...

It's wonderful for your family to have a place like this.

And I have a photo of the bluebell forest on my dining room wall and was looking at it recently.

Meg said...

I enjoyed reading this blog JD-how lovely to live somewhere full of personal and family memories and a real sense of history. Our place is so new (1 year old) which is nice but I do miss that sense of living somewhere that has had generations pass through the doors.

Oh, I also miss the bluebell woods very much so it is good to see you are now creating your own!