I believe in giving credit where credit’s due. I therefore want to thank the builders of our house, for building a sturdy, snug structure that has held up to this winter’s harshness.
Bad winters, like this one, can expose the problems with a house that isn’t well built. You can develop cracks in your basement from freezing and thawing, or feel the cold seeping through windows that aren’t properly framed. Or the weight of snow on the roof can buckle support beams that aren’t up to code. Most perilous of all, water pipes that aren’t correctly placed and insulated can freeze, and you come home to find water cascading down the stairwell or dripping through the kitchen ceiling.
We haven’t had any of those problems — knock wood — even though this has been one of the worst winters in years. Our houses are like our health — we tend to take them for granted until something bad happens, and only then do we appreciate what good health or a house that doesn’t require expensive and disruptive repairs truly means.
There are a lot of reasons why it would be fun to have a tropical home. One of them is being able to paint your house just about any color in the rainbow and not have your neighbors complain about it. Imagine — an ochre house, or a salmon one, or a fine mint green. No need to stick to the boring whites and off-whites and grays; your palette is limited only by your imagination.
When we were kids in the suburban wilds of Bath Township, Ohio, a family living nearby did something weird: they gave their standard-issue ’60s house a name. And not just any name, either. They called it “Don-Can-De-Mar,” the combination of the first few letters of the first names of each family member.
I was about 10, and I thought naming your house was the coolest idea ever. Why live in a plain, boring house, when you could live in a house with a name that sounded grand and exotic at the same time, like a foreign word?
It made me want to name our equally standard-issue ’60s suburban house, too. But the first name approach that led to the fabulous “Don-Can-De-Mar” wouldn’t work in our seven-member family. “Jim-Ag-Jim-Bob-Cat-Mar-Je” didn’t exactly roll easily off the tongue. So I tried to think of other approaches. We had an enormous rock in our front yard that Dad had tried to dig out but only managed to uncover, so I thought “Renbew Rock” might be a candidate. It had alliteration going for it, and a secret back story (with “Renbew” being Webner in reverse, of course). But it sounded too fake, like a name created using pig Latin, and I couldn’t think of anything else. Eventually I gave up, as kids usually do.
I don’t have any recollection of what “Don-Can-De-Mar” looked like, but I will never forget that near-mythical name. It’s a good example of the power of words.