Posted by: christinelaennec | June 29, 2011

Goodbye, childhood home

Some of you may have read the post I wrote in March about the disaster that befell my poor 81-year-old mother:  there was a landslide at her house.  Now the house is for sale, and I thought I would post some photographs of it by way of saying goodbye – and who knows, maybe attracting a buyer with plenty of cash!

1433 S.E. Reedway, Portland, Oregon. April 2011.

The house was built in 1910.  At that time it was the farmhouse for a dairy farm.  It sits high along the bluff of Oaks Bottom wildlife reserve, along the banks of the Willamette River.  Recently, one of the great-grand-daughters of the man who built the house stopped by to introduce herself.  She told my mother that the cattle used to meander down the paths on the bank to graze along the grasslands by the river.  When I lived there, my bedroom was on the top left as you look at the photo above.  Here is the view from the window in “my bedroom,” looking out over the river to the West Hills:

View from my old bedroom. April, 2011. The Dafter doing an art project.

My bed was by the window.  In the summertime, I used to fall asleep next to the open window (it does have a strong screen!), and the sounds of the frogs singing below would send me to sleep.  Here is another view across the river:

The front porch, looking West across the Willamette River.

Here is the dining room, which also looks out across the river:

The dining room.

My father made a bay window and built a deck outside.  Before the landslide, the deck was shaded by trees.  Since the photo below, the deck has been taken off the house.

View from the living room across the river - although the deck has been taken off the house now.

The house is about a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Portland, which you can see from the house.  I occasionally walked to downtown from the house when I was younger.  The kitchen still has its farmhouse character, I think:

The kitchen

And here is my mother in the living room, in the evening.  My father carved the fireplace front from a felled cherry tree.

The living room.

As you can see, the house has kept many of its original features.  I do hope that someone will be able to buy it who will love to live in it, like I did growing up.  However, there is the problem of the landslide.  It hasn’t damaged the house in any way, but the bank will need to be stabilised.  The paths where the cows wended their way down to the wetlands have all slid to the bottom, along with the trees and bushes that grew along them.  Oh the power of relentless rain!


I suppose it’s possible that someone may buy the house, raze it to the ground, repair the landslide and build properties on the land.  However, at 81 years of age, there isn’t much my mother can do to raise the money to repair the landslide herself.  So we will have to let the fates decide.  If anyone reading this is interested in finding out more about purchasing this wonderful house and property, contact Alyce Irving on (503) 667-1200 or at  There is a price range rather than a set price, and “the price range is to offer options on the remediation of the slope”.

Edit (5 July 2011):  Alyce can best be reached on her cellphone (503) 888-4260.  The house is listed on the Portland RMLS, ML# 11243495.

I am going to end on a hopeful note.  Here is a photograph I took from my mother’s dining room in April.  If you look closely, there are mother-of-pearl colours in the wispy clouds in the centre:

Beautiful clouds seen from the dining room - Portland's West Hills behind.

Bless her, my Mom is ready to get on with the next chapter of her life – perhaps not at the top of a hill this time.  I’ll let you know how things turn out!

Thank you, house.



  1. what a bittersweet post. my heart goes out to you and your family, including your brave mum, as you lose a poignant part of your history. the house is beautiful and Oregon is one of my favorite places. the views are lovely and all the wood and tile in the house is beautiful. i’m not sure why farmhouses have such heart and soul but there seems to be something special about them. i wish your mum a good sale and an easy move. thanks for sharing your memories, Christine.

  2. Oh I so feel for your Mum – blessings to her. What a beautiful home she made and lovely memories you share. There will be someone out there who will love this house – i am sure. xx

  3. Such sad and sweet memories. I can feel what you must be going through. The house is lovely and your Mum so brave to be leaving it behind. Recently lost my Mum, and the house she and my Dad built is right down the street from me. It is for sale and I am hoping for the same, a loving family. I wish the best. xxx

  4. Hi Christine,

    What a sad time for you and your mum. She sounds like a lovely person and so positive! I don’t know how I would cope with what she has on her plate but then again she has your love and support which in the end gets us through everything. It sounds as if you have some nice childhood memories, the frogs lulling you to sleep and what views for a child growing up, all fresh air and nature. It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
    Have a warm week!

  5. It looks like such a beautiful place and surely there will be someone who will have the imagination and resources to bring the house back onto a safe footing…? Maybe your mother could take the cherry fireplace with her, as a symbolic link to the old house?

  6. What a beautiful house, how sad it must be to say goodbye…You mum must be a brave woman, to make a new step in her life….
    Take care..

  7. It’s always sad to say goodbye to the family home. My heart goes out to you and yours. Here’s wishing your mum every good wish for the future.

  8. The house is wonderful and I know you have such sweet memories of your time growing up there. This has to be a bittersweet time for you..seeing the house with it’s lawns washed away in the Oregon rain. And knowing that your Mom needs to move on to the next stage in her life…without the worry of what the next torrential downpour would bring. Who knows – this post may just bring a future buyer. I hope so. Blessings to your dear Mom…

  9. ahhhhh, I hope someone who can love the house like your family has will be able to purchase it and be blessed…such a very bittersweet time for sure. I know this has to be hard on you and your family as so many memories are tied up in our family homes. hugs to you and your mom.

  10. Gosh, that must be very difficult, hope everything goes smoothly to help make it all a bit easier. What a beautiful kitchen though!

  11. Dear everyone,

    Thank you so very much for all your kind words and your good wishes for my Mom and her house. I’m glad you think there’s someone out there who will continue to love the house as it has been loved. Yes, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and as you say ajb, there’s just something about farmhouse kitchens. I don’t feel utterly heartbroken about saying goodbye to the house. I think Vicki you may well be right that it could be a blessing in disguise. It’s a very large house to keep up, and it’s really time for her (and thus my sister and me) to move on. If the house itself doesn’t survive in the long run – well, it’s just a house. The work and love and memories that so many people have invested in it won’t be any less real.

    Thanks again for all your good thoughts. I’m sure these things make a difference.

  12. Dear All,

    Thank you for all your well wishes. Each is a welcome gift.

    A lovely small home with an abundant, spacious garden is on the horizon.

    Be Well and Happy!

    Christine’s Mom

  13. Hello Christine. I loved reading about your childhood home (which I’d heard about so long ago) and, now, seeing it. Once again, your photographs are beautiful! I have a few friends who left North Carolina for Portland some years back and I’m going to forward them your post. Is there a MLS (U.S. real estate) listing I could direct them to as well?

    We’re preparing to move this week from the only house Amelia remembers, which we had built 11 years ago in a very standard subdivision. Our new place is 25 years old and much more quirky and private — big pines and giant magnolia shield it from the road and neighbors. Ms. A. isn’t eager to leave this place but I hope she learns to love it with even a fraction of the affection you have for your home place.

    I hope all goes well with your mom’s move!

    • Dear Cath,
      Gosh you are on the move! Would you believe, yesterday I was sifting through old letters and papers, and I have some letters from you from ca. 1984 – not even turn of the century!! And a beautiful photo of you in a rocking chair holding tiny Amelia. Your new place sounds lovely. I hope your move goes well and that Ms. A. is open to new possibilities. The big pines sound great. I’ll keep you updated on my Mom’s progress to the next chapter.

      I found the MLS listing number from the realtor, and have listed it in an edit on the post, in case you want to send it to your friends. I can also forward you some e-mails with more information, if you’d like. Just let me know.

      Take care! love, C.

  14. This evoked lots of memories in me as well. In the end it is a house, a thing and not a person. A tremendous freedom can come when we let go at the right time. The memories remain.

    Friends of mine sold their beautiful home (that bore a resemblance to this house) when they realized they didn’t want to be so tied down to the constant upkeep. They didn’t miss the time, hassles, and money that a large home cost.


    • Kelly, thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. I completely agree, it is just a house – although a house full of memories and significance. My mother is very excited about new possibilities and is more than happy to let go of the hosue now, and I think as you say it will be tremendously freeing for her. It’s very easy for us human beans to lose sight of the truly important things in life, which are the “things unseen”. We do tend to cling to the material, and the known! Take care.

  15. What a beautiful house. You can see from the pictures it is very well loved. It must be hard to see it go, specially for your mum. Bless her. Good luck in with the sale. I hope you’ll find a buyer that will fall in love with the property and take good care of it. — In reply to your question: it was a long holiday here in Canada too. Here they celebrate Canada’s Birthday on the 1st of July, the holiday is called Canada Day.

    • Thank you Luciana, I think my mother is just so relieved to be able to make a fresh start that the fate of the house is really secondary. As Kelly said, it is after all just a house. But for those of us who love to “make a house a home” there isn’t quite such a thing as “just” a house! Thanks for explaining about Canada Day, also!

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