Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Crackerbox Palace

Window into my childhood ... my dad's log cabin where I spent some of my younger years
Copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

I promised I'd share some photos from my visit to my dad's log cabin and here they are! So in 1975, a couple years after my mom and dad divorced, dad moved from L.A. to Oregon - somewhere halfway between Rainier and St. Helens in the middle of no-man's-land, built this log cabin from the trees on the land, and he lives there still. My mom had moved me and my brother to Eugene and I would go back and forth between her and my dad until 1978 when I went to live with him full time for 2 years before realizing it was too isolated for even me (as a young kid) so I moved back with my mom but spent every summer here. Back in the day, the really early days, we had no electricity and used kerosene lanterns. Dad had no running water until I was in college. We would collect up spring water in plastic Igloos for drinking, and collected rainwater for washing and bathing. Although dad got running water for the rest of the house back when I was in college, he has always had an outhouse (see below) and still does although before you know it, it will be gone! They have installed a septic system. This is the "back" view and this is actually the bathroom extension off of the main cabin which is one large room with a loft. Dad started to build the bathroom from the start but never finished its roof for many years and we never used it when I was a kid. I'm not quite sure why there's a ladder on the roof but I guess he's fixing the shingles! This is the sign for Canaan Road where the turnoff to my dad's cabin is. This is in the nearest town, and it takes about 20 minutes from here up winding roads... I think that the name Canaan has a lot of meaning to me now that was lost on me then. It's absolutely the perfect name for what this place did for my soul and spirit. Land of milk and honey. Literally! OK dad never had dairy cows but he did raise bees for a while.
A black and white view of the corner. I shot most of these with my phone's Vignette app - love that app. Dad decided to call it the Crackerbox Palace actually fairly recently. It's sort of a joke but it's from the George Harrison song. When I lived there we called the 24-acre property Running Springs Farm. But I am rather partial to the Crackerbox Palace.


"I welcome you to Crackerbox Palace
We've been expecting you
You bring such joy in Crackerbox Palace
No matter where you roam know our love is true

While growing up or trying to
Not knowing where to start
I looked around for someone who
May help reveal my heart - someone said"
Another shot of the bathroom from the outside. Just because it's a bathroom doesn't mean it has a toilet!
Dad has always had tons of cats mostly because I think they're not neutered or spayed! He worked on that a while back I think... but anyway this is Dodger. I love long hair cats!
Dad rototilling the garden. Dad and Bev love to garden and the soil is very fertile!
After I helped plant some baby veggies we picked some fresh kale from the garden and made raw kale-avocado salad - yum!

This is a view of the "front" (although the door we enter from is in the back). It looks bigger than it is! The whole front area is a "greenhouse" with plants. The land has several fruit trees and rose bushes and there's a huge vegetable garden to the right of the picture. In the old days this was all covered in forest - it was very close to a coastal temperate rainforest though it may not technically be that exact habitat. When I go hiking in the Pacific NW the forest I experience is exactly what it was like when I was a child. I spent so many hours in those woods, pushing over the dead trees full of rotting rich red wood (we thought we were so strong!), playing with tree knots for toys, making tree forts, picking wild huckleberries, peeing in the woods...

Or, of course, if you have to go #2 you use the outhouse. Most everyone just pees in the yard or back when there were woods all around, in the woods, for #1. Mainly because the outhouse is stinky and gross! Because of the prominence the throne has played over the years I am going to have the following series printed and framed for my dad as soon as his actual flush toilet goes in! This is the "dreamy" look.
Same photo but in a Parisian hue - highlighting some colors and fading others.
Vintage outhouse, modern era.
The outhouse, straight up.
The stairs leading to the loft. When I was a kid these were Veerrrrry steep! They're still pretty steep actually. One time I was sleeping in a sleeping bag up there as a kid, and I fell off... lucky for me, I happened to fall onto the couch. Dad was still downstairs and I woke in my sleep but didn't remember it in the morning. Go figure!
We always used wood stoves to heat and cook. Today, he has a microwave and stovetop though. This isn't the same stove we had when I was a kid. Back then the potbelly stove we used to heat was named Smaug and the cooking stove was Gandalf.
This is the affectionately named West Wing. It was only added back in the 90s I think and is mostly for storage but there is also a guest room which is where I stay.
My dad!
The wall next to his favorite armchair. Malcom X and a Cross on the wall. I believe the painting is one that my grandmother did (his mom). Oh dad informed me grandma didn't do this painting but she did paint (as does my stepdad's mom Jane Leonard - who is/was a very talented artist).
A view of the back porch leading into the mud room. On the right is the West Wing which wasn't there when I was a kid. My brother and I used to climb onto the little flat roof over the porch here and just sit and hang out.
This is the door inside the mud room leading into the cabin. It has a plaque on the door that says "Peace to all who enter here"
We always had jars to keep things in - beans, pasta, etc. This is in the "mud room" on the way into the house through the back door.
This is what happens pretty much every night at the Crackerbox Palace! Dad and Bev asleep in their armchairs. Love these peeps! Just to give a little history - here is a photo of me and my older brother Tom (now called Lazer - yep that's right!) in the old garden down the hill - by some big strawberry plants. Wasn't I cute! My nickname was urchin because I was frequently grubby!
A rare snowfall on the cabin. Looks very "little house in the big woods" a la Laura Ingalls Wilder doesn't it? I was a big fan of those books. Dad and me when he was building the bathroom "addition." I look like I was about 7 there or so. That's about right before I went to live there. Dad the lumberjack! I very much remember being in the woods with him when he was timbering trees with a chainsaw! Here's a link to an old post - hippie log cabin memories with a couple of other photos and stories.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a beautiful blog of your amazing hippie childhood past brought a smile to my heart.Your an amazing talent and a true blessing to know. I love you girl!

WENDEE HOLTCAMP said...

I'm not sure who left the comment (you can do anon and then leave initials) But I probably love you too! he he :) Thanks for checking it out!

Tracy said...

I just love this! What an incredible cabin and beautiful shots of it! I grew up around a very unique dad as well, and am blessed to still have him in my life. I think he dreamed of living this way..but he still gave my brother and I a very unique childhood with horses, mules, donkeys, and homemade wagons that they pulled..wonderful memories. Kelly pointed me to your blog, and I love it. Thanks for sharing these wonderful glimpses!

WENDEE HOLTCAMP said...

Thanks Tracy! I don't know what Kelly referred you (I'm curious! Kelli J?) but thanks for the kind words about the cabin and the pictures! :) Come back and visit some more!

susan senechal said...

Beautiful memories, Wendee, and a real insight nto the person you have become