Harry Lee is the real estate developer who handled Ted's and my purchase of three acres of waterfront property near the little Virginia village of Heathsville. He also built a house on it for us. He's a good guy who does what he says he's going to do and does it the way he says he's going to do it.
Harry Lee owned a few houses that he rented to first-year teachers hired by the Northumberland Public Schools. The teachers worked for one year in Northumberland, then jumped ship for higher pay elsewhere, so Harry Lee usually had a house available for rent at the end of the school year. I called him to see what he had in the pipeline that would be suitable for Genevieve.
His answer was "Nothing's available at the moment, but if your mother can wait for a couple of months, I'll build a house for her."
Harry Lee owned three lots in the waterfront subdivision of Sherwood Forest Shores, located near Reedville, the town at the end of the road where Virginia sinks into the Chesapeake Bay. He already had one house completed and invited me down to take a look.
It was a pretty little thing, all on one level, with cathedral ceilings and an undersized kitchen in an otherwise efficient floor plan. Harry Lee said he thought the kitchen was too small in the already-finished house and proposed expanding Gen's kitchen by reducing the size of the front porch. The result would be an open floor plan with a big kitchen and generous dining area adjacent to the living room. He said he would provide a dishwasher because he knew "how it is to live without one" and "nobody should have to live that way."
Sherwood Forest Shores is a funky community of some-time, weekend-time, part-time, and full-time residents. It is built around the middle reaches of the Little Wicomico (Wy-com'-i-co) River. The streets wind around stands of hardwoods and pines, across little pieces of more-or-less dry ground that jut into the river, and along soggy riverbanks lined with greenbriar and poison ivy.
The roads are tortuous and baffling to newcomers and befuddled little old ladies who drive in mental and meteorological fog. The street names are legendarily confused, unable to decide whether the place belongs to Camelot or Nottingham.
I thought the street layout might give Gen some trouble at first, but I knew she would be able to figure it out eventually. Plus, the community has a swimming pool and Gen loves to swim. When the wind blows from the south, you can hear the foghorn on the Smith Point Light, a touch of nautical romance that Gen was sure to appreciate.
I called her that evening and told her all about it. She thought it would be just fine. "You'll need a car, though," I reminded her. Silly me. I should have known that Gen and Gloria already worked it out that Gloria would find a car for Gen and everything would be in place by the time Gen's house was finished.
Harry Lee finished the house when he said he would. It was set back from the street, nestled against the woods. Its two bedrooms were generously sized; the second bedroom had space for a guest bed and for Gen's sewing paraphernalia. An attic over the bedrooms was easy to access by way of a ladder-equipped door Harry Lee thoughtfully installed in the ceiling. The living room received morning light. The house had plenty of comfort to recommend it. .
Ted and I built a raised garden bed so Genevieve could play in the dirt, as was her pleasure.