Old houses had a way of getting under your skin, Joanna Faulchamp knew; not just your skin but into your soul, as well as deep into your cheque book, defying reason or logic in any homestead, a stately colonial built in the late 1740s. It was a house that had weathered many seasons and storms, and its crumbling walls echoed with memories -- the massive brick fireplace had kept them warm for countless winters, the multitude of stains and damp stains on the marble-topped kitchen counters recalled various cosy repasts. The living room floors had been stripped, redone, then stripped again. Now oak, then travertine, currently wood again. There was reason old houses were called money pits, white elephants, folly.
Joanna enjoyed putting the house in order on her own. To her, a home renovation was constantly evolving and never quite finished. Plus, she preferred doing it herself; the other week she had personally retiled and grouted the guest bathroom. Today she was tackling the living room. She dipped her roller back into the aluminium tray of paint. The girls would laugh -- they teased her for her habit of changing the wall colours several times a year. One month the living room walls were a dull burgundy, the next a serene blue. Joanna explained to her daughters that living in a static house, one that never changed, was stifling and suffocating, and that changing your environment was even more important than changing your clothes. It was summer, hence the walls should be yellow or orange or olive green.
She was wearing her usual comfy-house attire: a plaid shirt and old jeans, plastic gloves, green boots, a red bandanna over her grey hair. Funny, that grey. No matter how often she dyed her hair, when she woke up in the morning it was always the same coloraturas, a brilliant silver shade. Joanna, like her daughters, was neither old nor young, and yet their physical appearances corresponded to their particular talents. Depending on the situation, Cassy could be anywhere from sixteen to twenty-three years of age, the first blush of Love, while Ingrid, keeper of the Hearth, looked and acted anywhere from twenty-seven to thirty-five; and since Wisdom came from experience, even if in her heart she might feel like a schoolgirl, Joanna's features were those of an older woman in her early sixties.
Read previous post to understand more about Ingrid, the Witch.