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Chapter 31: New Home
The house had changed a lot from when it was just purchased.
From far away, one is able to see the black roof tiles, white walls, natural bricks, and red columns. The colors were fresh, clear, and clean.
The door facing the road from Fan Hua Town had a hanging red lantern on each side.
The house was enclosed by a neatly arranged man-tall phoebe fence.
Entering the courtyard, other than the cherry tree on the right surrounded by a short retaining wall made of broken pieces of bricks, there was also a wooden bench facing the sun that could seat two people. On the other side, along the phoebe fence, is a two meter wide, five meter long flower bed with many uncommon flowers of various species. The rest of the open space was paved with bricks. It was clean and without a speck of dust.
Two flights of black brick stairs were added one meter away from the main house door.
The three rooms were arranged for distinct uses.
The middle was the main room. Near entrance, a large east-facing kang (heated raised floor) can be seen built on the west wall. It was big enough to fit four people. On top of the kang was a wide table with several drawers. On that table was a large white ceramic plate that was filled with peanuts, melon seeds, and dried fruits. Four crimson red pillows with golden embroidery at the ends leaned on the sides of the table.
South of the large kang was a display case with about ten slots of various sizes. Each slot contained many decorations rarely seen in a farmer’s house, such as wood carvings, root carvings, and porcelain. Although they are nice to look at, they were of no use to the farmers. Su Shuilian had searched a whole day in the plaza to find these treasures and spent two silvers taels on them.
Next to the display case was a lounge chair resting on the wall. The chair also had a gold-thread embroidered pillow made of red fabric. The pillows matched really well with the blood beech wood of the furniture.
With the double doors opened on the south side of the house, the warm bright rays reflected on the sparkling clean display case, forming a dazzling five-color halo.
On the east side was the bedroom with all of the furniture made of Jichi wood.
There was a two meter long Babu bed that faced north. The bed was already covered with a thin, white-flowered sheet. The bed curtains were loosely held open by two wooden hooks. On both sides of the bed entrance were short cabinets that contained their socks and clothing. Between the two cabinets and right before the bed laid a palm-tall foot step.
By the window behind the bed was a clothing rack with two levels, a stool, and a matching purple lace cotton curtain that discretely divided the room. This effectively created a simple dressing room.
South of the large bed, on the east wall, was a five drawer cabinet one and a half meter tall and a three drawer shoe cabinet.
Right by the bed were three clothing trunks stacked on top of one another. Beside that was a man-tall top-lidded cupboard for storing blankets. Further down was the entrance leading to the main room. The entrance was covered by the same purple fabric used as the bed curtain.
Under the south window of the bedroom was a wide dressing/vanity table. Jewelry and gauze filled compartments of various sizes. On the table was a large oval mirror big enough to reflect the upper torso.
On the right side of the dressing table, not too far from the door leading to the main room, was a two tier tall flower stand at the corner of the room. On the bottom was a pot containing five golden chrysanthemums, while on top were narcissuses with thick green stems in the water.
In the middle of the open space of the bedroom was a round table covered with a floral cloth. It had a single leg and was surrounded by four stools. On the table were pastries and snacks in a rattan woven plate.
The west room was currently an embroidering room.
Resting on the north windowsill was an extra large, multi-functional embroidery plane; this is what Su Shuilian had requested the carpenter to make by drawing it. It was her future embroidery tool. By the two sides of the half-man tall embroidery frame was a pair of two meter tall cabinets. They were made to have several lattices which could be filled with different sewing/embroidery needles, string, and fabric scraps. And on the top of the cabinet one could place fabric.
By the south window, was a wide desk with drawers. Facing the table was an armchair with a cushion covered with red fabric with golden embroidery. Of course, Su Shuilian had a thicker one of the same style in a cabinet, to be used during the colder seasons.
On the table was a calligraphy brush holder. There was an inkstone on the side and a few sweet-smelling osmanthus in a vase with a thin neck. The subtle scent filled the whole room.
In the corner, on the left side of the table stood a large painted porcelain cylinder. On the surface were two almost completed ink paintings. These images were prepared by Su Shuilian to be sewn onto the winter clothes.
On the right side of the table a bookshelf rested on the wall. Currently, on the top shelf, farming and cooking related books were neatly placed. The bottom shelf had several books of the geography of the large Hui Country and other odd, miscellaneous books.
Well, at first Su Shuilian had only wanted to look for books about farming, but she soon discovered some books on the geography of this region and other interesting commodities. She could not resist buying them. It wasn’t her fault that she enjoyed to read these exotic, out of the ordinary, unique scripts. And with that, three silver taels were quickly used up. Fortunately Lin Si Yao did not say anything, as if she hadn’t spent any money. But in the end, it was her who had wasted the money, lamenting about it.
There were curtains on the embroidery room’s windows, as well as on the doorway leading to the main room. Instead of the floral purple curtain used in the bedroom, these curtains were made by Su Shuilian from rattan. The rolling curtain had a thicker texture than the cloth curtains, but because rattan was rougher than cotton, it was not suitable to be used in the bedroom.
Outside of the main house, next to the west fence, was a detached room. Currently, it was their kitchen and dining room. Though it was a penthouse, it was quite spacious.
By the north window was a heavy stove, new, white, and pleasing to the eyes. Next to the stove was a two-shelf cupboard. The lower shelf held jars, pots, and buckets for washing and picking/selecting vegetables. The top shelf was placed with bowls, plates, and utensils.
Su Shuilian selected a 48-piece imitation porcelain set for six people, as well as various blue and white dishes. The wooden chopsticks and spoons were carved by her from the Phoebe wood. At first she only made two sets, but thinking about possible visitors, she made an additional four sets. Orchids were carved onto the chopsticks and all of them had a cute mushroom head. The heads of the wooden spoons had carvings of an oriole bird perched on a branch. The handle of the spoon was thin on the ends and thicker in the middle; shaped as a flat leaf.
The two set of chopsticks and spoons brought back from the mountains were now exclusively used for the wolves. As for their future eating bowls, Su Shuilian had Feng Laoliu help make two Phoebe wooden soup bowls.
The dining table was right under the south window. Next to the table were two chairs without armrests facing each other with the seat under the table.The chairs also had cushions of the same design as the chairs in the embroidery room. Of course, there were six chairs of the same design made in total. In case of visitors, the other four chairs were stored at the corner of the dressing room in the bedroom.
On the table was a mini bottle with a single light yellow Chinese rose.
By the dining table and stove, against the wall there stood a short cabinet filled with all kinds of spices, flour, eggs, and other ingredients. Above the cabinet stood a couple of rattan woven fruit baskets of different sizes.
By the edge of the cabinet, there hung five to six basins along with 4 towels on a rack. There was also a large tub at the corner. It was probably used for bathing.
From the kitchen’s southern door, there was a winding brick path joining the main trail to combine into a meter wide path, leading all the way down to the river bank.
The front yard was four main rooms wide and two main rooms long. It was separated into four functions by Lin Si Yao.
Walking four to five meters away from the kitchen, a west pavilion was constructed near the west room of the main building. Green, tall bamboo poles surrounded it at every side. For the people unaware, they would have thought it was a resting area, but it was actually a restroom. It didn’t have any windows since they didn’t want any rainwater to fall in. Instead, there was a single, small window on the door of this pavilion which could be closed when in use. Usually the window is left open to allow air circulation. And the fine workmanship on the surface of the comfortably height toilet, was connected to a sewage-like system that leads all of a waste to a reservoir. This was what Su Shuilian had proposed when she thought back to her previous Su House. The masons agreed, saying it was a good idea. The reservoir was covered with two heavy slates. It could be opened and the waste can be used as fertilizer.
The West pavilion of the main building was not large. Apart from the restroom in the back, there was also a small cupboard used to store toilet paper. Nestled in the other corner of the room was a clothing rack made of bamboo.
Originally, according to Su Shuilian’s intentions, she had wanted to put the bathtub here and turn this to a complete bathroom. But thinking about how tiring and troublesome it would be to carry the hot water here, she gave up on that idea. The kitchen was not small; there was still a large space even with the bathtub there.
South of the west pavilion was a small fenced-in space. This place, where the peppers were planted, was right beside a large jujube tree which was also circled in with brick pieces. The back side of the Jujube tree faced the sun. From there the path continued to the back yard’s cherry tree with its one of a kind long wooden bench. In front of the bench was a empty spaces paved with bricks. It was wide enough to fit a large couch. This was what Lin Si Yao had planned; to allow Su Shulian to lie in the sun during the winter.
By the Southwest wall were a pair of duck and chicken coops. The surrounding was fenced in by a half-man tall wall. After spring, they will buy some chicken and ducks, so in the future they would have their own eggs for cooking.
The rest of the open space was left for a vegetable garden with five parts separated by bricks.
Within the three vegetable plots closest to the central room and kitchen, there were, in succession, potatoes, carrots, and other similar produce that could be eaten in winter. There were also chinese cabbage, bok choy, cabbage, and other leafy vegetables, as well as shallots, ginger, garlic, and other seasonings.
The two larger vegetable plots to the south were still empty. In the future, something more suitable might be planted within. The things that were planted right now were food that could be eaten by winter.
The end of the brick trail was that spacious and clear river bank.
Next to the isolated house Su Shuilian purchased, there were only empty fields or wide meadows at the southwestern side of the village. Because of this, Lin Si Yao placed some small traps outside the fence. Next to the fence, he planted some of the supposedly bug-repellent plants that he brought from Xiufeng.
Beyond the fenced courtyard, there was a pier with five or six smooth platforms constructed from stone slabs over the river. At the shore on the pier, there was also a large stone slab. Below the slab was a wooden club, brush, and Acacia used for washing clothes.
The space along the riverbank was also not small. A small portion of the area had been used for Lin Si Yao’s design of quincuncial piles, another part had bamboo poles that could be used to dry clothes, and there was enough room to spare.
Between the kitchen and the western fence, there was another narrow space. Lin Si Yao decided to use for a vineyard. He had planted two large black-seeded grape vines he obtained from the Dashi Mountain. With luck, there would be grapes to eat by next summer.
A large water tank was placed on north side of the vineyard. It is usually filled with the water from the river. It was convenient place for washing rice and vegetables. The tiles were structured to let the water flow into the water tank during rain. This way, it was a way to maintain the water supply, but also can decrease the pressure on the tiles and the windows of the house.
Beside the large water tank was a wide stone board, making picking and cleaning vegetables easy.
With the three meters of space between the east fence and the bedroom, Lin Si Yao planned to place a house for the wolves. Unfortunately, the house that they had Feng Laoliu build was not ready yet; they may only receive it during the day they move.
Just like that, purchasing the property, renovating the house, furniture building, and even decorating… With all of this, under Su Shuilian’s calculation, it had taken thirty-one silver taels. This did not even include the lodging fee. In two days, they will have to clear their one month staying fee, with this, there was at most fifteen silver taels left at hand. So to say, money should only be used frugally.
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