The House on a Rising Hill (by the Cheap cook and Bottlewasher*)

‘Hey, bro, what’s up?’ I said to the life of the party.

‘Yeah, just minglin, eh. Enjoyin’ the party. Lots of cool dudes here, eh!’

I nodded in agreement, knowing fine well that ‘cool’ was the adjective he was saying but not actually thinking.

‘So… umm…where you from, mate?’ I asked with remarkable originality.

‘Alberta, I been here ’bout a month?’

‘Where?’ I queried.

‘Right here.’

‘What do you mean right here?”

‘Right here in the house.’

‘Really! You bin here for a month, then?”


I’m sure the reader will empathize with my slight surprise considering that I was living in the house and had never encountered the chap till now.

‘So ..emm… what room you in, huh?’

‘Oh, just crashin’ in the space under the stairs,’ he replied nonchalantly.

As I meandered through the unimaginable diverse personalities and misfits mingling at the party – from militant tree huggers to redneck lumberjacks, and marxists radicals to laissez faire fanatics (one night  I’m damn sure I got a glimpse of Elvis jamming), I happened to bump into Sandy and mentioned the life of the party to him. ‘Never seen him before, ‘ he uttered.

And neither, as it turned out, had any of the current crop of residents.

No one knows the day he left (ie…. if he has left ).


There are few places on our planet that can boast a more panoramic vista than the snow capped Olympic mountains, the idyllic Brentwood fyord, and serene lush green valley where Sandy’s house finds itself.

While the phenomenal panorama is indeed second to none there is, however, something quite singular about Sandy’s home that you will never find on a real estate listing – and it’s not that scoundrel of a ghost who mischievously roams the premises.

No, it’s something else.

The term ‘Sandy’s home’ is a bit of a misnomer right enough. It’s a ‘home’ alright, it’s the ‘Sandy’ part that I’ve always wondered about (according to the last census practically half of Canada has called it ‘home’ at one time or another) – from a host of lost young ladies who know Sandy as ‘father’ (regardless of the protestations of their monogamous mothers) to a bevy of strangers wandering the earth.

The House on the Rising Hill, unlike ‘normal’ houses, has its own particular ‘open concept’, ie. it’s open to any homeless wayward waif, like myself, who happens along.

A place where the ‘normal’ can envy and bond with the sanity and beauty of the schizophrenic.

A place where nothing finds itself more redundant than a poor lock.

Of course, there’s always the risk of things like computers with irreplaceable photographs of your kids being graciously donated to the Salvation Army when you’re gone for a bit. But such priceless things are somehow perfectly acceptable, knowing that those same kids wouldn’t have had a home were it not for the openness of The House on the Rising Hill.

Therefore, in consideration of the masses who claim The House on the Rising Hill as their own, it’s rather preposterous, as I’m sure the reader will concur, to refer to it as ‘Sandy’s’, isn’t it!

Morning on the farm

Sandy’s selfless altruism is not limited to bricks and mortar.

Far from it.

His generosity is unlimited.

I have overhead many a hard luck story coming from the living room followed by the familiar sound of a wallet or cheque book opening.

And many of the hard luck stories are just that – stories, concocted to hustle the naive.

Ahh, if only the disillusioned creators of such stories knew that the giving was not out of naivety, but out of pity for such poor souls.

But there’s also many real hard luck stories.

Some from virtual strangers – like the newspaper delivery man, who didn’t have the airfare to go back to Britain to ask his brothers for the kidney he so desperately needed to live.

Pity, though, that after he was given the considerable sum from Sandy for the return airfare, his brothers were significantly less generous to their own kin than the virtual stranger he delivered newspapers to.


The ‘something else’ that is so unique about The House on the Rising Hill  has nothing at all to do with the spectacular panoramic view nor anything found on a realtor’s listing as previously stated, but rather everything to do with a rare soul who happens to love others more than himself.

It is the indomitable altruistic spirit of Sandy, pervading every nook and cranny of the house that makes ‘his’ home the unique entity it is.

I, along with countless others, bow my head in humble thanks to a singular human being for a debt I can never repay – the loan he gave me for the mortgage on The Home on a Rising Hill.

*correction: Head Bottlewasher.


About Morbid Optimist

My name is Katryna Mary Brooke Ormiston. I am 35 years old and after living in Vancouver for a decade, I am returning home to my 81 year old father’s hobby farm on Vancouver Island to care for him in the final stages of his life. This blog is to document my journey, process my experiences along the way and hopefully share and feel connected to a community beyond the three and a half acres I find myself on. A message in a bottle in the cyber-sea.
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2 Responses to The House on a Rising Hill (by the Cheap cook and Bottlewasher*)

  1. Mary says:

    Thanks for the “story”……I wish I had been able to meet this “caring cousin” of mine.His father and my grandmother were brother and sister.My grandmother never met her nephews .How sad for ALL!!!

  2. It’s funny. I was just speaking to my friend about how ludicrous I think it is that some church ministers of some mainline denominations make upward of $60,000 a year. Like would Jesus have had a manse (United Church speak for a house given to the minister) and benefits? I do get that people need to make a living but . . .
    Then there’s people like your dad who ooze generosity by giving people a place to live and etc. I imagine if Jesus were walking around now, that would be weird cause he’d be 2,000 years old. But also he’d probably set up somewhere on a hill (presuming he came to North America at all. The Mormons think he popped into Missouri of all places but really the trip from the Middle East would have been too onerous. Even now, flying from say Israel to Missouri would be exhausting) and have folks popping in and out. And there’d be wine which would be nice except for the alcoholics.
    – Karen

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