Key Pen and Ink


Cathy Warner

I Wauna Call It Home

Perusing Redfin’s real estate website a year ago, I fell for a gray shingled house with granny green carpet and a Gig Harbor address, hoping it would be the next fixer-home for my husband and me.

Native Californians of 50 years, we moved to Bainbridge Island at Christmas 2011 and settled into a 1951 midcentury modern home others would’ve torn down. The two of us stripped to the studs and remodeled, one room at a time, while he looked unsuccessfully for a corporate job in Seattle. So we sold our house as soon as it was finished, moved to a rental in Manchester, and channeled our funds into a waterfront renovation in Poulsbo.

As our waterfront project entered its final months, I began looking for another live-in fixer. After we lost twice on multiple offers in Kitsap County, I expanded our search south.

I’d only been on Highway 302 once before and it took me several passes to find the unsigned road of cared-for and colorfully landscaped homes. I pulled into the driveway of the bank-owned listing and walked around, my visit revealing what photos had not: blistered and peeling paint, deck covered in pine needles, windows coated with warning stickers and droppings from birds nesting in the ventilation holes high above.

But the deck looked onto a yard filled with rhodies and hydrangeas, past the yard to stands of cedars and firs, and beyond them, slivers of Henderson Bay in the not-too-far distance. I heard the steady whoosh of cars along the highway, but also birds—probably wanting me to step away from their nests.

Then I saw two bald eagles gliding overhead against billowing white clouds in an azure sky, and it seemed a sign that the house would be mine.

When my husband and I came back with our real estate agent and saw the top of Mount Rainier from the third-floor master bedroom, we made an offer. Despite unexpected surprises—like the garage encroaching on the neighboring property and the listing agent trying to sell the house without it—the sale went through.

It’s a remodeler’s dream to live just 10 minutes from Home Depot and Costco. With each trip along the Purdy Spit, flanked by water on both sides, observing the ranges of the tide, the piles of oyster shells, diving seagulls, cormorants perched on old pilings, the cars streaming past, headlights like twin suns in the twilight, I’m continually immersed in this region’s beauty.

When he first spotted the wooden Purdy sign near the bridg, and the Wauna sign on the Spit, my husband began with the puns: "It sure is Purdy here, Ma," to which I answered, "Yup, Pa, I really Wauna live here. I hope I have the right Key." We still joke, but we’re serious.

Cathy Warner lives in Purdy.