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In This House

Day 324

This is the house I always thought of as home even though we lived in other places. It was that way until my grandmother died. I try not to let my mind drift to how horribly betrayed my father was to discover he could not inherit the house as was his mother’s intent. It is a story which I will write someday, but not today. That will be a post about honesty, trust and betrayal. But today is not that day.

Maybe home is that place where we feel safe. Where none of the world’s problems can get to us. Maybe it is where our memories reside and where we learn who we are to be one day. I know this house was all of that to me. When we recall the love of home, it is not the house we remember so much, but the memories forged between those walls.

My grandparents slept in different rooms. My grandfather upstairs and my grandmother downstairs. When my grandfather slept, we tried to sneak in his room without waking him. The goal was to taste the cinnamon and sugar mixture he kept on his bedside table to help his cough. His bed rail was perfect for creating horses, using a towel and pillow for saddle blanket and saddle and a belt for a bridle. (Must have been sturdy furniture back then).

We had a room with bunkbeds. The top bunk was where we used an old stick with twine and an open safety pin as a fishing rod to catch the wire-hanger fish we had scattered on the floor.

This was the house my father grew up in. The place where he swears he saw little green men from outer space when he was home alone one day.

This porch is where we hung our heads over the edge of the knee wall to wash our hair in the rainwater.

Out back we had a small arbor of Concord grapes that was buzzing with bees in the summer months. My grandmother made the best jelly from those grapes and my grandfather made a small quantity of wine he kept in the cellar.

There was a Rose of Sharon bush that stood at the corner of the house. This is where I first observed the ability of a hummingbird to fly backwards. As I write this I can see the hummingbirds darting in and out of the hosta blooms outside my kitchen window.

Home was where I knew I was loved and felt safe. There would be many more places of residence in my life, but the number of ‘homes’ are relatively small in number.

Blog, Home

Memories of Home

Day 5

What is home without memories? Both the memories of years gone by and memories yet to be made are part of how we remember the home we grew up in. They also help us identify the home we try to create.

I have great memories of growing up. While we lived in a few different states, I identify with my time in a little valley in Virginia as the place where I grew up. Life there was magical and I didn’t even realize it at the time.

Life Was Simpler – Or Was It?

forsythiaTimes were so different. We didn’t worry so much then – at least the kids didn’t worry. I can only imagine how hard it was to support a family. There was a sense of community I have never found since. Everyone planted a garden and when one family’s tomatoes didn’t do well because of blight, they could always barter with their abundance of potatoes or cucumbers or green beans.

My paternal grandmother always planted a beautiful garden. On the outer edges she always grew mums. I learned at an early age the importance of rotating the plantings because each plant required different nutrients from the soil.

There is nothing like pulling a fresh cucumber from the vine or pulling an onion out of the ground and enjoying it fresh. As a matter of fact, we ate so many ‘small’ cucumbers it drove my grandmother crazy! I can still hear ,”Don’t pull all the cucumbers or we will never have any pickles!”

Cardinal - 1I have vivid memories of her sweeping the snow from under the cascading forsythia bush and spreading breadcrumbs or oatmeal to feed the cardinals in the winter. Every winter when I see fresh fallen snow yet to be broken with animal or human footprints, I think of my grandmother.

“You should always remember to feed the birds”, she said. And we still do and always will. That’s home.

My Life as a Kid

We roamed the hills all day long as kids. We came in to eat and sleep and that was about it. We ran barefoot. Mom always teased people we met saying the only way we could stand to wear shoes was if she put rocks in them.

We were educated about our environment. We could identify snakes and knew which to be wary of. We swam in the creeks unsupervised. We jumped rocks to cross the creek. We even had a community teacup that hung on a branch by the spring so people walking on the railroad tracks or fishing along the creek bank could stop and get a drink of water. We never worried about what kind of germs lingered there.

We climbed the mountains and swung on grape vines although it was not as glorious as the Tarzan movies we watched when we saved enough pop bottle lids to see a movie. Going to the movie was a RARE event. We did have a black and white television set. We were able to watch one channel if the weather cooperated. If the wind blew too hard, Dad would climb to the top of the hill to rotate the antenna – telling us to yell up to him when the reception was good.

I love the life I had as a child. I think in many ways it prepared me for the time I would ultimately leave home and would need to stand on my own two feet. It is and always has been the foundation on which I built my life.

Anytime I worry about my place in this world, I think about my roots. My memories evoke the sense of home and family. My memories ground me and remind me what every home should be – a safe place to explore and be free.

I am a country girl, but I identify so much with this old song sung by Little Jimmy Dickens and written by the late, great Johnny Cash.

Country Boy

Now, I’m just a simple guy
But there’s one thing sure as shootin’
I hate those folks who think that they’re
So doggone high falutin

I’d be the same in Hollywood
Or right in my own kitchen
I believe in fussin’ when you’re mad
And scratchin’ when you’re itchin’

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
But I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

Where I come from, opportunities
They never were too good
We never had much money
But we done the best we could

Ma doctored me from youngin’ hood
With epson salts and iodine
Made my diapers out of old feed sacks
My ‘spenders out of plow lines

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
And I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A tater eating eatin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

Every time the preacher called
Ma always fixed a chicken
If I’d reach for a drumstick
I was sure to get a lickin’

She always saved two parts for me
But I had to shut my mouth
T’was the gizzard and the north end
Of a chicken flyin’ South

I’m a plain old country boy
A cornbread lovin’ country boy
I raise Cain on Saturday
But I go to church on Sunday

I’m a plain old country boy
A tater eatin’ country boy
I’ll be lookin’ over that old gray mule
When the sun comes up on Monday

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” 
― Patrick Rothfuss