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Mam-Maw’s House

If you are a frequent follower, you know I love to write about the nostalgic moments in my life. I have posted a photo of my grandmother’s house several times. It is the house I associate with the best years of my childhood.

My father was an only child. When we moved to Ohio, my grandfather had already passed away. My grandmother was later diagnosed with lung cancer. There is a long convoluted story related to how my father lost his birthright to his uncle – my grandmother’s brother. It is a sad story which I will not get into here, but I know it to be true. I found all the associated legal documents in my genealogy search. It was the heartbreak my father never recovered from. But enough about that.

This house was magical to me. It is where my father was born and raised. It is where he swore he saw little green martians one night. It is where his mother disciplined him with a garden hose. I know the scar in the wood of the stairwell came from a misfired gun. I know behind the walls upstairs, there are fireplaces once used to heat the house.

It was on the hearth where my grandfather roasted chestnuts at Christmas. I learned about the magic of graphite watching my grandfather repair the push button locks in the front door. I imagined how the house would have looked when the French doors leading to the dining room would actually open and close.

The closet under the stairwell is where I discovered boxes and boxes of crepe paper, leftover from a time when my grandmother made paper flowers. I could imagine her as a young woman knowing what she enjoyed doing. In her bedroom was the cedar chest that held her dresses and the drawer that kept her jewelry and silver dollars hidden from sight. In the room next to her bedroom was where she kept all the momentos her grandchildren made for her. It was where her glass hypodermic needles were stored along with a handful of thermometers. All leftover from her work as a nurse.

In the bedroom upstairs is where we crawled into my grandfather’s room while he napped trying not to wake him. We tried to get a taste of the sugar and cinnamon mixture he kept by his bed in case he had a nighttime cough.

In the bookshelves in the hallway is where my grandmother kept a newspaper article showing a photo of a cloud formation that looked like Jesus. She had it in between the pages of a book for safe keeping. It is also where she kept the book of poetry that now sits on my bookshelf.

In the adjacent bedroom is where my father stored his t-squares that my brother and I used for guitars. It is also where my parents worked on the jigsaw puzzle of a young girl praying with a golden halo around her head.

In the third bedroom is where I accidentally broke the 78 rpm record of “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”. I was devastated to see how it made my grandmother cry. It is also where I took apart my grandfather’s old pocket watch to see how it worked. In the closet is where a stray Easter egg was lost and not found until the smell revealed its location months later.

A house is a structure that holds memories. When the house changes hands, the memories only remain for those blessed to have experienced them.

Can you mentally walk through a childhood house and recall the memories?

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My Response to a Writing Prompt

Think of your childhood home. If you had several, pick one. Write a detailed description of walking into that house. Which rooms were where? What stories are sparked by writing that description? (Courtesy of Patti Digh)


As I stand looking at my grandmother’s house, it seems smaller than it did as a child. The single step up to the sidewalk remains the same although a few cracks give away its age. The hedges around the porch are gone, but the memories of that porch still live. As I look up I see the ceiling of the porch is still painted a pale green and the ovoid shaped, textured light fixture still hangs there by the same three rusty screws. There is no longer a glider, but I can still sense it there and can almost hear the sound it made as it moved back and forth.

I place my hand on the doorknob and a memory shoots through me of all the people whose hands turned that knob through its life. I feel the familiar texture of as it slips into my palm. As I turn it I remember watching my grandfather lubricating the lock with a puff of graphite from a squeeze bottle. Before I can even step into the house, I hear the pendulum clock ticking on the mantlepiece. I see my grandfather, his hair stark white, slowly winding it with the key kept in the tiny door at the base of the clock.

Immediately to my right are the stairs leading to the bedrooms and the bathroom upstairs. I remember pretending to be mountain climbers with my brother, scaling the stairs turned mountain peaks. At the base of the stairs is a bullet hole in the wood, put there when my father was a young boy. I see the banister and remember this was our makeshift pulpit when we played ‘church’.

The walls have been painted but they still have the spongy texture of some material I fear might have contained asbestos. The brick around the fireplace has been painted in a contemporary style, but it does not keep me from seeing the red brick hearth and the chestnuts nestled into the coals to roast. My grandfather’s red recliner sits near the fireplace, occupied by my grandmother after my grandfather passed away. I see her stockings rolled up at the base of her knees and she is playing the ukulele singing the song “Little Mohee”.

Under the stairs is the same little door and the same latch that led to the storage area where my grandmother stored her paper supplies she used to make paper flowers. I suddenly remember pulling one of the boxes and finding silverfish scurrying through the paper. Under the stairs the wall phone, the first one we ever had, no longer hangs on the wall, but I can still see the long tangled cord stretched by too many adolescent phone conversations.

To my right is my grandmother’s bedroom. I still see her dresser, covered with a silk dresser scarf, a neatly lined row of delicate bottles, and a round container of powder with its huge fluffy powder puff. I can still see her in front of the mirror getting ready for church. She wore pillbox hats with netting, dotted with miniature pearls, secured to her hair with long hat pins.

From the same spot, I look into the dining room with french doors that always stood open, flanking the double door entry. I always dreamed of closing those doors, but was told the floor would need to be sanded down before that could happen. To the left was the brown Siegler stove that heated the house. The long dining table was tucked into an alcove with a wall of glass divided into small windows by white molding. Beyond the window was the view of the back yard, with the large forsythia bush where my grandmother swept away the snow under its branches so she could feed the birds.

Beyond the dining room to the left was the kitchen. There was a small free standing refrigerator with a small radio on top. There were small corner knick knack shelves where my grandmother displayed her collection of ceramic birds. Inside the far cabinet was where my grandfather kept his medicinal liniment from which he swallowed a tablespoon every morning. Tucked away in a corner cabinet, was where my grandmother squirreled away her little glass jar of Tang she drank for the vitamin C.

Outside the kitchen was the closed-in back porch with a freezer and a small table. In the freezer was always an old Maxwell House coffee can filled with cookies easily defrosted for an unplanned treat. The windows were covered with rolled bamboo shades that could be lowered to block the summer sun. The door led outside into the side yard.


I could have written so much more. So many memories I revealed that could easily have taken me down multiple rabbit holes. I did not even go through the upstairs in the house.  This reminded me of things I had not thought of for years. Such a good exercise for opening the doors to memories lying dormant for so long. I recommend it if you are so inclined.

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Nurturing Those We Love

Day 36

I came on this trip for a few reasons. First, because my daughter asked me, second because they needed some help for a few days and third because I wanted to see my granddaughter. Today she is in daycare so I can help Mommy out. I am so glad I could help.

Seasons Change – Or Do They?

It is 86 degrees F here today compared to 48 degrees F at home. The heat and humidity is harder to handle than at home. Hubby said there was talk of snow next week but I should be home for that. Nothing like the first snowfall of the year. ☃️

Here everything is still very green. There is not much in the way of noticeable season change here. I loved it when I first lived in this area, but I never realized how much I missed the season change until I was back further north. Of course little things like the warm weather with a pool are both very enticing.

So today is about helping out and just relaxing, taking my cue from the cats who love it when their ‘family’ is home.

Bagels!

One thing I do miss where I live is a good bagel shop. Today I was treated (courtesy of my beautiful daughter-in-law) to a French toast bagel from Einstein’s. It was soooo good. I guess knowing how much I love them it might be a good thing I do not have one too close to where I live.

Today I am so thankful for this visit. There is a lot of love here and I am so happy my granddaughter is growing up in such a warm, loving and peaceful home. That is the answer to every grandmother’s prayer.

“Love is something that you nurture every day and every single moment, with every breath you take.”
Angie Karan

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Night Visitors, Part Deux

Day 13

I opened my eyes at 6:30 this morning. It seemed much too dark for me to be so well rested. I came downstairs, opened the shades in the living room and watched the darkness give way to the light of day. I love these early mornings before anyone else stirs. It gives me so much space to marvel at my life and my surroundings.

By 8:30 am, everyone is up and stirring. The blissful silence falls away to the sound of water running and coffee brewing. We are such creatures of routine. I sometimes find myself looking forward to my morning coffee as I go to bed at night. Morning is definitely my time.

The Field Camera

img_7192We do not check the images on the field camera every day. For the most part it contains pictures of birds or squirrels or even us, making our way around the house. At the back of our house the bird feeders are placed beside a path that extends down the hill to a small cleared bottom littered with Trillium in the spring. We have talked about installing some railroad tie steps for easy access from the house.

We put the SD card in the computer and clicked through the images. The usual daytime suspects appeared — doves, squirrels, the neighbor’s cat. The color images fade to black and white images as night sets in. Opossum, raccoons, and ‘Oh no”! A new visitor we had not yet seen.

More Night Visitors

We have heard coyotes on occasion, but had not yet seen any. But today, there he was. There were about six images as he smelled the area under the bird feeders turned and walked away. It is possible he was in pursuit of one of the raccoons or the opossum.

We are realizing through watching these images a lot about our environment. Our lovely pathway seems to function as an animal trail. We also know the animals are attracted to the smell of the bird food that falls to the ground or to the birdbaths where they also come to drink.

We live on three and one half acres of land. Only a small portion of our property — where our house is built — is cleared. We live in the foothills and the nights are getting cooler. Food sources will be more and more limited as the cooler weather moves in. We know we can simply stop feeding the birds for a while if need be to minimize the unwanted visitors.

Living With Nature

In researching I found that in North Carolina, all the animals we have seen here can be hunted. We are not hunters, but I grew up in an area where hunting was a way of  life. It seems this is still part of the culture here, but not one I am in favor of. I would first give up feeding the birds, than take the life of one of these creatures.

Every day offers a new discovery here in the foothills. I love my life here and so far, we are living quite well with the other inhabitants.

“Mother Nature is our teacher—reconnecting us with Spirit, waking us up and liberating our hearts. When we can transcend our fear of the creatures of the forest, then we become one with all that is; we enter a unity of existence with our relatives—the animals, the plants and the land that sustains us.” 
Sylvia Dolson

 

 

 

Home

Home is Family

Day two of my blogging journey.

Family is so important to me and spending time with our family is a big part of feeling at home. The warmth of knowing someone and loving them throughout your life is irreplaceable. My journey to home would not be possible without those I love so much.

Chihuly - 1Last night was a special treat. We met one of our daughters and her husband for a quick dinner at Zoe’s Kitchen before heading to the Biltmore House for the ‘Chihuly at Night’ exhibit – a lovely Father’s Day gift in which I was able to share!

We all love Zoe’s and I had my regular chicken kebobs, greek salad and rice. (I am in love with their Tsaziki sauce.)

During dinner I received a call from my precious 8 year old granddaughter and her 5 year old brother. They were so excited to tell me about a butterfly they found with a wounded wing that they rescued and brought inside to save. I could not hear well in the restaurant but I will get more of that story later today.

It warms my heart to hear their excitement about nature because sometimes they are a little afraid of it. Having grandparents who live in the mountains will cure you of that quickly!

Chihuly at Night

Chihuly - 2The Biltmore House is beautiful at anytime, but there is a certain magic in the property at night. The Chihuly glass was installed throughout the gardens and it was beautifully lit. The air was cool with a hint of fall – such a nice night to walk through the gardens and experience such beautiful works of art. Enjoying the evening with family made it even more special. 💕

Times like these are precious and fleeting. I wonder how many times I say ‘it seems like only yesterday’ when talking about our children and our grandchildren. Home is definitely where the heart is, and our heart is definitely with them!

Family is Home

Later today we will drive to Charleston, SC to pick up my husband’s mom for a visit. We enjoy having her with us. We will enjoy lazy mornings and languish over coffee and talk.

While she is here, we plan to have a day with our daughter (her granddaughter) and her family. Four generations together!

These are rare days – days I was never able to experience with my own mother, which makes them even more special and a little bittersweet.

I am blessed to have family close by. It just seems no matter where we live, we are always away from someone. As long as everyone is happy and content, then I am okay with the distance. Doesn’t make me miss them any less, though. Especially when there is a one year old little girl with pony tails who is growing up way too fast for this grandma.

Chihuly - 1 (1)“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough” 
Walt Whitman