30 November 2011

"I come from a town, the kind of town where you live in a house 'til the house falls down, but if it stands up you stay there."

My mama has moved. If you go to her house in Hendrum, she can't make you waffles anymore. She's gone south, two blocks south and one block east, to the apartment house across the street from the church which is across the street from the elementary school. She'll probably make you waffles over there, though, if you ask nicely.

I get inordinately attached to places. I always have. But I was surprisingly cool with my mom leaving the house where I grew up. People are more important than things, of course, and moving is a good choice for her. The house is heated with fuel oil, which can cost her up to $400 a month in the dead of winter. That's insane. And she swears it hasn't had a new roof since the late 1970s. The garage needs to be painted again, and the basement gets a little water (or more) every spring. Add in property taxes and home owner's insurance, and it's cheaper for her to rent (I blame Tim Pawlenty, but that's not the point right now).

To top it off, she never chose this house. My dad came home one day when she was 8 months pregnant or so with Jess and said "I bought us a house. It's next door to my mother." And Myra's been there since 1974.

So here we go. Bear with me on a little nostalgia, a little history, and a lot of photos, won't you?

 Above, a corner of the bedroom Jess and I shared for most of our childhood (here it's acting as Myra's craft room). The walls were unfinished, but Dewey had the materials to do the finishing, so we and our friends were allowed to draw on the walls (in crayon, marker, whathaveyou). The stroke (and skillful procrastination, earlier) kept the panelling from ever going up, and we just kept writing on the walls.
 Below, sorry for the blurry photo, but it's all I got: in high school, a couple of talented friends painted me a zodiac mural. I love it, and slept under it for years. The unfinished pine below the mural was part of built-in storage Dewey had framed up before the stroke.
 A copy of the first money I ever made for writing poetry. $10.
 A wall in the hallway that became my room, then Jess', when we couldn't stand sharing a room anymore. My dad had a way of using up scraps, and this flowered paneling is evidence.
See how worn the wood is here? All the edges smoothed off. My grandfather built this house & my grandmother's house next door (with his brother? I can't remember who helped him) with wood from the original Hendrum School, torn down in 1925.

 This photo doesn't do the stairs justice. Most people find them the steepest steps they've ever climbed, but the stairs at my grandmother's are even worse. Ours are uncovered wood, though, and falling down the stairs takes on a whole new aura of danger when you can get a sliver in your butt.
 One of my first household chores was washing these steps, edge to edge. I've been slacking lately, as you can see above...
Above, the hallway on the way upstairs. I love that wallpaper. Actually, I think it might be contact paper. I remember when my mom put it up, when I was very very small.

The stairwell coat-hanging area. My dad built that red shelf. This is the wall he had to cut into when I was six and Bambi, my elderly hamster, got out of her cage and scratched here until my dad woke up and decided he'd have to find her or not sleep until she died.
 Above and below: my mom's kitchen. After Dad's stroke, we had to add on a bedroom and make the kitchen wheelchair accessible, but the house was still not really "hers." A few years ago (7? 8? I forget), Jess and I gave her a kitchen makeover with the help of our friend Carla and other sneaky collaborators. We did a mosaic on the backsplashes, painted and all those fancy things.
 Below, the only window in what was my parents' small bedroom. After the addition, it became a piano room, and after the piano, it became a guest room. In the mid-90s, Myra decided she wanted a room with floor to ceiling fabric on the walls, and this was the winner. It's hard to tell, but this room is yellow with white lace trim.

The front door, inside the porch. I will always remember the feel of that doorknob. My uncle Harry added the deadbolt after my dad's stroke. Before the stroke, we never locked our doors.

Below, the hallway to the backdoor and the basement. Isn't that gingham wallpaper awesome?  
 The light to the basement is up above the stairs, and when I was too small to reach it, I would lay on the landing, stick my arm through the spindles, and flip it on from above. I tried this method again when I was seventeen and almost got stuck there permanently. See the ledge above the stairs, to the right in the photo? That was a favorite place to hide puzzle boxes to keep guests from "cheating."
 The view from the back entryway. That green carpet used to go all the way through the kitchen.

Our little house on the prairie. We'll miss it, but not too terribly much. It was a pretty good place to grow up, overall.
*I have another post on this subject, but this was getting ridiculously long.
**Quote in the subject line from the song "Mira," from the musical Carnival!  It's a great little song.
***If you know someone looking for a little house of their own, 28 miles from Moorhead, we hope to have it on the market by May. It'll need a new roof soon, and the garage needs paint, but I'm pretty sure it's not haunted and I know it was filled with love for many years.

14 November 2011

What we do after Halloween

Because I'm a sucker for a good sale, I really believe everyone in my family ought to celebrate holidays 3-5 days late. (For proof of this long-standing belief of mine, see this post).  Halloween, for instance, can be had for a pittance on November 3 or 4th. And if you wait until November 8th, you can get cool stuff at 90% off.
 So on Shaun's actually birthday, this past Wednesday, he and I and V put together this cool graveyard, which we got at Target for 99 cents the day before. Above, Shaun's putting a gingerbread tree together. Below, I made a semblance of a skeleton out of frosting (it's harder than it looks on the box, people).

 Creative play+candy+both her parents=Happy V.
 See how scared he is? He's never worked this much with frosting before.
 It took three frosting packets, three gummy spiders, two sugar skulls, four sugar pumpkins, and a bunch of other sugar-based stuff to make this magic happen.
 Ah! Spider and bats in our tree!
Our finished cemetery. The stone on the right says "RIP" or some semblance therein. What we've learned, I think, is my life's work will not be in tombstone engraving. At least not in frosting.

It was the best 99 cents we've spent in years. Now if I can just get everyone excited about  November 9th all hallow's eve....

12 November 2011

Game time!

Little warms this mama's heart more than coming in from running errands to see this:
Shaun and V, playing the beautiful Little House on the Prairie board game, which Shaun bought for me years ago.
I don't know who won, nor do I care. It's just the goofiest, bestest thing to come home to.

09 November 2011

Yum. (a Shaun-free post)

1/2 cup pineapple juice: $.17
1/2 of a frozen pineapple from a fresh one I bought two weeks ago: $1.42
4 Tablespoons low-fat vanilla yogurt: $.32
3 frozen strawberries: $ .12
big shot of coconut cream: $.35
4 ice cubes: $.01?
 Two tall, spooky tumblers, Target Halloween clearance: $1.78
Crazy good spooky smoothies with V: Total: $4.09! (plus we can use the glasses again and again and again.) I would say "priceless," but that's overdone. Then again, stuffing my kid with fruit while making her think it's a huge treat is pretty priceless, I guess. Okay, you talked me into it.

Our smoothie obsession started here, in case you were wondering. My obsession for Target Halloween clearance started a long time before the internet was invented. So there you go.

Birthday Boy

I swear I'll stop posting about $haun's birthday after this. Seriously. But this picture merits some discussion.

1. Huge bunny. I hear this was from Uncle Bill, and that makes perfect sense for me. What are uncles for, if not large, ridiculous toys that your parents would never purchase for you?
2. Fantastic early-to-mid-'70s disposable tablecloth with creepy, creepy, creepy clowns. I wish they'd saved that for me.
3. How cute is Shaun G a n y o here? V is always a little surprised when she sees pictures of me or Shaun as kids; she can't believe we were ever little. Look at him! Aw....

I'm also finding it amusing to be married to a 40 year old man. Never mind that I'm 38 myself: 40 is old.

Thanks, gentle readers, for letting me indulge in a little Shaun-centric blogging this week. May we all still be here for Shaun's 80th.

08 November 2011

Birthday post #2

The ridiculously fashionable Tenessa, helping set up the food table.
 Including the amazing cheeseball she made. That's $haun's head. In cheeseball form. I really would like all my food to be both delicious AND hilarious.
 Here's the rockstar corner. The Elvis poster was there when we arrived: we just had to add KISS. And the squares on the right side of the photo make up Shaun's present from me: a t-shirt quilt. It probably deserves its own post, but it was part of our decor.

Some of the songs we sang (if yours isn't listed, or is listed incorrectly, please leave a comment! I loved every single song but got a little drunk on all the love, so I forgot many):

Brick: Ben Folds Five
Chantilly Lace: Big Bopper
Cat's in the Cradle: Harry Chapin
Copacabana: Barry Manilow
One More Minute: Weird Al

Time in a Bottle: Jim Croce
America: Neil Diamond
Soul Man: Blues Brothers
Asshole: Dennis Leary
Superstar: Jesus Christ Superstar

Any Man of Mine: Shania Twain
You're the One that I Want: Grease (w/Shaun)
Piece of My Heart: Janis Joplin

Uncle Bill:
Cracklin' Rosie: Neil Diamond

Jambalaya: Hank Williams
Don't Stop Me Now: Queen
Melt With You: Modern English

The Gambler: Kenny Rogers (w/ Eric)

River of Dreams: Billy Joel
Isn't She Lovely: Stevie Wonder

Baby Got Back: Sir Mix-a-Lot
Bring Him Home: Les Mis
A Buck Owens song
Alejandro: Lady Gaga
Louisianna Woman, Mississippi Man: Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn (w/Dan)
Honestly: Stryper
Act Naturally: Buck Owens
That'll Be the Day: Buddy Holly
Total Eclipse of the Heart: Bonnie Tyler

Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Israel
Happiest Girl in the Whole USA (w/Jen)
We Didn't Start the Fire: Billy Joel (w/Jen)
Another song I don't remember
Work It: Missy Elliot
Hold On: Wilson Phillips (w/Tenessa)

06 November 2011

Party party party

As promised, we had belly rubbing:
 Shaun and Brady. Behind Shaun is our life-sized cardboard KISS, a gift several years ago from our friend Johanna. Our decorating theme for the party was "Things Shaun Likes."  Shaun's shirt is from Teenwolf. Of course.
 Tenessa made a beautiful Shaun-shaped cheese ball. Yum.
 Ed surprised us!
 The Johnson sisters. Here we're singing Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."
 Our friends the Runestads, singing "The Gambler."
 Uncle Bill! He sang "Cracklin' Rosie." I love that song.
 Dan & Tenessa sang "Louisiana Woman; Mississippi Man" but applied it to their lives. "Minnesota Woman, North Dakota Man." It was beautiful.
 Carla came down off the stage and worked the crowd.
Brad and my Jess. And my purse.

We didn't have a huge turnout, but it ended up perfect: everyone got to sing several times, with basically no wait, and we could visit and still hear each other sing. Plus, karaoke is just more fun when you know and love every person in the room. It was really, really, really the perfect party for us. Thank you so much to everyone who came, even if you didn't sing.

I'll work on posting at least a partial list of songs performed, after Shaun wakes up from his nap. We're not accustomed to partying like rockstars, apparently.