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.


Tenessa Glee said...

I think we need to have a Cougar Weekend in your house. Susanne and I both had to say goodbye to our houses. It's hard.

Dawn Mason said...

I still have a hard time not going back to my house in Brookings. It was like losing a fourth member of the family. I will see my other three family members again in Heaven...but we will never be in that house again.

Jenn B said...

I love your background choice for the blog right now especially since you are presenting the past via pixels. I wondered if your the blog background being akin to the wallpaper "on the way upstairs" was intentional creativity or a cosmically connected accident. :)