Going, Going, Gone

The old house has finally come down.

How well I remember the first time I laid eyes on that old farmhouse!

We had seen the ad for the farmstead in the Sunday paper and had driven two hours with three kiddos under of the age of five to check it out.

We went around the curb, down a hill, up the other side and turned into the driveway.

No. Please no.

It was ugly, tired, saggy and wind blown after a century of sitting on the hill. A horrible 1960’s renovation had removed most of it’s former glory and the farm crisis in the 80’s left it vacant for awhile. Thankfully, it had indoor plumbing – although some of it was a garden hose. The only heat was a wood stove and the floor had a definite slant.

But my husband reminded me that while houses change – the land doesn’t.

And the land was beautiful! Rolling hills, ravines, a farm pond. Beautiful views in every direction! Just what we dreamed of!

We bought it, named it the hovel and moved in.

It sheltered us for more years than I care to remember while we worked on our dream house. Cold winters with frozen pipes. Hot summers canning in the kitchen with mud daubers buzzing around my head.

It was an exciting day when the new house was finished and we could finally move in!

The old farm house has sat empty now for several years.  Every year we said it would have to come down. But year after year other projects were more necessary and there just wasn’t time.

Until this year.

We started August 4th. Piece by piece it came down. Starting with the lathe and plaster.

Windows. Doors.

Then the roof and the second story.

Burning everything we could. What didn’t burn went in a dumpster.

The kids all pitched it. Peter even brought his Bible Study group down to help.

We paused in wonder at the workmanship of one section, and shook our heads in disbelief at the haphazard construction of a later addition.

Almost every day I had a different view.

It was going, going, and then gone.

We saved whatever wood we could and the limestone rock that made the foundation will soon line my flower beds. We had already used much of the trim in our new house.

All that’s left is a dent in the ground.

And the memories.

It was a huge job that we dreaded for years. It’s a wonderful feeling to know it’s done!

 

Medal Worthy

I survived July.

That should get a medal.

I will admit to a feeling of relief when I could move the calendar page to August.

And speaking of medal worthy –

Nathan got his driver’s license last week. Our fifth and last child is officially a driver. We survived years of parallel parking lessons, endless white knuckle practice drives,  and worrisome first solo trips.

And – drum roll – this is the only time that we showed up at the courthouse with ALL the necessary paperwork and documents the first time!

I mentioned that fact to the Driver’s licence guy, who, incidentally, was the same one to issue all five learner’s permits and all five driver’s licenses through-out the years.

I asked if they gave out medals for that.

His reply, “Not usually. maybe a pat-on-the back.”

I’ll take it.

We also picked all the peaches before the coons got them!

I even thought about getting them in the freezer!

I’ve also thought about the fact that school should start soon.

And that I should probably put away all the VBS things that are sitting in piles in the basement.

And that the garden should be watered.

I can just guess what you’re thinking right now – “Wow, she is really rocking August! Somebody should give her a medal!”

I know, right!

Just wait till September!

 

 

The Story Quilt

I’ve been working on a very special quilting project this winter.

I call it the story quilt.

I didn’t piece the top together – I don’t know who did. My friend Amanda discovered it at a craft show.

But as soon as I saw it – I knew how special it was and I volunteered to quilt it for her.

This is a vintage quilt.

A scrap quilt.

A quilt that my grandma would have made.

A quilt that tells a story.

Each square is a bit of fabric that holds a memory for someone – carefully saved bits of cloth that when sewed together become a piece of personal history.

It’s a quilt that spans generations – a time capsule of style and fabrics.

Vintage cotton from the 1940’s.

Checked gingham from the 1950’s.

Fun prints from the 60’s.

Polyester from the 70’s.

And even a few calico pieces from the prairie looks of the 1980’s.

All sewn together – with no rhyme or reason.

A delicate dotted Swiss next to a sturdy denim next to fake wool next to a piece of a work shirt like my grandpa wore – so faded and paper thin that I worry my quilting stitches are the only things that hold it to the quilt.

Bright 1970’s colored print next to a mustard and brown stripe next a pink floral next to a juvenile cowboy print.

Every square vaguely familiar as if I’ve seen it before.

These patches of fabric aren’t from my life – but I can see them in it. Their colors and textures and designs are all woven through-out the times and places that I’ve been.

Memories come flooding back as I hand quilt each square.  This Raggedy Ann print reminds me of my curtains as a child. My sister has a skirt in a plaid similar to this one.  That piece of blue cotton looked so much like Grandma’s house dress that I cried.

This quilt is special – a work of art.

Not because of how it’s put together – the squares are uneven and the whole thing buckles and curves – but because of what it contains.

Hundreds of stories. Millions of connections. A patchwork of history.

People don’t make quilts like this any more.

Maybe we should.

Heirlooms from Home

IMG_0125Laura was home this weekend.

Not only did we do some wedding planning – but she packed up more of her stuff to move into their new house.

The tool box I kept tripping on in the attic is gone.

The chin up in the basement that was collecting spider webs no longer lives here.

Her sewing machine that was covered with dust will now gather dust somewhere else.

This is all good.

But we also went through my kitchen cupboards and pulled out everything that was hers.

This was not so good.

She had quite a collection of kitchen tools and accessories that I freely used.

I’ll miss the nutmeg grater, micro-planer and cookbooks.

The sil-pat and custard cups.

The grill pan.

Sigh.

But in the search for her things, we were able to find and pass on to her some extras that I had.

Serving bowls.

A Christmas tray.

And that set of pot de creme cups with the divet in the bottom that makes it impossible to get out the last bite of chocolate.

It makes me smile to think of the two of them sticking their tongues in the divet to lick out the good stuff – just like she did growing up.

So amidst all the new and wonderful things in their first home,  there will be some old and familiar ones.

Some heirlooms from home.

And that makes my heart happy.

 

 

 

Spare Room

I had a startling discovery recently – I now have a spare room.

How did this happen?

After years of piling kids on top of each other in bunk beds in cramped rooms – of sharing dressers and space – we now have one room empty.

There’s nobody to claim it.

Matt, Dagmar and Pedro have all moved out. Buddy and Angel Girl each have their own rooms already.That leaves one left over.

A spare room.

At first glance this is a very sad thing – a reminder of the babies who have grown up and left.

But upon further reflection, I have come to the conclusion that not only is this a good thing – it is highly desired.

Think of how highly Anne of Green Gables considered the spare room.

“There’s one more thing, Marilla,” said Anne with the air of producing the last shot in her locker. “Mrs. Barry told Diana that we might sleep in the spare room bed. Think of the honor of your little Anne being put in the spare room bed.”

AOGG1-004“Remember me Anne-Girl when you come to town you’re to visit me and I’ll put you in my sparest spare-room bed to sleep.”

And later – “Marilla and I cleared everything out of the spare bedroom yesterday. Do you know, I hated to do  it? Of course it’s silly – but it does seem like we’re committing sacrilege. The old spare room has always seemed like a shrine to me. “

No – I think a spare room might be a good thing.

I now have a guest room!

Space for more books!

Empty dressers for linens!

I could make a new quilt for the bed!

Maybe I’ll call it the “Anne Suite” or the “Green Gables Room”!

No – I think I shall call it the spare room so that my guests – like Anne Shirley – can have the excitement, thrill and honor, of sleeping in my “sparest spare-room bed”.

The room may sit empty now – but it has a purpose.

It no longer reminds me of what is gone, but is a promise of what’s to come.