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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   A house becomes a home

© Another Day in the Country

I come from a long line of women who worked hard to make their homes beautiful, no matter where they were living or how meager their circumstances. I’ve sometimes taken their legacy for granted.

If you’ve always lived in a cozy, colorful environment, you take that as the normal way to live. If the place you called home as a child was always filled with warmth and light — that’s normal. If good smells of fresh baked bread wafted regularly from the kitchen, that’s how things should be.

However, I’ve discovered that a lot of folk do not value their environment the way I was taught. Whether or not the house is clean, laundry regularly put away, or fresh flowers put on the table is of no concern to them. I’m amazed that people live this way. What a waste!

Meanwhile, I’ve taken this homemaker legacy for granted. I naively believed that most people would want to live the way I live, if they had a choice.

The lady I called Gramm was my first example of someone making a house into a home.

Her home was always so clean that we used to say “you could eat off the floor.”

Her cooking was the stuff of legend.

My earliest memories come from her house, where the living room was used only for special visitors and occasions of import like weddings and funerals. The room was rarely heated in winter and the furniture was the newest in the house.

The “spare room” was adjoining and also reserved for guests. The bedspread was satin and wrinkle free. The mattress was covered with a huge featherbed before the best sheets were applied, and woe be to the child who made a dent in all that fluff or de-plumped the pillows.

Grandma’s featherbed that we bounced on as kids was definitely not the guest room; it was upstairs where all the regular folk slept.

On the other side of the family tree, Grandma Schubert ordered velvet scraps for making pillows and quilts for every grandchild to encourage them in the craft of homemaking. Even during the Great Depression, she believed in beautiful things.

While my childhood home was always lovely and clean, I thought that Mom took things to extreme with her first brand new couch that she coddled and covered, the best towels that were hanging “just for show,” and her admonition not to get fingerprints on the woodwork.

So you would know that because of those restrictions of what not to touch and where to sit and where not to eat, that in my home you can eat anywhere, sit on anything, and touch most anything, albeit carefully.

When my little buddy Clayton comes to visit, he has a hey day at all the attractions.

“I’m just looking at stuff, I won’t touch anything,” this three-year-old assures me as he admires Easter decorations in the hall.

“Where’s that marble game?” he wants to know.

It’s the one that Bennie made out of wood from the walnut tree we had to cut down by the garden.

“Let’s look in that room where you keep all the stuff you don’t need,” Clayton prompts me.

Sure enough, we found it. He’s too young to play the game but he likes rolling the big oversized marbles around the outside track.

General Grant’s board is a beautiful piece. I get a new marble for the game every year on my birthday. The marbles represent my “shelf life,” I explain half in jest, about how long I can reasonably expect to live “at my age.”

It’s a reminder to live life fully, now. I want to spend every day of it in a wonderful environment! While it’s the house we built for Mom that I live in, it’s not exactly the pristine place she’d have preferred.

My home looks like it’s been decorated by a gypsy, nothing expensive; but even other’s discards can be warm and lovely. There’s Aunt Anna’s old table, so splintery that I use a quilt for a table cloth. There’s artwork galore on the walls, some of it mine, some from artist friends. There’s all kinds of colored mismatched plates in the china cabinet. All of these things say “I’m Home, this is my place,” on another day in the country.

Last modified April 20, 2017

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