The house is buried in snow this winter. Not literally, but almost. I’ve had lots of time inside to look around my house and wish I had resources of every kind to make it look better. But then I make a cup of coffee and look around a second time and remember: the snow is outside, I am inside, warm and drinking a cup of coffee. Right now I’m not too worried about refinishing the floor and repainting the walls. It could be a lot, lot worse.
Like the snow still lingering outside, right now my house is dirty, grey, and irritating to behold. I looked around this week and realized that being trapped (more or less) in this place for the last several months has become a sort of anthropological experience: signs of small children and the worlds they create are everywhere. Sometimes the signs that children dominate this place are random, sometimes they are deliberate, little displays set up with care. Until I step on these displays and kick the composition across the room. Which leads me to my biggest surprise as a parent, and it’s not how very terrible potty training has been. It has to do with how much kids love the floor. How much they adore littering the floor with stuff, taking every opportunity — and where none exists, they create one — to throw things, small and large, on the floor. A large part of my day is picking stuff up: library books (please don’t tell Carol, our beloved librarian, this fact), legos, puzzle pieces, cups, food stuffs, more cups, articles of clothing, on and on and on. But it’s not just the floor, children just generally love a surface, any surface, to spill things on, write things on, leave things on. So this month’s “At Home” photo essay is dedicated to my dirty, end-of-winter house and its small inhabitants. And to the fact that we bid winter goodbye this week, at least officially if not in reality. So long winter, 2014. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, you monster.
A rainy day in June provides the chance to contemplate one’s surroundings. Verdict: too many books. The piles depicted below are just in one room; other rooms have their own piles. It would be impossible to read all of these books in the time we have left on this earth. Especially when Reality TV beckons. And work. (That too.)
As I predicted would happen, my baby just turned a year old and I haven’t yet managed to make a cute place for her to rest her giant baby head. (It’s true, she really does have an exceptionally large cranium, which is why we call her Li’l Nefertiti.)
She shares a room of a decent size with her two siblings in the manner of a British nursery, only without the nanny. The room itself is not without its charm, especially considering the fact that it was built in the budget-conscious year of 1995. And my baby has a decent crib, given to us by my sister who bought it in Belgium when she was living there. This is irrelevant, except for the fact that it gives the crib a certain caché, at least in my mind, and means that the crib is, like the Belgians themselves, small and attractive. Unlike our dear American cribs of larger proportions. (If only we would eat more frites, baguettes and chocolate like the Belgians do! Oh wait…)
It’s not just the nursery. House projects are piling up these days: stone walls and bookshelves and handmade farm tables and refinished floors and vegetable gardens and re-staining the siding and painting the trim and treehouses and outdoor-chandeliers-on-pulleys-over-picnic tables and…
But first things first, I need to make the baby’s room more attractive before she completely loses it. Or leaves home after graduation, whichever comes first.
Whenever I’m back in my home state of Ohio I try to visit The Building, as my family has always called it. It’s a two-story brick building at a crossroads in Mutual, Ohio, once a thriving little hang-out for local farmers and now just a random collection of residences and a few empty commercial buildings.
My mom has an antiques shop on the first floor of The Building, and a few years ago the family came together to clean up the upstairs for use as a music hall. The upstairs has seen a lot of action; it was even used as a basketball court when the place was, very briefly, a school. Before those giant windows were boarded up and the place was used for decades of storage (and a home for generations of birds, which proved to be disgusting beyond words), it was a function hall, as they say here in New England. Rumor has it that one hundred or so years ago, things got pretty wild in Mutual. So wild, in fact, that the deed to the building contains the clause that no alcohol can be served on the premises, ever and in perpetuity.
I was in Ohio a few weeks ago and took some photos of what is now the Madden Road Music Hall in repose, with just the faintest echo of loud music, basketball games and wild farmer parties.