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Home Is Where The Heart Is

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Daddy had spent many months building a lean-to onto our trailer to house four growing children and a fifth on the way. This trailer was situated on one hundred and fifty acres of land, a mile and a quarter from the highway, and eleven miles from the town of Homer, Alaska.

I believe this picture is of Daddy putting the roof on the lean-to. I wish I had a picture of the finished project. It will always be in my mind though.

Mother scoured the pages of the Sears and Roebuck catalog like a kid at Christmas time, and made her wish list to furnish this large room. I don’t think she ever got everything on that list, but the first thing purchased was a big black iron potbelly stove to keep us warm on cold winter nights. This was also a place to gather around while Daddy played chess with his ‘bachelor’ friends in the evenings, and Mother read to us from anything she could put her hands on. Whether it was child literature or a novel she was reading at the time, we listened intently, her melodic voice putting us to sleep.

This picture was taken in the small living area of the original trailer. Bedtime story time!

The lean-to, with its unpainted exterior of rough cut lumber and a door whose handle was whittled from a pine branch, was primitive – to say the least – but we thought of it as a palace. I’m not sure of the square footage, but anything was better than what we were calling home at that time. We were like wild Indians, as Mother referred to us many times, with all that wide-open indoor space to play on cold snowy days.

The trailer the lean-to was attached to was forty feet in length and eight feet wide – the bare minimum for raising four plus children in. There were two bedrooms, a small breakfast/living area combined, tiny kitchen, and one bathroom with murky, but running cold water, and a toilet which was more-often-than-not, out of order. That’s where the outhouse came into use.

Now many of you probably have never seen an outhouse, much less the inside of one. Believe me, it’s not an experience to cherish. There were no electric lights, no flushing, and no lavatory with hot and cold water to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer had not yet been invented. I do believe we had real toilet paper though. After all, we weren’t savages. There were some things Mother put her foot down on.

This isn’t the actual outhouse we had but I’m sure it is a close facsimile. I can’t imagine Daddy carving a heart in the door!

Daddy was away working two weeks at a time so the task of child rearing fell mainly on Mother. Traipsing down a darkened path to an outhouse, before bedtime, with four tired young children in tow must have been an ordeal. I’m sure when the fifth child was born, Mother was glad there was one in diapers, even if she did have to wash them.

I, for one, was not about to be left in that trailer or anywhere else without an adult by my side. My preference was my mother. Yes, I was clingy and I’m sure my siblings will attest to that fact. I was like my mother’s shadow and didn’t leave her side often. I can imagine she longed for solitude more than once.

After homeschooling her three oldest (first, second, and third grades) on the homestead for a year, Mother decided we needed to be in a real school. It gave her breathing room and forced me to become socially acceptable.

Naomi, Lindy (me), Debbie, Chip, and Mother – Tish wasn’t born yet.

Daddy built a small three sided shack at the end of our road so we could stay out of the weather while waiting for the bus on the mornings. Relying on my memory, I believe Mother and my younger brother, who was not school age yet, walked us down that hill to the bus stop most mornings and when Daddy was home, he walked with us.

In the afternoons we were entrusted to get ourselves back up the hill to the safety of home. It was scary. I do remember that. We could see moose tracks and the occasional bear tracks in the ruts in the road as we made that mile and a quarter hike home up the hill through the woods.

Today, I can’t imagine my own children experiencing some of the adventures we had while homesteading. It was a different time then. Life was simpler.

You can read more of our homesteading adventures in Coffee-Drunk Or Blind. In Kindle or Paperback on Amazon.

~Elle

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Sometimes Being Sad :( Also Means Being Happy :)

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Sometimes Being Sad :( Also Means Being Happy :)

Sometimes I get sad when I realize how fast life goes by. Children grow up, have families of their own – parents become grandparents, children become parents, grandchildren grow fast! My oldest grandchild (Ty) will start his senior year in high school this fall and the youngest grandchild (Sydney) will be crawling soon.

Andrew and I made a trip home to Louisiana a couple weeks ago. It was just the two of us. H was still working – school wouldn’t be out for another week.  😦 All my children would be together in one place for the first time since Andrew had graduated from high school.  🙂 It was important for me to have them all together like this. Probably more than it was to them. That’s what mothers do. We plan things and keep the family together.

Terri, Kerri, Amie, Jessie, Andrew

Terri, Kerri, Amie, Jessie, Andrew

Andrew decided to do the driving so I let him be in control of the music content. We listened to music with no lyrics  for hours. I guess that makes it classical and I’m not saying I didn’t like it, but that kind of music puts me to sleep. My eyes tend to close while traveling anyway!

We had a great time – children, siblings, grandkids, cousins – the list goes on. Lia and Charlee had their dance recital while we were there and Uncle Jason made his dance recital debut accompanying Charlee at the end of her first dance. Some things uncles go through for their nieces are unbelievable. They were a hit! 🙂  We have a video but no picture. 😦 It was the first time in a while I had attended a “Marlene’s Dance Academie’ ” dance recital. It brought back lots of great memories. 🙂

Ms Marlene, Charlee and Lia

Ms Marlene, Charlee and Lia

The long awaited crawfish boil that was the deal breaker to Andrew making this trip with me was the highlight of Friday evening. His sisters may have come in second on this deal!  As he was standing around the pot eating while the crawfish were cooking, Andrew said,  “This is the way to eat crawfish.” With about 75 pounds he was sure he would have enough! We don’t get food like this in Florida. Some places try, but we can always tell the difference between the real Cajun cooking and the generic. You can’t fool someone from Louisiana! 🙂

Thanks To The Cooks!

Thanks To The Cooks!

There’s a lot going on in our family now. Andrew has made Troy his home and comes “home to Florida” to visit. 😦 This makes me sad, especially since I worked so hard getting his room changed from a store room to a real bedroom this spring. He gave up his Sperry job in Destin to be able to work in the Troy band office, being sure it would be a  little easier than having to commute during the summer months while taking summer classes. He did find out that it wasn’t the easy job he had expected though. It will be good experience for him.

Even more changes are being made. Good changes and hard changes. One is making a big move, changing her life completely, another is rearranging her whole family life for the sake of others.  New jobs are in the future and prayers are being answered.   I’m so glad my children always have each others backs. 🙂

H and I are actually getting a few home improvement items checked off our list this summer before we take a trip to Arkansas for the fourth of July and before he starts back to work with band camp soon after. He is on the downhill slope of retirement now – just two more school years to go. These are happy, happy times and I foresee more around the corner. 🙂

How’s your summer progressing?

Elle

 

 

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