This was our first house. That first fall, back in 1993, we sneaked over here under cover of darkness, to rake leaves, even though we hadn't actually bought the place yet. Two flimsy green metal rakes from the True Value on Main Street. There was no fence, and we worked for hours under the night sky, dreaming and hoping the neighbors wouldn't notice.
Usually I tell you small, domestic stories, and this one today is no exception, but today’s story, as well as being a bit more self-revelatory than usual, also may be an allegory of a much larger topic.
In our family, my son, Joseph, has told a story of helping to launch his sons into the world of self-reliance when they were fairly young, by sending them alone to the check-in counter at the airport. This is what he saw from his yes-of-course-he-stood-back-and-observed-in-case-anything-really-went-wrong-and-they-needed-help, vantage point.
As we kiss summer goodbye and head back into our homes with their clanking furnaces, cozy blankets and pie, it’s a good time to consider the connections between our houses … and ourselves.
Some of the biggest ideas in home-building right now are quite … small. Tiny, actually. It seems like everyone, suddenly, is talking about tiny houses. And yes, that’s actually the term – not downsized, not small, but … tiny. The average size of a house in the U.S. is 2300 square feet, and tiny houses are about 400 – and sometimes more like 70.
It was a low-key weekend back at my mother’s house in St. Louis. I cleared my work schedule and drove across Illinois on Thursday, accepting the boredom of the interstate highway in exchange for its efficiency. At least they’ve added a couple of wind farms in recent years, and standing above the bean and corn fields those white towers and the slow waving of those great white blades make the sky seem alive in a new way. I crossed the Mississippi River on the north side of St.
My lunches have been lonely. I mean, Libby is there, but one on one time is different than when it was Libby and Portia and I heatedly discussing how many carrots must be consumed. I miss Portia and Libby together, fighting and working things out. Or like today as together they make up "Nut Job: The Musical" at the breakfast table, the energy is just different. I don't exactly mind it, but I feel unsettled. My lunches are lonely because Portia started Kindergarten this Fall.
Amid so much news of international conflict and human loss (Ferguson, Missouri; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; civil wars in Ukraine, Libya, Syria, and Iraq), Americans were heartened this morning to learn that peace had returned to the houses of Salisbury and Derby with the sudden resolution Thursday of a misunderstanding between Thomas Montagu, Earl of Salisbury and Frederick Stanley, Earl of Derby. Addressing Lord Derby, Lord Salisbury wrote:
When I was younger, much younger, the high point of my social calendar was a birthday party—preferably my own. These events always included a chocolate layer cake made from scratch by my mother. I enjoyed licking the beaters almost as much as I enjoyed the finished product. A family friend once requisitioned one of mom’s legendary creations, and, with the help of Tupperware, flew across the country with carry on cake to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. Talk about two wings and prayer. Fortunately, the cake and its escort both arrived in one piece.