Combat veterans are a famously reticent bunch. Some of them won’t tell their stories to just anyone, and some won’t tell their stories at all. And in the stories they do tell, you have to listen for clues because they have witnessed things that nobody can fully tell another person. A friend of mine who served in the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II shared just a few episodes.
They say less is more, but I’m a girl for whom more is more. I like things a lot. I am zealous and easily obsessed or excitable. I live my life well most days, but my obsessions can make me a little crazy. I guess I am a binger. I’m a little bingey. I bingeth. I am a women bingeonified. Of course that was a word before I used it.
A new piece of furniture came to live with me recently. I say “live” because a sense of the animate seems to pervade this heavy, well--‐built item that I fully expect to outlast me. Two off--‐season linebackers wrestled it from the truck, up the walk, through my front door, around the stairs, to its current resting spot. My dining area is now complete. Houston, the hutch has landed.
Judging just by its economic impact, Halloween is the second-most popular holiday in the U.S. It's the day when you get to be someone else, and that someone indulges in sweets of all kinds without any concern for the consequences. Perfectly respectable citizens dress as ghouls and turn their front lawns into graveyards, playgrounds for ghosts and devils, and bloody crime scenes. On Halloween we get to try on a different role, perhaps becoming what we secretly wish we could be, in a world without real consequences.
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.
I am waiting. Sitting on a hand loomed throw rug on the floor in front of her kitchen sink. The eighteen by eighteen inch ceramic tiles are immaculately clean. There are no crumbs along the kickboard of the floor. I checked.
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.