Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Lake House (Inside)

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Jennifer, summer 1973

The inside of the little cottage on Martin Drive is not so easy to describe, as it evolved over the not quite three years that we lived there, and there were plans for bigger changes.

First, there is the way it was when we moved in. Entering from the front yard, a closed in porch was first. The door was in the center,  windows wrapped around three walls. The room was maybe 12 feet wide  and about six feet deep. It was not heated, so was unusable in the winter. It was dreadfully hot in the summertime. There were a few days, though, in the spring and fall, when we sat there to visit in the evening, or served coffee to friends at the little table and chairs I arranged there. Sometimes it served as a little studio, when I had a craft project going. Most of the time, though, it was our storage and overflow room, too full of old tires and miscellaneous junk to be used for much of anything else. The back wall held a picture window shared with the room inside, and a door that led there.

Inside that door, an L-shaped room  was living room and dining room. The ceiling was of off-white square tiles, the walls were in the type of paneling that comes in 4′ x 8′ sheets and is printed to look like wood grain. It was an unremarkable medium brown. My mother- in-law had antiqued the woodwork around windows and doors to resemble wood, too. The floor was hardwood, oak. Bright curtains and comfortable furnishings had made it all seem cozy and warm when my in-laws lived there. When it was my home, it seemed dark and dreary. “All this wood,” I would complain, “I feel like I’m living in a tree!”

Straight ahead, a door on the back wall led to a long bedroom. Not long ago, there had been two doors on that back wall, and two small bedrooms in that space. When Terry got married and moved out, his parents took out a wall and merged the two rooms to make a larger bedroom for their daughter, Dena. It was covered in dark brown paneling.

If, instead of going through that bedroom door, you turned to the right and went through another doorway, you’d find yourself in the kitchen. On the immediate left was the refrigerator, and beyond that a door leading in to the bathroom. Straight ahead was the back door, with steps leading down to the driveway. Looking to the right, there was a narrow corridor kitchen. A bank of metal cabinets was on the left, with a white porcelain sink in the center. Above it, a window looked out to the driveway and the house next door. On the right side, a counter had an opening above it, looking into the living room. Past the counter was the stove. At the end of the corridor, another door led into a small bedroom. That was the extent of the house.

We had changes planned, though. The doorway into the large bedroom would, instead, lead to a hallway, with the remainder of that room off to the left. We’d break through the wall on the right to create a door into the bathroom, so that the bathroom door in the kitchen could be closed off. The end of the hallway would lead to another bedroom – or two – that would be an addition on to the back of the house. That would also allow the basement stairs to be inside. The door to the little bedroom off the kitchen would also be closed off. An door would be cut from the living room, just opposite the door to the bedroom hallway, and that room would eventually be a sewing and craft room. The kitchen would have a better layout, without a door at either end. We’d close off the door from the living room, remove the counter and put a wider doorway where the window opening to the living room was. We’d have swinging saloon type doors there, open above and below. The cupboards could be laid out in an L-shape, the refrigerator moved closer to form a work triangle, and built in benches would flank a dining table on the end where the bathroom door had been. Finally, the paneling in the entire house would be replaced by sheet-rock, to brighten the whole place up. Because almost the entire small back yard would be lost with our planned addition, we envisioned purchasing the long lot behind us, that went all the way to the lake. We’d build  steps into the slope, to get down the hill. We’d put in fruit trees for their blossoms and fruit…maybe even having a gazebo down near the water. Oh, we had big dreams!

Once we started buying the house, we began working on the alterations. Unfortunately, our budget didn’t allow for much. We were able to rip out doorways and tear up floors, but we didn’t really have the funds to put anything back together. I don’t remember exactly why or when  we started talking about moving, but the fact that I was expecting another baby had a big part in the decision. The house was drafty, the floors were splintery, and – with only one vehicle and often no telephone – I wanted to be closer to town. With all the work we’d put into the house, I figure we’d dropped its value it by thousands of dollars. We managed to sell it with just enough profit to put a security deposit down on a rent-subsidized townhouse in Lapeer. We had moved in to the Lake House when my daughter Jennifer was five months old. We moved out just after Halloween, less than three months shy of her third birthday.jen at lake house 004

 

 

 

Timeout for Art: Sketch-a-Day

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One sketch a day was the goal I set.

I don’t know what I was hoping for, really…maybe that time would open up and there would be enough minutes to give a drawing what it needed. Or that the months of neglect would fall away, if I just put pencil to paper each day.

Clearly, that didn’t happen.

My hand is still learning to follow my eyes; my eyes still remembering how to really look. Even when I found myself absorbed by what I was doing, there was still sleep, or work, or the dog needing to go outside that necessitated putting the pencil down.

What did occur?

I did it: one sketch per day. These aren’t great art. Some lines are tentative; rendering is often flawed; many sketches are weak. So weak, the lines are almost impossible for the scanner to pick up. Still, I did it.

While I was at this task, I remembered the meditative quality of drawing: how the outside world can fall away and the only communication is between eye and hand. I pleasantly recalled how much I enjoyed being immersed in getting that depiction down. I felt my hand grow steadier through the week. It seemed, when I’m being pulled from one obligation to another, an assertion – in this one small  way – of my own path.

For that alone, it is worth it.

 

The Lake House (Continuing)

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Jennifer and Cindy, Christmas morning, 1972

Beyond helping me to remember when events happened, having children gave me a reason to take pictures. For years, I took pictures every day! I bought one role of film every week with groceries. I had to! I could see my daughter changing, learning, growing…how could I not record the process?

When my husband and I sat down to discuss the budget, the amount I spent at the grocery store was  an issue. We were always behind on payments. Utilities were often on the verge of being turned off. The rent – owed to my husband’s parents – was constantly behind. After a year or so of that arrangement, they offered to sell us the house, with the agreement that we would actually make the payments. Fair enough, it seemed. After that, we were constantly behind on the land contract. Other than my husband’s allowance (for gas for his truck, coffee or lunches at the restaurant, cigarettes if he ran out, a night out to “practice with the band”), groceries were the only variable expense. Since he felt his allowance was sacred and untouchable, cuts had to be made in the grocery bill.

Item by item, we would talk it through. I was a careful shopper, so food was rarely an issue. Sometimes it was suggested that I cut out some of the fresh fruits or vegetables, but that argument never went far. I didn’t buy pop, beer or snack foods. Paper diapers, baby food and formula were a necessity, when we had a baby in the house. No argument there. Sometimes I had to defend one cleaning product or another, but that was easy enough. I wasn’t a very good housekeeper, so anything to encourage me was okay. Then it came to my wasteful, unnecessary purchases. I defended them so often, I can remember the words exactly.

“Yes, one skein of yarn! One dollar and thirty-nine cents, only. I am working on Christmas presents. That afghan for your parents [never finished, by the way], the slippers, the toys…”

Family Circle magazine is my only luxury! Thirty-five cents! How is it going to fix our budget, even if I give up the one thing I buy just for myself??” [I poured over those magazines and saved them as if they were gold…or National Geographic!]

“One role of film! Isn’t our daughter worth one role of film?”

So, I always had film, and I took pictures every day. Unfortunately, there was no money for developing the film (that was another argument, categorized under “the sacrifices I have made”). Years later, when I sent them off to Fuji Film for processing, most of the photos came back blurry and dark. Of those, it seems like the best ones have gone: to the baby books I put together for my daughters; to Terry, after our divorce, so he’d have some of the baby pictures, too; to my children and grandchildren when something caught their eye. Just because of the sheer quantity, I still have a few blurry images.

From them, it is definitely clear what a cute little girl I had, but it’s not really possible to get an idea of the layout of our little house. Because I’ve wasted so much time reliving arguments and laying the groundwork, the actual inside of the Lake House will have to wait.

The Lake House (Outside)

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Grandma B, at the Lake House before I lived there

We moved to the “Lake House” when my daughter was five months old.

I don’t know how I ever managed to figure out when things happened, before I had children. Once I became a mother, all memories of events are in relation to my children’s ages at the time. It’s not a perfect system – it involves quite a bit of figuring out – but it’s do-able. For instance, Jennifer was three when she was the flower girl in my sister Cheryl’s wedding. From that information, I can figure out that I was twenty-three, my mother was forty-three, my brother Ted, twenty-one, sister Sheila, nineteen, Cheryl, eighteen, and on down the line. If I want to do the math, I could come up with the year. I know that my daughter, Kate was three years old when I first moved to Beaver Island and started working at the Shamrock; she was twenty-four when I left that job. My daughters were nine and twelve years old when I got divorced, so I was thirty-two. Ever since they’ve been grown up and are out of my house, things have devolved into “a few years ago,” “sometime in the recent past” or “once.”

Anyway, we moved to the Lake House when Jennifer was five months old. Terry and I were both nineteen; I was two months shy of my twentieth birthday. My in-laws had just bought a nice home on Five Lakes Road, and were moving. They wanted to rent their cottage on Lake Pleasant, and offered it to us. We thought we wanted to be out of town. My husband had spent many years in that house, with his parents and sister, so he knew the area. I’d grown pretty familiar with it, too, in the years since I first met Terry. It wasn’t perfect, but it was within our budget. 920 Martin Drive became our new address.

Martin Drive was one of many short, bumpy roads leading from Bowers Road down to the lake and the homes and cabins near it. Our house was almost at the end of the drive, on the left side. If you continued  past our little house and driveway, there was one more house on the left, and straight ahead was an access point for the lake. It wasn’t quite like a beach, but it was a little nicer than a boat launch. It was used for both. Instead of going straight, you could turn to the right, right in front of our house. There, the road name changed, and led to another little drive which would also take you either down to the water or out to Bowers Road.

Because we were close to the water, there was a slope down to the lake. To keep things fairly level, the yards were terraced. Our driveway was just past the house. a half flight of  cement steps led from the driveway up to the back door. In the other direction, we would step down into our neighbor’s yard.

There was just a tiny sliver of yard on either side of the house, and a postage stamp of lawn in front and back. We stepped up into the front yard from the driveway, too. It was a small space with a big flowering shrub in one front corner, and a hedge of spirea separating it from the road. I hated that prickly spirea hedge, and eventually tore it out. My ideas have changed over the years. If I had that house now, I’d do a lot of things differently. For one, I would definitely keep the hedge!

The house itself was a little lake cottage, over a basement that was accessible only from the outside. Here, we call that a Michigan basement. I wonder if it has another name in other places. The plumbing came up from the basement. That’s where the furnace was, too. And the fuse box. The doors to access the basement were in the back yard, slanted like a lean-to against the rear of the house.. When you pulled them up and laid them open, rough cement steps were revealed. The floor of the basement was damp earth. Cobwebs were plentiful! It looked like the perfect place for all kinds of critters.

Often, in the winter, our driveway was unusable. Then, my husband would park on the road or (once the hedge was gone) in the front yard. As the ground thawed in the springtime, his truck made deep ruts in the yard that we then spent all summer trying to get rid of. It was a constant cycle of tilling, raking and seeding before the next winter put us right back where we’d started.

One year, I tilled up the back of the driveway, and planted a garden. My daughter was just old enough to appreciate the magic of edible plants springing from the earth. She collected worms from the loose soil as I weeded. It was easy to tend and water the garden, right next to the kitchen; we had a bounteous harvest and many special meals featuring our home-grown vegetables.

Before I Go…

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Found another picture! This one of Jennifer and Fritz, playing together with his yarn toy

Before I leave the downstairs apartment on Court Street, there are a couple other random thoughts that come to mind.

My husband’s cousin, Steve, lived just two blocks away with his wife Ami and their daughter Chrissy.  When Chrissy was born, Steve came knocking on our door in the middle of the night to get Terry. “Ya gotta come see her,” he said, excitedly, “she looks just like a night crawler!” Well, she was a long, skinny baby, but beautiful. As an infant, she’d get one leg kicking, as she lay on her back making baby noises. It reminded her parents of Thumper,  the rabbit in the Disney movie, Bambi, so that’s what they called her. The nickname stuck, at least until she started school. Steve and Terry(my husband) formed a band. They got together most weekends to play guitars and drink. Ami and I had both come from large families, and we’d both grown up on Lake Nepessing. Sometimes we visited while the guys practiced.

When I came home from the hospital with my new baby, my husband’s Uncle Ronny and his girlfriend, Caroline, followed us right into the driveway. They were excited to meet the newest addition to the family. I was appalled! I didn’t want company! I was tired and sore and a little frightened of parenthood. I did not feel like being social. I didn’t want people picking up my baby! The apartment was so open, there was no escape. I couldn’t close myself and my baby in the bedroom, as there was only a sheer curtain to divide it from the living room. I rudely sulked the entire time they were there. I didn’t offer to make coffee; I barely spoke. When Caroline asked if she could hold Jennifer, I blurted, “I’ve hardly had a chance to hold her myself!” They didn’t stay long.

My husband went back to work the day after that. His grandmother Ida Mae, who we called “Grandma B”, came four days in a row to help me while Terry was at work. Sometimes, when Jennifer was sleeping, I’d take a nap. I rested easier knowing that Grandma B was there. She was moral support more than anything, but it was a pleasure to have her around. She told me about moving households with a horse and open cart – in the pouring rain – with four little children, and how their mattresses were all drenched by the time they reached their destination. She told me about when her son, Bob, was born. The doctor came by later and hefted him, estimated his weight – from experience  – and told her what a big, healthy baby she had. It’s odd to think that Ida Mae was probably, then, about the age that I am now…she seemed so ancient!

That’s about all I remember from this old address. We were on Court Street – in two different apartments – for about eighteen months. I didn’t realize how much I liked living in town, until I moved away. Having grown up out in the country, I thought that was ideal, especially when raising a family. When the opportunity came up, we moved.

The 52 Lists Project #7

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Week #7: List all the people who brighten your day

My family:

  • My daughters, Jen and Kate, who are both intelligent, witty, beautiful and fun, and each bring their own unique gifts to my life.
  • My brothers and sisters, every one. With laughter, generosity, understanding, caring and shared history and memories, my sibling enrich and brighten all my days.
  • My parents, who each gave me such good lessons as to how to approach a situation, deal with adversity and keep a sense of humor about what life deals out, continue to brighten my days. Their lessons carry on; they are still with me in spirit.

My friends:

The ones that are here on Beaver Island, that I see often; the ones in distant places that I see rarely; the ones I share long history with; the ones I just got to know… my friends keep me grounded, remind me what’s important, and bring joy to my life.

My co-workers:

I’ve discovered some of the dearest people through work. I have forged life-long friendships with people I would otherwise have little in common with, through just working together. Emma Jean Belfy, Catherine White and Chris Butler came into my life through my first job here on Beaver Island, serving breakfast at the Shamrock Bar. There have been dozens of others over the years. Last Sunday, I was working alone at the hardware. John Runberg, who works with me there a couple days a week, called me from his home.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I was just thinking about buying a candy bar,” I answered.

“Just give me a few minute,” he said, “I’ll bring you some breakfast.”

Days don’t get much brighter than that!

What’s Not to Be

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Tomorrow, it will be one year since my sister,  Nita, died.

I’ve been thinking  lately about what a great old lady she would’ve been. We sisters often noted how Nita seemed to have never grown up. In some ways, though, she was like a person who had been around for quite awhile. She brandished personality traits that many of us don’t take on until we have sixty or more years behind us.

Nita spoke her mind. Always. In our family of quiet, shy and meek individuals, Nita stood out. “No fair!” was her battle cry, whether spoken to brothers and sisters, friends, parents, teachers or employers. She argued for her rights from the time she learned to speak. She was never shy with her opinions. She was quick to call “B.S.” whenever she felt it was warranted. A couple years ago, as Brenda and I were preparing a snack,  she said, “You guys are constantly talking about losing weight, but all you ever do is eat!” We would have loved to defend ourselves, but we were filling our plates at the time, so we let it go.

Nita was stubborn, cantankerous and hard to handle, at times. Two years ago, on a sister’s vacation, all of us went to play Pub Trivia together. Nita could see there was cheating going on, with answers being shared from table to table, and researched over cell phones. As the evening progressed, she became louder and more vocal in her displeasure. We suggested letting it go, ignoring it and not making a scene…none of which went over very well with her. At the end of the night, going back to the hotel in a cab, Nita pulled out her E-cigarette to calm her nerves. The cabdriver thought it was a real cigarette, and threatened to fine us two hundred fifty dollars. Nita loudly asserted, “It’s not even real,”  then, under her breath, “you moron!” It took every bit of diplomacy the rest of us could muster to get Nita to put it away and quit talking, to convince the driver she didn’t mean any harm and didn’t know any better, and to manage to get back to the hotel without being kicked out of the cab, paying a fine, or worse.

I’ve heard folks say they love old people, just like people love unicorns or puppies or chocolate, as if old people are all the same. Nita was not like that, but she certainly was sympathetic and understanding toward the elderly. When she was a young mother, Nita took a job as a seamstress for the convalescent home my mother worked at. Mom would bring her a sackful of mending – pajamas and under-clothing that had never been worth much, now worn and tattered, but important to those it belonged to – and Nita would meticulously repair elastic, fix buttons, hooks and snaps, and stitch delicate fabrics back together. At one of her last jobs, Nita was working at a restaurant in Florida where old folks gathered for coffee and breakfast each morning. She told me how she enjoyed the interaction with each of the regulars. “I have to remember what they like for breakfast, though,” she said, “’cause they don’t.”

Finally, Nita always had one of those hugging, kissing, doting-on-the-babies personalities  that  is usually associated with gray-haired grandmothers. She was the aunt who would make the soft dolls or stuffed animals for her nieces and nephews. She could remember all their ages and birthdays, and managed to have photos for occasions that even the parents neglected to record. Nita could talk for hours about how handsome, how smart and how beautiful our children were. “Our family has the prettiest babies,” she’d exclaim. Every new baby was a treasure to her.

Yes, it’s too bad she didn’t get the chance. I think Nita would have made a great old lady.

 

Orange

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orangeThe color orange is probably my least favorite, of all the colors out there. I don’t really like most greens, either, though there are a few shades that are wonderful. Red is my favorite color, but not when it leans too far toward magenta. I like purples, but not when it has too much red. Going in the other direction on the color wheel, red can take some of orange’s influence before it goes bad. “Tomato” is a beautiful shade with just a hint of orange. “Barn red” has a bit more orange, plus some black or umber to deepen the hue. “Rust” is usually an acceptable orangey-red. The color that we used to call “Indian red” but that now has a much more politically correct name (that, alas, escapes me) is a nice, rich red-orange with brown undertones. That’s about as far as I like to lean, though, toward orange. It’s simply not a color I like.

And yet…

When I was preparing for my first baby, we borrowed a bassinet from my mother. It was the same one she had used when all of her babies were tiny. It had a sturdy frame that could be folded up for transport. On top of it was a large woven basket with a handle that could be used to carry it, or be pushed down out of the way. There was a little oval mattress inside, and there were tiny drawstring sheets to fit the mattress. Wanting my new baby to have every advantage, I was eschewing pastels in favor of more stimulating colors. I had searched far and wide for baby yarns in bright colors, and had crocheted a baby blanket – one giant granny square, with a ruffled edge – using all the brightest shades of the primary and secondary colors. As a final statement, I bought three cans of spray enamel and painted the bassinet…bright orange.

Years later,  I was bothered by the severely neutral space of the new townhouse we’d moved in to. Every wall was white. The tiled floors were beige; the carpets were all gold. Harvest gold. I decided to throw caution – and our security deposit – to the wind. I chose to paint one wall. I picked the wall that ran from the front of the house to the back. It started in the kitchen, behind the sink and sandwiched between brown cupboards above and below, and a gold counter top. It continued over a short wall with a serving counter on it, through the dining room and into the living room. I painted the wall orange.

Many years after that, when I was gardening here on Beaver Island, I had one troublesome flower bed. On the east side of the house, it didn’t get enough sunshine for many of my usual flower selections. I had daffodils there in the spring. In the summer, there was a clump of feathery periwinkle blue flowers, and some fluffy pale pink blooms. To round it out and bring it to life, to that bed I added a good number of upright phlox. With their distinct, sharp leaves, sturdy stalks and bold blooms, they were the perfect accent to the other flowers. The color I chose? Orange!

Sometimes, no matter how much I dislike it, orange fits the bill.

Timeout for Art: Not Much

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Another week gone by with no time in the studio.

Another week with not much to show for it, in the way of art practice.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Though my participation in most rituals of the Catholic Church have fallen by the wayside, I like Lent. Just like the start of a new year, or the milestone of a birthday, the beginning of Lent offers another chance for improvement, renewal or a fresh start. It comes right about the time I have disappointed myself with most  of my New Year’s resolutions, so it gives me an opportunity to redeem myself in some small way.

I thought of giving up all sweets (oh, NO!), or just chocolate (but I just opened the second package of wonderful chocolate truffles that I received at Christmas), or bread (but I just bought that nice loaf of sourdough). I thought of giving up swearing or drinking, but I don’t really do enough of either to make it a true sacrifice. I thought of adding something that would do me good, like exercise or meditation. I thought of committing to doing something for others, like writing a thoughtful letter each day to people who would appreciate it, or some other form of good deed. Nothing really struck me as a winning commitment.

This morning, at my messy desk with a cup of coffee and a glass of water, as I rushed to sketch the scene in front of me so that I’d have something to publish here, I decided. I am going to make a sketch every day. I won’t say “drawing” because that implies a finished work, and a level of time and energy that I may not have. A sketch every day – for Lent – is a reasonable thing.

The Second (Downstairs) Court Street Apartment

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My husband, Terry, with Fritz, Dec. 1971

I don’t know how it happened that I still have a photograph of my husband, Terry. I no longer have the husband! In fact, I had two to choose from, both taken while he was sitting in this same chair (a beautiful, oak Craftsman style rocker with leather seat and back that his mother found at a sale and meticulously refinished for him), in the downstairs Court Street apartment. They were taken on two different days. I set aside the second one because his socks were dirty, there was visible debris on the floor and the dog wasn’t in the picture.

I used to have several photos from this apartment. Fritz was a very cute dog, and I took lots of snapshots. All gone now. There was one photo of me, in a floor length purple bathrobe that accentuated the fact that I was very pregnant, that was taken from one end of the apartment while I was standing at the other. It gave a much better idea of the architecture and layout. It has disappeared. There were photos of my new baby, Jennifer, as this is where we lived when she was born, and until she was about five months old. They have migrated, over the years, into the albums or collections of others. So this is it, one photo that shows very little of the downstairs apartment where it was taken.

This apartment was not the apartment directly below us when we lived in the upstairs apartment. It was the ground floor of the other duplex apartment, when the building had been a duplex. Now, divided into four apartments, the upstairs units each resembled bedrooms off a hallway; the downstairs units looked like the public living spaces. Our address was 205A Court Street. The apartment was on the corner of Court and Horton Streets, so – unlike any of the other units in the same building – we had a back door that led to our own driveway off Horton Street.

Wooden steps with a rickety rail led from the driveway up to the back door. Entering that way (which we always did, for reasons that will soon be clear), the kitchen presented itself. It was a big room, with cabinets and appliances lining the side walls. There was room for my little table and chairs in the center of the room. Straight ahead, in line with the back door, was a doorway leading to our living room. My husband kept a chin-up bar, a sturdy tension rod, in that doorway for exercise.

When this building was new, the center room would have been a formal dining room. Large windows lined the wall on the right. On the left, a door at the rear revealed a deep closet  in the space under the stairs. Another door, toward the front, was now sealed. That would have led to the upstairs bedrooms.

An eight-foot-wide archway led from that room into what had once been the living room, and that we used as the bedroom. A door on the left led to the large porch that all of the apartments shared. In the front corner, a small bathroom had been installed. A huge picture window looked out onto Court Street. A transom window above it featured a large, etched floral design.

Once we moved in, the only ones that came to the front door were strangers, Jehovah’s Witnesses or people who had never visited before. Everyone else knew to go to the back.

We painted the living room a sunny yellow and hung gold curtains to offer some privacy for the bedroom. We set up crib and bassinet for the baby we were expecting, and tried our best to fill the large rooms with our meager furnishings. We celebrated our first Christmas there. We first brought our baby girl home there. I started reading through recipes and having kitchen successes there, including the best blueberry pie ever, and some memorable pots of soup.

My friend Linda and her husband, Darrell, visited us often. Now that we were both married, and both either expecting a baby or a new mother, we had more in common than we’d had in years. We had meals together and played a lot of games. Darrell was a sore loser, so the challenge was often to find a game he could win at. One day, we were visiting while waiting for my husband to come home from work. Terry walked in the back door, put down his lunch bucket, grabbed onto the chin-up bar and (the show off!) swung himself up so that his body was in a straight line, parallel to, but about six feet off the floor. Suddenly, the woodwork gave away, the tension bar let go and my husband dropped six feet onto the floor. Of course, we burst out laughing. Of course, he writhed in pain and cursed us all, which only drove us to more fits of uncontrollable laughter. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt, because we laughed first, and asked that question later.

Terry’s uncle moved with us, from the upstairs to the downstairs apartment, but I was cranky about it, and he soon moved on. My father-in-law, Jack,  would often stop in the mornings for coffee, to visit with me while I bathed and dressed the baby. My sister Sheila stopped in one day with her friend Debbie. They were thinking they could hang out and skip school at my house. I gave them a lecture, my husband dropped them off at school, and that was the end of my little sister thinking I was going to be her accomplice. I was a grown-up, after all, with my own apartment, a husband, a baby and a dog…all at not quite twenty years old.

Before my baby was six months old, we moved from this apartment into our first house.