Daily Archives: April 6, 2016

Johnson Mill Road

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Jennifer, in front of the house on Johnson Mill Road

I almost never liked this house.

It wasn’t a bad house. It was a three bedroom, ranch style home with an attached garage. It looked normal. Too normal, I thought. Too hemmed-in, predictable, suburban.

Yet not the neat, orderly suburbs that some of my sisters lived in, with similar houses, incomes, families and lifestyles. This road was in disarray. At the corner was a double wide mobile home with a tidy yard, set on the diagonal. Next, a small older house on an unkempt lot, then a field, our house, then a mobile home set so far back from the road, it was my view from all of my rear windows. Across the road was an old farmhouse.

The only neighbors I got to know were the ones in the trailer next door…and I didn’t like them. He was quiet, and went to work each day. She was extremely overweight, and read romance novels all day long. They had three or four children, whose names all began with J. They weren’t bad or unkind, just uninteresting. That was enough.

Our yard was a field overgrown after some excavation (perhaps for placing the foundation of the house) that left unexpected ridges and steep hills that were difficult to mow. There were a couple tiny trees and a wild shrub or two, but no landscaping.

The house itself was pretty standard. An entry through the garage led to the eat in kitchen. I think I remember a sliding glass door behind the dining space, to get to the back yard…but maybe it was just a window. Vinyl wallpaper in a blue and green floral pattern covered the walls. The floor was vinyl tiles in a pattern that looked like red brick. Dark brown, Mediterranean style cupboards had antiqued brass knobs and pulls. A closet near the doorway to the living room hid the furnace.

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Terry, pretending to give Katey a birthday spanking

In the living room, a red brick (“real red brick,” I complained, “I suppose to match the fake red brick floor?”) corner hearth held a cast iron wood burning stove that we never used, except to hang Christmas stocking near. White walls, burnt red carpet, a picture window and front door, then a hallway down to the bedrooms and bath.

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Me, in the kitchen that I hated

Things that  happened while we lived there:

  • We started purchasing a piece of property on Beaver Island. It was financed on a five year land contract, so we made the sensible decision to pay it off first, then make decisions about putting up a house there and moving back to the island, or just using it for vacations and eventual retirement.
  • I opened an Art Gallery in downtown Lapeer. It was on the main street, Nepessing Street, on the block that used to have Looney’s Restaurant, and on the very site of a recently closed but always successful gallery. I negotiated with the owner to lower the rent for the space; I took on the young man that worked there as full partner, in exchange for teaching me the business of matting and framing. I brought all of my own good ideas for enlivening the art scene in Lapeer, Michigan, my knowledge of art and artists, and my full enthusiasm. How could I fail?
  • I took the last of the money I’d been saving – for moving back to Beaver Island – and bought my husband a new sofa for his birthday. The large bed/sofa he had built for our last place did not work in this one. It felt like a good investment in our lives here.

So that’s how it was…until things changed again.