The Farm, Part III

Everyone enters the house via the mudroom.  I don’t think anyone ever uses the front door.  From the mudroom you can go up or down.  First we’ll go up the stairs.

Don’t think that we didn’t slide down those stairs in our PJs a million times.  And, flower print, how many times did I stand on the stairs and wonder how they were able to hang you way up there (it’s called a ladder, dingdong)?  The wallpaper, the beads, the vase, the fallen petals–I have memorized every detail of that picture.

The blue room.  I don’t know why, but it is my favorite room to sleep in of the two guest rooms.  There have been lots of sleepovers with friends and my sister here, staying up way too late giggling–and keeping the g’parents awake.  If we didn’t wake up to the smell of biscuits baking or potatoes frying, then PaPaw had two methods of rousing lazy teenagers.  1) Creeping silently into the room only to crash pots and pans together over our heads.  Or, 2)  Smother our sleepy faces with kisses.  Can’t a girl get a little sleep?  We were up so late watching Love Connection!  So we would reluctantly get up and make our way down to give a hearty “hot breath” good morning to PaPaw, “Gooooood moooornnnning, PaPAHHHHW!”  Right in his face.  We were disgusting, and I promise that I am much more refined now than that kind of boorish behavior.  But that probably explains the pots and pans.

Dear readers, the blue room is also home to a velvet painting–a painting on velvet.  Velvet Horse, I’ve studied you through the years wondering about your moonlit midnight wanderings, hoof-deep in the quiet waters of a rivoletto.  Where have you been?  Where are you going?  Your bare back beckons me…  Shunning Jesus and Elvis for the more sophisticated nocturnal horse, my grandfather’s aunt painted this longtime fixture of the blue room.  I love it!

The pink room.  My daughter’s absolute favorite room!  I’d forgotten that the bed no longer had its canopy and really talked it up to my little princess–so imagine her disappointment upon our arrival to see that it was no longer there (and apparently hasn’t been there for a long time, nonobservant me).

This dresser and hutch used to be in my girlhood room.  It used to seem so towering to me…until I grew taller than it at age 3.  Freak.

The boys slept on pallets on the floor in the pink room–on very familiar colors and patterns.

The clock in the pink room always ticked very loudly.  I used to hide it somewhere in the bed when my friend Cheryl would stay over–because it is super fun to drive her crazy.

The pink bathroom–my NanNaw all the way!  Feminine and every detail thought out.  Pink, pink, pink.

I’ve fixed perms with AquaNet in here, unrolled spongerollers to have the perfect coif to complement my Gunne Sax dresses for church.  I’ve rolled and flat-ironed short and long hair here.  I dressed for my grandfather’s funeral here.

I’ve always loved those crystal cabinet knobs.  And, turns out, I’m not the only one who loves the pink bathroom.  When our family of 30+ people gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is always occupied–the perfect outta-the-way privacy potty.

Now let’s head downstairs to the basement–kind of a rarity in Texas homes.  My grandparents hosted church here every weekend for years until they could raise money to build a church (which my grandfather built, too–sorry, can’t help but boast).  There have been parties and church socials here, and this is the place where all of us children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gather for holiday meals.  A piece of drywall covers the billiards table for the buffet, the kitchen peninsula holds the desserts, there is another table for drinks, a kids’ table, and one loooong table for the adults.

I think the original plan was to cover the walls in paint or drywall–but don’t we all have those projects we keep meaning to do?  To me those bare cement walls are normal.  Although, as a girl, I used to steal away to the basement on hot summer afternoons with my grandmother’s latest Spiegel catalog.  I’d flip through the home goods section and decorate the basement as my apartment–I loved doing this!  Every visit I would ask if the new Spiegel catalog had arrived yet.

The basement is equipped with another full kitchen.  There has always been some serious cooking going on in this house so it was needed.  PaPaw usually had the ice cream freezer going on down here…chocolate, if you were wondering.  (Oh, and the fridge in this kitchen is where you could find the cold Dr. Peppers.)

Can’t tell you how much I love this sofa.  I think NanNaw said at one time it was originally white vinyl.  Slick.  When we had a full house, we would push those two facing each other and make a big bed for me and my sister.  One thing about sleeping in the basement:  you better be an early riser because you will wake up when you hear the creaky footsteps of the early rising person upstairs.  Creak.  Creak.  Flush. Creak.  The sounds of the basement.

And while NanNaw and PaPaw have always been the absolute heart of the farm, the animals there only sweetened the deal.  Chow and Teddy, the dogs; Roscoe, Bandit, and Buffy, the cats; Pretty Girl, Snowball, and many other goats; and my dear, dear Jake the donkey.

There is a such thing as donkey love.  They are so sweet–though he was playing a bit coy with me this last time.  He has squired many burritos with Sweetie and Rachel (his daughter with Sweetie, ew).  These days he and Sweetie are separated because NanNaw doesn’t need any more donkeys–but the way they met was so romantic. So, because you haven’t read enough here today, here is the story of how Jake and Sweetie met, circa TPH 2008:

I never knew what wonderful pets donkeys could be until my grandfather gave my grandmother one, Jake, for their anniversary many years ago. Romantic, no? Sure beats a dozen roses any day.

Jake is a teenager–maybe even close to twenty years old now. He lived amongst the goats until one year my sister thought he needed a mate, and so we all pitched in and bought Jake and my grandparents a gal donkey for Christmas–a foray into the animal kingdom I shan’t forget.

The jenny arrived at my grandparents’ house while all the extended family kept NanNaw and PaPaw occupied in their basement. We tied the shy donkette to a tree until we could reveal her after Christmas lunch. It was about that time that a gust blew in and downwind to Jake’s pen. The first molecule of the jenny’s scent landed in Jake’s nostril. Bam!  His head bolted up from feeding. He pressed is flared nose headlong into the wind and sniffed feverishly. Desperate brays followed. And then the sweat broke out.

It wasn’t long before Jake’s whole body was drenched–as if he had been caught in a downpour. He frantically looked for a way out of the fence. Attempts to escape left him scratched and tangled in the barbwire. There was no denying the look in his eyes as his gaze locked onto the jenny, “That..ass…is…mine.”

What were we thinking when we finally put the defenseless donkette in the pen with Jake? I don’t know because what followed was nothing short of animal rape. Seriously. My family and I stood there with mouths agape and eyes wide as Jake rode her like the Pony Express. He mistook her “nice to meet you” for “I like it rough,” and he bit her ear until it split and bled. Dangerously my uncles and PaPaw rushed to her rescue while the womenfolk desperately tried to shield the innocent eyes of the minors.

But to make a long story short, Jake and the jenny named Sweetie have settled into the comfortable routine of monogamy. No more sweaty tumbles. No more ear biting. In fact, things might be considered kind of humdrum. Sweetie coyly whispered to me recently that she ordered a sexy nurse costume just to spice things up a bit.

Meanwhile I found out that Jake isn’t so faithful to Sweetie as I thought. Turns out my PaPaw loans him out to any and every two-bit hussy in a 15-mile radius. Just a week ago as I drove my grandmother to church, she pointed to a donkey in a neighbor’s field, “That is Molly–one of Jake and Sweetie’s babies. Dan is trying to breed her; but when we leave Jake up here for months, it never takes.”

“Hmm. Well, NanNaw, you think that just maybe she doesn’t want to have sex with her father?”

My grandmother chuckled and said, “Well, maybe so.”

“Is that even genetically okay to do? ‘Cause I’ve lived in the mountains before.”

But, yes, Jake and Sweetie have lots of children now. The youngest is just two months old and a sweet fluff of donkey love–a burrito supreme.

Thank you so, so much for indulging me this week as I showed you around the farm.  So many memories…waterskiing, sliding down the pond dam in cardboard boxes, riding a tarp tied to the truck while my PaPaw drove all us around the yard (if that ain’t hillbilly, I don’t know what is!), running errands with my grandparents, eating nachos on Saturday night, listening to such great stories, pouring through old photographs, listening to the night sounds and chirps of the country…I could truly go on and on.   NanNaw and PaPaw, what a gift you have given to me and all of your children.  I love you eternally.

Me, in a sweater I found in an upstairs closet, and sweet NanNaw–take her advice, girls, “If the shoe fits…buy it in every color.”

Comments

  1. (My grandparents) “hosted church here every weekend for years until they could raise money to build a church (which my grandfather built, too)”

    Now THAT is an awesome legacy.

    You come from good stock! Have enjoyed the time-warp visit to their home- I am 42, but lost all of my grandparents many years ago. You are so fortunate to have those memories. And solid Christian grandparents who prayed for you.
    -Trish

  2. Peggy says:

    Beautiful tribute to my beautiful parents. I was always so thankful that they are such loving grandparents to my children.

  3. Cheryl d says:

    Such wonderful memories. You brought back the memories of my grandparents and living on Lake Huron in a log house my grandfather built. Tons of relatives, cousins all gathered together for huge meals, card games and of course lots of beach time. Nothing can take that away from you.

    Thank you Angela for sharing that wonderful time with us. I wasn’t there that much but so remember the ice cream in the basement, the “never to be duplicated” cooking smells walking into the house and the most loving couple I have ever met.

  4. Jan Tucker says:

    Angela, I have to say, you have a gift for writing just like your Mother, (as well as an artist). I laughed so hard about Jake, I had tears in my eyes!

    I loved the tour of the house and the picture of you and your Grandmother is precious. I told Peggy when my Mother was alive, she said she and NanNaw looked like they could be sisters!

    Take care and thank you for keeping us posted.

  5. I’ve been enjoying these farm posts! Everything is so real. Honestly that stack of colorful blankets could be my mom’s. Growing up, the blanket on my bed was the exact texture of that cream, green and orange one with the same funny satin trim and little fuzzies all over from being washed so many times. Mine was a pink and white flower print. Imagine that. My mom had and probably still has about five of them all in different prints.

    It’s easy to get caught up in looking at perfect pictures of newly redone rooms and houses and start thinking that’s normal. But it’s not. Houses and rooms do not have to be newly redone or even up to date to be beautiful. Most homes are similar to this farmhouse…put together with love over many years. And home that’s furnished in love truly does trancend any particular decorating style.

  6. 1) I love the colored rooms. I really want to do that at my house after seeing your posts.

    2) Your Grandparents have the coolest knobs I’ve ever seen!

    3) I would’ve loved the pink bathroom best, too. I’m swooning over those towels!

    4) My heart is aching at all the love that seaps from your words about your Grandparents and their beautiful home. They are so blessed to have a Granddaughter that gives them such love in return.

    ♥kristen

  7. bonnie says:

    How lovely 🙂 The stories, the pics and your entertaining narration.

  8. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. You were very smart to take such detailed photos of your grandparents’ home. I wish I had done that.

  9. oh, I have just loved this little tour of the farm and of your precious memories 🙂

  10. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of these posts to NanNaw, and we were both choked up at times. She is so honored to have these beautiful words written about her and Daddy. Today is Daddy’s birthday. He would have turned 84. What a fitting tribute on his birthday. I love you Slender, Tender and Tall (Freak…lol!).

  11. Another great post!!! Loved every minute of it. So wonderful that you have all the pictures and words about the Farm that can be preserved for years to come. I had wonderful times at my grandparents but I sure wish I’d had a farm to go to like this when I was a kid. Fun times, roaming around and getting to do things you can’t do in the city….. makes for great heartfelt memories.

    Michael’s family has a farm that’s been around for a very long time. It’s not NEAR as big as NanNaw and PaPaw’s farm but still, it’s been great to bring the kids there. They get to dig in the sand, ride on a tractor, go to the neighbors to see the chickens eggs, see the cows come up close, take nature hikes, find real tortoise shells and snack skins (ick) and funny shaped leaves. They love roaming around and picking up fallen branches and twigs while us bigger kids haul the big limbs so we can have a small campfire. Then of course, after dinner, they get to roast marshmallows and have S’mores. It’s a great learning experience for them, a place they can truly be “free” and most of all, is a great place that family gathers and creates memories.

    Take care, my friend and soak up every bit of the Farm that you can (I know you do everytime you get the chance)

  12. I loved this walk down memory lane…..and how smart to have all of the pictures. My grandparents and my parents are gone and oh how I would love to have pictures like these to look at. Wonderful.

  13. This whole series has been really special. I don’t know what I enjoyed more – the photos or the stories. Spiegel’s, Love Connection, Gunne Sax, … it’s like a walk down memory lane for all of us! Thanks so much for sharing this with us. It’s been a real treat. xo

  14. I loved reading these gparent posts! And, they still loved you after our singing debut.

  15. {great|wonderful|interesting|nice post.
    One of the most characteristic villages that I visited in Tuscany is San Gimignano, nearFirenze. I stayed there during my last holiday in Tuscany, in a farmhouse really beautiful. There was a restaurant and a swimming pool overlooking sille towers. It’s called Farm Raccianello and both me and my familiars really enjoyed it.

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