The River House

I hope you enjoyed food. I did. I like how thinking about one specific thing can unwrap a whole idea, event or more depth to a person. Let’s move on to place you have lived, be that locations or domiciles or whatever. Let’s try for three this month!

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When we first move to Indiana, we lived in this amazing house. A topic for another day. My mother had dreams of living on the river, like she had as a child. My father had dreams of being a gentleman farmer, for reasons I really have no idea. Lucky for them, the perfect property appeared. An old farmhouse with 11.5 acres. Granted most of it was straight up the hill side, the driveway was a gravel goat path, and the “grass” in the yards around it was 85% thistle and taller than I was… they were not to be deterred, this was place they had dreamed of (and maybe one of the last things they agreed upon). So, we moved.

My uncle, father and brother attempting to tame the front yard upon moving in

I have now sat here for three minutes trying to think of something positive to say about the house.

Ok, two and a half things. One: it had very interesting built-in China cabinets in the dining room, two: the phone cord was long enough you could stretch it to go into the bathroom and sit on the clothes hamper for those important private high school calls and three, we could roam the property as much as we wanted, no need to check in. This only gets a half a point as I have major allergies to grass, trees and all warm-blooded animals. Adventuring in fields and woods normally meant a major allergy meltdown.

My mother loved growing up on the river. She would talk so happily about wandering in the woods or picking through the drift piles for treasure. (The Ohio River frequently floods in the spring; the water levels rise and then drift and stuff gets stuck in the fields when the water goes back down. She would go (and she took us a few times) to tromp through the drift left over and see if we could find toys etc. that had floated from upriver). When I reflect on her memories of living on the river, there was no work. It was adventures, explorations, and tea parties with dolls with hollyhocks as teacups.

Me as a teenager repairing the shingles and chimney.

My memories of living on the river were so different. To me it was work, constant work. Something always needed to be fixed. Wood needed to be hauled for heat. Animals (cows, chickens, rabbits and one evil to the core, goat) needed to be fed. Things needed to be fixed; drainpipes, shingles, siding. And then there were the WTF moments. Some nights rats ran over the keyboard of the piano. Rat traps needed to be emptied to be reused. Blacksnake in the bathtub (I just decided not to shower and was hopeful it would return to its home). Blacksnake skin in the closet (is that worse that the bathtub? I am still not sure). Wolf spiders as big as the palm of your hand and being told to relax they were not poisonous. Mowing the grass with a push mower, constantly it seemed. And pulling up thistles with the snake tongue hand tool. At one point early on, I remember my dad paying us a penny a thistle.

That house, with its bright orange living room walls (“it is my house now and I will paint things any color I want!” My mother told me when my father left), quirky heating and nonexistent cooling, constantly trying to fall down around my ears, formed me in ways I am still unpeeling (like a dysfunctional onion).

Teen me painting the living room orange as per my mom’s wishes.

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