Roots and Wings

Roots and Wings

This page is more of a personal journal than a blog with tips for readers, although I will share tips as I write about my home remodeling and redecorating.

It is a way for me to chronicle my personal heritage and give homage to it and how it has shaped me through the years. It is also a place for me to create an archive of the evolution of my own home.

Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots…the other, wings.”

My roots continue to guide me to this day. The house in which I was reared is gone now, but parts of it live on in me and my current home. This section is more of a personal journal than a blog with tips for readers. It is a way for me to chronicle my personal heritage and give homage to it and how it has shaped me through the years.

That is my grandfather standing in front of the home where I grew up. He was born in 1900 and at the age of 75, he painted the exterior of the entire house by himself! Hard work was no stranger to everyone in my family, which was one of the “roots” I learned as a child.

My parents and I (and eventually three sisters) lived with my paternal grandparents. The house had four bedrooms downstairs and four bedrooms upstairs. There were three wood heaters (which was later changed to oil heaters). One was in the living room, one in the dining room and the third one in my parent’s bedroom. To get heat to the upstairs bedrooms (only two of the four), a metal grate was installed in the floor so heat could rise up from the downstairs heater. It was never enough! In the winter, my sisters and I would warm a small blanket on the heater, then ball it up to keep it warm, run upstairs and wrap it around our feet as we snuggled under many layers of homemade quilts.

There was only one full bathroom, which was upstairs, and it was unheated. We looked forward to summer, when we could take a bath in the bathtub. In the winter, we used a pan of warm water placed on top of the heater and took what we called “bird baths”.

The kitchen and dining room were only accessible from a back porch. Also, on that back porch was a half bath, which was also unheated. Needless to say, you didn’t waste time in there in the wintertime!

As I write about the circumstances of that beloved home, I realize how poor and difficult life sounded back then. However, that is not how I remember it. Instead, I remember the love of both parents and grandparents, the freedom to roam through the farm and forests, the things we did together as a family and the great meals my grandmother cooked.

Summers were especially fun. Naturally, we didn’t have air conditioning, but if there was a breeze stirring, you could find it on the corner of the front porch. We would often have suppers on the porch, with lemonade and sandwiches. As the day turned to night, my father and grandfather would entertain us with stories of the “good ole days”.

I learned how to cook and sew from my grandmother. The first time I made biscuits, I burned them and hid them behind the heater in the dining room. Since my grandfather ALWAYS had biscuits with his meals, he asked about his biscuits. He ate those burned biscuits and told me they were “just right”. But I got better at making biscuits and learned to cook other things as well.

I remember when I was about 10 years old, my grandmother set up her sewing machine on the porch and taught me how to make a gathered skirt. I sewed three rows of rick rack around the bottom. Rick rack is a zigzag trim to accessorize home-sewn items. I also remember that my rows of rick rack were about as crooked as the trim itself!

The “roots” I developed as a child have served me well through the years. I cherish my childhood memories and those of the wonderful parents and grandparents I continue to try to emulate. I have tried to pass both the “roots and wings” I developed as a child on to my children and grandchildren.

As for my childhood home, it was torn down after my grandparents died and my parents moved to a smaller home next door. But, you can see remnants of it in future posts and the impact it had on my life.