Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It Matters.

Have you ever felt like a situation or place was so vast, that your presence was insignificant or meaningless?

It is easy to feel that way. 
Not noticed. 
Not counted. 
Not needed. 

But you're wrong. 
You're so wrong. 

A single drop of rain combines with others to produce a storm. 
And a storm can change lives. 

Hurricane Sandy, 2012

A single stone combines with others to pave an interstate. 
And I-80 connects San Francisco to New York City. 

A single kernel of corn combines with others to make bushels. 
And bushels feed the world. 

A single vote is counted with others to determine the future of an entire nation. 
And that nation is the most powerful on the planet. 

Voting in the presidential election next week is one of the 
last true freedoms we have have as Americans. 
Even more than sad, that fact is scary. 

Do your homework.
It matters. 
Oh, and happy halloween

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life Lessons Learned From The Remodeled Home

You can learn a lot in life. 
  • Do not wash reds with whites. 
  • If you don't want anyone to read it, you better not write it down. 
  • If you step on a nail, go tell Momma. Fast. 
Two weeks ago I began telling the story of The House That Built Me. Today, I continue with a set of tried and true lessons learned from that home. 

Life Lessons Learned From The Remodeled Home
  1. Goats don't like stair steps. 
  2. Even if you clean the carpet well, Momma always knows when you were too lazy to take off your work boots before running upstairs to get a hair tie. 
  3. Anything rolled under the stove or behind the washer has been sacrificed in the name of fun and will never been seen again. 
  4. I have known no greater pain than when stepping on a Lego. 
  5. Saw horses have deceiving names are not nearly as fun as real horses. 
  6. Ask permission before laying duct tape across the carpet to simulate a balance beam for routine practices in your bedroom.
    1. When laying duct tape on aged carpet, the carpet snags/tears quite easily when trying to remove said duct tape. 
  7. Dust bunnies are not the most ideal kindergarten show-and-tell animals. 
  8. During the remodeling process, when Dad instructs you to only step on the beams, do not step on the pretty, pink insulation "just once, to see how it feels on your feet".
  9. Pretty, pink insulation does not taste anything like pretty, pink cotton candy. 
  10. Whoever restores our home next will find approximately $17 in silver dollars that have fallen between the wall and the woodwork of the stairwell. Lucky ducks. 
  11. When in doubt, check the junk drawer.
  12. Playing 52 pick up with asbestus shingles will not kill you. 
  13. I'm thankful porch swings can't talk. 
  14. Just because your older siblings tell you to, does not mean you should.
  15. Those who grew up with a Tupperware cupboard are identified early in school; they're always the winners of the match game. 
  16. It is pertinent that you take the time to ensure the pillows have been properly placed on the landing before sliding head-first down the stairway in a nylon sleeping bag.
  17. Registers are excellent conductors of sound. 
  18. "A guy called for Dad" is not an acceptable phone message. 
  19. The medicine cabinet has all you'll ever need for the basis of a successful science fair project. 
  20. There is no place like home. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Then, Daddy Gave Life To Momma's Dream

No introduction needed this week - 
just a very special thanks to Nate at His creative abilities far exceed the plans I had for this video, which was given to Momma and Dad last week for their 34th wedding anniversary. 

"Linda wants me to get some pictures of 'This Old House'" - Dad

View larger on Youtube

Tune in next week - this story isn't over, yet. 

Song property of Miranda Lambert. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Please Excuse The Dust IV: Destruction and Dreams

Where were we in this story I began last week?
Ah, yes - that young couple who bought Don C. Merchanthouse's home...

When first married, my parents rented a house in Hagerstown, Indiana. Conveniently for Dad, but not for Momma, the house was located exactly two blocks south of the Ron-de-Voo, the local bar. 

It didn't take either of them long to realize that the current location was less than ideal. Momma and Dad found a house for sale in the country two miles south of Greens Fork, and one Sunday they attended the open house. 

To Momma, it was perfect. Everything about it. 
The location. 
The land. 
The big old farmhouse: a perfect place to raise a family. 

It's been said (by Dad) that they didn't live there two years before there was nothing right about the house. What Momma had fallen in love with (shag carpet, drafty windows and asbestus shingles) she now wanted gone. 

So they started small. 
Wall-by-wall, tearing them down and getting rid of the horse hair plaster. 

But wall-by-wall only revealed more problems in the “perfect” home. 
And, more artifacts from generations of homesteaders before. 
They found a leather lace up baby boot. 
A calendar from 1918. 
A bottle of wine (yes, they opened it and it nearly killed them). 

The good news is that the frame of the home was steady and stable. The timbers crafted by the “local men of toil” in 1843 were still solid and fit together perfectly. But the walls and windows (and roof) we’re in great need of replacement. 

My parents soon realized that that in order to get the home they dreamt of, it was going to take a lot (like - a lot, a lot) more work. 
And money. 
And time. 
But they're a determined pair (and hard headed) and moved forward anyway. 

Along the way, Momma put her own artifacts within the new walls of the home. She left notes that told the story of our family, current events in the news and also the price of gas and groceries. I wish I could be around in 100 years when another family finds those treasures. 

Over time, they found more helpers. 
We always showed up on time and we didn't drink on the job. 

There is not a single wall in the home today that is the original. 
The chimneys and fireplaces are all there. 

The beams and frame remain the same. I like to think of it as a new home with an old heart. 

The left, vertical beam was actually brought in from a barn where Momma grew up. 

My parents sure made it their own. The details speak volumes of their love for this place. 
Dad cut down an oak tree along Washington Road when we were very little.

From that tree our bookcase, entertainment center and woodwork were made. 

The house is done now, by most standards.


There are still repairs to be made. Like in Luke's room. Where he hung his glory days football helmet stickers and Momma has tried (for years) to find a non-destructive way to peel them off. 

The house isn't perfect - it never will be. 
But it is like this old friend that doesn't judge; 
it quietly sits back, painfully waiting for us to come visit. 

Home always does. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Don C. Merchanthouse

My story begins with a man named Mr. Don C. Merchanthouse. 

I don't remember much of the man; he rarely came to our Greens Fork homestead. 

I do remember that when Merchanthouse came to our home, he showed up unexpectedly. Dad would usually take him for a walk around the yard and Momma and us three kids would play 52 (more like 5,200) pick-up around our lived-in house. Momma wanted it "spotless - and  fast!!" 

We were little soldiers around Mr. Don C. Merchanthouse.

Ironically, Mr. Don C. Merchanthouse used to live outside Greens Fork, Indiana, also. Two miles south of town, to be exact. He raised his family in one of the old Hoover Mill homesteads. Jesse Hoover's place, to again be precise. 

He was known as the "Bard of Washington Road" - the man who told the story of the land and the people. I'd love to talk to him now and have the opportunity to ask him so many questions about living in this area decades ago. 

But I can't. 

While Mr. Don C. Merchanthouse is still around the Greens Fork area, he died many years ago. His ashes are spread around our homestead. 

You see, Mr. Don C. Merchanthouse was the man who sold his home  - the one he raised his family in - to a young couple in 1978. 

That young couple went on to raise three children there. 

And I am the youngest of the three. 

Before he passed, Merchanthouse wrote a book. Within the pages of the book is a poem entitled, This Old House, written about the house the built me. 

Until next week, enjoy words from the man who sold us his home 
and without even knowing, helped me write my own life story. 

This Old House
Don C. Merchanthouse

I wander through these spacious rooms 
And wipe away a tear, 
For all the memories I have
Have taken place right here. 

To this old house I brought my bride
Of young and tender years, 
A strong young son and then a girl,
To grace our later years. 

The nights we spent in quiet bliss,
The days so warm and bright.
These walls were witness to our love, 
And held our secrets tight. 

We never changed its decor much, 
Or altered its proud face, 
For modern hardware never fit, 
And seemed so out of place. 

Through bitter storms and darkest nights
It kept us warm and dry, 
Although it creaked and groaned and moaned
As though it meant to die. 

The timbers for its mighty frame
Were grown on native soil.
Were cut and hewed and fitted tight
By local men of toil. 

They must have had an artist's eye
And love for tedious work, 
For harmony is everywhere
And nothing did they shirk. 

The walnut in the window sills, 
Bright poplar in the floors.
The wind still howls in stifled rage
Against the oaken doors. 

This place has stood a hundred years, 
A landmark proud and tall.
And it will be a part of us
Till we're beyond recall.

And now to put it on the block
Seems like an unjust fate,
But this old house just sits and smiles
It seems content to wait. 

Of course, the story doesn't end here. Come back next week for more -