Showing posts with label / My Mom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label / My Mom. Show all posts

Monday, August 13

Dirt-floor tool shed: the Mom cave

You see the potential, don't you? To transform one half of a long tool shed, across the driveway from my family's house in Michigan, into a writing studio-slash-hangout room? When I was little, we used the loft, accessible by an old ladder affixed to the wall, to store our sleds when there wasn't any snow. In terms of Michigan weather, that could mean from May to September. 

My mom has always used this half of the shed for garden tools, and my dad used the other half as his man cave: building stuff at the old work table, storing machines, and cleaning guns while listening to classical music. I love the smell of his half--gasoline, dirty rags, sawdust, rusty metal--but I loved the Mom cave because a barn door opens up to the field and my favorite tree. That is, if you can slide the barn door through an overgrowth of weeds, once you get around the wire mesh on the ground to guard against the woodchucks. (Sigh, the terrifying, eat-through-everything woodchucks.) This side of the shed has a dirt floor, so they burrow or eat through the door.
And because this side of the shed has a dirt floor, it didn't get the love and attention of the other side, where concrete poured a hundred years ago still supports antique tools and furniture. The floor makes it usable. 

So when I was in Michigan recently, I took photos of my late father's half (that I'll post), and then I wandered next door. This time, I didn't feel the usual dread, the feeling I had as a kid when most times when I opened that Dutch door it was because I was about to climb the ladder to the loft in snowpants with my wood-and-metal sled in tow, and hurl it up over the wall and into the the darkness on the scary other side. I also wasn't fazed by the hornets that have always hummed around rafters. This time, the junk that had piled up in the room barely registered. Instead, I envisioned a sitting area facing the door instead of the upturned cart that was leaning against a plastic barrel. I imagined a desk on some sort of finished floor. I saw the fields I knew were past the door, which was closed.

What I said to my mother launched the three-day project: "Can I clean this out?"
More photos to come. We hung up found barn tools! Sickle chic.

Monday, February 6

The Strawberry Bathroom

I grew up in Michigan with this bathroom that I shared with siblings. Isn't it wild? I think it was completed in the '70s when I was little or unborn, because I have no memory of seeing it for the first time. Now when I see it, I'm shocked at the wall-to-wall-to-ceiling coverage. It always makes me smile, and whenever friends and family visit, they ask to go upstairs to see "the strawberry bathroom."

My mom, pictured above in a high school portrait, definitely had fun here, unlike my father, whose duty it was to paper the corners, around the vents, over the shower hood, which I think is upholstered in matching material (I accidentally deleted the picture), and around the plumbing and the vanity. Nightmare! Below are strategic photos taken with great concentration, as you can see in my face in the mirror; one of my siblings uses the space for extra storage--a bookcase here, a world globe there--and those pieces, unlike everything else in the room, are not plastered with strawberries.

Friday, August 26


Pardon my navel-gazing--apparently it's been four months since I've posted?! Good news: Homebodies is back! I had to hole up for a bit to finish grad school at Bennington College, which I did in late June, and I am now the proud owner of an MFA in Nonfiction Writing, a diploma in a nifty leather folder, and a dramatic brown-black-and-blue master's hood that hangs without purpose from a hook near my door.

Since graduation, I've taken some time off from creative writing and have been gallivanting, also loafing, Amtraking, and visiting family in Michigan (above, navel-gazing at Mom's house: my past and future in a carpet of clovers, hose). I apologize for my absence. Consider this blog once again active

More from the Michigan--the Small Barn (the Big One blew down), an inanimate owl that scares away...I think woodpeckers, the Big Barn's silo that still stands:
It's Friday night and New York State is in a state of emergency due to Irene. I'm home with my batteries, jugs of water, canned food I hope I won't need to eat, chocolate, wine. Stay safe. More soon...

Also, hello, Cousin Chris Malinzak. Thank you for always reading Homebodies in Ohio. Love to the fam!

Wednesday, December 29

Bad things I did as a kid

During the holidays, my mom puts all these adorable little vintage houses up on the mantel, on top of Christmas lights and bristly green garlands. The glittery things are small, they fit on my extended palm, and each one has a little hole in the back--near where it says "Made in Japan"--so you can thread in one bulb and light them up. 

When I was little, I loved the warm glow coming from the delicate colored-tissue windows crafted on the facades. What brought more holiday joy, of course, was punching out these fragile constructions with my sticky child forefinger--the snap of the paper, the release in tension from how they were secured in their fine tinseled frames.
I'd elbow my older sister out of the way, or clothesline my younger brother in the throat, because we all fought to get at them, turning them over to find some virgin pane. Breaking these windows was the best thing ever, infinitely better than popping bubble-wrap, because these houses were rare sightings--seasonal. And bubble-wrap can be found any old week; it's not valuable or special or handed down from Grandma Arnold. Ugh, I'm awful. Pop! I feel better already. 

Thursday, December 9

Mom's in town!

My mom is in town from Michigan. Pause on Kansas posts while she re-caulks my bathtub with white stuff, not clear -- "the clear turns black, shows all the grime" -- and smooths the bead with a cut-corner credit card (or a CVS card she picked up) just like how Martha Stewart explained. Thanks, Mom! 

I'll be back soon with a post or two about another Mom: Rolf's, back on the prairie. Until then, it's all about black socks in the bathtub and other such tasks. Below, my mom, right, with her sister in New Jersey, my lovely Aunt Jana.

Sunday, May 9

Happy Mother's Day!

My mom called me last night at 12:31 am and woke me up. Her voicemail: "Good morning, it's your mother. I can't believe you're not out and about. I thought you'd be up. Probably in bed. How am I ever going to have grandchildren if you guys go to bed so early? Get out there and meet men! Heavens! Love you, bye."

Last time I was home, we had tea at the kitchen table, above. Antique lace tablecloth. English garden teacups. Pressure to have babies. Happy Mother's Day!