Home, In Progress

Aug
25


A new farmhouse becomes a home….gradually. I’ve moved around in my life. A lot. I was born in Texas, but when I was two we moved to Maryland. I spent most of my growing up years in Maryland, with a brief and inexplicable year in second grade in Alabama. Then high school in California. College–back to Texas. Then from there–Idaho, South Carolina, and back to Texas again. Then back to the Carolinas–this time, North Carolina. And within those places, I often lived more than one place, a year here, a year there. I’m used to setting up housekeeping and starting over. Sometimes it takes a while for a place to “feel” like home.

Almost three years ago now, I moved to West Virginia, to the 100-year-old farmhouse. I’d never lived in West Virginia before, but I’d spent a lot of time here as a child, and later, bringing my own children here to visit my family’s old stomping grounds. West Virginia felt like home right away. Maybe all along. And this house feels like home already. I never want to move again.


I love everything about this house, and this farm. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I love working in this kitchen.

It’s a light, airy kitchen, not too big, not too small, just right.

I love bringing in fresh vegetables from the garden and cutting them up here and cooking them. I made chicken fajitas this weekend with the last of the lettuce and some of our peppers.

My kitchen is always busy. I spend more time here than anywhere else in the house.

It’s open to the living room and dining room, which keeps it from feeling as small as it is, and keeps me from feeling isolated with all the time I spend in here. I can cook and watch TV and look out all the windows.

The kitchen window looks out onto the smaller back porch. It’s a totally different view from the big front porch with its sweeping view of hills and trees. The back porch looks onto a steep hillside. We have an old grill out there and we cook out a lot. I’m planning to replace this old rusty contraption next year with a fancy stainless steel model.

I’m just kidding. I have an active fantasy life.

I was taking pictures when this girl said, “Why don’t you take a picture of the person you are hurting?”

She was referring to her deep and abiding anguish as she waited for dinner to be served.

Or maybe this was what she was really waiting for in pain.

Guess what we were doing after dinner?

The teenagers are always first into the kitchen when food is ready. Actually, they’re usually there before it’s ready. Asking when it’s going to be ready. Telling me about their pain.

About sixty seconds after this picture was taken, Coco….

…..despite a moment of begging for a second chance…..

….had to be escorted from the porch for the protection of everyone’s plates.

The pyros came out at dark. 15 played with Coke boxes…..

…..while 17 and his girlfriend conducted some kind of ritual burning of a box of papers.

I suspect this had something to do with old boyfriend/girlfriend notes or some such thing. They don’t always give me all the juicy details.

But it was very romantic.

Then they got over themselves and stuffed their faces with s’mores.

The cat slept through everything.

Me, I don’t want to sleep through anything.

Becoming home is a process. This new “old” farmhouse felt like home right away, but real home is made of memories. And little by little, we’re getting there.

Even if the teenagers have special, romantic secrets.

Maybe because the teenagers have special, romantic secrets.

They need memories, too.

P.S. If you live in this area–we are discussing a get-together on the forum in this thread, so come on over and help us plan!

P.P.S. I just discovered there is a short piece about my blog on the Hur Herald site today. If you aren’t from around here or don’t know, the Hur Herald, which describes itself as A Questionable Publication from West Virginia, is a popular online alternative news source in West Virginia. (Don’t be confused by the reference to Sunny Cal–the Hur Herald originates in Calhoun County, not California, thus the Sunny Cal.)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 25, 2008  

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  1. 8-25
    5:55
    am

    YOU ARE GETTING IT RIGHT. MEMORIES ARE TO BE SHARED. IT IS WHAT TAKES PLACE AT A FAMILY GATHERING. IT ALL STARTS OUT WITH – “REMEMBER WHEN” THEN WE ARE OFF AND RUNNING,,,,,,

  2. 8-25
    7:26
    am

    Your kitchen looks a lot like mine. I have the same shaped island. Makes for lots of good meals :hungry:

  3. 8-25
    7:29
    am

    Your place looks so homey and love your kitchen. It is so important to make those special moments and have lots of wonderful memories to look back on. You can tell by your postings and the beautiful photos that you love your place.

  4. 8-25
    7:54
    am

    You totally have an awesome house!

    Though it looks like you do need a new grill. Something stainless steel and it must use charcoal..none of that sissy propane stuff!
    :thumbsup:

  5. 8-25
    8:14
    am

    The first picture of the flowers captured my heart right away. You’ve got such a homey house and I love seeing pictures of it. Oh, and let’s not forget the pie porch. That’s one of my favs too. My, your children are getting so tall, aren’t they? Must be all that good food you’re feeding them. xxoo

  6. 8-25
    8:23
    am

    A get together sounds wonderful. I spent lots of time in West Virginia when I was a kid. My parents had friends in West Virginia, near Steubenville, Ohio. Unfortunately, from here in Illinois it’s a 9 hour drive! I hope your plans work out.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  7. 8-25
    8:25
    am

    P.S. I made your Buttermilk Pie recipe this weekend and it way yummy. So delicious that it’s history.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  8. 8-25
    8:35
    am

    I have kitchen envy. I bought a house before I met my husband of 7 years almost (next month). We got married 4 days after 9/11 on 9/15! It’s got a bad kitchen and he loves to cook for us (dinner). So someday, I’ll have a new kitchen that looks out over the living room. SOMEDAY. I keep telling myself, after we get out of debt.

  9. 8-25
    8:52
    am

    Love the pictures especially the veggies from your garden and the wonderful flowers that beg you to wake up and come on in for a cup of coffee. I should have grown peppers bec I am not sure they are on the market after the salmonella scare. I make pepper jelly every year. the recipe for the banana peppers sounds wonderful too. Loved the smores bon fire – the last of the summer I guess with school starting.

    oh for fall to get here in Texas –

  10. 8-25
    9:02
    am

    Today, our Princess started Middle School. Last night, we had a bonfire of our own—burning 6 years worth of her elementary school white shirts (not so white now—you try to keep a white shirt white on a kid—I should own stock in the Shout compoany by now)

    We were going to donate them to the Closet (where kids that need uniforms get them free) but they were really ratty looking.

    I’m not as sad as when she started kinder. I just look at her and say wow. Straight A’s, ballet (where did that come from? Her dad and I have 2 left feet!) theater, robotics, college junior engineer club, and now fencing (she thinks it looks cool).

    So, last night, halfway through a Harry Potter movie, tears started pouring out of her blue eyes. (HP has that effect on her dad too, two hours of his life he won’t get back.)

    She had just realized that The Boy wouldn’t be there anymore. We met him and his family during kinder orientation. The kids made a pact then to be best friends for life. Every first day they faced together, every tough elementary school challenge. He and his mom attended every one of her ballet performances and his mom always made me the most wonderful cream puffs.

    My husband and I lived in fear of what would happen when the hormones kicked in. Our daughter insisted, although he was a Boy he would never be a boyfriend.

    Then, early this summer, he sent her a text. He was moving. That was it. All of the cell and home numbers I had for them were disconnected. His was working, but always went to voice mail. That evening we went by their house, and it was empty.

    Pieced together from a neighbor that the mom finally got the nerve to leave her cheating, abusive spouse (I never knew!)

    Back to the tears…she wasn’t sad just for herself, she knew wherever he was, it would be tougher on him, and she wouldn’t be able to give him their secret power fist bump. Or the occasional hug.

    His calls still go to voice mail.

  11. 8-25
    9:06
    am

    :mrgreen: I already feel at home there!!! Everything looks beautiful, and cozy!!! Fall will be gorgeous there from your pie porch!! :butterfly:

  12. 8-25
    9:20
    am

    Looks like you’ve made it into a real home and you’re busy creating those memories that make it a home to remember. I’ll have one of those s’mores while we’re at it…

  13. 8-25
    9:35
    am

    We made smores in front of our bonfire this weekend too!

  14. 8-25
    10:06
    am

    Suzanne, you have such a beautiful home and beautiful life. Reading your blog always starts me day with a smile.

    Heidi

  15. 8-25
    10:30
    am

    Beautiful memories, beautiful home, if it ain’t Heaven, it’s close!

  16. 8-25
    10:35
    am

    It’s a home once you have fresh tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter.

    No, really, that’s what it is.

  17. 8-25
    10:35
    am

    The sunflowers are beautiful. Smores aren’t bad either!

  18. 8-25
    10:39
    am

    the s’mores sound good, but the fajitas sound even better!

  19. 8-25
    10:49
    am

    A beautiful home, great teenagers, bonfires, pie porch, Coco, Hur Herald gives you a great review, LIFE IS GOOD. Congratulations on all your determination and hard work, Suzanne.

  20. 8-25
    10:55
    am

    WOW!!! HOW FUN! So many pictures today!!! Of course Coco makes MY day!!! SWEETEST PUP EVER! You have the BEST children Suzanne! I love hearing about them and get so tickled at them! :mrgreen: :fryingpan:
    I can identify with living all around, beind an Air Force brat – from Japan, Germany, Rhode Island, Texas, Michigan…never staying long in one place. I would love to have roots and I am not sure where those are yet – but I can tell ya, it does NOT feel like HERE. LOL At least that is not the plan!
    We have the same design kitchen – mine is that same circular type shape and looks the same size, but I don’t have your lovely granite counters, that I would so love to have!! Mine looks out bay windows to the backyard..and the dining area.I would love a kitchen window!
    YUM chocolate…that sounds good. Haven’t eaten breakfast yet!! I LOVE chocolate marshmallow ANYTHING – whoopie pies, Heavenly Hash or Rocky Road candy…Easter eggs…YUM.
    I laughed at the kids burning thier old loveletters in a bonfire. LOL Kids are so funny!!!
    Your Fajitas looked AMAZING…as all your dishes do!

  21. 8-25
    10:55
    am

    P.S. I forgot the cat! Too funny! :purr:

  22. 8-25
    11:24
    am

    It sure looks like home to me!

  23. 8-25
    1:32
    pm

    I’m stuck on the fact that you once lived in Texas and you left. You left Texas! Why, oh WHY, would anyone leave Texas? You were born there – it’s in your BLOOD! Why would you leave scorpions and centipedes and tarantulas and 100+ degree summers? Um, never mind. You actually have trees. And four seasons. And an adorable giant puppy. And a beautiful home! :)

    I’ve lived all over, too, but the Texas blood won out. I can’t see myself living anywhere else, even if I do have scorpions and black widows in my house from time to time. I’ll take that over snow any day! :)

  24. 8-25
    2:30
    pm

    Look at the cat’s little footies hanging over the bed…so cute! :catmeow: :mrgreen:

  25. 8-25
    3:12
    pm

    I love your cozy home. The kitchens is my favored room too!
    I collect :chicken: their all over the kitchen and spilling out around to other rooms.I :heart: :chicken:
    Deanne

  26. 8-25
    3:13
    pm

    I do have a soft spot for Texas. But–you have to SEE West Virginia! They don’t call it almost heaven for nothin’!

  27. 8-25
    3:22
    pm

    I’ve moved a lot, too. And you’re right. There’s nothing better than putting down roots where you feel most content. Your home is beautiful.

  28. 8-25
    3:58
    pm

    You have made your house into a gorgeous home!

  29. 8-25
    4:57
    pm

    Suzanne, I think you have finally found your ‘home’. I love your kitchen and the way it is opened to the other rooms. What a view!

  30. 8-25
    7:31
    pm

    What I wouldn’t give to have picture windows looking out on the woods!

    Maybe someday!

    Traci

  31. 8-25
    10:47
    pm

    Teenage boys and fire drive me crazy. Love the ‘home’.

  32. 8-25
    11:16
    pm

    I don’t blame your kids for eagerly wanting dinner – it always looks and sounds so good.

  33. 8-26
    12:31
    pm

    Thanks, too, for the Coco picture!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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