A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas, Little Cabin Style

Rickie and I went to the draw this week and he cut a little cedar tree for our porch, like he's done for many years now. This year he cut a second one, a little bit smaller, for Bixby. It's Bixby's first cedar Christmas tree from the ranch. 

We brought our tree back and decorated it. I used my favorite old quilt. I bought it many years ago in Alabama because it has Davy Crockett fabric for a couple of the squares. Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, killed him a "bar" when he was only three......

The little cabin is one Sarah and Rickie made many years ago for a school project.

We've had some pepper lights for years but I haven't used them on the tree in a long time. This year I just heaped them in an old scale I have on the porch. The color didn't come out but they are red.
My sister Kathy came out last weekend. The weather was so wintry we didn't get to make our cedar wreaths. I always make one for the front gate and last year Kathy and I both made one. I decided to do something different this year. I have some old barb wire we found here, left by hunters that were here before us to protect a deer feeder. Rickie and I cleaned it up last year and made a wreath out of some of it. I painted it orange and it's been on the woodshed. I repainted it red and added a pretty burlap bow Kathy brought for me. I love it!

We put the outside lights on the bunkhouse this year instead of the cabin and set up the fence post tree there. It looks very festive, I think!
Inside the cabin we have a few subdued decorations. There isn't much room inside so most of the decorating is done outside. I'm thankful for my screened porch so we can have a live tree!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Christmas Memory

Every December most of us who are readers will re-read one of our favorite Christmas stories. For years for me it was Dickens' A Christmas Carol. For the last few years I have pulled out Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory

The story is of a lonely little 7 year old boy and his 60+ child-like cousin. They live with relatives in a big old farmhouse in Alabama. They are best friends. The way it is written reminds me of all the Charlie Brown stories; the "adults" are never shown, rarely mentioned, and when they speak at all it is simply a "bwa-bwa-bwa" sound. It is mostly about Truman's real life experience.

They are best friends and the story is about how they celebrate Christmas back in the 1930s. Their tradition of making fruitcakes, cutting a Christmas tree, making gifts, the love they have for each other. A little dog named Queenie is the other member of their family within a family. It is a touching story of love and of people that are different from the rest of the family. Those who don't quite fit in. They have found each other within that family and mostly ignore the others.

At the end of the story they are separated by the family and the little boy is sent off to a military school. It is disturbing to me that children live in a family that has no clue about what kind of person they are. That a quiet sensitive odd little boy should be sent off to a military school is horrifying to me.

The story is only a few pages long and if you haven't read it, I recommend it. Especially if you have ever felt like the odd member of a family. I kind of think we all feel like that at one time or another. But some of us are different all of the time.

I grew up in a large family with 6 siblings and grandparents that lived with us. Sharing a bedroom with 3 sisters and a baby brother, there was no place to go to be alone. I often climbed a big mimosa tree in the back yard and read. Within its feathery leaves it was cool and peaceful. And quiet. 

I was always the family member that wanted something a little different, that believed a little differently, and I still am that one. But I was never as different as the young Truman and his elderly cousin. My wish for the season is that everyone has a place they feel at home and safe and accepted.

And if you have the opportunity to offer this to someone, I hope you'll take it.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


My family is full of carpenters and I love all things related to that. Levels, tools, nail aprons, and especially yardsticks! You used to get them free at every lumberyard and many stores and businesses. They were great not only for measuring but for sword fights, slapping your siblings, and drawing straight lines! My favorite ones are from old lumberyards, of course. 

Collecting is a bit of a challenge when you are a little cabin person. You have to be creative with what you collect and how you display it.

So I've used them as crown molding on the screen porch! I recently visited my friend Cece and she gave me 5 yardsticks, some from lumberyards and home improvement departments. I found a couple in Comfort and I had a couple from an estate sale in Menard. I bought a lot of 6 on eBay. I'll keep an eye out for local ones and replace some of the eBay ones. Most of them are from the Ohio and Pennsylvania area and I prefer ones that I have some connection to. 

One of the ones Cece gave me is from TG&Y. If you are my generation you know that was a chain of dime stores before the days of Walmart and Dollar General. My first job was at a TG&Y in Houston; I made 90 cents an hour. I still have my first pay envelope; back then we were paid in cash if you were on the pay scale I was on. My mom, mother of 7 kids and always stressed, accidentally left my little brother Lee at TG&Y one time. She did realize it and retrieved him. It wasn't the first time she misplaced one of us, but that's another story! 

I painted the screen porch ceiling a pale blue, the traditional porch ceiling color. It lightened up the porch a bit and new paint always looks so clean and happy! We closed half of the West side in with tin last Spring and that had taken away some of the open feel. The paint brightened it and made the ceiling seem higher.

I love how it turned out!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Merry Christmas, Hattie Marie

Last week when I went to the Dollar Store I found it in disarray as they were putting Christmas items out. Boxes stacked in the aisles, shelves half empty. Ornaments of every kind; shiny glass balls, wooden snowmen, knit stockings. Gift sets of bath products, colognes, nail clippers, hot chocolate, and snack foods. Toy sets of tiny farm animals, glitter crafts, and tiny fake weapons of mass destruction.

I was instantly transported 40 years into the past. I had to look around to make sure Grandma Hattie wasn't standing by my side. My dad's mom loved Christmas. Almost up until she died she had Christmas presents for all her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As she got older and had little money, when we asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she would say just some money so she could buy presents for the kids.

So that's what we gave her. I had two small boys and not enough money myself but I always gave her a little and so did others. She never learned to drive so we took turns taking her shopping. She loved to go to the Dollar Store where she could get the most for her money. With Larry and John by our sides we walked the aisles as she carefully picked out something to fit each person on her list, stretching her meager funds to cover everyone she loved.

For the adults there were scented lotions and soaps, colorful kitchen towels and pot holders, and after shave lotions. Tiny toy trucks and animals for the little boys and sparkly jewelry and fake makeup for the little girls and sometimes puzzles.  And of course, pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue to wrap them, and gift tags with glittery Christmas trees and Santas.

The last few years of her life she got too weak to make the trip to the Dollar store but not so frail she was yet in the nursing home. So the last year she gave gifts she took things from her many collections and wrapped them for her family. She had shelves of ceramic dogs and elephants, tea cups, inexpensive cut glass and milk glass serving dishes. That year Larry and John each got a ceramic dog and I got a milk glass pedestal bowl.

Many years, many moves, and many life upheavals later, that bowl and those dogs got separated from us. When I go to antique stores I seldom see milk glass. I guess this area of the country didn't collect a lot of that or else everyone is holding on to it. But one day I'm going to find that pedestal bowl with the scalloped "lace" cut-out edge and bring it back home. And fill it with shiny glass Christmas balls, mostly red, Grandma Hattie's favorite color.