Friday, March 11, 2022

SOLSC 2022 #11 - House and home

It is March 2022 and time for the
Every single day, for all thirty-one days of March,
writers will share stories.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for creating this supportive community 
of teacher-writers!

Thirty-four (34). Tomorrow. That's how many years we've been married, how long we've lived together in this dear home.

Thirty-one (31). That's how many years ago we added onto our house, creating a new family room/kitchen.

Seven (7). That's how many months it's been since our contractor first drew our attention to the sagging ceiling in our kitchen/family room.

Five (5). That's how many drywall holes that have been cut, as we try to decipher the enormity of work that must be done in order to correct the structural issues in our house. 

Two (2). That's how many times the blueprints have been revised, as the structural engineer and contractor discover more issues. 

Yesterday. That's when the contractor explained in detail the work that must be done. 

One (1). That's how many new steel beams we will be putting in our home. 

That last line is so succinct - wildly oppositional to the grueling mental slog this work has been to date and the work that must yet be done.  Let's be serious: no 'real' work has even started. I hold no false illusions about the future weeks/months of construction being any easier than this discovery phase. 

It's going to get ugly. 

The months that lie ahead will offer lots of great mindfulness practice; I will be an expert by project's completion.

Time to lose myself in a good book!!

284 out of 376 - That's how many pages I have read so far of Sarah Broom's memoir The Yellow House.* What a great read, especially for me at this time. She writes about her family and their home in New Orleans East, and by no means can I compare my situation to this one - her childhood home is completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. But throughout the book, Ms. Broom offers such beautiful reflections on 'place' - how the walls that surround us, the ground we walk on, the people we grow alongside, these feed our souls. 

In the midst of my own home falling apart, these words of hers resonate: 

"The family grew into all the spaces of the house: all rooms were multipurpose; all were lived in, the family's traces everywhere. Everything was used; nothing existed solely for show."

"...Mom was convinced. She had grown to believe that the objects contained within a house spoke loudest about the person to whom the things belonged. More than that, she believed that the individual belonged to the things inside the house, to the house itself."

"It could be said, too, my engineer friend told me, speaking more metaphorically than she was comfortable with, that the house was not tethered to its foundation, that what held the house to its foundation of sill on piers, wood on bricks, was the weight of us all in the house, the weight of the house itself, the weight of our things in the house. This is the only explanation I want to accept."

"I said the moment you want to leave is probably when you should try hard to stay."

This poignant memoir is making me think -

I need to write more about my home. I need to write into the emotions that are coming up for me as we do this big fix. More to come! More to come!

*If you are interested in learning a little more about Sarah Broom's The Yellow House, here is a seven minute PBS interview with Sarah Broom. Here, she shares the 'why' behind her work - and offers some insight into her writing and research process.


  1. The picture that opens your post had me saying, "Oh, no!" I am glad that you have a solution determined. Patience as it all sorts out. And then the twist of taking us to a memoir of someone who has had to think about home and place in ways I hope most of us never do. I love that it has inspired you to write some about your home.

    1. Thank you, Kristi! Yes, we will need plenty of patience. Writing and reading will be the balm, throughout, I am sure.

  2. I have The Yellow House and remember Carol Jago praising it, but it’s in my TBR pile. I need to grab it and read. The passage you shared and your comments about your house remind me of A House for Mr. Biswas, another book I love. Years ago I read and taught Uncle Tom’s Cabin (I know that’s controversial and would be roundly criticized.) and focused on the various homes as plot devices and “characters.” There’s an essay by Anna Quindlan that first piqued my interest in home as literature. I think it’s simply titled “Home.” I hope work on your home begins soon and progresses w/out any more surprises. I imagine you e had to increase your original budget significantly. That steel beam ain’t cheap; I watch enough HGTV to know that.

    1. I often did "home" as a curriculum unit with preschoolers. This one is much more raw and messy, hahaha. Thanks for your supportive words, Glenda!

  3. Oh, goodness -- so many complications. A metaphor for life itself, alas. I love how you turn to a book for escape - this book, in particular, with these moving quotes. I often think of all the stories and secrets absorbed by the walls of a home... I think your Muse is right on with the writing inspiration!

    1. It is truly a metaphor for life, this home construction/repair, yes, indeed. Thank you, Fran!

  4. I love the numbering down...and it brings to your final event. Wishing you well in the repair situation!

  5. Maureen, I was so happy to see that you want to write more. I have already had the pleasure of reading several pieces about your sagging ceiling. I think an anthology is in order after all is said, done, and written.

    1. Oh, I like that idea! A collection of my musings on this house of ours. Thank you, Denise!