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Name five things in your house that make it a home.

The first is a biggie, and I can’t take credit for it. Our very large, nearly-an-acre, yard is lovely, secluded, with both sunny and shady spots. My husband is an avid gardener, and also is a certified landscape designer (more as a hobby). He has planted things that bloom nearly year-round, and species that do well in our state. The back yard is especially nice because it is fenced-in — that keeps the deer out. They love some of the best looking plants. We have, however, found types of plants they don’t like which are planted out front, like liriope, heather, geraniums, pink vinca, and daffodils.

The back yard also has a lovely slope the kids use for sledding in the winter, and the water slide in the summer. One of my husband’s hobbies is grape-growing and wine making, so we have rows of vines which are really quite lovely to look at. We also benefit in the summer from his love for growing vegetables, and our tomato crop has been shared with many. The garden is a peaceful place, definitely his domain, but thankfully he shares it freely with me.

I’ve lived with a too-small kitchen for 30 years. Our house was built in 1973 and typical of the times, not a lot of space was allocated to the kitchen and bathrooms. Nevertheless, we’ve raised four kids in this house, and now entertain them and their children and friends. I love to cook, and believe strongly in using as many fresh, unadulterated ingredients as possible. I have stopped using mixes because they tend to contain so many additives. So, despite the size of the kitchen, it has become my domain, and its size has never deterred me from making large dinners, and hosting parties — when people congregate in my kitchen, though, it gets crowded quickly. Why do people do that?

GranddadandKateIcedLatte (2)Photographs and artwork fill our walls in reasonable measure — not a lot of studio stuff, but some antique prints and a few watercolors of places we love, and collages of happy family times. Instead of the large professional wedding photos, we have collages of the weddings, which bring back the memories even more strongly. I like impromtu family photographs because they capture special moments. This one was snapped about 15 years ago of my daughter and her granddad visiting from England as he tasted his first iced latte. (He still preferred tea.)

The birds that inhabit our yard are fascinating. I hadn’t looked at birds much before we lived here, but we have such an abundance. We’ve learned their names and know their habits. The previous owners planted bushes to attract birds and feed them in the winter. We changed some things out, but there’s still plenty for them to find and places for them to nest. Just watching and wondering how they can be so clever and agile with such basic brains, is a glimpse into God’s plan, and the complexity of nature.

One year, we had a red finch who was intent on making her nest behind the light fixture on the wall outside our front door. The nest material kept falling to the ground and she kept trying, so I hung a basket there, and she did indeed use it for her nest. We waited along with her until we heard chirping, then watched the parents endless trips to and from the basket to bring food. One day they all flew away. I watched the last one go reluctantly, but by golly, he finally made his airborne escape from the nest — and that was it! All gone. And the cycle continues.

The people in my family really make this a home. We’ve live her for 30 years so it’s the only home my four children have ever known. We threaten to sell it from time to time, but they’re adamant we stay — they don’t want someone else living in our house! And I sympathesize with how they feel. Their friends and ours have been coming here for so long that I think it’s homey for them too, and they just imagine us here. So many memories are associated with this place that I would find it hard to move, but as my husband and I grow older, we may have to make that decision one day.

Just a couple of weekends ago my husband picked wine grapes (he has a small vineyard) and the grandchildren helped to wash, crush and press the grapes. They were fascinated and attentive and I could see in my mind’s eye our children doing the same things when they were that age. That’s what make a house a home, the memories you create in it.

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