Posted tagged ‘duplex’

“Look after your laundry, and your soul will look after itself.”

September 11, 2017

I’m late this morning. I slept in and so did Gracie. She sleeps in her crate for most of the night then joins me on the couch at no particular time. Today it was close to 7:30. I helped her get on the couch then got comfy and went back to sleep. That has become our daily ritual.

Last night was an afghan night, and the chill is still in the air mostly in the back of my house, in the shade. I wear a sweatshirt now while I wait for Gracie to finish in the yard. While I was outside, I noticed the bird feeders were empty so I filled two with sunflower seeds and another with thistle. Immediately, chickadees went for the sunflower and gold finches for the thistle. They arrived so quickly I figured they were hanging around on branches waiting and hoping. I’m glad I didn’t disappoint.

My dance card is pretty empty. I do have two errands which I’ll finish this afternoon. My inside plants need watering so that’s on my other list. The dust in this room is almost bad enough to force me to clean it but not yet. Maybe in a few days. I espouse the maxim that dusting today still means dusting tomorrow. It is a never ending chore.

When I was a kid, my mother cleaned the house while I was in school. It was a miracle of sorts. I’d leave for school and when I got home, the house was clean, the dishes washed and the beds made. My mother was like the shoemaker’s elves. The only chores I ever saw her do were cooking dinner and doing dishes at night and taking clothes off the line in the backyard.

We lived in a duplex so we shared the backyard with our immediate neighbor. We each had our own clotheslines, either two or three apiece. I forget which. The end of the lines were attached to metal poles which were green but always seemed to need paint. I remember the silver-colored metal underneath the green. Below the lines was pitch or what we called hot top. It was square-shaped except for the small walkway leading to the back door. The rest of the yard was grass. My mother kept her clothespins in a bag which attached to the line and could be slid up and down so she had easy access to the clothespins.

My mother hung the laundry upside down. I never asked her why. I just figured that’s how laundry is hung. What I remember the most are the sheets doubled over the lines. In my mind’s eye, they are all white. I can still see them billowing and flapping, and I remember the sound of the sheets in wind. I also remember running between and under the sheets. My mother always yelled at us.

“Fine old Christmas, with the snowy hair and ruddy face, had done his duty that year in the noblest fashion, and had set off his rich gifts of warmth and color with all the heightening contrast of frost and snow.”

December 16, 2016

Outside looks lovely from the window. I see sun, a blue sky, and only a slight breeze, but all of those are deceiving. Cold, freezing cold, is today’s weather. Wear layers is what we’re being told. I’m thinking 6 or 7 layers may not be enough. It is 14˚, and today’s high will be 19˚. Tomorrow and Sunday will be warm but rainy. It could reach 60˚ on Sunday. Mother Nature is indecisive.

My house is mostly decorated. The tree could use a few more ornaments so I’ll add that to my to-do list. My fake scrub pine has a dead set of lights so I’ll have to replace it. Friends are coming to dinner. The menu is set but I need to get dessert and some cheese. I have sort of a casual flow chart on cooking the meal. We’re having pork tenderloin, honeyed carrots and baby potatoes with romano cheese.

My family calls it the Christmas bug. It all started with my grandmother, the one who had eight kids. My mother, my Aunt Bunny and my Uncle Jack were bitten. Their houses were filled with Christmas. They baked and they kept baking. They loved to shop for presents. They always chose the best gifts. Many of my cousins were also bitten, as was I and my two sisters. We love all the hoopla of Christmas and traditions teem. The gingerbread house construction started 33 years ago and has now passed to a second generation. Pinatas, too, are on a second generation. I used to fill them for my niece and two nephews, and now,  their kids can’t wait for Christmas Eve and pinata whacking. Five pinatas hang from the high railing on the second floor.

When I was a kid, my mother’s kitchen always had steamed windows when she was cooking. It was a small kitchen, almost a galley kitchen. The table was by the window. It had four chairs, just enough for my parents and my brother and me. My sister was a baby in a highchair. I can still recall images of that house, one side of a duplex. The stairs had a landing where I used to sit and color or read. Upstairs was the bathroom and two bedrooms. This house had gotten too small with the birth of my sister, and we would be moving soon but only down the street. I don’t even remember moving.

“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

March 29, 2012

The weather prediction is for cloudy and maybe rainy through Sunday. A couple of sunless days don’t bother me, but a string of them makes me lethargic. I loll around the house with little ambition. A sunny day gets me active and the floors get washed, the cabinets cleaned and the world looks to be a better place. Later, I’ll drag myself upstairs to shower and make my bed. They will give me some small sense of accomplishment.

We lived in what was called the project. The houses were wooden duplexes, not brick and not high-rises, and there were eleven or twelve of them on Prospect Street and up the hill around a small rotary which made the street a circle. Each side of the duplexes mirrored the other side. We had a kitchen, living room and three bedrooms. The cellar was huge, and it was where we often played and where we stored our bikes and where my mother’s washing machine stood. The big, black oil tank was against the wall on one side. I don’t remember where the furnace was. All the backyards faced each other, and all of them had below ground garbage bins with metal tops right beside the stairs and lines for laundry, three for each family. I have the memory of white sheets blowing on those lines. My mother had one of those hanging cloth clothespin bags. She moved it down each line as she hung the laundry. The backdoor was wooden, and it always slammed in the winter when the storm windows were on it. Our house was white with green trim, all of the houses were. My father kept care of his lawn and the front flower garden beside the stairs. A giant grassy hill stretched across the backyard and separated us from the duplexes on the top of it. Each of the fathers in all the duplexes facing the hill mowed his part of the grass on the hill. We used to roll down the hill so we’d get dizzy.  I remember a slip and slide one summer that everyone used.

Only families with children could live in the duplexes and one parent had to be a veteran. We moved to our first duplex, one with two bedrooms, in 1951. We had lived in the city, in a high-rise brick apartment building. After my sister was born, we were granted a larger duplex, and we moved down the hill from 37 Washington Ave to 16, and that’s where we stayed until 1964. All of my childhood memories were made on Washington Ave.


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