Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Memory of a Farmhouse

It was my own little world. A place to dream. A place to create. A place to just ‘be’.

At some point after the original farmhouse was built, an extension was added on to the west side of the structure. It was quite old and built with the same beams and stones of the original construction, but no doorways attached the two living areas.

While the original farmhouse was fairly large, the addition was not. It consisted of two stories with a long, narrow living room, a small kitchen with an attached porch and a narrow stairway going up to reveal two small bedrooms and a clawfoot tub accessorized small bathroom. A narrow door in the kitchen led down steep, treacherous steps to a dingy basement. Although the addition had a separate furnace, the basement foundation had been removed in a narrow section toward the ceiling so that both sides of the house could share the coal bin.


The downstairs of the addition became my studio and my over-flow kitchen. The upstairs became a place for children’s sleep-overs and house guests.

The entire addition was layered with lumpy wallpaper covering both walls and ceilings and since my paints and brushes were all handy in the kitchen cabinets, I began painting on the walls. I painted simulated mortar and bricks going upstairs. The only windows in the addition were on the north and south sides, so I added a small painted window to the stairwell. Regardless of the season, the painted panes looked out over verdant gardens and a bright blue sky with summery clouds.


I painted the walls in the first bedroom at the top of the stairs into our family life story. Children and visitors were always allowed to add their own touches to the walls and often my visiting nephews would disappear for hours at a time. The excited ‘reveals’ of their artistic additions made my heart sing. An excited boy would run into the main house, eyes shining in excitement, “Aunt Jenny, Aunt Jenny! Come see the squirrels I painted in the trees!”

Because our finances were always strained the addition (and to be honest, most of the main house) was furnished in repurposed, discarded furniture from open trash days and surplus treasures given to us from friends.

The repurposed furniture in the addition was painted fancifully. Tables had my favorite quotes painted in a continuous spiral. Dizzy reading, indeed, for anyone brave enough to undertake the task. Chairs were painted in different colors, some adorned with painted cats and painted rag mats. The clawfoot tub was painted in flowers and then polka dots and eventually ended up clad in plaid.

My then-husband rolled his eyes at my endeavors. He was not enamored of painted surfaces or of pretend windows looking down on pretend gardens.

I stubbornly resisted his pleas to ‘paint the walls like normal people’ and continued to paint on any surface I could.

I have pictures somewhere of this place of magical murals. Unfortunately, everything in my home is boxed up getting ready to move so I cannot share them here.

But I invite you to close your eyes and paint your own murals on the bare walls that surround you.

What will you paint? A tree with carved initials? The first house you lived in as a newlywed? Your Grandmother’s little dog named, and not cleverly, Tiny?

What will you paint on the murals of your mind?

I was so fortunate because in those years, I painted whatever I wanted.

Because I had my own little world. A place to dream. A place to create. A place to just ‘be’.



This little memory is written in honor of the letter “M” for Alphabe-Thursday. M is for Murals!


To read other 'M' offerings, just click here.


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32 comments:

Lola said...

Marvellous memories of magical murals!

Cathy Kennedy said...

Oh Miss Jenny, how marvelous it must have been to paint murals on your walls or to fanciful paint your chairs without a care! That must have been all so interesting and fun to be apart of, not to mention the pleasure it gave others who only daydreamed of doing such things. What beautiful memories!

Catherine Holman said...

I can picture it in my mind and it's wonderful! I've painted the floors and walls in my house too. Have you seen the book "The Illustrated Cottage"? You would love it!

Brenda said...

In my previous, little old house, I attached picket fence pieces to a wall and painted clouds, flowers, butterflies and bees above it. I made me smile..I can picture your smile.

Riet said...

What a wonderful story.

Lavender Cottage said...

A touching story. The murals of my mind always seem to have water in them, a beach, the ocean. I think because the lapping waves are so calming and imagining this helps me push stress aside.
Thank you for hosting.
Judith

ellen b. said...

My husband rolled his eyes when I said he should paint a mural on a newly painted closet door...
Sometimes it's best not to be like "normal people"

Farmer's Wyfe said...

What a fun place you created! I can see it in my mind. :)

edenhills said...

That had to be so much fun for the children! I,of course, would paint a goat. :-)

taylorsoutback said...

Love the part about the children adding their own touches to the walls. What a great way for them to express themselves & also see the connection with everyone else.

I would paint mountains & evergreens with a log cabin nestled in....our sweet shelties on the porch...all our loved ones gathered inside - past & present.

Gattina said...

That must have been a very cosy place ! I don't like wall papered or fancy colored walls. All our walls are painted in a light creme white but all my paintings are hanging everywhere and they are very colorful !

Ms. A said...

I've done this in my own house! I've painted little mice and ladybugs, a guitar sitting in a corner, trees, flowers and a picket fence, with cows and dogs and a tire swing. Even painted stripes with flowers running through them.

Amin said...

Hello! Very interesting blog! Thank You very much for Your visit!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love your faux windows! I love this house.

Splendid Little Stars said...

How wonderfully amazing! Oh how I wish we could see! Whenever you do get those boxes unpacked....
magical!
I did paint vines with leaves on a small part of the wall and a little bit on the ceiling of a powder room. Every leaf is different and I had fun doing it.

anitamombanita said...

Every week I come to love that old farmhouse a little more. I don't know anything about your skills with a paintbrush, but I do understand the incredible skill you have at painting a masterpiece with your words. Loved this.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

You know me...I love to daydream. I'm off to paint some walls (in my mind).

jen said...

I loved this and it totally painted an image in my mind. Unpack sometime and share the pictures. I'd love to see them.

NanE said...

What a great post Jenny! How fun to have a wall that you could share so freely with family and friends. Have a wonderful weekend, Nan

Annesphamily said...

Memories are so wonderful and this house is amazing! Thanks for sharing with us.

Naperville Now said...

looking forward to seeing what you paint next in your new home.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

I love to read your stories, always so well put. I also used to paint every wall (and piece of furniture) in sight. I have an entire portfolio of my paintings. Too bad I don't know how to scan and share. I'm still painting murals for my daughter and friends homes but I keep mine plain. More restful for me. I'd love to see some of the art you've created!

Andy said...

Hello Jenny. Happy Friday!
Every time I read your memories, I feel like I'm stepping back in time and reliving the moments with you. You have such, clear, vivid memories. I'd love to relax in that clubfoot bath...maybe when I move in the future, I might get one! I can't wait for you to move & get those boxes unpacked so we can see more of this wonderful farmhouse.
Thanks for sharing & visiting.
Have a great weekend!

Midnight Rainbow

storybeader said...

I love the idea of having a garden full of flowers ALL the time on one wall! I painted the walls of our original bathroom (their is also a second "master bath") under the sea, with fish and plantlife. At the top of the wall is the waves, and of course, a lighthouse! {:-D

Esther Joy said...

Love the clawfoot bathtub, and your freedom to express yourself. I used to paint Charley Brown characters and grow trees, etc. in my older two children's rooms when they were small. When our unexpected bonus baby came along later, I just let her do it herself!

H said...

Cool! I'm still trying to work out if this place might be real or is from your imagination!

beckyp said...

my sister did this with her house Painted whatever she wanted on her walls. it spilled over into my parents house. My sister is not a very good artist. :-)

Ames said...

Thanks for transporting me there. I grew up with a mural painted down the hallway. My father was very creative.~Ames

Pondside said...

In 1971 my parents let me paint a mural in their kitchen. When they moved in 1997 my dad wanted to find a way to take it with them - so sweet!
Your house must have been like a walk-in painting!

KDL said...

HI Jenny,

Just returning your visit from my L post - Lemon Pie. I'm not sure why, but my comment widget doesn't seem to like your comments - it always puts them in the "moderate" pile and if I publish them all the other comments are erased. Don't want that to happen, but I didn't want to not acknowledge your comment. I love your comments, grade and all. Here's hoping I find some way to fix my comment issues soon. Thanks again.

Summer Rain said...

love it,

it is apt to be able to look back and share something precious with your readers.

Tom said...

I would love to see some of those old pictures when you dig them back out. I remember when someone painted an eagle/hawk - I thought it was Dan but can't remember for sure.