By: H. Anne Thurston-Brandley
Close your eyes and imagine a dark, long and narrow hallway. One end opens into the front entry area of our home and the far one into the attached garage. Our house is one floor in design and we call this three foot wide, 20 foot long bit of wood flooring our bedroom hall. It has no window so is pitch dark unless we switch its light on. Or, if the doors opening off of it are left open there is a hint of daylight to be found filtering from the bedroom windows. It isolates our bedrooms and baths from the main part of the house as well as a stairway does in a two storied structure.
Despite its seeming isolation from the main part of our home it is a main traffic area day and night. Especially in the winter it is the best way to reach our car, carry in groceries etc. It is used to access the bathroom night and day. In addition, as my bedroom opens off of it at one end I use it constantly as my office is in the bedroom. In fact, realistically one might say my bed happens to be in my office. Ray and I were extremely fortunate to find such a great home to rent as we approached our marriage. My apartment at the time was too small for two and Ray’s wonderful home on Birch Lake which had been for sale for over a year suddenly had sold.
Locating a rental unit for two ancients such as ourselves had become impossible as so many such units are governmentally subsidized cleverly so applicants with dual incomes had a few bucks too much and therefore non-eligible. We were not interested in moving into a retirement complex. No, we wanted to start our life together in a condo or apartment like any twenty or thirty year would. Beside, between us we owned enough stuff to open a furniture store. I suspect our home is the only one in all of Boyne city and its surrounding area which flaunts two beautiful hutches – Ray’s sets against a living room wall near his recliner and two favorite lounge chairs etc . My hutch, equally handsome stands against our dining room wall. It cares for linens, dishes, silver, candles etc and Ray’s hutch, his ledger, address book, correspondence, records, etc.
Huddled around the fireplace are chairs, a coach etc from my collection. It is in the kitchen where we hoard our antiques — favorite pans, skillets, trays, bowls, knives, beaters, dippers, tongues, recipes, towels and much, much more are now stashed in it generous cupboards, drawers and pantry. Every kitchen gadget is available in its present day electronic version as well as the hand cranked style of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Just today I used my old hand held version of a sieve to separate my cooked apples from their peelings as I made applesauce.
Both of us have reached the age at which one avoids bending over to reach for or pick up something out of the lower cabinets, they are next to worthless – oh, we keep the front of them stashed with equipment, but the space behind this is empty, causing a shortage of space to keep pans, skillet and lids. The home was built before the day of pull-out shelving. Fortunately Ray is a problem solver and transformed our dishwasher we were seldom using into a wonderful, easy to open and pull out double shelf unit in which to store it all. For just two a dishwasher probably would not be used except when company was invited to dinner.
The strangest, most unusual item in the kitchen is a large washing machine/dryer machine. At first sight I was really unhappy at the idea of using half of the room as a laundry. I could envision a comfy table and chairs for two in its place. But time quickly proved the wonderful availability of the device. The two of us find ourselves tossing our soiled clothes into it instead of into a dirty clothes basket and pushing its buttons when the load is large enough. Sometime later we walk into the kitchen, remembering the clothes and transfer them into the dryer which is perched on the machines top. Eventually we remember to unload it all and carry the clean clothes down the long hallway to the rooms in which they are
Excuse me for getting so far off the story of the hallway – but here I am, back. On its ceiling half way from either end a fire alarm is fastened. Its age places it before the use of electrically operated alarms, using a battery instead. For some time Ray has been mumbling about getting around to test it. Today turned out to be the time. Lugging in his six foot ladder from the garage he set it up underneath the thing. The ladder all but filled the hallway – we had to squeeze to get from one side to the other. Once on it he pushed its button and no alarm sounded, just as he had feared. The next obvious step was to replace its battery. It wouldn’t budge. Step two was to loosen its two screws and twist the entire gadget off the ceiling.
While this was all progressing my help was to stand and aim his large flashlight upward. The two screws would not yield to his screwdriver and his ‘under-his-breath’ remarks about his severely mutilated arthritic hands began to get pretty heated. It was then I asked for my turn on the ladder. I no longer climb with any agility, but I made it up to the second step. I then discovered at some time in the past, apparently when re-painting the house, the slots in the two small screws had been filled with paint and simply had no place to welcome a screwdriver.
With pliers and brute force we removed the alarm, stole my scale’s battery and returned the gadget to its place on the ceiling where it now is held in place with two sturdy strips of Duck tape. Tomorrow we must replace the scale’s battery.
H. Anne Thurston-Brandley is a Boyne City resident, and the author of “E-Males” & “The Book of Anne.” Her column, Beautiful Boyne, appears in The Boyne City Gazette each week.