When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived in what used to be an old boarding house in the rolling green mountains of Braintree, Vermont. In its prime it was a stagecoach stop, back when that was the modern means of travel, complete with an attached horse barn and a five-holer backhouse. What is that, you ask? In simpler terms, the bathroom. From the far end of the spacious kitchen you could access the tack room that lead to the horse barn, or you could hang a right and walk down the hallway. The last door to the left consisted of a small room with a five-holer nestled into the wall. (Outhouses were outside. Back houses were attached to the back of the house.) Indoor plumbing had come along by the time I did, but I fondly remember the room being home to one of my grandparent’s dogs and her sweet new litter of pups. Years later, when my uncle had moved into the home, the horse barn had to be removed and with it went the back house. Strange as this may seem (I’ll own it lol!), I wanted it. It took a bit of tracking down, but even though I ended up paying a premium for it, it is now proudly displayed, much to my husband’s dismay, on our front porch.
A peek inside the backhouse when it was still in tact, but clearly not in use (by humans at least!). The horse barn was on the other side of the wall behind the five-holer. No dividers. Can you imagine the awkward conversations? If the walls could talk…!
The Five-Holer now on my front porch.
It’s one of those things you either get or you just don’t, but perhaps my affinity for this “old toilet” also has something to do with the fact that for a season of my young life, long before off-grid, tiny-house living was cool, my family lived in a one-room cabin with no electricity or running water. How and why we ended up there and made it work is another blog for another day, but suffice it to say, I’m well-acquainted with outdoor facilities.
Another memory I hold dear happened often in the sitting room, just off the parlor of that same great house where my grandmother played her piano. She hadn’t much time for extracurricular activities. The property had long since become a dairy farm, and Grammy’s hands were constantly busy, though you could track her down quickly, for she was always whistling. However, once in a while, her brother, Uncle Andy, would come for a visit. He always brought his fiddle, and Grammy would take a break from her busy work to sit down at that old piano where they would play together like when they were children. Uncle Andy was always ready to take a request, my particular favorite was Pop Goes The Weasel. But mostly, they played the old hymns.
Grammy loved it when her grandchildren would sit down and play (more like bang) on her piano. It’s been 21 years since she left this earth, but one of her grandchildren is still making music on those old ivories. Sometimes I wonder if God allows us to know much of what is going on down on earth once we get to Heaven. Perhaps it’s unlikely. But I like to imagine that once in a while she catches wind of one of the melodies I’m lifting to Him from her piano and smiles.
Me at age 11 in my classic (and somewhat painful to look at) big 80’s glasses and feathered hair) with my Grammy Flint. Isn’t she just precious?
As mentioned before, I don’t read music. My mom made several attempts to put me in piano lessons, but my eyes struggled with the lines and dots on the pages. I can still hear her calling from the kitchen, “Shelly (my childhood nickname), that’s not the song you’re supposed to be practicing.” I was making up my own.
But even though I’m no Tchaikovsky, I’m sure glad that old piano was handed down to me. It’s arguably the most precious “thing” that I own (yes, more so than the five-holer), not only for the sentimental reasons attached to it, but because it’s been a place of healing for me. No matter the storm that’s raging, that piano bench sits right in it’s eye, because I meet Jesus there. I’ve learned to cast my cares at his feet at that piano. It’s the place I express my sorrows, anger, joys, and love for him best. It’s the place I fall into his arms. And it’s the place from which I sit and record most of the songs I post for you here on this blog.
So I thought it might be fun to turn the camera around and show you my old piano. It’s not a grand piano, but because it was my grandmother’s, it’s grand to me. I hope you are blessed at my piano too. I hope the songs that pour out of my heart there touch yours. And I hope that when life’s storms are raging around you, they will draw you into God’s presence, because that is where we find strength and healing, and fall deeper in love with our Savior.
What about you? Do you have a special place you go to meet with God? Is it out in nature perhaps? I’d love to hear about it.
Enjoy my “show and tell” about my piano in the video below, along with my song entitled, Old Piano. I hope you enjoy it, but more so, I hope it prompts you to go find your secret place and sit awhile in God’s presence.
One more thing: If this blog blesses you, would you share it? I’d be grateful.
Old Piano (demo and song)