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November 24, 2006: Nostalgia

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This morning Richard headed off to Campbell to spend the day with his family, and I headed back to my parents' house to start the day with leftover pie and sticky buns for breakfast. My sisters and my mom and dad all wanted to go and do a little shopping, and since I didn't really have any need to go to any actual stores, plus didn't think I'd have the energy to do much in the way of mall walking, I went back home and took a short nap while they went out and hit the stores and did lunch.

I did manage to track down the blue Kool-aid at the one grocery store in town that was not actually open on Thanksgiving afternoon, so after they came back from their shopping excursion, I rounded up all the kids into the kitchen and had them help me dye yarn with Kool-aid. My niece, of course, chose pink, because she is very much into anything pink, and if it is sparkly, that makes it even better. My nephews wanted blue and orange. As we talked about what they wanted for their slippers, two of them decided they wanted stripes, and I had a momentary thought that maybe I should have broken the skeins into smaller balls to let them do more colors, but luckily, the niece wants blue and pink, the older nephew wants blue and orange, and the youngest nephew just wants solid orange. So it all worked out.

The dyes in Kool-aid are extremely bright if you concentrate them enough - we got a wonderful dark orange with four packets of the stuff, and the blue and the pink came out gorgeous too. We hung them out on the line in my parents' backyard to dry, and my niece kept leaping up to see if they were dry all afternoon.

There was more playing of Twister by the small people, although us adults refrained this time. The kids were sent out in the afternoon to decorate my parents' driveway with sidewalk chalk, and then we adults all trooped out later to check out the artwork (some of which was more recognizable than others, but that is expected when your artists range in age from five to eight). At one point we all headed outside for a 'science experiment', which mainly involved my younger brother-in-law dropping as many Mentos as he could slam into bottles of Diet Coke before they exploded all over him. He managed to get some impressive fountains, although nothing remotely as impressive as these guys achieved.

My older sister eventually packed up her husband and her boys to go home, and after my niece was put into bed I was just about ready to head home myself, when my little sister noted that my niece had been asking about the doll house in my parents' bedroom, and wondering if maybe grandpa and grandma would let her play with it.

I should note that this is not some ordinary doll house. This thing is about five feet wiide, and about five feet tall and composed of nine rooms and an attic, all connected with doors with actual handles, built my my dad for my sisters and I when we were probably about the age my niece is now, which is at least thirty years ago. My mom and dad did not approve of Barbies, so my sisters and I had the Sunshine Family, which consisted of a mom and a dad and a little baby, and each doll or item of clothing purchased came with a little leaflet full of do-it-yourself projects for making your own furniture or other dollhouse accessories. My sisters and I spent hours playing with that thing, crocheting rugs, building chairs out of egg carton segments, beds out of tissue boxes, lamps out of empty spools of thread.

The doll house moved with us everywhere the Air Force sent us, until finally we ended up in California, and then we were all too old to play with doll houses, and eventually, when my parents moved to this house, they stashed it in their bedroom for lack of a better place to keep it, and filled it with miscellaneous boxes, and it's been sitting there ever since. One of the things my mom had envisioned when they built the enclosed three-season porch on to their house a year or two ago was that the doll house would eventually be moved out there, so the small people could play with it. I guess my dad's been resisting it, since there's really no where to put it where it won't be blocking some of the windows, but once my niece finally noticed it and my younger sister and I started talking about it, my dad got this look on his face that indicated that he knew he had finally lost this particular battle.

The first question was whether or not they still had the dolls and the accessories for it, so we started pulling out boxes, and I swear it was like someone threw my little sister and I into a time machine, because sure enough, they'd actually kept them. We opened up one of the boxes and pulled out the dolls and started diving down into the rest of it, pulling things out, do you remember this? Oh, remember when we made this, oh wow, I can't believe we forgot about that. So then there was a very brief discussion about waiting until everyone else was there the next morning to try to move it, but then my dad figured if we were going to move it we might as well just do it right away, so before we knew it, we were clearing out all the boxes and vacuuming out years of accumulated dust, and then carrying it onto the porch. And then there was nothing to it but my little sister and I had to immediately sit down with the boxes of dolls and accessories and pull out every single one of them and try to get the doll house set up. Our excuse was that this way it would be ready when my niece got up in the morning, but really, it was just because neither of us wanted to put off getting a chance to go through those boxes again.

There are some of the pieces that are broken, and some where we weren't entirely sure what they used to be. It took three of us to try to put together the farm kit, and even after we were done, we were not entirely sure we'd set it up correctly (because for some funny reason, the directions were never put back with it when it was last packed up, probably twenty five years ago). My little sister tried a quick eBay search to see if she could at least track down a picture, but she had no luck, so we muddled through the best we could, and figured that chances were likely the little kids wouldn't really care if it was perfect anyway. And then we all stood back and looked at all of it - the little farm in one corner of the porch with the water trough that actually pumps water and the chickens that used to lay real 'eggs' (although we have long since lost their eggs) and the tiny little house that houses Holly Hobby - or rather, the original Holly Hobby with the gingham and the braids - and standing against one wall, that amazing doll house that had somehow survived all the moves and the changes of thirty plus years, looking now as if the three little girls for whom it was made had simply just left the room only moments before, instead of thirty years ago, and were going to come around the corner any minute, still with long braids or pigtails, two of them in glasses, the youngest barely able to reach up into the attic, each of them full of stories and adventures for those well loved dolls and those lopsided pieces of furniture they made so proudly, so very, very long ago.

This is a NaBloPoMo entry

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