Friday, January 28, 2011

Comforts of Home ~ A Photo Journey

When I was visiting "home" this summer, I snagged my Dad's Canon DSLR daily and took photos around our property ... I was working on a "secret" photo book for my family called "Comforts of Home". Over the course of 32 years, my parents have created and maintained a home and property full of beauty and treasured memories ...

In 1978 (when I was 2, my sis was 6, and our big bro was 10,), my parents moved us from Detroit to a tiny little town in Northern Michigan. My Dad, Mom, and Grandpa Joe built our house from the ground up ... literally. No contractors, no builders, no carpenters ... just the family hammering nails one-at-a-time by hand. During the process we stayed in a little cabin near my Grandma and Grandpa Lutz, just 15 minutes away ... in this little red cabin is where I have my first memory! We moved into our framed-in house just before Christmas of 1978. Our home and property continued to grow throughout my childhood ... some rooms finished, some rooms unfinished (some are still unfinished) ... but it was a beautiful!

Our property grew to include horse stables, pig pens, a barn, tack-rooms, a riding arena, and even a log-cabin playhouse. We grew up riding and showing horses, cutting our own fire wood, bailing our own hay, mucking stalls, and spending countless hours playing on our wooded 14-acres and the surrounding woods. Horse fences were my balance beams, stump piles were home to my imagination of fighting of monsters over hot lava, the huge tree swing was home to my Olympic debut of choreographed tree swinging ... and the list goes on. I was truly blessed with a fantastic childhood. So you can imagine, I find great comfort when I return to home to our tiny little town in Northern Michigan and walk around our property; for even though the wood on the barns may be deteriorating, the horse fence no longer stands, the door to the tack room is broken, and the paint in the playhouse is faded and chipped ... my heart swells with beautiful memories of the place I still call home ...

Handcrafted by my dad, "THE REICHLINS" sign stands proudly at the end of our wooded driveway. The sign was built out of an old beam and is held by an old "double-tree" which was used for animal-drawn wagons and such.

With just a trace of its original bright blue color left, the water pump has been operated by every hand in the family. It has been used to water horses, pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and goats. It has been used to wash horses and dirty hands, to hose down equipment and weathered barns. Its water has been sipped during outdoor chores, while cutting wood, and
after outdoor play.

This spot has held wood to brighten and warm our evenings with family and evenings with friends. It has provided just the right amount of light to catch Dad creeping out of the woods walking on stilts and wearing a gas mask. It has given off just enough glow to allow us to stray from the pit to catch fireflys and find sticks to roast marshmallows. We've sat around the fire pit and celebrated weddings and family gatherings.

The Playhouse was many things. A grocery store, a toy store, a school house. It was home to our imagination. Its pastel yellow walls have held chalkboards and plaques ... and handrawn flowers made by two little girls. The floor has held a toy box, old wooden school desks and little plastic cash registers. Most comforting, the Playhouse held the imagination and laughter of little girls at play.

The Call Box. It's always there. Even as the family, the house, and the property change ... it's always there.

* My dad is a retired cop .. he worked in undercover narcotics in Detroit in the 70's (yikes)! Though this box is not affiliated with his days on the police force, it's always been a reminder for me.

Relics of 4-H and horses, saddles, bridles, cowboy hats, ribbons, and photos. The grain barrel. Rakes, shovels, pitch forks, and wheel barrels. High School float meetings. Home to old toys, school projects, and out-of season furniture.

The Tack Room and Grain Room have held many things and many memories.

There is beauty in old things.

Rings once used to tie the horses for grooming, washing and saddling.

An insulator and a piece of wiring from the electric fence.

Still standing around the perimeter of the arena, a comforting reminder of our fun-filled and chore-filled days of having horses.

Memories of 4-H, training, riding and showing. Horseback camping, trail riding, Elk Hill, campers, horse trailers, outhouses, and campfires. Grain, bailing hay, storing hay, binder twine and mucking stalls. Saddles, blankets and halters. The big white bathtub with the heating coil to keep the horses water from freezing in winter. Running out in the dark to feed and brush the horses. Chasing down the horses after Rosetta Rose jiggled the gate hook free.
Getting bucked into the electric fence and daring each other to touch it.

Memories of target practice from the back deck.

The gliding bench placed beside the fire-pit.

It may be old, rusted, and showing years of use ... but it's a reminder that things don't need to be new or shiny to be beautiful.

Wherever we go, whatever we do ...this will always be our call to come home.

* This is an old siren. It was placed on the exterior of our home and was wired to a tiny push-button on the inside of the house ... recessed into the wood. With a push of a button our parents would sound the siren and it was our call to come in from outside. You could hear the siren a mile away!

These are a few excerpts from the 54-page photo book titled, Comforts of Home, I presented to my family for Christmas 2010. When my parents ask, "Did you have a good childhood ... do you have good memories?" ... now I can simply say ...

"Look at the book and you'll find your answer".

With all my love, Jaime


  1. That is an awesome idea!! I think it is wonderful that you can look back and have so many good memories as a child. I know when I look back I have AWESOME memories growing up and doing a lot of the same things you did as a child. I love the holiday memories the most always spending Christmas Eve at my grandparents and then my grand parents would come over Christmas morning or spend the night and help my mother out set up our *Santa* stuff!!! Thank You for sharing it brough back so many AWESOME memories for me as a child!!!!

  2. Wow. I loved all the pictures and I'm sure the book is even more amazing.

    My dad actually did the same thing, built our house from the ground up with just family. Unfortunately, he ended up with cancer and our church family finished it for us. We had to sell the house because we couldn't maintain it, but my sister took a lot of photos we could keep all the memories with us. I keep wanting to put them into a book or something. I think that will be my undertaking for 2011!


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