When I was little, my grandma and grandpa lived in an old farmhouse that, if I remember correctly, dated back to the time Michigan achieved statehood. The yard and the house seemed remarkably large to me. It was by no means a mansion, rather a dull, square, sturdy thing made to house the size of family you would need to farm a good-sized plot of land. The fields next door no longer belonged to it but my grandma had a large garden that included several rows of corn so I think it was content, if one feels houses have a spirit to make content.
The water there was so high in iron the dishes we used at Grandma's were stained with a rusty hue. (Each girl had her matched plastic set of plate, tumbler and bowl: Micky Mouse for us eldest, circus themed for the youngest and whatever design fell to my overlooked middle cousin.) From the window above the kitchen sink, you looked out on the biggest most beautiful lilac bushes you could ever hope to see (with a septic tank hidden amongst them).
The adults often gathered around the kitchen table while my grandma prepared dinner and chatted about whatever tedious things adults think matter. We kids were usually found in the living room. It had the davenport, the chair with the tanned deer skin on it that was so incredibly soft, Grandma's sewing machine (which also meant it contained her tin of buttons which was so fun to sort through), her rocking chair, and of course the television. It had greyish-beige shag carpet that I later learned my ever-practical Grandma chose specifically so that Og's fur wouldn't show up on it. It smelled of dogs and Camel's cigarette smoke. It was not ideal to watch TV lying on your stomach on such a carpet.
There was a big front porch off the living room that we almost never used. We always came in through the mudroom. The front porch was mostly left to the birds nesting in its eaves. Occasionally my sister and I would roam through the abandoned grape arbor (it was just one row) and plunder it. The grapes were far too sour (probably picked too soon), with seeds and thick skins we found unpalatable so we would do our childish best to mimic making wine and smash grapes under our feet on the wooden floor of the front porch.
This kind of tomfoolery was brushed aside when we had important work to do and this time of year we were very seriously toiling on Halloween decorations. I have no idea how many windows there were in that house but they seemed never-ending as we drew a picture for every last one of them. As the nearest grand-kids, we were honor-bound to make the art grandparents love so much. We scotch-taped each piece to a window as we roamed room to room and I made certain to display the nicest ones where they got the most attention, relegating the less polished pieces (often made toward the end) to the unused bedrooms upstairs. I can't begin to explain how very grave and earnest my sister and I were in our mission. I am positive that we were sometimes assured that we need not decorate every window, but we would not shirk this solemn duty.