Saturday, May 30, 2015

John and Louise

Ollie and I found a shady spot in the yard and sat down with a garden trowel and started to dig.  His two year old energy had temporarily been spent pushing his truck in circles and he was ready for a rest but not for a nap.

If he remembers nothing else about me I hope it will be that I was a little strange.  Mimi named two mealy worms randomly unearthed John and Louise.  Ollie said "bugs".   These tiny creatures are prehistoric looking.  Their hard, shiny articulated bodies respond to interruption by curling up into balls and playing possum for a few seconds until they uncurl and scurry away.  Ollie watched as the worms suddenly became perfectly round little spheres, stayed that way for awhile and then hurried into the nearest safe spot of earth.  It was difficult to read his thoughts on all of this.  If nothing else, he was thoroughly immersed in these little dramas.   He was sleepy and it was time to go inside. 

Will he remember those twenty minutes of his toddlerhood?  Will he ever realize that his grandmother wanted him to be able to "see" and not just see things all around him.  That ability separates the creative from the not.  To celebrate the ordinary is a gift.  His cousin Miles had it...documenting things most would overlook as mundane or not even there.  Instilling a respect for life however small and seemingly insignificant- that would be nice, too.  

I will cherish those moments , wishing I could have more of those times with those far away or those gone.  Little increments of time spent together. priceless, timeless.

Friday, December 25, 2009

At noon, December 25, 2009, a lone piper played "Amazing Grace" on the front porch of 7 Echo Point Circle in Wheeling. For Posy who grew up and played under the giant Sycamore trees near the house, for Judy, who reared five children in a house long gone, and for all those who lived in and loved Echo Point... Robert, Anne, Susan, Robert, James, Rose, James, Catharine, Edward and Jane... rest in peace on this glorious Christmas Day.  (thank you, thank you, Patrick)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On Posy's Christmas Card several years ago...(the card was hand made)
     "And at night we win to the ancient inn
      Where the child in the frost is furled,
      We follow the feet where all souls meet
      At the inn at the end of the world.

      The gods lie dead where the leaves lie red,
      For the flame of the sun is flown.
      The gods lie cold where the leaves lie gold
      And a Child comes forth alone."

     ...G.K. Chesterton~ " A Child of the Snows"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Displaced Worlds

It all started when I was painting the garage. When my paint brush went through the wall, I decided to stop and reconsider the project. I put the lid on the can, cleaned my brush, put the ladder away and made a call.

The contractor and I decided the rotten wood was due to the dampness from the hemlock trees nearby plus really clogged gutters. A six hour job at the most.

He had worked only ten minutes, taking off the bad wood that we both thought was the extent of the damage. The knock came at the back door, and when he said "You need to see this" stomach turned over. When I saw the carnage, my knees got weak. There under the wood that had looked perfectly normal until the paint brush incident, was a network of tunnels and brittle crumbling sawdust that was supposedly holding up the garage roof.

Numbly, I made my way into the house, deafened by the ca-ching, ca-ching sound in my head as the tab for this small job got bigger with each piece of wood pried away. Another call, this time to my exterminator. Some women my age "have" an accountant, a decorator, a manicurist. I "have" an exterminator. We go back a long way, my exterminator and I. He saved us from a false alarm at our previous home over termites that a big company who shall remain nameless said we had. He rescued us the week after we moved into this home when we discovered four legged critters had taken up residence under the subfloor months before. He has ben a periodic hero at other times over the last 30 years when the critters threaten to return. The year we had spiders EVERYWHERE- that was when he really reached godlike status. The hornet's nest dispatched under cover of darkness- that too. And the bats- those, too have been eliminated by this old friend.

Euphemistically labeled "Pest Control Specialists" in the yellow pages, they control by terminating. I don't really want to know how they work. I just want the job done. I have a deep respect for life- all life, and have been known to escort lightening bugs and moths out a window in order to save them. Never mind that falling two stories as I tossed them out the window might have been fatal for them, at least I did not squish them into eternity. I might add that spiders are given no quarter here. They are different.

The exterminator, the contractor and I surveyed the damage (by this time, all the bad wood was exposed- including support beams). When he said that by now, the colony of termites was in chaos and sending out alarms underground, I felt a momentary sadness. Then I looked back at the magnificent old house that could have been next- the "moment" was brief. The termites were soon to be history. Their time was measured. In a few days, they would be "eliminated" and the fresh wood going up would not be invaded.

The house, mercifully, miraculously, has been spared. It, too will be "treated" as a precaution. It's the newest thing, very green, this smiter of termites, I am assured. The same poison has been used at the Statue of Liberty and the Alamo. It must be good. This stately 100 year old house deserves the best. It's central hallway, ionic columns in the parlor and egg and dart molding (even on the second floor- a rarity I am told) enhance her dignity. Designed by one of the finest architects in the area a century ago, the house with it's colanaded porch and late Victorian trim, is a small mansion with touches not found in most of the neighborhood homes.

Tomorrow I will sign the contract that will save the homestead- with of course, a yearly return to inspect the bait in the stations inserted in the ground. They won't win, these termites. I looked out my window this morning and snapped the photo you see here. Not only are millions of termites displaced, but a whole village of sparrows who had set up housekeeping in the spaces that the termites had hollowed out will have to find a new place to stay over. A half bushel worth of nesting material and feathers was pulled out of the beam. Their consternation was audible as well. The sparrows flitted around, perched on the roof, chirped and dive bombed one another in what appeared to be an effort to understand their plight. A world turned upside in the tiny eco system called my back yard.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

notes on a passing...

                                    RIP  1994-2009
"Bertha" was with us for 15 years.  Like anything that sticks around that long, a beloved dog, comfortable butt- sprung chair or the family car- it becomes part of you. Bertha lived up to her name, strong, stubborn, BIG.  "Belching"became a prefix in later years when age took it's toll on the steel princess.  Her gold color and faux wood trim were unique in this area- there are (were) other Roadmasters on the road locally, but she became my trade mark, sort of.  Everyone knew the car and knew it was mine.  It became a beacon when parked anywhere- it seemed to announce- Anne is here!!!  
     The Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon was the largest station wagon ever produced by GM.   Predating the monster SUV's by a couple of years, the Roadmaster was dubbed by Consumer Report Magazine as the extravagant gas guzzler of its day.  The Corvette engine necessary to carry its bulk was standard for this model... a fact we tried to hide from the new drivers in the family for obvious reasons.  That power saved one son from a potential disaster on a run from Pittsburgh to Columbus.  Faced with a tight spot on Interstate 70, the engine got him out of it.  Thank you, Bertha.
     The car was huge, long and wide.  I was pretty good at parking it, and one day, while pulling into a parallel space in front of a building, I did a particularly good job- classic two movements - and it was snuggly in place.  I was going to a meeting, and several men who were also attending the board meeting witnessed this feat. While not complimenting me -a woman driver- on my good job.. one of them did manage a comment- he said "You dock that thing, you don't park it".
     Bertha hauled lots of things in her time.  Everything from bags of play sand to swing sets in boxes graced the back deck.  In later years, baskets of stuff destined for dorm rooms in Morgantown filled that space.  "Eau de Arnold Hall" was a scent that lingered long after it should have... as did Rosie's smell.   Our old Newfoundland dog, Rosie easily glided into the big car without really having to climb at all, it was so low slung.  Our vet dubbed it "Rosie's Car"- its windows were chronically blurred with  tell tale Newfie slobber.
       It was like a living room on wheels.  There was enough room in the front seat for me, my purse, a couple of shopping bags and a passenger.  I had to lean to put my arm on the arm rest.
I couldn't complain even when the shocks were completely gone, the ride was smooth.  The 1/2 mile drive from my house to Kroger gave the sensation of being in a canoe and riding the wake of a power boat...not unpleasant at all.
       We  kind of replaced Bertha (without trading her in) last spring with another gas guzzler,  a Toyota 4-runner- sport model, used...good deal, all of that.  It sat in the garage while the dependable Buick continued to carry things I didn't want to dirty up the new car with...mulch, plants, potting soil.  When the helper at the nursery asked if I wanted plastic to protect the car...I just smiled and said,  "not necessary".
     The trusty Buick even passed inspection in June!  Shortly after that, we knew the time had come.  Things started to go wrong, air conditioning quit, funny noises under the front of the car, then a flapping sound under the hood.  We even entertained the thought of having the faithful servant checked out just in case we could keep it going....a little longer...
Reality and the "cash for clunkers" offer- soon to run out- made us face cold hard facts and we made a decision...
     As I sat in the Honda dealership, after signing a paper swearing that I was indeed who I said I was, that the old car being turned in was indeed mine, documented by two trips to the DMV no less, I almost had a "moment".  The faithful Buick, which had carried so many of us safely throughout the last decade- and- a -half was  placed in the back lot with all the other rejects.  They will paint "clunker" across her windshield and pour a cement like substance into the engine...all required, the nice young man said.   I asked him to please not put paint on the old girl and he just smiled.  
     She doesn't deserve that humiliation.
     As I drove the mostly plastic little Civic off the lot, I felt a nagging sense of betrayal.  Silly was only a car.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

safe haven

Grizzly has had it.  He had adjusted to life just fine, thank you...
why this creature?  He has played second fiddle to a huge, cranky old Newfoundland, put up with a boat load of canine relatives who come and go at will  and eat his food and drink his water- and take his bed.  He has been terrorized by the resident terrier mix who decides when he can enter the family room, when he can eat, when he can sleep -and where...  (she plays dirty, too).
Tank, the four pound pug put him over the edge.  Grizzly never
sits between the chairs near the windows.  Never.  but it was safer there than out in the room where who knows what might pounce on an unsuspecting giant?

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Whatever you may consider to be "perfect contentment"-
This has to be near the top of the list.