Friday, April 26, 2013

A Brief Glimpse

No artwork hangs on the wall...

for the same reason there are no curtains up yet.

The early morning view from the screened porch.  (There is a dog noggin in this photo!)
It seems I am emotionally incapable of putting a single hole into the beautiful walls of my new home.  All of the art work I have so looked forward to hanging in the new house sits on the floor where I can benignly appreciate it.  There are no curtains either.  Dan already installed towel racks and shower curtain rods or none of those things would be up.  Eventually, I am going to have to do the deed but not until I am strong enough to endure it!

All these years of planning and dreaming, and I failed to figure for new appliances.  A small oversight.  I am living on microwave food.  (Yum.)  My son generously loaned his little dorm refrigerator but that is not yet in the house and plugged in.  When I opened the door, a strange gelatinous substance oozed out.  There was no noxious odor involved but I am waiting to hear from him as to what material those molecules may have previously formed.  He lives in a house with four other wild young men.  It could be anything.  Still, it was nice and so thoughtful of him to sacrifice his personal beer cooler for me.

Sleeping in the corner beneath the two windows is most pleasant.  The trees will eventually block the view to the east, but I should be able to keep an eye on the southern skies year 'round.  I can also see the little creek from my pillow.  It is not a million dollar view - more like a econo-priced view for the frugal soul.  Still...

I must point out a religious relic enshrined in my bedroom:  an authentic 1970's era lava lamp.  It was solemnly bequeathed to me by a coworker.  He knew that I, of all his friends and acquaintances, would truly appreciate and honor it. He was compelled to find the right home for it.  He said "You know, each lamp has its own personality."  I knew that.  So, sometimes I turn on the lava lamp and allow the strange silent globs fluidly ascending and falling to lull me to sleep.  Across the room, (also leaning against the wall) is my Bob Dylan In Concert poster, but that is not from the '70's.  It is from the concert my daughter financed as a gift to me a couple of years ago.  I must say, that poster goes smashingly well with the lamp.

I know things look rather barren and unfinished still, but that is okay.  I am in no hurry.  I am adding a few things here and there.  Sunday I bought a beautiful philodendron for my office and all of my crystals are unpacked.  I planted two big crocks of annuals for the front porch and so far Jake has not touched them.  (It is a miracle!)  If something does not have the correct energy,  I am not bringing it in the house. 

Now it is raining, blessing the new little home and replenishing Spirit Creek with life-sustaining water.  It is most pleasant, and I am ever so grateful. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Bravest Chicken

The numbers in my chicken flock slowly dwindled away through predation until, tragically, there is only one little hen left, one of the Weird Sisters.  She came from Connecticut to Kansas as a peep via the United States Postal Service.  I can no longer disparage chickens from Back East as sissies or weaklings because she has survived everything. 

She was a free range chicken and she could fly high into the trees to escape danger.  I could not catch her until Jake started chasing her one afternoon when I was thankfully at home. Either she made a major miscalculation or Jake's hunting instincts were improving, but he finally cornered her.  I believe she was ready to give up the ghost but I got to her in time.  Though I hate to imprison such a courageous spirit or deny her the flight into the tall trees, the only way she will be 95% safe is to live in the chicken pen.

I stuffed hay into the little chicken house and she took up lonely residence in the once noisy and crowded coop.  This spring she started crowing at dawn like a rooster.  She gets better the more she practices.  It is actually quite well done.

One morning she did not come when I called her to feed and I was afraid that maybe she had perished alone.  But no, she had laid a nest of nine little eggs and was brooding them.  I lured her out with food, and while she was busy eating I stole her eggs.  She blames Jake for the theft of her clutch and each time he nears the pen she screams threateningly at him.  She is such a warrior that he actually backs away. 

I promised to either get her a clutch of fertilized eggs or buy her some peeps this spring, but with my current work schedule, that is out of the question.  For the time being, she will have to live alone with nothing but my admiration for the toughest chicken in Wabaunsee County.

Unjustly Imprisoned!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Maybe Big Foot, Maybe Not

The last of the old house was destroyed today, and the remaining combustible rubble, piled amid the tumbled-in foundation, is still burning at this late hour.  The electric company also removed the old poles and their equipment so the burden on the earth where the old house stood is almost gone.  Some of the old house is piled between the new house and the horse barn, waiting to be buried and reclaimed by the earth.  The things that were worth recycling, or too large and/or hazardous for burying were hauled away. 

Once the big machines had bitten into the old house, pulling down the walls, exposing wiring and pipes and the long history of paint and wall paper, I saw how flimsy and impermanent that structure truly was.  I felt a pang of regret for the end of that little home.  Once it was new and carried someone's hopes and dreams for a good life here in the bend of this nameless little prairie creek.

My son and I moved in 14 years ago this month.  I took my son away from Topeka, afraid of the undesirable influences that place held for a fatherless teen aged boy, (not that he was unable to find trouble in Wabaunsee County).  Today he is a college educated man, self-supporting and living on his own without a single prison tattoo or one piercing.  It was not always pretty or graceful or nice or fun but by God he made it.  (He had no choice, really.  Anything else was going to be over my dead body.  Literally.)

So my memories of that handsome young boy running the creek with a much younger Duke - the echoes of ten thousand basketball shots tossed from the back patio - the hundreds of ball games and practices and track meets - the arguments and worries and good times and dates and proms and school trips and activities until he excitedly left home for college, not looking back for a moment - the energy of those dear memories wafted upward with the smoke of the dying house.  And as I watched in the waning light of this day, a mighty sadness swept through me. 

Now my life is irrevocably changed.  There is no going back to that time of my life, no going back to that little house.  It is gone forever, as if it never existed, like so many other things I hold dear in my heart that are all gone forever.  Of course, I would NEVER want to return to that mouse infested pit that was failing and falling down around me as I sat watching the giant television!  What the hell is wrong with me?

Still, I was sad and blue when the sun went down and I tried to go to bed to sleep it off. Life is always better in the morning, no matter what. As soon as I was settled in bed, Duke began barking, warning something significant away from his home. He circled the house time and again, barking in his brave and authoritative voice even though he is old and it wears him out to stand guard. I kept listening for Jake to chime in, but he was silent. I was frankly hoping whatever threat Duke was barking at had already claimed Jake's worthless hide.

Sometimes when a creature is prowling and clearly on the move around my house, the porch lights will convince it to move on.  So I got out of bed and turned on the lights, calling for Duke. Jake popped up from under the porch where he had apparently been loafing and came to the door expecting what, I wondered?  Duke was not ready to leave his post but eventually he did.  I could hear the neighbor's dog barking down the creek, too, so something pretty big was out there.  Maybe it was Big Foot, but maybe not.  I finally heard Jake barking for a few moments, then he clocked out, putting in a good minute and a half of work. 

All is silent now, here and down the creek.  I can still see flames flaring up here and there, consuming the last of the wood.  Maybe Big Foot had come around to pay his final respects to the little house.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Two Amazing Things

Number  One:
Maybe I have been too long without the company of men and have entirely forgotten their natural and innate strength.  Some months ago a friend surprised me with a huge television, not a flat screen but one of the olde tyme picture tube behemoths.  I do not know how much it weighed, but it was very heavy and shaped too awkwardly to be easily moved.  The friend who moved it into my house was in great physical condition, but it was a terrible strain on him to move that monster up the stairs and into my house by himself.  My daughter and I were witness to this feat of strength.  We held our breath, certain that something in the man's body was going to snap at any second.  An enormous sigh of relief escaped us when the man appeared to be in perfect condition at the end of the move. 

With no takers, I abandoned the heavy and unnaturally large television in the old house for Dan the builder/demolition expert to do with whatever he may.  I had hoped someone would want it, someone with a lot of room in their home because it still worked perfectly, but I was willing to let it go.  Leave it to my daughter and her armies of friends and acquaintances:  at the last moment someone wanted the television enough to gather a small army of women in two vehicles to pick it up Saturday.  Even then, I doubted.  I did not believe in my sisters.

Forutnately, the women had a secret weapon among them:  a young man.  After meeting him in person and close up, I continued to harbor serious doubts!  He was just a twig of a man, a sprout.  He was not tall, not heavy boned, not heavily muscled.  He in fact looked like he needed a big steak and a mound of mashed potatoes or he was in danger of being blown away by the Kansas winds. 

Amid continued dire warnings from my daughter and me, the group moved into the old house.  Soon a woman emerged walking backwards through the front door carrying... the end of the cord!  Before I could start laughing, the young man emerged carrying the huge television in his arms as if he were carrying a bag of groceries!  He stepped across a large gap between the porch and the truck bed and easily set the television down.  I cannot speak for all of the women present, but at least two of us were quite properly gobsmacked.  Wow.  It was an amazing thing.

Number Two:
I have a desk lamp sitting right before me, recently acquired for my new office.  It is a second-hand desk lamp but perfectly serviceable, given to me by someone I trust implicitly - my daughter.  It is manufactured by "Lights of America" and made in China, naturally.  The reason I know that is because the other night I plugged it in to use for the first time.  It worked fine.  When I was finished and ready to shut everything down to go to bed, I could not find the off switch.  I read every word stamped or printed on the lamp.  (I thought maybe instructions had been provided so Americans would know how to turn it off.)

No other lights were on in the house so I fumbled around, alternating between blasts of bright light in my eyes and total blindness as I turned and twisted the lamp for several minutes.  Finally, I turned on more lights, thinking I just was not seeing the switch in the dark.  Even in the bright white pool of new light in my brand new house, I could not cipher the location of the switch.  For several more minutes I carried on as if it were a failing of my intelligence rather than bad design.  I hate to admit this but I actually clapped my hands thinking it was a sound activated switch - a sad and utterly complete failing of my intelligence.  At last I gave up the struggle and unplugged the damned thing and have refused to use it since.  No one wants to be dumber than a damned light bulb.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Good Riddance

A few nights ago, I opened the refrigerator doors for the final time in the old house.  All the food was gone in preparation for cutting the main breaker.  I was at last ready to say my farewell to a home that sheltered me and my son for fourteen years - the longest I have ever lived in one place in my life.

I am sentimental for the times and the memories of living in the little place beside the creek, but I am not sentimental about the dwelling itself.  It did not start out as a bad house, but I lived in it far, far past its expiration date.  Knowing I was going to build a new home, I refused to put any money into repairs aside from what was absolutely essential.  Consequently, the deterioration of the place picked up speed and determination as it careened wildly downward in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics:  all things tend toward disorder.  In this case, one could safely add the third law of thermodynamics:  all disorder is accompanied by mice droppings and spiderwebs.  I like organic, but somehow nature got the very wrong idea it could move in with me.  Trust me, there is such a thing as too much organic living!

That is all past now and I am almost settled in the new home.  I have a lot of items waiting in the wings for the final sort - the "too good to throw away/not yet emotionally ready to give it to Good Will" phase of divestiture.  But it will be quite easy to not move a single thing into the new home that does not serve me now. 

The saddest thing, the only sad thing in all of this, is Duke, my 14 year old elder dog.  He has always lived beside the old house.  He started out his life here safely enclosed in the back porch when he was a fat butterball puppy.  Otherwise, the coyotes would eat him while I was at work.  As he grew into the wonderful watchdog and companion and good old farm dog that he is, he lounged about on the back porch in the coldest of winter, and slept faithfully before the front door all other times.  He has known no other home.  He refuses to take up vigilance on the front porch of the new house, though Jake sleeps there.  When Dan comes to knock down the old place, I am not sure what impact it will have on the dear old Duke.  Change is difficult at any age, but when elderly, it can be traumatic.

Otherwise, it is absolutely wonderful to be living in such a nice little home here in the bend of Spirit Creek.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Parenting Failure...

My daughter is a fully mature and beautiful woman.  She is successful, independent, smart and generally happy with her life.  I am incredibly proud of her.  She is my best friend and I love her more than words can say.  She has tried to tell me that she has psychopathic tendencies before, but of course I dismiss such an assertion as so much bull-oney.  But today, I perhaps got a dark glimpse of what she means.

We were working hard sorting through the stuff left in the old house, separating the Good Will from the trash, and the few things I want to keep.  I had something in my hands and was striding confidently toward her when I crashed into the Bowflex treadmill, full steam ahead.  I banged my leg into a metal flange and smashed my toes against a metal edge.  It caused me to fall flat out on the floor, the pain so severe that I could hardly breathe.

It has long been a tradition in our family that as long as you are conscious and at least think you can still walk, it is perfectly okay for the other two immediate family members to howl with laughter at your misfortune.  Yeah.  All I could do was gasp a string of obscenities while she alternated between "Are you broken?" and howling with laughter. 

Well, I have no one to blame but myself for raising her that way.