Thursday, June 26, 2008

So, more painting

Just finished up the master bath. I had it kind of botched, really, with two different shades of green and rough drywall. And the top two feet of the walls were siding that was peeling and not very nice. So I scraped peeling paint and textured the drywall. And filled rough spots. And primed, and painted.

I hurt.

And the ceiling is still peeling. We are just going to put up new bead board and be done with it. I cannot scrape and sand 100 square feet of ceiling. Just can't. I can already hardly breath from the sanding, etc. that we have already done. Mea has been a trooper, doing what work that she could and keeping me company when she couldn't.

The color is an awful pale apricot. It looks so... boring. But it is done. And it looks more "finished" than it did before. There is some fiddly bits around the shower to sort out, probably with caulk. I sort out a lot of things with caulk.

My closet is located inside my bathroom-- not the best plan, but it is an old house. Much of it does not appear to be planned. Anyway, now all the stuff that I pulled out on Tuesday has to go back in. And the house needs to be straighted up, because I have so not been picking up since I started on the latest round of paint. So there is laundry to be done and kid stuff to hide.

And a trip to the mother-in-law's to pack for.

Yes, gentle reader, my husband has scheduled a trip to see his mother. Neil Gaiman canceled his reading in Tulsa, so he figured that it couldn't get much worse, so we are packing up the minivan with all three kids and my husband's breathing machine and heading to southeast Missouri in the heat of the summer.

And tomorrow, I must finish the tile in the other bathroom. Todd finally put the cement board around the window so I can (did I mention that I started this job in April?), so I need to get that done. Why the push to finish up all my home improvement projects? My classes start on Monday. Only six hours this summer (as opposed to nine last summer-- that was insane), but I am interested in neither, really. Oh, and I have an article to co-write in the next two weeks.

It is after midnight, so I suppose I should go to bed. So I guess I will.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My turn with the funeral post...

Today I went to Arvilla Smith's funeral. Arvilla and I were not that close, but she and my great-grandmother were. Arvilla came from a big family, and, as I understand it, kind of got lost in the crowd. My granny (the afore mentioned great-grandmother) was raising her grand daughter, Patsy, who was about the same age, and so Arvilla kind of adopted the family.

So Arvilla was always around. While she was not technically related, I saw her more often that I did many of her cousins (except Wardena's kids mentioned in the Pond story recently).

We went to my granny's on Sundays, after church and after lunch. About every month or two, Arvilla would be there. As far as I know, she never came empty handed. She was always bringing a pie, or flowers, or something. When granny got older and couldn't take care of herself, Arvilla got a job with the Area Agency on Aging so that she could come and get paid to take care of her. Arvilla is the only person I know that could bake an apple pie that tasted like my granny's. And I think granny had her bake the pies for us, really. She liked circus peanuts (which I still like stale, because that is how granny's always were, because she stored them on top of the refrigerator).

Eventually, Arvilla got a different job-- one that was full time with benefits. Which is a good thing, because, like everyone I love, she got cancer. She won a couple of rounds, but with cancer, you always lose the war. Cancer won June 15.

It is not that Arvilla and I were that close, really. I have only seen her a handful of times since my granny died. But I still loved her, if that makes any sense. When she came to my mamaw and papaw's house after my papaw died, we all cried together. She came to the house for my mamaw's funeral as well. She was part of the family. Any of us would have done anything for her.
And more than herself, personally, she is part of my childhood-- my life at "home." That life keeps slipping further and further away. I used to kid myself and say that I would move home, if I could get a job that paid anything, but Todd was actually offered a job there a couple of years back that he turned down. That is not who I am any more.

But it is hard watching that world evaporate. Arvilla's kids are not like her (and the one that is most like her lives in Greenbrier, not at home). My mom is not like her granny. And I am not really like either one. I wish I could capture that world, because there is no where like it. It was anachronism twenty years ago, so it would be even more so now.

But, oh, how I wish it weren't.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Neil Gaiman won't be coming to Tulsa. Evidently my tickets will be refunded.

And the only people who have looked at my house (so far) can't really afford it. (In the multilist, it is #10196134). And, turns out, real estate has been slower this June than normal.


On the up side, we went to Branson yesterday to take the kids to Silver Dollar City to celebrate surviving putting the house on the market. After the kids rode the rides for a couple of hours, we went to Bass. And Bass was having a sale. I got a couple pair of shoes and two linen dresses and a woven top. I love the dresses. They will be nice and cool this summer. And they were 70% off. And Todd got some shoes, too. But they are boy shoes and much less interesting. So that was lovely. And then we ate in Harrison and then we came home.

Actually, only some of us came home. Mea went to church camp. AG church camp. That just makes me smile a little bit. Her grandparents sent her. I don't think I could have gotten her there with a cattle prod. Why? You may well ask. For one thing, their website is terrible. For another, their rules are restrictive. Here is a sample from their application:
Multi-media players, firearms, knives, weapons, communicative devices or clothing and other articles displaying questionable content are NOT allowed.

Cell phones are not allowed. Students caught using cell phones will have their phones confiscated until checkout on Friday. The AR DISTRICT will not be responsible for lost or stolen cell phones.

  • Shorts can be worn during the day. Absolutely NO spandex shorts, boxer shorts, or shorts shorter than 2” above the knee.
  • Abbreviated attire such as half shirts, tank tops, sundresses, spaghetti straps or crop shirts will not be allowed, and should be left at home.
  • Shirts and dresses that have ANY part of the back missing will not be allowed. NO oversized armholes or sides cut out of shirts.
  • Tight fitting clothing (pants and shirts) should be left at home. If you bring it, you will be asked to change. ALL CLOTHING MUST BE MODEST.
  • Shoes must be worn at all times. Shoes that cover the whole foot must be worn while riding go-carts.
  • For evening services, young ladies may wear modest dresses or long pants. Young men must wear long pants (this means clean and with no holes in them) and a shirt. Absolutely no shorts for evening services!
  • If in doubt, DON’T BRING IT!
Mea dresses pretty modestly for a 15 year old, but these rules may hearken back to 1955... We had to go shopping so that she would have some shorts that she could wear.

Actually, the dress code is less restrictive that when I attended in the 80s. Back then, shorts were verboten, but we could wear culottes. My mother, who only sews under extreme duress made me culottes because she could not stand the thought of sending me to Hot Springs in the summer in jeans. They were terrible, but I was sent back to my room to change one day because they were too short! So someone had something wrong with them, and I am pretty sure that it was not my mother. Ah, they joys of religious education.

And W? He is hiding out at Mom's. He had no desire to come home and not mess up his room.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Pond

Mike, from the National Writing Project of Central Arkansas, (and who is not my cousin) came to our institute on Monday and led us in some great writing exercises.

One was to draw a map of where we grew up and then mark places where interesting things happened. Then write about one or more interesting places.

These are the assignments that I never try, because I cannot imagine them working, but I felt compelled to play along, since I had invited him and I was in charge (at least nominally) of the institute.

Anyway, this is what I wrote about...

The pond was forbidden. Partly because it was nasty. I mean, we could see the cows standing in it, so we knew it was foul. The other reason is that my mother and my grandmother both had a deep abiding terror of us drowning.

Of course, that made it all the more interesting.

On the whole hilltop, my brother and I were the only kids. In the days before VCRs and satellite tv, boredom was our constant enemy. My cousin, Mike -- his parents called him Julio for some reason I could never fathom-- occasionally came over to our grandparents' house. We lived for these visits. Mike was an expert at keeping boredom at bay.

So when he came over, us kids would go outside and play. Some places, of course, were off limits. Off limits were the chicken house, the "smoke house," the garden, the haybarn, the hog barn, the old barn and the pond. Those were places where work was done-- except the old barn and the pond. They were just dangerous. Work, or anything resembling work, we were content to avoid.

Danger was another matter.

We used to sneak over to the old barn. It was built in the 19th century, about the same time my Granny's house was built. The barn lost its roof to one of the very few wind storms that we had in the Ozarks back when I was too young to wander the farm by myself. We weren't, however, stupid-- just daring. We stuck to the log pens where the roof was totally gone rather than where the roof was only partially gone. But my grandpa still scolded us every time he caught us there.

The pond was also forbidden. It was spring fed, so it always had water in it. The spring wasn't big enough to cause the water to move a lot. Still, the orange water beckoned us. We knew that we would be beaten if we were caught playing in the water, tempting as that was on an un-airconditioned July day in Arkansas. So instead we haunted the edges.

One summer, we had enough of a drought that Mike decided that we could get to the stump that was in the pond. This was no ordinary stump, you understand, but a giant stump that was the remains of an ancient tree. It was not intact, but instead had a multitude of levels supported by gigantic roots suspending it as an island in the pond.

We wanted to conquer that stump. It was just big enough for the three of us to sit on it. So we waited until the grown-ups were busy talking about who had the best tomatoes on the creek and what calves might be selling for in the fall to head out for the pond to make that stump into our domain.

We stood by the edge of the pond. There was a rock positioned fortuitously between the shore and the stump. If we could just stretch our legs out far enough, we could catch that rock and jump over to the stump. Mike and I were not quite sure that we could do it, so we put my little brother up to trying. Craig would do anything to win our approval, so he blithely bounced over. Mike and I followed.

Everything we talked about sitting on that stump, every stupid game we played crackled with the excitement of sitting on our perch that was both surrounded by the pond and above it. We did this every time Mike came over that summer.

Until, of course, our grandfather caught us. Our pleas that we were in no danger went unheeded. We were supervised for the rest of the summer.

And so boredom defeated us. That summer.

There are details here that I made up, but the pond, the stump, and the barns were real.

House for sale update...

So Wednesday afternoon, I came home and the house looked worse than it did when I left. Todd and Mea decided to hook up the other room-sized air conditioner, and they broke a window pane. Then spent all day cleaning it up. So I called my realtor and asked her not to come.

Today, she could have come, even though the house is far from perfect. But she was busy, so is coming in the morning.

Monday, June 02, 2008

So, still selling my house

My Realtor probably thinks that we are lying to her. That we don't really intend to sell. That we are the most disorganized people on the face of the planet (well, that part is true anyway).

Well, she just called. She's coming by on Wednesday to advise about what our priorities should be.

Now I am off to pack up more of Miss O's stuff. Did I mention that that baby has more stuff than I do? Every time I look up, there is another box of her crap to pack up.