Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hostess with the Mostest

Jenn came to visit tonight, and brought me some goodies for my birthday. We sat in my living room, the first social occasion I have had here. It's not yet replete, but serviceable. I enjoyed the evening and we drank the gift wine almost up. We she left I walked her out in my jammies.

And my baby Max, bless his little pumpkin head, forgot my birthday. He has one very soon after mine (another Virgo!) and I shall of course feign indifference or old age, but only god knows how much I bless and cherish the day of his birth.

I must be settling in, and feeling more secure. It has really helped to have the young couples move in next door. Subsequently, I met the young people across the street, helped them jumpstart one of their cars. The kid has yet another of those weird large-riveted earring holes, what is that about? I've seen several around here. I guess it would be a good place to hang my car keys so I wouldn't lose them all the time.

All in all, I have come to see this block as accommodating, not the hard-life element I had imagined. There is a pleasant, reassuring mix of people types, a real slice-of-life demographic here. They are nice people, though they carry about them a sense of alacrity, maybe of urgency?

Yes. There is an unexpected sense of urgency here in Edgewood. Certainly not in Dunwoody—most everybody there is pasty with money, time or just plain conceit. It has more to do with a peripheral sense of alert—of creative insistence—an ephemeral will to improve our world. There is a visceral edginess intown, dissipating with every mile outlying, and gone by the time one is OTP.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Light in the Darkness

Finally, the basement is "secure"! The new door floods the basement with light. I love light and I think Tommie did too. But she must have craved it while a willing captive of her terror; she may have been a victim of of her own history. I've no knowledge of her inclinations or motivations. I never knew her. But I swear she sacrificed the joy of light to be assured of her safety. After the devastating terror of experiencing gunshots to her body and witnessing her husband murdered, she may have shut out light as the consequence of locking all points of entry. And here I am, enhancing openings wherever possible while still attempting to honor her attentive security.

In the basement there are two sections of wall that are scarred over, former windows blocked up with concrete, where light formerly poured. I don't know why they were covered. Sometimes I think it may be related to some settling that has occurred in that area. Basically, when you enter the master bedroom, you have to walk downhill. The settling has me so perturbed that I enlisted a sales pitch by Ram Jack, who informed me they could actually hydraulically lift this granite block foundation, which I now believe is evidence of an even older home, to level it. Strangely enough, he declined to assure that it would level the floor. I'm still pondering the logic of that!

The crickets have apparently gotten over their trauma of having their Hansel and Gretel forest laid flat as a pancake by my brother Dee in his machismo finest at the dashboard of an earth-mover. It's endearing yet laughable; something men inspire in me a lot. Maybe I was fated to move into the house of a woman whose vow was so real she never took another after he died? Or maybe she was like me, just over it.

Anyway they are abuzz tonight. Arriving home late I wondered if the frogs would ever come. I imagined myself learning to communicate with frogs like a frog-whisperer, and telling some interviewer that one only needs to mechanize one's behavior in order to do so. Yeah I had a few beers, ok.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Corridor Kitchen

I got my fridge! It doesn't fit in the narrow kitchen, but I will figure a way. The place is about as wide as the aisle between bookshelves in a library. I understand the wisdom of galley kitchens but this little corridor is ridiculous.

The poison ivy rash has not subsided, and I went camping over the weekend. Oy. What to do. Had to come home early I was itching so bad, and friends were alarmed at the puffy red continents on the map of my body. I assured them I would get a cortisone shot, but on finding the cost was $275 at the doc shop, I said fuck that! That is one tenth the cost of a roof job!

I've jumped in a hole again and I'm not surprised. At 60 it is safe to say i know myself. I believe this will all turn out to the good because this house has an enduring spirit in and of itself, not to mention the spirit of Tommie who endured so much in it. And I believe she loved her house as I will inevitably come to love it as my own.

Every so often I get this really good feeling, sitting at my desk working away, glancing out the window to watch the school bus go by in the afternoon. The light is very nice at that hour, and the Dogwood on the front lawn shimmers its green grace at me. The orange tabby across the street comes by for its daily visit. Apparently the front lawn was its litterbox before me, but I put a stop to that. Now we may never be friends, but he and his twin brother are still pondering the possibility.

When that feeling hits I mention it, well, to the air really. I smile and say it's a great little house, Tommie! and hope her spirit senses my pleasure. I hope she is happy now and was happy on this earth. God forbid she was a raging cranky-ass bitch crone. Not that I have ever gotten that impression from anyone I have ever spoken to who knew her.

I dream dreams of impeccably painted doorways and vaulted ceilings. Of cottage-grade windows with true lites, bright warm rooms and lattice-pattern anything. Cozy corner cupboards stacked with old books and vintage glass on raw muslin or overstuffed chairs on Belgian silk runners. Fresh flowers in a living room full of good friends' laughter and low lights on linen in a bedroom full of good love.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Flora and Fauna

Today was productive. My brother Dee showed up with a bobcat and cleared the fairyland, poison ivy and all. I swear I saw that machine tilt while the blade pulled those vines. They are 2 inches in diameter and that's no fish tale. OK 1 inch.

Dee is building a house two doors down, which is kind of cool. He is the one who apprised me of this place coming up for sale. This Spring Atlanta real estate was hotter than I've seen it in a long time. Dee's timing was perfect, he built and sold 3 gorgeous bungalows.  He is a master at building these types of houses, and they are cropping up intown like mushrooms. Dee married a treasure of a woman, Jenn. One of the most industrious women I ever met. Affable, cheerful, unshaken by circumstance of any sort. She and I washed walls in this place until I was pooped, but she kept going. A trove of energy I wish I had.

The fridge got delayed and is being delivered today, along with a cheap interim washing machine. I have prepared a path through the kitchen for its arrival, and managed to get the garage door in the basement open for the washing machine. YES, I have a garage in the basement. It's an old-timey one, double doors that open out. They are rotted through. It doesn't keep out the insects or rodents I'm sure. Nor the robbers. Thanking Tommie for her double deadbolt habit, as seen on the door to the basement.

It strikes me as I prepare that I'm not proud of the place yet, and that is unusual of me to live in a place like that. But I am proud to own it, and will be proud to show it off when all of this gets done.

The poison ivy rash has not subsided. Oy. What to do. Baking soda and cool water works, sort of. But I am et up with it, I'll have to buy a pound of it and soak in the tub. Then there is calamine lotion, drying but effective. Today I was bit by a mosquito and my entire arm went into anaphylactic shock. If there is a thing called skin panic, my arm went into it. I think these fauna are in collusion with their flora brethren and carry loads of urushiol boosters in their ugly little needle noses, so that the poison ivy assures a lasting impression on us mere mortals. They get a nice juicy fat-laden blood meal out of it; what do they care if they are doing a plant's bidding?

Monday, August 26, 2013

The March of Time

It's becoming home, Tommie. It's becoming home. When I look around at the chaos and think, this is where I live, the terror is not as sharp. It's still depressing, the chaos, the boxes, the furniture piled one on top of the other. The dingy walls and still uncleaned floors. But it's fun to be picked up from my home to go down to Manuel's Tavern 5 minutes away or watch the young people preparing to move in next door. And I still get to go on a treasure hunt every day. This morning I found a toaster and waffle iron, items that my friend Rose Lynn would kill for, I think. She would have prepared breakfast right then and there.

Tonight on TV there was this civil rights celebration of the impending 50 year milestone of the church bombing. I had to Google it. I sort of remember but not really. Same as the march on Washington and Martin Luther King's stunning speech. I bet Tommie knew all about it. It is easy to feel noble by virtue of living it when cultural will foments a huge revolution, and it's natural to remember the influence of it. But true nobility is having been the focus of it-- not the victim, the focus.

Turns out, the church bombing happened on my birthday, September 15. Go figure.

I made a friend in the neighborhood! Maran is a self-described Buddhist Gypsy. We went for a walk this morning with her dog Riley. There is a park one block over with lots of verdant spaces, ballfields, tennis courts, a gazebo etc. Perfect for walking. We greeted other walkers and residents, Riley checked out each and every canine. The park hosts the drumline from the local high school marching band for practice on some afternoons. I love the sound of it. I also love the sound of the rock band two doors down. Just wondering what is will sound like if they ever practice on the same afternoon.

I got a ridiculous case of poison ivy. Ridiculous meaning even the palm of my hand is infected. I hacked and pulled on vines to get them out of the gutter and wham! Urushiol socked it to me. The fairyland in the backyard has its own version of witches. Hansel and Gretel should beware. My neck, chin, wrists, thighs and butt are bubbly, bumpy landscapes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Her Stuff. My stuff. Her stuff becomes my stuff. I am beginning to forget which is my stuff and which is hers. I have a lot of stuff. I feel shame over this, but truth is about 10-20 of these packed boxes from the condo are marked eBay. Stuff I can't bear to throw away. Stuff that might be worth some money. Now I have 20+ more boxes of her stuff to add to my eBay inventory. I am truly my mother's blood kin. Respectable member of a hoarder family.

I lie awake thinking about what could happen to my stuff. I can't leave the door ajar without worrying about someone slipping in to steal my stuff. I hesitate having a yard sale because a.) People would see all my stuff, b.) There is so much stuff it's overwhelming.

When I go out I mentally checklist the locks and windows to make sure nobody takes my stuff. I believe I may be more fixated on my stuff than concerned for my own bodily safety.

How is it I can have so much stuff and have nothing to work with? The gutters need cleaning on the back of the house--all I have is this puny ladder barely taller than me. I have spent 2.5 weeks with AT&T desperately trying to get internet access; I am now the proud owner of two additional modems and still no internet—oh wait, yes I do, FINALLY. God dam AT&T to hell.

I guess my fixation with stuff extends to other people's stuff, because I still have my sister-in-law's sponge mop, bleach and garbage bags and I'm anxious to get them back to her. I think she's forgotten them! Some people are chill about stuff.

Tommie was a woman all about stuff. Forty years of mail, bottles, Christmas stuff. Great clothes and shoes. Good quality too. In her later years she made use of giant pill bottles for keeping stuff like nails, keys, pencils and rubber bands. I can't imagine the horse pills she had to take that came in bottles so big.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

One Ringy Dingy

Oh. My. God. I have internet.

Has dealing with the phone company always been a nightmare? Remember Lillie Tomlin's Operator sketch, "We don't care, we're the phone company"? It's not that, it's incompetence. When corporations are allowed to grow obese, they do. Incompetence is round, puffy, slow, and the right hand can't see what the left is doing. How many other trite phrases can I insert here?

Tommie was not only pretty, she was a snappy dresser and she also had enough brains to be hired by the Georgia Department of Revenue. I would say all in all a sexy package. In some ways Tommie is teaching me what it's like being a desirable woman in a neighborhood like this. Wishful thinking? Maybe. A good-looking single woman in her forties or fifties can attract the wrong type. Oh right, I forgot. I am 60.

There is only one explanation for the bars on the windows. But! what about the splintered door? I assume it's evidence of a break-in, but it could have been the cops breaking in to save her. Somebody called 911 when they had not seen/heard from her in days, while she lay on the floor in her own unspeakable mess, declining from dehydration.

Last night I lay awake with the realization that in all that mail and all those papers, there was not one reference to a boyfriend. Tommie Fields, tall, elegant, comely widow, apparently never once took up with another man after she lost her husband. She cared for her ailing mother all those years. But not one scrap of evidence of a romantic interest? I can only hope that she or the family, for sake of privacy, removed all evidence.

Mamie called tonight about the car. I got a feeling she was anxious I might be burdened by its presence. Little does she know I am borderline schizo and talk not only to her dead cousin but also to her cousin's car! I told her all was well. She says her daughter will not be able to take the car but she wants to donate it to charity. If I am confirming territory the car is definitely encroaching and Mamie's update is just. But I have realized hence that the car is my road to security nirvana— it gives the impression someone is always here!

Mamie told me Tommie was her idol when they were young. She thought Tommie was so fine in dress and manner, and sought to be like her. I remember a teenage babysitter whom I thought was way cool, I wanted to be everything she was. I saved up 45 cents to buy white nail polish like hers. Only when I got to the PX it cost 50 cents. It was a major defeat.

You did well by your cousin, Tommie.