Monday, October 16, 2017

Me Too

The "Me Too" wave washed over Facebook last week with women posting "Me too" if they have ever been sexually harassed or assaulted. I am NOT a joiner, this was important to me.  I participated in this campaign.

When I was 11 or 12, our family traveled to the Bahamas for a work vacation. We were taken out of school, because my parents believed that travel was as valuable an education as school learning.  My parents would be attending seminars and we kids got to play on the beach or at the pool. The pool was novel to us because it had a swim up bar. My brother who was about 7, spent much of his time bellying up to the bar for a soda. When he got home and his teacher asked him his favorite thing about the trip, he said it was the bar in the pool. My mother was mortified. My older sister was just interested in laying on the beach in the sun.

Being an independent child, I would wander the beach looking for shells. I was a good swimmer so my parents never really worried about me being around water by myself. Turns out it was not the water but what was in the water that could be dangerous.

One morning, I was up before everyone and ready to go. My parents gave me the green light to go to the beach to collect shells. I knew the morning was the best time because, over night, shells would wash ashore. I wanted to be first on the beach to get the good ones. The water was smooth as glass. The beach was pristine and only a few people were out. I walked along the beach stopping only to pick up a corkscrew shell or dislodge a promising specimen from the sand with my toe.

I was wearing terrycloth shorts and tank shirt over my one piece swim suit. My short dark hair curling from the salty air. Growing up, my dad nicknamed me "Butterball". I was never obese but was solid, tan and healthy.

The water was so warm and calm. I waded out in the shallows looking for shells that had not made it to the beach. I could see the bottom clearly even though the water was up to my knees. I was lost in my task and did not notice the man approach me. He was floating on his belly, crawling along the sea floor with his hands. His body was mostly under the shallow water as he kicked gently toward me. I was surprised by his presence. He was bald with a bright white smile against his dark skin. He was wearing a small swim suit and I thought he was probably not a tourist like me.

He said good morning and asked what I was doing. I knew I should not be talking to a stranger so I kept it short and aloof.

"Looking for shells." I answered.

He continued to tell me what a pretty girl I was and then said he would help me look for shells. His hands felt along the ocean bottom clouding up the water. Then I felt his hands on my feet and I knew this was not right. He swam in the water around me circling like a shark. Trying not to let him see my panic, I tried to think how I could get away quickly.

 I pictured how when you run away from an animal predator, they usually chase you so I didn't want to run. Besides I was in knee deep water and would likely fall down if I ran. I kept feeling his touch on my feet and ankles. He was not grabbing aggressively but stroking and massaging them, smiling at me but not really seeing me.

I knew I had to get away. I pulled away and thanked him politely for helping my but my mother and father were coming to meet me and I had to go. Wading slowly but purposefully, I made my way back to the beach. My plan was to get to our hotel quickly so I would be safe.

The man did not follow me. I did not tell my parents for fear they would limit my freedom and get angry at me for talking to a stranger. I would not go to beach alone again though the rest of our trip. No one noticed but me.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

mowing zen


Mowing the pasture was like meditation to her. Not the clear your "monkey mind" type of meditation but the complete opposite where she could let her mind wander and her inner monologue take a spin around the pasture as she cut the back 40.
The horses watched her pass on the noisy beast and followed her along the fence, curious, even though they had seen her mow before. Maybe they just wanted to watch the grasshoppers leap from the tall weeds as she rolled though blades engaged.

What pattern would she use today? She broke the pasture up in squares and rectangles, changing the plan when she got bored. It was so easy to let her mind wander. It was past baby bunny season so she had less chance of running over a nest. There was nothing to pay attention to but the pattern.

She wondered if she thought about sex more than other women her age. Menopause was on the horizon but she still was an interested sex as much as a 15 year old boy.  The difference was that she knew a lot more about it than a 15 year old boy. When she was 12 she probably knew more than one too.

She was the snoop in the family. She found the hidden Christmas presents first, and the cookies mom hid high in the pantry, While looking through her mother's bedside table for the Brach's chocolate Bridge Mix her mom hid there from the family, she found "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * but were afraid to ask". She forgot about the candy and took the book to her bedroom, reading as much as she could before her mom got home. Looking back she wondered why her parents had it. What did they want to know? What did she want to know? They had already had four children. Did dad get it for mom to spice things up? She read it cover to cover and hoped her mother did not miss it from the bedside drawer.

When she was about 13, she found "The Joy of Sex" in dad's closet, high on a shelf ,with a limited number of Playboy magazines. She thought she might have been looking for hidden Christmas presents at the time. The drawings of the hairy man and the woman who didn't shave her pits, excited her although she had not concept of what it would feel like to do what they were doing. At least she knew what a penis looked like now. Did her parents consult the book on the nights they locked their door? It was pretty tough to even think about that even though they were younger than she was now at the time.

The sun ducked behind a cloud as she cut the weeds with the tiny yellow flowers. She would have to cut them several times because the stems were stringy like armpit hair of the woman in the book. What even made her think of those books? If her parents had known she had seen them when she was that young, they would have been mortified.

She remembered when she was in college and asked her mother about birth control, she had been on the pill since she was sixteen without her mother's knowledge.  Her mother's response was something like "when you are married, you can research and decided what is best for you."

How do other people learn about sex? Her husband thought he was an expert with a few soulful kisses, couple squeezes here and there, then in and out until he was finished. "That was great, honey," he would say, "you are amazing." She wished she could have said the same. A male friend told her that they were likely sexually mismatched. Likely?

At age 14, her family spent the holidays in Florida. She would sit on the porch of the 3rd floor condo and search the beach for cute boys to "accidentally" run into. In the game room one night she met a 20 year old who seemed bored. They played some pool and then he left to get stoned. What would have happened if he had not been a sensible man and decided to  of take advantage her "oh so obvious "teenage advances?

The sun was back out and she was glad she remembered to wear her father's old Aussie outback gardening hat and safety sunglasses.  Nothing like having a bug or flying debris smack you in the eye while you mow. Her monkey mind had not swung to a different vine yet. Sex. The clouds were beginning to get dark and the wind was picking up. Turning the wrong way on the mower meant a face full of grass and dirt.

There were so many different types of grass in the pasture. They had gone to seed. The seed pods flew out of the mower as she made the long pass. Would they propagate and make thicker grass? damn, sex again. At least this time it was plant sex.

Rain drops started to fall as she the last bits. The horses had been lulled to sleep in the shade by the drone of the mower.  Her monkey mind was quieter now.  With the weeds cut down, the grass could grow. Her mind was free to move on to more practical and productive things now.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gatsby's Story

The woman on the phone sounded desperate and frustrated. " I can't keep my son's dog any more. He is nine months old and I have already had to take my shelties to the vet's twice because he keeps fighting with them." I was manning the golden retriever hotline and was silent as she went on. "My son was in a car accident and cannot care for his dog anymore so we took him in. My husband spoils him. His name is Zeus. He is sweet but just does not get along with my dogs." She  had tried the Houston rescue but they would not take him.
I knew this rescue would not take him in either. They had a strict policy against aggressive dogs. It does not  match with normal breed characteristics for golden retrievers. We had a mouthy golden when  I was a kid until my mom did some training with a professional. I wondered if we could handle him, my husband and I. We had just moved to a large house with acreage and my current golden rescue, Tucker was getting up in years and I wanted another one. The rescue that I volunteered for would never let me adopt because we did not have a fenced yard in the traditional sense. We had the Invisible Fence but they did not think it kept dogs safe enough. I could see that point in some neighborhoods, but we lived in the country with no neighbors. The dog from Houston seemed like a golden opportunity. My husband had a job coming up in Houston in the next few days so he got the address and said he would just have a look. He came home with a dog that looked more like an Irish Setter than a Golden Retriever. He was papered and his birthday was on Valentine's Day.

The first thing we needed to do was change his name. Zeus, I felt, gave him too much power. Husband named him after his favorite book character. Gatsby. It would be nice to report that he and Tucker became instant friends but that just did not happen. There were some snarley fights and bloody ears. Finally they came to an understanding and stopped fighting, except on rare occasions. We also discovered that Gatsby thought cats were for chasing and eating. We had the Invisible Fence put a unit in the house to keep the dogs from going no further than the landing at the top of the stairs. Oh how the cats taunted him.

He WAS unruly, and spoiled. My husband was fond of picking up the squirmy 65 pound fluff ball and hugging him. He was difficult to walk and tried to attack most other dogs. If you ran across the yard, he would try to bite your hands. We sent him to boot camp. The best one in town. He came home with some manners but we obviously did not keep up with them very well. He regressed so we sent him back when we went on our delayed honeymoon.

So the manners thing, well, we just decided to ignore that and made sure that no friends brought their dogs over. We discovered he was great a sticking his heads down holes to catch rats, rabbits and skunks. It was not until I heard him crunching an armadillo shell that I realized that, they too, were hole dwellers to be caught. Safe to say, we never really had a rodent problem.

When I got pregnant, I was worried how he would be around the baby. I really worried that he would attack it like he would a small animal. As I was crossing the lawn on day to answer the phone, he leaped up and bit my hand. It was more like teeth hitting skin but it hurt and I knew I could not stand for that. I clasped my hands together and swung at him, rolling him across the lawn. He looked stunned sitting back on his haunches, From that day on, he never bit at my hands or arms when I ran by him.
The baby came and we did everything the books tell you about introducing a baby to your pet. Tucker liked the baby. Tucker liked to lick the baby. Tucker was ancient. He was 15, could not walk very well, hear very well or see very well. Gatsby was indifferent. He did not have time for this creature who stole his dad's attention from him. Did I mention that my husband spoiled Gatsby rotten? Tucker crossed over the Rainbow Bridge soon after Jake was born. Gatsby learned that babies meant food on the floor and likely leftovers.
As Jake grew though, Gatsby mostly still ignored him. I mean, pretended he was not even there, as he ran over him to go outside or get to food. Kiddo took it all in stride. We decided Gatsby was a little too sad and lonely after Tucker's death so we adopted Daisy from the shelter. She was the only dog who did not cower in a corner after meeting Gatsby. They cowered because he tried to dog fight everyone. Daisy, a border collie mix, was quick. She darted out his reach, got in her herding crouch and seemed to say "I am going to figure you out, tough guy." We loved her. She and Gatsby had some tussles but in the end she dominated him. She herded him all over the yard, running backwards to his running forwards. She herded small animals for him to catch. On two separate occasions, those small animals happened to be our cats who had gotten outside. The endings were not good for the kitties and I was glad I was out of town. I was so angry, mostly at Gatsby, because I had seen him go after the cats, mouth wide open on more than once.
So he lived happily guarding his home and people and keeping the yard free of armadillos and stray dogs. I was never as crazy for him as I was for Tucker. He was mostly my husband's dog. When we got divorced, we split up the dogs. I don't think Gatsby was looking longingly across the sound for Daisy's green light but he missed her. She missed bossing him around too. So the dogs went where Jake was, sort of. I only took Gatsby when his dad was traveling. It was hard to keep him away from the cats because the new house is much smaller but we worked it out. He learned the Invisible Fence at the new place too. I think Daisy faked him out, making him think it was a smaller area than it really was, because he stayed close for a long time. We used to joke that he was not bred for his intelligence, or that he must have been inbred and his brain was pinched in his cone head.
I will miss him. I know that we gave him a great life that he might not have gotten. He might have been put down much sooner because of the aggression. I mourn the loss of the kitties he killed but forgave him. He deserved a chance and we gave it to him. We did not take him places where he could hurt other dogs but I would have liked to have taken him swimming, like I used to take Tucker. My eyes hurt from crying and so do my son's. He went peacefully. Daisy must have said goodbye earlier because she was not very interested in the whole death thing. She was more concerned about us. I think she will be content being the solo dog. Gatsby's ashes will live at his dad's with the ashes of my dog Tucker.
Jake and I decided that now Gatsby is in heaven with Tucker, the horses, Sahil, Bailey and Chai and the kitties, Smudgie, Gracie and Virgie, along with my dead iPod (well it died too, so you figure it out). Perhaps in some great animal heaven comedy, the cats get to chase Gatsby for once, maybe even while riding horses.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A high school friend asked me on Facebook if I would ever see myself getting married again. I had some time to think about the answer. I decided I would like to share my life with someone but they would have to fit in my life. I will not go changing myself again to fit into someone else's life. Another gentleman friend of mine told me that I was too busy to date anyone and that I live too far away to make dating me convenient. My thought on that was if someone cared for me enough, it would not be considered an inconvenience but a privilege. I would feel the same.

The first friend mentioned how one former classmate seemed to go through men like crazy. She is a beautiful woman and I am not sure what she was like in high school but she seems very nice now and like she deserves to find happiness as much as anyone else. Maybe she just had a run of wrong for her dudes.

I pulled out the yearbook when I got home and looked through it while my son fell asleep. There were some lovely young women in my senior class who were not in the popular clique. In fact it seemed that many in the popular clique were not as attractive as the ones I was seeing and remembering from this class or that. I wonder if they realize how pretty they were then, probably not. I wonder if they are still as lovely now.

I read my senior bio and laughed to see my likes and dislikes are still very similar. Future plans changes from broadcast journalism to photo journalism but I said I wanted to "do what I like, when I like." Boy that is still so true. Maybe I am coming back to being my authentic self. The one who believed that she could do anything, before people started telling her "no" or working on breaking down her self confidence.

Sometimes I think my job is like a bad boyfriend who keeps telling you that you are fat and worthless. Nothing you do for him is appreciated or recognized. The job I have been in for 17 years, like a relationship, did not start out bad. Somewhere along the line the communication stopped because it became too difficult to be honest. Need to get to that marriage counselor to save things or get a divorce.

Seeing some of the faces in the yearbook got me thinking about somethings I want to apologize for. Things even beyond high school. The boy who was not ready but I ignored him. I feel bad about that now and it has taken me many years to feel bad about it. I wanted him to ask me to prom and he did not. So when the opportunity arose, I took something from him that he could never get back.

The nice guy who drove an hour for a date and I planned a work thing. He went with me but then I think I was aloof  because I had started dating my ex husband at the same time. I should have been honest rather than rude. I was collecting dates to make myself feel more wanted and powerful.

I will always wonder what happened to the sweet guy who worked at the park where I volunteered. We had so much fun together. We went camping on Assateague Island, horses ate our food and we got eaten alive by mosquitoes but we laughed a lot. I told him I did not want to settle down with any guy at the time when I should have said I wanted to settled with my Ex instead of him. In retrospect, Mike would have been a much better choice, as we had much more in common but I was hung up on appearances.

I am trying to be honest now in personal relationships. It seems to be working well for me. If I can't be honest I hold my tongue. I will have to win the lottery to be honest in my job. It takes some diplomacy. My brand of honesty would seem combative because of the way I have worked the system in the past. I would get fired or promoted. I am not ready to find out just yet.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

The house I grew up in-final

We played outside often when I was growing up. My mom would limit TV and kick us outside. The other alternative was to go read, which I did, or practice piano, which I did not.

There were enough kids in the neighborhood for it to be fun. My first best friend lived down the hill and through the woods. Her mom was in my mom's wedding. We used to play in the woods making forts from rotted out trees. A stream ran through the woods and we would catch crayfish, rock hop, trying not to get our shoes wet from falling in. Our motto was "Never trust leaves". Leaves were slippery going down hills. Leaves covered up shallow areas of the stream so you would step on them and end up with wet shoes and socks. Leaves hid rocks and branches perfect for tripping over. NEVER TRUST LEAVES.

The paths through the woods were well worn and never overgrown because we used them so often. Going to her house was great because it was all down hill. Going home at the end of the day was exhausting. Trudging up the steep hill using saplings to pull yourself along seemed to help. Of course if you had a Tupperware or jar full of minnows or crayfish, you could not do that. You simply plodded up the hill, at the top you pushed aside the forsythia bushes that hid the trail entrance and then had to walk up the driveway home.

At the bottom of our driveway was a large rock. About the size of a fat pony, which it what it transformed into many days. Next to the rock was a sour cherry tree. The birds and squirrels got most of the cherries but every once in awhile, you could try them and decide that yes, they were too sour to eat off the tree. About halfway up the hill to the house, there was a sassafras tree with the most perfect U shaped branches for sitting, that is, if you could pull yourself up. The leaves of that tree were fuzzy had a distinctive smell and I still am not sure if I loved it or hated it. Some of the leaves were shaped like mittens. I would think about that as I lay in the grass under that tree. We did not worry about ants or bugs. The grass was soft and easy to walk on.

My father loves to garden and on our almost 2 acres, he had so much to work with. He had a bank of day lilies, mostly orange but some had other colors. I used to pick apart the seed pods when I was bored or pull the dead stalks out and use them as swords or magic wands.
I loved the tall purple phlox he had planted among the azaleas. The tall clumps of flowers seemed so majestic standing proudly among the bushes. Azaleas were fun to play with because the flowers were like ladies' skirts when you turned them upside down. I used to make flower ladies from them and from the hyacinth flowers. Dancing flower ladies at a woodland ball.

I remember picking bouquets of violets and lilies of the valley for my mother. I was so proud to bring her flowers to let her know how much I loved her. She would put them in a tiny vase on the kitchen windowsill.

We also used to dig in the woods, playing archeologist. I am not sure if my father was the influence here or not, because he was always finding things when he was gardening. Old medicine bottles, a broken clay jug that he put back together. We found oyster shells, rusted iron objects like a clawfoot for a tub or an old wall bell. We guessed that our property was the trash dump for the Pot Spring mansion. It was exciting to find these old things. I don't know what became of everything. They might have been tossed in one of my dad's garage cleaning sprees.

The side yard had the rope swing and a swing set. We never went past some old rotting logs that were back in the woods. It seemed to be a natural boundary. The only time we might, was to gather kindling for fires. I carved my initials in the beech tree there. It might have been a heart with another set of initials, like NS + CV. He was a sixth grader that I adored when I as in third grade. On the swing set, we would image the swings were horses and we were galloping away on them. Sometimes maybe we would be the horses, shaking our manes and galloping through the woods.
We made forts by bending and twisting saplings together. We gathered moss for soft areas to sit and slate to have plates and cutting surfaces. We would sweep the leaves aside to make imaginary wall boundaries. We might have been pretending to be families or siblings abandoned in the woods. I am sure we had all sorts of scenarios. We were never about war unless there was a boy playing with us.

On the other side of the house, there was a rarely used patio off the guest room. It has wooden screens for privacy from the street. My dad had created a stone path from the front door to this patio. Part of it was lined with hostas. It seemed like he was always digging them up and dividing them. The hill between the driveway and the house was pretty steep. The area was covered with pachysandra. We lost so many balls in there.
 Past the seldom used patio there used to be a swing set before the swings were on the other side of the house. We used to swing so high and hard that the legs of swing set would lift and bump but never tip. Behind the swing set there was a tallish stump and an animal graveyard. We were always taking in baby squirrels and birds that had fallen from trees. They usually died, but we tried to keep them alive anyway. Hamsters, gerbils, mice, chinchillas all went there. I was afraid to walk about the ground there for fear of stepping on a dead animal and having my feet smush its lifeless little body. It freaked me out. I tried to avoid it when I cut through the yards to go see my other friend who had a  large family. Mary Katherine, Mary Louise, Hector, Ignatious, Edmund, and Mary Margaret, who was my friend. I don't remember her coming over as much as I was over there and she didn't even know about the pet cemetery.

In the Winter, this was the side of the house where we would sled. Usually someone with a saucer would make a great path. then we would pack it hard and fast with our sleds. Sometimes you did not steer and had to hit a tree to stop. There was one large tree just as the path got fast. You could start there or start up higher and slower on the hill.

The back of the house was mostly patios. They were off the living room, dining room and family room. Great areas for entertaining and having family over. They were stepped so the living room patio was higher than the other. Narrow steps led down to the lower more used patio, which seemed protected with a railroad tie wall and an hill beyond. The neighbors could not see you down there. When we bred our golden retriever and she has a litter of seven puppies, that was the perfect place for  them to romp when they big enough too. Imagine the cuteness of seven golden puppies. Her whelping box was later turned into a sand box. I painted out on the patio, made those colored
sandscapes in jars, it was a good place to get messy. We ate steamed crabs back there and cooked out. There was a bench that ran the length of the patio that we sat, stood and used to climb on the bench. When we had a hard rain the patio would become a wading area because the storm drain could not keep up because leaves frequently blocked it.

If you stood on the top of the hill, you would be about level with the balcony off my parent's bedroom and you could see the backyard neighbor's house and their large black dachshunds.  I don't know why we did not play back there very much. Maybe we felt like we were being watched.

My father tried to use what little sun we got through the trees for gardens. There was a terraced section off the back of the garage next to the patio. Sometimes we had vegetables growing there but I do not remember them doing much there. I wonder if we trampled everything so it could not grow. He burned leaves back there too. After reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I decided to try and bake a potato in the ashes like I read in the book. I did not tell my parents but I will tell you, it worked!

I loved growing up in our neighborhood without sidewalks. Playing SPUD and kickball in the cul de sac or driveway. Attempting to ice skate when the driveway froze over. Playing until dark and hearing mom call for you in the distance. Walking home from school and plucking an apple of a neighbor's tree. All of these seem pretty idyllic. I hope my son has fond memories of the place or places he grows up. I am not sure people are a stationary as they were back in the sixties, seventies and eighties. Most of my friends lived in the same house all their lives too. I cannot say the same will happen with my son.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The house I grew up in-Part 4

It seems strange to dedicate a whole post to the bedrooms of my childhood house but since there are many memories there, I guess it is more than just who slept where.

The upstairs was at the top of a longish staircase that had a double railing of heavy wood. The low one was perfect for smaller children and the higher one for adults. From the landing at the top of the stairs, you could see into the dining room on the first floor, living  room and entrance hall o the second floor. It was a great place to yell from when you needed to pass a message along. It was also very convenient to drop the dirty laundry from the landing to the first floor, where it could be taken to the laundry room. There was a door the allowed privacy to the upstairs bedrooms if there was a party below. My parents enjoyed entertaining so this was great to give us some quiet. This door also came in handy at Christmas and Easter time so my parents could do the Santa thing or prevent us from seeing the surprises that waited below.

As a young girl, before my brother was born and a little after, my bedroom was the smallest in the house. It was yellow and next to parent's bedroom. My sisters shared the room next to me. It was a large room with twin beds that slid under bolsters to make them more like couches. The bolster lifted up to hid treasures. Mostly I remember stuffed animals being there. I used to sneak in their room to play. The beds were along intersecting walls and there was a corner table. the end of the bed could slide under the table or not. When it was not, under the table made a great hiding spot. I would take Pinky, a stuffed dog/sheep?, with floppy ears that had soft undersides that were soothing to rub. I still have Pinky but he was never really mine.
There was a closet outside my room that boxes of dolls from the countries my grandfather had visited and Stieff puppets and animals. I guess the Stieff animals were the Beanie babies of the 60's and 70's. You were never supposed to remove the tags and the tags had the animals' names on them.
I remember more about my sisters' room than I do my own. I must have played in there quite a bit.

There was a linen closet next to their room that held crisp white cotton sheets and thin cottons blankets of lavender and yellow. You could get to the attic through this closet. There was another bedroom on the other side of the closet. That would be my sister's room later, then mine as a teen.

The bathroom that we girls shared had two sinks, a laundry hamper built into the vanity, another great hiding place, and large flowers on the medicine cabinets that bookended the vanity. The floor had a random pattern of pink and white tiles. I remember looking for repeating patterns on that floor.

My parents had a large room with a balcony that looked over the back patio. There was a long mirrored wall with a counter where my mom could put on makeup, a sink outside the bathroom where my did could shave while mom was having a shower in the proper bathroom. The ceiling was high and they had a wall unit A/C when the rest of us had to make due with the gigantic ceiling fan in the hall that pulled air in our open windows to cool things somewhat.

My small room had windows that opened up onto the garage room. This was scary at times if you imagined that this would be the entry point of a robber. As I got older, my mother let me have the room painted pink. It was not a mellow pale pink but more the strong pink that was just a shade darker than Pepto Bismol. I think I have a pretty bedspread and curtains. I also remember rearranging my room on a regular basis, by myself, something I must have inherited from my mother. I would sit in my room listening to an Alan Sherman record with a big chunk out of it (I never knew what the first few songs were because of the missing piece), Disney records and any others I could find in my sisters' room.
About this time, my parents had a second telephone line installed in the linen closet. The wire was long enough to stretch to either sister's room. My brother had a room downstairs at this time, lucky boy. My sister would fight over phone use and sometimes it would get ugly.

One sister went to college and there was a room shift. My brother was moved upstairs to the big room. The bolster beds were gone and he had a double bed. I used to stand outside his room and listen to him playing his baseball board game with his imaginary friend Brooksie (he was actually a real friend when my brother was younger but they did not play together much).
My room at this time had a dollhouse. I used to rearange the furniture in there all the time too. I even used to buy dollhouse furniture kits and make them. The attic of the dollhouse was my secret laboratory though. I used to mix "potions" of soap, shampoo, and other things. I am not sure what the goal was but perhaps I should have been a pharmacist.

When the next sister went off to college, I got her room. I loved the built in shelves for my collectables. China animals, novelty candles, my crafts and books filled the shelves. We had the room painted green, bright green and for one wall, I chose a wallpaper with a basket weave pattern and a metallic base. This was my room until I moved out of the house after college.

I remember being locked out of the house after babysitting one night. The dad of the family brought me home and I had no key and no one was home. All the accessible windows were locked too.  I remembered my bedroom window was unlocked but it was on the second floor. The garage with the ladders was locked too. We got a garbage can and flipped it over under my window. I climbed on his shoulders and he climbed onto the garbage can. I opened the window and rolled in. That was the closet I ever came to being in a circus act.

My parents remodeled and my old room became a sitting room off their bedroom. Their once large double closets became a built in dresser with mirrors, the makeup area became a walk in closet and the bathroom was updated, although now I cannot really remember how.

I still have the bedroom furniture my parents had when they got married in the 50's. They used it until they remodeled. It is now my bedroom furniture. I thought I would have updated by now but it is tough to spend money on furniture when what you have works just fine, but may not be the most stylish. It was well build and could use a refinish. I will add that to my list.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The house I grew up in- part 3

There are always things about the house you grew up that stick in your memory. When you are young, you don't really think about a house's functionality or livability. As I look back on my memories of 303 Valleyview Garth, I think that it was a perfect house for a family of six.

The fact that the house was a split level made things interesting for us.We used to practice jumping stairs. You knew you were getting braver when you could jump from the entrance hall over the stairs down to the first floor. We were allowed to use the railings, kid rules.

The double front door opened to the entrance hall. The floor was slate and the was a ceiling light that hung from the exposed beams. My mom broke part of the light practicing her tennis serve. It was a good open space to play with tops, or practice roller skating.

Off the main hall was a coat closet with a mirror. It could be called a power room except it did not have a sink or toilet. The large mirror had a shelf in front of it so people could put purses there and find a compact in their purse. One coat closet was small and used for guests to put coats in. The other closet was larger and had shelves on one side where we kept luggage. When I was sad, I would go into the depths of the closet and cry my eyes out. It was comforting somehow being under the coats that smelled like my family. I would stroke the fur coats and sob. The softness made me feel better. I don't know if my parents ever knew that was my hiding spot when I was sad.

Another door off the entrance hall led to the guest room. There was a full bath in there too. That was handy in a house with four kids but we never realized it until we got older. We did not have central air conditioning growing up. The only A/C was a wall unit in my parents room and central air on the middle floor. On hot summer nights, the kids would take turns sleeping in the guest room. I remember one night I awoke for no particular reason. I heard a man's voice say "I love you, Nell" from outside the closed door. I thought it was dad and went to look. There was no one there. I shrugged and I went back to sleep. The next morning, I asked dad why he came down to say that. He told me he did not come down to tell me he loved me. He had slept through the night. I know  I heard it and strangely enough, I was never afraid to be in that room. When friends came to spend the night, we usually hung out in the guest room in sleeping bags.

The living room was open to the big hall. We had family gatherings there. This piano was in there so we had to practice for our lessons there. All the piano music was in a cabinet wall that looked over into the dining room. We would often yell to each other over the cabinet wall down to the family room. Dad had wired the stereo speakers in these cabinets as well, so whatever was playing downstairs, was playing in the living room. Great for weekends when Dad thought we should be awake and he would blast some uplifting get the heck out of bed music. Luckily I was an early riser.

We had a card table there where we learned to play pinochle and hearts. My parents had Bridge night. We were a big card playing family. It was fun. Many times we would move the furniture and stretch or do gymnastics. Looking back, out gymnastics was pretty close to yoga these days without the breath. We played melodicas that my grandfather bought for us in Germany. I think it was supposed to be a special room just for guests because there were times I think we had to ask for permission to be in there. That seems to be a pretty vague memory because of the amount of time we spent in there.
My first kiss was in that room during a truth or dare game. Entertaining was something my parents always encouraged. They never wold let us have alcohol but many of the parties I had were school related or smaller when we did not thing about drinking. We, meaning me and my friends, I can't speak for my siblings.

My mother was always rearranging the furniture in our house and the living room was probably the room that changed the most. The constant of that room was a glass topped coffee table with really sharp edges. Surprisingly, none of us ever got hurt on it. She also bought the longest most comfortable couch ever! We would also sleep there on hot nights if someone had already taken the guest room. Years later, when Mom bought another couch, she had the super long one cut in half and reupholstered. She moved them to the family room. I eventually too them and they moved to Austin with me. I gave them away eventually.