Saturday, August 19, 2017

A tale of two stories

Some of you know that I own a cleaning business. One of the things I love about it is seeing the houses. Houses of all kinds, brand new, well loved and vintage. Sometimes, there are cool stories, sometimes sad.

The other day we had an opportunity to clean a move out. It was in pretty rough shape, but the house was adorable. It was built in the 40's and though it had seen better days, I could totally see it in it's heyday. For me to say that, says something because I completely lack imagination. I could see a young married couple excited to move in to their new place. I could picture their small table by the window in the kitchen, big enough to seat only two. I could see the excitement in their faces as they arrange the living room with their furniture. This house was their hope and their dreams and their future.

The second bedroom was tiny, but the closet still had the original door and door knob. It was beautiful piece but covered in about 20 layers of paint from owners and tenants throughout the years. The keyhole was still present, but long since usable. The closet was small for even this tiny room, maybe 2 ft deep.

The ceilings were low, maybe 9 ft, but they were covered with what was probable asbestos tiles. A roof leak had made short work of about a 3 ft area of tiles. The lock for the front door had lost it's cover so the inner workings were visible. The gears still turned when you turned the key! The original hardwood floors were beat up,  uneven and swollen from wear and water damage. The carpets in the bedrooms had to be ripped up and they revealed where the bathroom use to be, complete with and old jalousie window. The stories this house could tell. Looking out the front windows I could just imagine how much that view had changed over the last 70+ years. I was just in awe of this tiny little  house that needs so much work.

The second side of this story is much sadder. The couple who had just been evicted was a 90 year old couple. A neighbor had reported them to elder care because they could no longer take care of themselves. The house proved it. It was sad to see the amount of filth that had built up, to no fault of their own I'm sure. I'd venture a guess that they couldn't even see it, drinks that had spilt down the wall, dirty handprints on the railings, large collections of small flies on the window sills behind the blinds and the dust that had accumulated along the baseboards. It was so heartbreaking.

The worst part was they have family that lives in town. No children, but family still. I can't imagine not checking on an aunt or uncle or cousin, even, in that situation. The home had been let go for a very long time. It wasn't just a month or two of build up. When I asked where the couple was now, I was told that they were at the hospital awaiting placement. It's so sad that these are people, people who lived amazing lives, yet at the end are forgotten.

Just like the house, they were alive and vibrant, and now after years of neglect, are sort of tossed by the wayside.

Wow, this took a turn down "Debbie Downer" street. I apologize for that, it just hit me hard the other day and I felt I needed to tell the stories.

to the moon and back,

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Vacation Ramblings

I never really claimed to be a writer. True, I write, but I'm not sure any of it is good or entertaining. However, I wrote a little on this trip. I tried to capture some of the more precious moments. I felt so connected to this trip. I can't explain the feeling I had, the need I had (see not a great writer). Anyway, here are some of my ramblings... Good... Bad... Indifferent. Probably more for me and my recollection later in life, but maybe you'll enjoy them too.

Many times, its the small things we miss. The little details that dont amount to anything. However, on this trip, i happened to be reading a book about being happy. A book that just happened to point out the things we wish we'd have done the first time around. Like dancing in the rain, picking daisies, and just living in the moment. And so, I stopped reading and I read. I read billboards with their advertisements for adult care facilities, local liquor stores and fast food eateries. With Looney Toons as the soundtrack, I watched as cotton ball type clouds slowly transform to turtles and dinosaurs in the sky above me. Trees and grass flew by in blur as flatlands of Florida turned to rolling hills of Georgia. I broke into song, to the dismay of the rest of the car, the moment we passed the Georgia state line singing "Georgia on my Mind". I daydreamed while passing pecan trees of laying under them basking in the shade that their leaves provided, feeling the breeze tickle my cheeks. You see, it had only just started, but the end was so near. I knew this week would fly by, but I wanted to savor it all.

Looking into the back seat, I see flush cheeks and flittering eyelids of a sleeping toddler, the sun soaked chestnut hair and mirrored sunglasses of a teenage girl who has no idea how beautiful she is and the look of concentration on a little boys face as he's trying to watch his vintage cartoons on a very modern Mac computer while eating yogurt pretzels.

As if to further drive home the point, we passed an accident involving an RV. The RV had completely rolled over, windshield shattered, parts and pieces scattered all over and a fire rescue truck with a wench trying to pull it out. In a split second, their vacation was over. No more "are we there yet"'s, no excited fits of laughter as they approached their destination, just over.

In a moment, it all makes sense. In a moment, I realized how much we need this, how much I need this. I'm starting this trip with a desire, no physical need, to imprint it in my memory. To love every minute of it and not sweat the small things that may happen. I feel this overwhelming pull to just be present. Ironically, as I write that, I'm not actually being present because I'm writing. Or maybe that is being present and mindful, because I'm documenting it.

Crunch crunch crunch
"What are you eating?" I asked
"Carrots" mumbled Amber
"I thought you didn't want veggies." The only reply I got was two brown eyes rolled in my direction.

"Hayden kiss" is heard from the backseat. "Mama hurt. Hayden kiss," the sweetest little voice ever begs. "Where does it hurt, bubba," Hayden asks. At that moment a little foot was flung into the air and Hayden leaned over to kiss his brothers foot.

Winding back country roads with mountains painting the back drop are one of my favorite things, besides beach sunrises and river sunsets. We're passing cute little country mercantiles selling jams and jellies and run down salvage yards with lined with cars from a far away time. Then quickly the scenery changes to gated subdivisions with lavish entry ways and even more extravagant houses, but quickly back to corn fields and "See Rock City" signs painted on tin roofs. Cleared valleys peppered with cattle lay beautifully between the mountain ridges.

Giggles of pure joy radiate from the back seat as the toddler figures out how to spin a fidget spinner on his knee. I look back to see the wonder and pride on his face as he taps it to spin it more. Joyfully he exclaimed "woooow!! I did!!"

It's a lazy morning. Sausage sizzled in the pan, bacon filled the house with its glorious aroma and bread browned in the toaster. Plates are made, coffee is poured and we enjoy our breakfast on the back porch in the 66 degree weather. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

10:30 and we are all still in our pj's. I couldn't ask for more. The one draw back is the yellow jackets flying around. "They won't sting you if leave them alone." Hummingbirds and butterflies fly by with the mountains in the distance. Hud proclaims "Mountains good!" while a gentle breeze blows. Hayden sits with his favorite book, Animal Encyclopedia.

Old school rap fills the air. Songs like Me, Myself & I from De La Sol and Paul Revere by the Beastie Boys fill me with nostalgia for my childhood. Ironically, this trip has brought us back to a simpler time. No phones, no internet, no social media. The black out has been nice. We've been filling our time with coloring, board games, reading, family movies and primitive cabin games. Laughing and each other as we try to sing songs from memory has been my favorite. It's like we are living on our own musical. We cheer as Oowa gets the ring on the hook after numerous misses. The toddler stomps and dances his way down the porch. Oowa starts singing "Free falling, now I'm free falling" as Jon sweeps a spider off the porch.

Until we vacation again...

to the moon and back,