Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Man's Truck

There is a man’s truck in the driveway. It’s a big suped-up electric blue Chevy. It’s got some kind of thing on the hood like the engine is so big it’s busting out of it like a heart busting out of a lovesick cartoon character’s chest. I expect to hear it go boing!

The driver of this truck is one of the boys who is in hot pursuit of Kelly. This one is making some headway because she hasn’t allowed any of the others to come over. I like her taste in men. She picks the ones who are nice. This character (that’s what Kurt calls them—characters) brings her gifts. When she mentioned she liked Sour Patch Kids, he came to school the next day and brought her two packages of the candy. Two. I thought, this kid means business.

When she mentioned she liked Miranda Lambert, he got tickets for the concert and didn’t protest when I said I would drive them, even though he drives. He offered to put down my mulch. And he wouldn’t take any money for moving my stall mats.

But he’s a man! I look at that truck and think my baby’s growing up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Big Reveal

The house is peeking out behind the corner, ready, at any minute, to step out and show itself like a child in the leaves who has given up and jumps up—Here I am! I am right here! I was here the whole time!

Every day it reveals itself more and more. Daffodils are popping up everywhere.

Trees I thought were dead, are blooming. There are flowering trees and flowering bushes. We tie orange baling twine around the trees that have white flowers so we don’t inadvertently chop down a tree that flowers when it’s not, when it looks like every other scrubby sapling that has gotten out of hand and sprouted up where it shouldn’t because no one loved this place for so long.

I have a weeping cherry. I like saying I have things. Trees. Flowers. A garden. My tomatoes. My blackberry bushes. My crocuses are coming up. Like a person could really own these things that come up out of the earth on the whim of the sun and the rain or someone’s decision to get out a hose and start sprinkling. Like you could own a child. Even though it’s your child, you don’t own it any more than you own the bud on the oak tree. But I still have them. They are mine. Children. Trees. Flowers.

I didn’t know it was a weeping cherry right outside my kitchen window when we bought this place but that’s what I was hoping it was when I was having my coffee in the wintertime and I noticed the drooping branches and the bark that was similar to my cherry trees back in Virginia. And now there are pink blossoms, so I think I was right.

Another one in front of the window has white blossoms on it but I’m not sure what that one is. The one I thought was a lilac, is not. I’m not sure what it’s going to be.

Like the flowers, bricks and stones and slate are popping up in the grass. We walk back and forth so much from the barn and the driveway to the house that we wore down a path on the lawn. We knew that one day we would have to buy some concrete, or pavers, something, to make a walkway. It’s very hard trying to keep your shoes clean when you have to go somewhere when you’re walking across the grass. Try tiptoeing across the grass in high heels when it’s raining. Okay, that’s a lie. I haven’t worn high heels in years. But what if I wanted to?

One day I noticed a brick in the dirt. A little flash of red. First one. Then another. Then a whole section about one foot square. I told Kelly to cool out her horse there. There’s nothing better for wearing down a path than walking your horse back and forth. Might as well utilize this horse power!

It wasn’t long before there were so many bricks showing that Kelly couldn’t stand it anymore and so she got out the shovel and started digging.

She uncovered a beautiful brick walkway. Now we don’t have to build one! It was there the whole time! And a nice one! Nice old bricks. I think about Mr. Apple laying those bricks, and all those years they were buried, covered with dirt and grass for so long that no one even remembered that they were there.

We found the original well. It’s in the basement. I can see it through a big hole in the brick wall that leads to the crawl space. The only reason I noticed it was because I was chasing a bird and he flew in there. (Don’t ask; that’s another story.) It’s about the size of a hot tub and is made out of yellow bricks in a staggered pattern like the Yellow Brick Road. Someday I’ll crawl in there and look inside. Not the well. The crawlspace. Well, maybe the well if I see something glittering inside. Maybe that’s where the treasure is.

We also discovered two automatic waterers on the property. I’m assuming they’re automatic waterers. That’s what they look like they’d be. But I don’t know for sure since I’ve never seen an automatic waterer in real life. I’ve only heard about them like I’ve heard about Haflingers. I’d probably recognize a Haflinger if I ran across one but I have no first-hand knowledge.

There are two of these contraptions; one in one field and the other on the other side. We found them when we were clearing brush. One of them is covered by a fiberglass dome. In the basin on top there is plumbing. If you tip it over, there is a round hole in the ground filled with water like the hole the sump pump is in. The other one is a rusty metal box and we haven’t been able to budge it. The real estate agent never said anything about these and of course we were not allowed to speak to the seller until after the closing when the coast was clear, evidently to prevent him from blurting out something he shouldn’t and causing us to not want to buy the place. But this plan backfired because there is nothing he could have said about it that would have made us ask for our deposit back. Everything that was bad about it, we already knew. In fact, if we had been allowed to talk to him and learned about the automatic waterers, like how we later learned just how much of a horse community this is, we might have paid more for the house. Automatic waterers was a selling point the real estate agent never mentioned.

And a danger. Luckily we stumbled upon them before a horse broke his leg stepping into the hole, or worse, someone’s toddler visiting us fell down it. Since we have no idea what we’ve really got on our hands, though I’m sure it’s something good even though it’s obviously going to require some work to get it up and running again, this will have to wait until we have more time. In the meantime, no small children will be allowed to run around unsupervised. Small children tend to crawl under things and hide inside things so they can pop out and say, Here I am! I am right here! I was here the whole time! Just like neglected houses that begin to reveal themselves when they are loved.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Why The Teal Will Never Work

It’s weird. I can’t make decisions like I used to. I used to make a split decision and then bam, next thing you know, we were heading out to Oklahoma to be cowboys. When the wind was blowing up my skirt a little too much, bam, next thing you know, we were in Virginia chopping wood and baking pies. When I wanted to go home, I thought nothing of the fact that the economy was in the sewer and it’s more expensive in Jersey and we had no jobs. Next thing you know, we were up here. (Well, not exactly that fast. It took a year to sell that house but once I made the decision, in the heat of the moment—wailing over my mother, kicking myself for getting shanghaied into buying that bad luck trailer from someone who I thought was my friend, sick to death of trying to make a living in a place where there were no people—I might as well have been gone.)

I used to make fun of my girlfriend who would go to the paint store and come back with eight quarts of various shades of white—cream, antique white, cloud, linen—and still not be able to decide which of the whites she should go with. I’d think, Com’on! It’s just paint! Paint it already!

With all the moving I’ve done, it was a good thing I could make decisions. I’d unwrap my pictures, get out the hammer and nails, eye up a spot, and nail it up. And that was that. There was no measuring, no standing back and scrutinizing it and taking it down and filling in the little hole with a dab of paint and then doing it again. No. I hammered that nail in with confidence and often confidence begets excellence. My pictures were always the right height, neither too far left nor too far right, and the perfect composition for the room I hung them in.

Nowadays, I’m stymied about where to hang my Wallace Nutting and I grapple with my decision on the rearing horses. I’ve bought a number of samples of paint for the living room, repainted one wall twice when I thought one of the samples would work but it didn’t, and still haven’t decided what I should do with the built-in cabinet. Should I paint it a color? What color? Should I just leave it white? Should I strip it?

I also don’t know what to do with my accessories. Do the insulators look good on that cabinet or should I put something else there? The blue Mason jars look nice but are they too kitcheny? What about the Texas stars? Are they too cowboy? Should I just do the whole living room over in monochromatic creams and browns like how it looked before I started unpacking all my things and it reminded me of the spread that’s in this month’s Country Living? But then I’d have to get rid of my cool lamps, one green, one turquoise….

I haven’t decided what color to paint the woodwork. The trim on the outside of the windows is brown and the trim on the inside of the windows is white. It should be one or the other, shouldn’t it? And what about curtains? All of my windows are bare. Even if I had the money for new curtains, I wouldn’t know what to buy. In the old days, I’d throw a bandana on the window and it would work. I’d pick something out of Linens & Things, eenie, meenie, miney, mo, and whatever I bought—lace panels, flowered swags, a simple valance—would look great.

I am frozen with indecision. You might say I have performance anxiety. Perhaps part of the reason I’m afraid to commit and buy some brown paint is because I don’t have any money and if I make a mistake, I blew it. Who knows when I’ll be getting a few bucks again? Maybe another reason is because I made so many mistakes, moving all over the country on a whim, thinking I could learn to make pies, thinking I could trust my new friend who told me she was giving me a great deal on a trailer and I better not pass it up, not thinking about what would happen if someone I loved back home got sick and I was so far away….

Now I’m older. There’s not much time left. If I don’t get this right, I may not have another chance.

So it’s much more important than it seems, whether the bookcases should be white or the bookcases should be brown. There’s a lot more riding on this than it appears.

What I decided for the living room: