Archive for May, 2011

#5 Reflections

1.  The floor to ceiling mirrors nearly cover three walls, the odd one holding various toys and apparatus.  I’m not alone; women of various size and shapes join me in our hour of bending and stretching:  plias and releva.  We use bands and weights, balls and bars; mats and steps, some piled four high.  The mirrors hold court to everyone’s reflection.  “Check your knee alignment;” our full-bodied teacher says, “don’t let them go over your toes.”  And many of us check in the mirror.  “Flat back, butt out,” she barks, akin to a drill instructor.  We’re lifting body bars while executing squats.  She suddenly adds a little box step to the lift and squat, “it goes better with the music of the 70’s,” she says.  Dyslexia challenged, I’ve lost my rhythm and right becomes left, up is now down, and I see in the mirror that I’ve caused others to lose theirs.

2.  The woman, in her middle-worn years, stares into the age-encrusted hand mirror.  Moving with delicate precision, she looks.  Nothing has been affirmed and nothing can be denied.

3.  Splendid!  water silently coursing through the river, movement soft as silk.  Trees on the river’s bank reflect in kind, and I think I can walk on water.

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#4 Serendipity

It was serendipity that Sue and I met in the town hall that morning.  She was searching a property for her appraisal business, and I was searching comparable sales for a pending listing.  We were both working at either end of a venerable oak table at the height of summer  in a room without air conditioning.  Huge overhead fans elicited a faint hum and huge grey books were surreptitiously slapped onto the table.  There were grunts as each of us pulled them from the floor to ceiling shelves.  A computer that would eventually simplify our business lives was a dream of the future, and we were beyond typewriters that had erasure techniques built-in; it was the era of word processors.

It was our discussion of word processors that connected us.   I told Sue that I had one and knew how to use it.  I also had an office with a secretary.  Sue was an established appraiser with several accounts, and wanted to expand her business to my market area, and  I wanted to include appraising on my resume.   This was to be a partnership made in heaven.

For three years Sue and I were the Frick and Frack of professional appraisers.  The homes we viewed were, for the most part:  haunted, infested with fleas, had animals that were not house broken and were, many of them, unoccupied.  It was the unoccupied homes that I hated most.  Many were without heat in the dead of winter; others had the electricity turned off, forcing us to go into dark, critter and spider infested basements with only our flashlights.   In fact, my last appraisal with Sue was a classic experience. The basement is a critical aspect to a home appraisal.  We had to look for water, sump pumps, rotted beams and other evidence of disrepair so that our reports would reflect items that impacted value.

It was winter, and the house for appraisal that day was a lakefront home, two stories, basement under half the house with crawl space.  The bank told us that there was no electricity, no water, and no heat, so we were prepared.  Dressed in three layers deep clothing and high boots, we carried flashlights and screwdrivers in a backpack.  The driveway had not been plowed, so we parked the car to the side of the road and walked or rather slid down the driveway to the front door.  As always we inspected the two floors together.  Opening the door to the basement, we realized the access could only be one at a time.  Since I had some childhood fears of basements, Sue agreed to go first, asking me to shine my light above hers.  We shed our lights on walls and ceiling before venturing down.  Convincing ourselves that there were no incumbrances, we ventured forward.  About three-quarters of the way down, we heard some animal chatter.  I flashed my light in its vicinity.  Four ringed eyes of two racoons were watching us.

As I turned to run back, Sue realized there was a problem and inadvertently knocking the flashlight out of my hand,  pushed me aside, taking the foremost position up the stairs.   We slammed the basement door, grabbed our paperwork and locked the door.  Our partnership ended that day.  Serendipity played a major role.

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#3 Contemplation

She stared at the hibiscus flower for a while before she took out her
camera. The full bloom would last only for the day, and she would have to wait
patiently for the next. She said to her friend over tea, “I can’t decide
whether to take the time today or not, I’m so busy.” And she sipped her tea.

By mid morning, after paying bills on-line and checking e-mail, she passed
the hibiscus flower again. It stretched to the sun-drenched window and looked
regal amidst the myriad of buds on the broad, multi-limbed plant. The phone
rang, and it was her husband inviting her to an early lunch; he was meeting a
client in town at 2:00. “Well, I need a shower and am thinking of taking a
picture of this lovely hibiscus bloom, but, of course I’ll meet you. Is 11:30
okay? And she took her shower.

After lunch, she decided to run some errands, and she had not seen her
friend for ages. Her husband wouldn’t be home until late that evening, so she
called her friend after taking care of the errands. And she had dinner with the
friend, forgetting that the perfect bloom was slowly closing.

It was 7:30 that evening when she turned the key in her door. It was nearly
dark, so she was grateful for the motion light that came on when she crossed
the path. Throwing down her bags and jacket, kicking off her shoes, she grabbed
her Canon 500 hanging near the door. Without a thought, she simultaneously
flicked on the light in the room with the hibiscus and charged the camera. Her
breath caught in her throat and a silent tear fell; she dropped the camera onto
the polished-cotton chintz couch and held the shrunken bloom in her hand. And
it was too late that day.

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#2 Pig’s Ear

Today was Sunday, a perfect afternoon to have a dinner party.  Everyone who came brought an item of food:  dessert, green salad, pasta salad and fruit.  We provided the soup.  It was a nasty, cold May day, and beef barley  was a good choice for all, except for OJ, our pug.  He dined on pig’s ear that  one of our guests  had brought him.   ” Ug!” I thought as I unwrapped the plastic casing that held the brown-flecked ear.  I asked, “is it real?”  Everyone was focused on the food, and no one answered, so I thought, “No, it can’t be real.”

OJ took the ear and went into his bedroom.  Yes, he has his own room in the vintage Federal home on the river.  There is a door that leads to the enclosed  deck that overlooks several gardens.  Since the door was open, he chose to chew his ear there.  When the guests left three hours later, he was still in the same inert position.  Except for the chewing, he was lying perfectly still on his belly with front paws holding the object now turned gross. Initially the shape of an ear, it had been stretched and pulled until it resembled a ribbon of taffy.

We offered the dog a cookie; he wouldn’t accept our bribe.  I said, “Hike OJ!  Let’s go the car.”  He stopped chewing for a moment, but then thought better and resumed a  recumbent stance.  We waited, and it was cold with the door open.  Nothing could separate him from the ear.  ”Unless,” I thought, “we opened the freezer door and he anticipated licking the ice cream bowl .”  My husband and I went into the kitchen, making all of the attendant noise, opening the door, slamming the frozen box of ice cream onto the counter, taking down the bowls.  It was at that moment that OJ trotted  into the kitchen; he had left the ear on the deck.

Acting swiftly as only seasoned team workers can, my husband grabbed the dog’s collar, and I ran to the deck.  Picking up the slimy ear, I gave it my best throwing arm beyond the stand of trees at the garden’s edge.  It soared over the stone wall and then, I envisioned, down the hill until it plopped into the river.

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Heaven #1

The clouds look as though layered:  three images deep of white and grey, some black edges.  The sky, its base, is translucent blue.   Distant rumblings and flashes of light hint of heaven coming down for a better look.

The garden soil is rich with earthworms, and I kneel in thyme, a soft bed for aged knees, pulling weeds.  Grass, the killer, must be unearthed with a sharp spade, the tip of my knife to terminate.  The air grows heavy and warm, and I remove my jacket, wipe sweat from my brow. 

A man watches from across the way.  He stands still, a long black coat covers black trousers and shoes; a wide-brimmed black hat shields his eyes.  I look up and cannot see his eyes.  There is an aura of light, as though he’s in a spotlight, around him.  I continue my work moving down the newly edged front of the garden. 

As I look up, my thoughts take me to the heaven I see in the parting of the clouds.  I imagine that the man is in front of me, his hand extended.  I take it and together we soar far from the earth into the gardens of heaven.  There are mansions and houses of  humble origins.  I choose the one by the river, a  filigree gate opening as I walk towards it.  The house is charming, compact and vintage, I believe.  The man leaves me, and I explore the rooms:  brick, floor-to-ceiling fireplaces in each of the rooms, random-width wood floors, tiny second-floor bedrooms with window seats that overlook the river.  I lay down and pull up the covers, lulled by the sounds of water hitting rocks. 

I awake with a start.  Rain has begun to fall and the distant rumbling of thunder is above me.  I leave my jacket, my hoe and knife and run for cover.  Heaven will not collect me today.

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Here in the Northwest Hills of spectacular Connecticut, we are experiencing a splendid week of rain. 

The greenery is prolific, and the sounds of the Bantam River and our little waterfall to the side of our home bring soothing sounds that placate our needs to become part of the landscape.  A croaking frog on the rocks of a  pool of coy fish add to the delight. 

I am happy to be part of the 100 day challenge.  S.

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