Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nesting

It is Wednesday, the 19th of May. I am sitting in the quietude of the living room of The Bungalow, listening to the faint sounds of the myriad of birds, stretching their wings and warming up their vocal chords to serenade the neighborhood this morning. I cannot describe how lovely it is here on this dead-end street, perched above the bird sanctuary. And I cannot help but compare our 10th Street houses, full to the gills with kind and interesting people (and on a sunny, warm day, streets filled with flocks of playful children) to the homes of those avian counterparts out there somewhere in those kudzu-covered trees at the end of our street…we all line our nests as comfortably as we are able to, and bring food to share with our loved ones.

The Bungalow…we can’t seem to come up with any name other than that…we’ve hoped that something poetic or literary like The Whitman or Twelve Oaks (or, in this case, Two Pines) would reveal itself to us as a name for this place, but all that keeps coming out of our mouths is The Bungalow. So, knowing that places often name themselves, and also knowing that bungalow is as bungalow does, I think that The Bungalow is The Bungalow. I could be wrong about this, so we won’t be ordering up a shingle for the front porch, but I have a distinct feeling in my gut that The Bungalow has spoken…

Work is progressing on The Bungalow, and the Newton ‘plex is completely vacated now. The Bungalow living room (or front parlor if William Faulkner were writing about this entry) is painted, with furniture more or less placed. And the dining room is painted…yet still filled with boxes waiting to be unpacked or placed in other (unfinished) rooms. I am beginning to think that the boxes are getting randy every night when the lights are off, creating a population explosion of the corrugated kind. It is out of hand, I must say, but something that has to be lived with as we make progress in other parts of the house. The dining room will remain the holding room until further notice.

Slim and I took a break from work (he from his job, me from the house as I had taken a week of vacation to supposedly whip things into shape) this past Friday and headed North a piece to the mountains of Mentone. I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to Mentone before, but Kansas Slim had photographed the area on a couple of occasions, and some church friends had offered their cabin on the brow to him for the weekend. It was Rhododendron Festival time, so I envisioned masses of sweaty tourists filling the rhododendron-lined streets, snapping photos and jostling about. But no, that was not to be. Nothing turned out to be what I imagined it would be. Mentone during the Rhododendron Festival is rather sweet and not over-filled with anything, tourist or rhododendron. Slim’s friends forewarned us that Mentone during the Rhododendron Festival would be low-key, and they were very much correct on that description. But their “cabin on the brow” remark turned out to be an understatement. The cabin is actually a picturesque little mountain home with two bathrooms, a full kitchen with small dining area, a sleeping porch, an attic, and Direct TV. There is a divine screened-in porch off the living room, sporting another quaint dining area and a seating area of what amounts to be a herd of rocking chairs (Slim couldn’t help but query about a long-tailed cat). The property, which indeed stretches along the brow of the mountain, is home to not just the one cabin, but also serves as home to a rather large manor-like house (being built by the brother-in-law of the owner), a stone apple house, a tractor shed, and a third vacant house that serves as storage (and was purchased in order to obtain the stone apple house). Essentially, the cabin we stayed in was a small part of a rather large family compound…and we didn’t “rough it” at all out there in the woods. As a matter of fact, we had a splendid time relaxing away from the moving boxes and paint cans and lists of things to be done. We dined on steaks and salad, and desserted on a shared Napoleon. After dinner, we explored the compound, walking off our meal. Sleep came early and hard, the cool mountain air running me under the covers, the memory of a hard week of moving left behind, slipping away with the breeze.

Morning dawned, and brought with it a severe hunger for some vittles. The only eatery that I had ever heard of in Mentone was the Southern-Living-recommended Wildflower CafĂ©. Slim, who had dined there before, recalled the food being decent, but nothing to write home about. I found it to be about what we could cook up in our own kitchen on a lazy day (which would be healthy and tasty), but even better because we didn’t have to do it ourselves, and it was served in an interesting flower-child-like environment. When we arrived, a bluegrass band was warming up on the side porch, and the wait staff were all either sporting straw cowboy hats, or trying to decide whether or not to sport a straw cowboy hat for the day. Everyone seemed real friendly, staff and customers alike, and when a rather large and healthy dragonfly flew across our table and flung itself at one of the windows across the room trying to find a safe passage out into the cool shadows of the porch, Slim and I asked the customer who was sitting there if she would mind us raising the window for a moment to see if the big guy would fly out. She very helpfully agreed, and Slim strong-armed the window up. The dragonfly floated out (I imagined for a moment that it looked back at us over its shoulder and waved goodbye, but dragonflies don’t have shoulders, nor do they have hands with which to wave). I’ll have you know that Slim lost absolutely no man card points that day for letting a trapped dragonfly out of a window in a room full of women. Admiring eyes from every direction affirmed this notion, making my little ‘ole heart go pitter-patter at his chivalry. I rather proudly sat back down across from him and smiled the whole time as I waited on my Mediterranean Wrap…

And while I waited on that wrap, the kitchen staff were having one heck of a good time in the back, so much so that one of the waitresses had to go up to the “order up” window and yell back at them, “No sandwich profanity in the public area!” Now I’m no sailor, but I don’t think I’d mind sandwich profanity at all, so I was real disappointed to hear her order them to stop whatever it was that they were saying that may have offended HER ears. Personally, I’ve never heard sandwich profanity, and I felt it was a darn shame that here was a woman taking it upon herself to stop me from hearing it while I finally had the chance! I grumbled on the inside a bit, and never did hear anything said at all that could’ve been construed as profanity that morning, sandwich or otherwise. And to think that with all the schooling I’ve received, I’ve remained so uneducated. We returned to Gadsden later with me a whole lot rested, but just a little short on worldly knowledge of certain culinary cursing…

The other day I mailed my first letter. The mailbox on The Bungalow is made of iron, and is fashioned to resemble what I believe to be an old pony express bag, complete with “leather flap top and buckled straps.” Not knowing the protocol for sending mail from this Bessemered pony express bag, I clipped my outgoing mail to the front of the box with a sturdy clothespin (left there by Miss Mildred, who I assumed sent her outgoing mail in the same fashion). I did not realize at the time, but I had propped the top of the mailbox with the clothespin, leaving about a two-inch gap open. Early the next day, when I stepped out to sweep the porch, I noticed that my outgoing mail was gone, but that the clothespin was still propping open the mailbox. As I unclipped the pin, I saw moss and pecan tree schmutz sticking out from the bottom of the box. Stretching on tip-toe, I peered down into the box to spy the beginnings of a very soft nest for some animal-or-bird-sort of creature (one that, like me, enjoys a comfy bed). Indeed, we line our nests as comfortably as we are able to…

Listening to: Miles Davis.
Eating: The sweetest corn on the cob, ever (I say that every time I have the first corn of the season)!
Reading: Just finished Columbine by Cullen. It did me in. I waited a couple of years to read this for a reason. When I lived in Denver and was employed by JEFFCO, I worked with just enough high-risk teens from that school to know it would hit too close to home. It did. Saving my reading for the Russian Book Club now…ahhhh…(read with a Russian accent) The summer of the Russians...

3 comments:

McKenna said...

Had a notably good time reading your blog :) Glad to hear you are both doing so well! Looking forward to seeing you again soon, and hoping to meet The Bungalow, in all of it's splendor.

McKenna said...

You know, of course, that I meant " in all of its splendor"... It's late. (Rather, Its late ;)

La_Petit_Rouge said...

Late night hours and writing skills do not usually go well together! At least not for me! Glad you enjoyed the post! I've been quite bad at posting lately...need to rectify that! Can't wait to hear about this amazing adventure you and Steven have planned! And yes, you guys MUST come meet The Bungalow!