… a foreign country

I have been thinking about the past a lot lately. That’s an old man’s exercise. I don’t consider myself “old” but maybe old is as old does. In any event, I find myself doing it.

Leah and I ate lunch Saturday at one of those fast-food chicken places. It was on Martha Berry Boulevard, known in the old days as Avenue C, five streets or about two real blocks from where my father grew up. Our table was at a window facing that direction. I saw a few large trees that might have been around back in the day when my father called it “the old home place.” But probably not.

My grandmother died years ago, and the old home place was sold and torn down for doctors’ offices. It was so long ago that now even the doctors’ offices are gone, burned to the ground. A couple of magnolia trees survive in what used to be the front yard, but the huge pecans that were behind the house are gone.

Almost everything else is gone, too. One house separated my grandmother’s from the old Fourth Ward School, where my father and I both attended elementary school. The school, a three-story red brick block with tender-dry wood floors, is long gone – doctors’ offices, you know. John’s general store, where we bought goodies before school (Luden’s cough drops or those wax, bottle-shaped containers that held about two sips of colored sugar water) was beside the school. It’s gone. The BPOE that was on a hill a block from my grandmother’s house is a Japanese restaurant.

All of those things continue to exist as a ghost-like overlay when I look at where they used to be. But they’re not real, not even real ghosts.

About a mile north from my grandmother’s house, out along Martha Berry Boulevard, a turn to the west leads to where I grew up, 19 Redmond Road. Our parents drove us to Fourth Ward School from that house, and a bus took us home. Every once in a great while I walked that long mile home. It seemed like an epic trek in those days, that little mile. I walk the dogs down the mountain further than that every day now.

Our old house is also gone, along with the two others to the immediate east. Where our house was there is now a nephrology center. Where the other two houses were there is a parking lot, and a little further towards Martha Berry there are doctors’ offices.

Our yard was not huge, but in our little boy world, my brother and I divided it into at least three separate zones. We played mostly in the zone nearest the house. We could throw a rock across that space. Sometimes we went a little further away towards the brick grill my father built, but for some reason, the wooded far end of the yard seemed like a distant place we only passed through on the way to some other place.

Off to the east “the woods” separated the first three houses on Redmond Road from Martha Berry Boulevard. The woods were not large, probably less than an acre, but they, too, had zones. Just inside the woods we knew the paths and built our forts. Deeper into the woods the paths were less familiar, and by the time we explored as far as Martha Berry Boulevard, something we almost never did, the paths evoked a slight tinge of discomfort because of their unfamiliarity. There was a large, abandoned house out of a Stephen King novel at the edge of the woods. I don’t remember any sense of foreboding, but we never went close to it. It’s gone, now, replaced by parking spaces for the doctors’ offices.

About four diagonal blocks from our house, the steep hill we all dreaded when we rode our bikes to the city playground has subsided to a gentle slope. I don’t know what kind of tectonic process does that.

A few hundred yards further out Redmond Road, most of the giant pine trees the road passed through have been replaced by a hospital and doctors’ offices. I think I see a trend. Behind the doctors’ offices there is an assisted living facility where my mother spent a few months before going home to die. Just on the other side there is a four-lane highway that separates my old neighborhood from Berry College, where we rode many a summer mile on our bikes. We drive that highway often to get to town. For a long time I used to look towards the end of the building where my mother had stayed, but I don’t do that so much any more. I guess that’s because I usually take another route now.

Our house on Redmond Road is the one my subconscious considered home, not the house my parents built around 1967 and where my mother died last year. The Redmond Road house appeared regularly in dreams of home for many years after I left it.

For some reason, the place where my old home stood doesn’t have any ghosts. And now even that house is foreign to my dreams.

Friday Felines

This is a common sight in the driveway in front of the garage around feeding time.

Mother and children

Mother and children

I brought out their feeding tray and Chloe and Dusty, on the right, came and ate. Rusty, who’s on the left, wasn’t interested. I thought they might want treats, so I brought them out and put some down in front of each cat. Chloe ate all hers and then pushed Dusty away and finished his. I finally had to push her away so Dusty could get some treats. Here he is looking suspiciously towards Chloe as she walks away.


He only has one treat left. Poor kitty.

A bug policy change

I have a live-and-let-live attitude towards most living things around the house. There are a few things I kill any time I see them, like fleas, ticks, roaches, mosquitos and flies. If I find a big spider in the house, I catch it and release it outside. If it’s a small spider, I generally pretend I didn’t see it. I sometimes catch moths, or centipedes or beetles and release them. I have caught scorpions in the house and released them outside, usually with a stern warning not to come back. In the past we would see scorpions inside maybe once or twice a year. In the last two days we have seen three. Now I kill all the scorpions I find inside and even those I find outside within a few feet of the house.

I am not particularly happy about that situation, but somewhere between one or two scorpions a year and three scorpions in two days, the scorpion population in the house crossed a line. I doubt that my new policy will make a noticeable difference in the scorpion population outside or inside the house, but that’s now the rule.

The late, last scorpion, pre-mortem

The late, last scorpion, pre-mortem

And now the wasps.

I usually ignore wasp nests, unless they post a danger of a sting. I had to spray a nest that was on the under side of the front walk handrail after Leah was stung, but I have left a large nest in the shed where I keep the lawn mower. The door slides up very close to the nest, but they haven’t seemed to pay any attention to it.

A few days ago a wasp stung me for no apparent reason as I came in from the deck into the bedroom we use as an office. I slapped it off my upper arm and stepped on it. I went inside prepared to put an ice cube on it, but it didn’t really hurt. I was not happy about being stung, but I know it happens. A wasp lights on your arm and then your sleeve presses on it and it stings. That’s just the way it goes.

The next day I was on the lower deck starting some nails in some wood blocks I needed to screw up on the upper deck ledger board. A wasp came up and bumped into the ladder, and then flew at me. It stung me on the forehead and then, after I swatted at it, on my right ear. I think I have mentioned in the past that I can no longer run because my knees are worn out. It turns out that if a wasp is stinging my ear, I can still run. I ran across the deck, up the stairs and into the office, where I struggled to get my shoes off before running into the kitchen to get an ice cube.

The sting in my arm the previous day didn’t really hurt, but the sting on my ear hurt. A lot. It hurt so bad that my stomach started hurting. It felt like I had swallowed the damned wasp. I sat at the dining room table, held an ice cube on my ear and tried to calm down. I melted two ice cubes against my ear. By that time my stomach was OK and my ear wasn’t hurting too much. As I write this, two days later, my ear is red, and itchy but the pain is gone.

I had seen wasps on the lower deck earlier so I had tried unsuccessfully to find a nest. Night before last I sprayed some wasp killer blindly into a crevice under the deck and a few wasps fell to the ground. Last night, armed with a fresh can of Rain wasp and hornet spray, I thoroughly doused the nest.

After an ear sting, I’m afraid wasps are now going to have to get the same treatment as scorpions.

Rainy night in Georgia

Wednesday evening, without any warning, it started raining hard. Soon there was thunder and lightning, and then some small hail.

What is this stuff falling from the sky?

What is this stuff falling from the sky?

The sky took on a yellowish-pink glow at sunset.


I had to let the camera use its flash to get the sky to look anything like it did to the eye. The flash caught rain drops, and a hummingbird leaving our feeder (at the left above the red plastic flower on the feeder).

It has been raining for about two hours; the gauge shows 1.12 inches so far, and the weather radar shows a lot of rain to our west.

I don’t know whether Robin’s comment to the last post has anything to do with the rain, but I’m going to ask that she make the same wish the next time we seem to be stuck in a dry rut.