Did you know that one donation, one pint of blood, can save up to three lives? That’s amazing.
Be amazing – contact your local blood collection center and donate. ‘Tis the season for giving.
Have you ever driven past a place like this and wondered about the stories the walls would tell – if walls could talk?
I have been fascinated by this particular house since the very first day I saw it. I can’t really explain it. I have driven past it hundreds of times and rarely have I failed to wonder what the walls would say, if only they could.
I wonder if the house is as old as it looks beneath that faux brick exterior. I wonder about the family, or perhaps families, who lived here. I wonder if they were happy, before the effects of decline, or maybe even progress, overwhelmed them. I wonder what kind of life they lived on a street named Slaughter Road.
True to the nature of someone like me, my imagination has created all kinds of scenarios for the occupants of this little house. I wonder how closely they compare to the reality.
I imagine the little house, before its current state of disrepair, with frilly white curtains in the windows, and those green metal rocking chairs on the porch that didn’t really rock, they just sort of bounced up and down when you shifted your weight. The family had a couple of old hound dogs who would spend part of their day lounging on the porch, and then when it was really hot, they would retreat to the cool damp space just under the corner of the step.
And they had chickens. These days we call them free-range chickens, but back then they were just chickens. Big chickens and little chickens, red ones and white ones and brown ones. And a cocky black rooster with velvety red and orange tail feathers, and a comb that sort of drooped over one eye. But, then the road came, and we know what happens when a chicken tries to cross a busy road…
After a while the last of the residents decided to move on and try to make a better life elsewhere. Or, maybe the last member of the family stayed until the very end. A widow who raised six children all alone after her husband died in the war. The children grew up and moved away, hoping to get as far away as possible from the struggles of growing up poor in a small town. She wasn’t sad in the end. Not really. She was happy to know that she had done the best she could to nurture them and send them out into the world as prepared as they could be to “make it”. A couple of them had tried to get her to leave the little shack and move in with their growing families. She had declined. She was a woman with fierce pride and independence, and a determination to live out her days in the home her husband, the love of her life, had built with his own two hands. The home they moved into on their wedding day. No, she wouldn’t leave. She couldn’t leave.
In the end, the children decided to keep the little homestead in the family as a tribute to the struggles and sacrifices their parents endured. The time between visits back home to check on the property grew longer and longer, and eventually, turned into now and then.
The walls of the house started to whisper, but only the critters could hear, and the vegetation. Eventually, the vegetation took pity on the old house and slowly engulfed it in a snug embrace. An embrace that keeps the walls standing, so they can continue to whisper the stories that I wish I could hear. The real stories, not this figment of my imagination.
Weather stories about the fierce thunderstorms and rampant flooding that have plagued towns and cities across the U.S. have filled the news lately. The rising waters have swept houses off their foundations, and floated automobiles along like hapless toys. After hearing about so much sadness and destruction, it was nice to be on a road trip with nothing but sunshine and clear skies all around. On this particularly beautiful day, the possibility of becoming a part of one of those stories was the farthest thing from my mind.
We were cruising along, marveling at the amazing views and speculating that based on the current water levels we were witnessing, this area had certainly been affected by the heavy rains and flooding.
It was one of those moments when you have to make some big decisions while your brain is still trying to process the data it’s receiving. Traffic was moving forward and there wasn’t anywhere to pull over, turn around, or otherwise avoid getting wet. Or honked at. So, we continued on – in spite of all the warnings from one meteorologist after another, admonishing drivers against this very thing.
I quickly assessed the car in front of us and decided that we should drop back a bit more and see what happened to them. Not in a sacrificial sort of way, just cautionary. Our cars were of similar size and distance from the ground, so I figured if they could make it through without stalling, we should be able to do the same.
Besides, if I could still see the lines on the pavement the water couldn’t be very deep. And the guy sitting in the highway safety truck on the side of the road wasn’t trying to stop us, it had to be OK to proceed. Right?
Now, this wasn’t exactly like crossing the Red Sea, but prayers were answered and we made it safely across, with the engine in my little HHR still chugging along. As we were exiting the waterway, I noticed these travelers about to enter the bay waters and wanted very much to warn them, “Don’t do it!” But, I didn’t. And I couldn’t stop to watch their progress. I hope they made it.
My daughter thinks it’s strange that I have this welcome mat placed outside the door leading to my laundry room rather than the traditional location on either side of the door leading into my home. I tried to convince her, over the course of several visits, that this location is perfectly normal.
There’s just something about a welcome mat that implies an openness to social interaction. This mat was purchased during a time when I thought I would make a sincere effort to be more social. It was a season of fresh starts and I had recently moved into my new space. I imagined that I would actually invite visitors in, announced or unannounced, providing them a safe harbor to wipe the dust from their feet prior to crossing the threshold into the inner sanctum. The effort was short-lived.
I’m one of those people who, unless I’m expecting company, is quite likely to ignore the tap-tap-tapping on my door. On those occasions when I have responded, I noticed that people had a tendency to look down and see the mat stationed just inside the doorway, with W-e-l-c-o-m-e spelled out in huge letters. And then they would look up with hope and the expectation that an invitation to enter my sanctuary was forthcoming. It wasn’t.
I started to feel a teensy bit bad for giving these people false hope, so I moved the mat to its current position outside the laundry room. It’s perfectly functional there – a snare for dryer lint and adventurous dust bunnies that attempt to hitch a ride to other parts of my home, and not a single shred of false hope.
On a recent visit (my children are always welcome and don’t need a mat to tell them so), my daughter questioned the placement of the mat again. I decided it was time to come clean. I explained to her that the mat had been strategically placed to prevent the escape of dryer lint, and to avoid giving false hope. She gave me a quizzical look that said, “I love you Mom, but do you have any idea how crazy that sounds when you say it out loud?”
I Ignored it, because she has given me that look before, and went on to explain that anybody who managed to get far enough inside to actually see the mat there, with its bold declaration, must be truly WELCOME. And then she understood. Because she knows me – and loves me anyway.