Tuesday, October 25, 2016

At thr Wound Center

I went yesterday to the Wound Healing Center to have the big gouge on my right leg looked at. I was loaded into the facility's van at about 7:20 and whisked off to my appointment. No peregrine this time but beautiful  pre-sunrise skies with pink clouds. And the waiting room featured a panoramic view-- construction up close but then trees, slowly being gilded by the rising sun and mountains in the distance that went from dark masses to shapes where every cove and ridgelet was defined.

In the exam room they did some tedious measurements and left me to await the doctor. I was stretched on a table by another panoramic window and as the sun washed over me, I could almost imagine I was at a spa.

The doctor arrived and tinkered with the wound, tidying up this and that, and told me that he proposed to put me in a pressure bandage to speed the healing. It will stay put till I go back next Monday for him to take another look.

This whole experience of being more or less helpless and dependent is at once annoying and humbling.  But it swung into sharp perspective when one of the nurses, asking how the accident happened, nodded, unimpressed.

"We see lots of accidents caused by a vehicle rolling on a slope. One poor lady got her hand caught in the door and it was completely de-gloved."

She wasn't talking about a glove either.  Counting my blessings . . .

Monday, October 24, 2016

Another Autumn...

Waltz Me to the End of Time -- re-post from 2013

That? That piece of sheet music came from Miss Annie's house. After she passed away back in '65, the property went to a nephew who lived in Alabama. He came and  spent a few days going through her things, packing up what he wanted -- there was the prettiest little writing desk -- and then he had some dealer come in and take away the rest of it so they could put the house on the market. 

 The nephew was named Charles, if I remember right, and he was real nice.  I asked if I could have that music to remember her by and he told me I was welcome to it. He let me take some of her books too. He said he'd never known his aunt and had been surprised to get the lawyer's letter saying he'd inherited her property. He asked me all kinds of questions about Miss Annie and I told him what I could.

Miss Annie was  the sweetest old lady you ever saw and when I was growing up I loved to go visit her. We would sit in the parlour and have what she called cambric tea --  mostly warm milk with a little tea to color it -- and fresh-baked ginger cookies and sometimes  she would play her old-fashioned music box for me. How I loved to hear that funny, faraway sound . . .  

Oh, at first she seemed older than the hills to me -- though I don't believe she was much over seventy when she passed. She was white-haired and stooped over and wrinkled up like one of those apple dolls they used to make. But her eyes were bright and when I'd been around her a bit, it always seemed as if  there was a girl my age hiding inside that old body. 

Miss Annie had the merriest laugh . . . like silver bells ringing.  And I could see from the photograph of her on the mantlepiece that she'd been a beauty when she was young -- tall and willowy with light hair done up in one of those pompadours they wore back then.  There was a photograph of a handsome young man in an old fashioned uniform there too and she kept the two kind of turned to face each other. 

When I asked her who he was, she told me that his name was Darby C. Bell  and that he was the love of her life. . .  they had been engaged when he went off to fight in World War I -- and he had died in France.

I didn't know what to say...I think I was afraid she might start crying. But she seemed not to mind talking about him and she showed me her engagement ring  -- a round amethyst circled with pearls. She said her fingers had grown so knobbly with arthritis that she couldn't get it on anymore so she wore it on a chain around her neck and inside her dress. 'Next to my heart,' she said.


When I went home that evening, I asked my mother why Miss Annie had never married.  Mama smiled.  'You're not the first to wonder. According to your grandma, Annie could have had her pick of fellas after her fiance died. But she was independent -- Darby had that house built before he went off to war and his will left it to her along with enough money that she didn't have to marry. 

'It was a puzzle to everyone as the years went by -- your grandma said all the neighbors thought at first Annie was mourning Darby and after a spell, she' d have enough of loneliness and say yes to one of the men that was after her.  But the funny thing was that she never seemed really to mourn, not really. She was always as bright and cheerful as she is now. And every night  in summer, when the windows were open,  they'd hear the sound of that music box. . .

'I guess some folks mourn differently than others,' Mama said and sent me to wash my hands and set the table.

After supper that night,  I recalled that I'd left one of my school books at Miss Annie's.  Mama and Daddy and  Tommy were watching Hogan's Heros when I slipped out of the house into the chill November air.  I hurried across the road and up to Miss Annie's porch where a lamp still burned in the window. I just hoped she wasn't getting ready for bed. 

I was about to knock on the door when I heard the faint sound of the music box and Miss Annie's silvery laugh. Puzzled, I stepped to the window and looked through a slit in the Venetian blind.

I could hear the music more clearly now -- a lilting waltz -- and suddenly Miss Annie came into view --  twirling slowly about the parlour floor. Her right arm was stretched out to the side and her left was bent up as if her hand rested on the shoulder of an invisible partner.

It was so silly . . . and so heartbreaking -- this bent over old woman waltzing with an imaginary partner.  Somewhere between tears and laughter, I watched . . .

And as Miss Annie circled in front of the lamp at the window, I could see her shadow on the opposite wall . . . 

Straight and willowy and graceful, Miss Annie's shadow waltzed in the arms of  the shadow of a tall young man. And the music played on and on . . .

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Puddin' Head Wilson and Others

I read Mark Twain's Puddin'head Wilson as a Classic Comic over sixty years ago. So when I had a chance to download the book for free, I did. 

I remembered it was about how two children, one the son of a slave woman and the other the son of a wealthy couple were so identical in appearance that when the slave mother, who had the care of the babies, switched them in their cradles, no one knew and the two grew to adulthood unaware of the truth.

I remembered there was something about fingerprints -- a fledgling science at the time of the novel.

The book is an interesting read for Twain's picture of small town America in slavery days. And, of course, for Twain's wit.

But I was surprised at the memories that came back as I read -- I think that I read this particular comic at my friend Ann Hunsberger's house -- very possibly up in the tree house in the big oak by the sidewalk. I can't be sure but that was what flashed into my mind as I read, along with hazy memories of some of the comic panels -- a closeup of a flashing knife. . . a picture of the two little boys in one little wagon -- one in fancy clothes, one in plain . . .

My Kindle is loaded with all sorts of things to read and listen to. David Sedaris and Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls keeps me company through the night and Patrick Tull is waiting to read the first five or six Aubrey-Maturin books to me. I've just finished Social Life in Old Virginia Before the War and have begun The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster.

And am reminded I need to have my recently purchased copy of The Clay Girl brought to me . . .

So many books . . . and so much time . . .

Deborah Gurd Gregorash

Friday, October 21, 2016

At Glacial Speed. . .

The first rejection comes almost three months after sending the completed manuscript of the Civil War novel to my agent. An editor for a major publishing house has been looking at it and has, alas, decided to pass.

This doesn't come as a surprise, as my agent and I both suspected the book was too "literary" to be the sort of commercial blockbuster the house is really looking for.  It's a business decision, of course. So, no hard feelings and Ann the agent will forge ahead, trying other editors whom she thinks will be more open to this book.

The rejecting editor said nice things about "pitch-perfect and utterly authentic" language -- at the same time noting it may be daunting and a little "chewy" for a reader looking for an escape. 

I'm not apologizing for this book. It's written the way it needed to be told and I have faith it will find a sympathetic publisher and, in time, an audience.

In time being the operative phrase. Things rarely happen quickly in publishing so now we can just settle in for a nice contemplative wait . . . Thus the pictures of the glaciers, courtesy of Patagonia's Glacier Park.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Miss Birdie and the Show

Well, what about that show last night, Lizzie Beth honey? The folks here was a little ill with me after the other one -- the one where that hateful orange-faced, yaller-haired feller, which I don't believe that's his natural color a tall, was prowling around while Miss Hillary was talking, making faces and interrupting after she had sat all polite and quiet whilst he was going on.

I got so put out with the way that he was doing that one time whilst she was talking and he was creeping up behind her, I kindly forgot it was on the TV and I hollered "Look out, honey, he's right behind you!" and flung my water cup at him.

There weren't but a little water in it and it didn't do no harm but the nurse come and talked with me about how I had ought to behave if I wanted to watch the show last night. So I promised to do my best but said maybe they had ought to make sure I didn't have nothing in reach but for the button I mash if I need someone. 

Him and me both done better last night. He didn't prowl around and I didn't throw nothing. But, lord have mercy, didn't no one ever teach him not to interrupt all the time? His mama had ought to have slapped him twist-legged back when he was a young un. I admire Miss Hillary for not back-handing him when he kept butting in on her and calling her names. She's a strong one.

And when that referee feller asked would each of them go by what the voters had said, win  or lose, and he said that would depend on what happened -- I tell you, Lizzie Beth, I never heard of such a thing. Just like a spoiled young un who sees he's losing a checkers games and will dash the board and pieces to the ground rather than admit he lost.

But this ain't no game. It's our country and our government and our votes. His folks sure done a bad job not to teach him better. 

My vote? Oh, don't worry. I already put in for voting by mail. The quicker I can send in my vote for Miss Hillary, the better.