Monthly Archives: September 2009

Mosquitos and 80s fashion ugh!

Good morning. My newspaper gets delivered in the morning but there are some days I just don’t feel like reading it until the day is almost done.

I didn’t even go outside to pick it up until about 5 o’clock. Sometimes no news is better than what is in the paper.

There were two things that right away bothered me. One was the swarm of mosquitos that are around these days thanks to the torrents we had a couple of weeks ago. One of them found its way into the house and is probably just waiting until I go to bed to pounce and suck my blood. I swatted at it but it eluded my efforts to expedite its demise. I never used to think of mosquitos as more than a bother but with the occurence of West Nile virus, I pay a little more attention to the little pests. So far, according to my very brief search, my county has only had one case of West Nile so the odds are in my favor that I am safe. Dallas to the east has had twelve and Denton to the north has had two so its still relatively rare in this part of the state, but I don’t know how far those infected little nuisances can fly.

I have a neighbor who no longer uses his pool. That’s a breeding ground happening. The water is stagnant and is not filtered. I don’t usually think about it since it is behind a wood fence, but when I get attacked it comes back to mind how close the pool actually is to my property. The past two days its been impossible to sit out on the front porch without them swarming.

Enough of that. Hopefully the mosquitos will soon be gone for the season although here in the warmer south, I’m not sure when that season ends. We are due for another gully washer on Thursday so maybe that will give them enough standing water to recycle again.

I have one of those liter water bottle dispensers  out in the patio so that Ri-Leigh can have water without running out. Some days she drinks quite a bit, others she hardly touches it. She has no average amount of consumption. This morning when I put her food out for her, there were a couple of tiny squirming things swimming in her water. I had to throw that water out and get her fresh. Maybe until the critters are gone I’m going to have to start refilling a smaller bowl several times a day or only filling the bottle half full. I don’t know if swallowing mosquito larvae is harmless to a dog or not but I don’t really want to take a chance.

I said at the beginning there were two things that bothered me. In the Your Life section of the paper it talked about the “Flashback” of styles to the 80s. Wasn’t that fashion era ugly enough without recycling it so soon? The thought of the 1988 movie Working Girl with Ford and Griffith flashed in mind. The shoulder pads, spandex, big hair, blue eye shadow…I shuddered.

The pictures shown are of a girl in stretch denim leggings, and another one in a Michael Jackson-inspired military jacket. Ugh!

Now let’s face it. There is a very narrow weight range where leggings actually leggingslook good. Girls who think it is fashionable to look like a skeleton all year do not look good in tight leggings. Neither do those whose legs look like stuffed sausages. This young woman doesn’t look too bad, but her legs could possibly be a little big bigger around. She just looks slender. Maybe she’s a dancer. She doesn’t look emaciated yet like some of the young girls running around. But then I am not one to criticize. I never looked like this for a second. For some reason I always thought that those who wore leggings out in public forgot to add the skirt that should have gone over it.

 

military style jacketAs for the military style jacket, take a look at this one. I didn’t like it first time around. I thought it had been buried for a while. It’s been resurrected much too soon.

To make fashion complete, I suppose the big hair and the blue eye shadow will be making a fashion come back as well.

80s hair stylesRemember Dynasty? Maybe I’m just jealous that I never had that much hair to wear it that big anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course how could we ever forget the blue eye shadow? Weren’t these girls lovely?

80s-makeup2

                                           mica_makeup

 

 

 

 

Well, the only thing left is the shoulder pads. Why women ever wanted to look like football players I never did understand. Supposedly the big shoulders were part of a power statement as the women tried to break through the glass ceilings. I’m not sure how well that worked.  I didn’t have to invest in shoulder pads because my shoulders already look like those of a football player. I had to buy the outfit and come home to cut the pads out. Here’s hoping the current designers are a little more kind to women this time around.  Namaste. Attic Annie

80shoulders_

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Casual conversation, diary, fashion, general topics, life, musings

Losing a contingency (sigh)

Unfortunately, today is not a happy day. At midnight the contingency I had on the house I wanted to buy expires. That means that the owners may continue to promise to hold their home for me until I sell my home or they may try to find another buyer for their property.

They have had their house for sale by owner for almost a year. I have no idea what they will want to do. October is not the best month to put a house up for sale. I have invested more than $400 in that house for an inspection and earnest money. That is money that is down the drain for me.

The inspectors have a good thing going for them. Potential buyers can’t just pay me for an inspection already done. The owners have to divulge that they have an inspection. I’m just out.

Next time I think I’ll wait until my house is sold before I pay for another inspection on another house. I was really confident that my house would sell in ten weeks time.

All the people who have looked at my house really love the neighborhood and the area and the house. Except they all say the same thing. They feel they would have to do too much to upgrade the house. They want the granite counter tops, the updated baths, the plastered walls that they would find in a new house. They want it in a house that is fifty two years old.

It does not behoove me to pay for all the upgrades and still have to ask for the same amount of money I am asking now. I have affirmed that this house will sell and I will find just the right house. The universe just hasn’t heard me yet. I believe in positive affirmations. I believe in positive affirmations. I keep telling myself I believe in positive affirmations.

I never did feng shui this house. A friend of mine loaned me a book. I kind of put it aside. Maybe today I should take a serious look at the book. My house is oriented northwest to southeast. That makes putting things in north, south, east, or west corners a challenge.

I buried Saint Joseph next to the For Sale sign like one of the internet sites instructed. I didn’t mark where I buried him because it was right in front of the leg of the sign. I could have buried him right by the brick mailbox I had built this year, but too many neighborhood dogs now use it as a substitute fire hydrant. I didn’t think Joseph would appreciate a daily shower. He is still buried in the same spot. However, the real estate agent moved the sign closer to the road. Saint Joseph is out there in the yard somewhere but I’ll never be able find him again. Does that disqualify his help in the sale of my home?

Actually, there is someone who is very interested in my home. I buried Joseph on Friday and he showed up on Sunday. However, he is having problems with squatters who are taking up residence in a rental home he owns. There is supposed to be some kind of hearing October 2 and if that doesn’t go his way and the problem is settled,  there’s supposed to be something else in December. He is trying to get the people to sign a lease so he can start getting rent money out of them. He claims that they are saying he GAVE the house to them. I have a friend who owns rental property. She says that once someone takes up residence in your rental property it is almost impossible to get them out again. I hope everything works out for this couple. This house needs little children to grow up within its walls. They have a 1 1/2 year old darling little girl and want to have more. This home needs that.

What really is encouraging is that his wife loved everything just the way it is. She doesn’t see a lot of work to make this house their home.

Not much is new today. I told Maxine last night that coming up with a topic to blog about every day is really becoming a challenge. Sometimes I see something that I can write over a thousand words about and still have words to spare. Today doesn’t seem to be one of those.

I hope you have a good day. Namaste. Attic Annie

2 Comments

Filed under diary, general topics, life, Selling a home

Who Am I?

Good morning. I hope all is well with you. We are back to warm weather again so come sit on the glider with me for a while.

Yesterday  in our book discussion we started reading the chapter “Finding Who You Truly Are” in Tolle’s book  A New Earth. He starts out his first sentence

 Gnothi Seauton-Know Thyself. These words were inscribed above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi, site of the sacred Oracle.

People have been searching forever for the answer “Who Am I?” I’ve been asking that question for most of my life. I haven’t been able to Know Myself, yet that is the most fundamental question, according to Tolle, of my life. He says “Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.”

He suggests we ask the question: What are the things that upset and disturb us? If small things disturb us, then we are small. I’ve seen people who I think are reacting to small things all the time. I sense that their reactions are grossly overreactions. What comes to mind is the current trend the past few years of Road Rage. How easy is it to be offended by seeing someone else rage and becoming a rager ourselves? Who are we are that point?

Tolle says knowing ourselves is being ourselves when we cease to identify with the content of our lives. Whatever we perceive, experience, do, think, or feel is content. That’s a pretty heafty list of things not to identify with. That is when we are supposed to identify with the inner space of consciousness.

I always thought there was something wrong with me because it takes so much to set me off. Now maybe I’m beginning to think I have it more together than I thought I did. He says “How we react to people and situations, especially when challenges arise, is the best indicator of how deeply we know ourselves.” He continues, “When we realize that what we react to in others is also in us (and sometimes only in us) we begin to become aware of our own ego. 

Part of the biggest obstacle I have had along my path is to accept what our minister suggests we say when someone does something that disturbs us. We often call other people names, as in “That woman is such a b&*^ch. Or, that guy is reallly an a&*”. We are then to say, “Just like me.” We have to own up to the fact that what others do to irritate us is what is inside ourselves.

That’s about as far as we got in our discussion today. There is more to this chapter. I wanted to revisit a poem I wrote several years ago.

                       Who I Am 

How many times can a metamorphosis occur?

Change, constant change, evolving
Baby, child, daughter, pupil, student
and then teacher, wife, mother
and again ex-wife, single mother, teacher
The flow of life revolves around what I am
not who I am

Caught in an unrelenting stream carrying me forever forward
Who am I morphing so many times?
Where am I going?
Does retirement mean the start of death?
How can I continue to evolve?
Stay in the stream and not be washed ashore?

How can I continue to live, leave Death wait?
The need to continue to grow beats furiously within my heart
I wish to morph forever
Until at last I have grown my wings
And flown into eternity

Finally knowing who I am

When I first started this journey, I identified with what I was. That’s what about 99% of our population probably does. People identify with what they do. Especially in this recession when people lose their jobs, they lose the sense of who they are. It causes a lot of heartache and soul searching. People lose their identities. In a way, that’s what happened to me when I had to leave nursing. My entire identity was wrapped up into my being a nurse. It took some time for me to let go of that identity. It was, like has been said, “WHAT I was,” not WHO I was.

When I retired and wrote the above poem I was once again concentrating on WHAT I was. I had been a teacher or worked in the field of education for thirty years. I once more had to deal with “WHO I was.”.

Tolle once again brings up staying in the present moment. Our egos can only deal with that which is past or that which is future. It is NOT an easy thing to do. It takes constant practice. I hope someday I will be able to come much closer to that state. I’m at least beginning to realize when I am NOT in the present. Maybe there is still some hope then of finding out Who I am.

Have a good day. Is anybody out there? I’m having a lot of visitors but very few people are commenting yet. Am I making any sense?

Namaste. Attic Annie

2 Comments

Filed under Casual conversation, diary, general topics, life, musings, spirituality, Uncategorized

Culture in Cowtown

Good morning. I have decided that from time to time when I haven’t been particularily moved by some topic that I will write about people who impress me.

A friend and I took advantage of the free museum tours today to get out for a Saturday get together. She works full time so we really don’t have that much time to get together but today was too pretty not to do something.

All of the museums in the cultural district of town decided to offer a no charge day as a gift to the citizens of the entire county. I thought it was a great idea. In this time of recession, the good people of this town really needed some cultural diversion. They must have agreed. The place was packed all around the entire district. The North Texas Medical School even had free water on several corners. I thought that was a wonderful idea, especially since I was quite thirsty. It was hotter than I thought it would be.

We had planned to go earlier but one thing led to another and we didn’t get up to the cultural district until around one. We had nothing particular in mind other than to see one of Michaelangelo‘s first paintings that the world-known Kimball Art Museum has acquired for its permanent collection. Now what’s really great about this acquisition is the fact that it is the first Michaelangelo painting to enter an American collection and here it is right in my adopted home town!

michelangelo_saint_anthony-150x150 Now what’s so unique about this painting is that he did it when he was twelve or thirteen years old. It’s called “The Torment of St. Anthony.” Now that is talent! Of course if  kids drew this today, they’d probably get sent to the counselor for testing. It made me wonder how many of our American artists-to-be are escaping notice in our schools. Believe me, as a teacher, I’ve seen plenty of young kids drawing all kinds of fantasy creatures. We just call them doodles and make the kids throw them away if they draw in class when they “should be paying attention” to the stuff that will appear on the standardized state tests. I am saddened every time I realize how little American kids get training in the arts. The first classes to be cut during budget crises are always art, band, dance, and choir.

I know of one woman here in town who didn’t let lack of funds in school stop her from being an artist. She’s the one I really started to write about. We were in the building called the Community Arts Center which used to be the Modern Art Museum before the new museum was built. I turned the corner and saw one of her works.  There was a scupture of a fish as if it were jumping out of the water to catch the fly at the end of a fishing line. The fish must be six foot tall and the fishing line probably nine feet long. The fish was close to the middle of the room and the pole was near the wall. It’s an awesome work. You can see a picture of it down below.

Of course I happen to think everything Rebecca Low sculpts is awesome. She designed the modern art fountain that is in the Peace Garden on the campus of our church.                                                                                Fountain 2                Fountain1            Fountain 3                                                        

I’m hoping you will be able to enlarge these pictures to get a better look at the fountain. If not, at least you can experience the peaceful feeling that is evident in our garden.

RebeccaHere Fishy Fishy has her own studio which she graceously shares for a variety of functions. Instead of copying everything from her own web site, I’m just linking this blog to her site this morning. Just click on her name and you’ll be able to see a fraction of what is has done. She has a wonderful sense of humor. I hope you enjoy her works. In case you are a fisher and love sculpture, I think you will really enjoy this piece. The painting in the background is the banks of the Trinity River. Everything in Texas is bigger than life. Imagine pulling something this size out of the river.

If you are ever in Fort Worth, call Rebecca and ask if you can tour her studio. She’s out on Camp Bowie West. What’s fascinating about her studio is her humungous pile of scrap metal in the yard behind the building. To an untrained eye it’s an eyesore. To Rebeccas, it’s the next great work of art.

Enjoy your tour of her studio and have a blessed Sunday. Namaste.

Attic Annie

Comments Off on Culture in Cowtown

Filed under Casual conversation, general topics, life, Uncategorized

Dreaming for the good, releasing the bad

Good morning. The weather is continuing a cool trend. It’s 59o but if you have on a jacket, we can still sit out on the glider. The prediction is for warmer weather again  this weekend. Let me tell you what’s going on.

dreams

I very seldom dream, or at least I very seldom remember any dreams. Last night I had a very vivid dream and woke up quite upset. I dreamed I discovered my ex, while we were still married, in, to put it nicely, a compromising position with another woman. She then insulted me with an unmentionable hand gesture when I confronted them.

What upset me was the feelings of betrayal I was experiencing. I was actually experiencing them deep in the core of my chest as I dreamed. They were much deeper than I ever remember feeling when I was actually going through my divorce experience. A confrontation like that  never happened in real life so I was not remembering history.

Betrayal

Betrayal trauma is a response to extreme anger. Fear and anger are the two sides to the fight-flight response, and as such are our strongest and most basic  psychological emotions. When I am in an emotional situation, I freeze. I do not fight nor do I have an urge to run.

I have a very difficult time displaying any anger. My husband had a very easy time threatening me with his outbursts…or attacking me verbally or physically.  The more angry he got, the more I retreated. While I was going through my divorce, others would get mad at him for me since I couldn’t get mad myself.

My husband committed adultery. I would not doubt that he was unfaithful to me not only while we were dating (he admitted to being with a prostitute) but also shortly after our wedding. A traveling salesman who hangs out in bars, even when he is in his home town, has ample temptations and opportunities. Not only did he have all the qualities of an alcoholic, he, in my opinion, was a sexual addict as well. Now as long as I was the center of his addiction, it didn’t bother me. It was when I began to lose trust in him, like I did in April following our January wedding, that I knew I was in for a long, lonely ride.

We had been married less than three years when he was transferred a third time and we moved to this state. He said something a couple of times that I should have confronted him with, but I let slide. He mentioned being happy to move here because Texas was a no-fault state if a couple divorced. He said it in a way that on the surface appeared to be teasing, but looking back I think in reality he was probably telling the truth. I was very uninformed and unknowledgeable about divorce so I really didn’t say anything. It  didn’t occur to me to think that he was actually contemplating divorce. By that time we already had a son. I thought we were a family…troubled, but still a family.

No-fault divorce is a divorce in which the dissolution of a marriage requires neither a showing of wrong-doing of either party nor any evidentiary proceedings at all. Laws providing for no-fault divorce allow a family court to grant a divorce in response to a petition by either party to the marriage, without requiring the petitioner to provide evidence that the respondent has committed a breach of the marital contract. Laws providing for no-fault divorce also limit the potential legal defenses of a respondent who would prefer to remain married.

No fault divorce just lets either party say, “See ya,” without having to even attempt to work things out. I don’t think I would ever have filed for divorce. I grew up without a mother. For that reason, I was adamant that my son would not have to grow up without his father. That in itself was not reality because in real life my ex left the house on Monday morning and didn’t return until Thursday night. My son had very little contact with his father anyway. Towards the end, he didn’t return until Friday. I called the airport one time and talked to security. They keep track of cars that are in their lots for several days. It was Thursday night and my ex’s car was no longer in the parking lot. He had told me he would have to stay another night and would be back on Friday.

Instead of getting mad, I just let myself turn and sink more inward. I realized the truth and chose not to deal with it. My life long pattern was depression so it felt very familiar to me. The more the anger turned in, the more I handled it by doing less and eating more. It was a vicious no win situation. He was drinking and I was eating. Only because God was with me did it not end in a violent disaster. A few months before the end, he had come home even more drunk than usual and I found myself on the floor with his hands around my neck choking me. I was ready to let him kill me, but at the last second, I could not do that to my beloved six year old son. My cousin happened to be visiting us. I called out and that seemed to break my ex’s rage. He let go.

Later I found out that my cousin had not even heard me, but my action was enough to diffuse the situation.

After over twenty years I am puzzled as to why such a vivid dream would be occuring now. Earlier that evening I had been in a philosophy class that I’m taking called “Lessons in Truth”. As we discussed the material, I discovered that much of what we had covered in the first two lessons, I already tried to incorporate into my life as I was growing up. I was learning that my beliefs had put me much further along my spiritual path than I could ever have guessed.

We discussed the idea that all suffering is the result of believing ourselves to be in bondage to “all things of the flesh”. We have a choice of remaining in that level or growing through various stages to a spiritual understanding that we know we are one with God and are free from all suffering.  Now I know this is pretty heavy stuff and I’ll not go into it any further.

What I realized during the class and as we all chatted afterwards was that I was feeling a sense of what I had not felt in decades. That was a sense of joy! I was feeling trully happy. S &*T! I was FEELING. That in itself is something I don’t often allow myself to do…non-chalant soul that I am.

Since I had brought up joy and opened the space where I carefully control all my feelings, it also allowed me to bring up other feelings. Stuff I had never allowed myself to handle. By having these feelings come to me in a dream, I was able to recognize them for what they were, acknowledge them, FEEL them, and then release them in a rush of liberty of allowing them to leave.

This class has eight more sessions. Eight more lessons. If all of them are this powerful, I’m wondering where I will be by the middle of November. It should be very interesting. Namaste. Attic Annie

eight-ways-to-recharge-your-spirit

Comments Off on Dreaming for the good, releasing the bad

Filed under Casual conversation, diary, family, general topics, marriage, musings, relationships, Uncategorized

I Fought the Law and I Won!

Falling back to me for a change

Falling back to me for a change

My humble apologies to “The Clash” but I immediately thought of this tune today. Sing along with me!

I Fought the Law and I Won

Drove to the hearing facing the sun  I fought the law and I won (x2)  Getting up the nerve was no fun  I fought the law and I won (x2)

 I faced the tax board feeling good  Guess my karma’s intact  They were friendly and understood  I fought the law and I won (x2)

 I was ready with all my facts  I fought the law and I won (x2)  I won my case and lowered my tax  I fought the law and I won (x2)

Today was T Day…the day to face the appraisal board. I had decided on the last possible day to protest my property taxes this year. With so many people ahead of me in line, I waited for almost three months for today’s date. Almost everyone in the county was making an appointment. I will say I do not mind paying my fair share of taxes. I’m not one who is out just to take advantage of the rest of the population. Our county is really hurting in this recession, but I’m afraid raising my taxes every year is not going to help. Perhaps if I were still gainfully employed, I would not have said anything. After all, I would have loved to have sold my house for what they said it was worth.

The taxing authority had said my house’s value had increased 44% in five years. My taxes had risen 55% or 11% a year since 2004. I just took it and didn’t complain until this year. I finally said, “Enough already!” “Uncle!” “Uncle!” “Ouch!”

Now in case you are not familiar with me yet, I HATE conflict. I have always been a peacekeeper which sometimes translated into wipe your feet on the doormat on my back before you enter my life. I can’t stand confrontation. You’d think that was probably a result of a lot of conflict in my childhood, but the opposite was true, except for one time when I stood up to my father and he slapped me across the face for sassing him (can’t remember what I said), nobody ever confronted anybody. Maybe I feel this way because I never had any practice standing up for myself.

I stood up for myself today. I used to tell the kids in my class that they never wanted to make me mad. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m mad,” as the Hulk used to say. I was not mad this time. I just felt I was justified in my actions. If someone challenges me or I feel something is unjust I will rise to the cause.

We were supposed to have five copies of everything besides the original (what the “original” was I never quite understood). In my packet, I had a letter addressing the board. I had the number of showings for my house and the comments about how much updating would have to be done. I had internet information. Over 6,000 people looked at my house on the net. I had pictures. I told them about the eight families that showed up for two open houses. I had comparables, which is really hard because once people find my particular area of town they are not in a hurry to leave voluntarily. I’ve lost five couples among my neighbors in the thirty two years I’ve lived here. Four of the couples died from age related causes…that happens when you are in your eighties or older. The fifth just sold to a relative because it looks like he will shortly be taking that path out himself. There’s just not a big turnover in our neighborhood.

I’m a very laid-back non-chalant type person. I don’t not show emotion on purpose like I control it or something. It just kind of happens that way. I’ve always taken things as they come.  Since I went to bed close to midnight last night I was gifted with not awakening until 8:00 a.m. That’s a rarity for me. I’m usually wide awake by 4 or I’m awake at 10, 12, 2, 4, 6…you get the picture. Getting up at eight  meant I had five hours until my hearing.

 I got up and  finished putting tabs on all my paper work for the five copies. I made sure everything was in order. I even made up a table of contents. I was “gunning” for positive action. I finally told myself I was as ready as I would ever be.

The hearing was on the far northeast section of the county, about fifteen miles from my house. The directions from the internet said it would take about 23 minutes to get there. I left my house at 12:20 and did just fine on the express way until I realized I missed an exit. Fortunately, before I had a chance to panic, (dire warnings were issued about being late to a hearing), I saw a sign that said the exit for the exact road I needed. Why google wanted me to go round the strawberry patch to get there was beyond me when this was a straight shot south, I couldn’t figure out. Actually, it only took me fifteen minutes since the traffic was light. I was there ten minutes before my appointed time of 1 o’clock.

Everybody was just coming back from lunch. They were standing around talking, going to the bathroom, etc. There are times when I really appreciate punctuality. This was one of them. I wanted to display my irritation but thought better of it. I didn’t know which panel would be in my room. Rule #1…don’t hack off the tax man (or woman). Three people who had entered the waiting room were called before me. I hate when that happens. Finally at 1:10 my name was called. I was told I would be allowed twenty minutes to present my case, the county would present theirs, and I could rebut. Right before I was to begin my cell phone rang. Now there are very few people who have access to my number. I use that phone as little as possible. I didn’t recognize the number so I thought I turned it off. Two minutes later it rang again. This time I was successful in turning the thing off. The meeting proceded. They asked me how much I thought my house was worth. I felt like telling them the 2004 price because that’s the last time my house was upgraded, but I didn’t think they’d buy it. I lowballed as much as I thought I could, allowing for inflation, and pulled out a figure. I’m hoping to get the price they thought it was worth with adjustments (not the original tax value) but that’s not the number I told them. They agreed. It was over.

I was dancing back out to the car by 1:30. The song, “I fought the law” popped into my head. Once in my car, out of anyone’s earshot, I started singing it. “I fought the law, and I WON! I fought the law, and I WON! It made me feel really good!

I was back home by 2 o’clock. I took out my cell phone and called that number back. Would you believe it was a wrong number? Somebody somewhere was just trying to unnerve me. It didn’t happen. My karma went my way today! It’s been a good day. Scratch one up for the little guy! Now if my real estate agent would just call with a great offer…..it would really make my day. Y’all have a good day too, ya hear? Namaste   Attic Annie

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Casual conversation, diary, general topics, life, Uncategorized

Ridin’ the rails in my memories

Good morning. Come on in. I’ve got trains on my mind today.

I’ve been able to sleep the past few nights with my windows open. I always look forward to this time of the year and its companion time in the spring when it is cool enough to sleep at night without the air conditioner and warm enough to sleep without the furnace and vice versa in the spring. If I’m lucky, it will last until the end of October.  The temperature outside  is 6Oo but inside my bedroom, it is currently 73o. I had energy efficient windows installed almost ten years ago and extra insulation added five years ago. It makes for a very comfortable and quiet home. (I’ve digressed, haven’t I?)

What does that have to do with trains? Simple. When the windows are closed, it is much more quiet at night. Noise doesn’t penetrate the double paned windows easily. I hear very little outside noise unless it is directly in front of the house. My house is situated in the middle of two freight train tracks approximately 1.5 miles apart. When the windows are open, the train whistles that blow at the crossing sound like they are coming from the end of the block. Sometimes, I can hear the train’s wheels speeding over the tracks. The sound of the trains’ lonesome whistles to the west and the east enter both sides of my corner bedroom. Sometimes it sounds almost like stereo.

I can lay  at night in my bed listening to the sounds of the trains and remember my childhood bedroom. I lived on top of a mile long hill that separated my home from the wire company situated at the bottom of the hill. The factory was about 1 1/2 miles away to the north but that wasn’t as the crow flies. The sound was actually in flying distance about four blocks away, given the steepness of the hill. I didn’t pay attention to the noises during the day, but at night, with my windows open on the second floor, I could clearly hear the train cars being coupled together, bumping into each other with loud thuds. The company constantly moved raw materials in and finished products out every hour of the day and night.

Those sounds at night often left me with a melancholy ache. I heard the whistles calling me and thought of  the trains as a way of their being able to carry me away. I thought of the freedom hoboesto “ride the rails” as hoboes did in the decades prior to my birth. Of course, as a child, I didn’t see the poverty, or the despair, or the danger to the women who lived that lifestyle back then. I saw the freedom and the adventure with no one to have control over me.

As a very young child, I always wanted to travel as far as I could go. My aunt, who cared for me during my mother’s illness, tied a  clothes line rope tether onto the straps of my sunsuit which she anchored firmly to a front yard tree. She could go about her daily chores within her house, watching me through the windows, and I was free to safely wander within the confines of the front yard and the length of my tether.

My cousin told me a few years ago that it became the entertainment of the older children in the neighborhood to untie me and watch how far I could run before I got caught again. Back then freedom meant going as far as my little feet could fly. I had no place in particular to go, I just loved the freedom of the run.

The life of the hobo appealed to me. There would be no one around to limit me, to tell me what I couldn’t or shouldn’t do. It would give me a break from the unspoken gloom held within the walls of our house and allow me to stretch and grow in the sunshine. I could gain friends beyond the other pupils  in my grade school class, my Sunday School, my neighborhood. Those were the limits of my world. In a way it was a mile square box that I wanted to be freed from.

During my childhood, an aunt, who lived in California, would come to visit every few years. My father drove us north about thirteen miles to the nearest train station to await Super Chief 2her arrival aboard the Super Chief which traveled from Los Angeles to Chicago. The excitement of the forever long ride in the car, and the waiting and watching for the train to arrive was almost exquisitely unbearable. We were often the only ones waiting at the small station. There were very few people who ever got off with her. It was like she had her own coach and she was the queen.

My father many times gave me pennies to put on the tracks. When the train left the station, generally within five minutes of its arrival, I would search the track area to find the shiny, still hot, flattened pieces of copper and would store them as reminders of my aunt’s visit. Her visit symbolized the ever so brief return of some love to my life. A week or so later we would reverse our trip and she would disappear to the west again in the early evening as the sun was setting.

She told my father that she often wished she could take me with her to California. It was impossible because she and her sister both worked full time. There would be no one to watch over me. The knowledge of her wanting me meant much to me. The knowledge that she couldn’t care for me saddened me greatly. I would have loved growing up in California in the 50s and 60s at a time when the population was not so huge and the ocean was only a few short blocks from her Long Beach home. That would have been heaven.

When I graduated from high school my graduation present was a trip to California with the tethering aunt to visit the visiting aunt (they were sisters). It was now my turn to ride the train. I was enthralled. We rode in coach, but the chairs leaned back further and were separated more from each other than today’s Amtrak cars. In the dining room we sat at real tables with moveable chairs. White linens covered the tables. The silverware was actually silver. Fresh flowers stood in vases next to the window. Waiters poured steaming cups of coffee from silver pots. Had the car not swayed, I would have thought I were in a fancy hotel dining room. A chef on board actually cooked the meals. Those were nice days.

It took two nights to arrive in California. The second night I met a young man much older than me. He was almost finished with college. We sat in the club car and talked forever as the car slowly emptied itself of passengers. We continued to talk. … and talk…( ok…managed to kiss a few times). I didn’t have a watch on, but it was getting late into the night. We both had to go to the bathroom at the same time. We came back and talked some more. It must have been almost 3 AM or later when I made my way back to a very worried aunt. She had come looking for me at the time we took our mutual breaks. She knew the train hadn’t made a stop, but she had no idea what had happened to me. Maybe she thought I had been dragged into a sleeping car. I didn’t ask.  The ride home was not as memorable.

I took another ride to California during college, this time staying with a cousin I didn’t meet until I got out there. She introduced me to more of my maternal relatives.

I rode from my home to Chicago several times the two years I attended college there. On my trip to Russia I rode from Moscow to Kiev overnight. The bar served marvelous vodka and the Russian guys were cute. I took my son back “home” to visit when he was in pre-school. He had a wonderful time riding in the top bunk. 

 I’ve gone back twice to visit on my own. I gave myself the luxury of a sleeping car on this second trip last December. The “roomettes” have definitely shrunk in the past thirty years. Little did I know how uncomfortable the thin mattressed bunks had become or how much I would have to brace myself to stay in the bunk as the train swayed from side to side. In the morning my back ached. I didn’t know if it was from bruised kidneys or muscle strain.

That still wasn’t enough to make me quit “riding the rails”. Watching the terrain change between Texas and Illinois is always interesting. It was especially so last winter when at numerous places along the way, fresh animal tracks could be seen in the snow.  I  love meeting the folks in the observation car and the dining car which now looks like something out of a fast food chain. The food is loaded on at various stops. The chef and his made-to-order food is gone. The silverware has disappeared, but the chance to meet someone special, or have someone special waiting at the end of the ride even if it is for only a few hours….that remains. There’s still a chance for memories.

Namaste  Attic Annie

Comments Off on Ridin’ the rails in my memories

Filed under Casual conversation, diary, general topics, musings, Uncategorized