Still Standing

It’s Sunday morning, foggy and warm enough for a mosquito to buzz near my ear. The old farm gate survived a recent bashing from a little red car that missed the curve. The dents warped the metal. It wobbles on its hinges.  The work of opening and closing will still get done, but the smooth arc and whoosh of wind is gone forever.

The Pensacola Hotel for Dogs and Cats

I’d had my eye on the good folks  at the Pensacola Hotel for Dogs and Cats for a while, but I just couldn’t bring myself to take Maggie’s beds, mats, brushes and dishes to them to use for their furry charges. They are an adoption and rescue shelter for abandoned dogs and cats and run solely on donations, so money and supplies are always needed. They have an exceptional Facebook presence, and give a steady stream of updates like this one:

ADOPTION UPDATE: Juicy Fruit, our sweet little pug went to her forever home today. We thank the new family of Juicy Fruit for opening their heart and home to this most deserving little soul.

Or this:

HOTEL WISH LIST: Many people call and ask what is hotel in need of. The following is a wish list of needed items: Iams Mini Chunks DRY dog food(green package), inexpensive non-scoopable cat litter, plastic litter boxes, Friskies or Purina dry cat chow, paper towels, odaban or bleach, and any type of used linens, such as sheets, towels, blankets, bed pillows, dog beds, dog/cat toys. We, and our furry friends appreciate your donations. Thank You.

About ten days ago, I transferred all of Maggie’s things from the big closet where I had hidden them from sight into the trunk of our car and drove across town to the Pensacola Hotel for Dogs and Cats. It was a Wednesday, and they weren’t open, so I left everything on the porch and took a few pictures of this place that exudes such a sweet spirit. And then I cried all the way home.

A Cow, a Dog, and a Woman

This tickled my funny bone. It’s from our “North end of the county” online newspaper. It involves a woman chasing a Boston Bull terrier who is chasing a cow across four lanes of traffic. “Reporters” on the scene got pictures. The comments are probably the best part.

Food and Place

“Deceptively simple.” I think I finally know what that phrase means.

But when I focus on the minute details of food and place in my own life experiences, the more global my thoughts became, wondering how fellow bloggers in China, Australia, Virginia, Boston, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Canada, Wales, Iraq and elsewhere nourish and nurture their physical bodies and spiritual selves, and under what conditions.

The foods we eat depend in large measure upon our geography, culture, philosophy or religion, and economic circumstance. Do we have the freedom to choose what we eat each day or is our menu controlled by others? The locus of our emotional state determines “where we’re at.” To a depressed person, even the most exquisite meal tastes brown, dusty, and hard to swallow, while one basking in emotional sunshine may savor an apple and a hunk of cheese with fulfilled delight.

To a practicing alcoholic, the beer, cigarette and chocolate chip cookie meal may be a daily reality.

To an ill person in the hospital, the blue liquid nutrient delivered through a feeding tube may keep them alive and hydrated with daily requirements for survival, but it can hardly be called food. Or to someone chronically ill with nausea and pain, food may feel like an enemy.

There can be joy and spiritual insight through fasting, when the withholding of food is our own choice.

This morning, I will be at the communion table, partaking of the body and the blood, a bizarre transmogrification, but one in which I participate, hoping that one day something will click and my faith will no longer be elusive. I always take away something of value, a feeling of positive mysticism, feeling that I have indeed been spiritually fed. And yet, walking away, my mouth still damp with wine, a voice in one ear whispers “Believe,” while one in the other breathes, “Look before you leap.”

 

Love of Place: Choosing

For the past seven years, I have been coming and going between the pine woods of Florida and the mountains of western North Carolina, roughly six months in one and six in the other. It has been a remarkable time in our lives and, I think, responsible for major personal growth, both individually and in our relationship that might well have never occurred had we not taken this bold step.

Buck and I retired from working for others or having employees in mid-1997. He was 59. I was 46. He gave notice of his decision to retire, I sold my television news clipping service, we sold several other small businesses, bought a piece of land in the mountains near Asheville and started to build.

The mountain place became a “relationship” house — a great place for family and friends to gather. It also gave us an opportunity to hike the mountains, and live at 4,000 above sea level in a setting of blinding beauty. Most of the time we were there alone, the nurturing silence broken only by the cries of juvenile hawks as their parents tutored them in the hawkly art of fierce screaming, the mournful spiraling calls of screech owls, or me at the piano playing a Chopin Nocturne or another composition written by some other genius.

We eventually sold our larger home near Pensacola and built a one-bedroom “cabin in the woods” there on a piece of forested land we’ve owned for many years.

And so, in late Spring, when the “hot flats” begin to sizzle a bit, we pack up the car and the truck and head for higher ground near Asheville. I forward the mail, stop things in one place, start them in another, and try to stuff the houseplants in somewhere, along with zippered bags of herbs and spices, a canvas bag full of books and music, and whatever else I can’t live without in either place.

Then in mid-November, when all the leaves have fallen and our neighbors houses down the mountain have become visible, we repeat the process in reverse, and return to Florida.

We wanted to create two wondrous places to be at home together, so good that we would always feel longing for the one and nostalgia for the other. That’s exactly what happened. I feel a pang each time we close and lock the gate to leave the flatlands, and another stab each time we winterize the North Carolina home and head down, down, down the mountain.

I can almost sympathize with the bigamist who, truly in love, marries persons in different states.

Something I have noticed is that folks who have known us in Pensacola believe we have moved away. And to our North Carolina neighbors, we will always be “that nice Florida couple.” Presuming myself to be quite insular, I didn’t think that mattered. And for a long time it didn’t.

But now, the love of one place, that love of one’s true home, the place where I want to be digging in the dirt and growing flowers and trees when I am a very old lady, and the place where we both want to nurture the forest and provide a place of sanctuary for our family, has won out.

And so, since we cannot live parallel lives, but must make choices which take us down a particular path, Buck and I have made another bold decision — both painful and joyous: we have put our North Carolina home up for sale, and have set about dreaming a new dream in this place of deepening roots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming and Going

Buck's birthday sunset 006
Sunset over Longleaf Preserve, near Pensacola, Florida

For the past seven years, my husband, Buck, and I have been coming and going between the pine woods of Florida and the mountains of western North Carolina, roughly six months in one and six in the other. It has been a remarkable time in our lives and, I think, responsible for major personal growth both individually and in our relationship that might well never have occurred had we not taken this bold step.

Buck and I retired from working for others or having employees in mid-1997. He was 59. I was 46. He gave notice of his decision to retire, I sold my television news clipping service, we sold several other small businesses, bought a piece of land in the mountains near Asheville, and began to build.

The mountain place became a “relationship” house — a great place for family and friends to gather. It also gave us an opportunity to hike the mountains, and live at 4,000 above sea level in a setting of blinding beauty. Most of the time we were there alone, the nurturing silence broken only by the cries of juvenile hawks as their parents tutored them in the hawkly art of fierce screaming, the mournful spiraling calls of screech owls, or me at the piano playing a Chopin Nocturne or another composition written by some other genius.

We eventually sold our larger home near Pensacola and built a one-bedroom “cabin in the woods” there on a piece of forested land we’ve owned for many years.

And so, in late Spring, when the “hot flats” begin to sizzle, we pack up the car and the truck and head for higher ground near Asheville. I forward the mail, stop things in one place, start them in another, and try to stuff the houseplants in somewhere, along with zippered bags of herbs and spices, a canvas bag full of books and music, and whatever else I can’t live without in either place.

Then in mid-November, when all the leaves have fallen and our neighbors’ houses down the mountain have become visible, we repeat the process in reverse, and return to Florida.

We wanted to create two wondrous places to be at home together, so good that we would always feel longing for the one and nostalgia for the other. That’s exactly what happened. I feel a pang each time we close and lock the gate to leave the flatlands, and another stab each time we winterize the North Carolina home and head down, down, down the mountain.

I can almost sympathize with the bigamist who, truly in love, marries persons in different states.

Something I have noticed is that folks who have known us in Pensacola believe we have moved away. And to our North Carolina neighbors, we will always be “that nice Florida couple.” Presuming myself to be quite insular, I didn’t think that mattered. And for a long time it didn’t.

But now, the love of one place, that love of one’s true home, the place where I want to be digging in the dirt and growing flowers and trees when I am a very old lady, and the place where we both want to nurture the forest and provide a place of sanctuary for our family, has won out.

And so, since we cannot live parallel lives, but must make choices which take us down a particular path, Buck and I have made another bold decision – both painful and joyous: we have put our North Carolina home up for sale, and have set about dreaming a new dream in this place of deepening roots.