Tuesday, March 22, 2011


For the past three weeks I've been in Iuka working on Mama Nick's house (it will always be "her" house).  Just due to the age of the house and her inability to do some things, there is quite a lot to be done. My major project was cleaning the kitchen cabinets inside and out,as well as everything in them. Some old Tupperware and such plastic containers had to go - they were very brittle or stained.  When Paul came the second weekend he brought a bookcase and a small baker's rack for the utility room for storage. I also cleaned the master bath cabinets, the hall wallpaper, washed linens (sheets, pillow cases) which had been stored for some time, and some of which just didn't make it. Using the clothesline was neat and economical!

The first week I had to have the plumber back out to stop leaks under the guest/hall bathroom sink. Every towel - a thick stack - underneath was soaked and I'm thankful they were there; otherwise, no telling how far the drip would have made its way... He had to replace both cut-off lines/turn-offs under that sink.

My cousin Edwina and and I went to North Florence one day the first week (I drove); Aunt Ginny and I went one day the second week (I drove, along the Natchez Trace route), as well as making a trip waaaay out in the country (she drove) to get some vegetable peelers. Bren's stepmother died and her funeral was March 7. (Bren had also pushed herself through some work training in Tupelo and at the hospital - new computer system, being sick with bronchitis, then this sadness...) Bren, Edwina and I didn't have a whole lot of time together just visiting, but so great that these wonderful women are in my life. Aunt Ginny was glad to have a next-door neighbor for the weeks I was there and the daffodils, jonquils, japonica, spirea and forsythia around MN and AG's houses were just ablaze with color.  AG said she'd call me when the dogwoods bloom.

I think I missed maybe two or three days going by to see Paul's mother, who had another stroke about a month ago. In fact, the day I left going there, David couldn't reach Paul and he called me - I was just through Memphis at the time. This was another major one, not as bad as the first, but it has left her weaker and mostly bed-ridden.  She gets good care at the living center, but she had two falls, one involving a late night trip to the ER. All was well with no concussion or broken bones. The first fall it was thought she had broken ribs, but everyone thought later they were mostly bruised.  It was still sad and disconcerting to know she was in pain - this stoic lady who never complains. 

As time allows I'm going through, and have gone through some, china and silver, washing and storing. Her and AG's mother's china is in a cabinet and needs cleaned next round. They and their brother James L., who has been gone many years, got it for Mother Ruth one Christmas. (Other bits of family history: AG took guitar lessons in high school. Connie gave MN a Bradford pear tree which is blooming near the end of her drive. Uncle Wendell planted the pines in front and set out almost all the shrubs. There's an arc of spirea in front of the house which frames the yard...) I'm so glad I've had this time to really know more about Paul's family and history - we have lived away so long and have been "visitors" there and that's what it has felt like a lot of the time until now.  Now I feel more connected in some way - a part of the fabric of both our families. Daily life.  It's a pretty great thing to be near family. Below, Aunt Ginny in her front yard.

My sister-in-law Sandra came one day to look through old family pictures I'd found in a dresser drawer that she and David wanted to make prints of. Mama Nick's high school graduation picture; her eighth grade graduation picture; some of Paul and the other "kids" when they were little - studio pictures - all lined up 3/4 profile, stairsteps.  Such beautiful children. (Some of Tommy I would not have known from Paul except for MN's careful notes on the backs of the pictures!)

Tommy, Carol, Whitney and Marianna had all of us (me, Paul, David, Sandra) over for pizza the second Friday night and it was really such fun and a blessing to be all together. Tommy and his family are animal lovers with several dogs, including Beethoven, their St. Bernard, and three goats, the twin kids those born on Christmas Day. Tommy and David both are extra busy in their accounting practices this time of year with tax returns.

I got to see Morgan and little Tyler-tummy growing, and Steven - they're so cute. I guess they've designated Tyler as a little hunter/outdoors guy - the baby shower theme in May is "camo."

 Mike and Steve came out the day before I left (on Mike's birthday, the 17th) and hauled off an old, old, gold vinyl couch from the back bedroom.  It was very musty and one arm fell off.  It folded out like a futon, except the 70's gold... Daddy Nick's napping couch.  But it was just in ruins. All the bedrooms are large and maybe all but one would nicely accommodate even king size beds, but we will have enough queen size for now!  The space! It's almost twice as large as our house here.

There is some structural work that needs to be done on the front porch and house-front brick.  Evidenly when the house was built, any stumps were just left to rot - at least the concrete porch has tilted and separated from the house somewhat. I haven't noticed any unlevel floors but it is not on a concrete pad.

Some rainy days were a little unnerving - I guess because of all the trees around and just being out in the country. Something we'll get used to. The sunny days were glorious! Oscar loved running in the open space around the house and in the Low Garden. He was forbidden to go toward the road, which doesn't have much traffic, but... Murphy's Law... He also picked up three ticks. I believe his monthly med took care of them - they didn't get fat and bulbous. I hated getting them off, though. I have to say the first week I was afraid he would bark - he is such a good watch dog. But we were fine.

I kept the TV on HGTV most of the time, mostly for noise, but I can imagine all sorts of decorating ideas. I do know it's a good thing to have a designer who can come up with all those neat ideas, and who can direct contractors to perfection: like Genevieve Gorder, David Bromstad and Scott McGillivray. House Hunters was a favorite, too.

Well, I'm trying to rest up some, get some things done here at home, keep some doctors' check-up appointments, and get ready to return for the grand Dogwood Blooming. They are so beautiful laced among the trees in the hills. 

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