Monday, January 28, 2013

A Small Visitor

I came home from working on Sunday day and night feeling glad to be in my new home with my old wife who is new every day. I was getting settled when a small visitor came in the door of our downstairs apartment. She had a wide smile and said "Hi Grandpa". I was pleasantly surprised, but then rational thought--pesky fun robbing rational thought intruded. "Does mommy know you came down the cellar stairs and through the garage to visit me? A guilt free I'm a big girl "No" was her answer. I called Laurel who was shocked. I brought her back upstairs for a lecture. I'm so glad my lecture giving days are over. I did nod gravely in support, but I was thinking of childhood friend Dickie Antalek. My grandfather had built four early houses and everyone else had to make a city around my grandfathers not always sober whims to build another house. Growing up my mother and grandmother lived in houses separated by a common driveway. A common lawn gently sloped down to the beginning of a dead end street--Miller street by name. It was like the city planner was a five year old adventuresome kid. No busy intersections to worry about. For some reason 4 year old Dickie Antalek was drawn to wander down Miller Street to the worn path to our back yard. There were apple trees to climb, grape vines to pillage and best of all 2 brothers to play with. We soon learned that we had a limited amount of time to play before Hazel Antalek came looking frantically for her son. Try as she may Dickie would always escape and make his way down to play with Ronnie and Richie. There came a time when she just gave up. I would like to write that the friendship endured, but the Vietnam war came along and Dickie was drafted. We stood on his porch and said goodbye impressed at his uniform and his still wandering heart not afraid to go down a much longer dead end. A dead end it was because although most of Dickie came home, the part above the neck didn't. He left with so much and he came back with so little. He had all these plans for the future. I don't know what happened over there. He tended bar on lower Main street down by the old factories forever. We would see him at the corner store every now and then but there would only be brief nods exchanged. I have a friend that I see at my 12 step food meetings. A few weeks ago she said "I saw something at nine years old no nine year old should see". She then recounted forty lost years struggling against demons. Maybe Dickie saw something. Maybe the four year old went looking for the soldier and saw something no four year old should ever see and it hollowed him out and turned him into a glass.I only shared with my daughter the fun part of the story about a frantic mother looking for her adventure loving child. Samaya and Violet came down later that morning and we read a book about bears. Friendly bears who love ice fishing while a red fox plays the violin and their cubs dance.Now I'm reading this story and the only part that makes a bit of sense are the ice fishing bears, the violin playing red fox, and the dancing cubs who, I'm sure, will always stay close to their family.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reason #18

I have quite a few reasons for enjoying Eliot, the town in Maine where we live, and where we recently bought a house with my daughter and son-in-law. More about the new house later in a future blog. Thursday, I went to story time with Laurel and the kids at the Fogg Library. I joked with Susan the librarian that the library ought to have a sign, "Free coffee for broken down old men". She said, "Ronnie, I'll make you some coffee. Come into the kitchen." We drank coffee and talked about life and books and broken down old men. We walked around looking at my talented artist friend Cori Caputo's amazing colorful paintings of humid neighborhoods with fish gliding along a warm air currents. "Back in my day fish had the good sense to swim in creeks!". They didn't say it, but I'm sure those old library trustees thought it with nothing better to do then keep guard in stern silence. I was talking with Susan and I heard a sneeze--looked around and for an instant was sure an old painting had sneezed, but then I saw a lady on the floor behind a stately wing chair browsing the lower shelves--psychic event narrowly averted--a close call. "What if a recording device was hidden behind an old portrait that the librarian activates by pushing a button at her desk?" I asked Susan. I could see myself being a librarian if I could do stuff like that, but I would not enjoy putting books away or using the computer. We talked about the poetry reading my daughter and I did a few weeks ago, sipped coffee. She went back to work, reluctantly, I'm sure. I sat down on a wing chair and read the morning paper. Mothers and children began to say their goodbyes until next week. I went to warm up the car with two books under my arm. I thought I heard a stern warning in a hundred year old voice, "Be sure to bring back those books on time young man!" Young man? well I suppose age is relative. Maybe reason #19 is learning great truths in the home of great truths.