***Pledge Break***

We're here at the 1/3 mark on Blogathon 2005 here at Scritture, and the tot. board (over in the sidebar) shows that we've got $744 in pledges. Our initial goal was $500, and our 2nd goal is $750, so we're just $6 away from that.

As Search Results from Open Diary reminded me, Habitat for Humanity can buy a LOT of nails for $6. Won't you please be the one to fund them? And if you've ALREADY pledged, hey, get a friend to do it!

Here, for convenience, are the instructions on HOW TO PLEDGE:
How to Pledge

  1. Register: Go here. and register a username, name, and email address.
  2. Find my Campagin: I'm listed as Melissa A. Bartell MissMeliss: Scritture / Habitat for Humanity – Women Build (Currently, I'm on page 8 of the campaign list. )
  3. Sign In: Use the username and password you created in step one, and log in, using the boxes in the upper right-hand corner. After logging in, you should still be on my campagin page.
  4. Make Your Pledge: If you want to pledge a certain amount per hour, just multiply by 24, and type in the total. If you don't want to be publically identified, be sure to click the box to hide your identity. (Only I will see it.) DO NOT make your donation yet. If I don't meet my commmitment to posting every 30 minutes for 24 hours, you're off the hook. Right now, just pledge.
  5. Leave a Note: I don't get notified of new pledges. Please leave a note at my blog, live journal or open diary account, so I can thank you. Or send email. (You can also send email if these steps confuse you – just give me your name as you want it to be on the sponsor list, the amount of your pledge, and an email address, and I'll do the registration for you.)

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In Memoriam

This ole house once knew his children
This ole house once knew his wife
This ole house was home and comfort
As they fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now he trembles in the darkness
When the lightnin' walks about.

He was 80 years old when the heart attacks began coming with increased frequency, when he could no longer bounce back from them, as he had from the first few, and he realized that he needed to put his house in order, because his days were dwindling.

He spent countless hours in his study, going over the books, making sure nothing was overlooked. He set up pensions and insurance plans for his wife, wrote letters to his children, and put them aside. They were long letters, full of candid thoughts. Naked emotions. He said all the things he'd always wanted to, but never found the time, or the right moment.

He found some treasures, and sent them to his grandchildren. Nothing valuable in any currency other than sentiment – pennies from several countries, favorite books, a watch, his medals, a pocket knife, his fishing rods.

When he died, at 81, he was mourned, and thereafter he was missed, but he left his house in order.

Ain't a-gonna need this house no longer
Ain't a-gonna need this house no more
Ain't got time to fix the shingles
Ain't got time to fix the floor
Ain't got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend the windowpane
Ain't a-gonna need this house no longer
He's a-gettin' ready to meet the saints*

*”This Ole House,” as performed by Rosemary Clooney

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Fuzzy woke up about an hour ago, showered, checked mail and then went out to get me a mocha frapp. He's so sweet that way.

He came home, where I put him to work browning meat, even before I said hello. Then, after I sent him away from the kitchen once more, I remembered that he'd laid two bags on the counter, calling them 'treats' when I asked what they were.

I just opened one. He brought me a cinnamon croissant. Cinnamon! The scent of home.

Thanks Fuzzy. I love you.
(But I still think you should post for me at three AM. :) )

There is a child inside my heart tonight
Nobody knows that child but you
If I hold on to you too tight,
You understand, you hold me too.

You are the one,
Who is waiting at the door
When I'm afraid, you warm the air,
And, when I close my eyes to sleep,
You are my peace, you are my prayer

You are my home,
You make me strong,
and in this world of strangers,
I belong to someone,
You, are all I know.
You're all I have,
You are my home

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Lizzie Jane

We come on the sloop John B
My grandfather and me
Around Nassau town we did roam
Drinking all night
Got into a fight
Well I feel so broke up
I want to go home

Lizzie Jane was my grandfather's name for the ancient and enormous beige Dodge he drove when I was a child. I remember the sound of the blinkers was so loud you could hear the click before it actually happened.

Most of the time, if I was in that car, I was relegated to the back seat. Sometimes my grandmother sat with me – she felt safer – and sometimes she didn't. Often, she told me to sit in front, so that she had more room to spread out her knitting. (This was before the whole children in the back seat push. It was even before shoulder straps were the norm.)

Every few days, when I spent the summers with my grandparents, my grandmother would pack a lunch and send the two of us off together, and my grandfather would take me fishing, or we'd go to the military beach and wander through the old bunkers, and when I was tired, and he was hot, and we smelled completely of salt and sand and ships and tar, we'd get back in the car, and drive to Stewarts for root beer and french fries, or Carvel, for soft-serve chocolate ice cream, with rainbow sprinkles. And we'd never tell Grandma. Ever.

About half the time when the words “I want to go home,” waltz through my head, what I really want is those endless summers with my grandfather and Lizzie Jane.

So hoist up the John B's sail
See how the mainsail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home, let me go home
I wanna go home, yeah yeah
Well I feel so broke up
I wanna go home

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Sweet Home Alabama

Big wheels keep on turning
Carry me home to see my kin
Singing songs about the Southland
I miss Alabamy once again
And I think its a sin, yes

Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home Alabama
Lord, I'm coming home to you *

I am in no way Southern, but I've always loved this song, as much for the tune, which is seriously kicky, as for the obvious love of home it expresses.

I've written before that I don't feel like I have a home town, in the sense that there's one place where my roots are. My heart is split between New Jersey and California. I have both fond, and not-so-fond memories of Colorado. I appreciate South Dakota more now that I do not live there, than when I did.

So, songs like this both resonate with me – because there's a part of me that yearns for that sort of place-based identity, and puzzles me, because it's such a foreign feeling.

The front porch I spend the most time relaxing on, is the one inside my head.

Sweet Home Alabama

*”Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd

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Grandma’s House (Redux)

Nail holes where the pictures hung
The shelves and window bare
The back-porch swing's been taken down
Oh, the summers I spent there
We sweep each upstairs bedroom one last time
And gently shut the door
As memories slip through cracks in floorboards
gone forevermore
And oh too soon the dusk descends
On this last day we'll ever spend.

Over the river and through the woods
to grandmothers house we'd go
My dad knew the way in his new Chevrolet
To the sweetest love I know
Over the river and through the woods
How much longer now
To the love that waits there
Thick in the air
It's all at Grandma's house*

One of things I associate most with my grandmother's house is food. Not just my grandfather's bread, or the garden full of tomatoes and strawberries, but more basic things like the stash of coconut macaroons my grandfather kept hidden in the microwave cart.

And of course, there was pasta. My grandmother hated cooking as it was tied so much to working in her father's restaurant (she called it “forced labor” more than once), but when she was in the mood to make spaghetti or lasagne, she'd spend hours making the sauce – the gravy as she called it – from scratch.

Christmas and Thanksgiving included the usual trappings of turkey and stuffing, but there was always a pan of lasagne, “just in case,” and I shouldn't have to explain the close relationship we both have with cannoli.

Obviously we didn't just eat when we were together. We did crosswords, went swimming and shopping, took walks, but she always said that the kitchen was the soul of the house, and the first thing ANYONE ever heard when entering her home was, “Do you want a little something to eat?”

The ” little something” could be anything from coffee and stella d'oro anisette cookies, to home-made raviolli.

She began giving things away before my grandfather died, having us (rather morbidly, I thought) write our names on things we wanted. It was her way of ensuring everyone was happy, no one would bicker over things. Mostly it worked. Mostly, my house is filled with things of hers, of my mother's, family things.

But the time I'm closest to her, the time when I feel her cool soothing presence most, is when I'm in the kitchen, stirring tomato sauce.

Baked ziti, anyone?

*”Grandma's House,” Dierdre Flint

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Grandma’s House

I had planned to come up with a list of tracks to use for entries, but never finished, so have been searching Napster. I'm listening to a song right now – a folk song called “Grandma's House” by Dierdre Flint, and even though I didn't help my grandmother pack her house to move into an apartment, when my grandfather died, the emotion expressed is so familiar, that I'm literally sitting here with tears in my eyes.

So…consider this a placeholder.

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I Wish I Could Go Back to College

When I asked for pictures of front doors, I didn't expect dorm room doors, but I received on, and it made me remember how much work we all did to make those too-small spaces feel like home.

At the University of San Francisco, aside from the usual renting of refrigerators, and turning dorm beds into bunk beds, we used our message boards – white squares designed for dry-erase markers – as much for decoration as to leave messages.

Among my friends, the trendy thing was to reproduce Calvin and Hobbes comic strip frames, on our boards. (I bet you never thought that Crayola markers were the perfect gift for your college student. Trust me – they are.). For the month of October, 1988, my door sported a young Calvin threatening an innocent pumpkin with a knife and uttering the words “Alright, Jack. Time for your Lobotomy.”

As my parents moved from Fresno to San Jose just after I'd started school, I felt more at home in the dorm than at their new house, where there really wasn't a place for me.

Hello, adulthood.

I wish I could go back to college.
In college you know who you are.
You sit in the quad, and think, “Oh my God!
I am totally gonna go far!”

How do I go back to college?
I don't know who I am anymore!

I wanna go back to my room and find a message
in dry-erase pen on the door!*

*”I Wish I Could Go Back to College,” Avenue Q

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This Old House

Catherine commented on When I think of Home, “I was thinking a lot about what home means, too, as I watch the fire department burn a recently vacated home to clear the lot for develoment. I know it was just an empty building, but it was still weird to think about all the memories that used to be there for someone.”

Empty houses – I mean, seriously empty, not the ones that merely seem so – draw my attention. When I was nine and ten, and we lived in Arvada, CO, there was an old house left on an as-yet-to-be-developed section of the condo complex. It had been stripped down to a shell, and was up on stilts, in preparation for being moved or destroyed, and was probably the most dangerous place for a couple of schoolgirls to be, but my friend Jill and I explored it anyway, treating it like a life-sized playhouse.

There were signs of what it must have been like to live there – remnants of a gorgeous tiled backsplash in the kitchen. Scraps of pastel pink and grey wall paper in the smallest bedroom, and a porch that looked across the road, to the park and creek on the other side.

Later, when I was home from college and working in a bookstore, I'd ride past another house every day on my way to work. It was in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose, and beneath the tangled trees and slithery-looking tendrils of overgrown ivy, there was evidence of a pool and a decorative pond. There's a part of me that wants that house, still, but I don't have a million dollars handy.

I always got the impression it wasn't so much abandoned, as waiting.

Oh if this old house could talk,
What a story it would tell.
It would tell about the good times,
And the bad times as well.

It would tell about the love that lived,
And died inside these walls.
And the sound of the little footsteps,
Runnin' up and down the halls.*

*”This Old House,” Loretta Lynne

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Just a Note

This isn't really an official post, just a note: Usually when I get a comment, I follow the link back to your site and say hi.

Today, I have no time to do that. I might, later, when I'm not trying to DO THINGS beween posts, but right now, nope.

So please check the comments sections of other posts to see my replies.

And thank you all for visiting.

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