Wednesday, May 30, 2007

old homestead

Someone had built the house and lovingly planted the trees around it for shelter and respite from the blazing Oklahoma sun. By the time we arrived, the glass was gone from all the windows and the front porch slanted with age and neglect. The roof was green with a red brick chimney but the house was a weathered gray, paint removed by wind and rain, sun and time. I always wondered what color it had been.

My little brother and I found old baby food jars filled with buttons and beads and old pieces of lace under the rotted floorboards of the wide porch. It was a small house, just one story, built with the front and back door opposite each other for ventilation, the front door facing the west. Built long before air conditioning or central heat. It wasn't even wired for electricity.

For a long time, grain and alfalfa were stored inside the small rooms. Time passed and a pole barn went up to shelter the alfalfa. A while longer and large granaries sprouted beside it. Daddy tore the old house down and we found remnants of someone's life lurking in the crawl space and hidden inside the walls. Papers, a bit of cloth, an old shoe, some writing on the beams. For a long time the place where the old house had stood was left empty, the only signs it had ever existed were a ring of trees and an artesian well. When Daddy built a shop there, an angry March tornado tore it down with harsh winds, as if to say nothing but the house belonged inside the stand of trees.

I kept the baby jars high on a shelf in my room until long after I went to college. I must have been about nine years old when I put them on the shelf and slid them back behind my books. My mother found them when she packed to move, at least twelve years later. I found them in the attic of my little house last summer, long forgotten, nestled in a blue and white floral box among beloved childhood books, cards and letters from romances long past, the cap I wore when I graduated, vacation Bible school crafts. For thirty years they have been carefully packed away, a reminder of that house and how sad I was when Daddy tore it down. I cannot part with them now.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Jason at The Clarity of Night tagged me. Lucky for me he explained what tagging is during the course of his post. Rules for the "Meme of 8":

1. Each player posts eight random facts about themselves.

2. People who are tagged write a blog about their eight facts or habits and post these rules.

3. Choose eight people to tag and at the end list their names.

4. Leave a comment telling them they've been tagged and to read your blog.

Xash things about me:

1. I play the flute and piccolo and started my college career as a flute performance major. My high school music program was tiny and the five hours of college music theory ate my lunch freshman year . . . so now I play for pleasure. On my ridiculously expensive sterling silver french cut flute.

2. Since turning 21, I have lived in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Virgina and South Carolina. In that order. South Carolina was my favorite, but Oklahoma is home.

3. I love Charleston Chews. Since I was a kid. We used to freeze them, then knock them against the table and break them into bite sized pieces. Yum.

4. My upright freezer is full of beef and pork my daddy raised. I won't buy meat in a store.

5. I would rather read than watch television, listen to music or play sports.

6. My first vehicle was a 1977 dual-wheeled, red and white Chevy pick-up truck with trailer lights, a gooseneck hitch, chrome running boards and a chrome cow catcher. It had a bored out 454 in it that my daddy built himself. It was very fast. This is extremely funny if you know me. For those who don't, I'll just say that I now drive a VW Passat (with a stick, thank you very much), make sure I'm never more than five minutes away from a 7-Eleven and I no longer have a herd of cattle in my back yard.

7. When I was about 18 months old I pulled a skillet full of hot oil down my left side. Daddy put me into a sink full of ice and cold water to stop my skin from burning, but you can still see the scars on my left arm and on my left side over my rib cage. It was odd to go through life with a visible scar from an accident you cannot remember.

8. My father's family was started by a Quaker man from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and a full blood Lenni-Lenape (Delaware) woman, whose name was Woo-le-noo-squay (good woman), when they married on a reservation in Kansas. That family's descendants have lived in the same county in Oklahoma since my great-great-great grandmother's tribe was moved from their reservation to Indian Territory and we still own the land granted to Woo-le-noo-squay.

It's funny what comes to mind when you think about what makes you who you are.

There are a few people I'd love to know eight things about (or more) that I probably don't know well enough to tag. This being what it is, feel free to respond or not, depending on your mood. I tag wifey, Dianne, and Aminah.

Monday, May 7, 2007


I still read news from home most days. I noticed a name from my past today, the little brother of a long ago friend, someone I haven't seen for years. I drew breath sharply, hand to my mouth, when I read it. A car lost control and rolled near my parents' home; it was fatal. I called Daddy right away, there's no answer; then Mama at work, but she didn't pick up her classroom phone.

In my mind's eye is an image of a small dark-haired boy with glasses. He was sweet and quiet, much younger, really just a child. But that was more than twenty years ago. I am confident I saw him grown but for the life of me cannot bring adult features into focus. I keep seeing the little boy.

Daddy calls and I tell him. They didn't know and it surprises me. It was hard to tell him over the phone, more difficult than I anticipated. The bulk of the conversation is spent on deciding who will phone my little brother. Daddy will make the call and I know it is to spare me the trouble and the emotion. Regardless of my age, I am still his child.

That face in my memory was someone's child, I think. And I know them. Only then do I begin to cry.