Posts Tagged ‘Home’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

Good food, family, dogs, love, a little art and a digital camera…  Sounds like home to me.

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one of my son's several childhood-art-trees

I LIKE THIS TREE

 

The Daily Post, Weekly Photo Challenge theme — “Home.”

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When the truth doesn’t matter

my dad had the best story to tell

home

There was a chest in the corner of the upstairs second bedroom, which is where the photo of the pretty woman from France was.  The bedroom was a holograph of the past.  Nobody slept there anymore and the same crocheted quilt with big colorful flowers on it seemed to have always decorated the bed.

Once in a while, with enough pestering from me, either my grandmother or dad would go up stairs with me where we would sit together on the bed beside the wooden chest.  They would open it and let me choose an item for a story.   Stories that I never tired of.   Stories that connected me to them and us to our ancestors.

My grandmother had lost a daughter to cancer and the room held the memories of her in framed pictures, her jewelry and pieces of her favorite clothes hanging in open view from hooks on the old wooden walls.

One story I liked for my dad to tell me was about how I was named.

“Let me see the woman from France,” I would ask my dad.  He would let me hold the picture, while he told me the story.

“She was beautiful,” he would say.

He would start with talking about being in the Army.  He was a cook and sometimes I think he wanted more interesting stories than he had actually lived.

“Her name was Mechelle,” he would say, trying to make it sound French, which I loved.

“I gave you a beautiful name because you’re a beautiful girl,” he told me.  I was happy he thought I was beautiful.  This was back in the day before we stopped talking to girls about their looks and instead started telling them their smart, which I think is a good progression.  At the same time, I don’t think I was damaged by my father’s innocent compliments.

Of course I asked him once if he loved her and if he thought she was more beautiful than my mother.  He nearly cried.  He cried easily.  I’m a lot like him.

“Oh no,” he said with great emotion.   “Your mother is the only woman I’ve ever loved and the most beautiful woman in the world.”  I believed him and I still do.

“I knew her before I married your mother,” he would remind me.

“Did you ever kiss her?” I remember asking him.  He would smile, as if he was a ladies man and say jokingly, “Maybe once.  The women couldn’t say no to me when I was in uniform.”

I never believed he kissed her and I’m sure that’s exactly how he wanted it.

My mom recently told me that my dad made up this story about the woman in France and about naming me.

“But what about the picture?” I asked her.

“There ain’t no tellin’ where he got that from,” she said.  “He could have picked that up at the dime store,” she added.

I don’t think so!

I knew, even as I believed my dad loved only my mother, that this photo was important to him.

My mother tells me that I was, “supposed to have been a boy and was already named Michael.”   She had been a little too sure of herself.

She said her reason for naming me Michelle is that it was easy to change the name Michael.  A very boring reason right?

I’m going to stick to my dad’s story, which also included telling me he always knew I would be a girl, which is exactly what he wanted.

And did he sing the Beatles to me?  You bet he did!

In loving memory of my dad and his stories of adventure, real or imagined.

She neglected her apples

a curious girl, an old lady and an apple treeOf course I’d been told about stealing and the Ten Commandments.  I had also been specifically instructed, perhaps too many times for my rebellious nature, not to take, I mean steal, apples from the old lady’s yard.

“She’s stingy and mean,” my mother would say.  “She would probably come out and hit you with a stick or something.  There’s no telling what she would do if she catches you in that yard!”

The woman’s house was the last house on the road and beside of it was the dirt road that was beside the, “sewer.”  She lived on what we called, “Sewer road.”

About twenty or thirty feet from the curve, where Sewer road went straight ahead and our road took a sharp right, her house was on the corner.

You could smell the odor and most of the children in the neighborhood wouldn’t play on that corner of the block, which is what our neighborhood was; one block in a small rural town.  I guess the old woman was glad the smell kept us away, but I was curious and had a bicycle.

I’m not sure what it was that made me want to take those apples.  I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t come outside, be nice and give a person an apple.

I’d ride my bike around the block and every time I passed her house I secretly hoped to get a glance at her.  Sometimes I’d see her raking leaves and I would slow down, but she wouldn’t even look at the road.

There was another woman who had an apple tree in our neighborhood.  She was younger, but was still old in my young mind.  She was married and lived closer to the main road than to Sewer road.  Her apple tree was right there at her front door.

The lady’s house down by the sewer sat further back into the woods, leaving her unattended apple tree to a curious girl like me.

I would put on one of my older sisters’ bra.  I could stuff up to three of four apples in each cup.

My friends would dare me.  They couldn’t believe I was so brave and at thirteen, this was pretty cool I thought.  Most of them wouldn’t even walk that way, because of the smell, but they were also scared of her.  Plus, I had one of the few bicycles in the neighborhood.  I often rode alone.

I was taught that the best apples were the ones that had already fallen, but not yet eaten by worms.  I was also told that picking from the ground was simply the right thing to do.  My dad’s folks said that leaving the good ones on the ground, and that meant ones without worms or with only one or two wormholes, was being wasteful.

The old woman’s tree was quite abundant.  I don’t think she ever even used her apples!   Wasn’t she being wasteful?

My friends and I did enjoy eating the apples.  I think that matters.

My mom said that the other woman was stingy too, but that if I knocked on her door and asked politely, that she might give me an apple.  So I did.  I never wore out my welcome, which was at best tentative.

“Yes, I guess you can have one, but take it from the ground and only one,” she would say.  “I’m going to be making jam soon.”

Well I knew that I would never taste her jam.

For some reason, I liked better the apples from the tree down by the sewer.  Both trees produced red and crispy apples.  I guess hers were better because I didn’t have to deal with her like I did with the other woman.  Neither of them were pleasant people.

We didn’t have much to do in the town I lived in.  My grandmother always said, “Idled hands are the Devil’s workshop.”  I guess she was right.

Much laughter occurred when my friends saw me returning, apples bobbing around on my flat chest.  Sometimes one in each pocket of my shorts.   I couldn’t see how that woman ever missed any of her neglected apples.

I guess I shouldn’t have taken, I mean stolen, those apples, but I did, and much fun was had.

Gotta have a bike!

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Apple Trees via Wikimedia Commons