Sunday, December 08, 2013
By the time I was ready to call it a day, Caleb had made me dinner. "Come back on Christmas Eve, if you nothing else planned. I'll make dinner for the two of us."
"Caleb, I'll take you up on that. I'm too tired to care about Christmas," I returned.
He smiled. "Everyone should care about Christmas. Christ was born that day. It's His birthday and everyone loves a baby."
"Well, you're right. When is Christmas Eve?" I asked realizing I hadn't a clue of what todays date or day was.
"Day after tomorrow," He replied.
I rushed home wondering if I could get some stuff together to make Bridget's Place festive and beautiful for the holiday. First I stopped at Lowes for a pile of Christmas lights, and was lucky they were not out. I managed to buy a couple hundred dollars worth and hoped someone would put them up for me the next day. I bought a wreath for the door, two spools of ribbon and made plans.
Dinner was eaten but forgotten as I wrote down plans of where I wanted everything.
The next morning, I nearly attacked the electrician. He had his guys crawling through the trees and over the house and porches placing the lights and when they were finished it was beautiful, even in the late afternoon sun. I knew it would be spectacular at night.
I had placed the wreath on the front door and wished I had one three times bigger than the one I had. I stood in the middle of the front yard looking at the house and thought, "Next year, two small ones on the front double door, one huge one on each of the front windows and candles in each of the windows." I started writing notes for next Christmas. Things would change, I was sure because I was planning on having a Light setter come out and maybe I'd hire a decorator to do Christmas professionally for me.
I went out to the tree and found the new lantern burning brightly in the tree over the two small stones. "I wonder if they are happy that's there now. It must have been very dark out here without it. I wonder how long it was out of commission?" I thought.
"Far too long," said a voice behind me but a good distance away. I turned and there was Caleb on the back porch.
"Oh! Was I thinking out loud?" I asked.
"Ah, yes!" he said not very convincingly.
"Dinner is ready if you want it now," he said.
I walked towards him and he reached out to take my hand and help me up the two shallow steps. It was beautiful inside and out. The lights around the lake had come on, the lights on the cabin porches had come on and the little bridge was decorated with wreaths and ribbons and lanterns.
"Do you think they ever had lights down there?"
"Did you know them?" I asked indicating the two stones under the tree.
"I only know what my dad told me. Apparently his father was pretty strict, maybe too strict as far as I am concerned but times have changed a lot since then anyway. I guess he beat my dad a couple of times. My dad always said he probably deserved it, but I don't believe in beating for any reason.
"Dad said he beat the slaves, too. At least a couple of times that my dad witnessed. Didn't matter, male and female, down to the children, too. To me it is more than sad, it's also disgusting to beat someone for any reason regardless of age or gender, any reason.
"Dad never let me come here when his dad was alive. Wouldn't let the old man touch me and being here was far too close for comfort. I think I'm glad my dad had that attitude, although I didn't know my grandfather at all and my grandmother, only a little." He had answered all my questions without really knowing, or did he know my thoughts.
"I think I feel the same way. I don't think we can do anything for any of them. If I find any of their graves do you think they would mind if I put flowers on them?"
"They probably wouldn't understand, but I don't think they would mind a little love and tenderness aimed at them."
We spent Christmas Eve in the house and enjoyed lighting candles and listening to Christmas carols from the boom box he brought. We cleaned the kitchen to shining spotlessness and made sure everything was put away. We took separate ways home after making sure all the candles were out, the lights were out in the house, and the doors locked.
I liked Caleb a lot. I was afraid I was falling in love with him and I starting thinking of him in that light. "How old is he?" I wondered. "Close to the same age as me," I decided.
When the new year bloomed, Caleb took me to some swank place in town and we dressed to the teeth. I hadn't worn heels in ages and had spent an entire day in town trying on formals and ended up with a very formal black dress with gold sequins scattered all over it. It was grand, looked nice on me, and it was fun. The shoes were not!
I had my hair done, the nails, wore a sparkling diamond bracelet on my wrist and enjoyed the evening, including the obligatory New Years Eve kiss. Almost missed the moment as I had gone to the ladies room to powder my nose and came out just in time to hear the particular and customary song being played by the band. He had moved closer to the restrooms so he could catch me as soon as I came out and he swept me into a kiss that you only dream about and see on TV. James Bond had nothing on Caleb that night. Neither did Superman or Zorro. I think it took me several minutes to get breath back into my lungs, my heart to stop doing cartwheels, and my brain to stop popping bubbles like the Lawrence Welk Show.
We had a couple of soda pops before we went home and I asked him up for coffee. He declined with a smile and a light kiss to my cheek. "I enjoyed tonight a bunch. Maybe a repeat down the line would be in order?"
"Okay. Thanks for a great evening. I really enjoyed it too." I stood there staring up into his light blue eyes and wondered why I could see the color in the dim light at my doorway. He said goodnight, turned and walked down the sidewalk. I put the key in the lock and went in, turning on the lights and relocking the door.
It was around 2am and I was exhausted. I changed clothes, hanging up the beautiful dress and putting the shoes in the trash. I checked my toes and heels to make sure there weren't any blisters or cuts, just red spots where my feet felt the worst. After a long soak in a hot bathtub, they felt much better and I was ready for bed.
"Oo! Life is great! Where in the universe is it going?"
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Days passed and the work was getting done, quickly, too. The contractor was back with the plans on his design which took the stairs away from the entry door and took them from the center of the house, between kitchen, dining room, living room and an old bedroom that had been empty for years. I figured it had been the cooks room and the cook hadn't been here in a long time. But even the furniture was gone from the room - it felt strange in there, too. Like I was really alone. Not the feeling like someone was watching me, but I was just really alone there. A very sad feeling was there. No wonder, it needed a new window, some paint, and polish.
So with the contractor's lead we wandered the house room to room and he told me his plans for it all. It was based on my desire to make a restaurant out of it. He would rip out some walls and make the old bedroom, the dining room and the living room one large L-shaped room. I pictured it in my mind and could see the tables and chairs, no booths, white table clothes, chairs with a bit of an antique look to them. Wood and black leather seats. But they had to be comfortable and I was going to have to be looking for a long time for that chair I had in my mind.
The stairs would go up over the fireplace somehow and I wondered if I was going to like it, but it sure did cut down on what seemed like wasted space now and it would leave the space open for dinners.
He showed me what his plan was for upstairs. He even had a restroom for men and women laid out on the main floor and a small bathroom for each room upstairs. It incorporated the use of the armour being shoved into the alcove made by the bathroom when complete.
I liked his plan and set him to work on it, but first we went out to the little cabins down the lake. The landscaping crew was still back there finding more cabins and as it turned out there were 10, altogether. One was a total wreck but I had it in my mind to get rid of all of them and before I got a chance to say anything to the contractor, he was telling me to totally destroy the cabins and put in a building or two that would handle several couples and a couple of families. We talked and he said, "Oh! I'm sorry. I don't know where I got the idea that you were planning on having wedding events here. That's how I came up with this idea of having at least one building, probably two, that would be two stories high, look very southern with columns and have suites for the wedding party, as in parents and brides maids, groomsmen, etc."
"Well you probably read my mind, but I am surprised I hadn't thought of it before. We'll go with your idea as I have several ideas on how to make that happen. So let's proceed with the plans you have there."
He gave me his cost estimate and when we got back to the house I signed the contract with a stipulation that there were to be no cost overrides. He read it, agreed and left me with a copy.
I went home that afternoon feeling very well about myself, what I was doing and where I was going.
It was getting near Thanksgiving and the kitchen was complete at the Place. The walls between the three big rooms had been destroyed and the old bedroom had become a mens restroom and a ladies restroom. The entire thing was concealed behind a new wall with an opening in the middle. This turned my L-shaped dining room into a more rectangle but it worked anyway and I was happy. The stairs had been removed and it seemed strange. But I couldn't get up there as there were no stairs. There was a knock on the door and when I opened it, I found Calib standing there. I welcomed him in and he handed me a folded piece of paper. I opened it. it was an application form.
I smiled. "I'll hire you, but you can see it's going to be awhile. Will you be able to handle wedding events?"
"Of course. This looks good so far. Since the kitchen isn't done, I assume the equipment isn't ordered yet?"
"That's correct. I don't know what to put in here. But I think I know the guy that's going to be the chef here, maybe I should ask him? What do you think?"
"Oh, I think it would be a great idea to ask the guy who's going to be chef here," he smiled back. As it turned out, the things he felt were best to have in that kitchen were ordered that day and promised the next week. Two days before Thanksgiving.
"Let me come in and clean them for you. We can cover them afterwards so the dust and dirt doesn't infiltrate them and it'll make it quick to start using them when they are finally needed."
I agreed and gave him a copy of the key to the Place. "What are you going to name this place," he asked.
"I don't know but I've been calling it "The Place" since I bought it. Have any ideas?"
"I would think something southern would be ideal. The Plantation is overused, how about The Plantation at Bridgets?"
"Sounds interesting. I like the idea, but I, too, think Plantation is overused so maybe Bridget's Place?"
With that the back screen door rattled almost as if there was an applause. We both looked at it then at each other and then back to the screen door, which now hung silent and still. I joked, "I guess she liked it." The door rattled again and this time I looked at the huge oak tree with the Spanish Moss hanging down. Nothing moved, not enough to make the door rattle. I stood and Calib followed me. "What's making the door rattle?" I aksed. The door rattled again. I pushed it open, there was nothing on the outside that could make it rattle. I closed it and we both checked the way it hung in the door jamb. When it was closed, it was closed. It wasn't hung bad so there was no way a breeze could make it rattle, besides there wasn't a breeze when it rattled.
The kitchen equipment arrived right on time, Calib came and made sure it was set in correctly and then started cleaning it. The electrician had done a grand job and everything was perfect. The plumber had done the kitchen first as the rest of the place wasn't ready for his work yet so there was even a kitchen sink with running water. When I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner by Calib, I accepted and he took me to Bridget's Place. We ate our dinner on a table he had set up in the corner of the kitchen. He had made a small turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes; apple cider gravy; fruit, nut, veggie and bread stuffing; butternut squash soup; home made cranberry chutney and sauce; green beans; rolls made from scratch; and strawberry shortcake. The berries had popped just before Thanksgiving and he decided it would be more fun to use them instead of pumpkin pie. I was delighted as strawberries were my favorite.
We were stuffed but we worked it off by working together to clean it all up, take care of the left-overs and make sure everything was turned off. We locked the doors and turned off the power and he took me home, with the left overs. He gave them all to me and I stuffed them in my refrigerator.
I made a turkey casserole using most of the left overs in it and took it with me to Bridget's Place the next day. It was nice to have it in a insulated cooler as the refrigerator was not turned on and cold.
I made my usual trek out to the tree and the stones. I decided they needed a new lantern in the tree and talked to the electrician. He told me he would add it to the lighting he was putting in for me around the lake. I asked him to make the tree lantern a priority and ignored his stink eye. He agreed. I went and picked out the fixture I wanted.
Between the electrician and the contractor the finished lantern was beautiful and worked on a switch that was light sensitive. It would come on in the dark and even had a motion detector in it.
I just wanted a light there. Someone had put a light there once and I felt compelled to put a new one in but a lot more modern that going out with a match every evening.
The cabins had been destroyed and hauled away and the contractor's crew was busy in two places. It was moving quickly and nicely. The landscaper came back every week to work on one area or the other but the place was huge and took more than one day to complete.
The house was done before Christmas, which thrilled me. I had no idea it would go that fast. I was cleaning it when Caleb walked in. "Thought I would stop by and see how things are going. Looks like you need some help. Go sit, drink some water and let me do some of this.
I gave up easily and did exactly what he said. I was bone tired but remember to pull my Verve(R) out and drink it down. It didn't take long before I was ready to go at it again.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
When I was almost home I wondered why I was so adamant about getting off the property before it got dark. I brushed it out of my mind and climbed the stairs to my apartment on the second floor. I was exhausted and hadn't eaten dinner. I turned and walked across the street ot the KFC joint, bought the senior citizen buffet for $6 and change and loaded my plate.
Loaded to me was one piece of baked chicken, that I pulled the skin off of, 1 spoon of sliced-cooked carrots, a plate of salad, and a glass of ice water. I sat and ate while I contemplated what was going on at the "Place" as I had come to call it.
When I was finished with my meal, I walked back across the street, climbed the stairs again, locked myself in and went to bed. I slept like the dead. Woke up at 7:00am, which was late for me as I usually was out of bed and at least wandering by, 5:00 am.
I ate breakfast, changed clothes, took my meds, and headed out the door. I was back at the place by 9:00 am and wandering the place. The landscaper's crew was back but they hiked down to the first cabin and started clearing that area out, too. Later in the afternoon, I discovered they had uncovered the original paths between the cabins, still visible. "I wonder how many feet made these trails?" I asked myself.
But getting back to my morning, I wandered the earth a lot closer to the house. There was a huge old oak tree in back and just off to the side of the house, right about where the end of the lake was. It's branches spread out in all directions and held a bunch of Spanish Moss. It hung down like weeping willow branches, out over the lake and all the way around the huge expanse. As I scanned the tree limbs, I noticed something hanging near the trunk on one of those lower branches. I moved closer and saw that it was an old lantern. I actually stepped on something hard and looked down.
It was a tombstone at the base of the tree. "Oh!" I said. "I'm so sorry for stepping on your grave. I had no idea that you were here." I bent down and righted the tombstone. I had not knocked it over as it was obvious that it had been laying there for many years, but I brushed it off and found my hand was covered with black and green stuff from the stone. I went into the house, grabbed a rag and a small broom and went back out to the stone.
I cleaned that stone as well as I could. When I got done with it, I had dug the muck out of the letters and polished the stone to a shine. I set it up right, not knowing if it was going to continue to stand there, but it did. As I worked I talked, as though talking to someone that could answer me, but I got no answers and was actually glad of that.
I stood up, took three steps back being careful not to step on the area I figured was over the grave and said, "How's that look?"
"Oh, I think it looks great! Thank you. I think it is better than the day they set it there," a man's voice behind me said.
I know I jumped and I think I was at least half-way up to the first branch, too. I spun and saw a man standing there. "I apologize. I didn't mean to scare you."
"Well, I didn't hear you walk up. I looked at the grave. You don't look like a Bridget."
"Good thing," he said. "It would probably be as hard to explain as a man named sioux."
"Probably." I clutched my broom and cleaning rag tightly. "You from around here?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "Did you know there is another stone on the other side of that huge root?" he stated as he pointed.
I looked around saying a silent prayer as I did, "Lord, please don't have this be a ghost. I am not at all sure I want to talk to a ghost." My heart was pounding.
He was right, there was a stone on the other side of the root. I knelt down. "I might as well clean this one, too." I first swept the filth off it, then I dug out the letters and polished it. He watched the entire time.
"Did you know Bridget and Calib?" I asked, still praying.
"Yes. They were my grandparents." This was the creep that had left this place to dilapidated so badly.
I set the stone straight and stood then launched into a the riot act on this guy. When I finished berating him over his lack of care of the place he stood there looking at me.
"My grandparents died when I was 15. I really didn't know them only that they lived here and were my grandparents. We were not close. I had my own life to live and figured the same about them. They were dead before I even knew they lived, really. You haven't said anything I haven't kicked myself about, but my only excuse - lame as it is - is that I was only 15. I was selfish and not interested in anything except getting out of school and away from where I was. By the time I made it here, they had been buried by my father, I believe. Now there's one you should blame for letting this place go to a wreck. Have no idea why he let it happen and don't care. We are not close."
"Why?" I asked as my blood cooled down. It probably came across as rude, but I wasn't at a point where I cared.
He shrugged his shoulders and looked away - far away. "There's a coffee shop a mile up the road, can I buy you a cup of coffee? To at least make up for scaring you so badly."
I have no idea why, but I relented, led the way into the house and washed my hands in the bucket of water I had drug in from the lake. He stayed in the kitchen and looked at it all.
"Are you planning on living here?" he asked.
"At some point, but there's a lot of work to do first."
"I don't doubt that." I still didn't feel safe enough so said I would follow him there then go do some errands after.
We met at the coffee shop and talked while we drank coffee. We were there 3 hours. He had just graduated from the CIA as a chef! I was surprised. "Did you know I was thinking of opening this place as a restaurant? I am now thinking it has to be more than that. I want to make the upstairs rooms to rent. I plan on making them fairly antique, as they are, but giving them electricity and putting in a couple of bathrooms so they are more like suites. I have a guy working out the designs now. There's about six cabins out back, down at the end of the lake. If they are worth anything, I might make them into rental cottages - long term or I may use one for my house and then if I hire someone needing a place to live, the others could be made as nice dwellings, too. They all need bathrooms, roofs, and kitchens, to start out with."
"interesting. I might be interested in applying for the executive chef's position if you take it there."
"I might be interested in hiring you." I said and smiled.
Finally we went our separate ways and I went back to the "Place" while he went the opposite way.
In the days that followed, I found myself migrating to those two stones everyday, first thing. We had something in common and it wasn't just their grandson talking to me. But I felt drawn to those two stones and wondered why.
Friday, November 22, 2013
The day I came to the old house by the lake, was a beautiful day. Brilliant sunshine and I had my sunglasses on to keep my eyes safe from cataracts. The grass that morning was wet from the ground sweating already in the early sun, so I wore rubber boots that were going to make my feet sweat just as bad as the ground, but I wouldn't have to worry about tripping over snakes in sandals.
I parked the car, met the head landscaper in the cleared out space a short distance from the house. He was standing in the shady front yard. We toured the entire yard and all the way around the lake. I told him my plans asked for an estimate of the drive, parking area - both done in gravel, and the trail all the way around the lake done in quiet bark and the little wooden bridge over the creek - no arches in it, just nice and flat and safe - high rails to lean on.
I called an electrician the day before and he was to meet me there in an hour. I wanted to discuss wiring for the house, the lamps around the lake at equal distances and maybe a few more things if I found any new ideas springing to life.
When the landscaper and I passed the creek, there was a small house sitting away from the path I wanted to have made. "What's that, I asked."
"It's a one room house - probably was for slaves once. Not sure, but probably. There are five more scattered around back in here. We didn't clear back there cuz you didn't tell us to, but a couple of the guys went back and found the five other houses and went inside. They all look like this one and they are all in need of repairs. Mostly roof, but there's nothing inside, just floor four walls, small porch, and what's left of roofs," he informed.
He had cut up to the first house because it was right at the border of the area I had told him to cut back to. I had seen the roofs on Google Earth but didn't think they belonged to me or were on my property. Now I wanted in the first house.
I walked up to the porch and carefully stepped up onto it. The wood creaked and I backed off. I wasn't the in real healthy shape yet and while I was working at losing weight via SparkPeople.com, I still needed to lose more. Learning how to eat healthy and live a healthier life was not coming easy to a junkfoodie such as myself.
"Oh, it's alright, Ma'am. It creaks but it's strong and tough. Not sure why, but that wood is going to hold well," my landscaper said. I wondered how much knowledge and experience he had in woodwork.
I tried the porch again and while it creaked, it did hold. I stepped into the house. It was stinking like rotting wood and I wondered how many termites were in it. He was right about the four walls floor and left-0ver roof. The floor was starting to rot where the rain came directly through the hole in the roof.
I didn't care that it was old, by the time I fixed it, it would basically have been torn down anyway. Besides that, I could lay down a thick layer of concrete first and then set the house on steel blocks anchored to the concrete. The termites would have to form a long-term plan for getting to the new timbers that were treated against them in the first place.
Boy did I have a lot of work ahead of me! But, undaunted, we walked on around the lake and I called a contractor not far from the property. He said he would come over immediately and see what I was talking about. When I hung up, I thought, might as well have him look at the big house, too. That will need some fixing before it's as rotten and termite eaten as these.
When we got back to the house, the landscaper and I made the deal and he left to start his work. The electrician was just parking beside my car and I started out by aiming him at the house. Before he was all the way in the house, the construction man showed up and we talked. He followed the electrician in.
I followed the construction man. I was amazed at the place. It was full of furniture. The place stunk from disuse and dust. The stairs to the floor above had some steps missing as they had somehow disappeared and the banister was as wobbly as a new-born deer. "I'd replace this whole thing, if it were mine, Ma'am."
"Okay, give me a quote on the entire project when we get through deciding what the project is. I don't like the stairs there anyway, so lets look at options. I want something very Southern and very rich looking and Tara is a good theme."
"Yes, Ma'am. Let me wander through, take notes, go back and put something together for you and then set up a time to present it to you."
"Okay. Sounds good." I watched him take out his measuring device. One of those new laser ones and he started measuring the rooms, at every angle. I wandered myself. The kitchen was back to before electricity existed. I started looking for outlets and light switches. There were none. Not a single one. No lamps hanging down over the dining room table that was massive and heavy. Not a lamp anywhere except lanterns. Quint, I thought. But how on earth did they survive the years of modern time with only lanterns and boiling water on the stove for baths and laundry and good grief! How did they wash clothes. Don't tell me they did it in the lake!
I called an antique dealer. They would take it all and have an estate sale. I would get a "commission" and they would get most of the money, but I didn't really care. I didn't want most of it anyway. The couch and a couple of end tables in the living room was all I wanted. The rest was going.
By the time the electrician was leaving after making enough notes to start his own encyclopedia and enough pictures to make a coffee table edition of "House Dilapidated," I was exhausted and the antique dealer arrived for a looksee.
I let one in and one out. She wandered the entire main floor. "I can take it all, but I want to see what's upstairs first," she said as she set her foot on the bottom step.
"No!" I said strongly. She looked at me surprised. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell but you scared me enough. I want to warn you about the steps. I haven't gone up because there are missing steps and the banister is rotten and wobbly. The house has been deserted for several years and so I don't even know what's up there.
The contractor was at the top of the steps. "I'll come down and help you two ladies up, if you wish. You can make it with my help, but I am warning against attempting by yourselves."
"Sounds alright to me," I said. The antique lady was agreeable so I led the way up to the first missing step and the construction man met me there and lent a hand to get me up to the next missing triple step. There I stood until he handed the antique lady up to the step just below me.
He passed me by putting his feet on the front risers of each of the missing steps then turned to help me up past them the same way. I felt the sharpness of those risers in my feet, no matter how I stepped on them. Since there were no more missing steps, I climbed the rest, hoping the normal step would ease the pain in my feet. It didn't, but I was at the top anyway.
I waited for the antique lady. We toured the house together with the contractor.
We went into the first bedroom and looked at the furniture, then in the armour which had clothes hanging in it. They were falling apart and rotting but there were clothes in the drawers, too. A nest of mice was in one pile of old men's shorts, silverfish were in the lady's negligee. I shut the drawers quickly. When I opened the drawer of the dresser that you sat at to do your hair, I anticipated a bunch of hair pins and brushes. There were those things, but there was a box that filled the bigger drawer on the left.
I pulled out the box and opened it. It was full of jewelry. Even having been forgotten and laying in the house, it was beautiful. Dirty, but beautiful. I took it with me.
When we made it down the stairs, after checking all the rooms and drawers, and not finding any more jewelry, I told the antique lady that I was having second thoughts but would entertain her expertise at a later date. She agreed and left. I turned to the construction man.
He explained that he had an idea of putting in a bathroom upstairs and downstairs near the kitchen. He thought it would be a good idea to gut the upstairs and build the stairs up to it in a much firmer fashion and add strength to the house in the process.
I was agreeable to his suggestions as vague as they were at that point. He left to go to work and I closed and locked the door.
It was starting to get dark and I rushed to my car to ensure I was off property before it was totally dark.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
I traveled a road one day that was only traveled by me because I was lost! Looking for a specific place, I found myself in a residential area instead of the commercial area I was expecting to find myself.
I came to the end of a road and it forced me around a corner. I knew what directions I was traveling, but really had no idea of where I was. Even the street names on the stop sign were missing, as was the stop sign. I was alone and wondering where I could possibly be.
Being alone, both inside the car and out, I made the turn and stopped. Before me was an asphalt road that was laid under a canopy of tree limbs, all in full leafed glory. A beautiful shade lay ahead and I opened the window, felt the sweltering Florida sun scream in and slap me on my left side. It was so intense I thought I had an instant sunburn under my clothing as my skin stung regardless of covering or not.
I crept into the shade, checked the rearview mirror and stopped the car. The coolness of that spot and the absolute quietness invoked peace all around me. The slight cool breeze kissed my stinging skin and cooled it instantly. I felt like God had sat down next to me in the car.
I sat and listened. He said nothing, but I knew He was there. Some beautiful little wild canary trilled in the trees above me. I could not see them, but I knew they were there because I could hear them singing their hearts out. They were happy. I learned a long time ago that you don't sing happy tunes when you are not happy.
Judy Garland was having issues about something in her life and she was so sad she said to her songwriter, "I can sing today. I just don't feel like singing." He talked to her and found out she was extremely sad. "Put that into the song, Judy. Sing it once and we'll go home. I know you don't feel like singing, but do it for me, just once."
She agreed and after everything and everyone involved was ready, he led out and she sang the song. It was perfect! She waited for him to beg her to do it one more time even though he had promised that they would go home if she did it just once.
"Do you want to hear it played back?" he asked her.
"Yes." She listened and watched everyone in the orchestra and her songwriter, the guys in the booth that ran the microphones. They were nearly cheering but holding back out of respect for Judy. She looked at her songwriter. "Sounds perfect to me. I can't find anything wrong with it."
"It is perfect," he replied. They went home. "Over The Rainbow" was the song she sang and it was a hit. She was so sad when she sang that song but she put her despair into the song and gave it her all. It was a road she had never traveled.
I sat in the cool car in the middle of a lane that appeared to never be traveled. I became aware of my surroundings and the time. "Wonder where this place is?" I asked myself. I looked at the address and started the car, moved slowly down the road looking more for a road sign telling me what road I was on more than the location I was looking for.
There was an old concrete pipe in the ditch to allow for water to flow in the rains. It wasn't very wide and if I didn't take the driveway straight in, I'd have one wheel in the ditch. In Florida, the ditches are more dips scraped out so the lawnmower guy can just drive through it without any problems. They don't really have ditches in Florida unless it's a place where lots of water drains to, then it's deep. Most places don't even put a concrete pipe in the ditch because you'd have to build a drive over in order to use it. Yes, ditches are nearly as nonexistent as road edges. In Florida, you are either on the road or in the ditch. There is no side of the road. At least in my area.
So I made the turn and stopped just on the other side of the road. I was going to turn around but there on a tree trunk was the number of the place I was looking for. Complete with the name of the road. 118 Palmetto Road. I starred at the sign. White painted wood, black painted numbers, weathered, and nails holding it to the tree trunk were rusted and rusticles had formed below them.
"Looks like I found the place," I said as I got out. I looked for the way in. There must be a driveway here somewhere. The two rutts I was parked on stopped right next to the tree trunk with the sign. Beyond that was a thick hedge of trees, brush, palmetto, and oleander. "The Oleander is poisonous, the palmetto will tear my skin and clothes apart, and I don't have a clue as to what or where the snakes and spiders are. Not going in there through here," I said.
I wandered along the edge of the hedge until I couldn't go any farther without blazing some kind of trail through the jungle. "Not playing Lewis and Clark today. Not nearly ready for that." So I started back to the car. I was still looking into the jungle when I came upon a place that was thinner than the rest and angled off toward the right abit, which is why I missed it on my short hike the other way. Through the thinned out space, I saw a house at the other end. It was huge, it was dilapidated, but it had two floors, columns down the front and reminded me of Tara out of "Gone With The Wind".
"How far off track am I?" I wondered. I was not making the trek to Tara or any other place so I got back in my car but before I could back out, I saw something run across behind me. I looked out the driver's window and there stood a man.
I rolled the window down just enough for sound to pass through. "Lost, are you?"
"According to addresses, I am not lost at all. According to anything else that matters, I am totally lost." I checked my door lock. It was on.
"Okay. When you back out, just remember the deep ditches on either side of the drive. Too bad about this place. It's for sale, but I don't think anyone ever looks at it because of all the brush. Are you the realtor?"
"No. What happened to the people that lived here?"
"Oh, they died years ago. Some snot-nosed kid of theirs hung on to it forever without doing anything or having anyone check on it. Came down here a couple of months ago to check it out and was angry that it looked like this. I guess that was about a year ago, not only a couple of months ago. He finally had someone come put the For Sale sign on it, but I see that's gone now.
"Anyway, I'm a county inspector and I crawl around inside occasionally. Still a solid structure, just needs a lot of work on it. Roof needs replacing, floors need a lot of work. A person could buy this place cheap, hire a bunch of cheap labor and have the yard mowed down, then get in there and spend some money and make it a show place. I thought about buying it and making a restaurant out of it. Maybe a little camp ground, something to bring in the money. But I don't have the time for it so here it sits, rotting away. The people that used to live here were the sweetest people. Sorry to see them go. If you ever get int here and see them, don't be scared cus they were great people. Well, gotta go. Hope to see you around again."
He was gone when I looked up to say goodbye. I looked around. He was nowhere to be seen. I backed out slowly and drove down the road looking for where it went. It wasn't long before I came to a road I knew and followed it down to another main arterial and then home. When I got home, I looked it up on the internet. Google Earth could zero in on it real easy. There it was, the house, nearly buried under vines and on the other side of that old dilapidated house was a lake. My mind flashed a wide trail around it and a nice wooden bridge over the creek that it drained out of. Old fashioned lamp posts evenly spaced along the trail and at each end of the bridge.
I could see the house, clean and white and glittering in candle light. Tara. I thought. She rose again. New place, but there she was. I called a friend who was a realtor and she did the digging and got me the info. I made an offer really expecting it to be refused because it really was insultingly low. But it was accepted. I made the deal and got started on a landscaper. Cheap labor was out there mowing down vines, weeds, grass, even cutting a tree here and there that was rotted and ready to fall over. By the time they got done, two weeks later, the entire area, even around the lake was beautiful and that was only the mowing!
Pat Cote, Author - a free book in the making for my friends!
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