On the road again.
It seems like just yesterday that we made the two-day trip from our part-time beach digs on the coast of North Carolina in order to enjoy a pair of joyful midwest weddings, visit some old college friends, hang out with our Galva peeps, and participate in a sometimes grueling round of that personal reality show we call "This Old House."
But duty calls.
Well, or at least the lure of the beach, the Atlantic Ocean and the two little boys who rule the grandma-lady's heart. So, off we go into the southeast yonder. But as we empty the refrigerator, pack the car, pick up my bachelor brother-in-law, and invest in a couple of cases of cat food for you-know-who, there are a few odd notions rattling in my head that I most certainly need to leave behind.
•Welcome to the history of dumb things.
After a few weeks wrestling with all the things that stick, squeak, slip and slam in this big old house of ours, I've come to a conclusion.
I live in a museum.
Unfortunately, it's not the kind that's filled with precious artifacts from ancient days gone by. Nor is it the kind of place anyone in their right mind would pay to enter. Rather, it's filled to overflowing--from dark basement corners to cluttered upstairs closets--with the kind of "collectibles" most sensible folks try to avoid. For instance, while we've replaced many of the approximately eight zillion windows that line this place, those that remain from the good old days do a nice job of representing man's every vain attempt to develop a storm/screen combination window that actually works without slamming down on the operator's unsuspecting head or fingers. Suffice it to say, the net result is a series of complicated, worthless, guillotine-like contraptions that make me feel kind of like Jean Valjean every time I try to get a little air. The exhibit down in the cellar features a comprehensive history of fuels, with a still-working coal chute and a hulking oil tank in attendance to remind us of how our house was heated before natural gas came along to power our boiler. And speaking of temperature, one of my finest collections includes a vast selection of window air conditioners of all shapes, sizes, eras and power ratings. I've never had the wherewithal to afford the pricy retrofitted compressor-and-ductwork combo that would provide a something akin to central air conditioning to our steam-heated house, so if a room needed to be cool, it had to have a bulky ac unit rattling merrily away in one of the windows. Over time, I've managed to acquire one for just about every one of the 947 rooms in our rambling old place. Some are cleverly tucked into nearby closets in the off-season, but others can be found stacked in the basement, right next to the box full of thank-you notes.
You know, the ones from the doctor who does my hernia operations.
•The most famous cat in Galva.
Here's the thing. I've never expected my columns and the online blogging I do to make me rich and famous. In fact, I'm kind of startled every time people acknowledge that they read what I write, or recognize me from the oh-so-flattering picture that appears along with my name in the Star Courier and Western Illinois Family Magazine. But anytime I'm tempted to be a little smug about the little bits of attention that come my way, I get brought back down to earth in a hurry. Because I'm not the famous one in this family.
The real celebrity is the cat. This point is brought home every time we hit town. Because, instead of complimenting me on my purple prose, most folks are anxious to discover the status of a certain furry, calf-nipping critter.
Was Max waiting when you came home this time?
Is Max going to miss you when you're gone?
I got really ticked off the other day when I hustled to grab the phone, only to find out the call was for the cat.
It was his agent.
•Far away on the Fourth.
For the first time in many, many years, we won't be in our hometown for the Fourth of July. It seems kind of strange, and it should, because when it comes to Independence Day, Galva is one the very best places to be in the whole wide world. So, we'll miss watching the Freedom Fest 5K run and parade from our front porch. We'll regret not sharing the holiday with the friends and family members who often join us on that porch for a day filled with fun, food and an old-fashioned celebration of our shared freedom. And, of course, we'll really miss the fact that Galva's absolutely epic fireworks display will go on without us.
Instead, we'll probably schlepp the grandkids to some kind of event in our North Carolina neighborhood. There will, no doubt, be good food and lots of fun. And music and games and probably even a parade of some sort.
I know we'll have a great time.
Then night will fall, and we'll all settle back and look at the sky, waiting for the bombs to burst and the rockets' red glare. After a few booms and bangs, she'll look at me and I'll look at her.
"It's not like home," one of will be sure to say.
But hey, nothing ever is.
Have a fabulous Fourth, y'all.