spooky old houses & turkey

October 25, 2003

I just got back from an impromptu vacation in J.’s hometown of Richmond, MO, pop. 6,000 where the courthouse on the town square has the words “Obedience to Law is Liberty” deeply chiselled on the west and east facing gables so that you see it regardless of where you’re travelling in town. It’s a fun place for me, since I didn’t grow up there, and when we drove to the local Sonic one night to get cream slushes and sundaes I had the oddest sensation of being in the Fifties.

We went so J. could hunt turkey with his best friend, and we stayed at their lovely Federalist house – I’ve mentioned it here before, because I’m totally obsessed with it. It features prominently in a story I’m writing, largely because of the unique feature of having two attics. Its facade was added in the 20’s or so to make it look like a becolumned Southern mansion, and instead of replacing the original facade, they simply built over it and added a balcony, so that there is an outside attic above the balcony that has the original gable end of the house trapped inside, shingles and all. It’s spooky and fascinating. The house is full of delicious noises and corners and the windows on the front portion of the house are all wavy and drippy Victorian glass that makes the outside world seem far away and unreal.

I have found that it is easy to write stories when you’re living in the setting.

Southern California is on fire, and I just got a phone call that they’re evacuating the town I grew up in. My best friend called to see if my grandparents might need assistance getting out (which was so kind of her, that thoughtfulness is amazing) but I know they’re fine – they’re barely into their sixties and ride Harleys all over the country, so I’m sure they can leave when they need to. I know they’re more active than I am, anyway. I’m not so worried about the people being evacuated as I am about my uncle and family friends who are firefighters. They fight wildfires every year, and I know this, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying or watching the news desperately.

I took some Polaroids this weekend and did some image transfers that I’ll post later. They’re all of the spooky double-atticked house in Richmond, which looks not at all spooky but beautifully elegant in the autumn sun. That’s because I figured out the film settings on my Land camera finally, so my color values improved magnificently.

By the way, tomorrow’s the last day of hunting. Still no turkey. But many happy hours have been spent sitting perfectly still in the woods, watching the woodpeckers and the walking sticks and reflecting that if everyone had to hunt for their sustenance, we’d be a lot more respectful of animals. I went a few times with the boys so that I could sit in the woods awhile, and I feel I know a lot more about turkeys and deer and have more genuine respect for them than I did when I was a militant vegeterian in high school. I have more thoughts on all this, but they will come later when I’m not trying to catch up from four days of not being home.

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