Tag Archives: love

“Dear John…”

At the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, Jack and I looked at clay tablets bearing letters from 1200 or so BC, and gravestones from sometime between then and 300 BC.

There is nothing new under the sun. One letter informed a man that the woman writing it was marrying “the farmer” instead of him. One stipulated that the wages for performing an exorcism were two sheep: one male, one female. Another extolled the virtues of Hypodia’s parties and invited the recipient to one. A gravestone erected by one Olympios suggested that, although he died a civil servant, he SHOULD have been elected provincial leader, and would have been had it not been for the jealousy of others, and he hoped the guy who’d gotten it rotted in hell. Hades, actually, but you get the point.

There is nothing new under the sun. From the time we’ve been able to write, we’ve focused on just a few things. People want love. We want a life that we feel fulfills the talents we believe ourselves to posses.  And we want good stories.

Beside the gravestones–some of them very sweet and touching, actually, like the one from the woman who said she was “weeping, wailing, and mourning for her dear departed”–each sarcophagus in the museum had a tale told in figures around it: Psyche and Eros; how Apollo got married; the death of some guy I’d never heard of in a drunken brawl.

Then and now, 2000 BC or AD or whatever system you use, there is nothing new under the sun. The names change from Mahmud to Matthew, the hats morph from turbans to ball caps, and the women’s dresses get shorter or longer, but we people go on, chasing love, money, and a good job. And telling stories about ourselves and each other.

Kinda reassuring, ain’t it? Although I think exorcisms cost more like twelve sheep now.

Leave a comment

Filed under folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, publishing, Uncategorized

His White, Square Heart

My 71-year-old husband built me a downstairs office. From a musty dugout basement lined with concrete he created white walls and a safe ceiling (no asbestos) plus a floor made of durable earth-friendly wood and windows that let in all the light a basement can get. He used bright-white materials so the light would be stronger.

He left the central wall’s original brickwork, even though he didn’t like it much, because he knows I think brickwork is cool and funky. He removed all the spiders he found because he has seen me run, shrieking in terror, from Daddy Long Legs.

It took him three months and something well above a thousand dollars, and he did it all himself—except when he had to determine which wires were live, which dead, running over the copper water pipes. For that he called in our friend X, a covert plumber here in town masquerading as a mine safety engineer. (X must not be outed; there aren’t many plumbers around here and his golf weekends would be crushed.)

Jack sealed cracks and underpinned flooring and shaved off door edges and cut special angles to cover protruding pipes. My husband did all that for me, because he wanted me to have a cozy space that I could call my own. Upstairs on the second floor, our private home is full of mind-grabbing, endless chores, while the bookstore is replete with people and noise and sales and inventory–not that we don’t like those things. They are the heartbeat of the bookstore.

But downstairs, with a comfy chair from a thrift store and a mantelpiece donated by a friend and an electric fire Jack hunted down on clearance, there’s a different kind of heartbeat. A quiet one. A steady one. An enduring one.

Jack said, out of the blue the other day as we doctored our respective morning coffees, “I built that space for you as comfortably and as carefully as I could, so you would have it forever.”

“I know,” I said, and kissed him on the cheek.

There are things couples don’t say, and then there are things couples don’t use words to say. When I sit downstairs in the white space that my husband’s hands created for me, I know, and he knows I know, that I’m sitting inside his heart. Cozy and warm, underpinning everything, letting the light in.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

Owen Meany in Love (or something like it)

We foster a lot of cats here at Tales of the Lonesome Pine, and this month we took in a teen mom and her three infants. The babies (Clyde Edgerton, Anne River Siddons, and Silas House) are thriving, and Tallulah (the mom) is putting on weight and getting a healthy shine back into her beautiful dark fur. She has russet undertones to her smoky brownness, and a very warm personality. As Jack said, “Easy to see why the boys went for her, eh?”IMG_3529

Indeed it is.

Tallulah’s a good mother, but even the Supermoms want some off-duty time. So the other day, when I opened the nursery door, she made a break for it–and ran straight into Owen Meany’s chest.

Owen Meany is our cheerful adolescent kitten. We’re not sure if he’s an eejit, or an evil genius; it’s amazing how he’s carved his place into the bookshop staff hierarchy in just six short months. For instance, he’s made friends with ValKyttie (something almost no one can do) and she lets him finish her morning snack right off her plate. Nobody else tries that, believe me.

Owen is also a big boy; think defensive lineman. So when Tallulah fell into his arms, he wasn’t even winded–but he was bowled over.

Nose to nose the pair gasped, Tallulah against Owen’s massive chest in a classic B-movie scene, gazing up at him from beneath long black lashes as he stared down in besotted amazement. Then Tallulah backed coyly into her nursery, while Owen, blinking, gazed at the closing door.

He looked up at me, golden eyes round and glassy. “Who? Was? That?

Well, it was inevitable. What did I think was going to happen when the linebacker met the homecoming queen? He’s in love. Or something very like it.

Owen now spends a lot of time passing by the nursery door in an overly casual way–“just out for a stroll, oh look, how did I happen to get here?”–listening in case his beloved wants anything. Last night I caught him sitting atop the phone directory, open to florists. We’re expecting a catnip bouquet delivery any moment.

I’ve tried to explain to him that she’s not staying, there’s no point in getting his heart broken, that she’s got kids and those relationships can be complicated for a boy just starting to date….

owen writing poetryBut he’s writing her poetry. We found him with this pen, looking pensive. I’m sure it will end in tears. There’s that little matter of Owen’s having been neutered.

Still, the course of true love never did run smooth.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Uncategorized