Monday, July 16, 2012

A Study in Contrasts

 Okay, so these pictures were not taken down South.  Pretty obviously.  Nope.  These lovely views came from Olympic National Park in Washington State.  What a fabulous way to spend our Fourth of July--even making snowballs.  What a treat for us!

So, we came back home and today the weather was sultry.  That still, oppressive heat, with thunder in the distance. Sometimes a flash of lightening.  Heat lightening.  Unbearable really.
And I noticed that this house had been emptied out while we were away.  Like there is no furniture or anything in it anymore. (Sorry the picture is sort of out of focus.  I am pretty furtive about snapping these pictures around the neighborhood.)

I have been wondering what is going on with this house.  There used to be a man who lived here, a bearded guy who wore a ball cap and long, loose shorts, and maybe sandals.  He was a VW guy, if you know what I mean.  Drove an old beetle, maybe had a VW van in states of disrepair parked at the side of the house.  He and my husband used to chat Volkswagon if they saw each other on the street.

The guy worked at the institute of technology around the corner and his wife worked at the hospital up the street.  They had two young boys.  He said he had it made.  He was a jovial type, relaxed, friendly.

Then, we moved away to Europe for about five years and when we came back the wife was gone, the boys were teenagers, and he wasn't outside hanging out chatting.  In fact, when I saw him, he seemed disheveled and preoccupied.  I wondered if his wife had died, or had they divorced.  Something that didn't seem good had happened.  There was a vibe that just said, "Don't ask." Though we really didn't have the opportunity.   Some people on the street were upset about that little balcony built over the front porch.  He wanted it bigger I guess and filed for an ordinance, but was denied.  I overheard someone say something negative about all the things he had built onto the house--the porch and rooms at the back, and what seemed to be a place the teenagers sort of lived in during that in-between time when they graduate from high school and figure out what direction they are going to begin life on their own.

I went around today and took a quick picture of it.

Over the past few years, I have wondered if the guy even lived here anymore.  The yard was cluttered, windows at the front were not really closed, but jammed with clothing to keep the chill out, etc.  If someone did live here, it seemed they were not really all together, and my mind ran to narratives about what may have happened to the wife to have made this the life of the man who had once told me he "had it made."  I don't mean I thought foul play was involved.  I just know from my own experience that some lives get damaged in ways that are irreparable and this situation seemed to be that to me.

The last I saw this house, before it was cleaned out, it had some paper taped to the door which fluttered slightly because the tape seemed oldish and was giving out.  It looked like a note, and I wondered from who to whom, but I didn't go up and examine it.  I thought that would be too nosey, and I wasn't sure if anyone still lived in the house at all.

So, the mystery continues.  I will have to ask the garden lady when I see her.  I bet she will know.  On my way back from taking these pictures, I paused at her house to get a picture of these:

They look so cheerful, and belie the white skied torrid truth of the day.
I also came up on this little guy (big guy actually) nibbling the anise.  Next spring, he will be one of those large black and yellow swallowtail butterflies.  By fall there will be more of them and much less anise.  Then they will cocoon up.

Right after I took this shot, the sky burst and HUGE big raindrops fell all over the street (and me).  And now, as I finish typing this, the rain has passed, but the pavement is still hot.  Steam rises off the asphalt.  We call it the "hot steams" and joke about haints which are ghosts or spirits that rise out of the hot steams.


  1. looks like a great time was had on your vacation!
    This story of your neighbor is intriguing for sure. Made me think of that Tom Waits song "What is he building in there?" I was reading.
    Its a mystery ... I guess can only be assumed something did happen that was not good from the looks of it.
    There is something about unsolved mysteries that keeps my wheels turning.

  2. Yeah, me too--about the unsolved mysteries that is. I'm always thinking, how could I turn this into a story? That is, if I took the time to really write stories anymore.
    --also, I love Tom Waits