Archive for June, 2017

Of Cats and Raccoons

June 25, 2017

 

A while back, Sugar installed a feeding shelf for the two girl cats at work. We thought that it would make an excellent feeding station or perch or safe place for them. Mostly, we were worried that it was a long time from when I fed them on a Friday evening until I returned on a Monday morning, and we knew that ants would get in the food.

We had a plan to put yummy canned food on the shelf to lure them up and to show them that the shelf as a good thing. They refused.

Sugar had a further great plan with which I disagreed.

He went to PetSmart and bought a self-feeder. I use the very same feeding system at every cat station I’ve ever made, but these girls were different and difficult. I didn’t think they would get on the shelf and that the raccoons would drag the feeder off. If they won’t use the feeding shelf for canned food, they are just not going to use it for dry.

Sugar:  I got a feeder for the girls.

YoursTruly:  They’re not going to use it.

Sugar:  But I bought it for them.

YoursTruly:  Take it back.

Sugar:  But I made a special trip to PetSmart, and it cost $21.

YoursTruly:  They are not going to use it. Get your money back.

Sugar:  But I got the special smaller size to fit on the shelf. There was a larger one for only a few dollars more, but I got this one because it’s the right size, even though it cost $21, and I’m not planning another trip to PetSmart.

YoursTruly:  Then I’ll take it back. Do you have the receipt?

Sugar: I really want them to use it.

YoursTruly:  The raccoons dragged off the other bowls I put on the shelf, and they’ll drag the whole frickin’ feeder off into the canal.

Sugar:  (silence)

YoursTruly:  ALRIGHT! Give me the damn feeder.

I set up the precious little self-feeder on the shelf on a Friday evening. When I returned on Monday morning, the feeder was in two pieces off in the nearby canal in the woods.

The next week, Sugar removed the shelf, and I went back to feeding them in containers on the ground.

Then I tried feeding them extra heavily in the evening.  Keep in mind that I also feed them at breakfast and lunch.

Then one evening I fed the girls, and sat in the car while I checked my messages on the iPhone, skimmed over FaceBook, and glanced at the email. When I looked up, the girls were no longer at their bowl. They were lying in the grass in front of my car, lounging and looking at the woods.

I cannot win this game. I have been out-smarted.

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Sugar Builds A Fence

June 19, 2017

Remember when his next-door neighbors burned the buffer zone along the common property line? And surprise! The buffer zone turned out to be his. 

I can’t forget it. So much weirdness involving that event. 

They started a fire and left it unattended. They left home completely. That fire was so close to jumping into the woods by the time Sugar discovered what was going on. The man next door had also been walking through the buffer zone and chopping at bushes and trees with a machete. He walked along Sugar’s driveway with a blower and cleared a path along at least 100 feet, intentionally making a fire break on property that wasn’t even his. Their first language is not English, but in what country is any of that behavior acceptable? 

Sometimes we turn things over and over in our heads trying to work out stuff just right. Sugar really didn’t want to build a privacy fence. But he wanted privacy. The kind of fence he was going to build would look like a wall, but he was only going to make it long enough to block his view of their house. He just didn’t want to look at their collection of junk any more. They are hoarders, of sorts, but also sloppy. An old motorboat that doesn’t work, a junked truck, a camper shell, children’s shoes, a half-built playhouse, discarded clothing, overflowing trashcans, plus other random items. 

It was a multi-purpose fence. You stay over there; I stay over here. I don’t look at your junk; you don’t look at mine. You don’t burn Sugar’s property; he won’t mutter crazytalk in your direction. 


During the planning and execution stages, Sugar took to quoting Robert Frost about fences and neighbors. 

Machete-wielding neighbor has hacked at Sugar’s trees and bushes.


This reminds me of a child tramping through the woods with a stick, striking out at anything and everything he encounters. 

Finally the fence is done. 


It’s about seven feet tall and sixty-four-ish feet long. 


We wonder what message this sends to the neighbor children. 

We also wonder what kind of message the children receive from seeing their parents leave an unattended fire to burn their neighbor’s property. 

At any rate, it is done. 

Mending Wall

Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963
 Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

The Butter in the Treehouse

June 18, 2017

The Alt-Reunion

June 18, 2017

Sugar and I didn’t go to the annual reunion. 

It’s complicated. 

There was a misunderstanding at last year’s reunion, in which someone thought that I had taken a brick from a wall in a historic cemetery that was being refurbished, and that I had sent it to a descendant in California. 

I didn’t do that. The brick was from a rubbish pile off in the bamboo undergrowth at another location, not a cemetery, an hour and a half away from the cemetery. 

Then there was when I called another descendant, at the request of the film crew who was filming for 23andMe, to find out who could grant access to the cemetery and if the crew could get permission to film there. 

The person I contacted gave me the phone numbers that the crew needed, but told me that this idea of filming in a historic cemetery was a bad idea, and that she was against it. And she wanted to know when was the last time I had been there. 

Seriously? Because I had been there at the cemetery during the reunion when everyone else had been there, and never since then. Plus the property owners allowed the filming to happen the following day. And nobody took a brick. 

Then the capper was when I was reading on the SC Dept. of History and Archives website about a certain historical house, and I saw a reference was made to Sugar’s Uncle Edward’s book “Saga of the South”. 




Because we knew that Uncle Edward had never had an association with that particular house, we were curious as to the historian had linked the two together, so I emailed the historian. 

I have been following the story of the Lawton-Seabrook Cemetery on Edisto, and how it has been nominated for the National Register.
While looking at the SC Archives and History website today, I noticed that one of your references for John Lawton is a book “Saga of the South”, by Edward Percival Lawton. The author is the uncle of Leslie Lawton Bateson, and Leslie thought it curious that his uncle would have mentioned John Lawton of Jericho Plantation in a book that only dealt with Edward’s direct lines. 

When he checked his copy, he cannot locate a reference to John Lawton on page 97 or in the index. Perhaps this was an error on your part?

He did not appreciate being questioned. 

I am in receipt of your email from yesterday. 

To be clear, the question you have raised refers to the already finalized and listed nomination of the John Lawton House in Estill, SC, which I authored nine years ago. It is unrelated to the currently pending nomination of the Lawton-Seabrook Cemetery.

This morning, I went into the attic and dug out my notes on the John Lawton House nomination. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the footnote in question is a “for further information” footnote with multiple sources contained in it, rather than a footnote verifying a specific claim in the main text of the nomination document. In reviewing my notes from the Edward P. Lawton source, Saga of the South, it appears that I was particularly drawn to these lines: “The village itself [Lawtonville] was virtually killed when, in 1891, the southbound railroad, now the Seaboard Air Line, was put through two miles to the east of Lawtonville. Most of the villagers then moved to a new location near the station, which was named Estill in honor of Colonel H. H. Estill of Savannah, the railway’s president.”

As it turns out, this material does appear on page 97 of the source in question. As it also turns out, John Lawton was one of the Lawtonville villagers who “moved to a new location near the station” with the construction of his new house in town. This initiative is described at great length in the preceding paragraph of the nomination, while the “more on John Lawton, Sr.” reference in the footnote was to the context provided in Edward P. Lawton’s book for why John Lawton, Sr., would have moved there. And as the very next sentence in the nomination text further explains, Lawton “maintained intimate business ties with local railroad authorities, who were often his competitors.” One might nitpick that this reference to the material on p. 97 of Saga of the South is better placed under footnote 3–something I thought about at the time–but I made a conscious choice to list it under footnote 4, along with the other “for more information” sources.

So, to answer your question, no, this was not an error on my part. The reference was intentional and correct, since John Lawton, Sr., was among the folks to whom Edward P. Lawton was referring when he wrote those sentences on page 97. Clearly, both you and Leslie Lawton Bateson were not aware that Edward Percival Lawton’s book contained material that was about more folks than just “Edward’s direct lines” and the people listed in the index. I hope our correspondence helps you both see that broader picture. 

*****

Now, something that not many people know about me is that I was exposed to carbon-monoxide poisoning in the workplace about 20 years ago from a faulty gas water-heater. 

Part of my reply to the historian:

About twenty years ago, I was exposed to carbon-monoxide poisoning in the workplace from a faulty gas water heater. This was not discovered until it had been going on for several months. The levels were very low, imperceptible at first until the gas leak became evident. As a result, my reasoning, retention, and memory skills were affected. It is harder for me to learn new things because of the memory loss. It is harder for me to understand someone else’s train of thought. 
So I ask questions in an effort to understand, not to challenge. 

*****

I felt humiliated after that exchange. Then a friend reminded me that there is a learning technique called the Socratic method that involves asking questions. 

I was so relieved. I am not a weirdo. I ask questions all the time for knowledge and affirmation and understanding, and frankly, it challenges people unintentionally. So I try to be quiet, but it does help me to write it out. I have already written it out in my brain multiple times before I put fingers to keyboard. 

*****

So, the reunion. It seemed like I had ruffled too many feathers. Some people had said that I wasn’t even blood. How then do you explain how spouses and fiancés and adopted children could be allowed, and I couldn’t? I don’t have anything to prove, so if it upsets people that I am there, then I just won’t go. Problem solved. 

However, there were going to be people at the reunion that we wanted to see. Enter the Alt-Reunion. 

YoursTruly, Sugar, and Sugar’s cousin Elisabeth



So the photo above is complicated. That’s Boyce on the left. He’s my cousin on his mother’s side, and Sugar’s cousin on his father’s side. 


More complications. Boyce; Rebeccah, who is related to no one in the photo, but is related to a Lawton cousin Lynda, but only related on their Moseley side, not the Lawton side at all; YoursTruly, Sugar, and Elisabeth. 

One saga closes, another saga opens.