Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love Notes

I came across a box of old greeting cards and letters in the attic the other day and spent an afternoon reading them. I don't always save cards and letters, not even sure how these made it through my many moves. Among them was a stack of yellow post-it notes. I also have stacks of these precisely printed notes in various drawers and cabinets. It started when Jim and I were dating. We lived 2 hours apart, and when he'd leave my house and go home, I would find post-it notes stuck between plates in the cabinet, on bathroom mirrors, under sofa pillows, etc., and they said the kinds of things that we thrive on when we're in love, like "I'm thinking of you right this minute", and "Who knew I could love someone this much?" I couldn't throw those away, and I still can't. These days his notes are mainly to remind me to do things or to tell me when he'll be home, but there is still the occasional mushy one. To me, they all say, "I love you."

In the box I also found notes and Christmas cards from my childhood BFF who was killed in a car wreck the year my son was born. One look at her swirly, flamboyant handwriting, and I'm transported back to the summer evenings when we sat under her grandmother's sprawling magnolia tree and tried to sort out life's mysteries. And there are letters from my son when he was in the Navy, quickly scribbled, rambling sentences that don't always follow lines and columns, sharing his discoveries with me......... and a couple that sound lonely, and he told me I was his best friend. You keep notes like that.

And there's a birthday card from Mars, not the planet but a huge, white, bobtail cat who belonged to my friend Linda. Betwixt me and thee, even though a corner looks as if maybe he chewed me a message, I don't think Mars really sent the card himself, though he did appreciate the little play pillows stuffed with Catnip that I sent him, and he only bit me once, before I learned that he didn't want his belly rubbed. Linda and I have drifted apart, but I called her that day, and she seemed pleased. We're going to lunch together as soon as the weather is nice.

I'm not a Hallmark kind of girl, and I think the greeting card business stole some of the world's creativity. It's so much easier to spend 3 minutes choosing the perfect card than to write a heartfelt letter or create something beautiful on our own. I sent someone a virtual digital art birthday card. It was a painting I did just for her........ she made it known that I had dropped the ball in our yearly exchange of cards. I wanted to tell her that I'm not in a league with Hallmark, but people do pay for my art; I didn't. I went back to our routine, and truth to tell, those mass manufactured, commercial cards can take on a beauty all their own when kept packed away for several years; maybe like wine, they need to age.

These days, I receive more notes and cards via the internet than by snail mail. My day is brighter for each quick note that's sent my way. I doubt I'll meet my online friends; they live in my computer, but they are as real as any friends I've ever had. And speaking of friends, last week, I received a message on Facebook that said, "Are you Cathy Jackson? If so, reply to this message!" It was Trish, the cousin of my departed BFF. I was so glad to hear from her, and we promised to stay in touch this time.

I save some of the emails that touch my heart or make me smile, a virtual box of memories. These and the hodge podge of notes from the other decades of my life signify that Cat Bounds has been loved. I must admit that I do miss seeing familiar handwritings or even a kitty-chewed corner of a card; 50 years from now, I wonder if there will even be paper cards and letters. Maybe my tattered boxful of memories will end up in a flea market, and someone will take them home and cherish them, just a little bit.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Long time comin'

Well, I've been slow in getting back into my blog. Christmas was not as I had envisioned, what with my sister getting a skin infection that almost cost her her right arm, but we made it through, and here it is another new year with infinite possibilities. I see I have a couple of new subscribers. Welcome! It's always exciting to know that someone cares enough to read what I've written.

I'll start off with news that Jim is finally getting his workshop, well deserved and a long time coming. He does woodworking and is better than he thinks. I can find a shelf, easel, picture frame, etc., in a magazine, and he can usually make it for me, even in the crowded third-garage where his tools have been for the 6 years we've lived here. The consummate perfectionist and practicing Obsessive Compulsive, with literally hundreds of drawers of wrenches, screws, nails, and such, no matter what anyone needs, he knows whether he has it and right where it is, as compared to me, if I laid down a book 2 hours ago, I may not find it again for weeks.

He has put off getting the shop because, frankly, from the day we moved here, we thought it was temporary, till we could find our dream home out in the country, but this is a great house, and over the years of wearing out several Realtors, we haven't found anything we like as well. One day on our way home from another failed house viewing, it came to me. I said, "James (I call him that when I'm serious), I know why we haven't found our house yet; it's because we're not looking for the same house!" We've considered lots of houses I liked and lots of houses he liked, but they were never the same house, so eventually, we came to know that this is probably where we'll live out the rest of our years, and Jim got serious about finding a contractor to build his shop, in mid-winter.

He found Ray, who as luck would have it, lives 2 streets away from us and who's one of the nicest guys you'll meet and almost as meticulous as Jim. He brings his radio with him, sets it up on the air conditioning unit, and lets his jivin' Contemporary Christian music wail till I've been thinking the neighbors would complain, but ya can't hold being an in-your-face-Christian against a guy. He lured me into one religious debate, and I found myself freezing in the ever deepening twilight air, inching my way toward the relative safety of my backdoor; I've avoided philosophical chats with him since then.

The workshop isn't quite as big as Jim would have liked, but it's as large as city code will allow, and he even walled off one end for storage for my decorating stuff, much of it Christmas decor, which will be so much better than dragging it back up the folding ladder to the attic. I've posted a few photos of the progress. By this time next month, we're hoping to have it finished and moved into, but you never know about Arkansas weather. One day last week the high was around 7 degrees w/ snow flurries, and yesterday it was sunny and in the low 50's. But even if it's not finished till spring, this shop will be the perfect Man Cave for Jim where he'll spend many happy hours.