Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a city tale

We're back in the city again working on the second of two shower enclosures, a job we got last spring but the contractor has been extremely slow. Finally the glass was delivered to us the Friday before the twin's Bat Mitzvah and last week we finished the simpler of the two designs. I didn't photograph it and won't. It's wrapped up and ready to go.

Driving in our luck finally ran out and we were caught in a traffic back-up on the freeway. In the four years since we've been driving back and forth this is the first time we've been caught. Fortunately the wreck was in the right lane and cleared quickly. We crept along for a while but didn't have to sit at a standstill. The cat was not pleased. Slowing down is her signal that we are nearing our destination.

Coming in past Memorial Park, I was heartbroken to see how many more trees had died. The dead trees now outnumber the living trees, at least the ones that are visible from the freeway as we skirt around the park on our way to the city house. The 1500 acre heavily wooded park in the inner city, bordered on one side by the only natural bayou left and the inner loop on two other sides, has large sections that remain undeveloped providing much needed habitat for all kinds of wildlife. Paddling down the bayou at the edge of the park, all noise from the city disappears and it's easy to imagine that you are far away.

Arriving at the house, I bring the cat in in her carrier. Used to be I would just open the door and let her jump down. She travels calmly. We keep her open carrier on the wide armrest between us in the truck. She doesn't mind laying in it when the door is open. It's her safe place in the truck. But she also will sit out on the armrest, usually coming out when we exit the freeway. She looks out and if we vary our route, you can tell she's anxious because she doesn't recognize her surroundings. Lately she's taken to stretching forward, putting her paws on the dash and sniffing at the air conditioner vent. We get a lot of surprised looks from people who happen to notice we have a cat sitting up on the armrest.

Anyway, I used to let her jump down when we arrived but the the kids got a dog. He's not two yet, and came as a small puppy, the runt of the litter. He's a sweet dog and has a cat of his own who will still get up in his face and he will sit on the cat and they chase each other about. But he's a big dog with a big head that is all mouth and when he sees Emma he wants to play. Emma sees a big dog that is all mouth running at her. She tore holes in three of my shirts before I quit carrying her in. Not to mention the holes and scratches on me. She's happily an indoor cat in the city.

There's no fence between the kid's house and our house. We used to own both properties and so the two places are enclosed with one fence. We're OK with that. The g'kids use our house sometimes when we aren't here. They'll watch something different on TV or seek a quiet place to do their homework. I'm sure they ferreted out any secrets we left behind long ago but they seem to love us anyway.

I see the city and the neighborhood differently now that I don't live here. If I was young and single or married and childless I would want to live here. The changes I have decried I now see as desirable, if I was young and unattached or newly attached. No yard to speak of, bike path through the adjacent neighborhoods that provides a kind of highway, a new sort of hippie hip center, some quirky street art. I'd have to have a good job to afford it though. Truth is I've always liked this neighborhood. Even when it was working poor. It's not now, of course, and I'm not young but it looks like fun.

Travel days, that's really all we do. Close up one house, load the truck, make the drive, open the other house, unload the truck. And then again in reverse when we are headed home.

It's kind of like camping here at the city house. We bring certain necessities back and forth with us. Our pillows, a few kitchen items, food. We don't keep any food here in the city besides basic staples or stuff we bought at some point and then never used.

After dinner, someone brings up donuts. In the country it would be said wistfully and that would be the end of it. But we're not in the country.

So there's a box full of donuts on the table.


  1. When I travel into one town I used to live in I am immediatly hungry, not too many places near where I live now.Of course a traffic jam here would be 8 cars.

  2. I can't erase the picture of Emma running and clawing, trying to escape from a dog that is all mouth. The image stuck in my head ;-)

  3. the city does have a few advantages (donuts being one of them) but i'll go without for the sake of the peace and nature. :)

  4. For me, the perfect setup would be having the city house and going to the country house on the weekends. Maybe. It is like two different worlds isn't it?

  5. If we want pizza in Lloyd, we have to make our own. This works out fine because I like to make pizza. But it does require planning. I suppose they sell doughnuts at the truck stop but I never even consider that fact. Odd.

  6. It must feel strange to re-visit your neighborhood, coming in and out of it, seeing it as an old-timer with fresh eyes. It sounds pretty cool.

    The drought is heart-breaking. Surely one of the tropical storms will bring relief. Here in OR I always wonder how the plants manage to make it through 3-4 months of drought every summer, but they're adapted to it and every fall when the rains start up everything comes to life. Now I wish this for you.

  7. Love the city mouse, country mouse life you lead.Love the way you tell it.

  8. Uh, oh, gotta watch out for them donut demons! I've heard that, for a cat, a good day is a day that's just like everyday.

  9. Oh, you narrated it so wistfully, the tale of two houses, the travel and the work, and the adjustment between the two places, each furnishing you with what you need while you are there.

    That your cat roams in the car, and sits up with you on the dashboard is a sweet and gentle image.

  10. Donuts are part of moving for me. I am all city. Country girl buried deep in homemade jam, though ;).

  11. Hi there - nice post - after reading your post how could anybody want a dog!

    We have had similar problems with tress - especially urban trees - dying in the drought. Lets hope that when they are replanted people will use native trees that may stand a better chance in the future!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Australia

  12. Is there anything better than warm donuts? I think not.
    A few years ago when were in a drought, we lost so many trees both young and old. It's tough.


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