Imagine/a place

Man, winter can be hard on a house. It’s especially hard on a 90-year-old house, although, in houses and in humanity, preventive maintenance helps.

This is our Indiana house I’m talking about here. We ran home this weekend to sweep the cobwebs out of the joint, mow the grass and see how badly the cold weather treated everything. Answer: Not as badly as the never-ending sewer project on our street, which has disrupted everyone’s lives since Thanksgiving. “Boy, did you pick a good year to be gone,” all the neighbors said; evidently they pray for rain these days, to settle the dust that drifts into every eye and dulls every house.

So, I guess the lesson is: Even with cobwebs and a mummified mouse in one of the cold-air intakes, it could have been much worse.

The kitchen faucet did spring a fatal leak, however. Alan replaced it, leading me to thank the lucky stars once again that I married a man who can repair plumbing. Why do so many love songs concentrate on liquid eyes and strong muscles? Show me a man who can handle a pipe wrench, and there’s your good husband material right there.

I took some time to walk around the neighborhood, just to see who’s moving and who isn’t. After nine months in Michigan’s Second-Most-Expensive City, it’s a shock to hear neighbors taking umbrage at the gall of another, who is asking $165,000 for that house, which is merely roomy and well-located and well-maintained and has a brand-new patio with a fountain and water garden. I mean, who the hell does he think he is?

Michigan’s first-most-expensive city (or so I’m told): Birmingham. Now you know.

After sweeping and dusting and scouring and mowing and uprooting and cutting back and filling a thousand lawn-and-leaf bags, it was back to A2 (the Fellowship is over, but Kate’s still in school), which is increasingly feeling like home, although God knows why because I really miss my kitchen equipment. Alan has a theory: “I don’t think I’ve seen a NASCAR jacket since I’ve been here.” Nor a Sam’s Club, nor a Wal-Mart. Even fast food can be hard to track down; there’s a Wendy’s way out that way and way out this way, but not close by. Ypsilanti, which I’m told has all of these things and the famous Brick Dick, does the dirty work for us.

And today? I’m recovering. Some vestigial Fellows are coming for dinner, and Alan and I are going over to the Nichols Arboretum to see Imagine/Align, “a site-specific, community-based art installation blooming now at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum. This project, conceived by artist Susan Skarsgard, is a line of 20,000 yellow daffodils as far as the eye can see, traversing the environment, mapping thought and inspiring contemplation on the idea of lines, borders and imposed definitions.”

Yes, that’s Ann Arbor for you. Back in the Fort, they just call it a flower bed.

Posted at 10:32 am in Uncategorized |

14 responses to “Imagine/a place”

  1. Connie said on April 26, 2004 at 11:19 am

    Snorting with laughter over the brick d**k, never heard it called that before. Family legend has it that my husband’s grandfather, then an EMU student (wasn’t it called the normal school in those days?) viewed Halley’s Comet from its vantage point in 1910. Or was it 1911?

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  2. Mindy said on April 26, 2004 at 4:10 pm

    Betcha didn’t see any Vera Bradley handbags, either.

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  3. Nance said on April 26, 2004 at 4:18 pm

    Wrong! I’m amazed at how often I see those, er…Items That Are Not My Taste. I don’t see them on every third arm, the way you do in the Fort, but see them? Yes.

    Amazing. I’m a Coach girl, m’self.

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  4. colleen said on April 26, 2004 at 5:11 pm

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t “get” VB. People around the my workplace go gaga over the stuff, and I can’t muster much more than a half hearted “eh” over it.

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  5. Mindy said on April 26, 2004 at 8:43 pm

    Shocking! Vera bags in a university town! I would have guessed that they would be confiscated at the city limits.

    I didn’t “get” Vera stuff either until a pattern happened that I honestly liked. It was then that I learned that a few of the styles make truly peerless knitting bags. I’ll be at the sale to snag knitting bags in the Red Bandana pattern. They should look great when they’re old and worn out in a pulled-my-harpoon-from-my-dirty-red-bandana way.

    But real life demands a navy leather shoulder bag with a long strap.

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  6. Michael G said on April 27, 2004 at 9:05 am

    OK, I give up. Who’s Vera Bradley?

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  7. Nance said on April 27, 2004 at 9:19 am

    Vera Bradley is a line of purses, handbags, luggage and other girly-type carryalls, all made from quilted cotton in a wide variety of patterns. Yes, cloth purses.

    The company’s based in Fort Wayne, and local devotion to its product is fevered, to say the least. They have a factory sale during one three-day weekend that is an event not seen since Blondie and Tootsie hit the clearance at Tudbury’s. The first day, a Friday, is the year’s most-requested day off at several local businesses, as women meet up with their girlfriends and hit the tables at the Coliseum.

    The company is an exemplary corporate citizen, but I’ve never been able to summon even minimal enthusiasm for their product. To me, purses should be made of leather and in a neutral color.

    As for where I’ve seen them in AA, let me just say this: It’s not students who are carrying Vera Bradley, but their suburban mothers. My peers. But not me.

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  8. 4dbirds said on April 27, 2004 at 9:42 am

    Talking about unusual erections, I used to work here when I was in the army.

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  9. Mindy said on April 27, 2004 at 10:37 am

    Nice to know who’s attached to those Vera bags in a university town. Here in the Fort, the lion’s share of them belong to gradmas wearing inexpensive sneakers.

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  10. Paul said on April 27, 2004 at 11:24 am

    “quilted cotton”????

    No wonder I’d never heard of them.

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  11. Michael G said on April 27, 2004 at 2:08 pm

    Wow. Those things are pretty grannyish. I can’t believe they cost enough to make the annual day that big a deal. But get ready everyone, it’s coming up in just a week.! What they look like is those tote bags they’re always giving my wife when she buys lipstick at Macy’s.

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  12. Pam said on April 28, 2004 at 7:38 am

    What I liked about AA is the shopping! All the artsy craftsy galleries with great pottery, glass, and whatever available. We don’t even have that here in the home of OSU. At least not all conveniently arranged within a few square blocks with edible and delicious food in between. It was great.

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  13. Joe said on April 28, 2004 at 9:53 am


    If you want to move up here to Auburn, we are about to put our 120yr old home on the market. Will not be asking 160,000.


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  14. Joe said on April 28, 2004 at 9:53 am


    If you want to move up here to Auburn, we are about to put our 120yr old home on the market. Will not be asking 160,000.


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