I miss Dover Place

Had a special request to write something tonight…so, I’ll try. Writer’s block? Nah, you’d have to be a writer to have that. Too busy? No more than usual. Nothing to say? Now, you may have something there.

If my writing cannot edify the reader, I’m not interested in taking the time. I’ve realized that I’m much more effective at this on a verbal plane; whether it be conversation, debate, lecture, even singing. One of the things I realized about moving away from Dover Place was that all the conversation with the gang out on the porch used to stimulate my writing. For example, after my last entry, Tim picked up on the subject and expounded on it in his blog. That, in turn, got me thinking about it even more, and typically I would have followed up the next night with another entry going further with my point. But, I didn’t get to actually talk to him or anyone else about it, so it just kinda drifted away.

Edification? Entertainment? Amusement? All worthy goals. Poetry come to mind when I think of bringing all these together. I’m not very good at poetry. But I’m pretty good at teaching people about poetry and what it means. They usually don’t know I’m talking about it, the word throws them. I typically leave out words like poetry, myth, metaphor, etc. You somehow have to teach people about the thing, using only words that point to the thing. Like a game, I guess. A game I’m interested in only if it can enlighten and improve your life.

OK, I admit, I’m having a blast with my i-tunes. I’ve got the craziest mix of music on this thing you’ve ever heard. Right after Allison Krauss comes Alice Cooper. By the way, did you know that Allison has 17 Grammy Awards?! That’s gotta be a record of some sort. (Most by any female?)

I’ve got 3 guitar students each week, they keep me on my toes. Aside from that, a friend is learning the fiddle, so he wants to learn “Ashokan Farewell.” (The Civil War song.) It’s nice to just search for it on itunes, download it, and start listening to it; all within the space of a minute or two. How did I ever get along without it?

Wally was right

I guess I shouldn’t've been surprised. I’d never owned a home before. He’s lived across the street from me for all of the 20 years we were on Dover Place. I’d seen him out there plenty of times mowing, watering, edging, painting, scraping, sweating. He began teasing me: “Yeah,” he’d begin, “I’ll drive by and there you’ll be in the front tugging on the mower or taking apart an edger. Richard, the homemaker, that’ll be you.”

“That ain’t me,” I cried, “It ain’t me.”

Well, come on by some evening, and you’ll likely find me in front or back. Edging, mowing, spraying, pulling…sweating. Yes, I’ve already taken the edger apart and I think I fixed it. Tonight, the condenser pan of AC suddenly stopped draining, so I fixed that too. Wally was right. He was right about another thing too. Camelot has passed. I’ve gone from eagerly looking out the window to see if anyone was out to hoping there’s no one out so I can get my edging done.

We really mean it this time

OK, now we’re really moved out of Dover Place. It’s a big event. We’re really moved into our new place now. Of course, there’s a new pile of boxes to deal with too. Our entire 2nd bedroom is filled with boxes of stuff that we didn’t take the first time. Stuff we could probably live without. But, one of the boxes contains journals of mine that date back many years. Well back into my childhood. Back when my mind was sharp. After we get things situated here, I think I’ll post some of them on the blog. I was reading through a bit of it the other night before we packed it up, and I was struck with the fact that everything was, of course, written long-hand in ink. Not unusual at all for that time, but strange now to look back on. I am also struck with how, even before converting to Christianity, I was interested in the spiritual side of existence. I wrote about it all the time, using ideas and concepts that are common place for me now, but then, I had no vernacular to use.

I guess it comes down to this: I always assumed that there was a spiritual side of this existence. And, since my early Christian learning did not supply me with answers (methods, vernacular), I never thought orthodox Christian teachings had any value. I had to come about it the long way ’round. More on that some other time. And, aside from just learning about it, I’ve learned that I really enjoy talking and writing about it. I love to debate, argue and lecture any chance I get. That’s why I enjoy teaching adult Sunday School on Sunday morning and that’s why I’m going to go bed now. Goodnight.

Catching up

Well, a lot of catching up to do…The move onto Center Ct. is done, mostly. We’ve still got some junk back on Dover to move. Just a lot of little stuff, though. As you may understand, there’s been a lot going on with the move coupled with getting Emily ready for college. But, I think it’s all in place now. I can sense that there just might be a clearing up ahead.

I hope to get back to writing more regularly, though I have not the slightest idea what to write about. Politics? Not unless I can find a way to get to some core that I believe could be enlightening. Family? Yes, I think this web-stuff is indeed a great way for family to stay in touch with one another. Jennifer is here in St. Louis now and I have to tell you, I really feel like I know her much better from reading her blog. I know what’s important to her and what’s not so important to her. I certainly don’t want to argue politics with her, though we can now easily agree on some common issues. Family visiting time is not the time to debate paritisan politics.

Well, I’m not sure what I’ll write about tomorrow, but I’ll give it a shot. Tell all your friends!

And for your intellectual stimulation: visit the new post on Trivia Night.

Dover Place

My parents moved us to Dover Place in 1968. I lived there until I left for my one and only year in college in 1977. I didn’t really ever go back. Then, in 1986, Annette and I moved back to Dover Place. I can’t quite put it into words what I feel when I look up and down the street; the canopy of sycamores and oaks, the quiet nights, the church around the corner. And the neighbors that you can’t imagine living without.

Tonight is our last night on Dover Place. We’re moving to Center Court. Oh, I know it’s not far from here. You’d laugh if you’d hear me describe it as “out of the neighborhood.” It’s not 10 minutes from here. But, it is out of my neighborhood. I don’t know if I’ll hear the bells of the Lutheran Church from Center Court. I hope so.

But, we’ll be back. That’s right; one day in a couple of years, we’ll move back to Dover Place or Bellerive Boulevard.

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier spot in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale

Oh, come to the church in the vale
To the trees where the wild flowers bloom
Where the parting hymn will be chanted
We will weep by the side of the tomb

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To list to the clear ringing bell
Its tones so sweetly are calling
Oh come to the church in the vale

From the church in the valley by the wildwood
When day fades away into night
I would fain from this spot of my childhood
Wing my way to the mansions of light

Come to the church by the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the vale

First real Front-Porch of the year

Yes, the trees on Dover Place are turning green and the evening air is just warm enough that you can sit out without a jacket. After a evening of socializing and getting home with just enough time to walk up the steps before Emily called to get a ride home from work, I had the pleasure of sitting out with a neighbor for an hour or so. In case you missed it from an earlier blog entry, this is pretty much what I view as the meaning of life: sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening, chatting with the folks from the south-side. From the great philosopher Barney Fife:
“Yeah, I think I’ll go home…take a nap…go over to Thelma Lou’s and watch a little TV.” Greater thoughts have never been thunk.

Well, this neighbor and I, we got to talking about our childhood homes. And, instead of boring him with all the little details, I’m going to bore you with them: I spent the first 9 years of my life on the north side…of the south side; in what we now would call “Tower Grove East.” The little apartment at 3878 Wyoming Street had just 2 bedrooms. The “dining room” was my parents bedroom. My two older sisters had the room in the back of the house and I had the little room on the side. When Jennifer was born, she initially slept in Mom’s room, but soon enough moved into my little room. That’s the way it stayed until I was 9 and Jennifer was 5.

Then, we moved down to Carondelet. The real south side. Only slowly did it dawn on me what was happening down here. “Let’s see,” I reasoned, “my grandmother’s house is right there, and that’s where my dad grew up; Church is right there, where we all attended, my Aunt Mickey lives right there…hmmm. This must be our neighborhood,” I finally concluded. I was right.

When we moved into the house on Dover Place, well, it was simple luxury compared to what we were used to. But…Mom, Dad, 4 kids…and 4 bedrooms. Mom and Dad get the big bedroom first, that was clear. Becky and Lisa, both adolescent girls, wanted and needed their own bedrooms. I was actually a bit afraid with the thought of having my own room, so I volunteered to room with Jennifer. I didn’t regret it. With just a few remaining years of childhood, a young boy could enjoy being roommates with his little sister. It was OK. Anyway, soon enough Becky was off to college and everyone got their own room. Two years later, Lisa left for college and all of sudden that upstairs was awful quiet. In my last years at that house, I picture empty bedrooms with no residents.

Now, my own daughter’s little room is about to be vacated. Life moves forward.

The Sycamores are all dying

These big sycamore trees here in Carondelet and Holly Hills are getting old and one by one they’re all dying. It’s a turning of the page for the South Side. The trees were planted along with the neighborhood in the 1920′s and ’30′s. I started thinking about this when the big wind storms blew through here last month and took a whole lot of Sycamore limbs with them. In some case, whole trees came out of the ground and some just snapped off above the ground. And, now I think about it every night as we walk the neighborhood and I glance around from tree to tree. Some of them are still in good shape, some of them are gigantic.

Will this neighborhood survive for 50, 60, or even 100 years? What do I mean by “survive?” I don’t know. It’s so nice right now. We sat on the porch tonight, 11:00 pm or so, and it was so quiet. We feel safe walking late at night. Do I want my daughter to settle here to raise a family? I don’t know.