Lancient History, Style

Chairs, Children, and Feet

Lest you think I only buy clothes at Ross, here is a picture of our new chair. My in-laws graciously gifted me with a nice-sized Ross gift card for Christmas, and I used it toward the purchase of the chair and ottoman. After seeing so many people in my living room with no place to sit, I decided it was time. Ross had a chair that matched the color and texture, if not exact style of our loveseat, so I bought it. The ottoman has storage space, and I’ve put a couple of our lap throws in there. We are a family who loves blankets.

The throw on the chair was a wedding or Christmas gift–I don’t remember which. We have used that thing like crazy! If you’re reading this, and recognize it as a gift you gave, THANK YOU! BLESS YOU! Who knew how much you could love a throw?

You see a little red carpet on the floor. We don’t have a dining room table in our townhouse, so we use the coffee table for dinner. Thor has a wee, miniature leather dining room chair that sits on that carpet. That way, if he has a spill, we can just clean it up easily. That is his abandoned breakfast milk on the table. I love that kid.

So, I bought the new chair and ottoman, and I also bought a pair of boots.

When I was small, we lived in Virginia. Right there where the A is, though the treeline was much less robust 30 years ago. Geez! 30 years ago. Anyway.

You see the water line behind the treeline? We had a dock that slipped out into the water, and that water ran a ring around our entire neighborhood. It was lengthy. And, in the winter, it often froze over.

Once, when I was eight or nine (it was the 70s, there weren’t daycares or drop-in care gyms on every corner), Mom was forced to leave me at home during a stretch of snow days. She came home to check me on her lunch hour, and called frequently, and an elderly neighbor was keeping an eye out that I didn’t burn down the house, but otherwise, she had no choice but to trust me (now, a mother myself, my heart really goes out to her.) I was pretty fearless, and also pretty stupid. I thought it would be fun to play in the snow barefooted. I also thought it would be fun to go walking on the frozen water. After my naked toed explorations, and after having fallen through the ice twice, yes, twice, I ended up with some frostbite on my feet. Not bad, and nothing that required immediate attention, but I didn’t even tell Mom about it until years later, so she couldn’t have taken me to see a doctor anyway.

Thirty-some-odd years later, I am still suffering for those poor choices. Three toes on my right foot, and two on my left are always much colder than the others. Frequently, my feet are so cold it actually hurts. In the winter, my feet ache with the cold. You will not see me without socks or slippers when temperatures drop below 75, unless I’ve just gotten out of a foot defrosting, hot bath. I thank God for the person who created microwaveable slippers and socks!

In the winter, I really don’t care how ugly the footwear is. If it is warm, and if it will keep my toes from feeling like they are about to snap off, I will wear it. I have a hideous pair of knock-off Uggs, and responded to a story about those with the comment, “I don’t care how ugly they are. You can pry them off my warm, toasty, dead feet.” I’ve almost worn those $12 beauties out though. So, last night, when I saw what looked like warm boots, I went to inspect.

I am now the happy owner of a pair of Skecher Shape Up Boots. I do not care if they shape or don’t. They have a thick sole that will keep my feet far from the cold ground, have a thick inner lining, and are also surprisingly comfortable. And warm. Oh, they are warm!

What they are not, is pretty.

That fur cuff rolls up, and that’s how I am wearing mine as I type.

Come March, I will find myself in a strange funk, and I will realize (as I have done for years) that it is because I have been wearing ugly shoes for too many months in a row. I will try (as I have done for years) to find shoes or boots that are as pretty as they are warm. Maybe one day… Until then, I will just walk around in boots or shoes that make my feet look like stuffed animal hooves. And I will be warm.

Howling Sea Lane


My family moved to Texas from Virginia, landing in what is still my mother’s house, on November 3, 1981.  As was my wont with all of our moves, I went around to the neighbors and announced my arrival.  I was my own welcoming committee.

One neighbor opened the door and freaked me right the hell out.  She was old and gnarled, and her fingers were twisted and stained black, and when she spoke it was like she was forcing her voice up through broken glass and barbed wire.  The interior of her home was decorated like a 70s Black Angus restaurant.  I panicked, but remembered my Girl Scout manners and tried not to look horrified.  Then, I got out of there as fast as I could.

Later, I learned that Leeantha (Lee) had undergone a tracheotomy and was told she would never speak again.  She showed them–it sounded like every word hurt, but she spoke, and spoke, and spoke.  She wasn’t as old as she looked, either, only in her late 60s, and though her fingers were bent with arthritis, the ungodly hue had been caused by dye, not dead limbs as I had feared.  She turned out to be a very invested neighbor, and even babysat me for the first couple of years we lived there.  You know what I mean by invested, don’t you?  You have a neighbor like that, too.

I loved Lee as much as a kid can love anyone who wants to tear her away from MTV and force her onto a dairy farm in the middle of summer vacation.  That’s quite a lot, actually.

Lee’s family was interesting in the italicized meaning of the word, and as time went on, it fell into disrepair.  Her house was always pristine, though.  So was her yard.  She razed it of trees in the early 90s, hating leaves, and often insisted that my parents do the same.  When she thought my mother’s hand planted St. Augustine grass was too tall (it needed to be 3 inches high before getting its first mowing), she thundered over into our yard on her riding mower and tore it right out of the ground with helpful enthusiasm.

I visited my mother this weekend, and was worried to see that Lee’s yard was knee high.  I asked if Mom had heard anything.  See, Mom’s work hours and Lee’s waking hours are at odds, so she hadn’t been able to rouse her neighbor to answer the door when she would try to check on her.  Mom said she hadn’t, and she was trying to find out what was going on.  She had asked a couple of other neighbors who didn’t know anything, but who had seen her son and granddaughter coming and going.

This morning, my mother called me. 

Lee died six weeks ago.

I said that her family had fallen into disrepair.  Apparently, her son tired of her and asked the State to take over her care.  She was taken into a nursing home, where she died.

Obviously it isn’t a block party kind of neighborhood.

My mother was upset that she hadn’t known, though there wasn’t much way she could have.  We had both seen family members coming and going from the house, so other than the lawn, there was no reason to think anything was wrong with Lee.  I was always a little afraid that Lee would die in the house and no one would find her until her cats had eaten away half her face.  (Reason #342 why I will never have cats.)

“Robert had her cremated,” my mother mourned.  “She didn’t want to be cremated.”

“Mom, she’s dead.  She doesn’t know she was cremated,” I reminded gently, worried that she was going to take it the wrong way and ask me if I was going to have her cremated against her wishes.  Then I would have to tell her my plans for her demise.  My mother is going to become jewelry.  Better than worrying that her grave is being mowed, or thinking about worms.

I also reminded her that in a home, Lee was around people, getting fed, and didn’t die alone.  But I am sorry we didn’t know where she was.  We would have visited.  At the nursing home, there’s always someone there to open the door.