The Little House on Bonnet Street


We are almost settled at the little house on Bonnet Street.  Of course, now it is the holiday season, and even the most established routines are altered in the season. The only way a place starts to feel like home, is  to live in it a while.  It has to rain, and likewise, the sun has to shine til you know where light and shadow falls  and the kitchen has to smell like supper cooking.  Like every other genuine treasure in life, it takes time.  One day you suddenly realise  . . . you are home.  The little house on the corner is starting to feel like home. 
Mama and I went to see sister Connie the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  She was cooking supper for about fifteen people and with ease, she moved from one pot to another without a trace of worry.  Connie is a sensible person and her feathers are not easily ruffled.  She is steadfast and we are all blessed to call her our own.  It was a lovely time on that perfect late autumn day. 
It was a very short work week, with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching.  I spent Wednesday night at Mamas’ to prepare for the gathering on Thursday.  We spent most of the day in kitchen.  Mama cooked sweet potatoes and pies.  I spent a good deal of time on collards.  I made enough biscuits for the biscuit stuffing-and our supper.  I also rummaged through boxes looking for table cloths.  We were both tired that evening and I went to bed, determined to rise early to peel apples! 
All of our efforts paid off, for when the kids arrived, we only had to cream the potatoes and make the gravy.  It was a brisk and bright day and a lot of us ate outside.  “Baby brother cousin”, Ryan and his “sister cousins”  ran around the yard. (This is how they refer to one another)  What a precious sight to behold-and especially while you are eating pie! 
No one left empty handed that day.  Instead we packaged pie, caramel apple dumplings, collards and sister Delores’ broccoli  casserole, fresh eggs and bread from Connie  . . until the kitchen looked like we had never been there! 
The next day, I decorated for Christmas.  I have always waited til December to do so, but I have not decorated for two years.  Daddy was sick one year-then Julie died last year . . .and there was also all those covid restrictions.  Several of my neighbors had decorated before Thanksgiving and that had stirred me to follow suit.  I loved  the cheerful lights and how happy they all were as they toiled.  I laughed at the celebrations when an old strand of lights worked.  Now this little rabbitpatch is adorned with twinkling lights and ribbons.  I cut cedar from a tree in the yard and made several little arrangements.  I like an almost wild and natural look.  I will use apples and oranges in the house- and candles and soft carols to fill the air.  The tree is not up, but I will work on that, shortly.  First, I must make a trip to retrieve it. 
One afternoon, Brant, Jenny and their families stopped by, for they had not seen the house, except for pictures.  Tres and Sarah came too.  They had helped me move and even they were surprised with the  now, cozy little cottage .  We listened to old Christmas songs-which are our favorite ones, ate cookies that Sydney made and watched the most darling little ones play.  That was a happy time for me. 
I have discovered more things about myself as of recently. I thought that I liked simplicity . . .but I embrace it now, more than ever.   In fact, I am more determined than ever to live as simply as I can.  From food to activities-from possessions to products . . .I am on a mission. 
I like  living in a smaller house. It suits me at this particular season of life.  It makes sense financially, certainly, but there is a lot less housekeeping too.  Also, a big house with vacant rooms feels different-lonelier and hollow, at times. 
I do like old houses.  I just can not convince myself, otherwise.  Of course, new windows in an old house would be even better. . .and more electrical outlets.  I am not swayed so easily by modern conveniences but, I like running water and heat .  I also like to work . “Quick  and easy” tastes just like it sounds.  I derive a sort of satisfaction when I work at something-even if I make mistakes!  Just yesterday,  I worked on an arrangement of cedar for quite a while.  I made a garland with a lantern in the middle of it. When I placed it on the table,  I tried to like it . . and at first, I almost did.  I left it to work on a wreath.  When I came back, I couldn’t deny it.  The thing had gone from “bad to worse”.  I took it apart and what a mess that was.  Still, I had enjoyed working on it.  Work makes me think, whether or not,  I am creating something of beauty or fixing something or cleaning.   It all boils down to    no one enjoys a fire more than the one who gathered the wood, I think. 
I love hearing the church bells ring out the hour.  I love bells and chimes . . not whistles -Sometimes though, I hear the train whistle late at night.  That kind of whistle, I do like.  I do not understand how that whistle can sound sorrowful and joyful, at the same time! 
There is so much to love wherever you go . . but I must declare that I miss the countryside.  I miss the big sky and the sweet air.  There, in the country, are a million stars and the  brightest moons for the heavens own every bit of sky. Silvery , misty fields in the evenings and  mornings are golden when you can see the sun rising   There are  just so many shades of light.  Maybe, I will always favor this landscape, but there truly is so much  to love wherever you go.  I would do well to dwell on this truth . 
For now, I live on a quiet street in a friendly neighborhood and everything is just five minutes away.  Old trees line the streets and the moon rises in a window in the sky just above this rabbitpatch.  Traffic is very light and not constant  . . .and when those church bells ring . . . .well, I just love everything about the little house on Bonnet Street!

 

Before Such Things Happened


Lo and behold!  I am writing this entry from the little rabbitpatch on Bonnet Street! Maybe next time, I will even have a picture of my small town dwelling, to prove it.  The internet was connected yesterday and it even rained this morning -my favorite kind of morning to write.  What used to be so familiar, now seems like a rare and precious gem, to me.  We also now have natural gas -which means that we have heat and can cook on a stove.   During the time, I waited for such things, a lot happened.  First, the rental house got put in order.  I met several neighbors, all delightful people.  One neighbor, in particular resulted in a “reunion”! 
 Miss Linda was friendly and helpful as soon as she saw me working feverishly to bring beauty and honor to the long neglected property.  We chatted a little briefly most days.  One day, we took the time to have a real conversation.  I asked her where she was from and as her story unfolded, certain names and circumstances lept out at me til at last, I blurted out “What is your last name?”  When she told me, tears sprang to my eyes and again I shouted out, “Do you know who I am!?”   As it turns out, we were neighbors, decades ago, when my children were little!  I used to weave baskets for a shop she had and she was the one that gave my Jenny, the doll that Jenny always loved best, the  endearing, “Lady Jane”- (which was a black rabbit in a calico dress).  We both laughed and cried all at once.  Thirty years had passed, but on that day, it seemed like it was only a short, while ago that we were friends and also neighbors. 
Miss Linda has a food station in her yard, for anyone that needs to use it.  Of course, I am glad for that and eager to help out.  I have already heard of two cases that are just heartbreaking.  Neither person had created the circumstances they are now in.  Many folks dismiss the homeless believing always, that the poor are responsible for their destiny.  I have heard all of the arguments that some folks prefer to live roaming about, or that they are dishonest  and  simply take advantage of tender hearted fools.  Let me be very clear . . .I don’t care why or how someone ended up needing food.  I do not care if someone lies about their needs.  That is not my business.  My business is my response.   I have never been a good judge and have been as wrong as can be, often, besides.  Therefore, the little food station keeps me humble and what joy it is to see, a small child grab something and run excitedly to show an elderly driver, what they found.  If just one person,  out of a hundred is helped . . to me that is enough.
I read a lot during “the time before such things”  .  I fell in to a routine of my job, then household tasks and supper and finally reading til my bedtime. Reading from a screen just does not have the same effect as reading from a book, for me.  I was careful to select titles that were well written, with language chosen carefully-and artfully. I realised early on just how much interruptions of concentration have become so very normal and certainly had impacted my own ability to just think long and hard about something.  Reading at night was like a long and tranquil meditation.  Oh, I must be kind to myself and continue this practice! 
 In some way, I had another reunion with an old friend. 
In the early mornings, I spend time on the porch -and again in the twilight time.  In town, folks walk their dogs-something never seen in the rural community, that I came from. The boxer watches with me.  He knows how to walk on a leash, for we trained him when he was young to do so, just in case.  He does not pull or snatch a bit and sits automatically, if we stop walking.  It is obvious, that I take pride in that loyal dog.  Folks being pulled and twisted by their dog , often admire his stellar manners . . they should meet the cat. 
At least “Christopher Robin”  is still accounted for and even joins me on the porch, but he has been naughty, since the move to town and one day I threw an outright fit with him.  The noble boxer, can barely handle a stern look, but the cat couldn’t care less about a scolding or my grim expressions, and is liable to ask for cream in the midst  of our argument!   It is a wonder to me, that we all adore him and are always there to serve him. 
 I went to Raleigh over the weekend.  Ryan and I took a walk on a golden day under an azure sky. The trees were at the peak of their glory, and how lovely it was, to see. There was enough wind to rattle the trees and loosen their colorful leaves.  We watched the dancing leaves.  Ryan said “They can fly!” Cirrus clouds dotted the  top of our world, that day.  That is when  Ryan said “the clouds are broken!”  He remains a mild natured child and so bright, too.  He is a very small little cherub and easy to dote on.
Now, on the home front, the old farmhouse has a steady flow of prospective buyers.  I do not worry myself about it, as I did.  There have been too many things to worry about the past two years and frankly, worry is tiresome and does not bear fruit, that I want to eat.  For all I know, I might be moving back in months . . .or maybe not.  Somehow, some way, I have become use to this state of quandary.  I do not have a magic wand or a “kings’ ransom” or a crystal ball, therefore it may seem that I am “empty handed” . . . but I know different.  I feel different about life in general and it is  because of the past two years. . .Dare I say I have  a new sense of   “peace”?  And,  isn’t that the last thing you would expect? 
Me too

When the Creek Rises . . Part III


There is a lot more to moving, than packing and unpacking more boxes, than “the law should allow”.  There is the physical cleaning and scrubbing and then finding places for necessities and beloved items. . .like a purse that belonged your grandmother and books  . . . and a small vase your nephew made for you decades ago.  There is that sort of work . . and then there is the business. 
We are still waiting on internet service, which disturbs local places that need to send an email confirming every other thing.  Thankfully, my friendly landlord left the lights on but I have yet to order the natural gas, for heating and cooking.  We have been using a crock pot and an electric skillet, thus far.  We needed a sofa.  The previous ones were in awful shape, and when one lost a leg, that was my breaking point.  So I ordered a sofa.  It sounds so simple.  What happened was I ended up with the wrong sofa! 
What an expensive mistake-and so untimely.  The company was anxious to make amends, but what a tricky situation -if there is no email to receive mailing labels.  I found a neighbor that took the emails for me and even attached the labels , for of course, I wasn’t home. I had left for a weekend with Brant, Ryan and Sydney.  I had not seen Ryan since his birthday party in September, when all seemed right in my world.  The cursed sofa delayed my trip and so I arrived on Saturday. 
On Sunday, I woke to a full blown case of poison oak.  Sydney and Brant had creams, but by Monday, my face and neck had swollen and I was feeling sick.  I went back to bed but Sydney made me an appointment at the local urgent care.  She was determined and so I went.  Miraculously, my blood pressure was perfect, but it was a bad case of poison oak and so I was prescribed oral medication and all sorts of ointments.  The doctor asked how and when I encountered the hateful vine.  I told her that I had worked in an uncivilized hedge row on Wednesday-but I had also climbed a tree that week.  I was rescuing that old tree , but  I assured the doctor, that I was concluding that mission. 
By the next morning, I was feeling better. I called Christian to find out the sofa was still on the porch . . .
In the midst of all this moving, The gray cat, Christopher Robin, decided to tale a holiday.  He slipped out of the door one evening and disappeared!  That was an awful time.  We looked for that cat every day.  He had only been at the little house a few days and I doubted he knew the way home. I met several neighbors  while out looking and discovered the house I live in, is called the “Plum House”.  I suppose the family that built the place may have been the Plum family . .or was the name given because of the unusual color?  Either is likely.  Eventually, Christopher Robin came back.  He ate three bowls of food and went to sleep! 
Now, none of these events -the sofa, moving to a small town, the missing cat and a bad case of poison oak are fatal, but I declare, it has been a hectic time.  I also  had to get another computer, because no one could fix the old one.  For now, I can only write where there is internet service, hence these posts are scribed from Brant and Sydneys’ home-before Ryan awakes. 
“When the creek rises”, we must seek higher ground and that is what I have done. 
I watched the moon shine on the quiet streets and felt greatly relieved that at least, the moon was steadfast. The air finally changed and at long last, a few of the leaves started to fade into hues of red and yellow.  Autumns’ late arrival sparked a familiar joy.    My world has  been full of change, but dependably, the love of my family has remained.    There is a small stand of whispering pines that lull away the cares of the day, with just a slight breeze, stirring. Mornings are full of the singing of all sorts of birds.  They are nearly as shy as country birds and so I suspect, I will hang a few bird feeders. . . .and the cat came home.   
“Higher ground” is really a holy place and full of sacred opportunities. I am  not denying that it does not come with some kind of toll, for we must journey uphill, after all just to get there and I confess, that I fell down more than once . . . but the rising creek  seemed smaller and smaller, when I was able to stand. 
Now, I do not know when, I will be able to write again.  Maybe it really will be on November eleventh, as I have been told.   . .but until further notice, know you have all been missed . . and I send best wishes for beautiful days to  all.               

When the Creek Rises-Part II


“The creek had risen” and my ears were ringing, as I read the email, saying the closing, that was to happen in a mere three days was off.  I had worked for several weeks on the little cottage situated on a corner lot, where “the sidewalk ends”.  That very day, I had proudly announced to Kyle and his friend, Bo, that I had put the last of the essentials in place.  Now, I can “ice the cake”, I said happily.  With my friend and landlord, very sick, I had spent some money and labored like there was no tomorrow, besides.  The thought of losing the ONLY rental that I could barely afford AND  take my pets . . the thought of moving everything back . . .was daunting.  I called Jenny and she read the contract.  This really is not allowed to happen, legally she announced.  Tres was devastated and had his ire up, as well. 
I was just stunned.  The next morning, I called the realtor and with no answer, I called the realty team.  Later, we learned that the realtor was quite ill, but the company made sure that I retained the rental and joined forces to sell the house .  This was of great relief to me and satisfied my family.  Two days later, I slept in the cozy little rabbitpatch cottage on Bonnet Street”.  
I knew full well how  the daylight fell on the place, but I had never been there past the twilight time, so I sat on the front porch and watched this new world. I saw   when the sky blackened.  I saw a few stars shining, unhindered by the streetlights.  The neighborhood was very quiet and the folks start turning the houselights off just after dark, I noticed.  It has been unseasonably warm and I felt so disoriented with all the changes, anyway, that I could have sworn it was an evening in June, instead of late October. 
I stayed out for a long while, pondering the events as of lately.  I did feel relieved that the realty company were so supportive , but I still wished that things hadn’t become so complicated for so many folks.  I was sad for the ones that were sick and for  their families.  I was sorry for the wild scrambling the realtors were in the midst of.  I certainly pondered the unfamiliarity of everything for me. 
Was this little rabbitpatch  a very temporary dwelling or could I expect to see spring arrive there?  Truthfully, we never know the future for sure, but must so many things change so suddenly?  My job had changed, my income reduced and now living in a small town, in the absence of field and wood.  So many ways for thoughts to ramble!  It didn’t help a bit that we are without internet-and me locked out of my diary, anyway. 
The house was as silent as could be, which really made the night seem more somber.  I did have a place to rest, after supper . . and loved ones to bless.  These things consoled me and I chided myself for making such a big production over a few twist and turns.  I knew that God did not see these past six months as chaos, but instead, as  an orderly plan.  I reminded myself, that true reliance on God, is not born from a sense of human power, but from recognizing our lack of power in many circumstances.  I should be observing what transpires and gleaning from the experiences, what can serve me.   . . .when   “the creek does rise”. 
I went in and read til I fell asleep.  

 

When the Creek Rises


I have so much to say , for many things have happened in my absence . . yet I can scarce think how to begin!  Words and thoughts are all jumbled up and come out scrambled and senseless.  It all started when I sold the old farmhouse on the rabbitpatch.  Somehow, I was “locked out” of my blog, I realised a few days later.  I was extra busy, so I thought I would tend to that shortly.
That was in September.  The closing day was October 15th, and so I began hunting for a rental to make due  til the dust settled.  I  told everyone that I knew, that I was looking for a modest home and implored their help.  Meanwhile, I packed boxes.  I called several businesses for rental homes, in every spare minute.  I was aghast at the cost of renting.  It was three times my house payment, on average -and nobody allowed dogs!  After a few weeks, I was a bit concerned about my situation.  One house was adequate though I thought it expensive . . but they wouldn’t allow a dog on any terms.  I started driving around the small town, that I worked in, every day after school looking for empty homes.  One day, I saw a small hand made rent sign out front of a dreadful little house in a quaint and charming neighborhood.  The yard was untended and had an unruly hedge lined yard.  Trees were covered in ancient vines.  The house was every bit as old as the one I was selling . . but smaller.  Somehow, a farmhouse had remained snuggly nestled in while darling little cottages with neat yards had sprung up like poppies, all around it.   Of course, I called about it, anyway.  Pickings were slim! 
As it turned out, I knew the landlord and his wife.  The price was manageable, if I was careful and best of all . . Pets were allowed.  I made an appointment to see the house the next day.  It was the dirtiest house that had ever seen and I was certain, that the smell would remain forever etched in my mind.  On top of that, what color was the walls and the doors and the windows and the ceiling?!  Everything was the same peculiar color.  It was as if brown and purple and beige and pink were  combined to make some shade of color . . but what it was called, I could not say.  The house did have a few things going for it.  The neighborhood was pristine not counting this little house on the corner.  Pets were allowed . . .and it was the only house I could find. 
Mama went with me the next time.  The landlord had painted the walls a beige color, lighter than it was, but still odd.  The smell had gone from “worst ever to just bad”.  He said, he had some more things to do to the house, in our last conversation . . .and I agreed, with all my heart.  A few days later, as I was scrubbing dirt and grime and gathering rubbish, someone came in and said, the landlord had suffered a stroke.  I was stunned.  The landlord is my age and seemed as fit as could be.  It was a dreadful shock and I cried for he and his family at that very moment.  I was grateful that though his recovery was expected to be lengthy, recovery was a possibility.
For the next two weeks, I worked nights at the little house.  I took over the painting and added an ivory color, which softened the palette of the interior.  Kyle trimmed the hedges and cleaned the yard which made a huge difference. The landlords’ wife, honored the verbal deal, that had been struck and was pleased that the old and little house on “Bonnet street” was being tended.  Sister Delores made curtains and bought cream colored mums for the front porch.  Tres and Sarah spent a weekend hauling large furniture.  Mama kept us fed.  Love was showing up everywhere and the little house smelled sweet and shone fairly.  Neighbors dropped by to brag on our progress and express their gratitude that at long last, the neighborhood was without blemish.
  A day or so later, I called the realtor to get details on the time and location of “the closing”.  She said to check my emails.  That is when, I found out that the buyers had changed their mind . . .
  
 

As You Tend the Earth


I think every emotion known to mankind, has washed over me and through me, this past week.  Joy, sorrow, excitement, dread, fear . . you name it . . .I have felt it.  I have cried while hanging sheets on the line and moments later ,  felt gladness as I walked by the oldest barn.  I have stood very still, in my thoughts and then rushed headlong in to the future, within minutes.   . . .for,  I have sold the farm.  
Those of you that have a history with the rabbitpatch diary, will remember the “incident” a few years back. when the same thing happened . . .and then it didn’t. Circumstances changed and so I remained here on the beautiful, very  old, remnants of a farm.  In light of that, I know for sure, that anything can happen, but at this time, all indications are  . . that I need to pack. . . and not put another thing in the freezer. 
I am packing . . and haven’t any idea where I am going!  It is a very odd notion to entertain, for my personality . . but here I am, today washing seashells, collected decades ago by five children, for they are going with me . . .wherever that is!  I have not got as much to do, as I could.  I spent a summer, decluttering the place, now two years ago.  I have honored that decision ever since . . .with the exception of books.  I must have given away a thousand books that year-many to the school and I supplied quite a bit to a library and made a donation to a used book store.I probably still have at least a few hundred, that I could not part with.  Many are intended for the grandchildren and will be doled out in time.  Until then . . . they are going with me, too.  There is no way around it-moving from one place to another, is hard work.  . . .but that is not what I have been crying about.  It is the land.
Something happens as you tend to earth.  It happens as you plant. It happens as you water what you planted.  It happens as you cut thorned vines and pick up thousands of branches.  It happens  when you work in the hottest hours and it happens when you are caught in the rain.  It happens when you clean up after a storm-and when you sit in the shade of an old tree.  You find out where the doves are nesting and where the wild rabbit runs.  You know where the evening star shines and where the first rays of morning light fall.  When the earth feeds you . . well, you are grateful and probably hopelessly in love. . .even with the fields that you do not tend and who can claim the sky?  Yet somehow, you feel like such things are your own too.  This is what I cry about.
Then, too are the “precious memories”.  As I traipse the territory, I have flashes of pictures, from days passed.  I see Grandmama raking leaves and I have seen my daddy walking, looking for something to fix.  I see my dear uncles, Randy and Speedy sitting on the porch and Aunt  Carolyn, behind the barn  causing a commotion of some sort.  I see a dog, that I loved, faithfully guarding the place.  I see a fine evening meal celebrating Will and Jennys’ engagement . . and the Christmas tree shining through the windows.  I cry about all that too.  If it weren’t for me getting older and that old barn falling down, and several windows about to fall out and that dreadful sun room . . .
The community doesn’t make it any easier, for  I am convinced that some of the kindest and most noble people on the earth, live right here in Farm Life.
I met  the buyers, a few days ago and I loved them right off.  The wife and I took a stroll so, I could tell her about the flowers.  She just admired everything.  The husband was busy making a list of repairs.  He wasn’t even scared of that old barn!  The visit acted like a tonic on me.  The rabbitpatch will be loved and saved by these folks and I will be cheering them on.  Until further notice,  I will be packing and seeking a place to rent. 
I have never rented and now must learn that business.  It seems that a lot of land lords do not like dogs nor cats.  I will not bring it up that Christian is a musician, either . . .and what in the world is “renters’ insurance”?  Please pray there s no “Home Owners Association”  in my future, either, for I just can’t be but so civilized!  In the meanwhile, I will continue packing and dreaming of a quaint cottage . . the next rabbitpatch is somewhere . . .after all.

 

 

Lyla Starts School . . and Rabbitpatch Business


The past week has been anything but dull.  Plenty has happened . . .but everything pales in comparison to Lyla starting school. 
I was there, that day.  Lyla was so excited that she hopped right in bed , the night before earlier than usual without a single complaint!  The next morning, she popped out of bed, before sun up.  She was so merry and I had to play along, but my stomach hurt and my eyes stung.  Brynn slept through the whole thing. 
The school is but five minutes from the house.  Lyla chattered, and Jenny reminded Lyla to be kind, helpful and respectful . . and to wash her hands.  I was stoic and said things like “Oh, there is the playground!”  as if, nothing momentous was happening.  She got out of the car, and  I watched her growing smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror.  Now, I could cry, for you all know that I am overly sentimental. 
I left Elizabeth City just after lunch, for I started school, the next day myself.  This year, I am working in a reading program.  Books are dear to me and I love them as much as I love music.  Oh, I hope to inspire the students to embrace the love of reading and to recognize fine literature.!  I have been quite nervous though, for it was like starting a new job, to me.  I am happy to announce now, that the first week went well and I think that I may love this new place along my journey. 
Brant, Sydney and Ryan came on Friday night.  We all spent the night at Mamas’.  Ryan is as adorable as ever and says whatever he wants to.  My boxer, Cash came too and right off, Ryan said, “That’s a big dog.”  rather matter of fact like.  He was delighted with “Nanas’ box of trucks, cars and tractors.  Brant remembered several of them.  Ryan also loved the same keyboard that Christian did, as a child.  The boxer laid beside him as he played. 
Once I was in the den, reading one of the books for school, and from the kitchen, I heard the lilt of   the voices of my loved ones carrying on in conversation from the kitchen.  How happy I felt and realised, that was something else, that I loved. On Friday evening, when stars were filling the sky, Sydney took Ryan  out to see them-of course, I was quick to follow.  I remembered Daddy showing me the stars and pointing out the constellations, in that very same yard.  Daddy was not a good teacher at things like math, but he was wonderful when it came to trees and birds and sky.  He was never impatient with those subjects. The next morning after breakfast, Brant and Sydney went to see other family.  I stayed with Mama for there was  a ruckus at the rabbitpatch! 
I did finally and officially put the house on the market and ever since, there has been a steady flow of folks coming to see it.  The house must stay perfectly clean at all times and the yard too!   . . and me!   . . .and the boxer!  With the place at its’ best and the “sea of lavender” blooming, it is a bittersweet time.  I walk around the yard and wonder how I can leave it and so I tell myself, “the barn is falling down.”  I remember those sweet years that the house was full . . and I say to myself . . .”the place is empty now”  I look at the stables where the little goats slept and I say . . “now you have grandchildren.”  I remember all the very hard work and remind myself, that I am older now.  I have less money now too and that is a factor. 
I know, it makes good sense to move  . .but my heart has never been sensible.  I console myself, that I have had the gift of living here and   in some way , have been preparing a gift for many years , for the next family.  I often talk about living simply and how I ought not to take such stock in “stuff” .   I stand by that philosophy . . but I admit that I am still smitten with the old drafty house and the old trees and the patch of young woods.  I try to remember those hateful thorn vines to snap me back to reality.  I can  not do for the rabbitpatch what it needs.  I must’nt be selfish, but I know that I will miss it.  We all miss some one or some thing or some place.  If we do not, it is because we never loved-and that would be more tragic. 
Somewhere, there is  a lonely little rabbitpatch just waiting for me to tend it.  I am sure it will need roses and an apple tree!  I bet there will be vines to cut and I will want a clothes line and geraniums.  I hope there are shelves for my books and neighbors to bake a pie for, ever so often.  Where will I put the Christmas tree?  I must write a poem  right off, and Christian will play his music-any rabbitpatch would want that.  The boxer and the gentle cat will need a cozy corner.  . .and best of all, the grandchildren will run in the door shouting “Honeybee!”. . .and so I will love again. 
I have often thought that imagination is vital for the soul.  When we are wondering, what may befall us, we ought to imagine something wonderful instead of gloom and doom.  Besides, we probably all have a story, where something that seemed dreadful happened, and yet, it turned out to be ok-or even better for us. 
The only thing that I know for sure is no matter how things turn out . . .I will  be expecting a “very bright silver lining”.

August Changed Everything!


Sweet August . . .when “white moths are on the wing”  . . when gardens lack their former vitality and you can smell the corn drying, in the thick air, at twilight . . .has been hot.  It is hot at eight thirty in the morning, scorching by noon and there is not enough coolness in the evening  for the weary.  Mosquitoes buzz happily and wreck my “early service” and I have found that my prayers , under the stars are “short and sweet”, in August. 
I was in Elizabeth City, last week.  It was hot there too . . .maybe more so than here at the rabbitpatch.  Even a small town has a fair share of concrete -and that makes a difference.  Still, the little girls and I managed a few walks and a picnic!  The four days, that I spent there were wonderful and full of shining moments.  I declare that Lyla is such a good and caring sister for Little Brynn.  Lyla reminds me of Jenny, who was a stern but loving second mother to her brothers, when she was growing up.  Brynn is becoming quite compassionate.  Brynn is not yet three, yet she noticed that a woman walking, seemed sad -and Brynn was  probably right, for what a sad countenance this woman wore. 
We had supper at “Aunt J’s” one night.  Aunt J lives just a good walk, from Will and Jenny.  Wills’ mom and my friend, “Miss Claudia, was Aunt J’s sister.  Like everyone else,  I love Aunt J.   Jenny prepared a perfect meal and served us like we were royalty.  Then we had ice cream sundaes! 
I left on Thursday, quite melancholy, knowing, this was “the last hurrah” of my leisure visits . . for it is August, after all.  I start school on Monday.   
This was also Tres’ last weekend home.  He would be leaving on Saturday. I started moaning about that, the minute, that I got home. I did not shed a single tear in his presence, for Tres is so sensible, it would have shocked him to see how unreasonable, his mom can be.  Instead, I packed a bag of food and school supplies and sent him off with the best fake smile, that I could muster.   August is just full of “good byes”.   
I could choose to “look on the bright side”, for it is also a time for new beginnings as everybody  loves to say . . but I will probably  sulk a while, before I say that. It is written, “there is a time to mourn”  .  It is a good thing to be positive, but life is not always roses and sunshine, and to deny sadness,  is like a denial of what it means to be human. I do not want anything ugly dwelling in my heart.  . .not bitterness or anger, not dismay or sadness . . so, I let feelings wash clean through me, til the beauty of what was lost,  outshines the sorrow of losing it, til moving on  is more desirable than wallowing  –  and so when it is a time to mourn, then I do.  . .whether it be for  such things as a fallen sparrow or a grown up son leaving in August.
My very good parents did not and could not have shielded their children from unpleasantries .  Foals were still born, sometimes and dogs died.  Some books did not end “happily ever after” and every race was not to be won, though we ran our best.  My parents showed us all of life, shadow and light . . and that has made the difference.
Often, I think that recovery from disappointments -and imagination, are some of the most important skills, to teach children, as they will with great certainty, need both.
It finally rained on Sunday and cooled things off. The sky was full of thunder, and  I suppose everyone in “Farm Life” was full of hope.  I went out and saw huge, steel blue   clouds moving overhead.  They looked like whales swimming along the horizon.  I watched the rain coming across the field.  Rarely does rain “sneak” up on you, in the country. 
I spent the afternoon, preparing for what seems like a “new job”. that starts on Monday.  I confess, that I am almost nervous about it.  My niece Hayley , starts a new job too, on Monday and niece Dana has her first day of college.  Tres starts school on Tuesday.  Nephew Brandon, starts on Monday.  Jenny has started a part time job. Oh . . .August came along and just changed everything!
The territory  around the old farmhouse is following suit and changes almost daily.  Yesterday, the loosestrife sported some blossoms, and the  roses are fading.  The beloved morning glory is clambering wildly now and ever so often, a dry leaf will fall from a sycamore. The wild mulberry is full of promises for a spectacular show, soon to come and the grapes  on the very old vines are not as green as they were a fortnight ago.  In this way, I measure time.  
Humans may race about at breakneck speed , but nature  is never frantic.  The world can get mighty loud and commotion springs up at the “drop of a hat”.  We get so accustomed to it, that  somehow  we seem to have “acquired a taste for it’. Nature , on the other hand, whispers its’ fanfare.  
Oh, how I  love the silent, wild  wood, with its’  beauty and lack of racket.  ..and the fields that lie quietly and do not boast of their  magnificent  and mighty value.   I have never seen a sky, that did not humble me.  I have found something new to love also, for one night, Lyla, Brynn and I were looking out out a window and saw an evergreen with clinging raindrops, lit up by the moonlight.  It shone brightly and Lyla gasped at  the sight. 
August, with its’ heat, mosquitoes and changes . .is at least generous in some respects .  I musn’t forget to love August, too. 
 

 

Old Trees, Tender Melodies and Moon Shine


It is early now, as I write this and a steady rain is falling across a dimly lit rabbitpatch.  I was looking forward to writing in the diary, for days.  Mornings are my favorite time to write and rainy mornings are the best, so I was delighted and woke up smiling.  Only the boxer and the gentle cat are here with me.  Christian is at work and Tres went to see Sarah for one of his last weekends home. 
His senior year starts in about  a week.  I dread seeing him pack up to leave.  I will mope and trod about forlornly for a while , when he does.  I am hopelessly foolish, when it comes to departures.  Practice does not always make perfect!   I just never got over that “empty nest” thing and at the age of sixty two, I do not aspire to do any better. 
Mama and I have been busy.  After our return from Elizabeth City, we headed for the lake for neice Hayleys’ graduation party.  My sister Delores and Dana came with us.  I looked at Hayley with her friends and wondered when she grew up?!  For a moment, I saw her at six, full of spunk and curls  . . now here she is all grown up and on the brink of everything!   
Delores and Dana spent the night at Mamas’ that night and we all left for Raleigh on Monday.  I would stay with Brant and tend to little Ryan while Sydney tended to obligations with her work. Ryan is a gentle natured child.  He loves tractors, tools and books. I think he has already figured out his “Honeybee” , for he asked me for ice cream, for breakfast, the first morning. . . he settled for oatmeal, though.   
Mama and I came back on Thursday.  On Friday, I cleaned out several kitchen cabinets, washed clothes and scrubbed floors.  I picked peaches too, as there was just enough left on the tree for a small pot of  peach dumplings.  The white peaches have a week or so more to go. 
On the footpath to the clothesline and garden, I noticed that the “magic lilies” were blooming.  Magic lilies spring up overnight, with large pale pink blossoms.  I have often hoped to eavesdrop one night and catch them in the act! . . but you never know when this will happen, so I remain  filled with curiosity, for I lack the stamina to appease it.  The loosestrife is packed tight, along the way -so are the floss flowers. It is no wonder that the lowly and a bit uncivilized footpath to the garden, is a favorite place for me.    . . and  a lavender sea awaits.  I love that lavender sea with hues from periwinkle to violet. 
Lately, I have thought a lot about things that I love.  Little things or small moments,  are sometimes like a flash of shine, in the day.  We all have them, if we just take  an account of them.  Somehow, I did.  Could it be, that I did so, while at that “crossroads”?  I did think, more than once, that somehow, I was lost-and was surely the  only person on earth that could get lost standing still.  That is when I became on high alert to things that I loved. 
I love open windows . . and most especially those with sheer, white curtains that flutter in a playful breeze.  If my gentle cat, “Christopher Robin” is dozing, behind the curtain, then I am pleased, at the sight, all the more.  I love the drowsy hum of a window fan and the tinkling sound of my neighbor laughing in her yard, as I hang sheets on the clothesline.  I love patches of sunlight falling through the leaves and bracken in the young woods, on the territory.  I love the darkness just before dawn  and waiting for the day.  I love pastures filled with horses- or even just a couple.  I really love old trees. I love when Christian plays the piano  and floods the house with his tender melodies. I love it when moon shine spills in to the farmhouse . . .oh, I could make this a very, very long story, for there is so much to love.  Being still, may be a lot more, than “it’s cracked up to be”.    As it turns out, that season of hush, is waning for me, as is the summer. 
I will be working this year, in a far different capacity and not as much as in years past. I start next week. At least, the dust finally settled around that predicament. Between, now and then,  I am going to see the grandchildren in Elizabeth City and hope to have  visits with several cousins.    . .and I will keep seeking more things to love, as if my life depends on it . . .for in some ways . . .it does.

 

 

 

“To Everything, There is a Season”


I have done a good deal of “traveling” this summer . . .but  have only left the rabbitpatch a  half dozen times or so.  I spent the last five days in Elizabeth City.  How good to have a leisure visit with my beloved daughter and grandchildren.  I feel quite indulged to have such a privilege.  I see first hand, how the girls “find their day” , how they play, what things they celebrate  . . . in short, “who they are.”  I treasure the moments, thoroughly.   
Little Brynn, at two, has a lot pf expressions as she talks It is adorable, just to see. She has the face of a cherub. any way.  She gave me several lectures about healthy food and the value of brushing teeth.  Brynn can carry a tune like a little songbird, which delights me and  she knows what a rose is and also a crepe myrtle.   She stands in her mothers’ shadow, most of the time. 
Lyla  is quite self sufficient and quite organized.  She  continues to have a great sense of compassion and therefore is tender hearted.  Lyla starts school this year.  She is as ready as can be, academically   -but , I am not so ready. Of course, I cried when she lost her first tooth. Childhood is just not long enough to suit me. 
The summer here, has been a bit cooler, than in other years, but that week, was a hot one.   The air was about sultry in the evenings.  The mimosa tree took full advantage  of the conditions, and sweetened the air generously.  The mimosa tree is quite a common sight in the south.  Every patch of wood and field is host to the mimosa.  I have never known any one to plant them, many yards have a mimosa.  If you have one, you are bound to have two, as the mimosa springs up freely and without a bit of reservation. It may be said, that the mimosa trees are “a dime a dozen”,  so to me they are a miraculous bargain.  The same can be said of fire flies . . .and stars.   
The rest of my “traveling” has occurred right  here on the humble soil of the rabbitpatch territory.  There is a routine -I gather fallen branches which takes several strolls.  I take account of the grapevines, and the fruit trees. I cut the wicked thorned vines and look for poison vines-and I am thinking the whole while.  I have made good progress on this remnant of a farm.  Everything is tidy, so  there has been some profit in my meandering. 
Aside from that, I remain at a “crossroads”,  of sorts. I came to this place a few months ago and still, I stand dazed, almost rooted to the same spot. If “patience is a virtue”, I at least, have accomplished that. I liken the situation to receiving some announcement of upheaval  with a “no action required on your part” included in the closing salutation.  Certainly, there is some action on my part-I am filing for social security and I am putting the house on the market-but in both cases, the process is slow and the results of either are vague.   . .So, I stand .  I have stood so long, the place is starting to  feel familiar-not as strange as it used to be.  The thickness of  “this fog”, still obscures my vision.   . .but fog being mysterious  . .also , creates a heightened sense of awareness.  My mind went down a hundred “rabbit holes” and I “backtracked” quite a bit.  I stumbled from one circle to another, never leaving the spot, I fell in to.   . .and that is how I ended up with a very tidy rabbitpatch! 
Sometimes . . .I act like Peter “I do not know Him” and sometimes I am like Thomas, “Show me”.  This confession shames me, but one  must know the truth, to be set free. I do not like  life altering circumstances that seem to shift like sand in a whirlwind.  I confess that too.  Then again, it is those very  kind of circumstances that teach the  greatest lessons.  I chide myself  for saying it again,  so consider this my own personal necessity to “second”  the subject. 
My maternal grandmother, used to say “you can laugh about it or cry.”  as she was snapping beans,not even looking up  -and most especially when neither she nor I could fix something.  How pert that sounded in my youth!  How wise it sounds now.
 Meanwhile, the peach trees hang full of gold, and the the grape vines and the pear are full of jade.  Apples are scarce, so the squirrels are making haste to eat them extra green.  The black eyed susans are in full bloom and almost glow.  These things remind me, that as it is written . . .“To everything, there is a season.”

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“Most Especially and with Utter Devotion”


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Mama and I took a short  but sweet trip to Raleigh a few days ago.. We left on Monday and came back on Tuesday. Sydney had to be somewhere or another for most of Tuesday, so Mama and I would care for little Ryan, in the meantime.  Ryan has such a sunny disposition, that it can hardly be considered work to tend to him.  He is a happy and loving child with a gentle nature.   . .at least according  to his Honeybee.  The day after we returned, I started gathering what I needed to file for social security.  Business of any sort renders me bewildered .  It was the same way, whenever Daddy tried to talk to me about carburetors.   At least, I got started, I suppose.
With a “tropical storm”  in the forecast, I spent Wednesday preparing for a brisk wind  and rain.  The weather folks have been slap wrong for a good while, but I tucked the geraniums just inside the front door and remove the wind chimes . . . just in case. I cooked a pot of dried yellow peas and carrots too . . .just in case.  It is an awful thing to lose power and be hungry, after all.    On  Wednesday night, with a flashlight by my bed, I made a mental list of inside chores to do on Thursday.  Thursday morning dawned like any  other Thursday.  As the hours passed, clouds moved in, and a light rain was falling before noon.  Later the wind picked up a bit, but that was all. 
I ended up with a sizable bag of clothes to donate . . AGAIN!   . . .and that dreaded “business drawer” was reduced dramatically.   I now have a folder with social security printed on it . . . and it is terrifying!  If I were wealthy, I would not take a trip -or buy jewelry . . I would hire an accountant!  To calm myself, I went back to memory lane.  . . even though, there was a sharp curve, this time and calamity just around the bend. 
Second grade was just awful  The school ordered a new curriculum for us . . and we were introduced to Modern Math.  Being able to add and subtract, was no longer enough, for now we had to learn how to show our work with parentheses and such.  I also had a teacher that inspected our lunch trays .  We must eat every morsel . .or else.  I learned to stuff my milk carton with “spanish rice”  and peas and could pass the inspections that way. 
Third grade came and for  the first time, I liked school.  I had a teacher who could play the piano and she taught us lovely songs.  I won a writing contest that year and was selected to read some sort of announcement on the radio.  Grandmama would stop everything, when it came on and gathered all of us to listen.  We were taught poetry and how to write in cursive and in math . . recite the multiplication tables . . which made sense, thankfully. I liked fourth grade too.  I still preferred the farm, but school was bearable especially since the fourth grade teacher read us chapter books daily. Then everything changed. 
Grandmama had complained  about her arm hurting, for as long as I could remember.  She would stand in the backyard, holding her arm against her chest and sometimes cried.  She would direct her grandchildren to do all sorts of chores and we would scurry about til the “spell passed.”   The we ate supper. Every Friday, on the way to town, we would stop by Dr. Swindells” to get her blood pressure checked and then go on to the A & P. 
In the middle of an ordinary night, in July, we woke to a commotion.  Delores and I were whisked away to my Aunt Agnes’ house.  Pop and Mama took Grandmama to the hospital.  The next morning, while Aunt Agnes was cooking breakfast, my cousin Faith played the piano for us . . without us having to beg.  Faith played like her  mama, Aunt Agnes.  Lively ragtime tunes rang out and I was happy.  Then Aunt Agnes took us home and the minute, my foot hit the soil of home . . .I knew somehow, that Grandmama had died.  Mama confirmed this a few minutes later and I took off running and crying.  As I write this, I weep, now, fifty years later.  It remains one of the saddest moments of my life.
A few days later, the UPS truck showed up.  Grandmama had save up her money to buy me a guitar.
I never knew Grandmama was sick in any way.  Sadly, I had gotten use to her arm hurting.   I think we were all shocked, really. Pop  was not the same afterwards.  He wasn’t piddling about the farm a bit. Instead I would find him crying, in the barn or behind it.  Sometimes in the living room, in broad day light! (Pop was never in the house in the day time.)  Nobody was the same after Grandmama died.  Mama was young, heartbroken and thrust in to a new role in the family.  Aunt Josie and her family, moved in with Pop, after a while.  Within a few short years, Pop sold a large portion of the farm . . .well, everything changed.  . .when Grandmama died. 
A few years later, I thought boys were cute.  I cared about how I looked and what I wore.  I did well enough in school . . but I was far from brilliant.  I was as shallow as could be and did everything possible . . . to have the shiniest hair. Dolls were replaced with records and earrings.  I got a job in town at a dress shop. Even so I was known to walk the edge of the fields  in evenings.  I would think silly thoughts and write them down.  I quit playing Hank Williams songs on the guitar and started playing pop love songs.  I did stay out of trouble, for Daddy wouldn’t give me the chance, to ruin my life.  The “country, may have  gone  to town”  but I had to be home by ten o’ lock -and not a minute later.
It wasn’t until I had my children, that I had an inkling of just how blessed I had been, in my youth. Back then, the elders sacrificed without complaining.  They did not announce it nor expect a badge!  All work was valuable whether it was toiling in a field, peeling apples and most especially and with utter devotion, raising the children.
This is why I tell the story and preserve what ways I can, from that beautiful  time.  I admit, that since then, many areas of life have been improved.  . .but the substance of those days  . .the simplicity of that time -allowed me to really know my family -and for them to know me, faults and all. Their influence  was mighty and still governs, as I speak.  Besides that, all of the convenience of these days hasn’t seemed to make such a big difference, for no one has “time to do anything”!  If I sound old, it is because I am . . .but I can still remember the sound of my grandmothers’ voice . . .and I do not take that lightly.

Yesteryear Summers or “What Color is the Dog?”


“Time does fly, when you are having fun!”  I  have spent the best part of the week, with Jenny and her family.  I came home on Thursday and stopped by Mamas’ house , that afternoon.  Delores and Dana were there.  They had stopped by on their way home, from the beach.  Since then, I have been working in flowers.  What lovely things to do, I think. 
One night, at Jennys’, Lyla and I watched the fireflies flashing.  The night was silent, except for both of us, for we announced each sighting with enthusiasm.  The next morning, I walked with Brynn, on her tricycle, to a mimosa tree, that is covered in fragrant, feathery blossoms.  Such things as mimosa trees and fireflies (we used to call them “lightening bugs”)  proclaim summer now, as it did so, many, many moons ago, for me.  I walk many a mile down my memory lane. I do not want to forget, so I stroll often.  . .and when I find some precious remnant that has survived -I take heart!
I was blessed to hear first hand the stories of my people.  It makes a difference to know who I came from.  I want my children and grand children to know too., and so I tell the stories.
We did not come from “saints” nor from what the world deems as “high society”,  I suppose to any one else, my elders were quite an ordinary lot with their plows and goats and gardens.  I know different.
In the first decade of my life, I was mostly around Mamas’ family . . all of them.  I had my great grandmother called “Mama Hodges”  and great aunts and uncles, third and fourth cousins (who seemed like brothers and sisters) besides the next generation of aunts, uncles and cousins. 
The women were tireless “housekeepers” and tended to the children, hung clothes on lines, watered the animals, sewed clothes, tended the garden – and did all of this as food simmered in the kitchen.  Not a one of those things was an easy task. 
The men spent their lives in fields  and barns, unless it rained -then they were confined to a shelter to fix  whatever was ailing the tractors or an old truck.  I knew early on, that picking strawberries or snapping beans were the sort of chores, I preferred.   Oh,  but  those summers  of yesteryear are etched deeply in my heart. 
My cousins and  I did a fair share of chores, but we also had a fair share of liberty, too.   . .most especially with the adults so busy.  We were mostly quite self sufficient as it was a tragedy to “be babied” in those days. We roamed the countryside and pretended impossible things.  We were always on the lookout for kittens and  four leaf clovers.  . .and clouds in the shape of anything. We had contests -races and high jumping, broad jumping etc.  We had a small herd of barely tame ponies.  In the early summer, there were always new foals.  The goats did their part and usually had twins.  After a while, the littlest goats and  ponies ran around the farm with us.  What a sight that must have been!  . . A flock of children and goats and ponies traipsing about in golden sunlight.   
Thankfully, none of us had to adhere to any real schedule. We did not take tennis lessons or swim lessons.  We organized our own ball games and made our own “clubs”.  Siblings would argue sometime, but the cousins did not quarrel with one another.  We all got stung by bees frequently.  We all got cut with rusty things at some point.  Once,  my first cousin Chris got stabbed with a pitch fork!  Somehow, we lived to grow up and tell about it. 
There wasn’t a thing on TV weekdays, for children.  We did not “talk on the phone either.  We lived outside.  Only rain kept us in.  There wasn’t a toy box in the house, either.  There was a set of World Book Encyclopedias, and a Sears & Roebuck  catalog or two.  Delores and I made paper dolls from the old ones, sometimes. . .but we all loved the encyclopedias best.  A rainy day was the best chance of a cake too.
By July, we sat in the grass and ate watermelon or cantaloupe.  Sometimes on Sundays, we had homemade ice cream. Aunt Christine and Uncle Gene came with “little Gena” .  They lived about 25 miles away, and  for us that seemed so far away, in those days. I can still see my little cousin running to keep up with her country cousins , golden curls bouncing from beneath a little white hat-I was sure she was a doll. 
In the evenings of late summer, the adults sat around and talked til dark.  Someone was always shelling peas or beans. We didn’t change the clocks in those days-but the days were just as long anyway.  By the time we went in, we had found the first star,  and made our wishes .  The Bob White had called out  and bats were darting about.
The dirt of the day was scrubbed off with a vengeance .  We said our prayers and went to bed. 
It is no wonder, that I never wanted to go back to school.  I found it dull and artificial. I had wonderful class mates  and kind teachers, but my heart belonged to the back roads and my  own people.  I knew how to read and do the math, already.  I had learned these things connected to life on the farm which was so natural.  I actually mourned and would cry at the “drop of a hat”, at school.  I did well though I had to sit in the “Lonesome Chair” on occasion, for yelling out answers to silly questions.  “What color is the dog?”  I could not comprehend that the class didn’t know and I did not see the need to waste my life waiting for someone to guess  about it.  So I would try to put an end to the misery.  No one else was talking, so it did not seem impolite to answer.
Had it not been for the library, I am sure that I would have perished from the boredom.  It took me three months to convince the stern librarian, “Miss Susie” that I could read the “third grade” books, for it was  considered “trespassing” for me to go in that section of the library.   
The school bus took the longest way home, but when I finally saw our house and the farm, and the door opened, I “hit the ground running”! 
I have countless memories of those summers,  and I think a lot,  about what it felt like to be a child in those days.  Weather was of utmost importance and dictated our actions, so even children learned to recognize signs.  Light was our clock and even now, I know the hour according to the where the sun is.  The only need to rush, back then, was when a storm was coming and clothes were on the line or the ponies got out.   (That was always exciting.)  How peaceful life is without schedules, I want to shout to the world.   
I learned so many valuable lessons-a collection of “precious remnants”, that still make a difference and ring true.
Work and play are both equally vital  -so we ought to grow tomatoes and  flowers.  Immersion in nature, is really like going to church for you will be humbled and grateful, all at once.  Loyalty to family is valuable beyond measure, whether they are “saints or sinners”.   . .You can learn a lot from both sorts.  Do not become so tame and civilized, that even your thoughts can’t wildly ramble.  Stay curious .  Curiosity is the spark we must fan, to keep learning and rest assured, even life long learners never know everything.   . . and for goodness sakes . . LOVE like your life depends on it, for in some ways, it really does . . . and it does “cover a multitude of sins”, after all.