Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ghosts, Spiders, and Croquet

We are settling in nicely.  I've spent a lot of time unpacking and arranging things, and while there is much more to do, it is more focused (i.e. "Where the %@^$ are my headbands?" versus "OMG, another box marked Kitchen?").  But, while unpacking is never an easy process, I have made lots of progress.

I've been able to linger over my coffee and my lunch, and the morning room/breakfast nook/ room off the kitchen is a marvelous place to linger.  Two walls are huge, old fashioned type windows, the ones with lots of little panes, rather than one big pane with a grid laid across it.  Miss L told me that if one of the panes got broken, we can actually go down an actual hardware store in the historic downtown area, and replace the pane.  How cool is that?

Anyhow, I read too much, and lingering over my coffee is one of the best times to read.  I sit here, in the morning room, with a view of the lawn to my left, and the patio and pond immediately before me, full of fluttering butterflies of black, yellow, gold, blue, and white... although at the moment, there is a little boy creating worlds with his Legos blocking some of that view.  Anyhow, the book I've been lingering with is by Shirley Jackson:  The Haunting of Hill House.  This is a selection from the opening paragraph:
"Hill House stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within...walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."
 Oops.  For those of you who haven't read it, this is a terrifying book, even if there is no blood, guts, or gore.  (Actually, there is a bit of blood, come to think of it.  If you HAVE to watch one of the films, watch this version.  You should read it, if you can.)  I've read this book dozens of times, and gotten the chills, and my mouth drops open as I discover new gems hidden within the text.  Here's the one that gave me chills just yesterday, in which Dr. Montague is explaining the architecture of Hill House...
"Every angle...is slightly wrong.  Hugh Crain must have detested other people and their sensible squared away houses, because he made his house to suit his own mind.  Angles which you assume are the right angles you are accustomed to... are actually a fraction of a degree off in one direction or another.  I am sure, for instance, that you believe the stairs you are sitting on are level, because you are not prepared for stairs which are not level... [they] are on a very slight slant toward the central shaft, the doorways are all a very little bit off center..."
I could go on, but I am certain you know where this is heading.  THERE ARE ALMOST NO LEVEL FLOORS IN THIS HOUSE!!  The rooms are odd shapes (not square!) The doors are unusual sizes, and some refuse to close while others refuse to open.  There are little stairs here and there.  All this can be attributed to four different constructions over the 300 year history of this farmhouse.  Before yesterday, I found all this charming and quirky, and I regarded it all affectionately.  But that scene, which has NEVER gotten me before, got me yesterday.  And as I walked through the house last night, closing windows, turning off lights and checking doors... I thought, "Whatever walks these wooden floors, walks alone."

Speaking of walking (yeah, I am totally changing the subject--there is no one to hear me scream in the night, except the boy, who does NOT need to wake up like that!)... this weekend the paths in the upper and lower fields were mown (and widened, thank you so much, City Tomcat Husband.)  Yesterday morning, the boy and I took the dog and our trusty web-wands out for a walk.  We saw many interesting things, but what captured our interest the most was all the fascinating spider webs along the path.  (The ones in our path were destroyed by my waving tree branch and the boy's swinging ball on a rope.)  We saw funnel and sheet webs, but the one we watched being constructed was an orb.  Here is a crappy picture of it:

Now what was extraordinary about it was the actual spider.  We were close and I found a picture of what it looks like.   (I am attaching a link, because I do have a few friends who might murder me if I put a big picture of a spider here.  Take a look at the blog, and scroll down to the 12th picture.)

Spiders are everywhere inside.  I am trying to remember that they are here to eat the other bugs, and that they are my friends... but it is hard to remember that when I am about to plug in an electric cord and see a little spider sitting on her web, grinning up at me with sharp pointy teeth.

The day ended nicely, despite the ghost stories and spiders.  The boy and I played a few rounds of croquet on the newly mown lawn.  It was fun.  And I tell you, there is nothing quite like being able to shout with laughter and not wonder if the neighbor is gonna start peaking out the window to see if someone is being slaughtered.  Because...
"No one can hear you if you scream in the night."  -Eleanor Vance in The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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