A Mixed Bag of Things

(Image Courtesy hubpages.com)

Was planning on writing about just one thing today, but then a tidal bore of stuff (good/bad/otherwise) came in.  I’m hoping if I hang on tight to my inner-tube, I’ll float to the top.


(Image courtesy flickr.com)  Today’s miracle:  While driving to the gas station, an eagle flew over the hood of my car.  We have many large birds around here (most notably the turkey buzzards, which are every-freakin-where).  This flew close enough for me to get an up-close-and-personal view of its face and it was definitely an eagle.  Don’t know what kind, but I’m speculating a young bald eagle not yet grown to its white crown.  Quite amazing to see!


(Image courtesy jdwalt.com)  I want to go on record with a debt of thanks to my niece Michelle Cootware Perkins and my sister (her mother) Cheryl Colby.  Of everyone in our family, they live nearest to my parents.  I’ve written here before about my mother’s slide into dementia and my dad’s creeping decline as congestive heart failure and diabetes take their toll.  Michelle and Colby are working hard (very hard indeed) to keep both Mom and Dad out of a nursing home.  They have taken it upon themselves to shoulder the brunt of the responsibility (and heartache) for my parents’ care, devoting many, many hours.  Until recently, I was my parents’ health care proxy, but I suggested that I relinquish that in favor of those of live closest.  (In case of emergency, it would take me at least 3 hours to get there.)  Michelle and Colby agreed to take that on as well.  And, to put things into even sharper perspective — Michelle works full-time and is going through a divorce.  Colby works part-time (and babysits part-time for her infant granddaughter).  They are heroes.


Also in the parental arena — I feel that it couldn’t hurt to explore the possibility of a nursing home.  I’m not saying my parents should go into one.  On the contrary!  I’d like to keep them in their own home right until the end.  But I don’t think it’s a bad thing to gather information together so we know our choices if something occurs that makes such a move likely.  Unfortunately, I’ve hit a wall of resistance in that regard.  Exploring it is seen as capitulation to the idea rather than information-gathering.  Since I have relinquished the Health Care Proxy role, my opinions are largely out of the loop at this point.  But I see no harm in being armed with knowledge, even if we never use it.  Considering how long it can take to get into a facility (or how fast, if an opening comes up), it seems logical to know the process.


We’re in our last week at our house, the place we’ve lived in for 14 years.  We “think” we know the time and date of the closing; just waiting for confirmation of that.  The house looks like a dump — boxes everywhere, furniture stacked, stuff still being packed.  I cleaned out the pantry today (I love my pantry), boxed the stuff, cleaned the shelves, washed the floor — and then stood inside it and said goodbye.  It’s been a great pantry.  It’s done a good job.  I know it’ll please the new folks.

Walking through the house to say goodbye is a thing I feel compelled to do.  This house has anchored us in this place.  It has echoed with our laughter and love, our tears and acrimony.  It has sheltered us through blizzards, hurricanes, and floods.  God willing, it will do the same for the next family.  And the next after that.  And the next after that.  It’s a grand little place, built in 1954 (or is it ’52?  I can’t recall), and moved to this location when the Rt 395 Connector was built.  It was built by the man who owned it (Dick Insalaco) and his uncle.  Dick and his wife Marie lived here.  Dick passed away many years ago.  Marie died in ’96 or ’97.  I used to swear I could feel them here in the house, although it’s been quite some time since the last visitation.  I think they’ll enjoy having children in their house.


Preparing to move has brought to mind a little exercise someone once gave me.  “If you had to move tomorrow and could only take ten books, which ten would you take?”  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love books.  For years (we’re talking YEARS), I kept every book I read, even the ones I didn’t like, and moved them with me over and over and over again.  Hundreds of books.  Maybe thousands.

When I went through my divorce from my first husband, I needed to pare down my possessions.  I could not afford a big moving van to bring everything home, and had only my little Omni and a the back of a pickup truck (belonging to the same Michelle I mentioned above and her soon-to-be-ex).  Consequently, I had to work my way through all I owned with something of a modified “slash-and-burn” technique.  I donated between two and three hundred books to the local library.  Near-about killed me to do it.  (And, as Fate would have it, one of the boxes of books I wanted to keep — all first editions — got left behind.)

The entire process was a lesson hard-learned, but a growth experience I needed to undergo.  Nowadays, I still read a lot, but I buy-to-keep fewer books.  Even so, there are a lot more than 10 lying around the house right now.  So…if I could only choose ten…?

(Image courtesy postcardsfromwildwood.wordpress.com)  1)  Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.  Why this story speaks to me as it does and why it has captured me for so long, is a mystery.  But I love it.

(Image courtesy of thechildrenswar.blogspot.com  2)  The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico.  I first saw this story portrayed as a Hallmark Hall of Fame production starring Richard Harris and Jenny Agutter and I haven’t been the same since.  A wonderful story that touches a reader on so many different levels.  (And if anyone out there knows how to find a copy of that movie, I’d be eternally grateful for the info.)

Red Ranger Came Calling(Image courtesy of amazon.com)  3)  Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed.  I love Christmas like nobodies business.  Not the commercial trappings we’ve larded on to it over the years, but the magic of it, the anticipation, the miracle.  This wonderful, wonderful books speaks not only to children, but to the child at the heart of every woman and man.  I have my step-daughter Theresa to thank for introducing me to this book, back when she was 7 years old.

(Image courtesy of bryanreesman.com)  4)  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  The first I learned of this story was when my 3rd (4th?) grade class was shepherded in with a bunch of other students to watch the original black-and-white production starring Alister Sim.  From the opening line (“Marley was dead as a doornail”) I was entranced.  The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come froze me to my bones, but it was the inherent story — the need for each of us to go into the world and strive to do good, to reach out to others — that stuck with me.  I try to read this at least once a year.

 (Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk)  5)  I’d like special dispensation to use a dimensional doorway in order to lump together all of the books by Sir Terry Pratchett.  Being that it’s Discworld (where anything magical probably can — and will — happen), it seems do-able.

 (Image courtesy of jonathancarroll.com)  6)  Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll.  The book that turned me into a Carroll fan.  Read it!

  (Image courtesy of rudysbooks.com)  7)  Harlan Ellison.  Yes, I know that’s a person and not a book, but Mr. Ellison is known for the sheer number of essays and short-stories he has written and it’s hard to pin-point one book.  (Likewise, I could mention Theodore Sturgeon and Fritz Leiber, and….Quick!  Hose me down!)

  (Image courtesy paperbackswap.com)  8)  Dark Hand of Magic by Barbara Hambly.  I first got turned on to Hambly’s stuff with her Darwath trilogy.  Don’t get me wrong, I like that just fine, but there’s something about her Starhawk/Sun Wolf books that call to me.  This is my favorite in that series (although I desperately wish she’d written more about Sun Wolf’s quest to become a mage).

  (Image courtesy goodreads.com)  9)  Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parrish.  I first purchased this book at a Scholastic Book Club sale in elementary school.  Many years later, it was long gone and I found it again at my beloved Book Barn in Niantic, CT.  A great story.

  (Image courtesy uti.fi)  10)  Okay, I’m going to cheat again and lump a series together — all of the Moomin books by Tove Jansson.  If you don’t know what a Moomin is, what are you waiting for?

Okay, so that’s my list.  Yes, I cheated.  Sue me.  Pay me back by writing and telling me your list.

Or write and tell me about your moving-house horror stories.

Or write and tell me about the miracle in your day.

Or write and tell me about the hardships of dealing with elderly parents, or the travails of miscommunication (or lack of communication) in families.

Just write.  If not to me, then for yourself.




About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Books, Challenge, Change, Christmas, Dementia, Essays, Family, fantasy, Holiday, Life, Loss, love, Melissa Crandall, moving, Moving House, Terry Pratchett, Writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s