It’s been almost two weeks now since we move on Sept. 12 to our new home. The brick edifice pictured with this post shows the outside of Warmath 15, the campus apartment where we lived for five weeks. We were pathetically happy to be in a new place although after I mowed my new lawn last Saturday, I began to have second thoughts! I’ve already brought in a painter who’s given Veeka’s formerly beige room (all the homes around here come with either beige or tomato-red walls, it seems) a new look with bright pink paint and a lovely red stripe. She wanted her WHOLE room painted red but I put my foot down. She has so much stuff, I’m beginning to wonder if I should have given her the master bedroom.
Gradually the temperatures are falling and just last Saturday, we had our first visitors: Larry and Mary Ann Kreitzer from Woodstock, Va. I’ve stayed at their country home many times when I felt I had to get out of DC. His birthday is the same day as mine and I met her year ago when I was doing a piece for the Washington Times culture page on Les Femmes, her scrappy Catholic network and blog that makes for very enjoyable reading. Their place was where we spent our last night in the DC area and so it was fitting they’d be the first familiar faces we have gotten to see here. What they saw when they arrived was a house in some disarray. I’m about half unpacked with some rooms, ie Veeka’s, pretty much put together and others, like the living room, a complete mess. The kitchen is barely functional. I had to serve the Kreitzers lunch on ornamental food platters as I cannot locate my dinner plates anywhere. Other than a broken lawn mower wheel, so far everything has arrived intact from Maryland. I still cling to my Maryland license plates though; one last reminder of the life we left behind there.
I am still busy at school and my biggest job is advising the school newspaper, Cardinal and Cream. We’ve started some student blogs – a first for them – and now I’m working on starting online advertising as I have a student interested in developing that. Work is keeping me very busy and it seems all I do is grade papers. Veeka is still casting about for friends and so far there’s only one child – two years older than her – who is a playmate. The way neighborhoods are structured these days with kids never playing outside and everyone going to different schools, it’s beyond difficult to find local kids. When the ice cream truck came around the other day, four kids from what appears to be a Middle Eastern country piled out of a house a few doors down from us. We walked over and found out that one of the children was a girl Veeka’s age. But when I suggested Veeka might like to play with them, they just looked at me. Other neighbors have been friendlier, fortunately, and I’ve mapped out all the houses on our block and who (I think) lives in them.
On Sunday, I was still recovering from mowing the lawn and the day was gorgeous so we got in the car and drove to the Mud Island River Park and Museumon Memphis’ water front. It was so nice to be where we could see WATER and lots of it. The museum had a fascinating history of life along the Mississippi and how it took several hundred years for the Spanish, British, French and finally the Americans to get some sense of it. I was amazed to hear of all the accidents and steamboat collisions that occurred there and how dangerous it was before the days of the US Army Corps. of Engineers began rebuilding it. Before, it was like the Yangtze, flooding all the time. There was an amazing outdoor component whereby you walked along a path that traced out the lower Mississippi and what each island and riverbank looked like. It was a scale model of the 954 miles of the river flowing from its confluence with the Ohio River at Cairo, Ill., to the Gulf of Mexico. Twenty cities are mapped along it
and concrete wedges locate the main rivers flowing into the Mississippi or show engineering structures such as floodways. The model empties into an acre of water that symbolizes the Gulf of Mexico. Before the Europeans arrived, the Chickasaw Indians basically controlled the area. There was a lovely area for paddleboats.
Later, we dropped by a mall that supposedly was the best in Memphis and I was rather appalled that for a city of more than 600,000 souls, this was top of the line. It’s obvious that the center of gravity in this state is Nashville, which has one of the few Trader Joe’s in the state along with a very nice Opry Mall that we visited a few weeks ago. But nothing is like the DC area with its enormous malls like Tyson’s Corner and Potomac Mills where every outlet under the sun has a place there.