Thursday, April 28, 2011


This started out as a rare day, one with absolutely nothing planned.  I got the idea to take a lot of pictures of the front yard and post them for you.  I've been telling everybody about all the hard work we've been doing; might as well show the fruits of that labor.  So I took the pictures early this morning, uploaded them, and posted them everywhere to my non-blog friends.  Then came the wonderful responses, then came lunch, and then came something unexpected:  the owner of the lot next door, whom we've never met, is having his land cleared.  The sound of such industry drew us out to see what was happening, and what this heretofore heavily wooded expanse would give in the way of construction possibilities.  (So far it appears to be a lovely piece of land.)  And now here we are, it's 1:30 PM, several hours after I meant to sit down and do what I'm doing now.  See why I haven't been writing much?  Even when nothing is planned, life happens.  And no matter what else you may think of that, it must be admitted it's much better state of affairs than the alternative.

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Next day:  OK, I'm back.  Got waylaid with a trip to town, then dinner, etc., etc...

I want to thank all of you for your gently applied but steady pressure on me to keep writing.  It makes me believe that all that stuff I wrote in the years before this big life change must have meant something to quite a few someones, and for that I am flattered and humbled.  I wish I were a more dedicated writer and could just shut the rest of life off for an hour or two each day to produce something.  If I were single (or had all those hours alone during the day, as I did before we moved here) there's no doubt these pages would be fuller.  But what I call "F&B life" (for "flesh-and-blood") goes on relentlessly in this partnership, and it appears to have more compelling calls than this does, when calls there are.  And so I write less.  I've never been one to say "never"; I will not simply end the blog, because that would be as much of a promise to keep to as any other, and I know I will always want a place to write when the spirit moves.  So I will slog along, even if my readers dwindle down to a mere two or three.  

The discovery of a "gay scene" here in one of the notches of the Bible Belt has been gradual and very interesting for us.  While we are perfectly happy with each others' company and that of the everyday people with whom we come in contact, it's still nice to have a stable of friends with similar life experiences, whatever they may be, to call upon.  I've often remarked upon the kind helpfulness of the people we've met here.  What I haven't mentioned is the fact that that helpfulness even extends all the way to helping us find other gay people (though the word "gay" is never uttered).  First, our cross-creek neighbors made it their mission to introduce us to the guys who run  The Onley Place  up in Belvidere--the former square dance caller and his partner who now own and operate this wonderful, well-attended performance venue.  We have had a couple of fun, laughter-filled evenings with them and see the possibility of a good friendship.  Another time a painter, contracted by our builder to do some touch-up work, asked us, in the course of general conversation while he was here, if we "got around" much.  Not knowing where he was going with that question, we answered that yes, we'd been here a while and had explored up and down the Albemarle, etc., etc., but he said, "No, I mean have you gotten to know any people, you know, folks you guys could hang out with."  The light came on.  It was amazing. This kind man, a total stranger, apparently saw us from a mile away and wanted to help us.  He told us about another couple who live right up in Hertford.  One of them is the main hairdresser for the ladies--and some men--of the county (wouldn't you know???  But stereotypes do have factual basis!); his partner is a mail man.  The painter told them about us--gave them a call while he was here, as a matter of fact (big news!!)--and we eventually got around to making a haircut appointment and met them.  So not only did we get the best haircuts we've had since we've lived here, but we've expanded our circle of gay friends by two, thanks to this kindness of a stranger. (We actually have haircuts scheduled for late this afternoon and then will go out to dinner with the guys. Blanche Dubois must be smiling from wherever she resides between Streetcar productions.)  

I have had a pipe dream of gathering enough gay people here to have a good dinner party like the ones we used to have in Arlington.  I envisioned myself as the keeper of a sort of salon, introducing interesting people to each other.  Of course, it took very few conversations to realize that, this being a relatively small community, most of the gay people around here already know each other.  Not only that, but they have definite opinions about each other, too, so you have to be careful about who sits with whom. I'd been naively thinking that in my big-city way I could create a network of gay people in this place, so benighted before our arrival.  But no.  We are entering a community already well established, and we'll have to learn to fit in with them, not they with each other.  Lessons in humility are never out of date.

We are expecting our share of the big storms that have been marching across the South this week. Right now it's only partly overcast, but the wind is strong and it's clear something is on its way.  We dodged a few bullets two weeks ago when tornado warnings were issued for a line very close to us.  So far no dire warnings, but you never know....


nan said...

Loved the post and the photos, Ralph. Especially loved the great line about another notch in the Bible Belt. Good one! I am glad you are finding community and seeing humility in knowing it has been well-established before your arrival. Isn't it amazing how life continues to give us opportunities to grow and stretch our thinking and feeling?

Regarding frequency of blogging - of course you should blog when you want to, and I am glad to hear you say you won't end the blog - just write here when the spirit moves you.

For me, blogging is still my way of catching my breath amidst the busy days and evenings. I try to inhale here deeply a couple times a week -- and find I still enjoy the Google Reader for telling me when blogs have new content. Yay for that!

Stay safe in all the storms.

Ralph said...

Thank you, dear Nan. I've always thought you have more of a facility for quietening down than I have--it's something I need to work on.

I do google reader, too, and boy do I pay if I skip a day or two. The blogosphere is alive and well, with or without my two cents! As always, I'll continue to do my part occasionally to add to the cacophony.

Jeff said...

Just noticed that you've made a bit of a comeback! The blogosphere may still be alive and well but certainly depleted by your absence! Good to see you again!

You've done a fantastic amount of work on your property - I envy your energy and creativity. Around our house, where it drops is where it remains. We depend on the perennials to keep doing what they're doing - Lord knows we haven't been much of a help!

Always wishing you the best!

- Jeff

Ralph said...

Hi, Jeff! I guess you just have to call Steve and me house people. Some childless couples spend all their expendable income on the theater, some on travel, some on clothes--we do it on our homes. The house we left in Arlington was a tiny 2-bedroom box that we re-created inside and out over a period of 28 years into something completely our own, and it was a showplace--literally stopped traffic. Here, we are "new home owners" in the literal sense--we own a brand new home. We have a blank canvas to fill in. If you're "house people," that's a gift!

splendid said...

dear Ralph
can't wait to hear of all your and Steve's adventures on this latest jaunt!