We finally had to break down and buy a new bookcase, one of those really classy ones made of particle board that your husband puts together in the living room, cussing sotto voce and stepping on little screws barefoot. Which leads to more cussing, with a voce that is not in the least bit sotto.
The task of the female membership of the family -- me, Meelyn and Aisling -- was to unload one entire big bookshelf, move it down the wall, put the new bookshelf in between the unloaded, moved shelf and the other shelf, which was able to just stay put.
The girls went to the Y this morning to exercise, and I spent the hour I had by myself unloading, dusting, and making sure piles of books on the floor and the dining room table didn't turn into some kind of freakish avalanche that would trap me in the dining room and prevent me from eating lunch. When they came home, we moved the new bookcase into its place and started reloading to the accompaniment of two girls carrying on like I'd told them I was sending them off for a few weeks of labor on an oil rig with unpaid overtime.
"Whhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" Aisling whined in the nasal tone that never fails to make me want to start screaming. "Whyyyy do weeeeeeee have to do this? Why can't youuuuuuu dooo it?"
"Yah, weeeee went to the gyyyyyyyyym while youuuuu stayyyyyyed home, so weeee already did enough work for todaaaaaaaaaaay," Meelyn joined in.
Well, it wasn't pretty. And it all ended up with the two of them being grounded from the computer for today. So not only did they have to help with the books anyway, I also don't have to share the computer. Snnap!!!
While Meelyn was loading some photograph albums onto the bottom shelf, she noticed a loose photograph, one of my great-grandmother, Hazel Williams Houser, taken when she was perhaps a year old, wearing a fancy dress, all billowing skirts and carefully pin-tucked bodice. Her sweet blonde hair was combed into a little frill on the top of her head and her wee buttoned boots are sticking out of the bottom of her skirt in an adorable fashion. The photograph is very beautiful in its sepia tones and I've been keeping it in that album since my mother gave it to me because I haven't been able to find a frame that would do it justice.
"Who's this?" Mee asked, holding out the photograph for me to see.
"Ah," I said fondly, looking at Grandma's precious, pouting baby lips and the little dimples on the knuckles of her chubby hands. "That's your great-great-grandmother, the one I often stayed with when I was a little girl, on the farm in Luray. That's the grandma who would drop everything she was doing to play Old Maid with me, and she'd take me to pet the lambs, and she always had popsicles in her deep freeze on the back porch."
Meelyn studied my cherished photograph and said, "When was it taken?"
I thought it over and said, "Ummm, maybe 1897?"
Meelyn took one last look at the picture of her ancestor, a person I dearly loved, and put it back in the album, slamming the cover shut with a bang. "Well, that is one ugly picture. All those dark colors make her look like she's possessed or something."
Sometimes, you just want to run away and join the circus.
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