1109 pinehurst place

At 1109 Pinehurst Place in #Belhaven sits the home of one of Mississippi’s greatest authors–Eudora Welty (1909—2001). If you visit Jackson, the Welty House and Garden Tour is a must-experience experience. The tour takes about an hour; admission is just $5.

Constructed in 1925, this two-story Tudor Revival is where Miss Welty wrote her most famous works–The Robber Bridegroom, The Optimist’s Daughter, and Delta Wedding in addition to short stories and essays. The house is largely intact as Miss Welty inhabited and left it before passing in 2001. Books and manuscripts are everywhere. There’s even her Smith-Corona typewriter at her desk in her bedroom that overlooks the tree-lined grounds of Belhaven College (now Belhaven University).

Eudora Welty House Belhaven Jackson Mississippi Deep South

Source: Eudora Welty House and Garden, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Photos are not permitted, unfortunately, so you have to commit this house and its garden rooms (containing more than 30 varieties of camellia shrubs and trees) to memory as you move throughout. For those who cannot visit in person, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History offers an online photo tour, which you can experience here.

goodbye, honeysuckle | hello, crepe myrtles

I have a honeysuckle shrub in my back yard and the last 4 weeks have been pretty glorious. Is there a better smell than fresh honeysuckle blossoms? Walking the dogs in #Belhaven amid all of these flowering trees and bushes is such a wonderful experience. I look forward to walking this daily path. Penny and Nickel sniff and wag their tails the whole way. At some point I’ll try to capture it on video.

The honeysuckle flowers are fading fast but the crepe myrtles are in their full regalia. Such showy trees when they are in bloom. The flowers are pale pink, purple, white, red, and watermelon–a hot pink color that is my favorite.

Crepe myrtles

I hope Jacksonians know how lucky they are to live in such lush beauty. I don’t take any of this for granted as a Chicagoan. In fact I marvel at how alive things are here.

Last weekend I purchased some annuals for my backyard deck because, well, annuals. They’re just so colorful. And it was my birthday.

Annuals

I was chatting with one of my neighbors and bemoaned the fact that I would only be able to enjoy them until September. His reply: “WHAT? You’ll be able to enjoy them until November. You’re in the South now.” Word.

clearance special: a love letter

If you read my last post, you might be thinking I was ready to hightail it out of #Jackson and head back home (Chicago). On the contrary, no. A thousand times no. I am a homeowner here. I knew from the moment I stepped into the house as a prospective buyer that this was the one for me. It has abundant windows. Sunlight everywhere. It also has that old house smell, which I find endlessly comforting.

Sometime in September 2017 I started redecorating in earnest. I nicknamed my house Clearance Special because I sought home decor on clearance. I love a good deal/bargain. Who doesn’t really? Anyhow, I filled Clearance Special with mismatched but colorful prints, tables, plants (fake), pottery. Some nooks have a theme, as this one does:

Clearance

Other rooms were works in progress, as with the office. (It really needed a rug, which I found later).

Clearance 1

My home team–my two dogs and cat–also really love this house. And the backyard in particular. My little rescue dog, Nickel Short, has really thrived here. To see her leap around the back yard brings me a lot of joy. My coworker Elizabeth took some action shots of Nickel and Penny, and these photos pretty much sum it up. Heart you, Clearance Special.

Nickel

Penny

when “i’m sorry” is grossly inadequate

Last Saturday I was working on giving life to a flower bed in my backyard. The flower bed looked awful, really. It needed a lot of attention and work. If you know me well, you would know I’m a city kid through and through. I don’t know the first thing about maintaining a flower bed or keeping anything green alive. But this bed was a long coffin of soil, manure, dead roots, and weeds. It needed life. It needed air and something green.

It took me three weekends to dig up the dead roots and weeds. I used a shovel to break up the dense soil and extract the roots. The dense soil makes a weird heaving, sucking sound when you shovel into it. I was intrigued and kept shoveling, ripping out dead roots along the way and dripping in sweat.

As I tried to breathe life into this coffin of soil on Saturday, I couldn’t help but think of a #Jackson family who was burying their only daughter. She was 18 years old and en route to her high school graduation practice last week when she drove over a large hole in Ridgewood Road. The hole was gaping and large enough that it warranted a manhole cover, which was missing. The convertible car she drove flipped. She was rushed to the University of Mississippi Medical Center where she died.

Manhole

I don’t know this family but I grieve their unholy loss. Words like “tragic” and expressions of sympathy like “I’m sorry” just don’t effing cut it. What could you possibly say to a family who lost their only daughter? I have no words.

Which leads me to my frustration with the English language. It’s so shallow sometimes. There aren’t enough ways to say “I’m sorry,” which makes me really freaking sorry. Sigh.

ptolemy’s amalgest and the japanese magnolia of belhaven university

The study of planets and stars captured my interest when I completed an Art Before Cortes class at Gustavus Adolphus College with Professor Linnea Wren. It must have been 1990 or 1991. As I found out, the Mayans were master astronomers, and at some point I’ll share what I learned. Future biscuit/post.

The ancient Greeks were no slouches in the astronomy department. Have you heard of Claudius Ptolemaeus (born c. 100 CE—died c. 170 CE)?

Pk

He is more commonly known as Ptolemy, and was an Egyptian astronomer of Greek descent. He believed that the motions of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets could be described in mathematical terms. His observations, which he called Hē mathēmatikē syntaxis (“The Mathematical Collection”), are known as the Amalgest.

The Amalgest isn’t your ordinary ancient Greek text; it’s an informational rabbit hole of the highest order (at least to me). If you’re looking for some light reading, you can lose yourself starting here.

I appreciate Ptolemy’s exceptional brain. Who doesn’t like to chart, map, and analyze things? I know I do. I try to keep a running list of when flowers start to bloom in my corner of #Belhaven to see how the list measures up the following year. In mid January, the camellias. Check. The second week of February, the Japanese magnolia trees. Check.

The Japanese magnolia trees have freaky cool blooms. They look like pink teacups (at least to me). I took this photo from nearby Belhaven University, which has a beautiful campus. I know my friend Stacie Wells would agree.

Japanese magnolia

It seems that the magnolia (not the Japanese kind) blooms in Belhaven started opening a bit later this year, compared to last year. Stuff I need to commit to a book, I’m guessing. My own Amalgest.

on belhaven and the rings of a tree

I love real estate. I really do. I don’t list and sell but have worked in the industry and real estate education for more than 18 years. What do I do when I come home from work? You guessed it. I watch #HGTV. Because who doesn’t love learning about houses–the places where people and their families nest and hopefully thrive?

I live in a part of Jackson called #Belhaven. It was once a suburb. Now it’s a historic district. And my word, this neighborhood is exceptionally idiosyncratic. Multifamily properties sit next to single-family bungalows that cozy up to mansions where a sidewalk might stop mid-lot. It’s quirky to the extreme, and that is part and parcel of Belhaven’s charm.

I like to observe the differences of houses as I walk my dogs. And from the little of Belhaven that I’ve studied, this market is kind of like the rings of a tree. Hear me out on this one. I can explain.

Tree2

Source: Arbor Day Foundation: What Tree Rings Tell Us About the Life of a Tree.

The rings of a tree tell us the tree’s age as well as the climate conditions during each year of the tree’s life. The fat, pale colored rings indicate time of plenty when the tree grows quickly. The thin, dark colored rings indicate time of drought and stress.

In Belhaven you can tell the times of plenty. Homes constructed in the 20s, 30s, and 40s proliferated. Like this one:

Singlefam2

Or this one:

Singlefam4jpg

In times of stress (the 1980s?), single-family homes were converted to multifamily use, as perhaps with this one (need to research it more):

Multifam

Like I said, rings of a tree.

the smell of sun

Driving from Nashville to Jackson earlier today was like traveling through two seasons. It was wintry damp when I left Nashville. And early, about 6 a.m. No sun.

Heading south from Memphis, my car wheezed and stretched into north Mississippi. It was greener, sunnier. Open skies and trees for days. It was also noticeably warmer.

Arriving in Jackson (#Belhaven to be specific), my car window was down, and the breeze was almost hot. I pulled into the driveway of Clearance Special (what I call the 1940s bungalow that is home), unloaded my bags, and settled onto the back deck to unwind my limbs and lay out.

Truthfully, I shouldn’t ever lay out. I’m pale. I burn easily. But the smell of sun on my skin–how can I describe it. It smells like sunscreen, sweat. And freckles. I’m sure 20 years from now I will regret these moments. But for now it brings me a tired happiness and a little bit of peace.