Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Dryad

Around 1920 in Palo Alto, some new houses were built, and trees were planted in front of them. A family with young children moved into one of the houses. The children used to go out and play around the tree. They talked to it and drew pictures for it, and included it in their games. Eventually a shy girl around their age came out from the tree to play with them. She was a bit tall and thin. She had pale skin and dirty-blond hair that had a greenish tinge to it and deep green eyes. She wore a simple brown dress. They asked her what her name was, and when she responded with the sound of a spring breeze passing through leaves, they interpreted it as "Melissa".
Melissa became their dear friend, and although she could never go further than the farthest edge of the tree branches and roots, she was very good at hide and seek. One boy named Ryan became her special friend. They would sit together and talk for hours. As they grew up, he went to school, and they would do his homework together after school, sitting on the grass beneath the tree. The other children became active in sports and other activities that kept them away from home, but Ryan went straight home every day.
He learned gardening and carpentry from his parents, and kept the front yard in beautiful condition. When he was about 14, his father helped him build a tree house. Melissa carefully guided the work so that the tree house and tree were almost one cohesive unit. After that Ryan spent most of his time in the tree house with Melissa.
He wrote many passionate poems to her, expressing his love in deep spiritual terms. One day he had to turn something in to his English class and hadn't prepared anything, so he turned in one of his poems to Melissa. The teacher was so impressed he asked to see more, and eventually entered him in an English scholarship competition. It was the late 30's and money wasn't easy to come by, so his parents were very happy with the possibility Ryan could go to college.
By this time the tree had grown and was beautiful and shaded the street. Melissa was shapely with brownish hair and a calf-length green dress, in the style of the 30's. She talked to Ryan about all the affairs of the world, but somehow was not seen by anyone else.
Ryan won the scholarship, and not just to any college, but to Stanford. He was able to stay at his parents' house (mostly in the tree-house) while studying English and botany and horticulture at Stanford. In 1944 he was a Grad Student, but they were running out of men in the armed services, and he felt it was his duty to finally go, no matter how much he hated to leave Palo Alto. They shipped him off to Hawaii, where he helped man the fort at Diamond Head, but he never really saw any action. He took long walks in the hills of Oahu every day. Eventually his walk was lined with beautiful brown Polynesian girls who could not go beyong the scope of their tree. They through themselves on him, for they had been lonely ever since the old ways had started to disappear. He had one wild night, and then very so full of remorse he stopped taking his walks and saved all his money and bought a diamond ring.
In 1946 when he finally got home, he ran out to the tree in front of his parents' house, and knelt, with the ring out in front of him. It took Melissa about a half hour before she came out- then she ran and hugged him and kissed him, with sweet tears running down her face.
He made the aquaintance of a lot of ministers, and brought them around to his house for afternoon tea, one at a time, until one of them saw Melissa. This one he asked to marry them. The ceremony was performed in the tree house, with the only sister who could still see Melissa as the witness.
Ryan went back to Grad school and got his PhD in English and began teaching at Stanford. Everyone thought he was a bachelor, but with the impassioned love poems he was famous for, they wondered whether he was gay, or maybe he was secretly a Casanova, but they never saw him close with any man or woman.
His parents got old and wanted to move to a Condo in Los Altos in the 50's, so Ryan bought the Palo Alto house from them. He always spent every weekend in the garden, and his yard was the best-looking on the street. The tree became lush and magnificent, spreading its branches over the house. Melissa was able to come in the house, now, so he made up a bed in the room shaded by the tree, and they lived together as man and wife.
Around 1970 his property value started to sky-rocket, and he was inundated with offers to buy the house, at ever-increasing prices, but he always turned them down. He was middle-aged, wearing the braod lapels and wide pants of the 70's, with short greying hair. Melissa was still a young handsome woman, and strangely still dressed in the style of the 1930's.
In the 90's she had barely changed, but Ryan was so old he needed a cane to walk around. One day he collapsed and she caught him. She carried him to the bed and called 911. The ambulance came, but didn't find the cultured young woman whose voice they had heard. When Ryan was released from the hospital, he announced a contest for the inheritance of his property. Anyone who could write an essay explaining how and why they would take great care of his garden and trees and would sign a legal document that they would never tear down the tree or harm it in any way would be entered. He judged all the essays and had the finalists over to his house for the final drawing. One entrant was a Black Baptist Minister from East Palo Alto and his family. When they came over, they politely introduced themselves to Melissa, and the mother and Melissa talked for hours about cooking, gardening, children and world affairs. Ryan knew he had a match, since none of the other entrants had even seen Melissa. His home, which was now worth 2 million dollars, was willed to the minister's family.
About 2 years later, in 1998, Ryan died. The wind blew for days and many of the tree's leaves fell to the ground. The minister and his family moved in and had a housewarming party. The house and neighborhood were so full of life, and Melissa was in the party, singing and laughing for the first time in a long while. They live there to this day, and have found acceptable ways to answer stranger's questions about why there is a diamond ring around one of the inner branches of their shade tree.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Since the last blog, we have been moving.
I know it was 4 months ago, but this is what happened:
1) I posted the last blog
2) A week later, my husband said, "We can sell the house now and make a nice profit, or we can keep it, and live in Mortgage Hell for the rest of our lives".
3) I said, "How about selling it?"
4) Another week and we talked to a Real Estate Agent
5) A week after that we got an offer we couldn't refuse
5) For the next couple of weeks I went house-hunting for a nice rental in the area. This included driving to a different house every day.
6) Three weeks after that, the house wasn't ours any more, but we could still live in it for awhile, and we had the largest sum in our bank account we ever saw.
7) The same day we signed the papers for the new rental, to take occupancy in a month or so.
8) The next week was Halloween and Tommy's Birthday. (He got a snowboard).
9) Then we started planning The Big Thanksgiving Family Reunion, with more food and more relatives than ever have gotten together under one roof in our family before, and we also had Ellen's Birthday( she got all the furniture and cool decorations for her new room that she might want).
10) Kyra and Takeshi came and stayed at our house and we had Thanksgiving and we also went to the SF Opera (The Marriage of Figaro).
11) As soon as they left and the house was a total Thanksgiving-Birthdays-Houseguest mess, we got the keys to the new house
12) The previous occupant was the owner. He was still moving out on the day we got the keys. He hadn't cleaned it, and he was supposed to set us up with someone to build a fence for the backyard so the dog would stay in, but he hadn't.
13) I hired a cleaning service for the new house and frantically called fence-builders
14) We went to furniture stores to get a new living room set and new Master Bedroom set, since the old stuff was hand-me-downs from hand-me-downs, Eric's mother having given them to us "for the interim". I decided that the interim had definitely ended.
15) Packing
16)Throwing out what seemed like a houseful of junk, only to find the house was still full
17)Giving away everything I could, having Saint Vincent de Paul and all my friends come over and take what they could
18) Packing, Packing, Packing
19) Sitting at the new house during a 4-hour time frame waiting for furniture delivery men
20) Getting the utilities switched. This was an adventure in itself, because I've lived in Palo Alto so long I forgot that no other town has all services provided by "City of Palo Alto Utilities" or, as Eric calls them, "The People's Republic of Palo Alto". I had to find the Garbage Company, The Water Company and PG and E, each seperately. I didn't even know there was such thing as the water company until they left a note on the door saying to contact them or the water would be turned off.
21) Somehow Ellen had a huge catering job the day before we were supposed to move. A fancy dinner for 35 guests was cooked in our new kitchen before we moved.
22) Moving Day arrived! The moving company came and moved everything.
23) When they were done, I came back to the house and looked around. It was still full of stuff!
24) I was thinking about hauling stuff to the dump, but it was suddenly Christmas!
25) Bought a Christmas Tree, got some presents and stocking-stuffers, wrapped things, bought Christmas Dinner makings, went to a Christmas party, lived out of boxes.
26) We managed not to wrap the moving boxes, and not to unpack the Christmas presents, and had a nice Christmas, complete with stuffed Cornish Game Hens which Ellen made.
27) The dog got some Christmas presents and had a lot of fun playing with them in the big backyard which had a new fence, and which he was finally used to.
28) The cat finally got used to the house and stopped keeping me up all night
29) Ellen told me about a Junk removal company, so they came and took away the junk on the day before New Years Eve
30) We remembered the stuff in the garage and the shed, and I finally took the last load over to the new house today

So that, in brief, is what I've been doing for the last 4 months. The next blog entry should be much sooner.