Pollyanna

My across-the-street neighbor has azalea bushes–well, really, everyone in the South has azalea bushes, it is kind of a requirement, along with ham biscuits and humidity. But hers are just glorious. They bloom into every color possible in the spring.

And by the way, Facebook status updaters. Spring. It’s a lowercase word. “So glad Spring is here!” No, you’re not. You’re glad spring is here. Lowercase. Please. Before I go to a water tower and start picking people off. I beg you.


So my neighbor. Her azaleas. They bloom in every color possible. Okay, no, they do not bloom clear with iridescent and beige zebra stripes, nor do they bloom in, say, rust and terracotta polka dots. Do you have to be so literal? But a lot of colors, okay? Her azaleas come in a lot of colors. And it’s just beautiful.


Flowers
 Here are her flowers last spring, and I had the bad camera, so the prettiness was not even really captured. It’s the kind of thing where you gasp when you see it. Trust me. Pretty.


This will be the third spring I have lived here, and I keep meaning to knock on her door and thank her for her azaleas. I have seen my neighbor and I know she is elderly, and she is one of those older people who leaves the house all the time. I mean, she gets out more than I do, sitting in here at my computer, all Gladys Kravitzing my neighbors all day long.


Finally the other day I went over there, with my business card in my hand because it has my home phone number on it. I figured she should have the number of one of the neighbors should she ever need it, as well.


I knocked on her door and saw she hadn’t picked up her mail yet, and her big ol’ Soap Opera Digest was waiting on her. I already loved her.


She answered the door in a peacock blue velor sweatsuit.


“Hello,” I said. “I’m June Gardens. I live across the street, there. I–“


“Well, won’t you come in! I’m Pollyanna!”


Honest to God. I am not making that name up. And aren’t people from the South nice? If it were anywhere else we’d still be talking through the screen door.


“Sit right down. Aren’t you nice to come over. I declare I never get to meet the new neighbors anymore. Take off your coat, honey. Are you cold?”


It was eight hundred and fifty degrees in her house. Honestly. I am someone who is always cold. I wear a wrap when it’s 75 degrees out. But her house was like I was sitting in the core of the Earth. I half expected Tony Soprano and Uncle Junior to emerge in towels to discuss who to whack next.


“Oh, no,” I told her. “It’s nice and toasty.”


“I can turn it up if you’re chilly,” she said. “I always said, if I go without anything else, I’m gonna have heat and I’m gonna have food.”


If she’d turned that heat up I was going to be sitting there in my pasties and g-string.


Anyway, here is what I love about old people. Her house was so “come on in and sit down” ready. I don’t know about you, but I am a slob. If someone were to come in right now, they’d call the City. There are always magazines and books strewn about, coffee cups on the arm of the couch, throws thrown here and there, and of course the eight feet of animal fur. It’s like I have a bearskin rug, only really disbursed.


But Pollyanna? She had a white rug, for one thing. Spotless white rug. And no animals. And a light couch with no coffee stains on it. And I noted an enormous white Bible on her end table. If I had any kind of white book, it’d look like I read it in a mine within the week. What is wrong with me?


She did tell me she had a den, and maybe that’s my problem. I need a den in which to be my slobeldy self, and a “come right in” living room which stays pristine. But who am I kidding? You really think my “come right in” living room will stay at all tidy?


Anyway, I stayed an hour and we discussed just everything. And Pollyanna was not one to hold anything back. I learned her political views, her social views, her views on the neighbors:


“Have you met that neighbor down yonder?”


“Oh, yes, I–”


“I don’t like him.”


and I’ll tell you what. Pollyanna is exactly the kind of old person I adore. She did not care if her opinions offended me. She told me what she thought and that was that.


After an hour, I wandered back home. “I thought she’d kidnapped you,” Marvin said. “Oh, I would have let her.” I said. I told him all about the shocking and hilarious things Pollyanna had told me.


“Sounds like you met the next Grandma Sophie,” he said.


He was right! She was like the Southern version of Marvin’s Grandma Sophie, who had been one of my favorite people, ever. I wonder if they would have liked each other. Probably Pollyanna would have asked Grandma Sophie some kind of blunt question about being Jewish that would have shocked and kerfluffled the rest of us, and Gramma Sophie would have asked Pollyanna some offensive question about being Southern that would have made the rest of us gasp, and they would have been fine with it and gone on their way.


Anyway, I have a new friendship blooming among the azaleas, over here. I mean, if I can ever catch her 88-year-old self at home.



60 thoughts on “Pollyanna

  1. Oh, youre alllllll gonna do it to me, arent you? And when you see on CNN tonight about the woman atop the water tower in Greensboro, The Bozo Killer, who will you have to blame? YOURSELVES. Your Springy selves!

    Like

  2. Mom and Dad keep the house at 78 in the winter. But they turn the heat off in the bedroom and open the window a crack at night.
    Does this make any freaking sense to anyone?
    Especially since Mom gets up at least once maybe even twice during the night to use the bathroom. She then complains her feet were so cold she couldn’t fall back to sleep. Don’t suggest socks, she can’t sleep with them on.

    Like

  3. Seriously? About Spring, I mean? I am an offender. I thought it was a proper noun and all. I feel like such an idiot now. But I don’t capitalize the other seasons so maybe I was subconsciously differentiating from a boing-boing spring? Ugh. I hate having been so obviously wrong, in public, and over and over again. Oh, this is awful.
    I LOVE azaleas with the same fervor that I HATE rhododendrons. I also like those big fluffy flowers … what are they called … Mary hides in them in that Christmas movie when her clothes come off … losing my damn mind here … It’s A Wonderful Life, that’s the movie … “I’m over here, in the blahdeblahs,” she says and wiggles the shrubbery … dammit.

    Like

  4. Seriously? About Spring, I mean? I am an offender. I thought it was a proper noun and all. I feel like such an idiot now. But I don’t capitalize the other seasons so maybe I was subconsciously differentiating from a boing-boing spring? Ugh. I hate having been so obviously wrong, in public, and over and over again. Oh, this is awful.
    I LOVE azaleas with the same fervor that I HATE rhododendrons. I also like those big fluffy flowers … what are they called … Mary hides in them in that Christmas movie when her clothes come off … losing my damn mind here … It’s A Wonderful Life, that’s the movie … “I’m over here, in the blahdeblahs,” she says and wiggles the shrubbery … dammit.

    Like

  5. Seriously? About Spring, I mean? I am an offender. I thought it was a proper noun and all. I feel like such an idiot now. But I don’t capitalize the other seasons so maybe I was subconsciously differentiating from a boing-boing spring? Ugh. I hate having been so obviously wrong, in public, and over and over again. Oh, this is awful.
    I LOVE azaleas with the same fervor that I HATE rhododendrons. I also like those big fluffy flowers … what are they called … Mary hides in them in that Christmas movie when her clothes come off … losing my damn mind here … It’s A Wonderful Life, that’s the movie … “I’m over here, in the blahdeblahs,” she says and wiggles the shrubbery … dammit.

    Like

  6. When we moved into our house four years ago there was an elderly woman who lived kiddy-corner (Is that how it is written?)from us who would wear here dress and apron out to dig up weeds in her yard. She walked so. slowly. around her yard. We had lived here about a year when she climbed our hill and brought us fudge. So sweet. And, I learned more about our neighbors than I needed to know during our 10 minute visit. I was just relieved that she didn’t fall down the hill when she went home.

    Like

  7. Hulk (Whose new friend wears a g-string...uh, so I've heard. Not that I know yet! Shoot! Was that out loud???) says:

    I’d take my chances and say Spring if I could see you on that tower in pasties and a g-string…

    Like

  8. Hulk (Whose new friend wears a g-string...uh, so I've heard. Not that I know yet! Shoot! Was that out loud???) says:

    I’d take my chances and say Spring if I could see you on that tower in pasties and a g-string…

    Like

  9. Hulk (Whose new friend wears a g-string...uh, so I've heard. Not that I know yet! Shoot! Was that out loud???) says:

    I’d take my chances and say Spring if I could see you on that tower in pasties and a g-string…

    Like

  10. maybe all of your Facebook Friends grew up German and believe you’re supposed to capitalize every Noun. Heh heh heh.
    Love your Pollyanna story! She’s a treat! I hope you get to hang out with her more.

    Like

  11. My house is not “drop in” friendly. Even though my friends (and I use that term loosely) who think it’s fun to drop in on me and watch me have a mini-panic attack always tell me my house is clean I still hate it. Did you thank her for the azaleas? What was her response? Did she give you her secret?
    We had Spring for a whole week here and yesterday it was blustery, snowing and COLD, on the first day of Spring. It seems like Winter had returned. Today the Sunshine is out but it is not Springy, it is more Wintery.
    I just can’t wait to tune in CNN and hear June called “The Bozo Killer”.

    Like

  12. I forgot to tell that part. She said she has had those bushes for years, and that one year they made her cut tons of them down because it blocked the view on the corner, and also she thinks that due to this Winter weather, her azaleas this year will be puny. I loved her for saying puny.

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  13. I just have to ask- why did you capitalize Winter, June, if we can’t capitalize Spring? I always say Spring too, not spring. And the azaleas are lovely. I don’t have any old people in my neighborhood – isn’t that weird? I wonder where the old people live in my neighborhood?

    Like

  14. I love Pollyanna. I also have older lady neighbor who has the most fabulous garden and VERY strong opinions about everything. Only trouble is if she corners you, you’re there for the long haul. She is not what we would call succinct. BlahdeblahdeblahdeBLAH.
    And, I looked and I had not capitalized spring yesterday. Whew.

    Like

  15. way back in the stone age, my teacher DRILLED into my wee little noggin that Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall/Autumn are capitalized. I’ve gotten sloppy in recent years because I see that others are not using capitals. I guess I will officially stop now that my expert said to stop. Except for Winter?

    Like

  16. “I thought she’d kidnapped you,” Marvin said. “Oh, I would have let her.” I said.
    Love it! In addition to being messy, my furniture is not arranged right to invite people right in. It all faces the TV not each other.
    Lowercase spring?! Who knew?

    Like

  17. Hulk (Whose new friend wears a g-string...uh, so I've heard. Not that I know yet! Shoot! Was that out loud???) says:

    Why do we capitalize “kidding”?

    Like

  18. Hulk (Whose new friend wears a g-string...uh, so I've heard. Not that I know yet! Shoot! Was that out loud???) says:

    Why do we capitalize “kidding”?

    Like

  19. Hulk (Whose new friend wears a g-string...uh, so I've heard. Not that I know yet! Shoot! Was that out loud???) says:

    Why do we capitalize “kidding”?

    Like

  20. When I started working at Rhodes (before I became captain of the Rhodes Drinking Team0, I was tutored that one always capitalizes Annual Fund. Okay, I said, and began capitalizing every damn important noun (yep, ike the Deutsche volks), like Alumni and Communications. Pretty soon I was capitalizing Young Alumni Focus Group and after that, it pretty much all went to Hell in a Handbasket.
    I am in Recovery now. Please dim your Expectations.

    Like

  21. When I started working at Rhodes (before I became captain of the Rhodes Drinking Team0, I was tutored that one always capitalizes Annual Fund. Okay, I said, and began capitalizing every damn important noun (yep, ike the Deutsche volks), like Alumni and Communications. Pretty soon I was capitalizing Young Alumni Focus Group and after that, it pretty much all went to Hell in a Handbasket.
    I am in Recovery now. Please dim your Expectations.

    Like

  22. When I started working at Rhodes (before I became captain of the Rhodes Drinking Team0, I was tutored that one always capitalizes Annual Fund. Okay, I said, and began capitalizing every damn important noun (yep, ike the Deutsche volks), like Alumni and Communications. Pretty soon I was capitalizing Young Alumni Focus Group and after that, it pretty much all went to Hell in a Handbasket.
    I am in Recovery now. Please dim your Expectations.

    Like

  23. I love it when the azaleas bloom. I just wish their bloom time lasted longer. My house is definitely NOT visitor friendly. If you happened to ding my door unannounced, your first thought would be to call the police to report the home invasion. I have dung beetles for daughters and puppies who have the damage capacity of toddlers.
    Paula H&B, I LOVE hydrangeas almost as much as I adore that lovely, old movie.I have to get my, “It’s A Wonderful Life” fix a couple of times a year.
    And Hulk, OKAY we got it!!!! A big, hulking congrats to you.

    Like

  24. I would just like to go on the record in defense of Gladys Kravitz. She wasn’t crazy. Nozy yes…crazy no. she.was.absolutely.right. about what that neighbor was up to.

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  25. Does you neighbor still drive? She was wearing a pants suit?! My grandmother never had on a pair of pants (other than under pants, that is) in her life. She always wore a dress and starched apron with hose rolled down to just below her knees and house shoes. BUT, her house was always in order and it was at least 78 degrees in the winter time. It was so hot in her house you could hardly get your breath and those unvented gas space heaters didn’t help either.

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  26. Tee, she drives every day. I didnt want everyone to know her business, but she has lunch with a…man friend…out to the Bojangles every single day. I am unaware if she wears pants or skirts to said dates.

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  27. Jeez… when did Hulk become such a kisser and teller??? Congrats Hulk! I guess we know why he hasn’t been commenting as often.

    Like

  28. Hydrangeas are nice but peonies are even better! I learned that when I lived in Minnesota.
    My neighborhood is from the 1960’s through the 1970’s mostly with a few newer homes here and there. And believe it or don’t but the majority of them still have the original home builder/owners in them. When we moved in and went to our first HOA meeting we brought the age average down about 40 years! Those of you who don’t have old people neighbors, it’s because they all live here.
    And! My across the street neighbor is the Neighborhood Spy. He spends 90% of his daylight hours walking up and down the street and telling each and every yard man, delivery guy, mailman, visitor, repairman he encounters how to do their job and do it better! I just pink puffy heart him so much!
    I have a pair of binoculars and have been known to use them to scope out what the neighbors are doing. And yes, my sister does call me Gladys Kravitz.
    When I get old, I intend to be more like Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions. Sitting out front with my BB Gun shooting at all the jackasses who drive down my street going too fast. Of course, I will also have a big thumbs up sign for those who go the speed they should for a street with loads of old folks and cats out walking around.
    I think I became accustomed to capitalizing Spring and other things in German class like several others have said. I kinda like it that way, but I won’t do it here if it irritates you. : )

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  29. Love me some peonies. My good friend has a whole patch and I intend to drive to her house at least once a week while they are in bloom just to sit in their presence and bask in their glory.

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  30. It looks like Pollyanna doesn’t have monkey grass defining the border between grass and azaleas. There’s just a natural transition. I like the way her azaleas aren’t trimmed. They’re just random shapes that don’t look like they’ve met the hedge trimmers. I prefer azaleas that are untamed.
    Yesterday I saw that Lowe’s has monkey grass for sale — $5 for a container. Don’t folks know they’ll be enslaved by this plant that will soon be sending runners out into the yard? I suspect that monkey grass is always untamed.

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  31. Just catching up from yesterday… Lisa Pie, I am known as the neighborhood spy. I know everything that goes on on my street. I am also known to the unruly, poor mannered children on the street as the bitch. Hello?!?!?!? This is MY yard, not yours. Those are my flower beds you are trampling through and my irises who’s foliage you just shredded. I came in last night and announced that I was going to be pricing decorative picket fencing this week. That way I can border my yard and if those dang punk brats go over the fence then I might just use a BB gun. I mean really. Where are these kids’ parents when they are sitting in the middle of my flower beds and playing???? I bet I’ll find them quickly after I put a cap in one of those brats.

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  32. Jan, I am also the neighborhood spy. Except instead of yelling at children running through flowerbeds, I’m yelling at drunks pissing in the alley. Perhaps less pastoral, but possibly more satisfying. I just wish I had a quick-snapping camera so I could record these jerks for posterity. Or a flyer posted throughout the neighborhood. Or my blog.

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  33. I have a standing order that if anybody wants to visit my house, I need AT LEAST half a day’s notice in order to shovel toys, tumble weeds of dog hair, etc to the basement. If you stop by unannounced, you will be met on the front step.
    Pollyanna’s house is neat because she has neither a man nor dogs roughing up the place.
    I heart Pollyanna… I need a few of her in my life.

    Like

  34. So my homeschooled five-year-old daughter would tell you, “Spring is a PROPER noun. It is the name of one particular season, not just any season.” Who’s teaching that kid?
    So glad to hear that you have the diet of a sixteen-year-old boy and the underwear of a stripper. Talk about a great visual.

    Like

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