"Abigail Thorp"

This page was last updated:Saturday January 12, 2008 08:11  

In formal conversation, I am Mrs. Wheatley.  When the "dunning notices" come, they are sometimes marked, "To: Mrs. Seamus Wheatley". I prefer Kalliopie.  Mother hated it at first.  I had strong lungs as a baby. My father claimed I was as loud as the circus steam organ they call a "calliope". It was Father that started calling me Kalliopie.  That was a long time and many miles ago now. 

It's been five years since, Seamus and I bought a summer cottage here in Leastwhyle. It got to be too much living in the city. We wanted a little peace and quiet.  It has taken some doing, getting this cottage winter proofed on a tight budget.  Seamus worked for the big city police.  It got a little rough on his nerves.  A doctor suggested that we get away for a while.  Seamus is now trying to be an author. My chief occupation is trying to stretch our tight budget ever further.  Having what Seamus calls, a "PHD in home economics" doesn't hurt.  

I never knew there were so many ways to eat fish.  Now that we live near the sea, we eat a lot of fish. The natives even have a sort of fish they eat for breakfast. I don't know why they all haven't sprouted gills by now. 

There's a million kinds of water too.  I now know of, brackish water, deep water, shallow water, hard water, soft water, white water, salt water, and wet water. Yes, wet water.  I haven't heard of "dry" water yet.  They do serve a good dry martini at the old Inn in Leastwhyle.

One of us needs something to do while the other one is "researching".  I have become quite involved in the Leastwhyle Callithumpian Society.  It is a sort of musical society.  We stage productions of amateur operettas and other musical events. As you might guess, I still own a good set of "caterwauling pipes". Alas these "pipes" are horribly out of tune.  My singing ability will never be desired listening. Of course the Society will always need set painters, and the like.  I've become very good at painting trees.   

Every summer there is the big festival.  It culminates in the "Ball".  This "ball" isn't as formal as the ones in the city.  It's more like a "fancy" barn dance really.

October 20, 2006


One early summer's day, I happened to notice that it looked like someone was moving in down the road.  There's this great big old house with a large yellow door. It looks like a hold over from my grandmother's day. They used to paint their houses bright bold colors, you know.  That house has always been a big mystery to me.  The yellow door really stands out. I either walk or drive past it each time I go into town. Increasing with every trip, my mind wonders more and more what lies behind that door. The outside of the house looks like it could use a fresh coat of paint.  But you can see that at one time it was a very grand place indeed.

I was in Mr. Jenkins' grocery shop the other day.  I tried to ask him if he knew who was moving into the house with the yellow door.  He just looked at me as if I was asking him the combination to the safe with state secretes inside. I have grown to expect this of course.  From what I have come to understand, one must live here 10 years if not longer in order to become "accepted" by the natives.  It so happened that Fialka [Fialka or Violet in Russian]was doing some shopping and she over heard my question.  She said that the man "moving in" was probably Jonathan Howe. He wasn't moving in but merely coming up to his "cottage" for the summer.  Some cottage.  She promised to fill me in over coffee and canasta

"You mean, Jonathan Howe, the theatre actor?"  "Yes.  He comes here nearly every summer."  "How come I never saw him before?"  "You don't know?  He was off in Hollywood staring in some movie."  "Really?"  "We always thought that it was a Mrs. Howe that comes up with him. She's the hostess at very swanky dinner parties they throw up there.  But then someone ran into her in the city.  They said she was a Mrs. Crowell."  "Really?" "The whole town had their tongues wagging at that one.  It looked like the fur was going to fly one year when Mr. Crowell showed up. Then we find out that Mrs. Crowell is Mr. Howe's sister."  "Really!?" "Yes! Really!..." "I bet they hire a decorator that goes to town in there.  Have you ever gotten a peek inside that house?..."

My game was horribly off.  Fialka won at canasta that day. She had never gotten an invite to the Howe residence.  Not many "locals" had. The Howe's/Crowell's tend to keep to themselves. And they mostly invite people up from the city for their soirees.  One big question I had was, why nobody ever asked Mr. Howe to participate in our little productions.  Seems, that there wasn't anyone brave enough to ask him. I don't suppose there'd be any harm in taking the "new" neighbor a plate of home made brownies? Course, I'll let him settle in a day or two first. 

October 25, 2007

It's been nearly a week now.  I finally got Seamus to say, "Oh, all right" to my taking a plate of brownies to Mr. Howe.  I should have probably take Fialka with me.  But I didn't want to stay long.  I simply wanted to introduce myself as his "new" neighbor and leave the brownies.  I was hoping there would be opportunity to glance around the room I'd be in.  I wondered what kind of rugs he has in there.

I decided to walk. We are, only a stones throw away, "as the crow flies".  I don't know exactly why, but when we moved up here, Seamus decided to trade in the nice newer car we had, for an old Flivver.  I guess it was to save money as we were still making payments on the newer car.  I didn't mind being seen in the Ford.  It isn't an ugly car really.  The previous owner took good care of it.  It's just that I felt like I was representing not just me, but the Callithumpian Society.  Who knows what might have come of this meeting.  Mr. Howe could have decided he wanted to help me paint sets the next time we put on a musical.  I really doubt anyone would let him pick up a paintbrush though. They would be so awestruck that they would offer him an important role such as director or lead role.

I wasn't sure who would greet me at the door.  I was sure someone like Mr. Howe could have a butler.  What if Mr. Howe was out and this "butler" just took my brownies without inviting me in?  I made sure that I wrapped these brownies in pretty cellophane and tied my card to the ribbon.  Then I put the "package" onto a decorative serving plate I have.  Now, I didn't use the best plate I have, the one Grandmother Walzer gave me.  Heaven forbid it should get broken.  No, I used the nice, not so pretty one, Seamus' mother gave us as a wedding present.  The goal was to have an item which would cause further contact with Mr. Howe.  If I dealt with a butler, maid or other such person, then I probably wouldn't get anywhere near Mr. Howe. 

October 26, 2007

As it happened Mr. Howe answered the door.  It didn't seem like he had a butler.  The main sitting room looked as if a nor'easter had blown through it.  There were newspapers strewn all over the sofa, as well as a pair of old shoes on the floor.  I did notice the rugs were rather nice.  I bet they are those expensive rugs you find in old homes.  Mr. Howe seemed rather glad to see me.  He asked me to call him Jonathan.  Although he was happy to be left alone when he came up here, he was surprised that after 15 years, not many people had bothered to introduce themselves.  It was a very strange meeting in a way.