Thursday, May 25, 2006

Working to Beautify Buildings and Gardens

Dropping by the Little Egypt Arts Association yesterday on the Marion Square, I was not surprised to find Neal and Patty Morrison hard at work with the exciting remodeling going on there. LEAA is revamping their building's upstairs after decades of not being in use, and they are uncovering history at the same time. Marion residents remember the downstairs as the home of Albrights, where we could find nice men’s shirts and ties for Christmas presents. Not many remember ever being upstairs.

Volunteer electricians, plumbers, painters, the Morrisons and others are in the midst of making this fine building, donated by the Powell family, a fitting home for the visual and performing arts. Located in a prime location close to the Civic Center, LEAA is giving our area something to look forward to with pride.

Gay blocks of multicolored tile greet you as you enter the first upstairs room from the new second staircase, which was required by fire and safety codes. (The old staircase on the opposite end of the building enters from the street from the days when doctors and others used the upstairs as their office quarters.) Last week the Morrisons carefully laid the donated blocks to create the most attractive pattern possible. Patty also said they had learned to “mud” to cover up flaws and problems with the ancient walls. The result looks good. A center upstairs room with lesser amounts of light is planned for quilters and watercolorists, which will help protect their work.

Much thought and effort is being exerted in making this major expansion of LEAA headquarters into an even greater valuable addition to the Marion Square. The children who take art classes and those of us who love to view the beautiful paintings in the downstairs gallery have always appreciated LEAA. Now we will be enjoying the improvements made by all this donated labor for years to come. Working in the l00-year-old accumulation of dirt and grime is not easy nor pleasant work, but the results are pleasant.

Continuing to Katherine’s house, I relished seeing the beautiful tall healthy lilies blooming brightly around their front lawn lamppost. In their backyard, I see my mother’s lilies that Katherine dug up at Pondside Farm before we left there. Out her bedroom window is the only remaining lilac bush that survived of the eight small plants she dug from beneath the old bush we loved so. This lilac bush too is healthy and growing taller each year, and Katherine hopes it will bloom next spring. Maybe I will get a start from it. She had dug the lilacs up from hard baked earth in hot July sun five years ago, when no one with MS should have been outside--let alone digging up plants.

She had also transplanted some of the lily of the valley plants that lined our walk at Pondside Farm, They were given to us by our late friend Helen Lee, the mother of Katherine’s friend Karen who died at 18 in a tragic car accident going to work in Harrisburg. Unless there is a plant or two left in her far-back shade garden, which we didn’t check yesterday, these plants did not make it through last year’s remodeling construction. These flowers were against the park fence and not in the path of the construction, yet the plants and the protective brick around them oddly disappeared during the late fall when the family had to be out of their house.

Yesterday morning Katherine had noticed two young men with weed eaters working at her next-door neighbors, and she wheeled out to ask them if they’d use their weed eaters for a quick front lawn task she needed done. She quickly wheeled back in to get her check book thinking whatever they charged would be worth it and came back with the check partially written out. The young men would have none of the check. She laughingly said she planned to tell her husband that she had weed eated yesterday morning and see his reaction. All of us are profiting from the beauty she created with much effort and pain before her chair became a full-time necessity.

Generous volunteers and good-hearted workers creating beauty make life richer and worth living.

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