Friday, December 9, 2011

Critter Control or..,

"The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it." ~ Author Unknown

HELP ME. I am am writing this blog in the pitch dark, and I am being WATCHED! Two beady eyes stare at me from behind the wall. HELP ME!

You are probably wondering why I would write a blog in such a state of fear,..WHY I DO NOT TURN ON A LIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY?

My terrifying tale started last Spring. Ah, Spring at Chestnut House. Tulips blooming in a riot of colour on the South Lawn. Vintage metal lawn chairs being unwrapped in the giddy frenzy of a new day. Remember, heat had just arrived at our tumble-down manse, and this was a fresh start for us Dandies.

That first blissful week of Spring brought our first non-human house guest to our home. We'll call him Clyde. CLYDE FROM THE BOWELS OF HELL. Clyde was a bat. YES, A BAT. He arrived one evening while we were curled up watching Antiques Roadshow on PBS. (We'll sell anything we own if we see it on that show...well, anything but my Star Wars AtAt!)

A shadow flickered over our head. THEN PANIC ENSUED...DOGS BARKED...TCHOTCHKES WERE DESTROYED. My fear of bats resurfaced, and I had PTSD, imagining myself backstage at Starlight Theatre. "I WILL NOT HAVE FIVE MORE WEEKS OF RABIES SHOTS," I screamed! Two hours, a pile of broken chalkwear, and a ripped vintage fishing net later, and Clyde had been escorted outside, on his merry way to our rejoin his family in our neighbor's belfry.

Clyde must have told his furry woodland friends how accommodating Jon and I had been, how we treat our house guests. Like a twisted opening scene from "Snow White Visits Twin Peaks", The Pinkie Family arrived - AND DECIDED TO STAY. The Pinkies are a family of 4. Four opossums. A mother and her 3 children. We never saw the father, though I imagine, from the looks of his children, he must have resembled Mickey Rooney.

They chose to move in to a cozy spot beneath the front porch, hissing and gnashing their greetings to family and guests alike. Friends offered to catch, kill, (even cook) our humble guests, but we stuck with our philosophy that all are welcome here. Eventually, they left on their own. With the economy the way it is, I am hoping they found a nice sublet in Mission Hills with a view of the golf course.

Now, we begin the Winter Season with the Holidays upon us. Our trees are being decorated, our halls are getting decked, Magnolia leaves are being frosted with antique German glass glitter in various tones of the same colour to sparkle just-so on the hearth...well, you get the Better Home and Gardens picture...

When, with an entrance worthy of National Lampoon, GWEN ARRIVED.

Scampering around us, chirping in her Squirrel voice - "Hey, I found an entrance into Chestnut House you don't know about! Hey, I found another entrance. Hey! Hey! Dare you to find it. Dare you to find it!"

At first, Gwen went unnoticed as Jon and I sipped coffee from our Wedgwood cups, discussing how tall the centerpiece should be at our Christmas soiree.

It was the Schnoodle who introduced us to our newest house guest, With Dorian in full pursuit, Gwen jumped over the coffee table, leapt over the bookcases, scurried up the draperies, through the Master Bedroom, trampolined off of a chase lounge, onto the fireplace mantel, and behind a wall WHERE SHE NOW HIDES IN A HOLE.

So, NOW I SIT IN THE DARK, waiting for her to come out and join me for coffee. (The internet told me to turn off the lights, to let her relax. Relax, Gwen, relax...)

As you arrive this Holiday season, please nod to Ms. Pinkie and her children...I assume, with our luck, they'll be back...then raise a toast to Clyde, Gwen and the rest of their families, residing somewhere within our walls.

Happiest of Holidays...

Ron (and Jon and Dorian)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blue Christmas

My hands are blue. My new car is blue. My husband's Unicorn Show finale outfit is blue. The only thing that's not blue is, oddly, me.

In a complete about-face to my relatively macabre, dower nature, I find myself positively blue with giddiness. Not frozen corpse blue, more mid-1980's Smurf blue.

My hands are blue. Our beast of a furnace continues to give us problems. Expensive problems. I understand why it is called a Rheem Furnace...I want to "ream it" constantly! We have had a taste of glorious, beautiful's hard to imagine not having it now. Every piece that gets replaced makes the next part in line fail. It has been an interesting, frustrating, sometimes terrifying journey to basic human comfort.

My new car is blue. Oh, what a deal you can get on a used, discontinued-model convertible in the 3rd week of November. My new convertible is basically me as a vehicle - big nose, flat rear, lots of bling, rather powerful, and completely inappropriately dressed for the season. It's the type of car Barbie would keep at her Malibu Beach House for Ken and the pool boy to drive while she's away juggling her Astronaut/President/Supermodel/Brain Surgeon/Physicist career path.

My husband's Unicorn Show finale outfit is blue. As is his last act 1 costume. As are the bruises on his hips, knees, and ankles. Playing Joan Crawford isn't an easy role...not even for Joan herself. A Very Joan Crawford Christmas Featuring the Incandescent Ron Megee is in rehearsals now on the Jerome Stage at the Unicorn Theatre. It runs (at least) through the month of December 2010. I am creating the amazing costumes, and there are some other people involved in the production doing other things...I guess I should try to remember their names and roles, but I am very busy...hee hee.

I am not blue. I am surrounded by the love of friends, family, a gorgeous gaggle of babies, the Schnoodle, the Wire-Fox, and dear Chestnut House, that, no matter how much surgery we perform on her, always gives us one more problem to solve. She's been lifted more times than Heidi Montag, and still has plenty of hurdles to jump. Everything we solve brings her one step closer to perfection.

Not to worry, something will soon plunge me back into my dark, cob-webbed, Gothic mood, but, for now, my Christmas is looking very blue...Tiffany Blue!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Now, Where Did I Leave That Blog?


It's been an embarrassingly long while since we have "blogged". Not because nothing has happened at Chestnut House worth writing about, but because the things that were happening demanded attention, and we always thought we could write them down later.
Consider this post an update, a "season wrap-up", a once-yearly letter from a crazy aunt, a phone call from an old friend to "catch up", and we will try to do better.

The most important announcement since we last posted is the addition of a new family member - a rescued Miniature Schnoodle named Dorian Grey Finch Fulton Adams Megee - hereafter referred to as Dori. We have put him in charge of p.r., greeting, customer relations, and security here at Chestnut House. (He does a little yard work and fertilizing, too, but that is more of a hobby than a vocation.) His direct supervisor, Atticus, is still training the new recruit, but we expect great things from him in the future.The garden is going crazy. I firmly believe in the old adage "sleep, creep, leap", and the garden has proved to be a veritable forest of healthy, beautiful goodness. Heirloom tomatoes, vintage spices, and flowers are all producing a priceless bounty we could never afford were it not growing willfully and robustly steps away from the front door.The interior of the house has not changed much, as we have been enjoying being outdoors so much. We have all new windows on the first two levels of the house, and Ron created a modern kitchen wrapped in the bones of a Victorian galley.
Autumn promises to be filled with wonderful, exciting moments here, and you, our dear, loyal friends and patrons, will be updated at every turn.

More soon - - -

(Jon, Ron, Atticus, and Dorian)

Saturday, July 4, 2009


We've a lot to celebrate this month. July 15th marks our one year anniversary of moving into Chestnut House.I realize January is usually the time to take stock of your accomplishments and plan your year ahead; Spring is when you clear out the cobwebs, sweep up the dust, and start anew; and birthdays-well, don't get me started about birthdays; but, for obvious reasons, July has become our time to "review and renew".

Notes From Chestnut House is our cyber-diary. I only have to scroll through past posts to realize how far we've progressed. How gratifying to have a record of the baby steps that we've taken, the little bites we've nibbled off of this huge undertaking, to put all the work into perspective.In one year, five apartments were reduced and re-organized into one home, electricity and plumbing were added, leaks and holes patched and repaired, gardens have been established, huge windows installed, and beams erected to prevent the house from imminent collapse.

A giant pig was devoured on our dining room table, a toilet and shower removed from the living room, Atticus survived a major illness, a space has been created for me to accomplish my creative and professional goals, and a crowbar sheered off my nose.

I've learned the joy of a front porch at twilight, the importance of living with the person that loves you no matter what, and why Missouri Brown Bats are to be applauded and respected.

Our ghosts, Mrs. Finch and her son Mr. Finch still make their presence known, but have turned from fearful spectres to playful spirits.

Sure, our claw-footed tub may fall through the floor into the kitchen at any moment, pigeons still roost in the attic, and, with three full stories available, we still can't seem to find a space for all of our furniture - but all of that is minor.

What's most important, after a quick glance back, is realizing how rich and exciting the path is before us. Here we go, hand-in-hand-in-paw.


Jon (and Ron and Atticus.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Harry Potter and the Storm Troopers

A vegetable garden is about experiencing the obvious, simple pleasures in life, the very elements that many of us neglect in the hurly-burly of daily with homegrown herbs, fresh tomato salads, and the sheer peace of growing your own food.

This is where my story begins, in my small utilitarian vegetable patch, tilling the rich earth...

I heard a strange noise. A noise I hadn't heard in years, outside. Children laughing. I stood up, raised the brim on my floppy straw hat, and peered over my Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses at the commotion coming from down the way. My Hispanic neighbor in the gray bungalow across the street was shooing her children out the door to play. Just then the front door of the house four lots down swung open and Sudanese kids (draped head to toe in full burkas) came running out. Soon, kids were playing up and down the block. They were running and jumping, lost in some game that involved one of them being Harry Potter and a bicycle as a space ship. A lost art form was being revitalized on our block, the art of summer-time playing.

As I crouched down and started to thin the radish sprouts, I thought to myself..."Why is this so strange to me?" and, "does this floral caftan make me look fat?" Well, I thought, we now live in a society where children get caught up in a fast-paced life by staying inside watching television for hours, pacified with XBoxes and Gameboys, and losing there imaginations inside a bag of potato chips. The knack of make believe has died.

I remember as a child (a child in the 70's), my mother would shove me out our front door early in the morning and tell me not to return until lunch. After a lunch of a dollop of cottage cheese and a ham sandwich, washed down with a Tab, I was back outside until dusk hit and my mom could be heard yelling from the front stoop,
"Ronnie, time to come in for dinner!"

Oh, those summers were magical. We would start out on our banana-seat bike, zooming to the TG&Y 6 blocks away, and buy our supplies for the day. These consisted of Bottle Caps, Chick O-Sticks, Pop Rocks, and Now & Laters, then ride down to the "concrete river", looking for items washed down the viaduct. Right before lunch, we would pull out all of our hot wheels and matchbox cars, and set up a demolition derby. The afternoon was set aside to pretend I was a Stormtrooper and the big tree by our house was the Death Star.

Were there injuries? Well, yes. That was part of it. They were your wounds of passage. I fell out of a tree, broke my arm roller skating, lodged a rock in my nose, ripped my scull open playing Batman, and once got splinters in my, well lets just say a bad area for a boy, while trying to scoot across a fallen telephone pole. And yes, my mom had to pull them out with tweezers.

I just read an interesting article in the magazine THE WEEK about the journalist Lenore Skenazy. She has been dubbed the worst mom in America because she let her 9 year old son ride the subway alone, and she explains why she has no regrets. To paraphrase her: (It is a great article) she says America has a total obsession of making childhood independence taboo. Google her if you want to read more. Skenazy says, "We have to be less afraid of nature and more willing to embrace the idea that some rashes and bites are a fair price to pay in exchange for appreciating the wonder of a cool-looking rock or an unforgettable fern."

So, as I finished watering my small raised vegetable bed, enjoying the carefree summer day, Jon called me in for breakfast.

"Ron...time for breakfast!"

I cut some basil off a plant to add to our eggs and thought about my neighbors, I commend them for allowing their kids to experience the simple pleasures in life.


Ron (and Jon and Atticus)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Newton's Law

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction. -Isaac Newton

I've tried to think of a good excuse for not updating the Chestnut House Blog in so long...we were too busy,.. out on a grand tour of the Continent,.. Anna Wintour called me, in a panic, to help her edit the latest issue of Vogue,.. Ron needed help with his Tony acceptance speech,.. we quarantined the house to protect ourselves from H1N1...all of these, while completely believable, are simply not true.

The real reason is this - I have been utterly, supremely, and deeply lazy. Now, for those of you who believe in Karma, do not worry. Starting this afternoon, Ron and I will begin a series of projects that will take us through August in a blur of sweat, tension, and and complete exhaustion. The Universe, that so graciously allowed me a moment of solitude, now demands it's pound of flesh.

My schedule is taking me on six (yes, six) art and theater projects that overlap by days and weeks, moving me through the K.C. Rep, the Unicorn, Coterie at Night, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, and, finally, two major events at la Esquina, before dumping my crumpled body back at my beloved Chestnut House.

After I shared and compared my schedule with Ron's, which is just as ridiculous, he decided this would also be the perfect time to completely makeover the kitchen, establish an 8' x 12' raised vegetable bed, re-sod the lawn, plant 150 new seedlings, clean up the construction waste in the backyard, finish the guest room, tear out a wall to enlarge my sewing studio, complete the painting of the first floor, and keep up our social life. When Ron enters Megee's Magical Momentum Mode, sleep is for the weak, rest is overrated, and meal breaks occur when work allows. I'll admit, I admire his drive. Chestnut House needs me to be "more Megee".

Atticus has been a great help in the gardening projects, digging holes in the yard where he thinks there should be plantings. Of course, he is unreliable, sets his own hours, and tends to take more breaks than we do. Ron simply won't fire him, but we have reduced his benefits, and have almost drained his retirement fund.

Updates to follow...


Jon (and Ron and Atticus)

Monday, March 23, 2009

King of the Historic Northeast

I was on the porch of our Victorian house this morning waving at neighbors. I was sipping coffee (with cream and sugar) from a Woodfield tea cup, and waving.

Wave, wave, wave. Many of our neighbors are also friends that now live in our historic world.

And I was thinkin'...(yes, that is thinkin' without a "g", the kind of thinkin' that hurts me a little.)...who was the Pied Piper that brought us all together? Who had the guts to raise his golden flute up and lead us into Kansas City's oldest historic neighborhood? Who is this person that believes in wayward artists, actors, fashion designers, and the other artistic misfits that make up the underground culture of our city?
You ask, "Ron, who is this Yuri guy?" Good question: here is a story to explain it all (well part of it.)

Six years ago I was looking for a new home to move my newly-single self and my two year old kid, Atticus, into. (Atticus, for those reading this blog for the first time, is my feisty wire fox terrier.) I found an ad in a local rag for a second-floor apartment in a ca. 1899 Duplex. Location: Northeast. Street: Gladstone Boulevard. The turn-of-last-century duplex was owned, at that time, by a man named Yuri Well, that one is easy to answer: our Pied Piper is Yuri Ives.
. Yuri lived across the street in a four story Victorian mansion with his husband and twin sons.

How do I describe Yuri? He is a gregarious person who doesn't like everybody all of the time. A high-spirited, good-humored man that fights for your rights, speaks his mind, and has the wit of a 19th century orator.

He is the King of the Historic Northeast.

Yuri showed me the beauty of this historic area. An area that boasts 56 nationalities speaking 56 native tongues, including Ethiopian, Sudanese, and Gay. An area that opens it's arms to the modern immigrants of this small world. Yuri was and is the ambassador to a lost world. We became friends.

Jump forward to 2008. Jon and I knock on the front door of his huge mansion, demanding to look at a house on East 6th. The house that would become Chestnut House. He dropped everything and guided us towards our new beginning. Once we were settled in, he started the process of recuiting more of our friends: Georgianna and Martin, Jon and Marlin, Shaun Hamontree (who was really the first to venture here), and countless others. Yuri, in one year's time, has created an artist's haven. So, if you feel inspired to venture into this little-known historic area, I suggest you contact Yuri. Till then, you can always drive by our manse and wave to me. I'll be the guy sitting on the porch, holding the tea cup and waving back.