Opulence in Arkansas

34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States

4/15/17 – 4/18/17

This was orientation day for Jury Duty
By 9 AM about 50 of us had made it past the Pulaski County Courthouse security scanners and gathered in the assigned room, where our judge, who is a woman about my age unless I’m flattering myself, addressed us. She calmed our jitters by explaining that maybe none of us would actually be called to duty because hers is a civil, not criminal, court, and most civil cases are settled before they reach the trial stage. She also said she forbids lawyers to wait until court day and then settle cases on the courthouse steps, with the jury assembled unnecessarily. By this time I was sitting on my hands to keep from applauding. This is somebody I really like! Next an uncle-like man with a deep voice who is the main bailiff taught us how to get in touch with him if we had a problem, and I liked him too.
As they were about to dismiss us, the door opened and a ditz came in. She said, in the way that only ditzes do, that it wasn’t her fault she was late. The bailiff took her under his wing and did not make the rest of us stay.

Photo above of Courthouse is from
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Pulaski_county_arkansas_courthouse.jpg

Outside the room I took my first good look around the inside of the Courthouse, which has been there since 1887, and where I have been several times before in my adult life without noticing its opulence. Today I was blown away. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and my lame excuse is, I guess I just hadn’t been ready to behold this ’til now. I wonder how many other people have been in there too busy and/or too stressed to look up and around. Starting from the top, here is its fabulous stained glass dome, and some of the marble statuary. There is more to it, of course, that I’m leaving out. I am in love with this building that was designed in an era when beauty could prevail over efficiency.
I do have one suggestion, though: Could they not put handrails on the outside front steps? I can’t trust my knees. My solution going in was to grab with both hands to one of the huge concrete pillars encasing the steps and plaster the front of myself to it, fingers searching out crevices, and crawl up sideways, using my hands and arms as much as my feet and legs.  Coming out, same thing only downward. The pedestrians in front of and across the street from the courthouse were treated to the sighting of an aged female rock climber.

Let’s Propagate at Ruth’s Place!
It isn’t just that the robins are contesting me to build their nest and raise their babies under the patio roof, it’s that the rest of creation would also like to reproduce in my yard.
I can’t even go to the compost bin. Last fall I opened it to put something in, and a mama wolf spider so big she was on the way to being a tarantula had dragged her egg sac in there and told me I was unwelcome.
I know they aren’t poisonous, but they will bite if they think they have to. I also know first hand they are athletic as hell. My thought at the time–after I got hold of myself–was that the weather was coming on to cold and she needed to be there for the sake of her kids. I haven’t been back there since. I admire wolf spiders and would like them if my brain stem would let me. Here is more about them.
http://www.livescience.com/41467-wolf-spider.html

Chinaberry Trees – Melia azedarach
These are blooming all over town. Wikipedia says some people also call them Persian Lilac. If so, that’s probably to inflate how beautiful they are, which they’re not really. In bloom they have a vague purplish color, and sort of ornamental silhouettes. Here, people (especially those my age or older) don’t tend to be euphemistic about nuisance plants. Plain old “Chinaberry” is it. They are one of the trees I find it hard to favor. Photo below and other references are from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melia_azedarach

Here is the roster of Chinaberry trees’ bad behaviors. First, beware, their leaves and berries are toxic to dogs, cats, horses, humans, and probably lots of other creatures. Supposedly they can kill. But not birds. Birds can and do eat them and excrete the seeds (see, none of this is pleasant), and the trees are hardy and bad to spring up everywhere, and they grow fast. Third, each tree then bears thousands upon thousands of green berries that stay on the tree until they turn yellow and mushy and yucky and then fall off, and that makes a huge mess, and when I was a girl . . . well, I’ll just tell you the worst of the story: When I was a girl there were no adult-planned entertainments for children. We shuffled around the yard and entertained ourselves. It was a challenge. My little brother, when he was about five, entertained himself by stuffing his bluejeans pockets with over-ripe yellow mushy Chinaberries. I was the oldest child, and a girl to boot, and guess whose job it was to prep the laundry and empty the boys’ pockets. In my whole life it was the worst job ever.

Yea Bunnies!
I do like the rabbits. They appear in the open from about twilight to who knows what time in the morning. I’ve never gone out and looked after 1:00 AM.  But now we come again to the subject of the compost bin. If The Dog knows what she’s talking about, a rabbit has dug under the bin and either has or is making a nest there. The good news is, The Dog is not gifted in physical skills and has never caught anything. (Bird, squirrel, chipmunk. Rabbit.) I suspect she doesn’t think of creatures as prey.  She thinks it’s a game that ends when whatever-it-is is gone. In her eyes there does not come that fire of maniacal intent. So I’m holding hope in my heart. But somebody tell me, who is the patron saint of baby bunnies?

Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn

 

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