Rita Howell’s Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stimulus check destined for purchase of shade

You’ve seen photos of the Ruins of Windsor, the antebellum home near Natchez, where only columns now stand as evidence of a grand residence that once stood there?

Every time I look out my bedroom window I see the Ruins of Howell.

The ruins stand on the deck beside our swimming pool. A metal gazebo purchased several years ago has served us well with added shade during the hot summers. It served us as long as the canvas cover lasted. The last gusts of winter finished it off, leaving ragged, ghostly drapes of torn fabric clinging to the brown metal frame of the gazebo.

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It was depressing.

Diligently I searched the internet for a replacement cover. It took forever to get here and it cost too much.

Rupert’s recovering from shoulder surgery, but, by golly, Saturday we were determined to refurbish the ruins to their former glory and get our pool deck summer-ready.

He stood atop a stepladder and did as much as he could one-handed. He grunted and sweated and made three trips back to his workshop to retrieve the right size wrench. We struggled with yards and yards of tan-colored fabric that engulfed us as we tried to slide metal rods into canvas pockets.

It didn’t fit.

When we finally got the small piece stretched onto the top tier, the metal frame was bent, groaning beneath that too-tight cover. Any second now the frame is going to break free and launch itself into space.

We were hot, tired and frustrated, so we just left the rest of that canvas draped over the ruins and went inside.

I’m facing reality. There’s no way that cover is going to fit.  

I am convinced after my extensive internet search that there is no other cover on the planet that will fit our obsolete gazebo. The whole thing must come down and find its way to the landfill. The ruins are absolutely no good without a piece of cloth on top to provide shade.

It’s funny that we installed our swimming pool away from trees so we wouldn’t have to be bothered with leaves falling into it. But we soon realized that, gee, if you’re sitting on a wooden deck in Mississippi in the summertime, with no shade, it’s mighty hot. Suddenly the shade of those trees started to look pretty appealing.

Thus we’ve bought several umbrellas and then the aforementioned gazebo to provide respite from Old Sol.

Now I am on the hunt for a serious sun-blocker. A super-size parasol or a giant bean stalk. Doesn’t really matter.

You know those economic stimulus checks that are being sent out this week? People are talking about paying bills, buying gasoline, or even splurging on a new plasma screen T.V.

Me? I’m looking to buy some shade.